Friday 19 July 2024

Fuso-class battleships

The IJNS Fuso was the name-ship of the two-ship Fuso-class battleships of the Imperial Japanese Navy. (The two ships were named IJNS Fuso and IJNS Yamashiro.) As such, they were the first dreadnought battleships with a homogenous main armament designed and built in Japan*, and were based on the British-designed Kongo-class battlecruisers.

The name-ship of the Kongo-class was built in Britain by Vickers at Barrow-in-Furness and her three sisterships were built in Japan with British assistance. As a result, the designers of the Fuso-class based their design on that of the Kongo-class, and this becomes very apparent when one compares the two designs.

A side view of a Kongo-class battlecruiser.
A side view of a Fuso-class battleship.

The similarity between the two designs becomes even more obvious when one lays a side view of each design over the over.

A side view of a Fuso-class battleship overlaid over a side view of a Kongo-class battlecruiser..
A side view of a Kongo-class battlecruiser over a side view of a Fuso-class battleship.

It immediately becomes apparent how closely the two designs are to each other. The positions of the forward two superimposed turrets, bridge and foremast are very similar, as is the position of the aft-most turret and superstructure around the mainmast. The third turret on the Kong-class is also almost in exactly the same position as the fourth turret on the Fuso-class.

The obvious conclusion one can draw is that the Japanese designers took the basic design of the Kongo-class battlecruisers, reduced the size of the space required for the boilers and engines, and filled that freed-up space with two extra twin 14-inch gun turrets.

The following is a comparison of the two classes characteristics as built, with the Kongo-class data being first and the Fuso-class data being shown in italics:

  • Displacement: 26,952 tons/29,326 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 214.58m (704ft)/202.7m (665ft)
    • Beam: 28.04m (92ft)/20.7m (94ft 2in)
    • Draft: 8.22m (27ft)/8.7m (28ft 7in)
  • Propulsion: 36 × Yarrow or Kanpon boilers providing steam to 2 sets of Parson or Brown-Curtis turbines (64,000 shp) driving four propellers/24 x Miyahara boilers providing steam to 2 sets of Brown-Curtis turbines (40,000 shp) driving four propellers)
  • Speed: 27.5 knots/23 knots
  • Range: 8,000 nautical miles at 14 knots/8,000 nautical miles at 14 knots
  • Complement: 1,193/1,193
  • Armament: 4 × twin 356 mm guns (Vickers 14-inch/45 gun);16 × single 152mm (6-inch) guns: 4 × single 76mm (3-inch) anti-aircraft guns; 8 × 533 mm (21-inch) torpedo tubes/6 × twin 356 mm guns (Vickers 14-inch/45 gun);16 × single 152mm (6-inch) guns: 5 × single 76mm (3-inch)anti-aircraft guns; 6 × 533 mm (21-inch) torpedo tube
  • Armour:
    • Waterline Belt: 203 to 76mm (8 to 3 inches)/305 to 102mm (12 to 4 inches)
    • Deck: 25mm (1 inch)/51mm (2 inches)
    • Gun turrets: 229 to 254 mm (9 to 10 inches)/279mm (11 inches)
    • Barbettes: 254 to 76 mm (10 to 3 inches)/305mm (12 inches)
    • Conning tower: 229 mm (9 inches)/351mm (13.8 inches)

The IJNS Yamashiro as built.

If the Washington Treaty had not been signed in 1922, it is likely that the Fuso-class would have been declared obsolete in the late 1920s and scrapped. However, it was decided to retain and modernise them, and this involved:

  • Replacing their boilers (They now had 6 Kanpon boilers, which enabled the removal of the forward funnel).
  • Replacing their engines (They now had 4 sets of Kanpon turbines (75,000 shp) which gave them a speed of 24.7 knots).
  • Replacing the existing anti-aircraft guns with 4 x twin 127mm (5-inch) anti-aircraft guns.
  • Removing the two 152mm (6-inch) guns closest to the bows.
  • Increasing the deck armour to 114mm (4.5 inches).
  • Their forward superstructures were enlarged with multiple platforms added to their tripod foremasts and additional space provided for two of the new twin 127mm (5-inch) anti-aircraft guns. The extended bridgework evolved into what was probably the most extreme example of a so-called pagoda mast.
  • Their rear superstructures were rebuilt to accommodate mounts for two of the new twin 127mm (5-inch) anti-aircraft guns and additional fire-control directors.
  • The hulls were given anti-torpedo bulges. This increased their beam to 31.1m (108ft 7in).and compensated for the increased topweight.
  • The hulls were lengthened at the stern by 7.62m (25ft), which helped to offset the increase in beam.
  • They were fitted with a catapult and collapsible crane so that they could operate three floatplanes.

