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The Japanese battleship Yamato was built for its mission in the Pacific war and was in war service as from 1941. A superlative naval architecture: Length 263 m, width 38.7 m, load draft 11 m, displacement approx. 70.000 tons, crew 2780 men. With its 12 steam generators and 4 turbines the vessel reached an engine power of 165.000 horsepower for a journey up to 28 knots (51.8 km/h). Its steel jacket was 41 cm on the waterline and the constructional elements were between 20 and 60 cm!
The main arms of the battleship existed of 9 cannons with 46 cm calibres. This is the biggest artillery which has ever been built on a battleship. Its maximum range of 44 km lay beyond the visual ascertainability through earth curvature. This is why the Yamato carried the exceptionally large number of seven ship planes whose function was to take over the lead shooting of the artillery.
On April 7, 1945 the Yamato was attacked by about 400 US fighter planes on its way to defend the island Okinawa against the invasion of the US-fleet. After 13 torpedo and 8 heavy bomb hits the ammunition magazines exploded which tore the ship apart. It sank very quickly. There were only 269 survivors.
Since then the Yamato wreckage lies in 340 m depth at the bottom of the East China Sea about 275 km south west of Japan.
The USS Missouri, an Iowa-class battleship with its 30 knots (56 kilometres per hour), was one of the fastest battleships in the US Navy fleet. The vessels dimensions, which are 270 meters times 33 meters, were well-defined as it was essential to cross the Panama Canal (minimum width 33.5 meters) in order to reach strategic important operational areas much faster.
The USS Missouri which was put into commission in 1944 was involved in the battle of Okinawa. On September 2nd, 1945 an important occasion, which went down in history, took place on her deck. The political and military Japanese representatives signed their capitulation in Tokyo Bay and the Second World War finally came to an end.
Also in subsequent American wars the USS Missouri came into operation. 1950 in the Korean War and later, rearmed and modernised, in the Second Gulf War. Since 1995 the famous battleship has served its time and is now a museum in Pearl Harbour, Hawaii.
In 1939 the Bismarck was considered the largest battleship in the world. Accompanied by the cruiser ‘Prinz Eugen’
she was sent to the Atlantic Ocean in order to disrupt the British maritime trade. Very soon they were discovered by the Swedish who in turn notified England.
On the morning of May 24, 1941 the Germans were caught off guard by the British battle cruisers ‘HMS Hood’ and the ‘HMS Prince of Wales’. A combat broke out. The Bismarck crew reacted faster than the British and hit the middle of the Hoods main ammunition chamber with a 38 cm artillery shell from a distance of less than 30 km. They did not stand a chance and an enormous explosion ripped the “Hood” in two. She sank a few minutes later. The HMS Prince of Wales’ was also hit several times, was however able to veer and flee.
Beforehand she hit the Bismarck, who then continued her journey with an enormous oil trail. The Bismarck’s admiral decided to call at an Atlantic port which consequently parted the two German ships and resulted fatal consequences. The Bismarck was threatened by several battle ships, who among others, were summoned from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.
In the night of May 26, 1941 she was again torpedoed repeatedly but was not hit. The Bismarck was able to flee again and the British lost track of her. A careless private radio message from the Bismarck to Hitler revealed the current location to the British and sealed the fate of the German battleship. In the same night she was detected again and was hit with torpedoes from the ‘Fairey Swordfish’. She was then only able to travel at 5 knots in a big circle. On the morning of May 27, 1941 she came up with ‘HMS King George V’ and the ‘HMS Rodney’ who took the Bismarck under dreadful bombardment for over 30 minutes and made her incapable of sailing. Additional torpedoes from another cruiser gave her the rest.
By supposedly scuttling she disappeared in the depths of the Atlantic and with her over 1900 seamen. About 115 men were rescued. After discovering the wreck scuttling ought to be the likeliest thesis for the sinking of the Bismarck. The English declare that all in all 2’876 shells were fired at the Bismarck.
On January 19, 1941 the Royal Navy commissioned this battleship, which at that time was the most modern.
The 44’800 gross register tons were powered by four 110‘000 horse powered steam turbines which enabled the ship to reach a sailing speed of 27,7 knots. More than 1‘500 officers and sailors operated the ship which had a length of 225 meters and a beam of 31,5 meters.
Together with the HMS Hood her first assignment was to prevent the intrusion of the famous German battleship Bismarck as well as the Prince Eugene into the Atlantic in May 1941. The Bismarck’s salvoes damaged the HMS Prince of Wales severely; she had to retreat. However, the HMS Prince of Wales succeeded to damage the Bismarck beforehand which affected the further progress of the naval war.
After repairs the HMS Prince of Wales was summoned to the Pacific area. During an attack by Japanese aeroplanes on December 10, 1941 the chamber of the drive shaft was hit which caused water to penetrate into the waist of the ship. The ship sank in the floods together with 327 sailors. Fortunately 1‘285 were able to be saved by convoying ships.
