Fight in the Yellow Sea 28 July 1904 g. Part of 2. Squadron received by V.K. Vitgeft
Squadron battleship "Petropavlovsk" in Port Arthur
Having considered the brief biographies of the commanders in the previous article, we are moving to the state of the 1 Pacific squadron at the time when Rear Admiral V. K. Vitgeft temporarily took over the post. D. Commander Pacific Ocean Squadron. It must be said that by that time the state of our naval forces left much to be desired, and this applied both to the ship staff and to the preparation of teams for battle.
By the start of the war, the Port Arthur squadron had seven squadron battleships, an armored cruiser, three rank 1 armored cruisers and two rank 2 armored cruisers (apart from the former Zabiyaka sailing clipper, which had practically lost its combat significance, but still listed as a second-ranking cruiser). The light forces of the squadron included two mine cruisers, twenty-five destroyers, four gunboats and two special-purpose mine loaders. To this should be added three armored and one armored cruiser of the 1st rank in Vladivostok; there were 10 small destroyers. As for the Japanese, it is only in the main forces fleet (the first and second squadrons) there were six squadron battleships, six armored and eight armored cruisers, as well as 19 large and 16 small destroyers. And besides, there was a third squadron, and numerous forces that were not part of the aforementioned formations, but were assigned to various naval bases.
But nevertheless, it cannot be said that the Russian forces in the Far East were too few in number and were unable to give a general battle. The deployment of part of the cruisers in Vladivostok should have diverted a significant part of the second squadron (commanded by H. Kamimura) to itself, and so it happened in reality: in order to catch "Russia", "Rurik" and "Gromoboya" the Japanese were forced to divert four of their large armored cruisers. Accordingly, the Russian plan was a success, and for actions against the Arthur squadron, Heihatiro Togo had only six battleships and two armored cruisers, not counting light forces. At the same time, the Arturites, having seven battleships and an armored cruiser, would have eight armored ships for a general battle against eight.
Of course, such an account "over the heads" completely ignores the quality of the opposing squadrons, but now we will not compare in detail the thickness of armor, speed and armor penetration of the guns of Russian and Japanese ships. We only note that of the seven Russian battleships, three were laid already two years before the start of construction of a pair of the oldest Japanese squadron battleships Fuji and Yashima. And although the same "Sevastopol" entered the fleet in 1900 g (after 8 years after its inception) this, of course, does not make it equal to the "Sikisime" that the British laid for the sons of Mikado in 1897 in the same year.
Launching the battleship Sikishima
The technical progress in those years was moving with terrifying speed, so the five years between the bookmarks of these two ships represented a huge period: in addition, the Sikishima was about 30% larger than the Sevastopol. As for the battleships of the Victory and Peresvet, at the beginning of their design they were called in the working papers “battleships-cruisers”, “armored cruisers”, or simply “cruisers”. And even in 1895 g, when Peresvet was laid, in many documents of the MTC ships of this type were listed as “three-screw steel armored cruisers”. The British battleships of the 2 class “Centurion” and “Rinaun” were taken as a guide when designing them, as a result of which ships of the “Peresvet” type received lightweight weapons, besides their armor, formally powerful enough, did not cover the extremities, which for since the Russian-Japanese war was a significant drawback. Of course, these ships were listed in the Russian Imperial Navy by squadron battleships, but still in their fighting qualities they occupied an intermediate position between the Japanese armored cruisers and squadron battleships. Thus, only two Russian battleships, the Tsesarevich and Retvizan, could be considered equal to the Japanese ships of this class, and the only armored cruiser of the port-arthur squadron was a very unusual type of reconnaissance squadron almost twice as weak as any armored cruiser X. Kamimura and was not intended to fight in line.
Nevertheless, the advantage of the Japanese fleet as a ship was not so overwhelming that the Russians could not count on winning the battle. History knows cases when they won even at the worst alignment of forces. But for this, the Russian squadron should have collected all forces into a fist, and this they could not do from the very beginning of the war, when during the dashing night torpedo attack “Tsarevich” and “Retvisan” were undermined.
