Tag Archive | Yamato

Warship Wednesday, July 31, 2019: “80 Sen,” or a young Yamamoto’s Italian Stallion

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, July 31, 2019: 80 Sen

NHHC Collection Photo # NH 83034

Here we see a crooked image from the files of the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence, likely a quick snapshot taken from the deck of a rented junk, showing the coastal defense ship (formerly classified as an armored cruiser, or junjokan) Nisshin of the Imperial Japanese Navy as she sat at a Hong Kong mooring buoy, in October 1920. Note the Emperor’s chrysanthemum marking on the bow, and inquisitive members of her crew on the side– likely wondering just who was in the approaching small boat with the camera. You wouldn’t know it to look at her, but this ship had once gone toe-to-toe with a much larger opponent and come out on top, although with the scars to show it.

If you like that photo, how about another two taken the same day, with her crew’s laundry drying and a picturesque junk added for Hong Kong flavor:

NH 83032

NH 83033

Anywho, you didn’t come here for Hong Kong laundry stories.

Built around the turn of the Century by Gio. Ansaldo & C shipbuilders, Genoa, Italy, as an updated version of the Giuseppe Garibaldi armored cruiser class, Nisshin (or Nissin, a name that roughly translates to “Japan”) was designed by Italian naval architect Edoardo Masdea as a vessel only smaller than a 1st-rate (pre-dreadnought) battleship of the era, yet larger and stronger than most cruisers that could oppose it.

The Garibaldi class was innovative (for 1894,) with a 344-foot long/7,200-ton hull capable of making 20-knots and sustaining a range of more than 7,000 nm at 12 when stuffed with enough coal. Although made in Italy, she was almost all-British from her Armstrong batteries to her Bellville boilers, Whitehead torpedoes, and Harvey armor.

Armored with a belt that ran up-to 5.9-inches thick, Garibaldi could take hits from faster cruisers and gunboats while being able to dish out punishment from a pair of Elswick (Armstrong) 10-inch guns that no ship smaller than her could absorb. Capable of outrunning larger ships, she also had a quartet of casemate-mounted torpedo tubes and extensive rapid-fire secondary batteries to make life hard on the enemy’s small ships and merchantmen.

These cruisers were designed for power projection on a budget and the Argentine Navy, facing a quiet arms race between Brazil and Chile on each side, needed modern ships. They, therefore, scooped up not only the Garibaldi (commissioned in 1895) but also the follow-on sister-ships General Belgrano and General San Martín (built by Orlando of Livorno in 1896) and Genoa-made Pueyrredón (1898) to make a quartet of powerful cruisers. These ships, coupled with a pair of battleships ordered later in the U.S., helped make the Argentine navy for about two decades the eighth most powerful in the world (after the big five European powers, Japan, and the United States), and the largest in Latin America.

The design was well-liked, with Spain moving to buy two (but only taking delivery of one in the end, the ill-fated Cristóbal Colón, which was sunk at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish American War) and Italy electing to purchase five further examples of the type.

Why all the talk about Argentina and Italy?

Well, because Nisshin and her sistership Kasuga were originally ordered by the Italians in 1900 as Mitra (Yard #130) and Roca (#129), respectively, but then sold while still on the ways to Argentina to further flesh out the fleet of that South American country’s naval forces, who dutifully renamed them Mariano Moreno and Rivadavia.

At some 8,500-tons (full), these final Garibaldis were 364-feet long overall and were roughly the same speed and carried the same armor plan (with Terni plate) as their predecessors.

However, they differed in armament, with Mitra/Rivadavia/Kasuga carrying a single 10-inch EOC gun forward and twin 8″/45s aft, while Roca/Moreno/Nisshin carried the twin 8-inchers both forward and aft.

Stern 8"/45 (20.3 cm) turret on armored cruiser Nisshin on 24 October 1908. Ship's officers with USN officers from USS Missouri (B-11) during "Great White Fleet" around the world cruise. Note the landing guns on the upper platform. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph # NH 82511.

