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Kongo-class battleship, Kirishima (1942)

Kirishima_Tsukumowan_1937.thumb.jpg.7f4dKirishima in Tsukumo Bay on May 10, 1937


Kirishima was a warship of the Imperial Japanese Navy during the First and Second World Wars. Designed by British naval engineer George Thurston, she was the third of four Kong-class battlecruisers to be launched. Laid down in 1912 at Mitsubishi shipyards in Nagasaki, Kirishima was officially commissioned in 1915 on the same day as its sister ship, Haruna. Kirishima sometimes patrolled off the coast of China during World War I and assisted in rescue operations following the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923.

O6qFDgj2qIo.thumb.jpg.e902ccdc7f7b1e4010Keel construction

Beginning in 1927, Kirishimo “was rebuilt for the first time as a battleship, strengthening its armor and improving its speed. Since 1934, during the second reconstruction, its superstructure was completely rebuilt, the engine plant was modernized and launch catapults for seaplanes were installed. Now it is fast enough. to accompany Japan’s growing aircraft carrier fleet, she was reclassified as a fast battleship.During the Second Sino-Japanese War, Kirishima acted mainly as a support vessel and a troop transfer, moving army troops into the mainland of China. Vice Admiral Nagumo’s Kido Butai as an escort for six carriers who attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.

Completed ship
1280px-Kirishima_Sasebo_1915.thumb.jpg.3Kirishima moored at Sasebo in December 1915

Kirishima was officially commissioned on April 19, 1915 and, together with Haruna, was assigned to the 1st battleship division of the First Fleet. After seven months of testing, she was transferred to the 3rd Battleship Division of the Second Fleet, with Captain Shima Takeshi taking command of the ship. In April 1916, Kirishima and Haruna left the Sasebo naval base to patrol the East China Sea for ten days. She remained in Sasebo until April 1917, when she sailed for the Chinese coast again with her sister ships Haruna and Kongō .. Her last patrol operation during World War I was off the coast of China and Korea in April 1918. In July 1918, Kirishima served as Prince Arthur of Connaught’s vehicle for his extended cruise to Canada before returning to Japan.

After the end of World War I, the Empire of Japan gained control over the former German possessions in the central Pacific Ocean in accordance with the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Due to Japan’s warm relations with the British Empire and the United States at the time, Kirishima and other Japanese warships became significantly less active than during the war. On December 1, 1920, she was transferred to the Third Division of the Second Fleet. In addition to patrolling the Kongo and Nagato off the Chinese coast in August 1921, Kirishima remained in Sasebo. On September 10, 1922, she collided with the destroyer Fuji during fleet maneuvers, with both ships receiving minor damage. After the Great Kanto Earthquake in September 1923, large ships of the Imperial Japanese Navy assisted in rescue efforts until the end of the month. In December 1923 she was transferred to the reserve.

With the end of World War I and the signing of the Washington Naval Treaty, the size of the Imperial Japanese Navy was significantly reduced, with a 5:5:3 ratio between the major ships of the United Kingdom, the United States, and Japan. The treaty also prohibited Japan from building any new large ships until 1931, with no large ship exceeding 35,000 tons. Provided that new additions did not exceed 3,000 tons, existing large ships were allowed to be upgraded with improved torpedo bulges and deck armor. By the time the Treaty of Washington was fully implemented in Japan, only three classes of World War I capital ships, the Fuso and Ise. Kongo-class linkors and Kongo-class battlecruisers remained active.

Deprived of the ability to build new large ships, the Imperial Japanese Navy decided instead to significantly modernize and reconfigure their existing battleships and battle cruisers. Kirishima was placed in the Third Reserve in December 1926, before starting its first renovation in early 1927. The horizontal armor above the ammunition stores was reinforced and it was also fitted with anti-torpedo protrusions as permitted by the Washington Treaty. To update Kirishima’s speed, 36 coal-fired Yarrow boilers were removed and replaced with ten new Kampon mixed-fired boilers.  To accommodate more equipment on board, her bow superstructure has been remodeled in the style of a pagoda mast, making it easier to remove one of her three funnels. Reconstruction of the Kongo-class battle cruisers added 4,000 tons of armor to the ships, in direct violation of the terms of the Washington Treaty. On April 16, 1930, the renovation was declared complete.

Kirishima in 1932, following her first reconstruction

Six days after Kirishima’s reconstruction was completed, Japan pledged to henchmen several battleships and signed the London Naval Treaty, which placed additional bans on capital construction of ships until 1937. From August to October 1930, she was equipped with equipment necessary to equip reconnaissance seaplanes. Kirishima patrolled the coast of China near Shanghai in April 1932 before being placed back in the Third Nature Reserve.

