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Yamato vs. Iowa - who would have won?

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  • Member since
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Yamato vs. Iowa - who would have won?
Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, November 17, 2004 5:27 PM
Just curious what others think about a WWII matchup between a Yamato class battleship and one of the Iowa class? Things like 16" vs. 18" guns; armor protection; gunnery skills; radar effectiveness, etc.

Who do you think would win?

Bob
  • Member since
    March 2004
  • From: Kincheloe Michigan
Posted by Mikeym_us on Wednesday, November 17, 2004 6:29 PM
the Yamato was heavily armed and armoured so yeah the Yamato would have blasted the Iowa class Battleships out of the water. It would make the sinking of the hood look like someones idea of a prank with a cherry bomb and a toilet.

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  • Member since
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  • From: phoenix
Posted by grandadjohn on Wednesday, November 17, 2004 6:49 PM
Late in the war, would bet on the Iowa. Better trained crew, better radar, sights, etc.
John
helicopters don't fly, they beat the air into submission
  • Member since
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  • From: Ozarks of Arkansas
Posted by diggeraone on Wednesday, November 17, 2004 7:44 PM
I just could not pass this up.You need to read the specs on both ships,the 18" were great but the 16" on the Iowa had longer range and better munistions then the Yamoto class.Even though the Yamoto was a more heavily armed ship,the Iowa's were faster and with radar gun directors they could hit there target on the first salvo.In a toe to toe sluge fist the Yamoto but at long range and speed the Iowas.Digger
Put all your trust in the Lord,do not put confidence in man.PSALM 118:8 We are in the buisness to do the impossible..G.S.Patton
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  • From: S.C. Beach
Posted by roowalker on Wednesday, November 17, 2004 8:26 PM
Be kind of neat to load all the data into some kind of simulation game
& have at it ...In a one on one scenario,I think the outcome would be
one badly battered Yamato & a sunken Iowa.However, thats
pretty far fetched to think of an Iowa all by its lonesome self .
U.S. support elements would certainly sway the outcome towards
the Iowa winning or at least surviving to fight another day...
Roowalker
  • Member since
    January 2003
  • From: Central MI
Posted by therriman on Wednesday, November 17, 2004 8:31 PM
I have a book that asks this question (I'll have to dig it out tomorrow). And the conclusion is hands down the Iowa class. The Yamato is basicly a glass house. Big guns, and little else. In fact the Hood could have probably taken her. Case in point, Shanino went down after one Torpedo broadside (6 torp's) from a US Sub.
Tim H. "If your alone and you meet a Zero, run like hell. Your outnumbered" Capt Joe Foss, Guadalcanal 1942 Real Trucks have 18 wheels. Anything less is just a Toy! I am in shape. Hey, Round is a shape! Reality is a concept not yet proven.
  • Member since
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  • From: S.C. Beach
Posted by roowalker on Wednesday, November 17, 2004 8:47 PM
Respectfully disagree on this view . Granted underwater protection was
not up to US standards,[remember naval air delivered torpedoes took
both Yamato &Musashi] but armor protection re. naval gunfire was
top notch. Also US armor plate was not as effective in shell resistance
as it ought to be re. thickness in comparison to other nations.
This has come up before in a Bismarck vs. Iowa discussion.
Roowalker
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, November 17, 2004 8:53 PM
I Think you guy's underestamate the Yamato. do you remember how much it took to sink her? Shinnano was different in that is wasn't quite finished yet and had slightly different amour being an aircraft carrier. No i don't think the Hood would have stood a chance as 1 plunging shot form an 18" would have ended that.
we have to remember that Japanese gunners were excellent, Remember Savo Island. So I think that Yamato would of given Iowa a run for her money but Iowa would have won it the end though, It was more manouverabe and the damage control on american Navy vessels was always excellent, + it was an overall good design.

There thats said now:)
  • Member since
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  • From: Central MI
Posted by therriman on Wednesday, November 17, 2004 9:03 PM
Pick up and read the book: "Victory at Sea, WW2 in the pacific" by James F Dunnigan and Albert A. Nofi. Specificly pages 53, 88, 89, 90, 91, 96, 97, 101, 100, 104, 105, 111, 112, 145, 146, 147, 148, 168, 175, 176, 181, 363, 444, 450, 531, 547, 548, 553, 561, 585.

