Yozei class protected cruiser:
As soon as the first hull plates of the Takakura began to be assembled, Koko no Kaigun ordered another class of protected cruisers from Germany. Requirements called for four units to be built, smaller but faster than the two Takakuras. This resulted in ships 110,4m long, 13,2m abeam and with a draft of 6,5m. For a displacement of 4.275T. Six coal-fired, transverse, cylindrical, double water-tube boilers powered two vertical 3-cylinder triple-expansion engines that drove two four bladed propellers. For a top speed of 19,5 to 20 knots. Range was extensive for the time, at 3.500 nautical miles at 12knots cruising speed. As the main armament the ships were to carry twelve 105mm guns, aumented by six 50mm ones and two 450mm torpedo tubes. There was no conning tower, but deck armor was 20mm thick, which increased to 25mm on its sloped section. Complement was 302 oficers and men. The first two ships, Yozei and Shomu, were built at AG vulcan shipyards in Stettin, between 1889 and 1894. The third, Mommu, at Schichau-Werke in elbing, and completed in 1895. All three served one stin at Koko no Kaigun flagship (Yozei in 1892-1894, Shomu in 1894-1895 and Mommu in 1895-1896).
Overall, the ships proved to be fast, long ranged and manouverable as promised, but they were very unstable, badly rolling in heavy seas. to correct such problem the fourth ship, Temmu, to be built at AG vulcan, was redesign and delayed. All 105mm guns were moved in gunports and sponsons in the hull, previously, four of them were at deck level, and four of the 50mm ones were relocated from casemate position to the former spot of the relocated 105mm ones. Such design modification vastly improved the rolling problem, although it did not elimated it altogether. Temmu was also the fastest of the four, capable of 20,5 knots. Delivered and commissioned into Koko no Kaigun in 1898, the last protected cruiser built in Germany to enter service before the Navy switched to a British/Japanese influence.
The same year Temmu was commissioned, all other ships began entering local yards to underwent correcting refits and being rearmed. The twelve 105mm guns were replaced by ten 120mm ones, all moved into the hull, and the six 50mm replaced by four 76mm guns. An extended open bridge was added forward and the ships repainted. Works were completed between 1898 and 1901.
Despite being in service for only four years, Temmu was also recalled to be rearmed in 1902-1903, following similar lines of that of her sisters. One distinguishing element was the casemate layout being more widely spaced as a result of her modified design. After being recommissioned, Temmu acted as Koko no Kaigun flagship for about a year.
Together with the newly refitted cruiser Daigo, the four sisters were the most useful assets Koko no Kaigun had at the start of the Russo-Japanese war. For most of the conflict they patrolled the Soya Strait between Hokkaido and Sakhalin (Karafuto) to keep the Russian Pacific fleet movements in check, but they eventually rushed south to attempt intercepting the fleeing Russian ships after the battle of Tsushima. Late in the evening, on May 28th 1905, they spotted the fleeing cruiser Izmrud and attempted to give chase, but Izmrud superior speed (24 knots) allowed the Russian ship to flee (it will eventually run aground the same night, forcing it to be scuttled). Temmu and Yozei (together with Daigo), briefly opened fire. although no hits were scored (reports from the Russians calls for all the shots being way off target), they were the first Kokoan ships to fire their guns in anger at an enemy target.
Before the start of WWI all four ships recieved some small minor modifications, such the deletion of the aft spottin top and the expansion of the bridge deckhouses. Being 20-years old and fairly outdated, they were left patrolling close to the home islands. Just after the end of the war Temmu was fitted with an extra spotting platform on the foremast.
Eventually, all ships were decommissioned between 1920 and 1925 and sent to the breakers.
Ships in class: (laid down-launched-commissioned - fate)
Yozei 1889-1891-1892 - Decommissioned 1920
Shomu 1891-1893-1894 - Decommissioned 1921
Mommu 1892-1894-1895 - Decommissioned 1922
Temmu 1895-1897-1898 - Decommissioned 1925