IJN Fuso (BB-1915) (CV-1938)


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The Japanese were probably the first to realise that battleships with 14" guns were not going to cut it in the modern world. Far better to take a bit of time during the late 1930's, when the Japanese felt they had time in hand before resolving the 'American' question, to convert these ships to aircraft carriers. Unlike the next Hyuga class, the Fuso's were fully converted to aircraft carriers that would operate with the main fleet. The slowest ships of the main fleet would be the two Nagato class battleships at 26 knots. With all of the superstructure being removed and to compensate for the large bulges fitted to improve stability and anti-torpedo protection, new engines and boilers of 85,000shp were fitted to give the ships a speed of 26-27 knots (on a good day).

The ships were fitted with one full length hangar and a half hangar at the rear of the ship. This gave space for 48-50 aircraft. With the six ship main battlefleet requiring fighter cover, these two ships were given that exact task. With four squadrons of fighters in each ship, this gave a very good fighter screen for the fleet.

As converted 1936-38

Displacement 35,500 tons std, 41,250 tons full load
Length 728 ft
Breadth 100 ft - 114 ft over bulges
Draught 31 ft
Machinery 4 shaft Steam turbines, 85,000shp
Speed 26 knots
Range 12,000 miles at 15 knots
Armour 4" side, 3" deck

12 x 5" (4x2, 4x1)

24 x 25mm (8x3)

Aircraft 50
Complement 1840

Original battleship configuration of the Fuso Class.

Yamashiro undergoing conversion.

Original drawing for converting the ships to AA escorts. I could see the ships having stability problems, even with the bulges being fitted.

The day of the battleship had passed and what was left to them was to provide AA support to the aircraft carriers and shore bombardment duties when required. The Fuso and Yamashiro were rebuilt 1941-43 as AA escorts. This entailed the removal of the central 14" turrets (fitted to a new battlecruiser) and the fitting of as many twin 5" and 25mm AA guns as could be packed into the area provided.

They certainly earned there nicknames of the 'floating porcupines'. They were definitely an interesting sight with all guns blazing.

Displacement 34,500 tons std, 39,250 tons full load
Length 720 ft
Breadth 100 ft - 114 ft over bulges
Draught 31 ft
Machinery 4 shaft Steam turbines, 75,000shp
Speed 24 knots
Range 8,500 miles at 15 knots
Armour 12" side, 3" deck, 12" turrets.
Armament 8 x 14" (4x2)

6 x 6.1" (2x3)

28 x 5" (14x2)

180 x 25mm (60x3)

Aircraft nil
Torpedoes nil
Complement 1540


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