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NAME

YAMATO

CLASS

BATTLESHIP

ENT/SERVICE

DECEMBER 16th 1941

BUILT

KURE NAVY YARD / JAPAN

WEIGHT

65,000 TONS

LENGTH

863 FEET

WIDTH

128 FEET

SPEED

27.5 KNOTS

PROPELLERS

4

ENGINES

4 - GEARED STEAM TURBINES - 150,000 HP

GUNS

9 - 18 INCH / 12 - 6 INCH / VARIOUS ANTI AIRCRAFT

ARMOR

16 INCH SIDE / 8 INCH DECK / 25 INCH TURRET FACES


There were two Yamato class battleships completed for the Japanese Navy, the other being Musashi. These were the largest battleships ever constructed, capable of hurling 18-inch shells over 25 miles at 40-second intervals. The anti aircraft guns on these ships had to be fully enclosed to protect the operators from the blast of their 18-inch guns. The Japanese Navy operated Yamato as their flagship from the time of her entering service, nine days after the attacks on Pearl Harbor. She first saw action while supporting Japanese carriers at the battle of Midway in June 1942. After US carrier aircraft destroyed the four Japanese carriers at Midway, Yamato and the other Japanese warships were forced withdraw from the battle to seek air cover. The loss of four carriers to aircraft in that battle led to the Japanese having their third Yamato class battleship Shinano completed as an aircraft carrier.

Yamato side

As US troops were landing at Leyte Gulf/Philippians, the remaining Japanese carriers were used to lure American carriers away from Leyte while Yamato and Musashi led a taskforce through the Philippians Islands to launch an attack on US landing forces. On October 23rd 1944, patrolling US submarines sank two of the Japanese heavy cruisers. The following morning, US carrier aircraft attacked the remaining ships of the Japanese taskforce as they passed through the Subuyan Sea. Musashi was sunk by that attack after being hit by around 20 torpedoes and 17 bombs; there were 1,170 survivors from her crew of 2,193.

Yamato rear

Although Yamato sustained minor damage by two bombs in that attack, she steamed on to lead the remaining ships through the San Bernardino Strait to the east of Leyte. On the morning of October 25th, Yamato led an attack on the remaining American warships protecting US troops at Leyte. The American ships had no option but to flee as Yamato fired 104-18 inch shells during the battle. The US escort carrier Gambier Bay, two destroyers and one destroyers escort were sunk before attacks by US submarines forced the Japanese warships to call of their attack and return to Japan.

Yamato fitting out

As US forces began an assault on Okinawa Island near Japan, a shortage of fuel forced the Japanese to make desperate plans for Yamato to be beached at Okinawa so her guns could be used against the US landing forces. On route to Okinawa April 7th 1945, 386 American carrier aircraft attacked Yamato. After being hit by 17 bombs and 11 torpedoes, the largest battleship ever built sank with the loss of around 2,200 of her crew; there were only 269 survivors.

The Japanese had six other battleships during WWII that were either built during, or just after WWI, about 30,000 - 33,000 tons. All six were either sunk or damged beyond repair during WWII.

The US had 10 modern battleships built during WWII and 16 WWI era battleships available for WWII. Only three were damaged beyond repair, this being at Perl Harbour on the 7th December 1941, the day before the US entered the war. The battleships damaged beyond repair were the WWI era Arizona, Oklahoma and Utah that was serving as a training ship. Oklahoma was raised for scrap and spares, the other two remain where they were sunk to serve as memorials.

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