Yamato-class battleship, Musashi (1942)

  • Yamato-class battleship, Musashi (1942)
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Yamato-class battleship, Musashi (1942)
Battleship Musashi at anchor at Truk Is. 1943

Sub Category: 戦艦 / Battleship
Class: 大和型 / Yamato class



Musashi is the second battleship in the Yamato-class series of the Japanese Imperial Navy during World War II. The flagship of the Joint Japanese Fleet. It was named after the ancient Japanese province of Musashi. “Musashi” and the same type “Yamato” were the largest and most powerful battleships in the world, had a displacement of 74,000 tons, the main caliber of guns - 460 mm.

In August 1934, Fujimoto proposed his last version of the battleship. With a standard displacement of 50,000 tons (normal 60,000 tons), it was slightly longer and wider than the real IJN Yamato (290 and 38 m), but had a very shallow draft (only 9.8 m). The offensive characteristics of this ship, more reminiscent of a super-powerful battle cruiser, are impressive: twelve 510-mm guns in four towers, sixteen 155-millimeter guns of medium caliber, 8-10 heavy 127-mm anti-aircraft guns, 12 aircraft with three catapults and a speed of 30 knots. At the same time, protection was also at an excellent level: 410-mm belt and 280-mm (maximum thickness) deck.

Battleship Musashi on sea trails. Jun-July, 1942

It is clear that such a concentration of weapons and armor in a relatively small displacement presupposed all possible lightening of the hull and overloading by the “upper” weight with consequences in the form of insufficient stability. The Japanese navy could get a very interesting ship. However, after overturning the destroyer IJN Tomozuru designed by Fujimoto, built precisely on such principles - to fit two liters in a liter mug - the main ideologist of the new developments was forced to retreat into the shadows. He was returned to his former post on January 9, 1934, but the next day the chief designer of the fleet died suddenly. His place was finally taken by Rear Admiral of the Technical Service Keiji Fukuda, who led the main development cycle of the Yamato project.

As soon as the work on Musashi was completed with a three-month delay in its commissioning, this was due to the installation of additional communication equipment, which allowed the ship to be used as a flagship of the fleet. The experience gained at IJN Yamato was also taken into account.

Back in April, 1st Rank Captain Kaworu Arima, the former commander of the battle cruiser IJN Hiei, who was appointed interim commander for the construction period, visited the lead ship of the series along with an impressive “landing” from his crew members. Now Arima has changed from temporary status to permanent and was officially appointed commander of Musashi. The ship moved from Nagasaki to Kure for final refitting. Formally, he was already included in the 1st squadron (together with IJN Yamato, IJN Nagato "and IJN Mutsu), but so far the battleship remained in Yokosuka, replenishing the crew and completing minor work.

Battleship Musashi on sea trails. Jun-July, 1942

On August 10, Musashi arrived at the Hashirajima parking lot, where he underwent full power trials, as well as maneuvering, anchoring and a seaplane training exercise. Despite the wartime, the fleet was in no hurry with the commissioning of a new combat unit. Musashi spent the entire September in Kure, where additional equipment continued: they strengthened the small-caliber artillery (four more of the same were added to the eight design three-gun 25-millimeter guns), installed a type 21 radar and fire control devices. Only on September 28, the ship returned to Hasirajima for the next tests. The exercise and training in the western part of the Inland Sea took three months. On November 1, Arima received production to the next rank, and Musashi was now commanded by a Rear Admiral.

Finally, on January 18, 1943, Musashi went out to sea. After leaving Kure, he headed for Truk, where he arrived on January 22. He, like IJN Yamato, remained aloof from the hardest struggle that the United Fleet was waging at this time.

Musashi replaced IJN Yamato on 11 February 1943 as flagship of the Commander of the United Fleet. On May 11, 1943, the Americans launched an operation against Fr. Attu in the Aleutian Islands group - an important outpost of the Japanese defense in the North. Koga hastily formed an attack force consisting of the 1st battleship division (which at that time consisted of one Musashi), the 2nd aircraft carrier division (IJN Junyo and IJN Hiyo), two heavy cruisers and nine destroyers.

