World War II Warship Recovered: Photos

Photos show archival images of a WWII Japanese battleship and its discovery decades later.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said has found the wreck of the WWII Japanese battleship Musashi more than 70 years after U.S. forces sank it in the Sibuyan Sea off the Philippines. One of the world’s largest and most technologically advanced battleships, the Musashi weighted 73,000 tons fully loaded. The huge battleship featured 18-inch armor plating and was armed with nine 18-inch guns, the largest ever mounted on a warship.

Read the story about the discovery.

On Oct. 24, 1944 the Musashi was sunk by an estimated 19 torpedoes and 17 bombs in the lead up to the Battle of Leyte Gulf, which is considered WWII’s largest naval battle. There, U.S. and Australian forces defeated the Japanese.

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Despite numerous eyewitness accounts, the exact location of the Musashi sinking remained unknown. Allen’s team combined historical records with advanced technology to narrow the search area in the Sibuyan Sea. Finally, on March 1st, a BlueFin-12 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) detected the wreckage. "WW2 Battleship Musashi sank 1944 is FOUND 1km deep ... Huge anchor,” Allen wrote on his Twitter page.

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Allen announced the discovery with tweets and two photos. One shows a valve, which he described as the “first confirmation” for the wreck’s Japanese origin, the other, shown here, shows part of the rusty bow with a large teak chrysanthemum, which was the Imperial Seal of Japan.

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Other images captured by a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) equipped with a high-definition camera showed what appears to be a catapult used to launch float planes. The Musashi carried six to seven float planes which were launched from this catapult system. The planes were either Mitsubishi F1M2s or Aichi E13A.

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Another image captured by the ROV shows what is believed to be an inverted type 89, 12.7-centimeter gun turret, a Japanese anti-aircraft gun.

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The Musashi was the pride of the Japanese Imperial Fleet. This photo shows Emperor Hirohito (front row, center), with officers of the Imperial Japanese Navy, on board the battleship off Yokosuka Naval Base on June 24, 1943. Of the Musashi’s 2,399 crew members, nearly half lost their lives when the battleship capsized and sunk exactly one year and four months later. “I am honored to play a part in finding this key vessel in naval history and honoring the memory of the incredible bravery of the men who served aboard her,” Allen said. He added that he intends to work with the Japanese government to ensure the site is treated respectfully as a war grave and in accordance with Japanese traditions.

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