SENKAN!

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(MUSASHI by Takeshi Yuki)

IJN Battleship MUSASHI:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2000-2014 Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp
Revision 17


March 1937:
Constructor Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral/C) Fukuda Keiji's design team completes the final design for a more than 69,000-ton displacement battleship mounting nine 460-mm/45 (18.1-inch) rifles in three triple turrets. Each turret will weigh more than most destroyers. Three other units of this class are planned.

29 March 1938:
Nagasaki. At 0955, Japan's second super-battleship (hull No. 800), provisionally designated "Warship No. 2", is laid down in Mitsubishi Nagasaki Yard. The first section of the keel structure placed on the slipway No. 2 that day is 71 feet (21.6 m) long.

1 November 1940:
Nagasaki. At 0855, a secret launching ceremony is held at Mitsubishi’s Yard led by Minister of the Navy, Admiral Oikawa Koshiro (31)(former CO of TAMA) and a few dozen top naval officals. The Chief of the Naval General Staff, Fleet Admiral Prince Hiroyasu Fushimi (former CO of IBUKI) [1], represents the Imperial family.

Warship No. 2 is named MUSASHI. For security reasons the former designation Warship No. 2 is used in official documents until the commissioning of the ship. She is launched from No. 2 slipway. As soon as she is in the water, new freighter KASUGA MARU (later escort carrier TAIYO) is towed alongside the battleship to block her silhouette from any foreign eyes. A combined force of 1,800 policemen, IJA Military Police (Kempeitai), and sailors of the Sasebo Sailor Corps patrol near the shipyard to ensure maximum secrecy during the launch. Following the launch the battleship is moored off Mukojima wharf for fitting-out.

29 December 1940:
Preliminary hull weighing conducted to determine the center of gravity.

26 May 1941:
The fitting of deck and side armor is completed.

1 July 1941:
At 0500, departs Nagasaki for Sasebo Navy Yard under tow of seven tugs, including the naval tug SHOHO MARU.

2 July 1941:
Arrives at Sasebo. Until 21 July dry-docked in No. 7 drydock where the main rudder and propellers are attached and the bottom painted.

1 August 1941:
Departs Sasebo for Nagasaki towed by fleet oiler SHIRETOKO.

2 August 1941:
Returns to Nagasaki. After 1000, moored at Mukojima wharf.

15 September 1941:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Arima Kaoru (42)(former CO of HIEI) is appointed the Chief Equipping Officer.

6 October 1941:
Nagasaki. IJN special ammunition ship KASHINO arrives from Kure, carrying the first batch of Type 94 46-cm guns and one turret. Once aboard, the turret and gun are covered with canvas to maintain secrecy. By 8 December, all main guns are installed.

18 April 1942: The First Bombing of Japan:
Halsey's Task Force 16.2's USS HORNET (CV-8), VINCENNES (CA-44), NASHVILLE (CL-43), oiler CIMARRON (AO-22) and destroyers GWIN (DD-433), MEREDITH (DD-434), GRAYSON (DD-435) and the MONSSEN (DD-436) accompanied by Task Force 16.1's ENTERPRISE (CV-6), SALT LAKE CITY (CA-25), NORTHAMPTON (CA-26), oiler SABINE (AO-25) and destroyers BALCH (DD-363), BENHAM (DD-397), ELLET (DD-398) and FANNING (DD-385) approach the Japanese home islands. The carriers and cruisers come to within 668 nautical miles of Japan.

Led by Lt Col (later General/Medal of Honor) James H. Doolittle, 16 Army B-25 "Mitchell" twin-engine bombers of the 17th Bomb Group take off from Captain (later Admiral) Marc A. Mitscher's carrier HORNET and strike targets in Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya and Kobe. At Yokosuka, a B-25 damages light carrier RYUHO in a drydock while undergoing conversion from former submarine depot ship TAIGEI.

Anticipating a follow-up raid, Capt Arima orders to form a skeleton crew of selected officers and some hundred sailors to man the AA guns in case of emergency. Starting from 20 April, all of them are permanently stationed aboard the ship.

7 May 1942:
The permanent crew is transferred to the ship.

20 May 1942: Transfer to Kure:
At 1505 departs Nagasaki for Kure, carrying a 1,700-strong crew plus 1,500 engineers and builders from the Mitsubishi yard. Anti-submarine escort is provided by AKATSUKI and HIBIKI of DesDiv 6. The floatplanes from Sasebo NAG provide air escort. The 25-mm triple mounts are test-fired en route.

21 May 1942:
Hyuga Nada. After midnight, minelayer TAKASHIMA and patrol boat PB-36 (ex-FUJI) join the force. Floatplanes from the Saeki NAG take over air cover for the remainder of the route.

At 1530, MUSASHI arrives off Urume Jima, Kure. She is moored off Kure Naval Arsenal.

26 May-9 June 1942:
Dry-docked in Kure No. 4 drydock. The additional staff facilities and the 28-mm coaming armor for the two secondary battery superfiring turrets are fitted. Prior to the start of the speed trials the bottom is cleaned and its red-lead paint coating renewed.

18-26 June 1942:
The first stage of acceptance and speed trials in Iyo Nada. On 22 June, MUSASHI achieves 28.5 kts in overload condition at 70,358 tons displacement on Sata Misaki mile. Returns to Kure after conducting the tests of the counterflooding system.

27 June-23 July 1942: First AA refit
Kure Navy Yard. Twelve unshielded 25-mm AA guns (4x3) are added to the weather deck forward and aft of the 15.5-cm wing turrets, two mounts on each side. MUSASHI's initial AA suite is twelve 127-mm guns (6x2), thirty-six 25-mm guns (12x3) and four 13.2-mm machine guns (2x2).

