Four vs. Four

The arrival in February 1904 in Port Arthur of the commander of the Pacific Fleet, Vice-Admiral S. O. Makarov led to the intensification of the actions of the Russian squadron. The exits to the sea of ​​ships became regular, which almost immediately, on February 26, 1904, led to a noticeable military clash. It is noteworthy that the forces of the parties this time in the ship composition were equal. For the Japanese, the 1st fighter unit under the command of Captain 1st rank Asaji included the fighters "Shirakumo", "Assasivo" "Kasumi" and "Akatsuki". A large destroyer with reinforced artillery weapons, designed to destroy enemy destroyers and mine (torpedo) attacks of enemy ships, was called a fighter during the Russo-Japanese War. Each of the Japanese fighters of the Asai detachment had a displacement of up to 422 tons, carrying one 76 mm and five 57 mm. guns, as well as two 457 mm. torpedo tubes. Two units of this detachment had already distinguished themselves at Port Arthur a month earlier: it was Akatsuki and Kasumi that were damaged on January 27, 1904 during a surprise attack on the Russian squadron of the battleship Tsesarevich and the cruiser Pallada.

The Kasumi fighter. Built in England. One of the participants of the battle February 26, 1904 Source: armyman. info

The Russian detachment under the command of Captain 1st Rank Nikolai Aleksandrovich Matusevich consisted of four destroyers: "Vigorous", "Imperious", "Attentive" and "Fearless". Each of them had a displacement of 346 tons, carrying one 75-mm one. cannon, five 47 mm. Hotchkiss guns and two 380-mm. torpedo tubes. By virtue of the difference in artillery systems, the Japanese had, albeit not decisive, but a noticeable superiority in the weight of the side salvo. Yes, and every Japanese fighter was much larger than the Russian destroyer. With a nominal equality of forces, the tasks that faced the detachment commanders were the same — finding and destroying enemy ships in the outer roads of Port Arthur. Japanese squadron arrived about 2 h. 10 min. on the external raid of Port Arthur, cruised near Laoeshane in search of a target. At 4 h. 35 min. out of the darkness, suddenly, heavy artillery fire was opened on the Japanese fighters. If you believe the official Japanese description of the fighting at sea, the battle began in extremely unfavorable conditions for Asaya fighters: “since we were in full light of the moon, and the enemy apparently was hiding in the shadow of the mountains, we had to pause to see where is the enemy. Slowing down and stopping was a major mistake for the Japanese, as their ships immediately became a fixed target.

The battle of January 27, 1904. The beginning of the Russian-Japanese war. In the foreground is the Novik cruiser of the 2nd rank. Source: tsushima. su

The suddenness of the Russian attack was partly leveled by the damage of the flagship "Hardy" and the wounding of the commander of the detachment Matusevich. Following the flagship destroyer "Domineering" attacked the second in the column of the Japanese fighter "Assasivo", trying to ram the enemy ship. The Japanese destroyer immediately increased the speed and “Domineering” slipped 10-15 meters behind the stern Asasivo. But as soon as the Japanese fighter was in the sector of the action of the “Vlastnogo” torpedo tubes, both torpedoes were launched at an enemy ship at close range. And if one went past the target, the second one hit the center of the hull. The risk was enormous, since the “Domineer” himself could suffer if fired at such a short distance. According to the Russian description of the battle after the explosion, “Asasivo”, “tilted to the starboard and sat down at the stern, began to sink quickly, and the nose rose strongly. (...) Shooting from him stopped, and he started up a low thin rocket ... and its aft part had already caught up with the water. "

The destroyer "Vlastny" in Vladivostok. Source: rumarine.ru

For this attack, the commander of the "Imperious" Lieutenant V. A. Kartsov was awarded the Order of St. George of the 4th degree. True, the Japanese fighter did not die. The experience of the Russian-Japanese war showed that when torpedoes hit the destroyers (“Lieutenant Burakov”, “Combat”, “Watchdog”), the ships in most cases remained afloat. The only exception was the Japanese destroyer number 42, who was killed by a torpedo released by the Angry at the very end of Port Arthur’s defense. A short but hot firefight at an extremely short distance lasted no more than 20 minutes, after which the Japanese ships withdrew from the battlefield. Despite the favorable conditions, the mine weapon was used only by one of the ships of the Russian detachment, and the Japanese generally “forgot” about the main purpose of the destroyers. As a result of the collision, the Japanese detachment did not fulfill its task, found itself in the role of the attacked side and was forced to retreat.

Kartsov Viktor Andreevich (1968−1936). In 1904, the commander of the destroyer "Overstate". Source: museumnahimov.ru

The Japanese themselves explain the withdrawal from battle by the numerical superiority of the Russian detachment: “at that moment, three enemy destroyers reappeared on the nose and, thus, the enemy was from both sides. However, after a short time, the enemy began to shoot each other; thus, we managed to avoid danger and join our squad at 5:20 am ” The two Russian detachments of three destroyers, who "saw" the captain of Asaia, can be explained only by an incorrect assessment of the situation, and at the same time the need to adequately describe what happened and save face in the eyes of the command. It was a tactical victory for the Russian fleet. The Japanese are silent about the torpedo hit at Asasivo, but they paint a sad picture of the damage to their ships, especially the Akatsuki fighter, which, according to the official Japanese description, lost its turn, sustaining an unequal battle with five Russian destroyers.

Matusevich Nikolai Alexandrovich (1852−1912) In February 1904, the captain of the 1st rank, head of the 1st detachment of destroyers. Source: wiki. wargaming. net

What is the fate of the ships - participants of this fight? The “imperious” and “Fearless” participated in the defense of Port Arthur, and on the eve of the surrender of the fortress, they made a breakthrough to the port of Chief, where they were interned. Then they were part of the Arctic Ocean flotilla. More sad was the fate of their brethren. In May 1904, the Attentive perished as a result of a navigational error on the stones, and then, after three months in August 1904, the Vigorous sank on a Japanese mine and sank. Of the Japanese squad in the Russian-Japanese war, he died only in Akatsuki, becoming a victim of Amur transport mines. The rest of the Japanese fighters survived the Russian-Japanese, First World War and were scrapped in the mid-1920s.

Sources
  1. Koktsinsky I. M. Sea battles and battles of the Russian-Japanese war or the cause of defeat: a crisis of management. M., 2002.
  2. Description of military operations at sea in the 37-38 years. Meiji M., 2004.
  3. Image for the lead and the announcement of the material on the main page: hramstrastoterpcy.ru

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