Yamato: the greatest warship of all times

From the Washington Naval Treaty to the end of the Second World War.
alecsandros
Senior Member
Posts: 4349
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:33 pm
Location: Bucharest, Romania

Re: Yamato: the greatest warship of all times

Post by alecsandros » Sun Dec 25, 2011 1:06 pm

boredatwork wrote:
From a historical perspective, aside from the extreme secrecy in which they were built they achieved nothing of note - unless you consider the number of Torpedoes and Bombs before taken before sinking - but again they were unable to remotely pose a threat in return to the ships that sank them. From the achievement POV you could list hundreds of ships which have some far greater combat related claim to fame - both Enterprises, Bismarck, Warspite, Emden, Yukikaze, Akagi, Penelope, etc.
They carried the largest and most powerfull guns of any warship ever build, were the heaviest BB ever built (and heaviest warship ever built in their time), and were designed to engage and destroy multiple enemy battleships simoultaneously.
I guess that qualifies them easily in a competition for "greatest warship of all times"...

My opinion is that the class lacked the necessary development in "soft" systems, such as RPC, radar, redundancy of the AA electrical power, etc.
Remember that in 1945 the battleship was not at all an obsolete weapon, nor was it surpassed by the carrier. South Dakota and North Carolina pretty much proved that a good AA system can devastate swarms of attacking planes, thus leaving a carrier with little to do against such a ship.

Or to put in in another way: if a gigantic sea battle were to happen between the USN and IJN, with comparable number of units for both navies, I would prefer to be on a battleship, rather than on a carrier.

boredatwork
Member
Posts: 234
Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2009 8:42 pm

Re: Yamato: the greatest warship of all times

Post by boredatwork » Sun Dec 25, 2011 3:59 pm

alecsandros wrote:They carried the largest and most powerfull guns of any warship ever build, were the heaviest BB ever built (and heaviest warship ever built in their time), and were designed to engage and destroy multiple enemy battleships simoultaneously.
I guess that qualifies them easily in a competition for "greatest warship of all times"...
Qualifies them for consideration sure - but they've got alot of stiff competition!

Remember that in 1945 the battleship was not at all an obsolete weapon, nor was it surpassed by the carrier. South Dakota and North Carolina pretty much proved that a good AA system can devastate swarms of attacking planes, thus leaving a carrier with little to do against such a ship.

Or to put in in another way: if a gigantic sea battle were to happen between the USN and IJN, with comparable number of units for both navies, I would prefer to be on a battleship, rather than on a carrier.
We've had this discussion before - rather than waste my holiday repeating myself I'll just say have a good time on your battleship - when my all carrier force finds you and cripples you with a coordinated attack at 20x the range at which you can reply I think my Christmas will be Happier than yours. :wink:

Image

synthesim
Member
Posts: 42
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2011 1:10 am

Re: Yamato: the greatest warship of all times

Post by synthesim » Mon Dec 26, 2011 5:43 am

RNfanDan wrote:
boredatwork wrote: You'll note the title of this thread is "Yamato: the greatest warship of all times...
In reading the quoted reply I realized that, In my haste, the words completely escaped my notice. I recant my previous post, and will not further comment from that viewpoint.

Thank you for alerting me to my oversight. :oops:
Copy that and ditto, which nothwithstanding does not explain the fanatical devotion of so many Yamato fans.

synthesim
Member
Posts: 42
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2011 1:10 am

Re: Yamato: the greatest warship of all times

Post by synthesim » Mon Dec 26, 2011 8:19 am

boredatwork wrote:
alecsandros wrote:They carried the largest and most powerfull guns of any warship ever build, were the heaviest BB ever built (and heaviest warship ever built in their time), and were designed to engage and destroy multiple enemy battleships simoultaneously.
I guess that qualifies them easily in a competition for "greatest warship of all times"...
Qualifies them for consideration sure - but they've got alot of stiff competition!

Remember that in 1945 the battleship was not at all an obsolete weapon, nor was it surpassed by the carrier. South Dakota and North Carolina pretty much proved that a good AA system can devastate swarms of attacking planes, thus leaving a carrier with little to do against such a ship.

