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  Musashi (武蔵)
IJN
Yamato Class Battleship

68,200 Tons
863' | 127.8' | 36'
9 × 460 mm (18.1 in) (3×3)
6 × 155 mm (6.1 in) (2×3)
12 × 127 mm (5 in) (6×2)
130 × 25 mm AA (32×3, 34×1)
4 × 13 mm (2×2)
7 aircraft, 2 catapults

Click For Enlargement
c1944

Click For Enlargement

October 24, 1944

Construction
Prior to construction, Mitsubishi Nagasaki Shipyard Number 2 slipway at Nagasaki was expanded with two floating cranes 150 and 350 metric tons capacity to facilitate the construction of a new class of battleship. Laid down on March 29, 1938 as unnamed "Battleship No. 2". Construction began under the strictest of security, including the erection of large screens to hide the construction from the U.S. consulate across the bay.

On May 20, 1938, two Martin 139WC bombers in Chinese markings manned by Chinese crews took from Hankow, China overflew Nagasaki at night, dropping leaflets and taking pictures. Over Nagasaki they photograph this battleship under construction.

Launched on November 1, 1940 from No. 2 slipway. As soon as she is in the water, the Kasuga Maru was towed alongside the battleship to block her silhouette from any foreign observers.

Commissioned on August 5, 1942. Named Musashi (武蔵) after the ancient Japanese Musashi Province, second and final ship of the Yamato Class Battleship, the largest and most heavily armed and armored class of battleships ever constructed. Her sister ship and first built was Yamato.

Wartime History
Fitted out over eighteen months, to accommodate changes requested by the Japanese Navy. On August 10, 1942 arrives at Hashirajima for additional testing including full speed trials and maneuvering in the Iyo Nada, mooring and aircraft launch drills.

During September, fitting out was completed at Kure. Twelve additional 25mm anti-aircraft guns (4X3) and a Type 21 radar, strengthening armor on the 15.5cm turrets, and the installation of extra communications gear.

On September 28, 1942 returns to Hashirajima for trails. During Ocotober-November training exercises and gunnery practice in the Western Inland Sea. December 1942 conducted air training exercises with Zuikaku in the Western Inland Sea.

On January 18, 1943 Musashi departs Kure and arrives at Truk on January 22. On February 11 Admiral Yamamoto designated Musashi as his flagship. On April 3, Yamamoto departed aboard an H8K Emily for Rabaul for Operation I-GO. When he died as a passenger aboard G4M1 Betty 2656 on April 18, 1943. On April 23, his cremated ashes were secretly transferred to the Admiral's sea cabin aboard Musashi.

On April 25, Admiral Koga arrives aboard an H8K Emily from Yokosuka for an inspection tour. It is not made public until May that Koga is actually taking command of the Combined Fleet to replace Yamamoto.

On May 17, 1943 departs Truk bound for Yokosuka. On May 22, anchors at Kisarazu Bight. That evening, a Buddhist ceremony is held aboard. Yamamoto's ashes are sent ashore the next day aboard destroyer Yugumo.

The task force was spotted by USS Trigger (SS-237), but unable to attack. Afterwards, this force planned to sortie for a counterattack against the Aleutian Islands, but the mission is aborted.

On June 23, returns to Yokosuka for overhaul and over painting. The next day Emperor Hirohito and other officials makes a top secret inspection aboard the Musashi. On June 25 departs Yokosuka bound for Kure arriving June 27.

On July 1 enters dry dock for overhaul. Also, four 22 Model 4 radars are installed on the bridge to provide limited fire control. Leaves dry dock on July 8 and departs for trials then returns to Hashirajima on the evening of July 14. Next to Kure on July 30 via Nagahama Bight then arrives at Yokosuka on July 31.

On August 5, Musashi returned to Truk.

On October 19 arrives at Brown Island at Eniwetok then sorties to 250 miles south of Wake Island but fails to contact the US Navy then returns to Truk on October 26. On December 7 captain Asakura Bunji takes command.

On February 4, 1944 Musashi unsuccessfully opens fire on two PB4Y-1 Liberators on a photographic reconnaissance mission over Truk. On February 10, departs Truk arrives at Yokosuka on February 15, then departs Yokosuka.

