One would think that the 1904-1905 war between Russian and Japan would be "off-topic" for a website devoted to the Great War. It was, however, the significant naval conflict of the then-new predreadnought technology, and as such was closely watched by all the naval powers. Conclusions were drawn and the results incorporated into the next generation of warships, which saw battle during the First World War.
For that reason, and because this paper contains much valuable technical information on the gunnery aspects of that war, a home has been found for it on WW1-WWW. It was originally circulated amongst a small group of like-minded aficionados and thus has been lightly edited for confidentiality (the changes are identified by [ square brackets ] ).
Another useful source on the Russo-Japanese war is the excellent website of the Russo-Japanese War Research Society.
I have attempted to put together some information from various sources
on ordnance, gunnery, and armor in the Russo-Japanese War. Some of the main sources used
include John Campbell's four-part series on Tsushima in Warship 1978, which takes much the same
approach as his Jutland book although in considerably less detail; D.K.
Brown's article, "The Russo-Japanese War: Technical Lessons as Perceived by
the Royal Navy," which appeared in Warship 1996, and in slightly condensed
form in Warrior to Dreadnought; Hough's The Fleet that Had to Die, which
unfortunately provides no sources; H.W. Wilson's Battleships in Action;
Donald Macintyre's Thunder of the Guns: A Century of Battleships, which has
good short accounts of the main actions; and Fred Jane's two 1904 books,
The Imperial Russian Navy and The Imperial Japanese Navy.
Rangefinders And Range Indicators -- Russian
There is no mention of rangefinders in the Port Arthur squadron, or in Jane's
1904 book, and I think we can assume that no Russian ships were so fitted
at the outbreak of war unless anyone has contradictory information.
[It has been] established that at least SUVAROV, OSLYABLYA, and OREL
were fitted with Barr & Stroud rangefinders (apparently 4ft 6in FA3 types)
before the departure of the Baltic Fleet [and] in all
likelihood BORODINO and ALEXANDER III were also fitted with these. Given the
number of FA3s shipped to St. Petersburg [...] (at least 44), it
seems likely that a good number of Rozhestvensky's ships had these; at the
very least we can add SISSOI VELIKIY and NAVARIN to the ships probably
equipped with rangefinders..
My additional sources provide a few tidbits. Richard Hough notes of
Rozhestvensky's squadron that "the new Barr-Stroud rangefinders, fitted since
the outbreak of the war, were almost as mysterious instruments as these
newfangled telescopic sights, and were treated, even by the regular gunnery
officers, with some suspicion." D.K. Brown says that "Barr & Stroud
rangefinders were also fitted before departure but in a trial off Madagascar,
ranges on a target varied from 7,300 to 11,000 metres. No corrections were
applied!" One gets the impression that the Russians probably did not get
much benefit from these instruments. Granted, their initial long- range fire
at Tsushima was pretty good, but it wasn't bad on 10 August either, when they
almost certainly had no rangefinders. [Hough, paperback edition, pp. 84-85;
Brown in Warship, pp. 67- 68]
[Other] posts indicate that most or all Russian ships had electrical range
indicators. I can find nothing further on this. Hough does mention the use
of range and gun order gongs, but that does not preclude the use of
electrical gear as well.
Rangefinders And Range Indicators -- Japanese
There seems little uncertainty about Japanese rangefinder fits. As some have
noted here, at least most Japanese ships had Barr & Stroud rangefinders.
