One old Japanese proverb says: “In the world, the three largest and most useless things were created - the Great Wall of China, the Egyptian pyramids and the Japanese Yamato class battleships. But the truth is, the largest battleships in stories of humanity - these indestructible monsters, thousand-ton steel giants - could not fully reveal their potential, and they actually appeared at the dawn of the dreadnought era, when a new shock force had already replaced fleet - aircraft carriers.
In total, four ships of this class were laid. Only two of them, “Yamato” and “Musashi”, were completed and participated in combat operations of the Imperial fleet, the fourth (building # XXUMX) was disassembled on the slipway, but from the third, # XXUMX ... With the third an interesting, but tragic story came out . However, first things first.
After the defeat in the Battle of Midway, the Japanese fleet simply lacked aircraft carriers. Still, losing the best heavy aircraft carrier and almost 4 aircraft in one fight is very, very noticeable! And with this it was necessary to do something. Given the relatively low speed of shipbuilding in Japan and a shortage of materials, it was decided to urgently re-equip existing ships (mostly passenger liners) or unfinished projects into a sort of ersatz aircraft. The admirals' attention was drawn by the third Yamato class ship, #250, ready for 50%. Awareness of the uselessness of battleships in the Pacific has already arrived, and there was not much money for completion, so in the summer of 110, No.1942 began to finish building as a heavy aircraft carrier and named it Shinano. He had literally everything ... Starting from the displacement, ending the headache of engineers about how to make at least an average aircraft carrier out of a good battleship.
Speaking of displacement. There is information everywhere about the total displacement of the ship at 72 thousand tons, almost the same as the total mass of the battleship classmate. The figure is dubious, since the thickness of the Shinano reservation was reduced, there were no GK towers on it, nor was a massive superstructure. However, there was an armored flight deck, additional supplies Tanks with fuel and planes, but they are unlikely to have brought the aircraft carrier to the same mass with linear. Probably, the real figure of the total displacement is floating around 65 thousand, which is also very, very impressive. Instead of the largest and most useless battleship in the world, the Sinano was destined to become the largest and most useless aircraft carrier in the world. And that's why.
The launch of the 8 on October 1944 of the year took place, completion work continued as a matter of urgency at the naval shipyard in Yokosuka, but by November the 44 American super-strengths B-29 had already reached the shipyard and were potentially dangerous for the ship. The management decided to transfer him away from harm to the base in Kure, which is located on the other side of Japan, and there it is already there to make the final adjustment and acceptance. No sooner said than done. 2176 sailors and officers, 300 shipyard workers, and about 40 various civilians came on board. While the aircraft carrier was preparing to depart, all the unoccupied hands were riveting, boiling, painting, caulking, in general, the ship mechanisms and systems were brought to mind. November 19 The Shinano 1944 was officially introduced into the fleet.
Only the best of the best should command the pride of the fleet. That was Captain Toshio Abe. Just two years ago at Midway, he commanded a destroyer division. Here he is already on the bridge of the very ship in the world. Such an inconceivable career growth quite clearly gives an idea of the general state of affairs in the ship’s crew. No, the sailors, of course, knew their business, but many of them were “green” graduates of training courses, and the rest lacked neither experience, nor skill, nor the proper fighting spirit.
Captain Abe was informed that there would be no air cover from the shore, and his own air group was not yet equipped. The only thing that could fly aboard the aircraft carrier was passing cargo from the Oka 50 guided missiles, but they were not suitable as a defensive weapon. Three destroyers (Isokadze, Yukikaze and Hamakadze) were assigned as escort escorts, and two of them had problems with radio and sonar equipment that they did not manage to eliminate after the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Very careless attitude to the "last support of the fleet." The only hope for a safe swimming was the night transition.
