By late 1942, it had become clear to the Japanese Naval General staff that the use of first class, high performance, fleet type destroyers for the numerous resupply, landing, escort, and convoy operations being conducted in the Solomon Islands and throughout the South Pacific was a waste of a valuable and limited resource. Between June, 1942 and January, 1943, 17 of these destroyers were lost and another 40 were damaged. Most of these incidents occurred while either acting as destroyer transports or during landing and reinforcement related activities, and not the fleet action type role that they were built for. Their rising attrition rate compelled a new destroyer design that could be built quickly and used primarily for escort, destroyer transport, and the occasional fleet escort duty. Emphasis was placed on survivability, antiaircraft defense and ASW, with a reduced focus on the heavy torpedo batteries and the high speeds required for fleet actions.
Nine designs were drawn up and evaluated during December,
1942. The eighth one (F 55H) was chosen in February, 1943 and designated the D
Type destroyer. [A Type = fleet type DD (Kagero, Yugumo, etc.); B Type – AA type
DD (Akizuki); C Type = high speed type DD (Shimakaze)]. Simplified, standardized
construction was emphasized to facilitate rapid production. It was expected that
construction would take six months per ship.
To accomplish this, the size of the ship was reduced from the typical fleet destroyer, along with simplified hull lines utilizing fewer curved plates. The long forecastle aspect was retained, but the bow was straight, with less flare. Milder, thicker steel that was easier to produce was utilized for the hull plating, and fittings were simplified as much as possible. The superstructure was simplified by ignoring streamlining and using a box-like arrangement. It was also reduced in height from the usual three decks to two.
The reduced emphasis on speed allowed for a deeper draft hull as well as a shorter length-to-width ratio than typical for a first-class destroyer. The hull was 100m/328ft. in overall length, with a maximum width of 9.35m/30’8” and a draft of 3.3m/10’10”. Standard and battle condition displacements were approximately 60% that of a Kagero or Yugumo class destroyer.
The two turbine/shaft design of the Otori class large torpedo boats, powered by two Kampon boilers and producing a total of 19,000shp, was adopted as a matter of expediency and the lower speed requirements. The main reduction gear was redesigned to accommodate a slightly different RPM for the propeller shafts; otherwise, the powerplants were identical. As a result, a top speed of 28 knots was achieved. Their maximum range was 3,500 nautical miles at 18 knots. And, for the first time in an IJN ship, the boilers and turbines were arranged in alternating compartments in order to improve survivability in case of damage. Exhaust gases were channeled through two thin funnels
Their main armament consisted of three 12.7cm/40cal Type 89 naval guns. This gun had a relatively high rate of fire, along with good elevation and training speeds, though a lower muzzle velocity then the standard 12.7cm/50cal gun used aboard the first-class destroyers. While used primarily as the main heavy AA weapon of the Imperial Japanese Navy, it was deemed sufficient to act as a dual-purpose gun aboard the Matsus. The forward mount was a single gun, semi-enclosed by a wave spray shield. The aft mount was a twin mount with minimal shielding, identical to most such mounts carried by most IJN capitol ships. Both mounts were controlled by a new, simplified, model fire control director, known as the Type 4 Model 2.
Additional AA was provided for in the form of four triple and eight single 25mmAA mounts. The singles were mounted on permanent bases. Over time, additional single mounts were added, often totaling 12-13 of the single 25mmAA. No MG directors were provided for.
There was debate about what type, if any, torpedo armament should be included. Experience in the Solomons dictated that some sort of torpedo armament was desirable. It was recognized that only one mount could be provided for, with no reloads. Discussions examined variants of both the 53cm/21” and 61cm/24” type torpedoes; at one point, the feasibility of a sextuple 53cm mount was examined in order to increase the odds of a hit from a one mount salvo. Ultimately, it was decided to use the standard quadruple mount of four 61cm/24” Long Lance torpedoes with no reloads.
ASW work was aided by the use of two Y-gun throwers, two roll-off racks at the stern and 36 depth charges. Over time, that number was increased to 48, and then to 60 depth charges. Sonars were provided in the form of a Type 93 active sonar and a Type 93 hydrophone. Other sensors included a Type 22 surface search radar mounted on a pedestal in top the bridge. Later in the war, a Type 13 air search radar was added to the mainmast aft.
