The battle resumed approximately in 16.30, after the end of the Russian battleship "Poltava" from the 32 cable course (or so) gave a sighting shot at the flagship of H.Togo. The position of the squadrons by this time was as follows: the Russian battleships were on a wake column, to the left of them - the cruisers and destroyers even to the left of the cruisers. At the time of the shot of “Poltava”, the Japanese commander was catching up with the Russians from the right-to-back and was going by a converging course, and “Mikasa” was located on the traverse of “Poltava”.
I must say that such actions characterize the naval talents of H. Togo not in the best way. Of course, his tactics made it possible to draw closer to the backward Poltava and again try to strike at the backward Russian battleship from a relatively short distance. But even if this strike were successful, in the future Kh. Togo could only go slowly along the convoy of Russian ships, substituting his flagship battleship under the concentrated fire of V.K. Witgeft. This method of rapprochement put the Japanese at an extremely disadvantageous position. But it was not difficult to avoid it, undertake H. That different maneuver: the commander of the United fleet could catch up with the Russian squadron in parallel courses, so that the Mikas would be on the Cesarevich traverse when the flagship battleships H. Togo and V.K. Witgeft was separated by six miles, overtaking him a little and only then lying down on converging courses.
In this case, the Russian squadron would not receive any benefits. Interestingly, H. Togo did something like this, moving closer to the Russian squadron a few hours earlier, in the middle of the 1 phase, when, after the fight at the counter-tacks, his 1 unit was behind the Russian squadron on the 100 cable and had to catch up 1 Pacific Squadron. And suddenly - as if some kind of obsession suddenly shook the mind of the Japanese admiral: H. Togo rushes in pursuit, extremely rashly exposing his flagship battleship to a hurricane of Russian fire.
How so? In order to suggest the reasons for such a strange act, let's calculate a little. The Russian column kept the 2 cable between the battleships, and the indicated number does not include the length of the battleships themselves, i.e. from the bow of one battleship to the stern of the ship ahead of him, there had to be an 2 cable. At the same time, “Poltava” lagged behind the last but one “Sevastopol” (approximately by 6-8 cable, according to the author), and collectively this meant that from “Poltava” to the leading “Tsesarevich” there was approximately 18-19 cable. Closer on short distances, X. Togo to the 16.30 was able to bring its flagship only something on the beam of “Poltava”. Having an advantage in speed in the 2 node and going along a parallel course, he would have overtaken the convoy of Russian ships for almost an hour. In other words, if the Japanese commander had moved according to the above scheme, without putting Mikasa under fire, he would have left the Tsesarevich aboard approximately 17.30, then in order to at least advance slightly, he would need more 15 minutes 20, and only in 17.45-17.50 he would lay down a course of rapprochement with the Russian battleships. Then he would start a short-range battle at seven o'clock - and this would be the case if the Russians had not tried to change the course, evading the Japanese, and they could have done so. In 20.00 it was already quite dark and the artillery battle would have to be stopped, and, most likely, twilight interrupted the battle even earlier.
Taken together, this meant that Kh. Togo could have used a rational way of approaching the enemy, but then, in order to beat the Russians before dark, the commander of the United Fleet would have had an hour, on the strength of one and a half. During this time, even acting at short distances, one could hardly hope to crush the battleships VK. Witgefta.
According to the author of this article, it was precisely the lack of time that compelled Kh. Togo to enter the battle from a position that was obviously unfavorable and extremely dangerous for him. This is how the tricks of the clever, but overly cautious, Japanese admiral ended - by taking the time to attempt to undermine the battleships VK. Witgefta with floating mines, the Combat Fleet Commander himself drove himself into a terrible time trouble to join the Yakumo to join the Yakumo. At the very beginning of the battle, when the main squadron forces saw each other, X. Togo had an excellent position and advantage over Russian ships in speed. Now he had to enter his ships into a decisive battle from an extremely unfavorable position - all in order to have the hope of smashing the Russians before dark!
But nevertheless, it should be noted that some of the advantages remained beyond X. Togo: the day was falling towards evening, the sun had changed its position on the horizon and now it was shining straight into the eyes of the Russian commanders. In addition, a strong wind was blowing in the direction from the Japanese to the Russian squadron. It is difficult to say how difficult it was to shoot the rays of the evening sun, but now the wind caused great inconvenience - the powder gases after the shot flew straight to the towers, and in order to avoid poisoning, we had to change the tower commanders after each (!) Shot. Artillerymen of small-caliber guns were used as a substitute, there was no shortage of them, but it is clear that this practice could not contribute to either the rate of fire or the accuracy of firing heavy Russian battleships.
