The Varyag cruiser has become a truly legendary vessel in Russian history. It became famous at the expense of the battle of Chemulpo, at the very beginning of the Russo-Japanese War. And although the cruiser “Varyag” has already become almost a household name, the battle itself is still unknown to the general public. Meanwhile, for the Russian fleet the results are disappointing.
True, then two domestic ships were confronted immediately by a whole Japanese squadron. All that is known about the Varyag did not surrender to the enemy and preferred to be flooded rather than captivated. However, the history of the ship is much more interesting. It is necessary to restore historical justice and debunk some myths about the glorious cruiser “Varyag”.
Varyag was built in Russia.
The ship is considered one of the most famous in the history of the Russian fleet. It is obvious to assume that it was built in Russia. Nevertheless, the Varyag was laid in 1898 in Philadelphia at the shipyards William Cramp and Sons. Three years later, the ship began to serve in the domestic fleet.
The Varyag is a slow ship.
Poor work during the creation of the vessel led to the fact that it could not accelerate to the 25 knots prescribed in the contract. This brought to naught all the advantages of a light cruiser. A few years later the ship could not swim faster than 14 knots. Even the question of returning the Varyag to the Americans for repair was raised. But in the autumn of 1903, the cruiser on tests was able to show practically the planned speed. The steam boilers of Nichlossa by faith and truth served on other ships, without provoking criticism.
The Varyag is a weak cruiser.
In many sources, the opinion is that the Varyag was a weak opponent with low military value. The skepticism caused by the absence of armor shields from the main caliber guns. True, in those years, in principle, Japan did not have armored deck cruisers capable of fighting with Varyag and his counterparts on the might of weapons on an equal footing: “Oleg”, “Bogatyr” and “Askold.” Twelve 152 mm guns were not found in any Japanese cruiser of this class. But the fighting in that conflict developed in such a way that the crews of the domestic cruisers did not fight with an enemy equal in number or class. The Japanese preferred to engage in battle, owning an advantage over the number of ships. The first battle, but not the last one, was the battle at Chemulpo.
“Varyag” and “Korean” received a hail of shells.
Describing that battle, Russian historians tell of a whole hail of shells that struck Russian ships. However, in “Koreans” while doing nothing. But the official data of the Japanese side refute this myth. In 50 minutes of battle, six cruisers used only 419 shells. Most of all – “Asama”, including 27 calibers 203 mm and 103 caliber 152 mm. According to the report of Captain Rudnev, commander of the Varyag, the ship produced 1105 shells. Of these, 425-caliber 152 mm, 470-caliber 75 mm, another 210 – 47 mm. It turns out that as a result of that battle, Russian artillerymen managed to show a high rate of fire. Another half a hundred shells were released by the “Korean”. So it turns out that two Russian ships in the course of that battle fired shells three times more than the entire Japanese squadron. It remains unclear how this number was calculated. Perhaps it appeared on the basis of a survey crew. And could he make so many shots to make a cruiser that lost three-fourths of its guns at the end of the battle?
Rear Admiral Rudnev commanded the vessel.
Returning to Russia after his resignation in 1905, Vsevolod Fedorovich Rudnev received the title of Rear Admiral. And in 2001, the name of a brave sailor named a street in South Butovo in Moscow. But it’s logical to talk about the captain, not the admiral in the historical aspect. In the annals of the Russo-Japanese War, Rudnev remained captain of the first rank, commander of the Varyag. As a rear admiral, he did not show himself anywhere. And this obvious mistake crept even into school textbooks, where the title of commander of the “Varyag” is incorrectly indicated.No one somehow thinks that the Rear Admiral is not in command of an armored decker cruiser. Two Russian ships were confronted by fourteen Japanese. Describing that battle, it is often said that the cruiser “Varyag” and the gunboat “Korean” was opposed by the whole Japanese squadron of Rear Admiral Uriu from 14 ships. It included 6 cruisers and 8 destroyers. But there is still something to clarify. The Japanese have not used their huge quantitative and qualitative superiority. Moreover, initially there were 15 ships in the squadron. But the destroyer “Tsubame” ran aground during maneuvers that prevented the “Koreans” from leaving for Port Arthur. The Chihayya messenger ship was not a participant in the battle, although it was near the battle site. In fact, only four Japanese cruisers fought, two more sporadically entered the battle. The destroyers only denoted their presence.
