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April 24th: Focus - Myōkō-class CAs

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Alpha Tester
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2,055 battles


Laid down - 42

Launched - 67

Commissioned – 34



Japan - 2

Germany - 0

Italy - 1


1883 - Anson – Admiral class - Laid Down

1913 - Caio Duilio - Caio Duilio class - Launched

1917 – Maryland – Colorado class – Laid down

1918 - Ostend Raid - Battle

1922 – Diomede – D class – Commissioned

1928 – Australia – County class - Commissioned

1928 -    Haguro  – Myōkō class - Launched

1929 – Foch Suffren-class  - Launched

1942 – Ibuki – Ibuki  class- Laid Down




Well, I had a big set to do today. I could have done Australia, the Ibukis, or the Myōkōs. Unfortunately for the speculative and Australian sets, I'm going to do the Myōkōs.


As the first intentional Treaty Cruiser design by Japan, the Myōkōs had to be more powerful and more capable than their preceding class, the Aobas, who snuck into the Treaty definition just because they were somewhat small and meant to fight the Amercian Omahas as much as the British Hawkins-class, which everyone had in mind as the CA when the Washington Naval Treaty was written. With the Americans building the ten-gun Pensacola-class, the Naval General Staff demanded a better ship.


The Myōkōs thus also needed ten guns, plus a comparable secondary battery, plus something to put them "higher". Ten 7.9" guns, six 4.7" guns (three to a broadside), and finally four triple torpedo mounts (two to a broadside) made them powerful enough to satisfy the Naval General Staff. 4" belt and 1.4" main deck were added, with the upper deck having an addition 1" of armor as bomb protection and against plunging fire. This was obviously insufficient for dealing with similarly armed ships, but provided good protection against smaller ones, and was actually somewhat better than the Pensacolas in terms of deck protection, though with 1" all around turrets on the Myōkōs the Pensacolas had better turret armor (canceled out by their 3" barbettes being much thicker than the Pensacolas).


Haguro, fitting out off Nagasaki, 6th April 1929.



The real issue, though, was that they came in significantly over design weight. Rather than admit this, or exploit any treaty clauses (there was for example one about improved torpedo defenses that could have been used to justify it), the Japanese essentially put their finger on the balance arm of the scale: they intentionally miscalibrated the displacement testing and pretended the Myōkōs were definitely 10,000 tons. While inconvenient scale results could be faked, the laws of physics were not so easily ignored; the class was intended to reach 36 knots, but the overweight design meant they only ever achieved 34, and they did not meet their original operational range specifications.


In 1934, after the First London Conference when it was clear Japan was going to be stuck with a certain number of ships and the Myōkōs were among them, major refit was ordered. 7.9" guns were replaced with 8"/50, and the six single 4.7" guns were replaced by four twin 5"/40. It was in this state that Ashigara went to Europe for the Naval Coronation Review of King George VI, being by far the most powerful ship of her type in European waters at the time.


A second refit was undertaken as war loomed, with various reboilering and heavy overhauls of the engine accompanied by the replacement of the triple torpedo mounts with quads, and also the addition of a number of twin 25mm guns.


Haguro underway at speed, 1936.



Though active throughout the early stages of the war, and with Myōkō and Ashigara acquitting themselves with distinction at Java Sea, in general the wartime careers of these ships were disappointing. Nachi opened fire early at the Battle of the Komandorskis, wrecking one of her own aircraft, and USS Richmond and USS Salt Lake City inflicted significant damage with four hits. The crowning indignity was one of Nachi's thinly-armored gun turrets being knocked out by fire from destroyer USS Coghlan just before action broke off. Nachi's expenditure of over half her ammunition and sixteen torpedoes produced nothing to show but her damage, as all effective Japanese fire during the battle was attributed to Takao-class Maya.


Myōkō and Haguro lead the Japanese force at Empress Augusta Bay, facing off with the four American Cleveland-class CLs of CruDiv 12. The sheer volume of fire the American cruisers are able to generate throws the Japanese force into confusion as they attempt to evade the rain of shells. Myōkō runs down hapless destroyer Hatsukaze, tearing her bow off and carrying it all the way back to Rabaul; Hatsukaze is finished off by American destroyers. While trying to disentangle herself, Myōkō takes six hits from the American cruisers; four are duds but two penetrate and detonate, inflicting extensive damage to the after superstructure. Haguro was sprayed with shell fragments several times, inflicting little actual damage but injuring a number of crewmen. The most the two ships had to show for it was three hits on USS Denver which shattered so badly against the ship's armor they failed to detonate.


Haguro or Myōkō at Sibuyan Sea, under air attack. The smoke is from the firing of her 5"/40 DP batteries. Note that her forward turrets are trained out and elevated as well from having fired sanshikidan when the planes were more distant, but her aft turrets are not.



