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Weapons of World War Two

Yamato battleship

Yamato battleship

In January 1930 it started in London the Naval Conference, during which the representatives of the main powers of the moment would seek an agreement about the future physiognomy that their respective navies would assume. But an agreement among the partakers was not achieved, rather the opposite, for it happened an increment in the race of naval armaments. In 1932 the Disarmament Conference failed, in 1934 an attempt of Italo-French agreement failed as well, also in 1934 Japan denounced the Washington and London agreements and in 1935 Germany managed to nullify the limiting clauses of the Versailles Treaty.

Everyone tried to empower to the maximum their navies, with the most modern units, the best armed and the largest ones that could be built. But in this latter terrain the victory was undoubtedly for the Japanese, who already in 1934 started to study a new class of four huge units which should be (and they were, albeit only two were built) the largest units ever launched in the world. The 4th November 1937 it was laid the keel of the first of them, the Yamato. This one and the Musashi entered service the 16th December 1941 and the 5th August 1942, respectively, and the Shinano was converted into an aircraft carrier, while the fourth unit was not finished due to war causes.

They were true sea monsters, of dimensions and displacement not much lower than the ones of modern nuclear aircraft carriers, armed with monstrous 460 millimeters cannons, able to fire 1460-kilogram projectiles to distances of almost 38 kilometers. These cannons could even effectuate anti-aircraft fire, by using special projectiles, each of which exploded sowing around in the air up to 6000 incendiary bullets of caliber 25 millimeters. Also the armor was monstrous and the underwater protection was excellent. But nothing of this would prevent both ships from disappearing without having shown any proof of their power against the enemy.

The morning of the 24th October 1944 Admiral Kurita was in the command bridge of the superbattleship Yamato, at the head of the Japanese fleet that advanced towards San Bernardino Strait, when they were attacked by an incursion of American aircraft. The Japanese fleet had been spotted by the American submarines that had already sunk the cruisers Atago and Maya, but Kurita had not hesitated an instant on bringing his fleet to Samar and Leyte to annihilate there, in a decisive surface battle, the American fleet that supported the landing forces. He also had to destroy, with the salvos from his heavy artillery, the beachheads and return the Philippines to Japan.

The Admiral had a good mood because he had hope in the trap laid to the Americans with the "bait aircraft carriers" and, above all, in the fact that the two largest battleships ever built were part of his fleet. However, when it was decided to built the two superbattleships, violent controversies had divided the High Staff of the Japanese Navy. There was who stated that the era of battleships had ended and that only aircraft carriers should be built. But the decision had been a Salomonic one: at least two battleships would be built along with numerous aircraft carriers.

As the Yamato, the Musashi was considered unsinkable. But that morning of the 24th October the American air attacks achieved the incredible enterprise of sinking the Musashi. During the battle, it seemed that the Yamato had been hit, but the flagship advanced unscathed within the water columns that arose around her. All of the anti-aircraft batteries shooted creating a barrier of fire around the battleships, but unexpectedly two explosions trembled the Musashi. She had been hit by a torpedo and a bomb.

From the Yamato it was sent the order that the Musashi should leave the battle zone, escorted by two destroyers. The inclination to the left was increasingly accentuated, albeit all of the personnel was in the stern area and towards there it had been carried anything that could be moved. A subsequent order from the Yamato stated that the Musashi should be stranded in the nearest island to be transformed into a land battery.

On the other hand, the Yamato would be sunk the 7th April 1945 (six months after the Musashi), after having being hit by more than ten torpedoes and at least six aerial bombs of large caliber, which shattered the sea colossus. The escorting units that survived the battle retrieved only 140 of the 3500 men onboard.
Launched: 8 August 1940 in the arsenal of Kure

Length: 263 meters

Beam: 38.9 meters

Draught: 10.8 meters

Displacement: 72809 tonnes at full load

Propulsion: Steam turbines Kanpon in four axes fed by twelve boilers Kanpon, for a total power of 154000 horsepower with four propellers

Maximum speed: 27.5 knots

Operational range: 11212 kilometers at 16 knots

Armor: 410 millimeters in waterline; 197 millimeters in deck; 500 millimeters in conning tower; 648 millimeters in main turrets front

Armament: Nine 460-millimeter cannons (3 x 3); six 155-millimeter cannons (2 x 3); twenty-four 127-millimeter cannons (8 x 3); one hundred fifty 20-millimeter cannons in single, twin and triple mountings; two catapults and six aircraft

Complement: About 3500

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