- Yes! +1 for the Other original Japanese Battleship!
- the original 1897 commsissioning!
- the 1901 secondary armament refit! (four remaining 47mm 3-pounders, sixteen 76mm 12-pounders)
- No to all!
- both iterations, one Standard or Squadron researchable, one premium OR event rare
- only one iteration, Standard or Squadron researchable
- only one iteration, Premium-only
- only one iteration, Event-only
- No to all!
This is the co-second in a series of suggestions detailing the first modern battleships of many of the great and great-ish powers of the world- usually but not necessarily always entirely quite of full pre-dreadnought status, yet were the opening salvos of the era.
And with that, this is the suggestion for the second of the class duo that started that era… for the Japanese Empire: the Fuji-class 1st Class Pre-Dreadnought Battleship Yashima.
The Fuji-class duo of Fuji and Yashima are the first ever true battleships of the Japanese Empire, and at their core are vastly more efficient improvements of the Royal Sovereign-class 1st Class Battleships, and were slightly downscaled in physical size and tonnage, but greatly upscaled in practicality, efficiency, and power projection.
Simply put, they are what the Royal Sovereign-class would’ve been as the fully developed pre-dreadnoughts they could’ve been given another year’s time; with the armor layout largely duplicated in steel with slightly thinner sections, armored gunhouses for the main guns; AKA modern Gun Turrets; and exactly the 12-inch/40 caliber guns the Royal Sovereigns were originally meant to have had… much like the Fuji-class’s slightly older, fraternal sisters of the Majestic-class.
Hull of Yashima, 2 months after keel laying
ultra detailed diagram of Yashima (as seen by the underwater stern shape), blueprints.com
model of Yashima with deployed anti-torpedo nets, National Maritime Museum, London
Launch of Yashima, February 28th, 1896
“Photo of the Japanese battleship Yashima passing under the High Level Bridge at Newcastle in June 1896. From Page’s Magazine No. 3, September 1902”
Bow view of Yashima at sea
large scale model of a Fuji-class battleship is on display aboard the similar museum battleship Mikasa in Yokosuka, Japan.
The relationship between Japan and Capital Ships is one that took the scenic route towards being developed. While Japan is known more commonly in pop culture for being the iconic adversary navy to the Americans; 40 years prior to that, Japan was very much what you’d call a local yokel and not yet truly even a regional power.
The Imperial Japanese Navy of the 1870s and 1880s was one that was much more in line with the French Jeune École doctrine, with a fleet of small and cheap ships and boats that the still-brand new nation could barely just afford technologically let alone financially at the time, as Japanese industrialization on the national AND cultural level really only started with the Meiji era and an entire culture that had been strictly isolated for hundreds of years (save for the impressive collection of western firearms that various samurai and ninja clans assembled over time) was now in a tremendous crash-modernization program across its entire nation AND society to catch up with Western nations that were flinging colonists every which way, and opium everywhere they couldn’t fling the colonists… like Japan’s immediate and much more impacted neighbor, the Qing Empire of China.
Speaking of China, in 1885 the Qing Empire purchased two modern Ironclad Battleships from Germany: the Dingyuan-class Ironclad Turret Ships Dingyuan and Zhenyuan. This represented a massive headache for the Japanese, as their several hundred years old interest in dominating Korea; a perennial tributary state to the Qing Empire and even the Ming Empire before them (just ask Toyotomi Hideyoshi how THAT little excursion went), could now be completely stonewalled by just these two goliath ships no matter how fantastically corrupt the Chinese government… and Dowager Empress Cixi… got.
And these are the same two goliath ships that Japan got to see up close in early 1891 when… they visited Japan.
This prompted consecutive attempts by prime minister Matsukata Masayoshi and then his successor Itō Hirobumi across 1891 and 1892 respectively to fund an order for new battleships, as Japanese protected cruisers like the Matsushima-class and their ludicrous and totally impractical 12.6-inch bow cannons were… well… completely ludicrous and totally impractical against even the very Ironclad Battleships they were specifically meant to be used against (not that that stopped them later)… only to get stymied by the Imperial Diet each time. which in all fairness IS really quite understandable as battleships are not exactly cheap you know.
