Aircraft / Aviation Vehicles & Artillery Infantry Arms Warships & Submarines Military Ranks Military Pay Chart (2024)
Naval Warfare

IJN Kongo

Battlecruiser / Battleship Warship [ 1913 ]

The IJN Kongo was sunk by the USS Sealion in 1944, marking the last time a battleship was sunk by a submarine in naval history.

Authored By: JR Potts, AUS 173d AB | Last Edited: 08/08/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

In 1911 the Imperial Japanese Diet (Teikoku-gikai) passed funds to support the Naval Emergency Expansion Bill that authorized the design and construction of a battleship and four battlecruisers. Due to a lack of port facilities and big guns in Japan proper, the Japanese navy approached Great Britain and Sir George Thurston to propose blueprints of a battlecruiser to be built in England for the Pacific nation. An agreement was reached and the keel to what would become the IJN Kongo was laid down on January 17th, 1911, at the Vickers shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria and she would be formally commissioned in August of 1913.

The IJN Kongo was first of a class of four-strong 26,230 ton battlecruisers for Japan and the last major Japanese warship to be built out of the country - the other three would be built in Japan. She was the first ship in the Japanese navy - and the world - to feature 14-inch (356mm) main guns and four dual-mounted turrets, two held forward and two aft. This arraignment allowed a full complement of 8 x big guns to engage a target in unison. As built, the secondary armament were sixteen single-mounted 6-inch (152mm) guns with eight located to port and eight to starboard. Anti-aircraft protection was 8 x 3-inch (76mm) guns in single mounts, these evenly divided around the ship deck structure. As in most capital ships of the day, the Kongo was fitted with 8 x 21-inch (533mm) torpedo tubes in mounts of four on each side of the ship.

As mentioned, the three remaining ships of the Kongo-class were built in Japan using the blueprints of the original. Next in line came the IJN Hiei in 1914 followed by the IJN Haruna and the IJN Kirishima, both of these in 1915 and all three built at local Japanese shipyards. Each was completed with a small bridge and two identifiable tripod masts. The ships sported three funnels and a sleek profile. Interestingly, the Vickers design supported the present-day methodology of the battlecruiser as having heavy armament, a high maximum speed and limited armor protection. The armor protection used in 1913 was 23.3 % of the ship's total weight and she was built to take fire from 14-inch enemy shells at ranges up to 21,900 yards. Her overall firepower made the IJN Kongo, and her class, some of the most formidable ships in the world at the time.

The British appreciated the Kongo design to the point that the Lion-class of battlecruisers and her lead ship - the HMS Tiger - were thought to have been influenced by the Japanese design. The British knew war was coming to Europe and contacted the Japanese to lease the Kongo and her sister ships, however, Japan politely declined. On August 3rd, 1914 the German Empire declared war and, within days, the Japanese government demanded that Germany remove their troops from Tsingtao. Germany refused and Japan declared war against the German Empire on August 23rd and subsequently attacked and took the German island possessions in the Marshalls, Caroline, and Mariana Islands and the stronghold islands of the Palau group. Kongo and Hiei, assigned to the First Battleship Division, were directed to support Japanese troops by patrolling the Chinese coast. Kongo spent World War 1 at the Naval base at Sasebo or on patrol along the Chinese coast.©MilitaryFactory.com
Kongo and her sisters became the pride of the Imperial Japanese Navy who continued to modernize the class as years went on. Kongo was placed in reserve in 1918, the final year of the war, and received anti-torpedo bulges to her hull and upgrades on her deck armor. In 1924, the decision to improve the tripod masts by adding supports allowed for watch point platforms to be installed. Additionally, extra searchlights and spotter positions on the new massive pagoda mast developed by the Japanese Navy itself was installed. A hood was added to the most forward funnel to reduce smoke on the new pagoda. The turrets were modified to allow the gun elevation to increase from 30-degrees to 40-degrees. New boilers were added and armor was increased by 3,800 tons, reducing her maximum speed from 27.5 knots to 25.9 knots. Space for three floatplane aircraft were added along with a catapult launcher and retrieval crane.

Kongo was kept in local waters until a drastic refit took place from 1933 to 1940 - just in time to see the Japanese military active in actions preceding World War 2. The main focus was to regain the speed lost during the last refit. The existing propulsion machinery, including the boilers, were removed and replaced. Lighter boilers and turbines now allowed the reduction of one of the funnels, reducing weight and doubling the ship's power. To further help increase speed, the hull was lengthened (26 feet / 8.0 meters) giving Kongo an increased length-to-beam ratio. The ship's speed increased to over 30 knots (approximately 35mph) allowing Kongo to keep up with the new generation of aircraft carriers. Her speed now allowed her to be formally classified as a "fast battleship".

