Heavy Cruiser Tone

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The Imperial Japanese Navy Heavy Cruiser Tone


Tone sunk in kure

Tone sunk in kure

The  heavy cruiser Tone participated in multiple operations during the Pacific War by the Imperial Japanese Navy. Her name corresponds to a river name in Kanto area. It was completed on 20 November 1938 and its main role was to provide long-range support to the main strike carrier force. Heavy armored and fast speedmade her a strong opponent in surface and night battles.


Illustration of the  Japanese Heavy Cruiser Tone in Hasegawa model kit at 1/700 scale.

Illustration of the Japanese Heavy Cruiser Tone in Hasegawa model kit at 1/700 scale.


Early years in the pacific war


Pearl Harbour

The Tone with the Chikuma formed the 8th Cruiser Division and joined the attack on Pearl Harbor. The role of the Tone and Chikuma was limitd to search and act as pickets and patrol over Oahu and south of the main Striking Force.


Wake Island, Admiralty Islands and Port Darwin

On 16 December, CruDiv 8 participated in the second attempted invasion of Wake Island. Tone launched two “Daves” for ASW patrols. On 24 January, Tone‍ ’​s floatplanes attacked the Admiralty Islands.  During the Raid on Port Darwin on 19 February, Chikuma and Tone launched seaplanes to determine weather conditions before attacking. A second plan also shot down an australian PBY Catalina.

Tone sailing in operations early Pacific War.

Tone sailing in operations early Pacific War.

Battle of Java

After Tone spotted the Edsall vessel, several planes from tone and Chikuma took part on the strike againts Tjilatjap, four days later. Tone joined the rescue operation of a British seaman whose ship sunk off on 27 February.

Indian Ocean attacks

Tone took part in the major attack against, Columbo, Ceylon on 5 April 1942. Around 315 planes participated in the attack. After the Doolittle raid, the Tone participated in the pursuit of the American fleet.

Midway Battle

The Tone and CruDiv 8 was part of Vice Admiral Chūichi Nagumo’s Carrier Striking Force during the Battle of Midway. On 4 June, Tone and Chikuma each launched two “Jakes” to search out 300 miles (480 km) for American carriers. Although Tone‍ ’​s floatplane discovered American ships, it did not report immediately to Admiral Nagumo.

Because Admiral Naguno did not know the position of American Carriers, he prepared another attack on Midway.

Reaction to the USA invasion of Guadalcanal.

When Rear Admiral Chuichi Hara assumed command of CruDiv 8 on 14 July 1942, he was ordered to react to the US invasion of Guadalcanal. The Chikuma and Tone were ordered south again on 16 August with the aircraft carriers Shōkaku, Zuikaku, Zuihō, Jun’yō,Hiyō and Ryūjō. After some days, they were finally  joined by the battleships Hiei, Kirishima, seaplane tender Chitose, and cruisers Atago, Maya, Takao, Nagara.

Battle of the Eastern Solomon Island

On 24 August 1942, seven floatplanes from Tone and Chikuma were launched to locate the American fleet. One of Chikuma’s planes spotted the Americans, but was shot down before its report could be relayed. However, a second floatplane was more successful, and the Japanese launched an attack against Enterprise, hitting it with three bombs which set her wooden deck on fire. However, in the meantime, the Americans located the Japanese fleet, and Ryūjō was sunk by planes from the Saratoga. Tone was attacked unsuccessfully by two Avengers whose Mark 13 torpedoes missed, returning to Truk safely.

Battle of Santa Cruz

Through October, Chikuma and Tone patrolled north of the Solomon Islands, awaiting word of recapture of Henderson Field by the Japanese. On 19 October, Tone (with Teruzuki) was detached on an independent mission to scout for American ships. Both ships operated off the Santa Cruz Islands until a Kawanishi H6K “Emily” from Jaluit Atoll sighted a carrier off the New Hebrides. On 26 October 1942, 250 miles (400 km) northeast of Guadalcanal, Rear AdmiralHiroaki Abe’s task force launched seven floatplanes to scout south of Guadalcanal. They located the American fleet, and Abe followed with an attack by 13 Nakajima B5N2 “Kate” torpedo planes which sank the Hornet and damaged the South Dakota and cruiser San Juan. However, two of the four aircraft launched by Tone during the attack were shot down.