The Musashi’s main gun salvo during firing research on the impact of the blast, at Setona-ka in Iyo Nada on 26 July 1942.

On May 17, the ships set out to sea, taking a course from Truk to Yokosuka. Musashi this “flight” incidentally delivered the ashes of Admiral Yamamoto to his homeland. After a short sailing out to sea, the detachment led by Musashi returned to Yokosuka on 23 June. The battleship was faced with a rare event in wartime: a visit by the emperor and top officials of the state.

The visit took place on June 24 in the highest secrecy. In addition to the emperor and his brother, the Lord Keeper of the Seal, the Marquis of Kido, the Minister of the Navy, Admiral Shimada, the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Nagano, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and a number of ministers and senior officials of the fleet, gathered on board the Musashi. After making a round of the team’s quarters, the emperor took the ship’s elevator to the top of the tower-like superstructure. The visit, which took three and a half hours, ended with a gala dinner.

View of the stern from the Musashi Bridge in June 1942. Aviation equipment visible. Boats on deck are temporarily

The next day, Musashi left Yokosuka and arrived in Kure on June 27, where he didck on July 1. A new Type 22 Model 4 radar was installed on the battleship. The rest of the month the ship spent in exercises and tests of new equipment in Hasirajima and Kura. On the last day of July, he left Yokosuka and headed for Truk, where he arrived on 5 August. Musashi remained in rear idleness on Truk until February 10, 1944, when he sailed for Yokosuka, accompanied by the light cruiser IJN Oyodo and the destroyer IJN Takanami. It was his turn to work as a military transport.

Arriving at the scene on February 15, the battalion took on board a special separate battalion of the Navy and an army battalion, ammunition, fuel in barrels and even cars. This detachment was intended to reinforce the Palau garrison, where Musashi headed on February 24, accompanied by three destroyers. On the way we got into a strong typhoon. Despite the excellent seaworthiness, most of the cargo on the upper deck was washed into the sea. Although the battleship itself could easily hold in a 12-point storm of 18 knots. move, he had to reduce the speed to 6 knots so as not to lose the escort destroyers.

Arriving in Palau on the last day of February of the leap year 1944, Musashi stayed there for a full month. A single battleship (albeit the largest in the world) by itself could do little in the event of a raid by American aircraft carriers or a landing. Most likely, the commander of the United Fleet just wanted to be in the center of possible events. However, at the same time, Koga moved his command post to the shore just in case. Initially, he intended to return to Musashi, but then decided to travel with his headquarters to Davao in the Philippines by plane. A long, useless stay in Palau ended in major trouble.

On March 29, Musashi was finally ordered to leave the island due to the threat of an air attack. That is why the exit was scheduled for the evening. However, the danger awaited the battleship not from the air, but from under the water. At 5.44 pm, he had just left the western passage in the reefs and was on a northerly course when he was struck by a torpedo - of six fired by SS-282 under the command of Lieutenant Commander J. Scott.

The torpedo hit the very nose outside the anti-torpedo protection. The explosion punched a hole 6 m in diameter and about 20 m2 in area. The bow compartments were flooded, including the room for the hydrophone operators (the explosion killed the entire shift - seven sailors). The amount of water poured in was practically equal to that accepted by IJN Yamato - 3000 tons, which allows us to speak of a certain “rate” of damage to the “soft” nose as a result of one torpedo hit. The damage level was clearly too high.

