In one of the first articles about cruisers, we examined in detail what the Washington Agreement is and how beautifully it fought the evolution of warships in general and cruisers in particular.
But it was this agreement that drew the line between light and heavy cruisers. Yes, it is the British, who stubbornly did not want to let the expensive Hawkins down for scrapping, who take the initiative to introduce a maximum figure of 10 tons of displacement and a 000-mm main caliber.
The states did not object, and the rest, as it were, were not specifically asked. The second half of the restrictions was to prevent the Japanese from building as many ships as they wanted. Therefore, the tonnage of ships under construction was limited, and then the quantity was also limited.
The United States could have no more than 18 heavy cruisers, the United Kingdom and its dominions - no more than 15, Japan - 12. The total displacement of heavy cruisers in the fleets of individual countries participating in the treaty should not exceed: for the USA - 180 thousand tons, for the UK - 146,8 thousand tons, for Japan - 108,4 thousand tons
France and Italy refused to sign the agreement, and the United States and Great Britain had to press them separately. As a result, the French and Italians had to be content with 7 heavy cruisers in the fleet.
Here is a brief summary of what the phases of the Washington Agreement of 1930 and 1932 brought.
But then, interesting miracles began, since the Japanese in 1936 defiantly did not give a damn about the agreements and refused to sign or execute anything. That is why Japan entered the war with 18 heavy cruisers. As much as the United States and Great Britain individually had.
Moreover, given that on the conventions, the Japanese leaned on even earlier when they started building a new fleet and realized that it’s unrealistic to contain everything that’s wanted in 10 tons.
Perhaps that is why the Japanese heavy cruisers turned out to be just beautiful ships. Maybe someone will dispute this, but my opinion is that it was the Japanese heavy cruisers that were the best ships of the Second World War in this class. Both qualitatively and quantitatively.
Of course, we will have Baltimore, Hippers, London, and Suffrens ahead. And of course, we will compare them with each other. But now we’ll start talking about Japanese heavy cruisers, especially since the Myoko have already been considered.
Therefore, we will return to the beginning. And the beginning of the heavy cruisers of the Japanese fleet were cruisers of the Furutaka type.
The name in general turned out to be an interesting and even mystical case. In general, heavy cruisers were supposed to be named after the names of mountains, of which there are plenty in Japan. But the lead ship of the series received the name "Kako" in honor of the river in Hyogo Prefecture. And the series was to be named after the first ship, as is well known. And it would be the first Japanese heavy cruisers of the Kako type, but the gods intervened, not otherwise.
In general, it turned out that in Japan there was a strong earthquake. This is a normal and normal thing, they were shaking there from the creation of the world. But a huge gantry crane fell on Kako, which interrupted construction for three months. Thus, the Furutaka was the first to be completed and everything fell into place. The traditions remained intact, and both ships were completed without incident.
The fact that the ships were successful, became clear at the very first sea trials, when the Furutaka showed a speed of 35,2 knots. The contract listed 34,5 knots. Everyone exhaled, the time has come to comprehend on the topic "what happened with us."
But it turned out very well. Somehow, it suddenly dawned on everyone that the Furutaka was a ship that would be stronger than the Hawkins, which was kind of like the standard of the time.
Six 200-mm guns in single-gun towers, arranged in pyramids one above the other, three on the bow and stern, fired 660 kg of metal and explosives in a volley at 544 kg of six guns from Hawkins. Yes, Hawkins had more trunks, seven, but at best only six could shoot. Plus the caliber was smaller, 190 mm.
But the Japanese shipbuilders did not stop there and all unrealized Wishlist were embodied in cruisers of the Aoba type, having invented modern two-gun towers for them. There is a story ahead of the Aobahs, the cruisers generally succeeded, the new turrets with new guns gave a rate of fire of three rounds per minute. The volley weight was 1980 kg.
Why am I painting another ship like this? Everything is elementary. Seeing what could be done better, the Japanese upgraded the Furutaki to Aoba, replacing the single-armed towers with new ones with two barrels.
And so the two types of cruisers actually merged into one. Yes, they did not become full-fledged Washington heavy cruisers, yielding to the Pensacols and the London, which appeared later, for example, but the boats came out quite decent.
So, what did the Japanese shipbuilders do?
Displacement. Initially: 7 tons (standard), after modernization: 500 tons (standard), 8 (full).
