Fuso Class Battleship – Imperial Japanese Navy

At the time of their launching, the two were the most heavily armed battleships in existence and were designed to operate with the Kongo Class. Fuso and Yamashiro underwent extensive refits: one in the twenties, one in the thirties.

Time and resources devoted to modernization might have been better utilized elsewhere but the Washington Naval Treaty limited new builds and at that point the Imperial Japanese Navy was ruled by ‘black shoe’ (battleship) Admirals who did not – or would not realize the coming primacy of the carrier. The twenties refit saw the forward mainmast built up with command spaces and range finding equipment. A hood was placed on the forward stack to keep gasses away from the bridge.

The thirties refit altered the appearance of the ships again, creating two of the homeliest ships in the Japanese Navy. Oil fired boilers were installed and turbines replaced resulting in an extra knot of speed. Gun elevations were improved as were torpedo tubes.Both ships now carried three aircraft; one catapult placed atop ‘C’ turret.

Too slow to operate with carriers, Fuso and Yamashiro spent most of the war in home waters. They did, however, sortie to pursue US carriers responsible for the Doolittle Raid in mid April 1942.

Sailing to the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Fuso and Yamashiro sortied from Brunei for the Philippines along with other units of the Nishimura Force on October 22, 1944 at 0015. On the 24th, the force was bombed, Fuso losing all her float planes. Fuso and Yamashiro met their ends in the Battle of Surigao Strait on October 25, 1943.

Nishimura entered the Surigao Strait with: Michisio (DD),Asagumo (DD),Yamashiro, Fuso, Mogami (CA), Yamagumo (DD) and Shigure (DD). At 0207, Fuso was hit by multiple destroyer launched torpedoes starting large fires; she began sinking. A huge explosion ripped the ship in two, both parts remained afloat burning – the aft sank an hour later at 0350. “Fuso was torpedoed, and as a result of progressive flooding, upended and capsized within forty minutes.”…”She sank between 03:38 and 03:50; only a few dozen men survived her rapid descent and massive oil fire, and only ten reached shore”

US Destroyers put at least 20 fish into the water sinking Yamagumo at 0220 and Michisio at 0258.A damaged Asagumo managed to escape, Yamashiro was hit once. Destroyers attacked again, reducing her speed to 5 knots with most of her main turrets out. At 0311 she was torpedoed yet again. At 0251, heavy cruisers opened fire on Yamashiro followed by six battleships under the command of Adm Jesse Ohlendorf at 0310. Overwhelmed, Yamashiro roled over and went down at 0419. …” she had been hit by two to four torpedoes, and after two more torpedo hits near the starboard engine room, she was listing 45 degrees to port. Shinoda gave the command to abandon ship, but neither he nor Nishimura made any attempt to leave the conning tower as the ship capsized within five minutes and quickly sank, stern first, vanishing from radar between 04:19 and 04:21. Only 10 crew members of the estimated 1,636 officers and crew on board survived.

Displacement:34,700 long tons (35,300 t)

Length:212.75 m (698.0 ft) (o.a.)

Beam:33.1 m (108 ft 7 in)

Draft:9.69 m (31 ft 9 in)

Installed power:75,000 shp (56,000 kW) 6 × water-tube boilers

Propulsion: 4 × steam turbines

Speed: 24.5 knots (45.4 km/h; 28.2 mph)

Range:11,800 nmi (21,900 km; 13,600 mi) at 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph)

Complement: approximately 1,900

Sensors and processing systems:! x Type 21 air search radar

2 x type 13 early warning radar

2 x type 22 surface search radar

Armament:

6 × 2 – 356 mm guns

14 × 1 – 152 mm guns

4 x 2 type 89 127mm (5 in) dual purpose guns

95 x type 96 (1in) AA guns

Armor: Deck: 152–51 mm (6–2 in)

Aircraft carried: 3x floatplanes

Aviation Facilities: 1 x catapult

Tully, Anthony P. (2009). Battle of Surigao Strait. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press.

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