Whenever a country becomes introverted and withdraws from taking an interest in events beyond its boarders, it more than likely will entropy (a tendency towards disorder within a closed system; a measure of randomness or lack of organization in a situation; a measure used to determine the disorder in the population). Developments in science will be made elsewhere, and the isolationist country will generally fall behind. Imperial China is a good case in point. The Emperors and Mandarins of Imperial China always considered China the hub of the universe. Other nearby peoples such as the Koreans and Japanese were considered as worthy to provide tribute. It was not only Japan that froze in time around 1600 but also Imperial China. Interaction with foreigners was strictly controlled to a few ports far away from the capital. That way the foreign contamination of new ideas could be controlled. Events of the 19th century changed the paths of both countries dramatically. In both cases western foreigners opened up each country to the west and western inventions and ideas. However, each country chose a different path. Japan, although initially resistant to opening up to American and European advances, quickly embraced western technology. As a result Japan leaped from the 16th century to the 19th century almost overnight. China took a different and far more tragic path.
Imperial China tried to exclude western advances to the bitter end. The only result was that the Middle Kingdom became the largest game in the rise of colonialism. The British had introduced opium into China through the port of Canton. As more and more Chinese citizens fell prey to drug addiction, the Imperial government ordered local authorities to close down traffic. In 1839 Canton tried to close down the British traffic with two Imperial junks encountering a British frigate. There was no contest as the junks were made as they were in the 1500s. This event opened the Opium War. Of course Imperial China was quickly crushed by modern technology and the Treaty of Nanking of 1842 was the result. Hong Kong was ceded to Great Britain, five new ports were opened to trade and China agreed to pay heavy reparations. The race to carve up China was on.
Deconstruction is a word found in the fashion environment to describe a certain rough or unfinished appearance but it can also describe the condition of China for the next century. As disaster followed disaster the sway and power of the Imperial Chinese government atrophied. The Tai Ping rebellion in 1850 set up an independent rebel state centered around Nanking. Then a second war with the British occurred. This time, however, the French jumped in as well, looking for a piece of the Chinese pie. From 1857 to 1860 the war lost China more land and resources. The Treaty of Tientsin caused more indemnities, opened more ports and allowed the western powers to create establishments in Beijing. This last disaster, however, finally forced Imperial China that to avoid further dismemberment, she would have to modernize. Prince Kung, brother to the Emperor, set up a foreign office and consulted western diplomats about Chinese modernization. One result of this was that Imperial China started purchasing steam warships from the west. The next third of a century saw Imperial China engaged in an effort to be the foremost naval power in the Orient.
Having been picked apart by western powers, a new threat appeared to Imperial China in 1874. The newly awakened Japanese Empire mounted a punitive expedition against Chinese Formosa. Afterwards Japan sent agents to Britain and purchased three modern warships and China was forced to follow suit. In 1877 China sent a legation to London and Berlin, specifically to purchase the most modern armored warships available. China purchased some gunboats from Britain, armed with 10-inch/26 breechloaders (BL) but by far the largest purchases came from the newly unified German Empire. Britain didnít want to sell large warships to China but Germany was very enthused to develop her own ship building industry. A Chinese order for large warships would be not only beneficial to China but would also garner income and spur development of warship infrastructure in Germany. In March 1881 a 7,500-ton Chinese battleship was laid down at the Vulkan yard of Stettin. The ship was launched in December and named Ting Yuen (Eternal Peace).
Built to a modified design of the German ship Saschen, the ship was heavily armed with four 12-inch/25 BL guns mounted in two twin gun positions mounted in a common barbette amidships. An armored citadel protected the central part of the ship from deck level to two feet below waterline. The compound armor ranged from 12-inches to 14-inches. The ends were unarmored. The main guns appear to be in armored turrets but this is illusory. They were actually covered by light shields only 1-inch in thickness. Between the turrets was an armored conning tower of 8-inch thickness. Single 5.9-inch guns were mounted in positions at bow and stern. Oddly, these positions were more heavily armored than those of the main guns. Sources vary from 3-inches to 2-inches on the sides and 1-inch to Ĺ-inch on the crown. Of course the Ting Yuen had the obligatory ram, plus three torpedo tubes. One was at the stern and two more were forward of the armored citadel. Powered by two sets of three cylinder horizontal compound engines and eight boilers, the power plant developed 6,000ihp and propelled the ship at 14 Ĺ-knots. The ship had a range of 4,500 nm but was rigged with auxiliary sail for the trip to China. As built, the Ting-Yuen was equipped with two 16-ton 2nd class torpedo boats. In the theory of the day, battleships could launch their own clouds of torpedo boats at sea for separate torpedo attacks on the enemy fleet and recover any survivors at the end of the engagement. These boats were operated separately from the battleship upon arrival in China.
