After the end of World War One and the subsequent Washington Treaty, the cruiser became the subject of the competition among the three leading naval powers, Great Britain, the United States and Japan. The Royal Navy had a great number of light scout cruisers in the 3,000 to 6,000 ton range and preferred this size for cruiser design. Because of her lengthy lines of communication, she needed quantity not size. Japan, which had followed the British lead also had numerous scout cruisers. The USN only had the Omaha Class built after the war. In the forthcoming cruiser race, the US and Japan favored building the heaviest cruisers possible, while Britain wanted greater numbers of smaller cruisers. As a result the building of light cruisers in Japan disappeared for a time.
By 1931 Japan had used up her allowable tonnage of heavy cruiser construction but with the upcoming retirement of some light cruisers, she could begin construction of this type. The Japanese Navy chose to build the largest type possible with the Mogami Class. Armed with fifteen 6.1-inch guns and said to displace 8,500 tons, in reality 9,500 tons, this class of light cruiser was a major escalation in the size of the light cruiser. The USN followed suit with the Brooklyn Class and the RN with the Sheffield or Town Class. In reality Japan had intended to rearm the class with 8-inch guns as soon as possible and designed the Mogami Class to facilitate this change.
The Japanese Navy stayed wedded to the concept that light cruisers should be flagships for destroyer squadrons and the 5,500 ton light cruiser constructed shortly after World War One still served in this role. The cruisers of the Mogami Class were too large and expensive to serve in this capacity, so Japan needed replacement tonnage of smaller light cruiser for these flagship roles. The answer was the four ships of the Agano Class. These were large ships of 571-feet and 6,652 tons (8,534 tons full load). For their size they were under-gunned with three twin 6.1-inch turrets. Originally they were to have four twin mounts but X turret was eliminated to allow a heavier torpedo armament. The first, Agano, was laid down on June 16, 1940.
The next year a new class of light cruiser was designed to serve as flagship for submarine flotillas. Two of the class were authorized and the first was laid down February 14, 1941. This was the Oyodo. She was even larger than the ships of the Agano Class. With a length of 630 feet, Oyodo was longer than the Treaty cruisers of the USN and equal to the RN County Class. At 8,164 tons (11,433 tons full load) she was a large warship. Following the same design principles of the Tone Class heavy cruisers the entire aft half of the ship was designed around seaplane capacity and facilities. She was designed to operate six Aichi E15K1 Norm floatplanes. Since Japan had by then converted the Mogami Class to heavy cruisers, the spare triple 6.1-inch turrets of that class were now available for armament. The Oyodo received two of the triple mounts mounted forward. Although very lightly gunned for their size, the class was not designed for surface action but to control the movements of submarines. As a general rule the armament of a warship is the component that takes the longest time to construct, so that by using the landed 6.1-inch turrets of the Mogami Class building times for the class could be in theory much shorter than normal. Five additional cruisers of this class were authorized the following year (1942). Under the modified 1942 program, another two were authorized The Oyodo was given a lighter armor scheme than the Agano but doubled the AA armament. She was also the only Japanese cruiser design without torpedo tubes, again based upon the idea that she was not for surface action.
The Norm floatplanes were to act as aerial reconnaissance for the submarines of the squadron in order to find targets to which the submarines could be vectored. The aircraft design was a failure and only four of the aircraft reached the IJN by 1942. Six were sent to Palau, from which Oyodo operated but they were quickly shot down. Only fifteen of the type were ever produced. Oyodo only operated two of this aircraft. Of the total of nine cruisers of the class authorized, Oyodo was the only one that was ever started. Her machinery was rated at 110,000 shp giving a maximum speed of 35 knots on trials. By 1944 she was modified to make her the Combined Fleet flagship with two Aichi E13A1 Jakes being substituted for the hapless Norms.
