Japanese cruiser Takachiho

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Japanese cruiser Takechiho.jpg
Takachiho depicted in a 1905 postcard
Empire of Japan
Name: Takachiho
Ordered: 1883 Fiscal Year
Builder: Armstrong Whitworth, United Kingdom
Laid down: 27 March 1884
Launched: 16 May 1885
Completed: 1 December 1885
Out of service: 17 October 1914
Struck: 29 October 1914
Fate: Sunk during the Siege of Tsingtao, 17 October 1914
General characteristics
Class and type: Naniwa-class protected cruiser
Displacement: 3,650 long tons (3,709 t)
Length: 91.4 m (299 ft 10 in)
Beam: 14 m (45 ft 11 in)
Draught: 6.4 m (21 ft 0 in)
Propulsion: 2-shaft reciprocating engines; 6 boilers; 7,604 hp (5,670 kW); 7,604 horsepower (5,670 kW)
Speed: 18.5 knots (21.3 mph; 34.3 km/h)
Range: 9,000 nmi (17,000 km) at 13 kn (24 km/h)
Complement: 325

Takachiho (高千穂) was the second and final Naniwa-class protected cruiser built for the Imperial Japanese Navy by the Newcastle upon Tyne-based Armstrong Whitworth Elswick shipyard in the United Kingdom. The name Takachiho comes from a mountain in the volcanic Kirishima range between Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures in Japan, which was a prominent location in Japanese mythology. Takachiho played a major role in the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894–1895, but was lost in combat in World War I.


The revolutionary design of the "Elswick" protected cruiser, initially developed as a private-venture by Armstrong Whitworth in the mid-1880s, and implemented in the cruiser Esmeralda for the Chilean Navy (subsequently purchased by Japan as Izumi) was of great interest to Japan because of its high speed, powerful armament, armor protection and relatively low cost, especially since the Imperial Japanese Navy lacked the resources at the time to purchase modern pre-dreadnought battleships.[1] Pioneering Japanese naval architect Sasō Sachū requested that Armstrong Whitworth make modifications to the Esmeralda design to customize it for Japanese requirements, and two vessels, Naniwa and Takachiho were ordered under the 1883 fiscal year budget. When completed, Naniwa and Takachiho were considered the most advanced and most powerful cruiser in the world.[2][3]


The design of Naniwa and Takachiho was based on a steel hull with high freeboard to increase seaworthiness. Compared with Izumi, the armor was stronger and the coal bunkers formed an additional shield around critical areas. The hull was split into multiple watertight compartments, with a double bottom. Both ships were equipped with naval rams as was standard for the time.[4]

Propulsion was by two horizontal two-cylinder double expansion steam engines, with six cylindrical boilers, which provided for a design speed of 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph).[4]

As built, her main armament initially consisted of two 260 mm (10 in) L/35 Krupp cannons mounted individually on rotating platforms in the bow and stern, with a supply of 200 rounds per gun. Secondary armament was initially six 150 mm (5.9 in) L/35 Krupp cannons mounted in semi-circular sponsons on the main deck, with 450 rounds per gun. Light armament included six QF 6 pounder Hotchkiss guns, ten 1-inch Nordenfelt guns and four 11-mm, 10-barrel Nordenfelt guns In addition, there were four 356 mm (14.0 in) Whitehead torpedo tubes mounted on the main deck. After the First Sino-Japanese War, both Naniwa and Takachiho were re-armed with eight Elswick QF 6 inch /40 naval guns in order to increase stability and standardize on ammunition for the fleet.

Service record[edit]

Early years[edit]

Takachiho arrived at Yokohama in early July 1886, just one week after her sister ship, Naniwa arrived at Tokyo.

In 1893, Naniwa and Takachiho made two voyages to Honolulu, Hawaii to provide protection for Japanese citizens and to indicate Japanese concern during the Overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy by American marines and colonists. During the second voyage, marines from Naniwa and the Royal Navy’s cruiser HMS Champion were asked to land to defend their respective citizens during the "Black Week" hysteria, when the Provisional Government of Hawaii feared invasion by the United States to restore the legitimate government.