At Leyte Gulf the class once again mostly embarrasses itself; Myōkō takes a torpedo in the Sibuyan Sea air battle and has to fall out for Coron before any of the main actions are joined. Ashigara and Nachi contribute a single torpedo salvo to the Battle of Surigao Strait before Nachi has a collision with crippled Mogami that forces retirement. Haguro alone made it to battle, fighting at Samar, but took a bomb hit that destroyed her No. 2 main turret. While repairing at Manila, Nachi is then literally blown into pieces by a massive four-wave American attack, hit by twenty-five bombs, seven torpedoes, and sixteen rockets. Nachi's death is arguably the greatest victory the class will ever have, as all those weapons could have done terrible things to the merchants being used in the TA Operation that were nearby.


Myōkō, operating out of Singapore with her other sisters, is hit by a torpedo from USS Bergall, and remains laid up at Singapore until the end of the war. Haguro is caught by five British destroyers while transiting Malacca Strait; though she fights back and hits HMS Saumarez with at least one shell, the British were able to get much too close before Haguro realized they were there. Between destroyer gunfire smothering the ship and at least three Mark XI torpedoes Haguro is sunk. Ashigara lasts a little longer before running afoul of submarine HMS Trenchant, which sinks her with five torpedoes.


Myōkō at the end of the war is surrendered to the British and scuttled in Malacca Strait by gunfire.


Myōkō at the end of the war at Singapore. If the ship looks oddly short aft to you, and down by the stern, you have good eyes; USS Bergall blew her stern off, which is why she was laid up.



The Myōkōs were in many ways the trendsetters and the archetypical Japanese heavy cruiser; fast, powerful, overweight, underarmored, and structurally suspect. Their poor wartime performances reflected problems with their gunnery, some inherent to the ship (the Myōkōs had serious dispersion problems in '20s and '30s) and some in Japanese doctrine (which went too far in the opposite direction trying to reduce dispersion; there are numerous American commentaries throughout the war on the excessively tight salvo patterns of the Japanese) and lack of useful FC radar, and the Allied acknowledgement after the early battles of the danger of their torpedo batteries. The traditionally weak Japanese AA defenses, based on the inadequate 25mm gun, did not help the case.



Displacement (standard): 11633 tons

Displacement (full load): 14980 tons

Length: 668 feet

Width: 57 feet

Draft: 19 feet



(as designed)

5x twin 20cm/50 3rd Year Type Model 1 gun

6x 12cm/45 10th Year Type DP gun

4x triple 24" torpedo tubes

2x 13mm/76 Type 93 AAMG

(as of 1941)

5x twin 20cm/50 (actually 20.3cm) 3rd Year Type Model 2 gun

4x twin 12.7cm/40 Type 89 DP gun

4x quad 24" torpedo tubes

2x 13mm/76 Type 93 AAMG

4x twin 25mm/60 Type 96 AAMG



Belt: 2.5" to 4"

Deck: 1.4"

Upper Deck: 1"

Turrets: 1"

Barbettes: 3"



12 Kampon boilers, 4 turbines, 4 shafts

130,000 shp



35.5 to 34 knots on trials, 34 knots in active service

8,000 nautical miles at 14 knots (about 1000 under their design target)



773 as designed



2 E8N floatplanes, 1 53' catapult

  • Cool 5

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Alpha Tester
4,691 posts
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Excellent post! NGTM! 

If only I remembered what tier this class will be... 


Tier 8, vs. the New Orleans and Takao. I'm honestly rather surprised by this, as I would have expected it to be Tier 7 or 6 and equivalent to Pensacola. Still, the soft-factors improvements between Myoko and Takao may not necessarily translate well to the game.

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Supertester, Members, Alpha Tester, In AlfaTesters, Beta Testers
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1,963 battles

Well Nachi had a #BeautifulDeath. 


And the tech trees are not set in stone, it may be moved around a bit in the future

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Alpha Tester
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10,545 battles

^.^ a Myoko-class




... I have NEVER understood these pics. I mean I get it, make a hot girl out of a cool ship, but WHY?!?! You have better things to do with your time, people!
  • Cool 1

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It's very popular with many, you might check it out before knocking it.


Good write up quite the glass cannon thanks.

Edited by Moksie

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Alpha Tester
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... I have NEVER understood these pics.


You'll be even more concerned to discover there's an entire game of IJN ships as girls then, which is where these images come from. (Though the concept certainly predates them, probably to the early '80s and Mobile Suit Gundam; the oldest mecha musume image I've ever seen was of the Zephyrantes from Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory. And hey, you start with something humanoid and work your way along to things that aren't.)

Edited by NGTM_1R

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