Having devoted so much time to describing the problems of the Varyag's power plant, it would be a mistake not to say at least a few words about the technical condition of the ships of the Sotokichi Uriu squadron. Domestic sources often sin in that, while mentioning the problems of domestic ships, they report at the same time reference data on Japanese ships: that is, their speeds, which they showed during tests, when the ships were handed over to the fleet. But at the same time, many Japanese ships by the time of the battle on January 27, 1904 were no longer new, and could not develop passport speeds.
In addition … the author has no doubt that the dear readers of the article are well aware of the composition and armament of the squadron that blocked the path of the Varyag and Koreets, but we will allow ourselves to remind them once again, indicating the strength of the onboard salvo of each ship, excluding the guns caliber 75 mm or less, as almost incapable of causing harm to the enemy.
So, the cruising force under the command of Sotokichi Uriu included one first-rank cruiser, two cruisers of the 2nd rank and three of the 3rd. So, the main striking force of the Japanese, of course, was the 1st rank cruiser (armored) "Asama", with a normal displacement (hereinafter - according to the "Technical Form") 9,710 tons.
Artillery armament consisted of 4 * 203-mm / 45, 14 * 152-mm / 40, 12 * 76-mm / 40, 8 * 47-mm guns, 4 * 203-mm / 45 and 7 * 152 mm / 40 guns. The ship had 2 Barr and Strud rangefinders and 3 Fiske rangefinders (obviously, an analogue of our Lyuzhol-Myakishev micrometer). There were 18 optical sights - one for each 203-mm and 152-mm guns, torpedo armament was represented by 5 * 45-cm torpedo tubes. We will consider booking this ship a little later.
The speed of "Asama" on the official tests, which took place on February 10, 1899, with natural thrust reached 20, 37 knots, and when forcing the boilers - 22, 07 knots. Shortly before the war, in mid-September 1903, after a major overhaul in Kure, the Asama developed 19.5 knots on natural thrust and with a displacement slightly more than normal, 9 855 tons. As for the tests with forced thrust, they, most likely, were not carried out, but it can be assumed that the cruiser would have developed at least 20.5 knots without any problems - by the way, it was this speed of the Asama that was indicated in the Appendix to the Japanese Navy's Combat Instruction.
2nd class cruisers (armored) "Naniwa" and "Takachiho".
These ships were of the same type, so we will consider both at once. The normal displacement of each was 3,709 tons, armament (hereinafter - as of January 27, 1904) was represented by 8 * 152/40, of which 5 and 12 * 47-mm guns could shoot on one side, as well as 4 torpedo tubes of 36-cm caliber. Each cruiser had one Barr and Stroud rangefinder, two Fiske rangefinders, and eight telescopic sights. Both of these cruisers were delivered to the Navy in 1886, and immediately after their official transfer, in February of the same year, they were tested by Japanese sailors. When forcing the boilers, the cruisers showed almost the same result: "Naniwa" - 18, 695 knots, "Takachiho" - 18, 7 knots.
In general, the power plants of "Naniwa" and "Takachiho" deserve high marks, but the first 10 years of the cruiser's service were very intensively exploited, and by 1896 their machines and boilers were badly worn out. In the future, their history is utterly similar - in 1896-1897. The cruisers underwent a thorough overhaul: the Takachiho underwent it from July 1896 to March 1897, while the tubes in the main and auxiliary boilers were completely replaced, the bearings of the propeller shafts were pressurized and lubricated, all components and mechanisms were adjusted, all steam and hydraulic pipelines. Similar work was carried out at Naniwa, while some of the bearings were replaced with new ones.
However, all this did not help much, and by 1900 the Naniwa and Takachiho boilers were almost completely unusable, as a result of which they had to be replaced on both cruisers. In the future, both cruisers repeatedly repaired their power plants, and, importantly, the last time before the war they were dealt with in January 1904 - at the same time both ships passed tests, during which both showed a maximum speed of 18 knots (although it is unclear, forced blowing or natural draft).
The next on our list is the "conditionally armored" cruiser of the 3rd rank "Chiyoda", which, in combination, was perhaps the main misunderstanding of the Sotokichi Uriu squadron.
