Today's story is about such wonderful ships that it’s just hard to probably find the cruisers who made more noise. Even the Deutschlands cannot compare with the effect that these ships brought into the world.
History It began on April 22, 1930, when in the process of signing the London Treaty of Japan it was forbidden to build additional cruisers with 203 mm guns. This condition put the signing of the document on the brink of disruption, because the Japanese were seriously rested. And in the end, as a persuasion, or compensation for the bummer with heavy cruisers of class “A” according to the Japanese classification, the Japanese were allowed to build a number of ships until the end of 1936.
It was supposed to be a cruiser with artillery of the main caliber not higher than 155 mm and a displacement of not more than 10 tons. They were allowed to build instead of old ships, which were supposed to be decommissioned fleet in the years 1937-39. There were 50 tons of such ships.
And then began the titanic work of the Japanese naval staff to ensure that "we had everything and we had nothing for it." It turned out or not - see below.
Since the displacement was limited to the same Washington 10 tons, the Japanese decided that it would be profitable to build four cruisers of 000 tons, and then two of 8 tons.
As a result, it is clear that, on the one hand, it seems that they do not go beyond the limits, and on the other, it becomes clear that defamation will be something else.
The “improved Tacao” project was taken as a model, which was developed specifically to replace the old class “A” cruisers, but then, after signing the Washington Treaty, they abandoned it.
What was the project like:
- speed of 37 knots, cruising range of 8 miles at a speed of 000 knots;
- the main caliber - 15 x 155 mm guns in three-gun towers with an elevation angle of 75 degrees;
- 12 torpedo tubes 610 mm in three-pipe installations;
- protection of cellars from hits of 200 mm shells, mechanisms - from 155 mm shells.
But the main highlight of the new ships was to be the ability to quickly replace the main-caliber towers with towers with 203 mm guns. In which case, especially if this case suddenly denounces all the signed agreements.
I translate: if it turns out to spit on all restrictions with impunity (like starting a war), Japan promptly turns 6 light cruisers into heavy ones. Serious approach.
Of course, it was simply unrealistic to fit into the allotted 8 tons of standard displacement, and even the Marine General Staff (MGS) constantly made adjustments, requiring the installation of a variety of equipment.
In general, of course, all the signatory countries of Washington were miraculous with a displacement, but only the Japanese achieved fantastic successes in hiding the true data. But the fact that they did it all the first time, which caused a fair stir.
A cruiser of 8 tons with such weapons - this had the effect of an exploding bomb, and all naval powers rushed to develop something like that.
Six new ships with 15 155 mm guns each - this was considered a very serious matter. And if not a threat, then a reason to get excited for the construction.
The Americans laid down a series of Brooklyn-class cruisers with fifteen 152-mm guns in five towers.
The British began to build instead of cruisers with 6-8 guns in two-gun towers of the cruiser series "Town" with twelve 152-mm guns in four three-gun towers. The last Belfast-class cruisers even planned to install four four-gun towers, but did not grow together.
In general, the “improved Tacao” made a rustle of seriousness.
What were these new ships like?
In general, it looks like Takao, the same huge superstructure in which all the nodes of communication, fire control, and navigation are concentrated. The same aft superstructure: an identical catapult device, the location of seaplanes and a hangar immediately behind the main mast mast, equipment for controlling auxiliary fire, a radio room on the roof of the hangar.
Torpedo tubes (three-pipe instead of two-pipe) were located in the middle of the hull at the level of the upper deck.
Like the Tacao, the number of anti-aircraft guns was very small, since it was assumed that cruisers could use the main caliber to repel air attacks. So four 127 mm guns - that's all the air defense.
We thought for a long time to which class the ships belong. From May 30, 1934, they began to use the caliber of guns as a criterion: cruisers of the first class (class "A") carried guns over 155 mm, and of the second class (class "B") - 155 mm or less.
Therefore, after the completion of the cruiser, they were nevertheless assigned to class “B”, that is, to light cruisers. The fact that there once they can be converted into heavy ones - well this is not a reason, right?
Because as a cruiser of the second class, new ships were named after the rivers.
