Michael A. Stecker

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Battleship Yamato

Book reference:
Janusz Skulski's "Battleship Yamato"
ISBN-10: 0851779409, Publisher: Conway Maritime; 2Rev Ed edition (June 24, 2004)

Yamato web-references:

Yamato video clips
Yamato (2005 movie trailer)
Yamato 2005 movie -- full final battle scene

Slide Show
(This is a Windows Executable .exe file requiring the MS Windows operating system to run.  Will not run with Apple/Mac operating system)
Battleship Yamato Slide Show

Imperial Japanese Navy Marching Song
16-inch canon fire

Radio Control Model Boats
RC Model Boat Page

List of Japanese government officials and military commanders during WWII:

With nine 18-inch guns the 71,659 ton Yamato of the Imperial Japanese Navy was the largest battleship ever built.  It was launched from Kure Naval Shipyard on August 8, 1940 and sunk southwest of Kyushu, Japan on April 7, 1945.

The earliest Japanese state we know of was ruled over by Yamato "great kings" in 500 A.D.  Yamato is the plain around Osaka, considered the richest agricultural region in Japan.


My scale model of Battleship Yamato

Model of Battleship Yamato by Nichimo 1/200 scale

Length: 51.5 inches
Beam: 7.625 inches
Material: plastic and wood
Power: 4 electric motors with electronic speed control turning four propellers
Control: Futaba 4 channel radio control
Gun Turrets: Front two rotate via radio control
RC Model Boat Page


Starboard two propellers


Mid-ship anti-aircraft guns and functioning searchlights


Power and radio control inside the model, from left (stern) to right (bow):
black high power rudder servo
large inside motors and gears (blue covers)
small outside motors
two microswitches for co-ordinated power turns & electronic speed control (orange and black)
power/rudder co-ordinating servo that controls microswitches (in front of micro-switches)
Radio Control receiver (center, covered with black foam)
gun turret servo (port, just behind red battery)
twin battery power (red)


Basic stats

see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_battleship_Yamato

Year Completed
71,659 tons
862'10" x 121'1" x 32'11"
27 knots
9 x 18.1"/45
12 (later 6) x 6.1"/60
12 (later 24) x 5"/40 DP
up to 150 x 25mm AA
4 x 13mm AA

6.1" belt (inclined)
11.8" bulkheads
9.1" deck
25.6" turret face
19.7" conning tower


March 1937

Unfettered by former treaty restrictions, Constructor Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral/C) Fukuda Keijii's design team completes the final design for the largest class of battleships in the world - 69,988-tons full-load displacement mounting nine 460-mm/45 (18.1-inch) rifles in three triple turrets. Each turret will weigh more than a destroyer. Three other units of the class are planned.

4 November 1937
Kure Naval Arsenal, Hiroshima Prefecture (island of Honshu), Japan.
The keel of Battleship No. 1 (Yamato) is laid down.

November,1937 - August, 1940
Building Battleship No. 1 (Yamato)


8 August 1940:

12 August 1941:
Departs Kure for trials.


5 September 1941:
Kure. Battleship No. 1 is fitting-out. Captain (later Vice Admiral) Miyazato Shutoku (former CO of NAKA) is posted as her Chief Equipping Officer.

Yamato crew and forward six 18-inch guns on October 30, 1941

8 December 1941: The Attack on Pearl Harbor:
Kure. At the opening of hostilities, Battleship No. 1 is still being fitted out.

16 December 1941:
Battleship No. 1 is completed and registered (commissioned) in the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as the YAMATO in the Kure Naval District. Captain Takayanagi is the Commanding Officer.

YAMATO is assigned to the Combined Fleet's BatDiv 1 with NAGATO and MUTSU at Hashirajima. She is home-ported at Kure.

21 December 1941-10 February 1942:
Inland Sea. Final fitting-out. Deficiencies found are corrected at Kure. YAMATO's initial AA suite is twelve 127-mm guns (6x2), twenty-four 25-mm guns (8x3 enclosed mounts) and four 13.2-mm machine guns (2x2).