Emperor Meiji made his opinion and intentions known quite shockingly on February 10th, 1893, where a statement was circulated of him offering to fund an order for two battleships personally via the Imperial Household… and asking (translation: ordering) all government officials to themselves take a 10% pay cut as well to help out…
…ah, it’s good to be the god-emperor.
In a development that shocked absolutely nobody, the measure passed through the now-slightly poorer Diet with what I can only imagine was thunderous applause and no griping whatsoever.
Completion of what was to become the Fuji-class was originally scheduled for nearly the turn of the century in 1899, but the outbreak of the 1st Sino-Japanese War led the government to accelerate the schedule to 1897.
Diagram of Fuji-class as depicted in Brassey’s Naval Annual 1896 (though it has the cutaway stern of Yashima)
Fundamentally the Fuji-class are dimensionally slightly downscaled from the Royal Sovereign-class, but are more efficiently designed and outright better in just about every way, featuring Harvey Steel AKA case-hardened nickel steel as the primary armor, 12-inch guns better in every way over the obsolete 13.5-inch “67 Ton Gun”, and armored gunhouses for those main guns, AKA what would soon replace the ironclad-era turret in terminology as the gun turret.
Interestingly Fuji and Yashima were designed by two different people (Philip Watts for Yashima and George C. Mackrow for Fuji) but they still came to almost the exact same conclusion across both entire ship designs.
Unlike Fuji though, Yashima was meant to be the leader of squadrons and was outfitted as a flagship for admirals and their staff, as well as a cutaway stern that aided mobility to the tune of a full extra knot at the cost of being susceptible to the entire stern sagging while in drydock, as well as increased strain on the stern when making sharp turns, and despite Yashima also featuring a balanced rudder instead of the more common semi-balanced rudder, also having a good turn rate as that cutaway stern increased the area of water the rudder was exposed to.
One of the structural improvements over the Royal Sovereign-class was the inclusion of a double bottom and an internal subdivision of 181 watertight compartments plus watertight centreline bulkheads to separate the two engine rooms as well as the four boiler rooms, with the boiler rooms further separated by a transverse bulkhead. All of this improved the efficiency of the internal layout, and some basic resistance to flooding through storm damage or minor combat damage, though mines and torpedoes of any punching power were still absolutely not a guaranteed survival, as was the case with all pre-dreadnoughts… Like Yashima.
diagrams of Fuji-class main gun turret and barbette hood, from side and above.
Yashima was laid down on December 6th, 1894; launched on February 28th, 1896; and completed on September 9th, 1897; and underwent sea trials during October 1897, whilst bound for Yokosuka, Japan for official handover, arriving in Yokosuka on November 30th, 1897.
Yashima’s initial years of peacetime service came in unstable stops and starts instead of Fuji’s more normal early service, being repeatedly assigned to; and reduced to reserve from; the IJN Standing Fleet multiple times across a span of 1898-1903.
In 1901 Fuji and Yashima both swapped 16 of their 20 47mm 3-pounders for 3-inch QF 12-pounder 12 cwt guns. The additional crew needed for operations raised the number of crewmen to 652, and even later to 741.
After this period, Yashima would finally be placed in a stable role, one that she would maintain for the rest of her service: in the 1st Division of the 1st Fleet of the Combined Fleet, the main battleship fleet of the IJN under Vice Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō, the Nelson of the East.
Once the Russo-Japanese war kicked off, Yashima got in on the action early, being present for the Battle of Port Arthur… AKA how to botch a sneak attack in the dead of night
Vice Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō led a formation of battleships and cruisers to Port Arthur under cover of darkness, which was spoiled when the Russian cruiser Boyarin spotted them and alerted Port Arthur to the impending attack, making them much better organized and ready when the IJN showed up than Togo was expecting.
Admiral Togo then directed his battleships main guns to attack coastal fortifications and their secondary guns and the cruisers to harass the enemy ships… This did not go well, with little damage done by the Japanese, but moreso done by the Russians; though Yashima was unharmed; with this skirmish ultimately being really the worst battle for the Japanese in the short but intense war.
Despite being a fairly run of the mill wartime naval skirmish, ultimately the Battle of Port Arthur was really the worst battle for the IJN in the short but intense war… which kind of goes to show how the rest of the war went.
