Secret Japanese Navy

“Nagato” appeared during the eighth moon, and his brother “Mutsu” – in the month of long nights. In other words, the exact date of commissioning remained unknown. All the statements were lies, and the few witnesses did not reveal the secrets to anyone.

Silence avoided many issues in the conclusion of the Washington Naval Agreement. The Mikado envoys who arrived at the conference announced that the Mutsu entered service in September 1921 and even managed to pass 2,500 test miles. Therefore, it does not fall under the restrictions for battleships under construction.

As befits gentlemen from big politics, nobody took their word for it. But due to the lack of solid evidence, the alignment was in favor of Japan: the second ship of the “Nagato” type avoided being cut into scrap metal.

If the conference attendees knew the true value of these 40,000-ton vehicles, they would do whatever it takes to get rid of both. Changing the terms of the upcoming deal.

The magnificent “Nagato” … The world’s first battleship with 410-mm cannons, from which the British themselves were dumbfounded. While the profits from the sale of naval weapons were calculated in Foggy Albion, the Japanese learned everything. And they have surpassed their patrons.

They said little – did a lot

Victory in the Russo-Japanese War earned the Japanese the title of major naval power. However, Japan’s line fleet consisted of 100% battleships built abroad. Exactly half of them (6 out of 12) were deprived of warranty service and required serious investments to bring them into combat readiness. The reason for this was well-known circumstances.

After the fall of Port Arthur and the volleys of Tsushima, the Japanese captured, raised and restored 17 warships of the Russian Imperial Navy, among which were the Varyag and six battleships.

Eight years later, captured ships were put under fire from 356-mm guns of the Congo-class battle cruisers. The targets went to the bottom. And the Japanese themselves tried not to mention that they became the owners of the largest warships in the world and, probably, the strongest at that time.

The lead Congo was laid down at the Vickers shipyard on the eve of the First World War. And it became the last Japanese ship built overseas. Each subsequent type acquired more and more independence. Until it was Nagato’s turn.

In 1920, the Japanese introduced a monstrous ship that was at least a decade ahead of its peers. The main caliber is 16 inches, the protection is by the best standards of the era and the declared speed is 23 knots. No one else had such a combination of parameters!

The real characteristics of “Nagato” became known only in 1945. When the American military boarded the captured battleship and made a lot of interesting discoveries.

The power plants of the “standard battleships” of the United States developed a capacity of about 30,000 liters. sec., providing squadrons with a single maximum speed of 21 knots. Over the decades, it turned out that the chosen standard was unacceptably small to counter Japanese battleships.

Four turbines with a total capacity of 80,000 liters were found in the engine rooms of “Nagato”. with., and the real speed of the Japanese exceeded 26 knots.

First representative of the class of high-speed battleships

Faster than all Americans. Faster than the Nelsons built in the late 1920s. Outperforming even the Queen Elizabeth, the fast wing of the British Navy.

Only rare battle cruisers could compete with the Japanese supercar. Unlike which, “Nagato” did not have compromises in terms of weapons and protection.

With twice the power density, Japanese battleships spent less time recovering speed after maneuvering. They could put a stick over the T of any formation of “standard battle ships” or get away from overwhelming forces and then attack again in an unexpected place. Dictating your initiative and the rules of the battle.

Another surprise Nagato had to do with his defense scheme. In theory, she repeated the American concept

“all or nothing”.

As it turned out later, the Japanese ship had protected extremities.

The story with “Nagato” is a complete failure of Western intelligence, which threatened with serious consequences in the battles. A reminder of what principles are always guided by the Japanese armed forces.

The last joke was related to the 41 cm / 45 guns, which in the spring of 1922 urgently changed their designation to 40 cm / 45. Under the terms of the Washington Agreement, the main caliber of battleships was not supposed to exceed 16 inches (406 mm).

Real little things, a few extra millimeters. But the little lie turned into a big scam.

The next time, under the designation 40 cm / 45, the creation of 460-mm guns for the Yamato battleships was carried out.

With the veil of secrecy surrounding the Yamato, the samurai clearly overdid it. At some point, it was necessary to reveal the cards in order to get the most out of the situation. The appearance of such ships in the theater of operations could force the enemy to take precautions and slow down the pace of the offensive. Having spent inadequate efforts to neutralize the threat, like the story with “Tirpitz”.

The Yankees themselves would have rushed to build super-battleships with 500 mm artillery – to the detriment of other tasks. For a country that could afford the construction of “Alaska”, such a project would be just right.

But the Japanese did not need scandalous fame. They kept restraint and calm in anticipation of an artillery duel, where they could surprise the enemy with their main caliber.

The enemy, of course, was surprised, but it was too late

Neither the speed of the ships, nor the caliber of the guns, nor the tricks with replacing the towers of the cruisers – nothing could save the Imperial Navy.

The reason for the inglorious defeat should be sought in the fact that, in terms of GDP, the Empire of Japan five times inferior to the United States.

If you look at the situation from the standpoint of our time, then the ratio of the GDP of Russia and Japan is described by a completely different proportion. Now the Japanese claims are again directed in our direction. And, as historical experience shows, this is a very difficult opponent.

