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Myoko Class Heavy Cruiser

Myoko in the 30s
Myoko in the 30s
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Ship Builder Laid Down Launched Completed Fate
Myoko Yokosuka Dky 25 Oct 24 16 Apr 27 31 Jul 29 Scuttled 8 Jul 1946
Nachi Kure Dky 26 Nov 24 15 Jun 27 26 Nov 28 Lost 5 Nov 1944
Haguro Mitsubishi, N 16 Mar 25 24 Mar 28 25 Apr 29 Lost 16 May 1945
Ashigara Kawasaki, Kobe 11 Apr 25 22 Apr 28 20 Aug 29 Lost 8 Jun 1945

Displacement: 10,000 tons/10,160 tonnes (standard); 11,663* tons/11,850 tonnes (full load).
Length: 668ft 6in/203.76m (oa); 631ft 2in/192.39m (pp); 661ft 1in/201.5m (wi).
Beam: 56ft 11in/17.34m; Draught: 19ft 4in/5.90m (mean). Machinery: 4-shaft geared turbines; 12 Kampon boilers.
Performance: 130,000shp=351/2kts; Bunkerage: 2,470 tons oil fuel
Range: 8,000nm at 14kts
Protection: 4in main belt; 3 to 4in bulkheads; 1.25in main deck; .5in to 1in upper deck; 1in turrets: 3in barbettes.
Guns: ten 7.9in (5x2); six 4.7in (6xl); two MGs.
Torpedoes: twelve 24in (4x3 fixed)
Aircraft: two, one catapult
Complement: 773

* as designed 1924 2/3 trials displacement. Actual figure on completion was 13,300 tons.

Design

After the signing of the Washington Treaty on 6 February 1922, the Naval General Staff laid down requirements for a class of 'Treaty' cruisers armed with 20cm (7.9in) guns. The initial specification called for eight guns in twin turrets, three forward and one aft, four 4.7in AA, four sets of twin fixed tubes and protection against indirect hits from 8in shells. Speed was to be 35kts and endurance 10,000nm at 14kts on a displacement of 10,000 tons. After some discussion this was modified to increase the main armament to ten guns, to improve the anti-torpedo defence and to eliminate the torpedo armament altogether. However, as with the Aoba class, politics came into play and the design was further tinkered with to reinstate the torpedo outfit and to increase the heavy AA battery to six guns. Later, the torpedo armament was again increased to twelve tubes by the expedient of fitting triple tubes. All of these alterations were estimated to raise the displacement by some 500 tons.

As with the 7,100-ton cruisers, the armour belt was an integral part of the hull strength, and an undulating flush deck was again adopted. In the event these measures did not give the economy in weight expected, and the hulls came out up to 200 tons over the designed figure. Moreover, because of the increased displacement, the strength did not benefit to the extent expected either. When they were eventually completed, designed trials displacement was exceeded by nearly 1,000 tons and the original design by almost 1,500 tons.

The protective scheme included a 4in side belt, inclined outboard from bottom to top by 12°, which extended to cover both the magazines and the machinery spaces, although its height was reduced outside the latter. This belt was 123.6m long and 3.5m deep over its central portion, and 2m deep fore and aft of it. The ends were closed off by armoured bulkheads 3-4in thick. Anti-torpedo bulges were incorporated which extended from the lower edge of the side armour, with the internal limits formed from a curved 1.25in high tensile steel sandwich. The bulges were about 305ft long, with a maximum depth of a little over 8ft. The horizontal protection comprised a main armoured deck 32-35mm thick over the machinery spaces, with the boiler uptakes given 70-88.5mm armour. The upper deck head was reinforced by HT steel plates 0.5in to 1in thick, and the lower deck over the magazines was also given 35mm armour. Barbettes above the lower deck were 3in. Main armament turrets had only 1in splinter protection. In total, the weight of armour and protective plating was 2,052 tons, or 16.4 per cent of the trials displacement.

To attain the required 35kts, the installed shp had to be raised to 130,000, and the propulsion plant was based on the design for the cancelled Amagi class battlecruisers. In these cruisers the boilers, twelve in number, were fitted only for oilfiring. No superheaters were fitted. There were eight separate boiler rooms, Nos. 1 to 3 housing two units each and the remainder one each. A longitudinal bulkhead extended from the after end of No. 3 boiler room to the after bulkhead of the turbine spaces. The latter, of which there were four, each housed a turbine, the foremost powering the wing shafts. The total weight of the machinery was about 2,260 tons.