Stern 8″/45 (20.3 cm) turret on armored cruiser Nisshin on 24 October 1908. Ship’s officers with USN officers from USS Missouri (B-11) during “Great White Fleet” around the world cruise. Note the landing guns on the upper platform. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph # NH 82511.

[Of note, the same 8-inch EOC guns were also used on other British-built Japanese armored cruisers (Adzuma, Asama, Iwate, Izumo, Tokiwa, and Yakumo) so they weren’t too out of place when Japan took delivery of these ships in 1904 instead of Argentina.]

Both Mitra/Rivadavia/Kasuga and Roca/Moreno/Nisshin were launched, fitted out and ran builders’ trials in Italy under the Argentine flag.

Armada Argentina crucero acorazado ARA Moreno, at 1903 launch. Note Italian and Argentine flags. Colorized photo by Atsushi Yamashita/Monochrome Specter http://blog.livedoor.jp/irootoko_jr/

Nisshin Running trials under the Argentine flag, probably in late 1903, just before her purchase by the Japanese NH 58664

Running trials under the Argentine flag, probably in late 1903, just before her purchase by the Japanese. Photo credited to her builder Ansaldo. NH 58665

With the Japanese and Imperial Russia circling each other tensely in late 1903, and Argentina not really wanting to take final delivery of these new cruisers, Buenos Aries shopped them to the Tsar’s kopeck-pinching Admiralty only to be rebuffed over sticker shock, leaving the Tokyo to pick them up for £760,000 each– considered a high price at the time but a bargain that the Russians would likely later regret. The Argentines would later reuse the briefly-issued Moreno and Rivadavia names for their matching pair of Massachusetts-built battleships in 1911

Nisshin photographed at Genoa, Italy in January 1904. This ship was built in Italy by Ansaldo of Genoa and competed on January 17, 1904. Courtesy of Mr. Tom Stribling, 1987. NH 101923

With a scratch British/Italian contract delivery crew, Kasuga and Nisshin (their names are taken from Meiji-period steam warships of the 1860s) set sail immediately for the Far East and were already outbound of Singapore by the time the balloon finally went up between the Russians and Japanese in February 1904. The sisters were soon in the gun line off Russian-held Port Arthur, lending their fine British-made batteries to reducing that fortress, and took part in both the ineffective Battle of the Yellow Sea in August 1904 (where Nisshin was lightly damaged) and the much more epic Battle of Tsushima in May 1905.

Carrying the flag of VADM Baron Misu Sotarō, Nisshin fired something on the order of 180 heavy shells during Tsushima, exchanging heavy damage with the 15,000-ton Russian battleship Oslyabya and others– taking several 12-inch hits to show for it. The Japanese cruiser had three of her four 8-inch guns sliced off and a number of her crew, to include a young Ensign Isoroku Yamamoto, wounded. The future commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet during World War II had the index and middle fingers on his left hand shorn off by a splinter, earning him the wardrobe nickname “80 sen” as a manicure cost 10 sen per digit at the time.

The forward gun turret and superstructure of the Japanese armored cruiser Nisshin following the Battle of Tsushima, showing 8-inch guns severed by Russian 12-inch shells

From a different angle

Another view

Aft turret of Armored Cruiser Nisshin damaged in the Battle of Tsushima

Starboard 12-pound gun of Armored Cruiser Nisshin damaged in the Battle of Tsushima

Oslyabya, in turn, was ultimately lost in the course of the battle, taking the Russian Squadron’s second-in-command, Capt. Vladimir Ber, and half of her crew with her to the bottom of the Korea Strait.

Japanese cruiser Nisshin, listed as June 24, 1905, at Kure, which is just a month after Tsushima and may be an incorrect date as she looks almost brand new. Colorized photo by Atsushi Yamashita/Monochrome Specter http://blog.livedoor.jp/irootoko_jr/

For both Kasuga and Nisshin, Tsushima was their brightest moment under the Rising Sun.