12 February 1942:
Departs Kure. Arrives at Hashirajima. The flag of the Combined Fleet's Commander-in-Chief Admiral (Fleet Admiral, posthumously) Yamamoto Isoroku (former CO of AKAGI) is transferred from NAGATO to YAMATO.

ComCarDiv 2 Rear Admiral (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Yamaguchi Tamon (former CO of ISUZU) distributes copies of his plan for a new offensive against Hawaii beginning in early 1943. Cdr Prince Takamatsu no-miya Nobuhito (brother of Emperor Hirohito (Showa) and Major Prince Tsunenori Takeda arrive aboard YAMATO to observe the table tap maneuvers.

9 March 1942:
Admiral Yamamoto issues orders to the fleet to prepare for Operation "C", a raid into the Indian Ocean.

Early May 1942:
Admiral Yamamoto conducts war games aboard YAMATO to test plans for the Invasion of Midway.

19 May 1942:
Departs Kure for battle training. The new light carrier JUNYO, under Captain (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Ishii Shizue (former CO of KASUGA MARU), almost sidewipes YAMATO.

27 May 1942:
YAMATO is deemed operational.

29 May 1942:Operation "MI" - The Battle of Midway:
At 0600, YAMATO departs Hashirajima with the First Fleet

June 1942:
0255: Yamamoto orders Operation MI cancelled.

10 June 1942:
1200 miles SE of Tokyo. After sunset, an unidentified submarine fires two torpedoes at YAMATO about 100 miles NNE of Minami-Torishima (Marcus Island). YAMATO and the other ships in the Main Body turn to port and both torpedoes miss.

14 June 1942:
At 1900, arrives at Hashirajima.

5 August 1942:
MUSASHI is assigned to the First Fleet, BatDiv 1 with YAMATO.

17 August 1942:
Yamamoto and his staff depart Kure for Truk with the Main Body: YAMATO, escort carrier KASUGA MARU (later renamed TAIYO), DesDiv 7's AKEBONO, USHIO and SAZANAMI.

28 August 1942:
Near Truk. YAMATO is attacked by LtCdr (later Vice Admiral) Glynn R. Donaho's USS FLYING FISH (SS-229). Since Donaho's ONI 41-42 "Recognition Manual" does not include the unknown YAMATO-class, he identifies her as a "KONGO-class" battleship. Donaho fires four Mark 14 steam torpedoes and thinks that he sees two hits, but they are premature explosions. YAMATO launches at least one E13A1 "Jake" floatplane to counter-attack. FLYING FISH is bombed and depth-charged by four escorts, but makes good her escape.

28 August 1942:
YAMATO makes port safely at Truk. She serves there as Headquarters and Flagship of the Combined Fleet.

The Battles for Guadalcanal and the first battleship vs. battleship encounter in the Pacific War end with YAMATO at anchor at Truk. The reasons advanced for her taking no part in the Solomons campaign are shortages of fuel and bombardment ammunition, restricted, shallow and uncharted waters near Gudalcanal, her slower getaway speed than the KONGOs and Admiral Yamamoto’s reluctance to commit her to battle. YAMATO, the world’s mightiest battleship, remains at Truk as a “hotel” from 29 August 1942 until 8 May 1943.

11 February 1943:
Truk. After one year's service, Admiral Yamamoto's Combined Fleet flag is transferred to YAMATO's new sister-ship MUSASHI.

18 April 1943:
Acting on codebreaker's "Ultra" deciphers and as authorized by President Roosevelt, 18 Army Air Force P-38s of the 70th and 339th Fighter Squadrons of the 347th FG takeoff from Henderson Field, Guadalcanal and intercept and kill Admiral Yamamoto over Bougainville while his Type 1 Mitsubishi GM4 "Betty" bomber is enroute from Lakunai airfield, Rabaul to Ballale Island. A second Betty carrying Yamamoto's Chief of Staff, Vice Admiral Ugaki is also shot down. Ugaki, although hurt in the crash, survives.

