YUGUMO Class Notes
by Allyn Nevitt

Displacement:     2,077 tons

Dimensions:       391 (length) by 35 (beam) by 12 (draught) feet

Machinery:        2-shaft geared turbines:  52,000 SHP; 35 knots

Radius:           5,000 miles at 18 knots

Armament:         6 x 5"/50 cal. DP guns (3 x 2); 4 x 25 mm. AA guns (2 x 2); 8
                  x 24" torpedo tubes (2 x 4); 4 depth charge throwers; 36
                  depth charges

Complement:       225

The YUGUMO class represented the ultimate refinement of the "Special Type" destroyer begun in the late 1920s with the venerable FUBUKI. Though the preceding KAGERO class is generally considered the top of this line, the YUGUMOs incorporated some significant improvements over even that classic type.

In appearance the YUGUMOs were almost identical to the KAGEROs, but a modified bridge design to lessen wind resistance and improve stability gave them a more streamlined and handsome appearance. A stronger tripod foremast was incorporated into YUGUMO's design, one capable of mounting the new Types 13 and 22 radar sets coming into service at the same time as the destroyers themselves. Their main armament of six 5"/50 cal. guns was the same as the KAGEROs, but these were mounted in the new Type D turret capable of 75-degree elevations as opposed to KAGERO's 55-degrees, a considerable advantage in the antiaircraft role which became more vital as the war progressed. In fact, this major upgrade, often overlooked, obviated the need to sacrifice a main-gun turret for extra light AA, and no YUGUMOs actually suffered the removal of their "X" turret to make room for extra 25 mm. machine guns, as has been widely reported. (SHIMAKAZE also carried the Type D turrets KAGERO-class AKIGUMO did not.) Instead, surviving YUGUMOs added their two triple 25 mm. mounts on bandstands abaft their fore-funnels. One of the spare sets of Long-Lance torpedoes was also eventually landed in favor of the greater AA firepower, with the total number of 25 mm. growing to between fifteen and twenty-eight per destroyer.

The first 11 destroyers of this class (hull numbers 116-124 and 126-127) were ordered under the 1939 Program. (It's worth repeating here that, contrary to most sources, Hull Number 115 AKIGUMO was not of this class, but was in fact the final unit of the preceding KAGERO class.) Another 16, sometimes referred to as the HAMANAMI group, were ordered under the 1941 Program. Of these latter only eight were built, the others being cancelled before they were laid down -- a questionable decision considering Japan's later desperate need for these valuable warships. (Those not built were to have been named KAWAGIRI, KIYOKAZE, MURAKAZE, SATOKAZE, TAEKAZE, TANIGIRI, UMIGIRI and YAMAGIRI.) Another eight vessels considered under the Modified 1942 Program, hull numbers 5041-5048, were also never laid down.

During the Pacific War the YUGUMO class ships served in the Imperial Navy's 2nd, 10th, 31st and 32nd Destroyer Divisions, with (by then sole survivor) ASASHIMO included in the 21st Destroyer Division in 1945 for the final sortie of battleship YAMATO. NAGANAMI of Desdiv 31 compiled the most impressive combat record, but ASASHIMO also managed a varied and remarkable, if much shorter, career. TAKANAMI's valiant fight off Tassafaronga was probably the most admirable individual performance turned in by any of the class.

In performing their duties the ships of the YUGUMO class paid the full price, all nineteen being lost during the war. The ever-greater threat from U.S. air power during that war was reflected in these losses: ten YUGUMOs over half of the class were destroyed in air attacks (including KIYOSHIMO, finished off by a PT-boat) while only four perished in the surface actions for which they were primarily designed. Submarines accounted for four more and a mine one. Most shockingly, at least five YUGUMOs were lost with their entire crews, underscoring both the unforgiving nature of the conditions in which they fought, and the vulnerability of even this most advanced of Japanese destroyer designs.