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The Super Battleship Yamato

When the war broke out in the Pacific on December 7, 1941, the United States and the British Commonwealth forces were overpowered almost immediately. 

Invasions of the Philippines and the fall of the British Empire's citadel at Singapore and the Crown Colony Hong Kong were shocking.

Canada in the fall of 1941 had sent 1,975 personnel to reinforce Hong Kong which fell on December 25.

A lightning bolt showered sparks throughout the far east and into the free world already teetering from the blows of Hitler.

The world underestimated Japan's striking power and technology.  I try to read extensively about that era.  It's nothing but fascinating.

Like many, I knew about the super battleships that the Japanese built and launched in 1941.  The western powers knew nothing about them at the beginning of the war.  They made Hitler's Tirpitz and Bismarck look  like light cruisers.  They were called Yamato and Musashi.

The strategy of the brilliant western educated Admiral Yamamoto was:

  • Cripple the US fleet.

  • Knock out Singapore

  • Overpower the Philippines.

  • Invade and annex Indonesia for oil and raw materials.

  • Consolidate and annex the Far East into the greater Japanese empire.

Above all Yamamoto realized he would have to lure the US and Commonwealth forces into a final sea battle in a vast ocean controlled by Japan.  The final battle would have to be decisive due to the anticipated awakening of the industrial sleeping giant United States.

Carriers and Battleships of unquestioned power were set to do the job.

What astounded me about the two Super Battleships was their sheer size:

  • 862.8 feet long

  • 127.6 feet at the beam

  • Displacement 72,000 tons

  • 150,000 HP engines

  • Crew of 2,500

  • 18.1" guns fired a 1.5 ton projectile.

  • Maximum range 26 miles

  • Maximum height 29,000 feet or as high as Mt. Everest.

These two super ships were never brought to the battle until 1944 and 1945.  They never participated in the all out decisive Fleet against Fleet battle envisioned by both sides.  They were sunk by airpower and submarines.  The age of the Battleship had given way to the Super Carrier strike force.

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Friday, January 29, 2016