The sources for the analysis will be damage schemes from "Top Secret stories», Analytical materials by Arseny Danilov (naval-manual.livejournal.com), monograph by V.Ya. Krestyaninov's "The Battle of Tsushima" and N.J.M. Campbell's article "The battle of Tsu-Shima" (translated by V. Feinberg). When mentioning the time of hitting the Japanese ships, Japanese time will be indicated first, and in brackets - Russian according to V. Ya. Krestyaninov.
Hits on an armored side
Action of Russian shells
In the Tsushima battle, Russian 12 ”shells twice pierced the 152-mm armor of the Mikasa's upper belt. The first incident occurred at 14:25 (14:07), a plug was knocked out in the armor, the floor of the casemate was pierced behind the armor.
The second incident occurred at 16:15 (15:57) with a full gap almost 3 meters behind the armor, making holes in the middle deck and bulkheads.
In both cases, there was an inflow of seawater, but without serious consequences, since the holes were repaired in a timely manner.
In another case, at 14:40 (14:22), the 12 "shell did not penetrate the 152-mm armor of casemate No. 7 (apparently due to the encounter at an acute angle), but the plate cracked.
On the Sikisima at 14:30 (-) 6 ", the shell made a hole in the 102-mm armor of the stern belt with a size of 30x48 cm and caused some flooding. Campbell writes that there was no gap, but the size of the damage to the armor plate casts doubt on his words.
On the Nissin at 15:18 (14:48) a 10 "or 9" shell pierced the 152-mm armor of the main belt just below the waterline. The coal pit behind the impact site was flooded. The rupture injured 3 people in the casemate just above the hole.
Another 12 ”round (time unknown) hit the 152mm armor belt on the port side, but did not penetrate it.
At 12:14 (55:14) on "Azuma" 37 ”, the shell pierced the 152-mm armor of casemate No. 7 and exploded inside.
Action of Japanese shells
In Tsushima, only one indisputable penetration of the armor of Russian ships was recorded. The round (presumably 8 ”) passed the 127-mm steel-nickel plate of the upper belt of the Sisoy the Great at about 15:30, but did not explode, but got stuck in the coal pit.
Another hit in the tenth coal pit "Oslyabi" at about 14:30 causes controversy. According to one version, an 102 ”armor-piercing projectile pierced the 8-mm Garvey armor of the upper belt.
In addition, in the description of the damage to "Nicholas I", compiled by the Japanese after Tsushima, the penetration of the 76-mm steel-iron armor of the right bow casemate of the 9 ”gun was recorded. Unfortunately, we do not have any more information about this event, and even in the testimony of the ship's crew it is not mentioned.
In the overwhelming majority of cases, when hitting the armor, Japanese shells exploded either from the detonation of the fuse (remember, it worked without slowing down), or even earlier from the detonation of the shimosa on impact. In any case, the explosions occurred almost instantly, and even the armor-piercing shells simply did not have time to penetrate the defense of the Russian ships.
When the Eagle hit the Krupp armor (even the thinnest one, 76 mm thick), there were no penetrations.
Unfortunately, we do not have reliable data on the impact on the armor of most of the Russian ships that died in the Battle of Tsushima, therefore, to assess the likelihood of penetrating armor by them, we turn to the extensive statistics of the battle in the Yellow Sea. There were recorded more than 20 hits of Japanese shells in vertical armor, and only two of them had penetration. In the first case, a 12 ”projectile penetrated the 102-mm plate of the Pobeda's upper belt and exploded about 1,2 meters behind it. Here, apparently, there was a defect in the fuse. In the second case, a plug measuring approximately 36x41 cm was knocked out in the 229-mm plate of the Pobeda armor belt. In my opinion, the reason was a defect in the armor, since more similar damage was not observed in any of the battles of the Russo-Japanese War.
When Japanese shells hit the armor, weakening or even partial destruction of the armor fastening elements was repeatedly noticed. Only on "Orel" two such cases with the upper belt were recorded: in the first, a 152-mm plate was displaced, and in the second, a 102-mm sheet moved away from the side.
Similar effects were noted not only in Tsushima, and not only when hitting the belt armor. Therefore, on Russian ships drowned in Tsushima from artillery fire, a situation could well arise when, as a result of several successive hits, Japanese shells made a hole, tearing off the armor plate.
Japanese shells were only able to penetrate thick armor under very rare circumstances. In Tsushima, the Japanese used armor-piercing shells less often than in other battles. Consumption of 12 ”shells in August 1904 was 257 armor-piercing for 336 high-explosive, and in May 1905 31 armor-piercing for 424 high-explosive. 8 ”- in August 1904, 689 armor-piercing for 836 high-explosive, and in May 1905, 222 armor-piercing for 1173 high-explosive.