Jane's book, written in 1904, confirms that this was true even at the
beginning of the war: "the Barr and Stroud range-finder is used in all
Japanese ships, and acted excellently at the bombardments of Port Arthur in
There are indications, though, that the rangefinders were not used as
extensively, and were not as effective, as might be thought (I do not have
the Barr & Stroud book and would be interested in what it says on the
subject). Campbell says that at least on MIKASA at Tsushima, the rangefinder
was used only for initial ranges, but "was not used once the action began,
until a cease-fire occurred. Salvos of 6inch shells were employed for
ranging and, at moderate ranges, the range was twice obtained in three
salvos." D.K. Brown contends that the Japanese 4ft 6in rangefinders (the
same as the Russian type, presumably) were too short for accuracy at the
ranges of these actions, and tended to go out of adjustment. Pakenham, the
British observer on ASAHI, thought that rangefinders were of limited value
because individual guns varied greatly in performance. "He thought a
rangefinder might be of value in obtaining an approximation to the opening
range but, after that, gunlayers would have to rely on spotting the fall of
shot. It is likely that Pakenham's views, though wrong, were widely held;
indeed Sims, the USN's gunnery experts, makes very much the same point based
on USN target practice in 1905" (I do not see any such analysis in the USN
1905 fire control notes). [Campbell article, p. 265; Brown,
Warship article, page 67; Brown, "Warrior to Dreadnought," p. 170]
There was some uncertainty here about the use of electrical range indicators
on Japanese ships, but several sources confirm that the Japanese did indeed
have them, although they are not mentioned in Padfield's description of
Japanese fire control. Fred Jane says that Barr and Stroud transmitters are
fitted to "all first-class warships. By means of these the range,
projectile, and so forth is telegraphed from the conning-tower to a dial in
each turret and casement." He says, somewhat optimistically, that as the
electrical leads are under the armored deck "the chances of failure are about
one in a million!" These instruments, Jane says, have worked perfectly
during the war. He notes that the Japanese are experimenting with Grenfell
transmission gear, but no details are given. D.K. Brown confirms that
electrical transmitters worked well on the Japanese ships except on armored
cruiser NISSHIN, where they were unreliable. Despite these modern
refinements, observers noted that the Japanese scored hits on Russian ships
only when the rate of change of range was low. [Brown, Warship, p. 67]
Telescopic Sights -- Russian
It is certain that none of the Russian ships in the Battle of the Yellow Sea
had telescopic sights. [There are] contradictions in the sources on the subsequent installation of
telescopic sights on Russian ships, with some saying that OSLAYBYA was the
only Russian battleship so equipped during the war.
My sources at least indicate that most or all of the Baltic Fleet ships were
fitted with telescopic sights before Tsushima. Brown says that "telescopic
sights were fitted to the Baltic ships just before departure with Krilov
sights on the later ships." Richard Hough claims that after the fleet sailed
"dockyard workers were still cutting holes in their turrets for telescopic
sights," and that the rangefinders "were almost as mysterious instruments as
these newfangled telescopic sights."
[Brown, Warship article, p. 67; Hough, pages, 21, 84-85]
Telescopic Sights -- Japanese
[It has been] said that the Japanese did not have telescopic sights at the Battle of
the Yellow Sea. [While someone else] said that most Japanese ships had them at the outbreak
of war. I can find no further information on this at the moment.
One of the surprises of this war, at least in retrospect and I think at the
time as well, was the relatively long range at which some of the fighting
occurred. On 10 August 1904 the Russians opened up at 14,000-15,000 yards
and were shooting accurately at 12,000 yards, which as Brown notes is
particularly commendable given their lack of telescopic sights (although at
another point he suggests that this was mere luck, which I think is a bit
unfair). Most of the fighting took place at 6,500-9,500 yards. There were
times when the ranges got much lower; during RETVIZAN's charge she came
within 3,000 yards of the Japanese. [Macintyre; Brown, "Warrior to
Dreadnought," p. 170]
The British observer, Pakenham, drew the conclusion from this battle that
much greater ranges were possible. He "was led to believe that the ranges
were some 3000 yds greater than [the actual figures] as he had relied on
short (4ft 6in) Japanese rangefinders. He then argued that, since British
gunnery was superior, they should be thinking of opening fire at 20,000 yds
and that 10,000 yds would be seen as close range." [Brown, "Warrior to
Dreadnought," pp. 170-71]
Tsushima was fought generally at closer ranges than the 10 August battle.
Brown states that "with hindsight, it seems clear that 10 August demonstrated
the possibility of long-range fire-- over 12,000 yds--which made a
considerable number of 12in essential for salvo firing. Tsushima was fought
at closer range and the evidence seems less clear." But I believe the
distinction between these two battles in this respect can be overstated.
Much of the Tsushima fighting was at quite respectable ranges by the
standards of the day. The Russians opened fire at 7,400 yards, while the
Japanese opened at 5,000-6,000 yards. Ranges at times got much closer, to
about 2,000-3,000 yards. But in the later stages of the main action the
Japanese were firing at ALEXANDER III and BORODINO at over 7,000 yards. At
1918 SHIKISHIMA hit BORODINO with two 12-inch shells at 9,000 yards, shortly
before FUJI's fatal blow against the Russian battleship--which must also have
been struck at fairly long range. [Macintyre, Campbell]
There was considerable short-range firing as well. But overall it is
difficult to understand Padfield's statement that "Tsushima provided good
arguments for those many naval officers who disliked fire control and and the
ideas of long-range fire which were becoming so fashionable among gunnery
In light of the ranges at which some of this fighting occurred, it is a bit
disconcerting to see, judging by [the] extracts from the 1905 USN manual
imply, that the United States Navy at this time was not seriously considering
battle at ranges over 6,000 yards.