A sister-ship, the Chen Yuen (Striking from Far Away) was laid down March 1882 and launched in November. There was to be a third battleship but shaky finances caused this ship, Tsi Yuen (Help in Need) to be built as a cheaper, protected cruiser. The Chinese wanted delivery of the Ting Yuen but apparently there was some collusion between Germany and France. France and China were facing off over Viet-Nam and France obviously did not want the powerful Ting Yuen to be in the area. Trials for the battleship were in May 1883 and plans called for her to steam to China in June. However, at the last minute the trip was cancelled and the German navy took the ship on gunnery trials. The Times of London made fun of the German design in reporting on July 24, 1883, "According to the account published in the serious North German Gazette, a large quantity of skylight and window glass was smashed, a thick iron rail on the bridge was wrenched off, a funnel was snapped in two, the deck was strewn with coals jerked up from the coal bunker, some wooden furniture was smashed into splintersÖHow the Chinese are to face the French or any other foe with such disastrous guns is a question well worthy of their consideration." (The Chinese Steam Navy 1862-1945, Chatham Press 2000, by Richard N. J. Wright, at page 54) It is interesting that one newspaper is citing another newspaper as an authority. It certainly wonít be the last time this happened.
Ting Yuen returned to port and stayed there. In the meantime Chen Yuen was also completed and underwent trials in April 1884. Both ships were scheduled to steam for China in July but again they were delayed because of the ongoing troubles with France. In August 1884 the protected cruiser Tsi Yuen joined the sleep of the battleships at Stettin and the French navy attacked the Chinese navy at Foochow where the Chinese had built their own warships since 1877. The Sino-French War lasted from 1885 to 1885 but the Chinese German built battleships sat it out on the sidelines of Stettin half a world away. The French started the war by smashing the Chinese squadron at Foochow and Admiral Courbet smashed another Chinese squadron in February 1885. In June 1885 the war ended with more reparations to be paid by China. However, the Sino-French War was not an overwhelming success for France. Imperial China had stood up well, except for the naval reverses and now with the end of the war, China had the cure for that. The two battleships and protected cruiser were finally allowed to depart Stettin for China.
In October 1885 the two battleships and cruiser arrived at Taku and turned the Peiyang (Northern Sea) Squadron into a fleet. Ting Yuen and Chen Yuen were the most powerful ships in the Pacific. Neither the Royal Navy nor the Imperial Japanese Navy had any comparable warship in the worldís largest ocean and the new American Steel Navy was just emerging. Taku was too small for ships of this size and a Chinese naval base to be built at Port Arthur had not yet been funded. This demonstrated one of the major weaknesses of this new Imperial Chinese Navy. The Chinese had purchased modern warships but did not develop the infrastructure to support them. The Chinese battleships had to use drydocks at Hong Kong or Japan and these were hardly reliable resources. After the Peiyang Fleet visited Nagasaki for a goodwill visit and Chinese sailors fought Japanese in the city streets, Japanese yards were closed to the Chinese for a number of years. The Chinese battleships moved south to operate out of Shanghai in December 1889. The Peiyang fleet moved on to Hong Kong for yard maintenance with the British facilities. It was during this period that the Imperial Chinese Navy was at the height of its power and efficiency. This was all under the leadership of Chinese Admiral Lang but the stress of building and training a navy, coupled with the wear and tear of fighting the archaic Chinese political structure finally wore him out and he retired in June 1890. With his departure, the condition of the Chinese navy declined precipitously.
