Heavy Cruiser Furutaka


Imperial Japanese Navy Heavy Cruiser Furutaka

 

sphere The Imperial Japanese Navy (Nihon Kaigun) heavy cruiser Furutaka received her name because of the Mount Furutaka, which is located on Etajima, Hiroshima. Etajima is famous placed because it was very near of the best training center for the Navy, known as the Imperial Japanese Navy Academy.

sphere The Furutaka-class of heavy cruisers, Kako and Furutaka,  were “scout cruisers” and their design included aircraft facilities. However, it posed some technical difficulties since there were not catapults in the initial versions. Therefore, until a major improvement during 1932-1933, the airplane launches were done from water.

sphere After construction, the Furutaka heavy cruiser was part of the Cruiser Division 5 where she remained until reduced to reserve in December 1931. After severe modernisations of communications, AA weapons and aircraft catapult with an E4N2 floatplane, she was back recommissioned into the Cruiser Division 6.  

sphere Added 24 inch Type 93 Torpedo Tubes. By April 1937, more modernization words were done with re-bored 8 inc guns and new 24 inch Type 93 torpedo tubes. The adding weight for these works created an stability problem, which was not totally addressed by increasing the beam of the vessel. 

sphere Guam and Wake Islands Invasion. The heavy cruiser Furutaka was part of the Cruiser Dvision 6 by late 1941. This belonged to the First Fleet and consisted of the cruisers Aoba, Kako, Kinugasa. This cruiser division participated in providing support for the Guam invasion. It was also assigned to the second attempt to invasion of Wake, which was finally successful. She then returned to Truk.

sphere Rabaul and Solomon Landings. From 18 January 1942, Cruiser Division 6 was assigned to support Japanese troop landings at Rabaul, New Britain and Kavieng, New Ireland. 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.

sphere Coral Sea Battle. The Cruiser Division 6 departed Shortland and effected a rendezvous at sea with light aircraft carrier Shōhō. 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. The following day, 46 SBDs, 21 TBDs and 15 Grumman F4F Wildcats from Yorktown and Lexington damaged the aircraft carrier Shōkaku severely above the waterline and force her retirement. Furutaka and Kinugasa, undamaged in the battle, escorted Shōkaku back to Truk.

sphere Battle of Savo Island. On 9 August 1942, Cruiser Division 6, the heavy cruiser Chōkai, light cruisers Tenryū and Yūbari and destroyer Yūnagi engaged the Allied forces in a night gun and torpedo action. At about 23:00, Chōkai, 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 and Vincennes were sunk and HMAS Canberra was scuttled. Heavy cruiser USS Chicago was damaged as were the destroyers USS Ralph Talbot and Patterson. This was one of the biggest victories of the Japanese Navy over the US Navy in the Pacific War. However, the Japanese ships also suffered the fire from the American vessels. The heavy cruiser Chōkai was hit three times, Kinugasa twice, Aoba once. Furutaka was not damaged and returned to Kavieng on 10 August.

sphere Battle of Cabe Esperanse. The absence of radar in the American ships was essential to achieve surprise during the night battle. Therefore, soon the US Navy addressed this handicap and sent the 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.

sphere At 22:35, Helenas radar spotted the Japanese fleet, and the Americans successfully crossed the Japanese “T”. Both fleets opened fire, but Admiral Goto misunderstand the situation and exposed each of his ships to the American broadsides. This fatal decision led to critical hits. 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 Coordinates: 09°02′S 159°33′E. Captain Araki and 514 survivors were rescued by the destroyers Hatsuyuki, Murakumo and Shirayuki. Thirty-three crewmen were killed and 110 were later counted as missing. The prisoners were interned in a camp in New Zeland until the end of the war.

Furutaka in 1926. Note the turrets mount only a single gun.

Furutaka in 1926. Note the turrets mount only a single gun.

Ordered: 1923 Fiscal Year
Builder: Mitsubishi shipyards, Nagasaki
Laid down: 5 December 1922
Launched: 25 February 1925
Commissioned: 31 March 1926
Struck: 20 December 1944
Fate:
  • sunk 12 October 1942 by USS Salt Lake City and Duncan at the Battle of Cape Esperance

 

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 × 201 mm (8 in)/50 cal guns(6×1)
  • 4 × 79 mm (3 in)/40 cal guns (4×1)
  • 12 × 610 mm (24 in) torpedo tubes (6×2)
  • Final: 6 × 203 mm (8 in)/50 cal guns (3×2)
  • 4 × 119 mm (5 in)/45 cal guns (4×1)
  • 8 × 610 mm (24 in) torpedo tubes (2×4)
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)


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