|Preceded by:||Mutsuki class|
|Succeeded by:||Hatsuharu class|
|Beam:||10.4 m (34 ft 1 in)|
|Draft:||3.2 m (10 ft 6 in)|
|Speed:||38 knots (44 mph; 70 km/h)|
|Range:||5,000 nmi (9,300 km) at 14 knots (26 km/h)|
The Fubuki-class destroyers (吹雪型駆逐艦? Fubukigata kuchikukan) were a class of twenty-four destroyers of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Fubuki class has been described as the world's first modern destroyer. The Fubuki class set a new standard not only for Japanese vessels, but for destroyers around the world. They remained formidable opponents to the end of World War II, despite being much older than many of their adversaries.
After the end of World War I, the Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff issued requirements for a destroyer with a maximum speed of 39 knots (72 km/h; 45 mph), range of 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 km; 4,600 mi) at 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph), and armed with large numbers of the recently developed Type 8 torpedoes. These destroyers were intended to operate with the new series of fast and powerful new cruisers also under consideration as part of a program intended to give the Imperial Japanese Navy a qualitative edge with the world's most modern ships.
The resultant Fubuki class was ordered under the 1923 fiscal year budget, with ships completed between 1926 and 1931. Their performance was a great improvement over previous destroyer designs, so much so that they were designated Special Type destroyers (特型? Tokugata). The large size, powerful engines, high speed, large radius of action, and unprecedented armament gave these destroyers the firepower similar to many light cruisers in other navies.
The Fubuki-class vessels were originally intended to have only hull numbers due to the projected large number of warships the Japanese Navy expected to build through the Eight-eight fleet plan. This proved to be extremely unpopular with the crews and was a constant source of confusion in communications with the earlier Kamikaze and Mutsuki classes, and naval policy was changed in August 1928. Hence, the Fubuki-class vessels were assigned names as they were launched.
The closest equivalents in the United States Navy were the Porter and Somers-class destroyers, of which only thirteen vessels were constructed in the 1930s to function as destroyer squadron leaders.
The initial design for the Fubuki class was based on a 2000-ton displacement hull with a single 12.7 cm (5.0 in) battery, two twin 24-inch torpedo tubes (just introduced in Mutsuki), and capable of 40 knots (74 km/h). Following the abandonment of the Washington Naval Treaty from 1923, the design was modified to 1680 standard tons with more guns and more torpedo tubes. However, their increased displacement more than offset their more powerful engines, resulting in a slower top speed than originally planned.
The main battery consisted of six Type 3 127 mm 50 caliber naval guns, mounted in pairs in three weather-proof, splinter-proof, gas-tight gun turrets that were far ahead of their time. On the last 14 vessels of the series, these guns were dual purpose guns that could be elevated to 70 degrees, making them the world's first destroyers with this ability. Ammunition was brought up on hoists from magazines located directly underneath each gun turret, which had a far greater rate of fire than those of other contemporary destroyers in which ammunition was typically manually loaded.
Unlike the earlier Minekaze series destroyers, the Fubukis did not have a forecastle break containing the forward torpedo launchers. Instead, the forward launchers were located between the siamesed smokestacks. Originally Type 8 torpedoes were carried, arranged in three triple mountings.
To increase comfort and combat ability even in bad weather, the forecastle was raised, and the bridge enlarged and enclosed. The bow was given a significant flare, to offer protection against weather in the Pacific.
Between June 1928 and March 1933, twenty-four Fubuki-class destroyers were built, in three groups. As completed, Fubuki had twin 5-inch guns in "A", "X", and "Y" positions, with triple torpedo tubes in "D", "P", and "Q", making them the most powerful destroyers in the world at the time of their completion.
The first group, or Fubuki class, consisting of the first ten vessels completed in 1928 and 1929, were simpler in construction than the vessels that followed. They had a rangefinder on the compass bridge and an exposed gun-fire control room, and were equipped with a “Type A” gun turret that elevated both of its barrels at the same time and only to 40 degrees. The first group can be distinguished from later ships by their lack of ventilators atop the stacks.
