Surprisingly, until 1901, almost the entire Royal Navy, and until 1905, a significant part of it, led training shooting was conducted at a fixed distance - 1000 yards. This is a 914,4 meter, or almost 5 (FIVE) cable. Methodically it looked like this: the gun was loaded, then the necessary sight was installed, after which the gunner had to catch the moment when the ship would be on an even keel and then (not earlier and not later!) To give a shot. It was necessary to shoot when three points were combined: a slot of the rear sight, a front sight and a target. The slightest delay (or, conversely, a premature shot) led to the projectile flying above the target, or falling into the water in front of it.
It was very difficult to capture the moment of the shot, and among many commanders fleet it was believed that a gunner could not be trained: "gunners are born, not become." In any case, with the existing methods of "control" of fire, even trained gunners could not guarantee any effective firing at a distance of more than 5 cable.
Interestingly, in the British fleet optical scopes appeared, but they were completely unclaimed on ships. The fact is that with the existing methods of shooting, aiming with the help of optics led to the fact that the target came into view only very briefly and quickly disappeared from it. Traditional pillar and fly were much more convenient.
The organization of artillery firing was primitive to the extreme by the fact that they were produced at the same distance in 1000 yards (only in one source the author came across the phrase “shooting less than 2 000 yards,” but, generally speaking, 1000 yards also less 2000 yards). In this case, the prepared calculations showed 20-40% hits.
Surprisingly, such a (completely intolerable) situation in the Royal Navy was considered the norm. The overwhelming majority of officers and admirals of the Royal Navy did not consider artillery firing at all to be an important matter and often treated them as an inevitable evil. Cases in which shells intended for artillery exercises were simply thrown overboard were not so rare. T. Ropp wrote:
"The ship commanders considered it almost the most important task of bringing their appearance to the ideal ... In those years," an elegant look was necessary for promotion "and among the sailors there was a joke that the French could always learn about the approach of the British Mediterranean fleet ships radiance ... Shooting from guns was for these beautiful ships a real disaster. When the flagship officers went ashore to avoid participation in firing, the ships sought to use up the amount of ammunition as quickly as possible, causing less damage to the paint. ”
Probably the first person who tried to change something in the established practice was the fifty-year-old captain Percy Scott. He perfected the machine tools on which the calculations worked off loading the guns in order to train them to deliver ammunition to the gun faster and to load it faster, but his most famous invention is the “Scott marker” or “dotter”. This device worked like this: one sailor moved the target along a vertically set plate in front of the gun sight. At the same time, a special device was mounted on the gun barrel, pushing the pencil forward when pressing the trigger. As a result, at the time of the “shot” the pencil put a dot (in English, dot, from where, in fact, the name “dotter” went) opposite the target, and later it was possible to see where the gun was actually aimed at at the moment of opening the fire.
As a result of the use of these devices, the Scylla cruiser, commanded by captain Percy Scott, demonstrated enchanting accuracy in 1899 by achieving 80% hits.
However, despite these impressive results, no doubt, the real merit of P. Scott lies elsewhere. Once, when his cruiser fired with strong agitation, he noticed that the gunner was not trying to catch the moment of the shot, but was spinning up the vertical tip of the gun in order to try to keep the target in the sight all the time. And P. Scott immediately adopted this method.
В historical It is customary for literature to give praise to P. Scott for his instruments and perseverance in their implementation in the Navy. But in fact, the key merit of P. Scott is not at all a “dotter”, which, of course, was a witty and useful device, but which in itself initially only allowed to achieve better results with the existing, frankly vicious method of shooting. The main merit of P. Scott is that he came up with and put into practice the principle of continuous target retention in the sight, reorganizing the gun guidance process itself (as far as you can understand, he divided the functions of the horizontal and vertical guidance of the gun, appointing two gunners for this). Thus, he created the prerequisites for the use of optical rangefinders, and for shooting at distances significantly exceeding 5 cable.
But in the future, P. Scott was forced for several years not to promote artillery science, but to popularize what had already been achieved. Having received under his command the cruiser "Terribl" P. Scott trained his commanders in their techniques. His brilliant results still attracted the attention of commanders, with the result that the ships of the Chinese station began to train according to the method of P. Scott.
