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Heavy cruiser Atago, Yokosuka, April 1932
Sub Category: Heavy cruiser
Takao-class was an improved version of the Myōko-Class and was distinguished by a massive protected bridge which would have been appropriate for a battleship. The warships of this class were the largest cruisers in the Combined Fleet and were the culmination of the design principle established by Hiraga with the experimental light cruiser IJN Yūbari. The design was developed by Taisa Fujimoto who had succeeded Shosho Hiraga as head of the Basic Design Section of the Navy Technical Department. Torpedo launchers were placed at upper deck level in rotating mounts to hopefully prevent loss of the ship in the event of a hit in the torpedo room. The resulting explosion would be directed upward and outward instead of downward into the hull. Unlike the preceding class, the Takao-class had an upright second funnel which made them easy to identify. The main guns could be elevated to 70 degrees making them useful against aircraft. Due to the Japanese practice of trying to do too much with limited displacement, the cruisers of this class were top-heavy.
IJN Atago was laid down at the Kure Navy Yard on 28 April 1927. The cruiser was named after Mount Atago, located in Kyoto Prefecture. Launched on 16 June 1930.
In wartime configuration IJN Atago was 203.8 meters long and had a beam of 19 meters. IJN Atago had a mean average draft of 6.57 meters and a standart displacement 11,370 tons. Full war load was 15,875 tons. Twelve Kanpon boilers drove four sets of single-flow impulse type geared turbines providing a total 130,000 horsepower turning four shafts with three-bladed propellers. Top speed was 35.5 knots. Complement was up to 990 officers and men
Takao-class side armor was 10.2/12.7 cm thick. The armored deck was 32-35 mm thick, and the bridge was protected by 14-16 mm armor plates.
All four cruisers were commissioned between 30 March 1932 and 30 June 1932. They were registered at the Yokosuka Naval Yard until they were removed from the navy list. They replaced the earlier Myōko-class heavy cruisers in CruDiv 4 of the Second Fleet. Between 31 May 1932 and 2 June 1938, the four heavy cruisers took part in training and fleet maneuvers, during which their top-heaviness became evident, leading to the rebuilding of IJN Takao and IJN Atago at Yokosuka in 1938 and 1939. The modifications essentially created new ships that had new profiles and were superior to the earlier models in the balance among armament, speed, and defense. IJN Maya and IJN Chōkai were never modified as completely as the other two heavy cruisers.
Heavy cruiser “Atago”
World War II
Following their rebuild, IJN Takao and IJN Atago returned to CruDiv 4 and cruised off China, supporting operations there. IJN Takao, IJN Atago, IJN Maya, and IJN Chōkai joined battleships IJN Kongō and IJN Haruna of BatDiv 3 in the Pescadores Islands as the main body of the Southern Area Force under Admiral Kondo. This group provided distant cover for early war operations in Malaya and Borneo. During February 1942, IJN Takao, IJN Atago, and IJN Maya remained at Palau to carry out anti-submarine operations, a use for these ships as puzzling as the later installation of depth charge racks on them.
Heavy cruisers “Chokai”, “Maya”, “Takao” and “Atago” at the anchorage of the 2nd fleet, 1935
When the U.S. attacked Guadalcanal, CruDiv 4 (IJN Takao, IJN Atago, and IJN Maya) teamed with CruDiv 5 (IJN Myōko and IJN Haguro) and joined Admiral Nagumo’s carrier force. This powerful force took on U.S. Task Force 61 in the Battle of the Solomons. All five heavy cruisers took part in night battles with U.S. forces and helped sink the burning hulk of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet at the end of the Battle of Santa Cruz.
On the night of 14-15 November 1942, IJN Takao and IJN Atago, along with the old battleship IJN Kirishima and destroyers, were sent to bombard Henderson Field but ran into battleships USS South Dakota and USS Washington. The two U.S. battleships concentrated fire on the Kirishima, leaving the two heavy cruisers free to engage. South Dakota absorbed at least sixteen high explosive 20.3 cm shells fired from a distance of 5000 meters (5,450 yards) by the Japanese heavy cruisers. Takao was not hit, but Atago received minor damage. Kirishima caught fire due to explosions and was soon dead in the water and later sank. South Dakota withdrew under her own power and was repaired to fight another day.
