The effect of Russian shells on unarmored parts of armored ships
The sources for the analysis of hits on Japanese ships will be the damage schemes from "Top Secret stories", Analytical materials Arsenia Danilova, monograph by V. Ya. Krestyaninov "The Battle of Tsushima" and an article by N.J.M. Campbell "The battle of Tsu-Shima" ("Battle of Tsushima") translated by V. Feinberg. When mentioning the time of hitting Japanese ships, Japanese time will be indicated first, and in brackets - Russian according to V. Ya. Krestyaninov.
Hits on board, superstructure and decks
At 14:20 (14:02) 12 "the projectile hit the bow superstructure, pierced the outer skin, the bulkhead and exploded. A gap of 4,3x3,4 m appeared in the shelterdeck. Shrapnel damaged the upper and front bridges, and a small fire broke out. 17 people were injured.
At 14:33 (14:14) 12 ", the shell hit the hinged bridge and exploded at the base of the mainmast. A hole 1,2x1,6 m was formed in the upper deck, 7 people were killed, 20 were wounded.
At 14:27 (14:09) a 6 "shell tore a hole 1,2x0,8 meters on the upper deck to the right of the middle pipe. Shrapnel killed 2 people and wounded 5.
At 15.05 (14:47) 12 ", the shell pierced the starboard side at the level of the middle deck near the aft tower and exploded, causing large damage to the middle and lower decks. 4 people were injured.
Another 12 ”projectile that flew in from the starboard side (the time has not been set) hit the upper deck at the port side in the stern and exploded, making a hole in the deck 1,2x0,6 m and in the side - 1,4x1,2 m. There were no casualties with this hit.
Damage scheme "Izumo" according to the medical description:
I - 14.27 (14:09), 6 ".
II - 15.05 (14:47), 12 ".
VI -?, 12 ”.
At 14:50 (14:32) a 12 "shell ricocheted off the right barrel of an 8" stern gun and exploded over the upper deck. A hole 4x1,5 meters in size appeared in the deck. Large fragments severely damaged the rooms on the lower deck and even punctured the outer side. 4 people were injured.
Destruction on the upper deck:
At 14:26 (-), a supposedly 10 ”shell of one of the coastal defense battleships (since the direction is close to the aft corners and a 120-mm shell hit was recorded a minute earlier) exploded on the upper deck near the bow tower. A hole of about 2,4x1,7 meters was formed. No losses were recorded.
At 14.28:14 (10:2,6) a large-caliber shell exploded on the upper deck aft on the starboard side. The dimensions of the hole were 1,7x6 m. As a result of the shaking of the ship's hull, the steering was out of order for XNUMX minutes, as a result, Asama rolled to the left and out of order.
At 14: 55… 14: 58 (14:42… 14:44) two 10… 12 ”shells pierced the starboard aft and exploded on the middle deck. Shrapnel literally riddled the bulkheads, the unarmored lower deck flooring and the opposite side. Through damage to the side, the ship took in a lot of water and sank 1,5 meters astern. 2 people were killed and 5 were injured.
"Incoming" holes from the starboard side:
Damage to the port side from shells hitting the starboard side:
Bulkhead damage on lower and middle deck:
Destruction on the middle deck:
At 14:30 (14:12) a 12 "shell exploded in the stern at the junction of the side and upper deck. A hole was formed in the board measuring about 1,2x1 meters. Shrapnel inflicted damage all the way to the opposite side. 4 people were injured.
At 16.10 (15:52) 12 ”, a shell exploded on the boat deck between the mainmast and the chimney. The shrapnel caused damage to superstructures, rowing ships, gun No. 5. 1 person was wounded.
At 16.20 (-) 8 "(6" according to Sasebo experts), the shell exploded on impact on the starboard side at the level of the lower deck in the bow of the ship, creating a hole 23x41 cm, through which water penetrated to the lower deck.
Shrapnel and high-explosive action of Russian shells
Usually, when it hits vertical unarmored obstacles, the projectile, having flown several meters (pyroxylin or smokeless powder does not detonate on impact), exploded already inside the ship. A round or slightly elongated hole with smooth edges remained in the skin. The explosion was hardly noticeable from the outside, so it seemed that our fire had no effect. When hitting the deck, the projectile often exploded during its passage (this is due to the large meeting angle). Here you could already see the yellow-white smoke.
When large shells burst, holes were formed on the deck as large, comparable to holes from Japanese shells: 4x1,5 m (Azuma, 14:50), 2,6x1,7 m (Yakumo, 14:26), 2,4 , 1,7x14 m ("Asama", 28:1,2), and more modest 1,6x14 m ("Kasuga" 33:1,5), 0,6x18 m ("Mikasa", 45:XNUMX), which, apparently, is explained by cases of incomplete detonation of explosives.
