Friday, 5 August 2011

Pre-Dreadnought Photos 14: Japanese circa 1900

Another entry into the series of original Pre-Dreadnought views now, this time with a Japanese theme, after a recent lucky score on a certain internet auction site saw me acquire a number of interesting original photographic postcards.

The cards in this post are all from a series of photographic images taken I think, in the wake of the successful Japanese involvement in actions against the Boxer Rebellion, and date to perhaps 1901 or thereabouts - I think it is likely that the cards themselves were printed later, probably to cash in on the patriotic upsurge after the all-encompassing victories of the Russo-Japanese War, where anything related to the armed forces of the plucky new Colonial power became hot property both at home and abroad.

The images are interesting in that they show the vessels in their true Pre-Dreadnought colour schemes, before the boring grey tones prevalent by 1905.

Above we have a nice characterful shot of the Battleship Yashima, and below, we see her sister-ship, the Fuji, with a clear view of the forward turret:

(Remember to click the image for a Macro view)

The cards do not display either publisher of photographer's information, but all are titled in both Japanese characters and a transliteration in Roman script, so the Fuji is subtitled 'Nippon Gunkan Fuji' - perhaps therefore, these undivided back cards were aimed at a domestic market, bearing the characters 'Hagaki' or postcard on the reverse, as is common to this era.

Next up a nice stern view of the Armoured Cruiser Tokiwa - in my view, pound for pound one of the best warships afloat circa 1900, having been designed by Philip Watts for Armstrong at Elswick:

Her sister-ship, the Asahi - both were damaged at Tsushima, the latter is reputed to have fired the final salvo that sent the Russian Battleship Borodino to her doom:

Moving down the scale somewhat, a really interesting image that must depict some sort of Naval open-day - perhaps directly in the wake of the conflict of 1900? Certainly wish I was part of the crowd headed for a guided tour of the Takachiho on the left, and the Yoshino on the right:

The Takachiho was famously lost during the siege of TsingTao in 1914, having been torpedoed by the German TBD S90.

Next up, the Takasago, with a lovely clear view of the bow crest, as well as a sentry with rifle on the foredeck!

She is accompanied by the Chiyoda, the oldest of the Japanese Armoured Cruisers, and the first to be fitted with 4.7" QF guns:

Moving swiftly along, we have the Chitose - there is a good Wikipedia page on her here, which contains a short film shot by Thomas Edison of her launch!

Finally we move on to the little ships, namely a couple of Torpedo boats, first the Shinonome,
of the Murakumo class, based on the Thorneycroft 'thirty knot' design:

Then the Hayabusa, the first of four boats built by Normand in France, which were then followed by a further twelve built in Japan itself:

Both of these class of vessels were particularly active in finishing off the floundering Russian Fleet after Tsushima, and effectively destroyed any hopes that the survivors of the main battle might limp away to fight another day....


  1. Thanks for posting these. Some really nice shots of them.

    -- Jeff

  2. Thanks guys, glad you like 'em! More to come this month including French torpedo boats and some Span-Am....