Length: 183,46 m (waterline).
Width: 16,93 m
Draft: 5,61 m.
Armor belt: 76 mm;
Deck: 32-35 mm;
Towers: 25-19 mm;
Bridge: 35 mm;
Barbets: 57 mm.
In general, the reservation did not go very far from the light cruisers of the same Britain, but: the Japanese deliberately sacrificed the reservation in speed and range.
Engines: 4 Mitsubishi-Parsons, 10 Campon Ro Guo, 109 liters. from.
Speed of 35,22 knots in trials, with a full load of 32,95 knots.
The actual cruising range was 7 nautical miles at 900 knots.
Crew - 639 man.
The main caliber initially consisted of 6 mm Type 200 guns, which were replaced by 3 towers of 3 2 mm Type 203 # 3 barrels. There was a shift towards the bow, there were now 2 trunks and 4 aft.
Flak. 4 universal guns 120 mm, 4 double-barreled anti-aircraft guns 25 mm, 2 coaxial machine guns 13,2 mm.
Torpedo weapons. 8 (2 × 4) torpedo tubes 610 mm Type 92 with ammunition 16 torpedoes.
Aviation armament. Catapult (was not immediately installed in 1933), 2 seaplanes.
In general, we are faced with such a progressive cruiser-raider, capable of performing a fairly wide range of tasks. Yes, frankly weak anti-aircraft weapons, but the Japanese always had problems with this.
In general, both cruisers have become a kind of testing platforms, on which the concept of Japanese heavy cruisers was developed. And today we can say with confidence that without the rather small Furutak, the handsome Mogami, Tone and Takao would not have taken place.
In the process of improvement, the ships received longer chimneys, the bridge was booked. Seaplane take-offs were replaced with a steam catapult. Four-pipe torpedo tubes were installed near the catapult (instead of two-pipe). Of the new TAs, it was possible to launch combined-cycle 610-mm torpedoes Type 90, and oxygen Type 93.
Cruisers received anti-torpedo boules and wider and longer cheekbones.
They worked very radically on the fire guidance and control system. We replaced fire control devices, installed a Type 92 target course and speed calculator, a Type 92 calculating and deciding device for small elevation angles, and three Type 6 rangefinders (on the bridge and on towers No. 14 and No. 2).
The fire control system of 120-mm guns received two Type 94 and POISO Type 91 rangefinders. 25-mm machine guns were guided by two Type 95 directors.
The air observers on the bridge were armed with 80 mm and 120 mm binoculars.
The torpedo fire control system ultimately consisted of two Type 91 directors, a Type 93 target course and speed calculator, and a Type 93 calculating machine.
We can say that all the processes of cruiser fire control were maximally mechanized for that time.
But the main modernization was the almost complete replacement of the propulsion system. Instead of 12 coal-fired boilers, 10 oil-fired boilers were delivered.
To increase the fuel supply, all available volumes were used: coal bunkers were replaced tanks for oil, tanks were equipped in boulevards and freed up boiler rooms No. 1 and No. 7. Thus, the amount of fuel was brought up to 1852 tons. Cruising range increased to 7900 nautical miles, which was a very good indicator. The maximum speed slightly decreased when fully loaded, but for autonomy it was necessary to pay.
Both cruisers before the war received a demagnetizing winding designed to protect against magnetic sea mines.
After this work (you must admit, the volumes are impressive), Furutaka-type ships began to differ little from the Aoba type, because they (Furutaka, Kako, Aoba, Kinugasa) were recognized as being of the same type.
There was one more nuance, first tested in the construction of Japanese warships. It was at Furutaki for the first time that such a nasal superstructure was used, combined with the focus mast together. The number of open areas was minimized, trying to protect the crew from fragments as much as possible.
The superstructure 26 meters high included a combat, navigational and radio room, navigation bridge and fire control devices. Plus, in the same superstructure, below, the cabins of the senior officers of the ship were located, which was useful if necessary quick action.
The armor plates of the belt and the middle deck were included in the power set of the hull, increasing its longitudinal strength and significantly saving weight. It was useful, but in fact it did not help much, the cruisers turned out to be overloaded.
The system of struggle for survivability was, but expressed in the usual set of compartments and bulkheads. The main problem was the engine room, which was very difficult to share with anything other than a central bulkhead. This could lead to flooding and overturning of the ship if a torpedo hits the engine room area.
