On March 2015, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen found the largest battleship, the Musashi in the Sibuyan Sea just after 8 years of research. This battleship was the best-armed warship in WWII, now its debris found more than 3,000 ft. below the surface in a still undisclosed location. The positive identification was provided by Shigeru Nakajima, a Battle of Leyte Gulf survivor. He’s one of the ship’s electrical technicians who jumped overboard upon hearing his superior officer’s order to abandon ship, 70 years ago in the cauldron-like waters of Sibuyan.
So what does the average Filipino know about the Musashi other than what Mr. Allen and team have been able to release publicly in the hi-ways and by-ways of the Internet?
The Battle of Leyte Gulf (October 23-26, 1944) was the biggest naval battle in the history of mankind. It was bigger than the Battle of Jutland in Europe. Leyte consisted of 282 American, Japanese and Australian capital ships. Sixty four Japanese warships were outnumbered by the Americans, but the Japanese Sho plan almost succeeded.
How did this happen? Where in the world was the great thousand-ship armada of the U.S. fleets guarding MacArthur’s beachhead? The fast carriers, the best in radar technology, the best trained pilots and air superiority already achieved in the skies of the Philippine archipelago.
The Japanese Navy was no slouch among the world’s navy at the start of WWII. Like England she is a maritime nation, and as an island nation, it ensured that her navy was given a good amount of the nation’s resources. Although radar technology was not as effective as that of the Americans and that of the British, Japan’s navy developed the Long Lance torpedo, a potent 24-inch oxygen fueled (nearly undetectable, wakeless torpedo) with four times longer range than any of the Western powers torpedoes. The Long Lance packed a wallop almost two times that of those used by the Americans and the British.
Even without the aid of radar, her sailors were great night fighters. The night vision lenses they’ve developed were superior than any of what the allies had. Its carrier-borne Mitsubishi Zero-sen fighter planes were faster, lighter and had a longer range than what the Americans, British and the even what the Germans had. This single-seater fighter plane can fly non-stop from Tinian in the Marshall Islands to Jolo Island, some 1,200 nautical miles. Their ships were built like real fighting ships with minimal creature comfort, as in the case of cruisers fitted with torpedo tubes.
And then there was the sister battleships Musashi and Yamato. At that time these two 862-foot, 70,000-ton behemoths, mounting 18.1 inch guns were the biggest battleships in the world. USS North Carolina was 40,000 tons, the German battleship Bismark was 45,000 tons. The Yamato-class guns, one turret, had the incredible weight of 2,774 tons – more than the displacement of a heavy destroyer. So powerful was the blast from these guns that crew members exposed on the weather-decks during firing ran the risk of having the clothing torn from their bodies and of being knocked down unconscious. The Battle of Leyte Gulf was the first time these two super-battleships were deployed. These ships were built incomplete secrecy the Allies did not know they existed, and now Japan unleashed them for the Leyte showdown.
The Japanese knew that they were outnumbered and outgunned. The Sho plan was to be played out like a chess game or Go (a popular board game in Japan). But in a chess game, the players know the roles of its pieces, on the other hand, in Go the piece’s role is not known until it makes its move. The Sho operation, to have a good chance of success it needs a lot of help and it was called deception. (Note: This is part 1 of 2)
Read the Last part here: Legacy of the Japanese Musashi, The Final Battle, Part-2