July 03, 2014

Now THIS Is A Helluva Picture

That is one of the Mutsu's main turrets after salvaging post-war.  The ship was in harbor in 1943 when it apparently killed itself, suffering a massive internal explosion that cut it in half.  Only some 350 men out of a complement of nearly 1500 survived.  The two aft turrets were salvaged in 1970-71.

What an amazing picture.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:03 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
Post contains 63 words, total size 1 kb.

1 Indeed it is!

I hadn't properly appreciated just how much armor was on a battleship turret until I saw the Mo. You just... I mean, you don't encounter that kind of thickness of steel in civilian applications. Even really large girders aren't that much solid steel, usually. (And there were a couple of other positions which had almost as much armor, notably the helm...)

Posted by: Avatar at July 04, 2014 04:54 AM (ZeBdf)

2 When I first saw this post, I thought it was another "name that ship" contest...

Posted by: Siergen at July 04, 2014 02:55 PM (8/vFI)

3 Dunno if it's true, but I recall reading once that the 17" armor of the Iowa could laugh off a modern Exocet missile.

Posted by: Mauser at July 04, 2014 02:55 PM (TJ7ih)

4 It might, but that's only on the barbettes.  The turret faces have 19".  I suspect that an Exocet (or any other modern ASM) would have a shot at getting through the armor belt.  A pop-up attack profile would be even nastier, with a 7" armored deck.

Having said that, it's a 55000ton battleship... its very size is probably the best armor against a weapon with a 360lb warhead.

Posted by: Wonderduck at July 04, 2014 03:10 PM (mOdOJ)


It all depends on where it hits, and what kinds of damage it causes. One of the earliest attacks on Yamato was by dive bombers, and one theory is that one of those bombs (500 lb.) started fires which eventually reached one of the magazines and set off an explosion which blew the ship in half.

That said, I don't think the Exocet is a pop-up-dive-down missile. I think it just sails in horizontally and strikes the target.

Another example: I assume you've all seen the gun camera footage from when a couple of P-47's belonging to the Tuskegee Airmen strafed a German (reflagged from Italian) destroyer in the northern Adriatic and eventually blew it up? I am pretty sure what happened is that one of the .50 rounds hit the warhead on a torpedo and set it off, and then all the other torpedoes on the rack. The resulting explosion was easily enough to blow the ship apart.

I don't think Missouri carried anything like that on its deck, and of course it was a lot bigger than that destroyer, but there was a lot of ordnance on that ship, and leveraging that kind of thing has a long and glorious history. (See e.g. HMS Hood.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 04, 2014 04:32 PM (+rSRq)


The late David Brown noted that a kamikaze strike was a useful indicator of the effect of modern ASMs.  Any place protected by the armor belt will generally be fine.  Any place that is not protected by the armor belt will be in trouble.  Since modern ASMs are not specifically designed to attack heavily armored targets, the comparison seems apt.

If a guided missile was designed specifically to attack heavily armored targets, like the Fritz X, then bad times would await the target, regardless of how heavily armored she was (Re: Warspite, Roma, et al.)

(And there were a couple of other positions which had almost as much armor, notably the helm...)

Unless you were on a new or rebuilt British battleship.


Posted by: cxt217 at July 04, 2014 06:19 PM (PE4d7)

7 Was that turret thrown there by the explosion or removed in one piece during the salvage operation? The reason I ask is that the armor, barbette and main rifles are so heavy that they are typically cut up during scrapping and removed peacemeal. 
Of course they might do it different in Japan.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at July 04, 2014 07:24 PM (DnAJl)

8 I was able to find photos of the turret being salvaged.

Posted by: David at July 04, 2014 09:18 PM (da+4f)

9 David, nice work!  Thank you!

Posted by: Wonderduck at July 04, 2014 09:26 PM (mOdOJ)

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