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Battleship Yamato

Discussion in 'Naval Warfare in the Pacific' started by mikebatzel, Jan 15, 2008.

  1. mikebatzel

    mikebatzel Dreadnaught

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    The battleship Yamato was the largest ship Japan had during WWII. She had been completed in 1941(Commisioned 16 Dec 1941) and was available up until she was sunk off Okinawa in 1945. She displaced over 71.000 tons and sported nine 18” guns. Available so early in the war why is it that she fired the first shot in anger in Oct. 44? It almost seems to me as if the Japanese had intentionally been keeping her out of action for fear of being sunk.

    IIRC Yamato set sail for the last time with a bio-fuel of a kind I can’t seem to recall. When did production of this alternative fuel begin, and why wasn’t it used more often seeing how low Japan was on oil, especially later in the war

    Her sister ship the Musashi had the same fate but was sunk in oct. 44 in the Subuyan sea. Musashi only ever fired AA shells in anger.
     
  2. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    I know almost nothing about the Pacific Theatre, so I'm not qualified to attempt an answer.....:(

    But, as background, I found the following website interesting ( it certainly contains a good collection of images of Yamato ) -

    Yamato the Ultimate Battleship

    Hopefully, someone else here can answer in detail.....:confused:
     
  3. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Early in the Pacific War Japan expected, and planned for, a Jutland-style naval battle with the US in the mid-Pacific. Their battleline was held in reserve for this battle. They only risked their carrier and cruiser forces for the most part in their initial campaigns for this reason. The carrier forces were seen as an adjunct to the battleline, a support for it, rather than a true offensive force on its own.
    With the initial carrier battles of the Pacific war it became apparent that the carrier was the dominant offensive weapon and that battleships no longer held this position. Japan tried desperately to build more carriers as a result (including the Shinano on the hull of the third Yamato class battleship hull). But, at the same time they were reluctant to commit their battleships to secondary operations (as they perceived them) like Guadalcanal.
    For these reasons the Yamato and Mushasi sat out most of the war unused in combat. Their first commitment was Yamato at Midway but the ship saw no actual fighting. Next, both were committed at Biak to operation A-Go. But, this operation was cancelled before it started and the two vessels were instead committed to the Marianas operation that resulted in the loss of most of Japan's rebuilt carrier force. Again the two saw no action.
    In the Philippines both were in action again. Mushasi was sunk and Yamato slightly damaged. The later might have achieved a real success had she pressed on after finishing off Taffy 3 off Samar, but the Japanese withdrew instead.
    Yamato's last action in sorteing for Okinawa was simply an act of desperation. It was a chance for the ship and crew to go down fighting and had no chance of actual success; such was the suicidial mentality of Bushido at the time.
     
  4. mikebatzel

    mikebatzel Dreadnaught

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    Martin: thanks for that link. I can see myself there for weeks

    TA I gather that her suicide mission was more or less die in honor than live in shame. It's sad that she took herself out of Samar by running from torpedos.

    I knew Yamato was at Midway but it kinda baffles me that there was no plans to use her in the bombardment or that she was so far behind.

    I have never heard of that. If such an important battle as Guadalcanal was secondary I wonder what was a primary operation. sit at anchor?

    Thanks for the Info guys
     
  5. PacwarPJ

    PacwarPJ recruit

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    One of the themes that ran throughout the war in the minds
    of the Japanese strategists was that they hoped to defeat
    the US in *one* *huge* "decisive battle", which would
    result in us quiting or negotiating for terms.

    They kept waiting throughout the war for this opportunity,
    which never panned out the way they were hoping. All the
    while the US was piece by piece blowing away their ability
    to wage such a battle.

    One reason they didn't use the Yamato directly at Midway
    was that Yamamoto hoped to draw the US carriers westward
    in pursuit of the Jap carriers. His intent was to then
    destroy our forces with the "Main Body" of which Yamato
    was a part. As we know, Spruance didn't take the bait.

    They finally got their decisive battle at Leyte, with
    battleships, cruisers, destroyers, and torpedo boats.
    But it didn't turn out the way they wanted. The Battle
    of Surigao Strait was the last classic battleship battle
    in history, including "crossing the T".

    If the Battle of the Philippine Sea finished Japan's naval
    air power, then Leyte finished the rest of Japan's
    naval power.
     
  6. mikebatzel

    mikebatzel Dreadnaught

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    I would say the runup turned out exactly as the Japanese planned but they failed to capitalize.