Projectiles -- Russian
The Russians fired AP and common shell. At least the AP, and probably both
types, had a wet guncotton burster. It is not clear whether most of the AP
rounds were capped, but Jane seems to imply in his 1904 work that they might
have been: "Solid shot has been abandoned, as on the testing-ground the
'magnetic' capped A.P. shell got through as much armour as solid A.P. shot."
He notes that high explosives have not yet been adopted but are under development.
[...] quotes Grove as saying that at Tsushima two-thirds of the load of the
Russian ships was cast-iron shell. I have not found anything on that one way
or the other.
The wet guncotton filler of the Russian AP shells was fairly insensitive,
resulting in a relatively respectable record of armor penetration, but a high
dud rate. Brown lends some credence to Novikoff-Priboy's contention that the
Russians increased the moisture content of the filler to allow for evaporation in the tropics, and
suggests that this is a reason for their degraded performance. Campbell and Brown differ in their
overall assessment of the Russian shells. Campbell says of Tsushima that the Russian 12-inch AP
holed six-inch armor on six occasion, and that "all of these shells appear to
have burst with as much effect as could be expected." Brown, though, noting
a 12-inch shell penetrated the 6-inch belt of SHIKISHIMA at Tsushima and
burst behind the armor, contends that this was "perhaps the only successful
AP round [of either side] during the war." Six other hits on 6-inch armor
"pierced to some extent, though in these cases the shell seems to have burst while passing through
Brown puts great stress on the Russian dud rate, and I think is overly
critical, e.g. "Russian fuzes did not do well on 10th August when 2 out of
the 16 shells hitting Japanese ships failed to explode"; this does not seem such a bad rate to me,
although it was worse at Tsushima--8 duds out of 24 12-inch hits. Brown notes that "MIKASA
received 12 heavy hits at Tsushima but was little damaged; a tribute to ineffective shells rather than
to her armour." This verdict is questionable, and might be in part a reflection of
Brown's general tendency, here and elsewhere, to deprecate the value of armor. [Campbell, p. 265;
Brown, "Warrior to Dreadnought," p. 171; Brown, Warship article, pp. 69, 72]
Projectiles -- Japanese
The Japanese started the war with two main shells: an AP with a 5 percent Shimose filling, and an
HE with a 10 percent Shimose filling. I don't know whether the AP was capped but it seems
unlikely, as even the British, the Japanese Navy's mentors, were just starting to get APC. The AP
shell, or as Campbell calls it the "so-called AP," was not very good. The high percentage of burster
probably contributed to its poor armor-piercing qualities. Furthermore, it was overly sensitive, with
a tendency to burst not only on impact but on firing. At the Battle of the Yellow Sea three of the
twelve Japanese 12-inch guns burst when shells detonated on firing (in MIKASA, ASAHI, and
SHIKISHIMA, apparently). At least ten Japanese AP shells hit Russian armor in this action, mostly
on turrets; not a single one penetrated. H.W. Wilson blames the detonations on impact on the high
proportion of HE shells, but it seems clear that the AP shell was equally prone to this.
The Japanese blamed the premature detonations in the guns on the base fuzes, and improved them after 10 August. Brown is at pains to correct the view that this was done to improve the performance of the shells against armor . At Tsushima there were no known detonations of AP shells in the barrels, although MIKASA lost one gun to the burst of a "common" shell. But the
Japanese AP shells did not do any better against Russian armor than in the earlier action. As most
of the Russian battleships at Tsushima were sunk with few survivors, it is impossible to do a shell-
by-shell analysis of the kind Campbell did for Jutland. But the available Russian accounts indicate
that Japanese shells continued consistently to burst on contact. Survivors reported no penetrations
of heavy armor, and none were found on the surviving Russian ships. There was one 12-inch hit on
the 5 3/4 inch belt of OREL, the only surviving modern Russian battleship, but it did not penetrate.