As of April 22 1904, when V.K. Vitgeft took command of the Port Arthur squadron, both of these battleships were not yet able to be returned to the fleet. Only the Pallas armored cruiser was repaired, but no special benefit was expected from it in the general battle. Under S. Makarov, during the March 13 exercise, the battleship Peresvet struck the stern Sevastopol with a ram, slightly damaged the casing and bent the blade of the right screw, which made the latter not able to repair the dock . Since there was no dock capable of accommodating the battleship in Port Arthur, a caisson device was required, but this was a long matter, so S. O. Makarov preferred to postpone the repair until later. And March 10 flagship "Petropavlovsk" exploded on a Japanese mine and sank, taking with him his admiral and depriving the squadron of another battleship. On the same day, the Victory was blown up, which, although it did not die, was permanently out of order. In addition, since the beginning of the war, the Boyarin armored cruiser, the Enisei minelayer and the three destroyers died in mines, in battle and for other reasons. Thus, V.K. Vitgeft joined the command of a squadron consisting of three battleships, counting the 31-hub Sevastopol (which was still repaired and completed only on May 10), one armored and three X-grade 15 armored cruisers, one X-NUMX-grade armored cruiser, two mine-cruisers, 1 destroyers, four canlodos and a minzag.
But the Japanese fleet received reinforcement: not only did all six battleships and the same number of armored cruisers remain in its structure, but in May and April the Argentinean Nissin and Kasuga had reached combat readiness, bringing the total number of armored cruisers of Japan to eight. Of course, with such a balance of forces, there could be no question of a general battle.
But, besides the quantitative (and qualitative) problems of the materiel, there was still the question of training the crews, and here the Russians had a very bad situation. The first test of strength, which took place in the morning of July 27 1904, when the Arthur squadron had approximately a 40-minute battle with the Japanese fleet, demonstrated the best training of Japanese commanders. Of course, the squadron did not think so. Here is how the senior artillery officer of the battleship Peresvet, Lieutenant V. Cherkasov, saw this fight:
All of the above is one of a number of illustrations that should be treated with caution by witnesses. Unfortunately, in battle, people very often (and completely in good faith!) Are mistaken and see not what really happens, but what they really want to see: this is characteristic of absolutely all nations and absolutely at all times. Therefore, the saying that exists among historians “lies, as an eyewitness”, for all its seeming absurdity, is completely fair.
However, the intelligence data is even more interesting:
After the years, the details of both Russian and Japanese injuries became known, on the whole the picture is as follows.
Comparative analysis of the accuracy of artillery fire in a battle 27 January 1904.
Of course, it would be desirable to “sort everything out”, specifying the number of shells fired and hits for each caliber, but, unfortunately, this is impossible. The number of shells fired by the Russian and Japanese squadrons is known, but the situation is worse with hits. It is not always possible to accurately identify the caliber of the projectile: in some cases it is easy to confuse the six and eight-inch shells or the ten and twelve-inch shells. So, for example, the Russian ships launched the 41 twelve-inch and 24 ten-inch shells, while three twelve-inch, one ten-inch and two ten-to-twelve-inch projectiles fell into the Japanese ships. Accordingly, the percentage of hits for twelve-inch projectiles ranges from 7,31 to 12,19%, depending on whether the last two projectiles were ten- or twelve-inch. The same picture for medium-caliber artillery: if the Russian cruiser Bayan, firing 28 shells, achieved one reliable hit (3,57%), then the Japanese ships reached 5 hits of eight to eight inches. In other words, we can only say that the Russians received at least five, but not more than fourteen hits with eight-inch shells, therefore, the accuracy of firing Japanese 203-mm cannons (firing 209 shells) is in the interval 2,39-6,7%. The grouping adopted in the table above allows one to avoid such a spread, but the mixing of calibers in itself gives rise to a certain incorrectness. In addition, the following should be noted.
The percentage of hits of Japanese twelve-inch guns is higher than indicated in the table, since some, alas, not fixed number of shots, they did not by the ships, but by the coastal batteries. Most likely, there were few such shots: the total number of large and medium caliber shells fired at ground targets did not exceed 30, and it is highly doubtful that the twelve-inch ones among them were more than 3-5 projectiles, but in any case, the Japanese shot slightly better than indicated in the table.
In addition to the Russian ships, coastal batteries also shot at the Japanese. In total, 35 "coastal" guns, which fired 151 projectile, took part in the battle, but of them only the battery # 9 was located close enough to send their projectiles to the Japanese. 25 six-inch projectiles were fired from this battery, but given the accuracy of firing the guns of this caliber (six-inch navy used 680 projectiles and 8 hits or 1,18%), hardly any of its projectiles hit the target. Therefore, the coastal shells are not taken into account at all in the table, but if 25 six-inch shots were added, which could still get into the Japanese, the percentage of hits of the Russian average caliber artillery will decrease from 1,27 to 1,23%, which, however, will not affect the overall picture.
