Abukuma (1923)

Abukuma, c.1941. The aircraft on her catapult is a Kawanishi E7K1, Allied code name "Alf". Imperial Japanese Navy photo.

Ship Class
Ship Type
Laid Down

One of the six Nagara-class light cruisers, Abukuma was laid down on 8 December, 1921. Her completion was delayed by the Great Kanto Earthquake of September, 1923, but she survived and commissioned on 26 May, 1925. Like the rest of her class, Abukuma was completed with a hangar and flying-off platform below her bridge, and above her number 2 turret, which was quickly deemed a failure and replaced with a catapult between turrets 5 and 6. During fleet maneuvers on 20 October, 1930, Abukuma rammed her cousin Kitakami, which necessitated the complete replacement of the former's bow. She was back in action by 1932, and assigned to patrols off northern China after the Manchurian Incident, and spent most of the remainder of the 1930s there. In 1941, Abukuma had her forward torpedo tubes removed, and her aft tubes converted from twin to quadruple mounts to operate the Type 93 "Long Lance" torpedo. Abukuma was Flagship of Destroyer Squadron 1, the anti-submarine escort for Nagumo's carriers during the Pearl Harbor raid, returning to Japan on 23 December, before deploying in January, 1942, to cover the invasion of the Solomons, and then the carrier raids on Port Darwin and the Indian Ocean. From May, Abukuma was assigned to the Aelutians, covering the carriers during the initial landings, and then subsequent supply convoys. She participated in the Battle of the Komandorski Islands, before undergoing refit in Maizuru, during which she became the first of her class to receive radar. In July, 1943, Abukuma covered the evacuation of Kiska, and then spent the next year in and out of refits, while continuing northern patrols. In October, Abukuma was assigned to support the Southern Force during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, and was damaged by a PT-Boat fired torpedo. She managed to withdraw with the survivors, but was hit by three bombs the next day, which started a fire. It detonated her Type 93 torpedoes, which doomed the ship. Nearly half of her crew went down with their ship.