Takao (Japanese: たかお Kanji: 高雄)
first of four Takao-class heavy cruisers, designed to be an improvement over the previous Myōkō-class design. The Myōkō had proved to be unstable and required modifications, which were incorporated into the Takao design.
The Takao-class ships were approved under the 1927 fiscal year budget as part of the Imperial Japanese Navy's strategy of the Decisive Battle, and forming the backbone of a multipurpose long range strike force. Takao was built by the Yokosuka Naval shipyards, and like her sister ships, was named after a mountain. Mount Takao (高雄山), is located outside of Kyoto and is not to be confused with the similar Mount Takao (高尾) located outside Tokyo, or the city of Takao (高雄), which uses the same characters, on what was then Japanese territory of Taiwan.
At the start of World War II, Takao was commanded by Captain Asakura Bunji and assigned to Vice Admiral Kondo Nobutake's Cruiser Division 4 together with her sister ships Atago and Maya. In late December 1941, she provided gunfire support for the landings at Lingayen Gulf on Luzon in the Philippines.
In early 1942, Takao operated in the Java Sea, the operations culminating in the Battle of the Java Sea in early March. On 1 March, one of Takao's floatplanes bombed the Dutch merchant ship Enggano. The next night, Takao and Atago overtook the old United States Navy destroyer Pillsbury and sank her with no survivors. Early on 4 March, Takao, Atago, Maya and two destroyers of Destroyer Division 4, Arashi and Nowaki attacked a convoy near Tjilatjap. The Royal Australian Navy sloop HMAS Yarra defended the convoy for an hour and half, but was sunk with 34 survivors of her crew of 151. (Of these 34 survivors, only 13 were alive to be picked up a week later by the Dutch submarine K-XI and taken to Ceylon.)
The Japanese cruisers then sank three ships from the convoy: the tanker Francol, the depot ship Anking, and a minesweeper. Two Dutch freighters were also captured.
In June 1942, Takao and Maya supported the invasion of the Aleutian Islands. On 3 June 1942, their reconnaissance floatplanes were attacked by United States Army Air Forces Curtiss P-40 fighters from Umnak and two were shot down; on 5 June, Takao shot down a B-17 Flying Fortress.
In August 1942, she was assigned to Operation Ka, the Japanese reinforcement during the Battle of Guadalcanal and participated in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands on 26 October. A determined attempt to shell the US base at Henderson Field led to the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal: early in the morning of 15 November 1942, the battleship Kirishima, supported by Takao and Atago, engaged the American battleships Washington and South Dakota. All three Japanese ships hit South Dakota multiple times with shells, severely damaging her. Takao and Atago fired long lance torpedoes at Washington but missed. However, Kirishima was disabled by Washington and scuttled the next morning. Atago was damaged. Takao escaped unharmed, but was forced to retreat to Truk.
In 1943, Takao supported the evacuation of Guadalcanal. Under the command of Inoguchi Toshihira, she operated in the central Pacific from her base at Truk. On 5 November 1943, she was refuelling at Rabaul in the Bismarck Islands when she came under attack by SBD Dauntless dive bombers from USS Saratoga (see Attack on Rabaul). Takao was hit by two bombs, killing 23 and damaging her steering; she was forced to return to Yokosuka in Japan for dry dock repairs.
On 22 October 1944, she joined Takeo Kurita's "Centre Force" and sailed from Brunei Bay for the Battle of Leyte Gulf. On 23 October, as she was passing Palawan Island, the force came under attack from two US submarines. At 06:34, Takao was hit by two torpedoes from USS Darter, which shattered two shafts, broke her fantail and flooded three boiler rooms. She turned back to Brunei, escorted by the destroyers Naganami and Asashimo, the torpedo boat Hiyodori and the transport Mitsu Maru. This flotilla was tailed by Darter and Dace until just after midnight on 24 October, when Darter ran aground on the Bombay Shoal and Dace remained to rescue her crew.
Takao was so badly damaged that it was considered impossible to send her back to Japan any time soon for full repairs. So the stern was cut off and shored up, and she was moored as an anti-aircraft battery for the defence of Singapore. While berthed there, she was attacked (Operation Struggle) on 31 July 1945 by the British midget submarine HMS XE3, commanded by Lieutenant Ian Edward Fraser and Acting Leading Seaman James Joseph Magennis, for which they were awarded the Victoria Cross. Magennis attached six limpet mines to Takao’s hull; when they exploded, they blew a hole 20 m by 10 m. Most of Takao’s guns were put out of action, the rangefinders were destroyed and a number of compartments flooded.
On 5 September 1945, the Straits of Johor naval base was surrendered by the Japanese to the British and the formal boarding of the still partially-manned Takao took place on 21 September 1945. She was finally towed to the Straits of Malacca to be used as a target ship for HMS Newfoundland.
|9,850 tons (standard), 15,490 tons (full load)|
|Length:||waterline: 631.7 feet (192.54 m) |
overall: 668.5 feet (203.76 m)
|Beam:||59 ft (18 m) – 68 ft (21 m)|
|Draught:||20 ft (6.1 m) – 20.7 ft (6.3 m)|
|Propulsion:||4-shaft geared turbine, 12 Kampon boilers, 132,000 shp|
|Speed:||35½ knots - 34.2 knots (63.3 km/h)|
|Range:||8,500 nautical miles (15,740 km) at 14 knots (26 km/h)|
|Armament:||original layout: |
ten 8 inch (20.3 cm) 50 calibre guns (5x2)
four 4.7 inch high angle guns(4x1)
eight 24 inch torpedo tubes (4x2)
two 40 mm AA guns (2x1)
ten 8-inch (203 mm) guns
eight 4.7-inch (119 mm) guns
66 × 25 mm AA guns
16 torpedo tubes
|Armour:||main belt: 1½" to 5" |
main deck: 1⅜" (max)
upper deck: ½" to 1"
bulkheads: 3" to 4"
|Aircraft carried:||3 (1 Aichi E13A1 "Jake" & 2 F1M2 "Pete" seaplanes), 2 catapults|