Russian Battleships and Cruisers of the Russo-Japanese War

Published on
January 29, 2020
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Mark Lardas
Other Publication Information
Illustrator: Paul Wright, Softbound, 7.25” x 9.75”, 48 pages
Product / Stock #
New Vanguard 275
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site

Mark Lardas holds a degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering from the University of Michigan. Mark spent the next thirty years at the Johnson Space Center doing Space Shuttle structural analysis, and space navigation. An amateur historian and a long-time ship modeler, he has written extensively about modelling as well as naval, maritime, and military history. Mark has authored more than twenty-five books and has worked with Boy’s Life as the Hobby Master. Mark also worked with an English language publication from Hong Kong called English Street. Mark is currently working in League City, Texas.

Paul Wright has painted ships of all kinds for most of his career, specializing in steel and steam warships from the late 19th century to the present day. Paul's art has illustrated the works of Patrick O'Brian, Dudley Pope and C.S. Forester amongst others, and hangs in many corporate and private collections all over the world. Paul’s work has been featured in at least a dozen Osprey books. A Member of the Royal Society of Marine Artists, Paul lives and works in Surrey, UK.

This 48 page book’s cover features a Paul Wright color painting depicting the Dimitrii Donskoi armored cruiser fending off Japanese torpedo boats during the night (this painting can also be found on Page 19). I counted 26 tables, one black and white graph, and 41 black and white drawings / pictures. Peter Bull contributes four color action paintings, two color side and top profiles, along with a keyed cutaway color illustration of the Borodno-Class Battleship

Mark Lardas kicks off this tome discussing the technological improvements that were implemented into the battleships and cruisers that took part in the Russo-Japanese War. This period of time from 1885 through 1905 was essentially a coming of age for the Russian naval yards. Russia had been reliant on foreign ship manufacturers for their fleet. A change in philosophy in 1882 saw Russia grow from a regional navy to the 3rd largest navy in the world by 1903.

The Russo-Japanese War is covered next by Mark, ably explaining how the over-confident Russians were beaten quite soundly. Mark notes that in one sense, losing nearly the entire Russian ocean going fleet provided the impetus to building the next generation Dreadnaught class ships with their steam engines. The arrival of the Dreadnaughts made every ship that the Russians brought to the Russo-Japanese War obsolete. The last section of the book covers each battleship and cruiser individually with a specification and performance table and a summary of its operational career.

The sections include:

  • Author’s Acknowledgement
  • Author’s Note
  • Author’s Dedication
  • Introduction
  • Design and Development
    • Warship Development 1880 – 1905
    • Battleships and Coastal Defense Ships
    • The Torpedo Room (Color Painting) [Page 09]
    • Borodino-Class Battleship (Color Cut-Away) [Page 13]
    • Cruisers
  • Operational History
    • 1880 – 1903
    • The Last Stand of the Dimitrii Donskoi (Color {Painting)
    • The Russo-Japanese War
    • Novik (Color Illustration, Top and Side View)
    • The End of the Sevastopol (Color Painting)
    • Afterwards [Page 28]
  • Statistics and Histories
    • Battleships
      • Imperator Nikolai I
      • Petropavlovsk (Color Illustration, Top and Side View)
      • Navarin
      • Sissol Veliky
      • Poltava Class
      • Peresvet Class
      • Retvizan
      • Charge of the Retvizan at the Battle of the Yellow Sear (Color Painting)
      • Tsearevich
      • Borodino Class
      • General-Admiral Apraksin
    • Coastal Defense Ships [Page 37]
      • Admiral Ushakov Class
    • Cruisers
      • Vladimir Monomakh
      • Dimitrii Donskoi
      • Admiral Naskhimov
      • Rurik
      • Rossia
      • Svetlana
      • Pallada Class
      • Gromboi
      • Bayan
      • Askold
      • Varyag [Page 44]
      • Bogatyr Class
      • Novik
      • Boyarin
      • Izumrud Class
      • Almaz
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Mark Lardas has provided a handy reference for the Russian fleet that participated in the Russo-Japanese War. Paul Wright’s color paintings provide insight into the battles and his color cutaway contributes a perspective of all the key elements of the Russian battleship. If you own one the previous releases in the New Vanguard series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.

My thanks to Osprey Publishing and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!


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