On March 10th, 1904, under the commands of admiral Nashiba Tokioki, Fuji and Yashima both took on a somewhat badass role that on battleships could do with prolonged efficiency: sitting outside the southwestern end of the Liaodong peninsula in a place called Pigeon Bay, and just blindly lobbing shells over the hills towards the harbor of Port Arthur at a range of 9.5 kilometers… Though with blind fire being blind fire, 154 12-inch shell produced… zero damage to the port. They would both try this again on March 22nd, but clearly the Russians knew what they had tried before, and Fuji and Yashima were quickly attacked by some brand new coastal defense guns… as well as some Russian ships at Port Arthur, themselves now lobbing shells up and over, but with observers placed to provide spotting and correction- and unlike Fuji and Yashima, actually scoring a 12-inch hit on Fuji before the duo disengaged.
Yashima was then present for the action during April 13th, when admiral Togo lured out part of the Russian Pacific Squadron; lead by the Russian admiral Makarov onboard his flagship Petropavlovsk; into an open area of sea near a freshly laid minefield. When Makarov saw 5 Japanese battleships laying in wait, he ordered an about face back to the port… and then ran Petropavlovsk squarely into the minefield. A mine detonated close enough to penetrate into the bow 12-inch magazine to set that off as well, completely gutting the Petropavlovsk, sinking it in less than 2 minutes, killing most of the crew and the shrapnel outright decapitating admiral Makarov literally, and the Russians defenders figuratively, as Makarov was one of the better admirals Russia ever had.
The war would then go back to a pattern of long range bombardment and minelaying, as the Imperial Japanese Army approached Port Arthur from land, and the Japanese kept tabs of the Russian Second Pacific Squadron now slowly making its voyage of the damned towards the far east.
On May 14th, Admiral Nashiba would head out to relieve the force blockading Port Arthur. This squadron included both Shikishima-class battleships Shikishima and Nashiba’s flagship of Hatsuse along with Yashima, supported by the Kasagi-class Protected Cruiser Kasagi and the Unprotected Cruiser/Aviso/Dispatch Boat/Miscellaneous Background Character Tatsuta.
Late on the morning of May 15th, Nashiba’s squadron… drumroll please… ran into a newly laid minefield courtesy of a recurring aspiring boogeyman, the Russian minelayer Amur.
Hatsuse would get first dibs, hitting a mine that took out the ship’s steering, but Yashima would hit two mines- one blowing a hole in the starboard side boiler room- a catastrophic hit as boiler rooms are some of the largest on a ship even with good partitioning and alternating machinery; while the second blew open a hole near a torpedo room- also a very large room that can’t be partitioned, and also on the starboard side.
The twin detonations initially resulted in a 9-degree starboard list that would only get worse as the day dragged on and Yashima began to lose the fight against progressive flooding, and with it: engine power. This further devolved to the point where Yashima needed to be attached to a tow line from Kasagi while en route to the base at the nearby Elliott Islands (now Changhai).
After about 7 hours of increasingly uncontrollable flooding, it became clear that survival was now impossible, so Yashima’s captain; Hajime Sakamoto; ordered the ship abandoned and anchored at a nearby navigation point called Encounter Rock. After they abandoned ship, Kasagi would take Yashima in tow again, only for Yashima to further founder and finally start capsizing 3 hours later.
Thus ended the life of the second ever battleship of Japan… but only AFTER the war ended did anyone outside of the Imperial Japanese Navy actually find this out…
You see… There were no foreign observers; especially Russians; and the surviving crew were quickly dispersed across a quartet of auxiliary gunboats that guarded Port Arthur once it was occupied, with orders to address any mail as if it was still coming or going from Yashima, with the charade only dropped after peace was signed.
So hey, Yashima was sunk before either setpiece battle of Yellow Sea or Tsushima, but it DID get to become the world’s first modern ghost ship for a year- even as the Russian 2nd Pacific Squadron… mainly the accursed Kamchatka… gradually meandered their way towards East Asia, inventing the Cloaking Hypersonic Intercontinental Japanese Torpedo Boat… Repeatedly. If only they knew the truth.