The normal displacement of the cruiser was only 2,439 tons, that is, even less than that of the armored Novik, but the ship could boast of an extended 114 mm armor belt that covered 2/3 of the ship's waterline and had a height of 1.5 meters. The ship's armament consisted of 10 * 120-mm / 40 rapid-fire guns and 15 * 47 mm guns of two different types, 6 guns could fire on board, torpedo - 3 * 36-cm TA. The ship had one Barr and Stroud rangefinder and one Fiske rangefinder, but for some unclear reasons, on September 1, 1903, all optical sights were removed from the ship, without exception, so that on January 27, 1904, the cruiser fought without them. I must say that this was completely atypical for the ships of the United Fleet.
The ship's power plant is of even greater interest. It must be said that Chiyoda entered service with fire-tube boilers - with them on acceptance tests, which took place in January 1891, the cruiser developed 19.5 knots on forced thrust - quite good for a cruiser of this size and protection. However, between April 1897 and May 1898, during the overhaul of the Chiyoda, the fire tube boilers were replaced with water tube boilers, Belleville systems. However, the repair was not carried out very skillfully (for example, after the repair it turned out that the fittings on the ship did not fit the new boilers, so the fittings had to be re-ordered and put the ship back for repair, which was completed at the end of 1898. Nevertheless, this was not enough, and since then Chiyoda has been repairing the chassis from January to May 1900, then from October 1901 to March 1902, after which it seems to have been returned to the active fleet, but in April of the same year it was transferred to reserve of the 3rd stage and again sent for repair. This time the pipe was removed from the cruiser and all the main and auxiliary mechanisms were unloaded, the repair was carried out in the most complete way, completing it 11 months later, in March 1903. everything seemed to be fine, on trials on March 3, 1903, the cruiser developed 18.3 knots on natural thrust, and according to the tactical form, the Chiyoda's speed was 19 knots (obviously, when forcing).
But Belleville boilers don't just give up. Already in September 27, 1903, that is, just a little less than 7 months after the March tests, the ship was able to develop only 17.4 knots on natural thrust, while the ship continued to pursue the breakdown of the power plant, it remained unreliable. And as such, she showed herself during the battle itself. According to “Top secret war at sea 37-38 years. Meiji "6th Division" Ships and Ships ", Chapter VI," Power plants of III class cruisers "Niitaka", "Tsushima", "Otova", "Chiyoda", p.44-45 Chiyoda had problems from the very beginning on the morning of January 27, when the cruiser, which left the Chemulpo raid and headed to join the main forces to about. Harido, the sliders of both cars rattled, and then the cover of one of the cylinders of the left side car began to etch steam. The Japanese mechanics managed to cope with these problems even before the battle. But when at 12.30 Chiyoda increased its speed to follow the Asame's wake, after a few minutes the pressure in the boilers dropped: according to the Japanese, because of low-quality coal, the base of the chimney began to heat up suspiciously quickly. However, then, in boilers # 7 and # 11, leaks occurred, and Chiyoda could no longer maintain the speed of Asama (at that time - within 15 knots), which is why he was forced to withdraw from the battle.
Well, as they say, it doesn't happen to anyone. But here's the thing: if we read the description of the battle between "Varyag" and "Koreyets" with the Japanese squadron, edited by A. V. Polutov, then we will see that the respected author used slightly different sources, for example: combat reports of the commanders of Japanese ships, including Rear Admiral S. Uriu, as well as sections of the same "Top Secret War at Sea", which we already mentioned, but its other chapters, namely: "Actions of the detachment of the flagship of Uriu", "Covering the landing of the expeditionary force and the sea battle at Incheon", as well as "Sea battle at Incheon". And according to these sources, the Chiyoda power plant malfunctions look "a little" different. A. V. Polutova we read:
“At 12.48, Chiyoda tried to increase speed simultaneously with Asama, but due to low-quality Japanese coal and fouling of the underwater part of the hull during the stay in Incheon (!!! - author's note), he could no longer keep 15 knots and its speed dropped to 4-7 knots. At 13.10, the commander of the Chiyoda reported this to the Naniwa and, by order of Rear Admiral Uriu, left the Asam's wake, made a circulation and stood at the end of the Naniwa and Niitaka convoy."