Greatly modified later with Japanese-made Kampon boilers replacing their Italian ones, along with a host of other improvements, Kasuga went on to serve as a destroyer squadron flagship in World War I looking out for German surface raiders and escorting Allied shipping between Australia and Singapore. She later took Imperial troops to Vladivostok in 1918 as part of the Allied Intervention into the Russian Civil War.

Nisshin during WWI. Colorized photo by Atsushi Yamashita/Monochrome Specter http://blog.livedoor.jp/irootoko_jr/

As for Nisshin, she also spent her time as a destroyer squadron leader on the lookout for the Kaiser’s wolves and was later dispatched to the Mediterranean as part of the Japanese 2nd Special Squadron (Suma-class cruiser Akashi, the cruiser Izumo, 8 Kaba-class destroyers and 4 Momo-class destroyers). Deployed in late 1917, the squadron was tasked with riding shotgun over Allied troopships steaming between Malta and Salonica and from Alexandria to Taranto and Marseille.

Photographed at Port Said, Egypt, on October 27, 1917. The early French mixed battery pre-dreadnought Jauréguiberry (1893-1934) can be seen at left background. Courtesy of Mr. Tom Stribling, 1987. NH 101922

In all, the force escorted nearly 800 ships and engaged German and Austrian subs something like 40 times (although without sinking any).
After the Armistice, selected crews from the Squadron marched in the 1919 victory parades in Paris and London.

To close out Japan’s involvement in the Great War, Nisshin returned home with seven captured German U-boats, (U-46, U-55, U-125, UC-90, UC-99, UB-125, and UB-143) after stops in Malta and other friendly ports along the way from England to Yokosuka, arriving there in June 1919. The former German boats went on to an uninteresting life of their own under the Kyokujitsu-ki, used for testing, salvage exercises and floating jetties. While most of these submarines were low-mileage vessels of little notoriety, U-46 (Hillebrand) and U-55 (Blue Max winner Willy Werner) were very successful during the war, accounting for 116 Allied vessels of some 273,000 tons between them.

IJN Nissin at Malta with captured German UC-90 U-boat, via IWM

Nisshin, photographed March 1919, with the ex-German submarines O-4 (ex-UC-90) and O-5 (ex-UC-99) alongside. NH 58666

Nisshin, photographed in March 1919, with the ex-German submarines O-4 (ex-UC-90) and O-5 (ex-UC-99) alongside. NH 58667

Japanese Cruiser Nisshin U-boats escorting surrendered German submarines allocated to Japan, March 1919, Malta, by Frank Henry Algernon Mason, via the IWM

Disarmed and largely relegated to training tasks, Nisshin and Kasuga were put on the sidelines after the Great War, replaced by much better ships in the Japanese battle line.

Hulked, Nisshin was eventually disposed of as part of a sinkex in the Inland Sea in 1936, then raised by Shentian Maritime Industry Co., Ltd, patched up and sunk a second time in 1942 during WWII by the new super battleship Yamato, whose 18.1″/45cal Type 94 guns likely made quick work of her.

Her immediate sister, Kasuga, used as a floating barracks at Yokosuka, was sunk by U.S. carrier aircraft in July 1945 then later raised and scrapped after the war. Incidentally, the two Japanese Garibaldis outlasted their Italian sisters, all of which were disposed of by the 1930s. Their everlasting Argentine classmates, however, lingered on until as late as 1954 with the last of their kind, ARA Pueyrredon, ironically being towed to Japan for scrapping that year.

Of note, the British 8″/45s EOCs removed from Nisshin, Kasuga and the other Japanese 1900s armored cruisers in the 1920s and 30s were recycled and used as coastal artillery, including four at Tokyo Bay, four at Tarawa (Betio) and another four at Wake Island once it was captured in 1941.

