IJN Kirishima was the third of four 'Kongo' class battlecruisers built for the Imperial Japanese Navy between 1912 and 1915, Launched m December1913, the Kirishima was completed in April 1915. In common with her sisters Kirishima was modernized twice, in 1927-31 and 1934-40, The second modernization transformed her into a fast battleship for escorting carriers, with speed raised from 26 to 30 kts by doubling the horsepower, and with heavier anti-aircraft armament. The original three funnels had been reduced to two in the first reconstruction, and the second gave her a typical 'pagoda' foremast. When war broke out in December 1941 all four were serving with the 3rd Battle Division, and Kirishima and Hiei accompanied the force which attacked Pearl Harbor. In June 1942 the Kirishima suffered slight damage from air attacks during the Battle of Midway.
With her sister Hiei she attacked US forces on Guadalcanal on the night of 12/13 November 1942. The two fast battleships engaged a force of American cruisers, sinking USS Atlanta, damaging USS San Francisco, Juneau, HelenaPortland and sinking the destroyers USS Barton and Laffey in a confused melee at short range.Two nights later the Japanese tried again to get a troop convoy through to Guadalcanal and to bombard Henderson Field but ran into an American force. This time the battleships USS South Dakota and USS Washington were in support, both modern ships with radar, but superior night-fighting techniques enabled the Japanese to plan an ambush in which the American destroyers came off worse. When the light cruiser Nagara turned her searchlights on the South Dakota, the Kirishima immediately opened fire with her 356-mm (14-in) battery, but in the confusion the Japanese lookouts failed to spot the Washington, closing from 7300m (8,000 yards), Five minutes after midnight her deadly 406-mm (16-in) salvoes began to burst around the Kirishima, which was quickly overwhelmed by an estimated total of nine 406-mm ( 16-in) and 40 127- mm (5-in) hits. Seven minutes later she was ablaze, unable to steer and takingon water fast from underwater damage. Admiral Kondo ordered the destoyers IJN Asagumo, IJN Teruzuki, and IJN Samidare to take off survivors but no attempt was made to save the ship. Kirishima's sea cocks were opened and she sank at 03.23, about11 km (7 miles) north west of Savo Island.
Specification: IJN Kirishima (after second reconstruction)
Displacement: 31,980 tons standard, 36,600 tons full load
Dimensions: length 222,0 m (728 ft 6 in), overall; beam 31.0 m (102 ft 4 in); draught 9.7 m (31ft 9 in)
Machinery: 4-shaft geared steam, turbines delivering 136,000 shp (101415kW)
Speed: 30 kts
Armour: belt 76-203 mm (3-8 in); deck 121 mm (4.75 in); turrets 280 mm ( 11-in)
Armament: eight 356-mm (14-m), 14 152-mm (6-in),
eight 127-mm (5-in)AA, and 20 25-mm ( 1-in) AA guns
Aircraft: three floatplanes
Complement: 1,437 officers and men