On August 1, 1931, cruiser No. 1 was called Mogami (a river in Yamagata Prefecture, in the north-west of Honshu Island), and cruiser No. 2 was called Mikuma (a river in Oita Prefecture, in the north-east of Kyushu Island).
On August 1, 1933, cruiser No. 3 was called the “Suzuya” (the river Suzuya or Susuya in the southern part of Karafuto Island - former Sakhalin).
On March 10, 1934, cruiser No. 4 was named “Kumano” (a river in Mie Prefecture, the southern part of Honshu Island).
Well, when, before replacing the towers with cruiser’s guns, they were nevertheless transferred to class “A”, no one began to change the names, of course.
Booking cruisers differed from the protection of class A cruisers and was designed to withstand both artillery fire (protection against 203 mm shells in the area of ammunition cellars and 155 mm shells in the areas of engine and boiler rooms), and against torpedoes and diving shells .
Three-gun towers of 155 mm guns were protected on all sides by plates of 25 mm steel NT and steel lining from the inside with a gap of 10 cm for thermal insulation. The same 25,4 mm defense had the fighting compartments of the towers.
The thickness of the armored belt of the cruisers was 100 mm, thinner than 127 mm of the armored belt of cruisers of the Tacao type. The thickness of the armored deck is 35 mm. The bridge was protected by 100 mm thick armor.
Cruisers main power plant
To get a full speed of 37 knots, cruisers needed an installation with a capacity of more than 150 hp. The designers even got 000 hp. Despite the great power, the main power plant turned out to be lighter, the specific power reached 152 hp / t compared to 000 hp / t on cruisers of the Takao type.
In tests in 1935, the Mogami reached a maximum speed of 35,96 knots (with a displacement of 12 tons and a capacity of the main power plant of 669 hp), Mikuma - 154 knots (with a displacement of 266 tons, and the power of the main power plant 36,47 12 hp). In the course of these tests, it turned out that the hulls of the ships are too weak and even “lead” them with little excitement.
No news, the weakness of the corps of the Japanese cruisers was a long-standing problem that was still fought on the Furutaki.
According to the project, the maximum fuel reserve was assumed to be 2 tons, while the cruising range was expected to be 280 miles at a speed of 8 knots. After being staffed in 000, the fuel supply was 14 tons, and the cruising range at a speed of 1935 knots was 2 miles. You can almost say it happened.
During the second modernization, the fuel reserve on the Mogami and Mikuma was reduced to 2 tons, and on the Suzuya and Kumano to 215 tons, respectively, the cruising range was reduced to 2-302 miles. However, the decrease in cruising range was caused by quite objective reasons, from practical tests to rethinking the network of bases in the Pacific Ocean.
Reducing the fuel supply allowed to increase other items of equipment for the ship. For example, weapons.
At the time of completion of all ships by 1938, the armament of the Mogami-class cruisers consisted of:
- 15 155 mm guns in three-armed towers;
- 8 anti-aircraft guns 127 mm in two-gun installations;
- 8 anti-aircraft guns 25 mm in twin installations;
- 4 anti-aircraft machine guns 13 mm;
- 12 torpedo tubes 610 mm.
In 1939-1940, 155-mm artillery mounts of the main caliber were replaced with five two-gun turrets with 203-mm guns.
Of the five towers, as on other class “A” cruisers, three were located in the bow and two in the stern. But the placement of the bow towers was different. Instead of the “pyramid” scheme, a scheme was used in which the first two towers were at the same level, and the third - on the deck higher (on the shelterdeck), having greater firing angles than with the “pyramid” scheme.
Each tower weighed about 175 tons, but towers No. 3 and No. 4 were slightly heavier and taller, since they also carried 8-meter range finders of type 13.
At first, the 155-mm guns were also intended to be used for firing at air targets, so the technical task indicated an elevation angle of 75 °, an initial projectile speed of 980 m / s and a firing range of 18 m. But it soon became clear that the vertical aiming speed and the number of received aboard shells are clearly insufficient for firing with the required rate of fire on rapidly moving air targets. Moreover, a large elevation angle required the use of precise and very sensitive vertical aiming mechanisms and more complex mechanisms of recoil devices. Therefore, the idea to get a powerful universal tool had to be abandoned.
