With the changes in modern warfare, the role of the battleships was diminished and Montana class battleships didn’t get its chance to prove its worth in the Second World War sea battles. On the other hand, not everything we know about these battleships is entirely true. Some myths surround them, and these myths are busted below.
The Montana class ignored the Panama Canal restrictions.
The myth is partially true. The United States wanted to expand the Panama Canal locks to 140 feet, and the construction was due at the same time when Montana ships were supposed to come into service. The US army wanted and needed this advantage in order to dominate the battles in the Pacific. Considering that they had this enlargement project in the pipeline, the Montana class was finally designed.
The New York Naval yard was one of the largest in the world back in the day, and the US Navy had the height of the Brooklyn Bridge to think about as well as the Panama Canal. This port had to be accessible because all the battleships were coming here for repairs. As the Battleship Richelieu approaches the New York Naval Yard, the top of the fire control tower had to be removed to pass under the Brooklyn Bridge. All Montana Class battleships were modified so that they could go under without problems.
It was designed as the Yamato rival. The Montana Battleships were considered the Yamato killers, but they were not developed to counter the Yamato.
The US Navy had the idea of what Yamato was as their perception of the Yamato ships was not the most accurate one. It took a while for the US army to get a grasp of Yamato’s possibilities and when they started designing the Montana they thought that the Yamato was just a standard battleship. In 1936, the US Navy found out that the Japanese were building ships weighing up to 55,000 tons and two years later they learned that Japan was assembling 16” equipped heavy battleships and two more were being created at that point.
However, the US forces found out that the Yamato was coming with 18” guns almost at the end of the war, in 1944. It was at the end of the war when the US finally managed to realize what they were up against. This only proves that the Montana Battleships weren’t created with the purpose to destroy the Yamato Battleships. However, they were large for a good reason. They needed to withstand the weight of their own guns and cannons. The protection of the ship was on a high level, which increased the weight and the size of the vessel. The Americans were lucky to have such ships.
The Montana was a larger version of the Iowa class battleship.
The Montana and Iowa battleships look almost identical, and they have the same main armament. Firstly, the two battleships had a different armor. The Iowa came with the same armor as its predecessor – South Dakota. During the construction of the Iowa, weight restriction had to be monitored completely, but the Montana didn’t have to follow such rules, which is why it used the traditional external belt where the armor was outside of the hull.
Consequently, the two ships could reach different speeds. The Iowa, due to lighter armor, could develop 32 knots. Initially, the Montana was intended to be the faster of the two, but the creators decided that armor and firepower were more important and thus the speed of the Montana was limited to 28 knots. This means that the two ships had completely different roles and they were used accordingly in battles.
The Montana Battleships were definitely the feat of engineering back in the Second World War. And knowing that, you can conclude that some of the misconceptions were not true, but you can truly admire this heavily armored beast.