Japanese destroyer Ikazuchi (1931)

For other ships with the same name, see Japanese destroyer Ikazuchi.
Ikazuchi underway on 11 April 1936
Empire of Japan
Name: Ikazuchi
Namesake: Japanese destroyer Ikazuchi (1898)
Ordered: 1923 Fiscal Year
Builder: Uraga Dock Company
Laid down: 7 March 1930
Launched: 22 October 1931
Commissioned: 15 August 1932
Struck: 10 June 1944
Fate: sunk in action 13 April 1944
General characteristics
Class and type: Fubuki-class destroyer
  • 111.96 m (367.3 ft) pp
  • 115.3 m (378 ft) waterline
  • 118.41 m (388.5 ft) overall
Beam: 10.4 m (34 ft 1 in)
Draft: 3.2 m (10 ft 6 in)
  • 4 × Kampon type boilers
  • 2 × Kampon Type Ro geared turbines
  • 2 × shafts at 50,000 ihp (37,000 kW)
Speed: 38 knots (44 mph; 70 km/h)
Range: 5,000 nmi (9,300 km) at 14 knots (26 km/h)
Complement: 219
Service record
Ikazuchi underway off China in 1938

Ikazuchi ( "Thunder") [1] was the twenty-third Fubuki-class destroyer, or the third Akatsuki class (if that sub-class is regarded as a separate class), built for the Imperial Japanese Navy in the inter-war period. When introduced into service, these ships were the most powerful destroyers in the world.[2] They remained formidable weapons systems well into the Pacific War.

Ikazuchi, built at the Uraga Dock Company was the third of the “Type III” improved series of Fubuki destroyers, incorporating a modified gun turret which could elevate her main battery of Type 3 127 mm 50 caliber naval guns to 75° as opposed to the original 40°, thus permitting the guns to be used as dual purpose guns against aircraft.[3] Ikazuchi was laid down on 7 March 1930, launched on 22 October 1931 and commissioned on 15 August 1932.[4]


Construction of the advanced Akatsuki-class destroyers was authorized as part of the Imperial Japanese Navy's expansion program from fiscal 1923, intended to give Japan a qualitative edge with the world's most modern ships.[5] The Akatsuki class had performance that was a quantum leap over previous destroyer designs, so much so that they were designated Special Type destroyers (特型 Tokugata). The large size, powerful engines, high speed, large radius of action and unprecedented armament gave these destroyers the firepower similar to many light cruisers in other navies. The Akatsuki sub-class was an improved version of the Fubuki, externally almost identical, but incorporating changes to her propulsion system.[6]

Operational history

On completion, Ikazuchi was assigned to Destroyer Division 6 along with her sister ships, Inazuma, Hibiki, and Akatsuki, under the IJN 1st Fleet and participated in operations in the Second Sino-Japanese War.

World War II

At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Ikazuchi was assigned to Destroyer Division 6 of Desron 1 of the IJN 1st Fleet, and had deployed from Mako Guard District to provide cover for landing operations in the Invasion of Hong Kong. After assisting the cruiser Isuzu in sinking British gunboats HMS Cicada and HMS Robin, she helped secure Hong Kong Harbor. After the start of 1942, Ikazuchi deployed from Hong Kong to Davao, providing cover for landing operations during the Battle of Ambon, and Battle of Timor in the Netherlands East Indies.[7]

On 2 March 1942, Ikazuchi, along with Inazuma, rescued 442 survivors from the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Encounter and United States Navy destroyer USS Pope. These ships had been sunk the previous day in the Second Battle of the Java Sea, along with the cruiser HMS Exeter, in the Java Sea between Java and Borneo, off Surabaya. The survivors had been adrift for some 20 hours, in rafts and lifejackets or clinging to floats, many coated in oil and unable to see. Among the rescued was Sir Sam Falle, later a British diplomat.[8] This humanitarian decision by Lieutenant Commander Shunsaku Kudō placed Ikazuchi at risk of submarine attack, and interfered with her fighting ability due to the sheer numbers of rescued sailors. The action was later the subject of a book[9][10] and a 2007 TV programme.[11][12][13]

Ikazuchi deployed from Ōminato Guard District in support of Admiral Boshiro Hosogaya’s Northern Force in the Aleutians campaign, patrolling waters around Kiska and Attu during June and July, and towing the damaged destroyer Kasumi from Kiska back to Shimushu in the Chishima Islands. She continued to be assigned to northern patrols in the Chishima islands and Aleutian islands through the beginning of August.[14]

From September, Ikazuchi was reassigned as escort for the new aircraft carriers Zuihō and Unyō, which the destroyer accompanied to Truk, and missions in the Solomon Islands and back to Kure Naval District.