Forty-two ships were initially authorized under the Modified 5th Naval Armaments Supplemental Program of Fiscal Year 1943. Construction was split between the Maizuru NY, Yokosuka NY and the Fujinagata Shipyard. Eighteen of these ships were completed as designed, but the need for an even simpler, modular design that could be constructed in 3 months was soon mandated. The remaining 24 ships were revised to this simpler design, designated F 55B and known as the Tachibana batch. Eight of this design were completed by war’s end, while the remaining members were subsequently cancelled (eleven of which had not been laid down).
Another thirty-two Tachibana type were authorized under a subsequent program. Of these, six were completed, four laid down but canceled, and the remainder never ordered. A further eighty vessels of a modified Tachibana design were eventually authorized, but none were ever ordered. For those trying to keep count, eighteen Matsu and fourteen Tachibana types were completed by war’s end.
Named after trees, they were considered a good design for their role. Sometimes termed destroyer escorts by Western sources because of their smaller size, they were not so considered by the Japanese. Eighteen of these ships were operational at war’s end and used for the repatriation of Japanese military and civilian personnel back to Japan. Eventually, all were scrapped or used as breakwaters.
Despite the short combat service life of the Matsu class
ships as a whole (barely 15 months), Take (竹 – Bamboo) did manage to carve out a
notable history for herself. Launched at the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal on March 28,
1944, and commissioned 2-1/2 months later on June 16th, Take was the third Matsu
class sister completed. She was assigned to DesRon 11 and spent her first month
on the Inland Sea, training.
A month later, the first four, newly commissioned Matsu class sisters were assigned to DesDiv 43. The division assumed a role as convoy escort, and joined convoys to Taiwan, Manila, and Palau. On August 20th, DesDiv 43 was re-assigned to the newly formed Escort Squadron 31 under Fifth Fleet, with light cruiser Isuzu as its flagship. The squadron was organized specifically as an anti-submarine warfare entity. However, individual ships and divisions continued to primarily act as convoy escorts.
In late August, Take participated in the rescue of survivors from both light cruiser Natori and destroyer Samidare, both torpedoed by US submarines in separate incidents. October was spent escorting convoys to and from Manila. On October 24th, Take assisted destroyer Harukaze in the sinking of USS-Shark (SS-314) by depth charge attack, then rescued 347 survivors of torpedoed Arisan Maru and returned them to Manila.
In November, Take was tasked with escorting several Japanese convoys attempting to reinforce Imperial Japanese Army forces on Leyte with men, supplies and munitions to counter American landings there. Termed the Operation TA convoys, these convoys originated from Manila with a terminus at Ormoc Bay on Leyte. Take began by accompanying the outbound third TA convoy, but was replaced by other destroyers returning with the remnants of TA No. 4.
TA No. 4 had actually sortied a day before No.3 due to the effects of a recent typhoon upon the transports of TA No. 3 while at Manila. Take was fortunate in having to switch escort duties, as her replacements were mostly sunk in an ensuing air attack later that day. The devastation visited upon TA No. 3 was such that it was two weeks before the Japanese resumed the TA convoys.
Take was the escort for three T-1 type fast transports as part of a two-prong convoy that made up TA No.5. The other section was also composed of three T-1 class fast transports escorted by a subchaser. Air attacks from US Task Groups 38.1 and 38.2 devasted the convoys. Take and T-9 were the only survivors and returned to Manila; no ship made it to Ormoc Bay.
On Dec 1st, Take and sister Kuwa were again tasked to escort a portion of TA No.7. There were several component groups to this reinforcement convoy. Of note here is that Take and Kuwa were escorts to fast transports T-9 and two smaller types while carrying some troops and supplies themselves. All members reached Ormoc Bay and unloaded their cargoes successfully in the middle of the night. On the return, this TA group ran into a USN force of three destroyers sent specifically to intercept this convoy.
In what became known as the Battle of Ormoc Bay, the Americans surprised the Japanese force when they arrived from the south around midnight. The American destroyers opened fire using radar directed gunfire, damaging both Kuwa and Take. As force flagship, Kuwa placed herself in the van of the Japanese force, returned and received heavy fire, and eventually succumbed to fatal shell damage.
While following Kuwa’s lead, Take took advantage of the situation and managed to launch two torpedoes at the American division before taking medium damage from gunfire that was now concentrated on her. Two of her four torpedo tubes malfunctioned due to electrical or valve problems. Minutes later, USS Cooper suffered a catastrophic torpedo hit amidships, breaking in two and quickly sinking. The remaining American force then broke off the actions and withdrew.
