Like her sister ship, the Hiei, the battlecruiser Haruna began her existence when the shipyard at Kobe, Japan completed her in April 1915. Her armament was the same as all the Kongo-class battlecruisers. At that time, she operated in the Pacific as part the Allies fighting the Central Powers in World War I. In 1917, the ship struck a mine laid by the German auxiliary cruiser Wolf. In 1927-1928, she underwent modernization at the Yokosuka Dock yard, which changed her to have just two smokestacks and a new forward superstructure.
The Haruna went to the Kure Dockyard in 1933 for further modifications that turned her into a full-fledged battleship now that Japan withdrew from the existing naval treaties then in force. She emerged from Kure in 1934 and now displaced 36,023 tons at her sea trials. Her 11-boiler power plant could propel her at a top speed of 30.5 knots — just like the Hiei. Nonetheless, all the Kongo-class battleships carried lighter armor and 14-inch guns — unlike the modern battleships built in shipyards in the late 1930s and early 1940s that carried 16-inch guns.
During World War II, the Haruna was a busy ship that accompanied carriers that covered the invasion of Malaya in 1941. During the first four months of 1942, the battleship supported the Japanese conquest of the Dutch East Indies, bombarded Christmas Island, and raided British naval forces in the Indian Ocean. In June 1942, she was part of Yamamoto’s force at the Japanese defeat at Midway and suffered minor damage when an American bomb exploded and slightly damaged her stern.
When the battles for Guadalcanal began in August 1942, she was in the thick of that conflict. On October 14, she and her sister ship Kongo delivered a devastating and horrendous barrage on Henderson Field. Later, the battleship was in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands in late October. The next month, she was part of covering force protecting Japanese carrier forces during the decisive Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
Like most of the Japanese capital ships, she was not in any combat operations during 1943 and for the first five months of 1944. However, the Haruna steamed in the north Pacific ready to respond to the American landings on Attu in may 1943. When the Americans invaded the Gilbert Islands and Bougainville, she steamed in the central Pacific.
When the Americans invaded the Marianas, the Haruna accompanied the rest of the Japanese fleet to prevent an American victory. During the Battle of the Philippine Sea, she provided antiaircraft defenses from attacking American carrier aircraft. On June 20, an American bomb hit her and caused some damage.
She was at the Battle of Leyte Gulf and survived American air attacks in the Battle of Sibuyan Sea on October 24, 1944 although several American bombs came near her with near misses. When Vadm. Takeo Kurita’s Center Force emerged the next day from the San Bernardino Strait to confront Radm. Clifton Sprague’s escort carriers and destroyers in the decisive Battle off Samar, the battleship fired her 14-inch guns at the overwhelmingly outgunned American ships. This action was the last time the Japanese Navy sortied in force.
In the beginning of 1945, the Haruna was at her station in Japanese waters when American carrier planes attacked her and damaged the battleship. While moored near Kure on July 28, 1943, American planes from Task Force 38 attacked and sank her. After the war, salvagers resurrected her and sold the battleship for scrap.