Torpedo Cruisers (CT)

Photograph of Kitakami, an Oi-class torpedo cruiser

Wikimedia Commons

The Japanese converted two conventional light cruisers, Kitakami and Oi, to carry an enormous arsenal of 40 torpedo tubes.  No other nation duplicated this feat, which reflected the Japanese naval doctrine of Decisive Battle. In the event of war with the United States, the Americans would have a three-to-two advantage in numbers of battleships, which would prove decisive unless the Japanese first whittled down the American battle line with night torpedo attacks by light forces.  However, the torpedo cruisers saw little service in the war.

Curiously, American naval architects carried out design studies for a "torpedo battleship" just prior to the First World War. When the inevitable design tradeoffs were made, the result was essentially a protected cruiser that was remarkably similar in its characteristics to the Japanese Ois. The Americans lost interest in the concept, turning instead to providing significant torpedo armament to their conventional battleships. However, the torpedo rooms were a significant weakness in the ship's hulls, and they were later removed during modernization.

Japanese torpedo cruisers

Oi class

Friedman (1985)

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