28 November 1944 of the year at 18 hours of the afternoon on a warm fine evening (and they have there at the end of November around + 10) "Shinano" left Tokyo harbor and went on his first military campaign. An almost full moon was shining in the sky, which provided excellent visibility to both observers friendly and not so much. Having moved some distance from the port, the ship took the course 210 and anti-submarine zigzag at a speed of about 20 nodes (they could not give more, only 8 boilers from 12 operated) headed towards the port of destination, and feast reigned in the galley. Traditional black bean miso soup was served, there were also delicious corn tortillas, cakes and fruits. Incredible luxury for a war-torn country.
On board the USS Archerfish submarine that evening a gloomy mood reigned. For several days, not a single vessel, even remotely similar to the target, has been shown. This was their fifth military campaign, and the sailors simply scratched their hands to accomplish some sort of feat as quickly as possible, receive a medal and go to the coast to celebrate this matter. The boat was quite large, 95 meters in length and 2400 tons of underwater displacement. The maximum speed on the passport reached 20 nodes, but after five trips the maximum available was around 19. Divine providence was no longer on the side of the Japanese. So that November evening, when the malfunctioning radar of the submarine was still launched, he immediately found the object in 12 miles to the northeast. Initially, the target was mistakenly identified as an island, but when it became clear that the “island” was moving, the captain of the submarine, Joseph Enright, happily rubbed his hands. After all, what could be so big, except for a thick tanker, and tankers — slow and easy targets ... And only one destroyer noticed as part of the escort.
On the "Shinano" watch officer made a detour and warned observers: "Be careful." The officer on duty at the radar station noticed flashes from the radar beam and determined by their signature that they belonged to an American submarine. Captain Abe found it necessary to notify the escort and increase combat readiness.
Despite the clear weather, the Archerfish uniquely identified the target as an aircraft carrier only in 21: 40. The situation has changed dramatically. A warship is not a slow, helpless navynik, but a dangerous enemy with a strong escort of escort. In such an ambiguous situation, Captain Enright decides to go on a follow-up course with a subsequent attempt to make a torpedo attack of the target. By this time, both the Americans and the Japanese knew exactly about the presence of each other and the relative location of the enemy. At any moment, the destroyers of the cover could make an impudent submarine, but the courageous crew in the surface position squeezed out of their "fish" everything possible and impossible, risking a breakdown of the diesel engine in the hope of a successful volley. At some point, the destroyer Isokadze leaves the order and the 35 node motion goes straight to the boat. The crew of the submarine is ready to dive, turn away, but in the last seconds, Captain Abe gives the order to the destroyer to return to the system. Most likely, the Shinano considered such arrogant actions of the boat to be just a red herring and, fearing the attack of the wolf pack, Toshio prefers to keep all available forces with him, hoping for the speed of the convoy, but, although the speed is higher, the anti-submarine zigzag, which is connected, does not give up on the "Archerfish".
In 23: 20 due to overheating of the bearing of the propeller shaft, the Shinano reduces speed to 18 nodes. The boat is slowly beginning to catch up. In 3: 05 in the morning, the Archerfish finally reaches a more or less comfortable distance and attack rate. Naturally, dives. The Japanese who have lost radar contact with the enemy, fearing this very attack, lay an unexpectedly large turn and ... roll out right across the course of the submarine at a distance of several hundred meters, literally at the pistol shot. "Shinano" clearly someone jinxed. Four out of six torpedoes hit the target one by one. Measured and mercilessly, right in the middle of the hull on the starboard side. Joseph Enright diving to 160 meters on his “fish”, is subjected to an unsuccessful and unpresented (non-working sonars) attack of destroyers and safely escapes, and the tragedy begins to unfold on the aircraft carrier at this moment. Time on the clock - 3: 17 am ...
