I’ve been playing around with some text editing to create new scenarios in “Fighting Steel” with the existing ship models (since I can’t use the game’s editor.) Today, I did Yamato vs. Missouri starting about 30,000 yards apart, calm seas, perfect weather, daylight. I read the project guidelines for radar and used “average” for the Yamato (no radar fire control, but decent detection) and “superb” for the Iowa class–a fair representation of both in 1945. Crew quality was average for both.
I’ve tried it once from both sides and the Yamato is at a serious disadvantage. I don’t know how much of it is in the models, particularly the project team’s model for the Missouri. Or is it a function of assumptions about gunnery/fire control, or ballistics hard coded in for given guns, ships, or navies? It isn’t the last word on this, but it was a not-unsurprising result.
Keep in mind that this is best case for Yamato, since it is already within the dangerous “blindfire” zone that Missouri’s radar makes possible. From the bridge of the Missouri it was a straightforward fight, I pushed the thottle forward and turned to present my broadside while working to maintain separation for the first half of the fight. I could score hits now and again with a few salvoes at long range and would get bursts of 5% probabilities whenever I straddled. The Yamato was tough, losing secondary 6" guns readily, but not suffering loss of propulsion, magazines, or main gun turrets. Unfortunately for the IJN, the Yamato could not get a firing solution. I suffered exactly one hit from the 18" guns and that was when both of us were trying to find the range–it was a very low probability shot according to the gunnery log, but it wasn’t a dud and did some substantial damage. In the 2nd half of the fight I closed the range with the Yamato’s burning hulk to about 12,000 yards pouring my remaining HE rounds into her. She was taking on water and burning furiously, but would not sink and could still make 18 knots. I was credited with sinking the Yamato at battle’s end.
I then tried the Yamato’s helm. I pushed the throttle forward, closed to about 25,000 yards and began working on a solution with my broadsides as I attempted to close even more, timing moves after firing and to foil the Missouri’s solution. I began exchanging hits with the Missouri with the Missouri still scoring 2.5 for every one of mine. My unscathed secondary battery then started connecting at ~22,000 yards and I hoped it might tip the scales. I penetrated the hull with 18" AP rounds and the Missouri was taking on water, but at this range the Missouri was scoring rapidly with the main battery and I soon was taking on water too, and had a lot of structural damage, so much that my gunnery became ineffectual. The good news was that hits against my main turrets couldn’t penetrate. The bad news was that my hits on the Missouri’s main turrets didn’t penetrate either–though I took out some secondary 5" guns. Although I scored far more hits than the AI had as the Yamato (about 6x), I was still left with a beaten burning hulk, that was taking on water and could not score with the main guns anymore, while the Missouri still had nearly full speed and function.
p.s. A glaring weakness in the Yamato class revealed itself, something I had noticed in the Japanese Mogami class heavy cruisers as well and in other Yamato scenarios (the Yamato/Musashi’s 6" turrets came off of Mogami’s which were converted to 8" turrets.) The 1" turret face armor of the 6" turrets (8" on the Mogami) was useless in combat. I’ve been hunting around trying to learn if it was really this thin, because it might as well have been tissue paper. I’ve noticed that the Japanese cruisers of various classes lose turrets if you look at them funny, and the thin armor seems to be the cause. By comparision USN “light” cruisers such as the Brooklyn class have heavy armor on their 6" turrets, and a much higher rate of fire. The combination of low firing rate and thin turret armor in the IJN cruiser turrets means that they have no endurance in combat even against destoyers. If they don’t score decisively at mid/long range, they get knocked out in rapid succession by more rapidly firing 5" guns.