The Japanese Battleship Musashi

Musashi battleship was the second ship of the Yamato class of Imperial Japanese Navy during the Second World War

She and her sister, Yamato, were the heaviest and most powerful battleships ever constructed, displacing 72800 tons at full load and armed with nine 46 cm Type 94 main guns.
Musashi was commissioned on August 1942 and assigned to the 1st Battleship Division. In early 1943 the ship was transferred to Truk, that was the Empire of Japan’s main base in the South Pacific. During this year she sortied several times with the fleet searching for American forces, without success. In 1944 she was used to transfer forces and equipment between Japan and various occupied islands. In early 1944 she was damaged by an American submarine attack and was forced to return to Japan for repairs. In this occasion she was strongly enhanced with anti-aircraft armament. She was present during the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June, but she didn’t engage in combat with the American forces.
On 24 October 1944, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, after several hours of fighting, Musashi was sunk by a large number of torpedos and bombs hit from the American carrier-based aircraft.
The wreck was located in March 2015 by the team of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, to a depth of about 1350 meters (4430 feet).

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The Washington Treaty of 1922, with his prohibitions on the building of new battleships, held back Japanese projects for the development of the Fleet, which comprised the building of eight modern battle-cruisers and eight modern battleships. The Japanese designers and engineers wished to build new high quality units. They considered the US Navy a potential opponent and wanted to ensure that their ship would be stronger and better armed than the US ships. Despite treaty prohibitions, the Bureau of Naval Construction carried on with their studies about the building of battleships and in 1930 they reached a new phase of development. In 1934 Japan withdrew from the League of Nations, renouncing its treaty obligations. In October 1934 the Bureau of Naval Construction received from the Naval General Staff the order to produce a design study of a new battleship with 46 cm guns and a speed of 30 knots. The vessels of the Yamato class were designed to be capable of engaging multiple enemy battleships at the same time.

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After numerous tests and experiments, a big bulbous was placed at the bow to reduce resistance and improve speed. A bulbous of such a size and shape was unique at that time. In addition the hull had a shallow draught for a ship with such large displacement; so Musashi, and Yamato too, could use the naval base and dry docks of Imperial Japanese Navy as they was, without dredging or rebuilding. To increase the hull strength, and at the same time, reduce its weight, a new and innovative method was introduced. The armour plating was an integral part of the hull construction and not only an added protection. So the thickness and rigidity of the armour plating reinforced the hull strength too.
The characteristic shape of the stern resulted by the necessity of placing the hawse pipes away from the ship’s centre line to protect the bulbous bow from anchors.
Boats, planes and other equipment were placed in protected magazines and hangars to protect them from being damaged by the terrific blast of the 46 cm guns. In fact the blast pressure of this weapon was capable of destroying boats or tearing the clothing from crew and making them unconscious. So ventilation openings were placed in strategic way to reduce or avoid the effect of the blast.

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Musashi had a length of 244 meters between perpendiculars and 263 meters overall. She had a beam of 36.9 meters and a draft of 10.86 meters at deep load. She displaced 64000 long tons at standard load and about 72000 tons at deep load. Her crew consisted of 2500 officers and men in 1942, and about 2800 in 1944.
She had four sets of Kampon geared steam turbines, each of which drove one propeller shaft. The turbines were designed to produce a total of 150000 shat horsepower (110000 kW), using steam provided by 12 Kampon water-tube boilers, to give her a maximum speed of 27 knots (50 km/h). She had a storage capacity of 6300 long tons of fuel oil, giving her a range of 7200 nautical miles (13300 km) at a speed of 16 knots (30 km/h)

The ship’s waterline armour belt was 410 millimeters thick and angled outwards 20 degrees at the top. Below there was a strake of armour that ranged in thickness from 270 to 200 millimeters over the magazines and machinery spaces respectively; it tapered to a thickness of 75 millimeters at its bottom edge. The deck armour ranged in thickness from 230 to 200 millimeters. The turrets were protected with an armour of 650 millimeters thick on the face, 250 millimeters on the sides, and 270 millimeters on the roof. The barbettes of the turrets were protected by 560 to 280 millimeters thick armour, and the turrets of the 155 mm guns were protected by 50 millimeters armour plates. The sides of the conning tower were protected by 500 millimeters thick armour and the roof had a 200 millimeters thick plate. The floors of the ammunition magazines were protected by 50 to 80 millimeters armour plates which extended from the bottom of the magazines and across water-tight compartments above the double bottom of the hull’s shell; this would have protected the magazines from the explosion of a hostile torpedo or mine beneath the ship.

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Musashi contained 1147 watertight compartments to preserve buoyancy in the event of battle damage.

The main battery consisted of nine 45 caliber 46 cm Type 94 guns mounted in three triple gun turrets, each with an elevation range of –5 to +45 degrees. They fired a 1460 kilogram armour-piercing (AP) shell to a range of 42000 meters. These were the largest caliber guns ever fitted to a ship. The guns had a rate of fire of 1.5 to 2 rounds per minute.
The ship’s secondary battery consisted of twelve 60 caliber 15.5 cm 3rd Year Type guns mounted in four triple turrets, one each fore and aft of the superstructure and one on each side amidships. With a 55.87 kilograms AP shell, the guns had a maximum range of 27400 meters at an elevation of 45 degrees. Their rate of fire was five rounds per minute. Heavy anti-aircraft defence was provided by a dozen 40 caliber 127 millimeters Type 89 dual purpose guns in six twin turrets, three on each side of the superstructure. When firing at surface targets, the guns had a range of 14700 meters. They had a maximum ceiling of 9440 meters at their maximum elevation of 90 degrees. Their maximum rate of fire was 14 rounds per minute. Their sustained rate of fire was around eight rounds per minute.

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