Agano class cruisers (1941)
Light Cruisers Agano, Noshiro, Yahagi, Sakawa
The last IJN light cruisers
The Agano class 阿賀野型軽巡洋艦, Agano-gata keijun'yōkan
were the last Japanese light cruiser built in serie, and the fourth of the class, IJN Sakawa, was completed in December 1944, as the very last Japanese cruiser as after the war, shipyards only delivered "destroyers". This Class included IJN Agano, launched in 1941 and completed in 1942, Noshiro and Yahagi, launched in 1942 and completed in 1943 and finally the Sakawa, launched in 1944, due to various delays. Classified as light cruisers, they were part of an extensive program to replace older cruisers such as the twenty-year-old Kuma, Nagara and Sendai classes. The Agano, as it appeared at her entry into service. All four were named after rivers.
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They were also planned as destroyers leaders. They were therefore light but fast at 35 knots, with a reconnaissance capability (two seaplanes), and yet still an armament able to cope with enemy destroyers. They added a large AA battery composed of 25 mm in single, twin, triple mounts for up to 61 on Sakawa in 1945. Three were sunk in action, Agano in February 1944, Noshiro in October 1943, Yahagi (rearmed with 52 guns i 1944) in April 1945. IJN Sakawa survived the conflict, but was quickly integrated into the small fleet gathered in Bikini Atoll to be blasted at the July 2, 1946 "Able" nuclear test.
Design of the Agano class
Blueprint Agano 1942
Hull construction & general characteristics
Agano 1942 - Author's HD profile illustration
Author's profile illustration Yahagi 1944
6,550 t. standard -8,530 t. Full Load
174 m long, 15,20 m wide, 5,63 m draft
4 shaft, Kampon turbines, 6 boilers, 100,000 hp.
from 50 to 85 mm
6 x 152 (2 × 3), 4 x 100 (2 × 2), 32 x 25 AA, 16 DCT, 8 x 610 mm (2 × 4) TTs, 2 seaplanes
The model corner
The Agano class in action
The Agano classe were among the last cruisers to enter Japanese service. The first in October 1942, and the last in November 1944. By that stage, the war completely changed in nature and prospects were bleak. They saw little service, around a year, before being lost in action.
Completed on 31 October 1942, she tok part in the Guadalcanal Campaign
and Solomon Islands battles of 1943. IJN Agano however was badly damaged in Rabaul durring a US air strike, hit by the air groups from USS Saratoga and Princeton. Later, still in repairs there, she was attacked again by aicraft from TF38 on 11 November, receiving a torpedo hit. While underway for home island and drydock repairs, she was ambushed, torpedoed and sunk north of Truk, by USS Skate (SS-305) on 16 February 1944.
She was Commissioned on 30 June 1943, seeing the Solomon Islands Campaign but damaged during the USN raids on Rabaul, on 5 November 1943. Back in the Marianas in the summer of 1944 she took part in Admiral Kurita's force bold sweep at the Battle of the Philippine Sea. She was sunk at the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944. She sailed west of Panay while withdrawing from Samar, when spotted on the morning of 26 October by aircraft from USS Wasp and USS Cowpens, strafed, bombed and eventually sunk on 26 October.
Yahagi was Commissioned on 29 December 1943, seeing action in the Marianas Islands in May and June 1944. She took part in the Battle of the Philippine Sea in june, and the Battle of Leyte Gulf in october, but survived both. While the invasion of Okinawa was taking place, she was assigned to a desperate task forced centered around IJN Yamato on 1 April 1945, a suicide mission against the amphibious fleet off Okinawa. The task force was spotted en route and IJN Yahagi was caught by multiple air groups, hit by some seven torpedoes as well as a dozen bombs, leving her no chance. She sank in the afternoon, 7 April 1945.
Completed at the end of 1944, little fuel available, IJN Yahagi was practically inactive, so her crew had plenty of training when she was used for a few sweeps along the coast, exchanging fire on some occasions with passing by US planes. She survived the war. Used as a transport to return demilitarized troops from New Guinea and ther islands until took on the disposal list by the US, she was seized and pressed into the atom bomb tests at Bikini Atoll, in 1946.