24 July 1942:
Departs Kure for the second stage of acceptance trials in Iyo Nada. Conducts calibration firing, during which guinea pigs are used to research the impact of the blast of the main guns.

30 July 1942:
Returns to Kure.

5 August 1942:
Completed and attached to Yokosuka Naval District. The commissioning ceremony is held at 0900.

Assigned to the Combined Fleet's BatDiv 1 with YAMATO, NAGATO and MUTSU. Captain Arima is the Commanding Officer.

10 August 1942:
Transferred to Hashirajima anchorage.

18 August 1942:
Departs Hashirajima for Heigun Island in Iyo Nada, conducting additional exercises in Inland Sea.

20 August 1942:
Returns to Hashirajima anchorage.

3 September 1942:
Departs Hashirajima for Kure for the final fitting-out. After the arrival a Type 21 Mod. 3 air-search radar is installed to the foretop rangefinder arms.

23 September 1942:
Kure. Constructor LtCdr Matsui Muneaki arrives aboard to research the possibility to use the Type 21 radar for surface fire-control purposes.

28 September 1942:
Departs Kure for Hashirajima, carrying out AA exercises en route.

29 September 1942:
Arrives at Hashirajima anchorage.

2 October 1942:
Departs Hashirajima for Heigun Island to conduct AA and maneuvering exercises, returning on the 7 October.

20 October 1942:
Departs Hashirajima for AA and maneuvering exercises, returning on the 22 October.

28 October 1942:
Participates in gunnery trials in Suo Nada Sea with NAGATO, ISE, HYUGA, FUSO and YAMASHIRO. During the trials the radar display is wrecked by gun blast.

1 November 1942:
Captain Arima is promoted to Rear Admiral. Departs Hashirajima for Kure, returning on the 3 November.

20 November 1942:
Departs Hashirajima for gunnery exercises in Inland Sea.

28 November 1942:
Conducts the second series of radar-controlled gunnery exercises in Suo Nada. While the bearing accuracy of the set installed on MUSASHI is found to be inferior, the tests are continued aboard YAMATO.

29 November 1942:
Arrives at Murozumi Bight, Inland Sea.

1 December 1942:
Departs Murozumi Bight for Tokuyama Bay to refuel.

3 December 1942:
Returns to Hashirajima anchorage.Makes several short trips between Hashirajima and Kure, conducting refueling and AA exercises en route.

18 January 1943:
Departs Kure for Truk, joining carriers ZUIKAKU and ZUIHO, light cruiser JINTSU, and destroyers AKIGUMO, KAZAGUMO, MAKIGUMO and YUGUMO soon after departure. MUSASHI is carrying over a hundred midshipmen.

22 January 1943:
Arrives at Truk.

11 February 1943:
Truk. Relieves her sister-ship, YAMATO, as flagship of Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku's (former CO of AKAGI) Combined Fleet.

1 April 1943: Operation "I-GO" - The Reinforcement of Rabaul:
Yamamoto orders aircraft from CarDiv 1's ZUIKAKU and ZUIHO to reinforce the 11th Air Fleet's base at Rabaul and aircraft from CarDiv 2's HIYO and JUNYO to reinforce the base at Ballale Island, near Buin.

3 April 1943:
Yamamoto and his staff depart Truk for Rabaul on two Kawanishi H8K Emily flying boats to supervise Operation I-GO from 7 to 14 April. They are expected to return to MUSASHI on 19 April.

18 April 1943:
Acting on "Ultra" codebreaker's deciphers and authorized by President Roosevelt, 18 Army Air Force P-38s take off from Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, intercept and kill Admiral Yamamoto over Bougainville while his Mitsubishi GM4 Betty bomber is enroute from Rabaul to the IJN air base on Ballale. A second Betty carrying Yamamoto's Chief of Staff, Vice Admiral Ugaki Matome (former CO of HYUGA) is also shot down, but Ugaki survives.

23 April 1943:
In the evening, a flying boat arrives carrying the ashes of Yamamoto and six of his staff officers. Yamamoto's ashes are secretly transferred to the Admiral's sea cabin under the supervision of senior staff officer Captain Kuroshima Kameto.

25 April 1943:
Truk. At 1500, Admiral (Fleet Admiral, posthumously) Koga Mineichi (former CO of ISE) arrives on an Emily from Yokosuka, ostensibly for an inspection tour. It is not made public until May that Koga, the former CINC of the little China Area Fleet, is the new CINC of the Combined Fleet.

11 May 1943: American Operation "Landcrab"- The Invasion of Attu, Aleutians:
Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Thomas C. Kinkaid's (former CO of INDIANAPOLIS, CA-35) Task Force 16, covered by Rear Admiral Francis W. Rockwell's (former CO of THATCHER (DD-162) Task Force 51, lands the Army's 7th Division that captures Attu Island.

17 May 1943:
Admiral Koga sorties from Truk for Yokosuka in response to the Attu invasion with BatDiv 1's MUSASHI, Bat Div 3's KONGO and HARUNA, CarDiv 2's HIYO, CruDiv 8's TONE, CHIKUMA and DesDiv 24's UMIKAZE and DesDiv 27's ARIAKE and SHIGURE, DesDiv 61's HATSUZUKI and SUZUTSUKI. MUSASHI also carries Admiral Yamamoto's ashes to Tokyo for a state funeral.

20 May 1943:
Alerted by "Ultras", USS SAWFISH (SS-276) picks up MUSASHI task force on radar but the submarine is unable to attack.

22 May 1943:
USS TRIGGER (SS-237) sights the task force off Tokyo Bay, but the submarine is unable to attack. The task force arrives safely. MUSASHI drops anchor at the Kisarazu Bight. That evening, a Buddhist ceremony is held aboard. Yamamoto's ashes are sent ashore the next day aboard destroyer YUGUMO.