8 May 1943:
Departs Truk for Yokosuka.

13 May 1943:
Departs Yokosuka for Kure.

21 May 1943:
Drydocked for inspection and repairs.

30 May 1943:

12 July 1943:
Kure. Drydocked. A Type 21, Mod 3, air and surface search radar is installed. Twelve new (4x3) 25-mm AA guns are fitted on the weather deck. YAMATO's total 25-mm. AA suite is now 36 guns. Her 155-mm. wing mount guns are provided with coaming armor and their barbettes with 28-mm of additional armor. YAMATO's fuel storage is reduced and her main and auxiliary rudder controls are improved.

17 July 1943:

16 August 1943:
YAMATO, loaded with troops and supplies, departs Kure for Truk.

7 September 1943:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Ono Takeji (former CO of SUZUYA) assumes command from from Rear Admiral Matsuda who is reassigned to the Imperial General Staff.

19-23 October 1943:
Arrives at Brown Atoll, Eniwetok.

26 October 1943:
The fleet arrives back at Truk.

25 December 1943:
180 miles NE of Truk. At 0320, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Eugene B. McKinney, acting on an "Ultra", is running on the surface in USS SKATE (SS-305). McKinney picks up YAMATO at 27,000 yards. He dives and tries to close, but is unsuccessful until YAMATO turns towards him. He passes down her starboard beam, turns and fires his four stern tubes at her. One or two Mark 14-3A torpedoes hit YAMATO on the starboard hull near turret No. 3 at 10-5N, 150-32E. A total failure of the main armor belt system occurs due to a flawed joint between the upper and lower side protection belts. The upper magazine for No. 3 turret floods. YAMATO takes on about 3,000-tons of water. The transport mission is aborted.

Arrives at Truk later that same day. Emergency repairs.

10 January 1944:
Departs Truk for Kure with DesDiv 4's MICHISHIO, ASAGUMO and DesDiv 32's FUJINAMI.

16 January 1944:
Arrives at Kure. Later, YAMATO is docked in No. 4 drydock to repair the torpedo damage to her hull and correct deficiencies in her armor belt.

25 January 1944:
Captain Morishita Nobuei (former CO of HARUNA) assumes command from Rear Admiral Ono.

3 February 1944:

25 February 1944:
Kure. BatDiv 1's YAMATO and MUSASHI are reassigned from the First Fleet to the Second Fleet.

Drydocked. Two beam triple 6.1 inch (155-mm.) turrets are removed and replaced by six (3x2) 5-inch (127-mm.) HA AA mounts. Twenty-four (8x3) and 26 single 25mm. AA mounts are added. Shelters are also added on the upper deck for the increased AA crews. Type 13 air search and Type 22, Mod 4, surface search/gunnery control radars are installed and the main mast is altered. Two 150-mm searchlights are removed and later installed ashore at Kure.

YAMATO is fitted with Type 2 infrared (IR) Identification Friend-or-Foe (IFF)/signaling devices mounted midway up on each side of the bridge. The system may have been based on the German "Seehund" IR device. It is built around a telescopic sensor that receives light-waves in the IR range and registers a readout in the radio shack. The system also includes a pair of 20-mm. binoculars coaxially mounted with the transmitting IR lamp on the bridge so that another ship can use the IR detector for elementary signaling or as a formation light for station keeping.

About this time, YAMATO is also fitted with multiple E27 radar detectors copied from the German FuMB 1 Metox R.600.

11 April 1944:
Departs Kure for trials in the Iyo Nada; returns to Hashirajima that evening.

1 May 1944:
Arrives at Lingga (near Singapore).

3 May 1944:
Lingga. Designated the flagship of Vice Admiral Ugaki Matome's (former CO of HYUGA) BatDiv 1.

Shortly after departure, a periscope (perhaps HARDER's) is sighted and a submarine alert is given. All ships quickly execute "hard left-rudder"but the MUSASHI turns too late. She closes on YAMATO just ahead. On YAMATO's bridge, near panic reigns! Captain Morishita takes over the helm himself and carries out an evasive turn, but the situation remains critical. Then a lookout reports that the "ship behind us has stopped." All aboard both super-battleships are relieved that a collision between them has been avoided on the eve of battle.

12 June 1944:
Arrives at Batjan. The U.S. Invasion of the Marianas begins; Operation KON is "postponed".

19-23 June 1944: Operation "A-GO" - The Battle of the Philippine Sea:
Vice Admiral Kurita's Second Fleet steams about 100 miles ahead of Vice Admiral Ozawa's carriers.