I've read it (I have a copy). Pick one up. Give a read (it's only 611 pages), and then come back and let's disscuss this topic again
Tim H. "If your alone and you meet a Zero, run like hell. Your outnumbered" Capt Joe Foss, Guadalcanal 1942 Real Trucks have 18 wheels. Anything less is just a Toy! I am in shape. Hey, Round is a shape! Reality is a concept not yet proven.
  • Member since
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  • From: Pensacola, FL
Posted by Foster7155 on Wednesday, November 17, 2004 9:35 PM
Iowa...

Robert Foster

Pensacola Modeleers

  • Member since
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  • From: Olympia, WA
Posted by wooverstone8 on Wednesday, November 17, 2004 10:25 PM

I think the outcome of a battle between an Iowa class battleship and the Yamato would probably depend on the time of day the battle takes place at. If the battle were to take place at night the Yamato would win considering the Japanese are better trained to fight at night. The Iowa class ships had better technology but it was still new and unreliable. If the battle took place during the daytime I believe an Iowa class battleship would probably win but it would be very close.
  • Member since
    October 2003
Posted by se5022 on Thursday, November 18, 2004 8:24 AM
Iowa!!!
Despite the fact that the Japanese were brilliant and disciplined, Yamato was just huge, practically a floating piece of plastic and slower than Iowa. Iowa was faster with greater range.
Besides, we Americans were just plain mad...!
  • Member since
    December 2014
Posted by bigjimslade on Thursday, November 18, 2004 9:37 AM
Unfortunately, such questions never include the factors of the engagement?
What range?
What weather?
Is there room for manover? (ie can one side pick its range at will)

For example, if you are dealing with a convergence where neither side can detect each other until they are a couple of miles away, the battle would be one of secondary armament.
  • Member since
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  • From: Ireland
Posted by Spurdog on Thursday, November 18, 2004 9:40 AM
Yamato wouldn't have bothered with its guns - it would have rammed Iowa!
  • Member since
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  • From: Harrisburg, PA
Posted by Lufbery on Thursday, November 18, 2004 10:15 AM
Don't forget that the Yamato was later raised and turned into a starship prior to the destruction of Earth...

... oh wait, this isn't the Sci-fi forum.

Sorry... Wink [;)]

Regards,

-Drew

Build what you like; like what you build.

  • Member since
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, November 18, 2004 11:48 AM
Given that all weather and water conditions were equal, I would have to say the Iowa would win, but the cost would be high. Toward the end of the war, Japan was scraping the bottom of the barrel with their skilled personnel. If the Iowa had an experienced commander and crew and could coordinate her attacks using her superior radar and speed, she would win. BUT, there's another factor: Chance. If the Yamato were to get in a couple of vital hits with her big guns, the Iowa would be in serious if not fatal trouble.
  • Member since
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Posted by Jeff Herne on Thursday, November 18, 2004 2:43 PM
Wrong...wrong..wrong and wrong...Iowa...regardless of the tactical conditions.

Iowa's 16" 50 cal. did not have superior range to the Yamato's 18"/45 cal. In fact, Iowa's range is listed as 42,345 yards, while Yamato is listed as 45,960 yards. Yamato's muzzle velocity was 2559 ft./sec. compared to Iowa's 2500ft./sec. Weight of projectile is obviously different too, 3219lbs. for Yamato vs. 2700lb. for Iowa.

With regards armor, Yamato exceeds armor protection versus Iowa in all cases, deck, belt, turret faces, conning tower and bulkheads. However, Japanese armor steel is considered inferior to US steel, so, even with the additional armor, it's a wash.

Iowa's combination of an inclined belt, and a highly effective STS-steel shell plate outboard of the belt (which has just enough resistance to strip the AP cap off of an incoming shell) give her a slight edge in my opinion.

So where are the differences?

US damage control is vastly superior to Japanese damage control, the Iowas are considerably faster, more maneuverable, and possess considerably better gunnery radar. Optically, the Japanese had superior optical gunnery after 1943...but...after 1943, optical gunnery didn't matter nearly as much as having good gunnery radar...look what happened to Kirishima against USS Washington during the night battle at Savo. Japan's reputation for night battles relied heavily on close quarter combat, combined with superior torpedoes. By 1943, that ceases to be a dominant factor.