Carriers ZUIKAKU, SHOKAKU and ZUIHO and light cruisers AGANO and OYODO join the task force at Yokosuka -Tokyo Bay. CruDiv 7's KUMANO, MOGAMI and SUZUYA also arrives from Tokuyama. Before this powerful force can depart for a counterattack against the Aleutians, Attu falls to U.S. forces.

9 June 1943:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Komura Keizo (45)(former CO of FUSO) is appointed CO.

23 June 1943:
Returns to Yokosuka for overhaul and overpainting (ostensibly preparing for an inspection tour by Yokosuka Navy Yard officials).

24 June 1943:Imperial Visit ("Gyoko"):
Yokosuka. Between 1103 and 1425, MUSASHI is visited by the Emperor and other officials. It is a top-secret event, nevertheless the Imperial flag is hoisted.

Admiral Koga hosts Hirohito and his brother (Navy Captain) Prince Takamatsu Nobuhito, Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal Marquis Kido Koichi, Navy minister Admiral Shimada Shigetaro, Chief of the Naval General Staff Admiral Nagano Osami, Commander of the Yokosuka Naval Base Admiral Toyoda Soemu, Commander of the Navy Technical Department (Kampon) Vice Admiral Sugiyama Toshisuke, IJN Air Force Chief of Staff Admiral Tsukahara Nishizo, Minister of the Interior Matsudaira Tsuneo, Hirohito's Chief Aide-de-Camp Hasunuma Shigeru and Imperial Chamberlain, Admiral Hyakutake Saburo.

A festive dinner is enjoyed. Later, the Emperor visits the crew’s quarters and an AA defense station on the upper bridge. Most probably, the Emperor uses MUSASHI’s elevator to reach it.

25 June 1943:
Departs Yokosuka for Kure. Minelayers YURIJIMA and NUWAJIMA, auxiliary patrol boats NISUI, HOKUTO and KOSHUN MARUs and auxiliary netlayer TAISHU MARU conduct an advance sweep of her intended route.

27 June 1943:
Arrives at Kure.

1 July 1943:
Enters No. 4 drydock at Kure. The hull bottom is cleaned and repainted. All portholes located within 16 ft (5 meters) from the waterline are blanked off.

8 July 1943:
Undocked.

14 July 1943:
Departs Kure for trials, returns to Hashirajima that evening.

30 July 1943:
Departs Kure for Yokosuka, stops at Nagahama Bight overnight.

31 July 1943:
Departs Yokosuka with DesDiv 10.

5 August 1943:
Arrives at Truk.

18 September 1943:
Truk. The fleet sorties to Brown Island, Eniwetok in response to raids on Tarawa, Makin and Abemama Atolls by Rear Admiral Charles A. Pownall's Task Force 15. Flagship MUSASHI remains at Truk with BatDiv 2's FUSO and BatDiv 3's KONGO and HARUNA.

25 September 1943:
The fleet returns to Truk.

5-6 November 1943:
Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Alfred E. Montgomery's (former CO of RANGER, CV-4) Task Force 14 carriers: USS ESSEX (CV-9), YORKTOWN (CV-10), LEXINGTON (CV-16), INDEPENDENCE (CV-22), BELLEAU WOOD (CVL-24) and COWPENS (CVL-25) launch raids on Wake and the Marshall Islands.

17 October 1943:
The Japanese intercept radio traffic that suggests the Americans are planning another raid on Wake Island. Admiral Koga sorties from Truk to intercept the enemy carriers with BatDiv 1's YAMATO, MUSASHI, NAGATO, BatDiv 2's FUSO, BatDiv 3's KONGO, HARUNA, CarDiv 1's SHOKAKU, ZUIKAKU, ZUIHO, CruDiv 4's ATAGO, TAKAO, MAYA, CHOKAI, CruDiv 7's SUZUYA, MOGAMI, CruDiv 8's CHIKUMA, TONE and light cruisers AGANO, NOSHIRO, OYODO and destroyers.

19 October 1943:
Arrives at Brown Atoll, Eniwetok.

23 October 1943:
Departs Brown and sorties to a position 250 miles S of Wake. Returns after no contact is made with enemy forces.

26 October 1943:
The fleet arrives back at Truk.

1 November 1943:
Captain Komura is promoted to Rear Admiral.

5 December 1943:
The USN Fleet Radio Unit, Melbourne, Australia (FRUMEL) intercepts and decodes a message in JN20 to the 902 Air Group dated 050600 that reads "Owing to heavy rain am unable to return to base. Am waiting at Kinyo Island for weather to improve. No 1 aircraft FUSO and No 2 aircaft MUSASHI.” (FRUMEL comment: Kinyo Island, or Friday Island, is in the Truk Group which suggests these battleships are at Truk.)

6 December 1943:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Asakura Bunji (44)(former CO of TAKAO) is appointed CO.

4 February 1944:
Two Consolidated PB4Y-1 "Privateer" photo-reconnaissance planes from VMD-254 at Bougainville overfly the Truk fleet anchorage. A Mitsubishi F1M2 "Pete" floatplane from MUSASHI attempts to intercept them at the altitude of 23,000 ft, but fails to overtake the faster-flying opponents. [2]

10 February 1944:
Departs Truk for Yokosuka in company of light cruiser OYODO and destroyers HATSUHARU, MICHISHIO, SHIRATSUYU and TAMANAMI. MUSASHI, with Admiral (later Fleet Admiral, posthumously) Koga Mineichi (34) embarked, is the last IJN battleship leaving Truk.

15 February 1944:
At 1225, arrives at Yokosuka. That evening MUSASHI commences embarkation of ammunition, provisions and fuel for the garrison of Palau. No less than 40 Isuzu and Nissan trucks are embarked on the afterdeck. The transfer of cargo continues until 24 February.

