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Fuji-class battleship
IJN Fuji 2.jpg
Fuji in 1905
Class overview
Name: Fuji-class battleship
Operators:  Imperial Japanese Navy
Preceded by: Kongō-class ironclad
Succeeded by: Shikishima class
Built: 1894–1897
In commission: 1897–1922
Completed: 2
Lost: 1
Scrapped: 1
General characteristics
Type: Pre-dreadnought battleship
Displacement: 12,230–12,533 long tons (12,426–12,734 t)
Length: 412 ft (125.6 m)
Beam: 73.25–73.75 ft (22.3–22.5 m)
Draught: 26.25–26.5 ft (8.0–8.1 m)
Installed power: 13,500 ihp (10,100 kW)
10 cylindrical boilers
Propulsion: 2 shafts, 2 vertical triple-expansion steam engines
Speed: 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Range: 4,000 nmi (7,400 km; 4,600 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 650
Armament: 2 × 2 – 12 in (305 mm) guns
10 × 1 – 6 in (152 mm) QF guns
14 × 1 – 3-pounder guns
10 × 1 – 2.5-pounder Hotchkiss guns
5 × 18-inch torpedo tubes
Armour: Harvey armour
Belt: 14–18 in (356–457 mm)
Deck: 2.5 in (64 mm)
Barbettes: 5–14 in (127–356 mm)
Gun turrets: 6 in (152 mm)
Conning tower: 14 in (356 mm)
Bulkheads: 14 in (356 mm)

The Fuji class (富士型戦艦 Fuji-gata senkan?) was a two-ship class of pre-dreadnought battleships built for the Imperial Japanese Navy in the mid-1890s. They were the first battleships in the Japanese Navy and had to be built in the UK because Japan lacked the industrial facilities to build them itself. The ships participated in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, including the Battle of Port Arthur on the second day of the war. Yashima struck a mine off Port Arthur in May 1904 and capsized while under tow a number of hours later. Fuji fought in the Battles of the Yellow Sea and Tsushima and was lightly damaged in the latter action. The ship was reclassified as a coastal defence ship in 1910 and served as a training ship for the rest of her career. She was hulked in 1922 and finally broken up for scrap in 1948.


In the late 19th century, the strategy of the Imperial Japanese Navy was based on the radical Jeune Ecole naval philosophy, which emphasized torpedo boats and commerce raiding to offset expensive heavily armoured ships, as promoted by French military advisor and naval architect Emile Bertin.[1] However, not all leaders of the Japanese Navy were convinced in the validity of this theory, and concerns were raised over the acquisition of a pair of German-built battleships by the Chinese Beiyang Fleet. As Japan lacked the technology and capability to construct its own battleships, the navy turned to the United Kingdom and placed an order for two of the most modern vessels available in 1894.[2]

Obtaining funding for the battleships was a struggle for the Japanese government. The initial request had been submitted in the budget of Prime Minister Matsukata Masayoshi in 1891, but had been deleted by the Diet of Japan due to political infighting. Matsukata submitted the request again, and when again denied, was forced to dissolve his cabinet. His successor, Prime Minister Itō Hirobumi, attempted to pass the funding measure in 1892, but again failed. This led to an extraordinary personal intervention by Emperor Meiji in a statement dated 10 February 1893, wherein the emperor offered to fund the construction of the two battleships himself, through an annual reduction in the expenses of the Imperial Household, and asked that all government officials likewise agree to a reduction in their salaries by ten percent. The funding measure for the Fuji-class battleships was passed by the Japanese Diet soon thereafter.[3]

Design and description

Right elevation and deck plan as depicted in Brassey's Naval Annual 1896

The design of the Fuji class was a modified version of the Royal Sovereign-class battleships of the Royal Navy. The Fuji class improved on the original Royal Sovereign design in a number of ways; they were about 1 knot (1.9 km/h; 1.2 mph) faster, they incorporated improved Harvey armour, and their guns were protected by armored hoods (gun turrets) although these were smaller and lighter guns. The two ships of the class were almost identical even though they were designed by two different naval architects, Yashima by Philip Watts and Fuji by G. C. Mackrow. The primary difference was that Yashima had her deadwood cut away aft and was fitted with a balanced rudder. This made her almost a knot faster than her sister and gave her a smaller turning circle at the cost of a weaker stern that required careful attention when drydocked lest it sag.[2]