Therefore, it can be assumed that on the dead Russian ships, if the armor could be pierced, then only in isolated cases. In addition, it is impossible to exclude the possibility of a hole as a result of the separation of the armor plate due to the sequential impact of several shells on its fastening.
Russian shells of 12 ... 9 ”caliber in Tsushima in more than half of the cases pierced 152-mm armor (the maximum thickness of the armor, which turned out to be" in the teeth ", was recorded during the battle in the Yellow Sea: 178-mm group). It should be noted that, after breaking through the belt, the energy of the projectile and the force of the explosion were not enough to overcome the coal and the bevel of the deck. Thus, we can only talk about the possibility of flooding the premises protected up to 152… 178 mm Krupp, but not about causing damage to boilers, cars and cellars.
Unfortunately, we do not know for sure neither the types of Russian shells that hit the armor, nor the distance from which they were fired. Based on the prescription to use armor-piercing shells of the main caliber only at a distance of less than 20 cables (in Tsushima there were such distances only once, during the divergence on counter courses at about 14: 40-15: 00), it can be assumed that almost all hits in the armor were carried out by high-explosive shells. This is confirmed by the calculation of the consumption in battle of 12 ”shells of the“ Eagle ”(66 high-explosive and 2 armor-piercing).
Hit the towers
Action of Russian shells
In Tsushima, Japanese ships received three direct hits to the towers.
A 12 "shell at 14:50 (14:32) hit the right barrel of the Azuma's 8" stern gun, bent it, and exploded over the upper deck.
A 12 ”shell at 15:00 pierced the junction of the 152-mm frontal armor and the roof of the Fuji aft tower and exploded inside. Powder charges caught fire, the right gun was out of order, and the left one temporarily stopped firing. 8 people were killed, 9 were injured.
At 16:05 (15:47), a 10 "or 9" round hit the Nissin's nose turret at an acute angle, which exploded, but did not penetrate 152-mm armor.
The bow barbet "Mikasa" in Tsushima was tested by the enemy for strength three times. First, two 6 “shells hit him. In the first case, the rupture only damaged the upper deck, and in the second, the shell ricocheted overboard without an explosion. At 18:45 (18:27) 12 ", the shell pierced the upper deck and exploded in the infirmary right next to the bow barbette. And none of these hits affected the tower's performance in any way!
Action of Japanese shells
The Eagle's turrets received 11 direct hits, and only one weapon was out of action: the left barrel of the main battery's bow turret was torn off. In other cases, the penetration of fragments was observed, causing injuries to the artillerymen, and violations of the integrity of the fastening of the armor plates, sometimes leading to the limitation of the aiming angles of the guns.
Bow tower "Eagle" after Tsushima:
Close explosions were much more dangerous, especially under medium-caliber turrets. For this reason, 7 barrels of the "Eagle" were out of order, mainly due to the jamming of the Mamerins. In addition, there were numerous cases of shrapnel penetrating into the turrets through embrasures, roof caps, necks for throwing out 6 ”shells, as well as into the barrels of guns. Thus, close explosions knocked out the gunners and destroyed the sights and electrical equipment.
Damage to the left bow tower of the "Eagle":
The bow tower "Oslyabi" received 3 hits and was completely disabled. The barrel of one of the guns was broken, all three hoods on the roof were torn out, thick smoke was coming out of them, the tower commander and the servants were injured.
The projectile, estimated at 12 ”, hit the bow turret of the Sisoi the Great at about 15:00, but left only a dent in the armor and minor damage.
The shell, estimated at 12 ”, between 16:00 and 17:00, pierced the upper deck of the Nakhimov and exploded in the forward turret compartment. The tower was jammed, the anchor was dropped, a huge hole formed in the starboard side, and a fire broke out.
The bow tower of "Nicholas I", according to the Japanese report, received the following damage:
1. A shell of no less than 6 ”, which came from the left side, exploded on the upper deck, its fragments slightly damaged the mamerin and the forehead of the tower.
2. The left gun cracked as a result of a direct hit, the deck nearby was damaged by shrapnel.
The projectile, estimated at 8 ”, hit the aft tower of the Apraksin near the embrasure at about 15:45 and caused deformation of the armor plates. Shrapnel penetrated the tower: one gunman was killed, four were wounded.
A round of unknown caliber hit the aft turret of "Ushakov" at about 17:00, exploded, but left only a pothole in the armor. Neither the guns nor the crew were injured.
To compare the effectiveness of shells when impacting the towers, I will take the "Eagle" from the Russian side, for which the data are sufficiently complete for analysis. 11 enemy shells with a direct hit disabled only one of our barrel. While 3 of our shells, hitting the Japanese towers, disabled 2 guns. This statistic once again confirms the fact that the Russian shells were several times more effective than the Japanese when acting on the reserved objects.
