Sunday, 7 February 2010

Pre-Dreadnought Photos: Part 6

A quick trawl through the photo archive has come up with a few more interesting shots of various vessels. Above we see the Russian Gun Boat the Sivutch, whose sister ship, the Bobr, was present at the assault on the Taku Forts in 1900. She was a little smaller in displacement to the latter ship, but had a similar armament of one 9" gun in the forward barbette, four 4.2"and a number of 1pdr Pom-Pom types.

The assault on the forts at Taku was ostensibly under the command of the senior Captain present, namely Dobrovolsky of the Bobr, although to be fair, it seems that others had a more active role on the day; the ship itself engaged the forts in partnership with the other older boats the Russian Korietz and the French Lion, and was lucky to receive no casualties, in spite of facing down some of the Krupp 12cm guns the Chinese had bearing on the Pei-Ho river to the landward side.

Next a view of an unknown Torpedo Boat, a very tidy looking one, the only clue to its origins being the single word 'Schichau' on the back of the photo; this probably explains her clean look - perhaps a photo just after she was built at these German naval yards at Elbing.
Producing ships not only for the Imperial German Navy, but also for export to various countries, torpedo craft were apparently a speciality, notably including the four Hai-Hola class ships that were captured by the allies at the Taku Dockyard, and later taken into service by the respective victors.

Staying in the Orient, a view of the Chinese Unprotected Cruiser Huan Tai, of the Kai Che class completed 1886:

The only obvious clue, perhaps, to her origin, is the pennant at her main masthead; there are some excellent details on Chinese flags of the era to be found here:

She was unfortunately lost in 1902 when she collided with the Canadian Pacific Liner Empress of India off Hong Kong.

Moving on to another Chinese vessel, we have the Armoured Cruiser King Yuen or Jingyuan, built 1887 by the Vucan shipyards at Stettin, she was armed with two 8.3", two 5.9" as well as four 18" torpedo tubes:

I particularly like the beautiful Dragon symbol visible on her stern:

She took part in the Battle of the Yalu River against the Japanese on 17th September 1894, as part of the Beiyang fleet under Admiral Ting, and was one of five vessels sunk that day; an excellent account of the action can be found here:

Finally we have an intriguing original photograph of a twin-funneled torpedo boat, which I came across amongst an E-Bay (Other auction sites are available...) lot of mostly Italian ships, and I have been at a loss as to how to identify it:

You will notice that low amidships there are the Sino-Japanese characters for 'Number One', so I guess that is her nomenclature, but I haven't as yet been able to find a corresponding type. The background scenery is interesting in that the brick architecture and rather rough tile roofing is reminiscent of photos of buildings taken in China during the Boxer Rebellion, although these of course might also resemble Japanese construction at a similar period.
The uniforms of the crewmen visible appear fairly generic for the period, although there is a slight hint of the Chinese about the sash and collar of the man with his back to the camera. So, Chinese or Japanese? I'm erring on the side of the latter for now, be glad to hear from anyone who knows which it is!


  1. More lovely photos, sir. Thank you again.

    -- Jeff

  2. Cheers, Jeff, you're welcome - lots more to come in the near future!