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Did the IJN Kongo sink?

Did the IJN Kongo sink?

Kongō on the ways at Barrow, showing two of the propellers and the port rudder, Scientific American, 1913

The indestructible diamond!

Kongo midships view

More commonly known as the IJN kongo battleship.

Kongō was torpedoed and sunk by the submarine USS Sealion while transiting the Formosa Strait on 21 November 1944. She was the only Japanese battleship sunk by submarine in the Second World War.

Japanese battleship battlecruiser Kongō, prior to her refit and reclassification as a fast battleship, pre-1927. Photograph taken during full power trials on 8 May, 1913. Published in Scientific American, August 16, 1913, page 129 Article: The Japanese battle-cruiser Kongo. The most powerful armored cruise afloat. Downloaded from To create a cropped version, please do not overwrite the original file but create a new one using the same title with “- cropped” at the end of the name of this new file.

Moreover, a great ship with a interesting WW2 career!

Battleships Kongō and Haruna departed from Japan on the 29th of November 1941 to begin the War in the Pacific as part of the Southern Force’s Main Body.

Vickers Advertisement in Janes 1914 showing the Kongo

Commanded by Vice-Admiral Nobutake Kondō.

Yarrow watertube boilers as preserved from IJN Kongo

On the 4th of December 1941, the Main Body arrived off the coast of southern Thailand and northern Malaya in preparation for the surprise invasion of Thailand and the Malayan Peninsula four days later.

When the RN lost Force Z consisting of the battleship Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser Repulse Kongō’s battlegroup withdrew from Malayan waters. This battlegroup subsequently sortied from Indochina for three days in mid-December to protect a reinforcement convoy traveling to Malaya, and again on 18 December to cover the Japanese Army’s landing at Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, in the Philippines.

Kongō under attack during the Battle of the Philippine Sea, 20 June 1944

The Main Body departed Cam Ranh Bay in French Indochina on 23 December bound for Taiwan, arriving two days later. In January 1942, Kongō and the heavy cruisers Takao and Atago provided distant cover for air attacks on the Ambon Island.

Kongō in 1931, following her first reconstruction

Furthermore, on the 21st of February, Kongō was joined by Haruna, four fast aircraft carriers, five heavy cruisers and numerous support ships in preparation for Operation J being Japan’s invasion of the Dutch East Indies. On 25 February, the Third Battleship Division provided cover for air attacks on the Island of Java. Kongō bombarded Christmas Island off the western coast of Australia on 7 March 1942, and then she returned to Staring-baai for 15 days of standby alert. In April 1942, Kongō joined five fleet carriers to conduct heavy attacks on Colombo and Trincomalee in Ceylon.

The Japanese strike force advancing to the Indian Ocean. Ships shown from left to right are: AkagiSōryūHiryūHieiKirishimaHaruna, and Kongō. Taken from Zuikaku, 30 March 1942.
Following the destruction of the British heavy cruisers HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall on 5 April 1942. The naval task force moved southwest to locate the remainder of the British Eastern Fleet.

Then under the command of Admiral James Somerville. On the 9th of April, one of Haruna’s reconnaissance seaplanes spotted the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes south of Trincomalee. On the same day, Japanese air attacks sank the carrier, and Kongō was attacked but missed by nine British medium bombers.

The Japanese crippled the offensive capability of Britain’s Eastern Fleet and the Third Battleship Division returned to Japan. Kongō reached Sasebo on 22 April. From 23 April to the 2nd of May, Kongō was given a reconfiguration of her antiaircraft armament. On the 27th of May 1942, Kongō sortied with Hiei and the heavy cruisers Atago, Chōkai, Myōkō, and Haguro as part of Admiral Nobutake Kondō’s invasion force during the Battle of Midway. Following the disastrous loss of four of the Combined Fleet’s carriers on the 4th of June 1942, Kondō’s force withdrew to Japan.

On the 14th of July she was assigned as the flagship of the restructured Third Battleship Division.

In September, Kongō embarked with Hiei, Haruna, Kirishima, three carriers, and numerous smaller warships in response to the U.S. Marine Corps’s amphibious landing on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. On the 20th of September, this task force was ordered to return to the Truk Naval Base. In the aftermath of the Battle of Cape Esperance, the Japanese Army opted to reinforce its troops on Guadalcanal.

To protect their transport convoy from enemy air attack, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto sent Haruna and Kongō, escorted by one light cruiser and nine destroyers, to bombard the American air base at Henderson Field. Because of their high speeds, these two battleships could bombard the airfield and then withdraw before being subjected to air attack from either land-based warplanes or American aircraft carriers.

On the night of 13 – 14 October, these two battleships shelled the area of Henderson Field from a distance of about 16,000 yards.