At 0920, YAMATO's lookouts spot aircraft approaching at 13,125 feet. This is the fighter unit of Air Group 601's second strike. Admiral Kurita has received no information about a friendly overflight. Cruiser TAKAO fires four starshells meaning "identify yourself", but no reply is received. The planes keep approaching.

At 16,400 yards, YAMATO and the other ships execute a turn to port and open fire. YAMATO's main guns, loaded with "Sanshiki-dan" shells, are fired in anger for the first time - but at friendly forces! Four ZEKEs are damaged. Another ditches. YAMATO may have damaged some of the planes. MUSASHI's lookouts correctly identify the planes and she is the only ship that does not open fire.

The Mobile Fleet's aircraft attack U.S. Task Force 58 off Saipan but suffer overwhelming losses in the "Great Mariana's Turkey Shoot". YAMATO remains undamaged and retires northward with the Mobile Fleet.

29 June-8 July 1944:
Departs Hashirajima for Kure with MUSASHI. Fifteen new (five triple-mount) 25mm. AA guns are installed. The entire hinoki deck is also replaced. YAMATO loads an Army regiment and materials aboard.

18 October 1944:
Black deck camouflage, intended for the night breakthrough in the San Bernardino Strait, is hastily applied to both YAMATO and MUSASHI. The main component is soot from YAMATO's stack.

18-20 October 1944:
The fleet departs Lingga for Brunei Bay, Borneo to refuel.

22 October 1944: Operation "SHO-I-GO" (Victory) - The Battle of Leyte Gulf:
YAMATO receives Mitsubishi F1M2 ("Pete") aircraft from the NAGATO. Sorties from Brunei towards Philippines with Vice Admiral Kurita Takeo's First Mobile Striking Force, First Section, Force "A" (Center Force): BatDiv 1's YAMATO, MUSASHI and NAGATO, CruDivs 4, 5 and DesRon 2.

23 October 1944: The Battle of the Palawan Passage:
Two American submarines attack Force A. Cdr (later Captain) David H. McClintock's USS DARTER (SS-227) sinks Kurita's flagship, cruiser ATAGO. Kurita abandons ship and is picked from the water by destroyer KISHINAMI. Ten hours later, he transfers to YAMATO and resumes command of the First Diversion Attack Force. Cdr (later Captain) Bladen D. Claggett's USS DACE (SS-247) sinks cruiser MAYA. DARTER also damages cruiser TAKAO.

24 October 1944: The Battle of the Sibuyan Sea:
0810: Three enemy scout planes are sighted, bearing 10, range 31 miles. Speed is increased to 18 knots.

1026: YAMATO opens fire on enemy aircraft, using her main guns and Type 3 "sanshikidan" rounds.

1032: Attacked by two Grumman TBF "Avengers" from USS CABOT (CVL-28). No hits are scored.

1047: From this time on, lookouts on the YAMATO, MUSASHI, CHOKAI, NOSHIRO and KISHINAMI report periscope and torpedo wake sightings. Several false sightings delay the fleet reforming.

1331: YAMATO opens fire on aircraft from TG 38.3.

1350: A Curtiss SB2C "Helldiver" dive-bomber from USS ESSEX (CV-9) drops two AP bombs that damage the port bow abreast of main gun turret No. 1.

1413: Lookouts sight aircraft from ESSEX approaching. Vice Admiral Kurita's fleet orders the Force to increase speed to 22 knots.

1430: Attacked by four Grumman F6F "Hellcat" fighters and 12 SB2C dive-bombers. They drop five 1000-lb AP and seven AP bombs. The first bomb penetrates the anchor deck, demolishes the port chain locker, explodes below the waterline, blows out a side plate and holes the bow. The mess deck is wrecked. Two bombs hit turret No. 1. One blows a hole above the waterline. Another bomb penetrates through the top deck to the crews' quarters.

YAMATO ships 3, 000 tons of seawater and takes on a five-degree list to port. Damage Control counterfloods and reduces the list to one degree. YAMATO is down by the bow and maintains a 2-ft, 8-in. bow trim.

