As we said earlier, when Retvizan and Peresvet turned in the direction of Port Arthur, the commanders and junior flagships of the 1 Pacific squadron were in a rather ambiguous position. According to the letter of the charter, they had to carry out what the commander of the squadron admiral ordered, but he was going to Arthur, while the Emperor ordered to break through to Vladivostok. If you are guided not by the letter, but by the spirit of the law, then even then it was not clear what to do: go for a breakthrough on your own, and thus weaken the squadron, if it subsequently makes a second attempt to get to Vladivostok, or stay with the squadron ... but who knows whether it will risk will she go to sea again?
The squadron turned into Arthur approximately 18.20. For a while, all her ships went together, but after 40 minutes, i.e. around 19.00, the commander of the cruiser squad, Rear Admiral N.K. Reizenstein, made the final decision to go to Vladivostok. To this end, “Askold” increased the speed and raised the signal “To be in line with the wake” - it should have been read as an indication to “Pallada” and “Diana” not to follow “Askold”, but to take a place in the battleships, which they fulfilled: N.K. The Reizenstein overtook the battleships and, passing in front of Retvizan, raised the “Follow me” signal. In other words, there was already a third officer (besides PP Ukhtomsky and Schensnovich), seeking to take command of the squadron.
And here again there is ambiguity - of course, the admiral did not know who commanded the squadron and whether PP was alive. Ukhtomsky. But what prevented him from getting closer to Peresvet and finding out the status of the junior flagship? N.K. The Ratzenstein could easily have done this, and then there would no longer be any omissions: nevertheless, the commander of the squadron of cruisers did not do that. Why?
It can be assumed that N.K. Reizenstein decided to go for a breakthrough at all costs. If pp Ukhtomsky is killed or wounded and does not command a squadron, there is no point in requesting Peresvet, and N.K. Reizenstein, being a rear admiral, has the right to do what he considers necessary. If the prince remained in execution, he obviously does not object to returning to Arthur - otherwise the Peresvet would not have gone to the wake to Retvizan. Accordingly, the chances that PP Ukhtomsky allow N.K. Reizzenshteynu break through on their own, minimal, most likely, he will order cruisers to return with the squadron. But N.K. Reytsenshtein did not want to receive such an order at all - and if so, then why would he ask about the state of P.P. Ukhtomsky? Now N.K. Reizenstein had the full right to act independently: Peresvet was badly damaged and didn’t seem to raise any signal (at least they don’t see anything at Askold). But having received an order from the junior flagship, N.K. Reizenstein, of course, will no longer be able to break it ...
Why did Retvizan not go for Askold? The answer is very simple - when the ripple rose and the nose of the Retvizan began to “sink”, being filled with water through the damaged 51 mm plate of the nasal armor belt, E.N. Schensnovich decided that his ship was not able to break through to Vladivostok. Then, not wanting to just get out of the battle, he attempted a ram, but did not succeed, because he received a concussion at the most crucial moment. The ram failed, and E.N. Schensnovich turned to Port Arthur. He had the right to do so - in accordance with the instructions of V.K. Witgefta, "Retvizan" was the only ship that was allowed to return to Port Arthur, as he received an underwater hole before the breakthrough.
It is very difficult to say how justified such a decision was by the commander of the Retvizan. It can be assumed (with no evidence to that) that the battleship could still go for a breakthrough or to a neutral port. We know for sure that the ship had no problems with flooding the nose section, following Arthur, but it must be borne in mind that at that time he was moving, substituting a swell of the port side, so that part of the water that entered the hull through the damaged starboard armor plate even leaked out. back. Also, "Retvizanu" did not require any urgent measures to ensure the survivability of the harbor of Arthur. However, all of the above does not mean that Retvizan was able to go to Vladivostok, substituting the damaged starboard for the waves. Sam E.N. Schensnovich could hardly have witnessed the damage to the bow of his battleship. His injury was not penetrating, and on this basis, some Internet analysts consider him to be quite insignificant and not interfering with E.N. Shensnovichu perform their duties. But what is a splintering of the abdominal cavity? Let us imagine that a person with a full swing was hit in the stomach with the end of a thick metal rod, an armature, if you like. This will be a contusion.
