Secret shot of photographer Hiroshi Arakawa. This is the second of two existing Shinano photos. November 11, 1944, Tokyo Bay, ship testing
In 3 hours 17 minutes 29 November 1944 of the year in the logbook of the American submarine "Archer Fish" was recorded on the volley produced by six bow torpedo tubes, marked the angle of the gyroscope and the depth of the explosion of torpedoes. Soon the commander of the submarine, Commander Joseph Inright, saw in the periscope a large fireball in the stern of the Japanese aircraft carrier, the type of which he and his officers could not determine. Submariners felt a strong hydrodynamic impact on the hull - the head parts of the torpedoes, after all, carried as much as 680 pounds of explosives.
“Hit! Hit the son of a bitch! ”Exclaimed Inright.
Battleships vs Washington Maritime Agreements
The throne under the ruler of the ocean - the battleship - was swinging for a long time. For too long a time the view that a large ship, armed with large-caliber guns, is the main instrument for conquering and securing sea domination, was an axiom. The admirals, as well as the generals, painstakingly prepared for the sea battles of the last war, not paying attention to technical innovations that appeared one after another. It took the desperate “Suordishey” raid on Taranto, the dramatic death of “Bismarck”, the harbor of glowing oil Pearl Harbor, the end of the “Prince of Wales” and “Ripalsa” to finally shake the battleship's undivided power over the ocean and admiral heads.
Owners of the admiral’s heads of the Imperial fleet Japan was no exception in this unique club of fans "Only Big gun ships". Extremely offended by the results of the Washington Maritime Conference imposed on her, which put an end to the ambitious 8 + 8 program, the island empire could not accept the role of a junior partner assigned to it. After the First World War, Tokyo decided in one powerful jerk to achieve the transformation of the Pacific Ocean, if not into the Inland Sea of Japan, then at least into the coastal waters. For this purpose, it was planned to implement a grandiose shipbuilding program, known as "8 + 8", according to which it was planned to put into operation 8 battleships and 8 battle cruisers. Such plans could not but cause “concern” among traditional guardians of Pacific interests - the United States and Great Britain. At the initiative of the United States, the Washington Maritime Conference was held, where, under the threat of economic pressure, the Japanese shortened their arms. The strength of the linear forces of the USA, Great Britain and Japan defined by the treaty was fixed in the format 15: 15: 9. Thus, there was no question not only of any superiority, but even of parity with the fleets of the “white barbarians”. Unable to reach quantitative indicators acceptable to themselves, the Japanese decided to take a different, intensive development path - to achieve qualitative superiority over the enemy.
For this task, the Japanese designers were selected for a long time and thoroughly. The first projects of battleships that do not fit into the Washington Maritime Agreements began to be created at the end of the 20s. They also felt the influence of the unrealized ideas of the 8 + 8 program. First of all, this concerned the main caliber artillery not lower than 410 mm. In 1934, Japan was tired of tight communication with the international community, and the Land of the Rising Sun leaves the League of Nations. It was decided to abandon the restrictions imposed by Western countries, and to arm, without looking at anyone.
Short way from the battleship to the aircraft carrier
Rear Admiral Fukuda, the author of the project of the Yamato battleships
The displacement limitation in 35 thousand tons, accepted as the standard for the battleship following the conference, was immediately discarded as unacceptable. Not having such industrial facilities as overseas neighbors, the Japanese relied on quality and originality. The creation of new generation battleships started in the fall of 1934. The process was painstaking and thorough - by the beginning of 1936, there was an 24 project, many of which were united by the idea of installing 460-mm guns of the main caliber. After long debates and calculations, the project A140-F5 was selected by Rear Admiral Fukuda. It is his ideas that will be embodied in metal in the form of Yamato type battleships. It is worth noting that not all Japanese naval commanders were subject to "linkorod". Isoroku Yamamoto, the future father of the Japanese blitzkrieg 1941 – 1942, warned of the dubious value of the 70 -thousands of giants, preferring the more universal and promising arms - to aircraft carriers. But then nobody listened to the admiral.
The main superlinker, Yamato, was laid in November 1937 of the year in Kure, the same type - in March 1938 of the year in Nagasaki. The following pair was laid in 1940: May 4 in Yokosuka - the third battleship of the Shinano series, in November in Kure - No. 111. From the first two ships, they should have been distinguished by enhanced anti-aircraft weapons - 20 100-mm guns in single-gun towers instead of medium 155-mm towers. The construction of the fifth ship of the series was to begin at 1941 – 1942, but was never begun.