Yamato carried Mk 2, Mod 2 radar, which, in essence, was not a pure fire control radar.
This radar set was capable of search, but not range determination, due to "the lack of display units and a plotter, and a broader radiated beam." At best, these sets were capable of radar-assisted gunnery (in conjunction with the ships' other optical systems), but were in no way capable of true blind-fire control.

The Iowa carries MK 13, 3cm bandwidth blind fire radar, capable of range determination. This was proven by the US cruisers at the battle of Kula Gulf, when Cleveland, Columbia, Montpelier and Denver, sank the IJN DDs Minegumo and Murasame without ever physically seeing either of the ships, they were sunk completey by gunnery radar.

Finally, shells and rate of fire...

Japan's 18.1 inch shells were of the Type 91 variety...if they hit, yes, they did huge amounts of damage. If they missed and fell short, they were designed to travel through the water and impact the side of the target, much like a torpedo. This feature however, impaired much of the ballistics of the projectile. As a result, at long ranges, the shot groupings would be less concentrated than the 16"/50cal US rounds. US rounds had superb ballistics.

The Iowa's rate of fire is also superior, but not by much. In a 5 minute engagement, Iowa could put up 77 rounds versus 68 for Yamato, this coming predominately from reload times.

It should be noted that firing cycle (minimum time between shots at a 'typical' battle range) is calculated at the base loading angle, which for most ships was between 2 and 5 degrees elevation. In a long-range duel, elevation of the gun to a firing angle of 30-40 degrees would account for an decreased rate of fire. Iowa's guns elevated at 12 degrees per second. Most elevated at around 6 degrees per second. The U.S. Naval Technical Mission to Japan issued a report on Japanese ordnance which states that Yamato's firing cycle was 1.5 rounds / minute (i.e. 40 seconds) at maximum elevation. Maximum elevation is 50 degrees, and loading is performed at 3 degrees. This means that the barrel must travel through a total of 47 degrees down, be loaded, and travel 47 degrees back up to maximum elevation, for a total of 94 degrees of travel. Her barrels elevated at 8 degrees per second, meaning that 11.75 seconds would be spent in transit, leaving a total of 28.25 seconds (40-11.75) for loading.

One also has to consider that the US effectively figured out how to improve the effectiveness of their gunfire at range. Face it...flat trajectory gunfire doesn't sink ships...plunging gunfire does...making holes from above. This is precisely why HMS Hood was trying to close range against Bismarck, because she was less susceptible to flat trajectory fire, and was highly susceptible to plunging fire at range.

The US Navy worked out the ballistics and range tables for firing the Iowa's 16"/50 weapons with reduced charges (three charges instead of four) which would still allow for great range (given the 50-caliber barrel), but would also require greater elevation for a given range, and thus provide greater striking power against deck armor. In other words, fire with less powder at a higher angle, and lob the shells into the deck, historically, the weakest part of the structure. We can't underestimate the effects of gravity!!!

At close ranges, these guns fire their shells at very flat trajectories, and shells coming in at flat trajectories tend to ricochet. It's very tough to get any sort of armor penetration at obliquities above 70-degrees. This means that flat trajectory weapons don't start getting effective deck penetration until they are much farther away and their shells start coming in at a decent fall angle. The end result is that guns that have poorer ballistics make up for it (to a certain extent) at longer ranges against deck armor because they must fire their guns at higher elevations for a given range, and therefore loft their shells higher, and consequently hit decks with the benefit of gravitic acceleration from a greater height.

So, in the end, Iowa sustains damage, most likely from lucky hits if the range is beyond 25,000 yards...but Yamato is pummeled, holed, her machinery spaces destroyed, fire control is wiped out, and is completely blind after the engagement, regardless of the range. Time of day or weather doesn't play a factor, because Iowa can see in the dark, rain, or fog thanks to her gunnery radar. Lastly, although Yamato is BIG, only her turret faces were designed to be inpenetrable to any naval gun at that time...not the rest of her. In fact, in most of her vital spaces, Yamato is only slightly better armored than Iowa.

If you really want the nuts and bolts of this discussion, along with the hard data I've provided, you need to get access to the following:

John Campbell, "Naval Weapons of World War Two", ISBN: 0870214594

Nathun Okun's Extensive Armor Penetration data: http://www.combinedfleet.com/gunarmor.htm

And the following articles written by Mr. Okun, who is an armor and ballisitics expert for the US Navy.