In November 1890 Chen Yuen was damaged from grounding off Korea and had to be put in dock for repairs. However, by then the navy had a dock at Port Arthur large enough to accommodate their battleships. Even with the new dock, the capability of the Imperial Navy rapidly declined without Admiral Lang. Officers were political appointments and the efficiency of the officers, crew and warships kept on the decline. In the summer of 1891 the Peiyang fleet made it first call to Japan since the fights of 1886 had resulted in their exclusion. Captain Togo first got to see the Chinese ships at this time and was less than impressed. Things had not improved by May 1894 when the commander of the British China Fleet visited Port Arthur and many units of the Chinese Fleet. Admiral Freemantle observed that the ships steamed far too slowly. Since the spending spree of the early 1880s no new warship purchases were made. Instead of spending money on Imperial defense, the Dowager Empress decided to spend huge sums on rebuilding the Summer Palace, which had been severely damaged by the British and French in 1860. She used the Sea Defense Fund as the source for these funds. Three to six modern battleships, equal to the British Admiral class could have been purchased with the sums diverted for construction of a marble ship in the Palace lake and other high expense improvements to the Palace. In the summer of 1894 China offered to buy the new 2nd class battleship HMS Centurion, which had just arrived as flagship of the British China Fleet. Of course the offer was declined and by then it was too late to make up for five years of neglect. Disaster was on the threshold for China and her fleet.
Since the arrival of the Ting Yuen and Chen Yuen to the northern fleet, Japan had cast a wary eye at the Chinese naval buildup. Unlike the Chinese navy, which peaked in efficiency in the late 1880s and then rapidly declined, the Imperial Japanese Navy only increased in capability and efficiency, year after year. The flashpoint between China and Japan was the status of Korea, which ten years later was also the flash point between Russia and Japan. In April 1885 China and Japan had signed the Treaty of Tientsin, in which they had mutually agreed to remove their troops from Korea. In the event of future disturbances in Korea, each country had agreed to inform the other if troops would be sent. In May 1894 there was a major revolt in Korea and the King of Korea asked China for troops to put down the rebellion. China sent 2,000 troops and informed Japan pursuant to the Treaty. Japan on the other hand did not have an invitation from the king but sent a larger force anyway to Chemulpo near Seoul. The rebels disappeared, leaving only the Chinese and Japanese troops in the country. Neither side would withdraw their troops and in July Japan gave an ultimatum to Korea demanding the withdrawal of the Chinese force in the country. Chinaís response was to send further troops into Korea, mostly by sea. All that was required to convert this situation into a full-blown war was an incident.
That was not long in coming. On July 25 the cruiser Tsi Yuen and a torpedo gunboat encountered three Japanese warships. In a thoughtless bought of brinkmanship, the Chinese commander decided to pass far too close to the Japanese force. The Japanese commander assumed the Chinese force was closing for a torpedo attack and the cruiser Naniwa under Captain Togo opened fire. The Tsi Yuen had her upper works chewed up but her armor was not penetrated and she regained port. The torpedo gunboat on the other hand had to be grounded in sinking condition. Shortly thereafter Naniwa encountered a British steamer carrying Chinese troops. After unsuccessful negotiations, the troopship was sunk with the loss of most of the troops. When Tsi Yuen made port the next morning the Chinese fleet sortied looking for the Japanese vessels, which had shot up the cruiser. No contact was made but on August 1, 1894 both countries declared war against each other. When Tsi Yuen had been shot up, it was found that the thin splinter shields around her guns were worthless and in fact splinters from the shields caused many casualties to the gun crews. As a consequence the gun shields over the main guns of the battleships was removed, boats were landed and sacks of coal were piled along the edge of barbettes and other structures as a rather dubious extra defense. The ships were repainted to an "invisible grey" although at first maybe only the buff upperworks were repainted gray with the hull remaining black. By 1895 the ships were in a uniform gray. Admiral Ting commanded the fleet but he was hamstrung by Beijing. For fear of offending the Japanese unduly, a truly unique concept in war, Ting was ordered not to operate east of a line running south of the mouth of the Yalu River. Since this invisible boundary kept the Chinese Navy to the west of Korea, the Japanese were content with that status quo. Their navy could control the sea approaches to the peninsula. Oddly, or maybe not given the thought processes of politicians, Ting was under fire for failing to do anything against the Japanese Fleet, even though political restrictions pretty well curtailed any effective effort he could mount.
On September 15, 1894 the Peiyang Fleet rendezvous with five troop transports. The plan was for the warships to run a sweep ahead of the transports to clear access to a landing at the Yalu River. The Chinese convoy hugged the coast until transports broke loose to transverse the shallow water to the landing points. In the meantime the Japanese heard that the Chinese Fleet had sortied and mounted a sweep westward. On the morning of September 17 the Chinese fleet was anchored south of the mouth of the Yalu and the Japanese were steaming northward into the Yalu estuary. The fleets sighted each other and the Chinese raised anchor and steamed south at 6 knots. The Japanese were in a column steaming at 10 knots and the Chinese in a crescent shaped line with the two battleships in the center. This action became known as the Battle of the Yalu.
