Skoryi class destroyers (1949)

USSR – 70 ships

The first postwar soviet destroyers

The Skoriy (or Skoryy) was a somewhat backward response to the large series of standardized destroyers of the American Fletcher and Gearing classes. These were essentially a takeover of the Ognevoi class from 1940, but they incorporated many of the technologies inherited from German ships captured or transferred as war damage. These buildings were longer and wider than their ancestors, but retained a traditional two-deck hull. Their general design also remained very classical, with benches of torpedo tubes distributed between the two chimneys and the quarter deck, a more modern double turret artillery, and a powerful AA battery, according to the standards imposed in 1944-45.

The previous ww2 Ognevoi class

General Design

Design work started in October 1945, and was finalized and approved in January 1947. Their hull structure and construction also marked a turning point. Their reinforced shell was pre-assembled in 101 sections to accelerate construction. Therefore most were assembled in a little more than a year a bit like the mass-produced American destroyers.

HD profile, cdts

51 destroyers left Soviet shipyards, the first of which was the Smeliy, which was laid down in May 1948, and the last, the Ozhestochenniy, in March 1953. Their marine qualities were still criticized in heavy weather, with the artillery pieces being blinded by the swell and reduced the top speed to 28 knots. Moreover, maneuverability was mediocre and stability perfectible (counter-hulls were added quickly).

Modifications in service

Their original AA battery consisted of a double gun mount of 85 mm and 7 mm of 37 mm in simple mountings, but in 1952 the new standard became for all 8 mounts of 37 mm in four double cradles and between 2 and 6 of 25 mm (Instead of those of 85 mm). The 130 mm had 150 shots each, the 85 mm 300. The sonar was also replaced by a new model. They took 85 tons, in particular to further weigh the hull in order to counter pitching.

From 1957 onwards, a modernization gave them a new focus, mainly ASW: This involved the removal of their heavy front rangefinder from the central TT bench and the addition of two RBU-2500 rocket launchers, the AA artillery being replaced by 5 single 57 mm cannons.

Operational history

As early as 1956, transfers began: Egypt (6), Indonesia (7). The remainder would be disarmed between 1973 and 1987. In total 70 ships seems to have been built. This was the largest operational Soviet destroyer class ever, answering the Gearing class. These ships served ion the four fleets (Baltic, Arctic, Black sea and Far East) until the end of the Cold War.

Indonesian RI Siliwangi Jalesveva Jayamahe

Skoriy class specifications (1951)

Dimensions 120,5 x 12 x 3,9m (ft)
Displacement 2316-3066t, 8565t FL
Crew 288
Propulsion 2 props, 4 turbines, 60,000 hp
Speed 36.5 knots as designed (xx km/h; )
Armament 4×130 mm (2×2), 2×85 mm, 7×37 mm, 2×5 TT 533mm, 2 ASW mort., 2 racks, 52 charges
Electronics Gyus 1B, Ryf-1, Redan-2, Vympel-2 radars, Tamir 5H sonar.

CIA report about the Skoryy
Conway’s all the world’s fighting ships 1947-1995.


Skoriy class profiles
2-view technical profiles of the Skoriy and variants

Skoriy class profiles
Skoriy class profile, by the author

Neutrashimyy, the next generation.

Polish Wicher 2

Soviet Navy poster

Panther class cruisers (1885)

Austro-Hungarian Navy ensign Austria-Hungary (1885)
Panther, Leopard, Tiger

Austro-Hungarian Torpedo-cruisers

These three cruisers are grouped together in the same class by convenience. In reality they differed in detail but overall proceeded of the same philosophy: In 1884, the Admiralty decided to order two torpedo cruisers from Great Britain to study foreign construction, and in this case the state of British technology, then, world’s famous. Shipyards Armstrong Elswick received an order and proposed the usual design of small export protected cruiser. Both ships would enter service in 1885-56 but served after modernisation as coast guards and used later for menial roles, being disarmed in 1918. The previous ships of comparable class were the old Zara (Zara, Spalato, Sebenico 1879) and SMS Lussin (1883).

The previous Zara class (1879)


The Panther was laid down in October 1884 and the Leopard in January 1885. They were launched in June and September 1885 and accepted in December 1885 and March 1886. With their displacement of 1557 tons, their armament was limited to two 120 mm (5 in) guns in barbettes, and several rapid-fire 47 mm, 44 caliber pieces of ordinance including 6 revolvers. Their also had four torpedo tubes of small caliber (350 mm). Their overall military value was equal to that of simple gunboats. Nevertheless, Austro-Hungarian engineers learned a few lessons that they applied to the construction of a third ship to STT, SMS Tiger.

SMS Tiger

Vice Admiral Maximilian Daublebsky von Sterneck, then at the head of the Navy published a memorandum in 1884, arguing for a torpedo-ram cruiser (“Torpedo-Rammkreuzer”). One of the crucial point was a reinforced bow for ramming. She was also like the previous Panther, to be able to carry out patrol and reconnaissance duties. She was begun in October 1886, launched in June 1887 and accepted in March 1888. She was larger and heavier (1657 tons), and somewhat inspired by the British Navy’s light cruiser HMS panther. Like the two previous ships, she had two 120 mm guns in barbettes, and ten guns, of 47 mm, as well as the usual four 350 mm torpedo tubes.