When large shells burst inside the ship, the high-explosive effect was much stronger due to the action of gases in a closed volume, which is confirmed by the large dimensions of the deck damage of 4,3x3,4 m (Mikasa, 14:20), 1,7x2 m (Mikasa, 16:15).
Russian shells created a small number of large fragments, which flew in a narrow beam along the trajectory of the projectile (which is very clearly visible on the Japanese diagrams), had very high energy and at a distance of ten meters were able to penetrate several bulkheads and even the opposite side.
The thermal effect of Russian shells
In Tsushima, at least five cases of fire were recorded after being hit by Russian shells (and this is clearly an incomplete list).
Mikasa, 14:14 (13:56), hitting the roof of casemate No. 3. 10 rounds of 76-mm gun # 5, prepared for firing, exploded, and a small fire broke out in bed nets on the boat deck.
Mikasa, 14:20 (14:02), hitting the nasal superstructure. A small fire broke out in the bed protection around the conning tower.
Sikishima, 14:58 (14:42 or about 15:00), hitting the side under casemate # 6. A massive fire broke out on the middle deck.
Fuji, 15:00 (14:42), hitting the aft tower. Powder charges in the tower caught fire.
"Azuma" 14:55 (14:37), hitting casemate # 7. One bed net caught fire.
All of the above cases of fire were quickly extinguished.
Hitting pipes and masts
When hitting light structures (pipes and masts), Russian shells sometimes did not explode, or burst with a delay, already far overboard, without causing significant damage, but two cases should be noted separately. The first 6… 12 ”round knocked down the Mikasa's main topmast at 15:00 (-). The second shell exploded inside the Asahi's aft chimney at 15:15 (-): an inlet in the casing 38 cm, a hole in the pipe 0,9 x 1,1 m. The dimensions of the inlet, as well as the rupture without delay, suggest that it was a 12 ”round with a normal shock tube. Unfortunately, the Japanese dislike for describing pipe damage has deprived us of the details of many other hits and made it difficult to resolve contradictions. Thus, a hit into the Mikasa's rear pipe was estimated by the ship commander at 12 ", but in the pipe damage diagram, the hole size does not exceed 8".
The effect of Russian shells on armored cruisers
Perhaps the effect of Russian 152-120 mm shells on Japanese armored cruisers should be separately noted, because it was impressive.
At 15:10 (17:08) Kasagi received an underwater hole from a supposedly 6 ”shell at a depth of about 3 meters below the waterline. Moreover, it is not even clear how the damage was caused: it was a large splinter, a tangential impact of a projectile, or simply the impact of a shock wave. The fact is that an irregular hole was formed with a diameter of about 76 mm, and the projectile itself did not penetrate inside. It was not possible to stop the flooding: the hole turned out to be in a hard-to-reach place, the sump pumps did not work due to clogging with coal dust, and the water flooded two coal pits and the aft boiler room ... In this situation, at 18:00, Kasagi was forced to withdraw from the battle and urgently follow to the port for repair.
At 17:07 (about 17:00), a 6 "shell hit the stern of the Naniva in the waterline area, and at 17:40 the ship was forced to reduce its speed by half an hour and temporarily withdraw from the battle to seal the hole.
The next day at 20:05 (-) "Naniwa" again got hit by a 6 "shell from" Dmitry Donskoy "with a gap in the rear torpedo compartment. The torpedoes did not explode, but through damage below the waterline, a lot of water entered and with a roll of 7 degrees the ship was out of action.
To finally make sure that the hits of Russian shells below the waterline were deadly for the Japanese armored cruisers, you can still recall the dangerous hole received by Tsushima in the battle with the Novik, which also forced the Japanese ship to urgently end the battle.
The fact that two Japanese armored cruisers went out of action in the Battle of Tsushima from damage in the waterline area is especially indicative given the fact that in total they received no more than 14 hits from 15-20 mm shells and about 152 more hits from smaller shells on May 120-10.
Thus, Tsushima showed a very high effectiveness of the shells equipped with a delayed fuse against unarmored ships. Later, according to the results of the shooting of the cruiser "Nuremberg", the British also admit it.
The action of Japanese shells on unarmored parts of ships
In the Battle of Tsushima, hundreds of hits by Japanese shells in unarmored parts of Russian ships were recorded, so I will limit myself to the most illustrative of them, and outline the principle of operation in a generalized form.
