The cruiser "Varyag". Fight Chemulpo 27 January 1904
However, perestroika, publicity and the “wild 90-e” that followed. Our history revised all and sundry, and pouring mud on it has become a fashionable trend. Got, of course, and "Varyag", and - in full. What did not accuse his crew and commander! We agreed already that Vsevolod Fedorovich Rudnev intentionally (!) Flooded the cruiser where it could be easily raised, for which he subsequently received the Japanese order. But on the other hand, there were many sources of information that were not previously available to historians and history buffs fleet - Perhaps their study can really make adjustments to the history of the heroic cruiser, familiar to us from childhood?
This series of articles, of course, will not dot the i's. But we will try to bring together information on the history of the design, construction and service of the cruiser to Chemulpo itself, inclusive, based on the data available to us, we will analyze the technical condition of the ship and the training of its crew, possible breakthrough options and various battle scenarios. We will try to figure out why the cruiser commander Vsevolod Fyodorovich Rudnev made certain decisions. In the light of the above, we will analyze the postulates of the official version of the Varyag battle, as well as the arguments of its opponents. Of course, the author of the present cycle of articles has formed a certain view on the feat of “Varyag”, and he, of course, will be presented. But the author sees his task not to persuade the reader to any point of view, but to give maximum information, on the basis of which everyone can decide for himself what the actions of the commander and crew of the cruiser Varyag are for him proud of the fleet and their country, the shameful page of our history, or something else.
Well, we will begin with a description of where such an unusual type of warships appeared in Russia, like high-speed armored cruisers of the 1 rank, with a normal displacement of 6-7 thousand tons.
The ancestors of the armored cruisers of the Russian Imperial fleet can be considered the Vityaz and Rynda armored corvettes as the normal displacement of 3 508 t, built in 1886.
Three years later, the composition of the domestic fleet was replenished by a larger armored cruiser with a displacement of 5 880 T - this was the Admiral Kornilov ordered in France, which the Loire shipyard (Saint-Nazaire) began to build in 1886. However, then the construction of armored-mounted cruisers in Russia began a long pause - almost a decade, from 1886 to 1895 year The Russian Imperial Navy has not ordered a single ship of this class. Yes, the “Svetlana” laid out at the end of 1895 in the French shipyards (with a displacement of 3828), although it was a quite decent small armored cruiser for its time, was still built, rather, as a representative yacht for Admiral General, and not as a ship corresponding to the doctrine of the fleet. "Svetlana" did not fully meet the requirements for this class of warships by Russian sailors, and therefore was built in a single copy and was not replicated in domestic shipyards.
And what, strictly speaking, were the demands of the fleet to armored cruisers?
The fact is that the Russian Empire in the period 1890-1895. began to seriously strengthen its Baltic Fleet with squadron battleships. Prior to this, in 1883 and 1886. two "armadillo rams" were laid "Emperor Alexander II" and "Emperor Nicholas I" and then only in 1889 - "Navarin". Very slowly - on an armadillo every three years. But in 1891 the Great Sisoy was laid, in 1892 - three squadron battleships of the Sevastopol type at once, and in 1895 - Peresvet and Oslyabya. And this is not counting the bookmarks of three coastal defense battleships of the Admiral Senyavin type, which, in addition to solving traditional tasks for this class of ships, was also expected to support the main forces in a general battle with the German fleet.
In other words, the Russian fleet sought to create armored squadrons for a general battle, and of course, such squadrons required ships to ensure their actions. In other words, the Russian Imperial Navy needed reconnaissance in the squadrons - it was this role that armored cruisers could perform quite successfully.
However, here, alas, dualism, which largely predetermined the development of our fleet at the end of the 19 century, said its weighty word. Creating the Baltic Fleet, Russia wanted to get a classic “two in one”. On the one hand, forces were needed that could give a general battle to the German fleet and establish domination in the Baltic. On the other hand, a fleet was needed that could go out into the ocean and threaten British communications. These tasks completely contradicted each other, since solving them required different types of ships: for example, the armored cruiser Rurik was perfect for ocean raiding, but was completely out of place in a linear battle. Strictly speaking, Russia needed a linear fleet to dominate the Baltic and, separately, a second cruising fleet for the war in the ocean, but, of course, the Russian empire could not even build two fleets for economic reasons. Hence the desire to create ships capable of equally efficiently fighting enemy squadrons and cruising in the ocean: a similar trend affected even the main force of the fleet (Peresvet series “battleships-cruisers”), so it would be strange to think that armored fighters would not be delivered similar task.
