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Phoenixes, Dragons and Cranes…Oh, My!


At the start of the battle, the crew of an American ship killed the Deep Blue Dragon. Enraged, the Flying Dragon destroyed the ship that had killed her sister. But the crew of another American ship, plus survivors from the first, returned and slew the Flying Dragon. The Battle of Midway was over. Many people know the Japanese names of the aircraft carriers we faced in World War II, but few know the translations of these names. This is sad because, in the case of aircraft carriers, a lot is gained in translation. The Imperial Japanese Navy generally gave their flattops poetic names of flying creatures, including real birds such as cranes and the falcons and mythical birds such as phoenixes and dragons. The Romanized “ho” is a phoenix. Japan’s first carrier was the Hosho (Flying Phoenix). Another phoenix was the small Shokaku (Happy Phoenix), which was sunk at midway. Her sister ship was the Zuiho (Fortunate Phoenix). Later in the war, Japan built the carrier Taisho (Great Phoenix)....

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