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Ise Class BB

Ise in 1937, after reconstruction
Ise in 1937, after reconstruction
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Ship Builder Laid Down Launched Completed Fate
Ise Kawasaki, Kobe 10 May 15 2 Nov 16 15 Dec 17 Lost 28 July 45
Hyuga Mitsubishi, Nagasaki 6 May 15 27 Jan 17 30 April 18 Lost 24 July 45

As designed

Displacement: 29,990 tons/30,469 tonnes (standard); 36,500 tons/37,084 tonnes (full load)
Length: 683ft/208.18m (oa); 642ft/195.6m (pp); 675ft/205.74m (wl)
Beam: 94ft/28.65m
Draught: 27ft 1 in/8.86m (mean)
Machinery: twenty-four Kampon boilers; 4-shaft Parsons (Ise Curtis) turbines
Bunkerage: 4,607 tons coal, 1,411 tons oil
Performance: 45,000shp = 23.5kts
Range: 9,680nm at 14kts
Protection: main belt 12in max.; blkhds 12in max.; deck 1.25in-2in; casemates 6in; barbettes 8in; CT 13.75in max.; turrets face 12in, sides 10in
Guns: twelve (6x2) 14in; twenty (20x1) 5.5in; twelve (12x1) 3.1in; four (4x1) 3.1 in AA Torpedo tubes: six 21 in (submerged)
Aircraft: nil
Complement: 1,360

As reconstructed, 1934-7

Displacement: 35,800 tons/36,372 tonnes (standard); 40,169 tons/40,811 tonnes (full load)
Length: 708ft/215.8m (oa)
Beam: 104ft 1 in/31,75m
Draught: 30ft 2in/9.15m (mean)
Machinery: eight Kampon boilers; 4-shaft Kampon geared turbines
Bunkerage: 5,113 tons oil Performance: 80,825shp = 25.3kts
Range: 7,870nm at 16kts
Protection: deck 2in-3.75in
Guns: twelve (6x2) 14in; sixteen (16x1) 5.5in; eight (4x2) 5in DP; twenty 25mm
Aircraft: three, catapult one

The funds for these two ships had been authorised in November 1912 under the 1912 Emergency Programme for that year. They were intended to be improved versions of Fuso to which, with certain exceptions, they were very similar in appearance.


In terms of displacement this new class (Design A-92), was only slightly larger than its predecessors; the hull was some 10 feet longer but the beam remained at 94 feet. The protective scheme was not dissimilar either, except that the main armoured deck was sloped at the sides to join the lower (4in) edge of the side belt instead of near the upper edge of the 12in strake. The barbettes were increased to 12in, but on the other hand the conning tower was reduced to 12in. The main machinery was improved in that the designed output was increased to 45,000shp for a maximum speed of 23.5 knots. Parsons turbines were fitted in Hyuga, Brown-Curtis in Ise, and the boilers were of Japanese Kampon design, coal firing with supplementary oil-sprayers being retained.

In these ships the forecastle was carried aft only as far as No. 3 turret barbette, so that No. 4 turret was at quarterdeck level, i.e., one deck lower than that of Fuso. In addition, the midships turrets were re-arranged so that both Nos. 3 and 4 turrets were aft of the after funnel, with No. 3 superfiring on No. 4. In consequence the machinery was re-arranged and the two funnels were much closer together.

The main armament was the same 14in gun as in the previous ships, but for the secondary armament the 5.5in (14cm 3rd year Type 1914 BL) was adopted, all except two disposed in single casement mountings, of which two were well forward of No. 1 turret where they were frequently liable to be washed out. The other two guns were on the forecastle deck in shielded mountings abreast the forefunnel. The design also included the usual sixteen 3in 40cal guns, intended for the tops of the 14in turrets, but it is questionable if they were ever shipped, and four 3in AA. Finally there were six 21in torpedo tubes in submerged mountings.


From 1921 four 3.1 in AA were carried in single mountings, two abreast the bridge and two on the after control position. In 1930-1 the ships' appearance was considerably altered by the addition of numerous platforms to the tripod foremast, when it began to assume the pagoda-like form which was to become the norm for Japanese major warships. At the same time, the forefunnel was given a distinctive fingernail-type smoke cowl. Searchlight platforms were built up around the after funnel, and a derrick was installed for handling floatplanes although no catapult was fitted. One or two aircraft could be operated and in 1933 a catapult was fitted. Both ships underwent major reconstruction at Kure dockyard in the mid 1930s (Hyuga 23 November 1924 - 7 September 1936 and Ise 1 August 1935 - 23 March 1937) when the hull was lengthened aft by 25 feet, the machinery was completely replaced, new turbines being installed, and the old boilers supplanted by eight new oil-fired Kampon type, the installed power being almost doubled to 80,000shp and speed being raised to 25.3 knots. As a consequence of the reduced number of boilers, the fore-funnel was removed. The bridge structure was greatly increased and heightened and more modern fire control systems added. The deck abutting the top of the side belt was given 2.25in armour and the main armoured deck was increased over the machinery and magazines to two layers of lin plus one of 1.25in, the side slopes were 1.25in. The hull was given bulges to improve under-water defence; these were continued to the upper deck, broadening the beam of the entire hull by a little over 17 feet. The bulge was divided horizontally and vertically into separate compartments. The inner ship's side behind the bulge was lin D steel to the turn of the bilge. Internally, there were two closely spaced longitudinal bulkheads worked in for anti-torpedo defence and between these and the inner skin plating were two fuel bunkers.

