Armadillos of the Peresvet type. Wonderful mistake. Part of 1
Armadillo squadrons like "Peresvet" occupy a special place in stories domestic naval fleet. These high-breasted beauties with a recognizable silhouette took an active part in the Russian-Japanese war, but their fate was sad. All three ships of this type were lost: Oslyabya rested at the bottom of the Tsushima Strait, and Peresvet and Victory went to the Japanese when they occupied Port Arthur. Nevertheless, Peresvet was destined to return to the Russian Imperial Fleet; it was bought out to participate in joint operations of the Allies in the Mediterranean Sea during the First World War. It seemed that fate gave the ship a second chance. But this did not happen, and his fighting career ended before he could begin: Peresvet died, having been blown up by German mines near Port Said before he could even begin to carry out combat missions.
It is believed that Peresveta proved to be an unsuccessful type of armored ships: occupying an intermediate position between the squadron battleships and cruisers, these ships did not become either. In this series of articles, we will not question such an opinion, but let us try to figure out how it happened that the country that had just built a series of very successful battleships for its time (and at the time of laying it was one of the best battleships in the world) Poltava "suddenly stumbled and created" not a mouse, not a frog, but an unknown animal. " It is known that the Peresvet project was greatly influenced by the British battleships of the 2 class of the Centurion type and the later laid out Rinaun. But how did it happen that the leadership of the Maritime Ministry took a model for its squadron battleship, i.e. potentially the most powerful ship of the fleet, lighter and obviously inferior to the modern British battleships of the 1 class?
In order to understand the history of squadron battleships of the “Peresvet” type, it is necessary to link their design characteristics with those ideas about the role and tasks of the fleet that existed during their design. Interestingly, the monographs of such respected authors as R.M. Melnikov, V.Ya. Krest'yaninov, S.V. Well done, in general, they give all the necessary information on this issue, and an attentive reader familiar with the history of both domestic and foreign navies can draw all the necessary conclusions for themselves. But nevertheless, respected masters did not focus the attention of readers on this aspect, we will try to reveal it as fully as possible (as far as possible for the format of the article, of course).
To do this, we will have to return to the 1881 year, when, under the chairmanship of Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich (the very “Seven pounds of the most August meat”, although for the sake of justice it must be admitted that in those years he had not yet gained proper weight) a special meeting was created. In addition to the future of General-Admiral (this position will be received by Alexey Alexandrovich after 2 of the year), this meeting included the Minister of War and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, as well as the head of the naval ministry. The task of this most respectable assembly was one: to determine the development of the military fleet, in accordance with the military and political demands of the Russian Empire.
The Black Sea Fleet was recognized as a primary concern, the rest of the fleets should be started only secondarily. But the Black Sea was an indoor pool and the fleet there were set specific tasks peculiar only to this theater: it must be much stronger than the Turkish naval forces and be able to ensure not only supremacy at sea, but also the support and support of the landing party in 30 000 will capture the mouth of the Bosporus and gain a foothold on its shores. The leadership of the Russian Empire assumed that the day of the collapse of Turkey was close and wanted to get the Straits - this was the leitmotif of the construction of the Black Sea Fleet.
With the Baltic Fleet it was also as if everything was clear:
The tasks of the Pacific Fleet were very interesting. On the one hand, it was recognized that for the defense of "the most important points of the coast" the military fleet is not needed at all, and this can be achieved
To this end, it was supposed to create and expand the Siberian flotilla, not trying, however, to make of it a force capable of independently fighting the naval forces of other powers. However, it does not follow at all from the foregoing that a special meeting refused to use naval force in the Far East, but these forces should have been fundamentally different in their composition depending on who they were to fight with the European or Asian power:
Thus, according to the conclusions of the special meeting, the needs of the Russian Imperial Navy looked like this: in the Black Sea - an armored fleet for domination of Turkey and capture of the Straits, in the Pacific Ocean - cruising forces for action in the ocean against communications of European powers, in the Baltic Sea it was necessary to build naval force so that it was able to surpass the combined forces of the German and Swedish fleets, which guaranteed an advantage at sea in the event of a conflict with one of these countries. And besides, the Baltic Fleet should have been able at any time to allocate the expeditionary corps of armored ships to send the latter to the Pacific Ocean or to another place where the emperor should like to:
Such a formulation of the question was a certain innovation in the use of the fleet. The fact is that the battleships of those years, for the most part theirs, were not at all intended to serve in the ocean, although they had sufficient seaworthiness not to drown on the ocean wave. The same Britain did not at all presume the use of its battleships in the Indian or Pacific Ocean — they needed them to rule the seas washing Europe, and the protection of communications was entrusted to numerous cruisers. Therefore, the decision to build armadillos, which were supposed to go to the Far East and serve there, looked like something new.