Thus, Retvizan did not turn behind the Askold, because its commander considered the battleship unable to break through, and Peresvet - because PP Ukhtomsky decided to return to Arthur. "Diana" and "Pallas" took their place behind the battleships, as they were ordered N.K. Reizzenshteynom. As a result, of all the squadron ships, only Novik and the 2 th branch of the destroyers under the command of S.A. tried to follow the Askold. Maximova, and a little later - "Diana".
In the literature, the Askold breakthrough is usually described in the most enthusiastic tones: probably, anyone who was at least a little interested in the sea battles of the Russo-Japanese War read a description of how the Askold fought first with a detachment of Japanese ships led by the armored cruiser Asama ”, And he could not delay the Russian cruiser, caught fire and retreated, and“ Chin Yen ”received two hits. Then the way to the Russian cruiser was intercepted by the Yakumo and the 3 battle squad, but Askold was damaged by one of the Takasago-type cruisers and set fire to the Yakumo, so the Japanese were forced to withdraw from the battlefield.
Let the spectacle be large, but only an armored cruiser, which made the two much larger and better armed than he, armored ships retreat, of course, is amazing, but, alas - not quite true.
What really happened? To 19.00, the position of the opposing squadrons was approximately as follows:
"Asama" and 5 of the Japanese combat squadron approached the Russian squadron from the northeast, which, generally speaking, was a fair amount of arrogance on their part - the only armored cruiser and antiques of the 5 squadron went to the distance of Russian battleships, While H. Togo and his battleships were too far away and could not support them with fire. But the Japanese commander separated from the 1 military unit "Nissin" and "Kasuga", which followed the Russians from the southeast, and to the south-west of the Russians was "Yakumo" and the 3-th combat unit.
"Askold" passed along the ranks of the Russian squadron and cut its course - at that time he really had an exchange of fire with the "Assam" and the ships of the 5 squadron. It is likely that the Japanese ships at that time fired at the "Askold", but you need to understand that the Japanese could not go to intercept or chase him - behind the back of the flagship cruiser N.K. Artillerymen of the 1 th Pacific Squadron, which, of course, the “Assame” and the 5 squad were too tough. Therefore, the "Askold" did not break through the "Asama" and did not force it to retreat - the Japanese ship was forced to depart in order not to be substituted by the Russian battleships. In addition, in this firefight, “Asama” did not receive a single hit, he did not receive any damage in the battle at all, therefore, there could not have been any fire on him. But in the “Chin-Yen” two Russian shells really pleased, but it is impossible to say for sure whether it was the result of the fire of “Askold” or whether the commanders of another Russian ship achieved success.
After N.K. Reizenstein passed under the nose of "Retvizan", he turned to the south-west and the shootout subsided. Behind "Askold" rushed "Novik", which went to the left of the Russian battleships, and the destroyers of the 2 th branch: "Silent", "Fearless", "Ruthless" and "Stormy". The 1 Division under the command of Captain 2 Rank E.P. Eliseev did not follow “Askold” - they chose to follow the instructions of the deceased V.K. Witgefta, who ordered at nightfall to stay near the battleships. Somewhat later, E.P. Yeliseyev distributed his destroyers to the battleships and tried to approach the main Retvizan on his "Vigilant", but the latter, having taken the "Vigorous" as a Japanese destroyer, opened fire on him, so that Eliseev was forced to go to Arthur on his own. As for the "Diana", the cruiser of about 19.15-19.20 tried to follow the "Askold", but quickly found that he could not catch up with him, why turned back and stood in the wake of the next in Arthur "Pallad".
Thus, out of the entire Russian squadron, only two armored cruisers and four destroyers went on a breakthrough, while the destroyers immediately fell behind - they could not go against the wave (swell into the right cheekbone) at the speed of the armored cruiser. “Askold” and “Noviku” were faced with a hot deal: in front of them there was an armored “Yakumo” and 3 battle squad of three best Japanese armored cruisers - “Chitose”, “Kasagi” and “Takasago”. In addition, the 6 combat squadron was located in close proximity - three more small armored cruisers. All this was more than enough to stop and destroy the Russian ships. Nevertheless, the Japanese could not do it, and the reasons for how this could happen are completely unclear.