Shinano was built at a fairly fast pace, while respecting the measures of secrecy that both Yamato and Musashi were. Access to the dry dock where the shipbuilding works were carried out was limited. None of the engineers could not get all the drawings and certification at once. All these measures led to the fact that abroad did not know the exact characteristics of the new Japanese battleships until the end of the war.
After the start of the war, the pace of construction of the Shinano somewhat decreased - the Japanese were of the opinion that they would not have time to complete the construction of a victorious war, as it seemed then. But in June, 1942, the Japanese Kido Butai, or aircraft carrier compound, rested at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Remaining in the first line of the Shokaku and Dzuykaku was clearly not enough to actively counteract the ever-growing American fleet. The Japanese command is taking a number of operational measures in order to maximize the number of aircraft carriers. A large series of “Unryu” type ships is being laid, the conversion of passenger liners, floating ships for seaplanes and bulk carriers into light and escort aircraft carriers has begun. But time has already been lost. All these fruits matured for a long time and were able to give results only after a year or two. And they were no longer in Japan. It was too late to lament Admiral Yamamoto’s wise warnings against building expensive battleships. Yes, it could have been disheartening by calculating the consumption of ship steel, which had gone to build Yamato-type battleships!
In a radically changed situation, the Shinano could not stay away. In the summer of 1942, the construction of the ship, brought to 50% readiness, was suspended. It became obvious: as an artillery platform, it is no longer in demand. The Japanese fleet was faced with other tasks - the concept of forcing the US Navy to "the Pacific Jutland" was finally consigned to oblivion.
The project of restructuring the Shinano into an aircraft carrier with delivery to the fleet no earlier than February 1945 of the year is being developed at an urgent pace. The Imperial Naval Technical Committee ("Kampon") instructed Vice Admiral Keija Fukuda, the author of the Yamato-type ships project, to take full care of the ship's protection.
The high readiness of the corps itself forced the designers to make some compromises: the hangar was supposed not to be two, but single-tier. Therefore, the future aircraft carrier could carry a very modest air group - up to 47 aircraft. In the mines of the three towers of the main caliber, high-speed elevators for delivering ammunition to the deck were placed. The thickness of the armor belt was reduced from design 410 to 160 mm. It was not possible to completely abandon the vertical armor, since it was part of the power structure of the hull. The Japanese learned the Midway experience well and tried to translate it into Shinano. Ammunition cellar, Tanks gasoline, tiller compartment were enclosed in armored "boxes". The use of wood has been minimized. Refractory paint was widely used. Important communications, such as gasoline supply pipelines, were enclosed in armored casings. Double bulkheads were used as additional protection, the space between which was filled with cement. The total mass of armor carried by Sinano was 17 thousand tons plus 2400 cement. The anti-torpedo protection was identical to that used on the Yamato battleship - external boules and three inclined bulkheads, the first of which reached a thickness of 200 mm. The ship’s superstructure, or “island”, was conveniently copied from a similar design of the Taiho aircraft carrier. The flight deck with 18 air finishers and two aircraft lifts was 256 meters long and 41,5 meters wide. The aircraft carrier received strong anti-aircraft weapons. Initially, they planned to install new 100-mm Type 98 guns on it, but they weren’t enough, and so they returned to the 16 old 127-mm Type 89 guns. Short-range air defense consisted of 145 barrels of 25-mm anti-aircraft guns in three and one gun installations. The ample ammunition cellars made it possible to store a large range of ammunition for aircraft there, primarily bombs and torpedoes of large caliber.
One of the dry docks at the shipyard in Yokosuka. 1929, the battleship "Congo" under repair
Work in the dry dock number 6 naval shipyard in Yokosuka went at an accelerated pace. Thousands of builders who lived in a barracks position on the plant’s territory carried out work at Shinano. From prying eyes dry dock was covered with a corrugated stainless steel fence. Taking pictures at the facility was strictly prohibited.