The Fuji-class ships had an overall length of 412 feet (125.6 m), a beam of 73.25–73.75 feet (22.3–22.5 m), and a normal draught of 26.25–26.5 feet (8.0–8.1 m). They displaced 12,230–12,533 long tons (12,426–12,734 t) at normal load.[4] The crew numbered about 650 officers and enlisted men.[5]


The ships were powered by two Humphrys Tennant vertical triple-expansion steam engines, each driving one propeller, using steam generated by ten cylindrical boilers. The engines were rated at 13,500 indicated horsepower (10,100 kW), using forced draught, and designed to reach a top speed of 18.25 knots (33.80 km/h; 21.00 mph) although they proved to be faster during their sea trials. Yashima reached a top speed of 19.227 knots (35.608 km/h; 22.126 mph)[5] while Fuji reached 18.5 knots (34.3 km/h; 21.3 mph).[4] The ships carried a maximum of 1,620 tonnes (1,590 long tons)[5] of coal which allowed them to steam for 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 km; 4,600 mi) at a speed of 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph).[4]


12-inch gun turret arrangement

The main battery of the Fuji class consisted of four Elswick Ordnance Company 40-calibre Type 41 twelve-inch guns mounted in pear-shaped twin-gun barbettes fore and aft of the superstructure. These barbettes had armoured hoods to protect the guns and are usually called gun turrets. The mountings were virtually identical to those of those used in the first Majestic-class battleships; stowed in the turret were 18 shells that allowed a limited amount of firing at any angle before the turret had to be traversed back to its loading position. The guns were loaded at a fixed angle of 1°[2] and fired 850-pound (386 kg) projectiles at a muzzle velocity of 2,400 ft/s (730 m/s).[6]

Secondary armament of the Fuji class consisted of ten 40-calibre Type 41 six-inch quick-firing guns,[4] four on the main deck in casemates and six guns on the upper deck protected by gun shields.[7] They fired 100-pound (45 kg) shells at a muzzle velocity of 2,300 ft/s (700 m/s).[8] Protection against torpedo boat attacks consisted of fourteen 47-millimetre (1.9 in) three-pounder Hotchkiss guns and ten 47-millimetre 2.5-pounder Hotchkiss guns.[5][Note 1] The three-pounder gun fired 3.1875-pound (1.4458 kg) projectiles at a muzzle velocity of 1,927 ft/s (587 m/s) while the 2.5-pounder fired 2.496-pound (1.132 kg) shells at a muzzle velocity of 1,420 ft/s (430 m/s).[11] The ships were also equipped with five 18-inch torpedo tubes, one in the bow above water and four submerged tubes, two on each broadside.

In 1901, both ships exchanged 16 of their 47 mm guns for an equal number of QF 12-pounder 12 cwt[Note 2] guns.[4] They fired 3-inch (76 mm), 12.5-pound (5.7 kg) projectiles at a muzzle velocity of 2,359 ft/s (719 m/s).[12] This raised the number of crewmen to 652 and later to 741.[4]


The armour scheme of the Fuji-class ships was similar to that used by the Royal Sovereigns except that the Japanese ships used superior Harvey armour with the same thicknesses. The waterline main belt was 8 feet (2.4 m) high, 3 feet (0.9 m) of which was above the waterline at normal load, and had a maximum thickness of 18 inches (457 mm). It reduced to 16 inches (406 mm) then 14 inches (356 mm) at the ends past the two barbettes; above it was a 4-inch (102 mm) strake of armor that ran between the barbettes. They were 14 inches thick outside the upper armor belt and reduced to 9 inches (229 mm) behind the upper belt. Diagonal bulkheads connected the barbettes to the side armor; the forward bulkhead was 14 inches thick while the rear bulkhead was 12 inches (305 mm) thick. The armour of the casemates and the barbette hoods had a maximum thickness of six inches while the conning tower was protected by 14 inches of armour. The deck armour was 2.5 inches (64 mm) thick and met the sides of the ship at the top of the main armour belt.[4][5]


