Interrogation Nav 4, Captain Taijiro Aoki
AOKI, Taijiro, Captain, I.J.N.
AOKI was a regular naval officer, non-pilot, of 32 years active duty following his graduation from the Naval Academy at ETAJIMA in 1910. At the outbreak of the war he was serving as Commanding Officer of a Naval Aviation Training School at TSUCHIURA. In April 1942 he was ordered to command the aircraft carrier Akagi (CV) and was so serving when it was sunk at the Battle of MIDWAY, 4-6 June 1942. Following this action he was ordered as Commanding Officer of the KURE Naval Arsenal. In October 1942 he retired from active service.
Although this officer readily but conservatively answered all questions, his knowledge of the conduct of the war appeared limited to the brief 2 1/2 month period at sea prior to being retired.
|Commanding Officer, N.A.S.||TSUCHIURA||1940-1942|
|Commanding Officer, Akagi (CV)||1942|
|Commanding Officer, Naval Arsenal||KURE||1942|
INTERROGATION NAV NO. 4
USSBS NO. 23
BATTLE OF MIDWAY
9 October 1945
Interrogation of: Captain AOKI, Taijiro, IJN, Commanding Officer of Akagi (CV) at Battle of MIDWAY. He was not a pilot.
Interrogated by: Captain C. SHANDS, USN.
Allied Officers Present: Brig. Gen. G. GARDNER, USA; Comdr. T. H. MOORER, USN. Lt. Comdr. J. A. FIELD, Jr., USNR
The Akagi was one of four aircraft carriers, comprising the Eleventh Air Fleet, in the striking force at the planned occupation of MIDWAY ISLAND, June 1942. The CVs were first attacked about 200 miles from MIDWAY, 2 hours after sunrise, 4 June by many planes carrying torpedoes, all which were avoided. The first indication of the presence of United States carriers was the dive bombing attack which scored two hits on Akagi. The Akagi had launched half of her planes to bomb MIDWAY but forty were still being serviced when hit. No more were launched. 200 were lost and 100 wounded, out of a total complement of 1400. On the morning of the 5th a Japanese DD torpedoed and sank the Akagi. The Kaga, Soryu and Hiryu were sunk due to damage inflicted by dive bombers. No other damage was sustained from air attack by ships in the striking force except possible damage to one battleship's superstructure. No planes seen on the 5th or later during retirement.
The loss of the CV's caused plans for the occupation to be abandoned.
Q. What ships were present in the carrier force at MIDWAY?
A. Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu and Soryu (All CV's) Hiyei or Haruna and Kirishima (BB), Tone and Chikuma (CA), Nagara (CL), about 10 or 12 destroyers. Akagi was in the Eleventh Air Fleet.
() (DD) () (DD)
() KIRISHIMA (BB)
() (DD) () HIRYU (CV) () AKAGI (CV)() (DD)
() (DD) () SORYU (CV) () KAGA (CV) () (DD)
() HIYEI (BB)
() (DD) (HARUNA) () (DD)
() (DD) () (DD)
Q. What were the other three units?
A. The Grand Fleet was there to act as support, commanded by Admiral YAMAMOTO.
Q. What was the mission of the Eleventh Air Fleet?
A. Simply to bombard MIDWAY by planes.
Q. What was the mission of the entire fleet?
A. That was to help. Entirely separate from this was the occupation force.
Q. Was the Air Fleet separate from the Grand Fleet?
A. Yes, of course it was under the Grand Fleet, but it was a separate force.
Q. During the approach to MIDWAY when did you expect the first air attack?
A. About 500 miles from MIDWAY, but our carriers were first attacked in the morning about 2 hours after sunrise, about 200 miles from MIDWAY.
Q. What type planes made the first attack?
A. Torpedo planes, then dive bombers. First a great many torpedoes were dropped from planes, then the dive bombers hit.
Q. Were any attacks made on the carrier force during approach by B-17's or PBY's?
A. There were none. Torpedo bombers in morning of attack but no four engine planes.
Q. Were any planes seen or heard during the approach the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of June?
A. There was a high fog and the day before the action opened they heard one above the clouds in the day time.
Q. Was the Akagi hit by any four-engined or horizontal bombers?
A. Not once.
Q. Were any ships hit by horizontal bombers?
A. I think all ships were hit by dive bombers.
Q. Did you lose any ships to submarines during approach?
A. No, none at all.
Q. On the day before the main action about 600 miles from MIDWAY, was the formation attacked by long range planes?
Q. How was the Akagi damaged?
A. Fore; two bombs by dive bombing about two hours after sunrise, (one started fire at after elevator). Planes were loaded up with bombs inside the hanger and caught fire.