Squadron battleship "Navarin"
And besides, a special meeting actually predetermined opponents for the Baltic ships. In the Baltic, the fleets of Germany and Sweden were to become them, in the Far East - the ships of China and Japan. Of course, the cruiser fleet, which was to be based in Vladivostok and threaten from there the sea lanes of England (or other European countries) should also be built in the Baltic.
After the fleet tasks were determined, the specialists of the Marine Ministry calculated the forces required to solve these tasks. The total need for ships of the Baltic Fleet (including cruisers for the Pacific), according to these calculations, was:
Armadillos - 18 pcs.
Cruisers of 1 rank - 9 pcs.
Cruisers of 2 rank - 21 pcs.
Gunboats - 20 pcs.
Torpedo boats - 100 pcs.
In addition, 8 gunboats and 12 destroyers for the Siberian flotilla should have been built.
This program of military shipbuilding was approved by the then reigning Alexander III and submitted for consideration by a special commission, which included representatives of various ministries. The Commission concluded that:
What can you say about the national shipbuilding program 1881 of the year? We will not discuss the Black Sea theater in detail, since it does not belong to the topic of this article, but the Baltic and the Pacific ... Of course, the fleet planning planning organization itself looks very healthy - the naval and military ministers, together with the minister of internal affairs, determine the potential enemy, the naval ministry formulates the need for ships, and then the commission, with the involvement of other ministries, is already deciding how much this country can do.
At the same time, the fact that the Russian Empire did not lay claim to domination in the oceans, clearly realizing that at that stage of development such a task is beyond its power, draws attention to itself. However, Russia did not want to completely abandon the ocean fleet - it needed it, first of all, as a political instrument of influence on the technically advanced countries. Militarily, the Russian Empire needed to protect its coast in the Baltic Sea, and besides, it wanted domination in the Baltic and in Asia: but this, of course, only if the fleets of first-class maritime powers — Britain or France — were not intervening.
And these requirements lead to a dangerous dualism: not hoping to build a fleet capable of fighting in a general battle with the French or English, but wanting to carry out a “projection of force” in the world's oceans, all that was left for Russia was to build numerous cruiser squadrons. However, cruisers are unable to ensure dominance in the Baltic - for this, armadillos are needed. Accordingly, the Russian Empire was supposed to build, in fact, two fleets of completely different purposes - armored for the defense of the coast and cruising ocean. But could a country, which is not a world industrial leader, be able to create such fleets of sufficient size for solving their tasks?
Further events clearly showed that the shipbuilding program of 1881 was too ambitious and did not correspond to the capabilities of the Russian Empire. Therefore, already in 1885, the 1881 program was almost halved - now it was planned to build only:
Armadillos - 9 pcs.
Cruisers of 1 rank - 4 pcs.
Cruisers of 2 rank - 9 pcs.
Gunboats - 11 pcs.
Destroyers and counterminers - 50 pcs.
In addition, it suddenly turned out that in order to achieve not that domination, but at least parity with the German fleet in the Baltic it would have to exert much more effort than was previously thought. The only battleships to replenish the Baltic fleet in the first half of the 1890's were two rams: the Emperor Nicholas I and the Emperor Alexander II and the extremely unsuccessful Gangut.