As you can see, there is not a word about the leakage of two boilers, but, out of nowhere, some kind of fouling has appeared. Where? Before arriving in Chemulpo, the Chiyoda was docking (the exact time at the dock is unknown, but this happened in the period from August 30 to September 27, 1903, it is obvious that the bottom was cleaned for it), after which the cruiser arrived in Chemulpo on September 29, 1903 Attention, the question - what kind of fouling can be discussed in the northern, in fact, port, in the period October 1903 - January 1904, that is, in the autumn-winter months?
It would be much easier to believe in the version of the Great Kraken, who seized the Chiyoda by the keel at the most inopportune moment of the battle on January 27, 1904.
Thus, we see a reliable fact - in the battle with the Varyag and the Korean, the Chiyoda was unable to maintain either the 19 knots it had been assigned according to the tactical form, nor the 17.4 knots it showed during the tests in September 1903, he even and 15 knots could not give, "sagging" in speed up to 4-7 knots at some point in time. But we do not understand the reasons that led to this sad fact, since in one source we see the reasons for the poor quality of coal and fouling, and in the other - the poor quality of coal and leaking boilers.
For a change, let's read the description of this episode in the "Battle report on the battle on February 9 at Incheon, the commander of the ship" Chiyoda "Captain 1st Rank Murakami Kakuichi, presented on February 9, 37th year Meiji" - that is, the document was written in hot pursuit (February 9 - this is January 27, old style), on the day of the battle with the Varyag:
“At 12.48," Asama ", by order of the flagship, went to the north to pursue the enemy and significantly increased its speed. Prior to that, for 20 minutes, I constantly followed the Asam on its starboard side at aft heading angles at a speed of 15 knots. There were no breakdowns in the engine room, but the chimney began to overheat. At this time, a fire broke out in the aft part of the Varyag, and together with the Koreyets, it began to leave towards the Chemulpo anchorage, and the distance between them and me was constantly increasing and was already ineffective for firing 12-cm guns.
At 13.10 it became very difficult to continue to move behind the Asam, which I reported to the flagship. After that, by order of the flagship, I stood as the end of the convoy "Naniwa" and "Niitaka" and at 13.20 cleared the alert, and at 13.21 lowered the battle flag."
As we can see, the report of the respected caperang directly contradicts the information from the "Top Secret War at Sea" - according to the latter, the pressure in the Chiyoda boilers dropped at 12.30, while Murakami Kakuichi claims that "movement became difficult" only at 13.10. And if Murakami was right, then the cruiser would not have had time right there, at 13.10 to raise the signal-message "Naniwe" - it still takes time. The author of this article is not aware of a single case when the materials of the "Top Secret War at Sea" directly lied, except that (purely theoretically) they could not finish something. That is, if in the chapter “Power Plants of the III-class cruisers Niitaka, Tsushima, Otova, and Chiyoda” it is indicated that Chiyoda had two boilers in the battle on January 27, then this is true, because these data based on someone else's reports or other documents. Nobody would invent these breakdowns. If in other chapters devoted to the description of the battle at Chemulpo, the leaking cauldrons are not mentioned, then this can be considered a simple omission of the compilers, who probably did not analyze all the documents at their disposal - which is completely unsurprising, taking into account their total number. Therefore, the absence of references to current boilers in some chapters of the "Top Secret War at Sea" can in no way serve as a refutation of its other section, in which such information is given. And all this means that the boilers on the Chioda still started to leak in battle.
Working with certain historical documents, materials, the author of this article deduced for himself two kinds of deliberate lies (we will not talk about numerous cases of sincere delusion, because this is an unconscious lie): in the first case, the method of defaults is used, when the compilers of the document do not lie directly, but keeping silent about certain circumstances form a distorted view of reality in the reader. Such sources should be approached carefully in terms of their interpretations, but at least the facts stated in them can be trusted. It is a different matter when the drafters of the document allow themselves an outright lie - in such cases the source is generally not trustworthy, and any fact stated in it requires close cross-checking. Unfortunately, the "Battle report" of the Chiyoda commander refers exactly to the second case - it contains an outright lie, saying that "there were no breakdowns in the engine room," while two boilers leaked on the cruiser: Murakami did not know about it Kakuichi couldn't forget, too, because the report was drawn up on the day of the battle. And this, in turn, means that "Battle Reports", unfortunately, cannot be considered a completely reliable source.
