Japanese cruiser Myōkō


Japanese cruiser Myōkō

nihongo|"Myōkō"|妙高 was the name-ship of the four-member sclass|Myōkō|cruiser|4 of heavy cruisers of the Imperial Japanese Navy — the other ships of the class being the "Nachi", "Ashigara", and "Haguro".

The ships of this class displaced 13,300 tons, were 204 metres long, and were capable of 36 knots (67 km/h). They carried two floatplanes and their main armament was ten 8-inch (203mm) guns, the heaviest armament of any cruiser in the world at the time.

"Myōkō" was laid down at the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal on October 25 1924, launched and named on April 16 1927, and was commissioned into the Imperial Japanese Navy on July 31 1929. She was named after a mountain in Niigata Prefecture.

Early combat service

During the Second Sino-Japanese War the "Myōkō" participated in the Amoy Operation from May 10-12, 1938. Also the heavy cruisers "Myōkō", "Nagara" and "Nachi" participated in the Hainan Island Operation in February 1939 under Vice Admiral Kondo Nobutake. "Myōkō" was the flagship of the admiral.

The heavy cruisers "Myōkō" and "Nachi" formed Cruiser Division Five (CruDiv5), commanded by Rear Adm. Takeo Takagi, part of the Cover Force for "Operation M," the invasion of the southern Philippine Islands. The flagship of the Cover Force was the light aircraft carrier "Ryujo", carrying the flag of Vice Adm. Ibō Takahashi. Completing the Cover Force roster were the light cruiser "Jintsu" and eight destroyers. This force gave cover for the landings at Davao and Legaspi in December 1941.

In a reorganization in late December, CruDiv5 became part of the Attack Force under the Rear Adm. Raizō Tanaka. This included the aircraft carriers "Ryujo" and "Chitose", the cruisers "Nagara" and "Naka", five destroyers and seven troop transports.

On January 4, 1942 the "Myōkō" and the other vessels of the Attack Force were attacked by American B-17 Flying Fortress bombers. The "Myōkō" was hit by one 227 kg (500 lb) bomb. The damage was superficial, but she was drydocked at Sasebo for repairs.

In the Battle of the Java Sea on March 1, 1942 the "Myōkō" participated in the destruction of the last remaining Allied fleet units in the East Indies. At 11:50 AM, the "Myōkō," "Ashigara" and two destroyers opened fire on the damaged British heavy cruiser HMS|Exeter|68|2 and her escort of two destroyers. The 8-inch guns of the "Myōkō" helped to cripple the destroyer HMS|Encounter|H10|6 which had to be scuttled.

Later in March, the "Myōkō" received a refit at Sasebo. In April, she participated in the unsuccessful pursuit of the Doolittle raid task force.

In May, "Myōkō" was part of the escort for the Tulagi invasion force in the Battle of the Coral Sea, under the command of Rear Adm. Chūichi Hara. This force consisted of the aircraft carriers "Shōkaku" and "Zuikaku", the heavy cruisers "Myōkō" and "Haguro," and five destroyers. The "Shōkaku" was damaged by American aircraft and the "Zuikaku" lost most of her aircraft in the Battle of the Coral Sea, so the flotilla was forced to withdraw without invading Port Moresby.

In June, CruDiv5 was part of Vice Adm. Nobutake Kondō's Support Force in the Battle of Midway. The force consisted of the battleships "Kongo" and "Hiei," the heavy cruisers "Myōkō," "Haguro," "Atago" and "Chokai," the light cruiser "Yura" and seven destroyers. The Support Force did not engage the enemy in this battle.

At the end of June, CruDiv5 supported the reinforcement convoy bound for the freshly captured islands of Attu and Kiska in the Aleutian Islands. The entire task force consisted of the aircraft carrier "Zuikaku," the light aircraft carriers "Zuiho," "Junyo" and "Ryujo," the heavy cruisers "Maya," "Takao," "Myōkō," "Haguro" and "Nachi," the light cruisers "Abukuma," "Kiso" and "Tama," and 15 destroyers.

