The Final Act
Artist: John Meeks
Original painting is oil/alkyd on canvas measuring approx 28" x 22"
Subject: The crew of Japanese submarine I401 destroy their aircraft before surrendering in August 1945

The story behind the painting...

Designed to attack the Panama Canal (an act which would have given the allies a few problems!), the I400 class boats of the Imperial Japanese Navy were the largest submarines of WWII - and never saw combat ! Of this class, only two or three appear to have survived until the end of the war. I404 was destroyed in a bombing raid, and I405 was never completed.

Monstrous vessels (with a submerged displacement in the order of 6000 tons, a crew of apparently 180-odd men, and...well, that hangar could take a London or New York subway train...!) they were true submersible aircraft carriers, each being equipped with three Aichi M6A1 "Seiran" floatplane attack bombers.

In this painting I have chosen to illustrate the "final act" of the Japanese submarine service in World War Two - truly, the war is over - it is late August 1945 and Japan has surrendered; in a very short time that Japanese Naval Ensign will be lowered and replaced with a simple black flag, signifying surrender to the U.S. Navy.

But before this took place, the crews of I400, I401 and I402 carried out one small, bloodless gesture of defiance. They catapulted their aircraft into the sea.

Here, on the deck of I401, we can see a Seiran being prepared for launching, whilst sailors armed with sledgehammers are busy knocking holes into the floats of the aircraft before pitching them over the side.

A curious little sidebar to history...I had a couple of final thoughts whilst completing this painting.....:

Would history have taken a different course if Japan had knocked out the Panama Canal ?

Did the Japanese naval personnel obtain their shorts through British sources of supply....?




And finally...did I get the title right when I (probably unwisely !) tried to put it in the painting in kanji ? Seriously...any Japanese friend out there is welcome to correct me ! How about a free print to the first guy who "puts me right..." ! Promise !  Just email the correct response through to

Please note the above free print was claimed on 4th June 2004.

Size : 19" x 13" 

30 +8 Postage & Packing



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