Displacement: 26,230 tons/26,650 tonnes (standard); 32,200 tons/32,715 tonnes (full load)
Length: 704ft/214.58m (oa); 653ft 6in/199.12m (pp) 695ft/211.84m(wl)
Draught: 27ft 6in/8.38mm (mean)
Machinery: thirty-six Yarrow boilers; 4-shaft Parsons turbines
Bunkerage: 4,200 tons coal, 1,000 tons oil Performance: 64,000shp = 27.5kts
Range: 8,000nm at 14kts
Protection: main belt 8in max., 3in fwd and aft; citadel 6in; blkhds 8in; main deck 2in; barbettes 10in; turrets 9in
Guns: eight (4x2) 14in; sixteen (16x1) 6in; sixteen (16x1) 3in
Torpedo tubes: eight 21 in (submerged)
As modernised, 1933-4
Displacement: 32,056 tons/32,670 tonnes (standard) average; 36,601 tons/37,186 tonnes (full load)
Length: 738ft 7in/222.05m (oa); 720ft 6in/219. 61m (wl)
Beam: 95ft 3in/29.04m;
Draught: 32ft/9.72m (mean)
Machinery: eight (Hiei, Haruna eleven) Kampon boilers; 4-shaft Kampon geared turbines
Bunkerage: 6,330 tons oil Performance: 136,000shp = 30kts Range: 10,000nm at 18kts Protection: see text
Guns: eight (4x2) 14in; fourteen (14x1) 6in; eight (4x2) 5in DP; four (4x1) 40mm; eight 13.2mm
Torpedo tubes: Nil
Aircraft: three, catapult one
The Japanese had begun building dreadnought battleships in 1909, these being the two ships of the Kawachi class of the 1907 programme, although there had been earlier plans thwarted by financial constraints following the Russo-Japanese war. The Kawachi class were armed with twelve 12in in twin turrets and driven by turbine propulsion. They were built in Japanese yards, but the guns were purchased from Great Britain and the turbines were manufactured under licence. In the same year that these two ships were programmed, the building of battlecruisers was also planned, but the appearance of the British 13.5in-gunned Lion class at this time prompted the Japanese, who wanted their ships to be at the forefront of technology, to think again, at least so far as an indigenous design was concerned. The fact that Japan and Great Britain were closely allied by treaty gave the Japanese the opportunity to learn from foreign technology, and at the same time acquire a powerful modern ship if a contract were placed abroad.
The British Lion-class battlecruiser was the most modern and powerful of its day (this was before the flaws in the battlecruiser concept had been exposed) so it was natural that an order was placed with Vickers-Armstrong at Barrow-in-Furness for a ship along the lines of Lion. Natural too, since this was not an Admiralty contract, that the design would inevitably be altered to reflect the ideas of Vickers' designer, Sir George Thurston, one of the leading warship builders of the day.
The original Japanese concept - a ship of 19,000 tons armed with 12in guns -became a very different animal. Displacement rose to 27,500 tons, the calibre of the main armament was increased to 13.5in, and dimensions were similar to those of Lion except that the beam was greater.
The protective scheme included an 8in waterline belt which covered the magazine and machinery spaces, reducing to 3in forward and aft. Below this was an additional 3in armoured strake incorporated as a result of Japanese experience in the Russo-Japanese war. Above the main belt was a 6in belt, and a similar thickness protected the secondary battery. The citadel was closed off by 8in armoured bulkheads. The armoured deck was 2in thick. Barbette armour was 10in, the turrets had 9in. As was common at the time, coal bunkers added to the side protection. Armour amounted to approximately 6,500 tons and represented 25 per cent of normal displacement.
As a battlecruiser Kongo required a higher speed than contemporary battleships so her machinery was of a higher power. This in turn necessitated a steam plant of no less than thirty-six boilers. These were coal-fired, with supplementary oil sprayers, arranged in eight boiler rooms, two in each of four compartments, separated by a longitudinal bulkhead, the uptakes from which were served by three unequally spaced funnels. They were given Parsons direct-drive turbines (Brown-Curtis in Haruna) in a four-shaft arrangement, developing 64,000shp for a maximum speed of 27.5 knots. The speeds achieved on trials varied between 27.54 and 27.78 knots with 78,275 - 82,000shp.