On February 24 bound for Palau with an Army Battalion, one Special Naval Landing Force Battalion (SNLF), munitions, fuel and vehicles. En route, the group encounters a Typhoon and most of the deck cargo of munitions is lost and the battleship has to reduce speed from 18 to 6 knots to allow her escorts to keep up and arrived at Palau on February 29 and remains for a month.

On March 29, 1944, Musashi departs Palau after dark. At 17:44 hit by one torpedo from the submarine USS Tunny (SS-282). Hit at frame No. 12 to frames No. 40 with central shafts damaged. Temporary repairs are made and the battleship arrives at Kure on April 3.

On April 10, enters dry dock No. 4 for repairs to the hull and modifications to her anti-aircraft armament is expanded to include 130 x 25mm anti-aircraft guns. Also, a Type 13 radar and a new Type 22 radar-directed fire-control sets are fitted. Depth-charge rails are also installed on the fantail. Searchlights No 7 and No. 8 removed for shore based use at Sasebo. The battleship leaves dry dock on April 22 and supplies loaded aboard.

On May 10, departs Saeki arriving at Nakagusuku Bay, Okinawa May 12 then to Tawi Tawi arriving on May 16. Together with Yamato, participate in joint gunnery drills at ranges of almost 22 miles. On June 10, departs Tawi Tawi for Batjan Batjan, Halmahera for Operation "KON", but the operation is postponed and instead departs on June 13 to respond to the American attack on the Marianas.

On June 19, 1944, participates in the Battle of the Philippine Sea then returns to Nakagusuku Bay, Okinawa on June 22 then onward to Hashirajima on June 24. Departs Kure on July 9 traveling via Okinawa to Lingga near Singapore arriving on July 17.

During September 1944 painted with dark camouflage. On October 18, black deck camouflage was applied and departs Lingga for Brunei Bay arriving on October 20.

Sinking History
Participated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Musashi formed part of Vice-Admiral Takeo Kurita's Centre Force along with Yamato. On October 24, 1944, while en route to Leyte, Musashi and her escorts were spotted at 8:10am by a search plane from the USS Intrepid CV-11. Efforts to jam their radio are unsuccessful.

At 10:25 opens fire and attacked by eight SB2C Helldivers from USS Intrepid. Four near-misses around the bow cause minor leaks below the waterline. One 500-lb bomb hits turret No. 1 but fails to penetrate its roof armor. At 10:29 attacked by three TBF Avengers and hit by a torpedo starboard amidships causing a 5.5 degree list to starboard, takes on 3,000-tons of water. Counter flooding reduces the list to one degree. The hit also jams the main armament director.

At 12:03 more enemy planes attack, Helldivers score two bomb hits and five near-misses. A dud penetrates two upper decks, demolishes the crew's head and exits above the waterline. A second bomb strikes port side ahead of 127-mm AA gun No. 4, penetrates two upper decks and explodes on the middle deck in crew space No. 10. Fragments rupture a steam pipe in engine room No. 2 directly below. This engine room and the adjacent boiler room No. 10 fill quickly with superheated steam and are abandoned. The damage results in the loss of the port inboard shaft reducing speed to 22 knots. Two Helldivers are shot down.

In this Battle of the Sibuyan Sea, she was hit by some nineteen torpedoes and seventeen bombs. The battleship had withstood massive damage to a degree probably unsurpassed by any other contemporary warship. Eighteen US Navy aircraft were shot down during the attacks.

Still, Musashi capsized and sank about four hours the last hit and sank bow first at 19:35. 1,023 of her crew of 2,399 went down in the Visayan Sea at roughly 13-07N, 122-32E . As the battleship sank, two underwater explosions were heard. The sea is 4,430' deep at that location.

Rescue
Following the sinking 1,376 of the crew were rescued by destroyers Kiyoshimo Isokaze and Hamakaze who work to rescue survivors until 2:15 on October 25.

Fates of the Crew
Roughly 200 survivors are transported to Manila, Corregidor and then return to Japan aboard Junyo and Yamato. 620 other survivors join Navy units defending Cavite Naval Base, Fort Drum, Clark Field, Caraballo Mountains and the Cabaruan Hills on Luzon. Others join the 31st Naval Base Force (SNLF) defending Manila. Most perish fighting as ground troops during the liberation of Luzon and Manila.

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Last Updated
October 25, 2012

 

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