07.04.

1945: Largest Battleship in History Sunk

1945: Largest Battleship in History Sunk
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/ Japanese battleship Yamato under construction at the Kure Naval Base, Japan, September 20, 1941

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 7 April 1945
  • The giant battleship Yamato exploded in an incredible explosion that could be heard at a distance of 200 kilometers and produced a mushroom-shaped cloud over 6,000 meters high. The explosion was so strong that it destroyed even some of the American aircraft that were observing Yamato’s end.

The Japanese Yamato was the largest battleship ever built.

263 meters long and displacing 71,659 tons, she was armed with the heaviest artillery ever mounted on a vessel – 460 millimeter cannons capable of firing 1,360 kg shells to a distance of 42 kilometers. The ship’s armor reached the thickness of a whopping 650 millimeters in certain places. The Imperial Japanese Navy wanted to exploit the ship to its maximum in the final months of World War II.

When the Americans invaded Okinawa,  the Japanese decided to send Yamato there in a suicide mission, sort of like a massive kamikaze attack. Namely, the Yamato was supposed to be beached at Okinawa to act as an unsinkable artillery fortress attacking the Americans. That the mission was a suicidal was also indicated when the Yamato was to take aboard only enough fuel to reach Okinawa. The ship indeed set sail on that route, but the Americans found out about Japanese plans and sent planes to intercept her.

"Ten-Go" Operation, Yamato blows up, following massive attacks by U.S. Navy carrier planes north of Okinawa, 7 April 1945.
“Ten-Go” Operation, April 1945 Japanese battleship Yamato blows up, following massive attacks by U.S. Navy carrier planes north of Okinawa, 7 April 1945.

As many as eight U.S. aircraft carriers were engaged, which sent almost 400 aircrafts at Yamato. After being hit with at least nine torpedoes and 17 bombs, the ship slowed down and became an easy target for the planes. They continued to hit her until she started to sink.

The main commander aboard – Admiral Ito – ordered evacuation. When the fire reached the main magazines, the ship exploded in an incredible explosion that could be heard at a distance of 200 kilometers and sent up a mushroom-shaped cloud 6,000 meters into the air. The explosion was so strong that it destroyed even some of the American aircraft observing Yamato’s end.

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