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Japanese Battle Instructions

[Extracted from the Fleet and Divisional "Confidential Orders"]


Special Instructions for the Third Division by Rear Admiral Dewa.

This Division is the eyes and ears of the fleet, and when occupied in search duties or scouting will sometimes engage the cruisers of the enemy independently. Moreover, when the whole of the Combined Fleet is in action they must take advantage of their high rate of speed to assist the power of the main squadron. These rules are framed in view of the tactics to be adopted in the above circumstances.

1. Battle Formation.

1st Subdivision- Chitose (Flag), Takasago
2nd Subdivision- Kasagi, Yoshino

The main formation will be single line ahead in the above order and at the usual distances; but there will be occasional alterations of course of four or eight points together according to convenience. The most important point for each ship to notice is merely whether the turn is to starboard or port. When the flagship is not the leading ship, owing to a 16 point turn inverting the line or from any other cause, the ship which happens to be headmost will lead the other ships without regard to the seniority of its commanding officer, and adopt movements suited to the tactical plan. If the ships are separated and there is an order to proceed in the flagship's wake, they will form up in single line ahead as quickly as possible and without regard to the order in the line.

2. Battle Speed.

Usual speed, 18 knots. Half-speed, half the speed at the moment. Minimum speed, 4 knots. Angle of helm 25°.

There will be no special speed order, but as soon as the Battle Flag is hoisted, the speed flag is to be hauled down and speed increased to 18 knots, increasing the revolutions 10 at a time. When orders are given to chase the enemy at full speed and there seems no necessity for maintaining the line ahead formation or that of subdivisional units, speed is to be increased to 22 knots. If the Kasagi is unable to keep up she is not to wait for orders but to hoist the Disregard Flag and, drawing out of the line, maneuver as convenient.

3. Opening of the Action.

When we are steaming (A) in Battle Order or (B) independently, and the leading ship sights the enemy and hoists the Battle Flag, each ship, following motions, will also hoist this flag, and increase to battle speed. To prevent the flag from falling, if the halliards should be shot away, it is to be lashed to the mast above and below.

In case (A) the following tactics should be adopted. When on the engaged side of the battle line ships will, according to circumstances, either turn together to starboard, alter course in succession, and threaten to take the enemy between two fires. When on the disengaged side of the battle line they will continue steaming without alteration of course, regulating their subsequent movements by those of the leading division.

In case (B), the leading ship will steam straight towards the enemy's leading ship or nearer wing and at about 8,000 meters (8,700 yards) range, we will turn in succession to starboard or port as convenient and open the action.

4. Tactical Plans.

The tactics to be used by this division against the enemy are the same as those of the First and Second Divisions, that is, to form a T with the enemy, concentrate our whole fire on one end of his line, and destroy his ships one by one. In accordance with this plan, course may be altered together to change the formation or to maintain the battle range. When steaming parallel to the enemy this division will use its high speed to take up a position in advance of the enemy and try to make the T formation with the head of his line; if the range is appropriate "A" class torpedoes may be used. Should the enemy be weaker than ourselves we will form subdivisions and, as explained in Section 5 (b) of the General Instructions for Combined Fleet, form a letter L round the enemy and subject him to a cross fire. The order for this maneuver will be the hoisting of an "Indicate Time" flag, upon which the leading ship of the 2nd Subdivision will move out to starboard or port as convenient and make the movements necessary to form the letter L. Both subdivisions must take the greatest care not to lose touch.

5. Rules for the Use of Guns.

(a) There will be no special order given to open fire, but each Captain may at his own discretion give orders to commence firing as convenient as soon as the range is less than 6,000 meters (6,600 yards). Rapid firing is not to be carried out at ranges greater than 4,000 meters (4,400 yards).
(b) The range is in general to be 3,500 meters (3,800 yards), and ships will endeavor not to approach nearer than 3,000 meters (3,300 yards).
(c) The object to be aimed at is the enemy's leading, rear, or wing ship; but any Captain may disregard this at his discretion, if the strength of the enemy permits, and choose as his target the object on which the fire of his ship will have the greatest effect.
(d) At the opening of the action, when by trial firing the range of the nearset enemy is known, numeral flags showing the hundreds of meters in the range should be hoisted at the foremast. other ships need not necessarily take in the signal.
(e) When we are in single line ahead the rear ship may temporarily alter course less than two points in order to fire her heavy guns, but care must be taken not to get astern of station.

