Ring side view . . .

Sink the Yamato

Our Air Group Commander, (CDR Utter), was coordinator for the attack. We flew on his wing at about 3000 feet while he called the shots. First calling in the F6F and F4U fighters to strafe, then the dive bombers and the torpedo planes. I saw one TBM drop his fish and it headed straight for the Yamato, but a Jap can got in its way. Blew the Jap destroyer completely in half. All the ships were firing, and the Yamato tried to hit us with those big 18-inch guns. We could look right down the barrels, and when they fired, it looked like red-hot molten metal coming out of the muzzles. They couldn't get enough elevation to hit us but it was an awesome sight.

WWII Kilroy Was Here  Glen Wallace Yamato under attack
The Japanese battleship Yamato under attack by U.S. Navy planes in the East China Sea on April 7, 1945. She sank after being hit by 10 torpedos and five bombs. (National Archives)

Editor's note: Yamato and her sister ship, Musashi were the biggest battleships ever built (the third hull, Shinano, was converted to an aircraft carrier while still under construction but was sunk on her maiden cruise.*) The battleships displaced 72,000 tons with 18.1-inch guns. By comparison, Germany's Bismarck displaced 45,000 tons. Britain's King George class came in at 35,000 tons with 14-inch guns. The US Navy's North Carolina and Washington were 35,000 tonners with 16-inch guns. Even the mighty USS Missouri (Iowa Class) weighed in at 58,000 tons with 16-inch guns. There were four of these dreadnoughts: Iowa, New Jersey, Missouri, and Wisconsin.

*See World War II, November 2001 "First and Last Cruise of Shinano"

After all the planes had made their runs and left for home, we were the only four left in the area. Some of the ships were on their sides and some were sinking, so our leader had a bright idea: "Lets go in and get a hit on the Yamato before we leave," he said. We were all for it, so we headed in for the final blow, but since we were the only targets in sight, every ship opened up on us, even those on their sides.

It was a solid curtain of gunfire and almost certain curtains for us. Then our leader had another brilliant idea, "Lets do a 180 and get the hell out of here" — which we were most happy to do. We dropped our bombs and headed for the Ship. We landed aboard on fumes because we had been lugging those 1000 pounders for most of the hop.

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