Japanese battleship Musashi
Musashi leaving Brunei in October 1944 for
the Battle of Leyte Gulf
|Career (Empire of Japan)|
|Builder:||Mitsubishi Shipyard, Nagasaki|
|Laid down:||29 March 1938|
|Launched:||1 November 1940|
|Commissioned:||5 August 1942|
|Struck:||31 August 1945|
|Fate:||Sunk during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, 24 October 1944|
|Class & type:||Yamato-class battleship|
|Displacement:||68,200 long tons (69,300 t) (normal)
72,800 long tons (74,000 t) (full load)
|Length:||244 m (800 ft 6 in) (p/p)
263 m (862 ft 10 in) (o/a)
|Beam:||36.9 m (121 ft 1 in)|
|Draft:||10.86 m (35 ft 8 in) (full load)|
|Installed power:||150,000 shp (110,000 kW)
12 × Kanpon water-tube boilers
|Propulsion:||4 × propellers
4 × steam turbines
|Speed:||27.46 knots (50.86 km/h; 31.60 mph)|
|Range:||7,200 nmi (13,300 km; 8,300 mi) at 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph)|
|1 × Type 21 air search radar
1 × Type 0 hydrophone system
|Aircraft carried:||6–7 floatplanes|
|Aviation facilities:||2 × catapults|
Musashi (武蔵), named for an ancient Japanese province, was a Yamato-class battleship built for the Imperial Japanese Navy before World War II. The Yamato-class ships were the heaviest and most powerfully armed battleships ever constructed, displacing 72,800 long tons (74,000 t) fully loaded and armed with nine 46-centimeter (18.1 in) main guns.
Commissioned in mid-1942, Musashi was modified to serve as the flagship of the Combined Fleet and spent the rest of the year working up. The ship was transferred to Truk in early 1943 and sortied several times that year with the fleet in unsuccessful searches for American forces. She was used to transfer forces and equipment between Japan and various occupied islands several times in 1944. Musashi was torpedoed in early 1944 by an American submarine and forced to return to Japan for repairs where the navy took the opportunity to greatly augment her anti-aircraft armament. The ship was present during the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June, but did not come in contact with American forces. Musashi was sunk by an estimated 19 torpedo and 17 bomb hits delivered by American carrier aircraft on 24 October 1944 during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Over half of her crew was rescued.
Design and description
The Yamato-class ships were designed to be individually superior to American battleships, since the navy anticipated they would be unable to produce as many ships as the United States, and Musashi was the second of these ships ordered in 1937.
The ship had a length of 244 meters (800 ft 6 in) between perpendiculars and 263 meters (862 ft 10 in) overall. She had a beam of 36.9 meters (121 ft 1 in) and a draft of 10.86 meters (35.6 ft) at deep load. Musashi displaced 64,000 long tons (65,000 t) at standard load and 71,659 long tons (72,809 t) at deep load. Her crew consisted of 2,500 officers and enlisted men in 1942 and about 2,800 in 1944.
The battleship had four sets of Kampon geared steam turbines, each of which drove one propeller shaft. The turbines were designed to produce a total of 150,000 shaft horsepower (110,000 kW), using steam provided by 12 Kampon water-tube boilers, to give her a maximum speed of 27 knots (50 km/h; 31 mph). She had a stowage capacity of 6,300 long tons (6,400 t) of fuel oil, giving her a range of 7,200 nautical miles (13,300 km; 8,300 mi) at a speed of 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph).
Musashi's main battery consisted of nine 45-caliber 46 cm (18.1 in) Type 94 guns mounted in three triple gun turrets, numbered from front to rear, each with an elevation range of −5 to +45 degrees. They fired a 1,460-kilogram (3,200 lb) armor-piercing (AP) shell to a range of 42,026 meters (45,960 yd). The guns had a rate of fire of 1.5 to 2 rounds per minute. A special Type 3 Sankaidan incendiary shrapnel shell was developed in the 1930s for anti-aircraft use.
The ship's secondary battery consisted of twelve 60-caliber 15.5 cm 3rd Year Type guns mounted in four triple turrets, one each fore and aft of the superstructure and one on each side amidships. With a 55.87-kilogram (123.2 lb) AP shell, the guns had a maximum range of 27,400 meters (30,000 yd) at an elevation of +45 degrees. Their rate of fire was five rounds per minute. Heavy anti-aircraft defense was provided by a dozen 40-caliber 127-millimeter Type 89 dual-purpose guns in six twin turrets, three on each side of the superstructure. When firing at surface targets, the guns had a range of 14,700 meters (16,100 yd); they had a maximum ceiling of 9,440 meters (30,970 ft) at their maximum elevation of +90 degrees. Their maximum rate of fire was 14 rounds a minute, but their sustained rate of fire was around eight rounds per minute.