Back in the sources and recollections of eyewitnesses, the fact that the Russian squadron was forced to fight with the starboard was repeatedly mentioned, which in the 1 phase of the battle was mainly affected by the Japanese shells, while the Japanese after the 16.30 fought with the relatively little injured left side. This is only half true, because during the 1 phase, the Japanese ships, sadly, almost did not suffer, and H. Togo didn’t care what board to fight. At the same time, before the resumption of the battle, the Russian squadron was damaged mainly by the right side, and there was no single reason why the Japanese commander should have attacked the Russians from the left side. In this case, the sun would have blinded the commanders of the 1 of the first detachment and the wind would blow the gases into the Japanese barbet installations: it is clear that X. Togo would have been completely useless.
The squadron battleship "Poltava", raising its flags, prepares for the opening of fire.
With the beginning of the battle V.K. Witgeft turned to 2 rumba (22,5 hail) to the left in order to increase the time during which X. Togo would overtake his column and thereby give his commanders maximum opportunities for defeating Mikasy. Some sources also indicate that V.K. Witgeft ordered an increase to 15 nodes, but this seems doubtful. Most likely, there was some confusion, and it was about trying to increase speed before X. Togo caught up with the Russian squadron again, but after the resumption of the fight, no evidence from the "Cesarevich" about the attempt to increase speed by the author of this article was found.
In pursuance of the order of the Russian commander, the battleships struck the flagship of the United Fleet and the Mikasa hid behind bursts from falling projectiles. But it was almost impossible to distinguish the fall of their shells, so other methods were used. For example, the senior gunners of Retvizan and Peresvet switched to volley fire: they fired 6-dm guns and, knowing the distance and time of the shells, determined the drop of their salvo by stopwatch. A different way was chosen by the commander of “Sevastopol”, the captain of 1 rank von Essen:
“According to the admiral’s order, we focused our fire on the enemy’s head ship, Mikasa, but since it was impossible to distinguish the fall of our volleys from aliens and it was difficult to correct the shooting, I ordered 6-dm tower No.3 to shoot and shoot at to the third ship in the column (it was “Fuji” - auth. note) and, taking aim, give the rest of the guns the distance to the lead one. ”
At the same time, the Japanese distributed their own fire - first “Poltava” came under their blow, but then gradually overtaking the Russian convoy concentrated the fire on the squadron battleship “Peresvet” (received a series of hits already in 16.40-16.45). This goal was much more interesting for the Japanese - after all, Peresvet was flying the flag of the junior flagship, but apparently the concentration of fire from the head battleships of the Japanese on Peresvet interfered with the fire and part of the Japanese ships moved the fire to Sevastopol.
And, apparently, the same thing happened further. When “Mikasa” was close enough to the leading Russian “Tsesarevich”, he transferred the fire to the Russian flagship and after him the battleships following “Mikasa” did the same, but part of the Japanese ships fired at the Retvizan. In other words, the Japanese concentrated the main force of their fire on the flagship Tsesarevich and Peresvet, but they acted without the slightest fanaticism - if a ship could not distinguish the fall of its shells by the flagships, he transferred the fire to other Russian armadillos. As a result, the Russians almost did not have any unshoted ships, with the exception of Victory, which received surprisingly few hits, but the Japanese, except for Mikasy, almost no one suffered damage from the Russian fire.
In Fuji, not a single projectile hit the entire battle, Asahi and Yakumo suffered no damage after the resumption of the battle in 16.30. The armored cruiser Kasuga received an 3 of an unknown caliber: most likely these were six-inch shells, but it is not even known whether it happened in the 1 or in the 2 phase, although it was probably still in the 2. One or two small projectiles hit the stern of the Sikishima, and a 12-inch projectile struck Nissin on 18.25.
Thus, for the entire second phase of the battle in the Yellow Sea, out of seven armored Japanese ships in line, three suffered no damage at all, and three more received from one to three hits each. It can be stated that the Russian battleships still sometimes carried fire from the Mikasa to other targets, but it is obvious: either the fire on the Sikisim, Nissin and Kasug was extremely short, or the shooting of the Russian ships was very inaccurate.
