Battle of Tsushima

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The Battle of Tsushima (Japanese: 対馬海戦, tsushima-kaisen, Russian: Цусимское сражение, Tsusimskoye srazheniye), commonly known as the “Sea of Japan Naval Battle” (Japanese: 日本海海戦, nihonkai-kaisen) in Japan and the “Battle of Tsushima Strait”, was the naval battle fought between Russia and Japan during the Russo-Japanese War. This was naval history's only decisive sea battle fought by modern steel battleship fleets and the first naval battle in which wireless telegraphy played a critically important role.

It was fought on May 27–28, 1905 (May 14–15 in the Julian calendar then in use in Russia) in the Tsushima Strait between Korea and southern Japan. In this battle the Japanese fleet under Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō destroyed two-thirds of the Russian fleet, under Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky, which had conducted a voyage of over 18,000 nautical miles (33,000 km) to reach the Far East. In London in 1906, Sir George Sydenham Clarke, G.C.M.G., F.R.S., wrote, "The battle of Tsu-shima is by far the greatest and the most important naval event since Trafalgar"[1] and decades later, Historian Edmund Morris again echoed the epitaph calling it the greatest naval battle since Trafalgar.[2]

Prior to the Russo-Japanese War, countries constructed their battleships with mixed batteries of mainly 152 mm (6-inch), 203 mm (8-inch), 254 mm (10-inch) and 305 mm (12-inch) guns, with the intent that these battleships fight on the battle line in a close-quarter, decisive fleet action. The battle demonstrated that battleship speed and big guns[3] with longer ranges were more advantageous during naval battles than mixed batteries of different sizes.[4]

The wireless was invented in the last half of the 1890s, and by the turn of the century all of the major navies were adopting this greatly improved means of communications. Although Alexander Stepanovich Popov of the Naval Warfare Institute had built and demonstrated a wireless telegraphy set in 1900, equipment from the firm Telefunken in Germany was initially adopted by the Imperial Russian Navy. In Japan, Professor Shunkichi Kimura was commissioned into the Imperial Navy to develop their own wireless system, and this was in place on many of the Japanese warships before 1904. Although both sides had early wireless telegraphy, the Russians were using "foreign" sets and had difficulties in their use and maintenance, while the Japanese had the advantage in using their own equipment. It is commonly recognized that this battle was the beginning of what today is called electronic warfare.[5]

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