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Akatsuki-class destroyer (1931)
Ikazuchi in Chinese waters, circa 1938
Class overview
Name: Akatsuki-class
Builders: Sasebo Naval Arsenal
Maizuru Naval Arsenal
Uraga Dock Company
Fujinagata Shipyards
Operators:  Imperial Japanese Navy
 Soviet Navy
Preceded by: Fubuki-class destroyer
Succeeded by: Hatsuharu-class destroyer
In commission: 1932—1944
Completed: 4
Lost: 3
Retired: 1
General characteristics
Type: Destroyer
Displacement: 1,750 long tons (1,778 t)
Length: 118.5 m (388 ft 9 in)
Beam: 10.4 m (34 ft 1 in)
Draft: 3.2 m (10 ft 6 in)
Propulsion: 2 shaft Kampon geared turbines
3 boilers
50,000 hp (37,000 kW)
Speed: 38 knots (44 mph; 70 km/h)
Range: 5,000 nm at 14 knots
(9,200 km at 26 km/h)
Complement: 233
Armament: • 6 × Type 3 127 mm 50 caliber naval guns (3×2)
• 2 ×Type 93 13mm machine guns (2×1)
• 9 × 610 mm (24 in) torpedo tubes (3×3)
• 18 × Type 91 torpedoes
• 18 × depth charges

The Akatsuki-class destroyer (暁型駆逐艦 Akatsuki-gata kuchikukan?) was a class of four destroyers of the Imperial Japanese Navy.[1] Almost identical in appearance to the previous Fubuki class, they are regarded as a sub-class by many authors, partly because the Imperial Japanese Navy itself kept the improvements made a secret, and did not officially designate these four destroyers as a separate class. This class of destroyer should not be confused with the much earlier Akatsuki class of the Russo-Japanese War period.


After a number of years of operational experience with the Fubuki-class, the Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff issued requirements for four additional Special Type destroyers (特型 Tokugata?) destroyers, with a maximum speed of 39 knots, range of 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 km) at 14 knots (26 km/h), and armed with Type 8 torpedoes. These destroyers were intended to operate with the new series of fast and powerful new cruisers also under consideration as part of a program intended to give the Imperial Japanese Navy a qualitative edge with the world's most modern ships. The new vessels were built from 1931-1933.[2]


The Akatsuki vessels had larger boilers and a narrower fore funnel than the previous Fubuki, and internally the number of boilers was reduced from four to three due to improvements in boiler design and efficiency. Other improvements over the Fubuki-class included a splinter-proof torpedo launcher-turret, which allowed the torpedo launcher tubes to be reloaded in action (something which Western destroyers still did not have in the 1990s).[3]

However, the Akatsuki-class shared a number of inherent design problems with the Fubuki-class. The large amount of armament combined with a smaller hull displacement than in the original design created issues with stability. After the Tomozuru Incident, in which the basic design of many Japanese warships was called into question, additional ballast had to be added. In the Fourth Fleet Incident, during which a typhoon damaged virtually every ship in the Fourth Fleet, issues with the longitudinal strength of the Akatsuki class hull was discovered. As a result, all vessels were reconstructed in 1935-1937. This increased the displacement to 2050 tons standard tons and over 2400 tons full load. The rebuild reduced the top speed slightly.

The main battery consisted of six Type 3 127 mm 50 caliber naval guns, mounted in pairs in three weather-proof, splinter-proof, gas-tight gun turrets . Ammunition was brought up on hoists from magazines located directly underneath each gun turret, which had a greater rate of fire than other contemporary destroyers, where ammunition was typically manually loaded. The mounts could elevate each gun separately to 75° elevation for AA use. Originally Type 8 torpedoes were carried, arranged in three triple mountings. These were later replaced with the famous Type 93 "Long Lance" oxygen-propelled torpedoes during World War II.[4]

Operational history

List of Ships

Type I (Fubuki)

Kanji Name Builder Laid down Launched Completed Fate
Akatsuki Sasebo Naval Arsenal, Japan 17 February 1930 7 May 1932 30 November 1932 Sunk in action off Guadalcanal [09.17S, 159.56E] on 13 November 1942; struck 15 December 1942
Inazuma Fujinagata Shipyards, Japan 7 March 1930 25 February 1932 15 November 1932 Torpedoed W of Celebes [05.08N, 119.38E] on 14 May 1944; struck 10 June 1944
Ikazuchi Uraga Dock Company, Japan 7 March 1930 22 October 1931 15 August 1932 torpedoed W of Guam [10.13N, 143.51E] on 13 April 1944; struck 10 June 1944
Hibiki Maizuru Naval Arsenal, Japan 21 February 1930 16 June 1932 31 March 1933 surrendered 5 October 1945; prize of war to USSR on 5 July 1947; scrapped 1953


  1. Jentsura, Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869-1945
  2. Fitzsimons, Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare p.1040
  3. Fitzsimons, Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare p.1040.
  4. Peattie & Evans, Kaigun page 221-222.



  • Evans, David (1979). Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1887-1941. US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-192-7. 
  • Brown, David (1990). Warship Losses of World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-914-X. 
  • Howarth, Stephen (1983). The Fighting Ships of the Rising Sun: The Drama of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1895–1945. Atheneum. ISBN 0-689-11402-8. 
  • Jentsura, Hansgeorg (1976). Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869–1945. US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-893-X. 
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot (1958). The Struggle for Guadalcanal, August 1942 – February 1943, vol. 5 of History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 0-316-58305-7. 
  • Nelson, Andrew N. (1967). Japanese–English Character Dictionary. Tuttle. ISBN 0-8048-0408-7. 
  • Watts, Anthony J (1967). Japanese Warships of World War II. Doubleday. ASIN B000KEV3J8. 
  • Whitley, M J (2000). Destroyers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. London: Arms and Armour Press. ISBN 1-85409-521-8. 

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