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Zuikaku at anchor in September 1941
Zuikaku at anchor in September 1941

Two Shōkaku-class aircraft carriers, Shōkaku and Zuikaku, were commissioned by the 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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Logo for the Star Wars franchise
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Mark Selby in 2015
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Today's featured picture

Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street

The altar of the Immaculate Conception Church on Farm Street, London, England. This Roman Catholic parish church run by the Society of Jesus was designed by Joseph John Scoles and constructed between 1844 and 1849, later being remodelled by Adrian Gilbert Scott following the Second World War. Sir Simon Jenkins has described it as "Gothic Revival at its most sumptuous".

Photograph: David Iliff

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