KIRISHIMA IJN (Japan)

Builder: Mitsubishi Shipyard of Mitsubishi Goshi Kaisha (currently Mitsubishi Heavy Industries) Laid down:17 March 1912, Launched: 1 December 1913, Commissioned:19 April 1915.
Kongō-class battlecruiser, Displacement:36,600 long tons (37,187 t) Length:222 m (728’ 4”) Beam:31 m (101’ 8”) Draught:9.7 m (31’10”) 8 Kampon oil-fired boilers, steam turbines:136.000 hp. 4 shafts
30 kn. Range:10,000 nm/14 kn. Complement:1360
Armament:
8 × 356 mm (14”) guns (4×2) 16 × 152 mm (6.0”) guns (8×2) 8 × 127 mm (5”) DP (8×1)
20 x 25 mm (0.98”) Type 96 AA guns, 2 or 3 floatplane aircraft.
Armor:
deck: 2.3–1.5 in (58–38 mm) (later strengthened +101mm on ammo storage, +76mm on engine room)
turrets: 9 in (230 mm)
barbettes: 10 in (250 mm)
belt: 8–11 in (200–280 mm)

On 18 November 1934, Kirishima was drydocked in Sasebo Naval Arsenal in preparation for her second reconstruction, which would enable her to function alongside Japan's growing fleet of fast carriers. Her stern was lengthened by 26 feet (7.9 m), while her superstructure was rebuilt to allow for new fire-control mechanisms. Her boilers were removed and replaced with eight new oil-fired Kampon Boilers, and she received newer geared turbines. The elevation of her main and secondary battery was increased, and she was equipped with two Nakajima E8N "Dave" and Kawanishi E7K "Alf" reconnaissance floatplanes. To this end, aircraft catapults and launch-rails were also refitted. Her older 3-inch guns were removed and replaced with eight 5-inch dual-purpose guns. She was also outfitted with twenty Type 96 25 mm antiaircraft guns in twin turrets, while two of her 6 inch guns and her remaining torpedo tubes were removed.

Kirishima's armor was also extensively upgraded. Her main belt was strengthened to a uniform thickness of 8 inches (as opposed to varying thicknesses of 6–8 inches before the upgrades), while diagonal bulkheads of a depth ranging from 5 to 8 inches (127 to 203 mm) reinforced the main armored belt. The turret armor was strengthened to 10 inches (254 mm), while 4 inches (102 mm) were added to portions of the deck armor. The armor around her ammunition magazines was also strengthened over the course of the refit. The reconstruction was declared complete on 8 June 1936. Capable of speeds of up to 30.5 kn. Kirishima was reclassified as a fast battleship.

In August 1936, Kirishima departed Sasebo alongside Fuso to patrol the Chinese coast off Amoy. From March 1937 to April 1939, she was frequently deployed as a support vessel and troop transport during the Second Sino-Japanese War. In November 1938, Kirishima was designated the command vessel of the Third Battleship Division, and was under the command of Rear Admiral Chuichi Nagumo. In November 1939, she was placed in reserve and fitted with additional armor on the front faces of her turrets and barbettes.

On 11 November 1941, after a series of transfers between Japanese naval bases, Kirishima was outfitted in preparation for coming hostilities and assigned—alongside her sister ships—to the Third Battleship Division. On 26 November, Kirishima departed Hitokappu Bay, Kurile Islands in the company of Hiei and six Japanese fast carriers of the First Air Fleet Striking Force (Akagi, Kaga, Sōryū, Hiryū, Shōkaku, and Zuikaku). On 7 December 1941, aircraft from these six carriers attacked the United States Pacific Fleet at their home base of Pearl Harbor, sinking four U.S. Navy battleships and numerous other vessels. Following the attack and the declaration of war by the United States, Kirishima returned to Japan.

1942: Combat and loss.
Takao (center) and the Kirishima steaming for Guadalcanal, 14 November 1942
On 8 January 1942, Kirishima departed Japan for Truk Naval Base in the Caroline Islands alongside the Carrier Strike Force. She provided escort during the invasion of New Britain on 17 January before returning to Truk. She sortied again in response to American carrier raids in the Marshall and Gilbert Islands. In March 1942, while supporting fleet operations off of Java in the Dutch East Indies, one of Kirishima's floatplanes bombed an enemy merchant vessel. South of Java, the Japanese fleet was surprised by the appearance of the destroyer USS Edsall. Hiei and Chikuma initially opened fire on the ship but failed to score any hits. After dive-bombers from three of Admiral Nagumo's carriers immobilized the destroyer, Kirishima and the other two ships resumed firing on Edsall until she sank.

In April 1942, Kirishima and the Third Battleship division joined five fleet carriers and two cruisers in an attack against British naval bases in the Indian Ocean. On 5 April—Easter Sunday—the Japanese fleet attacked the harbor at Colombo in Ceylon, while seaplanes from the Tone spotted two fleeing British cruisers, both of which were later sunk by aerial attack. A floatplane from Kirishima also strafed a withdrawing oil tanker. On 8 April, Japanese carrier aircraft attacked the Royal Navy base at Trincomalee in Ceylon, only to find that all of Admiral James Somerville's remaining warships had withdrawn the previous night. Returning from the attack, a floatplane from Kirishima's sister ship Haruna spotted the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes and escorting destroyer HMAS Vampire, which was quickly sunk by a massive aerial attack. Upon returning to Japan, Kirishima was drydocked and her secondary armament configuration modified with the addition of 25 mm antiaircraft guns in twin mounts.

In June 1942, Kirishima sailed as part of the Carrier Strike Force during the Battle of Midway, providing escort for Admiral Nagumo's four fast carriers alongside Haruna. Following the disastrous battle, during which all four Japanese carriers were lost, she took on survivors from the four flattops before returning to Japan. In August 1942, she departed Japan for the Solomon Islands in the company of Hiei, three carriers, three cruisers and eleven destroyers, in response to the American invasion of Guadalcanal. She escorted Japanese carriers during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, during which the light carrier Ryūjō was sunk. Following the battle, the fleet returned to Truk Naval Base. During the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, Kirishima was part of Rear Admiral Hiroaki Abe's Vanguard Force, which provided distant cover to Nagumo's carrier groups. She was attacked by American dive-bombers on 26 October, yet remained undamaged.

On 10 November 1942, Kirishima departed Truk alongside Hiei and eleven destroyers in preparation to shell American positions on Guadalcanal in advance of a major transport convoy of Japanese troops. U.S. Navy reconnaissance aircraft spotted the Japanese fleet several days in advance, and deployed a force of two heavy cruisers, three light cruisers and eight destroyers under the command of Rear Admiral Daniel J. Callaghan in Ironbottom Sound to meet them. At 01:24 on 13 November, the Japanese force was detected 28,000 yards (26 km) out by the light cruiser USS Helena. In the ensuing First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, the American task force concentrated the majority of their firepower on the battleship Hiei. This enabled Kirishima to score multiple hits on the heavy cruiser USS San Francisco and Helena, while Hiei crippled the light cruiser USS Atlanta, killing Rear Admiral Norman Scott. Both Hiei and Kirishima then raked San Francisco with shellfire, killing Rear Admiral Callaghan. However, Hiei was in turn crippled by San Francisco and several American destroyers. With Hiei effectively out of the battle, Kirishima and the surviving destroyers withdrew to the north. On the morning of 13 November, she was ordered to tow Hiei to safety. However, the heavily damaged battleship came under air attack, and was eventually abandoned and scuttled.

Washington fires on Kirishima during the Second Naval...
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