Force "A" continues on course through the Sibuyan Sea. During the day, the Force endures raids by over 250 U.S. carrier aircraft. MUSASHI is hit by numerous aircraft torpedoes, bombs and sinks in the Visayan Sea. NAGATO takes two bomb hits. HARUNA is damaged by near-misses.

1530: Admiral Kurita orders the Force to reverse course back through the Sibuyan Sea.

1715: Force A again reverses course.

2330: Force A enters the narrow San Bernardino Strait hours in single file.

25 October 1944: The Battle off Samar:
0335: San Bernardino Strait. Force A exits the strait and proceeds eastward.

0400: Off Samar Island. Force A changes course due south towards Leyte Gulf.

0523: YAMATO's Type 13 radar picks up enemy aircraft.

0544: Enemy carriers sighted on the horizon, hull down, bearing 60 to port, range 23 miles. They are identified as six carriers, escorted by three cruisers and two destroyers.

0545: YAMATO opens fire on enemy planes.

0558: Force A opens fire at escort carriers of "Taffy 3": USS ST. LO (CVE-63), WHITE PLAINS (CVE-66), KALININ BAY (CVE-68), FANSHAW BAY (CVE-70) (F), KITKUN BAY (CVE-71) and GAMBIER BAY (CVE-73). Carriers screened by the destroyers USS HOEL (DD-533), JOHNSTON, (DD-557), HEERMANN (DD-532), destroyer escorts USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (DE-413), DENNIS (DE-405), RAYMOND (DE-341) and JOHN C. BUTLER (DE-339).

Both of YAMATO's forward turrets open fire at a distance of 20 miles. Of her six forward rifles only two are initially loaded with AP shells, the remainder with Type 3s. YAMATO's F1M2 "Pete" spotter plane confirms that the first salvo is a hit. The carrier starts to smoke. Three six-gun salvos are fired on the same target, then the fire is shifted to the next carrier. It is concealed immediately by a smoke screen made by the American destroyers.

0606: YAMATO continues on an easterly course, firing her 155-mm (6.1-inch) secondary guns.

0651: A charging "cruiser" emerges from behind the smoke. YAMATO engages her from a distance of more than 10 miles and scores a hit with the first salvo. The target is seen burning before it is lost sight of.

At 0654, destroyer HEERMANN fires three torpedoes at HARUNA. The torpedoes miss HARUNA, but head toward YAMATO whose crew spots their tracks to starboard. YAMATO turns away to port, steams northward for 10 miles until the torpedoes run out of fuel. Although the maneuver avoids the torpedoes, it puts YAMATO and the Force's commander, Vice Admiral Kurita out of the battle.

26 October 1944:
0800. Tablas Strait off Panay. Force A is attacked by about 30 Grumman TBM Avengers from the USS WASP (CV-19) and USS COWPENS (CVL-25).

0834: The Force is attacked by about 50 Curtiss SB2C Helldivers and Avenger torpedo planes from USS HORNET (CV-12). Two bombs hit YAMATO. The first penetrates the forecastle forward and to the right of the main breakwater, demolishing nearby crew's spaces. The second bomb causes slight damage to the side of main gun turret No. 1.

1040: About thirty 13th Army Air Force Far Eastern Air Force B-24 "Liberators" of the "long Rangers" based at Morotai attack the Force. Bomb fragments wound Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Koyanagi Tomiji (former CO of KONGO), Chief of Staff, Second Fleet and about 60 others. YAMATO and NAGATO open fire with their main armament using Type 3 "sanshikidan" shells. Their gun crews claim several bombers shot down.

15 November 1944:
BatDiv 1 is disbanded. YAMATO is assigned as the flagship of the Second Fleet.

16 November 1944:
Departs Brunei for Kure with KONGO, NAGATO and escorts.

21 November 1944:
The YAMATO group is attacked by USS SEALION II (SS-215). KONGO and destroyer URAKAZE are sunk.

23 November 1944:
Arrives at Kure.

25 November 1944:
Kure. Drydocked. Begins battle damage repairs and refit. Twenty-four older 25-mm AA single mounts are removed. Twenty-seven 25-mm AA guns (9 triple mounts) are fitted in their place. YAMATO's final AA complement is 152 25-mm AA guns (50 triple mounts, 2 single mounts).