Strictly speaking, this is exactly what the requirements for the domestic armored cruiser were defined. He was supposed to be a scout in the squadron, but at the same time also a ship fit for ocean cruising.
Russian admirals and shipbuilders at that time did not consider themselves “ahead of the rest,” therefore, when creating a new type of ship, they paid very close attention to ships of similar purpose, built by the “Lady of the Seas” - England. What happened in England? In 1888-1895 Misty Albion built a large number of armored cruisers of the 1 and 2 class.
At the same time, ships of the 1 class, strange as it may sound, were the "heirs" of armored cruisers of the "Orlando" type. The fact is that, in the opinion of the British, these armored cruisers did not justify the hopes pinned on them, because of the overload, their armor belt went under water, not protecting the waterline from damage, and in addition, in England, the post of chief builder was occupied by William White, the opponent of armored cruisers. Therefore, instead of improving this class of ships, England in 1888 began the construction of large 1 rank armored cruisers, the first of which were Blake and Blenheim - huge ships with a displacement of 9150-9260 t carrying a very powerful armor deck (76 mm, and on bevels - 152 mm), strong armament (2 * 234-mm, 10 * 152-mm, 16 * 47-mm) and developing a very high speed for that time (up to 22 knots).
However, these ships seemed overly expensive to their lordships, so the next series of X-Numx Edgar-class cruisers mounted on the stocks in the 8-1889 were less displacement (1890-7467) and speed (7820 / 18,5 knots on the natural / forced thrust and armor (bevel thickness decreased from 20 to 152 mm).
All of these ships were formidable fighters, but, in essence, they were cruisers not for a squadron service, but to protect ocean communications, that is, they were “trade defenders” and “raider killers”, and as such were not too good for Russian fleet. In addition, their development brought the British to a standstill - in an effort to create ships capable of intercepting and destroying armored cruisers of the Rurik and Russia type, the British in 1895 r laid the armored "Powerful" and "Terribl", which had a full displacement over 14 thousand. m. The creation of ships of similar dimension (and cost), without vertical armor, was an obvious nonsense.
Therefore, the English cruisers of the 2 class, which had similar functionality, that is, could serve in squadrons and carry overseas service, were considered analogous to the newest Russian armored cruisers.
Starting in 1889-1890 The UK laid as much as the 22 Apollo-type armored cruisers built in two subseries. The first 11 ships of this type had a displacement of about 3 400 and did not carry the copper-wood plating of the underwater part, slowing down the fouling of the ships, while their speed was 18,5 knot during natural thrust and 20 knots when boilers were forced. The following Apollo-type 11 cruisers had copper-wood paneling, which increased their displacement to 3 600 t, and lowered the speed (on natural thrust / forced) to 18 / 19,75 nodes, respectively. The booking and armament of the cruisers of both sub-series was the same - armored 31,75-50,8 mm, 2 * 152-mm, 6 * 120-mm, 8 * 57-mm cannons, 1 * 47-mm cannons and four 356-mm torpedo tubes.
The following British armored cruisers, the 8 of the Astraea type ships, laid down in the 1891-1893, became Apollo's development, and, according to the British themselves, not a very successful development. Their displacement increased by almost 1 000 t., Reaching 4 360 t, but the additional weights were spent on subtle improvements - the reservation remained at the same level, the armament "grew" only on 2 * 120-mm guns, and the speed dropped further, making 18 knots on natural thrust and 19,5 knots when forced. However, it was they who served as the prototype for the creation of a new series of British armored cruisers of the 2 class.
In 1893-1895 The British lay 9 cruisers of the Eclipse type, which we called the “Talbot” type (the same Talbot who served as a stationary officer on the Chemulpo road together with the Varyag cruiser). These were much larger ships, the normal displacement of which reached 5 600 t. They were protected by a somewhat more solid armored hull (38-76 mm) and they carried more solid armament - 5 * 152-mm, 6 * 120-mm, 8 * 76-mm mm and 6 * 47-m guns, as well as 3 * 457-mm torpedo tubes. At the same time, the speed of Eclipse-type cruisers was frankly modest - 18,5 / 19,5 knots with natural / forced thrust.