MAJOR HISTORICAL NAVAL ARMOR PENETRATION FORMULAE© by Nathan Okun
TABLE OF METALLURGICAL PROPERTIES OF NAVAL ARMOR AND CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS©
MISCELLANEOUS NAVAL-ARMOR-RELATED FORMULAE ©

Hope that answers any questions...I'll be more than happy to debate this topic further if anyone wants to!!

Best Regards,

Jeff Herne

  • Member since
    April 2004
Posted by boscotdg on Thursday, November 18, 2004 4:09 PM
Well after Jeff gives us all that very interesting data who can argue this question anymore? Ofcourse one could say using the chaos theory that if someone in the forward magazine of the Iowa got nervous and lit up a Lucky Strike during the battle that there may be a different outcome ! That said let us all remember if these two heavyweights had meet that alot of families in Japan and the U.S. may have ended up as gold star families.
  • Member since
    January 2003
Posted by Jeff Herne on Thursday, November 18, 2004 4:33 PM
Sorry, didn't mean to rain on the parade...

OK, neither wins...the ghost of Nelson assumes command of HMS Victory and sinks both of them.

Jeff
  • Member since
    April 2004
  • From: S.C. Beach
Posted by roowalker on Thursday, November 18, 2004 6:24 PM
Thank you,Jeff. I have an excellent article[got to
find it,however] USNI Proceedings,Spring,1953,
which did state that the USN was very glad that
Naval Air took care of these guys rather than a
surface engagement!! Somehow the idea of
plunging 18" rounds did not appeal to the "big
ship" guys of the time!!!
Roowalker
  • Member since
    January 2003
Posted by Jeff Herne on Friday, November 19, 2004 12:31 PM
Absolutely Roo,

But remember, in 1953, we didn't know about the major deficiencies in the Type 91 artillery. Basically, the Iowas win because of several factors...

At long range, Iowas gunnery is more accurate due to radar and excellent, predictable ballistics. Yamato's is less accurate, the bad ballistics, lack of gunnery radar, means she's lobbing very big shells but probably not hitting with anywhere near the accuracy of the Iowas. Advantage: Iowa

At medium range, accuracy improves if opticals are used, but the trajectory is considerably flatter, reducing the effectiveness of plunging fire. The damage could be significant if the Iowas is in fact struck by the Type 91 falling short and impacting the side the ship. Still, the USN uses reduced charges and increases the elevation, still getting the same high-arc trajectory in their rounds...advantage: Iowa.

At close range, it's anyone's guess...more than likely, Iowa wouldn't allow Yamato to get in close, because US radar is superior, and no admiral in his right mind is going to rush headlong into a fight with a heavyweight. Smart tactics, obviously, would be to maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. Since Iowas obviously has speed and maneuverability advantages, why risk putting yourself into a close quarters situation?

Let's say for arguments sake that Iowa's search radar is down, and we're close quarters, Savo or Surigao Strait. In a nighttime slugfest in 1943-45, it boils down to who get hit first and worst...obviously. Protection-wise, they're both about the same, with the exception of the turret faces. But...if fire control is wiped out, then we've got big guns...and we're blind. Advantage: None.

Maybe we should continue this with say...Bismarck versus SoDak or North Carolina? :-)

Jeff
  • Member since
    February 2004
  • From: New Jersey
Posted by martinjquinn on Friday, November 19, 2004 1:03 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by M rex

we have to remember that Japanese gunners were excellent, Remember Savo Island.


Remember that at Savo Island, the Japanese were shooting at point blank range. If anyone was shooting well that night, it was Astoria, who sqeezed off something like a dozen salvos - hitting Chokai and knocking out a turret - before being overwhelemed by the Japanese force.

Also, at the Battle of the Java Sea, the Japanese fired an extraordinary amount of ordinance, only to achieve a few hits (Exeter being one of them). I don't recall the exact ratio, but it was 1 hit for every 700 rounds fired, or something absurd like that (Granted, the ABDA force didn't fare much better). DeRuyter and Java were sunk by torpedoes, Exeter was hit by Haguro's gunfire and Houston and Perth escaped (for the moment) unharmed.

