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Japanese Battle Instructions

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


Special Instructions to the Fourth Division by Rear Admiral Uriu.

1. This plan shows the tactics to be adopted when the Fourth Division engages the enemy as a single unit. These tactics will also be followed when it takes part with the Combined Fleet in an action.

2. As we are to act independently we cannot tell what our precise station will be when we take part with the Combined Fleet in an action. We shall therefore hold on as we are until we see the movements of the leading division. We will then adjust our speed to that of the First Division, so as to keep on its disengaged quarter, and taking care not to get too far away will make rapid movements as opportunity offers.

3. The general idea of our tactics will be to get into the T formation explained in the Combined Fleet's Instructions and concentrate the fire of our whole line on the leading ship or one wing of the enemy. However, we must keep a range of not less than 3,000 meters (3,300 yards).

Battle Formation.

4. Our principal formation will be an undulating line at the ordinary distance apart, but in accordance with circumstances we may alter course together to form line abreast or single quarter line. (These will be used chiefly in chasing or retreating.) Also we may turn 16 points together to steam in the reverse direction. In these changes of formation the ship which heads the line will have the duty of leading the line as long as there are no other orders. Its C.O., without regard to seniority, is to lead our division at his own discretion into the best position.

1st Subdivision- 1. Naniwa 2. Suma 3. (Blank)
2nd Subdivision- 4. Akashi 5. Takachio

[Note- On January 31st, 1904, Admiral Uriu amended this distribution of ships, making the Akashi No. 3 of the 1st Subdivision, and changing the 2nd Subdivision to 4. Takachio and 5. Niitaka.]

Ship's proper numbers are not to be changed during the action whatever may happen in the way of dispersing or breaking the line. When in Battle Formation ships may sometimes close up, but must take care not to increase the regular distance. During the action Captains of ships may slightly alter course at their own discretion if necessary to avoid the enemy's torpedoes or to discharge their own, but they must understand that the first necessity of battle is rigidly to maintain the formation. When a ship has drawn out of the line and finds it difficult to get back to her proper station, she is not to await orders but is to become the rear ship of the line. The other ships will close up without orders.


5. When engaged with the enemy on the plan explained in Article-3 above, the chief points of the movements of the leading ship are as follows:-

  (a) The leading ship will steam directly towards the enemy's leading or wing ship, and at a distance of about 8,000 meters (8,800 yards) will alter course to starboard or port as convenient.

  (b) When, as a result of our own and the enemy's tactics, they are steaming in the opposite direction to us, movements must be adopted to cross the T with either their leading, rear, or wing ship.

  (c) When we are both steaming on the same course, if the enemy seems about to turn outwards, we will also turn outwards.

  (d) In the case of a weaker enemy or a destroyer coming from ahead, we shall make an L formation and subject him to a double attack. This evolution will be ordered by an "Indicate Time" signal; when it is hauled down the ships of the rear subdivision will follow the leading ship and shape a course which will allow of an attack on the enemy's other side.

6. Speed and Helm.

(a) Usual battle speed 15 knots; slow speed 5 knots; Helm, Naniwa's 20°.

(b) During the action, unless there is some special reason or the Captain thinks it necessary, speed signals will not be hoisted, only the revolutions being shown.

(c) When speed is increased from ordinary to battle speed we shall increase by two knots at a time, so as not to break up the battle formation. This is also to be done when speed is to be decreased to the ordinary cruising speed. But in the latter case, if the speed flags are hoisted right up and then lowered to the half speed position, ships should immediately drop to as near cruising speed as they can get.

7. Use of Guns.

(a) There will be no signal to commence firing; this will be left to the individual discretion of Captains.

(b) The object is to be either the leading, rear, or wing ship of the enemy, on which fire is to be concentrated. But if the enemy's weakness permits, this rule may be disregarded and each ship may choose as target a ship on which its gunfire is likely to have most effect.

8. Use of Torpedoes.

(a) Each ship fitted for "A" class torpedoes is to have ready one torpedo at each torpedo tube.

(b) Ships fitted for "B" class or Schwartzkopff torpedo are to have one ready at each torpedo tube.

(c) The time for loading the ready torpedoes into the tubes and for getting ready and loading other torpedoes is left to the discretion of the Captains, who will judge from the progress of the action. The main consideration is to minimise the danger of a premature explosion of the torpedo by the enemy's shell, without losing an opportunity of discharging it.

9. Fire Direction.

(a) At ranges of more than 4,500 meters (4,900 yards) all the adjustments of the sights are to be very carefully made, but at less than 4,500 meters it will be better if adjustments for the enmey's speed are neglected, and the bow aimed at.

(b) Against destroyers and torpedo-boats, under the conditions of the latter half of the last paragraph, it will be better to aim and fire at a point half the boat's length ahead of it. (This half length is to be half the visible length depending on its foreshortening due to the angle of its advance.) These (a) and (b) methods are to be practiced so that they are clearly understood.

(c) It is most important to economise ammunition; and as it is easy in the excitement of the moment to fall into careless wasteful firing, Captains are to see that rapid firing is not to be adopted unless the mark is being hit.

(d) Each Captain is to do the utmost that he can to keep up the warlike spirit of the men, especially in the heat of the fight. When the damage done by the enemy's shells is great, the men's spirits are apt to fall, even when they are winning. The Captain is therefore to encourage the men, to make them think that the enemy is suffering twice as much as themselves, and arouse in their breasts the certainty of victory. In endurance and a high spirit lies the difference between victory and defeat.