We must start with the fact that all the information has been posted long ago. And it's not secret.
Letters and diaries of the participants of the campaign. Their testimony to the commission of inquiry and in court. For amateurs - even Japanese documents …
There are tons of papers (note, long ago digitized). You just need to read and think about them.
Non-Soviet memoirs of the 1930s from Kostenko and Novikov. Not yet imperial - Semyonova. And the testimony of people who were responsible for their words. And it was extremely difficult to lie to them.
In those days, they approached the matter responsibly. And hundreds of people were interviewed: from sailors to admirals. So what the testimony says is true. More precisely, how the participants saw it.
And the Japanese plans were published long ago. And they are also not secret.
So what about the myths.
The first myth. Wrong way
The first is the wrong choice of the breakout path.
As a matter of fact, the choice of the path itself was obvious. Due to the fact that the only target of the squadron could only be Vladivostok.
It can be accessed by three routes - the straits of Tsushima, Sangarsky and La Perouse. Being in Mozampo, about which Rozhestvensky was aware, the Japanese controlled all three routes.
Rozhestvensky himself says the obvious in his testimony:
“I decided to break through the Korean Strait, and not the Sangar Strait, because a breakthrough by the latter would present more difficulties in navigation and would be fraught with great dangers.
In view of the fact that the Japanese publications secured themselves the right to resort to the use of floating mines and obstacles in suitable places in that strait. And because the relatively slow movement of the squadron to the Sangar Strait would certainly have been accurately tracked down by the Japanese and their allies.
And the breakthrough would have been blocked by the same concentrated forces of the Japanese fleet that were opposed to our squadron in the Korea Strait.
As for the passage in May from Annam to Vladivostok through the La Perouse Strait, it seemed to me absolutely impossible: having lost some of the ships in the fogs and having suffered from accidents and wrecks, the squadron could be paralyzed by a lack of coal and become an easy prey for the Japanese fleet."
Madness to climb into Sangary. There are fogs and navigational danger in La Perouse, which was proved by the fate of the captured "Oldgamia".
In the event of an accident of any ship of the squadron during the passage of the Kuril ridge or in the strait itself, just throw it. It is good if the transport.
And if Borodinets?
And if there are several?
In addition, in the end, it was still a battle, having a network of observation posts and fifty auxiliary cruisers and relying on a powerful basing system, the Japanese would intercept the squadron anyway.
The Tsushima Strait made it possible to try to play cat and mouse with the enemy, which was done - by sending empty transports to Shanghai, and by raiding auxiliary cruisers, and deliberately delaying the transition time.
It didn't work out. Not finalized.
But there was a chance.
The second myth. Distraction of forces
If the old ships were sent to bypass …
That would have lost the old ships.
Then there would be a picture - Zinovy arrives in Vladivostok with 5 battleships, 6 cruisers and that's it.
We pay for this breakthrough with 3 battleships, an armored cruiser, three coastal defense battleships, two armored frigates, nine destroyers and transports. If you know the results of the battle, it's okay. But on the squadron, either the crystal balls were outdated, or out of order …
In short, ditching a large part of the squadron to save a smaller one did not seem like a smart idea.
Similarly, send a squad to make some noise off the coast of Japan.
They sent him.
The only ocean-going ships capable of both shooting and leaving are auxiliary cruisers. There were no other ones with decent speed and high autonomy.
It didn't work out.
I will even agree - it could not come out.
What about the alternatives?
Send slugs for slaughter? Tear off the Oslyabya squadron? Or drive both modern cruisers of the 1st rank, leaving the squadron without cover?
And if it doesn't work out?
The third myth. Wok
Now, if "Russia" and "Thunderbolt" came …
Well, first of all, would you come?
The previous blind rendezvous attempt ended with a date with Kamimura and the drowning of "Rurik", there is no direct connection.
If you inform in advance, there is a chance that the Japanese will find out about the plans.
Secondly, what's the point?
It's stupid to put two huge raiders in a line. It is pointless to pass it on to Enquist.
Whereas the risk of two relatively modern serviceable ships takes place.
And they are needed in case of a successful breakthrough and continuation of the war. And the elementary thing - to meet and cover the damaged ships must be present.
But the logic is clearly visible.