Or to put in in another way: if a gigantic sea battle were to happen between the USN and IJN, with comparable number of units for both navies, I would prefer to be on a battleship, rather than on a carrier.
We've had this discussion before - rather than waste my holiday repeating myself I'll just say have a good time on your battleship - when my all carrier force finds you and cripples you with a coordinated attack at 20x the range at which you can reply I think my Christmas will be Happier than yours. :wink:

Image
Thank you for the fabulous pic. Even in extolling the virtues of your own choices, what do you post?
Yamato! :D

alecsandros
Senior Member
Posts: 4349
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:33 pm
Location: Bucharest, Romania

Re: Yamato: the greatest warship of all times

Post by alecsandros » Mon Dec 26, 2011 3:50 pm

boredatwork wrote:
Or to put in in another way: if a gigantic sea battle were to happen between the USN and IJN, with comparable number of units for both navies, I would prefer to be on a battleship, rather than on a carrier.
We've had this discussion before - rather than waste my holiday repeating myself I'll just say have a good time on your battleship - when my all carrier force finds you and cripples you with a coordinated attack at 20x the range at which you can reply I think my Christmas will be Happier than yours. :wink:

[/quote]

No, you misunderstood. I meant both navies would have the same number of units of every type (equal number of BBs, CVs, etc)

boredatwork
Member
Posts: 234
Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2009 8:42 pm

Re: Yamato: the greatest warship of all times

Post by boredatwork » Mon Dec 26, 2011 4:19 pm

No, you misunderstood. I meant both navies would have the same number of units of every type (equal number of BBs, CVs, etc)
Maybe I'm still missunderstanding - if you're talking about two fleets with identical composition then yes I too would preffer to be behind the 18" of steel of a Battleship Conning tower. However, my personal survival aside, I fail to see how that supports an argument that battleships weren't obsolete/superseeded in their primary role as sea control ships by the carrier. The battle would be won or lost by whoever won the air battle, at which the carriers and their air wings were much more relavent than the battleships regardless of the latter's claimed AA abilities.
alecsandros wrote:South Dakota and North Carolina pretty much proved that a good AA system can devastate swarms of attacking planes, thus leaving a carrier with little to do against such a ship.
Depending on who you ask South Dakota's 26 Santa Cruz claim might be greatly exagerated. Compared to the gunners on the Enterprise, SoDak's gunners all had difficult high deflection shots against the planes concentrating on the former. In 1947 Admiral Gatch (SD's commanding officer at Santa Cruz) made an off the record comment that he knew Enterprise had shot down many of the attacking planes claimed by SD but as the new battleship program was in trouble with Congress and the press for doing little he was pressured by his superiors to go along with the story to justify continued BB construction.

Now of course the source for the comment - Captain Mott, former gunnery officer of the Enterprise - can't be relied upon as an unbiased source - but given the integrety of the SD's crew (who claimed sole responsibility for the sinking of the Kirishima) I don't think his counter claim can be completely dismissed on that basis alone.

alecsandros
Senior Member
Posts: 4349
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:33 pm
Location: Bucharest, Romania

Re: Yamato: the greatest warship of all times

Post by alecsandros » Mon Dec 26, 2011 6:46 pm

boredatwork wrote: However, my personal survival aside, I fail to see how that supports an argument that battleships weren't obsolete/superseeded in their primary role as sea control ships by the carrier.
I don't think they were sea control ships either. But they retained some good advantages (like bombarding an island facility without the risk of losing one single man, while a carrier-based operation would pose risks to the attacking pilots to be shot down...) and, assuming an engagement between balanced task forces, they would have been invaluable throughout the battle, especialy in night phases, when air attacks would have been very difficult...

As for their AA capabilities, I did not know the point of view of Adm Gatch :D

Of course, a discussion about destroyed enemy planes can become very long and slowly loose it's grip of reality :)

In brief, in my mind, South Dakota (at Santa Cruz) and North Carolina (at Eastern Solomons) proved that a single battleship can hold its own against waves of attacking bombers, destroying/damaging a good number of the incoming attackers and disrupting their formations, while suffering very little damage in return. There are also other examples of battleships destroyuing/damaging/disrupting incoming formations, while suffering minimal or no damage.

====
So what I want to say is that a truly modern battleship, with modern AA and fire control, could hold it's own against a (single) carrier. The carrier could lose a good part of it's airwing in the repeated attacks, with only little chances of crippling, let alone sinking, the battleship.

=====
The evidence of carriers becoming the new strategic vector comes mostly from the Pacific theater.
My opinion is that, had Japanese AA defenses become as good as their US counterparts, and their naval forces comparable, a necessary battleship - carrier duality would become the new strategic vector...

=====
As for the historical development in the last 60 years, with the carrier becoming even more and more important, I guess that's largely because no other navy except the USN built so many super-carriers. Had the russians, for instance, made 10-12 super carriers also, I suspect a need to re-activate the Iowa class battleships would have been greatly felt...

====
So the rise of the carrier has a lot to do with the comparative balance of naval power throughout the world...

