IJN Armoured Cruisers (ACR-1899-1904)


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The Japanese had been forced to keep eight, 20 year old, plus, armoured cruisers in service because of the Washington Treaty. They were very much used as second rate training ships. As the more modern ships were converted to ADV-Training Ships, the armoured cruisers went further down the list of desirable duty. Four were eventually used as port accommodation and AA hulks. The main armaments being removed and replaced with AA guns. The other four (the two pairs built for Japan by Armstrong Whitworths) were used in China to support the Army, allowing more modern ships to be used at the front lines against the Americans. The 8" guns being bigger than anything that might have been set against them. During the taking of Shanghai in 1937, the Chinese attacked the cruisers, with aircraft, many times without causing much in the way of damage.

Armoured Cruiser Yakumo

Yakumo against the Russians 1904-05 

Yakumo as a harbour AA, and accommodation hulk, 1940-45. All original armament removed and 4x5" and 4x3" AA fitted.

Armoured Cruisers Asama and Tokiwa


Along with the Izumo and Iwate, these two ships provided the armoured cruiser force for use against the Chinese in the war starting in 1937. Other older cruisers, and the larger Satsuma and Aki, were also used in this role, while the two surface forces air cover for these vessels being provided from two of the ADV's (Kurama and Ibuki) and the carrier Settsu. These ships were more than a match for the Chinese (real life) forces. It was these forces that forced the Ping Hai and Ning Hai to scuttle themselves. (In the Special Projects ships I have the Chinese battleship Dingyuan also available to the Chinese forces but I offset this by the attack aircraft off the Settsu which torpedo and sink the ship in the fresh waters of the Yangtze river from which it (and the Ning Hai and Ping Hai) can be raised, repaired and incorporated into the Japanese Navy.)

Izumo at Shanghai 1937. As can be seen in the photo, little has been done to improve the weaponry aboard the ship. A few light AA guns and that is it.

I am not worried about providing stats etc on all eight armoured cruisers. In the Second World War they had almost no part to play. About all they did was to provide targets for the US Navies carrier aircraft that were looking to sink anything and everything they could find, no matter what sort of value the target might have. The two I have given stats on are representative of the rest.

  Asama 1899 Yakumo 1900
Displacement 9,710 tons standard 9650 tons standard
Length 442 ft 434 ft
Breadth 67 ft 64 ft
Draught 24 ft 23.5 ft
Machinery 2 shaft triple-expansion, 18,000ihp 2 shaft, triple expansion, 15,500ihp
Speed 21 knots 20 knots
Range 10,500 miles at 10 knots 7,000 miles at 10 knots
Armour 7" side, 2" deck, 6" turrets. 7" belt, 2.5" deck, 6.3" turrets
Armament Original Armament 1900

4 x 8" (2x2)

14 x 6" (14x1)

12 x 3" LA (12x1)


4 x 8" (2x2)

6 x 6" (6x1)

2 x 80mm AA (2x1)

Original Armament 1899

4 x 8" (2x2)

12 x6" (12x1)

12 x 3" LA (12x1)

AA Hulk 1942-45

4 x 5" (2x2)

4 x 3" (4x1)

4 x 25mm (4x1)

Torpedoes 5 x 18" submerged removed 5 x 18" submerged removed
Complement 675  
Notes IJN Asama

IJN Tokiwa

IJN Yakumo



Asama and Tokiwa, 1899,
Yakumo, 1900,
Azuma, 1900,
Izumo, Iwate, 1900-1901
Kasuga, Nisshin, 1904

The drawing below is of the same class as the Kasuga and Nisshin, with a single 10" turret forward and a twin 8" turret aft.

An interesting photo I found on the internet of Shanghai 1939, with an international presence of cruisers to safeguard their trading interests. I see US, British, French, then a merchantmen, and I can't tell what the final warship is (maybe Italian?).

Looking at the British Town class, it would appear to have had the aircraft handling equipment removed, or not fitted yet, I can't see a crossdeck catapult in amongst the junk on the deck behind the hangars. It also does not seem to have any radar equipment aboard, and if the photo was after 1939, radar would have sprouted from everywhere.

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