Time was pressing the Japanese - by 1944, the American army and navy had already deeply bit into the defensive perimeter of the empire. From the beginning of the 1943, one after another, heavy Essex aircraft carriers began to enter service. With a standard displacement of 26 thousand tons, they could carry on board from 70 to 90 aircraft. The Essexes were neither miracle weapons nor supercarriers - they were just good ships that came into service at the right time and in the right quantity.
15 June 1944, the general staff sent an order to the shipyard to deliver the aircraft carrier on 4 a month ahead of time. Captain 1 of rank Tatsuo Maeda, the main builder, was forced to move to a tougher mode of operation. For shipyard workers, the working day is increased from 11,5 to 14 hours, and weekends are canceled. A few days later, exhausted workers began to give a marriage, and Maeda returned to the previous work schedule. The number of builders was increased.
By the beginning of October, the 1944 of the Shinano was prepared for decommissioning from the dry dock. October 5 dry dock number 6 began to fill with water. During this procedure, the bataport suddenly tilted, and water poured into the dock in a powerful stream. She raised the Shinano and threw the ship three times on the dock’s concrete wall. The moorings holding the ship were broken. Finally, the water level in the bay and inside the building leveled off. Later, in the course of an internal investigation at the shipyard, it turns out that no one ever filled the ballast tanks of the bat-port - all the 4,5 of the ship building year they held on “honest word”. The patriotic democratic intelligentsia likes to be indignantly indignant at our laxity - but when such glaring incidents occur abroad, it begins to mumble something incoherently about “annoying accidents”.
Despite the accident, on the same day of October 8 the aircraft carrier naming ceremony was performed. Then he was put on the dock again - it was necessary to repair the hull and the destroyed nose compartment with the sonar station.
November 11 The Shinano 1944 has finally entered sea trials in Tokyo Bay. The possibility of taking off and landing aircraft on the deck of an aircraft carrier is being studied. The core of the future air group "Shinano" should have been composed of promising Mitsubishi fighters A7M "Repu" ("Furious wind"). However, the fine-tuning of them was delayed, and, most likely, the new ship would have received the proven Zero. The modest size of the air group and a large ammunition cellar made it possible to use the Shinano as a support aircraft carrier. At the same time, the 11 numbers, the ship was photographed by flying at high altitude American intelligence officer B-29. The new ship was not accurately identified by the US Naval Intelligence and caused no commotion. By November 19, it was decided that the ship was fit for military operations - a naval flag was hoisted on it and a portrait of Emperor Hirohito was hoisted onto the place of honor. All this time on board there were a large number of workers involved in the completion and fine-tuning of various components. The captain (captain of 1 rank) Toshio Abe was appointed as the commander of the aircraft carrier. He was an experienced commander, a participant in the battle at Midway, where he commanded the 10 battalion of destroyers. His flagship destroyer Kajagumo provided assistance to the flaming aircraft carrier Hiryu under the flag of Admiral Yamaguchi. It was Abe who had to carry out a difficult order to finish off a doomed aircraft carrier with torpedoes. Subsequently, Abe commanded a division of cruisers and was noted as a skilled commander. His appointment to the "Shinano" was not accidental, moreover, Abe was soon to be promoted to the rank of rear admiral.
Meanwhile, the operational situation was deteriorating - after the crushing defeat of the Japanese fleet in the Philippines, American bombers raided the islands of Japan itself. It was decided to transfer the Shinano and a number of other ships to the Inland Sea. Captain Abe requests a postponement of the transition, referring to the fact that the ship can be considered ready only conditionally. The 4 shipboard boiler from 12 did not work, most of the premises were not checked for leaks. He is refused, and the aircraft carrier is being prepared to sail.
The first and last campaign of the samurai
On the evening of November 28, the Shinano left Yokosuka without any aircraft on board — he should have received his air group already in the Inland Sea. As an escort, he was given three destroyers of the Kagero type: Isokadze, Yukikadze and Hamakadze. On board the Sinano were 2515 people, including 300 shipyard workers. The connection went anti-submarine zigzag - most of all, Toshio Abe was worried about the danger of colliding with several submarines, although shortly before leaving, the designer of the Yamato-type ships, Vice Admiral Fukuda, assured the Shinano commander that his underwater protection was very reliable, and even several torpedo hits weren’t cause serious damage to the aircraft carrier. Recent events in the Sibuyan Sea, when the same type of "Musashi" sank, having accepted the hits of at least 10 torpedoes and 12-15 large-caliber bombs, seemingly justified the admiral's words. But those torpedoes were aviation, with a warhead less powerful than that of torpedoes used in submarines. In addition, everything made of metal can sink. A statement about unsinkability is nothing more than complacency. This is 32 years before the events described learned shipbuilders shipyard "Harland and Wolf."
