The design work on the new carrier commenced as early as 1937 and the initial design was unveiled on 27 November and received the number “02”. On 21 July 1938 corrections were done to the design and it was approved.
The ship of displacement of 27.800 tons was ordered. It was included into Navy development program, approved on 8 December 1938. After the acceptance of the main specifications of the carrier work on the detailed design could be commenced (the work began in December 1939). Due to several delays the ship was laid down as late as 10 July 1941 at Kawasaki shipyard in Kobe. Until 5 March 1943, when the ship was named, she was known as the hull number 130.
The official christening took place before launching on 7 April 1943. The ship was named TAIHO (Great Phoenix).
On 3 February 1944 the ship was towed to the Navy Shipyard in Kure for further equipping. On 7 March 1944 the ship was commissioned and entered service.
The hull comprised 281 bulkheads and nine decks. It had characteristic for the Japanese ships slender shape (the length to beam ratio was 9.4). The ship had a small bulbous bow, which reduced the hull’s drag by 5–6%. Closed bow deck was used for the first time in Japanese carriers, which improved the ship’s seakeeping and allowed for extending the flight deck. During the design process the designers probably studied the design of British Illustrious-class carriers and probably therefore the profiles of both ships were similar.
The Taiho had four Kanpon geared steam turbines in four separate compartments, rated at 160,000 hp in total. She had also eight oil-fired Ro-Go boilers at C (operating pressure 25 kg/cm2 at 352°C) in eight separate boiler rooms. During trials the ship attained the speed of 33.3 kt). The ship was propelled by four screws and steered by two rudders.
The carrier’s hull was relatively well armored. Engine and boiler rooms were protected by 32 mm and 16 mm (top) and 80 mm to 165-mm (sides) thick armor plates. The fuel tanks were protected by 90 mm (top) and 50–60 mm (sides) thick armor plates. Ammunition chambers were protected by 75 mm (top) and 75–130 mm (sides) thick armor plates.
The torpedo protection was provided by two 22 mm thick longitudinal torpedo bulkheads, separated from the hull’s side by the fuel tanks and additional 6 mm thick bulkhead. The hull’s bottom under the ammunition chambers and fuel tanks had three layers and the middle layer was armored. The hull at waterline had 55 mm to 165 mm thick armor of CNC steel. The deck was protected by 75 mm thick CNC steel plates, laid on 20 mm thick DS-steel plates. It was laid on 70 mm thick beams, to which 10 mm thick armor plates, being the hangar roof, were fitted.
The sides of the upper hangar were armored with 25 mm thick plates and of the lower one – the port side was armored with 16 mm and the starboard side with 18–20 mm thick plates. The aircraft elevators had also armor consisting of two 25 mm thick plates. The deck armor was to be capable of protecting against 500-kg bombs dropped in dive. The bridge of the superstructure was armored with 40-mm thick plates and the navigation bridge – with 25 mm plates.
The ship had two-story hangar. The dimensions of the upper part were 150 × 18 × 5 m, and of the lower part - 150 × 17 × 5 m. The upper hangar was divided into five sections by fire curtains and the lower one – into four sections. The curtains were made of rockwool clad with asbestos on both sides. The protection against fire that could get through the elevator wells consisted of asbestos-clad 7 mm thick steel fire barriers. Foam fire-extinguisher system was installed in the hangars.
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