Saturday, 13 January 2018

Russo-Jap War Naval: Port Arthur Break Out (Part 4) A Crisis Point in the Breakout Battle

The battle has formed as the Japanese Admiral Togo wants it. He it heavily engaged with a portion of the Russian battle fleet (thus having a slight numerical 4:3 advantage) and is trading blows to his advantage. Also by threatening to cross the Russian "tee" they are changing course, The old obsolete Japanese battle squadron (made of captured ex-Chinese battleships) is catching up and his protected cruisers are on course to intercept the Russian protected cruisers. Tojo is much more interested in stopping the Russian battleships from escaping than anything else (see below):

A close up of the battleship action sees that the Japanese have traded two 'red damage' hits given to one taken. At this point it is critical they follow up and cripple the engaged Russian battleship squadron by pressing home and taking the initiative (see below):

However the Japanese Admiral faces a dilemma as at the rear of his battle line, where the armoured cruisers are stationed in a separate division, they have been worsted by the Russian protected cruisers and long range battleship gunnery from the second Russian battleship squadron. The lead armoured cruiser is silenced with critical steering damage, swinging out of line of battle (see below):

Suddenly all is chaos. There is a profusion of destroyers laying defensive smoke screens (using the ever so useful 'belly button fluff' from the tumble dryer). A Russian destroyer flotilla shielding herself from the long range fire of Japanese obsolete battleships (see below, top left), a Japanese destroyer flotilla shielding the obsolete Japanese battleships from the Russian second battleship squadron (see below top right) and finally retreating armoured cruisers from the Russian protected cruisers and long range Russian battleship fire (see below, bottom right). Confused? That's how the battle was. Very confusing! In addition to all the smoke the Mikasa had suffered a second red hit silencing her and in addition took a critical steering hit. This deluge of damage demanded a morale test which Togo failed (in a very untimely and uncharacteristic way) and the Mikasa sadly limped out of line (see below bottom left above the Japanese protected cruiser squadron). The three remaining Japanese battleships still managed to maintain contact with the Russian first battleship squadron, keeping the contest "hot" (see below):

The Russian Admiral senses a chance to achieve his "breakout". He is over half-way down the table [two thirds if you look at the lead Russian protected cruiser squadron -see below bottom/middle right] and the Japanese barrier of impenetrable (mostly British made Vickers Armstrong) steel has been broken into three parts. The obsolete Japanese battleships are engaging the Russian second battleship squadron to their disadvantage, the three Japanese battleships are crossing the reverse "tee" of the Russian first battleship squadron and Mikasa has been recovered (spending lots of command points to remove the second red damage marker indicating "silenced") and has formed a composite battle squadron (see below, middle/bottom left) with the disengaged Japanese armoured cruisers. Finally the Japanese protected cruisers have positioned themselves in a good place to cross the Russian protected cruisers "tee" (see below):

The Japanese commander has command and control headaches. Togo needs to bring the disparate elements of his battle squadron together and attack the Russian battle squadron before they "turn the corner". This may mean sacrificing the obsolete battleships (well fully committing them .. to almost assured destruction ) and bringing the Mikasa back into the action as soon as possible. The down side is that the Russian Admiral, with an uncharacteristic national attribute (for a 1904-05 Russian Admiral), has been astute, resolute and has managed to coordinate and concentrate his forces effectively.

Note: At this point the Japanese Admirals camera phone "ran out of power". Fear not, the Russian Admiral took over and has supplied photographs from the "Russian perspective" of the second half of the battle. The "race to the edge of the table/world".


Pete. said...

Great stuff- looking forward to seeing things from the Russian side.



Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Cheers Pete