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  Yamato 大和
IJN
Yamato Class Battleship

64,027 Tons (Normal)
71,659 Tons (Full)
862'10" x | 121'1" x 32'11"
Armament (1941)
3x3 18.1" main guns
4x3 6.1 guns
6x2 127mm DP guns
8x3 25mm AA guns
2x2 13.2mm AA guns

Armament (1945)
3x3 18.1" main guns
2x3 6.1" guns
12 x 127mm DP guns
162 x 25mm AA guns
4 x 13.2mm AA guns

Armor:
Waterline Belt: 410mm
Deck: 200-226.5mm
Turrets: 650mm

Aircraft:
2 aircraft catapults
7 seaplanes

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IJN 1941

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USN October 25, 1944

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USN March 19, 1945

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USN April 7, 1945
Ship History
Built by Kure Naval Arsenal at Kure. Laid down November 4, 1937 as "Battleship No. 1" the leading ship of the Yamato Class Battleship. Launched August 8, 1940. On August 12, 1940 departs Kure for sea trials. On September 5, 1941 begins fitting out with Captain Shutoku Miyazato assigned as chief equipping officer. On October 30, 1941 undergoes more sea trials off Sukumo. On November 1, 1941 Captain Gihachi Takayanagi is assigned as chief equipping officer. On December 7, 1941 departs Kure for gunnery tests in the Suo Sea and Inland Sea firing a full salvo at a distance of 32,500m / 35,540 yards.

Yamato and sister ship Musashi were the pride of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as the largest and most heavily armored battleships ever constructed with 40cm/45 Type 94 naval guns measuring 18.1" the largest naval guns used on any battleship during World War II.

Wartime History
On December 8, 1941 at the start of the Pacific War returns to Kure and exchanges signals with battleships from BatDiv 1 departing Hashirajima. Commissioned December 16, 1941 as Yamato 大和 meaning "Great Harmony" and as a poetic name for Japan. The battleship was registered in the Kure Naval District under the command of Captain Gihachi Takayanagi and assigned to the Combined Fleet BatDiv 1 with Nagato and Mutsu. On December 21, 1941 departs Kure and steams to Hiroshima Bay and anchors to off Nagato at Hashirajima.

Between January 18-19, 1942 conducts gunnery trails in the Inland Sea with Mutsu then returns to Kure. On February 12, 1942 departs Kure to Hashirajima and becomes the flagship for Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet.

Battle of Leyte Gulf
During the Battle of Leyte Gulf, U. S. Navy warships largely ignored Yamato and instead concentrated their attacks against other warships and succeeded in sinking Musashi flagship of the operation. On October 25, 1944 Yamato was hit in the bow by a bomb and takes on 3,000 tons of sea water but survived and was later repaired.

On November 25, 1944 dry docked at Kure for repairs and refit with older anti-aircraft guns removed and 9x3 25mm anti-aircraft guns were installed to increase her anti-aircraft defenses to two singled mounted 25mm AA guns and fifty tipple mount 25mm AA guns. That same day Captain Kosaku Aruga takes command.

On March 19, 1945 Yamato was underway in the Inland Sea as U. S. Navy (USN) carrier aircraft from Task Force 58 (TF-58) including USS Essex (CV-9), USS Intrepid (CV-11), USS Hornet (CV-12), USS Wasp (CV-18), USS Hancock (CV-19), USS Bennington (CV-20) and USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24) attack Kure Naval Arsenal and Kure Harbor. During the attack, Yamato maneuvered to avoid bombs but several near misses exploded nearby and bomb released by a SB2C Helldiver from USS Intrepid (CV-11) hit the bridge but only causes minor damage.

On March 28, 1945 at Tokuyama Navy Fuel Depot refueled by Mitsushima Maru with 1,000 tons of fuel oil and at 5:30pm departs Hashirajima bound for Sasebo but instead is recalled to Kure. On March 29, 1945 takes aboard a full load of ammunition including 1,170 shells for her 18.1" main guns, 1,620 shells for her secondary guns and 13,500 rounds of anti-aircraft ammunition plus 11.5 million rounds of small caliber ammunition and also receives fuel from destroyers Hanazuki and Asashimo.

On April 1, 1945 learns of the U. S. landing on Okinawa and continues last minute preparations for action. On April 2, 1945 departs Kure to anchored at Mitajiri Bight and the next day receives an order alerting Yamato for a sortie to Okinawa. On April 4, 1945 Zeros from 332 Kokutai fly low over Yamato for anti-aircraft gun training for last minute training for the battleship's untrained crew members to prepare for aerial defense.

