The battleship arms race was in full flower well before HMS Dreadnought was laid down in 1905. Since the mid 1890s all naval powers that dreamed of greatness had been building battleships with ever greater frequency. In 1894-1895 Japan defeated Imperial China and became the new power in the Pacific. Imperial Russia had supported China in this war and with the elimination of China as a naval power, Russia chose to greatly expand its Pacific Squadron. To increase the tempo of new construction, the Russian Navy went on a buying spree for construction of warships in foreign yards. A number of cruisers were built in Germany, the Csarevitch was ordered from France and Crampís Shipyards of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania received an order to build a battleship for the Imperial Russian Navy, the Retvizan.
The name, Retvizan, commemorates the victories of Captain R.V. Kroun against the Swedish Navy in 1789-90. While commanding the 24 gun Merkurey, Captain Kroun captured the 44-gun frigate, Venus, on April 29, 1789. Captain Kroun was then given command of the Venus and in 1790 captured the 64-gun ship of the line, Retvisan. The name remained in use in the Imperial Russian Navy. After completion, the battleship, Retvizan sailed for Kronstadt in the Baltic, where she was commissioned in 1902. She was immediately sent to join the 1st Pacific Squadron in Port Arthur.
LAID DOWN:July 17, 1899 LAUNCHED: October 10, 1900 COMPLETED: December 1901 SCRAPPED: 1923
DISPLACEMENT: 12,700 tons DIMENSIONS: Length- 382 ft 3 in (116 Ĺ m); Beam- 72 ft 2 in (22m); Draught- 25 ft (7.6m)
ARMAMENT: four 12" 40 cal (2x2); twelve 6" 45 cal (12x1); twenty 3"; twenty 47mm; eight 37mm; four machine guns; two 2 Ĺ inch for landing party; two 18" underwater torpedo tubes.
ARMOR: 9" belt (7 Ĺ feet wide x 250 feet long), casemates 5-6 inch; turrets and conning tower 10 inch; deck- upper 2 inch, splinter 3 inch.
PERFORMANCE: Speed- Designed 18 knots; On Trials 18.8 knots; SHP- Designed 16,000; Actual 16,121; Machinery- two vertical triple expansion steam engines; 24 Niclausse boilers
COMPLEMENT: 28 officers & 722 men
Retvizan was present at Port Arthur during the initial sneak attack by Japanese torpedo boats on the night of February 8/9, 1904 that started the Russo-Japanese War. She took one torpedo hit in this attack but then was docked and repaired. This damage and damage caused on March 10 from one hit by indirect fire the Japanese battleships on Port Arthur was repaired by June 20, 1904. On June 23 the 1st Pacific Squadron sortied from Port Arthur with six battleships (Csarevitch, Retvizan, Pobieda, Peresvet, Poltava & Sevastopol), five cruisers (Bayan, Askold, Diana, Pallada & Novik) and ten torpedo boats. Admiral Togoís fleet intercepted and action started at 3 PM when Novik broke up an attack by the Japanese destroyers. Togoís battleline closed to around 14,500 yards. When the Japanese closed, the Russian squadron would change course away to keep the distance. This kept up until after 11 PM the Russian squadron arrived back at Port Arthur. Only Sevastopol was damaged, by striking a mine.
At 8:30 AM on August 10, 1904 the Russian fleet again sortied from Port Arthur and was intercepted by Admiral Togo. This action became known as the Battle of the Yellow Sea. In command was Rear Admiral Vithoft in Csarevitch, second in command was Rear Admiral Prince Ukhtomsky in Persevet. As before the other four battleships (Retvizan, Pobieda, Sevastopol, & Poltava) were present. Also included were three cruisers (Novik, Pallada, Askold & Diana), a number of torpedo craft, minesweepers and the hospital ship, Mongolia. It took around two hours to sweep for mines and at 10:15 AM the minesweepers and some torpedo boats returned to Port Arthur. The 1st Pacific Squadron then increased speed from 8 to 10 and then to 13 knots by noon. The fleets started exchanging fire at long range at 1 PM, when the Russians were 25-30 miles from Port Arthur. For hours the fleets steamed a generally eastward direction exchanging ineffectual fire, at the ranges of 8,000 to 11,000 yards. The second phase of the action started around 5:45 PM at 7,500 yards when both sides concentrated fire on the lead battleship in the otherís line (Mikasa & Csarevitch).
|REFERENCES ON RETVIZAN|
The Russians scored the first two hits as at 5:56 a 12-inch shell hit the port side of one of the barbettes on Mikasa and jammed the turntable. At 6:12 PM a 12-inch shell hit Mikasa on the bridge. Half of the bridge personnel were injured, including the fleet chief of staff and the captain but not Admiral Togo. After this hit Admiral Togo went into the conning tower. Range kept decreasing. Around 6:15 PM the single most critical hit was scored by the Japanese, when a 12-inch shell hit the conning tower of Csarevitch, killing Admiral Vithoft, wounding the captain and jamming the steering gear of Csarevitch. This broke up the Russian line as to avoid collision, some battleships steered out of line. Range was now down to 3,500 yards. Apparently the Russian plan was to break out of Port Arthur and proceed to Vladivostok. Around 8 PM Admiral Ukhtomsky, now in command, displayed the signal "Follow Me".
