The Tone-Class Cruisers: Tone and Chikuma


 

The Tone-class was composed of two vessels:

 

sphere The Tone Heavy Cruiser

 

sphere The Chikuma Heavy Cruiser

 

sphere Pre-War limitations

During the pre-war period, many efforts were done by the Imperial Japanese Navy to address the limitations of the London Naval Treaty and at the same time to improve the numbers and quality of the surface vessels of the navy. The heavy cruisers of the IJN were among the best of their class in the world.

sphere The last two in the heavy class

These two heavy cruisers, namely the Tone and Chikuma, were the last heavy cruisers being commissioned by the IJN before ending the second world war.The Japanese name corresponding to the tone-class cruisers is 利根型巡洋艦 Tone-gata junyoukan.

sphere An incident led to their design

It is interesting to note that these two warships were designed initially to be the 5th and 6th warships corresponding to the Mogami-class. It happened, however, that a serious problem in the design of the Mogami-class was unveiled which forced the planners to design a new structure. This new structure of the ship led to a new class known as Tone-class. In a different post, I would like to discuss in detail the moment in which the problem with the Mogami-class was discovered. This is know as the fourth fleet incident in 1935. As a result of that,and given that Japan was no longer limited by the London Naval Treaty,the new designed took form in the Tone-class. Although there were many similarities if compared to the Mogami-class, many differences were obvious in particular in the weapon system, because main battery were located forward of the bridge. With this change the entire stern area was assigned to seaplanes, and hangars were placed there.

sphere Long range search tactical role for the IJN

The tactical role for this seaplanes were to a reconnaissance role. The IJN did not have specific scout or reconnaissance planes in the fleet carriers, which were attack role purpose only. Therefore the Tone and Chikuma could provide the long range search capability for the main attack carrier force. However, float planes were more restricted and vulnerable to weather conditions to operate, this may have played a negative role in operations. In contrast, the U.S. Navy,  had the reconnaissance planes in fleet carrier forces.

 


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