Hiei file photo [1347]


Ship ClassKongo-class Battleship
BuilderYokosuka Naval Arsenal
Displacement36601 tons standard
Length728 feet
Beam101 feet
Draft31 feet
Speed30 knots


ww2dbaseThe four Kongo-class ships were the first modern warships in the Japanese Navy. They were designed by Britain's Sir George Thurston, and strongly influenced the design of the forthcoming Tiger-class battlecruisers. They were originally rated as "battlecruisers", but pre-WW2 rearmament reclassified them as battleships. Before the reclassification, she proudly served as Emperor Hirohito's flagship during the Naval Review off Yokohama in late August 1933.

ww2dbaseAfter modernization, Hiei returned to active service in early 1940 and was again the Emperor's flagship at the Yokohama Naval review in October 1940. Her high speed made her very useful as a companion to aircraft carriers, and she was part of the striking force that attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. In April 1942, Hiei took part in the powerful raid that bloodied the British Navy and merchant marine in the Indian Ocean area. She was a unit of the Covering Group during the Battle of Midway in early June and immediately thereafter was sent to the North Pacific to support Japanese operations in the Aleutian Islands.

ww2dbaseWhen the fight over Guadalcanal began in August 1942, Hiei was sent south to operate with other units of the Combined Fleet. She was present during both of the campaign's carrier actions, the Battle of the Eastern Solomons in late August and the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands in late October. On 12 November 1942, Hiei was ordered toward Guadalcanal as flagship of a bombardment force that included her sister fast battleship Kirishima, a light cruiser and more than a dozen destroyers. Soon after midnight on Friday, 13 November, the Japanese were met by an American task force of five cruisers and eight destroyers. The resulting first night action of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal was chaotic and bloody. Hiei was badly shot up by U.S. cruiser and destroyer guns, and may have suffered shock damage from torpedoes exploding nearby. While retiring from the battle, her steering failed, leaving her unmaneuverable only a short distance from Guadalcanal's American-held airfield. Through the following day, Hiei's crew struggled to regain steering control, while under constant attack by U.S. aircraft. However, she finally suffered a torpedo hit in the stern that destroyed all hope of escape. Soon after nightfall, her surviving crewmen were taken off and Hiei was left to sink some miles northward of Savo Island. She was the first of ten Japanese battleships lost to enemy action in World War II.

ww2dbaseSource: Naval Historical Center

Battleship Hiei Interactive Map

Hiei Operational Timeline

13 Nov 1942 Damaged in the naval battle before dawn, Hiei struggled to return to base. After persistent attacks by aircraft attacks, it was decided that she was to be scuttled. After all men were taken off, she was scuttled by torpedoes north of Savo Island in the Solomon Islands. She became the first Japanese battleship to be lost in combat.


Japanese battlecruiser Hiei fitting out at Yokosuka, Japan, 20 Sep 1913Japanese battlecruiser Hiei departing Yokosuka en route to Kure, Japan, 23 Mar 1914Japanese battlecruiser Hiei at Yokosuka, Japan, 24 Aug 1914Japanese battlecruiser Hiei at Sasebo, Japan, 21 Dec 1915
See all 25 photographs of Battleship Hiei

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More on Hiei
» Abe, Hiroaki
» Arima, Masafumi
» Kusaka, Jinichi
» Ota, Minoru

Event(s) Participated:
» New Guinea-Papua Campaign, Phase 1, Bismarck Islands
» Guadalcanal Campaign
» Solomon Islands Campaign

» Interrogation Nav 46, Lieutenant Commander S. Yunoki

Related Books:
» Imperial Japanese Navy Battleships 1941-45

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Battleship Hiei Photo Gallery
Japanese battlecruiser Hiei fitting out at Yokosuka, Japan, 20 Sep 1913
See all 25 photographs of Battleship Hiei

Famous WW2 Quote
"I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God, our forces stand again on Philippine soil."

General Douglas MacArthur at Leyte, 17 Oct 1944