6. Rules for the Use of Torpedoes.

Since the action will be mainly fought out by guns, there will be no special alterations of formation or closing on the enemy in order to make opportunities for discharging torpedoes. However, should a good chance of using them occur during the action, ships should discharge "A" class torpedoes. A temporary alteration of two points is sanctioned for this purpose, but immediately after discharge ships must return to the original course.

7. Occasions when Ships may Maneuver Independently.

(a) After the formation has been broken up.
(b) When about to be rammed or in case of danger to another ship.

Except in these cases independent movement is not permitted to ships without orders. Should the line be cut by the enemy, the rear ships must do their utmost to come up with and follow on after the ships at the head of the line.

8. Tactical Plan when the Third Division has Special Duties to perform.

(a) Ships of equal strength with ours are the seven ships, Dmitri Donskoi, Bogatyr, Varyag, Pallada, Diana, Aurora, and Askold. In material fighting strength there are points in which they excel us, but if we add our own moral fighting power there is nothing to cause us the slightest anxiety in a fight with four out of these seven ships. The tactical plan will not differ from that detailed above.
(b) Against an enemy stronger than ourselves, such as a 1st-class battleship or 1st-class cruiser, the plan we must follow is repeatedly to alter course and maneuver without impeding the movements of the other divisions, closing in if necessary to help them, and generally endeavoring to confuse the enemy.
(c) Against weaker ships than ourselves, such as the Boyarin, Novik, Almaz, or smaller ships, all we have to do is to form a T or an L and destroy them at once.
(d) Against the enemy'd destroyers or torpedo-boats the most important point to attend to is always to move as rapidly as if we saw destroyers on all sides. If the enemy comes rushing from ahead, when he is about 5,000 meters (5,500 yards) away we shall alter course and form a T with him. When he has closed to less than 5,000 meters, we shall turn four points together and attack him fiercely. If he comes from anywhere else than ahead, we shall form a T and attack him from all round.
(e) After an action, if there are disabled or isolated ships, we shall form sub-divisional units or break up into single ship units, and surround the enemy to sink him, but pay great attention to his torpedoes.
(f) When chasing a running enemy we shall make the movements necessary to bring us in single line ahead or abreast on the enemy's beam. If the enemy is weaker than two of our ships, this division will form subdivisions and come up on both quarters of the enemy, delivering a double attack on him. To order this latter movement, two "Indicate Time" flags will be hoisted, one above the other.
(g) If while scouting we meet the enemy, and he is weaker, of course he must be destroyed; but if he is equal or superior in strength, the performance of our special duty will require us to avoid action. At such a time speed will be altered as convenient, and keeping just within range we will steam away in line abreast. This will also be the mode of procedure when we are in sub-divisional units or acting singly.
(h) If we meet a superior enemy while scouting independently or ahead of the Fleet, in order to give the Main Squadron time to prepare for battle, we must make feinting attacks and retire on a false course to make them meet our Main Squadron, afterwards rejoining.
(i) During the action probably the enemy's ships will hoist the white flag. Treat the white flag as a thing of no meaning, and take prompt steps for destroying these ships. The same conduct is to be adopted with transports so as to avoid the trouble of capturing them.
(j) Though you see our own ships damaged, unless there are other orders, you are only to think of destroying any of the enemy who still have fighting power.
(k) If our destroyers and torpedo-boats are being hard pressed by the enemy, you are to steam in between them and the enemy and drive his ships away.

9. During a night action the red and white lights hoisted at the masthead should be of the greatest possible strength.