Japanese cruiser Furutaka

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Japanese cruiser Furutaka.jpg
Heavy cruiser Furutaka in 1926
Career (Japan) Japanese Navy Ensign
Namesake: Mount Furutaka, located on Etajima, Hiroshima, immediately behind the Imperial Japanese Navy Academy
Ordered: 1923 Fiscal Year
Builder: Mitsubishi shipyards, Nagasaki
Laid down: 5 December 1922
Launched: 25 February 1925
Commissioned: 31 March 1926[1]
Struck: 20 December 1944
Fate: sunk 12 October 1942 by USS Salt Lake City and Duncan at the Battle of Cape Esperance
02°28′S 152°11′E / 2.467°S 152.183°E / -2.467; 152.183
General characteristics
Class & type: Furutaka class heavy cruiser
Displacement: 7,950 long tons (8,080 t) (standard)
9,150 long tons (9,300 t) (after modification)
Length: 176.8 m (580 ft 0.6 in)
Beam: 15.8 m (51 ft 10.0 in)
Draft: 5.6 m (18 ft 4.5 in)
Installed power: 102,000 shp (76,100 kW)
Propulsion: 4 × Parsons geared turbines
12 × Kampon boilers
4 × shafts
Speed: 34.5 kn (63.9 km/h; 39.7 mph)
Range: 7,000 nautical miles (13,000 km; 8,100 mi) at 14 kn (26 km/h; 16 mph)
Complement: 616
Armament: As Built: 6 × 7.9 in (201 mm)/50 cal guns (6x1)
4 × 3.1 in (79 mm)/40 cal guns (4x1)
12 × 24 in (610 mm) torpedo tubes (6x2)
Final: 6 × 8 in (203 mm)/50 cal guns (3x2)
4 × 4.7 in (119 mm)/45 cal guns (4x1)
8 × 24 in (610 mm) torpedo tubes (2x4)
Armor: Belt: 76 mm (3.0 in)
Deck: 36 mm (1.4 in)
Aircraft carried: 1 × Nakajima E4N2 floatplane
(2 x Kawanishi E7K2s from 1936)
Aviation facilities: 1 × catapult (from 1933)

IJN Furutaka (古鷹 重巡洋艦 Furutaka jūjun'yōkan?) was the lead ship in the two-vessel Furutaka-class of heavy cruisers in the Imperial Japanese Navy. It was named after Mount Furutaka, located on Etajima, Hiroshima immediately behind the Imperial Japanese Navy Academy.

Design[edit]

Furutaka and her sister ship Kako were the first generation of high speed heavy cruisers in the Japanese navy, intended to counter the American Omaha class and British Hawkins class scout cruisers. They developed the experimental design pioneered in the cruiser Yūbari. Although there were attempts to minimise weight and protection was only designed to be proof against 6 inch shells, the displacement was seriously overweight.[2]

The two ships were "scout cruisers", designed with aircraft facilities. The lack of catapults, however, necessitated launches from water until a major refit in 1932/3.

Service history[edit]

Inter-war period[edit]

Furutaka was initially assigned to Cruiser Division 5 where she remained until reduced to reserve in December 1931. Furutaka underwent a series of significant refits in the 1930s. She was reconstructed and modernized at Kure Naval Base in 1932-33, receiving anti aircraft guns upgraded to 4.7 inch, aircraft catapult and an E4N2 floatplane. She was recommissioned into Cruiser Division 6.[2]

Further extensive work started in April 1937. Re-bored 8 inch guns were installed in improved mountings (allowing 55° elevation), fire control changed, light anti aircraft weapons augmented and eight new 24 inch Type 93 torpedo tubes were installed. Facilities were upgraded for two E7K2 floatplanes. New oil-fired boilers were installed and there was a general overhaul of machinery. In the light of the added top weight, an attempt was made to maintain stability by increasing the ship's beam - not entirely successfully.[2]

World War II[edit]

In late 1941, Furutaka was assigned to Cruiser Division 6 Rear Admiral Aritomo Goto in the First Fleet with the cruisers Aoba, Kako and Kinugasa. At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, it was engaged in support for the invasion of Guam.

After the failed first invasion of Wake Cruiser Division 6 was assigned to the larger second invasion force, and after the fall of Wake, returned to its forward base in Truk, Caroline Islands.

From 18 January 1942, Cruiser Division 6 was assigned to support Japanese troop landings at Rabaul, New Britain and Kavieng, New Ireland and in patrols around the Marshall Islands in unsuccessful pursuit of the American fleet. In March–April, Cruiser Division 6 provided support to Cruiser Division 18 in covering the landings of Japanese troops in the Solomon Islands and New Guinea at Buka, Shortland, Kieta, Manus Island, Admiralty Islands and Tulagi from a forward base at Rabaul. While at Shortland on 6 May 1942, Furutaka was attacked by four Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses, but was not damaged.