Captain Aruga Kosaku - aka: Ariga Kosaku, Kosaku Ariga (former CO of CHOKAI) assumes command from Rear Admiral Morishita.

1 January 1945:
YAMATO, HARUNA and NAGATO are assigned to the reactivated BatDiv 1, Second Fleet.

15 January 1945:
Moves from Kure to Hashirajima.

10 February 1945:
BatDiv 1, Second Fleet is deactivated for the last time. YAMATO is reassigned to CarDiv 1.

13 March 1945:
Hashirajima. Mistakenly, YAMATO fires on 343rd NAG Kawanishi N1K2-J Shiden Kai ("George") fighters on patrol from their base at nearby Matsuyama airfield.

March 1945:
Returns to Kure.

19 March 1945:
Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Marc A. Mitscher's (former CO of HORNET, CV-8) Task Force 58 carriers USS ESSEX (CV-9), INTREPID (CV-11), HORNET (CV-12), WASP (CV-18), HANCOCK (CV-19), BENNINGTON (CV-20) and BELLEAU WOOD (CVL-24) make the first carrier attack on the Kure Naval Arsenal.

More than 240 aircraft (SB2C Helldivers, F4U "Corsairs" and F6F Hellcats) attack the battleships HYUGA, ISE, YAMATO, HARUNA, carriers AMAGI, KATSURAGI, RYUHO and KAIYO and other ships.

YAMATO, underway in the Inland Sea, sustains minor damage from a hit on bridge by a Helldiver dive-bomber from INTREPID.

The fleet is defended vigorously but unsuccessfully by 54 "George" fighters of Captain (later General and CINC, JSDF*) Genda Minoru's (of AKAGI at Pearl Harbor) 343rd NAG. The pilots, led by Lt Oshibuchi Takashi, claim 52 aircraft shot down against 14 fighters lost and one Nakajima C6N1 Saiun ("Myrt") that collided with a Hellcat. Japanese flak claims five more planes.

29 March 1945:
At Kure. Awaits sailing orders. YAMATO takes aboard a full supply of ammunition: 1,170 rounds for her 18.1-inch guns, 1,620 rounds for her secondary guns, 13,500 anti-aircraft rounds and 11.5 million for smaller caliber guns. YAMATO receives fuel from the destroyers HANAZUKI and ASASHIMO. Light cruiser YAHAGI receives fuel from destroyer HATSUSHIMO.

2 April 1945:
1000: YAMATO departs Kure for anchorage at the Mitajiri Bight.

3 April 1945:
0918: The Second Fleet receives an order from the Commander-in-Chief Combined Fleet Admiral Toyoda Soemu (former CO of HYUGA) alerting it about a sortie to Okinawa.

4 April 1945:
Three Mitsubishi A6M Zeke fighters of the 332nd Kokutai from the nearby Iwakuni Air Base fly very low over YAMATO to act as targets for gunnery training for the ship's new and untrained AA crews.

5 April 1945: Operation "TEN-ICHI-GO" (Heaven Number One):
1359: A detailed order is received: "The Surface Special Attack Unit is ordered to proceed via Bungo Suido Channel at dawn on Y-1 day to reach the prescribed holding position for a high-speed run-in to the area west of Okinawa at dawn on Y-day. Your mission is to attack the enemy fleet and supply train and destroy them. Y-day is April 8th."

1500: Captain Aruga informs his assembled crew about the sortie.

1730: Sixty-seven naval cadets of Etajima class No. 74, who arrived three days before, are sent ashore. Then a farewell party is held aboard YAMATO.