The main armament was not altered except that elevation was increased to 33° (and later to 43°, Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 turrets only). Four 5.5in were landed, the foremost two casemate guns and the two upper deck mountings. Heavy AA defence was improved by the addition of four twin 5in/40 Type 88 or 89 in shielded mountings abreast the pagoda mast, and the 3.lin guns were landed. The light AA was strengthened by the installation of Vickers-pattern 40mm and twin 13.2mm Hotchkiss, but these were replaced by ten twin 25mm as soon as they became available. All the submerged torpedo tubes were removed. A catapult was fitted to the starboard side of the quarterdeck and two or three Type 95 Nakajima E8N2 'Dave' floatplanes were carried. After this refit the displacement rose to 35,800 tons standard. Hyuga was modernised at Kure from 23 November 1934 and rejoined the fleet on 7 September 1936; her sister, also at Kure, from 1 August 1935 to 23 March 1937.

In 1943 both ships were taken in hand for conversion to hybrid battleship-carriers as a consequence of the heavy losses in carriers sustained by the Imperial Japanese Navy by that time. This involved the removal of Nos. 5 and 6 14in turrets, to be replaced by a flight deck which extended from the forward end of the after control position to the stern, and which overhung the beam. This deck was equipped with rails and turntables for handling aircraft, but was neither a flying-off nor landing platform, launching being accomplished by two new catapults installed on the beam just aft of No. 4 turret. Under the flight deck was a 60m-long hangar served by a single lift. It had originally been intended to carry twenty-two 13-Shi D4Y4 Suisei 'Judy' dive-bombers, a carrier-borne wheeled aircraft. The use of this type of aircraft presupposed either a landing strip or proper carrier within range after any action, or perhaps suicide missions, although it is not known whether the Japanese were ready to accept the latter idea at the time when the conversions were made. In the event the aircraft were not available and 14-Shi Aichi E16A1 'Paul' reconnaissance-dive-bomber floatplanes were shipped instead. But Ise appears to have had some Aichi D3A1 'Val' machines aboard while running full speed trials on 24 August 1943. All the original secondary armament was landed and the 5in increased to sixteen, three twin mounts each port and starboard on the forecastle deck and one abreast the pagoda tower at a higher level. The light AA was also increased to fifty-seven 25mm. Type 21 radar was fitted in Ise and Type 22 in Hyuga. Displacement was now 38,670 tons full load. To compensate the weight of the missing turrets to some degree, the flight deck was covered with an 8in layer of concrete. Hyuga was converted at Sasebo from 1 May to 18 November 1943, and her sister at Kure from 28 February to 23 August 1943. By June 1944 the number of 25mm had increased to 108 (31x3, 15x1) and in September of that year, six, 28-barrelled 4.7in rocket-launchers were added on sponsons at the after end of the flight deck. By now, in the absence of aircraft or trained pilots, the flight deck was useless and some of the extra AA was mounted on it, and the catapults were landed to give Nos. 4 and 5 turrets a less restricted field of fire.


At the outbreak of the war in the east, both ships formed the 1st Division of the 2nd Battle Squadron. Hyuga was serving with the 2nd Battle Squadron, 1st Fleet, stationed in the Inland Sea in November 1941. She sailed to support the Mobile Force in the Honolulu area on 8 December, returning to Hashira Jima on the 13th. She remained in the Inland Sea on operational training and as a reserve force into 1942. She sortied 12-16 March to intercept an Allied force in the Pacific (possibly TF17, with Yorktown), but failed to make contact, and on 18-22 April participated in the hunt for the US force which had recently raided Tokyo. On 29 May she sailed with the whole of her squadron in support of the Aleutian campaign, returning to Yokosuka on 17 June, then sailed for the Inland Sea once more on the 22nd. From mid July she was attached to the Combined Fleet but remained for the present in the Inland Sea. On 28 April 1943 she went to Sasebo for a major refit and conversion to battleship-carrier, reducing to Class 4 reserve ship status under the Kure district on 1 July. She was dry docked from 26 June to 10 November, having assumed Class 1 reserve ship status on 1 November. After completion of this work, she returned to Tokuyama in the Inland Sea for trials and working-up. On 30 November Hyuga rejoined the 2nd Division of the 2nd Battle Squadron, Combined Fleet, serving with the Training Force in the Inland Sea, where she remained into 1944, being assigned to Carrier Division 4 on 1 May of that year.

