Minekaze-class destroyer

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Japanese destroyer Minekaze Yokosuka Showa 7.jpg
Minekaze at Yokosuka on 30 August 1932
Class overview
Name: Minekaze class
Preceded by: Momi class
Succeeded by: Wakatake class
Subclasses: Nokaze class
In commission: 1919–1946
Completed: 15
Lost: 11
Retired: 4
General characteristics
Type: Destroyer
  • 1,345 long tons (1,367 t) normal,
  • 1,650 long tons (1,680 t) full load
  • 97.5 m (320 ft) pp,
  • 102.6 m (337 ft) overall
Beam: 9 m (30 ft)
Draught: 2.9 m (9.5 ft)
Propulsion: 2-shaft Mitsubishi-Parsons geared steam turbine, 4 heavy oil-fired boilers 38,500 ihp (28,700 kW)
Speed: 39 knots (72 km/h)
  • 3600 nm at 14 knots
  • (6,700 km at 26 km/h)
Complement: 148

The Minekaze class (峯風型駆逐艦, Minekazegata kuchikukan) was a class of fifteen 1st-class destroyers of the Imperial Japanese Navy.[1] Obsolete by the beginning of the Pacific War, the Minekaze-class ships were relegated to mostly secondary roles, serving throughout the war as patrol vessels, high speed transports, target control vessels, and as kaiten (suicide torpedo) carriers. Most ultimately were lost to U.S. and British submarines. The basic design of the Minekaze was used for the next three classes of Japanese destroyers, a total of 36 ships.


Construction of the large-sized Minekaze-class destroyers was authorized as part of the Imperial Japanese Navy's 8-4 Fleet Program from fiscal 1917–1920, as an accompaniment to the medium-sized Momi class with which they shared many common design characteristics.[2]

Equipped with powerful engines, these vessels were capable of high speeds and were intended as escorts for the projected Amagi-class battlecruisers, which were ultimately never built.[3]

Two vessels were authorized in fiscal 1917, and an addition five in fiscal 1918. Although none had been completed by the end of World War I, the Imperial Japanese Navy decided to continue the project as many older destroyers were in need of replacement. An additional five vessels were ordered in fiscal 1919, and a final three in fiscal 1920. However, the final three vessels were built to a different design and have a different enough silhouette that they can be regarded as a separate sub-class.[4]

The new destroyers were fast and powerful ships that were equal to any of their foreign contemporaries.[5]


Office of Naval Intelligence recognition drawing of Minekaze class

Coming between the foreign-designed vessels of the earlier part of the century and the innovative Kagerō and Fubuki 'Special Type' destroyers of the 1930s, the Minekaze class was a significant transitional design for the Imperial Japanese Navy, which had carefully studied the five German destroyers received as war reparations after World War I.

Minekaze thus represented a complete break from previous practice of closely following only British designs and methods. To address the issue of seaworthiness, design requirements called for a larger vessel capable of higher speeds than its predecessors. The Minekaze class incorporated a number of distinctive design innovations including a lengthened forecastle with a break forming a well deck immediately forward of the bridge. This arrangement offered the advantage of protection for the bridge as well as a low, semi protected area for the forward torpedo tubes, albeit at the cost of becoming awash in heavy seas,[6] and was a feature of the German designs. The main battery was mounted as high as possible and all guns were mounted on the centerline of the ship to increase their effectiveness in heavy seas.

The engines utilized four Kampon boilers running two-shaft geared turbines at 38,500 shp, yielding a rated speed of 39 knots (72 km/h), instead of the direct-drive engines of previous designs. However, as with previous designs, high fuel consumption meant limited range.


The Minekaze class had a main battery of four Type 3 120 mm 45 caliber naval guns in single open mounts, exposed to the weather except for a small shield. These were located one forward, one aft, and two amidships. However, the main weaponry for the class were its three twin 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes. One was positioned in the well in front of the bridge and the other two were located abaft the second stack. Two 6.5mm machine guns were also fitted.

By the late 1930s, the Minekaze class were regarded as second-line units, and some were converted for other duties. In 1938, Okikaze was disarmed, but in 1941 with the war fast approaching she remounted her guns. [7] Nadakaze and Shimakaze were redesigned as Patrol Boats 1 and 2 and became destroyer-transports in 1939-1940. In 1941, Sawakaze had her armament removed and was used as an aircraft rescue ship at Tateyama Naval Air Station. The remaining twelve Minekaze ships were modified to be used primarily as convoy escorts, with the removal of the amidship guns and the two aft torpedo mounts. Minesweeping gear on the fantail was replaced by four depth-charge launchers and 36 depth charges. Type 96 25-mm anti-aircraft guns were added in increasing numbers, and eventually totaled between 13 and 20 guns per vessel in a combination of single and twin mounts. These changes increased displacement, which reduced their top speed to 35 knots.[8]

After the start of the Pacific War, Yakaze was removed from active duty in September 1942 and converted to a target ship. In 1945, Namikaze and Shiokaze were modified into Kaiten carriers by the removal of their remaining torpedo tubes and aft gun. Namikaze carried two Kaiten and Shiokaze carried four, which could be launched astern. Both ships also received radar, with Namikaze receiving a Type 22 and Shiokaze receiving a Type 13.[8] Yukaze also received a Type 13.

Sawakaze was also returned to combat status, with a Type 22 radar and an experimental 5.9 inch anti- submarine rocket launcher in place of the forward gun.