22 February 1944:
Yokosuka. MUSASHI embarks the 300-strong IJN 87th AA Defense Unit, a 100-strong Army unit and other personnel, including some IJN staff officers destined for re-assignment to Palau.

At 1000 departs Yokosuka for Palau with FUJINAMI, MICHISHIO and SHIRATSUYU. Off Hachijo-jima, the group encounters a typhoon and has to reduce speed from 18 to 6 knots after some sailors from SHIRATSUYU are washed overboard. The destroyer is briefly detached to search for the missing. [3]

25 February 1944:
BatDiv 1's YAMATO and MUSASHI are reassigned from the First Fleet to the Second Fleet.

29 February 1944:
At 1807, arrives at Koror anchorage, Palau, where her cargo, including of 3,800 mines, is unloaded. Remains there for one month.

11 March 1944:
Palau. MUSASHI receives fresh provisions replenishment from supply ship KITAKAMI MARU.

28 March 1944:
Palau. At 1430, the Combined Fleet's flag is "temporarily" moved ashore, as a result of anticipated air raids. Admiral Koga initially intends to return to MUSASHI once the attacks are over, but later decides to move his headquarters by plane to Davao in the Philippines.

29 March 1944:
At 1530, MUSASHI departs Palau to avoid an anticipated air raid and moves towards the north of the island. She sails in company of cruisers ATAGO, CHOKAI and TAKAO, escorted by destroyers FUJINAMI, HARUSAME, MICHISHIO and SHIRATSUYU. DesDiv 17's HAMAKAZE, ISOKAZE, TANIKAZE and URAKAZE await the force at the entrance to the channel. At 1744, she clears the western channel when she is hit in the port bow about 20 feet below the waterline by one of six torpedoes fired by LtCdr John A. Scott's USS TUNNY (SS-282). The torpedo punches a hole about 19 feet in diameter in her bow. The forward windlass room and the Type O hydrophone compartment flood. There are 18 casualties including seven hydrophone operators killed in the bow. MUSASHI ships 3,000-tons of water, but is able to clear the area, making 24 knots.

DesDiv 17's URAKAZE, ISOKAZE counterattack TUNNY dropping 38 DCs, but their efforts are unsuccessful. Anticipating another air raid, Koga's staff forbids her to return to Palau after being hit. As soon as the damaged sections are shored up, MUSASHI departs that night for Kure with DesDiv 4's MICHISHIO, DesDiv 27's SHIRATSUYU and DesDiv 32's FUJINAMI.

31 March 1944:
At 2200, Admiral Koga departs Palau by a Kawanishi Type 2 H8K2 Emily flying-boat of the 851st Naval Air Group to establish a new headquarters at Davao, the Philippines. His Chief of Staff, Vice Admiral Fukudome Shigeru (former CO of NAGATO) also departs at the same time on board another Emily of the 802nd NAG. Both planes are lost in a typhoon off Cebu, the Philippines. Koga perishes, but Fukudome is later rescued by the IJA.

2 April 1944:
At 0600, USN codebreakers intercept and decrypt a message that reads: “Musashi BB was torpedoed on the 29th, hit at frame No. 12 to frames No. 40. Central shafts ----- cannot use ----- not clear, otherwise no damage. Request arrangements be made for immediate inspection and repair upon entering port.”

3 April 1944:
At 0934, arrives at Kure. That evening, the bodies of the seven sailors KIA are extracted from the flooded hydrophone compartment.

10 April 1944:
Enters Kure drydock No. 4 where repairs are made to the hull. The 6.1-inch wing turrets are replaced by three triple 25-mm AA mounts on each side. Sixteen 25-mm triple mounts and 25 single mounts are added, increasing the number of their directors to fourteen. Two 150-cm searchlights (Nos. 7 and 8) and their directors are removed to make room for new 25-mm AA mounts and their directors. The searchlights are later reinstalled for use by Sasebo's AA batteries.

MUSASHI's resulting AA suite is one hundred and fifteen 25-mm AA guns (30x3, 25x1). Two Type 22 surface-search and two Type 13 air-search radars are installed.

22 April 1944:
Undocked.

27 April 1944:
Commences working-up and radar tests in western Inland Sea.

1 May 1944:
Captain Asakura is promoted Rear Admiral. MUSASHI departs Kure for Saeki, carrying supplies destined for the garrison of Okinawa. Conducts anti-submarine and AA exercises en route.

11 May 1944:
Departs Saeki for Okinawa. MUSASHI joins CarDiv 2’s HIYO, JUNYO and RYUHO and CarDiv 3’s ZUIHO, CHIYODA, CHITOSE and destroyers AKISHIMO, MICHISHIO, SHIGURE and TAMANAMI and heads for Okinawa.

12 May 1944:
Arrives at Nakagusuku Bay, Okinawa. Unloads her cargo. Departs for the Mobile Fleet's operating base at Tawitawi.

16 May 1944:
Arrives at the Tawitawi anchorage, Sulu Sea.

16 May-10 June 1944:
Tawitawi. In Vice Admiral Ozawa Jisaburo's (former CO of HARUNA) Mobile Fleet with Vice Admiral Ugaki Matome's (former CO of HYUGA) BatDiv 1's YAMATO and MUSASHI. MUSASHI and YAMATO participate in joint gunnery drills at ranges of almost 22 miles.

10 June 1944: Operation "KON" - The Relief of Biak:
At 1600, departs Tawitawi for Batjan Batjan, Halmahera Island with YAMATO, DesRon 2's light cruiser NOSHIRO and destroyers ASAGUMO, OKINAMI and SHIMAKAZE. Cdr(MOH, posthumously) Samuel D. Dealey (USNA '30) in USS HARDER (SS-257), on station nearby, reports the KON Force leaving Tawitawi.

