In the mid 1930s, Japan started devoting more time and resources into further developing and expanding its navy. During this process, construction of light units such as PT-boats and destroyers, was emphasized as these units would form the backbone of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Part of the efforts to increase the size of the navy were a set of requirements issued by the Japanese admiralty that intended to standardize the development of destroyers. These requirements called for all future destroyers to have a top speed of at least 36 knots and a range of 5000 nautical miles at 18 knots. Furthermore, the dimensions of future designs are not to exceed the size of the Fubuki class destroyer.
The first class that was following these new requirements was the Kagerō class. However, as the first ships of that class were being built, a follow-up design was already in the works that closely matched the specified requirements and performed better than the Kagerō - the Yūgumo class. This class, which the Japanese designated as Type-A destroyers, differed from the Kagerō class by a slight increase in dimensions, some structural differences and improved anti-aircraft capabilities.
The new design adopted a new, more efficient propellor design, which required the aft end of the ship to be elongated by 0.8m. Among other tweaks, the bridge was reshaped to lessen wind resistance and the six 127mm dual purpose cannons were fitted into the new Type D turret which allowed the guns to be elevated up to 75 degrees, making them better suited for anti-air duties.
The lead ship of the class, Yūgumo, whilst being used extensively throughout the war, rarely ever engaged in proper combat. Her routine missions usually revolved around escorting large task forces or transporting troops. The first proper taste of combat would also be her last. In October 1943, whilst being involved in evacuation operations around the Solomon Islands, Yūgumo was engaged by a small US task force. After managing to sink one US destroyer, the ship’s fate was ultimately sealed after taking heavy damage from gun fire and a subsequent torpedo hit.
A total of 19 Yūgumo class destroyers were built. 12 of which were built in 1941 with the remaining 7 being completed in 1944. All 19 ships were sunk in combat during their operational service in WW2.