Thurston's intention to ship the 13.5in gun was overtaken by the Japanese desire to have the largest calibre afloat, and to this end, 14in was finally specified, which necessitated Vickers having to design a new weapon. Known as the Vickers Mk J, it fired a l,4851b shell to a range of 38,770 yards. The guns were carried in twin turrets, two forward and two aft, all on the centre-line, a much better disposition than that of Lion in that there was no 'Q' turret. No. 3 turret was placed immediately abaft the after funnel and a long way forward of No. 4 turret, giving it a better field of fire than if it were in the 'Q' position. The secondary battery of sixteen 6in guns was all casemate mounted, disposed evenly on each beam, only four guns of which could bear ahead and four astern. This gun was the Vickers 6in 50cal Mk M on P mountings with 30° elevation and firing a 100lb shell. Kongo completed with sixteen 3in in open single pedestal mountings, eight on the main deck and eight on the turret tops, but the other three received only the former. There were eight 21in torpedo tubes in fixed submerged mountings
Only the lead ship, Kongo, was ordered in Great Britain, the other three being contracted to Japanese yards. Of the latter, some 30 per cent of the material for Hiei was from foreign sources, but that for the remainder was manufactured in Japan.
The 3in on the turret tops in Kongo were landed in 1918. In the early 1920s both Kongo and Hiei were given distinctive thin curved smoke caps. Later in the decade the bridge structure of these ships was built up, the numerous additional upper platforms almost totally obscuring the tripod foremast. During the period following the Washington agreement, it was decided to modernise the class because no new battleships could be built and probably also because the battle-cruiser concept had been proved flawed during the First World War. Haruna was the first to go into dockyard hands at Yokosuka in 1927, when her horizontal protection was improved over the magazines and machinery (armour being increased by more than 3,600 tons). Torpedo bulges increased beam to 95ft 3in. The steam plant was modernised by the replacement of all boilers by sixteen newer type but still of mixed-firing. The forefunnel was removed as were four torpedo tubes (the latter because of the bulges). The elevation of the main turrets was increased to 43° and arrangements were made for up to three Type 90 Model 0 floatplanes to be carried, although no catapult was fitted. Kirishima was given similar treatment at Kure in 1927-30; Kongo was modernised at Yokosuka 1929-31 (both of these being given ten new boilers not sixteen) and Hiei at Kure 1929-32. The latter's conversion, however, was somewhat different from that of her sisters in that under the terms of the Washington Treaty she had to be converted to a training ship, if scrapping her were to be avoided. Her boilers were reduced to eleven, with an output of 13,800shp for a maximum speed of 18 knots, and the armour belt was removed. Her after 14in turret was removed as were the 6in guns, although the latter were re-shipped in about 1936.
After only a few years, a further and more radical modernisation was carried out, beginning with Haruna at Kure in 1933. In the course of this work she was fitted with completely new machinery, eleven oil-fired Kampon boilers replacing the older ones, and new turbines of 136,000shp, increasing speed to 30.5 knots, speeds of 29.7 knots (Haruna) to 30.5 knots (Kirishima) being achieved on post-modernisation trials. Length was increased by about 25 feet as a result of rebuilding the stern to improve fineness and speed. The bridge structure was again modified, now having a heavy pagoda-type appearance. The main armament was unaltered although barbette protection was improved, but the 6in outfit was reduced by two and the remaining four torpedo tubes were removed. The older-pattern 3in AA were supplanted by four twin 5in DP 40cal Model 88 or 89, and the light AA included four 40mm Vickers 2pdr in single mountings and eight 13.2mm Hotchkiss, the latter having been replaced by the new 25mm Type 96 by 1936. A catapult and parking rails for three floatplanes were incorporated on the superstructure deck abaft No. 3 turret, the aircraft being a mix of Type 95 Model 11 Nakajima E8N1, 'Dave' and Type 94 Kawanishi E7K1 'Alf'. Kirishima followed in 1935 at Sasebo, then Kongo at Yokosuka in 1936. The last was Hiei, which was re-militarised at Kure from 1937 to 1940. This ship, however, was given a bridge structure similar to that of the new Yamato class. After the second rebuilding the horizontal armour was 3in HT steel on 3in NC armour. This deck was continued about half-way down the sloped sides in the same thickness. The lower portions of the uptakes received 8in VC armour. There were now three longitudinal bulkheads between the machinery spaces and the inner plating of the double bottom. The outermost of these was the main torpedo bulkhead which varied between l.6in and 2in HT steel.
