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Japanese cruiser Kinugasa
Japanese cruiser Kinugasa.jpg
Heavy cruiser Kinugasa on commissioning at Kobe
Career (Japan) Japanese Navy Ensign
Name: Kinugasa
Namesake: Mount Kinugasa
Ordered: 1923 Fiscal Year
Builder: Kawasaki Heavy Industries
Laid down: 24 October 1924
Launched: 24 October 1926
Commissioned: 30 September 1927[1]
Struck: 15 December 1942
Fate: sunk 13 November 1942 by United States Navy and USMC aircraft during Naval Battle of Guadalcanal at 08°45′S 157°00′E / 8.75°S 157°E / -8.75; 157
General characteristics
Class & type: Aoba class cruiser
Type: heavy cruiser
Displacement: 8,300 tons (standard); 9,000 (final)
Length: 185.17 meters
Beam: 15.83 meters (initial)
17.56 meters (final)
Draught: 5.71 meters (initial)
5.66 meters (final)
Propulsion: 4-shaft Brown Curtis geared turbines
12 Kampon boilers
102,000 shp
Speed: 36 knots (67 km/h) – 33.43 kn (61.91 km/h)
Range: 7,000 nmi (13,000 km) @ 14 knots (initial)
8,223 nmi (15,229 km) at 14 knots (final)
Complement: 643 (initial) - 657 (final)



  • 6 × 8in (203mm)/50-cal guns (3x2),
  • 4 × 4.7in (120mm)/45-cal (4x1),
  • 8 × 24in (610mm) torpedo tubes (2x4)
  • 50 x 25 mm AA guns
Armor: 76 mm (belt)
36 mm (deck)
Aircraft carried: 1 x floatplane (initial)
2 x floatplane, 1 catapult (final)

IJN Kinugasa (衣笠 重巡洋艦 Kinugasa jūjun'yōkan?) was the second vessel in the two-vessel Aoba-class of heavy cruisers in the Imperial Japanese Navy. It was named after Mount Kinugasa, located in Yokosuka, Kanagawa, Japan.


Kinugasa and her sister ship Aoba were originally planned as the third and fourth vessels in the Furutaka-class of heavy cruisers. However, design issues with the Furutaka-class resulted in modifications including double turrets and an aircraft catapult. These modifications created yet more weight to an already top-heavy design, causing stability problems. Nevertheless, Kinugasa played an important role in the opening stages of World War II.

Service career

Early career

Kinugasa was completed on 30 September 1927 at the Kawasaki shipyards in Kobe. Her early service was as flagship of the Fifth Squadron (Sentai), and she operated for virtually her entire career with that unit and the Sixth and Seventh Squadrons. In 1928, she became the first Japanese combat ship to carry an aircraft catapult. Kinugasa served off the China coast from 1928 and 1929 and on several occasions during the 1930s. Placed in reserve in September 1937, she was extensively modernized at the Sasebo Navy Yard and not recommissioned until the end of October 1940.

Early stages of the Pacific War

In 1941, Kinugasa was assigned to Cruiser Division 6 (CruDiv6), as flagship of Rear Admiral Aritomo Goto as part of the First Fleet under overall command of Vice Admiral Takasu Shiro. CruDiv 6 consisted of Kinugasa, Aoba, Furutaka and Kako. At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, CruDiv6 was engaged in the invasion of Guam, following which it participated in the second invasion of Wake Island.

From January through May 1942, Kinugasa was based out of Truk, in the Caroline Islands where it provided protection for the landings of Japanese troops in the Solomon Islands and New Guinea at Rabaul, Kavieng, Buka, Shortland, Kieta, Manus Island, Admiralty Islands and Tulagi.

Battle of Coral Sea

At the Battle of the Coral Sea, CruDiv 6 departed Shortland and effected a rendezvous at sea with light carrier Shōhō. At 1100 on 7 May 1942, north of Taguli Island, Shoho was attacked and sunk by 93 SBD Dauntless dive-bombers and TBD Devastator torpedo-bombers from USS Yorktown and Lexington.

The following day, 8 May 1942 46 SBDs, 21 TBDs and 15 Grumman F4F Wildcats from Yorktown and Lexington damaged Shōkaku severely above the waterline and forced her retirement. Furutaka and Kinugasa, undamaged in the battle, escorted Shōkaku back to Truk.

WW-2 recognition drawing of Kinugasa

Kinugasa was withdrawn to Japan in June 1942 for repairs, and returned to Truk by 4 July. Following the major reorganization of 14 July 1942, Kinugasa came under the newly created Eighth Fleet under Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa, based at Rabaul.

