At the beginning of
the Second World War, the Japanese Navy (or, in the Japanese language,
Nihon Kaigun, or even Teikoku Kaigun, the Imperial Navy) was arguably the
most powerful navy in the world. Its naval aviation corps, consisting of
10 aircraft carriers and 1500 topnotch aviators, was the most highly
trained and proficient force of its kind. Its 11 (soon to be 12)
battleships were among the most powerful in the world. And its surface
forces, armed with the superb 24" Type 93 (Long Lance) torpedo, were
incomparable night fighters.
Once the supreme power
in the Pacific Ocean. But within three years, a shattered fighting
force. Technologically inferior to the enemy only at the end of the
war, the Imperial Navy (Nihon Kaigun) smashed every force in her path at
the outset of war. Japan was not adverse to experimentation.
Some examples include: Midget Subs, Huge Amphibious Torpedo Tanks, Jets,
Rocket Launchers on Destroyers, and Hybrid Carrier/Battleships. A
purely professional navy, well respected at home and abroad. No
matter what the odds, the men of this navy fought with courge and spirit.
Ships of the Japanese Imperial Navy:
Yamato class battleship, 3 were built
By far the largest warships of W.W.II. They were also the
heaviest armed and armored of all battleships. These great ships were
built in complete secrecy and it was not until very late in the war that
it was found out how large and powerful they really were.
Kongo class battleship, 4 were built
Kongo was the last major capital ship laid down in a foreign
yard and Haruna was among the first to be built in a Japanese yard.
Based on a British battlecruiser design, the Japanese added their own
modifications and came out with four excellent ships. They were
reconstructed with more armor and reboilered to raise their speed from a
design of 27.5 knots to over 30 knots. These ships were normally used as
carrier escorts because of their high speeds.
Ise class hybrid battlecruiser/carrier
This class was a slightly improved version of the previous
Fuso class. Extensively modernized between the World Wars, they had by
1937 grew 37 feet in length.They were converted to battleship-carriers
with a flight-deck aft replacing the two aft turrets after the disastrous
loss of four carriers at Midway, but because of manning and aircraft
shortages they never received an airwing.Both were finally sunk July
28,1945 in a series of air-strikes undertaken by Allied forces.
Zuikaku class aircraft carrier
One of the most succesful carrier designs by the Japanese
and were very much the equal of the USN carriers, except in numbers. They
carried 75 planes but could carry 82 if necessary. Neither the Shokaku or
her twin the Zuikaku were available at Midway because of
theirparticipation and damage in the Battle of the Coral Sea.They were
both sunk in 1944.
Kaga class aircraft carrier
She was converted to a carrier before completion because of
the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty. Built initially to hold 60
aircraft, she was later modified to carry heavier aircraft and more AAW
weaponry. As first converted she had three flight decks forward, no island
and two funnels on the starboard side. During her 1935 reconstruction, the
two lower flight decks were removed and the main flight deck was extended
forward to the bow, plus an island was added on the port side. She
led the attack on Pearl Harbor, but met her end only seven months later at
the disastrous Battle of Midway.
Atoga class cruiser
These ships had massive bridges that looked strangely enough
like a new U.S. Arleigh Burke class destroyer bridge. Three were lost to
submarine attack by USS Dace and Darter on Oct.23/44 in the Phillipines.
Well designed ships and probably the best Japanese cruisers ever built.
Akitsuki class destroyers
The design of this class was originally to be that of an
anti-aircraft escort ship for carrier task forces, and they were not to
have any torpedoes or depth charge equipment. However, it was
decided to amend the design such that they could also fulfill the role of
Fleet Escort/ASW vessel.
For that reason, the design was altered to include a quadruple torpedo
mount and 6 DCT. As completed, these ships proved to be an excellent
Yugumo class destroyers
The design of this class was that of the earlier Kagero
class with added refinements. The elevation of the main guns was
increased from 55 to 75 degrees and the bridge was streamlined, reducing
wind resistance and improving stability. They were the first Japanese
destroyers designed to carry depth charges as opposed to having them added
at a later date.
Matsu class destroyers
The Matsu Class, approved in the 1942 Supplementary
Programme was laid down 1943-1944 and completed between April 1944 and
January 1945. Designed for simplicity and rapid construction, they were
analogous to the American destroyer escorts, but much more heavily armed.