Ise was serving with the 2nd Division in the Inland Sea with the 1st Fleet in November 1941. On 1 December she became part of the Mobile Force and in support of this force made a 6-day sortie to the south of Ogasawa Shoto 8-13 of the month to cover the return of the Pearl Harbor Attack Force. In January 1942 she was utilised for gunnery training and spent about half of the following month in refit at Kure. From 12 to 16 March she participated in a sortie to the east of Honshu in search of enemy forces but failed to gain contact, and sortied again 18-24 April in search of the US force (TF16, Hornet) which raided Tokyo. Ise sailed in support of the Aleutian campaign on 29 May and returned to Yokosuka on 17 June. By the 24th she was back in the Inland Sea. On 14 July 1942 she was assigned to the Main Force attached to the Combined Fleet, but remained on training duties in home waters until the end of the year. On 23 February 1943 she sailed for Kure where she was to be converted to a battleship-carrier like her sister; she reduced to Class 4 Reserve ship status on 16 March. On 1 July she became rated Class 1 Reserve ship and on 10 February rejoined the 2nd Battleship Squadron of the 1st Fleet, starting post-refit trials on the 23rd. Trials and working-up were continued in the Inland Sea, and in mid September she was allocated to Midshipmen Training duties. At the beginning of October Ise moved to Yashima and was assigned to T-3 Transport Force, loading supplies and army personnel until the 15th when she sailed for Truk, arriving on the 20th. Unloading took until the end of the month, after which she sailed for home, reaching Tokuyama on 5 November when she was assigned to the Surface Training Force. She remained in the Inland Sea in this role until early 1944 when she was assigned to the Combined Fleet in mid February. At the end of April she was assigned to Carrier Division 4 and stayed in home waters until the autumn. During this period she practised catapult launching and other general training duties.

Neither ship saw action until joining Admiral Ozawa's Diversionary Force during the Leyte Gulf operations in October 1944. This force, which comprised all the available operational carriers, Zuikaku, Zuiho, Chitose and Chiyoda, had a total air complement of only 108 aircraft between them, none of which were aboard the two battleship-carriers. After sailing from the Inland Sea on 20 October, they steamed south to draw off US Task Force 38 from the Philippines. Most of the aircraft were launched to attack TF38, and were then ordered to go to airfields in the Philippines, but few found either. On the morning of 25 October US carrier aircraft spotted Ozawa's force which had split into two groups: Group 5, which included Ise, and Group 6 with Hyuga. During a series of attacks throughout the day, the Americans sank all four carriers and the cruiser Tama. The two battleship-carriers survived, having engaged the attacking aircraft with their main batteries, and suffering as many as thirty near-misses (Ise), returning to home waters on 28 October. Shortage of tankers as a consequence of the US submarine offensive forced the Imperial Navy to transfer her fleet into the southwest Pacific at the beginning of 1945, and Ise and Hyuga joined the 10th Area Fleet, based at Singapore. These two formed the Carrier Squadron and were supported by the 5th Cruiser Squadron (Ashigara and Haguro). In February 1945 it was decided to withdraw the two battleship-carriers and they were recalled to home waters, sailing on 10 February loaded with aviation spirit and other materiel. On the 11th they were sighted en route by the British submarine Tantalus in the South China Sea, east of the Anamba Islands, but the escorts managed to prevent her getting into an attack position and the two ships reached Moji on the 19th. In home waters they were assigned to support the AA defences of Kure, the shortage of fuel, aircraft and trained pilots making further operational deployment impossible. In a raid on 19 March, Hyuga, lying moored off the small island of Hiro Wan, about fifteen miles from Kure harbour, fully operational except for fuel and aircraft, was hit by two bombs, one in No. 6 boiler room and one on the flight deck. She was near-missed and hit again by at least a dozen bombs in an attack on 24 July and finally settled on the bottom at the stern. At the time of a raid on 28 July, she was virtually derelict, but still partially manned although not in any organised manner. She received further hits and foundered in shallow water, with all aft of No. 1 turret flooded. The wreck was broken up by Harima Zosensho KK at Harima from July 1946. Ise, fully operational except for fuel and aircraft lay moored off the islet of Eta Jima, a little south of Kure harbour, and suffered similarly in the same raids. By the time of the attack on 28 July, only part of the 5in outfit was serviceable, together with the 25mm weapons. Of the main armament, only No. 2 turret could have opened fire and then in local control only. Hit by eleven or more bombs in these two attacks, Ise foundered at her moorings in shallow water, to be scrapped post-war.

Ise, December 1940
Ise, December 1940
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Ise or Hyuga under air attack, October 1944, Leyte Gulf
Ise or Hyuga under air attack, October 1944, Leyte Gulf
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Hyuga after the bombing in July 1945
Hyuga after the bombing in July 1945
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