Fubuki-class destroyer

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Class overview
Name: Fubuki class
Preceded by: Mutsuki class
Succeeded by: Hatsuharu class
  • Type I (Fubuki class)
  • Type II (Ayanami class)
  • Type III (Akatsuki class)
Built: 1926–1933
In commission: 1928–1945
Completed: 24
Lost: 22
Retired: 2
General characteristics
Type: Destroyer
  • 111.96 m (367.3 ft) pp
  • 115.3 m (378 ft) waterline
  • 118.41 m (388.5 ft) overall
Beam: 10.4 m (34 ft 1 in)
Draft: 3.2 m (10 ft 6 in)
  • 2 shaft Kampon geared turbines
  • 4 (Groups I & II) or 3 (Group III) boilers
  • 50,000 hp (37,000 kW)
Speed: 38 knots (44 mph; 70 km/h)
Range: 5,000 nmi (9,300 km) at 14 knots (26 km/h)
Complement: 219

The Fubuki-class destroyers (吹雪型駆逐艦, Fubukigata kuchikukan) were a class of twenty-four destroyers of the Imperial Japanese Navy.[1] The Fubuki class has been described as the world's first modern destroyer.[2] The Fubuki class set a new standard not only for Japanese vessels, but for destroyers around the world. They remained formidable opponents to the end of World War II, despite being much older than many of their adversaries.[3]


Following the ratification of the Washington Naval Treaty in 1922, the Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff issued requirements for a destroyer with a maximum speed of 39 knots (72 km/h; 45 mph), range of 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 km; 4,600 mi) at 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph), and armed with large numbers of torpedoes. As the treaty placed Japan in an inferior position relative to the United States and Great Britain in terms of capital ships, the obvious course of action would be to build large numbers of other types of ships not restricted by the treaty, with the most powerful weaponry possible.[4] These destroyers were intended to operate with the new series of fast and powerful cruisers also under consideration as part of a program intended to give the Imperial Japanese Navy a qualitative edge with the world's most modern ships.[5]

The resultant Fubuki class was ordered under the 1923 fiscal year budget, based on a smaller 1750 ton design, with ships completed between 1926 and 1931. Their performance was a great improvement over previous destroyer designs, so much so that they were designated Special Type Destroyers (特殊タイプ駆逐艦, Tokushu taipu no kuchiku-kan). The large size, powerful engines, high speed, large radius of action, and unprecedented armament gave these destroyers the firepower similar to many light cruisers in other navies.[6] The closest equivalents in the United States Navy were the Porter and Somers-class destroyers, of which only thirteen vessels were constructed in the 1930s to function as destroyer squadron leaders.[7]


The initial design for the Fubuki-class was based on a 2000-ton displacement hull with a single 12.7 cm (5.0 in) battery, two twin 24-inch torpedo tubes (as introduced in Mutsuki), and capable of 40 knots (74 km/h). Following the effective abandonment of the Washington Naval Treaty from 1923, the design was modified to 1680 standard tons with more guns and more torpedo tubes. However, their increased displacement more than offset their more powerful engines, resulting in a slower top speed than originally planned.[8]

The engines were powered by four Kampon boilers running two-shaft geared turbines at 50,000 shp, yielding a rated speed of 35 knots (65 km/h), with a range of 5000 nautical miles.

The S-shaped curved bow introduced on the Mutsuki class was retained; however, the well deck in front of the bridge was removed, which made it possible to extend the forecastle further aft and to flare the hull back to the first stack, which increased seaworthiness. The forecastle was also raised one deck in height to reduce the effect of heavy seas on the forward gun mount. The bridge enlarged and enclosed.[9] The bow was given a significant flare, to offer protection against weather in the Pacific.

The Fubuki-class vessels were originally intended to have only hull numbers. This proved to be extremely unpopular with the crews and was a constant source of confusion in communications with the earlier Kamikaze and Mutsuki classes, and naval policy was changed in August 1928. Hence, the Fubuki-class vessels were assigned names as they were launched.

