FAR EASTERN PERFECTION

FAR EXCELLENCEAfter the signing of the Washington Treaty, appeared so uncomfortable and unwelcome for all parties involved, except that of the United States, the Japanese decided to close the infringement in the linear ships, number and tonnage of which was strictly determined by a ratio of 5:5:3 in favor of the United States and England, at the expense of cruisers. “Minimum” fleet’s new policy, developed in 1923, included no less than forty cruisers of the maximum allowed size — 10 thousand tons! They had to form 10 divisions of four ships and become, essentially, the backbone of a fleet. It is clear that such a full swing in its implementation would cost a huge amount, hardly inferior to the cost of those superliners, the construction of which had to be abandoned in accordance with the agreement.

 
However, to work on the project began almost immediately after signing the “Washington bondage” at the beginning of 1922. As in the case of shestidesiatniki “half Ling”, the subsequent characters of the epic was the same Uzura Hiraga and his assistant, and later successor Kikuo Fujimoto. I must say that in your case Hiraga manifested in the guise of a samurai, honing your sword to unimaginable sharpness. The chief designer of the fleet steadily and purposefully sought to improve the fighting quality. Although the initial requirements of the Naval staff included new cruisers, eight 203-mm guns in two-gun towers (three of which were grouped the already familiar “pyramid” in the nose and one was located in the rear), the designer suggested to add one more, the fifth tower. One and a half times increased and artillery units instead of four 120-mm guns was supposed to have six. Hiraga really wanted to have his “product” was the strongest among the “contract workers”. He wanted to provide his “iron warrior” is not only a long sword and a reliable shield. So on the heavy cruisers were a real underwater defense, with a solid armored torpedo bulkhead that for 1920-ies, no doubt, was the most advanced innovation. Of course, for all these truly pioneering solution had something to pay. Hiraga stopped at a somewhat reduced cruising range, that has not caused special objections, as in a truncated version of the cruiser could accompany the fleet. Much more controversy was another, quite conscious step: a complete rejection of torpedo. The chief designer of the Japanese Navy believed that many torpedoes on the big ship are a great danger to themselves than to the enemy, which they still have at least to release (not saying to get). But here again intervened Fujimoto, who succeeded his boss. Being human is more flexible, he listened to the urgent requirements of Naval staff, which believed that a future war will be largely “torpedo” and that this type of weapon in every way necessary to cultivate it on heavy cruisers, now laid claim to the role of the backbone combined fleet. So in Japanese “Washingtonians” came back torpedo tubes, and quite a number of four three-pipe installation.
 
In the end, of course, “extreme sacrifice” was the displacement. Numerous advantages does not fit in required 10 000 t. Not helped by all the ingenious measures for reducing the weight of the body, constructed according to the same principles of the “Japanese wave”, and “Kako”. For a lot very long and rather narrow body accounted for only 30% of the displacement, but in absolute terms this corresponded to four thousand tons. Big savings made a brave step to enable the side and deck armor as a power subassembly. To this plate was just attached with bolts to the hull, not really increasing the strength of the case; now they are tightly welded with stringers and frames, seeing 100% load at compression and 70-0% of tensile. And yet the waves of the whole structure to “breathe”, the body is severely twisted, but… stand up, and we wanted to prove.
 
The Japanese are often accused of “Eastern intrigue”, believing that all the violations of the treaties they went deliberately. Actually it is not so. Of course, some the release of “beyond” was planned, but not so significant. Overload”, MLEKO” and its cousins, the displacement of which in tests made up of 13 300 t, was an unpleasant surprise for the designers. Decreased the freeboard and intact stability, less space remained for later upgrades, but the heroic efforts of the all the problems were resolved in a satisfactory manner.
 
Another consequence of overload is unwanted immersion of the armor belt that had a “notched” shape: wide in the middle part to close the high engine and boiler compartments, and narrower in the area of the cellar, towards the extremities. In the end, at normal load, the cellars above the waves rose only 30 cm of armor, and with full fuel belt in these areas completely disappeared under the water. However, this did not reduce the protective properties of the shells was kept even lower, and armor box created a kind of air cushion that holds the ship afloat even in case of partial destruction of the Board above it.
Got cruisers and torpedo hirago the promised protection of the British invention of the Boule. However, in contrast to the purely symbolic “bubbles” in the English “County,” they looked quite solid. Especially from the rear, they covered the concave armored bulkhead with a thickness of 57 mm — larger than any battleship of the First world war. Perhaps the only Achilles heel was the booking of the towers. More precisely, its absence. As in the case of Buli, the Japanese adopted the experience of their teachers from the UK (this time a much more controversial), limited to 25 mm “cozies” that can stop but not too large pieces.
 