The Ting Yuen opened fire at 12:50 at a range of 6,000 yards. The result was comical and disastrous. Fired directly ahead, the blast of the 12-inch gun collapsed the flying bridge on which Admiral Ting and his staff were standing. Admiral Ting was the first casualty of the Chinese battleship as he was incapacitated for the rest of the battle. The Chinese 12-inch guns failed to hit and the Japanese poured fire into the Chinese right wing. The Chinese ships instantly went up like kindling, as coats of paint and varnish had been added atop each other without any scrapping of earlier coats. Ting Yuen lost her mast and could not signal and the Chinese line disintegrated. In the confusion two Chinese vessels collided with each other.
Even when a Chinese shell hit, the odds were that it would do minimal damage. It appears that many of the Tientsin produced shells were filled with concrete not explosives, as the works were rife with corruption. The Japanese had three cruisers armed with 12.6 Canet guns and were popularly dubbed battleship killers, as they were purchased as answers to Ting Yuen and Chen Yuen. These three concentrated on the pair but could not penetrate the battleship armor with their QF guns. The Canet guns were total flops. They could only fire one round per hour. In total, all three cruisers fired 13 rounds during the entire battle and all of those missed. At 15:30 the Japanese flagship Matsushima was hit by a 12-inch round from one of the battleships, which caused extensive damage. Two other Japanese ships were also mauled as both Hiei and converted liner Saikyo were heavily damaged. Around 17:00 the battle petered out as night was falling and both sides were low on ammunition. Although, the Chinese lost four cruisers and one smaller vessel Admiral Ting took the survivors back to Port Arthur. Ting Yuen and Chen Yuen had been hit hundreds of times and yet the armored citadel was not penetrated. Ting Yuen suffered 14 dead and 25 wounded as the result of the 200 hits on the Chinese flagship. Total Chinese casualties were around 850 and the Japanese lost around 300. The single 12-inch hit on the Matsushima had caused the bulk of these. The Beijing authorities blamed the local Viceroy, Admiral Ting and foreign advisors, all of whom left after being made scapegoats.
After a month at Port Arthur, Beijing ordered Admiral Ting to take his fleet to sea. On October 20 Ting put to sea but the Japanese were busy transporting troops for landings on the Liaotung Peninsula, 85 miles from Port Arthur and did not intervene. Ting sailed south to the anchorage at Wei-Hai-Wei on the Shantung Peninsula. During a patrol in early November Chen Yuen ran aground on a charted rock. She had an eighteen foot hole in her double bottom and her port engine room was flooded. Divers were brought up from Shanghai and cement was poured to seal the hole. The battleship was out of action until January 1895 but still was not seaworthy. With two battleships Chinese moral was high even with the loss of the Battle of the Yalu. They were so much more powerful than the Japanese ships that the sailors still thought that they had a good chance against the Japanese. However, when Chen Yuen was damaged and the effective Chinese force reduced to only Ting Yuen, Chinese morale became defeatist and the Chinese Fleet never again steamed out to sea. In late November the Japanese Army assaulted Port Arthur and when it fell, the Chinese lost their major naval base.
The next Japanese objective was Wei-Hai-Wei. This anchorage had limited facilities for the Chinese Fleet but was well fortified by land batteries. Admiral Ting and the Chinese staff were enervated. They were content to hunker down in the anchorage under the protection of the land batteries and cede all initiative to the Japanese Navy. A Japanese move was not long in coming. On January 19, 1895 the Japanese landed 25,000 troops 35 miles east of Wei-Hai-Wei. The Chinese Army melted before the Japanese advance towards the anchorage and that included the gun crews manning the shore batteries overlooking the fleet. The eastern batteries fell to the Japanese on January 30. Admiral Ting in Ting Yuen steamed to the eastern end of the anchorage and fired at the batteries in Japanese possession. The Chinese fleet clustered in the western end of the anchorage, as the Japanese Army started swinging around the Bay to take the western batteries. At night the Japanese would send torpedo boats into the anchorage in attempts to bag the heavy Chinese ships. The disarmed western forts were occupied by the Japanese on February 2. Still the Chinese Fleet did not leave. They now clustered around Liu Kung, a fortified island in the middle of the bay, subjected by Japanese fire during the day and torpedo boat attacks during the night.