Operation Ten-Go (Operation Heaven Number One)
On April 5, 1945 at 1:59pm receives orders: "The Surface Special Attack Unit is ordered to proceed via Bungo Suido Channel at dawn on Y-1 day to reach the prescribed holding position for a high-speed run-in to the area west of Okinawa at dawn on Y-day. Your mission is to attack the enemy fleet and supply train and destroy them. Y-day is April 8th." The mission will be for the battleship to sortie to engage the U. S. fleet then beach on Okinawa with any surviving crew joining the Japanese defenders ashore. At 3:00pm Captain Aruga informs the crew of the mission. At 5:30pm 67 cadets from Eta Jima class no. 74 are sent ashore and a farewell party is held for the crew.

On April 6, 1945 in the early morning at Mitajiri anchorage a floatplane delivers Vice Admiral Kusaka Ryunosuke and Commander Mikami Sakuo to confer about the mission. Meanwhile, sick and elderly sailors disembark then Yamato proceeds to Tokuyama Oil Depot and is refueled with 3,400 tons of oil. Departing for the mission, Yamato leaves port with a large banner attached to the main mast that read: "Injustice - Fairness - Law - Power - Heaven".

At 3:20pm departs with destroyer escort to the Bungo Channel as part of the Surface Special Attack Force. The force includes Battleship Yamato, Light Cruiser Yahagi escorted by destroyers Isokaze, Hamakaze and Yukikaze, DesDiv 21's Kasumi, Hatsushimo and Asashimo, DesDiv 41's Fuyuzuki and Suzutsuki

At 6:30pm a Japanese aircraft spots an enemy submarine USS Theadfin (SS-410) and the force changes course and assumes an anti-submarine formation and the enemy submarine is spotted on the surface by Isokaze. At 9:00pm the force turns to the south. At 9:44pm tracking submarine USS Theadfin (SS-410) reports the presence of the force by radio but the report is intercepted by Yamato and they are aware the force has been detected. Later, USS Hackleback (SS-295) also spots the force but is unable to make an attack but continues pursuit.

Battle of the East China Sea
On April 7, 1945 at 2:00am passes Miyazaki on eastern Kyushu and reaches the entrance to Osumi Kaikyo Channel at the southern end of Kyūshū and enters the East China Sea. At 6:00am launches her E13A1 Jake to patrol then returns to Kyūshū. Starting at 6:30am escorted by A6M Zeros from 203 Kokutai that patrol in small groups over the force for 3.5 hours.

At 8:32am the attack force is spotted by F6F Hellcats from USS Essex (CV-9) and escorting Zeros fail to spot them or intercept. At 10:14am spotted by two PBM Mariner flying boats and three minutes later turns to engage, jamming their radios and opens fire but a minute later visual contact is lost as the Mariners enter clouds. Meanwhile, Yamato learns U. S. Navy (USN) Task Force 58 (TF-58) has been spotted 250 nautical miles from the Attack Force and launches her planes in what will become known as the Battle of the East China Sea.

At 11:07am radar on Yamato spots aircraft approaching in two groups and the force increases speed to 25 knots and begins a turn and prepares for action. At 11:15am a delayed report is received that 150 enemy planes were spotted from Kikaigashima Island headed northwest. At the same moment, F6F Hellcats arrive over the Attack Force and begin circling as Yamato and Yahagi open fire and begins evasive maneuvers. Meanwhile, two groups of aircraft are approaching with overcast skies and a low cloud base that hampers efforts to visually tracking enemy planes or fire barrages. At 11:29 the force turns to a course of 205° towards Okinawa and at 12:22 her lookouts spot three Japanese ships heading for Amami-Oshima.

At 12:32 lookouts aboard Yamato spot the first wave of 280 carrier aircraft including 132 fighters, 50 bombers, 98 torpedo planes from Task Group 58.1 (TG 58.1) and Task Group 58.3 (TG 58.3). Aircraft from USS San Jacinto CVL-30 attack and sink Asashimo lagging behind with engine trouble. At 12:34 Yamato opens fire on the enemy aircraft with her main guns and anti-aircraft guns. At 12:35pm stops zig-sagging and increases speed to 24 knots and fires Sanshikidan anti-aircraft shells from her main guns.

During the Battle of the East China Sea, Yamato was attacked by over a thousand U. S. Navy (USN) carrier aircraft attacking in three waves. The cloud base was low and her anti-aircraft gunners were unable to achieve an adequate barrage overhead. Attacking aircraft also had trouble, fifty-three from USS Hancock never found Yamato and attacking planes were hampered by the same low cloud cover.