So, what conclusions did our admirals, watching the development of the class of armored cruisers in the UK?
Initially, a competition for a cruiser project was announced, and this was exclusively among domestic designers. They were asked to submit ship designs up to 8 000 and displacement, at a speed not lower than 19 knots. and artillery that included 2 * 203-mm (in extremities) and 8 * 120-mm guns. Such a cruiser for those years looked excessively large and strong for the scout during the squadron, it remains only to assume that the admirals, knowing the characteristics of the 1-class English armored cruisers, thought about the ship capable of withstanding them in battle. But despite the fact that in the course held in 1894-1895. very interesting projects were obtained (7 200 - 8 000 t, 19 knots, 2-3 * 203-mm guns and up to 9 * 120-mm guns), they did not receive further development: it was decided to focus on the British 2 cruiser XNUMX th rank.
At the same time, it was originally planned to focus on the Astreya-class cruisers, with the mandatory achievement of 20 nodal speed and "possibly larger area of operation." However, almost immediately a different suggestion arose: engineers of the Baltiysky Zavod presented MTK with preliminary designs for cruisers with a displacement of 4 400, 4 700 and 5 600 t. All of them had 20 knots and an 63,5 mm thick armored deck, 2XXXXXXXX mm differed only in weapons, X-XXXXXXX, and 152XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX-XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX-XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX7XX0 8 * 120-mm on the first, 2 * 203-mm and 8 * 120-mm on the second and 2 * 203-mm, 4 * 152-mm, 6 * 120-mm on the third. The note attached to the projects explained:
Then, the Eclipse-class cruisers were chosen for the “role model”, but then the data on the French armored cruiser “D'Antrcasto” (7 995 t., 2 * 240-mm armament in one-tower towers and 12 * 138-mm , speed 19,2 knots). As a result, a new draft of the cruiser with a displacement of 6 000 t, speed of 20 units and weapons from 2 * 203-mm and 8 * 152-mm was proposed. Alas, soon, by the will of General-Admiral, the ship lost 203-mm guns for the sake of uniformity of calibers and ... so began the history of the creation of domestic armored cruisers of the type “Diana”.
I must say that the design of this series of domestic cruisers was an excellent illustration of where the road paved with good intentions leads. In theory, the Russian Imperial fleet was to receive a series of excellent armored cruisers, in many ways, superior to the British. The armored deck of a single 63,5 mm thickness provided, at a minimum, equivalent protection with the English 38-76 mm. Ten 152-mm guns were preferable to 5 * 152-mm, 6 * 120-mm English ship. In this case, "Diana" was supposed to be significantly faster "Eclipse" and the thing was this.
Tests of warships of the Russian fleet did not provide for the forcing of boilers, the Russian ships were supposed to show the contract speed on natural thrust. This is a very important point, which is usually overlooked by the compilers of reference books of the ship staff (and, alas, the readers of these reference books are behind them). So, for example, data is usually given that Eclipse developed 19,5 nodes, and this is true, but it doesn’t indicate that this speed was reached when boilers were forced. At the same time, the contract speed of “Diana” is only half a knot higher than that of “Eclipse”, and in fact cruisers of this type were able to develop only 19-19,2 knots. From this we can assume that the Russian cruisers turned out to be even less fast than their English “prototype”. But in fact, their “goddess” speed 19 knots were developed on a natural thrust, at which the Eclipse speed was only 18,5 knots, that is, our cruisers, for all their flaws, were nevertheless fast.
But back to the project "Diana". As we said earlier, their defense was supposed to be no worse, the artillery was better, and the speed was one and a half more units than the British Eclipse-class cruisers, but that was not all. The fact is that on the Eclipses there were fire tube boilers, while it was planned to install water pipe boilers on Diana, and this gave our ships a number of advantages. The fact is that fire-tube boilers require much more time for distributing vapors, it is much more difficult to change operating modes for them, and this is important for warships, and besides - flooding the compartment with a working fire-tube boiler would most likely cause it to explode, threatened the ship with immediate death (in contrast to the flooding of one compartment). Water tube boilers were deprived of these disadvantages.