Musashi also carried thirty-six 25 mm Type 96 light anti-aircraft (AA) guns in triple-gun mounts, all mounted on the superstructure. These 25-millimeter (0.98 in) guns had an effective range of 1,500–3,000 meters (1,600–3,300 yd), and an effective ceiling of 5,500 meters (18,000 ft) at an elevation of +85 degrees. The maximum effective rate of fire was only between 110 and 120 rounds per minute because of the frequent need to change the fifteen-round magazines. This was the standard Japanese light AA gun during World War II, but it suffered from severe design shortcomings that rendered it a largely ineffective weapon. According to historian Mark Stille, the twin and triple mounts "lacked sufficient speed in train or elevation; the gun sights were unable to handle fast targets; the gun exhibited excessive vibration; the magazine was too small, and, finally, the gun produced excessive muzzle blast". The ship was also provided with two twin mounts for the license-built 13.2 mm Type 93 anti-aircraft machine guns, one on each side of the bridge. The maximum range of these guns was 6,500 meters (7,100 yd), but the effective range against aircraft was only 1,000 meters (1,100 yd). The cyclic rate was adjustable between 425 and 475 rounds per minute, but the need to change 30-round magazines reduced the effective rate to 250 rounds per minute.
While under repair in April 1944, the two 15.5-centimeter (6.1 in) wing turrets were removed and replaced with three triple 25-millimeter (0.98 in) gun mounts each. Twenty-one additional triple 25 mm mounts and 25 single mounts were added, for a total light AA armament of one hundred thirty 25 mm guns.
The ship's waterline armor belt was 410 millimeters (16.1 in) thick and angled outwards 20 degrees at the top. Below it was a strake of armor that ranged in thickness from 270 to 200 millimeters (10.6 to 7.9 in) over the magazines and machinery spaces respectively; it tapered to a thickness of 75 millimeters (3.0 in) at its bottom edge. The deck armor ranged in thickness from 230 to 200 millimeters (9.1 to 7.9 in). The turrets were protected with an armor thickness of 650 millimeters (25.6 in) on the face, 250 millimeters (9.8 in) on the sides, and 270 millimeters on the roof. The barbettes of the turrets were protected by armor 560 to 280 millimeters (22.0 to 11.0 in) thick, while the turrets of the 155 mm guns were protected by 50-millimeter (2.0 in) armor plates. The sides of the conning tower were 500 millimeters (19.7 in) thick and it had a 200-millimeter roof. Underneath the magazines were 50-to-80-millimeter (2.0 to 3.1 in) armor plates to protect the ship from mine damage. Musashi contained 1147 watertight compartments (1065 underneath the armor deck, 82 above) to preserve buoyancy in the event of battle damage.
Musashi was fitted with two catapults on her quarterdeck and she could stow up to seven floatplanes in her below decks hangar. The ship operated Mitsubishi F1M biplanes and Aichi E13A1 monoplanes and used a 6-metric-ton (5.9-long-ton) crane mounted on her stern to recover them from the water.
Fire control and sensors
The ship was equipped with four 15-meter (49 ft 3 in) rangefinders, one atop her forward superstructure and one each in her main gun turrets, and another 10-meter (32 ft 10 in) one atop her rear superstructure. Each 15.5-centimeter (6.1 in) gun turret was equipped with a 8-meter (26 ft 3 in) rangefinder. Low-angle fire was controlled by two Type 98 fire-control directors mounted above the rangefinders on the superstructure. Type 94 high-angle directors controlled the 12.7 mm AA guns, with Type 95 short-range directors for the 25 mm AA guns.
Musashi was built with a Type 0 hydrophone system in her bow. It was only useable while stationary or at low speed. In September 1942 a Type 21 air-search radar was installed on the roof of the 15-meter rangefinder at the top of the forward superstructure. Two Type 22 surface-search radars were installed on the forward superstructure in July 1943. While under repair in April 1944, the Type 21 radar was replaced by a more modern version and a Type 13 early warning radar was fitted.