Ultra-detailed diagram of Yashima
Ultra-detailed cross section of Yashima- the only difference with Fuji is that Fuji has an underwater stern fully covering the back of the semi-balanced rudder; as well as extending to the bottom of it, like seen on Royal Sovereign-class, while Yashima has a cutaway underwater stern and a balanced rudder.
Displacement (it seems that Yashima was always kept fully loaded):
12,230 long tons (12,430 metric tons)
412 feet (125.6 m) overall (blame the ram bow)
389.76 feet (118.8 m) at the waterline
73.75 ft (22.48 meters)
26.5 feet (8.15 meters)
10 cylindrical Scotch Marine Fire Tube Boilers feeding into a pair of Humphrys & Tennant Vertical Triple Expansion Steam Engines, powering a pair of 17-foot (5.18 m) diameter propellers through 2 shafts.
As designed, estimated power produced was estimated to be 13,500 indicated horsepower for a top speed of 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph) at forced draft… which seems to have been the only setting other than casual cruising that the Japanese operated these battleships at.
In practice, when on sea trials the engines of Yashima were brought to forced draft to produce ~14,075 ihp, with an actual top speed shown to be 19.5 knots- a very impressive speed for a pre-dreadnought of her vintage, and a sign that despite the structural fragility of her stern design, that cutaway underwater stern and the balanced rudder with its lower drag absolutely aided the practically miniscule boost of only an extra 500 ihp to give a whole extra knot of top speed.
4,000 nmi (7,400 km; 4,600 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
1200 tons of coal
650 officers and enlisted (original in 1897)
741 officers and enlisted (as of 1901)
MAIN ARMOR BELT:
(this is a highly detailed cross section of Yashima, though the armor profiles of Fuji and Yashima are the exact same)
The Waterline Belt was 8 feet (2.4 meters) tall, and spanned from 3 feet above the waterline, to 5 feet below while the ship in question was at normal loading. The belt was 79 meters long and stretched from the front of the forward barbette to the end of the aft barbette, with the main span of the waterline belt (as seen on the detailed diagram of Yashima above) a full 18-inches (457mm) along the span of the citadel, decreasing to 16-inches with a section nearing the span of the pear-shaped barbettes being 16-inches thick, and the area covering the barbettes decreasing to 14-inches thick.
To complete the Citadel, there were fore and aft bulkheads connecting the belts and barbette ends together. Due to the barbettes being the same pear-shaped holdovers from the Royal Sovereign-class, these bulkheads were placed at an angle, and was 14-inches thick for the bow bulkhead, and 12-inches thick for the aft bulkhead.
This made the citadel less of an armored box, and more of an elongated and deformed octagon.
UPPER ARMOR BELT:
Above the waterline belt and between the barbettes was a uniform 4-inch (102mm) thick upper belt along its entire span.
As with all coal-powered ships, the coal bunkers double as additional protection, as full/mostly full coal bunkers are basically anti-shrapnel standoff armor.
ARMORED MIDDLE DECK:
There was a 2.5-inch (63.5mm) flat armored middle deck acting as the roof of the citadel that spanned the entire area between the barbette ends.
ARMORED LOWER DECK:
Outside the barbettes the armored deck dropped one level to the lower deck (see Yashima diagram) and was shaped as a turtleback, remaining at 2.5-inches thick.
The barbettes retained the oblong pear shape from the Royal Sovereign-class, and were armored to 14-inches (356mm) thick on the major diameter on the main deck above the armor belt, and reduced to 9-inches (229mm) on the minor diameter at and below the main deck and behind the armor belt.
Additionally, the barbette hoods (the visible area of the barbette on the weather deck) were only 6-inches thick, matching the turret faces above.
During the Battle of Tsushima, the rear turret barbette hood of Fuji would be penetrated and some exposed 12-inch ammo detonated, killing some crewmen but being more a of a mild irritation than a catastrophic magazine detonation, as at least one of the pair of aft 12-inch guns was still fully operational
MAIN GUN TURRETS:
diagrams of Fuji-class main gun turret and upper barbette, from side and above.