According to estimates, when firing at surface targets, a ship with fifteen 155-mm guns would be quite inferior to a ship with ten 203-mm guns, since the smaller projectile weight was compensated by the large number of guns and their best rate of fire.
With a projectile weight of 55,87 kg and a theoretical rate of fire of 7 rounds per minute, 105 rounds with a total weight of 5 tons were obtained in a full salvo. A cruiser with ten 775 mm guns with a projectile weight of 203 kg and a theoretical rate of fire of 125,85 rounds / min, in a minute fired ten full salvos (5 shells) with a total weight of 50 kg. In practice, the comparison was even in favor of the class “B” cruiser, since the real rate of fire was 6 and 250 rounds / min, respectively, which gave a one-minute volley of seventy-five 5 mm shells weighing 3 kg against thirty 155 mm shells weighing 4 200 kg.
The ammunition of the 155-mm guns consisted of two types of shells: "diving" and training. The total supply of 2 pieces or 250 per gun.
The crew of the tower consisted of 24 people in the fighting compartment (of which one horizontal gunner and three vertical, three loading projectiles, three loading charges, six lift operators, three gun loading operators, closing the shutter and blowing), seven people in the shell cellar and ten in charger.
An interesting point: the trunks of 203 mm guns were longer than 155 mm. 10,15 m versus 9,3 m. Therefore, in the photographs during the campaigns it can be seen that the trunks of tower No. 2 are slightly bulged up. The space between towers 1 and 2 was not enough, so the trunks had to be raised to 12 degrees.
Anti-aircraft weapons on ships did not differ much from the Takao type and consisted of eight 127-mm type 89 anti-aircraft guns in twin units with Model A shields. Normal ammunition consisted of 200 shells per gun, maximum - 210.
In general, as mentioned above, initially the project believed that four 127-mm anti-aircraft guns would be enough, if anything, the main caliber would help. But when it turned out that the GK wasn’t so much an assistant, then according to the invention of paired installations, the 127-mm single-barreled anti-aircraft guns were gradually replaced by the twin. And from the main caliber they decided to shoot only at surface targets.
The cellars for 127-mm shells were located under the storage deck, between the bulkhead of the boiler compartment and the charging cellars of the main caliber tower No. 3. Unitary shells were fed by lifts through the storage deck, lower and middle decks. On the middle deck, the shells were transferred to the middle part of the ship and loaded into four other lifts, which supplied shells already to the upper deck - to the ammunition preparation facilities located near the installations. Shells were removed manually and also manually fed to the guns. In the ammunition preparation rooms there were several shells ready for firing. In general - the system is so-so in terms of speed.
In addition to 127-mm universal guns, four twin units of 25-mm Type 96 assault rifles and two twin units of 13-mm Type 93 machine guns were installed on cruisers. Normal ammunition consisted of 2 rounds per barrel for anti-aircraft machine guns and 000 rounds for machine guns.
The project also included 40-mm machine guns from the Vickers, 2 pieces per ship. But they did not have time to put them on the ships, immediately replacing them with 13-mm machine guns.
Ammunition storage also caused mixed feelings. The cellar of 25-mm shells was located under the armor of the lower deck, between the towers of the Civil Code No. 1 and No. 2. Clips of 15 shells were delivered by a lift to the middle deck on the starboard side, from where they were manually transported to the middle part of the ship (the same for 13-mm installations on the superstructure). There they were again loaded into the lifts, which fed clips onto the platforms of 25-mm machine guns, where they could be stored in numerous fenders of the first shots around the installations.
In general, the ammunition system for air defense systems was very unstable, and the uninterrupted supply of shells and ammunition depended on many factors.
Naturally, in the course of the war, air defense was modernized, machine guns were installed on any free piece of space. As a result (plus or minus 2-4 barrels), each cruiser received 24 barrels in 25 mm coaxial mounts, four 13 mm coaxial machine gun mounts, and 25 just 13 mm machine guns.