To cope with Musashi's great size and weight, the construction slipway was reinforced, nearby workshops were expanded, and two floating cranes were built. The ship's keel was laid down 29 March 1938 at Mitsubishi's Nagasaki shipyard, and was designated "Battleship No. 2". Throughout construction, a large curtain made of hemp rope weighing 408 t (450 short tons) prevented outsiders from viewing construction.[N 1]
Launching the Musashi presented its own problems. The ship's 4-meter (13 ft 1 in) thick launch platform, made of nine 44 cm (17 in) Douglas fir planks bolted together, took two years to assemble (from keel-laying in March 1938) because of the inherent difficulty in drilling perfectly straight bolt holes through four meters of fresh timber. The problem of slowing and stopping the massive hull once inside the narrow Nagasaki Harbor was addressed by attaching 570 metric tons (560 long tons) of heavy chains divided evenly between each side of the hull to create dragging resistance in the water. Finally, the launch, like the ship itself, had to be concealed from prying eyes; the most important means of accomplishing this was a citywide air-raid drill staged on the launch day to keep everyone inside their homes. Musashi was successfully launched on 1 November 1940, coming to a stop only 1 meter (3.3 ft) in excess of the hull's calculated 220 meters (720 ft) travel distance across the harbor. The entry of such a large mass into the water caused a 120 cm (3 ft 11 in) tsunami, which propagated throughout the harbor and up the local rivers, flooding homes and capsizing small fishing boats. Musashi was fitted out at nearby Sasebo, with Captain Kaoru Arima assigned as her commanding officer.
Towards the end of fitting out, the ship's flagship facilities, including those on the bridge and in the admiral's cabins, were modified to satisfy Combined Fleet's desire to have the ship equipped as the primary flagship of the commander-in-chief, as her sister Yamato was too far along for such changes. These alterations, along with improvements in the secondary battery armor, pushed back completion and pre-handover testing of Musashi by two months, to August 1942.
Commissioned at Nagasaki on 5 August 1942, Musashi was assigned to the 1st Battleship Division together with Yamato, Nagato, and Mutsu. Beginning five days later, the ship conducted machinery and aircraft-handling trials near Hashirajima. Musashi was fitted with her secondary armament from 3–28 September 1942 at Kure, which consisted of twelve 127 mm guns, 12 triple 25 mm gun mounts, and four 13.2 mm (0.52 in) anti-aircraft machine guns, as well as a Type 21 radar. The ship was working up for the rest of the year. Captain Arima was promoted to Rear Admiral on 1 November.
Musashi was assigned to the Combined Fleet, commanded by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, on 15 January 1943 and sailed for Truk three days later, arriving on 22 January. On 11 February, she replaced her sister ship Yamato as the fleet's flagship. On 3 April, Yamamoto departed Musashi and flew to Rabaul, New Britain to personally direct "Operation I-Go", a Japanese aerial offensive in the Solomon Islands. Fifteen days later, he died when his aircraft was shot down by American Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighters while he was en route from New Britain to Ballale, Bougainville, after his orders had been intercepted and deciphered by Magic. On 23 April, Yamamoto's cremated remains were flown back to Truk and placed in his cabin on board Musashi.
On 17 May, in response to American attacks on Attu Island, Musashi—together with the carrier Hiyō, two heavy cruisers, and nine destroyers—sortied to the northern Pacific. When no contact was made with American forces, the ships sailed to Kure on 23 May, where Yamamoto's ashes were taken from the vessel in preparation for a formal state funeral. Immediately afterwards, Musashi's task force was significantly reinforced to counterattack American naval forces off Attu, but the island was captured before the force could sortie. On 9 June Arima was relieved by Captain Keizō Komura. On 24 June, while being overhauled at Yokosuka Naval Arsenal, Musashi was visited by Emperor Hirohito escorted by high-ranking naval officers. From 1–8 July, the ship was fitted with a pair of Type 22 radars at Kure. She sailed for Truk on 30 July and arrived there six days later where she resumed her position as fleet flagship.
In mid-October, in response to suspicions of planned American raids on Wake Island, Musashi led a large fleet under Admiral Mineichi Koga—three carriers, six battleships, and 11 cruisers—to intercept American forces, but failed to make contact and returned to Truk on 26 October. She spent the remainder of 1943 in Truk Lagoon. Captain Komura was promoted to Rear Admiral on 1 November and transferred to the 3rd Fleet on 7 December as Chief of Staff, Captain Bunji Asakura assuming command of Musashi.
The ship remained in Truk Lagoon until 10 February 1944, when she returned to Yokosuka. On 24 February, Musashi sailed for Palau, carrying one Imperial Japanese Army battalion and another of Special Naval Landing Forces and their equipment. After losing most of her deck cargo during a typhoon, she arrived at Palau on 29 February and remained there for the next month. On 29 March, Musashi departed Palau under cover of darkness to avoid an expected air raid, and encountered the submarine USS Tunny, which fired six torpedoes at the battleship; five of them missed, but the sixth blew a hole 19 feet (5.8 m) in diameter near the bow, flooding her with 3,000 long tons (3,000 t) of water. The torpedo hit killed seven crewmen and wounded another 11. After temporary repairs, Musashi sailed for Japan later that night and arrived at Kure Naval Arsenal on 3 April. From 10–22 April, she was repaired and her anti-aircraft armament was substantially increased. When she undocked on 22 April, the ship's secondary battery was composed of six 15.5 cm guns, twenty-four 12.7 cm guns, one hundred thirty 25 mm guns, and four 13.2 mm machine guns. She also received new radars and depth-charge rails were installed on her fantail.
