Japanese World War II destroyers


Japanese World War II destroyers

In World War II, the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) had at its disposal a range of destroyers that included some of the most formidable warships of their type. This, with the power of the Long Lance torpedoes, came as a nasty surprise to the allies.

Evolution

From 1922, when Japan was dissatisfied with its tonnage allocation under the Washington Naval Treaty, IJN planners assessed their needs to protect Japan's maritime lifelines. They assumed that their most likely opponent would be the United States and a total of 144 destroyers would be necessary. In order to achieve a long ranged fleet that was capable of operating far from home waters and bases, treaty limitations were disregarded. The resultant design became the Fubuki class destroyers, commissioned during 1928 - 1932. [ cite book| last = Whitley
first = M J
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Destroyers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia
publisher = Arms and Armour Press
date = 2000
location = London
pages = p.192
url =
doi =
id = ISBN 1-85409-521-8
]

A substantial number of Japanese destroyers were lost in 1942 in actions around the Solomon Islands. The urgent need for replacements necessitated design simplifications to improve construction speed and war experience prompted improvements to damage control and anti aircraft weaponry. The resultant Matsu class destroyers were commissioned in 1944. [ cite book| last = Whitley
first = M J
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Destroyers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia
publisher = Arms and Armour Press
date = 2000
location = London
pages = p.206
url =
doi =
id = ISBN 1-85409-521-8
]

Naming history

Due to the anticipated expansion of the navy, the IJN originally issued numerical designations to every ship. However, the bland numerical designations were unpopular with the officers and crews. The IJN abolished destroyerss numerical designations on August 1928, reverting to naming conventions.

The reverence held by the Japanese for the arts of war, promoted by the pre-war military governments, led to poetic sounding names for warships. Destroyers were allocated names associated with natural phenomena of weather, sky and sea, eg, wind (kaze), snow (yuki), rain (ame), clouds (kumo), waves (nami), mist (kiri), frost (shimo), tides (shio), and moons (tsuki) [cite web
last = Ross
first = Kelley L.
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Advanced Japanese Destroyers of World War II
work =
publisher =
date = 2006
url = http://www.friesian.com/destroy.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate = 1 October 2008
]

Actions

Japanese destroyers performed the usual range of tasks, fleet and convoy escorts. supply and reinforcement runs to various isolated island outposts and garrisons.

Battle of Tassafaronga

During the Solomon Islands Campaign, eight Japanese destroyers running supplies were surprised by five American cruisers and four destroyers. Despite the loss of one of the flotilla, the Japanese launched a torpedo salvo to cover their withdrawal. Of the four cruisers, one was sunk and three were seriously damaged.

Classes

"Momi"

Twenty-one vessels of the "Momi" class (樅) were built by Japan and commissioned in the early 1920s as second class destroyers. They displaced 770 tons (standard) and carried three 4.7 inch guns and four 21 inch torpedo tubes.

By the outbreak of war with the United States in 1941, all had either been scrapped, reduced to non-combatant roles or were used for secondary escort work. Five survived the war and were scrapped soon after. [cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Japanese Destroyers, Momi Class
work = Battleships-Cruisers.co.uk
publisher = Cranston Fine Arts
date = June 16, 2008
url = http://www.battleships-cruisers.co.uk/japanese_destroyers.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate = 10 Oct 2008
]

"Minekaze"

Thirteen "Minekaze" (峯風) ('Summit Wind') class ships were commissioned between March 1920 and July 1922. They were developments of earlier classes (eg, the Amatsukaze class destroyer), displaced 1,650 tons (full load)All displacements given in this text are full load, unless otherwise stated.] and carried four 4.7 inch guns and six 21 inch torpedo tubes. The siting some of the weaponry was poor. Two of the four guns were sited amidships, one forward and one abaft of the after funnel; in this position they had limited arcs of fire, being restricted by the ships' superstructure. One torpedo tube mounting was ahead of the bridge and liable to be washed over by heavy seas.

By the start of the war, these ships were no longer suitable for fleet duties, being used instead as escorts. Six survived the war.

"Wakatake"

Six "Wakatake" ('Bamboo sprout') class ships were commissioned between September 1922 and November 1923. They were small (1,100 tons second class destroyers, developed from the "Momi" class.

