The Royal Navy introduced the 13.5-inch gun as the main battleship armament with the HMS Orion of the 1909 Program. In an instant other countries saw that to continue to build capital ships with the old international standard main armament of 12-inch guns, would create obsolescent ships from the start. Japan ’s answer was to do the British one better with the 14-inch gun for their British built battle cruiser Kongo, laid down in January 1911. All future battleships would also be armed with this weapon and the first of these was Fuso, laid down on March 11, 1912 at Kure . With Fuso, not only did Japan trump the British in gun size but also trumped the British and Americans in main gun quantity mounting twelve guns as opposed to the ten guns of RN and USN contemporaries. Shorter than the Kongo, Fuso was able to carry 50% greater armament because as a battleship designed for 22 ˝ knots, she did not need the machinery plant of the battle cruiser design with a maximum speed of 27 ˝ knots. Of all of the factors necessary for warship design, high speed requires the most space.

Fuso4360pro.JPG (11080 bytes) Fuso4361sfdia.JPG (12518 bytes) Fuso4362padia.JPG (14221 bytes) Fuso4364plan.JPG (10524 bytes)
Fuso4371bow.JPG (12527 bytes) Fuso4366pag.JPG (14200 bytes) Fuso4367bowon.JPG (9099 bytes) Fuso4369mid.JPG (17467 bytes)

Originally laid down with tripod masts and minimal superstructure, the Fuso and sistership Yamashiro became noted for their towering pagoda superstructure fitted during various refits and rebuilds in the 1920s and 1930s. Because of their slow speed the pair saw little action during World War Two, although they did sortie in an effort to intercept Enterprise and Hornet after the Doolittle raid. They finally saw action as the southern pincer of the Japanese attack plan in response to American landings at Leyte Gulf . The pair along with cruiser Mogami and a number of destroyers were intercepted in the Surigao Strait by layers of American and Australian defenders. First PT boats went in against them, then destroyers and finally at the north exit to the straits, a battleline of battleships and cruisers crossed their T. However, Fuso didn’t make it that far as one or more torpedo hits from a destroyer attack, ignited her amidship’s magazines and she blew apart into two burning halves. In the 1930s Tremo manufactured a model of Fuso, called Huso in the west at the time. It is interesting to see how far the art of 1:1250 model manufacturing has come when one contrasts the modern Neptun Fuso, #1204, with the Tremo model of 70 years earlier.

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