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IJN Nachi Class Heavy Cruisers

The Nachi class heavy cruisers were approved as part of the Japanese naval programme for 1922 to 1929 and were the first designed after the signing of the Washington Naval Treaty. As a result, these cruisers were the first built under the limitations imposed by the treaty. In all, four cruisers were laid down, the Myoko, Nachi, Haguro, and the Ashigara. The cruisers sported a triple hull and an arched longitudinal bulkhead for underwater protection and had thicker armor than their predecessors, the Aoba class.

Like many ships of the Imperial Navy, the Nachi class underwent several major modifications. The most extreme occurred in the mid 1930's, when their small 4.7in guns were replaced with 5 inchers. More armaments were added, such as AA guns and rotating TT mounts. A second modification occurred in the year before Pearl Harbor with the AA guns being increased and the ship's bridge and structure modified to provide more stability.

None of the four cruisers escaped unscathed from the war. The Myoko was severely damaged at the Battle of Leyte Gulf by torpedo fire and later was scuttled after the war. The Nachi was sunk in Manila Bay after being attacked by American aircraft. The Ashigara was sunk by the HM Trenchant by the Banka Straight.

Haguro, a 10,980-ton (standard displacement) built at Nagasaki, Japan. She was commissioned in April 1929 and served until 1933 with the Fourth Squadron (Sentai) and after that with the Fifth Sentai. During the years prior to the Pacific War the cruiser operated in Japanese home waters and off China, taking part in peacetime maneuvers. She carried troops to China in 1932 and in 1937. During the latter year, as Japan and China began open warfare, Haguro participated in blockade, patrol and landing operations along the Chinese coast.

In 1935-1936 and again in 1939 Haguro was in shipyard hands for modifications. Among other things, this work significantly enhanced her torpedo armament, improved her antiaircraft gun batteries and altered her aircraft handling arrangements. Though her combat power was thus improved, her beam and displacement were also increased, resulting in a modest decrease in maximum speed. In 1940 and 1941 Haguro actively took part in the Japanese fleet's preparations for war against the United States and other Western powers. She was sent to the Palau Islands in November 1941 and, after the Pacific War began in December, participated in landings in the Philippines. During the first few months of 1942 she took part in the conquest of the Netherlands East Indies and played an important role in the Battle of the Java Sea.

Haguro was also present, with the Japanese main aircraft carrier force, during the Battle of the Coral Sea in May. In the next month's Battle of the Midway, she was part of the Midway Occupation Force. In late August she took part in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, first of the Guadalcanal Campaign's two aircraft carrier actions. In January-February 1943, as that long struggle neared its end, Haguro provided distant cover for Japan's successful effort to evacuate its troops from Guadalcanal. She was in the Northern Pacific in May and June 1943, returned south as the Allies moved into the Central Solomons and fought in the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay at the beginning of November.

As part of the First Mobile Fleet, Haguro took part in the June 1944 Battle of the Philippine Sea. On 24-25 October she was in action in the Sibuyan Sea and off Samar, two of the components of the Battle of Leyte Gulf. In 1945 Haguro was stationed at Singapore, from which she carried out supply and transport missions. In the early hours of 16 May 1945 she was intercepted by five British destroyers while conducting such an operation to evacuate the Andaman Islands, in the eastern Bay of Bengal. Haguro was hit by three torpedoes and sunk, with the loss of about three-quarters of her crew of some 1200 officers and men.




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