The SS 393 insignia.

SS393 Vs Akitsu Maru

The SSN 651 insignia.

  The History Channel had a show on called "the Secret Japanese Aircraft of WWII." In it they discussed the K1 auto gyro being placed on an Army Carrier (Akitsu Maru) for ASW Operations. We didn't know of the existence of the auto gyros during the war even though they were used heavily in the Philippines for surveillance. They were a tandem two seat aircraft. The two k1's on the Akitsu Maru had been modified so that the forward position could carry depth charges, which thanks to the 393, never got used. The carrier "Akitsu Maru was sunk by the US submarine Queenfish before they could be deployed."

I then found a Web site that gave further info that I enclose below;  

Imperial Japanese Navy website  

Akitsu Maru type army carriers  
Displacement 11,800t standard
Length 143.7m pp
Width 19.5m
Draught 7.8m

 2-shaft geared turbine, 4 boilers, 7500shp Speed 20kt
2-75mm AA gun, 10-75mm field gun, 20 aircraft, 20 Daihatsu landing craft (and 2 K1 auto gyro aircraft per History Channel)
Complement ?  

11/151944 sunk (torpedoed, Korean Strait) [33.17N, 128.11E]
Sunk by SS393 USS Queenfish.

 K1 Auto Gyro - Click to enlarge Akitsu Maru - Click to enlarge
Captain "Jack" Bennett former XO responds:

Jerry - Many thanks.

  I didn't know about the auto gyros or the supposed reclassification as an Army ship. I do know that she was loaded with all the artillery of an Army division being deployed to the Philippines and at least a brigade of troops. Plus the captain observed both the flight deck and hangar deck fully loaded with aircraft also intended for the Philippines. The air patrols were land-based Army planes as the carrier wasn't able to conduct flight ops with a full deck. We had received an Ultra tipping us off to the point in the East China Sea where the air escort was to rendezvous with the carrier.

We arrived early and the Akitsu plus 6 escort ships showed up on time. The water was pretty shallow but this helped us escape the depth charging as the explosions reverberated off the bottom rock and coral. We were spotted by aircraft just before firing and it dropped a smoke float on us which guided the DDs to our position as we were turning to bring the stern tubes to bear as we had only 4 fish left and they were all aft. When the skipper took his "final bearing and shoot" look there were two DDs with zero angles-on-the-bow making big bow waves each about 1000 yards away. We figured later they were playing chicken and finally both gave way to avoid collision as neither dropped on his first pass. But then all hell broke loose and
we were fortunate to get out alive 10 hours later with a nearly flat battery. In fact as I recall 2 cells reversed polarity.

Again, thanks for the report. - Jack

Photo Copyright the History Channel

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