A charming historical anecdote on the subject of coastal artillery is mentioned in his memoirs by V. Cherkasov, mentioned above. In the 27 battle of January 1905, coastal ten-inch guns fired at the Japanese, which had an 85 kbt firing range and therefore were fully capable of “getting” Japanese battleships. However, their actual range turned out to be only 60 KBT, which is why they could not cause any harm to the enemy. But how could such a big difference between passport and actual data come out?
In general, we can assume that when the main caliber of battleships were fired, the Japanese slightly outnumbered the Russians (by 10-15%), but their average artillery was 1.5 times more accurate. The shooting of the 120-mm cannons is not very revealing, since all the 4 of the Russian-made projectiles of this caliber were achieved by the Novik, which, under the command of dashing N.O. Essen came very close to the Japanese, and the rest of the ships in the bulk fought at great distances. But at the same time, attention is drawn to the fact that the Japanese "dogs" have not achieved a single hit with their 120-mm, probably due to the fact that the Japanese gathered the best commander from all other ships to armadillos and armored cruisers. Thus, undoubtedly, the best efficiency of armored giants was achieved, but at the same time the light forces were forced to settle for “you, my God, that we are not fit”: we observe the result of this practice using the example of the January 27 battle. But the shooting of three-inch guns is hardly indicative: the huge number of three-inch shells released compared to the Japanese suggests that while the main gunners of the Russian ships were engaged in adjusting large and medium caliber shooting, the three-inch calculations were “amused” by shooting “where” “to the other side” even from distances where it was impossible to throw a shell to the enemy. In any case, she couldn’t give anything to the crew’s morale, as the striking effect of their shells was absolutely insignificant.
Nevertheless, in general, the Russians in this battle shot out much worse than the Japanese. Interestingly, the battle took place on countercourses (that is, when the fighting columns of ships followed parallel to each other, but in different directions), where the Russian sailors had an advantage. The fact is that, according to some data, during the training of the Russian commanders, combat at countercourses was given considerable attention, while in the United Fleet it was not. Accordingly, it can be assumed that if the battle went on in ordinary wake columns, the percentage ratio of hits would be even worse for the Russians.
The question "why" has, alas, many answers. And the first is contained in the book “Cruiser Varyag” by R. M. Melnikov:
The following information is given in a footnote:
What can you say about this? Heyhatiro Togo, in his most audacious dreams, could not hope to strike the Pacific Ocean squadron with the blow that we had inflicted on ourselves by sanctioning demobilization.
The question: “Could the governor, Admiral Alekseev on the eve of the war prevent such demobilization?”, Alas, for the author of this article remains open. Of course, the representative of the sovereign emperor was a king and god in the Far East, but not the fact that even his influence would be enough for some progress in the super-powerful bureaucratic machinery of the Russian Empire. However, the governor did not even make an attempt: that he, the high leader and the strategist, had some kind of miners and commanders there?
Pacific Squadron Chief Vice Admiral Oscar Viktorovich Stark (1846-1928, left) and the governor in the Far East, Admiral Adjutant General Yevgeny Ivanovich Alekseev (1843-1918, right) on the deck of the X-NUMX-grade armored cruiser “Askar”, “Ekk”, “Aksk”, “Aksk”, right.
In the second half of 1903, the domestic squadron in the Far Eastern waters was inferior in the number and quality of the ship personnel to the enemy. But this situation should not be delayed: Japan has already spent the loans for the construction of the fleet, and there was no more money to build it further. And in the shipyards of the Russian Empire, five powerful battleships of the Borodino type were built, prepared to be sent to Oslabya in Port Arthur, the old, but strong Navarin and Sisoy the Great were repaired ... With the arrival of these ships, the temporary superiority of the United Fleet should have been " crumble with sakura petals, ”and this should be taken into account by both the Russian and the Japanese leadership. If Japan wanted war, then it should start at the end of 1903 or in 1904, and then it would be too late.
But if Japan, having an advantage, still decides to go to war, what can be opposed to its quantitative and qualitative superiority? Of course, only one thing - the skill of the crews, and in fact it has already suffered the greatest damage from demobilization. It means that only one thing remains - to train the personnel as intensively as possible, bringing the level of proficiency in equipment to the utmost perfection.