On the night of February 4-5 the Japanese made a determined torpedo attack on the Chinese. Fourteen torpedo boats made an effort to pass the port booms and get into the anchorage. One torpedo hit the stern of Ting Yuen. This area was outside the armored citadel and if the battleship had been maintained properly, would not have been serious. However, the lax maintenance standards maintained on Ting Yuen in the decade since her arrival to China, had greatly degraded her survivability to a strike on the unarmored ends. Watertight doors leaked and there was poor damage control. The Ting Yuen got underway but it was soon ascertained that she was in danger of foundering. The battleship was beached at the eastern end of Liu Kung island. She settled to the bottom and was abandoned by her crew. Admiral Ting transferred his flag to Chen Yuen.
On the night of February 5-6 the Japanese torpedo boats attacked again. Chen Yuen was missed but a cruiser, auxiliary and training ship were sunk. On the 7th the Chinese torpedo boats tried to break out to the west but they were all tracked down, sunk, captured or beached. During a daylight attack on the 9th Chen Yuen hit the cruiser Itsukushima. The shell failed to explode and probably was another of the cement duds manufactured by the corrupt arsenal at Teintsin. By now it was clear that the balance of the fleet was doomed. Fired upon by the Japanese using the captured Chinese shore batteries, attacked during the day by the Japanese fleet and attacked at night by Japanese torpedo boats, Chinese morale hit rock bottom. The officers of the fleet urgently asked Admiral Ting to surrender with the Chinese ships intact. After Port Arthur fell the Japanese Army was savage in their treatment of survivors. Those troops were the same ones now besieging Wei-Hai-Wei. On February 12 Admiral Ting committed suicide and that same day a request for a truce was requested. The Chinese pledged to turn over their ships intact and surrender Liu Kung, if the prisoners were given good treatment. Admiral Ito promptly accepted, as he wanted an intact Chen Yuen to be Japanís first battleship. Commodore Liu-Pu-chan, the commander of Chen Yuen and the army commanders on Liu Kung Island all quickly committed suicide. By this time the Ting Yuen was no longer intact. After being beached, she was apparently ordered destroyed by Admiral Ting. No records survived as to exactly what happened but at 15:00 on February 9 HMS Edgar, cruising off We-Hai-Wei observed an explosion on the battleship. At the end of the seige Ting Yuen was still beached but with her back broken, with no funnels and terribly damaged by a very large explosion forward. She was not worth salvage and was scrapped by the Japanese.
There was still some action left but the Chinese knew they were beaten. Their northern fleet ceased to exist and the Japanese were about to begin an offensive towards Beijing. In April 1895 peace was concluded with the Treaty of Shimonoseki. The Chinese gave the Japanese Formosa, Korea, the Liaotung Penninsula with Port Arthur, strips of Manchuria, their northern fleet and agreed to huge indemnities. Japan now had their first battleship. The Chen Yuen was repaired and renamed as Chin Yen. The Japanese refitted her, gave her some quick-firing (QF) guns and added semicircular deck extensions or sponsons to her aft superstructure. She was still in service when the Russo-Japanese War erupted in 1904. After the end of the Sino-Japanese War Japan occupied Port Arthur but was forced to evacuate that port through political strong-arm tactics of Russia, Germany and France. It was little wonder that Japan gravitated towards Great Britain and purchased almost all of her warship requirements from the British. When the Russians moved into Port Arthur in 1898, the Japanese naturally felt betrayed and a chain of events started, which resulted in war between Russia and Japan. During the Russo-Japanese War Chin Yen was well past her prime. In 1884 she and Ting Yuen were the most powerful ships in the Pacific but in 1904 the 25-year-old ship was obsolete. Chin Yen observed the bombardment of Port Arthur and was a passive participant at the Battle of the Yellow Sea in August 1904. She never engaged a Japanese ship during the War. Chin Yen became a training ship in 1910 and was scrapped in 1914, on the eve of Japanís entry into war against Germany. (History from The Chinese Steam Navy 1862-1945, Chatham Publishing 2000, by Richard N. J. Wright)
The Commanders/Iron Shipwright Ting Yuen
Commanders/Iron Shipwright has produced a 1:350 scale model of the Chinese battleship Ting Yuen. Now modelers can have a replica of the most powerful warship in the Pacific for a decade. Actually this ship can be built in three versions. One is as the ship appeared when she steamed from Germany to Japan with two 2nd class torpedo boats stored on skids over the superstructure. The second option is as the ship appeared at the start of the Sino-Japanese War but before gun shielding was removed from the main gun positions. The third option is to build the ship as Japanís first battleship, the Chin Yen, as she appeared in 1904 at the start of the Russo-Japanese War. Almost 11-inches overall in length from ram tip to quarterdeck rail, the ISW Ting Yuen is not a big model and yet is packed with the wonderful features found in battleships built between 1870 to 1890. The period was one of uncertainty and experimentation. The ISW Ting Yuen debuted at the 2005 IPMS Nationals in Atlanta but was over shadowed by other new releases, like the 1:350 Scharnhorst and CG Chicago. The lower hull is dominated by the ram. It has a very sharp and angular profile and heavy reinforcement plates on the sides. This is in elongated diamond shape with reinforcement bands on top of the diamonds. The cutwater above the ram is totally vertical. The bow is further decorated with very prominent hawse fittings. The citadel concept of armoring is clearly indicated with distinctive armor belts amidships. At the top of each belt is a heavy vertical strake. At deck edge, below the barbette on each side is a prominent sponson, which juts out from the side. At the top of the unarmored ends of the hull are single lines of square window shutters. Bilge keels are on each side of the lower hull.
