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Zuikaku at anchor in September 1941
, Shōkaku-class aircraft carriers and Shōkaku , were commissioned by the Zuikaku Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. They participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Indian Ocean Raid, and the battles of the Coral Sea, the Eastern Solomons, and the Santa Cruz Islands. Their air groups sank two of the four fleet carriers lost by the United States Navy during the war in addition to one elderly British light carrier. Returning to Japan after the Battle of the Coral Sea to repair damage and replace lost aircraft, they missed the Battle of Midway in June 1942. After the catastrophic loss of four carriers during that battle, they formed the bulk of Japan's carrier force for the rest of the war. Shōkaku was sunk by an American submarine during the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944 as the Americans invaded the Mariana Islands, and Zuikaku was sacrificed as part of a decoy force four months later in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, both with heavy loss of life. Historian Mark Peattie called them "arguably the best aircraft carriers" of the early 1940s. ( ) Full article...
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