Q. Did you see any horizontal bombers over the formation at the time?
A. Kirishima was under attack by horizontal bombing. It was not hit. Near misses.
Q. Were the Akagi's planes in the air?
A. About half of them were up attacking MIDWAY. We were servicing others in the hanger, about forty on board. We had high cover of 6 Zero Type fighters in addition.
Q. Was this the first group launched from the Akagi?
A. This was the first group launched from all ships.
Q. Were any other planes launched from Akagi to attack our carriers?
A. There was no second flight from the Akagi.
Q. Which type of attack was most feared - horizontal, dive bombing or torpedo?
A. Diving, you can swing away from torpedoes, but the worst is dive bombing.
Q. Was Akagi sunk as a result of these two bomb hits or was she sunk later by Japanese destroyers?
A. It did not sink by bombs. She was sunk by a Japanese destroyer's torpedoes during the next morning. Engines were helpless, fire damage, could not navigate so gave up the ship; many engineers were killed. 200 were lost, 100 were wounded out of 1400 on board.
Q. How many pilots were saved; how many were lost?
A. Six pilots were lost. Others landed and were picked up by destroyers.
Q. Why didn't the task force continue to MIDWAY?
A. Too much damage to aircraft carriers, lost control of air.
Q. What other carriers or ships were lost?
A. Kaga, Soryu, Hiryu. No damage to battleships or serious damage to any other ships in our group
Q. In what other operations was the Akagi?
A. PEARL HARBOR was the first, she attacked at CEYLON and TRINCOMALEE, next MIDWAY. MIDWAY was the only action in which I was aboard.
Q. Did our aircraft carrier raids on JAPAN affect the training of pilots during the war?
A. When your planes were attacking we had to stop training and so lost time besides training planes. However, we didn't suffer much from loss of training planes.
Q. Had the Navy planned on a war of long duration?
A. They were all talking that it would be a long war, but nobody hazarded a guess as to duration. As soon as it began we thought it would be a long war.
Q. About how many planes or pilots did you expect to lose at MIDWAY, that is from anti-aircraft and attack?
A. Because we had suffered so little at PEARL HARBOR at the beginning of the war, we thought we would get away with the same thing at MIDWAY. I think that other ships in the task force lost a good many pilots, but as far as my ship was concerned, we got off very easily.
Q. Did you have radar on the Akagi?
Q. Did any ships at MIDWAY have radar?
A. Yamato, Mutsu and Nagato in the Grand Fleet may have had it. There was no ship at MIDWAY or carrier which had it.
Q. Do you know when they were first installed and first used?
A. I don't know but when I went to the arsenal at KURE, I saw the grids on the Ise and Hyuga. It was in August 1942 after MIDWAY. I supposed that they must have been installed on better ships about then.
Q. While cruising to MIDWAY was radio silence observed?
A. There was radio silence.
Q. Was there an interpreter radio guard stood on CW or voice frequency?
A. There was nothing but curiosity, there was not a real guard.
Q. During passage enroute MIDWAY, were flight operations conducted or carried out?
A. Training flights for about two days (Weather bad); anti-submarine patrols every day. No combat air patrols.
Q. What number and types of planes were used for anti-submarine patrols?
A. 97 Type attack planes. Four planes were used for anti-submarine patrol, searching out at a distance of about 40,000 meters.
Q. In the operations at night did the carriers form a column?
A. At night it was the same ring formation.
Q. Were the destroyers stationed astern of the carriers in cruising formation?
A. All outside the circle.
Q. When landing and launching planes also?
A. They were 500 or 600meters astern at the time of recovery of planes.
Q. When you launched or recovered planes did all ships turn into the wind or just the carrier that was landing planes?
A. It was all at the same time if it was a long operation. Otherwise in short operation the single carrier maneuvered.
Q. Did it make any difference how far they were from the enemy?
A. It had nothing to do with that distance.
Q. How did the planes find their way back to the ship, did you have radio homing devices?
A. Only radio. As soon as the planes made their attack, they were to come back without radio help. Only on request from the pilot would ship send message. ww2dbase
United States Strategic Bombing Survey (Pacific) Interrogation of Japanese Officials [OPNAV-P-03-100], courtesy of ibilio Hyperwar Project
C. Peter Chen
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