4 x 2 x 8"/50,
8 x 5"/40 DP
numerous x 25mm AA
8 x 24" TT
|Aircraft (as CAV)||23 floatplanes|
|VTS Rating||(1) 1 8 1|
Japanese philosophy on scouting for a fleet containing aircraft carriers was that cruiser floatplanes would do the scouting, leaving the aircraft carriers to carry strictly strike aircraft. This simplified the complexity of timing the cycling of strike aircraft. Carrier decks would not need to be cleared of strike aircraft to receive returning scouts, as was sometimes the case in the USN. Tone and Chikuma did yeoman work scouting for the Kido Butai, but her floatplanes did not have offensive capability. That changes in "Grand Fleet."
The US philosophy on scouting was that an armed scout plane with a bomb could surprise a fleet unit and weaken the enemy fleet before the main action developed. US "scout-bombers", without the clumsy floats, were faster and could carry full-sized bombs for short distances.
As a result of the London Naval Treaty, one-fourth of a country's cruisers could be equipped with attack aircraft. In "Grand Fleet", the "flight-deck cruiser" found its way into most air-minded navies to take advantage of this. The U.S. built the Tiburon-class for wheeled aircraft, and the Japanese built the Sagami's for its new crop of fast attack seaplanes. Tiburon sacrificed gunpower, but Sagami did not. By grouping the main armament forward it would have all the normal gunpower of a heavy cruiser plus scouting and attack aircraft. The original design only had six aircraft sitting on an aircraft platform containing two catapults, but an upgrade saw an extended hangar and flight deck that could hold four times as many aircraft and had four catapults. The Sagami's weren't meant to go toe-to-toe with 'real' aircraft carriers, but rather any opposing ships that had no defending aircraft or, like the USN, get in a lick while scouting prior to the main action of a carrier fleet.
Sagami was sunk and nearly destroyed in an accidental exlosion in port. She was raised, rebuilt, and became Goryo. Sister ship Chikuma was sunk and Tone suffered badly off Samar in the Fall of 1941 as British and Dutch carrier aircraft tore apart a fast battle squadron that both ships were escorting. Tone was repaired in Japan, and it was her scout aircraft which gave Tokyo warning of Doolittle's raiders on their way . Tone's Seiran floatplanes were used as CAP interceptors in a big fleet confrontation in the Indian Ocean. Despite this aircover, planes from the Dutch CV Molucca sank Tone . The Japanese wanted full-fledged carriers from then on, so no more 'flight-deck cruisers' were made.