    Midway confuses me. Personally I would not try to bait a carrier force out into the open with a larger carrier force of my own.:confused: I would have sent the large Battleships and crusiers in as bait then smashed the US CV's from 300 miles away. But then again, I'm not Japanese;)
    Mike
     
  7. Tristan Scott

    Tristan Scott Member

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    Yes, but it should be pointed out that most Japanese battleships used thier main batteries as AA weapons. They used a special shell called San Shiki that when exploded among a flight of aircraft would shower them with incendiary shells. It's not believed that the use of these shells was very successful, and it was said that they were prone to damage the rifled liner of the guns if used too much. I had read somewhere that the Musashi had used them during the first air attack in the Subuyan Sea, but that her Captain refused to allow their use in the subsequent attacks. I'll try to find a source.
     
  8. mac_bolan00

    mac_bolan00 Member

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    while yamato may have been a welcome addition to the gudalcanal battles, such was not the ideal disposition of sucuh a powerful (and expensive) ship. it should be deployed in a situation the japanese navy chooses for strategic importance. if the yamato cannot face off with the americans for a mid-ocean line fight, better to keep it for defense until the very end.

    i agree and disagree with the stand that japanese battleships should have been used as bait at midway. the best bait for the enemy's main naval force is on'e invasion force. transports, supported by escort carriers and pre-treaty battleships (exactly like the 7th fleet) should have sailed directly towards midway. meanwhile, nagumo's fleet carriers and yamamoto's fast battleships should have shadowed the invasion force around 100 miles back, ready to rush at ninitz' remaining surface strength.

    the high command deemed that if the yamato survived the war, the japanese people will hate the navy.
     
  9. mac_bolan00

    mac_bolan00 Member

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    the san shiki tended to explode its cannister in all directions, hitting some of the japanese sailors.
     
  10. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Really? Do you have a source for that? Do you mean on the Yamato itself or the surrounding ships ?

    "One very fascinating factor about the ammunition:
    since Japan suffered heavy losses in her naval aviation
    community early in the war, capital ships were expected to
    provide their own defense against allied aircraft. As a
    result of this, the 18-inch gun was provided with an anti-
    aircraft shell of its own, called "San Shiki" (the Beehive)
    Model 13. This round weighed 2,998 pounds and was filled
    with 900 incendiary tubes (of rubber thermite) and 600
    steel stays. A time fuze was supplied, set before firing,
    that went off at a predetermined altitude and when the fuze
    functioned, the explosive and metal contents burst in a
    cone extending 20 degrees forward, towards the oncoming
    aircraft. Instantly after detonating, the projectile shell
    itself was destroyed by a bursting charge, increasing the
    quantity of steel splinters. The incendiary tubes ignited
    about half a second later and burned for five seconds at
    3000 degrees C, producing a flame about 16 feet long.<15>"

    http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/academic/history/marshall/military/wwii/Japanese.navy/jap_yamoto_bat.txt
     
  11. mac_bolan00

    mac_bolan00 Member

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    well, probably not in ALL directions but some sailors aboard the yamato were said to have been hit (as to whether or it it's from the san shiki charge, they're probably guessing.)
     
  12. skunk works

    skunk works Ace

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    A good ship, saved for too long, and then wasted in a situation where it could not win. Perhaps a message about not saving your reserves until the situation is untenable ?
    Could've been significant (in Guadalcanal) others, yet was wasted/saved ?, as a "Chariot of the Gods" (Admirals' Taxi"), instead of a dominating combat ship.
    Begs the question of why ?
    If they had no intention of using it in the front line, why not build a "Castle" instead ?
    Saving it/both for a tide-turning end, turned out to be an end (without the tide-turning).
    I shudder to think (if it and it's Admirals) had the "beans" to lead with it. I believe it's presence (up front) would've been ..... frightening .... and perhaps dominating.
    It's all Monday morning quarterbacking now.:D
     
  13. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Well the reason I ask is where on the ship would they have been hit? The rounds were fuzed to explode after the round had gone a specific distance. IIRC they were not a "Shotgun" effect per se where the spread would start after just leaving the barrel as that would damage the barrels.


    [​IMG]
     
  14. mac_bolan00

    mac_bolan00 Member

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    it was not saved. the japanese had more than enough battleships to send down the slot before the yamato is called to sortie. the thing about japanese naval tactics is that it's too mahan. rush in, sting, then stream out. minimal- to medium-commitment unless there is real strategic significance --or desperate situation. at guadalcanal, they gave up after they lost their second battleship. can you picture that? lose two battleships and you give up? the USN lost eight battleships on opening day!

    the yamato was intended to be used in midway wherein the japanese expected to meet the americans in a pivotal engagement. well, it never happened. the next time the japanese intended to use yamato, it was to destroy macarthur's seventh fleet off leyte and samar, also a crucial mission to the japanese. after leyte, there just wasn't any important mission for the yamato, besides go down fighting in japanese waters, for whatever that action was worth to them.

    you can't expect the tiger to show up in all pro-am events.
     