Japanese Special Naval Landing Force troops mount a British-made, Vickers eight-inch naval cannon into its turret on Betio before the battle. This film was developed from a Japanese camera found in the ruins while the battle was still on. Via http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USMC/USMC-C-Tarawa/index.html

Destruction of one of the four Japanese eight-inch EOC guns on Betio caused by naval gunfire and airstrikes, 1943. Department of Defense photo (USMC) 63618

Nisshin’s name was reused for use on a well-armed seaplane/midget submarine carrier that saw extensive action in WWII during the Guadalcanal campaign, where she was lost.  It has not been reused further.

Specs:

Jane 1914 entry, listing the class as first-class cruisers

Displacement: 7,700 t (7,578 long tons) std, 8,500 full
Length: 366 ft 7 in (o/a), 357 wl
Beam: 61 ft 5 in
Draft: 24 ft 1 in, 25.5 max
Machinery: (1904)
13,500 ihp, 2 vertical triple-expansion steam engines, 8 Ansaldo marine boilers, 2 shafts
Speed: 20 knots at 14,000 shp, although in practice were limited to 18 at full load.
Range: 5,500 nmi at 10 knots on 1316 tons of coal, typically just 650 carried
Complement: 600 as built, 568 in Japanese service.
Armor: (Terni)
Belt: 2.8–5.9 in
Deck: 0.79–1.57 in
Barbette: 3.9–5.9 in
Conning tower: 5.9 in
Armament:
(1904)
2 twin 8″/45 EOC (classified as Type 41 guns by the Japanese)
14 single QF 6″/45 Armstrong “Z” guns
10 single QF 3″/40 12-pdr Armstrong “N” guns
6 single QF 3-pounder Hotchkiss guns
2 Maxim machine guns
2 landing howitzers
4 × 457 mm (18 in) torpedo tubes in casemates
(1930)
4 single QF 6″/45 Armstrong “Z” guns
4 single QF 3″/40 12-pdr Armstrong “N” guns
1 single 76/40 AAA

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Warship Wednesday April 9, The Last Ride of the Yamato

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take out every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week.

– Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday April 9, The Last Ride of the Yamato

IJN Yamoto 1941 Kure

Here we see the massive mega battleship Yamato of the Imperial Japanese Navy fitting out at Kure DY in 1941. Up until 1934 the Japanese paid lip service to the various Naval Treaties that limited the size and number of warships in the world’s navies. For instance, the huge cruisers designed in this period were ‘officially’ under 10,000-tons (although they rose to almost twice this amount when fully armed, loaded, and armored in WWII). The official limit on battleship size was 35,000-tons and Western ships, such as the new USS Washington class in the US and the HMS King George V-class battleships in the UK.

199841

Well in 1934 Japan dropped out of the agreement and the gloves came off. They soon designed the largest battle-wagon in the world.

Ever.

3453416489263997980

At full load these ships would top out at 72,000-tons. The next closest rival in size was the US Iowa class, which at their heaviest displacement pushed some 50,000-tons on a hull that was about twenty feet shorter. However the Yamato was twenty feet *wider* and as such was a very beamy girl. She also drew more than 35-feet of seawater under her hull, which limited her moorings considerably.

On sea trials Oct 1941

On sea trials Oct 1941

These ships were amazingly armored, more so than any ship before or since. This included :

650 mm (26 in) on face of main turrets (YES, 26-inches!)
410 mm (16 in) side armor belt
200 mm (7.9 in) central(75%) armored deck
226.5 mm (8.92 in) outer(25%) armored deck

As point of reference the second place winner for the most armor carried was on the USS Iowa class battlewagons, which had some 19.7-inches on turret faces and a 12-inch belt.