Because of the bulkhead, there was a long debate, since the designers were afraid of the capsize and the death of the ship, and the General Staff of the Japanese fleet was afraid of flooding the entire engine room and the subsequent loss of course from one shell. In general, everyone had their own truth, as a result, the bulkhead was nevertheless installed and a counter-flooding system was developed to level the bank.
This system then became standard for all large ships of the Imperial Navy.
The only thing that was not on these worthy ships was the human conditions for the crew. Not meant officers, of course. There were only 45 people on the ship, but the lower ranks - 559. And these fifty thousand people were not very well accommodated.
About one square meter per person on Furutaka-type ships (on the Aobahs was exactly the same) meter of living space. The practice of application showed that there were still negative aspects that designers could not take into account when designing. The portholes of the crew’s rooms were too low and flooded even with slight excitement, so it was forbidden to open from.
Ventilation was frankly weak, especially for the tropical and subtropical zones.
In general, far from always many innovations in one bottle bring success. In the case of Furutaki, one cannot say that everything turned out as planned. Therefore, numerous modernizations were needed.
However, it was precisely by modernizing these ships that the Japanese shipbuilders filled their hands and did not repeat such mistakes in the future.
Of course, there were such flaws that modernizations cannot fix. Let me criticize.
For example, the frankly low rate of fire of the main caliber guns in comparison with the ships of a real enemy. Or a very modest air defense. By the way, torpedo armaments, on which the Japanese navy relied, can be attributed to the minuses. Yes, the Long Lances were scary weaponscapable of destroying ships easily and naturally. However, the lack of space on the ships led to the fact that the torpedoes were stored on the upper deck, where they represented a very dangerous option in the event of bombs and fragments.
By the way, it was these oxygen torpedoes that brought the Furutaku to the bottom.
All four cruisers, now considered not without reason, were reduced to the 6th division of heavy cruisers. Aoba was the flagship of Kinugasa, Furutaka, and Kako.
But since we are interested in the original Furutaki, we will appreciate their combat path.
At the beginning of World War II, both cruisers participated in the capture of Guam, Wake, Rabaul and Lae. In principle, while the Japanese blitzkrieg was walking in the Pacific, everything was fine.
The battle in the Coral Sea, where both cruisers also took part, did not bring them special laurels, since aircraft carriers and aircraft crews fought in that battle.
Then there was a night battle near the island of Savo, or, as Japanese historians call it, the first battle at the island of Savo. There, the Japanese inflicted a serious tactical defeat on the American fleet, drowning 4 heavy cruisers of the Americans in a night battle.
On the night of August 9, 1942, the Kako and Furutaka fired a total of 345 203 mm shells and 16 Type 93 oxygen torpedoes. The Kako was clearly noted for the destruction of the Vincent cruiser, which the three Japanese heavy cruisers simply shot at point blank range.
But the music did not last long, and revenge from the Americans overtook the Japanese cruiser. Upon returning to the base, “Kako” was hit by three torpedoes from the submarine S-44 and sank within 5 minutes, 70 people were killed.
Furutaka briefly outlived his fellow man. The cruiser took the last battle during the battle at Cape Esperance on the night of October 12, 1942, during which it received up to 90 hits from American cruisers, lost speed and was left by the team after a two-hour struggle for survivability.
Of course, in that night battle, the Americans had a huge advantage in the form of radars, but for the vanquished, it’s a sin to complain, for the first battle near the island of Savo, the Americans paid. Well, almost paid off.
It should be noted that the shells that hit the Furutaka did not do as much damage as the one that hit the torpedo tube and caused the torpedo to detonate and the ensuing fire. The fire spread throughout the ship, disabled many systems, and therefore the crew could not continue the struggle for survivability and left the ship.
About how well the ship was protected by armor, we can conclude from these figures: more than 90 shells of various calibers that hit the Furutaka killed only 33 people. Meanwhile, the cruiser was what is called a sieve.
Summing up the project of cruisers like “Furutaka”, we can say that this pancake came out a bit loudly at first, but it was really corrected. And it turned out to be a completely viable and warship, albeit not without flaws.
Although to be honest, the Washington agreements could not produce anything harmonious. Therefore, what the Japanese did with the Furutaki is a huge merit and a very successful experiment. But the achievements that they used to create other ships, - that was the most valuable.
But more about that in the following materials.