As a result of wartime experience, further modifications were carried out to Kongo and Haruna, mainly to improve AA defence. The 25mm outfit was increased to 34 in 1943, and by 1944 they had landed another two 6in and at the end of that year they had no less than one hundred 25mm. Haruna, the only ship to survive the war, had 117 (30x3, 2x2, 23x1) 25mm. Radar had been fitted by 1944. Kirishima and Hiei, relatively early war losses, appear to have received little or no alteration.
Between the wars Kongo underwent three major refits, from 20 October 1928 to 20 September 1931; 1 June 1935 to 8 January 1936 and, finally, from 25 November 1940 to 10 April 1941.
In November 1941 she was attached to the 3rd Battleship Squadron, First Fleet, at Saeki Bay in the Inland Sea, but was immediately incorporated into the Southern Force, Main Body, from the 7th. After a week at Sasebo she sailed south on 29 November, in readiness for the forthcoming operations in the South China Sea, arriving at Mako in the Pescadores on 2 December. She sailed from Mako with the Southern Force on the 4th and anchored in Camranh Bay on the 11th, having sighted a submarine en route, reported as an L type. During this period she covered operations against the British Force Z (Prince of Wales and Repulse) but was not needed because the two British ships had been sunk by air attack. She lay at Camranh Bay until 8 January 1942, as distant cover for the Malayan operations, without having participated in any offensive actions, and on that day sailed for the Inland Sea. After loading stores and equipment Kongo sailed for Palau in the South Philippine Sea on 14 January, where she remained at anchor until 18 February as distant cover for the landings in the Celebes. Now assigned to the Southern Force, Mobile Force, she left Palau on the 18th to cover the landings at Kendari and arrived in Staring Bay in the Celebes three days later. On 25 February she sailed with her three sisters as part of the Indian Ocean Mobile Operation, in company with the carriers Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu and Soryu, tasked with attacking Allied shipping attempting to escape from Java and interdicting Allied supply routes. On 6 March Kongo and Haruna, accompanied by the 17th Destroyer Division of four ships, were detached to bombard Christmas Island the following day, when the transmitting station and oil tanks were hit. On 11 March Kongo returned to Staring Bay where she remained until the 26th when she sailed to participate in the raid into the Indian Ocean ('C' Operation) in company with all her sisters, five carriers and a screen of cruisers and destroyers under the command of Admiral Nagumo. On 4 April she sighted Catalina-type aircraft which reported the position of the Japanese force before it was shot down; next day torpedo-aircraft, reported as Albacores but probably Swordfish, were seen. More enemy aircraft were sighted during the next couple of days, and on 9 April she helped repulse an attack by nine RAF Blenheims, five of which were shot down. On the 10th Kongo was detached to Sasebo, entering dry dock on the 23rd.
Repairs and maintenance took until 2 May. On the 15th she was detached from the Mobile Force and incorporated into the Occupation Force, sailing from Sasebo for Hashira Jima on the 21st. On 29 May she sailed for the Midway Operation, as part of the Invasion Force, until 9 June when she was detached to the Northern Force Support Unit. She made a round trip to Kawachi Bay, 24-8 June, with stores, and was detached from the Northern Support Force on 1 July. On the 11th she was incorporated into the Occupation Force and returned to Yokosuka. On the 14th she was incorporated into the Second Fleet, Advance Force, and transferred to the Inland Sea. From 10 August to 8 September she was attached to the Stand-By force (Advance Force), having sailed for Truk from Kure on 6 September. On 11 September, the day after her arrival at Truk, Kongo sailed for the Guadalcanal Operation and on the 14th was attacked by seven heavy bombers which caused no damage. She put back into Truk on the 23rd. On 5 October she was incorporated into the Raiding Group and sailed on the 11th to bombard Henderson Field on Guadalcanal on the night of the 13/14th, firing 430 rounds of 14in and thirty-three 6in. Next day the Raiding Force was disbanded but Kongo remained at sea, engaging enemy aircraft on several occasions in the eastern Solomons area, and was present during the Battle of Santa Cruz (which was purely an air battle) where she was a component of the Close Support Group, Second Fleet, until returning to Truk anchorage on 30 October. On 8 November she was attached to the Carrier Support Unit, sailing from Truk the next day to operate north-east of the Solomons, rejoining the Main Body on the 15th before returning to Truk on the 18th. On 24 November Kongo was assigned to Battleship Division 3, Third Fleet, still at Truk, and made one sortie from 31 January to 9 February 1943. Recalled to home waters, she sailed for Sasebo on 15 February, arriving on the 20th. Here she was dry docked for refit from 27 February to 13 March. She left for the Inland Sea on the 19th and on the 22nd was assigned to the Mobile Force, Stand-By Force, until 1 April when she rejoined the Main Body and sailed from Kure for Truk on the same day. Arriving on the 6th, she lay in readiness until leaving for Yokosuka on 17 May. During her return passage she was hit by a submarine torpedo on the 18th(?) but suffered no damage. On the 22nd she reached Yokosuka and remained in the vicinity until 16 June when she sailed once more for