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|Azuma Kai class cruiser|
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Azuma Kai class cruisers - are the improved and refitted version of old Azuma-class cruisers of the Grik Empire Navy. They were designed and put into production on Zanzibar shipyards in 1944, to overcome the deficiencies of the basic design. Currently the Kurokawa's Japanese Empire is the only known faction, who use those ships.
The initial "Azuma"-class cruisers were the most cost-effective design of ironclad warships, comissioned by the Grik Empire with Japanese technical help. They were relatively fast, well-armed and quite effectively protected, which gave them significant advantages over Alliance steam frigates. They also were cheap, easy to produce and capable of long sea voyages.
Still, those warships have a nubmer of disadvantages:
- Lack of horizontal protection - which mean that "Azuma"-class cruisers were vunerable to aerial attacks and plunging fire.
- Underpowered and unreliable engines.
- Crude and ineffective main artillery armament of either 100-pdr smoothbores or 40-pdr smoothbores.
To overcome said deficiencies, an improved version was designed on the hull of original cruiser.
The "Azuma Kai"-class cruisers are based on the same hulls as standard "Azuma"-class cruisers. They have more sloped sides above water, fully-armored decks and their rams are less prominent. Their sail rigs were much reduced, and only two schooner-type masts remain as auxiliary propulsion.
The "Azuma Kai"-class cruisers are heavily armed with guns - smoothbores or probably primitive rifles. They also carry much more powerful anti-aircraft armament, which included 3-inch anti-air mortars, Type 89 machine guns and probably AA rockets.
It is possible that "Azuma Kai"-class cruisers are also equipped with torpedo tubes.
The armor of "Azuma Kai" class cruisers were greatly improved. They have armored decks and heavy-sloped side armor, to make them less vulnerable to aerial attacks. They also possibly have underwater compartmentalization to be able to withstand torpedo hits.
The "Azuma Kai"-class cruisers have much improved (possibly triple-expansion) steam engines, which are much more powerful and reliable than previous. Said engines are oil fired. Their top speed are currently unknown, but it was stated that they were able to operate with 14-knot "Akagi"-class carriers.
Ships of this class were used as carrier escorts during the Battle of the Second India Convoy. A dozen of "Azuma Kai" cruisers escorted three Japanese carriers during the battle and provide anti-aircraft defense. They weren't targeted by Alliance aerial counter strike, and their powerful anti-aircraft armament was one of the reasons why Alliance planes decided not to press attack against "Akagi".