The Light Cruiser Yahagi


Fire control of the main battery guns was performed using Type 94 Model 5 director (94-shiki 5-gata hōiban shōjun sōchi) mounted in a round turret at the top of the superstructure. The director consisted of a 6 m Type 14 rangefinder (14-shiki sokukyogi; another such unit was mounted on the roof of the main artillery turret No 2) and Type 94 Model 4 computer (94-shiki 4-gata shagekiban). The fire of heavy HA guns was controlled by a pair of Type 94 high-angle directors (94-shiki kōsha sōchi) with 4.5 m Type 94 high-angle rangefinders (94-shiki kōkaku sokukyogi) mounted in turrets on each side of the funnel and Type 94 high-angle computer (94-shiki kōsha shagekiban). Light AA artillery featured a Type 95 machine-gun director (95-shiki kōsha shageki sōchi) with a 2 m rangefinder mounted in a round turret forward of the superstructure, as well as auxiliary LPR (Le Prieur) sights with mechanical computers. The ships also featured two 97 Model 1 torpedo directors (97-shiki 1-gata gyorai hōiban sōchi) and a Type 93 torpedo computer (93-shiki gyorai shagekiban).

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Operational service
Yahagi was laid down at Sasebo Naval Arsenal (Sasebo Kaigun Kōshō) on November 11, 1941 (a few weeks before the outbreak of war in the Pacific) as Type B cruiser No 134. On August 20, 1942 the ship was officially named Yahagi, before being launched on October 25 (some sources claim the launch took place on September 25, since on that day Yahagi was assigned to Sasebo Naval Base (Sasebo Chinjufu). After fitting out and builder’s trials had been completed, Yahagi was commissioned in the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) (Dai Nippon Teikoku Kaigun) on December 29, 1943 with Taisa (Captain) Matake Yoshimura in command.
As completed, Yahagi carried 14 Type 96 25-mm machine guns (96-shiki 25-miri kijū) – six in two triple mounts on each side of a platform forward of the superstructure and eight in four twin mounts on each side of the aircraft platform and forward of the mainmast. The number of AA guns actually exceeded the originally planned configuration, but it still soon proved inadequate as the IJN continued to suffer huge losses in the U.S. air attacks. As a result, in late January/early February 1944 all twin mounts were replaced with triple-mounted guns and two additional triple mounts were added on the quarterdeck. A total of eight single 25 mm guns were also installed (four on the bow and four on the stern of the ship). The refit brought the number of light AA guns to 32, although the ship still featured only a single Type 95 director. The cruiser was also equipped with a Mark 21 air-search radar (2-shiki 2-gō denpa tanshingi 1-gata, abbreviated 2-gō 1-gata dentan or 21-gō dentan). The radar’s “mattress” antenna was mounted on the front side of the main rangefinder on the roof of the superstructure. In March/April the ship also received radar-intercept receivers Model E27 and Model 3 (E27-gata and 3-gata raiki shingō tansakuki), which generated warnings whenever the ship was within range of enemy meter and centimeter-wave radars.

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After the modernization had been completed, Yahagi was assigned to Third Fleet (Dai-San Kantai) and arrived in Singapore on February 13, before transferring to anchorage at Lingga Roads a week later. On February 23 Yahagi became the flagship of DesRon 10 (Dai-Jū Suirai Sentai), commanded by Shōshō (Rear Admiral) Susumu Kimura. Until May the cruiser was busy performing work-up evolutions and anti-submarine patrols. On May 11 Yahagi led other DesRon 10 vessels out of Lingga Roads and headed to an anchorage at Tawi-Tawi Group in Sulu Archipelago, where she arrived on May 15. There DesRon 10 joined First Carrier Division (Dai-Ichi Kōkū Sentai; aircraft carriers Taihō, Zuikaku and Shōkaku) and CruDiv 5 (Dai-Go Sentai; heavy cruisers Myōkō and Haguro) to form the so called “A” Force (Kō Butai) – part of First Mobile Force (Dai-Ichi Kidō Butai), commanded by Chūjō (Vice Admiral) Jisaburō Ozawa. June 19 – 20 saw Yahagi take part in a battle in the Philippine Sea under Operation “A” (A-gō Sakusen), in which the Imperial Navy suffered a humiliating defeat. The cruiser suffered no damage since her role in the battle was in fact marginal (except picking up survivors from the torpedoed aircraft carrier Shōkaku). On June 24 Yahagi arrived at anchorage in the Inland Sea before entering Kure Navy Yard.
While she was docked at Kure, Yahagi received additional AA armament and new radar gear. Two triple-mounted Type 96 25-mm machine guns were added on each side of the aircraft platform, while another ten 25 mm guns in single mounts were installed in various locations around the ship’s upper deck and aircraft platform. Total number of 25 mm AA guns was thus increased to 48. Other additions included a second air-search radar (Mark 13 - 3-shiki 1-gō denpa tanshingi 3-gata, or, in short, 1-gō 3-gata dentan) and a Mark 22 Mod. 4 surface-search radar (kashō 2-gō denpa tanshingi 2-gata kai 4, in short - 2-gō 2-gata dentan kai 4 or 22-gō dentan kai 4). Mark 13 “ladder” antenna was installed on the ship’s foremast, while the characteristic Mark 22 “horn” antennas were placed on each side of the superstructure. The Mark 22 set could also be used as the main battery fire control radar.

 

 

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