While looking for new anime to watch this past week I came across an old classic, Star Blazers. This anime originally aired in Japan as Space Battleship Yamato in 1974 in all its bell-bottomed, glory. The anime takes place in an apocalyptic future where humanity’s only hope lies in the WWII era battleship Yamato that has been equipped with alien technology to travel through space in the hopes of getting the special Cosmo DNA to clean Earth of its radiation. While the protagonists go through their weekly hijinks on their trek across the galaxy, the real star of the show is the battleship Yamato.
The Imperial Japanese Navy battleship Yamato was the heaviest and most armed battleship ever constructed, commissioned on December 16th 1941, just one week after the attack on Pearl Harbor. She had nine 46 cm (18.1 in) Type 94 main guns which were the largest guns ever put on a boat and displaced over 72,800 tonnes. However her sheer size required massive amounts of fuel to keep her moving and since fuel shortages were always an issue for the Japanese navy this hindered the deployment of the Yamato and her sister ship the Musashi. The only time the Yamato fired her guns was in the battle of Leyte Gulf. However, the Japanese fleet turned back thinking they were fighting the entire US Navy carrier group and not the light escort carrier group they were actually engaged with.
Towards the end of the war as the tide turned in favor of the Allied forces, the Yamato was sent on a one way mission towards Okinawa. There she was to beach herself, in essence turning the giant battleship into a fortress to stand as a bulwark against the expected allied invasion. The Yamato would not reach its destination because on April 7th, 1945 allied aircraft would engage the Yamato and her escorts. From the first attack at 12:37 to the explosion at 14:23, Yamato was hit by at least 11 torpedoes and six bombs from allied aircraft and sank.