The IJNS Fuso after her modernisation.

Despite these improvements, by 1941 the two ships were no longer regarded as suitable for frontline service. Their short-range anti-aircraft armament was increased during the war, and by 1944 they carried ninety-six 25mm (1-inch) automatic anti-aircraft guns. They spent much of the early part of the war at anchor in Hiroshima Bay acting as training ships, although they were involved as distant support during the Pearl Harbour attack and then operations against the Aleutian Islands.

The Fuso-class battleships at anchor.

As Japanese losses mounted, the two ships took on more active roles. In September 1944 they took Japanese Army reinforcements to Brunei before being assigned to Operation Shō-Gō., the attack on the United States Navy ships supporting the landings at Leyte They formed part of Admiral Nishimura's Southern Force and took part in the Battle of the Surigao Strait.

After coming under attack by nearly thirty aircraft from the USS Enterprise, during which both ships were damaged, they saw off an night-time attack by United States Navy PT Boats.

At 3.09am on 25th October 1944 the IJNS Fuso was hit by one or two torpedoes that were probably fired by the US destroyer USS Melvin. She immediately began to sink, and by 03.50 she had gone down, surrounded by a field of burning oil. Only ten of her crew survived.

At 3.52 the IJNS Yamashiro came under fire from Admiral Oldendorf's Task Group 77.2. She was repeatedly hit by 6-inch, 8-ich, 14-inch, and 16-inch shells during an engagement that lasted only eighteen minutes. She was set ablaze and suffered from one or more internal explosions. She was also hit by a torpedo that damaged her close to her starboard engine room. She then suffered a further four to six torpedo hits, and between 4.09am and 4.21sm she turned over sank. Like her sister, only ten of her crew survived.

* Technically, the Kawachi-class battleships (IJNS Kawachi and IJNS Settsu) were the first dreadnought battleships designed and built in Japan, but their main armament was not uniform as they were armed with four 50-calibre 12-inch and eight 45-calibre 12-inch main guns in six turrets.

These turrets were arranged in a hexagonal layout, with the a pair of 50-calibre 12-inch guns in fore and aft turrets and a pair of 45-calibre 12-inc guns in each of two turrets on both side of the ship.

A general arrangement drawing of the Kawachi-class battleships.

Interestingly, they were originally designed to have a uniform armament of twelve 45-calibre 12-inch guns, but when it was announced that the Royal Navy had introduced 50-calibre 12-inch guns into service, the Japanese Navy decided to do the same ... but were unable to afford to fit more that four per ship, hence the mixture of guns on these ships.

Thursday 18 July 2024

A purely nostalgic purchase

The Japanese battleship Fuso has a special place in my wargaming heart, and when I saw a 1:1200th-scale model made by Superior was on sale on eBay I just had to make a bid.

Amazingly, my bid won … and I am now the proud owner of the model.

So, why is the Fuso so important to me?

The answer is very simple. Whilst taking part in Eric Knowles’ famous Madasahatta Campaign, I commanded her during a battle with a force of German pre-dreadnoughts and cruisers … and my shooting was incredible. We were using a cut down version of Fletcher Pratt’s Naval War Game rules and my range estimation was phenomenal … and very deadly!

After the battle, I wrote a report about it in the campaign’s newspaper (THE BUNGLER) and I have reproduced it below.


by Our Correspondent

The Japanese Squadron, which is commanded by Vice Admiral Iama Quitageza, has already made its mark upon the course of the War in this area. The Squadron, which consists of the dreadnought battleship FUSO, the cruisers NISSHIN and SOYA, and two destroyers, was on its way to the Island when it intercepted the combined might of the German and Turkish Navies in this area.

The Enemy fleet consisted of the battleships KAISER FREDERICK III (which had only recently arrived in this area), HEIREDDIN BARBAROSSA, TORGUD REIS, and MUIN-I-ZAFFAR, the cruisers REGENSBERG and DRESDEN, the gunboat MUCHE, and the patrolship ILTIS, and is thought to have been commanded by the German Admiral Hans Off.

As soon as both sides came into view of one another both fleets opened fire, and the Japanese opening salvoes caused considerable damage. This can be seen by the examination of the gunnery log of the Japanese flagship FUSO –

'1st Salvo – Enemy cruiser (later known to be the REGENSBERG) disabled.

