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The Miserable Mogamis: A tale of four sister ships that Murphy would not leave alone

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Hey guys, it's me again, the guy who has very few posts and even less battles because SHUT UP, STEEL OCEAN IS A BETTER GAME! You know, all warfare is based in deception and in the lead-up to the Pacific War, the Imperial Japanese Navy proved to be masters at deceiving the rest of the world as to their true capabilities. The four Mogami-class heavy cruisers: Mogami, Mikuma, Suzuya, and Kumano; were perhaps one of the more extreme examples of this doctrine. Not only were they originally designed as light cruisers in order to circumvent the London Naval Treaty but they were also designed to be easily converted to heavy cruisers on the eve of war AND the IJN went so far as to blatantly lie about their displacement. In a testament to the robust nature of Japanese technical counterintelligence, these capabilities were not uncovered by US Naval Intelligence until war was well underway and they were able to get undoctored reconnaissance photos from the Battle of Midway.

In hindsight, the Japanese probably shouldn't have even bothered because the Mogamis never managed to distinguish themselves in combat and were plagued by bad luck and embarrassing accidents wherever they dared show their metaphorical faces. To show you what I mean, let us first follow the Mogami and the Mikuma from the Java Sea to the Surigao Strait.

After the decisive Japanese victory over the ABDA naval task force in the Battle of the Java Sea, the Japanese were filling a bit overconfident as they began to stage an invasion of the Java Islands themselves. This bout of "victory disease" caused a task force headed by Mogami and Mikuma and consisting of a further 1 Light Cruiser and 8 Destroyers to stumble into USS Houston and HMAS Perth at Sunda Strait. To be fair, no one could expect the ABDA admiral to be idiotic enough to send these two cruisers on a retreat through that area for various reasons but, as it turns out, Admiral Helfrich really was that kind of idiot. And so it was that these two cruisers, surrounded by the enemy, went down shooting in a hopeless final battle that proved to be the final nail in the coffin for ABDA but that's not the real story here. You see, every ship in the Japanese Task Force fired torpedoes at the crippled, poorly-armed, and generally doomed cruisers while completely ignoring the fact that they surrounded the two ships. Remember that timeless adage: "There is no such thing as a friendly torpedo"? I bet the more astute among you will see what's coming but it's even worse than that. Japanese torpedoes did not hit any Japanese warships that night. Instead, they hit and sunk four of the IJA transport ships that they were supposed to be protecting!


Explanations vary for where those torpedoes came from but the most likely one is that they came from the Mogami.

Mogami and Mikuma's bad luck doesn't end there. The Battle of Midway is most well known for the sinking of four of the six operational fleet carriers in the IJN but a lesser known incident was where Mogami T-boned Mikuma causing both to end up dead in the water within range of American air power. Mikuma is commonly judged to be at fault in this instance but Mogami got off worse in terms of damage with her bow completely caved in. Ironically, the damage is what saved her in the end since when dive bombers from USS Enterprise located the two heavy cruisers, they immediately prioritized Mikuma and sank her simply because she was the bigger target. As if things couldn't get any worse for poor Mogami, while she was retreating from the disastrous Battle of the Surigao Strait 2 years later, the Myoko-class heavy cruiser Nachi came out of nowhere and T-Boned Mogami.


This hit blew up five of Mogami's torpedoes leaving her dead in the water right in front of the entire American battle column right at the crack of dawn. This ended rather predictably for poor Mogami and after rescuing 700 of her crew, the destroyer Akebono scuttled her.