Yamato or probably Musashi at Hashirajima in 1943

Musashi arrived in Kure on 3 April, replacing IJN Yamato in dry dock no. 4, which had left the plant just two weeks ago. In three weeks, the bow of the battleship was completely repaired (the ship left dock 89 on April 22), both side 155-mm turrets were removed, replacing them with six triple 25-mm machine guns, and another 21 of the same installation and 25 single 25-millimeter guns were added. As with IJN Yamato, two huge 150cm spotlights # 7 and # 8 were removed. Musashi now carried 130 25mm barrels in 35 triple and 25 single mounts. The radars were represented by type 13 and semi-artillery type 22. In addition, depth charges were equipped at the stern overhang. Closer to the end of the repair, the commander of the ship, Captain 1st Rank Asakura, became Rear Admiral.

June 24, 1943. An imperial visit to Musashi anchored in Yokosuka. In the centre sitting is Emperor Hirohito with his brother Prince Takamatsu and Admiral Koga.

Now that, through the efforts of the Americans, Truk has become a potential place of death for Japanese ships of all classes, the main base of battleships has moved to the deep rear. Musashi entered the connection with the 2nd and 3rd divisions of aircraft carriers (6 units) and four destroyers on May 10, 1944, and then headed for Okinawa. After staying on the island for two days, the battleship headed for Tavi-Tavi, reaching its destination on May 16. Vice-Admiral D. Ozawa led his Mobile Fleet there, which included the 1st Division, arriving at Tavi-Tavi on May 14.

The fleet spent the remainder of May and the beginning of June in exercises. For the first time, IJN Yamato and Musashi participated in joint artillery firing at a maximum distance of about 22 miles. And on June 10, it was time for hostilities. The command was going to conduct Operation Kon in the area of Biak Island. The detachment included both battleships, as well as the 5th Heavy Cruiser Division (IJN Haguro and IJN Myoko) and an escort from the light cruiser IJN Noshiro and destroyers.

Musashi died on October 24, 1944, during a battle in the Sibuyan Sea. This battle was a continuous attack by American aircraft carrier aircraft on the Japanese central formation, which included both battleships. The attacks were attended by aircraft from the 38th US Navy Task Force, which included: Task Force 2 (aircraft carriers USS Intrepid, USS Kabot and USS Independenc) under the command of Rear Admiral Bogen, Task Force 3 (aircraft carriers USS Lexington, USS Essex, USS Priston, USS Langley) under the command of Rear Admiral Sherman and the 4th Task Force (USS Enterprise, USS Franklin, USS San Justino, USS Belleau Wood) under the command of Rear Admiral Davison.

IJN Musashi under fire in the Sibuyan Sea


The construction of a ship of this size could only be provided by the Mitsubishi shipyard in Nagasaki, but there, too, the launching device had to be strengthened, although the length of the dock was sufficient. Musashi was founded here on March 29, 1938 under building number 2. A huge amount of materials required during installation led to the construction of additional warehouses with a total area of 240 thousand m2 at the shipyard. The creation of such “principled” ships was carried out in the strictest secrecy.

All the engineers involved in the construction of Musashi were asked to sign a solemn oath of nondisclosure before the start of work. Foreigners became the main problem, and there were many of them in Nagasaki. The open slip, in which it was supposed to be laid, was clearly visible both from the sea and from land. Initially, they wanted to close the construction site with an aluminum “wall” 270 m long, 40 m wide and 36 m high. However, strong winds, which are not uncommon in this area, could have simply knocked down the “camouflage”.

Experts tried waterproof fabric, bamboo, even rice straw, and in the end the dock was covered with a high “fence” of sisal mats with a total length of 2,700 m and a weight of over 400 tons. 2,500 km of ropes were used to make them … After the descent, the ship’s hull was additionally covered with camouflage nets. Photos of all workers, whose number reached 2 thousand, were placed in special albums and everyone who entered and exited the construction site was compared with them. Before the start of welding, the shipyard management conducted a special experiment, photographing the work through the sisal wall from different distances.