Ship Builder Laid down Launched Completed Fate
Fuji Thames Iron Works, Leamouth, London 1 August 1894[13] 31 March 1896[13] 17 August 1897[13] Broken up, 1948[14]
Yashima Armstrong Whitworth, Elswick 6 December 1894[15] 28 December 1896[15] 9 September 1897[16] Foundered 15 May 1904 after hitting a mine[16]

Both ships had reached Japan by February 1898.[17] At the start of the Russo-Japanese War, Fuji and Yashima were assigned to the 1st Division of the 1st Fleet. They participated in the Battle of Port Arthur on 9 February 1904 when Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō led the 1st Fleet in an attack on the Russian ships of the Pacific Squadron anchored just outside of Port Arthur. Tōgō chose to attack the Russian coastal defences with his main armament and engage the Russian ships with his secondary guns. Splitting his fire proved to be a bad idea as the Japanese 8-inch (203 mm) and six-inch guns inflicted very little damage on the Russian ships who concentrated all their fire on the Japanese ships with some effect. Yashima was not hit during the battle, but Fuji was hit twice, two men being killed and 10 wounded.[18]

Yashima at anchor

On 10 March, the two ships blindly bombarded the harbour of Port Arthur from Pigeon Bay, on the southwest side of the Liaodong Peninsula, at a range of 9.5 kilometres (5.9 mi). They fired 154 twelve-inch shells,[19] but did little damage.[20] When they tried again on 22 March, they were attacked by Russian coast defence guns that had been transferred there and also from several Russian ships in Port Arthur using observers overlooking Pigeon Bay. The Japanese ships disengaged after Fuji was hit by a 12-inch shell.[19]

Fuji and Yashima participated in the action of 13 April when Tōgō successfully lured out two battleships of the Pacific Squadron. When the Russians spotted the five battleships of the 1st Division, they turned back for Port Arthur and the battleship Petropavlovsk struck a minefield laid by the Japanese the previous night. It sank in less than two minutes after one of her magazines exploded. Emboldened by his success, Tōgō resumed long-range bombardment missions, which prompted the Russians to lay more minefields.[21]

On 14 May 1904, the battleships Hatsuse, Shikishima, and Yashima, the protected cruiser Kasagi, and the dispatch boat Tatsuta put to sea to relieve the Japanese blockading force off Port Arthur.[22] On the following morning, the squadron encountered a Russian minefield. Hatsuse struck one mine that disabled her steering and Yashima struck another when moving to assist Hatsuse.[23] Yashima was towed away from the minefield, but she was still taking on water at an uncontrollable rate and the crew abandoned ship some five hours later. Kasagi took Yashima in tow, but the battleship's list continued to increase and she capsized about three hours later.[24]

During the Battle of the Yellow Sea in August 1904, Fuji was not hit because the Russian ships concentrated their fire on the leading ship of the column, Tōgō's flagship, the battleship Mikasa.[25] During the Battle of Tsushima in May 1905, she was hit a dozen times; the most serious of which penetrated the hood of the rear barbette, ignited some exposed propellant charges and killed eight men and wounded nine. After the ammunition fire was put out, the left gun in the barbette resumed firing and apparently fired the coup de grâce that sank the battleship Borodino.[26] On 23 October 1908, Fuji hosted a dinner for the American Ambassador and the seniormost officers of the Great White Fleet during their circumnavigation of the world.[27] In 1910, her cylindrical boilers were replaced by Miyabara water-tube boilers and her main armament was replaced by Japanese-built guns. Fuji was reclassified as a first-class coast defence ship that same year, and was used for training duties in various capacities until disarmed in 1922. Her hulk continued to be used as a floating barracks and training center at Yokosuka until 1945.[28] Fuji was damaged by American carrier aircraft during their 18 July 1945 attack on Yokosuka[29] and capsized after the end of the war.[30] The ship was scrapped in 1948.[16]


  1. Sources differ significantly on the exact outfit of light guns. Naval historians Roger Chesneau and Eugene Kolesnik cite 20 three and four 2.5-pounders.[9] Jentschura, Jung & Mickel give a total of twenty-four 47 mm guns, without dividing them between the 3 and 2.5-pounders,[4] while Silverstone says that they had only twenty 47 mm guns, again without splitting them.[10]
  2. "cwt" is the abbreviation for hundredweight, 12 cwt referring to the weight of the gun.


