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Japan's Imperial Navy flag

Japan's Kuma class Light Cruisers

Photos

IJN Kitakami in 1935:
IJN Kitakami in 1935
Mikasa Memorial Museum
IJN Kitakami test launching a Kaiten suicide torpedo off Kure on February 2, 1945:
IJN Kitakami test launching a Kaiten suicide torpedo off Kure on February 2, 1945
Imperial War Museum, MH-6529
IJN Kuma off Tsingtao in 1930:
IJN Kuma off Tsingtao in 1930
Mikasa Memorial Museum
IJN Oi in Kure in 1923:
IJN Oi in Kure in 1923
Mikasa Memorial Museum

Design

The Kuma class was developed to counter the United States' Omaha class of cruisers. They were also a larger, faster, and more seaworthy than the Tenryu class.

Under the 1917 - 1918 estimates the Kuma and Tama were authorized for construction. Under the 1918 - 1919 estimates the Kitakami, Kiso, and Oi were authorized.

Aircraft

There was a catapult or a flying off platform for the aircraft aft of the funnels.

Armament

Name Elevation Rate of Fire Range
5.5" L/50 Type 3, 5.5" / 14 cm L/50 Type 3 25° 6 - 10 rpm 19,080 yards
17,500 m
5" L/40 Type 89 90° 11 - 12 rpm 8,090 yards

Engines

Ten of the boilers were oil fired and two were mixed fired. The forward most, of four, boiler room had the mixed firing boilers.

Ships

IJN Kiso, (river near Nagoya)

  • Manufacturer: Mitsubishi at Nagasaki
  • 1918, January 24, 1918: Ordered.
  • June 10, 1919: Laid down.
  • July 15, 1920, December 14, 1920: Launched.
  • May 4, 1921, October 3, 1921: Completed.
  • Spring 1922, 1922: Flying off platform removed.
  • 1927: Refit. Aircraft equipment added for a Type 90 Model 2-2 seaplane. The hanger was in the bridge.
  • 1935: Flyoff platform removed.
  • 1940: 24" torpedoes added.
  • December 1941: Member of 21st Cruiser Squadron, Northern Force, 5th Fleet.
  • May 1942: Member of Kiska attack force, 5th Fleet during Aleutian campaign.
  • June 1942: Member of Kiska Seizure Force.
  • July 1943, July 29, 1943: Aleutian island evacuations. Carried 1,189 army troops.
  • October 1943: Hit by bomb at Rabaul.
  • Late 1943: Repairs and modifications in Japan.
  • July 1944: Two 5.5" guns replaced by a 5" L/40 DP twin mount and a 25 mm gun. 44 25 mm guns and four / six 13 mm machine guns added.
  • October 27 - November 10, 1944: Sailed from Japan to Manila.
  • November 13, 1944: Sunk by carrier aircraft from TF38 west of Manila. 104 of the 819 crew survived.

IJN Kitakami, (river in Honshu)

  • Manufacturer: Sasebo, Sasebo Dock Yard, Sasebo Navy Yard
  • 1918, January 24, 1918: Ordered.
  • September 1, 1919: Laid down.
  • July 3, 1920: Launched.
  • April 15, 1921: Completed.
  • 1927: Aircraft equipment added for a Type 90 Model 2-2 seaplane. The hanger was in the bridge.
  • 1935: Flyoff platform removed.
  • 1940: 24" torpedoes added.
  • 1941: Refit at Kawasaki in Kobe / Sasebo. Outfitted as a torpedo cruiser with 10 mounts with 4 24" tubes each. Three aft 5.5" guns removed. Aircraft equipment removed.
  • December 1941: Member of 9th Cruiser Squadron / Sentai 9, Main Body.
  • May 1942: Member of Support Force in Aleutians operation.
  • May - June 1942: Member of Main Body in Midway Operation.
  • June 1942: Member of 1st Fleet. Used as transport and escort.
  • 1942 - 1943: 32 torpedo tubes removed.
  • August 1942, 1943: Refit as high speed transport. 32 torpedo tubes removed leaving two mounts with 4 tubes each. Two /Six Daihatsu landing craft added. 5.5" guns replaced by two 5" L/40 DP twin mounts. Eighteen 25 mm guns added.
  • March 1943: Member Southwest Area Fleet. Transport and escort.
  • January 1944, January 27, 1944, February 5, 1944, February 25, 1944: Torpedoed by HMS Templar.
  • 1944, January 1944: Repairs as Sasebo / Singapore. Converted into kaiten carrier. Could carry eight. 16 torpedo tubes added. Armament became four 5" DP guns, ten 25 mm guns, and four 13 mm guns.
  • August 1944: Arrived in Japan. Conversion into kaiten carrier.
  • 1945: Fourteen 25 mm triple mounts and 17 25 mm guns added.
  • July 24, 1945: Attacked by carrier aircraft near Kure. Immobilized by ten near misses.