Between June 1928 and March 1933, twenty-four Fubuki-class destroyers were built. Several modifications took place throughout production, and the twenty-four units can be broken down into three groups. The final four ships were so different they were given a new class name. As completed, Fubuki had twin 5-inch guns in "A", "X", and "Y" positions, with triple torpedo tubes in "D", "P", and "Q",[10] making them the most powerful destroyers in the world at the time of their completion.


The Fubuki-class destroyers were far more capable than the previous Mutsuki-class in armament. The main battery consisted of six Type 3 127 mm 50 caliber naval guns, mounted in pairs in three weather-proof, splinter-proof, gas-tight gun turrets that were far ahead of their time.[8] The Group I vessels could elevate to over 40 degrees, but from Group II (the last 14 vessels of the series), these guns were dual purpose guns that could be elevated to 70 degrees, making them the world's first destroyers with this ability.[11] Ammunition was brought up on hoists from magazines located directly underneath each gun turret, which had a far greater rate of fire than those of other contemporary destroyers in which ammunition was typically manually loaded.[6] However, the gun houses were not bullet-proof, and were thus actually still gun mounts, rather than proper turrets.[4]

The three triple 24-inch (610 mm) torpedo launchers with Type 8 torpedoes which had proved successful on the Mutsuki-class was again used, and each tube had a reload, giving the destroyer a complement of 18 torpedoes in total. The forward launchers were located between the smokestacks.

Anti-aircraft capability was also as per the Mutsuki-Class, with two Type 92 7.7 mm anti-aircraft machine guns located in front of the second stack. These were replaced by Type 93 13 mm AA Guns before the start of the war. Following the start of then Pacific War, a number of units received an additional pair of Type 93 guns mounted in front of the bridge, which were later changed to Type 96 25mm AA Guns. In late 1943 to early 1944, one of the aft guns was replaced with two triple Type 96 guns, and an additional raised gun platform with another two triple Type 96 guns was added between the two aft torpedo launchers, In late 1944, the remaining units received more Type 96 guns as single mounts on the forecastle and stern. Yūgiri received a Type 22 radar in November 1943, and the remaining seven units were so fitted in 1944. The few ships remaining in late 1944 also received the Type 13 radar.[4]


Office of Naval Intelligence recognition drawing of the Fubuki class

The first group, or Fubuki class, consisting of the first ten vessels completed in 1928 and 1929, were simpler in construction than the vessels that followed. They had a rangefinder on the compass bridge and an exposed gun-fire control room, and were equipped with a “Type A” gun turret that elevated both of its barrels at the same time and only to 40 degrees.[12] The first group can be distinguished from later ships by their massive circular air ducts abreast the two stacks leading to the boiler room, with the exception of Uranami, which integrated the ventilation ducts into the platforms built around the stacks.[4]

The second group, or Ayanami class, were built in 1930 and 1931, and had larger bridges that encompassed the rangefinder, an azimuth compass sighting device and the gun-fire control room, as well as a range finding tower. Furthermore, the boiler room's air inlet was changed from a pipe to a bowl shape. They also benefited from the deployment of “Type B” turrets, which could elevate each gun separately to 75° for AA use, making them the world's first destroyers with this capability.[12]

The third group, also known as the Akatsuki class, were built from 1931 to 1933. These vessels had three larger boilers instead of the previous four and a narrower fore funnel. Improvements included a unique splinter-proof torpedo launcher-turret, which allowed the torpedo launcher tubes to be reloaded in action.[12]

However, the Fubuki class also had a number of inherent design problems. The large amount of armament combined with a smaller hull displacement than in the original design created issues with stability. Despite design features intended to reduce weight, including use of welding on the hull and lighter alloys above the main deck, the ships exceeded their design weight by over 200 tons, which was even more of a problem with the Group II ships, with their larger bridge and heavier gun mounts. After the Tomozuru Incident, in which the top-heavy design of many Japanese warships called basic design issues into question, additional ballast had to be added.

