IJN Light CruisersSeptember 20, 2010 0 Comments
IJN Light Cruiser Yahagi Operation Ten Ichi-Go
The Tenryu, Kuma, Nagara, and Sendai Classes do not compare too poorly with the products of other nations in the same time frame (1917-22). They just stayed in service longer than most nation’s scouts. Yubari was a one-off experiment, and was a dud. All were too early to be swapped for alternate construction, as any destroyers laid down in their place would have been obsolete by the time the war started.
That really just leaves the Agano Class and the semi-sister Oyodo, a total of 5 ships. While these ships compare poorly with the much larger US light cruisers like Brooklyn, they compare pretty well with other nations small “destroyer leader” type cruisers. They all gave good service in this role. They were faster, better protected, and had more range than De Ruyter or Tromp, and were arguably better in a surface fight than Atlanta, Luigi Cadorna, or Dido. But they were a tad larger than most leader types.
Considering the general shortage of light cruisers in the IJN, I would not argue for their replacement with destroyers. Especially sense IJN destroyers of this vintage did not have DP batteries. Some of the post-1942 ships had 5”guns that could elevate to 75 degrees, but the slow rate of train made them almost useless as AA weapons. The AA escorts had only 3.9” guns, which were too light for anti-ship use.
If anything, the IJN needed more cruisers; namely, a good ‘Atlanta type’ light cruiser, with a true DP battery, to protect the carriers.