The Solomon Islands campaign

On October 11, 1942 the "Myōkō" sailed from Truk as part of the Second Fleet. This force consisted of the battleships "Kongo" and "Haruna," the heavy cruisers "Myōkō," "Atago," "Chokai" and "Nachi," the light cruiser "Isuzu" and 12 destroyers. They were followed by Vice Adm. Chuichi Nagumo's Carrier Striking Force. The mission was the reinforcement and resupply of Japanese troops on the island of Guadalcanal, which had been invaded by American troops in August.

Between January 31 and February 9, 1943 the "Myōkō," after a refit at Sasebo, took part in the evacuation of Guadalcanal. The force consisted of the carriers "Zuikaku," "Zuiho" and "Junyo," the battleships "Kongo " and "Haruna," heavy cruisers "Atago," "Takao," "Myōkō" and "Haguro," the light cruisers "Nagara" and "Agano," and 11 destroyers. The Japanese transports were successful in evacuating 11,700 troops from the island.

Later campaigns

In May 1943, the "Myōkō" and "Haguro" sailed north to assist in the evacuation of Kiska. In June, they returned to Sasebo for another refit. The "Myōkō" was equipped with four twin Type 96 25 mm anti-aircraft gun mounts, and a Type 21 air search radar set was also installed.

In response to American carrier aircraft raiding in the Gilbert Islands, "Myōkō" sortied with Vice Adm. Jisaburō Ozawa's fleet to engage the American carriers. The fleet consisted of the aircraft carriers "Shōkaku," "Zuikaku" and "Zuiho," the battleships "Yamato" and "Nagato," heavy cruisers "Myōkō," "Haguro," "Tone," "Chikuma," "Mogami," "Atago," "Takao," "Chokai" and "Maya," the light cruiser "Agano" and 15 destroyers. Despite extensive searches, this force failed to make contact with the American striking force and returned to Truk.

On November 1, the "Myōkō" and "Haguro" sailed south from Truk with two destroyers, escorting a supply convoy to Rabaul. From Rabaul, CruDiv5 sailed with the light cruisers "Agano" and "Sendai" and six destroyers to escort reinforcements to the island of Bougainville. There were 1,000 Japanese Army troops carried by four fast destroyer transports. The warships sailed ahead of the transports and engaged an American force in the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay at 12:50 AM on November 3.

The American force of four light cruisers and eight destroyers sank the "Sendai" with 6-inch (152 mm) gunfire. While avoiding the American gunfire, "Myōkō" collided with the destroyer "Hatsukaze". The "Hatsukaze" fell behind the task force as it withdrew and was finished off by American gunfire. The "Haguro" had received minor damage in the action, and the American destroyer USS|Foote|DD-511|6 was crippled by a Long Lance torpedo.

On November 17, "Myōkō" arrived at Sasebo for another refit. Eight single-mount 25 mm AA guns were added, bringing the total to 24 guns. In January, CruDiv5 (with the "Tone" and two destroyers) made an uneventful transport run from Truk to Kavieng and back. On February 10, while sailing from Truk to Palau with CruDiv4's "Atago" and "Chokai" and eight destroyers, CruDiv5 was attacked by the submarine USS|Permit|SS-178|6. The submarine fired four torpedoes, but they missed.

In March, CruDiv5 and the destroyer "Shiratsuyu" escorted an empty tanker convoy from Palau to Borneo. On April 6, both cruiser divisions (escorted by two destroyers) were attacked by the submarine USS|Dace|SS-247|6. She fired all six bow torpedo tubes, but missed. The submarine USS|Darter|SS-227|6 also spotted the task force but was unable to maneuver into position for an attack.

The Battle of the Philippine Sea

In June 1944, CruDiv5 participated in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. The Japanese fleet sailed from its anchorage at Tawi Tawi in response to the American invasion of the Marianas Islands. The Japanese high command was aware that American heavy bombers, based in the Marianas, could eventually reach Japanese factories and shipyards in the Home Islands. This battle was later called the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot" by American sailors, because over 300 Japanese carrier aircraft were shot down in a single day on June 19.