Half an hour after the start of the battle, the distance between the Russian and Japanese columns was reduced to 23 cable, and at about the same time, the flagship V.K. Witgefta: already in 17.00 Tsesarevich received the first hit after the resumption of the battle. “Mikasa” went to Tsesarevich's abyss approximately at 17.30 - by this time the Russian squadron had completely lost its positional advantage, which had been hers before 16.30, and now the 1-th combat unit overtook the head of the Russian column, and the “Tsarevich” was under heavy fire. And yet the Russian case was not lost at all: on the ships of V.K. Vitgefta believed that the Japanese were also very tolerant of Russian fire, and especially Mikas got it. For example, the senior gunner of Peresvet, Lieutenant V.N. Cherkasov wrote later:
"There were several fires on Mikas, both towers ceased firing and did not turn, and only one of the middle casemates fired from 6-dm battery cannons"
It must be said that the fire of the Japanese was indeed weakened to a certain extent, although not due to the “fault” of the Russian artillerymen. In 17.00, on the battleship "Sikishima" the barrel of one of the 12-dm guns was torn apart, and the second one had a compressor failure, and it lost the ability to fight for about half an hour. Literally in 15 minutes (in 17.15), a similar incident occurred at Mikas - the right barrel of the stern barbet was torn apart, while the left 12-dm gun also failed and did not shoot until the end of the battle. Less than 10 minutes (17.25) - and now “Asahi” is already suffering - in both of its stern 12-dm installations, the charges spontaneously ignited, causing both of the instruments to fail. Thus, in less than half an hour, the 1 combat unit lost 5 twelve-inch guns from the 16, and thus its firepower was seriously weakened.
The Japanese claim that all the 5s that failed their twelve-inch guns were damaged as a result of various emergency situations, but it cannot be ruled out that part of the guns were damaged by Russian fire - the fact is that an enemy projectile hit the barrel and the projectile was broken in the trunk can give very similar damage that is not so easy to identify. But here nothing can be said for sure, and the Japanese, as already mentioned, categorically deny the military damage of their guns.
The Russian main artillery losses were much more modest: at the beginning of the battle, the squadron ships had 15 twelve-inch guns (at Sevastopol, one 12-dm gun failed before the 28 July 1904 g), with which the squadron went into action, This was one of the guns of the Retvizan's nose turret could not fight further than 30 KBT, therefore during most of the 1 phase, the Japanese could only shoot 14 twelve-inch guns. But soon after 16.30, the damaged Retvizan cannon re-entered the battle, as the distance became quite suitable for it.
However, in 17.20, the Retvizan's nose tower was hit by a Japanese high-explosive projectile - the armor was not pierced, but the tower was jammed, and one of the guns was damaged - as a result, it was possible to fire only in the opposite direction Barrel - until the end of the battle, this tower could only make 3 shots. As for the main artillery of the battleships Pobeda and Peresvet, on the first of them in the stern tower on the 21-th shot one 254-mm gun failed, unfortunately, the exact time of this event is unknown. As for Peresvet, he had a nasal tower still stuck in 16.40, but, however, not completely - the possibility of manual rotation was maintained, but extremely slowly, and this required the efforts of 10 people. However, the guns of this tower continued to shoot at the enemy.
Thus, the Russian squadron fired 17.40 13-mm guns and 305 or 5 6-mm, and also 254 2-mm guns were "partially suitable" for the 254. The Japanese were able to respond from 11 305-mm, 1 254-mm and 6 203-mm guns, so that overall superiority in heavy guns remained for the battleships V.K. Witgefta. At the same time, none of the Russian ships had critical damage - all the squadron battleships were able to continue the battle.
But in 17.37-17.40, Tsesarevich received two hits of twelve-inch shells, the first of which hit the foremast between the 1 and 2 tiers of the nasal bridge, and the second, passing two meters from the first, landed in the telegraph house. Their breaks beheaded the Russian squadron - Rear Admiral Wilhelm Karlovich Vitgeft died, along with him fell the flagship navigator and junior flag officer, and the chief of staff N.A. Matusevich and a senior flag officer were injured. Commander of the "Cesarevich" Captain 1-rank N.M. Ivanov 2-oh was only knocked down, but survived.
That same hit ...
Let us not distract from the battle, in order to evaluate the actions of the Russian admiral from the resumption of the battle and until his death. In the 2 phase of the battle of V.K. Witgeft barely maneuvered. He did not rush on the Japanese front of the line, although he had such an opportunity, because the chosen wake of the wake did not prevent it at all.
In essence, his only action after the resumption of the battle was to turn left on the 2 rumba. Why?
We will never know the answer to this question. But we can assume the following: as we said earlier, turning “all at once” and throwing the Japanese would have led to the dump and the structure of the Russian ships would have collapsed, and a fierce battle at a short distance would lead to severe injuries, which the battleships V.K. Witgefta could not go to Vladivostok. At the same time, maneuvering Kh. Togo, as a result of which he substituted his flagship under concentrated Russian fire, gave the Russians excellent hope, if not drown, then at least knock out Mikasa, and who knows what could happen after that? VC. Witgeft did not need much, he just had to make it dark until he did not receive serious damage. And if “Mikasa” could not continue the fight, being knocked out of the line, say, at the beginning of the sixth hour, the Japanese would have to waste time on rebuilding: they would have to either lead Vice Admiral S. Mies, who held his flag on the battleship Sikishima (fourth in line), or S. Kataoka on Nissin (sixth in line). While the essence of the matter, time would have passed, and there the Japanese would again have to catch up with the Russians, acting from an unfavorable position.