Heihatiro Togo had every reason to let the Russian squadron back to Arthur, because he became a trap for the 1st Pacific squadron. In addition, in the upcoming night, the Japanese destroyers could well succeed by sinking one or even several Russian battleships. H. Togo probably already knew that his ships were not too damaged and were ready to resume the battle at any time, but the Russian squadron could suffer losses from mines, torpedoes, land artillery until the next exit ... and all this played into the hands of the commander of the United fleet.
But the breakthrough of two high-speed cruisers to Vladivostok did not at all fit into the Japanese plans - they had to hold large forces against the Vladivostok detachment of cruisers anyway. Therefore, "Askold" and "Novik" should have stopped, and the Japanese seemed to have everything they needed.
It can be assumed that the following has happened. It is known that Yakumo had big problems with speed, and according to some testimonies in battle, July 28 had difficulty holding 16 nodes. He, of course, tried to intercept the “Askold”, but could not block his path, and the fire of the artillerymen “Yakumo” was not accurate enough to inflict heavy damage to the Russian cruiser. Thus, Yakumo did everything it could, but Askold was unable to catch up or damage. At the same time, Vice-Admiral S. Deva showed extreme caution, if not to say - cowardice and did not dare to fight his three high-speed cruisers against "Askold" with "Novik". And it is not clear. Yes, “Askold” was one-on-one superior to “Kasagi” or “Takasago”, but the latter were individually stronger than “Novik”, so the Japanese were superior in strength, who could also count on the support of 6 squadron cruisers, and if “Askold” succeeds in speeding down, then “Yakumo”. And even if it had suddenly turned out to be quite bad for some Japanese cruiser, it was easy for him to get out of the battle - the Russians were going for a breakthrough and did not have time to finish off the enemy.
It is also surprising that the Japanese do not record hits in their ships in this episode of the battle. It is reliably known about just one hit in “Yakumo” - when “Poltava”, in the interval between the 1 and 2 phase, took a twelve-inch projectile into this cruiser. As a result, the behavior of the Japanese during the breakthrough of “Askold” and “Novik” is somewhat shocking: not a single Japanese ship was damaged, the gunners of Russian cruisers did not achieve a single hit, but S. Deva, having superior forces, does not risk pursuing N.K. Reizzenshteyna! How can this be explained - by the indecision of S. Deva or by concealing combat damage, the author of this article does not know, although he is inclined to the first.
In any case, only the following are credible - approximately in 19.40 “Askold” and “Novik” engaged in battle with the 3 combat squadron and “Yakumo”. Passing past them, the Russian cruisers fired at the Suma, which had lagged behind the 6 squad and quickly got out of the way of the Russian cruisers. In 20.00 it was dark and 20.20 "Askold" stopped firing, as he no longer saw the enemy. In the future, the honor to pursue "Askold" and "Novik" fell out of "Akashi", "Izumi" and "Akitsusime" - a persistent feeling that the Japanese were sent in pursuit of precisely those ships that were obviously not capable of catching up with the Russians.
The result of the fire of the Russian cruisers during the entire breakthrough period was one likely hit in Izumi (which Pekinham mentioned about the damage on the night of July 29), which followed along with the 6 squad, although this could not be reliably asserted.
However, regardless of the number of hits achieved, the courage of Rear Admiral K.N. Reizenzsteyna not subject to any doubt. He could not know about the problems with the boilers and (or) machines "Yakumo" and had to believe that he was going into battle against the high-speed armored cruiser, far superior in firepower and protection "Askold" and "Novik" together. But, apart from Yakumo, the Japanese had a great power advantage over N.K. Reizzenshteynom, so that the battle promised to be very heavy, and the Russian ships - almost doomed to defeat. The Rear Admiral, of course, could not have imagined that the enemy would be so timid and unobtrusive - and yet he went for a breakthrough. And therefore, despite the fact that “Askold” did not inflict damage to the Japanese ships that are attributed to him, but his valiant (even if not very skillful) crew and the admiral himself fully deserved the respect and admiration of contemporaries and descendants. Of course, the decision N.K. Reizenzstein to leave the squadron, rushing to a breakthrough on their own, at that moment was controversial, but subsequent events confirmed his correctness. The 1 Pacific Squadron failed to break through again and was buried alive in the harbors of Port Arthur, while the actions of the rear admiral rescued Askold for Russia.