"Kamikaze"

Nine "Kamikaze" (神風) ('God Wind') class ships were commissioned between December 1922 and December 1924. They were developed from the "Minekaze" class.

"Mutsuki"

Twelve "Mutsuki" (睦月) class ships were commissioned between November 1925 and July 1927. They were developed from the "Kamikaze" class.

"Fubuki"

The twenty "Fubuki" (吹雪型) class were commissioned between May 1928 and May 1932. They were a completely new design and a radical change from their predecessors.

"Akatsuki"

The four "Akatsuki" (暁型) class were commissioned between August 1932 and March 1933. They were derived from the preceding "Fubuki" design.

"Hatsuharu"

The six "Hatsuharu" ('Early Spring') class were commissioned between September 1933 and March 1935. They were reduced versions of the preceding "Akatsuki" design.

"Shiratsuyu"

The ten "Shiratsuyu" (暁型) ('White Dew') class were commissioned between August 1936 and August 1937. They were developments of the preceding "Hatsuhara" design, in the light of the Tomozuru incident, which exposed the instability of contemporary Japanese warship designs..

"Asashio"

The ten "Asashio" (朝潮) ('Morning High Tide') class were commissioned between August 1937 and June 1938. They were developments of the preceding "Shiratsuyu" and "Fubuki" designs.

"Kagero"

The eighteen "Kagero" (陽炎) (Glimmering Spring Air') class were commissioned between November 1939 and July 1941. They were a new design, utilising experience drawn from previous classes and with disregard to treaty obligations.

"Shimakaze"

The "Shimakaze" (島風), the sole member of its class, was commissioned in May 1943. It was an experimental design.

"Yugumo"

The twenty "Yugumo" (夕雲) ('Evening Clouds') class were commissioned between September 1941 and May 1944. They were developments of the preceding "Kagero" design.

"Akizuki"

The sixteen "Akizuki" ('Autumn Moon') class were commissioned between June 1942 and January 1945. They were originally intended as anti-aircraft ships but completed as general purpose destroyers. This class was the first to be equipped with radar [cite web
last = Nevitt
first = Allyn D.
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Introduction: The "Niizuki"
work =
publisher =
date = 1996
url = http://www.combinedfleet.com/niizuk_o.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate = 11 Oct 2008
] .

"Matsu"

The eighteen "Matsu" (竹) ('Bamboo') class were commissioned between April 1944 and January 1945. This class were a simplified destroyer design introduced to speed construction times. The urgent need for replacements arose from the severe losses around the Solomon Islands in 1942.

"Tachibana"

Fourteen "Tachibana" (橘) ('Citrus tachibana') class ships were commissioned between January and June 1945. Another four were launched but not completed and five were not launched before the Japanese surrender. They were a development of the "Matsu" class, with further simplifications to the design.

Weapons systems

Guns

*4.7in 45 calibre (classes: "Momi", "Minekaze", "Kamikaze", "Wakatake" & "Mutsuki")
*5in 50 calibre breech-loading 1914 type ("Fubuki" and all subsequent classes except "Akizuki")
*Type 89 5 inch 40 calibre ("Matsu")
*Type 98 3.9in ("Akizuki")
*7.7mm
*13mm (classes: "Akatsuki", "Hatsuhara", "Shiratsuyu")
*Type 96 25 mm AT/AA Gun (classes: "Asashio" and all subsequent classes)

Gun mountings

*3rd year type 1914 hand-worked
*Type "A" (40° maximum elevation) ("Fubuki")
*Type "B" (75° maximum elevation) (classes: "Fubuki", "Akatsuki", "Hatsuhara")
*Type "C" (55° maximum elevation) (classes: "Shiratsuyu", "Asashio", "Kagero")
*Type "D" (75° maximum elevation) (classes: "Shimakaze", "Yugumo")
*90° maximum elevation enclosed ("Akizuki")
*90° maximum elevation open ("Matsu")

Fire control

*Type 94 "Kosha Sochi" anti-aircraft ("Akizuki")

Torpedoes

*21in ("Momi", "Minekaze", "Kamikaze" & "Wakatake")
*24in (Long Lance) ("Mutsuki", "Fubuki", "Akatsuki"; oxygen fuelled in "Hatsuhara" and all subsequent classes)

Radar

* Type 22 ("Yugumo", "Shimakaze" (both from mid 1944))

Mines

References


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