According to the fictional continuity of the Space Battleship Yamato anime series, the wreck of the World War II battleship Yamato, sunk near Okinawa, was used to hide a military spacecraft created by the Earth Defence Force in the late 22nd century. At this time, Earth was under attack from an alien race, the Gamilons, who were raining down radioactive asteroids that evaporated Earth's oceans and rendered its surface uninhabitable. The new space warship was built "inside" the wreckage of the ancient battleship, which was partially buried in what was now a dry seabed, thus hiding it from the view of the orbiting Gamilon vessels.
The new Yamato spaceship was originally conceived as a "Noah's Ark", designed to transport the best examples of Earth life to seed a new world away from danger. A message from the planet Iscandar was received, containing plans for a space drive called the Wave Motion Engine, which would give a spacecraft immense power and let it travel faster than light. The message also urged humanity to travel to Iscandar (148,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud) and obtain a device which would cleanse Earth of its deadly radiation.
The original series was produced in 1974 and assumed that the Yamato sank in one piece, coming to rest upright on the bottom of the ocean. However, in 1985, the remains of the Yamato were found in two separate, badly mangled pieces, because an ammunition magazine exploded as the ship sank. The reboot Space Battleship Yamato 2199 (2012), therefore makes note that what appeared to be the wreckage of the Yamato was in fact a camouflage measure used to hide the unusually advanced ship from the Gamilons. Interestingly, in 2199, a crew member views a video message recorded just before the mission on April 6, 2199; this suggests that the Yamato launched on April 7, 254 years to the day after it sank.
The Yamato had three bridges; Bridge 1 contains the helm, radar, communications and command positions (including those for engineering and ship's defences), and was the scene of much of the action and interaction in the series. In the second season, it gained a time radar system capable of viewing a region of space as it appeared hours previously. Bridge 2 was devoted to navigation. Bridge 3 hung below the ship, serving as a backup to Bridge 1 (and a decoy to attract enemy fire), or, in Submarine Mode, as indicated in the 2012 anime, as the main bridge. In the anime Yamato Rebirth (2009), it had been painted blue and converted into a radar post.
At the top of the command tower were the captain's personal quarters, including a chair mounted on a vertical track giving him the capability of rapidly transiting to his command post in Bridge 1. On either side of the main bridge were radar units. Below that was Bridge 2, and directly below the command tower, on the underside of the ship, is Bridge 3. There were also observation domes on either side of the command tower, and larger windowed sections on either side of the main hull.
Elsewhere aboard the ship are a conference room (with a large floor-mounted screen) and a hologram chamber (the "entertainment room") for projecting images of Earth to combat homesickness. There is also a cryogenics chamber in which much of the crew apparently sleeps during the series (most notably female crew members, as Yuki (Nova) is the only woman seen aboard after episode 10 of the first season). An engineering and development section contains an automated multi-purpose construction unit capable of building any required device. More mundane locations include the surgery wing, galley, staterooms and gym. Travel within the ship is achieved by means of lifts, moving walkways and, for emergencies, chutes.
In the 2009 anime, the walkways were removed and replaced with steel floors, and the conference room was converted to project holograms.The Wave Motion Engine (波動エンジン, hadō enjin)
The ship's main engine, based on alien technology. It is capable of converting the vacuum of space into tachyon energy, as well as functioning like a normal rocket engine, and providing essentially infinite power to the ship, it enables the Yamato
to "ride" the wave of tachyons and travel faster than light; in its first test it travels from Earth's Moon to Mars in one minute. However, this feature must be activated with perfect timing (by a human navigator), at a point when space at the origin and destination are in the correct phase, otherwise the ship could become lost in the fourth dimension. In Yamato Rebirth
, the engine can warp even faster than before.
Auxiliary engine (補助エンジン, hojo enjin)
Twin jets below the main engine port, used for quick bursts of speed. When the Yamato
first launched, it was used in place of the Wave Motion Engine, which was not yet ready at that time.
Wings (主翼, shuyoku)
These unfold from the sides of the hull, fully functional with ailerons. These provide lift in atmospheric environments.
Rocket Anchors (ロケットアンカー)
On either side of the bow are rocket-powered anchors tied to strong chains, which the Yamato
can use to anchor itself to asteroids and, if necessary, provide a gravity-assisted slingshot. They can also be used to deflect enemy ships from collision.
The Wave Motion Gun (波動砲, hadō hō)
The "trump card" of the Yamato
, the Dimensional Wave Motion Explosive Compression Emitter, or Wave Motion Gun for short, functions by connecting the Wave Motion Engine to the enormous firing gate at the ship's bow, enabling the tachyon energy power of the engine to be fired in a stream directly forwards. As of the 2009 movie, it has six reactors, and it can fire six shots instead of one large one. However, when combined to fire a single shot, it may rip the hull apart. Enormously powerful, it can vaporize a fleet of enemy ships with one shot or an object the size of Australia; however, it takes a brief but critical period to charge before firing. It used to require all non-essential power systems be deactivated, but now it only leaves the ship unable to warp a short time after firing (around 20 minutes, as indicated in the live-action movie). The recoil absorption mechanism can be manually deactivated with a lever; this was used to save the ship on one occasion.
