Monsters of the Sea!
|Japanese 45,000-ton battleship Yamato on fire right before she sank on 7 April 1945. Her nine 46 cm ( 18.1-inch) 45 Caliber Type 94 main guns are turned in a futile attempt to shoot down the planes attacking her. (AP Photo).|
|Musashi under attack on 24 October 1944.|
|HMS Barham sinking after taking three torpedo hits.|
Anyway, I am going to give you that answer for the least number of torpedoes to sink a battleship, and here it is.
The answer is one torpedo can and did sink a battleship. And, here we get to the interesting case of the USS Nevada (BB-36).
|The real rolling thunder!|
USS NevadaThe USS Nevada was a fairly old battleship, completed in 1916, but it was by no means obsolete during World War II. There is a very bad tendency among some to dismiss any large Allied warship that was sunk during World II as being outdated or worn out or this or that. There was nothing second-rate about USS Nevada. It was fully crewed and ready for action on the morning of 7 December 1941. The Japanese attacked without warning on a Sunday morning and caught the Americans completely unprepared.
|Japanese planes attacking Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941.|
|Torpedo damage to USS Nevada. This photograph was taken on 19 February 1942 (US Navy).|
Due to the commanding officer being ashore, the officer in charge was an ensign. This may be the only time in history that an ensign commanded a battleship in battle, but Ensign Joe Taussig, Jr., did an incredible job and displayed outstanding initiative. He got Nevada underway and headed for open water. The commanding officer, Francis W. Scanland, eventually got a launch to take him out to the battleship after the ship had run aground, but Taussig probably saved the ship.
|U.S.S. Nevada (BB-36).|
|USS Nevada beached at Hospital Point. (Library of Congress).|
So, if anyone tells you that a battleship can only be sunk by multiple torpedoes, be skeptical: it took only one to take down the USS Nevada.
|USS Nevada heads out to sea for trials after completion of temporary repairs before heading for Puget Sound for final repairs, 19 April 1942 (US Navy Naval History and Heritage Command 80-G-64768).|