On This Day- 27 December 1922
Many geeks and nerds can’t stay with that label very long without running into Japan. Hell, one of my first college courses spent a couple of weeks just on Japan. It’s remarkable that they went from a military dictatorship to a constitutional monarchy in less than 10 years, when most countries require double that, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Japan was able to catch up, and keep up, with heavily industrialized nations like Great Britain and Germany in as much time. This would lead to an innovation that is still in use, just under a century later- the aircraft carrier. It was the first of it’s kind in the world, and it would revolutionize naval and aerial warfare to the point where entire battles can be fought with just one of these.
It may have been the first to sail, but it was not the first to be commissioned. The Royal Navy ordered an purpose-built aircraft carrier, called the HMS Hermes, in 1917, a whole three years before the Imperial Japanese Navy would order the Hōshō. In spite of being behind by three years, the Hōshō was commissioned in on 27 December 1922, while the Hermes wouldn’t be commissioned until 18 February 1924.
Japan would use this craft as distant support for the attack on the US Navy base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, although radio silence prevented it, or any of it’s planes, from actually taking part in the attack. It would later have a modest part in the Battle of Midway six months later.
Directly following the war, she was repatriated as a transport craft for Japanese servicemen stationed overseas, operating until 15 August 1946, carrying a total of 40,000 passengers while slowly enduring modifications. On the 31st of that month, she was transferred to the Ministry of Interior to be disposed, transferring her to Osaka, where a private company would unceremoniously scrap the prestigious ship from 2 September to 1 May of the following year.
In total, she happily served the Empire for 24 consecutive years, dying soon after the Empire, having been the first of her kind and tossed aside like yesterday’s garbage, so that we forgot about her almost entirely. Aircraft carriers have been in use ever since, in fact NATO has carriers all over the world, whether they’re participating in War Games or fighting the Global War on Terror. Japan’s Navy has never been as strong as it was back then, and experts believe that they lack the cultural determination to bring it back to half of that strength.