OKINAMI, steaming off the port beam of MUSASHI, spots USS HARDER's periscope and attacks her with depth charges, dodging the three torpedoes launched at her. According to one eyewitness account, MUSASHI fires one or two 12.7-cm rounds at HARDER's periscope before she can dive.

11 June 1944:
After 2000, the KON Force changes course to the south. As a result of a submarine scare and the subsequent maneuvering, MUSASHI nearly rams YAMATO.

12 June 1944:
The U.S. Invasion of Marianas begins. Operation KON is "postponed".Ugaki's force arrives at Batjan where they are joined by CruDiv 5's HAGURO and MYOKO and destroyer ASAGUMO. While refueling, MUSASHI is grazed by the fleet oiler GENYO MARU. Two portside 25-mm AA mounts are wrecked.

13 June 1944:
At 2200, Ugaki's force departs Batjan to rendezvous with the Mobile Fleet.

14 June 1944:
N of Halmahera. While returning from an anti-submarine patrol, a Mitsubishi F1M2 "Pete" capsizes in rough seas, but the crew is rescued.

15 June 1944:
Ugaki's force is reported east of Mindanao by Cdr (later Captain) Slade D. Cutter's (USNA '35) USS SEAHORSE (SS-304).

16 June 1944:
Joins the the Mobile Fleet. At 2000 hours, USS CAVALLA (SS-244) sights the Mobile Fleet in the Philippine Sea.

19 June 1944: Operation "A-GO" - The Battle of the Philippine Sea:
Vice Admiral Kurita's Second Fleet steams about 100 miles ahead of Vice Admiral Ozawa's carriers. At 0820, YAMATO's lookouts spot aircraft approaching at 13,125 feet. This is the fighter unit of Air Group 601's second strike, but Kurita has not received any information about a friendly overflight. Cruiser TAKAO fires four starshells that mean "identify yourself". No reply is given and the planes keep approaching.

When the planes are nine miles distant, YAMATO and the other ships execute a turn to port and open fire. Four ZEKEs are damaged, another ditches. MUSASHI is one of the few ships whose lookouts correctly identify the overflying planes in time.

The Mobile Fleet's aircraft attack U.S. carrier Task Force 58 but suffer overwhelming aircraft losses in the "Great Mariana's Turkey Shoot".

20 June 1944:
Provides AA fire support for the retreating carrier ZUIHO. After 1728 fires several main gun salvoes at a formation of twenty attacking Curtiss SB2C "Helldivers" from her aft turret, claiming two dive-bombers. During the same engagement MUSASHI's 25-mm AA gunners mistakenly shoot down one of the Mitsubishi A6M5 "Zero" fighters.

21 June 1944:
At 0550, opens fire at two airplanes identified as enemy shadowers.

24 June 1944:
At 1301, arrives at Nakagusuku Bay, Okinawa to refuel the destroyer escort, then departs for Japan the following day.

24 June 1944:
At 2023, arrives at Hashirajima.

29 June 1944:
At 0700, departs Hashirajima for Kure in company of YAMATO, arriving on that same day.

2 July 1944:
Kure. Embarks armament, ammunition and provision. Starting from 7 July, 2,200 men of the IJA's 49th Division's 106th Infantry Regiment are likewise embarked.

Five additional 25-mm triple AA mounts are installed for a total of one hundred and thirty guns (35x3, 25x1). Type 22 surface-search radars are replaced by Type 22 Mod. 4 with a limited fire-control capability.

8 July 1944:
Kure. MUSASHI and YAMATO load 3,522 men and materials of the IJA's 49th Division's 106th Infantry Regiment. At 0845, departs Kure for Okinawa with Group A's YAMATO, CruDiv 4's ATAGO, TAKAO, MAYA and CHOKAI, CruDiv 7's KUMANO, SUZUYA, TONE and CHIKUMA, DesRon 2's light cruiser NOSHIRO and destroyers. At 1030, Group B's KONGO, NAGATO, CruDiv 7's MOGAMI, DesRon 10's light cruiser YAHAGI and destroyers depart.

At 1830, the squadron anchors in Usuki Bay, Kyushu, awaiting the arrival of Force B.

9 July 1944:
At 0400, both groups depart Usuki Bay, heading SW.

10 July 1944:
Both groups arrive at Nakagusuku Bay. MUSASHI refuels four destroyers. At 2100, Group A departs Nakagusuku Bay for Lingga (near Singapore).

16 July 1944:
MUSASHI and YAMATO are detached from Group A and proceed directly to Lingga, escorted by SAMIDARE, SHIGURE and SHIMAKAZE.

At 1610, MUSASHI arrives at Lingga, commencing the transfer of her passengers and cargo to the 5,289-ton merchant cargo ship ZUISHO MARU. The works continue until 1700 on 18 July.

17 July 1944:
Arrives at Lingga (near Singapore) to join the Mobile Fleet.

12 August 1944:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Inoguchi Toshihira (44)(former CO of TAKAO) is appointed CO.

September 1944:
Captain Inoguchi orders paint from the Singapore Naval Arsenal. The paint furnished is possibly from former Royal Navy stocks. Within a day, MUSASHI's sides receive a new, dark coat.

1 September 1944:
Lingga anchorage. MUSASHI receives fresh provisions replenishment from supply ship KITAKAMI MARU.

15 September 1944:
Lingga anchorage. MUSASHI receives fresh provisions replenishment from KITAKAMI MARU.

24 September 1944:
Lingga anchorage. MUSASHI receives fresh provisions replenishment from KITAKAMI MARU.

1 October 1944:
MUSASHI, YAMATO and NAGATO are transferred to Galang (No. 3) anchorage N of Lingga. While entering the anchorage, MUSASHI grazes an unmarked sandbar and her pit sword gets clogged, disabling the pitometer log temporarily. During the next few days NAGATO ferries the sailors from the two larger battlewagons to Singapore where they enjoy shore liberty.