Listing badly, with one set of engines damaged and her searchlight destroyed, Take managed to take on board some Kuwa survivors and gather up the rest of the convoy. She then managed to guide her transports safely back to Manila without further incident. Repairs on her engine were ineffective at Manila. Using one engine, she escorted a small convoy to Formosa (Taiwan), then continued on to Japan. She put into the naval base at Kure on January 2, 1945.
Repairs commenced at Kure, but were not completed until late April. An air raid on Kure during mid-March saw some slight damage to Take. Once repaired, Take trained with Kaiten units in anticipation of American landings in Japan. Some sources indicate she may have had a temporary Kaiten launching ramp installed over the stern. Eventually, though fully operational, Take was moored with several other Matsu class ships at the Maizuru Naval Arsenal on an inactive basis, all disguised with foliage. Such was her state when Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945.
The US Navy requisitioned her for repatriation duties that October. She participated in numerous repatriation voyages until mid-1946. She was then moved to Yokosuka and handed over to Great Britain as a war prize in 1947. Take was subsequently scrapped that same year in Japan.
|MATSU CLASS KITS|
This is the fourth 1/700 tooling of the class in the past
Fujimi released a Matsu class kit as part of the Waterline Consortium’s initial batch of 1/700 IJN vessels. Nominally a Matsu class vessel, the kit was an unsatisfying mashup of Matsu and Tachibana class details that better represented the Tachibana class. The hull had simplistic lines, flat sides, a transom stern, and a boxy cross-section that was more typical of the Tachibana’s simplified hull structure. Superstructure details were also sparse, though the bridge was molded with the separate structural column to support the Type 22 radar sported on the earlier, Matsu type ships. The armament was simplistically shaped. However, the main deck was more detailed than might be expected, with anchor chains and treaded deck plate on the forecastle, main battery base rings, a molded on rear deckhouse, depth charge racks and, surprisingly, linoleum tiedown strips.
There were boxings of two sisters, that of Matsu class ships, Matsu and Sakura. Surprisingly, this kit is still available for sale.
A welcome antidote to the Fujimi kit, this Matsu class tooling offers plenty of positives. Though simplistic, it’s sharply molded and its hull, though devoid of any detail save anchor recesses, is properly shaped and has a rounded stern. The decking has metal treading and decently detailed mounting rings for the main armament. The superstructure is also properly shaped, with some nice details like hinged watertight doors, and the funnels look right. The masts and davits are nicely scaled while the armament and radar are clearly superior to the Fujimi kit.
Two versions were released: Matsu as built, and a late war Sakura, with additional Type 13 radar and single 25mm AA mounts. These kits are still in production and the basics are sound enough that the well-regarded ship accessory manufacturer Five Star has produced two different photoetch upgrade sets for it, both fairly extensive.
Though released 10 years after the Tamiya kits, Pit-Road clearly sensed an opportunity and issued a Tachibana class kit to round out the second round of offerings. I’ve always thought this molding to be as good as any of their IJN destroyer kits. The hull is accurately shaped and sized, though it does show some slight sink-hole depressions toward the bow and has the typical Pit-Road semi—recessed portholes. There’s also some flash on some small pieces. The main decks have plenty of details and some molded-on equipment like small K-gun depth charge racks and single 25mm AA bases. Aside from the rear deckhouse, the deck is clear of obstructions, which aids in painting.
The bridge is very nicely detailed, as are its bulkheads. For some reason, the aft deck house is a bit sparser on details. Equipment and weapon are also nicely detailed, and the kit comes with one E-10 DD equipment sprue. The kit also comes with parts of a post-war bridge included, meant for another boxing of the kit as the JMSDF Wakaba, which was ex-IJN Nashi. (Nashi was sunk in July, 1945, subsequently raised in 1954, reconstructed and recommissioned in 1956 as a training ship. She was fitted as a radar trials ship two years later, serving until 1971 and then scrapped.) The kit is still available today and has been reboxed to represent other sisters Sumire, Kaki, and Hatsuzakura. Some versions are offered with either a class specific photo etch fret or a full hull option.