In General contractual firstborn Japan deserves excellent marks. Was the perfect fighting machine; it is sufficient, for example, compare “, MLEKO” with British contemporaries. Ten guns against eight, 34 knots vs 31, armor belt against unarmored side, real underwater protection against purely symbolic…
 
In fact, the Japanese were the ones who managed to create a full “Washington” cruiser. Americans, French and Italians had to go through a lengthy and expensive school, resulting in a set of assorted 10-thousanders, and the British did not “ripe” to balanced draft. Designers and admirals of the Country of the rising sun, from the very beginning reached the undoubted success, could only replicate your best option, perhaps with slight modifications.
 
That’s what they did. The first four were still on the stocks, followed by a continuation in the face of another division of the same number of units. “ATAGO”, “Takao”, “Teki” and “Maya” is the most characteristics have repeated their predecessors. But returning from a long tour across England supporter perfect Hiraga wanted to finally Polish your diamond, adding everything useful that is able to watch from their eternal teachers. So in the terms of reference appeared 8-inch anti-aircraft guns, increased protection of cellars and application in hull design armor steel “D”. I must say that the Japanese engineers, gunsmiths had to repeat the thorny path of their British counterparts. 203 mm installation angle of elevation of 70 degrees has been difficult and capricious so that the last in the series, “Maya”, limited to a more modest 55 degrees. So in Japan, as in England, ended too ambitious encroachments on the creation of super-heavy guns: their time has not yet come.
 
In addition to its own wishes, the chief shipbuilder had to satisfy the demands of the sailors, strongly wanting to be so unloved Giragos torpedo tubes, and even with more powerful torpedoes that contained in the charging branches of almost half a ton of explosives. Therefore, a torpedo carried on the upper deck, and besides, and placed on special tabs-the sponsons. In this embodiment, the power of the explosion superviagrawx the result of contact with an enemy projectile or fragment has vanished in the air, and not spread apart the hull of the ship.
 
A negative result of all the improvements once again had an impact in increasing mass. Full load displacement was close to 15 thousand tons. But the main trouble threatened the cruisers at a time when fuel supplies were exhausted. Heavy weapons positioned high above the water, turned them in a precarious pendulums — stability was reduced to dangerous levels. Had in such cases to take in fuel tanks water ballast.
 
Further plans (and the Japanese tried hard to implement its 40-ship program in the class of heavy cruisers) came across an unexpected obstacle in 1930. Another marine Treaty of London, was now restricted not only limit the size of each combat unit, but also the total displacement. Japan had about 51 thousand tons for the construction of new cruisers, which Navy staff thought it more prudent to spend six cruisers. So automatically formed tonnage of each of them: instead of 10 thousand tons was needed to meet the eight and a half.
 
 
175. Heavy cruiser “Tone” (Japan, 1938)
 
Firm was built by Mitsubishi shipyard in Nagasaki. Displacement standard — 11 215 t, full — 15, 200 MT, maximum length — 201,5 m, width — 18,5 m, draft — 6,46 m Power chetyrehbalnoy steam turbine 152 000 HP, speed 35 knots. Reservations: belt 100 — 127 mm, deck 35mm, turret 25 mm. Armament: eight 203/50-mm guns, eight 127/40-mm anti-aircraft guns, twelve 25-mm machine guns, four three-pipe 610-mm torpedo tubes. In 1938 — 1939 built two units: “Tone” and “Chikuma”. “Tone” was lost on 24 July 1945, “Chikuma” — 25 October 1944
 
176. Heavy cruiser “Mieko” (Japan, 1929)
 
Built at the shipyard of the Navy in Yokosuka. The displacement of standard — 12 of 196 tons, full — 15 of 943 tons, maximum length — 203,76 m, a width of 17.34 m, draft — 5,9 m. Capacity chetyrehbalnoy steam turbine 130 000 HP, speed 35,5 site. Reservations: belt 100mm, deck 35mm, turret 25 mm. Armament: ten 203/50 mm guns, six 120/ 45-mm anti-aircraft guns, two 13.2-mm anti-aircraft guns, four three-pipe 610-mm torpedo tubes. In 1929, built four units: “Mieko”, “Nachi” and “Haguro” and “Ashigara”. Modernized in 1934 — 1936 with the installation of new anti-aircraft artillery of the eight 127/40-mm guns, four 13.2-mm machine guns and four new swivel twin-tube torpedo tubes. Before the war, light anti-aircraft armament enhanced with up to eight 25-mm and four 13.2-mm machine guns, twin torpedo tubes replaced by four. During the war the number of 25-mm guns gradually increased to fifty-two. All were killed during the Second world war.
 