And again - all this is not a reason to question absolutely all the reports of the Japanese. It's just that one of them was so scrupulous that in the description of combat damage they indicated "The large telescope is damaged as a result of the fall of the injured signalman" (the report of the commander of the battleship Mikasa about the battle on January 27, 1904 near Port Arthur), and for someone and two cauldrons leaking in battle were not considered breakdowns. In general, in Japan, as elsewhere, people are different.
And here is another undisclosed nuance of the "behavior" of the "Chiyoda" power plant in that battle. As we can see, in all, all sources named four reasons for the decrease in the speed of the cruiser - fouling, leakage of boilers, heating of the chimney and poor quality of coal. We will not talk about the first one, but as for the other three reasons, boiler leakage is mentioned only in one chapter of the "Top Secret War at Sea", but the other two reasons are almost everywhere (absolutely all sources mention the pipe, only the commander of "Chiyoda "In his report). But the question is - what is it about the heating of the chimney, why the cruiser in a combat situation cannot give full speed? Let us recall the tests of the battleship Retvizan - according to eyewitnesses, flames flew out of its pipes, and they themselves became so hot that paint burned on the smoke casings. And so what? Never mind! It is clear that this is a very extreme method of navigation, and it is better to never bring it to such a point, but if the combat situation requires … But the Chiyoda did not burn anything and no fire flew from the pipes - it was only about heating. This is the first thing.
Second. Remarks about "low-quality Japanese coal" are completely incomprehensible. The fact is that the Japanese ships really used both the excellent English cardiff and the very unimportant domestic coal. They differed quite seriously and could give significant changes in speed. For example, on February 27, 1902, a cardiff was used on the Takachiho tests, and the cruiser (when forcing the boilers) reached a speed of 18 knots, while the consumption per 1 hp / hour was 0.98 kg of coal. And on tests on July 10, 1903, Japanese coal was used - with natural thrust, the cruiser showed 16.4 knots, but the coal consumption was almost three times higher and amounted to 2.802 kg per 1 hp / hour. However, the opposite happened - so, "Naniwa" with practically equal consumption of coal (1,650 kg of cardiff and 1,651 kg of Japanese coal per 1 hp per hour) in the first case developed 17, 1 knots, and in the second, at seemingly the worst Japanese angle - 17, 8 knots! True, again, these tests were spaced apart in time (17, 1 knots the cruiser showed 1900-11-09, and 17, 8 - 1902-23-08), but in the first case, the tests were carried out after replacing the boilers, that is, their condition was good, and by besides - in forced mode, and in the second - with natural thrust.
All of the above indicates one thing - yes, Japanese coal was worse. But not so bad that the Japanese cruiser was not able to develop 15 knots on it! But the most important question is not even this …
Why did the Chiyoda use Japanese coal during the battle with the Varyag and the Korean?
There can be only one answer - there was simply no cardiff on the Chiyoda. But why? There was no super-deficit of this English coal in Japan. On the eve of the war (somewhere between January 18-22, 1904, according to the old style), the ships of the 4th detachment, which included the Naniwa, Takachiho, Suma and Akashi, took coal to a full supply. At the same time "Niitaka" on January 22 had 630 tons, "Takachiho" - 500 tons of cardiff and 163 tons of Japanese coal. On other ships, alas, there is no data, because they limited themselves in the reports to the words "the full supply of coal is loaded" without its detailing, but it can be safely assumed that the main supply on them was precisely the cardiff, which was to be used in battle, and Japanese coal could spent on other ship needs. However, as we know, Chiyoda was in Chemulpo since September 1903, and, in principle, it can be assumed that there was no emergency supply of cardiff on it - although, in fact, this alone does not characterize the cruiser commander in the best way.
