:: YAMATO (1940) ::

Yamato battleship (1940) High resolution picture

The Yamato was a Japanese battleship launched in 1940; she and her twin Musashi were the heaviest and more powerfully armed battleships ever made, the only warships equipped with cannons of caliber 460 millimeters. Their armored belt was intended to endure impacts from projectiles of the same caliber, but it was relatively short, leaving the ends of the hull very vulnerable. The underwater protection was as well proportionally poor for a ship of that size. The draught was relatively shallow and this resulted in a large beam. The characteristic bulb in the prow reduced the hydrodynamic resistance about an 8 percent while at maximum speed. The explosions of the main armament were so intense that the light antiaircraft mountings were shielded and the lifeboats stored under the deck.

The powerful Imperial Japanese Navy had actually much of a delusion. The battleship fleet was exclusively composed of super-dreadnought modernized in the attempt to make up their obsolescence, and among these ships would stand out the ships of the Yamato class as the only modern battleships. But also these ships were a notable delusion. The excessive displacement rendered the propulsion plant as insufficient, which caused a reduced maximum speed, but also the huge fuel consumption was a drawback. The armor was really thick, but the quality of the steel has been questioned. The antiaircraft armament was certainly numerous, but the pieces were of poor quality compared with those installed in Allied warships; a large part of them lacked motorization and even the motorized ones were too slow to rotate.

Neither the Yamato nor the Musashi ever had a chance to prove their worth against another battleship. In April 1945, being the Japanese Fleet alread subdued by the lack of fuel, the Yamato was sent in a suicide mission to defend the island of Okinawa from the Allied invasion, carrying enough fuel for arriving to the island but not for returning. A furious attack performed by hordes of carrier-borne dive bombers and torpedo planes caused the sinking of the legendary battleship and the annihilation of the largest part of the compliment. In October 1944 the Musashi had succumbed in similar circumstances. This was a clear testimony of the end of the era of battleships, whose reign on the seas was over in favor of the aircraft carriers. Because of this the third unit of the class, the Shinano, was completed as aircraft carrier while a fourth unit was dismantled after being completed only a third part of the construction.

The illustration shows the Yamato on her final conditions in 1945. It can be seen the abundant antiaircraft armament and the devices for the aircraft astern; the aircraft carried were Mitsubishi F1M2 and Aichi E13A1 seaplanes. The superstructures are populated by numerous fire control devices to direct the aim of the antiaircraft positions and the searchlights. The illustration actually omits most of the unshielded antiaircraft positions that were installed.

Class: Yamato (2 units - Musashi, Yamato)

Type: Battleship

Length: 263 meters

Beam: 38.9 meters

Draught: 11 meters

Displacement (standard): 65020 tonnes

Propulsion: 4 x shaft, 4 x steam turbine Kampon, 12 x boiler Kampon, 153000 horsepower

Speed: 27.5 knots (50.8 kilometers/hour)

Range: 7200 nautical miles (13330 kilometers) at 16 knots

Complement: 2200 in 1941; 2800 in 1945

Armament (in 1941): 9 x 460-millimeter 45-caliber cannon, 12 x 155-millimeter 55-caliber cannon, 12 x 127-millimeter 40-caliber cannon, 24 x 25-millimeter cannon, 4 x 13.2-millimeter machine gun, 6 x aircraft

Armament (in 1945): 9 x 460-millimeter 45-caliber cannon, 6 x 155-millimeter 55-caliber cannon, 24 x 127-millimeter 40-caliber cannon, 146 x 25-millimeter cannon, 4 x 13.2-millimeter machine gun, 6 x aircraft

Armor: 100-410 millimeters in belt, 300-340 millimeters in bulkheads, 200-230 millimeters in deck, 380-560 millimeters in barbettes, 190-650 millimeters in main turrets, 25 millimeters in secondary turrets, 500 millimeters in conning tower

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