Casting is good but there were some defects. Both bilge keels will need repair as there was some damage and pinhole voids. Mostly this will amount to squaring off the damaged areas and replacing with appropriate card stock. There were a few pin hole voids that can be easily fixed with filler. If you are worried about voids on the bottom of the hull, youíll find plenty of them. These may bother some modelers. Thatís OK since they can be filled and sanded but will involve some expenditure of time because of their number. However, since they will not appear when the model is mounted, they donít bother me. The forecastle is raised and runs from the cutwater to the common barbette. The forecastle and upper deck aft of the barbette are very narrow in width, as was common of designs of the period. The sides of this upper superstructure have more lines of square window shutters and doors opening out to the main deck. Two very interesting features on the bow are found as the main deck curves in to meet the bow. Each side has sloping shields rising from the main deck edge to half way up the superstructure. The forward anchors were catted to flat billboards on the aft ends of these structures. The bulk of the structures have a turtle back design and only add to the delight of this model. To further complement these features, each one has vertical strakes running up their sides.
As wonderful as the side detail is, it pales in comparison to the detail found on the plan view. From overhead the figure eight barbette commands attention. This is not one of those minimal barbettes at the bottom of the turret of 20th century battleships. In 1880 a barbette was a barbette. It rises from the main deck to level with the upper deck. There are recesses for both gun positions. Between them is the armored conning tower angled from port forward to starboard aft. At each end are vision slits. At the tip of the bow and aft end of the quarterdeck are deep recesses for the secondary gun turrets. The short, narrow quarterdeck has four sets of twin bollards, a large windlass on square base plate and two access hatches on a single coaming. There are also four locator holes for smaller fittings. The narrow quarterdeck, which runs more than half the length of the ship, has more detail. Most prominent are one large and three medium size skylights. A second large windlass on base plate is found here, as well as a winch and coaming. There are fifteen locator holes for smaller parts and one coal scuttle. The main deck have rows of beautifully executed coal scuttles raised above deck level and four sets of twin bollards. The sponson outboard of the barbette extends well beyond the main deck edge.
Smaller Resin Parts
In comparison to the soaring barbettes, the gun houses are short squat structures, which resemble the tops of mushroom caps. They are circular and have prominent bottom bands for the twin short stubby 12-inch guns mounted in each position. The fore and aft gun turrets are also circular and flat domed. They resemble smaller versions of the main gun positions but only have a single gun. When it comes to the rest of the superstructure, there are different parts for the Chinese Ting Yuen/Chen Yuen and Japanese Chin Yen. In both cases there is an asymmetrical flying deck raised above the barbette and gun positions, as well as being raised above the forecastle and quarterdeck. At the aft end is a small pilothouse. Two short funnels are closely spaced behind this position. The parts for the pilothouse and funnels are very different in comparing the Chinese and Japanese versions. The Japanese pilothouse is much larger than the Chinese pilothouse. The Chinese funnels are shorter and have prominent square house on the bottom 40% of the funnel. The Japanese funnels are significantly taller with far shorter and less prominent square structures at their bottoms. In both cases the fore funnel has a single aft steam pipe and aft funnel two steam pipes on the aft face. The ISW funnel parts are really sharp with prominent bands connecting the pipes to the funnels. As an added delight to the initial Chinese variant, ISW includes the 2nd class torpedo boats carried aft of the funnels. They have a single torpedo tube at the bow and are of a prominent turtleback construction. The single funnel is offset to starboard. Even these little gems have plenty of detail to flesh out their lovely shape. Access hatches, funnel ventilator, coal scuttles, conical control position and raised aft structure add interest to the warship carried by a warship novelty. These boats were unshipped in China to operate independently. All four, two from each battleship, were still part of the Chinese torpedo boat flotilla at Wei-Hai-Wei in February 1895. There is an assortment of other, more mundane, shipís boats included. They have four different sizes and shapes, ranging from a large whaler to two small dinghies.