2nd Salvo – German battleship KAISER FREDERICK III sunk (it is thought that at least one of the FUSO's shells penetrated the armour on the aft 12-inch magazine and this caused the KAISER FREDERICK III to blow up).

3rd Salvo – Near hits on enemy cruiser.

4th Salvo – Further near hits on enemy units.

5th Salvo – Enemy cruiser (known to be the DRESDEN) sunk as a result of 9 simultaneous hits.

6th Salvo – MUIN-I-ZAFFAR hit and sunk by several direct hits from 14-inch shells.

7th Salvo – Turkish battleship HEIREDDIN BARBAROSSA badly damaged by several direct hits and near misses.

8th Salvo – HEIREDDIN BARBAROSSA sunk by further hits by 14-inch shells.

9th Salvo – TORGUD REIS explodes as a result of several direct hits from the guns of the FUSO, NISSHIN and SOYA.'

As can be seen from the above extract the Japanese shooting during the battle was excellent, and this is a result of the training the Japanese Navy has had at the hands of a British Naval Mission, and we remind our readers that many of the Japanese ships in service at the moment are either British built or designed.

During this battle I managed to hit and sink a modern enemy light cruiser and four pre-dreadnoughts of dubious and variable quality, and to damage a further enemy light cruiser. Not a bad result from nine salvos (i.e. 108 rounds) of 14-inch shells!

The model of the Fuso is actually how she appeared after she was rebuilt during the 1930s, but owning a model of her was more important to me than not having one in my small collection of 1:1200th-scale model ships.

Wednesday 17 July 2024

Third Portable Wargame Compendium: The final article has arrived

The final article for the next Portable Wargame Compendium has arrived and I spent yesterday adding it to the draft text. I will be sending off for proofreading later today and once any errors have been rectified, I start the publication process.,

The Third Compendium is going to include the following articles:

  • Modifications to the Ancients rules in Developing the Portable Wargame for fighting medieval battles
  • Constantinople Beleaguered ... a PW3x3RW campaign idea
  • A simple English Civil War campaign system for Portable Pike and Shot
  • Simple English Civil War 8 x 8 Campaign Rules
  • Some suggested improvements to the Brigade-level Portable Napoleonic Wargame Rules
  • Developing the Napoleonic Brigade-level Portable Wargame
  • Ideas for developing the Portable Napoleonic Big Battle or FP3x3PW Rules
  • Wargaming the Flagstaff War – New Zealand 1845 – 1846
  • Towards a Portable Gettysburg
  • Sham-Battle and the Portable Wargame: Melding two concepts to produce a set of mini-campaign rules
  • Some well-known scenarios revisited
  • Big Battles, Small Armies
  • A simple framework for narrative campaigns
  • 6 x 6 Portable Wargames

This looks as if it is going to be between 130 and 140 pages long ... and I hope that it will be published by the end of August.

Tuesday 16 July 2024

War Plan Orange

The annual Conference of Wargamers (COW) took place last weekend, and I created a video for a session about the United States' War Plan Orange (i.e. its plan for a future war with Japan).

I have now uploaded it to the Wargaming Miscellany YouTube channel and it can be seen here.

Monday 15 July 2024

The Reina Victoria Eugenia/Republica/Navarra and HMS Adelaide: A tale of two similar light cruisers

Between 1909 and 1922 the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navies commissioned a total of twenty-one light cruisers that were grouped together at the Town-class. In fact, the group comprised five separate sub-classes, each of which was a development of the predecessor:

  • Bristol-class (5 ships, all Royal Navy)
  • Weymouth-class (4 ships, all Royal Navy)
  • Chatham-class (6 ships, 3 Royal Navy and 3 Royal Australian Navy)
  • Birmingham-class (4 ships, 3 Royal Navy and 1 Royal Australian Navy)
  • Birkenhead-class (2 ships, originally built for the Greek Navy but taken over Royal Navy after the outbreak of World War I).

The ships saw a lot of active service during the war, but those that survived were retained in service after it. With the exception of HMAS Adelaide, they were scrapped between 1921 and 1936.

In the run up to World War I, the Spanish Navy decided to have a new light cruiser built, and the design of the Town-class light cruisers formed the basis of the ship that was initially named Reina Victoria Eugenia. The choice of Town-class was hardly surprising as she was built by Sociedad Española de Construcción Naval in Ferrol, a company that was jointly owned by John Brown and Vickers-Armstrong, both of which built ships of the Town-class. Reina Victoria Eugenia was visually different in one significant way from the Town-class; thanks to her steam boilers being arranged three boiler rooms, she only had three funnels rather than the Town-class's four.