The main gun turrets were unusually thin considering the 14-inch thick barbettes they were placed on top of, though its probably a combination of being only the 2nd class of modern (pre-dreadnought) battleship to have them, plus being legitimately very well designed to minimize its forward-facing silhouette and use sloped angles.
The main gun turrets had only 6-inch (152mm) thick faces, though they were very well angled, reminiscent of battleships much more modern.
With 4-inch (102mm) sides and backs.
And 2-inch (51mm) thick roofs.
The casemate guns had 6-inches of armor…clearly the lessons of the Royal Sovereign-class’s unarmored secondary gun turrets had already been learned
BOW TORPEDO ROOM:
In a very rarely seen armored section, the fore torpedo room (see the Yashima plan diagram) had 6-inch thick walls… which was probably a good idea seeing as it was… you know… about 20 feet above AN ARMORED RAM BOW.
The conning tower had 14-inch (356mm) thick walls, and a 3-inch (76mm) thick roof.
2 x 2 12-inch/40 Armstrong Pattern G (1897-1910)
later known as- 12-inch/40 41st Year Type (post-1908 domestic production) and then the 41st Year Type 30cm Gun (post-1917 conversion to metric)
Known as the Armstrong Pattern G commercially (of which Japan purchased 44 barrels), and the 12-inch/40 Mark IX when the British adopted it soon after, this is the 12-inch gun that the Royal Sovereign-class was MEANT to have in its original design… and the 12-inch gun that the Majestic and Canopus-classes wish they had instead of their problematic 12-inch/35 Mark VIIIs.
Being as the main gunnery platform was largely inherited from the Royal Sovereign-class, down to the oblong pear shape of the barbettes, you’d think that the Fuji-class would suffer from some of the same issues.
Fortunately, you would be wrong! Outside of the unusual barbette shape, little remains from Royal Sovereign- these guns mountings are actually the same BII mountings of the Majestic-class.
as is strangely usual for some of my suggestions, the Polish wikipedia article / Navweaps combo provides most of the details:
These guns technically had a 240 degree field of fire… AKA their horizontal traverse only stopped when they slammed into the side of the superstructure.
Vertical traverse was +15 degrees of elevation, and -5 of depression
The guns required an elevation of +1 degree in order to be loaded, and as long as the ready racks held out they could be reloaded at any angle of horizontal traverse, though that means if the ready rack is depleted through firing, or say… getting detonated by penetrating enemy fire, the gun will soon suffer from Royal Sovereign-syndrome and have an even more egregious reload cycle.
And now for the reload… double the fire rate of the Royal Sovereign-class!.. which is to say, roughly 1 RPM… due to a variety of factors.
Now that battleships were sporting armored turrets again, they could be used to maintain an internal ready rack of 18 shells + 2 ready to fire, giving the Fuji’s a maximum of 10 consecutive back-to-back salvos and minutes before having to disengage and load via barbette ammo elevator from the magazine; which is really the only true contemporary deficiency of the BII mounting; and at which point the RoF would slow back down to near the appalling .5 RPM of the Royal Sovereign-class, … so while it’s a bit limited in combat in the long term, a ready rack cook off would not prove totally fatal for the ship like a magazine detonation.
…In fact, during the Battle of Tsushima, the rear turret barbette hood of Fuji would actually be penetrated and some exposed 12-inch propellant charges detonated, killing some crewmen but ultimately being more of a mild irritation than a catastrophic magazine detonation, as at least one of the pair of aft 12-inch guns was still fully operational and even scored the killing blow on the Russian battleship Borodino.
At this time, both the IJN and Royal Navy used the Pattern 1895 Barr & Stroud F.A.2 rangefinders, and once 1903 and its improved F.A.3 pattern rolled around, standard practice across both was; as with the original 1888 F.A.1 pattern; to send the older F.As back to be refurbished and upgraded to the new standard.
Despite dating back to 1888 with the F.A.1 pattern, These rangefinders remained in service across mainly the Royal Navy and IJN for over 30 years, only decisively falling out of use AFTER World War One… likely when all the ships old enough to still be using them were scrapped… minimum range was 750 yards, and maximum was 8000 yards (roughly 7300 meters)… or about half the actual range of these guns- even as seemingly pedestrian for battleships as the 6 kilometer ranges of the Battle of Tsushima would seem, that was about double the range usually anticipated up to that time.