6 October:
Lingga anchorage. MUSASHI receives fresh provisions replenishment from KITAKAMI MARU.

15 October 1944:
Captain Inoguchi is promoted to Rear Admiral. BatDiv 1 returns to Lingga anchorage.

18 October 1944:
Black deck camouflage intended for the night breakthrough in the San Bernardino Strait is hastily applied to both MUSASHI and YAMATO.

18-20 October 1944:
Departs Lingga for Brunei Bay, Borneo.

Operation "SHO-I-GO" (Victory) - The Battle of Leyte Gulf:
Sorties from Brunei towards the Philippines with Vice Admiral Kurita Takeo's (former CO of KONGO) First Mobile Striking Force, Force "A" (Center Force): BatDiv 1's YAMATO, MUSASHI, NAGATO, CruDivs 4, 5, DesRon 2.

23 October 1944: The Battle of the Palawan Passage:
Two American submarines attack Force A. At 0534, LtCdr (later Captain) David H. McClintock's USS DARTER (SS-227) sinks Kurita's flagship, cruiser ATAGO. He abandons ship and is picked from the water by destroyer KISHINAMI. At 1550, ten hours later, Kurita transfers to YAMATO and resumes command of the First Diversion Attack Force. DARTER also damages cruiser TAKAO.

LtCdr (later Captain) Bladen D. Claggett's USS DACE (SS-247) sinks cruiser MAYA. MAYA's surviving crewmen are picked up by destroyer AKISHIMO and transferred to MUSASHI that afternoon. A total of 796 MAYA survivors are transferred to MUSASHI.

24 October 1944: The Battle of the Sibuyan Sea:
MUSASHI is trimmed slightly down by the stern.

0743: the Center Force assumes the AA cruising formation, divided into two concentric rings (Y-25). MUSASHI is stationed on the starboard side of the leading No. 1 Unit.

0810: Lookouts on MUSASHI report sighting three Consolidated PB4Y patrol bombers. The air alarm is sounded. A search plane from USS INTREPID (CV-11) is sighted. For the next hour, MUSASHI attempts unsuccessfully to jam the plane's radio reports.

1018: Lookouts sight over 40 enemy carrier planes on bearing 110.

1025: MUSASHI opens fire.

1027: MUSASHI, making 24 knots, is attacked by eight Curtiss SB2C "Helldivers" from INTREPID. Four near-misses around the bow cause minor leaks below the waterline. One 500-lb bomb hits turret No. 1 but fails to penetrate its roof armor.

1029: MUSASHI is attacked by three of INTREPID's Grumman TBF "Avengers". One torpedo hits starboard amidships slightly abaft the bridge and causes a 5. 5-degree list to starboard. She takes on 3,000-tons of water. After counterflooding, the list is reduced to one degree. A torpedo also hits cruiser MYOKO. Two "Avengers" are shot down. An Avenger from USS CABOT (CVL-28) fails to score because of the heavy flak.

The blast from the torpedo jams MUSASHI's supposedly shockproof main armament director. This loss affects Rear Admiral Inoguchi's whole plan for MUSASHI's AA defense. Prior to the battle, Inoguchi, known as the best gunnery theorist in the IJN, designs an elaborate AA scheme based on prolific use of "sanshikidan". The fact that the main director is knocked out so easily depresses him so much that he mentions it in his last letter to Admiral Toyoda, CINC, Combined Fleet.

During this attack, MUSASHI fires forty-eight 155-mm 6.1-inch) and one hundred sixty 127-mm (5-inch) rounds at the American planes.

1047: Lookouts from MUSASHI, YAMATO, cruisers CHOKAI, NOSHIRO and destroyer KISHINAMI report periscope and torpedo wake sightings from that time on.

1154: MUSASHI's Type 13 air-search radar detects approaching enemy planes on bearing 290, range 81 kilometers.

1157: Another contact is made with aircraft bearing 210, range 80 kilometers.

1203: Enemy planes are sighted. A second attack by eight Helldivers from INTREPID scores two bomb hits and five near-misses. A dud penetrates two upper decks, demolishes the crew's head and exits above the waterline. A second bomb strikes portside ahead of 127-mm AA gun No. 4, penetrates two upper decks and explodes on the middle deck in crew space No. 10. Fragments rupture a steam pipe in engine room No. 2 directly below. This engine room and the adjacent boiler room No. 10 fill quickly with superheated steam and are abandoned. The damage results in the loss of the port inboard shaft. MUSASHI's speed falls off to 22 knots. Two Helldivers are shot down.

1206: Nine TBM Avengers launch another "hammer and anvil" attack. One TBM is hit by flak and turns away. The eight remaining torpedo planes score three hits to MUSASHI's portside amidships areas that cause a 5-degree list. The first torpedo hits abreast the main gun turret No. 1. The second floods hydraulic machinery compartment No. 2 and the third torpedo floods engine room No. 4. Nearby compartments are shored up and the main guns switch over to reserve hydraulic pumps. After immediate counter-flooding, the list is reduced to one degree port, but MUSASHI is down about 6 feet by the bow. Her three remaining three propellers are throttled up for a maximum speed of 22 knots to keep pace with the rest of the fleet.

During this attack, MUSASHI switches over to her second main armament director. She fires nine 460-mm Type 3 shells, seventeen 155-mm and over two hundred 25-mm rounds. After the first main gun salvo, a bomb fragment penetrates the muzzle of the middle 460-mm gun of turret No. 1 and detonates a Type 3 shell that has just been loaded. The resulting explosion disables the turret's elevating machinery, rendering it inoperable. After this turret is disabled, the remaining two turrets fire 45 sanshikidan for a total of 54 fired in the attack.