Well, okay, let's say he was not allowed to load British coal, and orders, as you know, are not discussed. But then what? The war was on the nose, and everyone knew this, including Murakami himself, who began to prepare the ship for battle at least 12 days before the start of the war, and later made mind-blowing plans to drown the Varyag at night on the roadstead with torpedoes from his cruiser. So why didn't the commander of the cruiser take care of having several hundred tons of cardiff delivered to him on the eve of hostilities? All this testifies to a significant omission of the Japanese in preparing for hostilities - and is this why the topic of the Chiyoda's speed drop was not disclosed in their sources?
The 3rd rank cruiser Niitaka was the most modern ship of the Sotokichi Uriu squadron, which, alas, did not make it the strongest or most reliable Japanese cruiser.
This ship had a normal displacement of 3,500 tons, and its armament was 6 * 152-mm / 40; 10 * 76 mm / 40 and 4 * 47 mm guns, torpedo tubes were not installed on the cruiser. 4 * 152-mm / 40 guns could participate in the side salvo. Like "Chiyoda", "Niitaka" was equipped with one rangefinder Barr and Struda and one - Fiske, the cruiser also had 6 telescopic sights.
As for the undercarriage, at the beginning of hostilities, the Niitaka had not yet passed the entire cycle of the required tests, and if it had not been for the war, it would not have been accepted into the fleet at all. Regarding its speed, it is only known that during the tests on January 16, 1904 (probably, according to the new style), the cruiser developed 17, 294 knots. This is significantly less than the passport 20 knots that the cruiser should have reached, but this does not mean anything: the fact is that the power plants of the ships of those times were usually tested in several stages, gradually increasing the power of the machines on each and checking their condition after testing. That is, the fact that Niitaka developed a little less than 17.3 knots in pre-war tests does not mean that the cruiser was somehow defective and could not develop 20 knots. move. On the other hand, it is clear that, since the cruiser did not pass such tests, it was dangerous to give 20 knots on it in a combat situation - any breakdowns were possible, up to the most serious ones, threatening a complete loss of progress.
It is not surprising that the cruiser's power plant also showed itself not in the best way in battle: “Top secret war at sea in 37-38. Meiji says that in the period from 12.40 to 12.46, both Niitaki's machines suddenly began to work intermittently, and the speed changed uncontrollably in the range from 120 to 135 rpm, which prevented the ship from maintaining a stable speed. However, after these six minutes the cars returned to normal. This event can in no way be reproached with either the crew of the cruiser or its design - during the tests, much more serious shortcomings of power plants are often identified and eliminated. However, another fact is noteworthy - the commander of the Niitaka, Shoji Yoshimoto, also did not consider it necessary to reflect such an "insignificant" nuance in his report.
The 3rd rank cruiser "Akashi" was considered to be of the same type "Suma", although in fact these cruisers had quite significant differences in design.
Normal displacement "Akasi" was 2 800 tons, armament - 2 * 152/40, 6 * 120/40, 12 * 47-mm cannons, as well as 2 * 45-cm torpedo tubes. One side could fire 2 * 152-mm / 40 and 3 * 120-mm / 40 guns. The cruiser had one Barr and Stroud rangefinder and one Fiske rangefinder, each 152-mm and 120-mm gun was equipped with an optical sight, there were 8 of them in total.
On acceptance tests in March 1899, the ship developed 17, 8 knots. on natural draft and 19, 5 knots - when forcing boilers. This, in general, was not much even then, but the most unpleasant thing was that the power plant of cruisers of this type turned out to be very capricious, so that even these figures turned out to be unattainable in the course of everyday operation. In fact, the Akashi did not get out of repairs - having been handed over to the fleet on March 30, 1899, it already had a major breakdown in its vehicles in September, and got up for repairs. In the next, 1900, Akashi got up for factory repair four times - in January (repair of the main and auxiliary mechanisms of both machines and electric generators), in May (repair of bearings of both machines, elimination of leaks in the steam pipelines of the left side machine, repair and hydraulic testing of boilers), in July (replacement of asbestos insulation in furnaces) and in December (post-trip repair).