After participating in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, on her way to Camranh Bay, the "Myōkō" was hit by one torpedo from a spread of six, fired by USS|Bergall|SS-320|6 at 9:35 PM on December 13, 1944. She was towed by destroyer "Ushio" and several other ships to Singapore Harbor for repairs, but there were insufficient materials in Singapore to complete the repairs to both "Myōkō" and "Takao," which was also in harbor for repairs.

In February 1945, the harbor commander reported that the "Myōkō" was irreparable at Singapore without more materials, and impossible to tow to Japan. He recommended that "Myōkō" be kept in Singapore as a floating AA battery. This suggestion was approved and, although both "Myōkō" and "Takao" were targeted by British midget submarine attacks on July 26, "Myōkō" survived the war. "Myōkō" formally surrendered to British units on September 21, and was subsequently towed to the Strait of Malacca and scuttled off Port Swettenham, Malaya near submarines "I-501" and "I-502".

Commanding Officers

* Chief Equipping Officer - Capt. Ietaka Fujisawa - 10 December 1928 - 31 July 1929
* Capt. Ietaka Fujisawa - 31 July 1929 - 1 November 1929
* Capt. Yoshiyuki Niiyama - 1 November 1929 - 10 November 1929
* Capt. Toma Uematsu - 10 November 1929 - 1 December 1930
* Capt. Chonan Yamaguchi - 1 December 1930 - 1 December 1931
* Capt. Haruma Izawa - 1 December 1931 - 1 December 1932
* Capt. Hideo Takahashi - 1 December 1932 - 15 November 1934
* Capt. Hidehiko Ukita - 15 November 1934 - 15 November 1935
* Capt. Keijiro Goga - 15 November 1935 - 1 December 1936
* Capt. Ruitaro Fujita - 1 December 1936 - 25 April 1938
* Capt. Zenshiro Hoshina - 25 April 1938 - 15 November 1938
* Capt. Kenzo Ito - 15 November 1938 - 20 July 1939
* Capt. Koso Abe - 20 July 1939 - 15 November 1939
* Capt. Sakan Itagaki - 15 November 1939 - 15 November 1940
* Capt. Hideo Yano - 15 November 1940 - 11 August 1941
* Capt. Teijiro Yamazumi - 11 August 1941 - 23 March 1942
* Capt. Teruhiko Miyoshi - 23 March 1942 - 2 March 1943
* Capt. / Rear Admiral Katsuhei Nakamura - 2 March 1943 - 5 December 1943 (Promoted to Rear Admiral on 1 November 1943)
* Capt. / Rear Admiral Itsu Ishiwara - 5 December 1943 - 15 January 1945 (Promoted to Rear Admiral on 15 October 1944)
* Capt. Sutejiro Onoda - 15 January 1945 - 22 March 1945
* Capt. Hokao Kagayama - 22 March 1945 - 15 August 1945

References

*cite book
last = D'Albas
first = Andrieu
authorlink =
year = 1965
title = Death of a Navy: Japanese Naval Action in World War II
publisher = Devin-Adair Pub
location =
id = ISBN 081595302X

*cite book
last = Dull
first = Paul S.
authorlink =
year = 1978
chapter =
title = A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1941-1945
publisher = Naval Institute Press
location =
id = ISBN 0-87021-097-1

*cite book
last = Lacroix
first = Eric
authorlink =
coauthors = Linton Wells
year = 1997
chapter =
title = Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War
publisher = Naval Institute Press
location =
id = ISBN 0870213113

*cite web
last = Parshall
first = Jon
coauthors = Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp, & Allyn Nevitt
year =
url = http://www.combinedfleet.com/kaigun.htm
title = Imperial Japanese Navy Page (Combinedfleet.com)
work =
accessdate = 2006-06-14

External links

* [http://www.combinedfleet.com/myoko_t.htm Tabular record of movement during WWII]


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