1312: Kurita orders fleet speed reduced to 22 knots so that MUSASHI can keep up.

1331: MUSASHI undergoes a third attack, this time by 29 aircraft from USS ESSEX (CV-9) and USS LEXINGTON (CV-16). MUSASHI is strafed by two F6F "Hellcats". Then four SB2C Helldivers score two near hits starboard amidships and abreast the aft main gun turret No. 3 that cause casualties among the nearby AA gun crews.

Six TBM Avengers launch three more hammer and anvil attacks. They score four torpedo hits. The first torpedo hits starboard forward of the main gun turret No. 1. The blast from it penetrates fuel tanks, watertight compartments and wrecks the log and sounding rooms. A temporary hospital at the bow fills with carbon monoxide. There are many casualties.

Next, three flights of Helldivers score four bomb hits port side near main gun turret No. 1. Another torpedo hits the starboard bow area and floods storerooms and causes a further list to starboard. The third torpedo hits portside forward of the main gun turret No. 1 and the fourth hits port amidships.

1350: The third attack is over. Counter-flooding reduces the heavy list to starboard to one degree. The ship is now down 13 feet by the bow with almost all trim tanks and voids filled. MUSASHI's speed drops to 20 knots and she starts to lag behind the First Section of Force A. During this attack, MUSASHI fires thirty-five 460-mm Type 3 shells, seventy-nine 155-mm and over five hundred 25-mm AA rounds.

1412: The fourth attack by eight Hellcats and 12 Helldivers from ESSEX is directed against YAMATO and NAGATO. MUSASHI continues to steam behind her section. Rear Admiral Inoguchi reports to Admiral Kurita that, despite the damage to his ship, he is able to make 20 knots.

1445: Captain Mayuzumi Haruo, skipper of cruiser TONE, suggests that the entire Second Section of the First Striking Force provide fire support for MUSASHI to defend her against further torpedo attacks.

1455: Sixty-nine aircraft from USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6) and FRANKLIN (CV-13) begin the fifth attack of the day on Kurita's fleet. Pilots from ENTERPRISE report MUSASHI lagging behind the other ships, trailing oil and making but eight knots. MUSASHI hoists the signal 'Enemy aircraft sighted'.

1515: Nine of ENTERPRISE's SB2C Helldivers score four 1,000-lb AP bomb hits. The first three strike in the port bow area and cause damage below decks. The entire forward damage control team is annihilated. The fourth bomb wrecks the Chief Steward's office.

Eight Avengers launch a hammer and anvil attack and score three torpedo hits. The first two torpedoes hit the bow from both sides. The third hits starboard abreast the funnel, near the where the first attack's torpedo hit. Cooling machinery room No. 3 and starboard hydraulic machinery compartment flood. Leaks start in Damage Control Central that are shored up. The departing American pilots report MUSASHI smoking, heavily down by the bow and dead in the water.

MUSASHI is, in fact, down by the bow, but is making 16 knots on three shafts. After counter-flooding, her starboard list is reduced to 1-2 degrees, but her speed falls off to 13 knots.

Seventy-five aircraft from INTREPID (34), FRANKLIN (30) and CABOT (11) make the day's sixth attack on the fleet replacing the departing ENTERPRISE's planes. Thirty-seven planes attack MUSASHI.

1525: Three of FRANKLIN's Helldivers claim two 500-lb AP bomb hits. Nine of her Avengers attack next. Two are shot down.

1530: Seven of INTREPID's Helldivers attack, followed by two of her Avengers. A 500-lb AP bomb penetrates the right wing of the air defense station and detonates on the first bridge. Both the bridge and the adjacent operations room are set afire. Fifty-two crewmen are killed and 20 wounded, including MUSASHI's skipper, Admiral Inoguchi. After the fire is extinguished, Inoguchi assumes command from the second bridge.

Three bombs detonate in a row portside on the forecastle deck, abreast the forward main gun turrets. They knock out two single and one triple 25-mm AA gun mounts, the main communications room, telegraph room No. 1 and the telephone room. The blast penetrates boiler rooms Nos. 4 and 8.

The next two bombs explode on the forecastle deck starboard, abreast the superstructure. They wreck two single and one triple 25-mm AA mounts. The seventh bomb hits the middle AA gun crew shelter, causing extensive damage on the flag deck. The eight bomb explodes portside in crew's space No. 5 and demolishes the nearby hospital. The ninth bomb strikes the forward main gun turret No. 1. Finally, the tenth bomb explodes starboard in the officer's wardroom.

Three torpedoes strike to port and two strike to starboard almost simultaneously, causing extensive damage and flooding in starboard area. The first of these torpedoes hits port (near a previous hit from the second attack) abreast the main gun turret No. 1, flooding its lower powder handling room. The second torpedo slowly floods port boiler room No. 8 and soon thereafter the adjacent No. 12 abaft. Almost simultaneously, a bomb explodes over boiler room No. 8 and its blast penetrates that boiler room.

The next four torpedoes strike port, further flooding boiler room No. 8 and the aft 25-mm gun magazine. Three of those four torpedoes strike port amidships in the vicinity of engine room No. 4. A 30-foot long section of the ship's side is gouged out. The engine room floods causing MUSASHI to lose her other portside shaft. Her speed drops to six knots.

The last two torpedoes strike port aft, flooding the 127-mm AA gun No. 6's magazine, the after gyro room and the port outboard shaft's tunnel. One of those two hits under the aft 155-mm. turret. MUSASHI develops a 10 degree list to port. The crew counter-floods again and reduces the list to six degrees. MUSASHI's main steering engine is shorted out temporarily and her main rudder jams 15 degrees left. She starts to swing to port, but the damage is repaired quickly and she resumes course. Another Avenger is shot down and three others damaged, as are three Helldivers.