Campbell notes that the Japanese were lucky to riddle the unarmored forward sections of
OSLYABYA and ALEXANDER III, and to get a magazine on BORODINO. It would be interesting
to see the path of the shell that detonated this magazine, and whether it penetrated armor. But it
seems pretty clear that Japanese AP performance was still poor. Brown strongly criticizes the Royal
Navy, which observed this war closely from the Japanese side, for failing to recognize the
implications of the Japanese shell failures.
The Japanese had another projectile by this time, introduced after the 10-20 August action. This
was a high-capacity shell with a black powder rather than Shimose filler; I suspect it was nose-fuzed
but don't know for sure. Brown says that the evidence of hits on the Russians suggests that a high
proportion of the Japanese shells fired were of this type, and that the number issued might have been
up to three-quarters of the outfit of the Japanese ships (he provides no documentation for that
estimate). These shells contributed substantially to the fires on the Russian ships, as black
powder was a better incendiary than Shimose.
[Some] suggest that some navies favored HE for long-range fire, when armor
penetration was unlikely. I believe [that others have] also suggested this about German fire in the
First World War, and one of the battlecruisers, LUTZOW ,
opened with SAP at Jutland. There is considerable evidence that the Japanese at Tsushima thought
the same way. Hough says that they opened with HE and
then switched to AP. Campbell says that at long ranges at Tsushima MIKASA fired HE from the
right-hand gun of each turret and AP from the port guns, but fired only AP below 5,000 yards. He
does not indicate whether the HE in question was the earlier Shimose type or the new black-
powder type, but the latter seems likely.
Main sources for this section: Campbell, p. 265; Hough, pp. 131-32; Brown , "Warrior to
Dreadnought," p. 171; Brown, Warship article, pp. 68-69, 76.
Yellow Sea -- Damage To Russian Ships
I will attempt to take a brief, rough look at the damage to Russian and Japanese ships in these two
actions, as a preliminary look at armor effectiveness and at the controversy over heavy shells versus
the "hail of fire," as both sides interpreted this war as supporting their case. But detailed
information is lacking, particularly on the Russian ships lost atTsushima. For the moment I will
look mainly at battleships, although ideally we should also examine the fates of cruisers and
destroyers in these and other actions, notably the torpedo attacks on Port Arthur and the Battle of
Most of the damage to Russian ships on 10 August 1904 was caused by heavy shells, although none
apparently penetrated heavy armor. Wilson summarizes the damage to the Russian battleships:
-- TSESSAREVITCH was hit by fifteen 12-inch shells. One of these killed Admiral Vitgeft,
while another shell of the same salvo detonated on the conning-tower roof and jammed the helm.
One hit below the waterline forced in an armor plate and caused some flooding. An 8-inch shell
pierced the thin armor of a 6-inch turret.
--RETVIZAN had two hits on the waterline, "one of which is believed to have penetrated." I don't know what the armor thickness was at this point. She had numerous other hits but no crippling damage.
--PERESVIET was hit by 39 shells. Two 12-inch shells hit her fore turret and jammed it,
although it seems clear they did not penetrate the turret. A 6-pounder shell put a 10-inch
gun out of action, presumably by a direct hit on the barrel, althoughWilson does not say so.
Hits on the waterline caused considerable flooding, and splinters from a 12-inch shell damaged
--SEVASTOPOL was hit on her armor three times, and the armor was shaken enough to
cause leakage. Four heavy shells hit 6-inch armor; two HE shells burst on impact with
little damage, but two AP shells "did considerable damage and destroyedan electric shell
--POLTAVA was hit "by a heavy shell under her fore-turret and by a second just forward of
her after-turret." [...] says she was hit fourteen times; some of these were probably lighter
--POBIEDA suffered numerous hits, but no serious damage.
Wilson notes that three Russian heavy turrets were hit and protected by the armor, one was hit on
the roof, and two were hit and put out of action; one of these must have been on PERESVIET, but
I don't know about the other case.
From the evidence it appears that most of the damage to the Russian ships was inflicted by heavy
Yellow Sea -- Damage To Japanese Ships
[Others] understandably lament that "I cannot find comprehensive data for hits
on the Japanese" in this action. Clearly MIKASA at least took quite a few
hits, twenty-two heavy shells according to Wilson. Corbett [describes]
the neutralization of her after turret by Russian shells, and
Macintyre's much later account repeats this. But H.W. Wilson says that the
Japanese claim that the turret was put out of action by a premature burst in
the barrel, a problem discussed above, and Brown's analysis supports that.
