I suppose everyone has it's own favourite ship. and I suppose that some of us might slowly developed some kind of obsession towards the most faitful achievable representation of them.
Heuhen has the Nansen Class.
Acelanceloet the Perry and the Spruance.
For Colosseum, surely is the Alaska Class.
For me, is the Nagato Class Battleship.
I first drew this class in december 2012
, working from Miroslaw Skiwot Monografie Morskie Vol.5. Sources were pretty accurate and the drawings went out well and detailed, also by using some pics to furter refine some less clear areas.
Still, as time went by, some of my subsequent works and the huge amount of source documentation I gathered for them (namely, the Taiho class Carrier and the Fuso class Battleship) made me to start thinking that I could have done more and better with the Nagatos.
So, slowly, I started to deepen my researches to improve some more the details of the Nagato Class drawings. As time passed I found more and more evidence that led me to think about modifying some parts of the ships, to correct small mistakes and to enhance the subtle, but multiple and widespread, differences between the two sister ships. Soon I found myself sinking into such enormous amount of changes that it was clear that a simple quick fix would have not been achievable. The drawings "backbone" was pretty solid but some parts would have needed some heavy retouches and redrawing, this meant that more references and more time was needed to be dedicated to this project. As the sources increased so it did my obsesson towards "perfection", and new drawings, to be added to the original roster, started to be considered too.
The first small fixes possibly started by the end of 2013/early 2014, proceding sporadically and involving just a bunch of pixel adjustments each time. Large scale fixings and modifications began on the first drawing by late november, 2014. Now, two months, tons of pictures and five books later the first drawing is finally finished.
This is a quick overlay made with GIMP that might explain quickly and easily the amount of changes made. The new drawing is superimposted with a 75% opacity over the original one. Only the untouched areas do appear as perfectly black.
I'm planning to give this particular upgrade to all the class drawings, with all the other IJN Nagato ones already underway up to her final 1945 fit (as an anti-aircraft platform before
the July 18th US raid on yokosuka). Mutsu will follow next. I may add a few port&starboard elevations too.
The ultimate, very long term, plan is to give a five-elevations drawing for Nagato in her "classic" appearance, as she looked in 1944 and took part at the Battle off Samar, with full anti-aircraft suite.
Battleship Nagato as of 1920:
Ordered on May 12th 1916 as part of the Eight-Eight Fleet program Nagato, lead ship of her class, was laid down at Kure Naval Arsenal on August 28th 1917, launched on November 9th 1919 and finally commisisoned on november 25th 1920. At the time of her commissioning, she was the fastest and most powerful Battleship afloat, on her speed trailas, on november 23rd 1920, she reached 26,7knots, two-and-a-half knots faster than the British Queen Elizabeth Class. Her main armament was composed of eight 409mm (16.1 inch) guns in four twin turrets, argumented by twenty 140mm (5.5-inch) secondary guns in casemate mounts. A small number of AA giuns, four 76mm (3-inch) singles was also carried. eight torpedo tubes, four on each side, two above and two below the waterline, completed the Ship's armament. Nagato measured 215,8 meters overall, had a beam of 29 and a draft of 9,08, for a full load displacement of 33.800tons. She had an all-or-nothing armour layout with side belts 305mm (12-inch) thick, tapering up to 229mm (9-inch) and down to a 100mm (3.9-inch) torpedo bulkhead designed to resist up to 200kg (409lb) torpedo warheads. Deck armor was split between the 69mm (2.7-invh) main deck and the 75mm lower deck (3-inch). Turrets were 305mm (12-inch) thick on the face, 230mm (9.1–inch) on the sides and 152mm (6.0-inc) on the roof. The barbette armor was 305mm (12-inch) thick. The casemates had a 25mm (0.98-inch) armor plates and the conning tower was 369mm (14.5-inch) thick.
Complement as built was 1.331 officers and men.
Battleship Nagato as of 1922:
In mid-1922, after recieving illustrious guests like former Marshal of France Joseph joffre and Prince of Wales (later duke of Windsor) Edward VIII, Nagato enters the yards for her first refit. To solve smoke-laying issues hampering the bridge structure a large cap was fitted on the fore funnel, the mainmast was also reduced in height and additional scupper pipes were added to the hull sides. Some more minor modifications, like the rearranging of some searchlights and the fitting of a 3,5m rangefinder above the bridge, were also implemented.
On august 28th 1922, Nagato departs Kure for the Siberian coast in preparation of the Japanese troops withdrawal. Mutsu, Kongou, Hiei, Kirishima and Ise join Nagato as part of BattleshipDivision 1.
