Japanese pre-dreadnought Battleships

Japan (1896-1906)

About Japanese pre-dreadnoughts

We distinguish two periods over which the Japanese acquired their capital ships: First off, Before the Russo-Japanese war (Part I), and after (part II). In the first case, they were cloned of regular British Capital ships, built in British yards, with British equipment and armaments, while crews and officers spent years of training with the Royal Navy. It is not excessive to call this early fleet a clone of the Royal Navy in Asia. These ships and tactics were put to good use by a man, Admiral Togo at the battle of Tsushima, proving not only Japan can defeat a major global power, Russia, making the incredible feat of defeating two of her regional fleet, the one of the Baltic and the Pacific, one after the other.

Not only the event surprised the world, shaking certitudes of the Westerners, but it also confirmed Japan in her ambitions in the Asian sphere and the Pacific. The confrontation of 1941 was already born from this confidence. But its also proved to the British Admiralty that her ships, training and tactics would have defeated the Russians in this proxy war, and confirmed their own confidence, until it was shaken again by the battleship race with Imperial Germany. Meanwhile, the bond between the two navies lasted until Japan’s dreadnoughts, after Tsushima. Indeed the battle occurred in 1905, while HMS Dreadnought was already in construction. Lessons from the battle only comforted naval admiralties about the pertinence of the concept.

Then came the post-Tsushima approach of capital ship design and construction. Japan took the time to pause (no capital ship was ordered before 1904), building both two battleships that were leaning already towards the dreadnought with a powerful secondary battery, and the first proper dreadnought, the Settsu class. However Japan paused again, also for economic reasons after the launch of the ambitious 8-8 program before ordering in 1912 four battlecruisers and a year after a battleship, the first of the Fuso class, which was a considerable leap forward in terms of armament and speed, already a “super-battleship” comparable to the British Queen Elisabeth class.

Post-Yalu IJN Battleships

At the battle of Yalu (1894), the first serious test for the modern Japanese Navy in the Meiji era after the Boshin war, …

Battleships class Fuji (1896)

The Fuji and sss built respectively at Armstrong and Vickers, were inspired by King Edward VII. These were the last Japanese battleships built abroad. The Kashima was a little bigger and heavier than the Katori. Finished in April 1906, they took part only in the Great War, their armament being reinforced with two pieces of 78 mm AA. Both were disarmed at Maizuru in 1924.

Specifications

  • Displacement: 16,400 – 17,950t
  • Dimensions ; 144 x 23.80 x 8.1 m
  • Propulsion: 2 propellers, 4 cylinders, 20 Niclausse boilers, 15,800 hp. 18.5 knots
  • Potection: Deck 50 mm, blockhouse 228 mm, belt 229 mm, turrets 229 and 203 mm, barbettes 152 mm
  • Crew: 864
  • Armament: 4 x 305, 4 x 254, 12 x 152, 14 x 78 mm, 5 x 457mm sub.

Battleships class Shikishima (1898)

The Shikishima and Hatsuse were built in two British shipyards on plans derived from the Majestic. They were more heavy versions of the previous Fuji and differed in their three funnels. The subsequent Asahi and Mikasa derived from it so closely that they are sometimes placed in one and the same class. they also had improved armor, with no less than 261 watertight compartments. Both ships bombarded Port Arthur on February 9, 1904, and actively participated in the ensuing blockade.

As such Hatsuse was blow off by a Russian mine and could have been saved, being towed by the Asahi if she had not hit a second mine, exploding in an ammunition store. She sank in a few seconds with most of her crew. The Shikishima participated in the Battle of the Yellow Sea and Tsushima. She was in operation during the Great War and disarmed in 1923. She became a training ship and was not broken up until 1947.

Specifications

  • Displacement: 16,400 – 17,950t
  • Dimensions ; 144 x 23.80 x 8.1 m
  • Propulsion: 2 propellers, 4 cylinders, 20 Niclausse boilers, 15,800 hp. 18.5 knots
  • Potection: Deck 50 mm, blockhouse 228 mm, belt 229 mm, turrets 229 and 203 mm, barbettes 152 mm
  • Crew: 864
  • Armament: 4 x 305, 4 x 254, 12 x 152, 14 x 78 mm, 5 x 457mm sub.

Battleships class Kashima (1905)

The Kashima and Katori built respectively at Armstrong and Vickers, were inspired by King Edward VII. These were the last Japanese battleships built abroad. The Kashima was a little bigger and heavier than the Katori. Completed in April 1906, they took part only in the Great War, their armament being reinforced with two 78 mm AA guns. Both were disarmed at Maizuru in 1924.

Specifications

  • Displacement: 16,400 – 17,950t
  • Dimensions ; 144 x 23.80 x 8.1 m
  • Propulsion: 2 propellers, 4 cylinders, 20 Niclausse boilers, 15,800 hp. 18.5 knots
  • Potection: Deck 50 mm, blockhouse 228 mm, belt 229 mm, turrets 229 and 203 mm, barbettes 152 mm
  • Crew: 864
  • Armament: 4 x 305, 4 x 254, 12 x 152, 14 x 78 mm, 5 x 457mm sub.
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