YAMATO. 大和 the End - Part 2





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Published on Feb 21, 2011

The second attack started just before 13:00. In a coordinated strike, dive bombers flew high overhead to begin their runs while torpedo-laden aircraft approached from all directions at just above sea-level. Overwhelmed by the number of targets, the battleship's anti-aircraft guns were less than effective, and the Japanese tried desperate measures to break up the attack. Yamato's main guns were loaded with Beehive shells fused to explode one second after firing—a mere 1,000 m (3,300 ft) from the ship—but this had little effect. Four or five torpedoes struck the battleship, three or four to port and one to starboard. Three hits, close together on the port side, are confirmed: one struck a fireroom that had been hit earlier, one impacted a different fireroom, and the third hit the hull adjacent to a previously damaged outboard engine room, increasing the water that had already been flowing into that space and possibly causing flooding in nearby locations. The fourth hit (though unconfirmed) may have struck aft of the third; Garzke and Dulin believe this would explain the rapid flooding that reportedly occurred in that location.This attack left Yamato in a perilous position, listing 15--18° to port. Counterflooding all of the remaining starboard void spaces lessened this to 10°, but further correction would have required either repairs or flooding the starboard engine and fire rooms. Although the battleship was in no danger of sinking at this point, the list meant that the main battery was unable to fire and her maximum speed was limited to 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph).

The third and most damaging attack developed at about 13:40. At least four bombs hit the ship's superstructure and caused heavy casualties among her 25 mm anti-aircraft gun crews. Many near misses drove in her outer plating, partially compromising her defense against torpedoes. Most serious were four more torpedo impacts. Three exploded on the port side, increasing water intake into the port inner engine room and flooding yet another fireroom and the steering gear room. With the auxiliary steering room already underwater, the ship lost all maneuverability and became stuck in a starboard turn. The fourth torpedo most likely hit the starboard outer engine room which, along with three other rooms on the starboard side, was in the process of being counterflooded to reduce the port list. The torpedo strike increased the rate of water intake by a large margin, trapping many crewmen before they could escape.

The explosion of Yamato's magazinesAt 14:02 the order was belatedly given to abandon ship. By this time Yamato's speed had dropped to 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) and her list was steadily increasing. Fires were raging out of control in some sections of the ship and alarms had begun to sound on the bridge warning of critical temperatures in the forward main battery magazines.Normal practice would have been to flood the magazines, preventing any explosion, but the pumping stations that should have performed this task had been rendered unusable by previous flooding.

At 14:05 Yahagi sank, the victim of twelve bombs and seven torpedoes. At the same time a final flight of torpedo bombers attacked Yamato from her starboard side. Her list was now such that the torpedoes—set to a depth of 6.1 m (20 ft)—impacted on the bottom of her hull. The battleship continued her inexorable roll to port.By 14:20 the power went out and her remaining 25 mm anti-aircraft guns began to drop into the sea. Three minutes later Yamato capsized. Her main 460 mm turrets fell off, and as she rolled she created a suction that drew swimming crewmen back towards the ship. When the roll reached approximately 120° one of the two bow magazines detonated in a tremendous explosion.The resulting mushroom cloud—over 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) high—was seen 160 kilometres (99 mi) away on Kyūshū.Yamato sank rapidly, losing an estimated 2,055 of her 2,332 crew, including Vice-Admiral Seiichi Itō, the fleet commander. The few survivors were recovered by the four surviving destroyers, which withdrew to Japan.

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