First Sino-Japanese War[edit]

During the First Sino-Japanese War, Takachiho was present at the Battle of the Yellow Sea under the command of Yashiro Rokurō as part of the "flying squadron" including Yoshino, Naniwa and Akitsushima, which sank the Imperial Beiyang Fleet cruisers Jingyuan and Zhiyuan. Takachiho was subsequently used in patrols of the Bay of Bohai and in operations off of Port Arthur.[5]

Takachiho was among the Japanese fleet units that took part in the invasion of Taiwan in 1895, and saw action on 3 June 1895 at the bombardment of the Chinese coastal forts at Keelung.

Interwar years[edit]

Takachiho was re-designated as a 2nd-class cruiser on 21 March 1898. Around 1900-1901, both her main battery and secondary battery of Krupp guns was replaced with smaller Elswick QF 6 inch /40 naval guns for stability, and for standardization of ammunition with other ships of the Japanese Navy.

Takachiho was assigned to help cover the Japanese landings of Japanese naval landing forces which occupied the port city of Tianjin in northern China during the Boxer Rebellion, as part of the Japanese contribution to the Eight-Nation Alliance.

Russo-Japanese War[edit]

During the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, Takachiho was part of the Japanese squadron at the initial Battle of Chemulpo Bay against the forward deployed units of the Imperial Russian Navy in Korea. On 10 March 1904, Takachiho and Naniwa assisted in the blockade of the Russian Pacific Squadron within the confines of Port Arthur and subsequent naval Battle of Port Arthur. In June, Takachiho was assigned to patrols in the Sea of Japan but was unable to prevent cruisers from the Russian squadron based at Vladivostok from sinking Japanese transports. She subsequently joined the IJN 2nd Fleet under the overall command of Vice Admiral Kamimura Hikonojō to search out the Russian cruisers. During the Battle off Ulsan, she assisted in the sinking of the Russian cruiser Rurik, and in the rescue of her survivors. Takachiho was also present at the crucial final Battle of Tsushima.[1]

World War I[edit]

Takachiho was re-designated a 2nd class Coastal defence ship on 28 August 1912 and was converted into a minelayer and mine recovery training vessel. One of her 152-mm guns was removed to make room for 200 naval mines.[4]

After the Japanese declaration of World War I on the German Empire on 23 August 1914, Takachiho was assigned to the Allied blockade forces during the Siege of Tsingtao. On 17 October 1914 Takachiho was struck by a single torpedo launched from the Imperial German Navy torpedo boat S90 approximately 10 nautical miles (19 km; 12 mi) southeast of Jiaozhou Bay at approximate coordinates 35°55′N 120°24′E / 35.917°N 120.400°E / 35.917; 120.400 Takachiho sank with the loss of 271 officers and men (including Captain Ito Sukeyasu). There were only three survivors of the disaster, which was the largest single loss in combat for Japanese forces during the entire war.[1] She was struck from the navy list on 29 October 1914.


  1. ^ a b c Brooke 1999, pp. 58-60.
  2. ^ Jentsura, Jung & Mickel 1976.
  3. ^ Evans & Peattie 1997, p. 15.
  4. ^ a b c Chesneau 1979, pp. 226-227.
  5. ^ Paine 2003, pp. 133-134.


  • Brooke, Peter (1999). Warships for Export: Armstrong Warships 1867-1927. Gravesend: World Ship Society. ISBN 978-0905617893.[permanent dead link]
  • Chesneau, Roger; Gardiner, Robert, eds. (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1860–1905. Conway Maritime Press / WHS. ISBN 978-0831703028.
  • Evans, David C.; Peattie, Mark R. (1997). Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1887-1941. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0870211928.
  • Jentsura, Hansgeorg; Jung, Dieter; Mickel, Peter (1976). Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869-1945. Translated by A. Preston; D. Brown. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-893-X.
  • Paine, S. C. M. (2003). The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895: Perception, Power, and Primacy. CUP. ISBN 978-0521617451.

Further reading[edit]

  • 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.
  • Jane, Fred T. (1904). The Imperial Japanese Navy. Thacker, Spink & Co.
  • Roberts, John (ed). (1983). Warships of the world from 1860 to 1905 - Volume 2: United States, Japan and Russia. Bernard & Graefe Verlag, Koblenz. ISBN 3-7637-5403-2.
  • Roksund, Arne (2007). The Jeune École: The Strategy of the Weak. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-15723-1.
  • Schencking, J. Charles (2005). Making Waves: Politics, Propaganda, And The Emergence Of The Imperial Japanese Navy, 1868-1922. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-4977-9.

External links[edit]