Starting in the early 1890’s, a new type of cruiser made its appearance in the navies of the world, the armored cruiser. The forerunner of this type was the protected cruiser. Protected cruisers had an armored deck, fairly low in the hull, incorporated in an effort to create a safe zone low in the hull, to allow the ship to receive damage but still maintain stability. The armored cruiser took the concept a step further, with the addition of an armored belt running along the waterline. For fifteen years the designs of armored cruisers increased in size and power. By the late 1890s first line armored cruisers were larger and often exceeded the displacement of contemporary battleships. However, although faster than the battleships, the armored cruisers had less armor and smaller size main batteries.  

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With the advent of HMS Invincible, the equation changed. Originally called an armored cruiser, the Invincible featured much higher speed than the preceding armored cruiser design and most importantly, the armament of a battleship. By 1909 the type was called Dreadnought-Cruiser and by 1912, Battlecruiser.

VITAL STATISTICS

Laid Down- February 1899; Launched- June 1900; Completed- April 1903; Fate- Expended as Target August 1932

DIMENSIONS: Length- 449 feet 7 inches (137.03m) oa; Beam- 57 feet 6 inches (17.52m); Draught- 21 feet 3 inches to 22 feet (6.48-6.71m);

DISPLACEMENT- 7,775 tons: COMPLEMENT- 568 to 593

ARMAMENT- Two 8"/45 cal (2x1) turret mounted; eight 6"/45 cal (8x1) casemate mounted; sixteen 11 pdr; eight 3 pdr; two 15 inch submerged torpedo tubes; (Other 3 sisterships had twenty 11 pdr, four 6 pdr in lieu of 3 pdr and two 18 inch TT, Additional modifications made during WWI)

ARMOR- Belt- 7-2 ½ inch; Turrets- 6- 5 ¼ inch; Conning Tower- 5 ½ inch

MACHINERY- 26 Belleville Boilers, 2 shaft VTE, 16,500 ihp; 21 knots

Sisterships- Admiral Makarov, Bayan II, Pallada

 

During the 15 or so years of the height of armored cruiser design, the Imperial Russian Navy built a number of interesting warships of this type. Rurik, laid down in 1890, Rossiya, laid down in 1894, and Gromoboi, laid down in 1897, were each "one-off" designs. However all three shared certain characteristics. Each mounted the same main and secondary batteries, mounted in broadside casemate arrangement with none mounted centerline (four- 8 inch/45 cal main(35cal in Rurik) and sixteen- 6 inch/45 cal secondary). The broadside of each was accordingly two 8" and eight 6". Each ship displaced the tonnage of a battleship and although faster than a contemporary battleship, they were not especially fast. (Rurik 11,690 tons; 18.7 knots: Rossiya 13,675 tons; 20.2 knots: Gromoboi 13,220 tons; 20 knots). None of the three were considered successful designs. By the late 1890’s the Russian yards were working at full capacity, and in order to further increase the size of the fleet, the Imperial Navy contracted with foreign yards for further warship construction.

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The Morskoi Tekhnicheskii Komitet MTK (Naval Technical Committee), composed of representatives of Russian shipbuilding, armament, engineering and other technical branches, was responsible for the design of the Tsar’s warships. The MTK contracted the design of the fourth class of Russian armored cruiser with the French Yard of Forges et Chantiers de la Mediterranee, La Seyne. The new design was completely different from the three preceding designs. The Bayan at little more than half of the displacement (7,775 tons) had almost the same gun power (two centerline turret 8 inch/45 cal and eight, casemate mounted 6 inch/45 cal), and greater speed (21 knots), than her three predecessors.

Bayan proved to be a sleek, lovely design and was so successful that three more of the class were laid down in August 1905. (Admiral Makarov, named after the admiral killed while serving with the First Pacific (Port Arthur) Squadron, Bayan II, named after the class name ship, which was lost when Port Arthur fell, and Pallada, named after a protected cruiser lost at Port Arthur). These three were all active in the First World War.

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References

Bayan, Morskaya Kollektsia #3/1997- This 32 page reference covers all four ships of the Bayan Class. Written in Russian, the photographs, drawings (including a two page plan & profile) and color plates make this unquestionably, the best visual source for the modeler for building the Combrig Bayan. Very Highly Recommended.