In the Fourth Fleet Incident, during which a typhoon damaged virtually every ship in the Fourth Fleet, issues with the longitudinal strength of the Fubuki-class hull was discovered. As a result, all vessels were reconstructed between 1935 and 1937. An additional 40 tons of ballast was added, the bridge reduced in size and the height of the smoke stacks was decreased. The number of torpedo reloads were reduced from nine to three (for the center launcher only), and fewer shells were stored for the guns. The amount of fuel carried was also increased to help lower the center-of-gravity. Eight of the Ayanami class were retrofitted with the lighter "Type C" gun mounts, These changes increased the displacement to 2050 tons standard tons and over 2400 tons full load. The rebuild reduced the top speed slightly to 34 knots.

Operational history[edit]

Of the 24 Fubuki-class vessels completed, one (Miyuki) was sunk in a collision in 1934.[13] The remaining vessels served during the Pacific War. In November 1942, the Ayanami damaged the battleship USS South Dakota with her gunfire during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal before being attacked by USS Washington, which crippled the battleship Kirishima as well. She was scuttled the following day by Uranami. In August 1943, John F. Kennedy's PT-109 was rammed, split asunder and sunk by Amagiri of this class.

Eight ships of the class were sunk by submarines, two by mines, the rest by air attacks. Only Hibiki and Ushio survived the war. Hibiki was taken by the Soviet Navy as a prize of war, and continued to be used until 1964.

List of ships[edit]

Type I (Fubuki)[edit]

Kanji Name Builder Laid down Launched Completed Fate
吹雪 Fubuki
Maizuru Naval Arsenal, Japan 19 June 1926 15 November 1927 10 August 1928 Sunk in surface action off Guadalcanal [09.06S, 159.38E] on 11 October 1942; struck 15 November 1942
白雪 Shirayuki
Yokohama Dockyard, Japan 19 March 1927 20 March 1928 18 December 1928 air attack off Dampir Strait [07.15S, 148.30E] on 3 March 1943; struck 1 April 1943
初雪 Hatsuyuki
Maizuru Naval Arsenal, Japan 12 April 1927 29 September 1928 30 March 1929 Air attack off Buin [06.50S, 155.47E] on 17 July 1943; struck 15 October 1943
深雪 Miyuki
Uraga Dock Company, Japan 30 April 1927 26 June 1928 29 June 1929 Collision with Inazuma, S Cheju Island [33N, 125.30E] on 29 June 1934; struck 15 August 1934
叢雲 Murakumo
Fujinagata Shipyards, Japan 25 April 1927 27 September 1928 10 May 1929 Sunk in action off Guadalcanal [08.40S, 159.20E] on 12 October 1942; struck 15 November 1942
東雲 Shinonome
Sasebo Naval Arsenal, Japan 12 August 1926 26 November 1927 25 July 1928 Air attack near Miri [04.24N, 114E] on 17 December 1941; struck 15 January 1942
薄雲 Usugumo
Ishikawajima Shipyards, Japan 21 October 1926 26 December 1927 26 July 1928 named Usugumo 1 August 1928; Torpedoed off Etorofu [47.43N, 147.55E] on 7 July 1944; struck 10 September 1944
白雲 Shirakumo
Fujinagata Shipyards, Japan 27 October 1926 27 December 1927 28 July 1928 named Shiragumo 1 August 1928; Torpedoed off Cape Erimo [42.25N, 144.55E] on 16 March 1944; struck 31 March 1944
磯波 Isonami
Uraga Dock Company, Japan 18 October 1926 24 November 1927 30 June 1928 named Isonami on 1 August 1928; Torpedoed off SW Celebes [05.26S, 123.04E] on 9 April 1943; struck 1 August 1943
浦波 Uranami
Sasebo Naval Arsenal, Japan 28 April 1927 29 November 1928 30 June 1929 Air attack W of Panay [11.50N, 123E] on 26 October 1944; struck 10 December 1944

Type II (Ayanami)[edit]

