These were the next Japanese dreadnoughts after the 4 Kongo class. They were relatively slow but more heavily armed with (6x2) twelve (12) long range 14" guns. They are also the most extreme examples of the tall, "pagoda" superstructures which were characteristic of prewar Japanese battleships. The intent was apparently to facilitate fire control and start scoring hits before the enemy battle line to get within gun and fire control range. Unfortunately for the design, topweight so high badly destabilizes a ship.
The ships were identical, except for the positioning of the midships turrets: Fuso's third turret faced forward, while Yamashiro's faced aft.
They did not see action until the final, climactic Battle of Leyte Gulf, where they were to be the backbone of the Southern Force which tried to force the Surigao Strait in the face of the guns of our old, reconstructed Pearl Harbor battleships. Fuso sank early, breaking in two after being torpedoed by our destroyers. Yamashiro survived to close with our battleline, but finally went down under an avalanche of 16" and 14" shells.
There has been some question whether it was Fuso or Yamashiro that made it so far.
Japan's Aoshima has a 1:700 waterline injected plastic model kit. Hi-Mold has a 1:700 waterline resin plastic kit. The Yamashiro -- actually, Fuso -- is also among the Hasbro/Avalon Hill War At Sea Naval Miniatures (game) 1:1800 model warships roster.
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21Apr09, revised 7Jun09.