Each cruiser was able to carry three seaplanes on board, but during the war only two seaplanes were usually based. However, we will return to the hydroplanes, at least in relation to the Mogami.
In general, for its displacement, the cruisers turned out to be fast and with very good weapons. However, the armor protection was still weaker than that of its predecessors.
Of course, it would be impossible to put such projects into Washington 10 tons, and we don’t even stutter about the allocated 000 tons. It is clear that they didn’t even smell of them here.
Mogami-class cruisers had a hull length of 200,5 m, a midship-beam width of 19,2 m. Cruisers had a draft of 6,1 m, a displacement at Mogami with 2/3 of stocks - 14, full displacement - 112 15 tons. So it turned out not the “Washington”, and especially not the “improved Tacao” in terms of displacement. It turned out completely different ships.
According to the initial project, the crew of cruisers consisted of 830 people, but after its changes it increased to 930: 70 officers and 860 foremen and sailors. Such a number of teams was at the Mogami and Mikum after entering service. In 1937, after strengthening anti-aircraft artillery, it amounted to 951 people: 58 officers and 893 sailors.
Work was underway to improve the living conditions of the crew. There were multi-seat cabins for midshipmen and foremen, sailors' kubriks began to equip with metal three-tier bunks (instead of the usual hanging) and lockers for things.
On the ships there were pantries for rice in the bow and pickled products, a plant for the production of lemonade in the stern and a freezer, the volume of which increased to 96 cubic meters (for Myoko and Takao the chamber was 67 cubic meters). On the middle deck in the stern there was a ship infirmary, and in the central part of the hull there were separate (for officers and sailors) galleys (on the upper deck) and baths (on the middle).
The living spaces of the Mogami-class cruisers have been significantly improved compared to their predecessors. They were better adapted for swimming in the southern seas. In particular, the ships were equipped with a developed system of forced air circulation, and tanks with cold drinking water were installed in the corridors of the crew’s cubicles.
All four Mogami-class cruisers were laid between October 27, 1931 and April 5, 1934, launched - from March 14, 1934 to October 15, 1936. The ships entered service on October 20, 1939. All four cruisers were assigned to the Kure naval base until they were removed from the Imperial Japanese Navy.
Cruisers became part of the 7th division of the 2nd fleet. Prior to the outbreak of hostilities, ships took part in ordinary parades, parades, campaigns and exercises.
The ships of the division began fighting in December 1941. The 7th division covered the landing of Japanese troops in Malaya, Burma, Java and the Andaman Islands.
On February 28, 1942, the Mogami and Mikuma cruisers participated in the battle in the Sunda Strait, when the American cruiser Houston and the Australian cruiser Perth were sunk by torpedoes and shells of the cruisers. Japanese ships did not receive even minimal damage.
But the results of the battle were very spoiled. The Mogami sent a full salvo of torpedoes to the Hauston. Torpedoes did not enter the American cruiser, but on the other side of the strait a Japanese minesweeper from guarding the convoy and three ships of the convoy that delivered the landing were drowned.
Torpedoes "Type 93", as practice has shown, were very serious weapons.
Further, the cruisers "worked" in the Indian Ocean, disrupting the supply of British and French troops in Burma and Indochina. On the account of the cruisers in April 1942, there were 8 destroyed allied transports. The sheepskin, however, wasn’t worth the trick, because the expenditure of shells was simply monstrous: armor-piercing shells simply flashed transport vessels through and through, without exploding.
Troubles began in June 1942, when the cruisers went to the Midway Island area in order to shell the island's infrastructure. The shelling was canceled, but what we started next, we will consider in detail.
On the way back to the main forces of the fleet from the cruisers, an enemy submarine was discovered. Performing the evasion maneuver, Mikuma rammed the Mogami. Both cruisers suffered serious damage.
“Suzuya” and “Kumano” left the scene in full swing. "Mogami" could give only 14 knots. But the main trouble was that oil was flowing out of the damaged tanks of the Mikum cruiser, leaving a clearly visible mark on the surface of the ocean. In this trail, the cruiser was found diving SBD bombers.
Both cruisers damaged in a collision with each other were hit by two waves of American dive bombers, which made several direct bombs hit the ships.