Truk, arriving on the 21st. On 15 July she was assigned to the Mobile Force but continued to lie at Truk until 18 September when she sailed for Eniwetok as part of the Mobile Force Vanguard, lay there 20-3 September then returned to Truk. She was again at Eniwetok on 19 October, in preparation for a strike to Wake Island, which took place without incident 23-6 October. She sailed for home again on 11 December, arriving at Sasebo on the 31st. On 30 January 1944 Kongo was put into No. 4 dry dock for refit and maintenance, undocking on 14 February after which she carried out trials on the 27th before returning to operational status. At the end of the month she sailed for the western Inland Sea and joined the First Mobile fleet, 3rd Battle Squadron (Flag). On 6 March she sailed for Lingga Roads where she arrived on the 15th, remaining at this anchorage until the 31st when she sailed for Singapore, but returned to Lingga on 2 April. She made another brief trip to Singapore 5-7 May, returned to Lingga and left for Tawa Tawa on the 11th.
By May 1944 Kongo was once again with the 2nd Fleet in the Marianas and during the Battle of the Marianas in June she was a component of the Mobile Force Vanguard. In October 1944 she participated in the Battle for Leyte, sailing from Brunei on 22 October as a unit of Admiral Kurita's Centre Force. She survived the heavy US air attacks in the Sibuyan Sea on the 24th, and next day engaged US escort carriers at the Battle of Samar, when Gambler Bay was sunk and three others damaged as well as the destroyer Hoel which, having missed Kongo with torpedoes, was badly hit by the battleship in return. Kongo was probably also responsible for the damage to Johnston which was hit six times before the Japanese force was driven off by the US destroyers. The following month Kongo was on passage north-west of Kiirun, Formosa, escorted by the destroyer Urakaze, when both she and her escort were torpedoed and sunk on the 21st by the US submarine Sealion II.
Hiei's pre-war refit periods included 15 October 1929 to 31 December 1932 and 26 November 1936 to 31 January 1940. This latter period was extended as a result of her being re-militarised. She was serving in the 1st Division of the 3rd Battle Squadron at the outbreak of war in the Pacific in December 1941. This division was attached to Admiral Nagumo's Striking Force which, on 27 November, had sailed from Tankan Bay in the Kurile Islands for the attack on Pearl Harbor. She remained with the carriers of the 1st Air Fleet into the New Year, based at Truk, and from 17 January 1942 operated in the south-west Pacific as distant cover in support of the landings at Rabaul and Kavieng under the tactical command of the Fourth Fleet, South Seas Force, returning to Truk on 25 January. In response to the US raid on the Marshall and Gilbert Islands on 1 February, the carrier force, including Hiei, was sailed to intercept, but was recalled on the 4th without coming into action and reached Palau on the 8th. On 18 February Hiei sailed again with Kirishima and the carriers (Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu and Soryu, screened by two heavy cruisers and nine destroyers) for the raid on Darwin, Australia, the aircraft being launched from a position in the Banda Sea on the 19th, after which the force made for Staring Bay, Kendari in the Celebes, where they arrived two days later. On 25 February she put to sea again with the carriers from Kendari to operate south of Java in support of the Japanese landings on that island. In the course of this task, Hiei and her sister Kirishima together with cruisers sank the US destroyer Edsall south of Java on 1 March with the expenditure of 297 rounds of 14in and 132 of 6in and returned to Staring Bay on the 11th. Towards the end of the month the 1st Carrier Air Fleet sailed again from Staring Bay, southern Celebes, for a raid into the Indian Ocean. Hiei and all her sisters accompanied the force. The cruisers Cornwall and Dorsetshire were sunk by the carriers' aircraft on 5 April south of Ceylon before making an attack on Ceylon itself. By 12 April the force was back in the Malacca Strait. On 28 May Hiei sailed as a part of the Midway invasion force, but this operation was a disaster for the Japanese and after its conclusion she became a unit of the 3rd Fleet. From the end of August she participated in the Guadalcanal campaign for the next few months until 9 November when she sailed from Truk with Kirishima, a cruiser and twelve destroyers for a bombardment of Henderson Field on the night of 12/13 November. En route for this task however, the Japanese squadron encountered a force of US cruisers and destroyers (TG67.4) in Iron Bottom Sound off Savo Island in the early hours of the 13th. During or as a result of this utterly confused night action, the US force lost two cruisers and four destroyers. Of the former, Atlanta had been severely damaged by Hiei before being lost to destroyer torpedoes and San Francisco was also heavily hit by the battleship, while of the latter Laffey was destroyed by gunfire from Hiei after she had been disabled by Japanese destroyers. In return, Hiei had been badly hit by San Francisco and Portland, receiving about 85 hits of various calibres in about forty minutes, leaving her unmanoeuvrable with the destroyer Yukikaze standing by. Nevertheless she again engaged the damaged US destroyer Aaron Ward but failed to hit. Attacked continuously by US Navy and Marine aircraft throughout the day, being hit by at least four bombs and four torpedoes, she remained afloat until that evening when she was scuttled by Japanese destroyers.
