Until the advent of the American and Russian nuclear
"super-subs" of the late 1950's and '60's this old gal had
reigned as the biggest submarine ever built. And she was not alone ... of
some seventeen planned, three were actually completed and built.
Were they a ridiculous, pointless weapons of
little significance, but of great curiosity? ... or were they a formidable
strategic naval weapon ... ahead of their time?
After much research and study (... these boats
fascinate me!) I have come to the frightening conclusion that they
were in fact, the latter. And I use the word "frightening"
Notwithstanding the commonly known fact that they
were intended to be used to attack and disable the locks of the Panama
Canal (a perfectly logical target ... and an action that may have had a
severe impact upon the
allied war effort), the original concept and construction of these
gigantic boats would also appear to have been connected with contemporary
Japanese nuclear research, and the ties established with Nazi Germany
regarding similar research. These ties had resulted in (limited) sharing
of information and reciprocal transference of knowledge and materials in
regard. Research and development of bacteriological weapons was also in
consideration .. and under way.
Gets scary .... doesn't it?!
The truth is .... the I-400 boats were
originally conceived to attack Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York,
Philadelphia and Washington D.C ... probably with "dirty"
nuclear, or bacteriological weapons! .....and,
had the timing been right ... they could have done it!
They were formidable boats. With a range of
better than 30,000 miles(!) each boat carried three Aichi "Seiran"
bombers (plus a disassembled fourth). The "Seiran" wasn't
a small reconnaissance aircraft - but a fully fledged torpedo-bomber
developed from the well proven (Allied code-name) "Judy" that
had demonstrated its effectiveness throughout the previous few years as a
credible combat aircraft. Three of these boats would have been capable of
(and at one time were intended to be used for ...) launching a squadron
of these puppies ... over New York!
All prints have titles in English and
Japanese, and bear the Imperial Japanese Naval Ensign
Above: Photo of the Original painting
It would not have won the war for
Japan. But it would have been a most terrifying chapter to have added to
an already terrifying story ...... had it happened!
As it was, the three I-400 class
submarines were dispatched to attack the U.S. fleet in Ulithi Atoll in
late 1945 ... only to be recalled to surrender before they saw
action. I-400 and I-401 eventually landed in Pearl
Harbor - were exhaustively examined and scuttled. I-402 was eventually
scuttled off Kure in Japan by U.S. forces and lies there to this day.
Indeed ... strategic weapons ...
well ahead of their time ... and ...thankfully ... never used ...
There we go!