Imperial Japanese Battleship Kashima (1906)

Batttleships KASHIMA's name written in Chinese characters (Kanji)

Battleship KASHIMA at Yokosuka, 1906
Kashima lords it over the Yokosuka anchorage soon after arriving in Home waters, 1906. Enlarge

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When the battleships Hatsuse and Yashima were suddenly sunk by mines in May 1904, the Katori and Kashima were rush-ordered as emergency replacements. As it happened Japan won the war handily before they could be completed. Kashima was built at Armstrongs' Elswick Works to a modified Mikasa design, up-gunned by adding a 10" turret at each corner of the superstructure, showing the influence of the King Edward VII class (which mounted four 9.2s in similar fashion); Katori was made at Vickers to the same design. These Japanese ships had a narrow, cross-shaped superstructure due to the corner cutaways for the 10" turrets; otherwise, the impression was that of a slightly enlarged Mikasa. On deck each ship carried two 56' torpedo launches, fully equipped. Sister Katori was able to sustain just over 20 knots (37 km/h); for eight hours on trials. These two ships were the last foreign-built battleships in the Japanese service, although Japan had been building its own cruisers and destroyers for more than a decade by this time. They were also the last class of Japanese battleships equipped with the archaic ram bow. They saw wartime service with the Japanese fleet, but no fighting.

Plans and Specifications

Specifications for the Kashima class:
Dimensions: 455' x 78'2" x 26'7". Displacement: 16,400 tons. Armament: (4) 12"/45 cal (2x2), (4) 10"/45 (4x1), (12) 6"/45, (12) 12-pdr and (3) 3-pdr guns; (5) submerged 18" torpedo tubes. Armor: Krupp Cemented type throughout. 9"/6½" belt; 9" turrets and conning tower; 9"/5" barbettes and bulkheads; 8"/6" secondary turrets; 6" casemates; 4" upper belt; 3" deck. Fuel capacity: 1,200 tons of coal std; 2,000 tons maximum. Propulsion: (12) coal-fired Niclausse boilers; (2) 4-cyl vertical triple expansion engines developing 17,000 hp, shafted to twin screw. Maximum speed: 18.5 kts. Crew: 780.

Metric specs:
Dimensions: 139m x 24m x 8.1m. Displacement: 16,400 tons. Armament: (4) 305 mm/45 cal (2x2), (4) 254 mm/45 (4x1), (12) 152 mm/45, (12) 12-pdr and (3) 3-pdr guns; (5) submerged 450 mm torpedo tubes. Armor: Krupp Cemented type throughout. 229/152 mm belt; 229 mm turrets and conning tower; 229/127 mm barbettes and bulkheads; 203/152 mm secondary turrets; 152 mm casemates; 102 mm upper belt; 76 mm deck. Fuel capacity: 1,200 tons of coal std; 2,000 tons maximum. Propulsion: (12) coal-fired Niclausse boilers; (2) 4-cyl vertical triple expansion engines developing 12,677 kW, shafted to twin screw. Maximum speed: 34.3 km/hr. Crew: 780.

Ships' Histories

At left, the Katori as she appeared in China circa 1910. Although they saw no actual fighting, the Kashimas did introduce some significant improvements to the Japanese navy. They carried an improved, more powerful 12"/45 main gun, one that soon found adherents in the Emperor's fleet. This became the prototype modeled by Japanese arsenals as they started rolling out their own ordnance in precisely this period. In the boiler room, the Kashimas introduced oil-spraying for boosted steam pressure when needed for raising steam quickly or for hard acceleration at sea; they were powerd by four-cylinder VTEs developing 17,000 hp. As in contemporary British ships, this was an unqualified success operationally, but also initiated Japan's dependence on foreign oil. Among the causes of World War II in Japan, the thirst for petroleum trails only the megalomania of her wartime leaders.

Both ships fell victim to the Washington Treaty terms in the 1920s. In her final years, Katori became the floating home of Crown Prince Hirohito on his voyage to Europe in 1922. This state visit was undertaken when Hirohito was becoming emperor in practice (if not yet in name) due to the mental illness of his father, the Taisho Emperor. In 1928 Hirohito was officially crowned and the momentous Showa era commenced. By the hour of Hirohito's coronation, Katori had been reduced to lumps of scrap metal and fed to the furnaces of Progress four years since.

Kashima Class Photos

Newly completed and afloat on the Tyne, Kashima is readied for sea by her Japanese crew, 1906. Enlarge

A starboard side view of Katori at Toulon, June 1921. The midday sun admirably picks out the details of her midships gunhouse.

And the other side: a near-perfect port side profile of Katori is achieved in this photograph.

A bows-on view of Katori during her voyage bearing Crown Prince Hirohito to Europe, October 1922. Enlarge

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