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USS Iowa vs. IJN Yamato: Which would win?

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by robycop3, Jul 14, 2019.

  1. robycop3

    robycop3 Well-Known Member
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    Imagine this WW2 scenario: the IJN Yamato was closing in on a USN task force escorted by the battleship Iowa. Their escorts all engaged one another, so that left the Iowa & Yamato to engage each other. They moved away from the other ships to have maneuvering room, so, let the battle begin.

    A look at each ship:
    Armor:
    The Yamato was the heavier ship, 65000 tons displacement to the Iowa's 45,000. She was also more-heavily-armored than the Iowa, but that made her top-heavy. But the Iowa's "vitals" were better-protected. Still, the Yamato has a slight armor advantage.

    Guns:
    The Yamato had nine 18" guns on 3 turrets of 3 guns each. She could fire a 3200-lb. shell a max of 26 miles, while Iowa's nine 16" guns, also mounted on 3 turrets of 3 guns each, which fired a 2400 lb. shell a max of 24 miles. However, hitting a moving ship from a moving ship at extreme ranges was a matter of luck!
    The Yamato's guns had accuracy issues which the IJN kept secret, while the Iowa's guns are of the highest quality & quite-accurate. Despite the Yamato's bigger shells & greater range, this makes them even in big guns alone.

    Fire Control:
    This is perhaps the Iowa's biggest advantage. She had radar ranging & aiming, while Yamato had only regular radar. Despite Japan's excellent optics, visible aiming is easily obscured by smoke or weather, while radar is not. Furthermore, the Iowa had a CIC (Combat Info Center) that included an early computer, which helped her crew aim & calculate the amount of gunpowder needed for a particular range. Also, the Iowa could fire more rounds faster than the Yamato.
    The biggest shell on earth is of no use if it isn't ACCURATE! Large advantage: Iowa !

    Damage Control:
    The USN's crews were meticulously trained in damage control for their particular ship & were familiar with the quirks & nuances of that ship. The Japanese did not thoroughly train their crews in damage control, & more than one of their ships that could've survived was lost due to poor damage control.
    When the Yamato was attacked by USN carrier planes & damaged, her crew resorted to counterflooding, slowing her down, reducing her maneuverability, & making her more vulnerable to subsequent attacks. This would doubtlessly have been the case in our imaginary scenario, while the Iowa would likely have been able to still fight effectively.
    Advantage: Iowa

    Speed/Maneuverability:
    The Iowa was six knots faster, a HUGE advantage in closing distance or escaping as needed. And the Yamato's top-heavy 65 K tons made her about as nimble as an elephant in a grocery store. The Iowa could turn & cut much/faster. It would be an elephant versus a rhino to reach a goal first. This would be the Iowa's second-largest advantage.
    Significant advantage: Iowa

    Crew Sharpness:
    The Iowa had been in several actions & had fired her guns at shore targets on several occasions, & her crew was at or near its peak of efficiency in all phases of seamanship. OTOH, the Yamato had not seen any action & her crew was badly out-of-practice, which showed up in her last battle. Both ships had competent captains.
    Advantage: Iowa

    The Battle:
    The Yamato was the older ship, started in 1937, completed in 1940. The Iowa was finished in 1942, built with the Yamato & her sister ship Musashi in mind. The Iowa was the most-modernized battleship in the world in WW2.
    Both ships would have maneuvered, trying to find an opening. The Japanese would've been more-cautious, & the faster Iowa would've engaged first, having likely used her speed advantage to have "crossed the T", aiming her broadside of 9 guns while facing the Yamato's bow or stern, thus enabling Yamato to only bring 3 guns to bear. The Iowa could likely have kept up this advantageous position much of the time.
    But the Yamato was very tough, & even repeated hits from 16" shells would not have put her down easily. However, she would likely not have been able to put Iowa out of action, unless she got very lucky at the beginning of the fight & scored some hits at extreme range.
    Most likely, in time, the Yamato would be too shot-up to fight back, even though she might still be afloat. If the Iowa exhausted her ammo & had to retire before the Yamato sank, the Yamato would likely be badly damaged & slowed-up, easy prey for torpedo-carrying destroyers, aircraft, or subbies. Again, it would've taken great good luck for the Yamato to have won!
    Winner: Iowa !
     
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  2. Adonia

    Adonia Well-Known Member
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    WW2 was the demise of the battleship. They could shell land targets and provide anti-aircraft fire against attacking planes, but our carriers and their planes were the backbone of our offensive forces in the Pacific.

    A nice fantasy scenario though. I agree with you, the Iowa would win.
     
  3. robycop3

    robycop3 Well-Known Member
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    Right. The Japanese knew this before the war started, although they went ahead & built the Yamato & Musashi, the largest battleships ever. The US learned it as part of the lessons of Pearl harbor. The last major Ally to learn it was Britain, as they'd been battleship-happy since the days of Henry VII's Great Harry.

    Britain shoud've learned from their successful raid on the Italian naval base at Taranto where their 21 obsolete Faerie Swordfish biplanes from the carrier Illustrious destroyed or badly damaged several tough battleships with torpedoes, but it hadn't sunk completely in by 1941 when Churchill had talked First Sea Lord Sir Dudley Pound into sending the new battleship Prince of Wales & the battle cruiser Repulse to Singapore to bolster the british fleet there. Churchill chose Adm. Sir Tom Phillips, a thoroughly battleship-confidant officer, to command the 2-ship mission. The Japanese rapidly sank both ships with aircraft, killing Phillips in the process. Churchill later said the shock of their sinkings was the most-stunning news he heard during the entire war.

    Meanwhile, the US was busy building several Essex-class carriers , 27000 tons each, that were faster than any large Japanese ship & equipped with state-of-the-art radar & very sturdy construction. However, the Japanese had started the war with what was the best carrier plaine in the world, the A6M Zero. It took the US a coupla years to make planes that could best the Zero. But they did, with the Hellcat & Corsair.
     
  4. robycop3

    robycop3 Well-Known Member
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    Japan had started a 3rd super-battleship, the Shinano, but after losing 4 carriers at Midway, the brass ordered she be made into a super-carrier. She was still not finished in 1944 when she was sent from Yokosuks to Kure naval base to deliver a load of Okha suicide rockets. However, she was spotted enroute by the USS Archerfish, which put 4 torpedoes into her. Her captain, Toshio Abe, was contemptuous of American torpedoes, but he didn't know the US now had excellent fish Besides, the Shinano had structural defects & some poor designs, & she was soon racked by internal explosions which sank her & killeed over 1400 sailors, including Capt. Abe. At 60000 tons displacement, she remains the largest ship ever sunk by a submarine.
     
  5. robycop3

    robycop3 Well-Known Member
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    I believe the Yamato, with a sharp crew, would've been more than a match for any battleship ever, til the North Carolina, Missouri, & Iowa came along fairly-late in the war. They were the last USN battleships to be built.
     
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