The fourth myth. Intelligence service
Now, if they sent intelligence …
A word to the admiral:
“In their opinion, in order to remain true to the eternal youthful principle of surprise, when a slow-moving squadron breaks through a narrow area, knowingly defended by the strongest fleet, operating in connection with nearby coastal observation stations and strong points and sending a chain of scouts into the sea, I should have sent the same chain no less than a hundred miles ahead of the squadron, so that this chain, suddenly falling on the enemy reconnaissance, would let the second squadron know by wireless telegraph about the location of the enemy reconnaissance, at least ten hours earlier than the enemy chain could itself open the squadron, which was marching without scouts (if the squadron had gone without scouts)."
The thin chain would come out.
As much as one long-range scout with problem vehicles …
"Aurora" is a slug, "Svetlana" is also. Pebbles are still invented for another, and autonomy …
Well, okay, they sent it, found it, so what?
And so it is clear - the Japanese are here, attacking during the day, and then at night. You cannot pass unnoticed in narrowness. And what to scout then?
About "collapsing" - ridiculous. An attempt to collapse would have resulted in the death of the cruisers. The Japanese have stupidly more ships of this class. At comparable speeds.
The fifth myth. Speed
Honestly, we got tales about a column with transports, because of which the stroke was 9 knots.
First, there were no transports or cruisers with destroyers in the line column. They walked separately. And they did not interfere with the main forces.
Secondly, 9 knots is the average speed of the squadron in the hospital.
And the participants in the battle saw the reasons differently:
“12 o'clock. 20 minutes. signal from "Suvorov":
"I and II armored detachments have 11 knots in motion, turn sequentially by 8 points to the right."
After 5 minutes from "Suvorov":
"II armored detachment (F) course NO 23 °" …
From 1 hour 30 min. - from the haze to the right on the nose, silhouettes of enemy battleships immediately emerge. The leader is Mikaza, followed by Fuji, Shikishima, Asahi, armored cruisers: Kasuga, Nissin.
They are walking in one wake column, intending to cut our nose from right to left.
The distance to them is more than 70 cables; you can distinguish between their top and gaff flags.
The admiral raises the signal:
"Have 11 knots to move."
And transmits the semaphore along the line:
Here are excerpts from the testimony of the officers of the "Eagle". As you can see, there was no constant speed during maneuvering from 8 to 11 knots. No other way:
“On the 15th, the stroke of Apraksin was 11 knots, despite the fact that the machines worked at 110 and sometimes 115 revolutions;
such a bad move was because the bow section of the battleship was flooded, and he drilled heavily in the water;
I think that without a flooded bow compartment, he could give up to 12 knots."
BBOs did not pull more than 12, and even those:
“There were no stops due to damage in the car (both during the battle and during the entire campaign), although every minute was expected during the battle, since the bearings, due to the long absence of repairs during the transitions and the general misalignment of the shafts, not eliminated during the equipping in Libau, they knocked heavily, due to which there was every minute the fear that the filling of the bearings would not withstand, break and stop the operation of the entire machine.
The non-stop operation of the machine had to be supported only by extremely strenuous artificial measures, such as strong lubrication, washing with warm water, flooding, etc., and one minute of oversight could ruin the whole thing."
According to the senior mechanic of the battleship "Senyavin" KIM Fleet Lieutenant Yavorovsky, with difficulty. "Sisoy the Great" was quicker, if you believe his senior mech Colonel Borovsky:
“The main mechanisms, auxiliary, tower, electrical for dewatering turbines and boilers were in good working order in the battle on May 14.
The only drawback was the leakage of the refrigerator tubes, which had no effect on the course of the battleship - the machines worked without failure.
Since the battleship was overloaded during the battle, I think at 6 ", the most complete move could be no more than 14½ knots."
It could accelerate to 14 knots for a short time. Constantly, it means, one or two less.
Borodintsy were the smartest of all:
“I think that the fullest speed, under all favorable conditions, with the use of the best screened coal and replacing tired stokers with another shift, could give (before getting a hole and water on the decks) - no more than 15-16 knots”.
14 knots were held lightly.
Well, except for Borodino itself. The result is the maximum 12, squadron 10-11, which actually was without any transports.
Sixth myth. There was no battle plan
“Order No. 243 dated May 10, 1905. Pacific Ocean.
Be ready for battle hourly.
In battle, battleships bypass their damaged and straggled forward matelots.
If the Suvorov is damaged and unable to be controlled, the fleet must follow the Alexander, if the Alexander is damaged, then the Borodino, the Eagle.
At the same time, "Alexander", "Borodino", "Eagle" are guided by signals from "Suvorov" until the Commander's Flag is moved or until the Junior Flagship has taken over command.
