Welp, had this modified design sitting in dry dock for awhile now, guess it's time for her sea trials!
The Zao class heavy cruisers were a class of 3 ships. The lead of which was named Zao, followed by Senjo and Kunimi. The class became one of the most advanced heavy cruisers of the time.
The class was designed taking in account lessons learned from older Japanese cruiser designs. And with Japan no longer having to bide by any naval treaty the ship designers were able to create a ship without major restrictions.
Both Zao and Senjo were completed relatively the same. Zao and Senjo measured 225 meters with a beam of 20.2 meters and a draft of 6.5 meters. Kunimi was completed with a length of 210 meters. The class was installed with 8 Kampon boilers, producing a total of 160,000 shp driving 4 steam turbines give the Zao class a top speed of about 35 knots. The class weighed about 13,000 tons and 16,000 fully loaded, Kunimi weighed slightly less but this difference is negligible.
Belt armor was around 165mm, Gun turrets were 30mm, the barbettes were 25-100mm and the conning tower was 100mm (removed in 1941 refit.) All ships of the Zao class carried quadruple torpedo launchers, two on each side, four in total. One strange difference is that class only carried a single catapult while most ships in which the Zao class was based off of carried at least two. The deck was armored to resist hits from 500 pound bombs.
Both Zao and Senjo were completed with new triple 203mm gun turrets, however the turrets proved too troublesome and both ships were rearmed with the standard 203 double turrets. N 1939, Kunimi was used as a test bed for the new: Type 1 252mm year 1 guns.
The guns featured a new semi automatic loading system. The new system removed the need for sailors to man the main turret and loading powder bags. The Sailors were only need for the loading of the shells to the turret. The loading and sending of bag chagres were done the ship's computer. While in theory the system worked well in practice the system was clumsy and prone to breakdown if not handled properly. It took until 1941-2 for the teething problems of the turrets to be resolved.
While reload time was reduced by 50% the time it took to train the men to operate the turrets and that special handling it required, meant that only Kunimi was fitted with this armament system. The reason Kunimi kept the guns was due to the huge amount of rewiring that would have been required.
The class were fitted with 8 double 140mm secondary gun turrets, in reality hey we're only place holders until the 100mm DP guns were ready.
However there was a flaw in the design, that was in the placement of the torpedo tubes. The tubes were all placed just above the propeller shafts and rudder. This was a flaw that wasn’t realized until the sinking of both Zao and Senjo in which detonation of the torpedo's severed the stern of both the ships. Kunimi’s tubes were moved forward away from the propellers in an attempt to reduce the danger, however it was still close. Another flaw was that a small hatch and thin bulkhead separated the torpedo bay from a small passage way that lead down into the rear magazines. This was a major factor in the sinking of Zao. However it is debated in whether or not it made a difference
in reducing the threat of magazine detonation if the torpedo's exploded.
Kunimi as she appeared in 1939
Kunimi as she appeared in 1944, torpedo tubes have been moved away from the stern. The 1944 a design flaw in which the torpedo bay was connected to the rear magazines. The additional 100mm DP AA gun is prominent, as is the different superstructure when compared to Zao.
Zao is the oldest sister, she is longer then Kunimi and has a different bow design. Along with the old torpedo tube placement and 2 less 100mm DP AA gun turrets.
Anyways, credit to the legendary BB1987 who's work I based my own off of.
So what do you guys think? Did I do well with one of my very first designs? Looking foreward to what you guys think.