In addition, it is striking that the 24 towers of the Japanese ships "took" much less shells than the 8 towers of the "Eagle" (and after all, only 5 of them can be turned on one side)! This once again makes you think about the ratio of the accuracy of firing.
However, the assessment of efficiency changes sharply to the opposite if we take into account the indirect impact on the towers from close ruptures.
I was thinking about what criterion could be used to compare the indirect impact, but I ran into an insoluble contradiction. The fact is that the towers on the Eagle are located so that almost any hit above the armored side can send a splinter into them. And on Japanese ships, the towers were only at the ends, and a shell that fell, for example, in a casemate or pipe, could not affect them in any way. But we will return to the question of assessing indirect impact later.
And now we can conclude: Russian shells caused damage to the towers by breaking through armor. The Japanese shells were ineffective with a direct hit, but more than successfully compensated for this disadvantage by indirect action with close explosions.
Hit the casemates
Action of Russian shells
In the outset of the Tsushima battle "Mikasa" received two consecutive hits with a gap in the roof of casemate No. 3. First, at 14:14 (13:56), a 12 ”round ignited 10 76mm rounds and injured 9 people. A minute later, the 6 ”shell killed two and wounded 7 people. But the 152 mm gun was not fatally damaged.
Another 6 ”shell at 14:20 (14:02) exploded on the armor of the lower part of casemate no. 5 without penetration. However, the shrapnel penetrated through the embrasure and 1 person was killed and 15 were wounded.
At 14:40 (14:22) 12 ", the shell exploded just below casemate # 7. The 152 mm slab cracked, was not punched. The sight was broken by shrapnel and 3 people were wounded.
At 14:55 (14:37) a shell (6… 12 ”) pierced the roof of casemate No. 11, killed two people, wounded 5, but again did not damage the gun!
At 16:15 (15:57) 12 ", the projectile pierced the upper belt and exploded under 152-mm gun # 7. A hole 2x1,7 meters in size was formed in the floor of the casemate, 2 people were killed and 4 people were wounded (according to the report of the ship commander). But the gun remained intact again!
It was only at 18:26 (18:07) that our 6 "shell with a direct hit through the embrasure finally destroyed the enemy gun in casemate No. 10. In addition, 1 was killed and 7 people were wounded.
At 15:20 (14:42 or about 15:00) the 12 "shell hit the unarmored side of the Sikishima on the middle deck just below the left aft casemate. 13 people were killed (including all those in the casemate) and 11 people were wounded, but the gun was not damaged.
At 14:55 (14:37) on the 12 ”Azuma, the shell pierced the 152-mm armor of casemate No. 7 near the upper edge and exploded inside. The roof of the casemate was torn apart, and the 76-mm cannon on it was thrown onto the deck. Shrapnel destroyed the machine of the 152mm gun. 7 people were killed, 10 were wounded.
Action of Japanese shells
On the "Eagle" in the casemates there was only mine-action artillery, but it also "got" enough to understand the mechanisms of action of the Japanese shells.
At about 14:00, the shell hit the embrasure of the bow casemate of 75-mm guns. 4 people were killed, 5 were wounded. Two of the four guns were out of order.
At about 14:30, a shell exploded at the embrasure of gun no. 6 of the left side battery, shrapnel penetrated inside, damaged one gun, killed two and wounded three more.
Between 14:40 and 16:00, two shells hit the aft casemate. The first tore off the 76-mm armor plate from the mounts, but did no more damage. The second hit the portico of the aft casemate, disabled one and damaged the second 75-mm gun. Three people were killed, several more were injured.
At the seventh hour, the shell pierced the battened-down half-port of the aft casemate of the starboard side and exploded on the machine of a 75-mm gun, which failed, and the neighboring one was damaged.
In addition, several hits were recorded in the casemates, which did not cause significant damage.
On the Sisoye Velikiy at about 15:15 a shell, estimated at 8 ”, flew into the battery through the embrasure of gun No. 5 and exploded from impact on the deck. A huge fire broke out, for the elimination of which the ship had to break down.
Russian shells did little harm to the casemate artillery, although they regularly knocked out the gunners. This paradox can be explained by one of their interesting features: the formed beam of fragments was rather narrow and propagated mainly in the direction of the projectile's flight. And in the case when the break point was behind the weapon (and you can check this by the diagrams), the fragments did not damage it. Thus, damage to casemate artillery was inflicted either when the side armor was penetrated, or when it hit the gun directly through the embrasure. When the casemates were hit through the roof, floor, or indirectly through the embrasure, the guns usually remained intact, but the servants suffered heavy losses.
The Japanese shells could successfully hit the casemate guns, protected by armor, both through open embrasures and breaking through closed porticos. But not every hit was effective, and even thin armor could withstand direct hits.
