Takagi Takeo (1892-1944)

Photograph of Takagi Takeo

Wikipedia Commons

Takagi Takeo was born in Fukushima prefecture and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1912. He became a specialist in torpedoes and submarine warfare, attending the Torpedo School in 1918 and holding several submarine commands in the 1920s. He graduated from the Naval Staff College in 1924, commanded several cruisers and a battleship, and held important staff positions, being promoted to rear admiral in 1938.

Takagi was commander of Cruiser Division 5 when war broke out and escorted invasion forces to the Philippines.  He commanded the victorious Japanese squadron at the Battle of the Java Sea in March 1942. He then became yet another Japanese torpedo expert (like Nagumo) promoted to vice admiral and command of a carrier unit, at the Battle of the Coral Sea. His complete lack of experience in air operations was mitigated slightly by his close friendship with Hara Chuichi, commander of Carrier Division 5 (Shokaku and Zuikaku) which formed his main strike element. Takagi correctly anticipated that history's first carrier battle would take place during the operation, and together with Hara devised a strategy of careful search aimed at disabling the enemy carriers as quickly as possible.  

Neither side distinguished itself for boldness in this first-ever encounter between carrier task forces, but Yamamoto blamed Takagi for the strategic defeat. In spite of this, Takagi participated in the Midway operation and was given command of Sixth Fleet, the submarine force, in 1943. His submarines took heavy casualties during the Gilberts campaign due to excellent Allied signals intelligence, in spite of Takagi's attempt to confuse Allied intelligence with a mass of signals meant to suggest a much more powerful force than he actually had. The mass of contradictory orders simply confused his own submarine commanders.

Takagi himself perished during the invasion of Saipan in June 1944. Historians appear to disagree on his exact fate: Spector and Prados state that he committed suicide, but Blair states that he was missing after the battle, possibly lost trying to escape on one of his submarines. (A dozen Japanese submarines were sunk during the Marianas operation.)

Lundstrom (2006) describes him as "careful and unassertive".

Service record

1892-1-25   born in Fukushima prefecture
1911-7-18 Midshipman     
Graduates from Naval Academy, standing 17th in a class of 148. Assigned to CA Aso
  BB Shikishima
1912-12-1 Ensign
1913-9-26   CA Asama
1914-8-15   BB Kawachi
1914-12-1 Lieutenant junior grade     
Gunnery School Basic Course
1915-5-26   Torpedo School Basic Course
1915-12-13   Submarine Division 1
1916-12-5   S-15
1917-9-10   Submarine Division 4
1917-12-1 Lieutenant Naval College B-Course
1918-4-15   Torpedo School Advanced Course
1918-12-1   Torpedo School Specialist Course
1919-12-1   Submarine Division 14
1920-5-10   CA Asama
1921-4-6   Commander, SS-24
1921-12-1   Instructor, Submarine School
1923-12-1 Lieutenant commander     
Naval College A-Course
1925-12-1   Commander, Ro-28
1926-12-1   Commander, Ro-68
1927-12-1   Staff, Submarine Squadron 2
1928-12-10 Commander  
1929-11-5   Staff, Cruiser Division 5
1930-12-1   Navy General Staff (S1, N1)
1931-2-10   Trip to Europe, United States
1931-12-1   Instructor, Naval College
1932-12-1 Captain  
1933-11-15   Commander, Nagara
1934-11-15   Chief, S1, Education Bureau, Navy Ministry
1936-12-1   Commander, Takao
1937-12-1   Commander, Mutsu
1938-11-15 Rear admiral
Chief of staff, 2 Fleet
1939-11-15   Chief, N2, Navy General Staff
1941-9-6   Commander, Cruiser Division 5
1942-5-1 Vice admiral
1942-11-20   Commander, Mako Guard District
1943-4-1   Commander, Takao Guard District
1943-6-21   Commander, 6 Fleet
1944-7-8 Admiral Killed in action


Blair (1975)

Carpenter and Polmar (1986)

Dupuy et al. (1992)

Fuller (1992)

Lundstrom (2006)

Materials of IJN (accessed 2008-2-18)

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