6 April 1945:
Operation TEN-ICHI-GO - The Attack on American Invasion Forces at Okinawa:
On April 6 at 16:00 hours, Yamato, captained by Rear Admiral Kosaku Aruga (aka: Ariga Kosaku, Kosaku Ariga) and Admiral Ito on board, the light cruiser Yahagi and eight destroyers departed Tokuyama to begin the mission. Two U.S. submarines, Threadfin and Hackleback, sighted the Japanese force as it proceeded south through Bungo Suido but were unable to attack. However, they notified the U.S. fleet of the Japanese sortie

7 April 1945
Sinking of the Yamato:

At dawn on April 7, Battleship YAMATO, captained by Rear Admiral Kosaku Aruga (aka: Ariga Kosaku, Kosaku Ariga) and fleet commander Vice Admiral Ito passed the Osumi Peninsula into the open ocean heading south from Kyūshū towards Okinawa. They shifted into a defensive formation, with Yahagi leading Yamato and the eight destroyers deployed in a ring around the two larger ships, with each ship 1,500 meters from each other and proceeding at 20 knots. One of the Japanese destroyers, Asashimo, developed engine trouble and turned back. U.S. reconnaissance aircraft now began to shadow the main force of ships. At 10:00 hours, the Japanese force turned west to make it look like they were withdrawing, but at 11:30, they turned back towards Okinawa.

Around 10:00 this same day (April 7), the U.S. Navy began launching almost 400 aircraft in several waves from eleven carriers of Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher's Task Force 58 (Hornet, Bennington, Belleau Wood, San Jacinto, Essex, Bunker Hill, Hancock, Bataan, Intrepid, Yorktown, and Langley) that were located just east of Okinawa. The aircraft consisted of F6F Hellcat fighters, SB2C Helldiver dive-bombers, and TBF Avenger torpedo bombers. A force of six battleships (Massachusetts, Indiana, New Jersey, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Missouri), supported by cruisers (including Alaska and Guam) and destroyers, was also assembled to intercept the Japanese fleet if the airstrikes did not succeed.

Due to the Japanese force not having any air cover, the U.S. aircraft were able to set up for their attacks without fear of opposition from Japanese aircraft. U.S. attack aircraft arriving over the Yamato group, after their two-hour flight from Okinawa, were thus able to circle the Japanese ship formation just out of anti-aircraft range, methodically setting up their attacks on the warships below.

The first wave of U.S. carrier aircraft engaged the Japanese ships starting at 12:30 hours. The Japanese ships increased speed to 25 knots, began evasive maneuvers, and opened fire with their anti-aircraft guns. Yamato herself carried almost 150 anti-aircraft guns. The U.S. torpedo airplanes mainly attacked from the port side so that, if the torpedoes mainly hit from that side, it would increase the likelihood of the target ship capsizing.

Japanese cruiser Yahagi under bombs of US aircraft on April 7, 1945, south of Kyushu. The photo was taken at
early phase of the attack, before turret no. 2 was hit by a bomb.

At 12:46, a torpedo hit Yahagi directly in her engine room, killing the entire engineering room crew and bringing her to a complete stop. Dead in the water, Yahagi was hit by at least six more torpedoes and 12 bombs by succeeding waves of air attacks. Japanese destroyer Isokaze attempted to come to Yahagi's aid but was herself attacked, heavily damaged, and sank sometime later. Yahagi capsized and sank at 14:05 hours. Her survivors, left floating in the water, could see the Yamato in the distance, still apparently steaming south and fighting attacking U.S. aircraft. However, in reality, Yamato herself was only minutes away from sinking.

During the first attack wave, in spite of intensive evasive maneuvers that caused most of the bombs and torpedoes aimed at her to miss, Yamato was hit by two armor-piercing bombs and one torpedo. Her speed was not affected, but one of the bombs started a fire aft of the superstructure that was never extinguished. Also, during the first attack wave, Japanese destroyers Hamakaze and Suzutsuki were heavily damaged and taken out of the battle. Hamakaze sank sometime later.

Between 13:20 and 14:15, the second and third waves of U.S. aircraft attacked, heavily concentrating on the Yamato. During this time, Yamato was hit by at least eight torpedoes and up to 15 bombs. The bombs did extensive damage to the topside of the ship, including knocking out power to the gun directors and forcing the anti-aircraft guns to be individually and manually aimed and fired, greatly reducing their effectiveness. The torpedo hits, almost all on the port side, caused the Yamato to list enough that capsizing was now an imminent danger. The water damage-control station had been destroyed by a bomb hit making it impossible to counter-flood the specially designed spaces within the ship's hull to counteract hull damage. At 13:33 in a desperate attempt to keep the ship from capsizing, Yamato's damage control team counter-flooded both starboard engine and boiler rooms. This mitigated the danger but also drowned the several hundred crewmen manning those stations, who were given no notice that their compartments were about to fill with water. The lives of those crewmen bought Yamato about 30 more minutes afloat. The loss of the starboard engines, plus the weight of the water, caused Yamato to slow to about 10 knots.

