IJN Yamato

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The IJN Yamato was a battleship of the Imperial Japanese Navy and holds the distinction for being the largest battleship ever built.

Construction began on this massive vessel in 1937 in complete secrecy to the point that bamboo mats were hung over the side of the shipyard to hide the ship during construction. Press information about the vessels used photographs of the Heavy Cruiser Tone instead of actual pictures of the ships and much about the existence of the ships was kept a well guarded secret. Once complete its actual tonnage, weaponry and size was never actually admitted until after the occupation of Japan at the end of the war. The ship was launched in 1940 but did not complete fitting out until December 1941 just too late to take part in the Pearl Harbor mission.

The ship served as the flagship of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto from its deployment into action in Feb 1942 until his death during the Guadalcanal campaign. It served as the flagship of the Combined fleet in the Truk, Singapore and Raboul squadrons in the South Pacific theater of the war the Japanese refusing to commit the ship in anything other then a decisive battle unwilling to risk losing the two ships. It served in both the Battle of Midway and Philippine Sea but never in the core of the main fighting force in those battles.

It wasn't fully committed to battle until the Battle of Leyte Gulf where it was forced to play a major role because of the massive aircraft losses from the Great Marianis Turkey Shoot. It was because of those losses, and other losses in the months following, that meant that the only viable striking force that the Combined Fleet had available was their battleships and cruisers. During the battle it was assigned to the Center Force under the command of Admiral Takeo Kurita who initially commanded from the cruiser Atago but when that ship was shot out from under him by the submarine USS Dace he moved his command to the Musashi under the insistence of his inferior officers opting to command from the Musashi rather then the Yamato feeling unworthy to use Yamamoto's flagship.

In the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea, one of the four major engagements of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, his Center force came under attack from carrier based aircraft from Halsey's 3rd fleet causing minor damage to the Yamato and sinking the Musashi and several of his supporting destroyers and cruisers. His ships were sighted turning away from the battle area as the vessels turned about to recover the flag Admiral and try and avoid further air attacks. This lead to Halsey assuming that the ships were disengaging. Once placed in command of the Yamato Kurita order his ships to steam battle speed for the San Bernardino Strait.

This leads to the biggest mismatch in naval history, and the second of four engagements in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, The Battle Off Samar. As morning was breaking off of the island of Samar, Center Force exited the San Bernardino Strait and headed south towards Leyte Gulf and smashed right into the tiny support group Taffy 3, a tiny collection of ships including 6 Escort Carriers, 3 Destroyers and 4 Destroyer Escorts. Unsure of the situation he just found himself in, Kurita ordered a general attack without getting his ships into fighting formation. What resulted was the biggest case of David vs Goliath in the history of any naval battle ever. Lead by the Destroyer USS Johnston, the tiny tin cans of Taffy 3 fought back so hard that after 2 hours and 55 minutes of intense battle Kurita order his forces to withdraw. The irony of the battle is due to Kurita's battle decisions, the Yamato played almost no role in the battle.

The Yamato was sunk during the suicidal operation Ten-GO after multiple air attacks by the US Navy. The ship was intended to sail and beach itself on the north end of the island of Okinawa to become a massive defensive battery.

Carrier Shimano

Because of the massive carrier losses and the reconization that battleships were no longer strategically valuable, the third vessel of the Yamato-class was finished as a massive aircraft carrier. The ship was never completed as it was sunk by the submarine USS Archerfish as is was being sailed from the shipyard to the fitting out area. Had it gone into service it would have carried 47 aircraft.


  • Type: Super Battleship
  • Service Period: 1941-1945
  • Characteristics
    • Length:
      • Waterline: 256 m (waterline)
      • Overall: 263 m(overall)
    • Beam: 38.9 m
    • Draft: 11 m
    • Displacement:
      • Standard: 65,027 t
      • Full Load: 71,659 t(full load)
  • Crew: 2,500–2,800
  • Installed Power: 110,000 kW
  • Propulsion: 12 Kampon boilers. 4 shafts; 4 steam turbines
  • Range: 13,300 km at 30 km/h
  • Speed: 50 km/h
  • Armament
    • (1941)
      • 9 × 46 cm Type 94 guns (3x3)
      • 12 × 15.5 cm 3rd Year Type guns (4x3)
      • 12 × 127 mm Type 89 (6x2) (5 in)
      • 24 × 25 mm Type 96 AA guns (8x3)
      • 4 × 13.2 mm Type 93 (2x2)
    • (1945)
      • 9 × 46 cm Type 94 guns (3x3)
      • 6 × 15.5 cm 3rd Year Type guns (2x3)
      • 6 × 127 mm Type 89 (3x2)
      • 162 × 25 mm Type 96 AA guns
      • 4 × 13.2 mm Type 93 (2x2)
  • Aircraft carried: 7 Nakajima E8N or Nakajima E4N
    • Aviation facilities: 2 catapults

Unit Run

  • IJN Yamato
  • IJN Musashi
  • IJN Shimano (finished as an Aircraft Carrier)