Friday, January 3, 2014

Flashback Friday: Fubuki-class Destroyers

     This week's Flashback Friday look at Japan's Fubuki-class destroyers. Said to be the first "modern" destroyer, the Fubuki-class featured power-driven and weatherproof twin 5" mounts and torpedo reloads. Built starting in 1928 they remained part of Japan's front line fleet through the end of World War Two. 
Displacement (standard):    1750 tons
Displacement (rebuilt):       2050 tons
Length:                               118.4m
Beam:                                 10.4m
Draft:                                  3.2m
Propulsion:                         2 geared turbines driven by 4 boilers
Speed:                                38 knots
Range:                                5,000nm at 14 knots 
Crew:                                 219                            
Armament:                         six 12.7cm/50 3rd Year Type guns (paired)
                                           two 13mm/76 Type 93 MG
                                           nine 533mm torpedo tubes (three triple mounts)
                                           eighteen torpedoes
     The Fubukis were unique for their time as they had enclosed turrets for their 12.7cm guns. Most destroyer classes of the Interwar Period had open turrets. The rear of the turret was open to facilitate reloading and maintenance. However, the Fubukis had fully enclosed turrets which allowed use in all weather conditions. At the same time the Fubukis were the first destroyer class to carry reloads for their torpedo tubes. However, the Fubukis were rebuilt in the 30s due to longitudinal strength issues which were discovered after a typhoon damaged most of the Japanese Fourth Fleet. During this reconstruction the Fubukis lost their torpedo reloads.
      Beyond their armament there were not many other major innovations in the Fubuki-class destroyers.
The Fubukis were larger than most contemporary destroyers, with a 500 ton advantage in displacement over the U.S. Clemson-class destroyers. They were also faster than the Clemsons, by a full 2.5 knots. They were longer, wider, and had a deeper draft than the Clemson-class or the British A-class
      The Fubukis served from 1928 through 1945 in the service of the Japanese Navy. After World War II one Fubuki, the Hibiki, was turned over to the USSR as a war prize, and served until 1953. Of 24 Fubukis built, all but two were lost. Eight were sunk by submarines, two by mines, at least one by scuttling, and the remainder by air attacks. For vessels built in the late 1920s the Fubukis remained surprisingly potent through WWII. Interestingly, it was a Fubuki-class destroyer, the Amagiri, that rammed and sank PT-109 commanded by John F. Kennedy. 
     The Fubukis carried an armament that for their time punched far above their weight. They allowed greater flexibility in their use because of their heavy armament and high speed. For this, the Fubukis have earned a place in naval history.

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