The Russian fleet was one of the first to switch to water tube boilers. According to the research results of the Maritime Department experts, it was decided to use the Belleville boilers, and the first tests of these boilers (in 1887 g the Minin armored frigate was re-equipped) showed quite acceptable technical and operational characteristics. It was believed that these boilers were extremely reliable, and the fact that they were very heavy at the same time was perceived as an inevitable payment for other advantages. In other words, the Maritime Department realized that there are boilers of other systems in the world, including those that allowed it to provide the same power with significantly less weight than Belleville boilers, but all this was not tested, and therefore it was in doubt. Accordingly, when creating the Diana type armored cruisers, the requirement to install Belleville boilers was completely peremptory.
However, heavy boilers are not at all the best choice for a high-speed (even if relatively high-speed) armored cruiser. The weight of the Dian machines and mechanisms amounted to utterly unmatched 24,06% of their normal displacement! Even the Novik, which was built later, was widely spoken of as the “destroyer in 3 000 T” and the “car cover”, whose fighting qualities were obviously sacrificed for speed — and the weight of cars and boilers was only Only 21,65% of normal displacement!
In their final version, armored cruisers of the “Diana” type had 6 731 t of normal displacement, developed 19-19,2 ties and carried armament from only eight 152-mm guns. Without a doubt, they were extremely unfortunate ships. But it is difficult to blame the shipbuilders for this — the supermassive power plant simply did not leave them the weights to achieve the other planned ship characteristics. Of course, the existing boilers and cars were not suitable for the high-speed cruiser, and even the admirals “distinguished themselves” by sanctioning the weakening of the already weak weapons for the sake of cheap economy of weights. And, what is the most offensive, all those sacrifices that were made for the power plant did not make the ship fast. Yes, despite the failure to reach contract speed, they were probably still faster than the British Eclipses. But the problem was that the “Lady of the Seas” didn’t often build really good ships (just the British knew how to fight them well), and the armored cruisers of this series certainly cannot be called successful. Strictly speaking, neither the 18,5 nodes of Eclipse nor the 20 of Diana's contract nodes in the second half of the 90 of the 19 century were not sufficient to carry out a reconnaissance service during a squadron. And the eight-open six-inch armaments looked ridiculous against the two 210-mm and eight 150-mm cannons located in the casemates and turrets of the Germanic Victoria-Louise-type cruisers - it was with such cruisers that the Dianes would have to fight in the Baltic in case of war with Germany ...
In other words, an attempt to create an armored cruiser, capable of performing the functions of a scout during a squadron and, at the same time, “pirating” in the ocean in the event of war with England, was a fiasco. Moreover, the inadequacy of their characteristics was clear even before the cruisers entered service.
Diana-type cruisers were laid (officially) in 1897. A year later, a new shipbuilding program was developed that took into account the threat of a sharp increase in Japan: it was assumed to damage the Baltic Sea fleet (and while maintaining the pace of construction of the Black Sea) to create a strong Pacific Fleet capable of leveling the nascent Japanese naval power. At the same time, the MTC (under the leadership of the General-Admiral) determined the technical assignments for four classes of ships: squadron battleships with a displacement of about 13 000 tons, X-grade 1-2 reconnaissance cruiser with displacements of 6 000 t, dispatchers of the vessel or 2 cruisers and one of them, or a 3 cruiser, or their weight, 000 350, or the XNUMX cruiser, or the XNUMX cruiser, or their dispatchers, or the XNUMX cruiser, or their weight, or the XNUMX cruiser, or their weight, or the XNUMX cruiser, or their dispatchers. in XNUMX XNUMX t and destroyers in XNUMX t.
Regarding the creation of 1-grade armored cruisers, the Maritime Department took a reasonable and reasonable step - since the creation of such ships on our own did not lead to success, then an international competition should be announced and ordered the lead ship abroad, and then replicated it in domestic shipyards, thus strengthening the fleet and gaining advanced shipbuilding experience. Therefore, significantly higher competitors were put up for competition than Diana-type cruisers, tactical and technical characteristics - MTK formed a task to the ship, 6 000 ton displacement, node 23 speed and twelve 152-mm armament mm guns. The thickness of the armor deck was not asked (of course, it should have been present, but the rest remained at the discretion of the designers). The conning tower was supposed to have an 75 mm reservation, and the vertical protection of the elevators (feeding ammunition to the guns) and chimney bases - 152 mm. The coal reserve should have been at least 38% of the normal displacement, the cruising range should be at least 12 5 nautical miles. Metacentric height was also established with a full supply of coal (no more than 000 m), but the main dimensions of the ship remained at the discretion of the contestants. And yes, our specialists continued to insist on using Belleville boilers.
