Naval Legends: Yamato | World of Warships

They were designed to be the best… they met enemies face to face, endured tragedies and enjoyed victories… they went down in history due to the bravery of their crews… they are the ships that deserve to be called “Naval Legends!” In this episode, watch Yamato Life and Death of the Legendary Battleship. By spring 1945, it became clear that only a miracle
could save Japan from defeat in World War II. The Land of the Rising Sun had lost
virtually all its naval and air forces, and US troops were already landing on the Japanese islands. On the morning of April 6, Japan’s legendary
battleship Yamato sailed off to fight her last battle. The last bit of hope the Japanese possessed rested with this steel giant – the largest
and most powerful battleship of the time. That naval operation in the Pacific,
dubbed Ten-ichi-go (Heaven One), was a dangerous mission.
But the faith in Yamato was almost religious, and the Japanese believed luck would
go hand in hand with the ship. The history of battleship Yamato
began 10 years before the ship’s legendary last mission. In October 1935, Japanese engineers put together
a first draft of the famous naval giant. Unlike the Americans, whose ships were limited
to a size that could pass through the Panama Canal nothing restricted the Japanese from
building ships of a large size and displacement and arming them as heavily as possible. Japanese designers set out to make battleships powerful
enough to outmatch all existing foreign counterparts and any ships that would be built in the upcoming years. The production facilities behind me were the Kure
Naval Arsenal in those days. Its dockyard saw the birth of battleship Yamato . Her keel was laid in 1937, and the ship was completed 1941. Yamato was the heaviest battleship in the world. Back then,
the total construction expenses amounted to 130 million yen. That would be over 1 trillion yen
($8 billion) in today’s prices. Initially Japan planned to build
a total of four Yamato-class ships. However, the Pacific War began,
and after completing the second ship, Musashi, Japan stopped building the third ship, Shinano, and never started the fourth one. Eventually, Shinano was converted to an aircraft carrier. Yamato is the ancient name for Japan,
meaning “great harmony.” Strict secrecy was maintained throughout her construction:
a high fence of mats surrounded the dockyard, all engineers swore a solemn oath of non-disclosure, and the workers going in and out were compared
with their photos. Japanese shipbuilders certainly had something big to hide… Total displacement: 72,808 t Length: 263 m Beam: 38.9 m Draft: 10.8 m Armament
Main battery Three turrets each having three 40-SK Mod. 94 guns Caliber: 460 mm Secondary battery Two turrets each having three Type 3 guns
Caliber: 155 mm Anti-aircraft artillery Twelve coaxial Type 89 guns
Caliber: 127 mm Fifty triple-barrel and two single-barrel
Type 96 automatic cannons. Caliber: 25 mm Air group
7 seaplanes (reconnaissance planes and spotting aircraft). Armor
Main belt: 270–410 mm Main turrets: 190–650 mm Conning tower: 300–500 mm Power plant 4 Kampon turbines and 12 Kampon RO boilers Power: 154,000 shp Maximum speed: over 27 knots Operational range: 7,200 nautical miles at 16 knots Yamato’s key features are her main turrets,
each having three 460-mm guns. The guns could fire shells weighing almost 1.5 tons
with a muzzle speed of 790 meters per second. A gun turret, including the barbette, weighed 3,000 tons.
