The Japanese Battleship Fleet in WWII
By John Dudek @ The Wargamer
At the start of Japan’s Pacific War against the Anglo-American Allies, their Imperial Fleet’s ten, later twelve, battleships were placed in multiple divisions of capital ships. Battleship Division 1 (BatDiv 1) initially consisted of the sister ships Nagato and Mutsu. This was later greatly augmented with the addition of the super battleships Yamato and Musashi after they joined the fleet in early 1942. Bat Div 2 were the battleships Ise, Hyuga, Fuso and Yamashiro. BatDiv 3 consisted of the fast battleships (upgraded former battle cruisers) Kongo, Kirishima, Haruna and Hiei. All of Japan’s battleships were comparable to their British and American counterparts in terms of armament, although in some cases many were greatly superior in speed, with four of these being the much faster aforementioned former battle cruisers, Kongo, Kirishima, Haruna and Hiei. Their top speed of 30 knots meant they could easily operate in a support role along with Japan’s aircraft carriers. American and British WWI era battleships of the day had a maximum speed in the low 20 knot range. It would take the arrival of the modern generation of new and much faster Allied battleships before their aircraft carriers could enjoy that same degree of protection and support from big gun warships the Japanese possessed. In terms of main gun armament too, the Japanese battleships were very much comparable to their Allied counterparts with most carrying 14″ guns. Two of their battleships (Nagato and Mutsu) carried 16″ guns and when the super battleships Yamato and Musashi joined the fleet in 1942, the twin sisters mounted 18″ guns, the largest and most destructive main gun armament ever placed aboard a battleship.