Battleship Gangut, 1890 g
At the same time, in the period from 1890 to 1895, the German fleet replenished 6 coastline battleships of the Siegfried type and 4 squadron battleships of the Brandenburg type - and the Kaiser did not intend to stop there.
The problem was that Germany, which had a powerful industry at that time, suddenly wanted to build a navy worthy of itself. She certainly had no less opportunities than the Russian Empire, despite the fact that Germany could keep its entire fleet at its shores and send it to the Baltic if necessary. Russia, on the other hand, was forced to build and maintain a mighty Black Sea fleet in an isolated maritime theater, and it could hardly have come to the rescue in the event of war with Germany.
To be fair, it should be noted that this “sea jerk” of land Germany could hardly have been predicted in 1881 g, when the 20-summer shipbuilding program was created, but now the Russian Empire was in a situation when it was not that for domination, but at least for parity on the Baltic needed much more effort than previously planned. But the program 1881 g Russia refused to afford!
Nevertheless, the provision of a decent counterbalance on the Baltic saw the leadership of the Russian Empire more important than the construction of cruiser squadrons for foreign policy, so the construction of battleships received priority. The Baltic Fleet Accelerated Development Program planned to build 1890 battleships, 1895 armored cruisers, 10 gunboats and 3 destroyers in 3-50. But it was also failed: during this period, only 4 battleships (Sisoy the Great and three ships of the Poltava type), three coastal defense battleships of the Ushakov type (instead of gunboats), the armored cruiser Rurik and 28 destroyers were succeeded.
Thus, in the period 1881-1894. military and political necessity forced the Russian Empire to build two fleets - armored and cruising. But this practice led only to the fact that neither the battleships nor the cruiser could be built in sufficient quantities, and the very different requirements for these classes of ships in the Russian fleet did not allow them to replace each other. For example, the armored cruiser "Rurik" was a magnificent ocean raider, perfectly adapted for operations on ocean communications. However, the cost of its construction exceeded that of the battleships of the “Poltava” type, while it was absolutely useless to fight in the “Rurik” line. Instead of "Rurik" one could build something else, for example - the fourth battleship of the type "Poltava". Ships of this type would look great in line against any German battleship, but the Poltava were completely unsuitable for corsair operations far from their native shores.
As a result, an extremely unpleasant situation developed closer to 1894: huge funds were spent on the construction of the Baltic Fleet (by the standards of the Russian Empire, of course), but the fleet was not able to dominate the Baltic Sea (for which there were not enough battleships) or conduct large-scale operations in the ocean (because there were not enough cruisers), i.e. none of the functions for which the fleet was actually created was carried out. Of course, this situation was intolerable, but what were the options?
Additional funding was nowhere to get, to abandon the defense of the Baltic Sea or cruising operations in the ocean is unthinkable, which means ... So it only remained to design a type of ship that would combine the qualities of an armored cruiser raider, a la Rurik and a squadron battleship like Poltava . And to begin building ships that can stand in line against the battleships of the German fleet, but at the same time are capable of disrupting British communications.
Exaggerating: you can, of course, create 5 battleships of the Poltava type and 5 cruisers of the Rurik type, but the first ones will not be enough against Germany, and the latter against England. But if you build instead 10 battleships-cruisers capable of fighting both Germany and England, the matter will be completely different - at the same financial cost. Therefore, it is not at all surprising that in 1894 Mr. Admiral N.M. Chikhachev demanded that ITC create a draft design
Thus, we see that the very idea of the “battleship-cruiser” did not appear at all from the bay-floundering, it was not at all some sort of admiral's whim. On the contrary, in conditions of limited funding, the creation of this type of ships remained, in essence, the only way to achieve the goals set for the Baltic Fleet.
But still, why was the British battleship of the 2 class taken as a guide? The answer to this question is much simpler than it may seem at first glance, and for this we should recall the features of the shipbuilding programs of Great Britain and Germany.