First Wave
At 12.37 Yamato was attacked by the first wave of carrier aircraft first attack wave descended out of the low cloud base 132 fighters, 50 dive-bombers and 98 torpedo bombers. 2 bombs struck her to starboard, aft of her funnel and level with the after fire control director, 5 minutes later 2 more struck her, one struck just forward of her aft 6 inch turret and the other passed through her after secondary battery control position. Both shells detonated against her 7.9 inch armored deck, there was no damage below this deck, but fires were started that were never extinguished on the deck. These flames spread and detonated the cordite in her 6" turret, the roof blown away in the explosion. The flash doors to her magazine kept the explosion from spreading. Next, Avengers made torpedo attacks with two torpedoes hitting the port side amidships. As a result, water leaked into number 8 fire room and then the port outward engine room, with the flooding initially controlled by pumps with the battleship taking a list of 6° that was counteracted by flooding her starboard outboard torpedo protection voids. There are also reports of 2 more hits during this first attack wave but these have never been confirmed.

Second Wave
At roughly 1:00pm Yamato was attacked by the second wave of carrier aircraft. No bombs hit her. Torpedo bombers honed in on her port side and 3 or 4 hit her very close to the first 2. Fire room 8 had already been abandoned but now the flooding was spreading to no 12 Fire room aft. The port hydraulic machinery space and the outboard port engine room were also flooded. Most other ships would have capsized. She was now listing at 16 degrees, and the loss of one shaft had reduced her speed to 18 knots. Further counter flooding to her starboard side reduced this list to about 5 degrees. This list was temporarily brought under control by a torpedo strike to her starboard side, which caused flooding to her starboard no 7 fire room.

Third Wave
After a lull of 30 minutes the third attack wave descended out of the clouds towards her, even so, her list was starting to rise again. Three bombs struck her port side amidships; another hit her port side capstan causing her anchor to fall into the sea. Even so, not one of these bombs managed to pierce her armored deck.

Three torpedoes struck her seriously ruptured port side, in fact they passed straight through her open hull side and detonated in her outboard engine room - already flooded, which lead to flooding in her port inner engine room and loss of power to that shaft. Another torpedo struck her starboard amidships, causing the flooding of her starboard outer engine room.

Yamato was now listing back at 16 degrees, and the captain ordered the flooding of the remaining starboard areas, without warning to the crew members stationed there. Hundreds died as a result of this counter flooding. This had no effect and her list climbed to 23 degrees, she was also reduced to 8 knots, by this time flooding was uncontrollable and spreading.

Sinking History
Around 2:00pm all power was lost and permission was given to abandon ship. At 2:10pm Yamato rolled over and began to sink with fires from her aft 6.1" turret reaching her no. 1 magazine causing a huge explosion with a mushroom smoke cloud that was visible for 100 miles away. The explosion and smoke cloud downs a circling U. S. aircraft above. The battleship sank in the East China Sea at roughly Lat 30°  22' N Long 128° 04' E approximately 290 km / 180 miles southwest of Kyūshū. Officially, Yamato was removed from the Navy list on August 31, 1945.

Fates of the Crew
Yamato sank with an estimated 3,055 of her crew including captain Captain Aruga (posthumously promoted two ranks to the rank fo Vice Admiral) plus fleet commander Vice-Admiral Seiichi Itō (posthumously promoted to the rank of Admiral).

Rescue
A total of 276 crew members from Yamato were rescued by the surviving destroyers including Rear Admiral Nobuei Morishita, chief of staff for the second fleet and formerly captain of the battleship.

Conclusions
The attack began at 12:37pm and lasting forty-six minutes until Yamato sank and exploded at 2:23pm. During the attack, Yamato was hit by at least eleven torpedoes and six bombs. Possibly, two additional torpedoes and two additional bombs hit but they have never been confirmed.
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The horizontal deck armor on Yamato protected the battleship from bombs and performed excellent. None of the eight bombs managed to pierce the deck. Forward of no. 1 turret and aft of no. 3, Yamato had no armored deck and was why she flooded badly when damaged during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Her enormous armor plating was concentrated around her central area that encompassed all vital machinery inside.

Yamato's defensive torpedo bulge was air filled behind this was an inclined armor plated bulkhead that tapered down in size to her keel from 8" to 3", inboard of this there were two additional thinner water tight bulkheads, but these lacked the flexibility to deform without puncturing or cracking, when her main armor plated bulkhead was displaced inwards by an explosion.

