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IJN Asashio Class Destroyers

The Asashio class destroyers were the first destroyers designed after the limitations of the 1930 London Naval Treaty had expired. The class was approved in 1934 and laid down over a span of two years beginning in 1935. In terms of armament, the Asashio class was similar to the previous 'special type' class destroyers, like the Fubuki and Akatsuki. All future destroyers were based off the Asashio destroyers.

The only critical problem with the Asashio class were their new sophisticated steam turbines, which were liable to malfunction. However, this problem was fixed by the start of the Pacific War. The Asashio class were also the first destroyer class to exceed 2,000 tons and to be equipped with sonar. Ten ships were laid down and all ten were loss during the war. The Kisumi, last of the class to be laid down, served as escort on the Pearl Harbor mission and joined the Yamato on her suicide mission against the American fleet at Okinawa.

Minegumo, a 1961-ton Asashio class destroyer, was built at Osaka, Japan. Completed in April 1938, she took part in several campaigns during the Pacific War that Japan started in December 1941. Her initial operation was the landing at Vigan, northwestern Luzon, on 11 December 1941. A month later she supported landings at Tarakan, Borneo. During the Battle of the Java Sea on 27 February 1942, Minegumo delivered torpedo attacks and engaged the British destroyer Encounter in a close-range fight that caused little damage to either combatant. At the end of March, she participated in the brief capture and occupation of Christmas Island, south of Java.

In June 1942 Minegumo was part of the Covering Group during the Battle of the Midway and, as the campaign to retake Guadalcanal heated up in late August, she operated in support of the engaged forced during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons. On 5 October 1942, while on a supply mission to Guadalcanal, she was seriously damaged by air attack.

Minegumo's last mission ended in a brief, but intense night battle with a greatly superior force of U.S. cruisers and destroyers on 6 March 1943, soon after she and the destroyer Murasame had delivered supplies to Vila, on Kolombangara. Both Japanese ships were sunk, but most of Minegumo's crew survived the action.




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