Concluding the topic of the impact of shells on enemy artillery, I still allow myself to conduct a comparative analysis. For 128 hits on Japanese ships of the battle line (according to the medical description), there were only 4 indisputable incidents of incapacitation of guns with a caliber of 6 "and more (6" Mikasa, 12 "Fuji, 8" and 6 "Azuma). I attributed 4 more cases to self-exploding shells in the barrels (three 8 "Nissin and one 6" Azuma), although according to Japanese data it was our shells. Anyone who wants to can do the calculation on their own, taking them into account. On 76 hits in the "Eagle" (according to Campbell) 8 barrels were out of order. Thus, the probability of knocking out one gun with a Japanese shell in Tsushima was 10,5%, and for a Russian - only 3,1%. However, if we leave only the main-caliber guns in the sample (2 Japanese and 1 Russian), then Russian shells will turn out to be slightly more effective (1,6% versus 1,3%), from which we can conclude that two factors strongly influenced the final performance :
1. Unsuccessful construction of Mamerins on domestic towers.
2. Weak fragmentation effect of Russian shells in the direction opposite to the direction of movement of the shell.
Hits in the conning tower
Action of Russian shells
In Tsushima, only one direct hit was recorded in the conning tower of the Japanese ship "Fuji". At 18:10 (17:52), the shell hit the roof and ricocheted without breaking. In the conning tower (apparently due to the breaking of the armor from the inside), the senior mine officer was seriously wounded, the senior navigator received minor injuries.
In two more cases, the Japanese inside the wheelhouse were hit by shells that exploded nearby.
On "Mikasa" shrapnel of a 12 ”shell, which hit the bow superstructure at 14:20 (14:02), injured 17 people, 4 of them in the conning tower, including a senior mine officer and a flag officer.
On the "Nissin" by fragments of a 9 ... 10 "shell, which exploded at 16:05 (15:47) when hitting the nose tower, 6 people were wounded, three of them in the conning tower. Vice Admiral Mitsu Sotaro was seriously injured, and the senior navigator and the helmsman were lightly wounded.
Action of Japanese shells
The presence in the conning tower of Russian ships that fell under intense fire in Tsushima was deadly.
On "Orel" three cases of people being hit in the conning tower were recorded, and several more ruptures below the embrasure did not have any consequences.
At about 14:40, a 6 ... 8 "shell hit the overhang of the conning tower roof. 2 people were seriously injured, light - all the others who were there. The shrapnel broke the rangefinder, battle indicators and part of the communication pipes. Centralized fire control was disrupted.
At about 15:40, the commander of the ship N.V. Jung was seriously wounded by fragments of a shell that exploded nearby, and his orderly was killed. Several more people in the control room were injured or concussed.
At about 16:00, a large shell hit the right front plate of the conning tower, causing the armor to shift. Several fragments penetrated inside, senior artilleryman F.P.Shamshev was wounded.
On "Prince Suvorov" the situation in the conning tower was even worse. The fragments very often flew inside. By 14:15, both rangefinders were destroyed. Numerous injuries were received by everyone who was there, including Vice Admiral Z. P. Rozhestvensky. At about 15:00, due to the intensity of the Japanese fire, the conning tower was abandoned.
Reportedly, a picture similar to Suvorov was observed at Borodino. A large projectile inflicted huge losses on those in the conning tower, and control was transferred to the central post.
Despite the fact that we have data to assess the effectiveness of only three cases for both the Eagle and the Japanese battle line (this is a very small sample), we will try to make a comparative calculation. In "Eagle" for 3 cases of defeat in the conning tower there are 76 hits. For 12 Japanese ships - also three, but for 128 hits. Thus, the Japanese shells are almost 2 times more effective when indirectly. This is primarily due to the presence of delayed fuses on our projectiles, as a result of which the explosion often took place in the interior of the ship and the scattering of fragments was screened by decks and bulkheads.
Comparing the effect of Russian and Japanese shells on the conning towers, we can conclude that both were capable of hitting with shrapnel through the viewing slits inside. The likelihood of this event was directly proportional to the number of breaks in the immediate vicinity. Moreover, direct hits from Japanese shells were not always dangerous, and a significant part of Russian shells exploded inside the ship, unable to cause indirect damage.
Hits into armored decks
Cases of penetration of the deck armor, damage or even violation of the integrity of the fasteners were not recorded in any Japanese ship that participated in the Tsushima battle. The punched roofs and floors of the casemates were not armored.
On the "Orel", two cases of large fragments penetrating the 32-mm roof of the casemates were noted. The 51mm armor of the battery deck was not damaged even by the close explosions of 12 ”shells. On other Russian ships, the penetration of the armored deck was not recorded.
In the next article of the cycle, we will consider, systematize and compare the effect of Russian and Japanese shells on unarmored parts of the ship and summarize.