From October, Ikazuchi was used for numerous “Tokyo Express” high speed transport runs throughout the Solomon Islands.[15]

On 25 October 1942 Ikazuchi, Akatsuki, and Shiratsuyu conducted a daylight raid into the waters off Guadalcanal. In the resulting action, the fast minesweeper USS Zane was damaged and fleet tug USS Seminole and patrol craft YP-284 were sunk before the Japanese ships were driven off by US Marine coastal artillery. Ikazuchi suffered light damage from strafing attacks by Allied aircraft, with four crewmen killed.

Ikazuchi participated in the first night action of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on 13 November 1942. Stationed on the right flank of the battleships Hiei and Kirishima with two other destroyers, she engaged several U.S. warships, among them the cruiser USS Atlanta, and received hits to her forward gun mount, which caught fire. In the battle, 21 crewmen were killed and 20 injured, and she had to return to Truk for emergency repairs.[16]

After repairs at Yokosuka Naval Arsenal from December to the end of February 1943, Ikazuchi returned to the north Pacific, and was present at the Battle of the Komandorski Islands on 26 March but saw no action. On 30 March, she collided with the destroyer Wakaba, suffering moderate damage.

Ikazuchi was reassigned to Desron 11 of the IJN 1st Fleet on 1 April 1943. After repairs at Yokosuka, she returned to Truk, and escorted convoys between Truk and the Japanese home islands until mid-April 1944.

Under the command of Lieutenant Commander Ikunaga Kunio, on 13 April 1944, while escorting the transport Sanyō Maru to Woleai, Ikazuchi was torpedoed and sunk by the submarine USS Harder, approximately 200 miles (320 km) south-southeast of Guam at position 10°13′N 143°51′E / 10.217°N 143.850°E / 10.217; 143.850Coordinates: 10°13′N 143°51′E / 10.217°N 143.850°E / 10.217; 143.850. There were no survivors.

On 10 June 1944, Ikazuchi was removed from the navy list.[17]


  1. Nelson. Japanese-English Character Dictionary. Page 943
  2. Globalsecurity.org. "IJN Fubuki class destroyers".
  3. F Fitzsimons, Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare (London: Phoebus, 1977), Volume 10, p.1040.<
  4. Nishidah, Hiroshi (2002). "Akatsuki class 1st class destroyers". Materials of the Imperial Japanese Navy.
  5. Fitzsimons, Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare p.1040
  6. Peattie & Evans, Kaigun page 221-222.
  7. IJN Ikazuchi: Tabular Record of Movement
  8. BBC News (2003-06-13). "Reunion for sailor saved by enemy". Retrieved 2008-06-29.
  9. Megumi, Ryuunosuke (2006-07-05). "敵兵を救助せよ!—英国兵422名を救助した駆逐艦「雷」工藤艦長". Tokyo, Japan: Soshisha Publishing Company. ISBN 978-4-7942-1499-7.
  10. hisashi (2007-05-21). "Kudo Shunsaku and the Destroyer Ikazuchi". Retrieved 2008-06-29.. This forum discussion contains a brief summary of the 2006 Megumi book's account of the HMS Encounter and USS Pope rescues.
  11. "The Untold story of Captain Kudo Shunsaku and the Destroyer Ikazuchi". 2007-05-19. Retrieved 2008-06-29.
  12. gyokai (2007). 日本の武士道1 Japanese BUSIDO saved lives (video). YouTube. Retrieved 2008-06-29. In Japanese. See also part 2 and part 3.
  13. 伊勢, 雅臣 (2006-08-13). 駆逐艦「雷」艦長・工藤俊作 (in Japanese). Retrieved 2008-06-29.. In Japanese. A summary of the 2007 television program.
  14. Morison. Aleutians, Gilberts and Marshalls, June 1942-April 1944.
  15. D’Albas. Death of a Navy: Japanese Naval Action in World War II.
  16. Hammel. Guadalcanal: Decision at Sea.
  17. Nishidah, Hiroshi (2002). "Akatsuki class destroyers". Materials of the Imperial Japanese Navy.


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