Battle of the Coral Sea[edit]

At the Battle of the Coral Sea, Cruiser Division 6 departed Shortland and effected a rendezvous at sea with light carrier Shoho. At 11:00 on 7 May 1942, north of Tugali Island, Shoho was attacked and sunk by 93 Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers and Douglas TBD Devastator torpedo bombers from USS Yorktown and Lexington.

WW-2 recognition drawing of Furutaka

The following day, 46 SBDs, 21 TBDs and 15 Grumman F4F Wildcats from Yorktown and Lexington damaged Shokaku severely above the waterline and force her retirement. Furutaka and Kinugasa, undamaged in the battle, escorted Shokaku back to Truk.

Furutaka returned to Kure on 5 June for repairs, and returned to Truk on 7 July. In a major reorganization of the Japanese navy on 14 July, Furutaka was assigned to the newly created Eighth Fleet under Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa and was assigned to patrols around the Solomon Islands, New Britain and New Ireland.

Battle of Savo Island[edit]

Main article: Battle of Savo Island

In the Battle of Savo Island on 9 August 1942, Cruiser Division 6, the heavy cruiser Chokai, light cruisers Tenryu and Yūbari and destroyer Yūnagi engaged the Allied forces in a night gun and torpedo action. At about 23:00, Chokai, Furutaka and Kako all launched their reconnaissance floatplanes. The circling floatplanes dropped flares illuminating the targets and all the Japanese ships opened fire. The heavy cruisers USS Astoria, Quincy, Vincennes and HMAS Canberra were sunk. Heavy cruiser USS Chicago was damaged as were the destroyers USS Ralph Talbot and Patterson. On the Japanese side, Chokai was hit three times, Kinugasa twice, Aoba once and Furutaka was not damaged and returned to Kavieng on 10 August.

In late August, Cruiser Division 6 and Chokai departed Shortland to provide distant cover for the Guadalcanal reinforcement convoys. That same day, a Consolidated PBY Catalina of VP23's "Black Cats" unsuccessfully attacked Furutaka in daylight. Furutaka shuttled between Kieta and Rabaul as needed to refuel and resupply through mid-September. Furutaka was unsuccessfully attacked on 12 September south of New Ireland by the USN submarine S-47, but was not damaged.

Battle of Cape Esperance[edit]

So alerted, the American heavy cruisers USS San Francisco and Salt Lake City, and light cruisers USS Boise and Helena—all equipped with radar—and five destroyers steamed around the end of Guadalcanal to block the entrance to Savo Sound.

At 22:35, Helena '​s radar spotted the Japanese fleet, and the Americans successfully crossed the Japanese "T". Both fleets opened fire, but Admiral Goto, thinking that he was under friendly fire, ordered a 180-degree turn that exposed each of his ships to the American broadsides. Aoba was damaged heavily, and Admiral Goto was mortally wounded on her bridge. With Aoba crippled, Captain Araki of Furutaka turned his ship out of the line of battle to engage Salt Lake City. Destroyer USS Duncan launched two torpedoes toward Furutaka that either missed or failed to detonate. Duncan continued firing at Furutaka until she was put out of action by numerous shell hits. At 23:54, Furutaka was hit by a torpedo that flooded her forward engine room. During the battle, about 90 shells hit Furutaka and some ignited her Type 93 "Long Lance" torpedoes, starting fires.

At 02:28 on 12 October, Furutaka sank stern first at 09°02′S 159°33′E / 9.033°S 159.550°E / -9.033; 159.550. Captain Araki and 514 survivors were rescued by Hatsuyuki, Murakumo and Shirayuki. Thirty-three crewmen were killed and 110 were later counted as missing. The Americans took 115 of Furutaka '​s crew as prisoners of war, including her Chief Damage Control Officer, Lt. Cdr. Shotaro Matsui. Most of these surviving crew were imprisoned at the Featherston prisoner of war camp in New Zealand.

Furutaka was removed from navy list on 10 November 1942.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lacroix, Japanese Cruisers, p. 794
  2. ^ a b c Whitley, M J (1995). Cruisers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. London: Arms and Armour Press. pp. 167–170. ISBN 1-85409-225-1. 

Books[edit]

  • Brown, David (1990). Warship Losses of World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-914-X. 
  • D'Albas, Andrieu (1965). Death of a Navy: Japanese Naval Action in World War II. Devin-Adair Pub. ISBN 0-8159-5302-X. 
  • Dull, Paul S. (1978). A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1941-1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-097-1. 
  • Howarth, Stephen (1983). The Fighting Ships of the Rising Sun: The drama of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1895-1945. Atheneum. ISBN 0-689-11402-8. 
  • Jentsura, Hansgeorg (1976). Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869-1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-893-X. 
  • Lacroix, Eric; Linton Wells (1997). Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-311-3. 
  • Whitley, M.J. (1995). Cruisers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-141-6. 

External links[edit]