  15. mikebatzel

    mikebatzel Dreadnaught

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    While I agree with this statement, IIRC Even Thomas' book Sea of Thunder mentions in it that the Japanese called the mission something along the lines of allow the Navy one last chance to die in Honor
     
  16. skunk works

    skunk works Ace

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    Since the Japanese put such great "Store" in their Battleships one can only wonder why they used them in such small quantities.
    Guadalcanal should have had all 4 deployed Haruna, Kirishma, Hiei, Kongo, at once (re-fit BCs). They would've smashed the American defense, supply, and invasion/occupation forces. They didn't. I doubt this was doctrine, more egotistical foolhardiness.
    Imagine Yamato/Musashi (both/either) at the Battle of Savo. The end for the Americans.
    At Wake Island. In the lead at Midway.
    The rest of their dreaded/feared Battlewagons Ise, Hyuga, Nagato, Mutsu, at Java Sea, Coral Sea, Santa Cruise, Tarawa, the Philippines. Instead of fishing in the Sea of Japan.
    Some were close, but not in the front line, why ? Close does not count in a sea battle.

    Not lead, be in the front with the lead. Arrive at the same time. No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy, what you need to do is have every option you have available to you when contact is made, not hours/days away.
    The one engagement wins a war theory is......Feudal/Futile
     
  17. mac_bolan00

    mac_bolan00 Member

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    yamamoto wanted to use battleships to finish off the americans at midway but like all admirals then, they were learning fast about the increasing dominance of airpower. without nagumo's carriers, you simply can't charge ahead.

    surface naval action at guadalcanal, while consisting largely of cruiser and destroyer actions, was decided by battleships.

    leyte is my favorite because both sides WANTED to use battleships. kurita wanted to destroy the US invasion force using battleships out of necessity --he had no airpower left. all he needed was to decoy halsey away. halsey wanted to finish kurita off with his battleships too. it was a scientific choice. even with 1,200 planes from his carriers, halsey knew he could sink at best 2 or 3 battleships in one engagement, letting the remaining battleships slip through. 1,200 planes is iffy against 7 battleships. it took 230 planes to sink musashi, 350 to sink yamato. halsey was right.

    the flaw to halsey's strategy? with the limited strike range of battleships, he has to dash away from the 7th fleet in order to hammer the japanese, exactly what the japanese were planning.
     
  18. skunk works

    skunk works Ace

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    How many it would take, and how many were used, are two different numbers. Most times you only need spot, cripple/slow it down and then finish it off at will, with whatever (air planes/submarines/surface action).

    As the Comedian Ron White says after being arrested for drunk & disorderly....

    "I'm not saying how many Cops it would've taken to kick my ass, I'm just telling you how many they were going to use."
     
  19. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Well, you might be able to use battleships (within the context of WW 2 at sea) offensively against a carrier force but it is a pretty tight set of constraints you must meet to do it.

    First, the battleship force needs escorts just like carriers. Next, the entire force must be equipped with effective and numerous antiaircraft systems. Then it must have the ability to assume formations that maximize that firepower to defend it.
    It is possible for a surface force meeting the above conditions to be able to fend off air attacks and suffer little or no damage. But, it is almost like trying to walk along a razor blade in doing it.
    The example I would hold out as a success where this was actually done was the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay in October 1944. A US task force of just four light cruisers and four destroyers took on repeated attacks by Japanese land based bombers totalling nearly 80 in number. Without looking it up, the task force shot down about a dozen and damaged twice that number. The bombers in turn managed just one bomb hit on one of the light cruisers killing a few crew and causing minor damage.
    Now, the last thing the battleships would have to manage is to close with and catch the carrier force at less than about 15 miles range and then be able to maintain that contact long enough to do crippling damage. The problem here is even given a slight speed advantage to the battleships this is very unlikely to happen.
     
  20. Tristan Scott

    Tristan Scott Member

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    Sure, but Battleship doctrine had been around for quite some time, and that doctrine did not have battleships dueling each other in such close quarters as was found around Iron Bottom Sound. The Japanese didn't send their battlecruisers to Guadalcanal to engage American surface forces, they were sent in to bombard Henderson. This tactic was successfully used in October '42 when they went in and bombarded Henderson preventing us from effectively attacking their transports lumbering down the slot. They were repeating the tactic in November, and it was Halsey who broke with doctrine when he sent in Lee's Battleships in with the express purpose of engaging enemy capital ships.

    I think it was difficult for the Japanese, especially Yamamoto to stray from the battle he had envisioned for his super battleships. I always thought it was somewhat ironic that even though Yamaoto was an early proponent of the aircraft carrier, that he envisioned the "decisive battle" that would defeat the American Navy be carried out by battleships. I think this is the one reason they were held out during the Solomon campaign.
     
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