====
P.S.: Even today, super-carriers do not operate unless supported by a 2-4 guided-missile cruisers/destroyers with good ship-to-air and ship-to-ship capabilities...

boredatwork
Member
Posts: 234
Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2009 8:42 pm

Re: Yamato: the greatest warship of all times

Post by boredatwork » Tue Dec 27, 2011 1:39 am

alecsandros wrote:I don't think they were sea control ships either. But they retained some good advantages (like bombarding an island facility without the risk of losing one single man, while a carrier-based operation would pose risks to the attacking pilots to be shot down...) and, assuming an engagement between balanced task forces, they would have been invaluable throughout the battle, especialy in night phases, when air attacks would have been very difficult...
Obsolete =/= useless. In the only role they had been designed and built to do - fight other ships for dominance of the sea - by mid WW2 the aircraft was so inherently superior that it displaced the big gun as a measure of naval power and in doing so rendered all ships reliant upon the latter, aka battleships, to secondary importance.

That doesn't mean Battleships didn't perform usefull service during the war - but rather they performed that usefull service, often in roles never intended because they happened to be available over a ship that could do it better or cheaper - not because such a role specifically required big guns and armor to accomplish.

As for shore bombardment - certainly not a role that featured in their design and construction - until the mid 80s they were more effective than carrier aircraft but the relative risks were not as lopsided as you would imply. Against an opponent with strong air but weak naval defenses yes the big gun was the most efficient solution (as long as your target was within range). Against an opponent with naval defenses on the other hand the fact that a battleship has to go into harms way, in a predictable fashion, to use it's primary weapon places the entire crew in comparatively more danger from mines (Dardanelles) or airstrikes (Salerno, Okinawa) or submarines (Africa) or night engagement by light forces (Guadalcanal) than the crew of a carrier, where the brunt of the risk is borne by a handfull of aircrew.


The carrier could lose a good part of it's airwing in the repeated attacks, with only little chances of crippling, let alone sinking, the battleship.
The number of battleships crippled by air attacks, even from obsolete aircraft, would lead me to a different evaluation of a carrier's chances to force an enemy battleship back to port. Conversely the (lack of) numbers of carriers crippled by surface forces during the war also suggests an advantage to the former.

=====
The evidence of carriers becoming the new strategic vector comes mostly from the Pacific theater.
My opinion is that, had Japanese AA defenses become as good as their US counterparts, and their naval forces comparable, a necessary battleship - carrier duality would become the new strategic vector...
While as I've made clear in other threads I don't regard "kill totals" in isolation as being a scientific measure of effectiveness I was struck by a curious notion this morning - Enterprise was involved in sinking alot of ships, more so than any single BB but it occured to me she might give WW2 battleships as a whole a run for their money.

My criteria was where a ship inflicted *significant* damage prior to the target being sunk in the same battle, regardless of actual cause of sinking - so for example the Battleships get Bismarck (torpedoed and/or scuttled) in their total and Enterprise gets Akagi (scuttled). However I've tried to be more BB biased - giving the battleships Jean Bart despite questions as to whether she would have touched bottom had she been finished/manned while not crediting Enterprise with claimed damage on Fuso before the later was sunk. I'm missing the merchant ship/destroyer tonnage for Enterprise, outside of the raid on Truk but at the moment my totals are running at:

Enterprise: 320k
~78 Battleships that took part in WW2: 480k

Again while this has little scientific value one ship making 66% of the contribution of another 78+ ships (excluding pre-dreadnoughts, training ships, unfinished ships, neutral ships) probably has to count for something.

Likewise it would be interesting to compare the AA kills claimed by those same 78 battleships, compared to the 911 airborne kills claimed by Enterprise and her airwing.
As for the historical development in the last 60 years, with the carrier becoming even more and more important, I guess that's largely because no other navy except the USN built so many super-carriers. Had the russians, for instance, made 10-12 super carriers also, I suspect a need to re-activate the Iowa class battleships would have been greatly felt...
Had the Russians built that many carriers the answer was not battleships - whose reactivation was a waste of money as it was (and ruined their appearance IMO) - but rather the construction of yet more carriers and an increased emphasis on anti carrier operations by the SSNs.
====
P.S.: Even today, super-carriers do not operate unless supported by a 2-4 guided-missile cruisers/destroyers with good ship-to-air and ship-to-ship capabilities...
P.S.: Even in 1918 battleships do not operate unless supported by flotillas of destroyers and cruisers with 'good' anti torpedo boat and anti submarine capabilities... :wink:

alecsandros
Senior Member
Posts: 4349
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:33 pm
Location: Bucharest, Romania

Re: Yamato: the greatest warship of all times

Post by alecsandros » Tue Dec 27, 2011 6:56 am

Hello Michael,
It's early morning here, and my eyes are cracked.