Firing 973 14-inch high-explosive shells. In the most successful Japanese battleship action of the war, the bombardment heavily damaged both runways, destroyed almost all of the U.S. Marines’ aviation fuel, destroyed or damaged 48 of the Marines’ 90 warplanes, and killed 41 Marines.

A large Japanese troop and supply convoy was able to reach Guadalcana the next day thanks to this action. During the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands on 26 October 1942, Kongō was attacked by four Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo bombers.

However, she received no hits.
Kongō on sea trials, off the coast of Tateyama, 14 November 1936

In mid-November she and other warships provided distant cover for the unsuccessful mission by the I.J.N. to bombard Henderson Field again and to deliver more Army reinforcements to Guadalcanal. On the 15th of November 1942, following the Japanese defeat and the sinking of Hiei and Kirishima during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, the Third Battleship Division returned to Truk, where it remained for the rest of 1942.

In late January 1943, she participated in “Operation Ke” being part of a diversionary and distant covering force to support I.J.N. destroyers that were evacuating Army troops from Guadalcanal from the 15th of February through to the 20th of February 1943, the Third Battleship Division was transferred from Truk to the Kure Naval Base. On 27 February, Kongō received upgrades to her antiaircraft armament, with the additions of two triple 25 mm gun mounts and the removal of two of her 6-inch turrets, while additional concrete protection was added near her steering gear.

On 17 May 1943, in response to the U.S. Army’s invasion of Attu Island, Kongō sortied alongside Musashi.

The Third Battleship Division, two fleet carriers, two cruisers, and nine destroyers.

Three days later, the American submarine USS Sawfish spotted this naval task force, but she was unable to attack it. The fleet would be scattered when Truk fell. On the 17th of October 1943, Kongō left Truk as part of a larger task force consisting of five battleships, three fleet carriers, eight heavy cruisers, three light cruisers, and numerous destroyers in response to USN air raids on Wake Island. No contact between the two forces was made, and the Japanese task force returned to Truk on 26 October 1943. She soon left Truk for home waters.

Then, on the 11th of May 1944, Kongō and Admiral Ozawa’s Mobile Fleet departed from Lingga bound for Tawitawi, where they were joined by Vice-Admiral Takeo Kurita’s “Force C”. On the 13th of June, Ozawa’s Mobile Fleet departed from Tawitawi bound for the Mariana Islands. During the Battle of the Philippine Sea, Kongō escorted Japanese fast carriers, and remained undamaged in all the counterattacks from US carrier aircraft on the 20th of June.In October 1944, Kongō departed from Lingga in preparation for “Operation Sho-1”, Japan’s counterattack during the Battle of Leyte Gulf being the largest naval engagement in history.

The Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi pictured with the battleship Hiei, coast defense ship Kasuga, and a Takao class heavy cruiser.
On the 24th of October, Kongō was undamaged by several near misses from American carrier aircraft in the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea.

On 25 October, during the Battle off Samar, Kongō—as part of Admiral Kurita’s Centre Force—engaged the US 7th Fleet’s battlegroup of escort carriers and destroyers. She succeeded in scoring numerous hits on the escort carrier Gambier Bay as well as the destroyers Hoel and Heermann. At 09:12, she sank the destroyer escort Samuel B. Roberts. After a fierce defensive action by the American ships, which sank three Japanese heavy cruisers, Admiral Kurita elected to withdraw, ending the battle. While retreating, Kongō suffered damage from five near misses from attacking aircraft.On the 16th of November, following a US air raid on Brunei the base she was located at Kongō along with Yamato, Nagato and the rest of the First Fleet, departed from Brunei bound for Kure in preparation for a major reorganization of the fleet and battle repairs. O

n 20 November, they entered the Formosa Strait.

And shortly after midnight on the 21st of November the submarine USS Sealion made radar contact with the fleet at 44,000 yards and managing to maneuver into position at 02:45, Sealion fired six bow torpedoes at Kongō followed by three stern torpedoes at Nagato fifteen minutes later.

Title: KONGO — Japan Abstract/medium: 1 negative : glass ; 5 x 7 in. or smaller.

One minute after the first salvo was launched, two of the torpedoes were seen to hit Kongō on the port side, while a third sank the destroyer Urakaze with all hands. The torpedoes flooded two of Kongō’s boiler rooms, but she was still able to make 16 knots. By 05:00, she had slowed to 11 knots and was given permission to break off from the fleet and head to the port of Keelung in Formosa along with the destroyers Hamakaze and Isokaze as an escort. Within fifteen minutes of detaching from the main force, Kongō was listing 45 degrees and flooding uncontrollably.

Lastly, at 5:18 the ship lost all power and the order was given to abandon ship.

At 5:24, while the evacuation was under way, the forward 14-inch magazine exploded, and the broken ship sank in minutes with the loss of over 1,200 of her crew, including the commander of the Third Battleship Division and her captain.

Did the IJN Kongo sink?

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Written by Harry Gillespie