Osprey's Russian Battleships & Cruisers of the Russo-Japanese War


Mark Lardas, illustrated by Paul Wright


Osprey Publishing


$19.00 MSRP


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 48 pages, 7 x 9 inches, softbound
ISBN: 978-1-4728-3508-6

Next up in Osprey's New Vanguard series is this interesting offering on Russian battleships and cruisers at the time of the Russo-Japanese war of 1904/1905. Basically, this war was due to the increasing expansion into territory that the Japanese felt was their own. When the Russians started dealing with Korea, the Japanese thought that was enough and attached the Russians before declaring war. The Russians thought it would be an easy win, not realizing the distance Japan had come militarily since the end of the Edo period.

During this time, the Russians had the third largest navy in the world, behind Britain and France. Typical of many nations, their ships were built elsewhere due to the time it took to build them and the Russian need for as many major ships as possible. These ships came from the UK, France, Italy and the US, though some of these were to Russian plans. The result of the war is well known and was due to ineptitude on the part of Russian commanders as much as anything else as the Japanese were clearly outgunned.

The main feature of the book is the history of ironclad ships from about 1870 until the early 1900s. This was the pre-dreadnaught days when some older ships still had masts and sails to enhance their range. All were coal-fired as oil fired ships were still experimental. Main armament was quite similar at 12 inches with a variety of secondary guns and placement. Thanks to the variety and thickness of the armor plating, sinking a ship by pounding it with shells rarely occured. Usually it was fire and secondary explosions that did ships in.

This book covers the developments of various ship types and also provides some information on the various classes. A very brief history of each ship is provided. There is a larger 'in action' section at the end of the book than some others so you get to see how these ships did in combat. A nicely done book with a wealth of information. One that is well worth picking up.

July 2019

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