Kanji Name Builder Laid down Launched Completed Fate
綾波 Ayanami
Fujinagata Shipyards, Japan 20 January 1928 5 October 1929 30 April 1930 Scuttled off Guadalcanal by Uranami [09.10S, 159.52E]; 15 November 1942; struck 15 December 1942
敷波 Shikinami
Maizuru Naval Arsenal, Japan 6 July 1928 22 June 1929 24 December 1929 Torpedoed S of Hainan [18.16N, 114.40E] 12 September 1944; struck 10 October 1944
朝霧 Asagiri
Sasebo Naval Arsenal, Japan 12 December 1928 18 November 1929 30 June 1930 Air attack off Guadalcanal [08S, 160.10E] on 28 August 1942; struck 1 October 1942
夕霧 Yūgiri
Maizuru Naval Arsenal, Japan 1 April 1929 12 May 1930 3 December 1930 Sunk in action, central Solomons [04.44S, 154E] on 25 November 1943; struck 15 December 1943
天霧 Amagiri
Ishikawajima Shipyards, Japan 28 November 1928 27 February 1930 10 November 1930 Mined, S of Makassar Strait [02.10S, 116.45E] on 23 April 1944; struck 10 June 1944
狭霧 Sagiri
Uraga Dock Company, Japan 28 March 1929 23 December 1929 30 January 1931 Torpedoed off Kuching [01.34N, 110.21E] on 24 December 1941; struck 15 January 1942
Sasebo Naval Arsenal, Japan 29 November 1929 8 November 1930 31 October 1931 Air attack off Kiska Island [52.17N, 178.08E] on 16 October 1942; struck 15 November 1942
Sasebo Naval Arsenal, Japan 25 October 1929 7 November 1930 31 July 1931 Air attack Manila Bay [14.35N, 120.50E] on 13 November 1944; struck 10 January 1945
Maizuru Naval Arsenal, Japan 21 February 1930 6 June 1931 19 May 1932 Torpedoed E of Palau [05.15N, 141.15E] on 14 January 1944; struck 10 March 1944
Uraga Dock Company, Japan 24 December 1929 17 November 1930 14 November 1931 surrendered to Allies 15 September 1945; scrapped 1948

Type III (Akatsuki)[edit]

Kanji Name Builder Laid down Launched Completed Fate
Akatsuki Sasebo Naval Arsenal, Japan 17 February 1930 7 May 1932 30 November 1932 Sunk in action off Guadalcanal [09.17S, 159.56E] on 13 November 1942; struck 15 December 1942
Hibiki Maizuru Naval Arsenal, Japan 21 February 1930 16 June 1932 31 March 1933 surrendered 5 October 1945; prize of war to USSR on 5 July 1947; scrapped 1963
Ikazuchi Uraga Dock Company, Japan 7 March 1930 22 October 1931 15 August 1932 torpedoed W of Guam [10.13N, 143.51E] on 13 April 1944; struck 10 June 1944
Inazuma Fujinagata Shipyards, Japan 7 March 1930 25 February 1932 15 November 1932 Torpedoed W of Celebes [05.08N, 119.38E] on 14 May 1944; struck 10 June 1944



  1. ^ Jentsura, Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869–1945
  2. ^ Parshall and Tully, Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway. p. 336.
  3. ^ Specification from Fitzsimons, Bernard, ed. Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare (London: Phoebus, 1978), Volume 10, pp.1040–1, "Fubuki".
  4. ^ a b c d Stille, Mark (2013). Imperial Japanese Navy Destroyers1919–45 (1). Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. pp. 21–23. ISBN 978 1 84908 984 5.
  5. ^ Fitzsimons, Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare p.1040
  6. ^ a b Peattie & Evans, Kaigun page 221-222.
  7. ^ Lenton, H. T. American Fleet and Escort Destroyers. (Doubleday, 1971), p.45-47.
  8. ^ a b Fitzsimons, Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare (London: Phoebus, 1977), Volume 10, p.1040.
  9. ^ Fitzsimons, p.1040. This would not be common on American destroyers until postwar.
  10. ^ Fitzsimons, pp.1040–1 diagram.
  11. ^ Fitzsimons, Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare, Volume 10, p.1040.
  12. ^ a b c Fitzsimons, Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare p.1040.
  13. ^ Nishidah, Imperial Japanese Navy


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