On this day 95 years ago, in the Hiroshima bay right under the Mount Furutaka a new heavy cruiser was launched to strengthen mighty Imperial Japan Navy
Heavy cruiser Furutaka was the lead ship of her class next to her sister-ship Kako. Her design addressed the need to counter the state-of-the-art ships of other major navies, especially U.S. Omaha-class and Royal Navy Hawkins-class scout cruisers. Ship was designed based on knowledge from experimental cruiser Yūbari. Set to reach high-speeds of 34.5 knots (63.9 km/h; 39.7 mph), Furutaka and Kako sisters were equipped with heavy 200mm caliber guns with armor plating capable of protecting the ship up to 6 inch shells. However, even without catapults for scout planes, ships displacement was seriously over-weighted. Furutaka was built in Mitsubishi shipyards launch on 25th of February, 1925.
Later, during the inter-war period, Furutaka underwent several refits, and modernization in order to minimize her weight and keep her up-to-date. She received aircraft-catapult, eight new 24 inch Type 93 torpedo tubes, improved AA-batteries, new oil-fired boilers as well as overhaul of machinery. Fire control was modernized and her six-single mount 7.9 inch (200mm) guns were replaced by three dual mount and re-bored 8 inch (203mm) guns installed in improved mountings (allowing 55° elevation) with two turrets forward, and one aft.
Furutaka was at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, engaged in support for the invasion of Guam. After the failed first invasion of Wake Furutaka together with her Division ships Aoba, Kako and Kinugasa was assigned to the larger second invasion force, and after the fall of Wake, returned to its forward base in Truk, Caroline Islands.
Furutaka was later supporting and covering the landings of Japanese troops in Southeast Asia and Oceania region.
Battle of the Coral Sea – Furutaka and Kinugasa, undamaged in the battle, escorted Shōkaku back to Truk.
Battle of Savo Island – on 9th August 1942, Furutaka with her Cruiser Division 6, the heavy cruiser Chōkai, light cruisers Tenryū and Yūbari and destroyer Yūnagi engaged the Allied forces in a night gun and torpedo action. At about 23:00, Chōkai, Furutaka and Kako all launched their reconnaissance floatplanes. The circling floatplanes dropped flares illuminating the targets and all the Japanese ships opened fire. The heavy cruisers USS Astoria, Quincy and Vincennes were sunk and HMAS Canberra was scuttled. Heavy cruiser USS Chicago was damaged as were the destroyers USS Ralph Talbot and Patterson. On the Japanese side, Chōkai was hit three times, Kinugasa twice, Aoba once and Furutaka was not damaged and returned to Kavieng on 10 August. In late August, Cruiser Division 6 and Chōkai departed Shortland to provide distant cover for the Guadalcanal reinforcement convoys. That same day, a Consolidated PBY Catalina of VP23’s “Black Cats” unsuccessfully attacked Furutaka in daylight. Furutaka shuttled between Kieta and Rabaul as needed to refuel and resupply through mid-September. The submarine S-47 attacked Furutaka south of New Ireland on 12 September, but did no damage.
Battle of Cape Esperance – So alerted, the American heavy cruisers USS San Francisco and Salt Lake City, and light cruisers USS Boise and Helena—all equipped with radar—and five destroyers steamed around the end of Guadalcanal to block the entrance to Savo Sound.
At 22:35, Helena‘s radar spotted the Japanese fleet, and the Americans successfully crossed the Japanese “T”. Both fleets opened fire, but Admiral Goto, thinking that he was under friendly fire, ordered a 180-degree turn that exposed each of his ships to the American broadsides. Aoba was damaged heavily, and Admiral Goto was mortally wounded on her bridge. With Aoba crippled, Captain Araki of Furutaka turned his ship out of the line of battle to engage Salt Lake City. Destroyer USS Duncan launched two torpedoes toward Furutaka that either missed or failed to detonate. Duncan continued firing at Furutaka until she was put out of action by numerous shell hits. At 23:54, Furutaka was hit by a torpedo that flooded her forward engine room. During the battle, about 90 shells hit Furutaka and some ignited her Type 93 “Long Lance” torpedoes, starting fires.
At 02:28 on 12 October, Furutaka sank stern first. Captain Araki and 514 survivors were rescued by the destroyers Hatsuyuki, Murakumo and Shirayuki. Thirty-three crewmen were killed and 110 were later counted as missing. The Americans took 115 of Furutaka‘s crew as prisoners of war, including her Operations Officer, LtCdr. Shotaro Matsui. Most of these surviving crew were imprisoned at the Featherston prisoner of war camp in New Zealand.
Furutaka reincarnated in WoWS
In World of Warships you can get a taste of Furutaka as a tier 5 IJN Heavy Cruiser going down the free-to-play tech tree line. Here you will find Furutaka in the pre-war state of equipment, with 6x turrets 1 gun of 203mm each.
Furutaka is a very powerful but fragile ship at her tier with following characteristics:
- Faster than most other cruisers at Tier 5
- Powerful and accurate guns with good angles
- Great HE shell with high alpha and fire chance
- Torps with good range damage and angles
- Lightly armored with large citadel
- Long reload of main battery guns
- Short main battery guns range
- Weak AA
IJN Heavy Cruiser line in World of Warships is consisting of many historical ships and it offers a great way to learn more about them while having fun!