I see you left behind the "modern AA" topic for battleships. You mentioned, on the other hand, the battleships which were crippled/sunk by air attacks alone.
Well, that's history, can't argue with it :)

But my opinion revolves around the capabilities of a modern battleship, equipped with strong AA (both in numbers, and in the crucial aspect of fire control, integration, etc). My impression is that no such battleship was ever crippled/sunk by massed air attacks, let alone from the air-wing of an individual carrier.
Indeed, only a handfull of the WW2 BBs had competent AA: North Carolina class, South Dakota class, Iowa class, and Tirpitz (from 1942/43 onwards). Yamato class, after the 1944 refit, had a good numer of light AA guns, but no RDFC, VT fuzes, etc...
Tirpitz did suffer some nasty damage in 1944, when it was attacked by 2 bomber waves coming from 6 carriers. But the ship was not moving... And I don't know if it had it's entire crew onboard ?

So my entire POV is hypothetical: how would naval warfare be changed if all battleship, say from 1942 onwards, had had strong AA defenses... ? Remember no US battleship received important damage (that would put them out of service) during the Pacific war, despite being involved in giant naval-air battles... And Tirpitz wasn't hit at all while under way, but destroyed several attackers during the repeated air-attacks...

===

As for Enterprise, it was one of the several fleet carriers available in various task-forces. It did not obtain air superiority alone, nor did it's air-wing launch individual attacks, but rather large waves of aircrafts, coming from a number of carriers (sometimes 6 or more fleet carriers, carrying allmost 1000 planes).
Again, had Japanese AA defense been as competent as the US, and had Japanese fighter aircraft / trained pilots be present in sufficient numbers in the Pacific theater (either on carriers or land based), the situation would have been very different. We can take a look at the costs, length and questionabl results of the strategic air bombings against Nazi Germany, and see that the role of the aircraft in WW2 could be shadowed if the enemy had the means to counter it...

boredatwork
Member
Posts: 234
Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2009 8:42 pm

Re: Yamato: the greatest warship of all times

Post by boredatwork » Tue Dec 27, 2011 8:25 pm

alecsandros wrote:...My impression is that no such battleship was ever crippled/sunk by massed air attacks, let alone from the air-wing of an individual carrier.
Indeed, only a handfull of the WW2 BBs had competent AA: North Carolina class, South Dakota class, Iowa class, and Tirpitz (from 1942/43 onwards)...
If you're going to restrict the sample to "competent AA" then I will counter restrict you to "competent air strikes" - in other words none of the Japanese attacks post-1942 were carried out with skill comparable to their American adversaries. And the majority of their aircraft were bordering upon obsolescence if not already long obsolete.

Of the 1942 engagements I don't think the lack of significant damage to US BBs is as much indicative of their survivability as it is the fact the majority of the Japanese effort was expended against the American carriers. Even at Santa Cruz the majority of the aircraft SD claimed weren't attacking her, they were going after Enterprise.
when it was attacked by 2 bomber waves coming from 6 carriers
4 of the carriers used against Tirpitz were escort carriers and the remaining two fleet carriers had among the smallest air wings of any such ships - altogether they mustered ~130 aircraft, equivalent to less than 2 Ark Royals or Japanese or American Fleet Carriers. Yes Tirpitz was stationary but her anchorage did provide it's own unique challenges.
And Tirpitz wasn't hit at all while under way, but destroyed several attackers during the repeated air-attacks...


Again look at the quality of the aircraft and the weather conditions in which they attacked - similar obsolecent aircraft had little trouble putting 3-4 torpedoes into Bismarck while she was underway. Replace them with a carrier full of modern aircraft and the odds that Tirpitz won't take some damage are greatly reduced.

As for Enterprise, it was one of the several fleet carriers available in various task-forces. It did not obtain air superiority alone, nor did it's air-wing launch individual attacks, but rather large waves of aircrafts, coming from a number of carriers (sometimes 6 or more fleet carriers, carrying allmost 1000 planes).
She did in fact operate on her own on several occasions - with airstrikes totaling a couple dozen planes at most. Moreover the fact that many of her achievements were the result of a collective effort does not invalidate the comparison as, with a handfull of exceptions (Hood, Bretagne, Kirishima) the tonnage I've allocated to the BBs is also a result of a collective effort (look at how many ships were involved in the Bismarck's destruction for example).
Again, had Japanese AA defense been as competent as the US, and had Japanese fighter aircraft / trained pilots be present in sufficient numbers in the Pacific theater (either on carriers or land based), the situation would have been very different.
If things weren't as they were, then yes they would have been different. :wink:

