IJN ship markings

Am planning a project with a couple IJN ships.Got the greys figured out. I’m trying to figure out the markings on the IJN destroyers. I see references showing kanji "lettering " along the hull on some, hull numbers on others, and no markings on some. What time frames were the various markings used? What do the kanji markings indicate? (I dont think they are the ship’s name.) Hull numbers? Actual hull number for the class/type (like US DDG-*, CA-) or are they division numbers? 23 = 3d ship, 2nd Sqn of div.?

Hull lettering on IJN Destroyers - Ask the experts - War Thunder - Official Forum

This is what I got from simple Google search of “IJN Destroyers hull writing”. The Katakana, it seems, is read from right to left.

Well, after a less than exhaustive and totally unscientific perusal of photos, I kinda get the feeling the hull numbers and script on the sides wet the way of the dodo just prior to Pearl Harbor. Most of the shots with the markings , that were dated , were from the 30s. Would make sense. Don’t want to give fleet info to the round eyes after the shooting started big time in late 41.

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As far as I know all Japanese is read right to left. And bottom to top, I believe. That link just verifies what I suspected. (I am usually distrustful of war game sites. Most of the stuff has no correlation with reality.) Still curious on time frame they were used. I kinda get the feeling they were scrapped about the start of hostilities with the US/ UK/ Dutch. I dont think China had a navy that was a security issue from 37 to 41.

Top to bottom, right to left. At least it was. Today, you can find it written that way, but also left to right, top to bottom.


In the green box (and to the left), it is written in traditional style. In the blue box, it is written English-style.

I agree with “sluff”. During war-time all recognition marks and names were painted over (for obvious reasons).
:smiley: :canada:

Not for the guys at Pit-Road/ Skywaves…


Of course Tamiya had markings for a Steyr truck in North Africa. The unit wasn’t formed until late 44, for the Ardennes Offensive. :thinking: Just saying…

Kind supports the theory that the hull number were the Destroyer Division. Lots of photos on this site with dates. Most are 20s-30s … with ship name, etc. Couple in 1941 (before Dec.?) in training maneuvers. 43-44 are “plain”. JN Hatsuharu and Nenohi “kissing” at anchor in Sasebo, September 1933
(NOTE: Both ships are the same class, so not “21” of different classes) WW2 IJN Destroyers (naval-encyclopedia.com)