In 1917 Haruna was damaged by a mine laid by the German raider Wolf in the south-west Pacific. By 1941 she too was serving with the 3rd Battle Squadron in the Inland Sea, assigned to the Third Fleet in November 1941. On 7 November she was assigned to the Southern Force, Main Body, but a week later was reassigned to the Eastern Support Force. She sailed from Saeki Wan on 29 November and on 2 December anchored at Mako in the Pescadores in preparation for supporting the landings in Malaya. She left on the 4th and arrived at Camranh Bay, Indo-China, a week later, from where she operated with her sister Kongo against Force Z until ordered to support the Philippines campaign on 20 December. She operated off the landing areas in the north and eastern Philippines until the 23rd when she returned to Mako. Her support was not called upon and on 6 January 1942 she was assigned to support the operations against the Netherlands East Indies and transferred to Palau on 12 January. On 16 February she was assigned to the Southern Mobile Force for operations in the Indian Ocean and moved to Staring Bay, Celebes, 18-21 February. From here she sailed on the 25th, participating in the bombardment of Christmas Island on 7 March, in preparation for the occupation of the island. After returning to Staring Bay on the 11th, she then sailed once more on operations, joining Admiral Nagumo's Indian Ocean raid with her sisters on 26 March, during which operation her floatplanes were instrumental in locating the British carrier Hermes for the carriers' aircraft to sink. She joined the Mobile Force on 10 April before finally returning to Sasebo on the 22nd. Haruna remained in home waters until 27 May when she sailed to participate in the Midway operation, with the First Mobile Force, Carrier Force. After nineteen days at sea she returned to Hashira Jima on 14 June. She remained in home waters until the autumn, having been transferred to the Second Fleet, Advance Force, on 14 July. On 6 September she sailed from Kure bound for Truk where she anchored on the 10th, now becoming a unit of the Advance Force of the Main Body. She was committed to the Guadalcanal campaign, making a sortie from Truk 11-23 September, and on 5 October was assigned to the Raiding Group, sailing on the 11th to bombard Henderson Field on Guadalcanal Island. The airfield was shelled with 438 rounds of 14in and 21 rounds of 6in on the night of 13/14 October, after which she rejoined the Main Body on the 15th, remaining at sea under US air attack at times, participating in the Battle of Santa Cruz as a unit of the Second Fleet's Close Support Force, until putting back into Truk on 30 October. On 8 November Haruna was assigned to the Carrier Support Unit and sailed on the 9th, being at sea for the next ten days and present at the Battle of the Solomons, then returned to Truk. She was re-assigned to the Third Fleet on 24 December and sortied on 31 January 1943 to cover Operation KE (the evacuation of Guadalcanal), returning to Truk on 9 February. After a few days at Truk, she sailed for Sasebo on the 15th, arriving five days later. Here she spent ten days or so in dry dock for maintenance, then moved to Kure whence she sailed for Truk on 1 April. On 17 May she was assigned to the Main Body and sailed for home, arriving at Yokosuka on 22 May, where she was assigned to the Mobile Force of the Main Body. She remained in home waters until 16 June when, as part of the Advance Force of the Main Body, she sailed again for Truk. She left for Eniwetok on 18 September, but was back in Truk by the 25th, and repeated the visit 17-26 October. On 11 December 1943 Kongo sailed for Sasebo where she was docked until the end of January 1944. She left Kure on 6 March for Lingga where she arrived on the 15th, and from the 31st was assigned to the Second Striking Force, Second Fleet, First Mobile Fleet. On 5 May she sailed for Singapore on a transport mission before returning to Lingga. Six days later she sailed for Tawa Tawa, where she arrived on the 14th. On 13 June she sailed to participate in the A-Go Operation during which she was attacked by some forty-three SB2cs and TBFs. Five of the former made a successful dive-bombing attack on the 20th, scoring two direct hits on the quarterdeck, causing heavy damage and two near-misses forward which resulted in hull damage. Fifteen men were killed and nineteen wounded. Haruna was detached home for repairs and reached Nagausuki Bay on the 22nd then steamed to the Inland Sea entering No.4 dry dock at Sasebo on the 27th.