The first torpedo hit the board a little forward from the helm, flooded refrigerated warehouses, and one empty tank for aviation fuel. Also, the shock wave killed many sleeping engineers from the technical staff, who rested from the watch in the premises above. The second torpedo hit the junction of the propeller shaft with the hull and flooded the shaft line. The third hit the starboard in the area of the boiler room №3, flooded it and drowned all the attendants on duty. The destruction of the hull also led to the beginning of the flooding of adjacent boiler houses. The fourth and final flooded right-side compressor station, anti-aircraft shell depot and damage control station №2. It is obvious that such destruction for sinking a ship of this class is clearly insufficient. To drown the Yamato, it took 10 torpedoes and 13 bombs. And then he sank after the explosion of artillery grabs. Musashi received 12 torpedoes and 10 bombs, and also fought for buoyancy for a long time. Had such a situation happened with a fully operational ship, the Shinano would have safely reached the port of destination and began repairing it, which probably would not have ended before the end of the war. But he was not such a ship. The aircraft carrier was actually unfinished: the klinketny doors were unpressurized, the watertight bulkheads were poorly fixed and flowed along all the seams, the stationary pumps did not work, and the manual pumps were clearly not enough, and not everyone knew how to handle them. The situation was aggravated by the decision of Captain Abe after a torpedo attack to go at full speed, to prevent subsequent hits from an imaginary wolf pack of American submarines. The pressure of the water flow on the 18 nodal course literally pushed the aircraft carrier under water.
The situation can be described briefly: immediately after receiving damage, flooding became uncontrollable. It is simply unrealistic to plug all non-capped openings for cables and pipes in bulkheads under conditions of constant flow of water. The ship was doomed. It remained only to be thrown onto the shore, and even that is not a fact that they would have reached.
In 03: 30, the heel reached 15 degrees, then, thanks to counter floods on the port side, the ship straightened up a bit, to 12 degrees, but it was obvious that it was impossible to reverse the situation.
In 5: 00, the captain gave the order to transfer all civilian and working shipyards to the destroyers who approached, as they sowed panic and interfered with rescue operations. By morning 6, the bank reached 20 degrees and continued to grow, by seven due to the lack of steam, the engines stopped. Attempt to take the aircraft carrier in tow failed. As a tugboat, there were only small destroyers who simply would not have pulled the Shinano mass, and there were no suitable towing cables of suitable thickness. In 9: 00 ship de-energized. The roll remained at the level of 20 °. In 10: 18, the crew sounded to leave the ship, evacuation began, while Captain Abe himself and his two watch assistants preferred to stay and die along with the ship. The crew rescue situation was aggravated by the fact that the flight deck had already touched the water and its huge streams rushed through lifts and other technological hatches into the interior, drawing people from the ocean surface to the depths.
In 10: 57, after 17 hours after entering its first combat campaign, the Shinano went on board and went to the bottom, stern ahead, taking the life of the 1435 sailors with them. Although the official Japanese version provides data in 600-700 dead. It is believed that many were saved by using individual rescue equipment. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. The portrait of the emperor was rescued, secret documents remained in the safe and lay at a depth of 4 km.
So ended the tragic history of the world's largest aircraft carrier (only 10 years it surpassed in size American "Forrestal"). It should be added that the emergency regime, simply unprecedented, secrecy led to the fact that until the very end of the war Joseph Enright did not know what kind of “island” he had sunk. The 28-thousandth “Hayataka” was recorded on his account, and then only after he described the vessel in detail and provided him with an exploration of his sketches. By the way, there was no such hayataki in the Japanese imperial fleet, and instead of recording the captain in the track record of an aircraft carrier, which, according to intelligence, simply could not be, and he was, he was recorded another, which, according to the intelligence department existed. It was only after the war that they finally figured out and, with joy, handed Enright a naval cross, for an invaluable contribution, so to speak. Enright, in turn, wrote a whole book about a drowning Shinano, a very decent book.
In conclusion, I would like to add that the secrecy of the aircraft carrier played another sad joke with him: today only two photos of the ship are known. One of them was made from an American reconnaissance aircraft (the appearance of which led to the fateful decision to transfer the vessel), and the second from the coast during sea trials after launching. And that's all, no more reliable photos. The November aerial photographs of Yokosuki are on the Internet, but they are difficult to find, and the quality does not allow one to unequivocally consider where Shinano stands there.