  1. Evans and Peattie, p. 15
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Brook, 1999, p. 123
  3. Hoare, pp. 186–88
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Jentschura, Jung & Mickel, p. 16
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Brook 1999, p. 122
  6. Friedman, pp. 270–71
  7. Brook 1985, pp. 268–69
  8. Friedman, pp. 275–76
  9. Chesneau & Kolesnik, p. 220
  10. Silverstone, p. 309
  11. Friedman, pp. 118–19
  12. Friedman, p. 114
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Silverstone, p. 327
  14. Silverstone, p. 328
  15. 15.0 15.1 Brook 1985, p. 268
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Jentschura, Jung & Mickel, p. 17
  17. "The Chinese Question". Australian Town and Country Journal. Sydney, Australia. pp. 31. Retrieved 29 July 2012. 
  18. Forczyk, pp. 41–44
  19. 19.0 19.1 Forczyk, p. 44
  20. Brook 1985, p. 269
  21. Forczyk, pp. 45–46
  22. Warner & Warner, p. 279
  23. Forczyk, p. 46
  24. Warner & Warner, pp. 279–82
  25. Forczyk, pp. 52–53
  26. Campbell, p. 263
  27. "Tokio Enthusiasts Neary Mob Sperry". New York Times. 24 October 1908. Retrieved 29 July 2012. 
  28. Jentschura, Jung & Mickel, pp. 16–17
  29. Tully
  30. Fukui, p. 54


  • Brook, Peter (1985). "Armstrong Battleships for Japan". Toledo, Ohio: International Naval Research Organization. pp. 268–82. ISSN 0043-0374. 
  • Brook, Peter (1999). Warships for Export: Armstrong Warships 1867 – 1927. Gravesend, Kent, UK: World Ship Society. ISBN 0-905617-89-4. 
  • Campbell, N.J.M. (1978). Preston, Antony. ed. The Battle of Tsu-Shima, Part 4. II. London: Conway Maritime Press. pp. 258–65. ISBN 0-87021-976-6. 
  • Chesneau, Roger; Kolesnik, Eugene M., eds (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. Greenwich, UK: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4. 
  • Forczyk, Robert (2009). Russian Battleship vs Japanese Battleship, Yellow Sea 1904–05. Oxford, UK: Osprey. ISBN 978 1-84603-330-8. 
  • Evans, David; Peattie, Mark R. (1997). Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1887–1941. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-192-7. 
  • Friedman, Norman (2011). Naval Weapons of World War One. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Seaforth. ISBN 978-1-84832-100-7. 
  • Fukui, Shizuo (1991). Japanese Naval Vessels at the End of World War II. London: Greenhill Books. ISBN 1-85367-125-8. 
  • Hoare, J. E. (1999). Britain and Japan, Biographical Portraits, Volume III. Routledge. ISBN 1-873410-89-1. 
  • Howarth, Stephen (1983). The Fighting Ships of the Rising Sun: The Drama of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1895–1945. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 0-689-11402-8. 
  • Jentschura, Hansgeorg; Jung, Dieter; Mickel, Peter (1977). Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869–1945. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. ISBN 0-87021-893-X. 
  • Silverstone, Paul H. (1984). Directory of the World's Capital Ships. New York: Hippocrene Books. ISBN 0-88254-979-0. 
  • Tully, A.P. (2003). "Nagato's Last Year: July 1945 – July 1946". Mysteries/Untold Sagas of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Retrieved 22 April 2011. 
  • Warner, Denis; Warner, Peggy (2002). The Tide at Sunrise: A History of the Russo-Japanese War, 1904–1905 (2nd ed.). London: Frank Cass. ISBN 0-7146-5256-3. 

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