Killing the Yamato

From World War II magazine.

The article starts by talking about a conference with the Emperor and his military advisors. The conference was about an uncoming attack on Okinawa to try to stop the Americans. The Emperor asked how many planes were available. This is extremely interesting because it refutes those who say that the Emperor had nothing to do with the war. Here was a war conference and he was asking direct questions about a military campaign.

The Yamato was going to go with other ships to Okinawa to try to help the Japanese forces there. The article describes the Yamato:

Displacing 71,659 tons and capable of 27 knots, the Yamato possessed the greatest firepower ever mounted on a vesselómore than 150 guns, including nine 18.1- inchers that could hurl 3,200-pound armor-piercing shells on a trajectory of 22.5 miles. Its massive armor was the heaviest ever installed on a dreadnought-class battleship, making it virtually impregnable to the guns of any ship in the world.

The Yamato and the other ships left on April 7, 1945. There were ten warships in the group. The idea was that the Yamato and the other ships would damage American ships as much as possible. The Yamato was then to beach itself when it could no longer attack the ships and the ship's crew would help the Japanese defenders on the island.

That required the ship reaching Okinawa and it didn't, nor did any of the other ships. Someone in the military had not yet learned the concept of air power being able to attack both land and sea forces. There was no air cover for the Yamato and the other ships. This left them totally vulnerable to American air forces and the planes attacked the Yamato and the other ships in three groups.

The Yamato and the other ships could still shoot at the planes but their aim was not good. The planes, meanwhile, dropped bombs on the ships, strafed the men on the ships, and while they were doing this other planes dropped torpedoes. The planes were actually competing with each other to get their hits in first.

This meant, of course, that it was just a matter of time until the guns of the Yamato were put out of action and various ships began to be sunk. The Yamato listed badly and then the abandon ship order was given, the ship sinking shortly afterwards. On its way down it underwent a massive explosion and the loss of life on the ship ended up being quite high. The Yamato had a 3,000 men crew. Only 269 were saved.

The news was withheld from the people. The Emperor, was told, though, and asked where the fleet was. The answer to that was that there no longer was any Japanese fleet.

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