The Russian Empire for the war on the sea lanes created a specific type of armored cruiser, whose fighting qualities were sacrificed cruising. But still they remained quite formidable opponents for most foreign peer cruisers. Such were "Vladimir Monomakh" and "Dmitry Donskoy", "Memory of Azov" and "Rurik".
The British also built armored cruisers, but two of their series, which entered service during the period 1885-1890. (we are talking about the Imperials and Orlando) were so unsuccessful that they disappointed the British sailors in this class of ships. In the future, the Royal Navy for a long time abandoned armored cruisers in favor of armored deck, which, as believed in the Admiralty, could well protect the British trade routes from Russian encroachments. But still the British admirals could not arrange a situation when they could only oppose enemy armored cruisers with armored deck, and besides, Britain did not want to sacrifice its interests in Asia at all. Not that the British seriously feared the Chinese or Japanese fleet (it’s about 1890), but in order to “admonish” the same China one should have ships capable of suppressing land forts, and the armored cruisers didn’t fit well for these purposes. Therefore, the British in 1890, laid the battleships of the 2 class of the type "Centurion". Intended for service in Asia, they exceeded in combat power any Russian armored cruiser and any ship of any Asian fleet, while having a draft allowing them to enter the mouths of large Chinese rivers. Then the British laid even more perfect "Rinaun".
Accordingly, in the waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, it was “Rinaun” that was supposed to be that maximum of combat power that the Russian “cruiser-battleships” could encounter. As for the German fleet, its development paths also looked very tortuous and unclear. After the Germans decided to strengthen the sea, they laid a gigantic series of eight battleships of Siegfried-type coastal defense for those times, but in combat terms they were very mediocre ships. Yes, and how much can fit in the displacement of 4 100 — 4300 tons? Three 240-mm and a dozen 88-mm guns would look great on a gunboat, but for a battleship such a composition of weapons didn’t fit. The reservation was not bad (up to 240 mm belt) but ... to tell the truth, even “one mast, one pipe, one gun - one misunderstanding” “Gangut” even looked like a superdreadnought against them, unless you remember that “Gangut” was one, and Siegfried eight. The next series of German battleships seemed to be a significant step forward: four Brandenburg ships had a much larger displacement (over 10 thousand tons) with speed for 17 nodes and armor in 400 mm.
Squadron battleship "Brandenburg", 1893 g
But it was obvious that the German shipbuilders, ignoring the experience of the world bronchotmosting, were proceeding along their national path to some kind of their own, and only visible, goal: the arming of the German ships was like nothing. The main caliber already consisted of six 280-mm guns of two different types. All of them could fire on one side, and thus favorably differed from artillery of battleships of other powers, most of which could conduct onboard fire only 3-4 with large cannons (which were usually only four), but the firepower of the newest German battleships was exhausted - eight 105-mm cannons were virtually useless in linear combat. The author of this article does not have data on whether the naval battleships, newly designed in Germany, were known to the Naval Ministry, but looking at the general development of the German fleet, it was possible to assume that in future Germans would build battleships whose fire power would be equivalent to 2 battleships. class, not 1.
Here, strictly speaking, is the answer to why “Rinaun” was taken as a guideline for the Russian “battleships-cruisers”. No one set the task of the Baltic Fleet to confront battleships of battleships of the 1 class of England or France. In case of their appearance in the Baltic Sea, it was supposed to defend overland fortifications, attracting ships only as an auxiliary force, and it was not worth waiting for such battleships on the oceanic communications — they were not created for that purpose. And therefore there was no extreme need to provide the "battleships-cruisers" with combat power equivalent to the first-class battleships of the leading world powers. It would be enough to ensure that the newest Russian ships surpassed second-class English battleships in their fighting qualities and were not too inferior to the newest German ships.
In addition, the Russian “battleship-cruiser” was supposed to be a compromise between combat and cruising capabilities, because its value should not exceed the usual battleship, and it would be better for it to be even smaller, since the money from the Russian Empire was not the best .
All the above reasons seem quite logical and seemed to lead to the creation of letting unusual, but in their own way interesting and very balanced ships. But what went wrong then?
To be continued ...
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