The main armament consisted of the 7.9in 50cal 3 Nendo Shiki 1Go 20cm gun, the same as in Furutaka, mounted in five twin type D turrets, three forward and two aft. Elevation was 40°, and both elevation and training were electrohydraulic. The secondary battery was the 4.7in 45cal weapon as in Furutaka, but increased to six guns, three on each beam, all in single mountings. There was no light AA apart from a token pair of 7.7mm MGs. The torpedo outfit was four triple fixed 24in tubes positioned above the engine rooms, with 24 reserve torpedoes in peacetime and 36 in war. The aircraft installation consisted of a single compressed-air catapult on the starboard side aft, and provision to stow two type E2N1 floatplanes.

Two ships were ordered in the spring of 1925, and two more in the autumn of 1924. The former were engined by their builders, but the latter had their machinery subcontracted to Kure (Ashigara) and Yokosuka (Haguro).

HA 12cm guns of the Nachi in December 1928 - they were replaced in 1929 by shielded models
HA 12cm guns of the Nachi in December 1928 - they were replaced in 1929 by shielded models
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Modifications

At the end of 1930, smoke problems on the bridge resulted in the raising of the fore-funnels by 6.5ft. Between 1931 and 1934 all four ships had their main armament changed to the 2 Go model, which was a true 8in (20.3cm weapon.

Between 20 November 1934 and June 1935 all four ships underwent major modernisation when the fixed tubes, 4.7in guns, catapult and hangar were removed. Four twin shielded 5in HA mountings were shipped, together with a new HA fire control system. The torpedo outfit was altered to two quadruple 24in banks in sponsons on the upper deck, with a total of sixteen torpedoes. Two catapults were now fitted at superstructure deck level and provision was made to embark four type, E8N1 floatplanes, although the normal complement was two and one ETK1 type. To restore a measure of stability, the bulges were extended by plating up vertically from the outer edge of the existing bulge almost to the upper edge of the side armour. Displacement increased by about 68 tons.

In 1936 they were all strengthened as a result of hurricane damage to the fleet. By the end of 1936 they had also received some improvement to the light AA by the addition of eight 13mm machine guns in two quadruple mountings.

Ashigara
Ashigara
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Ashigara probably 1937
Ashigara probably 1937
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Ashigara probably 1937
Ashigara probably 1937
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Ashigara off Spithead, May 1937
Ashigara off Spithead, May 1937
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Ashigara (Spithead?), with Graf Spee
Ashigara (Spithead?), with Graf Spee
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Further modernisation was carried out in 1939/41, when the light AA was altered to four twin 25mm abreast the funnels and two twin 13mm on the bridge, the original quadruple 13mm and the Lewis guns being landed. New, heavier catapults were fitted and the aircraft arrangements altered to operate one E13A1 ('Jake') and two F1M2 ('Pete') floatplanes, but actual equipment varied in service. The torpedo outfit was increased to four quadruple 24in banks, fitted for the Long Lance oxygen-propelled torpedoes. Twenty-four torpedoes in all were embarked. Machinery and communications were overhauled and the rig altered. The bulges were considerably enlarged again to preserve stability.

In 1943 all received a further two twin 25mm mountings and had the 13mm mountings on the bridge replaced by another pair of twin 25mm for a total of 16 (8 x 2). Radar sets were also fitted.

Between November 1943 and January 1944 a further eight single 25mm were added. Nachi and Ashigara also received a surface search radar set.

In the autumn of 1944 the light AA was again strengthened, Myoko and Haguro receiving four triple and sixteen single 25mm, now disposing 4 x 3, 8 x 2 and 16 x 1 25mm. The other pair had two twin and twenty single added for a total of 48 guns, (10 x 2, 28 x 1). Updated radar was fitted, but to save weight the after banks of tubes and two searchlights were landed. Total torpedo outfit was now sixteen.

Service

Sentai 4 off Beppu - four Myokos in 1930 - in the foreground is Ashigara, and then Haguro, Myoko and Nachi.  Note the forward funnels had not yet been heightened
Sentai 4 off Beppu - four Myokos in 1930 - in the foreground is Ashigara, and then Haguro, Myoko and Nachi. Note the forward funnels had not yet been heightened
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These ships formed the 4th Cruiser Squadron from completion and served with the 2nd Fleet. All four ships reduced to reserve on 1 December 1932, and were replaced in the 4th Cruiser Squadron by the Takao class. In May 1933 the Myokos were transferred to the 5th Cruiser Squadron, which, however, was only active for the summer manoeuvres of 1933. From the end of 1933 they were assigned to the Guardship Squadrons at either Kure or Sasebo pending their reconstruction, which was started on 15 November 1934 (Myoko and Ashigara) and February 1934 (Nachi and Haguro). After reconstruction the four ships again constituted the 5th Cruiser Squadron, Ashigara proceeding to England for the Coronation Review of 20 May 1937. They served in Chinese waters during the Sino-Japanese conflict. As war approached, Ashigara operated in the Indo-China theatre, while the others formed the 5th Cruiser Squadron. December 1941 found the 5th Cruiser Squadron in the Palau Islands and Ashigara in the Pescadores.

