The Japanese Destroyer Suzutsuki

The Akizuki destroyers were designed before the beginning of World War II as anti-aircraft ships for fast Japanese groups of aircraft carriers.

They were completely different from the previous Japanese destroyers, in which the emphasis was put on strong artillery (127 mm guns) and torpedo armament. They were inspired by the British Dido class light anti-aircraft cruisers, however, in contrast with them, the Akizuki destroyers were medium size ships intended for anti-aircraft defense of groups of fleet.

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Among the reasons for the construction of new anti-aircraft ships based on destroyers, and not cruisers, was the desire to obtain a universal escort ship, also capable of fighting submarines and saving crews of shot down aircraft, for which maneuverability and smaller size were useful. An important factor was also their lower price and the possibility of a faster commissioning of a series of ships, especially since they might suffer large losses while defending aircraft carriers. Finally, newly developed 100 mm anti-aircraft guns were suitable as destroyers armament, and did not require building larger ships, for which, on the other hand, they would be too light. As the main weapon, 8 such guns were planned. During the development of the project, a torpedo launcher was added, which increased the versatility of the ships. The whole armaments, however, required a large hull of the destroyer. Consequently, with a displacement of 2,700 tons, Akizuki ships were among the largest destroyers of World War II. They were only smaller than the French Mogador destroyers.

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The new destroyers, unlike the previous ones, were classified as class 1 Otsu destroyers (Otsu Gata, free translation: type “B”). Unofficially, they were called anti-aircraft destroyers (Boku kuchikukan). The construction of the main Akizuki destroyer began in July 1940, and its commissioning took place on June 11, 1942. The first 7 ships were built according to a plan with designation F51. The F53 type was developed next, with different technological simplifications and use of steel of inferior quality. However, 4 subsequent ships, starting from Fuyuzuki, had only a part of simplifications, including no stern rangefinder. However, only the Hanazuki destroyer was built according to the F53 documentation.


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Initial plans assumed the construction of as many as 55 destroyers of this type – 6 in the program of 1939 (Maru Yon Keikaku, identification numbers 104-109), 10 in the program of 1941 (Maru Kyu Keikaku, identification numbers 360-369), and 39 in the main and supplementary programs of 1942. However, due to shortages of raw materials and industry capabilities caused by the war, orders for the last 39 ships were canceled, and the construction of the series took more time than expected. The commissioning of the first 6 ships happened before May 1943, the next ones – only after March 1944. Before the end of the war twelve destroyers were managed to be finished, and another one was started to be built, but it was not launched. Warships received names that represent various definitions of the moon.


Suzutsuki was the third ship from the series of the most powerful Akizuka destroyers, designed specifically as anti-aircraft defense ships, whose main armament consisted of 8 universal 100 mm caliber guns with excellent ballistic characteristics.
Laying the keel for the construction of the ship took place on March 15, 1941, at the Mitsubishi shipyard in Nagasaki, Japan. The hull was launched on March 4, 1942, and the ship commissioning was on December 29, 1942 (along with Hatsuzuki). The length of the ship at the time of launching was 134.2 m, width – 11.6 m, and the actual full load displacement – 3.700 tons. The maximum speed of the Suzutsuki destroyer reached 33 knots. The ship was built as part of the expansion program of the fleet of 1939, under identification number 106. The name, like the other destroyers’ of this series, was associated with the Moon and meant “Cool Moon.”


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Design and description

The hulls of the Akizuki type ships were much longer than the other destroyers’ of the Imperial Navy, while maintaining one thing in common with other units, that is, the raised foredeck at 1/3 of the length. Perfectly developed hydrodynamic shape and large dimensions of the hull gave the unit excellent seaworthiness (much better than on old light cruisers) and thanks to that these ships were very popular among the crews. The shape of the bow section of the ship was different in particular subtypes and arranged as follows: on the first units it was rounded, the next subtype had straight lines, and the last had the undercut below the waterline. The stern was rounded with an undercut below the waterline and a slant above it, giving the maximum length of the hull at the edge of the waterline. Degaussing coils were installed slightly below the joint between the side and the deck of the ship, which, when viewed from a particular distance, gave the hull sharp edges being an optical illusion.

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Shapes of new Akizuki type units were completely different from the previous units’ of this class sailing under the flag of the Rising Sun. The first striking feature was the arrangement of artillery guns in superfiring in the fore and aft sections. The bow superstructure was had rounded front walls to reduce aerodynamic drag. At its top, the fire control system 94 Shiki was installed, which sent the data to the artillery control room located on the ‘tween deck in front of the bow superstructure. Ahead of this system, there were posts of surface search and airborne radars. In the area of the bow deck offset, a tripod mast was located, which was connected to the bow superstructure by a platform - a bridge.

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