The Review Kit: 1/700 Take 1944, Matsu Class Destroyer
Apparently, Yamashita Hobby sees room for improvement
with the kits for this class. It comes in the typical Yamashita Hobby boxing,
with artwork depicting Take’s nighttime action at the Battle of Ormoc Bay. The
kit is molded in a medium grey plastic, without sinkholes or flash. There are
eleven sprues containing 148 parts, not all of which are used.
|HULL SPRUE (RMT-M)|
This is the main hull sprue. The hull itself is split
into halves and is strictly a waterline version. It’s cleanly molded with very
sharp details, including portholes (only a scattering, as befits the late war
construction), properly shaped anchor recesses, mooring bits atop the gunwales,
propeller guards, and subtle raised seam lines for plating. There are no subtle
depressions or sinkholes. Nor is there a degaussing cable, as these ships were
built without them.
|MAIN DECK SPRUE (RMP)|
It’s single piece that includes both the forecastle and
main decks. It is a very impressive bit of molding, with treading decking,
linoleum tie downs, anchors chains, capstan, man battery bases, single 25mm
bases, boat cradles, deck hatches, openings for the boat davits, and stern deck
extensions for the roll-off depth charge racks. All the details are very sharp,
very clean, and extremely well scaled.
The only nitpick is a pair of Aztec stairs that lead from the forecastle down to the main deck, but they are very thin and nicely done. The underside of the deck has slots that align with the top of the “T” runner from the waterline plate. I suspect that, all glued together, the hull is a flat and rigid structure.
A small sprue, this holds the roof piece for the compass bridge deck, a searchlight platform for the aft deckhouse, the Type 22 radar mounted on its support column, an aft bulkhead for the bridge, a small platform for the aft end of the bridge, and a separate piece of decking for the aft end of the compass bridge deck. All details are sharply and cleanly molded.
This particular sprue holds the anti-wave/splinter shields for the main battery 12.7cm/40cal mounts, the single and twin guns for same, a searchlight, a searchlight director, port and starboard navigation light boxes for the bridge, search binoculars, jackstaffs, a torpedo reload davit, the simplified main battery rangefinder/director and base, an auxiliary pipe for a funnel, a Type 13 and a Type 22 radar, and two engine room air intakes. All the parts are sharply detailed and scaled; the main mount shields, search binoculars and directors in particular.
|SPRUE RMT-2 (x2)|
A larger sprue, this one contains a 10m Shohatsu
cargo/landing craft, a 6m cutter, a quad 61cm/24” torpedo mount, shield and base
ring, deck vent intakes, K-gun type depth charge throwers and racks, a Y-gun
depth charge thrower, the main engine room intake grill, davits for the 10m
Shohatsu, a roll-off depth charge rack, assorted hawser reels, depth charge and
torpedo handling davits, and an anchor.
Another large sprue, this one carries the reinforced,
hidden waterline plate, the components to the aft deckhouse (sides, roof, 25mm
AA emplacement), the major components of the bridge structure (base bulkheads,
compass bridge deck and windows), both funnels, the funnel caps, the raised
midships bandstand for 25mm AA, the mainmast foreleg and trailing tripod legs,
and the base rings for the main battery mounts.
|SPRUE PH700.21 (X2)|
|These are sprues dedicated to the single 25mm AA mounts. Each sprue holds eight mounts. This sprue was first introduced with the Inazuma 1944 (Fubuki Type III) kit in 2017. These mounts are pretty nice. Not quite as good as, say, the Fine Molds Nanodread versions, but these are more than adequate.|
|SPRUE PH700.25 (X2)|
This sprue contains three each of the twin and triple
25mm AA mounts. Also included are eight 25mm ammo boxes, a Type 13 radar and a
Type 22 radar. Like the previous sprue, this one was also introduced in 2017.
|None are included, which is the usual Yamashita Hobby practice.|
These are in Japanese and handled in the typical format.
They consist of one large sheet printed front and back in black, white and gray,
then folded into six panels. The front panel portrays the usual reprint of the
cover art; a second panel has plan and line drawing views keyed to Mr. Color
callouts for painting, and is paired with the sprue/parts breakdown. The rest of
the sheets have a step-by-step progression of assembly using exploded,
three-point perspective illustrations.
|Admittedly, the desire for a new
Matsu class kit has not been something that I’ve dwelled on much. I’ve always
thought the now venerable Tamiya kit to be perfectly serviceable, even if it’s
short on some detailing. However, now that this new Yamashita Hobby kit is
available, I can see how short-sighted my thinking was. The sharpness and
complexity of the detailing is superb. Setting aside the shaping of the 25mm AA
armaments, YH has produced another clear winner. This kit appears far superior
to the older Tamiya kit.
This kit comes courtesy of my wallet. I don’t see this kit currently offered for sale by US distributors, but the cost at Hobbylink Japan is approximately US$11.87, plus shipping. Offers on eBay are considerably higher.
|This is an in-box review showing the kit contents. We welcome your input and comments in the review section of the forum especially if you can share details about fit, ease of assembly and accuracy. Click the logo on the right to join in the discussion.|