And what was done in fact? The first phrase “Testimony in the investigative commission on the July 28 fight of a senior artillery officer, Lieutenant V. Cherkasov of 1,” reads:
Those. in fact, even the exercises in accordance with the rules of peacetime were not carried out to the end. And what about the governor?
In other words, Admiral Alekseev in general He was not interested in the combat training of the forces entrusted to him - he came, as if in a circus, to look "at the ships", he was angry that they did not go in formation, but, looking at the rowing races (the most important thing in the upcoming battle), he thawed out his soul and replaced anger with mercy. Shocking phrase V. Cherkasov: "Even there was one shooting. ” Those. In other cases, the governor and did without shooting? But further - worse:
In other words, during the period of the greatest military danger, the governor did not think of anything better than to put the ships in reserve, completely ceasing all military training. But, perhaps, Admiral Alekseev was simply not able to add two to two, and due to some reason he was sure that the war would not take place? However, V. Cherkasov writes that the war was expected in the fall of 1903, and not only in the crews: the squadron was instructed to repaint in combat color, and this could only be with the knowledge of the governor. The squadron with its full complement left Vladivostok for Port Arthur, maneuvers began ...
So, in the atmosphere of the admiral's "calm", 1 November, 1903, the squadron of the Pacific Ocean joined the armed reserve. It would seem that it is impossible to come up with the worst decision, but who thought so underestimated the strategic genius of the governor Alekseev!
It is known that our bases in the Far East were not at all provided with everything necessary to support the fleet: the ship repair capabilities were relatively weak, which required "driving" the squadron from the Baltic to Vladivostok and back. And if the ships turned out to be in reserve, it was worth it to at least sensibly spend time, having spent the repair they needed as far as possible. But the governor, in the best traditions of “as if something did not work out,” approved a solution that was excellent in its half-heartedness: yes, the ships were taken to the reserve, but at the same time they had to maintain 24-hour readiness “for the hike and the battle”. Of course, with such an order no repair was possible. An exception was made only for the battleship Sevastopol, which was allowed to have 48-hour readiness, which allowed repairing the last machine and the main caliber tower.
If the governor believed that the war on the nose could begin at any time (24-hour readiness for battle!), Then in no case should ships be put in reserve, and the governor could decide this question on his own, in the extreme case appealing for approval to the sovereign. If he believed that there would be no war, then he should take the opportunity to provide maintenance for the squadron. Instead, in the "best" traditions of "as if something did not work out," Admiral Alekseev did neither.
How did the squadron live at this time? We return to the memoirs of V. Cherkasov:
And only 19 on January 1904 of the year, after standing in reserve even more than 2,5 of the month, the squadron finally received an order to begin the campaign.
How did this affect the level of combat training? It is known that having once learned to ride a bicycle, you will never forget this simple science, but the military craft is much more difficult: in order to maintain a high level of combat readiness, you need regular training. The experience of the Black Sea Fleet, which in 1911 due to a lack of finances, was forced to take a three-week break in combat training, is quite indicative here:
Study at sea was resumed only on July 1 under the command of Vice Admiral I. F. Bostrem, newly appointed commander of the naval forces of the Black Sea.
In other words, even a slight interruption in classes caused serious damage to the squadron's combat capability, and only in combination with the departure of the most experienced old servicemen ... That's what the squadron chief O.V. reported about the readiness of the forces entrusted to him. Stark (Report to Viceroy Alekseev on 22 in January 1904):
The maneuvering of large ships and signal production on them, for these reasons and due to the autumn replacement of not only old signalmen, but also many navigator officers, leave much to be desired and require new practice, because, in addition to speed of execution, attention and knowledge is lost, not only in the squadron rules, but also in general basic instructions».
Before the war, 4 remained of the day.
In general, we can say with sadness that the squadron of the Pacific Ocean that entered the war on the night of 27 in January turned out to be much weaker than itself as of 1904 in the fall and the “arrogance” of the governor, Admiral Alekseev who managed to organize an armed reserve of ships that had just lost a lot of old servicemen and received replenishment by recruits.
What's next? On the very first night, the two strongest Russian battleships were undermined as a result of a sudden attack by Japanese destroyers, but what was done on the squadron to avoid such sabotage? Recall V. Semenov, "Payback":
- Oh, what you say! You don't know for sure! .. Could the squadron leader order this? We had the permission of the governor! ..
- Why didn't you ask? Did not insist? ..
