Kuma Class, Japanese Light Cruisers

Photograph of Kuma
ONI 41-42
Diagram  of Kuma class
U.S. Navy



5832 tons standard displacement


532' by 46'6" by 16'9"
162.15m by 14.17m by 5.11m

Maximum speed      

36 knots




1 Model 1 or Model 3 catapult
1 seaplane


7x1 5"/50 dual-purpose guns
2x2 25mm/60 AA guns
4x2 24" torpedo tubes with one reload
48 Type 1-B mines


238.3 tons
1.5" (38mm) + 1" (25mm) HT machinery belt
1.1" (28mm) HT deck (machinery)
1.8" (45mm) HT deck (magazines)
0.8" (20mm) gun shields
1.5" (38mm) + 0.5" (12mm) HT conning tower
4-shaft Mitsubishi-Parsons-Gihon geared turbines (90,000 shp)
12 Kampon boilers


1260 tons fuel oil


6000 nautical miles (11,000 km) at 14 knots
9000 nautical miles (17,000 km) at 10 knots

1943-11: Tama and Kiso landed two single 5" guns in return for a 1x2 5" mount, 4x3, 6x1 25mm guns, and 2 13mm/76 machine guns. Tama adds Type 21 radar.
1944-6 Tama and Kiso add 1x3, 2x2, 12x1 25mm guns, 5-8 13mm machine guns, and Type 22 radar. Tama adds 2 depth charge racks (36 depth charges)

The Kumas were completed in 1920-21 as general-purpose light cruisers, capable of acting as destroyer squadron leaders, as escorts or scouts for the battle fleet, or for commerce protection. They were essentially enlarged Tenryus, and subsequent classes of Japanese light cruisers were very similar in specifications. The Kumas were strongly built and had excellent seakeeping, but their crew accomodations were cramped, hot, and noisy. The class was extremely maneuverable, one commander boasting that his ship “could maneuver on the crest of a wave.” They were powered by then-new Mitsubishi-Parsons-Gihon turbines, which had high-pressure and low-pressure halves that were fed steam in series for economical cruising and in parallel at maximum power. Two of the boilers were originally mixed-fired boilers that could handle either fuel oil or coal, but these had been removed long before war broke out. Protection was very light at 3.7% of displacement, being designed against the 4" guns typical of U.S. destroyers of the time.

The main armament was arranged as five single mounts on the centerline and two single wing mounts. This meant that only six of the seven guns contributed to the broadside,but it allowed four guns to fire straight ahead.

The Kumas were badly outdated by the start of the Pacific War.  Several redesigns were considered, including conversion to minelayers or training vessels.  Two of the class (Oi and Kitakami) were converted to torpedo cruisers before the start of the war and are treated as a separate class.

Units in the Pacific:



Sunk by aircraft 1944-11-13 off Manila



Torpedoed 1944-10-25 off Luzon by Jallao


Close Covering Force (Takahashi)     

Torpedoed 1944-1-11 off Penang by Tally Ho!

Photo Gallery

Forward part of Kuma

U.S. Navy

ONI 41-42 photo page for Kuma class

U.S. Navy

ONI 41-42 specs page for Kuma class

U.S. Navy


Gogin (2010; accessed 2013-3-12)

Lacroix and Wells (1997)
Whitley (1995)

Worth (2001)

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