Nagato Class Battleships.


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The Nagato and Konishi were the initial units of the 16" battleship revolution for the Japanese Navy. These vessels were the forerunners of the 8x8 program that was designed to make the Japanese Navy the equal of any other Navy if not better than. The Washington Treaty was designed by the United States and Great Britain to keep the Japanese at a lower status for their navy. Only equal to the French, Italian and later German Navies. This was not really good enough for the Japanese who decided that they would circumvent the Treaty as often as possible until such time as they were ready to abrogate the Treaty in their favour.

The two ships Nagato and Mutsu were the initial Japanese entries into the 16" battleship race. The Americans were building the four ship Colorado Class battleships in reply to the two classes of the Japanese. The fourth ship of the Colorado class (USS Washington 75% complete) was cancelled by the Treaty and for the Japanese to keep their four already completed 16" ships they would need to demilitarise and then scrap the Hiei by 1930.

The Nagato proved a great investment, and showed what the quality of the 8x8 ships would have been like. The Amagi and Kaga classes would have been even better. But once the answers from the American an British navies were disclosed then those two classes did not look so magnificent. The Japanese continued the design work but moved eventually from the 16" gun Kii class to the 18" '13' Type which eventually became the Yamato class.

Above is the final pre-war version of Mutsu which the Nagato mirrored. From then on the ships would be in for updates and upgrades at different times so the ships would be slightly different in layout and armament. Below is the final version of the Nagato from late 1944 from when the ship was port bound at Kure harbour from lack of fuel. In real life the Yamato was given enough fuel to get to Okinawa, but not enough to get back. Fuel was that short. You can see from the numbers on the table below that these were big, powerful ships. It was in their AA capabilities that these ships were at a disadvantage.

I will try and do a rebuild of the Nagato class with my own thoughts in place. I could never understand why the ship would keep the 16x5.5" low angle guns past 1940 when it was abundantly apparent that attack from the air was going to be a battleships biggest challenge. The British Navy had shown that with its use of its aircraft carriers in the early part of the war with their obsolete aircraft.

The Japanese seemed to be obsessed with putting aircraft aboard their battleships to the detriment of other much more needed equipment. The number of 25mm guns increased throughout the war till the ship carried over 100 guns in single, twin, and triple mountings. The same happened with Radar, almost none in 1941 to sprouting from various points on the superstructure. The Japanese radar was never quite as good as the Allied units and they were always at a disadvantage in battle.

Displacement 38,500 tons std, 43,250 tons full load
Length 738 ft
Breadth 114 ft
Draught 31 ft
Machinery 4 shaft Steam turbines, 90,000shp
Speed 25 knots
Range 12,000 miles at 15 knots
Armour 12" side, 6" deck, 18"-11" turrets
Armament 8 x 16" (4x2)
20 x 5" (10x2)
41 x 25mm (11x3, 4x2)
Complement 1840

Nagato firing its main armament circa 1936, before modernisation.


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