 

Port side shot sea trials

Port side shot sea trials

These ships could put up some lead, carrying an amazing 205 pieces of artillery from the giant 18.1-inch main guns (the largest in the world)
to a huge array of AAA weapons. This included (in 1945):

9 × 46 cm (18.1 in) (3×3) (firing 3,000-lb shells)
6 × 155 mm (6.1 in) (2×3)
24 × 127 mm (5.0 in)
162 × 25 mm (0.98 in) Anti-Aircraft (52×3, 6×1)
4 × 13.2 mm (0.52 in) AA (2×2)

In short, these ships were massive war-engines and are seen by many as the pinnacle of battleship design (no offense to the Iowas). I mean 18-inch guns, 26-inches of armor, come on. As further protection against aircraft, her 18-inch guns could fire special “Common Type 3” anti-aircraft shells, known to the Japanese as “Sanshiki“. These shells contained over 900 incendiary tubes each capable of shooting 16-foot flames in all directions once the shell exploded. Not something you would want to fly into.

Five of the class, Yamato, Musahsi, and Shinano (along with two hulls, “Warships No 111″, and “797“) were envisioned for the Combined Fleet, with Yamato being laid down in 1937. The last two never were never finished while Shinano was converted to an aircraft carrier.

Commissioned 16 December 1941, Yamato came out of the yard a week too late for Pearl Harbor. As flagship of the fleet until 1943 when her sister ship Musashi was completed, she spent the first part of the war in such duty appropriate for such a large ship– being the primary ride of Adm. Yamamoto, from which he lost the Battle of Midway from her decks.

After 1943 she was relegated to a high-speed, heavily armored transport, running troops and valuables from island to island just ahead of Adm Nimitz’s oncoming horde that was the US Navy. Ironically her giant guns were useless to the Japanese at Guadalcanal as only armored piercing shells, made for sinking ships, and not HE shells for shore bombardment were in use at the time. If there had been, the Marines on Henderson Field may have had a very different outcome.

She dodged several torpedoes from US submarines until the end of 1943 when USS Skate (SS-305) pumped a fish into her. Damaged but not sunk (I mean come on she was 72,000-tons!), she next appeared in the pivotal battles in the Philippines in 1944. There she helped escort Ozawa’s Mobile Fleet during the Battle of the Philippine Sea, then caught up with the half-dozen small US Jeep carriers of Taffy 3, firing at the 7800-ton Casablanca-class escort carrier USS Gambier Bay on 25 October 1944.

It was during that engagement that, while firing shells marked with dye to better call shot from individual guns, an American sailor called out “They are shooting at us in Technicolor!”

The stricken Gambier Bay on fire, left, with Yamato, circled, right

The stricken Gambier Bay on fire, left, with Yamato, circled, right

The Yamato closed to within point-blank distance of Gambier Bay, now dead in the water, and shelled the tiny flat top until she sank with great loss of life. It was one of the few recorded instances of a battleship sinking a carrier in warfare. Carriers, however had already had their way with the class, sinking Yamato‘s sister ship Musashi the previous day during the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea, taking 17 bomb and 19 torpedo hits, with the loss of 1,023 of her 2,399-man crew. This left Yamato an orphan of her class, as Shinano, converted to an aircraft carrier, had been sunk earlier that month, the largest naval vessel to have been sunk by a submarine.

Retiring from the Philippines, Yamato was almost all that was left of the Japanese fleet that was still battle worthy, forming a reserve with the old WWI-era battleship Nagato and the fast battleship Kongo. Well, Kongo was sunk by USS Sealion (SS-315) on 21 November, leaving just Nagoto who was soon to be relegated to coast defense only, and Yamato as the IJN’s last capital ships.

In April 1945, with the US invasion of Okinawa, the Emperor demanded action from what was left of the Navy. This led Vice Chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff, and Chief of Staff of the Combined Fleet, Vice Admiral Seiichi Ito to scrape together all he could to sail against the Americans.

This meant the Yamato.

Her battle fleet was simply the 6000-ton  Agano-class light cruiser Yahagi and 8 destroyers. Since it was to be a one-way mission, the naval kamikaze strike against a fleet that outnumbered it by a factor of at least 6:1, Ito would personally command it.

Dubbed “Operation Ten-Go” (Heaven One), the fleet sortied on 7 April directly towards Okinawa. There it was soon confronted by over 400 carrier based strike planes of Adm. Marc Mitscher’s fleet of 11 flattops, more than the Japanese had at Pearl Harbor against eight battleships.

