The Musashi was the second of Japan's Yamato-class battleships. Alongside the Yamato, it was the largest battleship constructed with a full displacement over 70,000 tons. As a battleship of Titanic proportions, the Musashi had an extensive armament and could defeat any other alternative battleship.
The Musashi was constructed during the 1930s. It was laid down in 1938. The battleship was added to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) in 1940. Although its sea trials would not be complete until 1942, and not until late 1942 was the Musashi fully fitted and ready for further naval missions.
By 1943 the Musashi joined the Pacific War. By then the IJN had lost four of its fleet aircraft carriers at the Battle of Midway in 1942. A further three aircraft carriers were lost at the Battle of the Philippine Sea in 1944, and most of the Japanese carrier aircrafts were also lost in that battle.
Such defeats left the IJN's carrier fleet in tatters. Although they still processed a few fleet aircraft carriers, without a suitable number of aircrafts for them the carriers could have little impact in further naval battles with the U.S. Navy. As such, the IJN began to bring their battleships into further naval battles.
After the loss of the Marianas, the Allies began to approach the Philippines which included Japanese oil supplies. To hold the Philippines the IJN sent an armada of Japanese battleships, cruisers, destroyers and aircraft carriers to the waters of Leyte Gulf. Most of their remaining warships were called into the battle.
Aircraft carriers were sent in as decoys to pull the U.S. Third Fleet away from the main invasion fleet. The U.S. Third Fleet included most of the fleet aircraft carriers and aircrafts, and if they could be pulled away from the transport ships Japanese battleships and other surface ships could reach the U.S. transport ships heading for Leyte.
As such, the battleships Musasahi and Yamato spearheaded Kurita's Center Force to wipe out the U.S. invasion fleet. At the Battle of Leyte Gulf the Musashi and the Yamato headed towards the Sibuyan Sea en route to Samar. It was here that U.S. aircraft intercepted the Centre Force and began to bomb the Japanese warships beneath them.
U.S. aircraft targetted both the Musashi and the Yamato . During the first three raids the Musashi speed was greatly reduced by the dropped bombs. An estimated 17 bombs and 19 torpedoes were needed to defeat the battleship. Anti-aircraft guns aboard the ship could down only a relatively small number of U.S. aircraft as the battleship slipped beneath the sea. An underwater explosion followed as the Musashi went down.
The loss of the Musashi did not end the battle, as the Center Force eventually reached the U.S. invasion fleet with most of their warships intact. However, had they had the Musashi for later naval skirmishes off the coast of Samar then more U.S. warships might have been lost in the battle. As it was, the orders were given for the Center Force to withdraw before reaching any U.S. transport ships.