Oyodojoined the fleet in December 1943. She moved from base to base as the ports became untenable due to increasing USN aircraft dominance. Oyodo was with Admiral Ozawa’s northern decoy force at the Battle of Leyte Gulf and became the flagship after Zuikaku was seriously damaged and subsequently sunk. Oyodo was the only ship of this force that still had reconnaissance floatplanes. Oyodo remained lightly damaged during the battle with one bomb hit and two rocket hits from a Hellcat fighter, plus some near misses. From Leyte Gulf she went to Camranh Bay in Indo-China (Vietnam) and on December 26, 1944 was attacked by B-25s. Two 500lb bombs hit but one failed to explode and Oyodo only received slight damage. In February 1945 returned to Japan. There, along with the remnants of the Imperial Fleet, she became a floating target for increasing USN aerial attacks. In a raid on March 15, 1945 Oyodo was hit by three to five bombs and had several near misses from Admiral Mitcher’s TF58. She received superficial repairs but was now only capable of 12 knots in calm waters. She was laid up at Eta Jima near Kure and on July 24 was slightly damaged in another attack with four more bomb hits and several near misses from 50 aircraft of TF38. Four days later the USN bombers made another call and Oyodo’s time was up. In a 40 plane attack Oyodo was hit another four times. An engine room and boiler room on the starboard side were ruptured and she capsized to the starboard with 300 of the crew being lost. In 1947 she was raised and towed into port. In 1948 the hulk of the Oyodo was broken up. (History from Cruisers of World War Two by M.J. Whitley; Japonski lekki krazownik OYODO Profile Morskie #60 by Piotr Wisniewski and Slawomir Brzezinski)
The newest title in the Profile Morskie series from Firma Wydawniczo-Handlowa of Poland is on the Oyodo. It is the 60th title in the series. If you have not seen any of the recent titles from Profile Morskie, they are now written in Polish and English, which enhances their value to the English speaking modeler. The volume is 62 pages in length, plus covers. The written portion of the title runs for nine pages but two of the pages are taken up by full-page photographs. The text in Polish and English tracks all the significant events in the history of the Oyodo. A good portion of the detail of the operational history of the Oyodo found above is from the text in the volume. The title also includes 25 photographs of Oyodo, many of which I have never seen before.
Of course with any Profile Morskie title the major portion of the volume is composed of detailed drawings of the ship and her fittings. With this title on Oyodo, there are 14 pages with drawings of the ship and her fittings. Depending upon the portion of the ship portrayed or the fitting shown the scale varies but is always annotated on the drawing. The turrets, masts, stack and superstructure drawings are all in 1:200 scale with smaller fittings being shown in 1:100 scale. The smallest fittings are shown in 1:50 scale. There is one forward superstructure drawing as part of the text portion of the title showing her bridge at Leyte Gulf done in 1:400 scale. It is important to note that these drawings could be used as templates in scratch-building the Oyodo in 1:200 or 1:400 scale. They examine the superstructure of the ship one portion or area at a time and show all of the faces to that portion. Cross-hatched areas on the plans show where another structure was attached. All of the areas are numbered to refer the modeler to the drawings of the structure or fittings that are attached to the cross-hatched areas. The drawings are also a basis for super-detailing the one model that is available on the Oyodo, which is in 1:700 scale. Whether you are building the 1:700 scale plastic model of the cruiser or wish to scratch-build her in another, larger scale, there is a wealth of detail to be found in these drawings.
Profile Morskie includes two separate fold out inserts in the Oyodo volume, both of which is in 1:400 scale. One is a plan and profile line drawing. Actually it is more than that because in addition to the standard plan and profile there is a drawing of the hull lines cross-sections matched by number to the location of the cross-section on the plan and profile. Additionally there is a main deck plan with the shape of the attached superstructure or fittings blacked in. This very effectively emphasizes the location and shape of those structures. The second separate insert is a full color plan and profile of the ship, which appears to be painted in Kure gray. This color plate effectively shows the appearance of the uniquely Japanese brass tie-down strips that joined each run of deck linoleum. Additional color comes in the form of the green seaplanes and the wood or canvas of the ship’s boats.
Profile Morskie continues to improve on all aspects of its publications. Although the company sometimes does have some errors in their coverage, such as the shape of the barbette in the title on HMS Abercrombie and some colors being too vibrant in some color plates, I have always found the series to be of significant value in the construction of any model in which they have published a monograph on that ship. With Profile Morskie #60 on the Oyodo the colors in the plate appear to be dead on and the line drawings a veritable step by step plan on building this unique cruiser. As such, it provides for an economical source for hard to get information on the ship and should be one of the essential references in modeling the Oyodo. This title is available from Pacific Front, White Ensign Models or directly from the publisher at the link below.