Following additional support actions during the evacuation of Guadalcanal, IJN Takao, IJN Maya, and IJN Atago received Type 21 radar and triple 25 mm machine gun mounts at Yokosuka. Following this, they returned to Truk and took part in Combined Fleet operations around Eniwetok Atoll. The heavy cruisers of CruDiv 4 were at anchor in Simpson Harbor at Rabaul on 5 November 1943 when they were attacked by carrier planes from U.S. Task Force 38. IJN Takao was hit by a 225 kg bomb on the upper deck and the number two turret barbette. After another stay in dry-dock at Yokosuka and more shuttling to Truk, CruDiv 4 participated in the Battle of the Marianas on 19-20 June 1944 but did not fire at enemy ships.
“Atago” “Takao” and “Kirishima”. Guadalcanal area, November 14, 1942.
The sinking of the ship
On 22 October 1944 the four Takao-class heavy cruisers steamed through the Palawan Passage at the start of the Battle of Leyte Gulf. On 23 October, the IJN Takao was hit by two 53.3 cm Mark 14 torpedoes fired from the stern tubes of the submarine USS Darter which had just fired torpedoes from the bow tubes at the IJN Atago. Torpedo hits flooded boiler rooms and damaged the rudder and starboard pellers. A fire was started and the ship took on a 10-degree list. Counterflooding righted the ship, now dangerously low in the water. After the fire was put out, the stricken IJN Takao slowly made way to Brunei escorted by two destroyers. Darter had also hit the IJN Atago at 05:33 with a four-torpedo spread which reduced the ship, which later sank, to rubble. 360 Atago’s crewmen were killed, but 529 survivors including Vice Admiral Kurita, his CoS Rear Admiral Koyanagi Tomiji and skipper Rear Admiral Araki Tsutau are rescued by IJN Kishinami. 171 other survivors are also rescued by IJN Asashimo. The shaken Admiral Kurita transferred his flag from the IJN Atago to the battleship IJN Yamato. At the same time, submarine USS Dace sank the proud IJN Maya with a four-torpedo spread from the bow tubes which struck the cruiser on the port side.
On 20 December 1944, the heavy cruiser IJN Atago was removed from Navy List.
Internal Takao-class blueprint
The visual difference between Takao-class ships
- Belt/side - 102/127mm - 102/127 mm.
- Deck - 32-35 mm.
- Traverse - 76-102/76-102 mm. (bow / stern)
- Barbettes - 76 - 127 mm.
- Conning tower - 14-16 mm
- Main caliber armor - 25.4/ 25.4/25.4 mm. forehead / side / rear / roof)
- Tiller compartment - 25-51 mm.
- Crew - 990
- Standard displacement: 11370 t
- Full-load displacement: 15875 t
- Max length: 203,8 m
- Max width: 19,0 m
- Average draft at trial state: 6,57 m
- Main boiler: 4 TZA “Campon”
- Main engine: 12 boilers “Campon Ro Go”
- Power: 130000
- Speed: 35,5 knots
Modernization at the time of December 1943
- 5х2 - 203 mm/50 (8") 3rd Year Type No. 2
- 4x2 - 127mm 12.7 cm/40 (5") Type 89
- 2x3 - 25 mm/60 (1") Type 96
- 6x2 - 25 mm/60 (1") Type 96
- 8x1 - 25 mm/60 (1") Type 96
- 4x4 - 610mm Torpedo tubes
Location of torpedo tubes on Takao-class cruisers
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S.V. Suliga Japanese heavy cruisers (in two volumes). - Moscow: Galea Print. - 1997.
Jane’s Fighting Ships of World War II.pdf “Jane’s Fighting Ships of World War II” by McCurtie, Francis
THE IMPERIAL JAPANESE NAVY 6 Heavy Cruisers II book Takao, Atago, Chokai
Waldemar Goralski Japanese Heavy Cruiser Takao. — Kagero, 2010. — 31 с. — ISBN 978-83-61220-65-7
Jentsura, Hansgeorg (1976). Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869-1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-893-X.
A battle history of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1941-1945 by Dull, Paul S
Warships In Action Japanese Heavy Cruise - Wayne Patton