Numerous witnesses noted the following damaging factors: a very strong shock wave, high temperature, acrid smoke of a black or yellowish-brown hue, many fragments.
When hitting an unarmored side, Japanese shells most often exploded instantly, forming large holes, but some shells exploded with a delay, already inside the ship. This difference in action cannot be explained by the standard detonation of the fuse, since all Japanese shells were equipped with the same Ijuin fuse. Apparently, with an instantaneous actuation, there was a deformation of the shell of the projectile and detonation of the shimosa, and in the case of a delay, a regular detonation of the fuse. Moreover, in high-explosive shells, due to thin walls, detonation from impact occurred more often from the most insignificant obstacles, for example, rigging or even a water surface. And for armor-piercing shells, the rupture usually occurred when the unarmored side was penetrated or immediately behind it. But there were isolated cases of unexploded Japanese shells. In addition to hitting the Sisoy Veliky described in the previous article, even on Nicholas I, a 6 ”shell pierced the side and stopped, breaking the bulkhead of the cabin.
High-explosive action of Japanese shells
The high-explosive effect of Japanese shells can be estimated by the size of the holes in the unarmored side, which they created. If we summarize the data on the damages of the "Eagle" according to the article by Arseny Danilov, it turns out that 6 "shells formed a hole in the side with dimensions from 0,5 to 1 m, 8" shells - from 1 to 1,5 m, 12 "shells - from 1,5 to 2,5 m. The size of the hole was very much dependent on the thickness of the sheets and the strength of their attachment.
A hole in the left side of the "Eagle" opposite the first pipe from a 12 ”land mine. Dimensions 2,7x2,4 m:
A hole in the starboard side of the "Eagle" shell in front of the average 152-mm turret from a 12 ”land mine. Diameter about 1,8 m:
Damage to the stern of the port side. Ahead of the 152-mm turret, a hole from an 8 "shell with dimensions of 1,4 x 0,8 m is clearly visible:
A hole from an 8 ”armor-piercing projectile in the bow of the Aurora:
Damage to the second "Eagle" chimney from a 6 ”shell received in the final phase of the battle:
Damage to the first chimney of "Nicholas I" from a 6 ... 8 ”shell, sheets were bent at the point of impact:
Holes from Japanese shells often had ragged edges bent inward, which prevented them from being sealed with specially prepared wooden shields in order to limit the flow of water during waves.
The shock wave from large projectiles was capable of deforming light bulkheads, tearing their joints, throwing away pieces of the side skin and objects inside. The shock wave from medium-caliber shells was much weaker and only destroyed the decoration, furniture and damaged things.
Shrapnel action of Japanese shells
When bursting, Japanese shells formed a huge amount of mostly very small fragments, up to metal powder. But upon hitting the "Eagle", a case of the formation of a very large fragment weighing about 32 kg was recorded.
Let us consider the number and direction of the scattering of fragments when a Japanese land mine explodes on the example of a well-documented hit of an 8 ”projectile in the middle tube of the cruiser" Aurora ". The burst of the projectile occurred at the moment the projectile passed through the pipe casing. Almost all the fragments, except for the bottom of the projectile, flew in three directions: forward, left and right. In total, 376 traces of fragments were noted, of which 133 are in the forward sector in the direction of flight of the projectile with a width of 60 ° - 70 °. 104 fragments - in the right sector 90 ° wide and 139 fragments in the left sector 120 ° wide.
A hole in the middle tube of the cruiser "Aurora" and the pattern of the dispersion of fragments:
Almost all of the fragments created by the Japanese high-explosive shells did not have very high energy. When a 12 "high-explosive projectile hit, already within 3 m from the place of rupture, the fragmentation effect was assessed as weak, although individual secondary fragments (fragments not of a projectile, but of destroyed ship structures) flew up to 8-10 m. Many cases were recorded when fragments could not to pierce even the skin of a person and simply removed from the wound with our hands. The improvised anti-fragmentation protection in the form of armored grates, steel cable, mine nets or bags with coal quite coped with its function. after the battle in the Yellow Sea, the flooding from Japanese shells near the waterline did not extend to more than two side compartments or coal pits, since the bulkheads remained intact.Fragments from Japanese armor-piercing shells had more energy and were able to penetrate several bulkheads and even the opposite side ...
Thermal action of Japanese shells
Japanese shells caused terrible fires on the ships of the 2nd Pacific Squadron, which was not observed in other naval battles of the Russo-Japanese War. In World War I, almost all large and well-documented fires were associated with the ignition of gunpowder. As a result of large tests of ships by shelling ("Belile" 1900, "Swiftshur" 1919), conducted by the British, fires also did not arise. Therefore, it is necessary to understand in more detail the mechanisms of fire occurrence in Tsushima.
