Japanese battleship Musashi

The Musashi was a battleship of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II and flagship of the Combined Fleet of the Empire of Japan. It was the second ship of the Yamato class and, together with his twin Yamato was the heaviest armored and heavily armed ever built thanks to its displacement of 72,800 tons at full load and nine main batteries of 460 mm guns.

Named after a Japanese province, was built between 1938 and 1941 and formally put into service in the summer of 1942. The Musashi served as the flagship of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto and Mineichi s Koga in 1943. Throughout 1943 kept moving between the islands naval bases of Truk, Kure and Brunei in response to American air strikes on Japanese bases. The battleship was sunk on October 24, 1944 in an air strike carried out by aircraft of a U.S. aircraft carrier during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

Design and construction

The Musashi was the second Yamato class battleship, designed for the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1937. Like its sister ship, built it to be able to fight against several enemy ships simultaneously a versatility to compensate for the inability of the Empire of Japan to match production capacity Naval U.S. Navy and U.S. operators. With a displacement of more than 70 000 tonnes, Japan had hoped that the firepower of its sister ship Musashi and could serve as a counterweight to American industrial power.

Given the enormous amount projected for the Musashi, the supporters for its construction was reinforced nearby workshops were expanded and expressly built two floating cranes. The battleship’s keel was laid down on March 29, 1938 at the Mitsubishi shipyard in Nagasaki under the designation ‘Battleship No. 2′. The construction process was hidden from foreign eyes and large warehouses strategically placed blinds made ​​of hemp and 408 t in weight. The deception was so successful that the U.S. consulate, located across the bay in which the building of the Musashi, did not know of its existence throughout the process.

The launching of the battleship presented its peculiarities. The boat launch platform, four feet wide and comprised of nine plates of 44 cm Douglas fir wood joined together, took two years to mount because of the difficulty of drilling the holes for the screws through four meters of new wood. The problem of moving and stop the huge helmet once it was inside the narrow harbor of Nagasaki was solved with the laying of 570 t of heavy chains divided equally between both sides of the hull to create resistance to hydroplaning. Finally, launch, like construction, had to be hidden from prying eyes, for which, among other things, it was a mock air raid on the city to keep all the people in their homes. The Musashi was successfully launched by the sideslip method the November 1, 1940, although its large mass entry into the water was a tsunami more than one meter in height which swept over the harbor and the adjacent rivers, flooding turning houses and small fishing boats. The battleship was conditioned in the nearby Sasebo with Captain Kaoru Arima assigned as the Chief of equipment.

Towards the end of the preparation was made ​​modifications to its interior amenities to be used as flagship of Commander in Chief of the Combined Fleet, including its bridge and the captain’s cabin. These changes, along with improvements in the shielding of the secondary battery, two months delayed the completion and delivery of the vessel for sea trials, until August 1942.

Armament

Musashi’s main battery consisted of nine 460 mm guns, the largest caliber of naval artillery ever embarked. Each barrel measured 21.13 m, weighed 147.3 t was capable of firing high explosive or piercing to 42 km away. Their shells were lighter than those of similar caliber British guns of the First World War. The guns and turrets were built in the Kure Naval Arsenal and transported to Nagasaki on the freighter Kashino, which was built specifically for this purpose.

Her secondary battery comprised twelve guns of 155 mm mounted in four triple turrets, one fore, one aft, and two to the center- and twelve of 127 mm in six twin mounts, three on each side of the battleship. Furthermore, wore 24 25 mm anti-aircraft guns, mainly spread across the center of the ship. When was remodeled in 1944, the secondary battery configuration was changed to six guns of 155 mm, twenty-four of 127 mm and 130 25 mm anti-aircraft guns, in preparation for naval battles in the South Pacific .

Service history

On August 5, 1942 the Musashi was commissioned in Nagasaki with Kaoru Arima as captain, and that same day he joined the Yamato, the Nagato and Mutsu in the 1st Armored Division. Throughout the month of September was equipped with secondary battery comprised twelve guns of 127 mm, thirty-six of 25 mm and four 13.2 mm anti-aircraft guns, plus additional radar equipment. Throughout October and November, the Musashi conducted sea trials and artillery practice near Kure. In December 1942, after several maneuvers Zuikaku aircraft carriers, the battleship was declared operational.

Flagship of the Combined Fleet

The January 18, 1943 the Musashi departed Kure to Truk Islands, where he arrived four days later. On February 11, replaced her sister ship Yamato as flagship of the Combined Fleet commanded by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. The April 1 Musashi Yamamoto left to fly to the town of Rabaul, on the island of New Britain, and personally lead Operation I-Go, a Japanese air offensive in the Solomon Islands. Fifteen days later, and thanks to the Ultra secret codes decoded by the intelligence services of the Allies, American fighters P-38 Lightning Yamamoto killed in shooting down the plane flying from New Britain to Ballale, on the island of Bougainville. On April 23 Admiral Yamamoto’s ashes were taken to Truk and arranged in his cabin aboard the Musashi, where other officers of the Combined Fleet was visited and paid their respects.