And here is the result of not the most successful air defense and limited maneuver: one bomb hit the middle of the Mogami cruiser, in the region aviation decks. The explosion caused a further fire in the area of torpedo tubes, but the Japanese crew was lucky, the torpedoes damaged in the collision of ships did not explode.
In total, five bombs hit the Mogami, which inflicted severe damage to the cruiser, in addition to those already existing from the collision. Surprisingly, the cruiser not only stayed afloat, but also continued on its way to the base on its own and under its own power!
True, the destruction was so significant that they did not begin to rebuild the ship, but converted the Mogami into an aircraft-carrying cruiser.
Mikuma was much less fortunate. The American crews planted two bombs in the cruiser that fell into the engine room. The bombs caused a severe fire, which also reached the torpedo tubes. But torpedoes exploded on the Mikum ...
So "Mikuma" became the first Japanese heavy cruiser to die in World War II. And here we must still think hard about to whom he owes this more: American bombs or Japanese torpedoes.
So in the 7th cruiser division there were only two ships left: Suzuya and Kumano. The cruisers were supported by fleet operations near Burma, and then, together with aircraft carriers, they came to Guadalcanal. There, the cruisers took part in the battle in the Solomon Sea. In general - without any particular results.
It is worth noting that after the battles in the Solomon Islands, the Suzuya and Kumano received radars. The anti-aircraft artillery of the ships was strengthened. There were plans to restructure both cruisers into air defense ships by partially or completely replacing towers with 203 mm guns with towers with universal 127 mm guns. These plans were not implemented.
But the Mogami got great. In fact, the cruiser was rebuilt from a conventional artillery cruiser into a carrier for reconnaissance seaplanes.
Both damaged main-caliber aft towers were dismantled, and a deck with guides for four three-seater reconnaissance seaplanes and three two-seater smaller hydroplanes was mounted in their place.
I must say, not the best solution, and here's why. Three bow towers of the main caliber remained in place, due to which the mass balance in the longitudinal plane of the ship was disturbed - the cruiser now buried its nose in the water.
As such, the Mogami re-entered service on April 30, 1943. The cruiser returned to the 7th division, where by then only Suzuya remained.
Kumano caught a 900-kg bomb from an American bomber and spent a long time on repairs at the dock. The Mogami followed after him, since during his stay in Rabaul he also received a bomb between towers No. 1 and 2.
The ships reunited only in 1944, just before the battle of the Mariana Islands, which the Americans called the "Great Marianne Beating." True, the cruiser did not receive any damage, but the re-equipment of air defense ships was immediately started. The number of anti-aircraft barrels was increased: up to 60 25-mm anti-aircraft guns on the Mogami, 56 on the Kumano and 50 on the Suzuya. Eight newest high-speed seaplanes Aichi E16A were now based on the Mogami.
Further cruisers engaged in boring transport operations between Singapore and the Philippines. And they dealt with them for quite some time, until the command sent them to Leyte Gulf ...
The Mogami was in Admiral Nishimura’s group along with the old battleships Yamagiro and Fuso, while Suzuya and Kumano acted as part of Admiral Kurita’s compound.
The Mogami were out of luck.
A squad of ships ran into an American squad comparable in strength. But the stars were clearly on the side of the Americans. Old Japanese battleships were sunk by old American battleships, but the Mogami killed for a long time and painfully.
At first, during the artillery firefight, the Mogami received two 203-mm shells, which disabled tower No. 2.
The Japanese fired four torpedoes towards the enemy, turned around and began to withdraw at all possible speed.
Literally right there, several 203-mm shells from the Portland cruiser hit the bridge. A cruiser commander and several officers on the bridge were killed. The command took the senior gunner, and the cruiser continued to try to break away from the enemy.
It seems to have begun to turn out, but the stars ... In general, the Mogami again collides with another cruiser. This time with "Get Started."
Not only was there a fire on the Mogami, the clash added. And the fire started ... right! To torpedo tubes!
Taught by bitter experience, the crew began to throw torpedoes overboard. But before that, five torpedoes detonated. Explosions of torpedoes damaged the shaft of one propeller and caused destruction in the engine room.