Japanese battleships in Brunei, October 1944. From left to right ships: IJN Musashi, IJN Yamato, cruiser and IJN Nagato

Based on the results of the experiment, double barriers were installed in critical places. During the construction of the battleship, fires broke out three times, they had to be liquidated on their own: after all, the firefighters had no “clearance”. All work was organized in such a way that none of the workers could receive all the drawings and specifications. Even design engineers were only given a few pieces of documentation. A very limited circle of people had a full understanding of the project.

During the descent of Musashi, when the sisal “coverlet” would have to be removed one way or another, the police completely blocked access to the seaside part of Nagasaki. The descent took place in the early morning of November 1, 1940, without the traditional ceremony. The engineers used special slopes that had a bulge upward with a radius of curvature of 10,000 m. The width of the slopes was almost 4 meters - a value that has not been surpassed either before or after the construction of these battleships.

As a result, the pressure of the launching skids on the lanes was less than 1.2 t / m2. As the engineers made every effort to ensure that most of the ship’s construction was carried out on the slipway, the Musashi’s launch mass continued to increase. This, in turn, required additional measures to ensure its overall longitudinal strength during descent. The hull weight at that moment was 35,737 tons, which remained the record for the launch weight for warships until the 1970s.


  • Engine room
  • Main belt armor (waterline): 410 mm VH
  • Main belt armor (underwater): 200-45 mm NVNC
  • Deck armor (horizontal): 200 mm MNC
  • Deck armor (inclined): 230 mm MNC
  • Bulkhead (bottom): 100-50 mm CNC
  • Ammo stowage
  • Main belt armor (waterline): 410 mm VH
  • Main belt armor (underwater): 200-75 mm NVNC
  • Magazine bottom armor: 80-50 CNC
  • Deck armor (horizontal): 200 mm MNC
  • Deck armor (inclined): 230 mm MNC
  • Side splinter protection: 16 mm DS
  • Main gun
  • Barbette: upper 550 mm VH, lower 490 mm VH
  • Turret front: 660 mm VH
  • Turret side: 250 mm VH
  • Turret back: 190 mm NVNC
  • Turret roof: 270 mm VH
  • Secondary gun
  • Barbette: 25 mm DS + 50 mm CNC
  • Turret: 25 mm HT
  • Main steering room
  • Roof: 200 mm MNC
  • Side: 300-360 mm VC
  • Bottom: 25 mm DS
  • Auxiliary steering room
  • Roof: 200 mm MNC
  • Side: 250 mm VC - 300 mm VH
  • Bottom: 20 mm DS
  • Funnel
  • Uptake: 380 mm MNC
  • Some part of funnel: 50 mm CN

Technical component:

  • Crew - 2399
  • Standard displacement: 64,000 t
  • Full-load displacement: 72,800 t
  • Max length: 263.40 m
  • Max width: 38.9 m
  • Average draft at trial state: 10.4 m
  • Main boiler: 12x Ro-Go Kampon boiler
  • Main engine: 4x Kampon turbine
  • Power: 153,553 SHP
  • Speed: 27.46 kt
  • Aircraft: 6 seaplanes


  • 3х3 - 460 mm 46 cm (18.1") 45 caliber Type 94 40 cm Gun
  • 4х3 - 155 mm 15.5 cm/60 (6.1") 3rd Year Type
  • 6x2 - 127 mm 12.7 cm/40 (5") Type 89
  • 8x3 - 25 mm/60 (1") Type 96 Model 1
  • 2х2 - 13,2 mm Type 93

Weapon layout of the battleship Musashi 1942

All resources:
Japanese Battleships 1897-1945.epub - Japanese Battleships 1897-1945: A Photograpic Archive R A Burt
Jane’s Fighting Ships of World War II.pdf “Jane’s Fighting Ships of World War II” by McCurtie, Francis
Battleships Yamato and Musashi.pdf - Battleships Yamato and Musashi, Janusz Skulski and Stefan Draminski
The Battleships Yamato and Musashi: Selected Photos from the Archives of the Cure Maritime Museum


Yes! +1

One of my favorite battleships AND one of my favorites from Kancolle. +1