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World War II: Haruna

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World War II: Haruna

Japanese Battleship Haruna

Photograph Courtesy of the US Navy History & Heritage Command

Haruna - Overview:

  • Nation: Japan
  • Type: Battlecruiser/Battleship
  • Shipyard: Kawasaki Shipbuilding Corporation
  • Laid Down: March 16, 1912
  • Launched: December 14, 1913
  • Commissioned: April 19, 1915
  • Fate: Sunk, July 1945

Haruna - Specifications

  • Displacement: 37,187 tons
  • Length: 728 ft., 4 in.
  • Beam: 101 ft., 8 in.
  • Draft: 31 ft., 10 in.
  • Speed: 30 knots
  • Complement: 1,300 men

Haruna - Armament

Guns (1945)

  • 8 × 14 in.(4×2)
  • 16 × 6 in. (16×1)
  • 8 × 5 in. (4×2)
  • 122 × .98 in. Type 96 AT/AA Gun
  • Haruna - Construction:

    In March 1908, the Royal Navy launched the battlecruiser HMS Invincible which mounted eight 12-in. guns. The first ship of its type ever built, Invincible was superior to any warship then operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy. Responding, the Japanese government passed the Emergency Naval Expansion Bill in 1910 which called for the building of one battleship and four battlecruisers. Seeking to incorporate the latest technology and shipbuilding advances, Japan chose British naval architect George Thurston of Vickers, Limited to design the new ships. Dubbed the Kongo-class, the new battlecruisers would feature eight 14-in. guns mounted in four twin turrets.

    By contract with Vickers, the lead ship of the new class was built in Britain while the remaining three were assigned to shipyards in Japan. The fourth and final ship of the Kongo-class battlecruisers, Haruna, was laid down at Kawasaki Shipbuilding Corporation on March 16, 1912. Work progressed and the ship was launched December 14, 1913. Capable of twenty-six knots, Haruna was powered by thirty-six Yarrow coal-fired boilers. Possessing superior armor to previous Japanese warships, Haruna's main armament was supplemented by a secondary battery of sixteen 6-in. guns, eight 3-in. guns, and eight submerged torpedo tubes.

    Haruna - Joins the Fleet:

    Commissioned at Kobe on April 19, 1915, Haruna underwent several months of sea trials before joining the Third Battleship Division that December. With Japan involved in World War I, the new battlecruiser operated in the South China Sea until being placed in reserve in December 1917. Reactivated, Haruna was the victim of a training accident on September 12, 1920, when one it main guns exploded during a drill. Repaired at Yokosuka, its main guns were given greater elevation while in the yard. With signing of the Washington Naval Treaty in 1922, Japan's fleet size was capped and it was prohibited from building any new capital ships until 1931.

    The treaty did allow for existing warships to be improved so long as the additions did not exceed 3,000 tons. In July 1926, Haruna entered the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal for modernization. While there, it received anti-torpedo bulges, thicker armor, new boilers, catapults for scout planes, as well as alterations to its funnels. Though these modifications exceeded the limits set by the treaty, Haruna, now classified as a battleship, rejoined the fleet in December 1928. Operating in the East China Sea in 1930, it returned to reserve status that December. The following year, Japan invaded Manchuria. This led to its expulsion from the League of Nations in 1933.

    Haruna - Conversion to Fast Battleship:

    Upon leaving the League, Japan elected to withdraw from the Washington and London naval treaties. With the size of its fleet no longer limited, it re-activated Haruna in May 1933. Taken to the Kure Naval Arsenal on August 1, Haruna entered the yard for a major overhaul. While there its stern was lengthened by twenty-six feet and its boilers and turbines were replaced. These latter alterations gave Haruna the speed to operate with Japan's new aircraft carriers and led it to be redesignated a fast battleship. Work also moved forward to rebuild the ship's superstructure in the pagoda mast style that was in use on most new Japanese warships. With work complete, Captain Jisaburo Ozawa took command in October 1935 and Haruna joined the Third Battleship Division, First Fleet the following June.

