|Ship Class||Mogami-class Heavy Cruiser|
|Builder||Kawasaki Shipyard, Kobe, Japan|
|Laid Down||1 Apr 1934|
|Launched||15 Oct 1936|
|Commissioned||31 Oct 1937|
|Sunk||25 Nov 1944|
|Displacement||13440 tons standard|
|Machinery||Gear turbines, four shafts|
|Power Output||152000 SHP|
|Armament||5x3x155mm guns, 8x127mm dual-purpose guns, 20x25mm anti-aircraft guns, 4x3x600mm torpedo tubes|
|Armor||100mm belt, 35mm deck, 25mm turrets, 127mm magazines|
|Aircraft||Three Type 1 reconnaissance aircraft|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Kumano was completed and commissioned in Oct 1937, but she soon entered reconstruction that did not complete until 20 Oct 1939. On 25 May 1941, Captain Kikumatsu Tanaka took command of the heavy cruiser. On 16 Jul 1941, along with her sister ships of the Mogami-class, she sailed for Hainan Island off southern China, arriving on 22 Jul. From Hainan, she participated in the opening stages of Operation FU, the invasion of French Indochina, as she escorted army convoys and other ships to Saigon, Vietnam. She left Indochina on 31 Jul, returning to Japan. On 20 Nov, she became Rear Admiral Takeo Kurita's flagship for Cruiser Division 7. On 26 Nov 191, the division arrived at Samah, Hainan Island in preparation for the invasion of Malaya that was to take place on 8 Dec 1941. During the invasion, Cruiser Division 7 operated off Cape Camau during the landings at Singora, Patani, and Kota Bharu and provided naval gunfire support. On 9 Dec, Kumano's scout planes were sent to shadow British Royal Navy's Force Z, but the aircraft were lost after running out of fuel; Force Z was later destroyed by Japanese aircraft. On 16, 23, and 26 Dec, she provided cover for the landings at Miri on Borneo, Anambas Island between Malaya and Borneo, and Endau in Malaya, respectively. On 13 Feb 1942, she covered the landings at Palembang and Banka Island, Sumatra, Netherlands East Indies. On 24 Feb, she departed from Anambas Island, where she was replenished, for Java; on the same day, cruisers Kumano and Suzuya covered the landings at Indramaju, Java. On 12 Mar, she covered the landings at Sabang and Iri, Sumatra. On 20 Mar, she supported the landings at the Andaman Islands. In early Apr 1942, as the northern force during the Indian Ocean raid, she took part in the sinking of Allied shipping in the Bay of Bengal. She was drydocked at Kure, Japan between 27 Apr and 4 May to repair the damage sustained during the early days of the Pacific War.
On 26 May 1942, Kumano arrived at Guam in the Mariana Islands in preparation of the Midway invasion; she was assigned to be in the close support group that escorted the invasion transports. She departed Guam on 28 May, and reached the Midway area on 5 Jun. On 5 Jun, Cruiser Division 7, which Kumano was still a part of, was ordered to bombard Midway, but the order was canceled before it was carried out. She played no critical role during the Battle of Midway, and retired to Truk in the Caroline Islands on 13 Jun.
After returning to Kure, Japan, Cruiser Division 7 was transferred to the Third Fleet, which was centered around aircraft carriers. In late Jul 1942, she operated from Mergui, Burma to support the Japanese invasion of that country. On 7 Aug, Cruiser Division 7 departed for the Solomon Islands as a response of the American landings at Guadalcanal. On 24 and 25 Aug, Kumano sailed with the main body of the force that was engaged in the Battle of Eastern Solomons, but did not see direct combat as the battle was engaged only by carrier aircraft. On 14 Sep, one of her 25-mm anti-aircraft gun mounts was damaged during an American bombing attack conducted by B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft. On 26 Oct, she escorted carriers as the aircraft engaged in the Battle of Santa Cruz; Kumano did not see combat. She returned to Japan in early Nov, and spent 15-20 Nov in the drydocks in Kure.
