The ‘Yamato’ and her sister ship the ‘Musashi’ represented the ultimate development in the battleship. Together, the two ships were the heaviest and most powerfully armed battleships ever constructed.
Named after the Yamato Province, ‘Yamato’ was designed to counter the numerically superior fleet of the US Navy. Built amongst a shroud of secrecy and deception and commissioned shortly after the outbreak of the war in the Pacific she was present at a number of engagements including the Battle of Midway and the Battle of the Philippine Sea.
Despite having been designed to engage and sink enemy surface vessels, the ‘Yamato’ would only fire her unrivalled 18.1-inch guns at an enemy surface target on one occasion, in October 1944 during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. In the final months of the war, as Kamikaze aircraft targeted American landing fleets off Okinawa, the ‘Yamato’ herself embarked on a one way mission of sacrifice, in a last desperate roll of the dice in an attempt to wreak havoc on the landing forces around Okinawa, the last stepping stone prior to an invasion of the Japanese Home Islands.