But even before the “Askold” ceased firing, two large ships separated from the squadron and went to Vladivostok - the Tsarevich and Diana decided not to return to Arthur at 20.00-20.05, and the Thunderstorm destroyer followed the “Diana” .
In all, Arthur made a breakthrough with 6 battleships, 4 armored cruisers and 8 destroyers, of which 1 battleship, 3 cruisers and 5 destroyers did not turn back. For various reasons, none of these ships reached Vladivostok, Novik and Storny died, and the rest of the ships were interned in various neutral ports. All this happened after the July 28 battle of 1904 r and, thus, is beyond the scope of this study. But nevertheless, it is necessary to warn those who are ready to indiscriminately blame the commanders of the ships that did not return to Arthur just because the latter refused to make a breakthrough to Vladivostok and went to neutral ports. "Tsesarevich" did not have coal to go to Vladivostok. "Askold" on the morning of July 29 could not give more 15 nodes of the course - so affected by the damage received by the cruiser during the breakthrough. The “Diana” was a sad sight at all - the hit of the Japanese 10-inch projectile in the underwater part led to the fact that three stern six-inches could no longer fire, so the cruiser was left with only three operating 6-dm guns (he went on a breakthrough with just 6 such guns, since the other two remained on the Port Arthur batteries). At the same time, the maximum speed of the "Diana" before the enemy hit was 17 nodes - it was with such speed that the cruiser tried to follow N.K. Reizzenshteynom, and it is obvious that, having received a heavy projectile from the "Kasuga" under the waterline, the cruiser still lost in speed. In fact, the only major ship capable of making a breakthrough without eliminating at least some of the damage was the Novik - but it was he who made such an attempt.
The remaining 5 battleships, the Pallas armored cruiser and the destroyer 3 went to Port Arthur. On the night of 28 on 29, the commander of the United Fleet threw out against the scattered ships of the 1 th Pacific squadron of 18 fighters and 31 destroyer. Attacking the Russian ships, the latter fired 74 torpedoes, having achieved one hit in the stern of the squadron battleship Poltava, but, fortunately, the torpedo that hit an acute angle to the hull did not explode. The only damage was the incapacitation of the Victory 254-mm gun with a direct hit of an 57-mm projectile.
To summarize the long articles in the current 12 cycle. The battle of 28 July 1904 g is usually considered a draw, because it did not lead to a decisive result and not a single ship of the opposing sides was lost in it. Nevertheless, it can be argued that the Russians suffered a defeat in it, since their task - to make their way to Vladivostok - was not fulfilled. The combined fleet was supposed to prevent the breakthrough of the Russians to Vladivostok, and so it happened in reality: in spite of the fact that part of the ships of the 1 th Pacific Squadron escaped the Japanese, almost all of them were forced to take part in neutral ports, and did not participate in further battles .
However, the fact that the Japanese fleet achieved its goal does not mean that it acted exemplary. The commander of the United Fleet made a lot of mistakes in the management of the forces entrusted to him, and it can be said that victory was achieved not thanks to, but rather, contrary to the naval art of Heyhatiro Togo. In fact, the only reason for the Japanese victory was the overwhelming superiority of the training of the gunners of the Japanese squadron over the Russian. The battle of 28 July 1904 g, also called the battle in the Yellow Sea or the battle of Shantung, won the Japanese artillery.
Usually, the pre-war system of training naval gunners is reproached for the low level of training of Russian commanders, but this is not true. Of course, there were a lot of complaints about the training of commanders - the number of trainings was insufficient, as was the consumption of projectiles per gun, usually fired at fixed or towed at low speed shields, and the firing distances were extremely small and did not match the increased distances of naval combat. But with all this, and provided that the artillery training programs were not violated, the training of Russian and Japanese commanders should be considered comparable.
As we wrote earlier, in the 27 battle on January 1904, the ships of the 1-nd Pacific Squadron achieved a comparable number of hits with the Japanese. The percentage of large-caliber shells hit by Russian ships turned out to be 1,1 times lower than that of Japanese ones; the Japanese turned out to be 1,5 times more accurate by average caliber. And this is despite the fact that:
1) Before the 2,5 battle, the Russian ships stood in the armed reserve for a month and, unlike the Japanese, had no training at this time.