The Reina Victoria Eugenia (later Republica) as built.

Due to wartime shortages, the Reina Victoria Eugenia was not completed and commissioned until 1923, by which time she was already obsolete. After being commissioned, she served as the squadron flagship during the Rif War and was renamed Republica after the Second Spanish Republic was proclaimed in 1931.

On completion, her characteristics were as follows:

  • Displacement: 6,348 tons (full load)
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 462ft (141m)
    • Beam: 50ft (15m)
    • Draught: 15ft 9in (4.80m)
  • Propulsion:2 shafts, Parsons-type geared turbines, 12 Yarrow-type coal-fired boilers, 25,500 ihp
  • Speed: 25.5 knots
  • Range: 4,500 nautical miles at 15 knots
  • Complement: 404
  • Armament: 
    • 9 × 152mm (6.0-inch) Vickers-Carraca guns in single mountings
    • 4 × 47mm (1.9-inch) guns
    • 4 × 21-inch (533mm) 2 x 2 torpedo tubes (deck mounted)
  • Armour: Belt:3 - 2-inch; Deck: 3-inch deck; Conning tower: 6-inch

By 1936 Republica was in need of a major refit, and she was out of commission and in dock in Cadiz when the Spanish Civil War started. She was seized by the Nationalists, renamed Navarra, and reconstructed. This involved her having her old coal-fired boilers replaced by eight new oil-fired ones, a new tower bridge superstructure added, one funnel was removed, and six of her 6-inch guns were moved to the centre line, with three of her previous guns being removed). In addition, four German 88 mm AA guns were fitted and her torpedo tubes were removed.

After her refit, her armaments was as follows:

  • 6 × 152 mm (6.0-inch) Vickers-Carraca guns in single mountings
  • 4 × 88mm (3.5-inch) Flak 18 anti-aircraft guns
  • 2 × 40mm (1.6-inch) 2-pounder pom-pom guns
  • 4 x 20mm (0.8-inch) automatic Isotta Fraschini/Breda guns in twin mountings

The Navarra during her reconstruction.
The Navarra after her reconstruction.
A bow view of the Navarra after her reconstruction.
A stern view of the Navarra after her reconstruction.

The Navarra saw little active service during the latter stages of the Spanish Civil War, and after the war she was mainly used as a training ship. She was finally withdrawn from service and scrapped in 1956.

HMAS Adelaide was the Royal Australian Navy's sole member of the Birmingham-class. She was laid down in 1915 at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard, but due to wartime shortages of skilled men and materials as well as design modifications that took into account the lessons learned during World War I, she was not completed until 1922.

HMAS Adelaide as completed.
HMAS Adelaide as completed.

On completion her characteristics were as follows:

  • Displacement: 5,560 tons (full load)
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 455ft (138.8m)
    • Beam: 49ft (14.9m)
    • Draught: 19ft (5.70m)
  • Propulsion:2 shafts, Parsons geared turbines, 12 mixed oil and coal-fired boilers, 25,000 ihp
  • Speed: 25 knots
  • Complement: 483
  • Armament:
    • 9 × 152mm (6.0-inch) guns in single mountings
    • 1 x 76mm (3-inch) anti-aircraft gun
    • 4 × 47mm (1.9-inch) 3-pounder saluting guns
    • 10 x machine guns
    • 2 × 21-inch (533mm) torpedo tubes (submerged)
    • 2 x depth charge chutes
  • Armour: Belt:3-inch

HMAS Adelaide had an active career for the time of her first commissioning until she was placed in reserve in 1928. She was brought forward for refitting and modernisation in 1938. This involved her having two boilers and a funnel removed, her remaining boilers converted to oil-firing only, and the removal of one 6-inch gun, her 3-inch anti-aircraft gun, and her torpedo tubes. Three 4-icnh anti-aircraft guns were added to her armament. She was laid up in 1939 and her crew was sent to the UK to take over HMAS Perth.

HMAS Adelaide after her major refit.
HMAS Adelaide after her final refit.

Just before World War II broke out, HMAS Adelaide was recommissioned. She was used mainly for convoy escort and protection duties, initially in Australian waters and later in the Indian Ocean. She was refitted in Sydney between May and July 1942 and her anti-aircraft armament was enhanced by the addition of six 20mm Oerlikon guns. A further refit took place between June and September 1943, during which a further 6-inch gun and a 4-inch anti-aircraft gun were removed and four depth change throwers were installed.

HMAS Adelaide was initially decommissioned in February 1945 and then recommissioned in May that year as a tender to HMAS Penguin. She was finally decommissioned in May 1946 and sold for scrapping in January 1949.