Other than this, we don't seem to have any specific information on the damage
to either MIKASA or ASAHI, which is also described as seriously hit; Wilson
says only that she was struck below the waterline. No one was killed on
ASAHI (compared to 31 on MIKASA), which suggests that the damage cannot have
been too severe.
Tsushima -- Damage To Japanese Ships
We have somewhat better data for this action than for the 10 August battle,
in part thanks to Campbell, who is the main source here.
MIKASA was hit more than forty times, including ten 12-inch shells and
twenty-two 6-inch. In a forty-minute span, between 1410 and 1450, she was
reportedly struck by six 12-inch and nineteen 6-inch shells, yet her fighting
power was not seriously affected. Two 12-inch shells penetrated six-inch
side armor (Campbell gives considerable detail on these hits). She again
lost a gun to a premature burst, this time of what Brown calls a common
shell. As noted previously, Brown attributes the lack of severe damage to
MIKASA to the deficiencies in Russian shells, rather than to the Japanese
battleship's protective qualities.
FUJI suffered one serous hit. At 1500 a 12-inch shell pierced the 6-inch
armor of the after barbette shield and started a cordite fire. The right gun
was scored and was not fired again, although it probably could have been.
The left gun remained in action, and dealt the fatal shot to BORODINO. FUJI
was hit by one other 12-inch shell, three 6-inch, two 3-inch, and five
SHIKISHIMA suffered a 12-inch hit in a casemate, presumably the shot that
Brown refers to as the one clear success of an AP shell in the war (although
the hit on FUJI's barbette would seem to qualify as well). She was also hit
by one 10-inch shell, three 6-inch, and four 3-inch. Campbell says that the
right forward 12-inch gun was knocked out by a premature burst; there is no
mention of this by Brown.
ASAHI suffered less than the other battleships. She was probably hit by two
6-inch, one 3-inch, and three unknown shells.
A few highlights of damage to the cruisers include: AZUMA was hit by seven
heavy shells, one of which knocked out an 8-inch gun; IZUMO was hit by a
12-inch shell which slid along the amror deck and pierced the casing of a
boiler room, but did not explode; ASAMA had her steering knocked out by a
12-inch shell (Hough credits old battleship NICOLAI I for this), and her
steaming seriously affected by a 6-inch shell through a funnel that reduced
her boiler draft; NISSHIN was hit by six 12-inch shells, three of which cut
three of her four 8-inch guns--a quite remarkable coincidence.
Nearly all of the serious damage to the Japanese ships was apparently
inflicted by heavy shell, mostly 12-inch.
Tsushima -- Damage To Russian Ships
This of course is the most significant case, and one for which data is
fragmentary--most of the Russian ships were sunk with very few survivors. I
will try to give a brief summary of the damage to each battleship.
OSLYABYA was the first of the Russian battleships to go; she and SUVAROV,
leading the first two Russian divisions, were the main targets in the early
stages of the battle. She was one of the few with a substantial number of
survivors, and details on her loss might be more reliable than for other
ships. OSLYABYA was largely the victim of heavy shell hits around the
waterline, causing progressive flooding. Whether these hits were on armor is
not certain. Brown says that the Russian battleships were so overloaded that
the belts were submerged; H.W. Wilson says that a series of shells struck the
waterline armor and loosened it, allowing subsequent penetrations; Hough
supports this account, saying that battleship ASAHI "sent into her bows three
twelve-inch shells, which peeled off the armor plating and let the sea come
pouring into her hull." OSLAYBYA's fore turret was hit by three shells, one
of which entered via a gun port, and was put out of action. One shell
probably penetrated the 5-inch upper belt. Along with the battleships
Kamimura's cruisers concentrated on OSLYABYA and blasted her upperworks.
D.K. Brown says that she was sunk mainly by cruiser fire but that OSLAYBYA
"was a strange ship....she had a fairly thick belt (9in Harvey) but it was
very shallow and her towering sides made her a fine target for cruiser guns."
In any case it appears that the initial crippling damage was inflicted by
Flagship KNIAZ SUVAROV was hit frequently early in the action. It appears
that at this stage most of the damage was caused by 12-inch shells. The roof
was blown off the after main-battery turret, silencing it; given the general
agreement that no Japanese shells penetrated heavy armor, I would guess this
was not a penetration but a powerful surface burst. The fore turret was
somehow knocked out as well. A hit in the stern jammed the steering gear.
