Here’s Who Would Win Between Nazi Germany’s Battleship Bismarck and Japan’s Monster Yamato

    Robert Farley


    It would be a battle for the ages. 

    Before long, the Japanese begin to reply with their 18.1” guns. Both the Germans and the Japanese have excellent fire control, but the contest is unequal. The fifteen-inch guns of Bismarck and Tirpitz fire at a greater rate than the Japanese guns, but even when they hit, they do relatively little damage to the vitals of the Japanese ships (although they extensively scar the upper works). By contrast, the 18.1” hits begin to do serious damage immediately, plunging into the German ships at great range. Large and with effective subdivisions, neither German ship suffers lethal damage. However, before long both Bismarck and Tirpitz begin to lose speed, cutting off any chance of escape.

    Can we imagine a scenario in which two titans of World War II, the German battleship Bismarck and the Japanese battleship Yamato, would come into conflict? Difficult, but not impossible. Had the Battle of the Marne gone the other way, Germany might have forced France from the World War I in the early fall of 1914, just as it did in the spring of 1940. Germany and the United Kingdom might plausibly have come to an accommodation on naval armaments that would have left the Reich with a free hand on the Continent in exchange for the security of the British Empire.

    Prior to World War One, Germany held extensive territories in the Pacific. A German Empire emerging victorious from the Great War might well have sought to extend those territories, especially in China. Just as Japan chafed against the existence of the British and American empires in Asia, it could well have come into conflict with Berlin.

    The Players

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