February 8, 2018

Japanese WWII submarine sank a US Carrier simultaneously damaging a Battleship

Takakazu Kinashi was born in 1902 on the home island of Kyushu, Japan. He decided when young  on a naval career. In 1920 he graduated from the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy 255th in a class of 255 cadets. Given this “distinction” its amazing he wasn’t kicked out of the Navy instantly. Kinashi must have redeemed himself in his later service on cruisers, destroyers and submarines to the extent he was given command of the large submarine I-19 (photo below) in 1942.

During the Guadalcanal campaign Kinashi found himself the right commander at the right time. On September 15, 1942, he sighted and attacked the American carrier USS Wasp, which was part of a task force transporting the 7th Marine Regiment and stores to Guadalcanal. Kinashi penetrated Wasp's destroyer screen, and after moving as close as 500 meters to Wasp, he launched a full salvo of six torpedoes. Three torpedoes struck Wasp, starting uncontrollable fires which soon forced abandon ship.
The remaining three torpedoes continued for another twelve miles into a separate task force, striking the newbuild, fast battleship USS North Carolina and destroyer USS O'Brien. O'Brien sank several weeks later and North Carolina was so severely damaged that it was out of commission for several months for repairs. Kinashi was promoted to commander less than two months later, and honored with a personal interview with Emperor Hirohito.

Takakazu Kinashi managed to sink the US carrier Wasp when he commanded Japanese submarine
 I-19 (above). I-19 was a large SSK then and now, displacing 2,584 tons (surfaced) and 3,654 tons (submerged). But like most WWII submarines it was an old style (pre Type XXI) submarine with limited battery capacity and no snorkel. It was thus designed to spend more time on the surface (with a speed of 23.5 knots) than submerged (speed 8 knots). It only carried 17 torpedoes partly due to I-19 being burdened with modifications for its Yokosuka E14Y reconnaisance floatplane. Requiring carriage of one or more floatplanes was a poor strategic concept forcing too many WWII Japanese submarines to be inefficiently large.

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