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Russian Battleships and Cruisers of the Russo-Japanese War

Russian Battleships and Cruisers of the Russo-Japanese War Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review August 2019 Title Russian Battleships and Cruisers of the Russo-Japanese War
Author Mark Lardas Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2019 ISBN 9781472835086
Format 48 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $19.00


The title tells it all.

Russian Battleships and Cruisers of the Russo-Japanese War – 275th in Osprey’s huge “New Vanguard” range – surveys Czarist Russia’s principal vessels during that critical, 1904-05 conflict.

After introductory remarks on Russian warship development and operational history from 1880, contents turn to “statistics and histories” of Imperial battleships, coast defense vessels, and cruisers.

Text and tables cover warship classes, individual units therein, specifications, construction comments, deployment notes, and fates.

Photos, color plates, action illustrations, and archival images augment the account. Extended captions and sidebars, further supplement the study. And a selected bibliography and index complete contents.

But the book’s warship color plates prompted concern.

Schemes depict gray-painted vessels. Yet contemporary accounts describe, as HMS Sutlej’s Captain observed during Admiral Zinovy Petrovich Rozhestvensky’s Baltic units passing Singapore (Admiralty Records 1/7804, 12 April 1905), “men-of-war painted black with white funnels with black tops”.

Other sources claim yellow stacks. And photos of Second Pacific Squadron warships confirm the black livery. So if you’re constructing, say, one of Zvezda’s 1:350-scale Russo-Japanese War battleships, scrutinize your sources.

Finally, I’d dispute some details. Russia’s Petr Velikkii, for instance, hardly belongs “to the first generation of seagoing ironclads such as Britain’s Warrior or France’s Gloire”. And Lardas echoes the myth that Aurora (sic: Avrora) “fired the shot starting the October revolution leading to the Soviet Union’s creation”.

Still, concerns and quibbles aside, Osprey’s handy handbook illumines everything in one compact, convenient chronicle. Make it your launchpad for further study of this terrific topic.

My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!