At 1630 a 12-inch hit caused an ammuniton explosion around the after six-inch
battery. SUVAROV was isolated and came under fire from numerous Japanese
ships, and was the main object of attention of a cruiser division for a time.
She kept fighting until finally despatched by torpedoes, and went down with
all hands. As in the case of OSLYABYA, the initial severe damage to SUVAROV
was probably caused mainly by 12-inch shells, although they did not come
close to sinking her.
Details on the sinking of ALEXANDER III are rather vague. She was already
seriously damaged when she BORODINO, and OREL came under heavy fire at about
7,000 yards at 1800. Her bows were nearly destroyed. She was hit again,
sheered off, and capsized with all hands lost. Campbell states that she was
sunk largely by flooding resulting from hits on the waterline forward,
dishing the armor. Her loss in this respect was similar to that of OSLYABYA,
and in some ways foreshadowed that of LUTZOW at Jutland, although the German
battlecruiser sank slowly.
BORODINO was subjected to heavy fire at 6000-9000 yards in the later stages
of the main action, and suffered many hits, most probably from heavy guns (at
some point the Japanese secondaries ceased firing on her because the range
was excessive). The Japanese reported a large fire on her by 1904. Fourteen
minutes later SHIKISHIMA hit her with two 12-inch shells at 9,000 yards,
which knocked out her after turret and caused a huge fire, which Campbell
describes as an ammunition fire. At about 1923 FUJI fired a last shot, which
blew BORODINO up.
The older battleship NAVARIN, like OSLYABYA and ALEXANDER III, was seriously
damaged by heavy shell hits on the waterline. She was hit by four shells on
the waterline, including two 12-inch shells aft, and by the evening of 27 May
her upper deck was awash. She was forced to stop and then torpedoed. She
nonetheless got underway again, until sunk by mines dropped in her path by
Japanese destroyers, an incident which Campbell suggests might have
contributed to the later British fear of such actions by the High Seas Fleet.
Battleship SISSOI VELIKI also suffered serious waterline damage from a hit
forward, and in all took about twelve large-caliber hits. She was
subsequently torpedoed aft, but did not sink until scuttled.
The old battleship NICOLAI I was not too seriously damaged when Nebogatoff
capitulated. One of her two 12-inch guns had been put out of action by a
shell bursting immediately below it.
The old coast-defense ship USHAKOV, which refused to surrender on 28 May and
was destroyed, had been seriously damaged the previous day by a heavy shell
forward--presumably on the waterline--that reduced her speed.
OREL was the only modern Russian battleship to survive. She was probably hit
by five 12-inch, two 10-inch, nine 8-inch, and 28 6-inch shells, and possibly
a number of smaller rounds. She suffered only moderate damage, including
two 6-inch turrets disabled by 8-inch hits. Her armor was fairly effective:
a 12-inch shell hit the 5 3/4 inch belt obliquely and was repulsed, and a
main battery turret resisted a 10-inch shell.
This review--admittedly based on fragmentary evidence without exhaustive analysis of shell trajectories, armor thicknesses, and the like--suggests that the greatest damage to the Russian ships was caused by large shells, although some, like Mahan, used Tsushima to prove the superiority of a hail of medium-caliber fire. Medium batteries did have an appreciable effect; Brown cites the disruptive effect of these shells in hindering efforts to stop fires and flooding.
But it was the Japanese 12-inch shells that dealt the heaviest blows. They
did so not mainly by penetration of armor, in which they performed poorly,
but by hits on the waterline of the Russian battleships, destroying their
watertight integrity; BORODINO is an exception to this, and we do not know
whether her main armor was penetrated when she was destroyed by SHIKISHIMA
and FUJI. It would be interesting to know what the relative roles of HE and
AP shells were in the destruction of OSLYABYA, ALEXANDER III, NAVARIN, and
SISSOI VELIKI, all sunk wholly or in large part by heavy shell damage around
The Russian record in watertight integrity is poor. A particularly vivid proof of this is the appalling crew losses in the Russian battleships--no survivors from ALEXANDER III or SUVAROV; one from BORODINO; three from NAVARIN (of these ships only BORODINO blew up). This suggests a rather sudden loss of watertight integrity as well as, perhaps, a failure to pass abandon-ship orders and a sheep-like (or heroic) refusal of the sailors to abandon their posts without orders. Brown notes Pakenham's observation that centerline bulkheads proved a grave danger, and criticizes the Royal Navy for ignoring this warning.
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