Did IJN floatplanes support their parents?

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Jul 4, 2012
What I mean is, were any ship-borne floatplanes (those based on capital ships like battleships, cruisers, seaplane tenders, etc.) in the Imperial Japanese Navy ever able to defend their mother ships from attacks by enemy aircraft? Were they ever able to be launched before their ship was attacked/sunk?

The Basket

Senior Master Sergeant
Jun 27, 2007
Yep I don't have details to hand but a Catalina was shot down and they did do light strikes.

But to my knowledge they were never part of the strike package of the Kido Butai.

Read about Tone and Chikuma and see what they got up to.


Apr 28, 2004
The floatplanes on Japanese (and anyone else's) capital ships were scout craft, and seldom very effective against other aircraft. They could perform ASW patrols, but their main purpose was over the horizon scouting.


Airman 1st Class
Feb 19, 2019
Would be very difficult for a float plane to defend itself against a fighter attack. Just not very fast or maneuverable with poor armament. I believe some IJN float planes did attack ships by strafing them. They also dropped flares at night to spot enemy ships. But, as has been said, they were mostly used for scouting purposes. However, the Japanese radios were notoriously bad due to poor electrical shielding creating interference. They were so bad, some pilots simply removed them from the aircraft to save weight. Hard to scout effectively without a radio. Also read an interesting post about solar flare activity during WWII and the south Pacific, around New Guineau, was hit very hard causing very poor radio communication.


Senior Airman
Sep 5, 2016
I have only seen records of the F1M2 and A6M2-N used for intercept. The performance or armament of the others was poor.

Japanese Seaplane Carriers

WildEagles: Nakajima A6M2-N "Rufe" pt. 3 Yokohama Kokutai

4 June 1942:
The convoy is contacted by PBY P-12; one of eleven VP-44 launched from Midway that morning on a search/strike mission. CHITOSE launches three two-seat "Pete" fighter float biplanes to intercept the flying boat. They engage P-12 at 500 feet and shoot it down into the sea. Lt (j.g.) Robert Whitman and four of his ten-man aircrew are lost. [3]

4 October 1942:
CHITOSE's PO (later WO) Katsuki Kiyomi, flying combat air patrol over the fleet in a F1M2 Pete, spots four enemy fighters and five B-17s. To prevent the bombers from hitting the seaplane carrier NISSHIN, Katsuki dives on the leading B-17E of the 72nd Bomb Squadron. He rams the bomber from below, tearing the right main wing and the vertical stabilizer off the B-17 and damaging the Pete’s right wing. Katsuki and his observer bale out. Destroyer AKITSUKI rescues both. The B-17’s crew is lost. [4]


Jul 4, 2012
I'm not discounting the abilities of floatplanes to carry on the war. I was just wondering if any "scrambled" off their assigned ships to successfully defend (through combat) the ship from allied aircraft attacking or threatening them.


Lieutenant Colonel
Feb 17, 2008
A6M2-N was able to shoot down bombers but a catapult type was not available if I remember correctly.


1st Sergeant
May 31, 2007
I was just wondering if any "scrambled" off their assigned ships to successfully defend (through combat) the ship from allied aircraft attacking or threatening them.

I read this recently...


(On Our Doorstep by Craig Colie. Allen & Unwin publishing. 2020.)

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