Warship, 1999-2000
- From Riurik to Riurik: Russia’s Armored Cruisers, Written by Stephen McLaughlin, this is an outstanding 36 page article on the technical aspects of the five classes of Russian Armored Cruiser with numerous high quality photos and two page plan and profiles on each class. This article does not contain the battle history of Bayan but presents an absorbing study into the design and construction of the armored cruiser.

The Russian Fleet: Ships of the Russo-Japanese War- Written by S. Suliga in Russian, this 56 page reference covers all Russian Ships of the War. Coverage on Bayan amounts to one page with exterior plan and profile, and armor schematic plan, profile and cross section. The color plate of Bayan in the olive green First Pacific Squadron paint scheme, shown in this article, is from the back cover of this volume.

Bayan, completed in April 1903 was sent to the First Pacific Squadron at Port Arthur, prior to the start of the Russo-Japanese War. With war clouds gathering, from December 1903 to January 1904, the larger ships of the First Pacific Squadron were repainted. They were transformed from their pristine Imperial White and deep yellow livery to a shade of olive green. The war started the night of February 8, 1904 with a surprise torpedo attack by Japanese destroyers on the anchored Russian Squadron at Port Arthur.

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On March 10, 1904 Bayan, flying the flag of Vice Admiral Makarov, and Novik, Cruiser 2nd Rank, sortied to support Russian destroyers under attack by the Japanese destroyers but returned to Port Arthur, when a stronger Japanese Cruiser Squadron appeared. For the next month Bayan was involved in a number of sorties by the First Pacific Squadron, including Admiral Makarov’s last sortie on April 12. Bayan was to port of the battleline. The squadron had only traversed 1 ½ to 2 miles from Port Arthur, when the flagship, Petropavlovsk, struck a mine and sank in two minutes, taking with her the unfortunate Admiral Makarov. The Squadron immediately returned to port. Bayan was part of additional sorties on June 23 and July 27. While returning from this last sortie and flying the flag of Rear Admiral Reitzenstein, Commander of the Cruisers, she struck a mine but made it back to Port Arthur. She was still under repair on August 10, 1904 when the Squadron sortied again and engaged in the Battle of the Yellow Sea and accordingly missed this opportunity to escape the bottle of Port Arthur. This action, for all purposes ended the active role of the Russian First Pacific Squadron. Some warships broke out and reached neutral ports but the bulk of the force returned to beseiged Port Arthur. 

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The Japanese Army continued to tighten the stranglehold that they had on the port and by November 1904 had seized positions from which they could use seige mortars to bombard the Russian ships in the port. In December, after receiving staggering damage from eighteen Japanese 11 inch (280mm) seige mortars (12,242 yard range, 480 lb shells), all of the warships of the First Pacific Squadron that had not already been sunk, were scuttled to prevent capture by exploding six to eight torpedo warheads around the hull of each surviving ship. Bayan took more hits from these guns (12) than any battleship or cruiser in the squadron. She suffered seven hits on the deck, of which five penetrated and five hits on the side of the hull. On January 2, 1905 Port Arthur surrendered. 

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Bayan was raised by the Japanese, refurbished and incorporated into the Imperial Japanese Navy as HIJMS Aso. It is a tribute to the excellent design of Bayan, that she was able to absorb the tremendous punishment of the 280mm guns and still could be brought back into service. She served in the Japanese Navy until August 8, 1932, when she was expended as a target. (History from Naval Annual, 1905, excellent battle history of the First Pacific Squadron: Warship, 1996, The Russo-Japanese War: Technical Lessons as Perceived by the Royal Navy: Warship, 1999-2000, From Riurik to Riurik: Russia’s Armored Cruisers, an outstanding 36 page article on the technical aspects of the five classes of Russian Armored Cruiser with numerous high quality photos and two page plan and profiles on each class: Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships, 1860-1905, thumbnail history of the class with one photo and a profile) 

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The Combrig Bayan
Combrig has produced a beautifully crisp model of this lovely and effective warship. The casting is top quality and model captures the elegant lines of the prototype. Although Combrig has started to use photo-etch in its 1:700 warship kits, Bayan does not include it. Inclined ladders are represented by Aztec step resin castings, cast integral to the hull. Photographs of all components of this model are included in this article but a complete description of those components will be covered in a subsequent build-up review of the Combrig Bayan, which will be written by David Lilly. David intends to build the ship as she appeared at Port Arthur in her olive green paint scheme or as sistership, Bayan II, when that cruiser faced the German Dreadnoughts Konig & Kronprinz at the Battle of Moon Sound on October 17, 1917.

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