Saturday, February 19, 2011

Battle of Yellow Sea Redux

"Smoke sighted, 10 miles.  Orders Admiral Vitgeft?"  "Action stations" came the soft reply.  "We're going through."

With that our refight of the 1905 Battle of Yellow Sea began.  The Imperial Russians had in line ahead, the pre-dreadnoughts Tsesarevich, Retvizian, Poibeda, Peresviet, Sevastopol and Poltava.  The Imperial Japanese Navy line was lead by the Mikasa, followed in close order by the Asahi, Fuji, Shikishima and armored cruisers Adzuma and Kasuga.  Click images to enlarge them.

Russian fleet sailing southeast

Rules are "Rise of the Battleship," part of the Naval Thunder series.  Models are 1/2400, mostly by Viking Forge with one Panzerschiffe model thrown in.  The game system plays quick with more realism than comparable sets and is well supported online.  Naval Thunder.

Both admirals chose to close quickly with little maneuvering.  Realistic shooting ranges are limited by the technology of the period and both sides were anxious to get their copious array of secondary guns into play.  As would be expected, initial shots went wide.

The four Japanese battleships, lead by the Mikasa

As each line made an adjustment in direction to bring more guns into play the Japanese landed the first key hit with a flooding hit on the flagship Tsesarevich.  Meanwhile the Mikasa, a real beast built for the Japanese by England, seemed to shrug off hits in return. 

The chit represents the temporary flooding result.  Shell splashes by Thoroughbred Miniatures

As the two lines began to square off against each other the Retvizian began to absorb penetrating hits, much like the historic action.  Both sides started to take some damage with small fires springing up and being quickly controlled by damage parties.  The flooding result on the Tsesarevich briefly turned into a severe list which impacted her gunnery as well as survivability, but heroic efforts eventually evened her out.  Suddenly a penetrating hit on the Mikasa had an impact that strongly influenced the outcome.  Sporting a small fire she abruptly heeled out of line, turning away from the Russians.  A rudder jam!

The Mikasa turns away, throwing the Japanese line into confusion

As the full weight of the Russian line came into play they had the advantage of six battleships against only three plus two armored cruisers.  Of course the Adzuma's armor was better than two of the Russian battleships, but the big guns were critical.  Also critical was a command failure on the Mikasa which delayed her return to action.  On the Russian side the Retvizian was slowing and the Pobeida was crawling along.  A rudder jam on the Retvizian had the good fortune to jam directly ahead so it had no impact on the game.  Still, the Russian line was forced to break and some ships were briefly masked from firing.

Plunging into the gap came the battleship Asahi which fired torpedoes to port AND starboard.  The well perforated Fuji was blocked from breaking the line but things began to look grim.

Torpedoes away as the Shikishima burns in the distance

Just as Admiral Vitgeft was beginning to congratulate himself on getting most of his fleet away to Vladivostak the Tsesarevich shuddered from a torpedo hit directly astern.  Her speed dropped and the flooding damage taken before now loomed menacingly.  Plus, the Mikasa had corrected her rudder problems and although somewhat distant, was actively pounding away again.

Now all the cumulative damage caught up, first with the Japanese.  The well-holed Fuji went under, followed by the Adzuma which although well armored had been receiving way too many 12" and 6" hits.  At this point it was easy to adjudicate a result as we had run out of time.

The sinking, with more to follow from both sides
Sunk: Asahi, Fuji, Adzuma, Tsesarevich, Retvizian, Pobeida.  Escaping the Sevastopol, Peresviet and Poltava.

If the Mikasa hadn't been so difficult the Russians might have stayed to finish the fight since they were no more than 30% damaged on any ship but survival seemed more important.  Meanwhile the Japanese had lost two precious battleships they could not replace as well as a splendid armored cruiser.  A solid victory for the Russians (by points) that "turned" on the rudder jam early on.

This was a demo game outside of Gnome Games East in Green Bay, WI and we stopped several times for conversation with interested people.  Unfortunately we didn't lure any into the game.  With just two relatively inexperienced players and distractions we completed the game in a little over three and a half hours.  If we had just played straight through I estimate it would have taken an hour off.

For more information on the Russo-Japanese War I heartily endorse the Russo-Japanese War Research Society.


  1. Interesting bit of "turning the table" . . . in the actual battle, the key hit was a "rudder jam" on the Russian flagship, which threw their battle line into confusion.

    I've also played this battle in 1/2400 using the same fine rules. My account (and my opponents') are in the following places:

    I would also suggest people visit the Naval Thunder Forum:

    The rules are available as downloads in .pdf format.

    -- Jeff

  2. Excellent account. Just realized we played at. ROCKCON maybe we can coordinate a game sometime as I am in WI. Staying in Appleton tonight due to the storm.

    Thanks for sharing,

    (Aka afilter)

  3. That would be great Aaron. Hunker down tonight, the storm is far from over. BTW, I'm from Appleton. We alternate games in Green Bay and my place in Appleton.