- Not asked! .. How many times have asked! And not only in words - the admiral filed a report! .. And in the report with a green pencil the resolution - “Prematurely” ... Now they explain it differently: some say that they were afraid that our warlike preparations could be taken for a challenge and will speed up the onset of the gap, while others as if on 27, it was intended to solemnly announce the envoys ’recall, prayer, parade, appeal to become breasts, etc. ... But the Japanese were in a hurry for one day ...
- Well, and the impression made by the attack? Mood on the squadron? ..
- Well ... impression? “... When, after the first surprise attack, the Japanese disappeared, the firing subsided, but the frenzy has not yet passed,” our good-natured fat man Z. turned to the Golden Mount and with tears, but shouted with such malice in his voice: “They waited ? Infallible, all-brightest! .. ”And so on (inconvenient to print). That was the mood ... I think the general ... "
Then the January 27 morning fight. In the light of the above, there is no need to wonder: “Why did the mid-caliber artillery of the Russian squadron shoot one and a half times worse than the Japanese?” Rather, you should ask: “How did the Russian commanders manage to shoot off only one and a half times worse than the Japanese? ". All the more surprising that ten and twelve-inch heavy guns fired slightly worse than the Japanese. It can even be concluded that the system of training domestic gunners was in itself quite at the level, because if you recall the results of the shooting of the cruiser Memory of Mercury in 1911 before three weeks of standing in an armed reserve (57%) and after it (36%) , then we will see a drop in accuracy in 1,58 times, and how much did the accuracy drop after demobilization and 2,5-month standing on the Pacific Ocean squadron? And how would this skirmish with the Japanese fleet go if our 27 squadron of January 1903 r were trained at the level of the early autumn of 1903 of the year? The author of this article, of course, cannot say this for certain, but he assumes that in this case the accuracy of the Russian shooting could well surpass the Japanese.
Interestingly, Heyhatiro Togo, apparently, was not satisfied with the accuracy of its commander. Unfortunately, the author of this article does not have information about how the frequency and quality of the exercises of Japanese artillerymen have changed: however, it is beyond doubt (and we will see this later) that the Japanese improved their skills by the 28 July battle of 1904. Thus, the Japanese fired better at the beginning of the war, but they continued to improve their art, while at the same time our ships after the start of the war and before arrival at Port Arthur admiral S.O. Makarov was not engaged in intensive combat training. There were both objective and subjective reasons. Of course, some serious training for the crews of the Tsesarevich and Retvizan battleships before the ships returned to service was impossible. But no one interfered with the preparation of other ships for battle, of course, except for “take care and not risk it!”, Which hung over the squadron.
One can argue for a long time on whether Stepan Osipovich Makarov was a talented naval commander, or as such was made by popular rumor. But it should be recognized that it was precisely S. O. Makarov who took the only steps that were right at that time, encouraging the squadron by personal example:
The admiral immediately began combat training and the coordination of the powers entrusted to his command. C.O. Makarov believed in the squadron’s ability to defeat the Japanese, but he understood that this would be possible only when he had at his disposal fired, perfectly trained and inspired crews, commanded by energetic and capable of independent decisions of commanders. This is exactly what the admiral did: he started systematic combat operations (destroyer operations), he gave people the opportunity to prove themselves and at the same time did not allow the Japanese to gird themselves. The trainings were conducted extremely intensively, but at the same time S. O. Makarov began personnel changes: for example, the commander of the squadron battleship Sevastopol was replaced by the well-known commander of Novik N.O. Essen, others were planned for this replacement.
No matter how correct the S.O. Makarov, for the month with a little that was released to him by the command of the Arthur squadron, he simply did not have time to “draw out” the powers entrusted to him to the proper level. The death of Stepan Osipovich Makarov put an end to all his endeavors, at the head of the port-arthur squadron stood a man to whom the personnel did not trust and who very quickly turned Makarov's undertakings. Of course, we are talking about the governor, Admiral Alexeyev. Of course, his almost three-week "management" of the situation did not improve at all: he again returned to "take care and not risk", again the ships defended in the harbor in the presence of the Japanese fleet.
The squadron battleship "Sevastopol" under the flag of the governor, April 1904.
However, as soon as it became known about the upcoming landing of the Japanese ground army in Bitszyvo, which is only 60 miles from Port Arthur, the governor left Port Arthur in a great hurry.
It happened on April 22, and now, before the arrival of the new commander, Wilhelm Karlovich Vitgeft, whose flag in the 11.30 of the same day was raised on the battleship Sevastopol, should have performed his duties.
To be continued ...
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