In May 1944, Captain Asakura was promoted to Rear Admiral and Musashi departed Kure for Okinawa on 10 May, then for Tawitawi on 12 May. She was assigned to the 1st Mobile Fleet, under the command of Vice Admiral Jisaburō Ozawa, with her sister. On 10 June, the battleships departed Tawitawi for Batjan under the command of Vice Admiral Matome Ugaki, in preparation for Operation Kon, a planned counterattack against the American invasion of Biak. Two days later, when word reached Ugaki of American attacks on Saipan, his force was diverted to the Mariana Islands. After they rendezvoused with Ozawa's main force on 16 June, the battleships were assigned to Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita's 2nd Fleet. During the Battle of the Philippine Sea, Musashi was not attacked. Following Japan's disastrous defeat in the battle (also known as the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot"), the Second Fleet returned to Japan. On 8 July, Musashi and her sister embarked 3,522 men and equipment of the Army's 106th Infantry Regiment of the 49th Infantry Division and sailed for Lingga Island, near Singapore, via Okinawa, where they arrived on 17 July.
Battle of Leyte Gulf
Captain Toshihira Inoguchi relieved Asakura in command of Musashi on 12 August and was promoted to Rear Admiral on 15 October. Three days later, she sailed for Brunei Bay, Borneo, to join the main Japanese fleet in preparation for "Operation Sho-1", the counterattack planned against the American landings at Leyte. The Japanese plan called for Ozawa's carrier forces to lure the American carrier fleets north of Leyte so that Kurita's 1st Diversion Force (also known as the Central Force) could enter Leyte Gulf and destroy American forces landing on the island. Musashi, together with the rest of Kurita's force, departed Brunei for the Philippines on 22 October.
Two days later, while transiting the Sibuyan Sea, Kurita's ships were spotted by a reconnaissance aircraft from the fleet carrier USS Intrepid. Just over two hours later, the battleship was attacked by eight Curtiss SB2C Helldiver dive bombers from Intrepid at 10:27. One 500-pound (230 kg) bomb struck the roof of Turret No. 1, but failed to penetrate. Two minutes later, Musashi was struck starboard amidships by a torpedo delivered by a Grumman TBF Avenger, also from Intrepid. The ship took on 3,000 tons of water and a 5.5 degree list to starboard that was later reduced to one degree by counterflooding compartments on the opposite side. During this attack two Avengers were shot down.
An hour and a half later, another eight Helldivers attacked Musashi again. One bomb hit the upper deck but failed to detonate, and another hit the port side of the deck and penetrated through two decks before exploding above one of the engine rooms. Fragments broke a steam pipe in the engine room and forced its abandonment as well as that of the adjacent boiler room. Power was lost to the port inboard propeller shaft and the ship's speed dropped to 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph). Anti-aircraft fire shot down two Helldivers during this attack. Three minutes later, nine Avengers attacked from both sides of the ship, scoring three torpedo hits on the port side. One hit abreast Turret No. 1, the second flooded a hydraulic machinery room that forced the main turrets to switch over to auxiliary hydraulic pumps, and the third flooded another engine room. More counterflooding reduced the list to one degree to port, but the amount of flooding reduced the ship's forward freeboard by 6 feet (1.8 m). During this attack, Musashi fired sanshikidan shells from her main armament, but one shell detonated in the middle gun of Turret No. 1, possibly because of a bomb fragment in the barrel, and wrecked the turret's elevating machinery.
