They didn’t need a bigger boat.
During the Second World War, the Japanese fought desperately with the United States to hold naval dominance over the Pacific Ocean — only the nation that had a firm grip on the ocean would be able to hold strategic initiative.
They eventually lost that struggle, but before they did, their navy did some pretty incredible things, like develop submarines that could launch aircraft, and create a battleship so immense that its launch flooded the city it came from.
The Japanese battleship Musashi was one of the largest battleships ever built. The initial plans for the craft were created in 1937, War History Online reports, as part of a design competition that included 24 entries. In the end, the winner was Plan No. A-140F6, by Japanese Navy Capt. Kikuo Fujimoto, a legendary ship designer.
After a few design tweaks, the plan gave birth to two of the biggest battleships ever built. the Musashi, and the infamous Yamato.
In fact, that was to be the name of the class of ship — the Yamato class. A third of its class was built, but that ship, the Shinano, was converted during construction to serve as an aircraft carrier.
The vessels would bristle with weaponry, and the largest guns on the ship would be 46cm (18.1″) Type 94 guns. The ships would also be 862 feet, 10 inches long — a giant flagship for the nation to call “invincible.”
Of course, they weren’t. Both the Yamato and the Musashi were sunk over the course of the war, but the Musashi didn’t go down before scaring the living daylights out of some residents of the ship’s hometown.
The boat was so big that when it was launched, Nov. 1, 1940, there was a flood that hit the city from which the boat was launched, Nagasaki.
Japanese citizens had been kept in their houses under the pretense of an air raid drill, according to War History Online, in order to keep the massive ship’s launch a secret.
The entire ship’s construction had been a matter or secrecy — the Japanese did not want the United States to know they were creating such a fearsome weapon. The ship had been built in stages and in multiple locations — now was not the time to spoil the secret.
That secret was gravely endangered when the boat hit the water and sent a minor tsunami back behind it a meter high, flipping fishing boats and flooding homes, according to War History Online.
When understandably frightened and suddenly wet citizens tried to evacuate their homes, they were forced right back in, lest they see what was going on.
The ship saw relatively little action, especially compared to American fleet giants like the United States aircraft carrier Enterprise, but still, when the ship went out to combat after she was finally complete and commissioned in 1942, I’m sure she made a big… splash.
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