2) Shortly before entering the reserve, many of the old commander left the squadron (demobilization 1903 g), they were replaced by "young soldiers", the time for training which is almost gone.
3) Japanese artillerymen had much better technical equipment - there were more rangefinders, and besides, Japanese guns were equipped with optical sights, while the Russians did not.
4) The Japanese had a staff of officers, while this was not the case on the Russian ships, with the result that in a number of cases the conductors commanded the plutongs and towers.
We also exemplified a situation in which the Black Sea fleet found itself, including the armored cruiser Memory of Mercury, after the war, having only stood for three weeks in an armed reserve, it worsened 1,6 shooting accuracy almost once - and it would be okay , but a sharp drop in the accuracy of "almost doubled" turned out to be characteristic of all the "reserved" ships. So after all, it was only 3 of the week, not the 2,5 of the month, and there was no demobling between shots. The above allows us to conclude about the need for regular training and a quick decrease in the quality of shooting in the absence of such.
In other words, if for some reason the war would start not on the night of 27 in January of 1904 g, but in the late summer of 1903 g, even before demobilization, then we can assume that the Russians could have demonstrated even more accurate shooting than the Japanese.
Thus, the Japanese superiority in shooting accuracy in 28 July 1904 r did not contribute to gaps in the pre-war artillery training, but disregard of combat training during the war itself. Starting with the release of 1 in November 1903 g to the armed reserve and until the 28 battle of July 1904, almost 9 months elapsed, of which the squadron conducted full-fledged training for only 40 days during the S.O. Makarova. Such an attitude to the teachings, of course, had an extremely negative effect on the ability of the gunners to hit the target. After such a break, one should not be surprised that the battleships of the 1 th Pacific squadron shot out four times worse than the Japanese, but that the Russian commanders even got into someone else.
Gaps in combat training resulted from the general passivity of the squadron (again, excluding the brief period of the command of S.O. Makarov). You can understand VK Witgefta, who was afraid of taking a squadron to an external raid — everything was filled up with mines so that every way out to the sea was fraught with mortal risk. Suffice it to recall that the 10 of June, the battleships, having entered the outer raid, despite the preliminary trawling, stood exactly on the mine can (between the ships they caught the 10-11 min) and only a miracle no ship was blown up. But the limit of miracles for that day was obviously exhausted, so that on his return, “Sevastopol” was blown up by a mine.
Indeed, the withdrawal of the squadron under such conditions was fraught, but who is to blame for the fact that the Japanese were completely free to manage on Arthur's external raid? The Russian squadron possessed an inaccessible to the Japanese position (internal raid) of sufficiently powerful coastal batteries, and any damaged ship could easily be delivered for repair. In contrast, the Japanese had only a flying base and a landing site in Bitszyvo, which should have been guarded. They had more ships, but the possibilities for repair and coastal defense were much less, and therefore, with proper preparation, our OSSA had to throw mines at night and threaten torpedo attacks on Japanese ships, retreating and remaining inaccessible during the day under the cover of high-speed cruisers. Alas, with the exception of Stepan Osipovich Makarov, who alone remembered that the best defense was an attack, our admirals did not think about the attack. They did not think of their active actions to impose their will on the enemy and force him to defense. On the contrary, the utterly unthinkable and unjustifiable war of “Keep and not to risk” was declared, and we owe it to him that the 1 Pacific Pacific squadron could not control not just the Yellow Sea, but at least the outer raid of its own harbor.
The real reason for the defeat of the Russian squadron is not at all in the fact that she did something wrong in the July 28 battle. On the contrary, Wilhelm Karlovich Vitgeft commanded surprisingly sensibly, he took full advantage of Heihatiro Togo’s endless mistakes, repeatedly putting the latter in a very unenviable tactical position. But all this could not compensate for the gaping and almost nine-month failure in combat training, and therefore it can only be noted with sadness that the Russians had lost the battle in the Yellow Sea before it began.
This concludes the description of the July 28 battle of 1904 or the battles in the Yellow Sea (at Shantung), and the last thing that remains is to disassemble the possibilities that VK did not use. Witgeft immediately before and during the battle. This will be devoted to the last article of this cycle.
To be continued ...