The bulk of the 1st Pacific Squadron returned to Port Arthur independently. The Japanese did not pursue, probably because of the damage to the Mikasa, which had 111 casualties. Because of damage to Csarevitch, she could not withdraw with the rest of the squadron. Instead she steered south at 4 knots and made the neutral German port of Tsing-tau at 11 PM on August 11, where she was interned. Rear Admiral Reitzenstein, commanding the cruiser squadron in Askold, ordered his cruisers to continue the breakout. Novik reached Tsing-tau but left before being interned. Askold made it to Shanghai. Diana also escaped to internment at Saigon but Pallada returned to Port Arthur.
In the battle Retvizan acquitted herself well; "Speaking of the action of August 10, 1904, the correspondent tells us that the Retvizan, which had received the concentrated fire of the Japanese Fleet, "does not seem to have been damaged in any vital spot during the engagement, nor were any of her guns put out of action, though one of her turrets was damaged." Her injuries were apparently confined to riddling of her funnels and destruction of her superstructure and bridge."The Naval Annual 1905, at page 167
The ships that returned to Port Arthur stayed bottled up. The Japanese tightened their siege and started hitting the moored battleships with large mortar rounds. On November 23, 1904 Retvizan was sunk in shallow water by 11-inch siege mortars. In December the remaining battleships, including Retvizan, were scuttled and On January 2, 1905 Port Arthur surrendered. Retvizan was raised by the Japanese in September 1905 and commissioned as the Hizen. She was scrapped in 1923 as a result of her obsolescence and the terms of the Washington Treaty. (The bulk of this history comes fromWarships of the Imperial Russian Navy by V.M. Tomitch and The Naval Annual 1905, edited by T.A. Brassey)
The KomBrigRetvizan is a solid kit right from the box. However, it is missing certain items that are very important to the finished model. Although some later KomBrig releases of Russo-Japanese War subjects come with tertiary deck guns, the Retvizan does not. I strongly recommend adding some finer detail to the basics that you get in this kit. Both fore and aft superstructures have bridge supports. I used .01x.02 Evergreen strips to add these. Without these it will look as if the bridges are hanging in the air. There are no hull gun barrels. I used .02 plastic rod to add the casemate 6" guns and smaller plastic sprue to add the 3" casemate guns. The .02 rod was also used for the torpedo net booms. Mask and paint the waterline before adding booms. Because the booms were already in place, I had to hand paint the waterline and accordingly its not straight. I also added sprue for the catwalk supports, jacks, gaffs, and rigging. Superstructure openings and ports were drilled with a pin vice and enlarged with a hobby knife. Photo-etch really brings the kit to life. I used photo-etch from Tomís, GMM and WEM. However, one PE set clearly stands as the best single fret for this kit. The White Ensign Models PE fret for their Askold is a treasure trove of fittings for almost all Imperial Russian warship kits. Among some of the items that I used from this fret are aft superstructure circular platform, 3" casemate shutters, 47mm deck guns, 37mm bridge guns and spare anchor. However, there are not enough deck guns in this fret to completely outfit the Retvizan. I used GMM 20mm for some of the 47mm hidden in the rear superstructure and for those guns in the fighting tops, minus the shields. I also used GMMís stainless steel two bar rail. I prefer stainless steel to brass, as it is more rugged and less susceptible to damage. Tomís was used for vertical and inclined ladders. Also Cut from the fret frame were small platforms for the two inclined ladders leading from the forecastle to the bridge, platforms for the two inclined ladders leading from the quarter deck to the aft superstructure and two searchlight platforms on the aft superstructure.
Overall, the kit was fairly faithful to the plans in the references. There were some areas where the kit diverged from the plans and photos. The model does not have the fairing under the center 3" casemate position, the intake ducts for the superstructure face ventilators were of the wrong shape and the 01 deck was slightly wider than the hull, rather than the other way around. In addition the placement of the two search lights on the aft superstructure was incorrect. They are not mounted on the deck but on small platforms on the forward face of the aft superstructure. This was an easy correction. None of these items has enough significance to spoil the kit.
I think that KomBrig provided the wrong mix of ventilator hoods. The kit provides ventilators in four different sizes but there are not enough of the smallest. The castings had minimal defects. Other than a few bumps that were easily removed by sanding, I saw no defects. The hull had no warp.