“Searches by my carrier planes revealed the presence of the Northern carrier force on the afternoon of 24 October, which completed the picture of all enemy naval forces. As it seemed childish to me to guard statically San Bernardino Strait, I concentrated TF 38 during the night and steamed north to attack the Northern Force at dawn. I believed that the Center Force had been so heavily damaged in the Sibuyan Sea that it could no longer be considered a serious menace to Seventh Fleet.”
– Admiral William “Bull” Halsey in his dispatch after the battle of Leyte Gulf to CINCPAC, October 24th, 1944
One of the Eaglemoss warships that we just received and has been selling unexpectedly well is the IJN battleship, Yamashiro (EMGC54), the flagship of Admiral Shoji Nishimura at the Battle of Surigao Strait in October 1944.
Near the end of the war in the Pacific, Nishimura was named the commander of the “Southern Force” in “Operation Sho-Go”, which was aimed at a final and decisive naval battle against the United States Navy in the Philippines. Nishimura′s Force “C” consisted of battleships Fuso and Yamashiro, heavy crusier Mogami, and destroyers Shigure, Michishio, Asagumo, and Yamagumo.
Launched in 1915, Yamashiro was an aging warship, although she was modernized between 1930 and 1935, with improvements to her armor and machinery and a rebuilt superstructure in the pagoda mast style. Nevertheless, with only 14-inch guns, she was outclassed by other Japanese battleships at the beginning of World War II, and played auxiliary roles for most of the war.
By 1944, with the prospects of defeat for the Imperial Japanese Empire looming, Yamashiro was forced into front line duty despite its shortcomings. In the Surigao Strait between Leyte and Dinagat Islands on the evening of October 24th, 1944, Nishimura’s force came into contact with the US 7th Fleet under Rear Admiral Jesse Oldendorf, which consisted of six battleships, eight cruisers, 29 destroyers, and 39 motor torpedo boats. Nishimura′s force was crushed when the Americans crossed the Japanese “T”, thereby enabling the US forces to deliver crushing salvos against the Japanese fleet while minimizing their own exposure to enemy action. Nishimura was killed during the battle when his flagship, the Yamashiro, was sunk after being hit multiple times from the U.S. battleships by torpedoes and naval gunfire.