Surprisingly, but the fact is that in the Royal Navy they did not consider it necessary to compete in artillery training. And even in 1903 g, when P. Scott, at that time became the commander of the Artillery School on about. Whale, strongly suggested introducing shooting competitions between ships and squadrons, the fleet's top management refused to let him in and did not do anything like that. Fortunately, if it did not resolve this, then at least it did not prohibit it, leaving the issues of artillery preparation to the discretion of the fleet commanders. And it just so happened that just at the time of P. Scott's success, the British Mediterranean fleet was commanded by a certain vice-admiral (in 1902, the full admiral) by the name of John Arbethnot Fisher. The next step in the path of artillery progress was to be made precisely for him. Of course, D. Fisher immediately introduced in the fleet entrusted to him and the methods of P. Scott and competitive shooting.
A little remark. As soon as the British fleet (at least its part, that is, the ships of the Chinese station and the Mediterranean fleet) began to shoot using an optical sight, it turned out ... that these sights are completely incapacitated. Admiral C. Bridge responded as follows:
“It is impossible to characterize with greater severity the shameful scandal with our worthless sights; the sights of the guns of the ships of Her Royal Majesty "Centurion" were so defective that the ship could not go into battle with them. "
But, in addition to introducing the new P. Scott, it was D. Fisher who tried to increase the distance of artillery fire and see what would come of it. In 1901 r, the Mediterranean fleet starts firing at shields for long distances - according to some sources up to 25-30 cable.
The result, of course, was disappointing. It turned out that the skills gained by the commanders when shooting at a distance in the 5 cable were absolutely not suitable for shooting at the distance 2-3 miles. As for the fire control system ...
The British battleships had the following, if I may say so, OMS. Each 305-mm tower was connected to a conning tower with a speaking tube (not a telephone!), And a dozen 152-mm guns were divided into three groups with a speaking pipe each. The group was commanded by a casemate officer, there were four cannons in his headquarters - but since they were located on both sides, he usually needed to control the firing of only two guns.
At the top of the navigational felling, the Barra and Struda rangefinder was installed, and a negotiation tube was also laid to it from the conning tower. It was assumed that the range finder reports the distance to the conning tower, and from there this information will be communicated to the commanders of the towers and casemate officers. Alas, back in 1894 g, it turned out that it was absolutely impossible to transfer anything through the negotiation tube during firing - the roar of shots drowned out everything.
Accordingly, the process of bringing the distance to the commanders took place in the traditional, unhurried, not afraid of this word - Victorian style. If the commander of the tower or the casemate officer wanted to know the distance to the enemy, they sent a messenger to the conning tower. There, having listened to the request, they sent the messenger back from where he came from, and already sent their messenger to the range finder. He recognized the distance and then ran to the tower or dungeon to inform her of the interested officer.
Of course, there was no centralized fire control. Each tower commander and casemate officer fired completely on their own, ignoring the others.
The effectiveness of such a fire control system is extremely difficult to diminish. Of course, it would have been possible to shoot for a thousand yards like that, but with an increase in the firing distance, this approach showed its complete inconsistency. The experience of firing squadrons of the Mediterranean fleet prompted D. Fischer the following:
1) The need for a single caliber. Correcting the fire of two or more calibers was almost impossible due to the difficulty of recognizing bursts at the site of the falling projectiles.
2) Fire control must be centralized. This resulted from the fact that during the 25-30 cable course neither the tower commander nor the casemate officers could distinguish the fall of their volleys from the volleys of the other guns and, accordingly, could not adjust the fire
Why did D. Fisher come to this and not P. Scott? It is not that P. Scott did not understand that in the future we should expect an increase in the distances of artillery combat to far more than 5 cables, but he was simply not allowed to carry out his research. Such things cannot be developed theoretically, without constant verification by practice, and P. Scott asked to provide him for the experiments of the armored cruiser Drake. However, someone at the top thought it was overkill and P. Scott was left with nothing. Instead, the Admiralty Council instructed Rear Admirals R. Castens and H. Lambton, who held their flag on Venerable and Victorios, respectively, to study the possibilities of long-range shooting. According to the results of the study, they should give answers to a number of questions, the main of which were:
1) Is a shooting practice program necessary, or is it not needed? (as far as can be understood, the Admiralty attended to this issue only in 1903)
2) Should the guns be controlled centrally, or should the individual guidance of gunners and battery officers be maintained?
