The Japanese Navy had a considerable cruiser force at the outbreak of hostilities in late 1941. Their newer heavy cruisers were powerful & fast. All cruisers were armed with the deadly Long Lance torpedoes. The Japanese fielded 18 Heavy Cruisers and 32 Light Cruisers* during the Pacific War. Click any of the classes below to get full information on each.

Heavy Cruisers

  • Furutaka (2 ships)
  • Aoba (2 ships)
  • Myoko (4 ships)
  • Takao (4 ships)
  • Mogami (4 ships originally light cruisers, but rearmed as heavy cruisers)
  • Tone (2 cruisers)

Light Cruisers*

  • Tenryu (2 ships)
  • Kuma (5 ships)
  • Nagara (6 ships)
  • Sendai (7 ships)
  • Yubari (1 ship)
  • Ioshima (2 ships captured from the Chinese)
  • Katori (3 ships)
  • Agano (4 ships)
  • Oyodo (2 ships)

* None of the light cruisers fielded by the Japanese navy after the opening of hostilities were comparable to Light Cruisers of other nations (specifically the USN). Every one of them were under gunned and the Japanese only saw them as being Destroyer flotilla leaders (to work in conjunction with destroyers at all times). The only modern, heavily armed light cruisers (the four Mogami class ships) were converted to heavy cruisers before hostilities began.

Japanese light cruisers were either WWI era ships that were marginally modernized (Kuma, Tenryu, Nagara and Sendai) with several single 5.5″ gun mounts, or more modern light cruisers (Agano and Oyodo) with no more than 6 x 6″ guns in three twin mounts. The Yubari was instrumental in rewriting cruiser design when she was commissioned, but she was commissioned in 1923, so by 1941 she could easily be confused with large destroyers of the era; she only had 5 x 5.5″ guns and most Japanese destroyers had 6 x 5″ guns.

By comparison, the USN fielded some modern Light Cruisers armed with 15 x 6″ guns. Indeed, in a gunnery duel, it would take nearly three Agano class cruisers to battle on par with a single Brooklyn class American light cruiser. The Light Cruisers filled the roll designed by the Japanese, but were woefully small and under gunned by global standards.