In September 1931, Japan invaded Manchuria. On February 25, 1933, based on a report from the Lytton Commission, the League of Nations agreed that Japan had violated China’s sovereignty by invading Manchuria. Refusing to accept the organization’s decision, Japan withdrew from the League of Nations on the same day. Immediately thereafter, Japan also withdrew from the Washington and London Naval Treaties, thereby lifting all restrictions on the number and size of its large ships.
On November 18, 1934, the Kirishima was drydocked at the Sasebo naval arsenal in preparation for her second renovation, which would allow her to function alongside Japan’s growing fleet of fast aircraft carriers. Her stern has been lengthened by 26 feet (7.9 m) and her superstructure has been rebuilt to accommodate new fire control mechanisms. Her boilers were removed and replaced with eight new Kampon oil boilers, and she received newer geared turbines. The height of her main and secondary batteries was increased and she was equipped with two Nakajima E8N “Dave” and Kawanishi E7K “Alpha” reconnaissance floatplanes. For this, the aircraft catapults were re-equipped with the launch rails. Her old 3 “guns were removed and replaced with eight 5” dual-use guns. She was also equipped with twenty 25 mm Type 96 anti-aircraft guns in twin turrets, and two of her 6-inch guns and the remaining torpedo tubes were removed.

Kirishima and the fast carrier Akagi off Sukumo, April 1939

The Kirishima’s carapace was also extensively modernized. Its main sash was reinforced to the same thickness of 8 “(as opposed to varying thickness of 6-8” before modernization), and diagonal bulkheads were 5 to 8 “deep (127-203 mm) reinforced the main armor belt. The turret armor was reinforced to 10 inches (254 mm), and 4 inches (102 mm) were added to the deck armor pieces. The armor around her ammunition magazines was also reinforced during repairs The refurbishment was declared complete on June 8, 1936. Able to reach speeds of up to 30.5 knots (56.5 km / h; 35.1 mph), the Kirishima was reclassified as a fast battleship.

In August 1936, Kirishima left Sasebo with Fuso to patrol the Chinese coast off Xiamen. From March 1937 to April 1939, she was frequently used as a support vessel and troop transport during the Second Sino-Japanese War. In November 1938, “Kirishima” was appointed commander of the third battleship division and was under the command of Rear Admiral Chuichi Nagumo. In November 1939, he was placed in reserve and provided with additional armor on the frontal parts of the towers and barbets.
On November 11, 1941, after a series of movements between Japanese naval bases, Kirishima was equipped to prepare for the upcoming hostilities and, along with her sister ships, was sent to the Third Battleship Division. On 26 November Kirishima departed Hitokappu Bay, the Kuril Islands in the company of Hieev and six Japanese fast carriers of the First Air Force strike force (Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, Hiryu, Shokaku and Zuikaku). On December 7, 1941, aircraft from the six carriers attacked the United States Pacific Fleet at their base at Pearl Harbor, sinking four US Navy battleships and numerous other ships. Following the attack and declaration of war by the United States, Kirishima returned to Japan.
On January 8, 1942, Kirishima left Japan for the Truk naval base in the Caroline Islands with an aircraft carrier strike force. She provided escort for the invasion of New Britain on January 17, before returning to Truk. She flew again in response to raids by American aircraft carriers on the Marshall Islands and the Gilbert Islands. In March 1942, while supporting fleet operations off Java in the Dutch East Indies, one of Kirishim’s seaplanes bombed an enemy merchant ship. South of Java, the Japanese fleet was surprised by the appearance of the destroyer USS Edsall. Hiei and Chikuma first opened fire on the ship, but never hit. After the dive bombers of Admiral Nagumo’s three aircraft carriers stopped the destroyer, Kirishima and two other ships resumed fire on Edsall until it sank.
In April 1942, Kirishima and the third battleship division, along with five aircraft carriers and two cruisers, attacked British naval bases in the Indian Ocean. On April 5, Easter Sunday, a Japanese fleet attacked Colombo harbor in Ceylon, and seaplanes from the Ton ship spotted two fleeing British cruisers, which were later sunk from the air. A seaplane from Kirishima also fired at the departing oil tanker. On April 8, a Japanese aircraft carrier attacked the Royal Navy base at Trincomalee, Ceylon, only to discover that all of Admiral James Somerville’s remaining warships had departed the previous night. Returning from the attack, a seaplane from Kirishim’s sister ship Haruna spotted the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes and was escorting the destroyer HMAS Vampire, which were quickly sunk by a massive air attack. Upon returning to Japan, Kirishima was drydocked, and its secondary armament was reconfigured with the addition of 25mm anti-aircraft guns in twin mounts.