With Yamato now proceeding more slowly and therefore easier to target, U.S. torpedo aircraft concentrated on hitting her rudder and stern with torpedoes in order to affect her steering ability, which they succeeded in doing. At 14:02, after being informed that the ship could no longer steer and was unavoidably sinking, Admiral Ito ordered the mission canceled, the crew to abandon ship, and for the remaining ships to begin rescuing survivors. Yamato communicated this message to the other surviving ships by signal flag, as her radios had been destroyed.


1000 pound bomb explodes to left of Yamato


Yamato sinking

At 14:05, Yamato was stopped dead in the water and began to capsize. Admiral Ito and the captain of the Yamato decided to go down with the ship and refused to abandon her with the rest of the survivors. At 14:20, Yamato capsized completely and began to sink about 150 miles southwest of the southern tip of Kyushu, Japan (30°22′N 128°04′E).  At 14:23, she suddenly blew-up with an explosion so large that it was reportedly heard and seen 200 km away in Kagoshima and sent up a mushroom-shaped cloud almost 20,000 feet into the air. The explosion is believed to have happened due to the fires from the bomb hits reaching the main ammunition magazines.

Attempting to make it back to port, Japanese destroyer Asashimo was bombed and sunk with all hands by U.S. aircraft. The Japanese destroyer Kasumi was also sunk by U.S. carrier aircraft attack during the battle. Suzutsuki, despite her bow being blown off, was able to make it to Sasebo, Japan by steaming in reverse the entire way.

The remaining three less-damaged Japanese destroyers (Fuyuzuki, Yukikaze, and Hatsushimo) were able to rescue 280 survivors from Yamato (out of a crew of 2,700), plus 555 survivors from Yahagi (out of a crew of 1,000) and just over 800 survivors from Isokaze, Hamakaze, and Kasumi. However, 3,700 Japanese naval personnel perished in the battle. The ships took the survivors to Sasebo.

Yamato explodes at 14:23 hours on April 7, 1945

A total of 10 U.S. aircraft were shot down by anti-aircraft fire from the Japanese ships; some of the aircrews were rescued by amphibious aircraft or submarine. In total, the U.S. lost 12 men. Some of the Japanese survivors reported that U.S. fighter aircraft machine-gunned Japanese survivors floating in the water. This may have been a war crime or it may have been a legitimate attempt to protect downed U.S. aircrew who were floating in the water nearby awaiting rescue. Japanese survivors also reported that U.S. aircraft temporarily halted their attacks on the Japanese destroyers during the time that the destroyers were busy picking up survivors from the water.

During the battle, the Japanese Army conducted an air attack on the U.S. naval fleet at Okinawa as promised, but failed to sink any ships. Around 115 aircraft, many of them kamikaze, attacked the U.S. ships throughout the day of April 7. Kamikaze aircraft hit Hancock, battleship Maryland, and destroyer Bennett, causing moderate damage to Hancock and Maryland and heavy damage to Bennett. About 100 of the Japanese aircraft were lost in the attack.

3 May 1945:
Vice Admiral Ito is promoted posthumously to Admiral.

31 August 1945:
Removed from Navy List.

May 1979:
Kure. A stone monument is erected in the old naval graveyard to those who died aboard YAMATO.

1 August 1985:
A Japanese team in deep research submersible PISCES II locates YAMATO 1,410 feet deep in the East China Sea. The wreck is in two pieces. Its forward section is on its starboard side, while the aft section is bottom up. Researcher Anthony Tully notes that until the wreck was found, it was assumed that the explosion that came as she capsized was No. 3 turret magazine being touched off by the severe fire. However, he notes that the condition of the wreck makes clear that it was No. 2 turret magazine that exploded, shattering the fore-section. No. 3 may also have exploded, but the magazine of No. 1 appears intact.