It could contain over 150 men. Yamato’s main turrets were guided by a fire control system,
consisting of a director that provided parameters of fire, range-finders, and electromechanical calculators
(a form of early computers). It was a state-of-the-art system for the time: lack of fire control radars for engaging surface targets
was compensated for by top-notch grouping of salvoes. This gave the Japanese firing capability
on par with that of the world’s leading navies. The ship’s secondary battery consisted of two turrets,
each having three 155-mm guns. The guns featured excellent ballistic characteristics
and could penetrate the armor of a typical cruiser; however, their rate of fire was pretty low. When commissioned, Yamato had six coaxial
127-mm anti-aircraft guns for long-range engagement, plus short-range anti-aircraft artillery
consisted of eight triple-barrel 25-mm cannons. The number of AA guns was constantly
built up during the war. The 127-mm anti-aircraft guns
and the 25-mm guns had different ranges of fire. So if an enemy aircraft flew into this gap,
neither of the guns was able to effectively intercept it. Furthermore, the 127-mm guns had relatively low traverse
speed and poor elevation and depression characteristics. They also failed to fire at the declared rate
of 14 rounds per minute if the elevation was high or low. Yamato enjoyed the heaviest armor
in shipbuilding history – its US analog, battleship Iowa had armor that was on average 100 mm thinner. The armor belt of the Japanese giant formed a citadel
that covered slightly over half of her waterline length. The most protected part was the ship’s conning tower… The weapon systems became literally giant. The Japanese built a superbattleship
that was like 10 or 15 others put together. But the problem was that it did not pay off. You can build one Yamato-class battleship, but she would still be destroyed
when facing 2, 3, or 10 US battleships. There are still such characteristics as mobility,
quantity, quality, salvoes per side… Yamato was commissioned in late 1941. In her first mission, the Battle of Midway, Yamato served
as the flagship of the Japanese Combined Fleet. During the battle, on June 4 through 6, 1942, Yamato did not fire a single shot
and was used only as an HQ ship. The Japanese military command was definitely
saving their two best battleships for an upcoming major battle against the US fleet. As a result, Japanese seamen
started to feel disappointed with their flagship. They even made up a saying that the world’s three
most useless things were China’s Great Wall, the Egyptian pyramids,
and battleship Yamato . It was not until autumn 1944
that the Japanese naval giant fought its first real battle. Together with her sister ship Musashi, Yamato attacked
US landing craft near the island of Leyte. In that battle, Yamato was only slightly damaged, demonstrated her power, and recovered the status
of an unsinkable giant. However, the situation in the Pacific theater
had changed by that time… Progress in military technology basically
follows the laws of philosophy. When making a new weapon system, designers
and the military usually seek to enhance its specifications: bigger caliber, thicker armor, etc. Then they come to a dead end,
where they are no longer developing the navy, but improving a separate weapon type
within the existing limits. A radical change is carrier-borne aviation and,
later, missile systems. Yamato is the peak,
the peak in the construction of battleships. It is not about progress, it is about reaching the peak. In 1945, World War II reached Japan’s home islands. The command of the Japanese Combined Fleet
made a Bushido-style decision: Yamato, with the help of a light cruiser
and eight destroyers, was to defend the island of Okinawa
and prevent the US troops from getting any further inland, or fight to the end and finish her journey gloriously. Executing this order, on April 6, 1945, the legendary Japanese battleship
sailed off to fight her last battle…. The United States sent its Task Force 58
to intercept the flagship of the Japanese Combined Fleet. The Americans would not miss the chance
to destroy the symbol of Japan’s naval power. As early as at 10 a.m., the first US squadrons took off
from five heavy and four light aircraft carriers, located about 300 miles away from Yamato. A total of 227 aircraft took part
in the destruction of the Japanese force. The battle began at 12:34. Four aerial bombs hit Yamato, taking out a 127-mm gun and several automatic cannons. In just 20 minutes, two more bombs struck the battleship,
and a torpedo hit her port side. In response, Yamato fired her anti-aircraft weapons. At 14:02, the Americans launched the last attack
on the wounded, but still combat capable, Yamato… It was a demonstrative execution: four torpedoes
(three to the port side and one to the starboard side) destroyed the ship’s damage control center. Yamato stopped moving and started listing
to port more and more every minute… and when this huge ship capsized,
a monstrous explosion erupted. The pride and hope of the Japanese fleet went under. Together with the ship, 3,000 crew members were lost, including the commanders of the Japanese force and the ship. For the Japanese, Yamato still remains a symbol of the nation’s might
that fell in battle like a true samurai. The city where the legendary battleship was built
opened a museum, whose centerpiece is an 26-meter model of Yamato . The Kure Municipal Museum of Naval History
and Science was built 10 years ago to preserve the rich naval tradition of the city. Now it is known as the Yamato Museum. The exhibits reflect the naval history of Kure; in other words, the history
of naval affairs and technologies. The museum has become quite popular. Fans of battleships come here from all over the country. However, we should remember that it was originally dedicated
to all kinds of shipbuilding. The violent explosion that finished the
destruction of Yamato was caused by the detonation of her main battery magazines. However, there is plenty of debate about
the reason for that tremendous explosion. The answer is probably hidden on the bottom of the ocean: so far researchers have been unable
to lift what is left from the giant battleship… It is true that Yamato had a number of drawbacks. Like her sister ship, Musashi,
the battleship was sunk as a result of air strikes. The key reason for that was the ships’ fundamental lack
of ability to resist massive air attacks. Yamato remains the largest and
most powerful battleship in history. For every person who takes interest
in the history of military ships, Yamato embodies military might. Born to terrify and crush enemies, this formidable steel giant managed to glorify
her name even as she was defeated. She represented a pinnacle in large battleship design,
one that will probably never be surpassed, and in that sense, Yamato will always remain a symbol and a legend.

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