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Japan's Imperial Navy flag

Japan's Yamato class battleships

Photos

IJN Musashi under attack during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, October 24, 1944:
IJN Musashi under attack during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, October 24, 1944
Imperial War Museum, NYF-47538
IJN Musashi down at the bow on October 24, 1944:
IJN Musashi down at the bow on October 24, 1944
National Archives, NH-63434
IJN Yamato during trials in October 1941:
IJN Yamato during trials in October 1941
Imperial War Museum, MH-6177
IJN Yamato and IJN Musashi at Truk in 1943:
IJN Yamato and IJN Musashi at Truk in 1943
Yamato Museum, PG-071333
IJN Yamato under attack during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, October 23 - 26, 1944:
IJN Yamato under attack during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, October 23 - 26, 1944
Imperial War Museum, NYP-43819

Design

Ignoring the Washington and London Naval Treaties the Yamato class was designed to be superior to any battleship in the world. Japanese Naval strategy called for superior weapons, not quantity of weapons. However, they were to be relegated obsolete by the upcoming supremacy of the aircraft carrier.

Design work started in 1934 and was finalized in March 1937. An order for two battleships was placed under the 1937 3rd Reinforcement Program. The next two were ordered under the 1939 4th Reinforcement Program.

Electrical welding was used throughout the ship to help streamline and reduce weight.

To keep the construction secret the IJN Musashi had a 408 ton camouflage net to cover it.

Aircraft

There were two catapults to launch the aircraft.

Armament

The 18.1" guns fired a 3,220 lb / 1,460 kg shell 45,000 yards / 45,275 yards / 41,400 m. A gun could fire a round about every 90 seconds.

The turret alone weighed 2,530 tons / 2,730 tons.

Armor

The deck armor was intended to withstand an 1,100 lb bomb or 18" rounds fired from 16 miles / 22,000 - 33,000 yards.

Bow

A bulbous bow was installed that greatly helped decrease resistance.

Steering

An auxiliary rudder was added in front of the main rudder to help in steering.

Ships

IJN Musashi

  • Manufacturer: Mitsubishi at Nagasaki
  • March 29, 1938: Laid down.
  • November 1, 1940: Launched.
  • April 5, 1942, August 5, 1942: Completed.
  • August 5, 1942: Member of Battle Division 1.
  • Autumn 1943: Two 6.1" turrets removed. Twelve 25 mm triple mounts added.
  • March 29, 1944: Hit by torpedo from USS Tunny.
  • March - April 1944: 18/22 25 mm triple mounts and 25 single 25 mm mounts added at Kure.
  • June 19 - 20, 1944: Battle of the Philippine Sea.
  • October 20, 1944: Left Brunei for Leyte.
  • October 24, 1944: Sunk.

IJN Shinano

  • Manufacturer: Yokosuka Naval Yard
  • May 4, 1940: Laid down.
  • October 8, 1944: Launched.
  • 1942 - 1944: Converted into aircraft carrier.

IJN Yamato

  • Manufacturer: Kure Naval Yard.
  • November 4, 1937, November 1937: Laid down.
  • July 8, 1940, August 8, 1940, August 1940: Launched.
  • December 16, 1941, December 1941: Completed. Member of Battle Division 1.
  • June 4, 1942: Battle of Midway. Flagship of Admiral Yamamoto.
  • Autumn 1943: Two 6.1" turrets removed. Twelve 25 mm triple mounts added. Six 5.5" L/40 twin mounts were added.
  • February 1944: Hit by torpedo from USS Skate.
  • February 1944: Six 5" twin mounts added at Kure.
  • March - April 1944: Twelve/ Sixteen 25 mm triple mounts and 26 single mounts added.
  • June 19, 1944, June 1944: Battle of Philippine Sea. Member of Vanguard Force of the 1st Mobile Fleet.
  • October 22 - 26, 1944: Battle of Leyte Gulf. Hit by bombs. Member of Force A commanded by Vice-Admiral Kurita.
  • April 7, 1945: Sunk by United States carrier aircraft.

No. 111

  • Manufacturer: Kure Naval Yard
  • November 1940, November 7, 1940: Laid down.
  • 1941, December 1941: Cancelled.
  • 1942, 1942 - 1943: Broken up.

No. 797

  • Not ordered.
  • 1942: Cancelled.

Usage

Battle of Sibuyan Sea

The IJN Musashi was sunk by 10 - 19 / 20 torpedoes and 17 bombs from aircraft from TF38 (USS Cabot, USS Enterprise, USS Essex, USS Franklin, and USS Intrepid) on October 24, 1944. Wend under at 7:35 PM.