Battle of the Philippine Sea

Because the war situations was getting worst for Japan, new operations were seeking decisive battles in which Japanese forces could hit seriously American main carriers and cause as maximum casualites as possible. Admiral Soemu Toyoda, on 13th June 1944, designed the Operation A-GO. This operations was expected to protect and defense Mariana Islands. The heavy Cruiser Tone was included in the Force C, commanded by the Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa. This force was also known as Mobile Fleet.

Unfortunately, for Japanese Forces, on 20th June, the main force was attacked by american planes, including Haruna, Kongo and carrier Chiyoda.In this battles, the main body of the Japanese remanent air force was destroyed in what was known as “the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot”.The Tone was transfered to Kure were was refitted with new weapons such as Type 96 25-mm AA, bringing its total to 57. Two new Type 22 surface-search radars and a Type 13 air-search radar were also fitted.
Battle of Leyte Gulf
On 23 October 1944, Tone along with the cruisers Kumano, Suzuya and Chikuma, sortied from Brunei towards the Philippines with Admiral Takeo Kurita’s First Mobile Striking Force. The battle group was attacked by submarines while sailing through the Palawan Passage. The cruisers Atago and Maya were sunk , and the Takao was damaged. As the force entered the Sibuyan Sea on 24 October, the Center Force suffered eleven raids by aircraft from the carriers of Task Group 38.2. Musashi was sunk and Tone was hit by bombs. The following day during the Battle off Samar, the Yamato, Nagato, Haruna and Myoko were
damaged. Tone engaged the American destroyer Heermann but was driven away by air attack. She escaped back through the San Bernardino Strait without further damage, but Tone’s sister ship Chikuma was lost, along with the cruisers Chokai and Suzuya. A new operations was called when the American Forces were landing in Philippines. The cruisers Kumano, Suzuya and Chikuma, together with Tone, joined the Admiral First Mobile Striking Force commanded by Takeo Kurita. The group was engaged in combat by submarines and Atago and Maya cruisers were sunk. Takao also was hit and was damaged. On 24 October, when in Sibuyan Sea, the Musashi was sunk and tone was hit by several bombs. Without time to recover from losses, the next day Yamato, Nagato, Haruna and Myoko were also attacked and dagamed. In combats after that day, The Tone was engaged with American destroyer Heermann but could end the battle without further damage through the San Bernandino Strait. The Tone’s sister ship (Chikuma) was sunk as well as the Chokai and Suzuya. If the Battle of Philippine sea was the end of the Japanese Naval air force, the Battle of Leyte meant the end of the Japanese Imperial Navy.


After being damaged it was used as training ship

On 6 November, Tone departed Brunei towards Manila, and onward to Mako in the Pescadores and Kure. Back in dry dock in Maizuru, Tone gained four additional triple-mount 25-mm AA guns aft, bringing its total to 62. The Type 21 radar was replaced with a Type 22. CruDiv 7 was disbanded 21 November and Tone reassigned to CruDiv 5 with Kumano. Once repairs were completed on 18 February 1945, Tone relocated to Etajima, where it was moored for use as a training ship. It was slightly damaged in an air raid on 19 March.

The end of Tone at Kure.

On 24 July 1945, Task Force 38 launched a large air raid against Kure aimed at the final destruction of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Nine aircraft from the light carrier Monterey hit Tone with three bombs, causing her to settle to the bottom of the bay. The hulk was attacked again on 28 July by rockets and armor-piercing bombs dropped by planes from the Wasp, Bataanand Ticonderoga. Tone was removed from the Navy List on 20 November 1945. Its hulk was raised and scrapped after the war from 1947–1948.



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