The second group, or Ayanami class, were built in 1930 and 1931, and had larger bridges that encompassed the rangefinder, an azimuth compass sighting device and the gun-fire control room, as well as a range finding tower. Furthermore, the boiler room's air inlet was changed from a pipe to a bowl shape. They also benefited from the deployment of “Type B” turrets, which could elevate each gun separately to 75° for AA use, making them the world's first destroyers with this capability.
The third group, also known as the Akatsuki class, were built from 1931 to 1933. These vessels had larger boilers and a narrower fore funnel. Improvements included a unique splinter-proof torpedo launcher-turret, which allowed the torpedo launcher tubes to be reloaded in action.
However, the Fubuki class also had a number of inherent design problems. The large amount of armament combined with a smaller hull displacement than in the original design created issues with stability. After the Tomozuru Incident, in which the top-heavy design of many Japanese warships called basic design issues into question, additional ballast had to be added. In the Fourth Fleet Incident, during which a typhoon damaged virtually every ship in the Fourth Fleet, issues with the longitudinal strength of the Fubuki-class hull was discovered. As a result, all vessels were reconstructed between 1935 and 1937. This increased the displacement to 2050 tons standard tons and over 2400 tons full load. The rebuild reduced the top speed slightly.
During World War II, as surviving vessels returned to the Japanese home islands for repair and refit, the anti-aircraft armament was steadily upgraded. In 1945, the "X" turret was replaced on surviving vessels to create space and lighten the top for the addition of 14 -Type 96 25 mm AT/AA Guns, two additional 13 mm anti-aircraft machine guns, 18 more depth charges, and radar were installed.
Of the 24 Fubuki-class vessels completed, one (Miyuki) was sunk in a collision in 1934. The remaining vessels served throughout the Pacific War. In November 1942, the Ayanami damaged the battleship USS South Dakota with her gunfire during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal before being attacked by USS Washington, which crippled the battleship Kirishima as well. She was scuttled the following day by Uranami. In August 1943, John F. Kennedy's PT-109 was rammed, split asunder and sunk by Amagiri of this class.
Eight ships of the class were sunk by submarines, and two by mines, the rest by air attacks. Only Hibiki and Ushio survived the war. Hibiki was taken by the Soviet Navy as a prize of war, and continued to be used until 1964.
List of Ships
Type I (Fubuki)
|Maizuru Naval Arsenal, Japan||19 June 1926||15 November 1927||10 August 1928||Sunk in surface action off Guadalcanal [09.06S, 159.38E] on 11 October 1942; struck 15 November 1942|
|Yokohama Dockyard, Japan||19 March 1927||20 March 1928||18 December 1928||air attack off Dampir Strait [07.15S, 148.30E] on 3 March 1943; struck 1 April 1943|
|Maizuru Naval Arsenal, Japan||12 April 1927||29 September 1928||30 March 1929||Air attack off Buin [06.50S, 155.47E] on 17 July 1943; struck 15 October 1943|
|Uraga Dock Company, Japan||30 April 1927||26 June 1928||29 June 1929||Collision with Inazuma, S Cheju Island [33N, 125.30E] on 29 June 1934; struck 15 August 1934|
|Fujinagata Shipyards, Japan||25 April 1927||27 September 1928||10 May 1929||Sunk in action off Guadalcanal [08.40S, 159.20E] on 12 October 1942; struck 15 November 1942|
|Sasebo Naval Arsenal, Japan||12 August 1926||26 November 1927||25 July 1928||Air attack near Miri [04.24N, 114E] on 17 December 1941; struck 15 January 1942|
|Ishikawajima Shipyards, Japan||21 October 1926||26 December 1927||26 July 1928||renamed as Usugumo 1 August 1928; Torpedoed off Etorofu [47.43N, 147.55E] on 7 July 1944; struck 10 September 1944|