The Varyag sank a cruiser and two enemy destroyers.
The issue of military losses on both sides always provokes heated discussions. So the battle between Chemulpo Russian and Japanese historians is evaluated in different ways. In the domestic literature it is mentioned about the great losses of the enemy. The Japanese lost the submerged destroyer, killed 30 people, injured about 200. But these data are based on reports of foreigners who watched the battle. Gradually, the number of sunken steel included another destroyer, as well as the cruiser Takachiho. This version was included in the movie “Cruiser” Varyag “. And if it is possible to argue about the destiny of torpedo boats, then the cruiser Takachiho quite successfully passed the Russo-Japanese war. The ship with its entire crew sank only 10 years later when the siege of Qingdao. In the report of the Japanese, nothing is said about the losses and damages of their ships. True, it is not entirely clear where the armored cruiser Asama, the main opponent of the Varyag, disappeared for two whole months after that battle. Under Port Arthur, he was not, as in the squadron of Admiral Cammimura, who acted against the Vladivostok detachment of cruisers. But the fighting was just beginning, the outcome of the war was unclear. One can only assume that the ship, which was used primarily by the Varyag, was still seriously damaged. But the Japanese decided to hide this fact in order to promote the effectiveness of their weapons. Such an experience was noted in the course of the Russo-Japanese War. Losses of the battleships “Yasima” and “Hatsusa” also were recognized not immediately. Several Japanese sunken destroyers quietly wrote off, as repair unusable.
The history of the Varyag ended in its flooding.
After the ship’s crew moved to neutral ships, the Kingston was opened on the Varyag. He sank. But in 1905 the Japanese raised the cruiser, repaired and put into operation under the name “Soya”. In 1916 the ship was bought by the Russians. There was the First World War, and Japan was already an ally. The vessel was returned to its former name “Varyag”, it began to serve as part of the flotilla of the Arctic Ocean. At the beginning of 1917 the Varyag went to the repair in England, but was confiscated for debts. The Soviet government was not going to pay royal bills. The further destiny of the ship is unenviable – in 1920 it was sold to the Germans for scrapping. And in 1925 when towed, sank in the Irish Sea. So the ship does not rest near the coast of Korea.
The Japanese modernized the ship.
There is information that the boilers of Nikolossa have been replaced by Japanese for Miyabar boilers. So the Japanese decided to modernize the former “Varyag”. It’s a delusion. However, without repair of cars all the same has not managed. This allowed the cruiser on the tests to achieve a move of 22.7 knots, which was less than the original.
As a sign of respect, the Japanese left a sign with his name and the Russian coat of arms to the cruiser.
This step was not connected with tribute to the memory of the heroic history of the ship. The design of the Varyag played a role. The coat of arms and the name were mounted in the stern balcony, it was impossible to remove them. The Japanese just fixed a new name, “Soya” on both sides on the lattice of the balcony. No sentimentality – continuous rationality.
“The death of the Varyag” is a folk song.
The “Varyag” feat became one of the bright spots of that war. It’s no wonder that the ship composed poems, composed songs, wrote pictures, shot a film. Right after the war, at least fifty songs were composed. But through the years only three of us have reached us. “Varyag” and “Death of the Varyag” are known most. These songs with small changes are heard throughout the feature film about the ship. For a long time it was believed that “The death of the Varyag” is a folk creation, but this is not entirely true. Less than a month after the battle in the newspaper “Rus” was published poem J. Repninsky “Varyag”. It began with the words “Splashing cold waves”. These words were put to music by the composer Benevsky. I must say that this melody was consonant with many military songs that appeared in that period. And who was the mysterious J. Repninsky, and could not establish. Incidentally, the text “Varyag” (“Up, oh comrades, all in places”) was written by the Austrian poet Rudolf Grains. Known to all the option appeared, thanks to the translator Studenskaya.