On May 17, in response to the U.S. attacks on Attu Island, the Musashi, along with two light carriers, nine destroyers and two cruisers, was deployed in the North Pacific, but did not make contact with U.S. forces. The battleship then traveled to Japan to transport the ashes of Yamamoto to Kure on 23 May, where he left them in preparation for a formal state funeral. Immediately after the ship joined a naval force to fight the Americans in Attu. However, the island fell before the Japanese force could intervene, so that the counterattack was canceled and the Musashi returned to Japan.

On June 24, while undergoing revision and repairs Yokosuka Naval Arsenal, the Musashi was visited by Emperor Hirohito and other senior naval officers. Transferred to Kure on July 1, the same day the battleship entered drydock, which he left on the 8th with fire control and improved radar. After several transfers between different bases of the Japanese archipelago, the Musashi departed Truk on 31 July and arrived at its destination in six days.

The left Truk September 18 accompanied by three other battleships to respond to American raids on Eniwetok Island and Brown. Seven days after the fleet returned to Truk without contacting enemy units. In October, following suspicions of a U.S. attack on Wake Island, the Musashi led a large fleet under Admiral Koga Mineichi and consists of three fast carrier, six battleships and eleven cruisers who tried to intercept American carriers. As there was no contact, the fleet returned to Truk on October 26. The Musashi remained the remainder of 1943 in Truk. As his former captain was promoted, Captain Asakura Bunji took command of the battleship on December 7.

Latest operations and sinking

The Musashi remained in the port of Truk until February 10, 1944, the day trip to Yokosuka began with three smaller vessels. On February 24, two battalions left Yokosuka specialized army and ammunition on board bound for Palau. The same day he left for Japan, Musashi battle group ran into a typhoon that caused him to miss most of the charge stored on the deck of the battleship. He arrived in Palau on 29 February, at the base remained exactly a month since the March 29 left the island in the dark to prevent American air strikes. However, almost immediately after starting the Musashi and his bodyguards were attacked by the American submarine USS Tunny, who fired six torpedoes at the battleship. The armored bodyguards spotted the wakes of torpedoes and five of them were avoided, but the sixth hit near the bow of Musashi, causing flooding hydrophone compartment and killing eighteen crew.

On April 3, the battleship entered the Kure Naval Arsenal, which was repaired and updated between days 10 and 22 of the same month. Received a new radar, depth charge rails and increased anti-aircraft capabilities. For when it came out of drydock secondary battery of six guns Musashi was composed of 155 mm, 127 mm twenty-four hundred and thirty 25 mm and four 13.2 mm machine guns.

In May 1944 the ship left Okinawa toward Kure and then sailed for Tawi-Tawi with the Japanese Second Fleet under the command of Vice Admiral Ozawa Jisaburō. On June 10 came from Tawi-Tawi to Biak with the intent to fight the U.S. invasion of the island, but two days later, when the news reached Ozawa U.S. attacks on Saipan, the Second Fleet was diverted into direction of the Mariana Islands. During the Battle of the Philippine Sea was responsible for escorting Musashi fast carrier of the Second Fleet, but after the disastrous defeat battle Japanese-Americans was christened as the Great hunt turkeys of the Marianas, as the Japanese lost 450 aircraft and two aircraft carriers-the Second Fleet returned to their homeland. The July 10 Musashi Okinawa weighed anchor to go to Singapore in company with her ​​sister ship Yamato.

The October 18 Musashi joined the Japanese main fleet in Brunei in preparation for Operation Sho-1, the planned counterattack the American landing on the island of Leyte. The plan sought to Japanese carrier forces of Ozawa attracted American carrier fleets north of Leyte and thus allow the Central Force of Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita Leyte penetrate and destroy the forces landed by the enemy. To this end, five battleships, among whom was the Musashi, and ten heavy cruisers Brunei departed toward the Philippines on October 20.

Shortly after the departure of the Japanese force a couple Brunei American submarine torpedoed and sank two of Kurita’s heavy cruisers, including its flagship Atago, forcing the Admiral, who survived the disaster, to transfer his flag to Yamato. On October 24, sailing through the Sibuyan Sea, Kurita’s Central Force came under a large American air attack in five waves launched from aircraft carriers. At the beginning of the American pilots attacks, mainly from the aircraft carrier USS Essex, Franklin and Intrepid, were able to focus on the weakness capitalize Musashi shield near its bow, severely damaging the battleship in the first three raids and forcing reduce speed to 10 knots (19 km / h). When it seemed obvious that the battleship and not hold further damage, captain Toshihira Admiral Inoguchi, tried beaching on a nearby island. Despite his attempt, the Musashi sank at 19:36 after having received a huge punishment seventeen and nineteen torpedoes bombs, followed the enormous underwater explosion. Of a crew of 2399 men died 1023. The survivors were rescued by Japanese destroyers several hours later.

Weapons of World War II Japan

Yamato Class

Warships of the 1940s

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