Warfare History Network
Why? To stop the U.S. invasion of Okinawa.
Key Point: In a society that seeks to atone for its warlike past, the Yamato remains a powerful influence in Japanese culture. Books and films about the ship and the SSAF have been produced, and museums and memorials to the behemoth, her crew, and the other doomed sailors of the ill-fated SSAF have been built. A television science-fiction series was created in which the wreck of the Yamato is used to create a starship bearing the same name. Some of the characters on the Starship Yamato bear the same names as their counterparts on the real Yamato.
Special Sea Attack Force (SSAF) was an ordinary-sounding name for the pitifully tiny remnant of what was once the mighty Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). However, the word “Special” in the Japanese military possessed a unique and dark meaning.
In late 1944, when Japan’s defeat became obvious, the desperate Japanese began encouraging kamikaze, or suicide aircraft missions, and created “special” units for carrying out these missions. Thus, “special” became a nonthreatening word for “suicidal,” and Special Sea Attack Force became the euphemistic name for a Suicide Sea Attack Force.
The SSAF comprised just 10 ships. The first and foremost of these was the mighty battleship Yamato, the world’s largest dreadnought and pride of the IJN. She was to be escorted to her glorious death by the light cruiser Yahagi and eight destroyers: Asashimo, Fuyutsuki, Hamakaze, Hatsushimo, Isokaze, Kasumi, Suzutsuki, and Yukikaze, which were also scheduled to be sacrificed in a final attempt to cripple the American fleet.
Japan’s Super Battleships
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