BOOK REVIEW | The Battleships Yamato and Musashi – Selected Photos from the Archives of the Kure Maritime Museum

The Imperial Japanese Navy’s “Super” battleships Yamato and Musashi were the two largest and most powerful of their kind ever built. They were, however, apart from as a threat, largely ineffectual. Nevertheless, they were magnificent examples of the shipbuilders’ art and very significant in naval history. Your reviewer even has a coffee mug decorated with an image of the Yamato!

This finely detailed and beautifully presented book does those magnificent ships proud. Replete with many excellent photographs and detailed drawings, it gives a comprehensive overview of their construction, trials and operations. Yamato was laid down in November 1937, trialled in October 1941, and commissioned in December 1941, a week after Japan entered World War II. She was sunk by American torpedo bombers while on a “suicide mission” to Okinawa in April 1945.

Musashi followed her about six months later. She was also sunk by US Navy torpedo bombers but six months earlier, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

So, what did these magnificent 64,000-ton, 27-knot behemoths , with their nine 18-inch guns actually achieve? As the notes to this pictorial history reveal, it was not very much. They were actually close to obsolete at the time of their launching into an era of naval aviation. While impressively heavily armed, they were effectively “sitting ducks” to brave and determined naval aviators.

They are probably best described as magnificent anachronisms but they have been brilliantly described and presented in this fine book.

(Edited by the Kure Maritime Museum and Kazushige Tokada)

Available from the Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, USA.


Neil Baird

Co-founder and former Editor-in-Chief of Baird Maritime and Work Boat World magazine, Neil has travelled the length and breadth of this planet in over 40 years in the business. He knows the global work boat industry better than anyone.