    Haruna - Early Campaigns of World War II:

    With the beginning of the Sino-Japanese War in July 1937, Haruna assisted in moving Japanese Army forces to China. Placed in reserve in December, it remained inactive until April 1940. Rejoining the Third Battleship Division, First Fleet, it sailed as part of Vice Admiral Nobutake Kondo's Southern Force (Main Body) in late November 1941. Arriving off the Malayan coast it aided in the landing of Japanese troops on December 8 at the start of World War II. It remained in the area until learning of the destruction of British Force Z by Japanese aircraft on December 10. Later in the month, Haruna took part in the invasion of the Philippines. In early 1942, the battleship provided protection for Japanese carriers as efforts moved forward to secure the Dutch East Indies. After two weeks of maintenance at Staring-baai, Haruna joined Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo's carrier force for the Indian Ocean Raid in early April. The campaign saw Japanese forces sink two British cruisers as well as the carrier HMS Hermes.

    Haruna - Midway & the Solomons:

    Returning to Japan in late April, Haruna spent most of May 1942 in dry dock undergoing repairs. Departing on May 29, it escorted Nagumo's carriers during the Battle of Midway in early June. In the wake of the Japanese defeat, the battleship aided in rescuing survivors from the water. Ordered to Truk, Haruna took part in the Guadalcanal Campaign that fall. With the defeat of Japanese forces at the Battle of Cape Esperance in early October, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander-in-chief of the Japanese Combined Fleet, ordered Haruna and Kongo to attack Henderson Field on Guadalcanal. On the night of October 13/14, the two battleships pummeled the Allied based with nearly 1,000 shells and inflicted heavy damage before withdrawing. Less than two weeks later, Haruna played a minor role in the Battle of Santa Cruz.

    Haruna continued to support operations in the Solomon Islands until its sister ships Hiei and Kirishima were lost during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on November 12-15. Ordered back to Truk, it remained there for the remainder of the year. After assisting with the evacuation of Guadalcanal in January 1943, Haruna returned to Kure for an overhaul. While there, its anti-aircraft armament was upgraded and additional armor was installed. After being assigned to a task force destined for Attu Island in May, Haruna returned to Truk later that summer. Though the battleship sortied several times that fall, it saw no combat action. Sailing for Sasebo in December, Haruna underwent a minor refit. Departing Kure on March 8, 1944, the battleship began operating from Lingga, Borneo.

    Haruna - Final Campaigns:

    Sailing with Ozawa's Mobile Fleet in June, Haruna escorted the Japanese carriers at the Battle of the Philippine Sea. During the fighting, the battleship was hit by two 500-lb. bombs on June 20. Limping into Kure, the damage was repaired and Haruna returned to Lingga in August. In October, it sailed as part of Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita's Center Force to attack Allied forces during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. During action in the Sibuyan Sea on October 24, the battleship took some damage from near misses by American aircraft. The following day, it took part in the fighting off Samar which saw the US Seventh Fleet's "Taffy 3", comprised of destroyers and escort carriers, engage Kurita's battleships and cruisers. Facing a determined defense and realizing that the main American carrier force was elsewhere, Kurita broke off the attack.

    Arriving at Lingga, Haruna underwent repairs. A month later it grounded on a nearby reef which caused severe hull damage and required a return to Japan. Fixed at Sasebo, Haruna began operating in Southeast Asia. On December 9, while escorting the carrier Junyo, its task force was attacked by three American submarines. Though they scored three hits on the carrier, the Japanese force was able to escape into shallow water. Arriving in Japan, Haruna was ordered to Kure for modernization and repairs. While there, it sustained a minor bomb hit when American aircraft attacked on March 19, 1945. Beginning on July 24, American carrier aircraft began a series of raids on Kure with the intent of destroying the remnants of the Japanese fleet. Taking a single bomb hit on July 24, Haruna was struck by eight bombs four days later. Critically wounded, Haruna sank in shallow water at 4:15 PM. Initially left in place, the remains of the battleship were raised in 1946 and cut up for scrap.

    Selected Sources

  • Combined Fleet: IJN Haruna
  • NHHC: Haruna
  • Battleships-Cruisers: Haruna

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