After transporting troops from Manila, Philippine Islands to Rabaul, New Britain, Kumano became the flagship of Rear Admiral Shoji Nishimura at Kavieng, New Ireland. She escorted several troop transport runs in the region. On 27 Feb 1943, Captain Shunzo Fujita took command of her. Between 6 and 15 Apr, she was drydocked at Kure once again, where her anti-aircraft armament was upgraded to a total of 20 barrels of 25-mm guns, and a Type 21 air search radar was installed.
In Jun, Kumano delivered troops from Japan to Rabaul, then covered troop transports in the region. On one such mission on 18 Jul, she was attacked by a Guadalcanal-based American TBM Avenger torpedo bomber off Kolombangara, resulting in damage from near misses; she was temporarily repaired by repair ship Yamabiko Maru at Rabaul between 21 and 29 Jul and repair ship Akashi at Truk between 31 Jul and 28 Aug, and then received proper repairs at Kure between 2 Sep and 31 Oct.
On 24 Nov 1943, as a response to the American invasion of the Gilbert Islands, Cruiser Division 7 sailed for the Marshall Islands. On 8 Dec, Kumano was named the flagship of the division. She did not engage in any major action for the remainder of the year. In early 1944, operating out of Singapore, she engaged in training and patrol duties. Between 24 Mar and 7 Apr, her anti-aircraft armament was upgraded to a total of 28 barrels of 25-mm guns. On 29 Mar, Captain Soichiro Hitomi took over the command. In Jun, she escorted the carriers as the carrier aircraft engaged in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, but she did not see combat; after the battle, she retired to Okinawa on 22 Jun. On 25 Jun, she received additional 25-mm anti-aircraft guns, a Type 22 surface search radar, and a Type 13 air search radar at Kure, Japan. She operated out of Singapore for the subsequent months.
On 22 Oct 1944, Kumano departed from Brunei, Borneo to embark on the Japanese naval offensive in the Philippine Islands. On 25 Oct, she was engaged in the Battle off Samar. While her guns fired on the American destroyers and destroyer escorts, she was hit by a Mark 15 torpedo fired by destroyer USS Johnston, blowing off a portion of her bow, then was later attacked by American attack aircraft, damaging further by a near-miss. On 26 Oct, while in the Sibuyan Sea, she was attacked by aircraft from the American carrier Hancock and hit by three 500-lb bombs. She was able to flee to Manila, Philippine Islands on 28 Oct to receive temporary repairs. With temporary repairs complete, she sailed with the convoy Ma-Ta 31 for Takao, Taiwan. En route, the convoy was attacked by multiple American submarines. On 6 Nov, American submarines Batfish, Guitarro, Bream, Raton, and Ray formed a wolfpack to attack the convoy. They fired a total of 23 torpedoes at Kumano, hitting her twice at 1052. Her temporary bow was blown off, and she received damage to her starboard engine room. With an 11-degree list to starboard and all four engine rooms flooded, she lost all power, but was able to be towed to Santa Cruz, Luzon, Philippine Islands on the next day.
On 25 Nov 1944, while receiving repairs from the previous submarine attack, Kumano was caught in Santa Cruz harbor by carrier aircraft launched by USS Ticonderoga. She was hit by five torpedoes and four 500-lb bombs and sank in 100 feet of water at 1515. Captain Hitomi was killed during the attack.
Source: Imperial Japanese Navy Page.
Kumano Operational Timeline
|31 Oct 1937||Kumano was commissioned into service.|
» Indochina Campaign
» Invasion of Malaya and Singapore
» Invasion of Burma
» Dutch East Indies Campaign, Borneo
» Dutch East Indies Campaign, Java
» Dutch East Indies Campaign, Sumatra
» Fall of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands
» Raids into the Indian Ocean
» Battle of Midway and the Aleutian Islands
» Solomon Islands Campaign
» Philippines Campaign, Phase 1, the Leyte Campaign
» Interrogation Nav 82, Captain Tsuneo Shiki
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Winston Churchill, 1935