Battleship Nagato as of 1925:
In semptember 1923 Nagato, along with Mutsu was one of the first ships to transport supplies to Yokosuka in the aftermath of the devastating Kanto Earthquake. She then served as a gunnery trining ship until December 1924 when she entered the yards for a major reconstruction. The works, lasting until March 1925, were focused on the installation of a new fire-control system (labeled "Type 14", replacing the older "Type 13") and on solving the smoke-laying issues affecting the bridge. The most noticeable change was the reshaping of the fore-funnel, which was swept back and lowered to the same height of the after-one, aquiring a peculiar S-shaped silouhette. Larger deckhouses were built inside the heptapodal mast and a fire-control platform was added in place of the uppermost searchlight platform, the lowermost platform was also increased in area. The spotting top was lenghtened forward and a new RDF equipment fitted on the back of the main gun director. Additionally, the anti-torpedo nets were removed, two more 76mm (3-inch) AA guns were added abreast the mainmast and the 3,5m rangefinders fitted above the compass bridge were relocated further aft. Searchlights on the mainmast were relocated and the paravane stowage was modified, casemate guns recieved canvas bags.
In august 1925, under the supervision of aircraft designer Hernst Heinkel, a German-made custom-built take-off platform was fitted on Nagato's turret two and multpile test were made off Tateyama using an Heinkel HD-25 and a Yokosuka Ro-go Ko-gata floatplanes. The platform was later removed, a modified version of it then fitted on both Furutaka class crusiers.
On december 1st 1925 Nagato rejoined BattleshipDivision1 under command of Admiral Keisuke Okada, becoming the Combined Fleet Flagship.
Battleship Nagato as of 1931:
During the summer of 1926 a Yokosuka E1Y2 floatplane was carried on board as the main reconnaissance floaplane. Because no catapult was avaliable a boom for it's handling was fitted on the starboard side, just aft of the mainmast. In december 1928 Nagato became a training ship, visting Hong Kong with her sister Mutsu during the same month, then in May 1929 she acted as a guest ship for Emperor Showa (Hiroito) during his return from the Imperial Cruise. On december 1st 1930 she was reassigned to BattleshipDivision1, serving exacly for a year before beign redesignated as Reserve Ship.
Between 1927 and 1931 some other modifications were implemented: The RDF equipment and navigation lights set on top fo the main rangefinders was modified, the wireless aerials were also replaced, the four above water torpedo tubes were removed, although their hatches were kept as they were. The navigation lights were added ont he mainmast and the two lower levels of the aft superstructure were enclosed.
Battleship Nagato as of 1936:
While beign in reserve, between 1932 and the summer of 1933 Nagato had the 76mm (3-inch) anti-aircraft guns landed and replaced with eight 127mm (5-inch) in four twin mounts. Four 40mm machine guns in two twin mounts were also added. A Kure type 2, model 3 catapult was fitted between the mainmst and the n°3 turret, a new aircraft handling crane was also installed. The old Nakajima E2N replaced with two Nakajima E4N. Meanwhile, on February 25th, 1933, Japan announced it's withdrawal from the league of nations, also deciding to not abide anymore to the Washington Naval Treaty limitations, although this was officially annonced only on December 29th 1934.
On April 1st 1934 Nagato started her main modernization at Kure Navy Yard, works continued until January 31st 1936. During the works her hull was lenghtened aft, a clipper bow retrofitted and torpedo bulges added. Torpedo armament was completely removed. Additional armor was added above magazine and machinery spaces, reaching a total thickness of 207mm (8.1-inch) split between the 69mm (2.7-inch) main deck, 100mm lower deck (3.9-inch) and the 38mm (1.5-inch) splinter deck. The maximum elevation of the 140mm (5.5-inch) casemate guns was increased to 35°, the two forwardmost ones were landed. Main gun turrets were removed altogheter and replaced with new ones, left in stock when the Tosa class Battleships were canceled. The new turrets had a face armor of 460mm (18.1-inch), 280mm (11-inch) on sides and 250mm (9.8-inch) on the roof. Maximum barrel elevation of 43° gave them a maximum range of 42.350 yards (or 37.825m and 20,4nm). All the original 20 boilers were replaced by new oil-fired Kampon boilers, four large and six small with an output of 82.000shp. This allowed the removal of the forward funnel, while the aft one was shifted slighly forward and increased in height. The mainmast was shortened and boat complement modified.
Both forward and aft superstructures were extensively modified with new platforms to house the new Type94 "hoiban" fire-control system and Type92 "shagekiban" artillery calculator. This included:
-Four 12cm observation and direction controllers (kansoku-kyo), two on level 7 and two on level 8 of the pagoda tower.
-Five secondary gun fire directors (fukuo hoiban soyoun sochi), two on level 4 (reserve), one on level 7 and two on level 8.
-Two target course and speed controllers on level 8.
-Two target tracing installations on level 8.
-The target course and speed computer (Type13 sokutekiban) on level 8.
-Two Type94 4,5m rangefinders for the secondary guns on level 7.
-The Type94 10m main gun rangefinder on level 9.
-The Type94 main gun director on level 11.
The main pagoda structure also housed:
-The two forward twin 127mm/40 Type89 High-Angle guns on level 2.
-The 127mm (5-inch) excersize gun on level 3.
-The flag station on levels 3 and 5.
-The navigation bridge on level 5.
-Two 1,5m navigation rangefinders on level 6.
-Two 60cm signaling searchlights on level 6.
-The main lookout station on level 6.
-Four searchlight directors (two on each side) on level 8.
