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(laid down as SUZUKA, OTONASE and MINASE, respectively; renamed in November, 1921)
Notes: The NAGARA class were a development of the preceding KUMA class, and were the first Japanese cruisers to carry the 24" torpedo. They were designed and built with flying-off platforms over the #1 and #2 gun mounts, forward of the bridge. Hangars were built into the bridgework, giving them tall, slab-sided forward superstructures. However, it appears that these were never used. ISUZU was fitted with a revolving catapult and a seaplane during a refit in May, 1932 - 1933; she also received a tripod mainmast at that time. At the same time, her take-off platform was removed, and she received a quad 13mm AA mount forward of the bridge. Two twin 25mm AA guns replaced the 3.1" AA in 1938.
At the outbreak of World War II, ISUZU was serving off the coast of Hong Kong with the 15th Escort Squadron; their mission was to prevent British reinforcements from reaching Hong Kong. On 6 December 1941, ISUZU and the destroyers IKAZUCHI and INAZUMA sank the British gunboats CICADA and ROBIN. Following the surrender of Hong Kong, ISUZU remained there as a guard ship, although she made several sorties escorting transports. On 10 April 1942, ISUZU was transferred to CruDiv 16 of Vice Admiral Takahashi Ibo's 2nd Southern Expeditionary Fleet, along with her sisters NATORI and KINU. On 25 September 1942, ISUZU became the flagship of Destroyer Squadron 2. On 13 October 1942, in the company of Vice Admiral Kurita's BatDiv 3, ISUZU shelled American shore batteries on Tulagi Island. They were attacked by American PT boats, but no hits were scored. ISUZU was present at the Battle of Santa Cruz on 24-25 October 1942, but was undamaged. ISUZU took part in the Naval Battles off Guadalcanal on 13-14 November 1942; she was bombed by American dive bombers on the morning of the 14th and suffered two near-misses; these caused the #3 boiler room to become flooded, and her top speed was reduced to 15 knots.
Following emergency repairs, ISUZU returned to Yokosuka on 14 December 1942. ISUZU entered drydock at Yokohama on 19 January 1943 for repairs and modifications. Her #7 5.5" mount was removed and replaced by two 5" AA guns in a twin mount; her #5 5.5" mount was removed at the same time. Two triple 25mm AA mounts were added, as well as a Type 21 air search radar. On 1 April 1943, ISUZU was assigned to CruDiv 14 with the light cruiser NAKA, and returned to the South Pacific for more duties. On 4 November 1943, after unloading troops at Kavieng, ISUZU sailed into a minefield; she suffered damage to her forward hull, and two of her 5.5" mounts were disabled. On 5 November 1943, ISUZU was strafed by American aircraft and suffered further damage. Following emergency repairs at Truk, ISUZU returned to service. She was further damaged as American aircraft bombed Roi on 5 December 1943. Once again, emergency repairs were made (this time at Kwajalein). Thereafter, ISUZU sailed for home for more permanent repairs, arriving at Yokosuka on 23 January 1944.
While there, it was decided to convert ISUZU to an anti-aircraft cruiser; work began on this project on 1 May 1944. Her remaining 5.5" guns were removed, and two more twin 5" AA guns were added, bringing their total to six guns. Her light anti-aircraft armament consisted of 39 - 25mm AA guns, in eleven triple and six single mounts. Her catapult and aircraft were removed, and she was fitted with sonar and depth charges. ISUZU also had Type 13 air search and Type 22 surface search radars added. On 20 August 1944, ISUZU was made flagship of CruDiv 31 (Anti-submarine) under Vice Admiral Edo Heitaro. Following training in the Inland Sea, ISUZU departed home waters as a part of Operation "Sho-Go" ("Victory") on 20 October 1944. She took part in the Battle of Leyte Gulf on 25 October 1944. While there, ISUZU unsuccessfully tried to tow the aircraft carrier CHIYODA (following American airstrikes which disabled the carrier). Later that evening, while recovering survivors from other carriers sunk that day, ISUZU and several destroyers came under fire from an American cruiser force. The destroyer HATSUZUKI was sunk; ISUZU was hit and 13 of her crew were killed. ISUZU then returned to Kure for repairs, arriving there on 29 October 1944; repairs took slightly over two weeks. On 19 November 1944, 55 miles west of Corregidor, the American submarine HAKE fired a spread of six torpedoes at ISUZU; one hit aft, causing severe damage to her stern and destroying her rudder. ISUZU sailed for Singapore for repairs, arriving there on 23 November 1944. After transferring to Surabaya, full repairs took over five months.
ISUZU returned to service on 4 April 1945. With the torpedo boat KARI and the minesweepers W-12 and W-34, ISUZU transported troops from Kupang to Sumbawa Island. Early on the morning of 6 April 1945 while northwest of Sumbawa, ISUZU suffered near-misses by bombs dropped by Dutch B-25 bombers. After landing her troops later that day at Bima Bay, Sumbawa Island, ISUZU was hit by bombs dropped from Australian B-24's, but her damage was slight. On 7 April 1945, 60 miles northwest of Bima, ISUZU took a torpedo hit (from the American submarine GABILAN, operating as a part of three-sub "wolfpack") on her portside below the bridge. She began to list to port, her speed dropped to 10 knots, and was down by the bow. About two and a half hours later, while ISUZU's crew was attempting to make emergency repairs, the American submarine CHARR (SS-328) hit ISUZU with three more torpedoes. After her bow broke completely off, ISUZU capsized to port and sank. 451 of her crew were rescued, but 190 were killed.
(Note: Many thanks to Combined Fleet for most of ISUZU's operational history!!)