The waters of Japan have already been chosen by American submarines. Unlike the allies, the Japanese could not create an effective PLO system. It so happened that one of the American submarines "Archer Fish" was on patrol in Tokyo Bay. And what Abe was so afraid of happened - in 20 hours 48 minutes 28 November, the submarine's radar discovered a large target in 12 miles in 30 bearing direction. Then it was discovered visually by signalmen - “Archer Fish” was on the surface. Initially, the target was identified as a large tanker with an escort. Tankers were in the category of priority targets, since Japan’s dependence on fuel supplies was well known. In 21.40 with the Archer Fish, the target was considered "like a ship that looks like an aircraft carrier."
Joseph Inright, commander of the American submarine "Archer Fish"
After some time, a report on the detection of the operation of the radar station of an allegedly American submarine followed on the Shinano bridge. Captain 1 of rank Abe was convinced that a whole group of enemy submarines was operating nearby, and one of them with the radar turned on was playing the role of a bait. He ordered to strengthen the observation of the sea. Neither the aircraft carrier nor the escort destroyers used their radars and sonars in active mode, thus the Japanese expected to achieve stealth movement. Vigilant "Isokdaze", who rushed to pursue the submarine, was ordered to return and take a place in the marching warrant. Shinano continued to move the 20 hub to break away from the pursuing submarine, whose surface course was evaluated by the Japanese at the 18 – 19 nodes. Overnight, the main bearing of the propeller shaft of the engine room no. 12 was detected at half-night 1. The cause of the defect could not be identified - obviously, it related to the consequences of the construction job. Reluctantly Abe was forced to give the order to reduce the speed of the ship to 18 nodes. This was another link in the chain of factors that led Shinano to death. Desperate to catch up with such a large and desirable prey, Inright, who was already about to transfer the target over the relay on duty in the neighboring district of Dace, noticed that the enemy ship had reduced its speed. He and other officers of the American ship could not classify the Japanese aircraft carrier, which was not listed in any of the directories of the ship. Most of all, with its massive “island”, it resembled “Taiho”, but its size clearly exceeded it. The Archer Fish, squeezing everything out of the engines, caught up with the stranger and began to maneuver in order to occupy a comfortable angle to attack. Fortunately for the Americans, it was the anti-submarine zigzag movement and the reduction in speed that allowed Inright to choose a position for firing. At around midnight 3, making another zigzag, the Shinano moved straight to the submarine, reducing the distance to the 60 cable. Having missed the lead destroyer (it was Isokadze), Inright ordered to give a six-shot volley. The fifth torpedo still exited the vehicle when the first hit the target. Ship time recorded 3 hours 17 minutes.
Shinano got four hits. The first torpedo hit the area of the refrigeration unit and tanks for storing aviation fuel, fortunately empty. The second torpedo hit the compartment with the main gear right propeller. Water flooded the engine room - the personnel managed to get out. The explosion of the third torpedo destroyed the boiler department number 3 - all those who were there died. It was followed by flooding of offices No. 1 and No. 7. The last torpedo hit was very painful - soon the compressor compartment was flooded, the water began to flow into the cellars of anti-aircraft ammunition. Damaged fuel tank. The oncoming water was absorbed and left the command post of the struggle for survivability. All work on the rescue of the ship was transferred to the post of the struggle for survivability number 1, located on the "island". The main task facing him was the fight against flooding. After receiving reports of injuries, Abe addressed the broadcast to the crew, calling for courage and duty to the Emperor. The commander added that the Shinano will not sink. But the circumstances were against them.