The Battle of Savo Island

In the Battle of Savo Island on 9 August 1942, the four heavy cruisers of CruDiv 6 (Aoba, Kako, Furutaka and Kinugasa), the heavy cruiser Chōkai, light cruisers Tenryū and Yubari and destroyer Yūnagi engaged the Allied forces in a night gun and torpedo action. At about 2300, Chōkai, Furutaka and Kako all launched their reconnaissance floatplanes. The circling floatplanes dropped flares illuminating the targets and all the Japanese ships opened fire. US Ships Astoria, Quincy, Vincennes and HMAS Canberra were sunk. USS Chicago was damaged as were the USS Ralph Talbot and USS Patterson. On the Japanese side, Chōkai was hit three times, Kinugasa twice (once in her No. 1 Engine Room by a 5-inch shell from Patterson and her port steering gear by a shell from Vincennes), Aoba once, and Furutaka was not damaged. The heavily-laden American invasion transports off Guadalcanal were unprotected, but Admiral Mikawa, unaware that Admiral Fletcher had withdrawn his aircraft carriers covering the invasion, feared an air attack at daybreak and ordered a retirement. Captain Sawa of Kinugasa, frustrated, launched a spread of torpedoes from Kinugasa's starboard tubes at the Allied transports 13 miles (21 km) distant, but all missed. The following day as CruDiv6 approached Kavieng, Kako was torpedoed and sunk by the US submarine S 44.

Battle of Cape Esperance

At the Battle of Cape Esperance on 11 October 1942, CruDiv 6's (Aoba, Furutaka and Kinugasa), and destroyers Fubuki and Hatsuyuki departed Shortland to provide cover for a troop reinforcement convoy by shelling Henderson Field on Guadalcanal. The fleet was spotted, coming down "the Slot" at 30 knots (56 km/h), by two Vought OS2U Kingfisher reconnaissance planes.

So alerted, the radar-equipped American cruisers USS San Francisco, Boise, Salt Lake City, and Helena and five destroyers steamed around the end of Guadalcanal to block the entrance to Savo Sound.

At 2235, the Helena's radar spotted the Japanese fleet, and the Americans successfully crossed the Japanese "T". Both fleets opened fire, but Admiral Goto, thinking that he was under friendly-fire, ordered a 180-degree turn that exposed each of his ships to the American broadsides.

Aoba was damaged heavily, and Admiral Goto was mortally wounded. Furutaka was hit by a torpedo that flooded her forward engine room and was subsequently sunk by Salt Lake City and Duncan.

Kinugasa straddled Boise and Salt Lake City with 8-inch salvos, knocking out Boise's No. 1 and 2 turrets. Kinugasa sustained four hits in the engagement. The following morning, Kinugasa was attacked but not damaged by five American planes, and then returned to Shortland.

Naval Battle of Guadalcanal

On 14 October 1942, Kinugasa was designated flagship of Crudiv 6. The following day, Kinugasa and Chōkai bombarded Henderson Field on Guadalcanal with a total of 752 8-inch shells. From 24–26 October and 1–5 November, Kinugasa and Chōkai provided cover for replacement convoys of troops and equipment to bolster Japanese defenses at Guadalcanal. On 14 November 1942, during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, Kinugasa was attacked by TBF Avenger torpedo-bombers and SBD Dauntless dive bombers from the USS Enterprise and USMC Avengers from Guadalcanal. At 0936 a 500-pound bomb hit Kinugasa's 13.2-mm machine gun mount in front of the bridge, starting a fire in the forward gasoline storage area. Captain Sawa and his Executive Officer were killed by the bomb, and Kinugasa gradually began to list to port. Near-misses caused additional fires and flooding and a second attack by 17 more Dauntless bombers knocked out Kinugasa's engines and rudder and opened more compartments to the sea. At 1122, Kinugasa capsized and sank southwest of Rendova Island at 08°45′S 157°00′E / 8.75°S 157°E / -8.75; 157, taking 511 crewmen with her. Kinugasa was removed from the Navy list on 15 December 1942.



  • Brown, David (1990). Warship Losses of World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-914-X. 
  • D'Albas, Andrieu (1965). Death of a Navy: Japanese Naval Action in World War II. Devin-Adair Pub. ISBN 0-8159-5302-X. 
  • Dull, Paul S. (1978). A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1941-1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-097-1. 
  • 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. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-893-X. 
  • Lacroix, Eric; Linton Wells (1997). Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-311-3. 
  • Whitley, M.J. (1995). Cruisers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-141-6. 

External links


  1. Lacroix, Japanese Cruisers, p. 794

See also

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