Japanese Battleships of WW2

Source: US Navy Recognition Manual, 1944


Japanese battleship Fuso, was a battleship of the Imperial Japanese Navy, the lead ship of the Fuso-class. She was laid down at Kure on 11 March 1912, launched on 28 March 1914 and completed on 18 November 1915. Her 356 mm (14 in) main gun turrets were placed in an unorthodox 2-1-1-2 style and with a funnel separating the middle turret placement. This placement was not entirely successful as the armoured section was needlessly lengthened and the middle guns had trouble targeting.

Fuso did not take part in any major action during World War I. Between the wars, Fuso received major modifications: lengthened by an additional 7.62 m (25 ft), the twin funnels trunked together, the original 24 mixed-firing boilers replaced by six new oil-fired Kampon boilers and the ships’ control tops dramatically added to produce the characteristic “pagoda” foremast.

Armour protection was both increased in quantity and improved in quality, especially over the machinery spaces and below the waterline. The improvements included heavier armour belting over the midships machinery spaces and the addition of an anti-torpedo bulge. The Fuso-class ships were capable of 25.4 knots (47.0 km/h; 29.2 mph) by the time these modifications were completed, a testament to the vastly improved efficiency of boilers in the 1930s.

Despite the pre-war modifications, in WW2 the IJN saw the Fuso-class ships as too slow and too lightly armored to be of any great use. Both Fuso and Yamashiro were kept in the Inland Sea as a strategic reserve force (which, as it turned out, was unnecessary) at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack and for some time afterwards, mainly being employed on training duties.

However, Fuso was called to action before too long. She pursued but did not catch the American carrier force that had launched the Doolittle Raid on 18 April 1942, sortied as a screen for the Aleutian Force during the battle of Midway in May 1942, rescued 353 survivors of Mutsu when that ship exploded at Hashirajima on 8 June 1943, and took part in the reinforcements of Truk in August 1943 and Biak in June 1944.


In October 1944, commanded by Rear Admiral Ban Masami, Fusō was part of the Southern Force at the Battle of Leyte Gulf. In the battle of Surigao Strait on 25 October 1944 at 03:09, she was hit by one or two torpedoes fired by the destroyer USS Melvin and set afire. She withdrew from the action, but at 03:45 her magazines exploded and she broke into two sections. The bow section was sunk by gunfire from the heavy cruiser USS Louisville while the stern section sank off Kanihaan Island. Survivors in the water refused rescue so there were few, if any, of her 1,400 crew saved.

There is some possibility that she was the largest vessel of any nationality to be sunk with all hands in World War II. She was removed from the Navy List on 31 August 1945.


Originally intended as sister ships of the preceding Fuso class, the Ise-class battleships of the Imperial Japanese Navy were considered sufficiently different to warrant separate classification.

Among the differences were a shorter foredeck, a more closely-grouped secondary armament (with the majority of the forward guns set further astern than in the Fusos), a different arrangement of the primary turrets (though the cumbersome six-twin arrangement was retained) and more closely-spaced funnels and uptakes. Like most if not all battleships of their era, they retained the soon-to-be outmoded casemated secondary armament, the forward guns of which often proved useless in any kind of seaway, and like all Japanese warships of the period, these vessels still relied on mixed (i.e. coal and oil) firing for their boilers.

They were reconstructed in the 1930s, receiving improved powerplants, armor, fire control, and internal protection. Nonetheless, during World War II, the Ise-class ships took part in no significant action due to their age and slow speed. Being largely surplus to the Imperial Japanese Navy’s duties, they spent most of their time in training duties in the Inland Sea.

During World War II, to compensate for the loss of carrier strength at the Battle of Midway, the Ise was partially converted to aircraft carriers in 1943. The aft turrets were replaced with a hangar surmounted by a flight deck, and anti-aircraft guns were added (not shown in these pictures). However, the lack of planes and pilots meant that Ise was never involved in combat in her carrier role.

The Ise was attacked by American planes in a series of raids and was sunk at its moorings in shallow water on July 24th and 28th, 1945. She was scrapped in 1947.


Nagato (named after Nagato province) was a battleship of the Imperial Japanese Navy, the lead ship of her class. She was the first battleship in the world to mount 16 inch guns, her armour protection and speed made her one of the most powerful capital ships at the time of her commissioning.

She was the flagship of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto during the attack on Pearl Harbor. She saw action only once, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, due to the Japanese Navy’s strategy of keeping major units in reserve for a decisive battle.

Nagato was laid down at the Kure Naval Arsenal on August 28 1917, launched on November 9 1919 and completed on November 15 1920.

She underwent a major refit in 1936, removing her coal-burning boilers and upgrading her armour and anti-aircraft guns.

World War II

At the outbreak of World War II, Nagato, under the command of Captain Yano Hideo, and her sister ship Mutsu formed Battle Division 1. Nagato was the flagship of the Combined Fleet, flying the flag of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. On December 2 1941 Nagato sent the signal Niitakayama nobore 1208 “Climb Mount Niitaka on 12/08 (Japanese Time)” that committed the Carrier Strike Force to the attack on Pearl Harbor and Japan to the Pacific War.

On February 12 1942 Admiral Yamamoto transferred his flag to the new battleship Yamato.

Nagato sailed with the Yamato, Mutsu, Hosho, Sendai, nine destroyers and four auxiliary ships as Admiral Yamamoto’s Main Body during the Battle of Midway in June 1942 but saw no action. She returned survivors of the aircraft carrier Kaga to Japan.

In 1943, under the command of Captain Hayakawa Mikio, Nagato was based at Truk in the Caroline Islands. After the evacuation of Truk in February 1944, she was based at Lingga near Singapore.

She took part in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, and on November 25 1944 Nagato arrived at Yokosuka, Japan for repairs. Lack of fuel and materials meant that she could not be brought back into service, and in February 1945 she was reassigned as a coastal defence ship. In June 1945 her secondary and anti-aircraft armament were moved ashore. On July 18 1945 she was attacked at Yokusuka by fighter bombers and torpedo bombers from Essex, Randolph, Bennington, Shangri-La and Belleau Wood and hit by three bombs, one hitting the bridge and killing her commanding officer, Rear Admiral Otsuka Miki.