Weapons of World War Two
Chokai heavy cruiser
In the Imperial Japanese Navy, since the glorious years of Admiral Togo, who had led it to victory in Tsushima, there was in use a simple, but seemingly effective, system to keep sharp the sight of the gunners for the eventuality of a nocturnal combat. It consisted of being in the deck during the night, with the ship completely in dark, counting the largest number possible of stars. This could seem a rudimentary and naive system, but they would have thought otherwise the American mariners who in the night of the 7-8 August 1942 saw the cruiser squadron led by Admiral Gunichi Kurita falling upon them like a sea monster. Shooting frantically, the Japanese ships passed between the American ships sinking four cruisers and damaging a fifth one after ten minutes of combat. The Chokai set ablaze the cruiser Astoria with the first salvo fired against her but in return, before ceasing fire, this one managed to hit once the Japanese cruiser causing damages that would be irreparable during operations.
The Chokai was not a very recent warship because she had already ten years but she was an imposing one nonetheless. Built with a characteristic streamlined profile, she had five 203-millimeter twin turrets emplaced in the centerline, three of them at prow with the central turret at higher level, allowing a notable concentration of fire. The antiaircraft armament, initially of normal power, would comprise in 1944 four 120-millimeter cannons and sixty-six 25-millimeter cannons. An acceptable armor, good speed and large operational range rendered the Chokai as an unreservedly good unit.
The main war actions on which she took part were the failed invasion of Midway, along with the heavy cruiser group of the main squadron led by Admiral Kondo, the series of battles of Guadalcanal, where she was the flagship of the squadron led by Kurita, and finally the battles of Leyte Gulf, where, after having resulted unscathed on the battles of Sibuyan and Surigao, she was sunk by aircraft from an American aircraft carrier in the battle in the island of Samar, in the morning of the 25th October 1944.
Length: 203.76 meters
Beam: 18.69 meters
Draught: 6.10 meters
Displacement: 13160 tonnes
Propulsion: Steam turbines with gear reduction fed by twelve naphtha boilers Kampon, for a total power of 130000 horsepower with four propellers
Maximum speed: 35.50 knots
Operational range: 15700 kilometers at 14 knots
Armor: 102 millimeters in waterline; 76 millimeters in deck (102 millimeters above magazines); 76 millimeters in main turrets
Armament: Ten 203-millimeter 50-caliber cannons (5 x 2); four 120-millimeter 50-caliber cannons (4 x 1); twelve 25-millimeter cannons (increased to sixty-six in the 1944 upgrade); eight 610-millimeter torpedo tubes (4 x 2); two aircraft and two catapults
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