On 24 October, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, she was hit by two bombs which caused only minor damage, and next day participated in the Battle off Samar against US escort carriers and destroyers. She returned to Kure for damage repairs and refit, which was almost complete by March 1945 when as a result of the chronic oil shortage, she was immobilised - although in other respects operational. On 19 March, anchored off Eta Jima, an island a little south of Kure, she received one minor bomb hit, but in the raids by TF38 on 24 and 28 July, she was hit three and nine times respectively and settled to the bottom in shallow water. After the war Haruna was raised and broken up at the Harima Shipyard at Kure 1945-6.
Kirishima was also modernised twice, 9 June 1927 to 20 May 1930 and 23 May 1933 to 8 June 1936. She was serving in home waters with the 3rd Battleship Division, First Fleet, in November 1941. On the 17th she left Sasebo for the Kurile Islands, reaching Tankan Bay on the 22nd. She sailed with the Pearl Harbor Strike Force on the 26th, returning to Kure on 24 December after successfully completing the operation. She remained in the Inland Sea area until sailing for Truk on 8 January 1942, arriving on the 14th. She was at sea on operations 17-27 January as cover for the landings at Rabaul and Kavieng in New Guinea, sailing again on 1 February to attack US forces which had just carried out raids against the Marshall and Gilbert Islands, but was recalled on the 4th before contact could be made. On 6 February she was incorporated into the Southern Force, Support Unit. On 8 February Kirishima put into Palau where she lay until the 18th when she sailed with the 1st Carrier Air Fleet for the strike on Darwin, Australia, returning to Staring Bay on the 21st. On the 25th she sailed for offensive operations in connection with the assault on Java, during the course of which she sank a Dutch merchantman and the US destroyer Edsall before returning to Staring Bay on 11 March. She sailed again on operations on 26 March, this time for a strike into the Indian Ocean as part of the Ceylon Invasion operation, being assigned to the Mobile Force Support Unit on 1 April. After completion of this sortie she sailed for Sasebo where she arrived on the 22nd. Part of May was spent in dock at Sasebo before she transferred to the Inland Sea. From the fleet anchorage at Hashira Jima she sailed for the Midway operation on 29 May, tasked with covering the Carrier Strike Force of the First Mobile Force (Akagi, Kaga, Soryu and Hiryu). She returned to the Inland Sea on 14 June after the failure of this operation during which all four of the carriers were lost. On 14 July she was assigned to the Third Fleet, Mobile Force Vanguard, Main Body. Kirishima eventually sailed for the war zone on 16 August, bound for Truk, being attacked by four B17s en route and participating in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons before arriving in Truk on the 28th. She was at sea off Guadalcanal 10-23 September and participated in a second sortie to Guadalcanal 11-30 October in support of the invasion force, and in a third, when she sailed from Truk on 9 November as part of the Raiding Force. On 12 November in company with Hiei, she was in action with enemy ships, sinking one cruiser (Atlanta) and damaging another, but Hiei was lost as a result of this action. Kirishima, hit by one 8in shell, had withdrawn earlier together with the light cruiser Nagara. On the night of 14/15 November she participated in another bombardment raid on Henderson Field with the cruisers Atago and Takao, and engaged the US battleships of TF64, Washington and South Dakota, off Savo Island and badly hit the latter. But she in turn was heavily hit by radar-controlled gunfire from Washington and South Dakota, being reduced to a burning wreck. She sank next day some 7.7nm off Savo Island, survivors being rescued by the destroyers Asagumo, Teratsuki and Samidare.