IJN Kuma, (a river in Kyushu)

  • Manufacturer: Sasebo, Sasebo Dock Yard, Sasebo Navy Yard
  • 1917: Ordered.
  • August 20, 1917: Named Kuma.
  • August 29, 1918: Laid down.
  • July 14, 1919: Launched.
  • August 31, 1920: Completed.
  • 1927: Aircraft equipment added for a Type 90 Model 2-2 seaplane. The hanger was in the bridge.
  • 1929 - 1930: Tripod masts and a catapult added.
  • 1935: Flyoff platform removed and replaced by catapult. Tripod mainmast added.
  • 1940: 24" torpedoes added.
  • December 1941: Philippine invasion. Member of 16th Cruiser Squadron, Admiral Kondo's Dutch East Indies force.
  • October - November 1943: Refit at Singapore.
  • January 11, 1944: Sunk by two torpedoes from the HMS Tally Ho north of Penang. 138 crewman died.

IJN Oi, IJN Ooi (river on boundary of Totomi and Suruga)

  • Manufacturer: Kawasaki, Kawasaki at Kobe
  • 1918, January 24, 1918: Ordered.
  • November 24, 1919: Laid down.
  • July 15, 1920: Launched.
  • May 4, 1921, October 3, 1921: Completed.
  • 1927: Aircraft equipment added for a Type 90 Model 2-2 seaplane. The hanger was in the bridge.
  • 1935: Flyoff platform removed.
  • 1940: 24" torpedoes added.
  • 1941: Refit at Kawasaki in Kobe / Sasebo. Outfitted as a torpedo cruiser with 10 mounts with 4 24" tubes each. Three aft 5.5" guns removed. Aircraft equipment removed.
  • December 1941: Member of 9th Cruiser Squadron / Sentai 9, Main Body.
  • May 1942: Member of Support Force in Aleutians operation.
    Member of Main Body in Midway Operation.
  • June 1942: Member of 9th Cruiser Squadron, 1st Fleet. Used as transport and escort.
  • August 1942, 1943: Refit as high speed transport. 32 torpedo tubes removed. Two / Six Daihatsu landing craft added. 5.5" guns replaced by four 5" L/40 DP guns. Twelve 25 mm triple mounts / 28 25 mm guns added.
  • March 1943: Member Southwest Area Fleet. Transport and escort.
  • 1943 - 1944: East Indies.
  • July 19, 1944: Sunk by USS Flasher south of Hong Kong in the South China Sea. 153 crew perished.

IJN Tama, (river in southeast Tokyo)

  • Manufacturer: Mitsubishi at Nagasaki
  • 1917: Ordered.
  • August 20, 1917: Named Tama.
  • August 10, 1918: Laid down.
  • February 10, 1920: Launched.
  • January 29, 1921: Completed.
  • August 1921: Had No. 8 seaplane for expermenting during a cruise.
  • 1927: Aircraft equipment added for a Type 90 Model 2-2 seaplane. The hanger was in the bridge.
  • 1929 - 1930: Tripod masts and a catapult added.
  • 1935: Flyoff platform removed and replaced by catapult. Tripod mainmast added.
  • 1940: 24" torpedoes added.
  • December 1941: Member of 21st Cruiser Squadron, Northern Force, 5th Fleet.
  • May 1942: Member of Kiska attack force, 5th Fleet during Aleutian campaign.
  • June 1942: Member of Kiska Seizure Force.
  • March 1943, March 27, 1943: Battle of Komandorski Islands. Slightly damaged by two 5" shells. Fired 136 5.5" shells and four torpedoes. One crewman was wounded.
  • July 1943, July 29, 1943: Aleutian island evacuations.
  • October 1943: Slightly damaged by near miss at Rabaul.
  • Late 1943: Repairs and modifications in Japan.
  • July 1944: Two 5.5" guns replaced by a 5" L/40 DP twin mount and a 25 mm gun. 44 25 mm guns and four / six 13 mm machine guns added.
  • October 25, 1944: Battle of Leyte Gulf / Battle of Cape Engano. Damaged by carrier aircraft. Sunk by three torpedoes from submarine USS Jallao. All the crew perished.