Did her torpedo defenses fail? During the attack, Yamato was struck by an estimated fourteen aerial torpedoes with seven confirmed. Seven or nine torpedoes impacted a relatively small area on the port side amidships within about 150' of each other. The U. S. Navy Mark 13 aerial torpedoes used was far more powerful than early war models. Aboard, flooding began after the second impact. After five to six torpedo hits, Yamato was in serious trouble. As the third wave began their attack, her list had begun to increase despite damage control.

During the attack, Yamato's anti-aircraft defenses lacked fire coordination and were hampered by low cloud cover. Previously, the Japanese were aware of Yamato's poor anti-aircraft defense and removed her two amidships 6" gun turrets and replaced them with 25mm anti-aircraft gun batteries that were deemed to be too small in caliber for an adequate defense.

As the U. S. Navy (USN) carrier aircraft approached, her 18.1" main guns fired san shiki anti-aircraft shells that when they detonated spread thousands of steel balls to damage any aircraft in the vicinity. In practice, san shiki fire was ineffective because her main turrets and 5" guns had a slow training speed. During the attacks, bomb hits destroyed or disabled her anti-aircraft guns and carrier aircraft strafed the decks killing and wounding sailors manning defenses.

The exact number of torpedo strikes she received will never be precisely known, at least 150 torpedoes were released at Yamato and the battleship was hit by roughly fourteen. Previously, Musashi was hit by roughly twenty torpedoes on October 24, 1944 and the crew broke off from the main fleet and headed for a nearby island in an attempt to beach to save the battleship but instead sank.

Wreckage
During 1982, a Japanese expedition searched for Yamato and found some wreckage but it could not be identified. Two years later another Japanese expedition returned to the same area and photographed wreckage that was confirmed to be associated with Yamato by one of the original designers, Shigeru Makino.

On August 1, 1985, a Japanese team using submersible Pisces II locate the shipwreck of Yamato broken into two pieces on the sea floor at a depth of 429.7m / 1,410'. Other sources list the depth as 340m / 1,200'. During the expedition, the submersible recovers small artifacts from the shipwreck. In 1999 another survey of the shipwreck recorded more footage and recovers some additional small artifacts.

The shipwreck of Yamato is broken into two pieces with a large debris field surrounding the area. The forward section including the bow shows evidence of torpedo damage is broken off past her B turret is on its starboard side. In the middle is the superstructure. The rear rear section is upside down with a propeller missing and turrets laying nearby and the keel area is crumpled. One of her anchors is missing because it fell off due to a bomb impact.

During 2009, the Kure Chamber of Commerce and Industry announced plans to salvage parts of the shipwreck including raising one of the 18.1" main guns an the front portion of the hull with plans to fund raise for the effort. To date, no salvage effort has yet happened.

In May 2016, the shipwreck was again documented with with digital video that documented the bow chrysanthemum crest, propeller and one of the detached main gun turrets.

Memorials
In April 1968, a memorial tower was built at Cape Inutabu on Tokunoshima Island in the Amami Islands to commemorate the Japanese Navy sailors lost during Operation Ten-Go.

During May 1979, a stone monument was dedicated in the Navy graveyard at Kure memorializing the crew who died aboard Yamato.

Yamato Museum (Kure Maritime Museum) is largely devoted to Battleship Yamato and has exhibits and displays including a 1/10 scale model of Battleship Yamato and shows a nine minute video of the May 2016 dive footage of the shipwreck.

Representations
Yamato was the pride of Japan and still has a strong impact on Japanese culture during World War II that continues to this day as a symbolic of Japanese engineering and Naval power and represents the defeat of Japan.

Many books, documentaries and movies have been spawned by Yamato including anime seres Space Battleship Yamato with three seasons released in 1974, 1978 and 1980. Released in the United States as Star Blazers with english language tracks that was first released in 1978 with wider release in 1979. During 2012, remade as Star Blazers: Space Battleship Yamato 2199 (2012) and release in the United States in 2014.

References
A Glorious Way to Die covers the history of Yamato and sinking
Yamamoto Wreck Discovered (down as of 2008)
IJN Battleship Yamato: Tabular Record of Movement
Naval History and Heritage Command “Operation Heaven Number One” (Ten-ichi-go)—the Death of Yamato, 7 April 1945

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Last Updated
April 8, 2020

 

SCUBA
429.7m / 1,410'

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