|Fujinagata Shipyards, Japan||27 October 1926||27 December 1927||28 July 1928||renamed as Shiragumo 1 August 1928; Torpedoed off Cape Erimo [42.25N, 144.55E] on 16 March 1944; struck 31 March 1944|
|Uraga Dock Company, Japan||18 October 1926||24 November 1927||30 June 1928||renamed as Isonami on 1 August 1928; Torpedoed off SW Celebes [05.26S, 123.04E] on 9 April 1943; struck 1 August 1943|
|Sasebo Naval Arsenal, Japan||28 April 1927||29 November 1928||30 June 1929||Air attack W of Panay [11.50N, 123E] on 26 October 1944; struck 10 December 1944|
Type II (Ayanami)
|Fujinagata Shipyards, Japan||20 January 1928||5 October 1929||30 April 1930||Scuttled off Guadalcanal by Uranami [09.10S, 159.52E]; 15 November 1942; struck 15 December 1942|
|Maizuru Naval Arsenal, Japan||6 July 1928||22 June 1929||24 December 1929||Torpedoed S of Hainan [18.16N, 114.40E] 12 September 1944; struck 10 October 1944|
|Sasebo Naval Arsenal, Japan||12 December 1928||18 November 1929||30 June 1930||Air attack off Guadalcanal [08S, 160.10E] on 28 August 1942; struck 1 October 1942|
|Maizuru Naval Arsenal, Japan||1 April 1929||12 May 1930||3 December 1930||Sunk in action, central Solomons [04.44S, 154E] on 25 November 1943; struck 15 December 1943|
|Ishikawajima Shipyards, Japan||28 November 1928||27 February 1930||10 November 1930||Mined, S of Makassar Strait [02.10S, 116.45E] on 23 April 1944; struck 10 June 1944|
|Uraga Dock Company, Japan||28 March 1929||23 December 1929||30 January 1931||Torpedoed off Kuching [01.34N, 110.21E] on 24 December 1941; struck 15 January 1942|
|Sasebo Naval Arsenal, Japan||29 November 1929||8 November 1930||31 October 1931||Air attack off Kiska Island [52.17N, 178.08E] on 16 October 1942; struck 15 November 1942|
|Sasebo Naval Arsenal, Japan||25 October 1929||7 November 1930||31 July 1931||Air attack Manila Bay [14.35N, 120.50E] on 13 November 1944; struck 10 January 1945|
|Maizuru Naval Arsenal, Japan||21 February 1930||6 June 1931||19 May 1932||Torpedoed E of Palau [05.15N, 141.15E] on 14 January 1944; struck 10 March 1944|
|Uraga Dock Company, Japan||24 December 1929||17 November 1930||14 November 1931||surrendered to Allies 15 September 1945; scrapped 1948|
Type III (Akatsuki)
|暁||Akatsuki||Sasebo Naval Arsenal, Japan||17 February 1930||7 May 1932||30 November 1932||Sunk in action off Guadalcanal [09.17S, 159.56E] on 13 November 1942; struck 15 December 1942|
|響||Hibiki||Maizuru Naval Arsenal, Japan||21 February 1930||16 June 1932||31 March 1933||surrendered 5 October 1945; prize of war to USSR on 5 July 1947; scrapped 1963|
|雷||Ikazuchi||Uraga Dock Company, Japan||7 March 1930||22 October 1931||15 August 1932||torpedoed W of Guam [10.13N, 143.51E] on 13 April 1944; struck 10 June 1944|
|電||Inazuma||Fujinagata Shipyards, Japan||7 March 1930||25 February 1932||15 November 1932||Torpedoed W of Celebes [05.08N, 119.38E] on 14 May 1944; struck 10 June 1944|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Fubuki class destroyers.|
- Jentsura, Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869–1945
- Parshall and Tully, Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway. p. 336.
- Specification from Fitzsimons, Bernard, ed. Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare (London: Phoebus, 1978), Volume 10, pp.1040–1, "Fubuki".
- Fitzsimons, Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare p.1040
- Peattie & Evans, Kaigun page 221-222.
- Lenton, H. T. American Fleet and Escort Destroyers. (Doubleday, 1971), p.45-47.
- Fitzsimons, Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare (London: Phoebus, 1977), Volume 10, p.1040.
- Fitzsimons, Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare, Volume 10, p.1040.
- Fitzsimons, p.1040. This would not be common on American destroyers until postwar.
- Fitzsimons, pp.1040–1 diagram.
- Fitzsimons, Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare p.1040.
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