In all, Force A endures raids by 259 U.S. carrier aircraft during the day. MUSASHI sustains a total of 19 torpedo (10 port, 9 starboard) and 17 bomb hits, as well as 18 near misses. [4]

1530: Vice Admiral Kurita orders the fleet to assume course 290.

1621: Kurita's force again approaches MUSASHI. She is heading north with a 10-degree list to port, down by the bow more than 26 feet, with her forecastle deck awash. Kurita dispatches cruiser TONE and destroyers SHIMAKAZE and KIYOSHIMO to escort her.

All free hands and the wounded are assembled topside starboard to counter the list. The port main anchor is dropped into the sea. Rice and other consumables from the storerooms, as well as timber used in damage control operations, are loaded on the starboard side. In a last attempt to reduce the list, the crew's spaces starboard aft, some boiler rooms and starboard outboard engine room No. 3 are flooded using the Kingston valves. As a result, MUSASHI loses another shaft. Admiral Inoguchi attempts to beach MUSASHI, but her engines stop before he can do so.

1915: When the list reaches 12 degrees, Inoguchi gives the order to "standby to abandon ship". The Executive Officer, Captain Kato Kenkichi (former XO of CHOKAI), assembles the crew on the afterdeck. The battle flag is lowered. Admiral Inoguchi retires to his cabin and is not seen again.

1930: After her list reaches 30 degrees to port, MUSASHI slowly starts to turn over. Captain Kato gives the order to abandon ship. He orders the Emperor's portrait removed. SHIMAKAZE removes 635 of 796 of MAYA's survivors taken aboard MUSASHI earlier.

At 1936, MUSASHI capsizes to port and sinks by the bow in 4,430 feet of water in the Visayan Sea at 13-07N, 122-32E. Two underwater explosions are heard.

Destroyers KIYOSHIMO, ISOKAZE and HAMAKAZE rescue 1,376 survivors including XO Captain Kato, but 1,023 of her 2,399 man crew are lost including her skipper, Rear Admiral Inoguchi who is promoted Vice Admiral, posthumously.

The Americans lose 18 planes shot down.

25 October 1944:
At 0230, USN codebreakers intercept and decrypt a message that reads: ”Completed Musashi – BB rescue operations at 0215 on the 25th. Following numbers of personnel rescued: Hamakaze: Executive officer and 800 men (of which 30 were officers). Isokaze: 30 officers and 410 men. Escorts arrive Coron at 1730.” [5]

MUSASHI's survivors are taken to Corregidor Island at the entrance to Manila Bay because their arrival at Manila would have acknowledged MUSASHI's loss. They are given the designation "Kato Regiment" after the name of their surviving second in command, Captain Kato.

Later, most are then sent home, about 200 on carrier JUNYO and some on YAMATO. When they reach Japan these survivors are sent to the Kurihama Paratroop Regiment barracks at Kure.

On 23 Nov ’44, 420 survivors are embarked on MANJU MARU (ex-SANTOS MARU) at Corregidor along with about another 2,000 soldiers, but on 25 Nov ’44, USS ATULE (SS-403) sinks MANJU MARU and about 700 soldiers, including about 50 MUSASHI survivors, are KIA. When they reach Japan, the MUSASHI survivors who were rescued after MANJU MARU’s sinking are confined to one of the smaller islands in the Inland Sea.

The remaining 709 survivors are divided between defending IJN units. 42 at Corregidor (Mizuho) Island, 320 at Clark Field, 35 at Gunkan Island, 39 at Yamato Island and 35 at Fuso Island. An unknown number served at Cavite Naval Base, Fort Drum in Manila Bay, the Caraballo Mountains and the Cabaruan Hills, many of whom probably died of illnesses or wounds.

146 survivors are incorporated into the Special Naval Landing Force of Rear Admiral (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Iwabuchi Sanji's (former CO of KIRISHIMA) 31st Naval Base Force. 117 are listed as KIA or MIA defending Manila.

31 August 1945:
Removed from Navy List.


Authors' Notes:
[1]Cousin of Emperor Hirohito (Showa).

[2] The photographic "take" from this mission is processed by the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) at Pearl. The photo-interpreters and ship designers who review the huge battleship in the photos conclude that she must displace at least 60,000-tons and carry 18-inch guns.

[3] According to the Japanese author and historian Yoshimura Akira, most of MUSASHI's deck cargo was lost in the typhoon. Newer research, however, has shown that only a few gasoline cans were washed overboard.

[4] Over 50 years later, the total number and location of all hits during this last attack are still under dispute. Most Japanese sources give 11 torpedo hits, 10 bomb hits and six near-misses.

[5] The HAMAKAZE identified in this intercept was, in reality, KIYOSHIMO (all times are likewise off). This was a preliminary count intended for the Cavite naval hospital to make room for the injured. A more detailed breakdown was transmitted later. It appears KIYOSHIMO rescued 136 officers and men.

Special thanks for assistance in researching the IJN officers mentioned in this TROM go to Mr. Jean-François Masson of Canada. Thanks also goes to Dr. Higuchi Tatsuhiro of Japan, John Whitman of the USA for info on CNO intercepts of Japanese messages, reader "Mucho" of Denmark, Gilbert Casse of France, an unidentified reader for information about MUSASHI's survivors and thanks to Messrs. Richard Wolff, Richard "Tiornu" Worth and Robert Lundgren for assistance with various Japanese source materials.

Thanks to Johm Whitman of Virginia and Gengoro Toda of Japan for info about supply ship KITAKAMI MARU.

- Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp.


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