Myoko in March 1941 after reconstruction
Myoko in March 1941 after reconstruction
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Myoko, good detail
Myoko, good detail
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Myoko
Myoko
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The three ships with the 5th Cruiser Squadron covered the South Philippines Force during the landings in those islands and those on the adjacent territories in the Dutch East Indies between December 1941 and February 1942, having been joined by Ashigara in January. During these operations Myoko was damaged by US aircraft in the Davao Gulf. Nachi and Haguro played prominent roles in the Battle of the Java Sea and were responsible for the losses of de Ruyter and Kortenaer (Haguro) and Java (Nachi). In March the same two ships fought an action which led to the sinking of Exeter, while the destroyers Pope and Encounter were sunk by Ashigara and Myoko. In addition, Ashigara sank the US destroyer Pillsbury.

After the capture of the East Indies the ships returned to Japan for refit and did not re-enter service again until April (June in the case of Ashigara). Myoko and Haguro both formed part of the carrier cover force at the Battle of the Coral Sea in May, but had returned to Japan by the end of the month and then took part in the Aleutians campaign until mid-July.

Nachi had been fitted as Fleet flagship during her refit in March 1942, following which she assumed that role for the 5th Fleet operating in the Aleutians. Ashigara, on the other hand, served in the South West Pacific as flagship of No. 2 South Expeditionary Force, where she remained until April 1943, when a refit at Sasebo was begun. Myoko and Haguro took part in the Guadalcanal campaign from August 1942 before also returning to Japan in the autumn for refit.

After this they returned to Truk once more, then covered operations in the Aleutians between May and June 1943.

Nachi participated in the Battle of the Komandorski Islands on 27 March 1943, sustaining slight damage. In July she covered the evacuation of the Aleutians and then remained in northern waters until September 1943.

In August 1943 Myoko and Haguro returned to Truk and then operated in the Solomon Islands, where they took part in the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay during the night of 1/2 November, when both received slight damage.

Ashigara returned to the South-West Pacific, being based at Singapore until transferred to the 21st Cruiser Squadron with the NE Area Fleet in March 1943. Both she and Nachi remained in this theatre until June 1944. Their place in the southwest Pacific was taken by their sisters Myoko and Haguro, which arrived in Singapore on 12 July. All four ships took part in the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October, where Nachi collided with Mogami during the night action in the Surigao Strait, and Myoko was hit by an aircraft torpedo on 25 October in the Mindoro Straits, which caused severe damage. She was eventually brought in to Singapore for temporary repairs. Haguro was hit by a bomb on No. 2 turret during the action off Samar. On 5 November 1944 Nachi was sunk by aircraft from the carrier Lexington off Corregidor Island having been hit by about nine torpedoes, twenty bombs and numerous rockets.

Haguro under attack at Rabaul on November 2, 1943
Haguro under attack at Rabaul on November 2, 1943
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Nachi
Nachi
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Nachi
Nachi
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Nachi maneuvering prior to the torpedo hits that sank her - 5 November 1944
Nachi maneuvering prior to the torpedo hits that sank her - 5 November 1944
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torpedo wakes head for the doomed Nachi
torpedo wakes head for the doomed Nachi
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Nachi sinking
Nachi sinking
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Myoko, after temporary repairs at Singapore was hit by a torpedo from the US submarine Bergall off Indo-China on 12 December 1944 and totally disabled. She was towed back to Singapore, where she arrived on 25 December. She remained there, used only as an AA battery, until she was surrendered in an unrepaired state, and was eventually scuttled by British forces in the Straits of Malacca on 8 July 1946.

Haguro remained in Malayan waters after thc Leyte operations and was finally sunk by a torpedo attack by the British 26th Destroyer Flotilla (Saumarez, Verulam, Vigilant, Venus and Virago) south-west of Penang on 16 May 1945 while on a supply mission to the Andamar Islands.

Ashigara, which had been attached directly to the 5th Fleet since November 1944, was then transferred to Singapore, and on 5 February 1945 rejoined the 5th Cruiser Squadron, or what was left of it. After the loss of Haguro this squadron was disbanded and Ashigara was reassigned directly to the 10th Area Fleet at Singapore. On 7 June 1945, while returning from evacuating troops from Batavia, she was torpedoed and sunk by the British submarine Trenchant in the Banka Strait.

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