Fire can be caused by thermal effects of either debris or explosion gases. High explosives create a very high temperature, but for a short time and in a local volume not exceeding 10-30 diameters of the explosive volume. The temperature of the explosion gases can ignite flammable substances. From the fragments, which have a very high temperature, even wood.
According to the testimony of the participants in the Tsushima battle, the fire always started with small fires of ropes, canvas, burlap, mattresses, personal belongings or paper. One of the main sources of fires was the bunks' splinter protection, which was often hung around the conning tower. Objects of wood or coal used as shrapnel protection never caught fire immediately. If the fire was not noticed and extinguished in time, then soon it turned into a big fire. The boats, the wooden planking of the rooms, furniture, paint and putty on the bulkheads were burning. In large fires, even the wooden decks caught fire. On some Russian ships, measures were taken to remove combustible objects and structures before the battle, which very effectively limited the scope of the fires that occurred.
There were no such huge fires as in Tsushima in previous battles with the Japanese for the reason that the enemy, thanks to the concentration of fire from a large number of ships and a reduction in the distance, reached an unprecedented intensity of hits, primarily with medium-caliber shells. About 30 fires were noted on the Orel alone. This version is also confirmed by the fact that in Tsushima, huge and numerous fires raged only on ships that came under intense fire. They simply did not have time to put out fires in a timely manner.
Another very important factor in the Tsushima fires was the red-hot fragments of Japanese shells, on which, due to incomplete rupture, shimosa often burned out with a bright yellow flame. That is why the English shells, which gave a complete break, did not create fires during the tests.
The Russian and Japanese shells used in Tsushima were very different.
The Japanese high-explosive shell had no Russian counterparts. It had a very powerful high-explosive and incendiary effect. A large number of predominantly small fragments were formed, which scattered widely forward and to the sides. Due to the high sensitivity of the shimosa, the projectile burst at the slightest contact with an obstacle. This had its pros and cons. The advantages are that large and difficult-to-eliminate destruction of the unarmored side was carried out, a very powerful fragmentation effect on the crew, instruments and mechanisms was provided. The disadvantages are that most of the explosion energy remained outside the ship, the interior of the ship remained intact. The Japanese land mine could do almost nothing to the armor.
The principle of action of the Japanese armor-piercing projectile approximately corresponded to the semi-armor-piercing projectile ("common"), but was capable of penetrating armor only in exceptional cases. Yielding in power to a high-explosive projectile of the same caliber, it compensated for this disadvantage with the ability to hit the interior of the ship due to a later rupture and more powerful fragmentation.
The Russian high-explosive projectile, equipped with an ordinary tube, roughly corresponded to a semi-armor-piercing projectile ("common"), but, unlike Japanese projectiles, it was capable of penetrating armor, breaking apart as it passed. The fragmentation action was powerful, but directed along the trajectory of the projectile. The high-explosive effect was not much weaker than that of the Japanese shell.
The Russian high-explosive projectile, equipped with a delayed-action tube, rather corresponded to an armor-piercing projectile. He was able to pierce through armor and burst behind it.
The Russian armor-piercing projectile was fully consistent with its purpose, but at Tsushima combat distances, its energy was not enough to penetrate the vital parts of the ship. The Japanese did not have similar shells.
In my opinion, one of the objective indicators of the effectiveness of shells is the number of victims (killed and wounded). On Japanese ships of the combat line, there are 128 people for 449 hits. On "Eagle" for 76 hits - 128 people. Thus, on average, the Russian shell knocked out 3,5 sailors, and the Japanese one - 1,7.
Comparing the impact of Russian and Japanese shells, the following can be noted. The Russians had the advantage of being able to penetrate armor and more effectively influencing the crew. Among the Japanese, it is indirectly influencing artillery, means of observation and fire control, as well as the ability to initiate fires. In general, one cannot say that the Russian shells were definitely worse than the Japanese ones. They had effective methods of influencing enemy ships up to sinking (with a sufficient number of hits).
Now we can summarize. Russian shells can hardly be called the cause of the Tsushima defeat. And here the words of the participant in the battle, Lieutenant Roschakovsky, will be very appropriate:
Much now write that the outcome of the battle depended on the poor quality of our shells ... I express my deep conviction that the only reason for our defeat was a general and complete inability to shoot. Before touching on the issue of more or less perfect shells, you need to learn how to hit them.