Such an example already exists - the battle of Coral Sea - both sides were fairly evenly matched in terms of airpower and AA capabilities. When the carriers were exhausted the battle did not default to a surface action between the cruisers. Both sides withdrew. I would suspect your scenario would be somewhat similar - neither side knowing the remaining air strength of his opponent would choose to withdraw once his force became depleted rather than potentially subject his force to continued air attacks against which he would be unable to effectively counter.

alecsandros
Senior Member
Posts: 4349
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:33 pm
Location: Bucharest, Romania

Re: Yamato: the greatest warship of all times

Post by alecsandros » Wed Dec 28, 2011 6:36 am

boredatwork wrote:

If things weren't as they were, then yes they would have been different. :wink:
:D :D :D :ok:

synthesim
Member
Posts: 42
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2011 1:10 am

Re: Yamato: the greatest warship of all times

Post by synthesim » Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:25 am

I'm reminded of the 'three most important points of real estate'; location, location, location.
Or in countless football matches where both sides are evenly matched, the reason the guy with the ball gets through is because all the giant full backs and other are 'out of position'.
To deceive the enemy into thinking you are in one position, and showing up at another, is the essence of good battle strategy.
You know, there is a whole following for Yamato; even a 'Space Yamato' anime or Japanese cartoon series.
And the name 'Yamato' continues to be among the top ten most popular names for boys in Japan.
The name 'Yamato' means 'peace, harmony, old Japan' among other definitions.
Then there are all the innovations brought out with the design of the ship.
True, the aircraft carriers sent airplanes which defeated Yamato; but American battleships did not meet Yamato one-on-one, so the question of which battleship is 'the best' will forever remain unanswered because when the Americans had the chance to do a face-off, they didn't.
So as for scoring points in this debate, that simple fact remains; Yamato was sent out in broad daylight looking for the enemy, and the American battleships were nowhere to be seen.
Not even a ten-on-one, or a two-to-one, nothing.
In a battleship vs. battleship contest, Yamato remains undefeated for all time.
Sunk, yes, but nevertheless undefeated and on the record as unafraid of a showdown.
The Yamato mystique endures for these and other reasons.
And Yamato enthusiasts know this.

phil gollin
Member
Posts: 167
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2004 6:33 am

Re: Yamato: the greatest warship of all times

Post by phil gollin » Thu Dec 29, 2011 10:33 am

.

It is interesting that much is made ONLY of USN v. IJN experience. As noted, other experience could be very different.

Not only U-Boats and better equiped aircraft, but coastal defences (e.g. mines) and "new" weapons (Fritz-X, Highball) and night/poor weather attacks with/without electronic warfare devices.

It is all a lot more complicated than many are saying.

.

User avatar
19kilo
Member
Posts: 143
Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2010 1:46 am

Re: Yamato: the greatest warship of all times

Post by 19kilo » Fri Dec 30, 2011 12:53 am

synthesim wrote:I'm reminded of the 'three most important points of real estate'; location, location, location.
Or in countless football matches where both sides are evenly matched, the reason the guy with the ball gets through is because all the giant full backs and other are 'out of position'.
To deceive the enemy into thinking you are in one position, and showing up at another, is the essence of good battle strategy.
You know, there is a whole following for Yamato; even a 'Space Yamato' anime or Japanese cartoon series.
And the name 'Yamato' continues to be among the top ten most popular names for boys in Japan.
The name 'Yamato' means 'peace, harmony, old Japan' among other definitions.
Then there are all the innovations brought out with the design of the ship.
True, the aircraft carriers sent airplanes which defeated Yamato; but American battleships did not meet Yamato one-on-one, so the question of which battleship is 'the best' will forever remain unanswered because when the Americans had the chance to do a face-off, they didn't.
So as for scoring points in this debate, that simple fact remains; Yamato was sent out in broad daylight looking for the enemy, and the American battleships were nowhere to be seen.
Not even a ten-on-one, or a two-to-one, nothing.
In a battleship vs. battleship contest, Yamato remains undefeated for all time.
Sunk, yes, but nevertheless undefeated and on the record as unafraid of a showdown.
The Yamato mystique endures for these and other reasons.
And Yamato enthusiasts know this.
A pretty bold statement about a ship that ran away from a group of CVEs, DDs and DEs when it had them at its mercy.

Ken Thompson
Member
Posts: 28
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 1:34 am

Re: Yamato: the greatest warship of all times

Post by Ken Thompson » Fri Dec 30, 2011 3:24 am

In the battle off Samar when the Japanese fleet turned around one of the gunners on a CVE is reported to have said: "Hey they're getting away".

Post Reply