Shock Cannons (ショックカノン)
The nine main 46 cm and six secondary 15.5 cm guns of the original Yamato
, with the 46 cm guns housed in three triple-barreled turrets and the 15.5 cm guns housed in two triple-barreled turrets fore and aft respectively; have been converted into powerful energy guns. Each turret fires three energy beams which spiral around each other to form a single, more powerful beam, capable of severely damaging or destroying enemy warships. The cannons are operated by seated human controllers, whose aiming orders are transmitted from Bridge One. In addition to firing energy blasts, the guns can be loaded with other ammunition, most notably cartridges containing the devices used in the Rotating Asteroid Defense (see below). Space Battleship Yamato 2199
sometimes features the shock cannons firing Type 3 projectiles, designed to pierce enemy armour a few seconds before detonation. In the film Be Forever, Yamato
(1980), they are used to fire missiles containing Wave Motion energy, which even with a hundredth the power of the Wave Motion Gun cause tremendous destruction.
Pulse Lasers (パルスレーザー)
Based on the 127 mm and 25 mm anti-aircraft guns of the original Yamato
, the Pulse Lasers are a set of two- and four-barrelled gun turrets lining the sides of the spaceship, firing energy pulses which can destroy fighters and detonate missiles. The turret clusters generally aim at the same targets; it was not stated in the series whether each contains a gunner, or whether they are controlled from a central source.
Torpedo Tubes (艦首ミサイル, Kanshu Misairu)
Six forward-firing and six aft-firing torpedo tubes, principally for use underwater. In the 2009 anime, they can fire barrier defense missiles.
Side Missiles (両舷側ミサイル, Ryōgensoku Misairu)
A set of anti-missile missiles launched from missile ports in the hull of the Yamato
; rather than hitting directly, they explode at a safe distance and form an energy web that detonates incoming missiles (barrier defense missiles).
Stack Missiles (煙突ミサイル, Entotsu Misairu)
Rocket missiles fired vertically from what was once the smokestack of the original Yamato
The Black Tigers (ブラックタイガー)/Cosmo Tigers (コスモタイガー)
Cosmo Pulsars and Cosmo Pulsar Bombers. A fleet of fighter planes, contained within a hangar in the ship's rear underside. The Black Tiger fighters of the first season are superseded by the Cosmo Tigers of the second season, though both seasons feature the Cosmo Zero fighter piloted by Susumu Kodai (Derek Wildstar in Star Blazers
), which was usually launched from one of the catapults on the top deck near the stern. The hangar also contains other, non-combat planes for reconnaissance and transport. In the 2009 anime, all the Black Tigers and Cosmo Tigers are replaced with Cosmo Pulsars, which are more advanced. Another new fighter was the Cosmo Pulsar Bomber, which has two Wave Motion Torpedoes attached to it. Large robotic arms move the jets out of their hangar spaces.
Rotating Asteroid Defence (アステロイド防衛, Asuteroido Bōei)
Used in the first and second seasons, this involves using the Shock Cannons to fire showers of small metal probes into asteroid fields; these devices are magnetically controlled and can bring the asteroids close to the ship, forming a hard shell resistant to enemy fire. This can then be turned into a fast-rotating orbiting ring, its angle controlled from the bridge, which can be used to block individual shots. As a final act, the asteroids can be expelled at high speed in all directions to destroy any ships that venture too close.
Reflective shield (空間磁力メッキ, Kūkan Jiryoku Mekki)
A defence conceived by chief scientist Sanada (Sandor in Star Blazers
), who borrowed the idea from the satellite reflection plates used by the Gamilon base on Pluto, this involves quickly covering the Yamato
with a reflective energy coating. This shield was only used once, when Gamilon leader Desler (Desslok) used his self-titled Desler Gun against the Earth ship, and successfully reflected the blast back against its source. (Space Battleship Yamato 2199
introduces the use of "Wave Motion Shields" which function similarly to Star Trek
–style defense shields, though in the same fashion they can be weakened or collapsed by repeated hits.)
Air-tight Cover (防塵カバー, Bōjin Cover)
Although, aside from the reflection shield previously mentioned, the Yamato
lacks defensive shields like those used in Star Trek
, on one occasion (while trapped in the Octopus Cluster) a transparent, physical bubble was constructed over its upper decks which protected it from the winds of a space storm, and even maintained a breathable atmosphere.
By 2220, the ship has been completely rebuilt. The Wave Motion Engine can now warp faster, the Wave Motion Gun can fire six shots instead of one, without power drain (though, in dire situations, it can be reconfigured to combine the power of the six shots and fire one enormous shot), and the ship's length has increased by 20 meters. All the fighters have been replaced by Cosmo Pulsars and Cosmo Pulsar Bombers. The Third Bridge has been painted blue, and now serves as a radar command post, with the occupants inside surrounded by an orb that projects data onto its surfaces. The white anchor logo, which had been removed from the ship in the film Final Yamato (1982), has been re-painted on the side of the ship, although the white bands around the barrels of the cannons were removed. The Bridge's old gauges and dials have been replaced with control screens and holoscreens. The control surfaces have been changed to a yoke. The hangar has also been expanded, and it uses large mechanical arms to move the fighters out of their spaces. Also, the old Wave Motion Gun target scope has been replaced with one that has a holographic screen.