It’s undeniable that the Japanese Yamato was one of the most powerful battleships that ever existed. The massive, heavily-armed machine of war was the prized battleship of Japan during the era of World War II. However, the stunning battleship was destined for a dark fate, and it would meet a tragic end before having the chance to engage in any real action.

Building the world’s deadliest battleship

When construction of Yamato began in 1937, Japan was caught in the grips of war with the United States and seeking out major means of defense. After pulling out of a treaty that limited the enormity of the battleships they could build, they began to construct Yamato…and they didn’t stop until it was the most powerful war machine ever to hit the seas. Built near Hiroshima and out of American eyes, it weighed 70,000 tons and extended across nearly 840 feet of water. It was also equipped with heavy artillery that could easily sink multiple enemy battleships in seconds. Between the enormous guns and maze-like hallways within the giant ship, many soldiers were confident in the stunning machine. When a sister ship was built, Musashi, the Japanese troops seemed to feel invincible. Many were eager to set the bad boys out to sea and begin sinking American ships. Unfortunately for them, merely commanding some big ships wasn’t all that they needed to take down the American Navy.

Complications with their machine of war

Although it’s huge size seemed to make it an optimal machine of war, there were some complications that came with its enormity. Yamato‘s massiveness meant that it didn’t get great fuel mileage, and Japan was running severely low on oil. And, despite pouring in tons of cash to build the ships for battle, Japan decided that both Yamato and Musashi were too special to Japan to be set out to sea. Japanese leaders saw the ships as symbols of Japanese pride. They knew that if the ships sank, so would the public faith that they could win the war. Considering their chances of victory weren’t looking so hot already, they decided that they couldn’t afford to lose their precious battleships. Yamato was mainly kept locked up on a naval base, only seeing action a couple of times before meeting her match. However, when American troops were invading Okinawa, which would allow them to access Japan’s Home Islands, the Japanese Navy called for a sacrifice of Yamato to an incredible measure.

Setting out on a suicide mission

After pouring their hearts and souls into the construction of Yamato, Japan called for an insane military move: they would sacrifice the ship, and all the men on board, to protect Okinawa. Their goal was to disturb the Allied invasion long enough to beach and, once on land, use the guns aboard the ship to protect the coast. Considering they were low on fuel and terrified of a full American invasion, sealing the ship’s humiliating fate felt like a necessary move. The Special Sea Attack Force (later renamed the Suicide Sea Attack Force) set out to Okinawa to face off with American ships. Most of the brave soldiers aboard knew it was a suicide mission, yet they were prepared to sacrifice their lives to protect Japan. After engaging American forces and being bombarded by both submarines and aircraft, poor Yamato sustained damage from 19 torpedoes and bombs. After two, long hours of battle, the massive battleship finally sunk, taking down close to 2,500 soldiers with it. The suicide mission was both a heartbreaking loss for Japan and a courageous act of war by the thousands of soldiers on board.