Nokaze sub-class[edit]

Aft view of Namikaze showing revised weapons layout of the Nokaze sub-class, circa 1925

The final three vessels in the Minekaze series incorporated a number of improvements gained through operational experience, and form a separate sub-class. The primary difference was in the arrangement of the aft armament. With the Minekaze class, the aft guns were pedestal-mounted along the centerline, with two double torpedo launchers in between. This severely limited the arc of fire of the No. 3 gun. The improved design had a better gunnery fire control system and improved ammunition magazine arrangements. Gun and torpedo positions were changed: the No. 3 gun formerly mounted aft of the second funnel was moved further aft to the "X" position. Torpedo mounts No. 2 and No. 3 were moved closer together and the searchlight platform formerly between them was moved forward to just aft of the second funnel.[9]

Operational history[edit]

Commissioned during the 1920s, the Minekaze-class ships were the mainstay of the Imperial Japanese Navy destroyer squadrons throughout the 1930s until gradually replaced by more advanced types.They were originally only numbered, as were all Japanese destroyers except for the "special class", until 1928, when they were assigned names.

List of ships[edit]

Kanji Name Builder Laid down Launched Completed Fate
峯風 Minekaze Maizuru Naval Arsenal, Japan 1918-04-20 1919-02-08 1920-05-29 Torpedoed E of Taiwan [23.12N, 121.30E] 1944-02-10; struck 1944-03-31
澤風 Sawakaze Mitsubishi-Nagasaki shipyards, Japan 1918-01-07 1919-01-07 1920-03-06 Retired 1945-09-15; scuttled 1948
沖風 Okikaze Maizuru Naval Arsenal, Japan 1919-02-22 1919-10-03 1920-08-17 Torpedoed S of Yokosuka [35.02N, 140.12E] 1943-01-10; struck 1943-03-01
島風 Shimakaze Maizuru Naval Arsenal, Japan 1919-09-05 1920-03-31 1920-11-15 Patrol Boat PB-1 1940-04-01;
torpedoed W of Kavieng [02.51S, 149.43E]; struck 1943-02-10
灘風 Nadakaze Maizuru Naval Arsenal, Japan 1920-01-09 1920-06-26 1921-09-30 Patrol Boat PB-2 1940-04-01;
torpedoed Lombok Strait [07.06S, 115.42E] 1945-07-25; struck 1945-09-30
矢風 Yakaze Mitsubishi-Nagasaki shipyards, Japan 1918-08-15 1920-04-10 1920-07-19 Torpedo School vessel 1942-07-20; lost in explosion 1945-07-20; struck 1945-09-15
羽風 Hakaze Mitsubishi-Nagasaki shipyards, Japan 1918-11-11 1920-06-21 1920-09-16 Torpedoed SW of Kavien [02.47S, 150.38E] 1943-01-23; struck 1943-03-01
汐風 Shiokaze Maizuru Naval Arsenal, Japan 1920-05-15 1920-10-22 1921-07-29 Retired 1945-10-05, scuttled 1948
秋風 Akikaze Mitsubishi-Nagasaki shipyards, Japan 1920-06-07 1920-12-14 1921-09-16 Torpedoed W of Luzon [16.48N, 117.17E] 1944-11-03; struck 1945-01-10
夕風 Yūkaze Mitsubishi-Nagasaki shipyards, Japan 1920-12-14 1921-04-28 1921-08-24 Retired 1945-10-05; prize of war to UK 1947-08-14; BU
太刀風 Tachikaze Maizuru Naval Arsenal, Japan 1920-08-18 1921-03-31 1921-12-05 Air attack at Truk [07.04N, 151.55E] 1944-02-17; struck 1944-03-13
帆風 Hokaze Maizuru Naval Arsenal, Japan 1920-11-30 1921-07-12 1921-12-22 Torpedoed N of Celebes [03.24N, 125.28E] 1944-07-06; struck 1944-09-10
野風 Nokaze Maizuru Naval Arsenal, Japan 1921-04-16 1921-10-01 1922-03-31 Torpedoed off Cam Ranh Bay [12.48N, 109.38E] 1945-02-20; struck 1945-04-10
波風 Namikaze Maizuru Naval Arsenal, Japan 1921-11-07 1922-06-24 1922-11-11 Retired 1945-10-05
Prize of war to China 1947-10-03, BU 1960
沼風 Numakaze Maizuru Naval Arsenal, Japan 1921-08-10 1922-05-22 1922-07-24 Torpedoed SE Okinawa [26.29N, 128.26E] 1943-12-19,
struck 1944-02-05


  1. ^ Jentsura, Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869–1945
  2. ^ Howarth, The Fighting Ships of the Rising Sun
  3. ^ Globalsecurity.org, IJN Minekaze class destroyers
  4. ^ Howarth, The Fighting Ships of the Rising Sun
  5. ^ Jones, Daniel H. (2003). "IJN Minekaze, Kamikaze and Mutsuki class Destroyers". Ship Modeler's Mailing List (SMML). Archived from the original on 2008-08-28.
  6. ^ Destroyers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. pp.188/189
  7. ^ [1] Nishida, Materials of the Imperial Japanese Navy.
  8. ^ a b Stille, Mark (2013). Imperial Japanese Navy Destroyers1919–45 (1). Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. p. 8-10. ISBN 1 84908 984 5 Check |isbn= value: checksum (help).
  9. ^ Globalsecurity.org, IJN Minekaze class destroyers



  • Brown, David (1990). Warship Losses of World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-914-X.
  • Evans, David (1979). Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1887-1941. US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-192-7.
  • 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. US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-893-X.
  • Watts, Anthony J (1967). Japanese Warships of World War II. Doubleday. ASIN B000KEV3J8.
  • Whitley, M J (2000). Destroyers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. London: Arms and Armour Press. ISBN 1-85409-521-8.

External links[edit]