In June 1942, Kirishima departed with the Carrier Strike Force during the Battle of Midway, providing escort for Admiral Nagumo’s four fast aircraft carriers along with Haruna. After a disastrous battle in which all four Japanese aircraft carriers were destroyed, she took survivors from the carriers before returning to Japan. In August 1942, he sailed from Japan to the Solomon Islands with Hiei, three aircraft carriers, three cruisers, and eleven destroyers in response to the American invasion of Guadalcanal. She accompanied Japanese aircraft carriers during the Battle of the Eastern Solomon Islands, during which the light aircraft carrier Ryujo was sunk. After the battle, the fleet returned to the Truk naval base. During the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, Kirishima was part of Rear Admiral Hiroaki Abe’s Vanguard Force, which provided a distant cover for Nagumo’s carrier groups. On October 26, she was attacked by American dive bombers, but remained intact.

Takao (center) and the Kirishima steaming for Guadalcanal, 14 November 1942

On November 10, 1942, Kirishima left Truk, along with Hiei and eleven destroyers, preparing to bombard American positions on Guadalcanal in front of a large Japanese transport convoy. US Navy reconnaissance aircraft spotted the Japanese fleet several days in advance, and a US Navy force of two heavy cruisers, three light cruisers and eight destroyers commanded by Rear Admiral Daniel Callaghan was deployed to meet at Ironbottom Strait. At 01:24 on November 13, Japanese forces were located 28,000 yards (26 km) from the light cruiser USS Helena. Subsequently, in the first naval battle of Guadalcanal, the American Task Force concentrated most of its firepower on the battleship Hiei. This allowed Kirishima to launch several strikes against the Helena and the heavy cruiser USS San Francisco, while Hiei damaged the light cruiser USS Atlanta, killing Rear Admiral Norman Scott. Both Hiei and Kirishima bombarded San Francisco, killing Rear Admiral Callaghan. However, Hieiv was hit by San Francisco and several American destroyers. When Hiei actually dropped out of the battle, Kirishima and the surviving destroyers withdrew to the north. On the morning of November 13, she was ordered to tow Hiei to safety. However, the heavily damaged battleship was attacked by air and was eventually abandoned and sunk.

On the night of November 14-15, 1942, during the next raid to Guadalcanal, IJN Kirishima, being the flagship of the Japanese (covering forces of the convoy that delivered large Japanese land formations to the landing site) of the compound entered an artillery duel with the American battleship USS South Dakota, inflicted damage to it (hit by 1 shell, penetrated both sides of the coaming hatch and the shell detonated when it hit the barbet. The hole in the upper deck was 0.914 × 3.048 m. The casings of the central and right 16-inch guns of the GK turret No. 3 were damaged. Water and gas-reflecting guns were destroyed. 30ft fencing around the barbet The main armored deck deflected all the shrapnel. The right catapult and several 20mm submachine guns were damaged), but the ship itself was severely damaged by the fire of the battleship USS Washinghton, which approached unnoticed at close range (3 miles). IJN Kirishima was hit by 9 406 mm and about 40 127 mm shells, the ship lost control, two main caliber turrets were destroyed, and severe fires began. On the morning of November 15, 1942, the commander ordered to abandon the ship, which sank 5 miles from Savo Island. 300 people were killed, 1127 were saved, nevertheless, the battle cruiser fulfilled its task: the convoy reached its destination without hindrance. USS South Dakota after this battle was out of action for 14 months, USS Washinghton for 1.5 months.

USS Washington fires on  IJN Kirishima during the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on 15 November 1942


  • Belt/side  – 203-76mm;
  • Traverses – bow 203mm, stern 203mm
  • Deck – 80-152mm
  • Towers – up to 230mm
  • Barbets – 229mm
  • Casemates – 152mm

Kongo-class battleship armor s chematic

Technical component:

  • Crew – 1425
  • Standard displacement:  31980 t
  • Full-load displacement: 36600 t
  • Max length: 221,1
  • Max width: 29,3
  • Average draft at trial state: 9,7
  • Main engine: 4 × Brown-Curtis turbines
  • Power: 136000
  • Speed: 30,3 knots
  • Aircraft: 3 seaplanes.


  • 4х2 – 356mm 36 cm/45 (14″) Type 41
  • 14×1 – 152mm 15 cm/50 (6″) Type 41
  • 4×2 –  127mm 12.7 cm/40 (5″) Type 89
  • 10×2 –  25mm 25 mm/60 (1″) Type 96 Model 2


Weapon layout of the battleship Kirishima 1941


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