Specifications

  Kuma class
Crew 439, 450
Displacement 5,019 tons, 5,100 tons, 5,500 tons, 5,580 tons, 5,870 tons
Displacement - Loaded 5,832 tons, 7,094 tons
Physical Characteristics  
Length 532', 535'
162.15 m, 163 m
Length - Water Line 513' 6", 520', 520' 1"
158.5 m, 158.52 m
Length - Between Perpendiculars 490', 500'
152.4 m 152.5 m
Beam 46' 6", 46' 9"
12.34 m, 14.17 m, 14.2 m
Draft / Height 15' 9", 29'
4.8 m, 8.84 m
Performance  
Speed 31.75 knots, 33 knots, 36 knots
Range at 10 knots 8,500 nautical miles, 9,000 nautical miles
Range at 14 knots 5,000 nautical miles
Range at 16 knots 6,000 nautical miles
Armament 5.5", 5.5" L/50, 5.5" / 14 cm L/50 Type 3: 7
Anti-Aircraft 3", 3" / 13 pdr L/40, 3.1", 8 cm L/40 Type 3 HA, 13 pdr L/40: 2
13 mm machine guns: 2
6.5 mm machine guns, 6.5 Type 3: 2
Machine guns: 2
Saluting Guns 5 cm Yamauchi: 2
Aircraft 1
Mines 48, 80
Torpedo Tubes 21", 53 cm, 24": 2 mounts 4 tubes each, 8
Armor  
Belt - Main 2", 2.5", 2.54"
5 cm
Control Tower 2"
5 cm, 5.08 cm
Deck 1.1", 1.25", 1.5", 1.5" - 2"
2.86 cm, 3.7 cm
Engines  
Boilers 12
Kampon: 12
Kanpon mixed firing: 2
Kanpon oil firing: 10
Shafts 4
Turbines Curtis geared, Gihon geared, Parsons geared
HP 70,000, 90,000
Coal 350 tons
Oil 700 tons, 1,260 tons, 1,500 tons
  Kuma class After 1940 Refit
Crew  
Displacement 5,610 tons
Displacement - Loaded  
Physical Characteristics  
Length  
Length - Water Line  
Length - Between Perpendiculars  
Beam  
Draft / Height  
Performance  
Speed 31.75 knots
Range at 10 knots  
Armament  
Anti-Aircraft 5" L/50 DP
Torpedo Tubes 24"
Armor  
Belt - Main  
Control Tower  
Deck  
Engines  
Boilers  
Shafts  
Turbines  
HP  
Oil  
  Kitakami and Oi after 1941 Refit
Crew  
Displacement 5,870 tons
Displacement - Loaded  
Physical Characteristics  
Length  
Length - Water Line  
Length - Between Perpendiculars  
Beam 57' 3"
17.45 m
Draft / Height  
Performance  
Speed  
Range at 10 knots  
Armament 5.5", 5.5" L/50: 4
Anti-Aircraft 25 mm: 8
25 mm twin mounts: 4
Torpedo Tubes 24": 10 mounts 4 tubes each
Armor  
Belt - Main  
Control Tower  
Deck  
Engines  
Boilers  
Shafts  
Turbines  
HP  
Oil  
  Kitakami 1944 Refit
Crew 615
Displacement 5,640 tons
Displacement - Loaded  
Physical Characteristics  
Length  
Length - Water Line  
Length - Between Perpendiculars  
Beam  
Draft / Height  
Performance  
Speed 23 knots
Range at 10 knots  
Armament 5" L/40 DP twin mounts: 2
Anti-Aircraft 25 mm triple mounts: 12
25 mm: 31, 67
Depth Charges 18
Kaiten 8
Armor  
Belt - Main  
Control Tower  
Deck  
Engines  
Boilers  
Shafts 2
Turbines 2
HP 30,000, 35,000
Oil  

Sources:

  1. Cruisers of World War Two An International Encyclopedia, M. J. Whitley, 1995
  2. Japanese Warships of World War II, A. J. Watts, 1966
  3. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922-1946, Robert Gardiner, 1987
  4. The Imperial Japanese Navy in the Pacific War, Mark E. Stille, 2013
  5. Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War, Eric Lacroix, Linton Wells II, 1997
  6. Janes' Fighting Ships of World War II, 1989
  7. The Imperial Japanese Navy, A. J. Watts and B. G. Gordon, 1971
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site