As you can see, this time the MTC was not guided by any of the existing ships of other fleets of the world, but sought to create an unparalleled, highly powerful and high-speed cruiser of moderate displacement. In determining the performance characteristics, it was deemed necessary to ensure superiority over the “Elsvik” cruisers: as follows from the “Maritime Office Report for 1897 — 1900”, domestic X-grade 1 armored cruisers had to be built: “by the type of Armstrong high-speed cruisers, but superior their displacement (6000 t instead of 4000 t), speed (23 node instead of 22-x) and the duration of the test at full speed increased to 12 hours. ” At the same time, 12-guns with 152-mm guns guaranteed him superiority over any English or Japanese armored cruiser of similar or lower displacement, and the speed allowed him to escape from larger and better armed ships of the same class (“Edgar”, “Powerful”, “ D'Antrkasto "etc.)
In fact, this is how the story of the creation of the Varyag cruiser begins. And here dear readers may wonder - why even write such a long introduction, instead of going straight to the point? The answer is very simple.
As we know, the competition for the projects of 1-grade armored cruisers was held in 1898. Everything seemed to be done on the thumb - many offers from foreign companies, the choice of the best project, its refinement, contract, construction ... How could it be so! Instead of the boring routine of a streamlined process, the creation of the Varyag turned into a real detective story. Which began with the fact that the contract for the design and construction of this cruiser was signed before the competition. Moreover, at the time of signing the contract for the construction of the Varyag, no cruiser project existed yet in nature!
The fact is that shortly after the competition was announced, the head of the American shipbuilding firm William Crump, Mr. Charles Crump, arrived in Russia. He didn’t bring any projects with him, but at the most reasonable price he was taken to build the best warships in the world, including two squadron battleships, four armored cruisers with a displacement of 6 000 and 2 500, and also 30 destroyers. In addition to the above, Charles Crump was ready to build a plant in Port Arthur or Vladivostok, where the 20 destroyers from the above 30 were to be assembled.
Of course, no one gave such a “piece of cake” to Charles Crump, but 11 of April 1898 of r, that is, before the competitive projects of armored cruisers were reviewed by ITC, the head of the American company on the one hand, and Vice-Admiral V. P Verkhovsky (the head of the GUKiS) on the other, signed a contract for the construction of a cruiser, which later became Varyag. At the same time, there was no draft cruiser - it was still to be developed in accordance with the “Preliminary Specifications”, which became an annex to the contract.
In other words, instead of waiting for the development of the project, review it, make adjustments and corrections, as was always done, and only then sign the construction contract, the Maritime Department, in fact, bought a “cat in a bag” - it signed a contract providing the development by Charles Crump of the cruiser project on the basis of the most common technical task. How did C. Crump manage to convince V.P. Verkhovsky that he is able to develop the best project of all that will be submitted to the competition, and that the contract should be signed as soon as possible, so as not to lose precious time?
Speaking frankly, all of the above indicates whether some kind of childlike naive admiral V.P. Verkhovsky, or about the fantastic gift of persuasion (on the verge of magnetism), which Charles Crump possessed, but most of all makes you think about the existence of a certain corruption component of the contract. It is very likely that some kind of arguments from a reviving American industrialist were extremely powerful (for any bank account) and were able to rustle in the hands of pleasure. But ... not caught - not a thief.
Anyway, the contract was signed. What happened next ... let's say, there are polar points of view, starting from “brilliant industrialist Kramp, struggling through the bureaucracy of tsarist Russia, building a first-class cruiser of breathtaking qualities” totally worthless ship. " So, in order to impartially understand the events that took place more than 100 years ago, a respected reader must necessarily imagine the history of the development of armored cruisers in the Russian Empire, at least in the very shortened form in which it was presented in this article .
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