“The heavy cruiser Takao was laid down at the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal on 28 April 1927, launched and named on 12 May 1930, and was commissioned into the Imperial Japanese Navy on 31 May 1932. Although the first ship in her class to be laid down, one of her three sister ships, Atago, was actually completed two months earlier.
“All of the Takao class were assigned to the Yokosuka Naval District, forming Sentai-4 of the IJN 2nd Fleet, and trained as a unit during the 1930s. Takao and Atago were also rebuilt at the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal between 1938 and 1939, resulting in an improved design: the size of the bridge was reduced, the main mast was relocated aft, and hull bulges were added to improve stability. After rebuilding was completed, Takao and Atago patrolled off the coast of China in 1940 and early 1941.
“At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Takao was commanded by Captain Asakura Bunji and assigned to Vice Admiral Nobutake Kondō’s Sentai-4 together with her three sister ships and provided gunfire support for the landings at Lingayen Gulf on Luzon in the Philippines. In April, she participated in the unsuccessful pursuit of the Doolittle raid task force. In June 1942, Takao supported the invasion of the Aleutian Islands, protecting the convoy for Kiska and providing fire support for landings on Attu. In August 1942, Takao was assigned to ‘Operation Ka’, the Japanese reinforcement during the Battle of Guadalcanal. In early 1943, Takao supported the evacuation of Guadalcanal.
“During the Battle of Leyete Gulf, in October 1944, Takao was severely damaged by a submarine torpedo attack and limped back to Brunei then onward to Singapore where it was determined the damage (two shattered shafts, broken fantail and three flooded boiler rooms) were unrepairable. Thereafter, she was moored as a floating anti-aircraft battery defending Seletar Naval Base alongside the heavy cruiser, Myoko, also severely damaged during the Battle of Leyete Gulf.
“Concerned that both cruisers could interfere with Allied forces approaching Singapore, the British Royal Navy launched ‘Operation Struggle’ on 31 July 1945 with the midget submarines HMS XE3 and HMS XE1 to attack Takao and Myoko. Six Limpet mines were attached to Takao‘s hull; the resulting explosions blew a hole (66 by 33 ft) in her hull. Several compartments below the lower deck were flooded, including two ammunition magazines, the main gun plotting room and the lower communications room.
“It was discovered after the end of the war that Takao was manned by a skeleton crew and had no ammunition aboard for her 8-inch main armament. Japanese forces surrendered Seletar Naval Base to the British on 21 September 1945. On 27 October 1946, Takao was towed to the Strait of Malacca and was sunk as a target ship by the light cruiser HMS Newfoundland on 29 October 1946.”