And the shells themselves:
AP - Navweaps identifies this as “AP (Furoshiki)”: and it has a bursting charge of 42.5 lbs (19.3 kg) of 1st generation Shimose Powder
Common: had a bursting charge of 85 lbs (39 kg) of Black Powder
Then comes the muzzle velocity: 730 m/s for a 850 lb (386 kg) shell (same for both shell types) from a 60 kilogram propellant charge… which being 1897 is a fairly decent mv for an early 40-caliber length barrel.
Norman Friedman’s Naval Weapons of WWI claims that the common shell had a FAR lower muzzle velocity of 464.82 m/s, / 1525 feet per second… which makes absolutely no sense for an HE-oriented battleship shell that has barely any penetrative qualities, and isn’t helped by the battles of the Russo-Japanese war never mentioning attempts to fire with artillery-style extreme angles of gunfire, outside of that time that; oh hey!; Fuji and Yashima lobbed shells blindly over a large hill from 1.5 kilometers beyond their maximum practical range.
And now for penetration: in hard stats (at least in english)… we’re not quite sure. However, since these shells were actually used repeatedly in combat, there is some real and significant data to draw from… and it isn’t exactly awarding any prizes-
Armor Piercing: as seen across mainly the Battles of Yellow Sea and Tsushima, but specifically at Tsushima vs the 146mm (5.75-inch) upper belt of the Russian Borodino-class battleship Oryol at a range of roughly 6000 meters, the Shimose-charged AP shell failed to penetrate.
Indeed across both setpiece battles, Japanese 12-inch Armor Piercing shells routinely showed themselves to be by far the worst of the 1890s 1st generation Armor Piercing shells- which admittedly was partly the fault of fuzes; hence why the IJN just decided to buy a bunch of fuzes from the Germans at Krupp; but more likely in the long run because the use of 1st generation Shimose Powder (undiluted Picric Acid in a non-reactive lacquered container) at this early stage absolutely castrated the capability of the shell to perform in its 1890s-1900s use, due to being just far too oversensitive to the point where at this time they constantly caused premature detonations- both against enemy belts and turrets… and as well as the bores of the guns they were being fired from.
Much like the more used Common shell, the majority of damage done was really from the explosions and very intense fires started, as shimose powder; which once again is basically just totally undiluted picric acid in a specially designed lacquered casing; is only really outdone (at least in any practical sense) by white phosphorus in how much it likes to burn things.
And now for Common: the IJN basically just used these shells as HE, though since they use Black Powder as the bursting charge that technically makes this a Common-Low Explosive shell… and why they had double the explosive charge of the AP shells- not that that mattered much for the Russians, as the IJN all but abandoned their terrible AP shells and just used these Common shells to just shred and burn out the superstructure- which is what really killed the 2nd Pacific Squadron in the Battle of Tsushima, as Russian ships down from the hapless repair ship Kamchatka all the way up to the flagship Knyaz Suvorov were just battered through volume of fire against unarmored sections and being roasted alive- and much to the leaders of the IJN and the fleet assembled at Tsushima, the Russian battleships Borodino and Imperator Aleksandr III were sunk entirely through gunfire, with no hint of torpedo damage to claim otherwise. the ships were just cumulatively pulverized at and under the waterline outside the citadel until they foundered.
And for a comical comparison, the middle two shells are from Mikasa, which has the same 12-inch/40 guns.
The bigger ones… ARE FROM YAMATO. 460mm (18.1-inch) beasts.
6 x 3 x 1 6-inch/40 guns on traversable mounts (6 total, 3 per side, single mount) EOC Pattern Z
Like the main guns, the 6-inch/40 in Japanese use had a variety of names depending on the time and if built domestically: EOC Pattern Z (pre-1908 imports), 6-inch/40 41st Year Type (1908-1917), 15 cm/40 41st Year Type (post-1917)
Apparently a prize firing of a 6-inch/40, as seen by the observers. Note that the gunshield is the same dimensions as on the Royal Sovereign-class.