Sadly, the brave rear admirals failed their assignments. No, they, of course, spent the amount of coal and shells they were supposed to test, but they did not find out anything that D. Fisher would not have learned after 1901 shooting. At the same time, the admirals ’conclusions contradicted each other, and most importantly - they never were able to offer some efficient methods of artillery fire at a distance of at least 25-30 cable. Responsible commissions have long studied the results of research and methodological recommendations on shooting, compiled by R. Castance and H. Lambton, and came to the conclusion that they still managed to do better at Venerable. Recommendations R. Kastansa were proposed for execution by the commanders of the Royal Navy. Moreover, it was proposed, because they explicitly stated that "alternative systems can be used instead." And since these recommendations were extremely complex (O. Parks directly states: “impossible to implement”), no one followed them.
The main merit of D. Fisher when he was in command of the Mediterranean fleet was that in practice he was convinced of the fairness of the all-big-gun concept. But he was unable to develop new methods of using artillery for firing at increased distances. In other words, D. Fisher found out WHAT should be fired from and how NOT to shoot, but could not suggest how to do it.
Why did D. Fisher not complete his enterprise? Apparently, the problem was that, having organized his famous shooting in 1901, already in 1902 he received a new appointment and became the second sea lord, which he held until the end of 1904. This time in the history of the Royal Navy is called the “Era of Fisher "Because it was then that he carried out his main transformations. Obviously, he simply did not have enough time and opportunities to deal with artillery issues.
However, these possibilities of D. Fisher appeared when he became the first sea lord in October 1904. The caricature that appeared in the weekly Punch in the same month is instructive. In the Admiralty, stylized as a grill bar, there are two: John Bull (a humorous collective image of England) as a visitor and Jackie Fisher as a chef. The inscription under the caricature reads: “No more Gunnery Hash”
And so it turned out in reality: as early as February, 1905 G removed P. Scott to the position of Inspector of Shooting Practice (at the same time raising him in rank). And at the same time, another “protégé” of John Arbetnoth Fisher - John Jellico - becomes the Chief of Naval Artillery. Unfortunately, the author of this article does not know the name of the officer who at that time occupied the position of the Captain Artillery School, which P. Scott left, but without a doubt, he was an outstanding person and sharing the views of D. Fisher and P. Scott. Apparently, for the first time in English history, the main “artillery” posts were occupied by unconditionally talented people ready to work together.
And it is from this point that one can finally talk about the start of systematic work to improve the methods of shooting in the Royal Navy. It is in 1905 for the first time in English practice that a new exam is introduced, the so-called “combat shooting”. Its essence is as follows - a warship from all trunks and within 5 minutes firing at a large towed target. At the same time, the course is also changing (unfortunately, O. Parks does not indicate whether the towing vehicle changed the course, or whether the shooting ship did it). The distance during shooting varies from 5 000 to 7 000 yards, i.e. from about 25 to 35 cable. The results were evaluated in points accrued for various achievements - shooting accuracy, rate of fire, timely start of shooting, “keeping” the distance. Points could also be removed - for unused ammunition and other shortcomings.
The results of the first shooting, P. Scott described as "deplorable". However, it could not be otherwise - the Royal Navy in 1905 g did not have any rules of fire, no sights, which were suitable for their purpose, or devices for controlling the shooting. In other words, the British gunners simply could not shoot at 25-35 cable.
This is also confirmed by D. Fisher’s experimental shooting of 1901, about which O. Parks writes
"... distances 5 000 - 6 000 yards could be the fighting distances of the near future, and with proper fire control, it is quite possible to get a large percentage of hits on distances 8 000 yards and more. ”
So, based on the foregoing, we can safely say that the conventional wisdom that the UK had begun to create the Dreadnought, influenced by the experience of the Russo-Japanese War, has no basis. In terms of shooting control, the British and 1905 G still had very little to move from the dead center of the pre-war standards - they knew that since they were shooting, they could not shoot, but they still didn’t figure out how to shoot.
Both the Dreadnought and the Invincible battlecruiser were designed at a time when the fleet had not yet learned how to even shoot 25-30 cables, but already realized that it was possible and hoped to master it soon - if some clever heads would explain the fleet, how it should be done, of course. And sometime later, with the appropriate progress of the artillery science - what the devil of the sea is not joking - it may be possible to fight on the 40 cable (8 000 yards), or even more.