The destroyers of Squad I are obliged to vigilantly monitor the Flagship battleships: if the Flagship battleship gets banked, or out of order and ceases to be controlled, the destroyers rush to approach to receive the Commander and the Headquarters.
The destroyers "Bedovy" and "Bystrom" should be in constant readiness to approach the "Suvorov" for this purpose, the destroyers "Buyny" and "Bravom" - to other Flagship battleships.
The destroyers of Squad II are charged with the same duty in relation to the cruisers Oleg and Svetlana.
The flags of the Commander will be transferred to the corresponding destroyers until it becomes possible to transfer them to a battleship or cruiser."
We also read:
“In the future, I prescribe that the head fire in each detachment should be carried out simultaneously, if the enemy is under fire, or sequentially, as the enemy comes into fire.
When zeroing in, one should, without throwing the first shell, to throw the second one and, if the first one went to the right, then by all means put the second one to the left …
Having taken the target at least in a wide fork, you should dispose of the third shot after thinking.
… For the future, I strictly forbid, both in training and in battle, to throw 12 "bombs without having corrected data 15 minutes before the shot."
And we also read:
Order No. 29 dated January 10, 1905.
“Our seven battleships with Nakhimov, seven cruisers with Almaz, seven destroyers and armed transports are a very great force.
If God blesses with a meeting with the enemy in battle, then it is necessary to take care of the combat reserves - not to throw them uselessly.
The signal will indicate the number of the enemy ship, according to the score from the lead in the wake or from the right flank in the front. The fire of the whole squad should be concentrated on this number, if possible.
If there is no signal, then, following the flagship, fire is concentrated, if possible, on the lead or flagship of the enemy.
The signal can also target a weak ship in order to more easily achieve a result and create confusion.
So, for example, when approaching with head-on courses and after the concentration of fire on the head, a number can be indicated to which the action of the entire artillery of the first (lead) squadron of the squadron should be directed, while the second detachment will be allowed to continue to operate on the originally chosen target.
In all cases, if the distance is more than 30 cables, you should not open fire to everyone all of a sudden: this is how you cannot aim, you cannot distinguish where the shells are falling.
Let him begin zeroing at long distances always with the head on collision courses and the end on courses directed in one direction, if they are closer to the enemy, but let them not hesitate to show the distance and deviation of the rear sight of 6 "guns, as soon as they begin to put shells close."
There was no single document for idiots, whom Zinovy did not consider junior flagships and caperangs to.
There was a set of instructions for the subordinates. The last one was four days before the fight.
Citation can be continued, everything is written down.
Another question is that a lot of plans are on the conscience of junior flagships. But this did not work out - Baer died from the Oslyabya, not having time to give orders. And Nebogatov refrained from responsibility, although he had all the rights:
"Order No. 231 (dated April 27, 1905)
In the event that the enemy meets while the squadron is following, in the afternoon, in marching order, I prescribe to be guided by my order of January 22 of this year. for No. 66 with the following addition:
The III armored detachment, maneuvering at the signals of its flagship, in all cases hurries to join the main forces, increasing the course for this as much as possible with the available number of boilers, and spreading pairs in the rest.
If the enemy in large forces appears from behind, then he must restrain his onslaught and cover the transports until the arrival of the main forces.
The procedure for maneuvering a detachment to the right, left, forward or backward from the marching formation, depending on the place of appearance of the enemy, has now to be developed and announced by the commander of the III armored detachment.
However, as well as from the development of instructions.
But at the trial he hacked the fool. And he began to prove that he was in the house:
“There was no battle plan or instructions regarding its conduct; generally, what intentions Admiral Rozhdestvensky had - that was completely unknown to me."
That the truth is easy to understand - the capital punishment as a sentence did not suit Nebogatov. And I had to blame someone else. To the Japanese it is stupid, to ourselves it is suicidal. The commander remained.
Myths can be destroyed further.
They are all built on the same foundation - knowledge of what happened.
But even on May 13, 1905, no one on the squadron could even imagine such the total.
And they acted accordingly - they were preparing for a breakthrough with the loss of several ships and for an artillery battle at long distances based on the Yellow Sea. For such a battle, a concentration of fire from heavy guns is needed - it was provided by combat in a single column, with a concentration of fire in detachments, paying increased attention to the controllability of the squadron.
Again, it didn't work out.
Is Rozhdestvensky guilty of this?
Like any commander, he is guilty.
Could he have acted differently?
Based on his knowledge and experience, no.
Could someone else have done better?
Of course not.
This required a different fleet and state.
There are no guilty persons in tragedies.