“Lieutenant Commander Yamanaka, Chief Gunner of Our Ship Fuji, Fights Fiercely in the Naval Battle at the Entrance to Port Arthur”
This is an ever so slightly modified version (if even that) of the EOC Pattern Z, the export version of the QF 6-inch/40 Mark I seen on the Royal Sovereign-class.
Fire rate was; as seen in battle practice as well as in actual combat at the Battle of Tsushima; 4 RPM, or 15 seconds, though there is seemingly the possibility that an extremely well trained crew could bring the fire rate up to 5 RPM (12 second reload) or as incredibly high as 7 RPM- or 8.6 seconds, Though seemingly a little unrealistic for a 6-inch gun in the late 1890s, this IS on a battleship with a full battleship-level gunnery crew, so take that as you will- though that also could be from circumstances such as the aforementioned photo of a prize firing.
Ammo used was (as far as I can find out) all some degree of Common shell, and all highly oriented towards HE use…
…because; and let’s say it all together now; the Japanese used Shimose Powder, which is essentially undiluted Picric Acid for their bursting charges; which is spectacularly powerful as a high explosive, being about 20% more powerful than TNT, but far too sensitive in its 1st generation formulation for most fuzes of the 1890s-1910s if you want your shell to detonate at any time other than on impact… which is why the Japanese started just buying them from Krupp, as the Russians found out the hard way at Tsushima.
As was standard across all nations using the EOC 6-inch/40, all shells weighed 100 lbs (45.4 kg), had a uniform muzzle velocity of 2,300 fps (701 mps) as by the time the Fuji-class was in service, the IJN now had access to Cordite Mk I propellant via their ally the British Empire; and had a max range of about 9140 meters. While there’s no stats shown for propellant charge, it took 6 kilos of Cordite 30 (a Cordite Mk I size) to get British 6-inch shells to 670 m/s, it’s probably closer to 6.25 kilos for the Japanese to get that extra 30 m/s.
The shells used are a bit disputed as Navweaps and Naval Weapons of WWI by Norman Friedman (PDF page 839) have conflicting documentation:
Common Type 0 HE - despite the HE designation, this seems to have been the more SAP-oriented shell, having a bursting charge of 6.8 lbs. (3.1 kg) and length of 22.3 in (56.6 cm)
Common Mod 1 - this however is clearly an HE-oriented shell, with a bursting charge of 11.4 lbs (5.2 kg), and length of 22.5 in (57.1 cm)
(1897-1901) 20 x 1 47mm/40 Hotchkiss 3-pounders, 16 placed across the superstructure and in hull barbettes, and another 4 in fighting tops in the masts.
(1901-1904) 4 x 1 47mm/40 Hotchkiss 3-pounders, in 1901 all but the 3-pounders in the fighting tops were removed and replaced by Elswick-produced 3-inch/40 12-pounders.
(1901-1904) 16 x 1 3-inch/40 Elswick Pattern N
Pattern N cannon in a casemate aboard Mikasa
As time passed and the already meager firepower of the 3-pounder became completely useless for capital ship point defense, all the 3-pounders save for those perched in the tiny fighting tops were replaced in their mounted positions with Elswick-produced 3-inch Pattern N cannons identical to the British 12-pounder 12cwt QF Mark I
4 x 1 47mm/30 Yamanouchi Mk I AKA Hotchkiss 2 ½-pounders
This was a unique modification to the Hotchkiss 3-pounder (known as the Yamanouchi gun in Japan), with a quarter of the barrel length removed and a lighter shell.
(outside of Yashima’s history and slight differences in stern design and powerplant, Yashima is largely identical to Fuji)
- Brook, Peter (1985). “Armstrong Battleships for Japan”. Warship International. Toledo, Ohio: International Naval Research Organization. XXII (3): 268–82. ISSN 0043-0374.
- Brook, Peter (1999). Warships for Export: Armstrong Warships 1867 – 1927. Gravesend, Kent, UK: World Ship Society. ISBN 0-905617-89-4.
- Jentschura, Hansgeorg; Jung, Dieter & Mickel, Peter (1977). Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869–1945. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. ISBN 0-87021-893-X. - PDF page 12-13
- Chesneau, Roger & Kolesnik, Eugene M., eds. (1979). Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1860–1905 . Greenwich, UK: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4. - PDF page 229