And therefore it is completely pointless to wonder why the British in the Invincible project did not make efforts to ensure the fire of all eight guns on one side. This is the same as asking why a fourth-grade student in middle school does not solve differential equations. The British still had a lot of work to do to learn how to shoot long distances and find out that you need to have at least 8 guns aboard in order to shoot four-gun half-salts, reloading the guns while others are shooting. Well, at the time of the design of the "Dreadnought" their views looked like this:
“The results of firing at long distances showed that if we want to have good results on 6 000 yards (30 kbt - auth. Note) and more, guns must fire slowly and carefully, and aim more easily when the volley gives one gun. Consequently, the need to use a large number of guns disappears, and the advantage of several well-aimed guns with a large explosive charge is enormous ... ... Suppose, to ensure proper rate of fire, every 12-d (305-mm) gun is aimed at the target for a minute. If you shoot six guns consecutively, you can send a projectile of enormous destructive power every 10 seconds. ”
What sighting four-gun salvoes can we talk about?
But there is another aspect that is usually overlooked. In the military-historical literature, it has long been commonplace to what the world should curse the system of training the gunners of the Russian Imperial Navy. But when the top officials of the Royal Navy were still discussing that the ships of the Lady of the Seas would soon learn to shoot 5 000 - 6 000 thousands of yards, Vice-Admiral Rozhestvensky led the Second Pacific Squadron entrusted to his command to Tsushima.
“The first Russian volleys saved the Japanese from pleasant illusions. There was no hint of indiscriminate firing, on the contrary for a distance of thousands of yards in 9 it was unusually accurate shootingand in the first few minutes of the Mikaz and Sikisim they got a series of hits with six-inch shells ... "
According to the report of Captain Packinham, a British observer, the entire Russian-Japanese war did not descend from the battleship Asahi, within fifteen minutes of the start of the battle, from 14: 10 to 14: 25 "Mikasa" received nineteen hits - five 305-mm and fourteen 152-mm shells. And another six hits were other Japanese ships. At the same time, at the time of opening fire, the distance between Mikasa and the head Prince Suvorov was at least 38 KB (about 8 000 yards) and increased further.
Here I would like to note this. Studying domestic and foreign, translated into Russian sources devoted to naval history (yes, at least, and O. Parks) you encounter a surprising difference in the approaches of their compilation. While domestic authors consider it a matter of honor to highlight and in no case miss in their research even the most insignificant negative design of ships or combat training of the fleet, foreign authors either bypass these issues in silence, or write in such a way that I have said something about flaws, but there is a persistent feeling that all this stuff is until you begin to analyze the text "with a pencil in your hands."
What should the domestic lover of the history of the navy, who was brought up on the dogma about the curvature of Russian artillerymen of the Russian-Japanese war, feel, seeing such a graph of the level of artillery training cited by O. Parks?
Of course, the burning desire to prostrate before the genius of the British artillery science. But what impression would there be if O. Parks didn’t write a vague “one and the same distance” in the explanation of the schedule, but would directly indicate that it’s about shooting from a 5 cable distance (no other can not, because in 1897 r at long distances simply did not shoot)? The impression IMMEDIATELY reversed: so what, it turns out that in the Royal Navy also in 1907, two years after the Russian-Japanese war, someone still managed to train the gunners in shooting 1000 yards ?!
As an unscientific fantasy: it would be extremely interesting to find out what would happen if, by the wave of a magic wand in the Tsushima Strait, there were suddenly no Rozhdestvensky ships, but the corresponding squadron of Her Majesty’s ships with British sailors and commander. And, of course, with its rifle scopes, the inability to use them, the 5 cable shooting experience, projectiles filled with a large amount of black powder ... But in the best British traditions, polished and sparkling from the keel to the short. The author of this article does not undertake to say for sure, but, in his personal opinion, the English in Tsushima would be waiting for an enchanting debacle.
Thank you for attention!
PS It was assumed that this article will be a continuation of the cycle “Errors of British shipbuilding. The Invincible battle cruiser, but during its writing, the author deviated so much from the original topic that he decided to place it outside of the specified cycle.