It was not a long engagement.

yamato 1944

By 1200 the first aircraft appeared over Yamato. By 1400 the cruiser Yahagi, riddled with bombs and torpedoes, sank along with half of the destroyer screen. By 1420, Yamato was dead in the water, her rudder shot away, her superstructure ablaze.

yamato

yamato on fire

end-battleship-yamato

Battleship Yamato Wallpaper__yvt2

She has suffered more than 11 torpedo hits and six bomb hits. At 1423, one of the two bow magazines detonated in a tremendous explosion. The resulting mushroom cloud—over 3 miles high—was seen 180 miles away on Kyushu and was the funeral pyre for some 3000 of her crew, more than was lost by the US Navy in all of the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

yamatao explosion

Although the undamaged half of the destroyer screen stood by to pick up the crew from Yamato, Admiral Ito, still alive, chose to go down with the ship.

Just ten U.S. aircraft were shot down by anti-aircraft fire from the Japanese ships; with 12 airmen killed. The Japanese suffered over 4000 casualties proving the last surface engagement by battleships versus carriers at sea and closing an era in Naval warfare forever.

This massive waste of such a magnificent ship for little conceivable gain helped ensure the future use of the Atomic Bombs on Japan, as the US felt that further resistance in the Home Islands, even if obviously futile, would be expected.

Meanwhile, the Japanese navy then went about the act of destroying all the information they had on the huge battleships including models, plans and images, so that it could not fall into US hands after the war. That is why few wartime images exist of this ship, other than those taken by US Navy fliers.

Her wreck was found in 1982, broken into two large pieces much like the Titanic was, at rest under 1100 feet of seawater.

japbb01-yamato-aftersunk

The Japanese have a particular affinity for this ship. The word Yamato, since it harkens back to old feudal Japan, has great significance. This makes Yamato akin to the names Plymouth, Philadelphia, or Washington in the US. A huge (and we mean huge) 1:10 scale model of the Yamato has been constructed  in Japan and is a very popular attraction there. ‘

yamato001l

A recent book and film on the vessel proved hugely successful in Japan.

Poster_YAMATO
Then there is the whole Space Battleship Yamato series of manga, based extremely loosely on the ship.

Space-Battleship-Yamato-2010-Movie-Image-1

It seems after all that the Yamato is very far indeed from her last ride.

Specs:

yamato-kai

Displacement: 65,027 tonnes (64,000 long tons)
71,659 tonnes (70,527 long tons) (full load)
Length:     256 m (839 ft 11 in) (waterline)
263 m (862 ft 10 in) (overall)
Beam:     38.9 m (127 ft 7 in)
Draft:     11 m (36 ft 1 in)
Installed power: 150,000 shp (111,855 kW)
Propulsion:     12 Kampon boilers, driving four steam turbines
Four three-bladed propellers

Speed:     27 knots (50 km/h; 31 mph)
Range:     7,200 nmi (13,334 km; 8,286 mi) at 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph)
Complement: 2,500–2,800
Armament:
(1941) 9 × 46 cm (18.1 in) (3×3)
12 × 155 mm (6.1 in) (4×3)
12 × 127 mm (5.0 in) (6×2)
24 × 25 mm (0.98 in) (8×3)
4 × 13.2 mm (0.52 in) AA (2×2)

(1945) 9 × 46 cm (18.1 in) (3×3)
6 × 155 mm (6.1 in) (2×3)
24 × 127 mm (5.0 in) (12×2)
162 × 25 mm (0.98 in) Anti-Aircraft (52×3, 6×1)
4 × 13.2 mm (0.52 in) AA (2×2)

Armor:     650 mm (26 in) on face of main turrets
410 mm (16 in) side armor
200 mm (7.9 in) central(75%) armored deck
226.5 mm (8.92 in) outer(25%) armored deck
Aircraft carried:     7
Aviation facilities:     2 aircraft catapults

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The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and
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