Japanese battleship Yamato

Yamato on trials, 1941
Yamato on trials, 1941
Career Missing image
RN Ensign

Ordered: March 1937
Laid down: November 4 1937
Launched: August 8 1940
Commissioned: December 16 1941
Fate: Sunk April 7 1945
General Characteristics
Displacement: 65,027 tonnes (empty, including 21,266 tonnes of armour); 72,800 tonnes (estimated, full load)
Length: 256 m (water-line)
Beam: 36 m
Draught: 11 m (maximum)
Propulsion: 12 Kanpon boilers, driving 4 steam turbines, 150,000 shp (110 MW) (estimated) =
Speed: 27 knots (50 km/h)
Range: 11,500 km at 16 knots (30 km/h)
Complement: 2,750
Armour: 650 mm on front of turrets, 409 mm side armour, 198 mm armoured deck
Armament: In 1941: nine 18.1-inch (460 mm) guns (3×3); twelve 6.1-inch (155 mm) guns (4×3); twelve 12.7 mm guns (6×2); twenty-four 25 mm AA guns; eight 13 mm AA guns.

By 1945 six of the 6.1-inch and all 13 mm guns had been removed and the AA defences had been boosted to a hundred and forty-six 25 mm guns.

Aircraft: 7

Yamato (大和), named after the Yamato Province, was a battleship of the Imperial Japanese Navy, and was the lead ship of her class. She and her sister ship Musashi were the largest battleships ever constructed, weighing 65,027 tons and armed with nine 18.1 in (460 mm) main guns.



Yamato at dock
Yamato at dock

Design work began in 1934 and after modifications the design was accepted in March 1937 for a 68,000 ton vessel. She was built at a specially prepared dock at Kure naval dockyards beginning on 4 November 1937. She was launched on 8 August 1940 and commissioned on 16 December 1941. Originally it was intended that four ships of this class would be built, but Shinano was converted to an aircraft carrier during construction and the un-named Warship Number 111 was scrapped in 1943 when roughly 30% complete. Plans for a super Yamato class, with 20-inch (508 mm) guns, were abandoned.

The class was designed to be superior to any ship the United States was likely to produce. 18.1 in (460 mm) main guns were selected over 16 inch (410 mm) because the width of the Panama Canal would make it impossible for the U.S. Navy to construct a battleship with same caliber guns without severe design restrictions or an inadequate defensive arrangement. To further confuse enemies, her main guns were officially named as 16 inch and civilians were never notified of their completion. Their budgets were also scattered among various projects so that huge total costs would not be immediately noticeable.


Missing image
Damaged Yamato under enemy fire on her last journey

Yamato was the flagship of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto from 12 February 1942 , replacing Nagato. She remained the flagship for 364 days, one day shy of a full year, until on February 11th, 1943 the flag was transferred to her one and only sister ship, the Musashi. She spent much of rest of 1943 in harbor at Truk. The anti-aircraft defences were greatly increased in 1943 at Kure but as she returned to Truk on 25 December 1943 she was badly damaged by a torpedo from USS Skate and was not fully repaired until April 1944. Two of the 6.1 inch (155 mm) turrets were removed and AA gun platforms replaced them. She returned to the conflict and joined the Japanese fleet in the Battle of the Philippine Sea (June) and the Battles of Leyte Gulf and Samar Gulf (October), during which she first fired her main guns. She returned home in November and her anti-aircraft capability was again upgraded over the winter. She was attacked in the Inland Sea on March 19 1945 by carrier aircraft from Task Force 58 as they attacked Kure. She suffered little damage during the engagement.

Missing image
Yamato exploding

Her final mission was as part of Operation Ten-Go following the invasion of Okinawa on 1 April 1945. She was sent on a suicide mission to attack the US fleet supporting the US troops landing on the west of the island. On 6 April Yamato and her escorts left port at Tokuyama. They were sighted on 7 April as they exited the Inland Sea southwards. The U.S. Navy launched around 400 aircraft to intercept the taskforce and the planes engaged the ships starting in the mid-afternoon. Yamato took up to twenty bomb and torpedo hits before, at about 14:20, her magazines detonated. She capsized to port and sank, still some 200 km from Okinawa. Around 2,475 of her crew were lost and 269 survived.

The wreckage lies in around 300 m of water and has been surveyed in 1985 and 1999. Interestingly, the survey of the ship indicated that the Yamato was equipped with a bulbous bow, which reduces wavemaking resistance at high speeds.


  • Yoshida Mitsuru, Requiem for Battleship Yamato. A detailed description of the ship's final voyage; Mitsuru was the only surviving bridge officer.
  • Janusz Skulski, The Battleship Yamato. A highly detailed book on every aspect of the ship.
  • Russell Spurr's A Glorious Way To Die. A description of Yamato's final days as seen from the perspective of not only her officers and men, but also the accompanying ships of her task force and the American forces who destroyed her.

Impact on later culture

In a futuristic anime television and movie series Space Battleship Yamato, broadcast in the US as Star Blazers, humanity salvages the wreck of Yamato from the evaporated ocean floor and refits it as a spaceship which saves the Earth and its people from toxic radiation which is ravaging the planet, due to alien bombardment.

Yamato is also the name of one of the Galaxy Class sister ships to the USS Enterprise on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The historical fiction anime series Zipang features Yamato prominently in the early episodes of the series.

The RTS game StarCraft, from Blizzard Entertainment, features a game unit called the Battlecruiser with a special attack called "Yamato cannon".

Now defunct Interplay Entertainment's starship combat simulation game, Star Trek: Starfleet Command, features the Yamato as a class of superheavy deadnaughts fielded by the United Federation of Planets.

External links


Yamato Museum (http://www.biwa.ne.jp/~yamato/) 1/10 scale model

Template:Yamato class battleship de:HIJMS Yamato fr:Yamato (navire) ja:大和 (戦艦) no:Yamato pl:Yamato (pancernik) zh:大和级战列舰


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