The Marat was a legendary former Soviet Union battleship. In 1911 she was launched in St. Petersburg under the name ‘Petropawlowsk’. Eight years later she was hit three times and put out of action in the harbour of Kronstadt by a British torpedo motorboat. However, this attack was not the end of the ‘Petropawlowsk’. She was raised, repaired and set back into service in 1921. She was renamed ‘Marat’, after the famous French revolutionary leader Jean-Paul Marat (1743-1793) and set sail again in the same year.
In 1941 this Gangut class battleship was destroyed again. The German pilot Hans-Ulrich Rudel, who fled to South America as an active arms dealer and escape agent at the end of the war, sank the Marat – once again in the harbour of Kronstadt. During this attack with his Junker Ju 87 he achieved a direct hit whereupon the ship beached with it’s over 20‘000 tons. More than 300 sailors were killed.
Nine years later the Marat was raised again, repaired, renamed Volkhov and served as a non-propelled training ship. The final end of this navy legend was in 1953. She was scrapped.
With a top speed of 32 knots the Richelieu was one of the fastest battleships ever built. She was commissioned in 1935 and launched in early 1940 for trial trips. She was named after Cardinal Richelieu, by profession statesman and advisor of Ludwig XIII and a great Habsburg antagonist. The ships technical data was convincing. She had a displacement of 40’000 tons and was driven by four steam turbines with a capacity of more than 170’000 horsepower. Alone the armour of the front turrets presented a diameter of 429 mm. However the arms had a big disadvantage: The artillery was built in metric measurements which led to ammunition shortage during the whole war – because of the tariff system the American and English shells could not be used.
Due to an expected German troop invasion France transferred the Richelieu from Brest to Dakar in June 1940. Without an offi cial order the commander at that time took the ship to Casablanca in the same month. Because the British held the French navy for unreliable and pro-German they thought this was an attempted escape and therefore followed the Richelieu. Only after strict orders did the ship return, not to a British harbour, but rather to the French Dakar.
In September 1940 it was British battleships that partially destroyed the Richelieu. After the fall of Dakar in 1942 the British took over the city and therefore also the Richelieu. In order to modernise the Richelieu she was brought to New York in 1943. Up until the end of the Second World War she sailed under the British flag. After the Second World War she was used in the Indochina War and later in 1956 during the Suez Crisis, once again under the French flag. In 1967 she was cancelled on the French fleet list and one year later, despite attempts to use her as a museum ship, she was scrapped.
The battleship was sent down the keel in August 1925. The HMAS Australia, from the Kent-Class, was a grand cruiser which was 192 m long and slightly less than 21 m wide and was built in Great Britain. At the end of the 20’s she serviced the Royal Australian Navy. The Australia had one of her first military missions in 1940 off the coast of Dakar. In the process the battleship bombed a French destroyer so severely that it ran aground. One year later the HMAS Australia was, among other ships, used as an escort for convoys in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean. Thereafter, several battles in the Pacific followed.
On October 21, 1944 the “Aussie”, as she was named by the sailors, experienced a day which the crew members at that time will probably never have forgotten. A Japanese Kamikaze armed with a 200 kg bomb shot toward the Australia and crashed into the command bridge. Although many sailors lost their lives, among them also the commander, most of the over 800 crew members were lucky that the heavy bomb did not explode. The ship with a displacement capacity of 10 tons would probably have been destroyed.
After the war the HMAS Australia served as a training ship and was scrapped in 1956.
The “Regia Nave Vittorio Veneto“ was a battleship which served the Royal Italian Navy. Her name is a reminiscent of the Battle of Vittorio Veneto which sealed Italy’s victory over Austria-Hungary in 1918 at the end of World War I. The ship was 237 m long, its beam was 33 m and it had a displacement of over 44‘000 tons. Her keel laying was in 1934 in Trieste and three years later she was launched.
South of Sardinia, in November 1940, the Vittorio Veneto was used in a naval battle for the first time. In the process her strong fire power forced a big British Navy convoy to retreat. In March 1941 the Italian battleship had to take severe hits during the Battle of Cap Matapan on the Greek coastline.
Thanks to her high speed of over 31 knots she was able to escape her British attackers and flee to Italy. Further missions followed in 1942. After the Italian surrender in 1943 and up until 1946 the Vittorio Veneto including her crew was interned to the Great Bitter Lake of the Suez Canal. Thereafter she was offered to the British as reparation payment which was dismissed. Therefore, as most ships in those days, she was dismantled in 1948.
As you can see from the first two coins in the series, the date of issue of the coin was carried on the obverse side. From the third coin onwards the date was placed on the bottom corner of the reverse side. This means that from 2009 the obverse doesn’t change.