The Fuso-class were "Dreadnought" battleships in service with Japan during both World War and World War 2, the first true Dreadnought battleships in service to the Empire. "Dreadnought" was a name introduced by the British Royal Navy with the commissioning of their HMS Dreadnought, a warship that immediately made all other steel warships obsolete through her uniform use of big guns (12") coupled to steam turbine propulsion with adequate armor protection and speed. Her introduction in 1906 immediately rewrote the books on naval surface warfare.
Such was its impression that many nations raced to match the capabilities of Dreadnought - all pre-existing warships were now referred to as "Pre-Dreadnought". IJN Fuso was laid down on March 11th, 1912 by the Kure Naval Arsenal and launched on March 28th, 1914. Commissioned on November 8th, 1915, "Fuso" carried what was the classic name for the Japanese Islands and represented the lead ship in the two-strong Fuso-class. Her sister ship was IJN Yamashiro and she was launched in 1915 from the Yokosuka Nava Yard.
By World War 2 standards, the Fuso still retained some combat value though she was not particularly fast nor as well-armed as her Japanese contemporaries. She formed up part of a force that failed to net the carrier group responsible for the famous "Doolittle Raid" in April of 1942. She then supported actions at the Alaskan Aleutian Islands chain in an effort to draw American support away from Midway in May. The Battle of Midway took place from June 4th until June 7th and proved a disastrous failure for the Japanese Navy - four of its aircraft carriers were lost.
From November 1942 to January of 1943, Fuso served in a training role then later came to the aid of the stricken IJN Mutsu, rescuing over 350 personnel. In July, she took on radar equipment (Type 21 air search, Type 13 early warning, and Type 22 surface search) and additional defensive-minded Anti-Aircraft (AA) 25mm cannons (total of 95 guns) before setting sail for Truk in mid-August. She left Truk in February of 1944 to escape an American bombing raid and reached Palau in February but had to disperse one again ahead of an inbound air attack. She served as a training platform at Lingga Island (Indonesia) for a time later to which several support, convoy, and escort missions then followed. As part of Battleship Division 2, 2nd Fleet, she served in the flagship role before transferring command to her sister, IJN Yamashiro, in October.
IJN Fuso's end would come at the Battle of Surigao Strait as part of the wider Battle of Leyte Gulf, Philippines during October 23rd to October 26th, 1944. The Japanese fleet was surprised by a more numerous and overwhelming American naval force which saw Fuso run a through repeated attacks by USN dive bombers, torpedo boats, and battleships (some veterans of the Pearl Harbor attack). Bombs began raked the Fuso and destroyed her catapult system and floatplanes. She also lost all of her crew in the first turret which restricted her firepower projection capabilities. Taking on water into the night, Fuso began to list and confusion set in during the early morning hours when her crews opened fire on her ally, IJN Mogami, killing three. Fuso took on more damage when a torpedo slammed into her starboard side, which made her list further and restricted her speed considerably. The vessel sank - either in one piece or as two sections, accounts vary - around 3:40AM, taking most of her crew with her to the bottom. Her sister ship also met her fate at the Battle of Surigao Strait.
- Blue Water Operations
- Fleet Support
673 ft (205. 13 m)
94 ft (28. 65 m)
28. 5 ft (8. 69 m)
23 kts (26 mph)
11,818 nm (13,600 miles; 21,887 km)
6 x 14" (356mm) main guns in twin-gun turrets
16 x 6" (152mm) guns
6 x 21" (533mm) torpedo tubes
6 x 14: (356mm) main guns in twin-gun turrets
14 x 6" guns
4 x 5" (127mm) Dual-Purpose (DP) guns
95 x 25mm Anti-Aircraft (AA) cannons
2 or 3 x Floatplane aircraft