All about the Chinese Air Force of the Guomindang (Nationalist) government that resisted Japanese aggression from 1931 to 1945

Flying Tigers
revised and updated



Helicopter carrier

Shades of the Sino-Japanese War! The cruiser Izumo (then Englished as Idzumo) was stationed at Shanghai in the 1930s as flagship of Japanese forces there. She was the target of the first bombing mission of the CAF Hawks on August 14, 1937, supposedly under Claire Chennault's direction. Later, as the war moved inland, the aircraft carrier Kaga joined her with a complement of A5M "Claude" fighters to escort long-range bombers against Nanjing and Hankou. Kaga also took part in the Pearl Harbor attack and in the calamitous mission against Midway, where she was one of five aircraft carriers sunk 1942. Izumo followed her to the bottom in 1945, just before the war ended.

Now both names are afloat again, as helicopter carriers for Japan's maritime Self-Defense Force. I find it intriguing that the once-pacifistic nation that emerged after the American occupation now feels sure enough of its independence that it would resurrect these names from history. Above is DDH-183, otherwise known as JS Izumo, at 814 feet a larger vessel than the USS Enterprise of the Second World War. She was commissioned in 2016, and her sister ship JS Kaga in March this year. Though nearly as large as contemporary carriers, the Izumo-class don't have a catapult or "ski-jump" that would be needed to launch most fixed-wing warplanes.

Izumo has been deployed to the Indian Ocean as part of an Indo-Japanese effort to balance the Chinese naval buildup there. (On Sri Lanka, indeed, the Chinese have a navy base on the south side of the island while Japan develops one on the north side.) Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

The CAF files