Of course, you might be thinking, "What about the Suzuya and the Kumano?" Well, up until the Battle off Samar on October 25, 1944, they didn't do much more than carrier escort or serving as part of "covering forces", which was the IJN's way of saying "just far enough away to be completely useless". During that battle in which they joined the mighty Center Force against Taffy 3, Suzuya was sunk when an aerial bomb blew up her torpedo tubes and Kumano had her bow blown off by USS Johnston. Now, I should note that Bull Halsey once said that if there was any Jap warship he could feel sorry for, it would be the Kumano. To show you why, I'm going to go over the 1,000 years of pain that Kumano suffered within that next month. When Kumano was retreating after her damage from Johnston's torpedoes knocked her out of action, she came under attack from aircraft off of the Essex-class carrier USS Franklin. The attack landed three nasty hits on poor Kumano leaving her dead in the water and belching a big, black, thick column of smoke. The aircraft soon left Kumano assuming that she was good as dead but the captain of Kumano did not agree. He managed to get the Kumano's damage control teams whipped into shape long enough to get her speed up to 10 knots and clear the area. On the 28th of October, Kumano managed to safely make it to Manila where emergency repairs could be made.

These repairs, including the fitting of a replacement bow, were finished on the 5th of November and Kumano cast off with the heavy cruiser Aoba very early that morning, well before sunrise. This timing proved to be fortuitous because that morning, Task Force 38, the US Navy's term for every mother-trucking frontline carrier in their inventory, blitzed the anchorage she just left and completely wrecked the Nachi as well as setting afire and sinking the Akebono. On the morning of the 6th, Kumano was detected by the Gato-class submarine, USS Guitarro, who then proceeded to launch three torpedoes at the hapless cruiser. Fortunately for Kumano, the torpedoes prematurely detonated for some reason lost to time but Kumano's troubles were just beginning as Guitarro was soon joined by the entire wolf pack she was heading, consisting of Bream, Raton, and Ray. With damaged engines, Kumano was little more than a sitting duck but her captain was all like:


Challenge Accepted

He immediately poured on the coals just in time for Kumano to swerve out of the way of 4 torpedoes fired by Bream. Raton and Ray then closed on Kumano from both sides whereupon Raton fired 6 torpedoes at the hapless heavy cruiser. Kumano managed to avoid the torpedoes yet again but now it was Ray's turn to attack... after diving deep to avoid Raton's torpedoes. She sent 4 torpedoes in Kumano's direction but this time, Kumano's torpedobeats had run out and she was hit by two torpedoes. It was all over, Kumano was dead in the water and beginning to list. Ray then closed in to finish the job, sure of the kill

...and hit a coral reef. This accident caused Ray to suffer such severe damage that she had to break off her attack and leave Kumano to her own devices. A nearby transport, Doryo Maru, then towed Kumano to safety while her damage control team corrected the list. On the morning of the 7th, Kumano finally arrived at the friendly port of Santa Cruz so that emergency repairs could be made. It was at this point that it became clear that Kumano didn't just have to fear the US Navy when a typhoon broke over the port almost immediately. The typhoon got so bad on the 10th that Kumano broke free of her moorings causing numerous fears that she would be permanently wrecked but Kumano managed to persevere. After that, Kumano got a relatively long period of respite until the 19th when Task Force 38 hit the anchorage... and missed Kumano with every single bomb aimed at her, DESPITE the fact that Kumano could not get underway to take evasive maneuvers.


TF 38 hit the anchorage again on November 25th with orders to punch Kumano's ticket once and for all. They succeeded at this and after stubbornly absorbing the damage from four bombs and five torpedoes, the hearty Kumano finally slipped beneath the waves. Thus ended the story of the final surviving Mogami-class heavy cruiser, a class of warships that proved that no matter how much preparation, training, and engineering miracles you pull off, sometimes fate decides to just screw you over in the end.

Edited by Eboreg2
  • Cool 7
  • Funny 1

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437 posts
7,510 battles

Ok... after all that, WG really needs to add the Kumano to the game as a premium XD

With that record number of saves, I think it would well deserve a British version repair party.

Sadly, all of the events that happened to the Mogami's before it actually sound like they were played in this game...


Edited by Levits

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Alpha Tester, In AlfaTesters, Beta Testers
13,687 posts
5,814 battles

Yea, Kumano's tale is deserving of a premium in itself. Maybe with a heal in exchange for lower RoF.

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Privateers, In AlfaTesters
7,704 posts
2,122 battles

Great post, very amazing - it reminds me of a tabletop game I used to play, where Mogami herself for the above reasons actually had a special ability attached to her because of her bad luck!

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