177. Heavy cruiser “Takao” (Japan, 1932)
 
Built at the shipyard of the Navy in Yokosuka. The standard displacement — 12 t 570, full — 15 875 tons, maximum length — 203,76 m, width — 18,03 m, draft — 6,11 M. Power chetyrehbalnoy steam turbine 130 000 HP, speed 35,5 site. Reservations: belt 100 — 127 mm, deck 35mm, turret 25 mm. Armament: ten 203/50 mm guns, four 120/45-mm anti-aircraft guns, two 40-mm machine gun, four twin-tube 610-mm torpedo tubes. In 1932 built four units: the “ATAGO”, “Takao”, “Teki” and “Maya”. Modernized in 1939 -1940. with the installation of new anti-aircraft artillery of the eight 127/40-mm guns and eight 25-mm guns (eight 13.2-mm “Teki” and “Maya”), also four four torpedo tubes. “Takao” is flooded on 29 October 1946, the “ATAGO”, “Maya” and “Teki” died October 23, 1944

 
However, to the fore the issue of weapons. “Free” tonnage is formed just in that contract class, which included the caliber artillery up to 155 mm. well, no more so no more. But at least: the Japanese still wanted to have only the best. They had to create from scratch a new tool maximum “light” caliber, which, as expected, was very powerful. But the most impressive number of trunks: they were supposed to have 15, five treforedling towers. Yes, even with armor protection from six-inch and fantastic speed of 37 knots! In fact, nothing “light” in the “Mogami” was not noticed: they were the same tested heavy cruisers, on which each pair of 8-inch guns were replaced by three guns of smaller caliber. Without further ADO, engineers directly used the same hull and superstructure as on the predecessors, with a minimum of changes.
 
Even not too sophisticated in matters of shipbuilding man from the first sight it became clear that to accommodate the eight-and-a-half thousand tons of everything — cars, artillery and armor is absolutely physically impossible. Although the Japanese widely announced use of electric and other relief measures (in particular, the ships left one pipe instead of two), even in the project 8500 t turned into a 9500.
 
Well, when building all slipped further increase to the usual ten thousand.
 
The pursuit of excessive relief corps finally released to the Japanese side. Parent “Mogami” at the trials in full swing in the literal sense of the words twisted so that it flowed fuel tank and a turret from the deformation of the deck cannot rotate! I had to return the vehicle to the shipyard for a serious strengthening of a design, and the completion of the rest delay. In the end, re-test cruiser came with the displacement over 13 thousand tons, the same as their 203-mm predecessors.
 
After laying four 15-gun light monsters in stock remained the tonnage on two more units, also formally on 8450 tons each. Initially, the designers wanted to just say “Mogami”, but by the time the light floated all the problems associated with preobragenie and weakening strength. Therefore, Fujimoto, now finally took the top post in the Japanese shipbuilding industry, took a bold and unexpected move, decided to donate one of the towers. All the remaining four he placed in the bow, due to which managed to better balance the weight and to shorten the armoured citadel. It is understood that any project eight and a half thousand tons, it still did not smell, but the overload was more reasonable. On the remaining free stern “Tone” and “Chikuma” with the convenience housed a reinforced air group. (They could take up to eight seaplanes, but really in the war, the number of leader did not exceed five). An interesting innovation was the sloped armor belt, passing under the water line in the torpedo bulkhead, also made of armor plates, but smaller thickness. In the end, “Tone” and “Chikuma” was one of the most original, beautiful and yet racunalnik cruisers in the world.
 
Meanwhile, on December 31, 1936 has expired, the Washington Treaty, to extend who always considered themselves offended Japan was not going to. Moreover, the very next day, the Marine headquarters was ordered to carry out long cherished “transplant organs”. Light cruiser was supposed to quickly transform into heavy. They have already produced the appropriate 203 mm of tower, just had to replace their 155 mm. On the “Tone” and “Chikuma” did it even before the launching, but “Mogami” and its sistership had to send to the factory. Due to the fact that the diameter trichological “light” the tower was a bit more than the standard two-gun 8-inch, we had to slightly change the design of the installation. What Japanese engineers did, and very quickly.
 
In the end, Japan managed to achieve the almost impossible: where gracefully, and where rough beating contractual limitations to its fleet by the beginning of the war in the Pacific had virtually the same number of heavy cruisers, and the United States, instead of humiliating the ratio 3:5. With art designers and engineers, immediately created a good type provided a uniform “ruler” of the 14 similar characteristics of strong combat units, while potential enemies were only “the speckled band” multi-style cruisers. And with four “short” types “Kako” and “Aoba” combined fleet could put 18 ships equipped with 203-mm guns, equaling the Americans at least in a single class.
 