-Six lookout posts (three on each side) on level 8.
-The battle bridge on level 10.
-The RDF equipment.
The aft superstructure housed:
-The two aft twin 127mm/40 Type89 High-Angle guns on level 2.
-The flag station on level 4.
-Two Type94 4,5m rangefinder for the aft HA guns on level 5.
-Two Type91 directors for the aft HA guns on level 6.
-The after bridge on level 6.
-Four lookout posts (two on each side) on level 6/7.
-The auxiliary Type94 main gun director.
Lattice platforms and deckhouses were added abreast the after, and now only, funnel they housed:
-Two lookout posts (one on each side).
-Two Type94 4,5m rangefinder for the forward HA guns.
-Two Type91 directors for the forward HA guns.
-Six 110cm searchlights.
Now with an overall lenght of 224,94m (738ft) a beam of 34,6 (113.5ft) and a draft of 9,49m (31.2ft) Nagato displaced 39.130tons standard and 43.580tons at full load, her top speed drops to 25,3knots. Complement increases to 1.368 officers and men.
Battleship Nagato as of 1941:
On february 26th 1936, less than a Month after her refit had ended Nagato had to be unexpectedly called into action: a group of 1.500 young Army officers attempted a coup by storming the Diet and several others key buildings, Nagato berthed at Odaiba with her main guns trained at the Diet building, while a landing force was formed with the junior sailors. Ultimately the coup failed and the rebels surrendered on Febrary 29th.
On August 21st 1937, after war against China started, Nagato carried Army soldiers to Shanghai, on the 23rd, during transfer operations she collided with Light Cruiser Ooi suffering minor damage. Repairs were cairred out at Sasebo from August 25th, during thsat docking, or sometime before the end of the year the mainmast was further shortened. On December 1st 1937 Nagato moved to Yokosuka, to serve as a training ship.
Somewhere between 1938 and 1939 a newer Kure type 2 Model 5 catapult was fitted and the aft deckouse was removed in order to increase the aircraft-handling area. This allowed for an increase of reconaissance planes from 2 to 3, which were also upgraded to Nakajima E8N, replacing the older E4N. Anti-aircraf armament was also improved, the four 40mm 2-punders were replaced with 20 25mm machine guns in ten twin mounts: Six were added on the pagoda bridge, two on level 3 and four on level 6, which necessitates the removal of the 1,5m navigation rangefinders that were relocated on level 7. The last four mounts were added on new platforms erected around the funnel, aft of the existing searchlight ones. Six enclosed lookout post were also removed, four from level 8 of the pagoda tower, and one from the midship searchlight and director platforms: four machine gun directors replaced them.
On December 15th 1938, Nagato rejoined BattleshipDivision 1 under the command of Captain Fukudome Shigeru, becoming once again the Flagship of the Combined fleet, a role she held until February 12th 1942, when relieved by Yamato.
On September 1st 1939, Commander In Chief Admiral Yamamoto boarder the ship, the next month Nagato partecipated in fleet excersizes, then whith Aircraft Carrier Akagi she took part in test trials for Radar systems.
In 1940, the boom for aircraft-handling fitted on the mainmast was removed, and a foldable crane was added on asponson, on the portside. then on October 11th 1940, Nagato and 98 other Combined Fleet warships were anchored in Yokohama Bay for the Imperial Naval Review. Emperor Hiroihito and Admiral Yamamoto passed by the fleet on board the newly rebuilt Battleship Hiei.
During the spring of 1941 Nagato underwent her las pre-war refit: The main-gun barrels were replaced, Barbette armor was increased by 100mm (3.9-inch) above and 215mm (8.5-inch) below the waterline for a total thickness of 405mm (15.9-inch), a Degaussing cable was added.
During the 1937-1941 timeframe, on unknown dates, the second starboard anchor was removed, the flag station on level 5 on the pagoda mast reworked, new antenna work was added on the superfiring main gun turrets, extra deckhouses added on the pagoda bridge, wind baffles fitted on the battle bridge and an Anti-Aircraft command station placed at level 9.
In November 1941, after conducting wargames at Hashirajima Nagato departed Hashirajima for Saeki to host a farewell to the departing Kido Butai units, bound for Operation Z.
Back on Hashirajima, ti was from the deck of Nagato that Admiral Yamamoto sent the signal "Niitaka Nobore" (Climb Mount Niitaka) to the Kido Butai, effectively allowing the Strike Force to Attack Pearl harbor on December 8th. A date that will go down in history (or live in infamy, depending on how you see it): The morning of December the 7th,1941, Hawaii time.
Nagato as of June 1944:
A type 21 Air Search radar had been added between May 31 and June 6, just two days before Mutsu's loss. Two 25mm machine guns were added too, but it is unclear if in a twin mount or in two single mounts, anyway, their position is unknown. The Misubishi F1M2 had replaced the older Nakajima E8N in February 1943.
Battleship Nagato as of october 1944: in the ways
Battleship Nagato as of 1945: in the ways
Battleship Mutsu: 6 or 7 drawings to come.