Immediately after the torpedoing, the aircraft carrier received a heel of about 10 degrees. Warheads of American torpedoes, having a mass of 330 kilograms, caused great damage. The sizzle of air displaced by water under pressure was heard from behind the hatched doors and doors - the compartments not checked for tightness were now flooded one after another. Immediately, the consequences of various imperfections and flaws of an obviously damp ship, not eradicated at the shipyard, began to emerge. Pipeline and cable seals also let water through. Korean workers were rushing around in panic until they were assembled on the flight deck in an orderly manner and transferred to destroyers. The first time after the torpedoing, the Shinano kept the set speed, and the water entered the body under pressure, intensifying the destruction. Initially, the captain hoped to reach the nearest port, or at least the coast. Counterfeit managed to straighten the roll. However, soon the water reached the starboard engine room - the speed of the aircraft carrier began to decline. Pumps could not cope with water. By seven in the morning, due to the lack of boiler water, the steam supply to the engine room stopped. In the morning, 8, Abe orders Hamakadze and Isokadze to approach the bow of the ship to deliver the towing ends. Two-inch steel tow ropes were fed to them, but they could not withstand the tension and broke. The second attempt was also unsuccessful. Even to optimists it became clear that the "unsinkable" aircraft carrier was doomed. The water pressure was increasing, and even portable petrol pumps and buckets were used to pump it, but they were literally drops in the sea. In the morning 9 "Shinano" lost energy. The personnel, primarily from the lower rooms and not engaged in the struggle for survivability, were brought to the flight deck. In the morning, 10, Captain Abe gives permission to remove the portrait of the emperor in a waterproof material. In 10 hours 18 minutes, when all means to keep the torpedoed ship afloat were exhausted, the aircraft carrier commander ordered the personnel to leave the Shinano. The escort destroyers approached the board to board the survivors. A large number of people were inside the ship, in areas blocked by water, and were doomed. In 10 hours 55 minutes the aircraft carrier begins to sink rapidly. Captain Abe and the watch officer Ensign (lieutenant) Yasuda remained on the bridge voluntarily and shared the fate of his ship. At about 11 hours the largest aircraft carrier of the Japanese Imperial fleet sank at a depth of approximately 4 thousands of meters later 17 hours after the start of its first combat campaign and 7 hours after torpedoing. In 14 hours, rescue work was stopped - the escort destroyers took on 1080 people. 1425 officers and sailors were reported missing.
Records and losses
After hitting the Archer Fish torpedoes at Shinano, his escort dropped depth charges on the 14 submarine, but to no avail. What kind of ship sank his submarine, Inright found out only after the war, when the Joint Commission of the Navy and the Army determined the size of the losses of the enemy. The revealed true dimensions of the ship with a displacement of 72000 tons made it a champion in a number of nominations. The largest aircraft carrier of the Second World War, the largest aircraft carrier, and in general a ship sunk by a submarine. Shinano retained its leadership in size right up to the middle of the 50-s, when Forrestal-type aircraft carriers began to enter service in the US with a full displacement of 80000 tons.
The Japanese command kept secretly the death of the Shinano no less than its construction. The destroyers brought the survivors to Kure, where they were placed in isolated barracks. Their crews were also forbidden to go ashore. A special commission was set up consisting of high-ranking 12 officers, headed by Vice Admiral Guniti Mikawa. In the course of the investigation, many surviving officers and foremen of the deceased aircraft carrier were interviewed. But when the list of perpetrators, in the opinion of the commission, began to grow threateningly, it was decided not to punish anyone. The command of the naval base in Yokosuka, shipyard workers, insufficient crew training was also noted. All five copies of the secret report of the commission were destroyed before the capitulation of Japan. The remnants of the Shinano crew were distributed to other ships, but the majority fell on the largest Yamato battleship remaining in service.
The hopes placed on the Shinano were not to be justified. He was not a supercarrier (except in size) and did not have any other super weapon features. It was an enforced measure embodied in metal, an expensive illustration of a growing total war. The war, which required not only aircraft carriers of cyclopean sizes, but also modern aircraft and well-trained pilots. In addition, this huge mass of metal required thousands of tons of fuel. The place of the best aircraft carrier of the Japanese Imperial Navy in terms of technical characteristics, most likely, belongs to the Taiho, which entered the 1944 year, and the Essex in Japanese. But this, no doubt, an excellent ship appeared when dominance of the sea had already been lost by the imperial fleet. Yes, and a dozen of such aircraft carriers without trained crews with ever-increasing shortages of fuel would not affect the situation.
"Taiho" - the most technically successful heavy aircraft carrier of the Japanese Imperial Navy. Photo 1944 of the year and the scheme of the ship
"Shinano" stayed in stories shipbuilding another ship that brought such a cruel disappointment, how great were the hopes placed on him.