Okinawa

Aircraft from TF58 (USS Bataan, USS Belleau Wood, USS Bennington, USS Bunker Hill, USS Cabot, USS Essex, USS Hornet, USS San Jacinto, and USS Wasp) hit the IJN Yamato with 9 - 13 / 11 torpedoes and 6 / 7 bombs 130 miles west-southwest of Kagoshima on April 7, 1945.

 

Specifications

  Yamato class
Crew 2,500
Physical Characteristics  
Displacement 62,315 tons, 64,000 tons, 64,170 tons
Displacement - Loaded 69,988 tons, 69,990 tons, 69,998 tons, 71,659 tons
Length 862' 9", 862' 11", 863'
263 m
Length - Water Line 839' 10", 839' 11", 840'
256 m
Length - Between Perpendiculars 800' 6"
243.8 m, 243.9 m, 244 m
Beam 121' 1", 127' 9"
36.9 m, 38.9 m
Draft / Height 34' 1", 34' 3", 35' 6", 35' 7"
10.4 m, 10.86 m
Performance  
Speed 27 knots, 27.46 knots, 27.5 knots
Range at 16 knots 7,200 nautical miles
Armament 18.1" triple turrets: 3
18.1" L/45, 46 cm triple turrets: 3
6.1" triple turrets: 4
6.1" L/55, 15.5 cm triple turrets: 4
6.1" L/60 triple turrets: 4
Anti-Aircraft 5" twin mounts: 6
5" L/40, 12.7 cm twin mounts: 6
25 mm triple mounts: 8
25 mm; 24
13 mm twin mounts: 2
13.2 mm: 4
13 mm: 4
Aircraft 6, 7
Armor  
Barbettes 2" - 21.5", 21.5", 25.05"
Belt - Lower 3.94" - 10.63"
Belt - Main - Amidships 14" - 16", 16", 16.1"
Bulkheads 11.8", 11.81" - 13.39"
Control Tower 2.95" - 19.69", 11.8" - 19.7", 19.7"
Deck 7.75", 7.87" - 9.06", 7.9" - 9.1"
Turrets 7.6" - 25.6", 20" - 25.5"
Turrets - Front 25.59"
Turrets - Rear 7.48"
Turrets - Side 9.84"
Turrets - Top 10.63"
Engines  
Boilers 12
Kanpon: 12
Shafts 4
Turbines Geared
Kanpon geared
HP 147,948, 150,000
Oil 6,200 tons, 6,300 tons
  IJN Musashi
Armament  
Anti-Aircraft - 1943 25 mm: 36
Anti-Aircraft - Early 1944 25 mm: 54
Anti-Aircraft - April 1944 25 mm: 115
Anti-Aircraft - July 1944 25 mm: 130
Anti-Aircraft - October 1944 5" twin mounts: 6
25 mm triple mounts: 30
25 mm: 25
  IJN Yamato
Crew 2,500
Physical Characteristics  
Displacement 64,000 tons
Displacement - Loaded 69,988 tons
Length 863'
263 m
Beam 127' 9"
38.9 m
Draft / Height 34' 3"
10.45 m
Performance  
Speed 27 knots
Armament 18.1" / 46 cm triple turrets: 3
Anti-Aircraft 6.1" / 15.5 cm DP: 12
5" / 12.7 cm: 12
25 mm: 24
0.52" / 13 mm: 4
Anti-Aircraft - 1943 25 mm: 6
Anti-Aircraft - April 1944 25 mm: 98
Anti-Aircraft - July 1944 25 mm: 113
Anti-Aircraft - October 1944 5" twin mounts: 6
25 mm triple mounts: 24
25 mm: 26
Anti-Aircraft - 1945 25 mm: 150
Anti-Aircraft - April 1945 25 mm triple mounts: 40
25 mm: 26
Aircraft 6
Armor  
Barbettes 14.96" - 22.05"
38 cm - 56 cm
Belt 3.94" - 16.14"
10 cm - 41 cm
Bulkheads 11.8" - 13.78"
30 cm - 35 cm
Control Tower 2.95" - 19.7"
7.5 cm - 50 cm
Deck 7.87" - 9.06"
20 cm - 23 cm
Turrets 7.48" - 25.6"
19 cm - 65 cm
Engines  
Shafts 4
Turbines Geared steam
HP 150,000

Sources:

  1. Japanese Warships of World War II, A. J. Watts, 1966
  2. The Imperial Japanese Navy, A. J. Watts and B. G. Gordon, 1971
  3. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922-1946, Robert Gardiner, 1987
  4. Battleships of World War Two An International Encyclopedia, M. J. Whitley, 1998
  5. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site