At the outbreak of World War 2 in the Pacific, Kongo was positioned to attack the Philippines, Malaya, and the Dutch West Indies. During the Battle of Midway, Kongo was stationed with Admiral Kondo's covering group. Kondo and Hiei were needed at Guadalcanal to shell Henderson Field. Later, on November 13th, 1942, Hiei and Kirishima were engaged with the US Navy and inflected heavy damage on American ships. However, Hiei herself was hit by naval fire and air attack and sank the next day. Kongo was removed for her final refit and was not involved in combat operations until 1943 and into 1944. She was sent to aid the Japanese fleet during the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944. Kongo was witness to the destruction of the Imperial Japanese fleet during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval battle in recorded history.

Kongo was then ordered back to Japan in late November of 1944 and passed through Formosa Straight. On November 21st, she was sighted and sunk by the US Navy submarine, the USS Sealion. This action made the IJN Kongo the only Japanese battleship to be sunk by a submarine in all of World War 2 and her downing also marked the last time a battleship was sunk by a submarine in naval history.©MilitaryFactory.com
Note: The above text is EXCLUSIVE to the site www.MilitaryFactory.com. It is the product of many hours of research and work made possible with the help of contributors, veterans, insiders, and topic specialists. If you happen upon this text anywhere else on the internet or in print, please let us know at MilitaryFactory AT gmail DOT com so that we may take appropriate action against the offender / offending site and continue to protect this original work.


Service Year

Imperial Japan national flag graphic
Imperial Japan

No Longer in Service.


IJN Kongo; IJN Hiei; IJN Haruna; IJN Kirishima

National flag of modern Japan Imperial Japan
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Offshore Bombardment
Offshore bombardment / attack of surface targets / areas primarily through onboard ballistic weaponry.
Offshore strike of surface targets primarily through onboard missile / rocket weaponry.
Maritime Patrol
Active patroling of vital waterways and maritime areas; can also serve as local deterrence against airborne and seaborne threats.
Airspace Denial / Deterrence
Neutralization or deterrence of airborne elements through onboard ballistic of missile weaponry.
Fleet Support
Serving in support (either firepower or material) of the main surface fleet in Blue Water environments.
Flag Ship / Capital Ship
Serving in the fleet Flag Ship role or Capital Ship in older warship designs / terminology.

692.3 ft
211.01 m
91.7 ft
27.95 m
27.5 ft
8.38 m

Installed Power: (1913) 4 x Shaft Parsons Turbines; (1924) 4 x Shaft Parsons turbines; 10 x boilers; (1937) 4 x Shaft Parsons turbines; 8 x boilers.
Surface Speed
27.5 kts
(31.6 mph)
8,000 nm
(9,206 mi | 14,816 km)

kts = knots | mph = miles-per-hour | nm = nautical miles | mi = miles | km = kilometers

1 kts = 1.15 mph | 1 nm = 1.15 mi | 1 nm = 1.85 km
8 x 14" /45 caliber (356mm) Mk I main guns (4x2)
16 x 6" /50 caliber (152mm) guns (16x1)
8 x 3" /40 caliber (76mm) Dual-Purpose guns (8x1)
4 x 6.5mm anti-aircraft machine guns

8 x 14" /45 caliber (356) Mk I main guns (4x2)
16 x 6" /50 caliber (152mm) guns (16x1)
4 x 3" /40 caliber (76mm) Dual-Purpose guns
4 x 21" (533mm) torpedo tubes (16 x torpedoes)

8 x 14" /45 caliber (356mm) Mk I main guns (4x2)
14 x 6" /50 caliber (152mm) guns (14x1)
4 x 3" /40 caliber (127mm) Dual-Purpose guns (4x2).
8 x anti-aircraft machine guns

8 x 14" /45 caliber (356mm) Mk I main guns (4x2)
8 x 6" /50 caliber (152mm) guns (14x1)
8 x 5" /40 caliber (127mm) Dual-Purpose guns (4x2).
122 x 25mm Type 96 anti-aircraft autocannons

Supported Types

Graphical image of a modern warship turreted deck gun armament
Graphical image of a historical warship turreted main gun armament
Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft aerial torpedo

(Not all weapon types may be represented in the showcase above)
None as built. Three floatplanes from 1924 onwards.

Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War period
Military lapel ribbon for early warship designs
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2

Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective naval campaigns / operations / periods.

Images Gallery

1 / 3
Image of the IJN Kongo
The IJN Kongo as a Battlecruiser
2 / 3
Image of the IJN Kongo
The IJN Kongo in 1931 with revisions about her design
3 / 3
Image of the IJN Kongo
Official US Navy spec sheet detailing the IJN Kongo design

Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies

2024 Military Pay Chart Military Ranks DoD Dictionary Conversion Calculators Military Alphabet Code Military Map Symbols

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com. No A.I. was used in the generation of this content; site is 100% curated by humans.

Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, WDMMA.org (World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft), WDMMW.org (World Directory of Modern Military Warships), SR71blackbird.org, detailing the history of the world's most iconic spyplane, and MilitaryRibbons.info, cataloguing military medals and ribbons. Special Interest: RailRoad Junction, the locomotive encyclopedia.

©2023 www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-2023 (20yrs)