Other parts found only on the Japanese version, beyond the larger pilothouse and taller stacks are also included. Largest of these are two half-circle positions extending outwards from the quarterdeck towards the main deck edge. These positions were added just in front of the main mast to provide higher positions for quick firing guns. On top of each position is an open 6-inch QF gun mounted in an open back shield. The forward Krupp 5.9-inch was also replaced by one of these guns, as the Krupp guns were not quick firers. At some point the aft 5.9-inch turret was replaced by another open 6-inch gun in splinter shield. You will have to fill the well for the aft secondary turret to model this feature.
A third pilothouse is included for the 1894 version. This is larger than the initial structure but smaller than the Japanese version. Remember hat the Ting Yuen did not carry the 2nd class torpedo boats in 1894. The shape of the propellers is very unusual. They have marked angles, rather than the curves found in later designs. Other underwater pieces for the lower hull include the anchor, shaft skegs and support struts. Anchors are found fore and aft on billboards. Both masts have circular fighting tops. ISW sends more mast than you need, which is good, since some of these parts were bowed. Topmasts with platforms, various yards and booms round out the mast sub-assemblies. Other small resin parts include three types of ventilator cowls, searchlights, and a couple of QF guns.
Brass Photo-Etch Frets
With the second fret, the situation is different. On this fret is contained the majority of the deck railing. ISW has placed a letter next to ever specially designed railing with the same letter reflected on the instructions. ISW almost always has runs of railing specifically designed for specific locations on their models. This custom fitted railing approach gives a better final appearance than kits that have generic railing, which is cut to shape by the modeler. However, only the railing is designated by letter with their locations shown in the instructions. The other parts are not so designated. Again many of them are obvious, such as QF gun shields, inclined ladders, vertical ladder runs and boat tillers. There are eight stack grates of two different designs. Four have a four bar pattern and four have an eight bar pattern. One is probably for the Chinese Ting Yuen and the other is probably for the Japanese variant, but which goes to which? There are twelve frames for the support structure for the 2nd class torpedo boats but no diagram as how they arranged. There are five steering wheels and what appears to be a raised emergency control platform but no indicator of where that goes. This is unfortunate because ISW clearly took significant time to design these brass frets. Although not relief-etched, the brass components to the ISW Ting Yuen are very nice.
For further supplementation as to placement of parts, a modeler would be well advised in looking at the photographs of the new Ting Yuen. A 1:1 replica of the ship has been built at Wei Hai. A very good article about a visit to this exact replica can be found in the Hong Kong Society of Wargamers and written by Peter Hunt. (Click for Peter Hunt's article)
The instructions have a split personality between resin parts and brass parts. They comprise a single large sheet with plan, profile, resin parts lay-down and mast detail. Each resin part, except mast & boat parts, is identified by number on the parts matrix. This number is repeated on either the plan or profile showing the attachment location. The instructions are very clear about the resin part placement. However, as you may have noticed in the description of the brass photo-etched frets, the instructions are not equal to the quality of the photo-etch included. Some items, like the deck railing are designated by the same letter found on the fret. Some items are obvious like the dragons at the bow. They were also at the stern but this is not shown in the instructions. The plan is fine for inclined ladder and davit placement. However, with many parts, accurate placement will require further research, which is problematic for a topic as esoteric as the Ting Yuen.
For a decade, the two battleships of the Ting Yuen class were the most powerful ships in the Pacific. If the quality of their shells had matched the stoutness of their construction at the Battle of the Yalu, the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 may have had a different outcome. Commanders/Iron Shipwright has produced a splendid 1:350 scale model of this Imperial Chinese battleship, although the instructions could have been more detailed for the placement of brass parts.