Sunday 14 July 2024

A Portable Wargame mini-campaign game board: A YouTube video

One of the best wargame purchases I have ever made was to buy Hexon II hexagonal terrain boards. I bought enough to easily cover my extended wargame table. (It is actually two IKEA extending tables. When they are not extended, each is 3' x 2' (90mm x 60mm), so normally I can use an area that is 3' x 4' (90mm x 120mm), but when they are both extended, I have a tabletop that is either 3' x 8' (90mm x 240mm) or 6' x 4' (180mm x 120mm).)

When space in my toy/wargame room became tight and it was difficult to extend my tables (can a wargamer ever have enough storage space?), I looked around for some way that I could wargame on a much smaller terrain board but still use my Hexon II terrain board. In the end, I opted to buy a 3' x 2' (90mm x 60mm) magnetic white board which – after a small amount of modification – could accommodate a 6 x 8 hex grid of Hexon II terrain boards.

Since then I have used it to fight all sorts of wargames, most of which were part of mini-campaigns. As I have found this so useful, I decided to create a short YouTube video to share its usefulness with my fellow Portable Wargamers and YouTube followers.

The video can be found here on the Wargaming Miscellany YouTube channel.

Saturday 13 July 2024

Book sales

It's a very long time since I bothered to look at my total book sales, but just before I added the latest one (A GALLIMAUFRY OF COLONIAL WARGAMES) to the list published by Eglinton Books, I did so. The results are shown below:

Click on the image to enlarge it.

I must admit that I was very surprised to see just how many books had been sold since I started out on my second career as a writer and self-publisher in September 2014. So, in slightly less than ten years I have written and/or published nineteen wargaming or wargame-related books. That averages out at about one every six months, which I think isn't too bad an output for such a niche area of self-publishing.

Friday 12 July 2024


The annual Conference of Wargamers (COW) will be taking place over the next three days, and I should have been going to it. However, my ongoing medical problems made this impossible and for only the third time since it began in 1980 (forty-four years ago!), I will be missing the conference.

I had planned to help another member of Wargame Developments to present a session about the United States' War Plan Orange (i.e. its plan for a future war with Japan) and I produced a PowerPoint presentation to that end. As I will not be going to the conference, I have converted this presentation into a video and will be uploading it to the Wargaming Miscellany YouTube channel in due course.

Thursday 11 July 2024

Two hundred YouTube channel subscribers!

Yesterday the Wargaming Miscellany channel on YouTube reached a milestone that I never expected to achieve ... the number of subscribers passed two hundred!

I only set up the channel on 17th May, and never expected to achieve more than a dozen or so subscribers. To reach two hundred is absolutely gob smacking and a real surprise ... and it will encourage me to carry on making my videos.

Thanks to all my regular blog readers who have also subscribed to the Wargaming Miscellany YouTube channel, and to those of you who haven't yet paid it a visit or thought about subscribing, please do so.

Wednesday 10 July 2024

A Gallimaufry of Colonial Wargames

Some time ago I published a collection of my older colonial wargame rules in PDF format with Wargame Vault. The collection was entitled A GALLIMAUFRY OF COLONIAL WARGAMES and it sold moderately well.

Since then I've had several requests for printed and bound copies of the rules and as a result, I have now published the book in hardback, softback, and Kindle editions, priced at £17.50, £10.00, and £5.00 respectively.

Included in the book are the following rules:

  • Bundock and Bayonet Colonial Wargames Rules
    • Part 1: The Basic Rules
    • Part 2: The Additional and Optional Rules
  • ‘Eres to you Fuzzy Wuzzy: Fighting Colonial battles in the Sudan
  • Hordes of Dervishes
  • Heroes of Victoria’s Empire (HoVE)
  • Colonial Rules for Heroscape™ terrain
  • Restless Natives
  • Redcoats & Dervishes
  • SCWaRes: Simple Colonial Wargame Rules
  • Appendix 1: Heroic Leadership Cards for Heroes of Victoria’s Empire (HoVE)
  • Appendix 2: Special Event Cards for Restless Natives
  • Appendix 3: Heroic Leadership Cards for Restless Natives

Note 1: A gallimaufry is defined as being ‘a confused jumble or medley of things’, hence the title of this book.

Note 2: Please note that some of the rule mechanisms and scenarios contained in this book have been reused in my later books, but they are included for completeness.

Note 3: I originally intended to publish this book in February 2024 ... but then I broke my leg and its publication was shelved (i.e I forgot about it!).