Despite this more than intensive program, in October 1902 the power plant again required repair and replacement of part of the mechanisms, and upon leaving the Akashi dock it managed to damage the bottom and blade of the left propeller, which necessitated new repairs. But already in January 1902, it turned out that the wear of the two boilers was so great that the cruiser was unable to develop more than 14 knots. Nevertheless, in February of the same year, the cruiser was sent to carry out stationary service in South China - upon arrival there the third boiler “covered up” (stopped holding pressure) at the cruiser. As a result, in April 1902 "Akashi" gets up for the next renovation. But a year later (March 1903) - another "capital" of a global nature, with a change of worn out units and mechanisms. It is unclear when this repair was completed, but it is known that in the period from September 9 to October 1, 1903, Akashi again made repairs and adjustment of the main and auxiliary mechanisms of both machines and all boilers, in December they eliminated the last malfunctions, in January 1904 The cruiser was docking, and finally, thanks to all this series of endless repairs, in January 1904 she was able to develop 19.2 knots on forced thrust.
As for the Japanese destroyers, the picture is as follows: S. Uriu had at his disposal two detachments, the 9th and 14th, and a total of 8 destroyers.
The 14th detachment consisted of the 1st class destroyers Hayabusa, Kasasagi, Manazuru and Chidori, which were designed like the French destroyer 1st class Cyclone and were produced in France (but were assembled in Japan). All these destroyers entered the Japanese fleet in 1900, except for the Chidori (April 9, 1901).
The 9th detachment consisted of destroyers of the same type as the 14th, the only difference was that the "Kari", "Aotaka", "Hato" and "Tsubame" were already completely created in Japanese shipyards. On January 27, 1904, these were the newest destroyers: they entered service in July, August, October and November 1903, respectively. By the way, this is often forgotten when assessing the results of the attack of the 9th detachment of the gunboat "Koreets": "Kari" and "Hato" fired torpedoes at it, of which only "Kari" could with a certain stretch be considered "ready for a campaign and battle "- after all, six months in the ranks, and" Hato "was in the fleet for only three months. We must not forget that the Kari was firing when the Korean was deployed in Chemulpo, and in this case, the correct lead (even when shooting close) can be taken only if we imagine the diameter of the ship's circulation. In general, the failure of the 9th detachment in the case with the "Koreyets" is quite understandable, and, in the author's opinion, one should not draw far-reaching conclusions from it about the poor preparation of the Japanese destroyers.
But back to the destroyers Sotokichi Uriu - as we said earlier, they were all essentially a single type of destroyer with a normal displacement of 152 tons. The artillery armament consisted of 1 * 57-mm and 2 * 47-mm guns, as well as three 3 * 36 -see torpedo tubes. I must say that during the Russo-Japanese War (in late 1904 - early 1905) they were replaced with the same number of 18-inch tank destroyers, but in the battle against the Varyag and Koreyets, they were equipped with 14-inch tanks.
These torpedo tubes could fire two types of torpedoes: "Ko" and "Otsu". Despite the fact that the former were considered long-range, and the latter were high-speed, the difference in performance characteristics between them was minimal - both torpedoes weighed 337 kg, carried 52 kg of explosives, fired at a distance of 600/800/2500 m. The main difference was that the "Ko" had a two-bladed propeller, and the "Otsu" had a four-bladed one, while the speeds at the indicated ranges differed insignificantly. For 600 m - 25.4 knots at "Ko" and 26, 9 at "Otsu", for 800 m - 21, 7 and 22 knots, and for 2,500 m - 11 and 11, 6 knots. respectively.
As for the speed of ships, there are almost no exact figures, alas. The destroyers of the 9th detachment on acceptance tests developed from 28, 6 to 29, 1 knots, and, in theory, the same speed should have been able to develop on the day of the battle with the Russian stationaries. But the fact is that the "Aotaka" and "Hato" had problems in the engine rooms, but whether this had any effect on their speed is unknown. The same can be said about the Kari, which had a leak in the tiller compartment. The only destroyer for which everything is clear is Tsubame - due to the fact that during the pursuit of the Koreyets, the destroyer jumped out of Chemulpo's fairway and hit rocks, damaging the blades of both propellers, its speed was limited to 12 knots. Well, for the 14th detachment, there is only data from the acceptance tests, during which the destroyers developed from 28, 8 to 29, 3 knots - however, this was in 1900 and 1901, about what speed they could develop in 1903-1904 biennium, unfortunately, no data. However, there is no reason to believe that their speed has dropped too much relative to that achieved in tests.