The cruiser slowed down and then the American cruisers “Louisville”, “Portland” and “Denver” caught up with it. This trio made more than 20 hits in the Mogami with 203 mm and 152 mm shells. Basically 152 mm, which played into the hands of the Japanese.
“Mogami” snapped as it could with the remaining two towers and tried to break away from the Americans. Happened. Both Mogami and Nachi began to leave for Colon. But, alas, it wasn’t the Mogami day for sure, because the car finally got up and the cruiser lost speed.
Naturally, in the continuation of troubles, TVM-1 bombers appeared. Two 225-kg bombs hit the bridge and a fire started again, which began to approach the artillery cellars.
The team tried to fight. In order to avoid detonation, a command was given to flood the nasal cellars of the ammunition, but damaged pumps barely pumped water. As a result, the senior artillery officer who took over the command decided to leave the ship with the crew.
The rest of the team was taken aboard the destroyer Akebono, after which it was finished off by torpedoes by the Mogami.
Suzuya outlived a colleague for a short while. All the same TVM-1 bombers, who made the cruiser not at the best time for him, became an evil genius. The Suzuya crew fought back as best they could, but one bomb exploded on the side of the cruiser, bending the shaft of one of the propellers. After that, the ship could no longer keep speed above 20 knots.
Problems with speed and maneuver immediately affected very fatally. During the raids that followed on October 25, 1944, the cruiser received several bombings at once, which ... correctly, caused a fire followed by detonation of the torpedoes. Torpedoes (as was usually the case on Japanese ships) smashed everything around and caused an even stronger fire. When torpedoes began to burst on the other side and the ammunition for the 127-mm guns, the commander ordered the team to leave the ship.
"Suzuya" sank on the same day, October 25, 1944.
The Kumano cruiser survived it for exactly a month. At the battle of Leyte, at the exit of the San Bernardino Strait, the ship got hit by a torpedo in the bow of the hull.
The American destroyer Johnston launched the torpedo from a distance of 7500 m. The ship received a dangerous roll, it was necessary to flood the compartments for straightening, after which the cruiser speed dropped to 12 knots. The Kumano went back to the Strait of San Bernardino.
In the strait, the damaged cruiser was attacked by American bombers and hit bombs in the engine room. The speed has fallen. The next day, October 26, the cruiser was attacked by carrier-based aircraft from the Hancock aircraft carrier. Three 225-kg bombs that landed on the ship disabled all cruiser boilers, with the exception of one.
"Kumano" on the stubbornness of the crew, at a speed of 8 knots, but crawled to Manila, where he was quickly repaired so that he could give a speed of 15 knots.
An order was given that obviously did not promise the cruiser a long life, namely, along with the cruiser Aoba, to accompany the convoy of transports to the shores of Japan.
At the crossing, a convoy near the island of Luzon intercepted the American submarines Guittara, Brim, Raton and Ray.
We agree that it was difficult to come up with a target better than a slowly crawling cruiser. It is clear that a good repair of the Kumano could only be ensured in Japan, but ... The submarines fired a salvo and two torpedoes fired by the supposedly submarine Ray, of course, caught up with the Kumano.
Explosions of torpedoes at the cruiser tore off the bow, but the ship itself remained afloat again! The course was completely lost, and the Kumano was again towed to Manila, where it was repaired again to the speed of 15 knots.
The final point in the history of "Kumano" put the American aircraft. November 25, 1944 "Kumano" was attacked by aircraft from the aircraft carrier "Ticonderoga". Four bombs and at least five torpedoes hit the cruiser ...
The cruiser rolled over and sank.
What can be said as a result? It was a good job — heavy Mogami-class cruisers. Good weapons, speed, maneuverability and especially survivability. It was bad after all with armor and air defense, especially at the end of the war it was not enough.
And the main drawback nevertheless became torpedoes. On the one hand, torpedoes are very powerful, fast and far-reaching. On the other hand, the Japanese fleet due to these torpedoes lost in a row not one or two ships.
But in general, the Mogami were very thoughtful and successful ships. It’s just that American aviation was predictably stronger.