|General info||Ships||Yamato (1940)Musashi (1940)Shinano (1944)|
The Yamato-class ships were three warships belonging to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN): the Yamato, the Musashi, and the Shinano. The Yamato and the Musashi are considered the largest and most powerful battleships ever built.
The Japanese Empire and the US both knew they would have to wage war on each other well before WW2 actually started. The US neglected to seriously prepare for war in the Pacific because they thought the IJN was weak and obsolete. The Japanese Empire, on the other hand, decided to expand, strenghten and modernize its warfleet. The Japanese firmly believed that war at sea would be won by battleships. Thus, they began designing new battleships, which would be able to deal with any other kind of warships, be it other battleships, cruisers, etc, and which would be virtually unsinkable. The Japanese basically threw away the 1922 Washington treaty according to which warships could not weigh more than 10000 tons.
Yamato and Musashi
After years of planning, designing and building, the Yamato was finally launched in August 1940, soon followed by the Musashi, her sistership, in November 1940. The Yamato didn't see much action before the battle of Okinawa in 1945. It was mainly used as a troop transport, and often remained anchored in port for months. The sailor even knicknamed the ship "Hotel Yamato". The Musashi, on the other hand, was thrown into battle several times, until the fateful battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944. That battle was Japan's last chance to somehow turn the tables in the Pacific, but instead the IJN suffered considerable losses and was utterly defeated. Among the ships lost was the Musashi, sunk by US torpedo-bomber planes launched by US carriers Intrepid, Lexington, Essex, Enterprise, Cabot, and Franklin. After the battle of Leyte Gulf, the US troops kept closing in the Japanese homeland. In April 1945, the US attempted to capture the island of Okinawa. Seeing that there would be no hope of preventing the capture of the island by the US forces, the Japanese decided to send the Yamato for one final battle. It was a suicide mission really; Yamato's objective was to reach Okinawa and reinforce the local garrison with her guns and crew. As soon as the Yamato was sent out, the US took note of the ship. The Americans quickly dispatched a considerable number of bombers and torpedo-bombers from their nearby aircraft carriers, and proceeded to meticulously sink the Yamato. The ship was only protected by eight destroyers, among which several were sunk. The Yamato put up a fight but was soon struck by dozens of torpedoes, all fired from the same side, making the unsinkable ship painfully capsize until she finally exploded and was sent to the bottom for good.
There is not much to say about the Shinano. She was to be the third Yamato-class battleship, but was converted into an aircraft carrier during construction. She was laid down in November 1944, but was sunk by a US submarine ten days after. Her most notable trait, excepted her exceedingly short lifespan, was to be inherently flawed as an aircraft carrier. The conversion from battleship to aircraft carrier had been made very quickly without any care. It's almost a good thing she was sunk so quickly after being laid down.