Japanese heavy cruiser model ship
was the first of four Takao-class heavy cruisers,
designed to be an improvement over the previous Myōkō-class design.
The Takao-class ships were part of the Imperial Japanese
Navy's strategy of the Decisive Battle and of forming
the backbone of a multipurpose long-range strike force.
Takao was named after a mountain.
start of World War II, Takao was commanded by Captain
Asakura Bunji and assigned to Vice Admiral Kondo
Nobutake's Cruiser Division 4 together with her sister
ships Atago and Maya. In late December 1941, she
provided gunfire support for the landings at Lingayen
Gulf on Luzon in the Philippines.
early 1942, Takao operated in the Battle of the Java
Sea in early March. On March 1, one of Takao's
floatplanes bombed the Dutch merchant ship Enggano. The
next night, Takao and Atago sank the old United States
Navy destroyer Pillsbury with no survivors.
March 4, Takao, Atago, Maya and two destroyers, attacked
a convoy near Tjilatjap. The Royal Australian
Navy sloop HMAS Yarra defending the convoy was sunk with
34 survivors of her crew of 151. (Of these 34 survivors,
only 13 were alive to be picked up a week later by the
Dutch submarine K XI and taken to Ceylon.) The Japanese
cruisers then sank three ships from the convoy: the
tanker Francol, the depot ship Anking, and a
minesweeper. Two Dutch freighters were also captured.
1942, Takao and Maya supported the invasion of the
Aleutian Islands. On June 5, Takao shot down a B-17
August 1942, Takao was assigned to Operation Ka, the
Japanese reinforcement during the Battle of Guadalcanal,
and participated in the Battle of the Santa Cruz
Islands on October 26. A determined attempt to shell the
US base at Henderson Field led to the Naval Battle of
Guadalcanal: early in the morning of 15 November 1942,
the battleship Kirishima, supported by Takao and Atago,
engaged the American battleships Washington and South
Dakota. All three Japanese ships hit South
Dakota multiple times with shells, knocking out her
radar and fire controls. However, Kirishima was quickly
disabled by Washington and sank a few hours later. Atago was
damaged. Takao escaped unharmed.
1943, Takao supported the evacuation of Guadalcanal. She
operated in the central Pacific from her base at Truk.
On 5 November 1943, while being refuelled at Rabaul in
the Bismarck Islands she came under attack by SBD
Dauntless dive bombers from USS Saratoga. Takao was hit
by two bombs that killed 23. Her damaged steering
mechanism forced her to return to Yokosuka in Japan
October 1944, Takao joined the "Centre Force".
On October 23, as she was passing Palawan Island, the
force came under attack from two US submarines.
Takao was hit by two torpedoes from USS Darter, which
shattered two shafts, broke her fantail and flooded
three boiler rooms. She turned back to Brunei, escorted
by the destroyers Naganami and Asashimo, the torpedo
boat Hiyodori and the transport Mitsu Maru. This
flotilla was tailed by Darter and Dace until after
midnight on 24 October, when Darter ran aground on
the Bombay Shoal and Dace stayed to rescue her crew.
Takao was so badly damaged that it was considered
impossible to send her back to Japan any time soon for
full repairs. So the stern was cut off and shored up,
and she was moored as an anti-aircraft battery for the
defense of Singapore. While berthed there, she was
attacked on July 31, 1945 by the British midget
submarine HMS XE3. The submarine attached six limpet
mines to Takao's hull using a piece of rope (the hull
was covered with thick layer of seaweed, and the magnets
of the limpet mines would not hold them on the hull.)
When the mines exploded, they blew a hole 20 m by 10 m.
Most of Takao's guns were put out of action, the
rangefinders were destroyed.
September 1945, the Straits of Johor naval base was
surrendered by the Japanese to the British and the
formal boarding of the still partially manned Takao took
place on 21 September 1945. She was finally towed to
the Straits of Malacca to be used as a target
ship for HMS Newfoundland and sunk on October 19, 1946.