At 13:31, the ship was attacked by 29 aircraft from the fleet carriers Essex and Lexington. Two Grumman F6F Hellcat fighters strafed the ship's deck and Helldivers scored four more bomb hits near her forward turrets. Musashi was hit by four more torpedoes, three of which were forward of Turret No. 1, causing extensive flooding. The ship was now listing one degree to starboard, and had taken on so much water that her bow was now down 13 feet (4.0 m) and her speed had been reduced to 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph). Two hours later nine Helldivers from Enterprise attacked with 1,000-pound (450 kg) armor-piercing bombs, scoring four hits. The ship was hit by three more torpedoes, reducing her speed to 13 knots (24 km/h; 15 mph). At 15:25, Musashi was attacked by 37 aircraft from Intrepid, the fleet carrier Franklin and the light carrier Cabot. The ship was hit by 13 bombs and 11 more torpedoes during this attack for the loss of three Avengers and three Helldivers. Her speed was reduced to 6 knots (11 km/h; 6.9 mph), her main steering engine was temporarily knocked out and her rudder was briefly jammed 15 degrees to port. Counterflooding reduced her list to six degrees to port from its previous maximum of 10 degrees. Musashi had been struck by a total of 19 torpedoes and 17 bombs.[N 2]
Kurita left Musashi to fend for herself at 15:30, but encountered her again at 16:21 after reversing course. The ship was headed north, with a list of 10 degrees to port, down 26 feet (7.9 m) at the bow with her forecastle awash. He detailed a heavy cruiser and two destroyers to escort her while frantic efforts were made to correct her list, including flooding another engine room and some boiler rooms. Her engines stopped before she could be beached. At 19:30 her list reached 12 degrees and her crew was ordered to prepare to abandon ship, which they did fifteen minutes later when the list reached 30 degrees. Musashi capsized at 19:36 and sank in 4,430 feet (1,350.3 m) at Coordinates: .[N 3] Inoguchi chose to go down with his ship, but 1,376 crewmen of her 2,399-man crew were rescued. About half of her survivors were evacuated to Japan, and the rest took part in the defense of the Philippines.
- The amount of sisal rope necessary to complete the curtain was so great that it caused a shortage in the fishing industry.
- The exact tally of hits is not precisely known; most Japanese sources claim 11 torpedo and 10 bomb hits, Garzke & Dulin claim 20 torpedo and 17 bomb hits, and analysis by the US Naval Technical Mission to Japan acknowledges 10 torpedo and 16 bomb hits.
- Jentschura, Jung & Michel give a different location of .
- Jentschura, Jung & Mickel, p. 39
- Garzke & Dulin, p. 45
- Hackett & Kingsepp
- Chesneau, p. 178
- Skulski, p. 10
- Jentschura, Jung & Mickel, p. 38
- Skulski, pp. 18–19
- Skulski, p. 19
- Garzke & Dulin, pp. 91–92
- Campbell, pp. 187–88
- Campbell, pp. 192–93
- Skulski, p. 20
- Campbell, p. 200
- Stille, p. 11
- Campbell, p. 202
- Garzke & Dulin, pp. 100, 104, 122
- Skulski, pp. 25–26
- Skulski, pp. 20–21
- Skulski, p. 21
- Garzke & Dulin, pp. 51, 53, 66
- Yoshimura, p. 29
- Garzke & Dulin, p. 51
- Yoshimura, pp. 83–85, 97, 109, 115–17
- Yoshimura, pp. 123–25
- Garzke & Dulin, p. 66
- Whitley, p. 216
- Stille, p. 42
- Polmar & Genda, pp. 420–22
- Garzke & Dulin, p. 18
- Holtzworth, p. 22
- Campbell, John (1985). Naval Weapons of World War II. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-459-4.
- Chesneau, Roger, ed. (1980). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922-1946. Greenwich, UK: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-146-7.
- Garzke, William H.; Dulin, Robert O. (1985). Battleships: Axis and Neutral Battleships in World War II. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-87021-101-0.
- Hackett, Bob; Kingsepp, Sander (2012). "IJN Battleship Musashi: Tabular Record of Movement". Combinedfleet.com. Retrieved 17 April 2013.
- Holtzworth, E.C., Commander (January 1946). "Reports of the US Naval Technical Mission to Japan: Ship and Related Targets - Article 2: Yamato(BB), Musashi(BB), Taiho(CV), Shinano(CV)". United States Navy. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- Jentschura, Hansgeorg; Jung, Dieter; Mickel, Peter (1977). Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869–1945. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. ISBN 0-87021-893-X.
- Polmar, Norman; Genda, Minoru (2006). Aircraft Carriers: A History of Carrier Aviation and Its Influence on World Events. Volume 1, 1909–1945. Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books. ISBN 1-57488-663-0.
- Skulski, Janusz (1995). The Battleship Yamato. Anatomy of the Ship (reprint of the 1988 ed.). London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-490-3.
- Stille, Mark (2008). Imperial Japanese Navy Battleships 1941-45. New Vanguard 146. Botley, Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84603-280-6.
- Whitley, M. J. (1999). Battleships of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-184-X.
- Yoshimura, Akira (1999). Battleship Musashi: The Making and Sinking of the World's Greatest Battleship. Tokyo: Kodansha International. ISBN 4-7700-2400-2.
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