Battleships / Japan
'Myoko' class heavy cruiser
While showing a distinct family relationship with the preceding 'Aoba' class, the four 'Myoko' class cruisers were some 10 per cent longer and introduced the fearsomely massive aspect characteristic of the next decade of Japanese cruiser construction. Proportionately more 'beamy' than earlier classes, the 'Myoko' class ships mounted 10 203-mm (8-in) guns and still had improved protection worked in. Like most of their kind, they looked strange to Western eyes but were powerfully built and extraordinarily difficult to sink. Immediately before the outbreak of World War II, their torpedo armament was increased to 16 610-mm (24-in) tubes in keeping with the aggressive tactical doctrine that was to pay such handsome dividends. Their topweight reserves must thereby have been pushed to the limit, however, for when AA armament was urgently enhanced later in the war, some had the torpedo armament reduced again.

Like most of the hard worked Japanese cruiser classes, the 'Myoko' class ships were all lost (the Myoko being surrendered in a totally unserviceable state). Unusually, two of the four were sunk by the Royal Navy, the Ashigara being sunk by submarine torpedo in the Bangka Strait and the Haguro falling to a classicallyexecuted night destroyer attack. The Haguro had been a particularly doughty opponent at the Java Sea, Sunda Strait and the action off Samar. She had survived Midway, Empress Augusta Bay and the 2nd Solomon Sea actions. It was, therefore, particularly gratifying for the renascent British Pacific Fleet to intercept her as she passed through* the Malacca Strait in May 1945 en route to evacuate the garrison of the Andamans. Five destroyers of the 26th Flotilla attacked in divisions so that, in avoiding the torpedoes of the first, the Haguro ran foul of those of the second.

Specification 'Myoko' class Ships in class (launched): Myoko (1927), Nachi (1927), Haguro (1928) and Angara (1928)
Displacement: 13,380 tons standard Dimensions: length 201.7 m (661 ft 9 in) waterline; beam 20.7 m (68 ft); draught 6,3 m (20 ft 9 in) Propulsion: geared turbines delivering 130,000 shp (96940 kW) to four shafts Speed: 33,5 kts Armament: belt 100 mm (3.9 in); deck 65-125 mm (2,5-5 in); turrets40 mm (l.5 in) Armament: 10 203-mm (8-in), eight 127-mm (5-in) DP and eight 25-mm AA guns, plus 16 610-mm (21 -in) torpedo tubes Aircraft: three floatplanes Complement: 780
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