Then there is also the Battle of the Komadorski Islands, in which the Japanese shooting was circumspect. So, let's not crown them the sharpshooters of the Pacific because they shot up four sleeping Allied cruisers at Savo Island.
Martin
  • Member since
    April 2004
  • From: S.C. Beach
Posted by roowalker on Friday, November 19, 2004 5:07 PM
Jeff, I really didn't consider 18" ballistics, ie.,
dispersion of fire at long range ...I've now got
to agree that Iowa would probably prevail.
As far as Bismarck vs. North Carolina,I've
stood in the conning tower of North Carolina,
[just up the road in Wilmington] & tried to
visualize just such a scenario...
whats your take on this?
Roowalker
  • Member since
    February 2024
Posted by Greyghost714 on Wednesday, February 14, 2024 9:52 AM

I don't think Yamato would have completely blasted the Iowa out of the wate, not only was iowa much faster and more maneuverable but her guns were more accurate and had a higher muzzle velocity and could be loaded faster than Yamatos. it's worth noting that because Yamato relied on range finder's and radar inferior to iowas that she wasn't nearly as accurate in rougher seas and inclement weather condition, however despite what some people believe Yamato was extremely accurate having made a hit on escort carrier Uss White Plains at a range of 33,000 yards and 3 direct hits on the destroyer Uss johnston at 19,000 yards. So if Iowa and Yamato were to ever square up it would be pretty clos, coming down to the better crew, Yamato was accurate but Iowas accuracy was just a little better 

  • Member since
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  • From: Formerly Bryan, now Arlington, Texas
Posted by CapnMac82 on Wednesday, February 14, 2024 1:55 PM

All of this misses an important point. 

It's the same point that gets glossed over in Tiger versus Sherman debates.

Yamato would have never faced just one Iowa alone in a two-ship slug fest.  USN in the Pacific operated in Task Forces and Groups.  By late '43, IJN was not going to be able to support Yamato in a fleet action.  That, presuming some sort of convoluted situation where combat naval aviation was not available.

Against USS Washington in early '42, with Long Lance torpedoes beyond number lacing the waves?  No contest.  That's scores of ships facing hundreds.  A year later it's hundreds of ships facing thousands.

  • Member since
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  • From: Sonora Desert
Posted by stikpusher on Wednesday, February 14, 2024 3:41 PM

If only Halsey had formed and left Task Force 34 to guard San Bernadino Strait on the night of October 24/25. Six fast battleships and their escorts against the the Japanese Central Force. It could have been another Surigao Strait

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

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  • Member since
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  • From: Western North Carolina
Posted by Tojo72 on Wednesday, February 14, 2024 4:31 PM

CapnMac82

All of this misses an important point. 

It's the same point that gets glossed over in Tiger versus Sherman debates.

Yamato would have never faced just one Iowa alone in a two-ship slug fest.  USN in the Pacific operated in Task Forces and Groups.  By late '43, IJN was not going to be able to support Yamato in a fleet action.  That, presuming some sort of convoluted situation where combat naval aviation was not available.

Against USS Washington in early '42, with Long Lance torpedoes beyond number lacing the waves?  No contest.  That's scores of ships facing hundreds.  A year later it's hundreds of ships facing thousands.

 

True in real life scenarios,but the OP isn't talking real life,we're talking a one on one slugfest.

In real life,Yamato would be swarmed by hundreds of planes like she was.

  • Member since
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  • From: Sonora Desert
Posted by stikpusher on Wednesday, February 14, 2024 7:13 PM

Tojo72

True in real life scenarios,but the OP isn't talking real life,we're talking a one on one slugfest.

In real life,Yamato would be swarmed by hundreds of planes like she was.

 

Unless the fleet carriers were out of position/range, as happened on the morning of October 25 1944. 

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Thursday, February 15, 2024 6:39 AM

Hmmm!

     I have the tendency to cave toward the YAMATO in a night action, but would definitely give the Iowa class some credit here for sustainability. I do believe in an ultimate slugfest the Iowa would win, but at a heavy cost!

  • Member since
    March 2004
  • From: Spartanburg, SC
Posted by subfixer on Thursday, March 7, 2024 10:28 AM

Iowa; radar, enough to give her the edge.

I'm from the government and I'm here to help.

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