But all the efforts of the designers in the end did not help Japan. Although the start of the fighting quarry heavy cruisers commanded respect and optimism: the capture of the Dutch East India their victims fell to the Dutch “De Ruyter” and “Java”, the British “Exeter”, us “Houston” and the Australian “Perth”. Successful was the start of a bloody campaign at Guadalcanal, when the little island of Savo to the bottom went the three heavy cruisers of the allies, struck by shells and torpedoes of the Japanese their “class brothers”. And all this for almost nothing: none of desaturating beauties did not go down, even the damage was not too heavy.
 
And yet gradually, the initiative and advantage in the power passed to the United States Navy. The first of the Japanese “heavyweights” PAL “Mikuma”. Together with his inseparable companion — “Mogami” — it was selected for bombardment of American positions on midway island during the famous battles held in the beginning of June 1942 and ended in disaster for the carrier connection Admiral Nagumo. Both cruisers came under numerous attacks by American aircraft, where “Mogami” received five bomb hits, but still managed to stumble home. But “Mikuma” mutilated beyond recognition (in addition to the bombs he was struck by an American plane, snesshy top turret), in the end went to the bottom.
For a long time he remained the only victim of the Americans, although one or the other ship knocked out from enemy action. Taking the threat from the air as the main, the Japanese are not without benefit I used the “intermissions” that are associated with forced repairs. While carefully grow light anti-aircraft armament of 25-mm guns, placed in any suitable locations. On some ships by the end of the war, the number of trunks, ready to meet the enemy planes reached six dozen — number, it is worthy of a battleship. In some way it helped for a long time the Japanese managed to get off with only damage. Critical for these beautiful and powerful ships was the largest naval battle in history that took place at Leyte Gulf in late October 1944.
 
Trouble began when the expanding forces. American submarines ambushed the connection of Vice-Admiral Kurita and from the heart were treated to marching at the head of a column of heavy cruisers. “ATAGO” and “Maya” received four torpedoes — “slap”, which could not bear even their excellent underwater protection. But the “Takao” after two survived and even made it through several seas to Singapore. (At the end of the war sank the British in their former base in Singapore, exotic weapons — midget submarines.) The last of the four, the hero of the battle of Savo island “Teki” of American aviation was able to send it to the bottom in the same Leyte Gulf.
 
Thought it was unfortunate for himself that battle, the Japanese cruiser competed in survivability. The record may be called “Chikuma”, which, according to reports, got six aircraft torpedoes. Even after that the ship was sinking “with the arrangement” that allowed us to save a large part of his team. Looks even more fantastic struggle for life, the once “easy” “Kumano”. For a start, he was struck by the torpedo destroyer “Johnson”, reducing speed to 15 knots. Then pitch the aircraft. After hitting three bombs in the boiler branch of its speed fell to 10 knots. For a wounded animal uniforms began to hunt for American submarines, four submarine fired a total of 23 torpedoes. Only two of them reached the target, severing the nose tip to the front of the tower, and flooding, all turbine and boiler Department. However, the cruiser got towed to the nearest port, where an emergency order has established a single turbine unit to be restored. But sectionlevel course the ship can’t go far. Fighter-bombers and torpedo bombers achieved four hits 227-kg bombs and five — aviatrade, after which the “Kumano” went to the bottom.
 
Virtually all the surviving heavy cruisers got a certain damage, with the exception of happy “Ashigara”. But his fate was prepared for a sad end. In June 1945, the Board consisted of five torpedoes from the British submarine “Trenchant”. The team desperately fought for the life of the vehicle, the more that on Board were fifteen hundred soldiers. Most of them died, but many sailors managed to escape in the warm water of tropical sea.
 
Generally in the last months of the war, the British pretty harshly took revenge on the Japanese for that shame, which had to bear in the Java sea. Their victim was still “Haguro”, and in a rather unenviable circumstances. Five destroyers attacked freely maneuvering and undamaged cruiser and made three torpedo hits, which after two hours the team had to leave. The reason was that the British acted in the night according to the already fairly advanced radar and besieged the cruiser on all sides, so he could not repel the attack of the invisible enemy, or to Dodge the torpedoes.
 
The last survivor in a more or less decent condition heavy cruiser was “the Tone”. Stuck in the last refuge of the remnants of the combined fleet, based in Kure, it has been shaped abused by American carrier aircraft. Against a stationary target used all types of ammunition, ranging from 127-mm rockets to bomb nearly a ton weight. It is clear that in the end the unfortunate cruiser couldn’t stand, was abandoned the team and went to the winners in the rubble at the side of the piles of metal. In the end, the sad label of “last of the Mohicans” fell on “Meeko”, which has received several injuries and after the surrender, captured by the British in Singapore. The winners some time used it as a floating barracks, and then, in the summer of 1946 brought in the sea and opened the Kingston valves. So tragic and sad note ended the short story “far excellence” — Japanese heavy cruisers.

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