When looking for the number one top battleship of WWII, one doesn’t have to look too far.  The obvious choice for this spot, and for a number of reasons, is the Imperial Japanese Navy battleship – Yamato.  The lead ship of the Yamato class, the IJN Yamato – in conjunction with her sister ship the Musashi – take top spot as the heaviest and the most powerful armed battleships having ever been constructed.

It’s like stepping onto a Hollywood set right in the heart of the action as you enter the WWII Pearl Harbor Gallery at AFHM, witnessing the large detailed scale models of the Japanese ships used in the filming of the world renowned movie Tora! Tora! Tora!   The impressive diorama displays the ships at sea with a 20 ft theater screen in the background showing original film footage from the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. 


A Look at Yamato

Yamato was officially commissioned just one week following the Pearl Harbor attack.  The objective for this magnificent ship was to counter the significant number of outstanding US battleship fleet.  The ship was 862 ft. 10 inches long with a beam of 127 feet 7 inches and was capable of a top spec of 50km/h – or 31 mph.  This World War II battleship had a range of 7,100 nautical miles.


The armament on the Yamato was both impressive and unique, including 9 x 26 cm, 6 x 155 mm, 24 x 127 mm, 162 x 25mm anti-aircraft and 4 x 13.2 mm AA.  This armament was so superior, it is said that a shell launched even 35 miles away was still capable of piercing through 16 inches of steel plate.  It was believed that a single hit from this ship was more than capable of knocking out a carrier.


The ships armor was 650 mm on the face of the main turrets with 410 mm side armor, 200 mm central armored deck and 226.5 mm outer armored deck.  The aviation facilities on the ship consisted of two aircraft catapults and it could carry up to seven aircraft.


Additional Notations

Despite all the size and power of this WWII ship, it was still considered obsolete by the time it reached action and is only credited with the sinking of one known ship – the destroyer Hoel during the Battle of Samar.  On April 7, 1945, the Yamato was sunk just north of Okinawa by American carrier based bombers and torpedo bombers.


The Yamato, however, still retains the overall number one top battleship of WWII.