Assessments of the confrontation at sea usually boil down to the mention of Tsushima. But, gentlemen, this is the case. To repeat Tsushima, you need at least an equal fleet. A naval battle cannot take place if one of the opponents has no ships. Indeed, in terms of the number of combat-ready ships, the Pacific Fleet is 25-30 times inferior to the Japanese Navy.

The only threat may be a situation where the balance of power will take an absolute advantage. And then attempts to forcefully resolve territorial disputes will follow. To which there will be no one and absolutely nothing to object to.

Start a nuclear conflict over such trifles? It’s easier to start a criminal case. Or they will report that they have wanted to donate the islands for a long time. This is a possible public response at the conference “Russia and Japan: 120 Years of Mutual Friendship” held somewhere in Seattle.

But pretty bad jokes. Let’s turn to the facts.

Let’s consider it an honor to have such an opponent.

Eastern neighbors don’t brag about what they don’t have. But they don’t talk about what they have.

All that is reliably known about the Japanese Navy is that they hide ships and underestimate the characteristics of weapons. An example would be the awkward classification of the ship composition, in which 250-meter aircraft-carrying ships are presented as “destroyers”.

After the launch of the destroyers, the expected news of the conclusion of a contract for the purchase of vertical take-off fighters followed. In this case, the news came from a manufacturer in the United States. The Japanese defense department remained silent until recently.

However, there is nothing to be surprised at.

What associations do you have with the phrase “experimental” or “support vessel”? Keelektor, a sea tug or a long-term construction ship that failed tests, which was ordered to be taken into “experimental combat operation”?

The upper illustration shows the experimental vessel “Victor Cherokov” (project 20360 OS), an unfinished floating crane-loader of ammunition, turned into a test bench for torpedo weapons.

On the bottom is the missile destroyer JS Asuka (test vessel ASE-6102), not included in any of the lists. AFAR radars and under-deck rocket launchers are “tested” on board. Together with the most modern naval weapons, the gas turbine power plant, sonars and an anti-submarine helicopter continue to be tested.

We are accustomed to the fact that significant events in the military-industrial complex receive publicity from the high rostrum. We popularly choose the names for the top-secret weapons! The speed and range of the missiles are discussed. And how many “Calibers” will be on the new corvettes.

Significant achievements of the Japanese military remain outside the public domain.

Has no analogues?

It is hard to believe that none of the Japanese leaders, in uniform or without shoulder straps, deigned to show off in front of the cameras against the background of such “toys”. And there was something to see.

So, based on the totality of available information, the hulls of Japanese submarines are made of steel with a yield strength of 1100 MPa. The use of such materials in shipbuilding is considered problematic (on the verge of impossible), due to unsatisfactory welding qualities. However, Kawasaki and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries seem to have uncovered the secret long ago and have the necessary technology.

The maximum diving depth for submarines “Soryu” and “Taigei” under such conditions can reach 900 m. The deepest warships in the world. Otherwise (while maintaining the same depth of immersion) the use of high-strength steel NS110 means a significant reduction in body weight.

The allocated reserves are spent on improving other unknown characteristics.

How many people know that Japan is serially building submarines with lithium-ion batteries as a single source of energy for underwater navigation?

Exceptionally expensive underwater Teslas, unmatched by any diesel-electric submarine project. The first of these submarines (Oryu) entered service modestly last year. And everyone thought it was a bold experiment.

But now there are already three such units. The most recent – the lead submarine of the next generation “Taigi” was launched in October 2020.

The launching of Japanese warships has always had a factor of surprise. It is common practice to have no official names prior to commissioning.

In contrast to domestic traditions, where the laying of one bottom section is accompanied by loud fanfare and promises that the ship will be operational by the twentieth year.

One of the last surprises was Kumano. The first of the new type frigates 30FFM, launched in November 2020.

It is noteworthy that “Kumano” is the second representative of the series. The head unnamed frigate, known in the west as FFM-1, for some unknown reason did not appear on time. An indelible shame for Japanese shipbuilders – a whole year has passed since the laying, and it has not yet been launched!

The declared displacement of “Kumano” is 5500 tons. With its appearance, it became clear what the Japanese Navy would look like in the second quarter of the 21st century.

Having built 28 destroyers using obsolete technologies of the late 90s and early 2000s, the Japanese moved to new standards. The 30FFM project uses a different hull and superstructure architecture. Automation and augmented reality (AR) technologies in ship control systems have led to a further reduction in the number of crews – up to 90 people.

It is stated that over the next ten years, 22 such compact frigates with advanced capabilities will be built. The 30FFM project will include several sub-series.


Experience is what we get when we don’t get what we want.

Observations of the Japanese make it possible to understand the true value of promises. What the present should look like

“Increased presence in the ocean.”

At least thanks to them, we have a clear reference point.

In terms of paranoid secrecy, Japan has been in a weak position for far too long. The Japanese have learned to conduct covert preparations so as not to provoke the premature anger of rivals. Silence is often too pretentious. But, as practice shows, it was the guarantee of all the loud and unexpected victories of the Japanese fleet.

Unlike us, where secrecy focuses only on where the allocated funds went.

In the Russian tradition, there is respect for those who speak and act little.

At the same time, hiding the name of the ships under construction is clearly not something that should be given priority attention. We have our own beautiful traditions and ceremonies associated with military equipment.

The only thing that can really be learned from the Japanese here is that as little time as possible passes between the laying of the keel and the entry of the ship into service.

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