The battle resumed on 16.30, and only about 17.30 "Mikasa" went to the back of the Tsarevich, and for an hour the commanders of the 1-nd Pacific squadron were there to smash the main Japanese battleship! Alas, they could not use their chance - it was the lack of intensive training shots from the very autumn of 1903. After all, what would happen if an amazing miracle happened and found the battleships of Zinovy Petrovich Rozhestvensky in place of 1 of the Pacific squadron?
In the Tsushima battle, his leading ships of the Borodino type were forced to shoot from where, as worse advantageous positions, than the ships of V.K. Witgefta. The wind also blew in the face of the Russian commanders, but there was still a lot of excitement that hampered the tip-off of the guns - the battleships of the 2 th Pacific Squadron in the Tsushima Strait swayed more strongly than the ships of V.K. Witgefta 28 July. At the same time, the course angle on the Mikasu was less convenient, probably even that part of the armadillo stern guns could not fire on it. The Japanese ships, completing the turn, immediately opened fire on the head of the Russian squadron, while in the battle in the Yellow Sea, the Japanese were forced to shoot primarily at the end ones. And yet, in Tsushima, for some quarter of an hour, Mikasa got 5 twelve-inch and 14 six-inch shells! Nineteen shells for 15 minutes, and for the entire battle in the Yellow Sea, the flagship X. Togo received only 24 hits ... But what would have happened to Mikas had the gunners 1 of the Pacific artillerymen Z.P. Rozhdestvensky - because then closer to 17.30 one could have expected the order of 60 (!) To hit the Japanese flagship, or even more? Even Russian shells with their meager content of explosives in such numbers could well have done decisive damage to the Japanese battleship.
In order to understand the decision of the Russian admiral, it is necessary to take into account the fact that in battle it always seems that the enemy suffers losses far greater than it actually is: the overwhelming majority of eyewitnesses believed that the Japanese had received significant damage even during the 1 phase of the battle , although in fact the Japanese squadron hardly suffered. Therefore, we can assume that VK. Witgeft was sincerely convinced that his gunners fired better than they actually were. Thus, in 16.30, when the fight resumed, V.K. Vitgeft was faced with a choice - to give up on the order of the governor and the Sovereign Emperor, to abandon the breakthrough to Vladivostok and try to get close to the Japanese and inflict heavy damage on them. Or, to continue the execution of the order and try to knock out the "Mikas", taking advantage of the fact that Kh. Togo strongly substituted himself, catching up with the Russian ships. Wilhelm Karlovich chose the second option - and turned the rumba on the 2 to the left in order to ensure the maximum duration of the fire on the Japanese flagship.
Further, in an article devoted to the analysis of various alternative scenarios that V.K. Vitgeft, we will try to understand whether the Russian rear admiral was right in choosing the tactics of the battle after 16.30. For now, we only note that Wilhelm Karlovich had the most serious reasons to act exactly as he did, and the reason for his apparent passivity may well lie not in indifference or submission to fate, but in sober calculation. He chose a tactic that fully responded to the task of breaking through to Vladivostok, and at the same time having a certain chance of success.
Contrary to popular belief, the death of V.K. Witgefta has not yet led to disaster. In a number of sources, one often hears reproaches to the commanders of Russian ships of passivity and inability to make independent decisions, but this is what the Tsesarevich commander did: he led the squadron forward, as if the commander was alive and nothing happened to him. Subsequently N.M. Ivanov 2-th reported:
“I decided that since the chief of staff was not killed, in order to avoid disorder in the squadron, if I report the death of Admiral Vitgeft, I will lead the battle further myself. I had a lot of data to assume this disorder, knowing that the authorities were passing to Admiral Prince Ukhtomsky, and remembering the same situation after the explosion of “Petropavlovsk” when hell was in the squadron. ”
On the one hand, N.M. Ivanov 2 had no right to do that, but if you approached the question creatively, the situation was this: if the admiral was killed, then the right to lead the squadron passed to his chief of staff, and only after his death - to the junior flagship. Chief of Staff N.A. Matusevich was wounded and could not command a squadron, and therefore the commander of the “Tsarevich” should have transferred the command to Prince Ukhtomsky, but N.A. Matusevich was alive! And because N.M. Ivanov 2-oh had a formal reason not to transfer command - that's exactly what he did. Unfortunately, he was not allowed to lead the squadron for very long ...
To be continued ...