She was not especially faster than the others. Her specs were as follows: 74.16 meters (243 ft 4 in) long, 10.55 m (34 ft 7 in) wide, with a 4.3 m (14 ft 1 in) draft and displacement of 1,657 to 1,680 t (1,631 to 1,653 long tons; 1,827 to 1,852 short tons). Her crew was later decreased from 188 officers and men to 177. Her propulsion consisted of two 2-cylinder compound steam engines rated at 5,700 indicated horsepower (4,300 kW). Their top speed was 18.56 knots (34.37 km/h; 21.36 mph). She was better armed with four 120 m (4.7 in) Krupp 35 cal. mounted in sponsons, but the light armament remains the same, six 47 mm (1.9 in) quick-firing guns and four 47 mm revolver cannon.

SMS Tiger as built, 1886

SMS Panther before the war

Service History

The Panther was part of the East Asian station in 18966-98 and in this period, assisted American Marines from USS Monocacy in Shanghai with its own landing party. She later cruised the western Mediterranean Sea, briefly the Atlantic Ocean and ventured as far as East Africa in 1905 (Captain Ludwig von Höhnel). These three ships were already obsolete in 1909. The two Panthers were modernized in 1909-1910, by removing their their 120 mm guns. They kept a battery of four 66 mm (2.6 in) 45-cal. guns and ten 47 mm QF guns. In 1914 she was part of the Coastal Defense Special Group, supporting an attack against Montenegrin forces in 1916. She later received a 66 mm gun in an anti-aircraft mounting. Subsequently, the Panther was used as a coastguard in Cattaro and in 1917 was converted into a submarine cadet training ship. The Leopard was reduced to a crew of gunners, and used from March 1914 as a coastguard to Pola.

SMS Leopard underway, circa 1890.

The Leopard participated in the events in Crete in 1897, toured the Pacific Ocean in 1900–1901 and was part of the East Asia squadron in 1907–1909, before join the drydoc for modernization. By May 1914, she has been decommissioned. She stayed at Pola for the duration of the war.

HMS Panther in an official visit to Australia

The Tiger showed the flag in the international naval demonstration off Crete in 1897 and was present at the Greek-Turkish war that same year. She was converted into the Admiralty Yacht in 1905 under the name SMS Lacroma. Her armament was reduced to six 47 mm QF guns. In 1915 she was completely disarmed, and in 1918, captured by the Yugoslavs and used shortly by the Royal Yugoslav Navy before being handed over to UK according to the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye as a war prize. But the latter declined and like the other two, she was broken up in Italy.

SMS leopard, date unknown

Links and sources

The Panther class on wikipedia
Google Books
Index of ww1 Austro-Hungarian ships
Conway’s all the world fighting ships 1865-1905

SMS Lacroma, Admiralty ship.

Panther specifications (1914)

Dimensions 73,2 x 10,4 x 4,3 m (ft)
Displacement 1560 t FL
Crew 92
Propulsion 2 screws, 2 VEC 2 cyl., 16 BOILERS, 5950-6400 HP.
Speed 18,5 knots (xx km/h; 20.1 mph Budapest)
Armament 10 x 47mm QF guns
Armor Deck 12 mm


Illustration of the Panther – 1/730

Saphir class submarines (1928)

France (1928)

France’s most successful ww2 subs

This class of “diamonds” became the best known during the war among french subs, the only ones to gain fame within the allied forces and pass to posterity with a new class of nuclear attack submarines named in homage. This fame also came partly because of their very nature: They were the only allied minelayer submarines available then.


Constructed between 1928 and 1935 in Toulon shipyard, this class, was designed to lay mines, and carefully derived from the German UCs of the last war, but with modern solutions and innovations. The class comprised the Diamant, Nautilus, Perle, Rubis, Saphir, and Turquoise. All named after precious gems.


In particular, they had lateral mine wells of large capacity, designed by Normand-Fenaux. The system, simple and effective, will prove very useful. 32 mines could be housed in these 16 wells. The torpedo armament was reduced to two bow tubes and three (including two 400 mm) in a movable bench at the rear and less refills than usual. These mines were of the Sautier-Harlé HS 4 type, with oar. They exploded on contact with a 220 kg tolite charge, and can be laid down 200 m deep. They were lodged by pairs in each of the sixteen vertical wells inside ballasts, slightly larger than usual.

Operational career

In service in 1936, one of these units gained prominence during the war. Not only did it escape the fate of the French navy by crossing the channel and joining the allies, but it was also the only allied submarine capable to lay mines, and its Career was meritorious.

The Sapphire, Turquoise and Nautilus were all captured at Bizerte and transferred to the Italians in 1942, and two served for some time under the name of FR112 and 116, in Bizerte. One of them will be sunk on the spot, the others scuttled. The Diamond will sabotaged and scuttled in Toulon in November 1942, while the Perle, which like the Rubis passed early on the allied side, would be sunk by mistake in 1944, a lot common to many French ships.

The Rubis

This most famous sub, laid down on 3 April 1929, launched 30 September 1931 and commissioned 4 April 1933, served in Toulon with the 7th, then 5th Submarine Squadrons. In 1937 she was transferred to Cherbourg on the Atlantic coast and by May 1940, she participated actively in the Norwegian campaign, laying mines off the Norwegian coast that allegedly sank four Norwegian vessels and later three merchantmen in July 1940.

The Rubis was captured in the port of Dundee, Scotland during Operation Catapult. However she turned to the Free French Forces quickly under Captain Georges Cabanier command. From there, Rubis career became quite epic, with 22 missions leading to the direct and indirect destruction of twenty-four ships of the axis (for 683 mines laid down) in addition to Norway, adding the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic to its playgrounds. In fact she operated again in 1944 off Stavanger, claiming two auxiliary submarine chasers and two merchantmen and damaging later two others, and at the end of the year, three auxiliary submarine chasers, a German merchantman, and a minesweeper. In total she sank some 21,000 GRT by far the highest kill ratio of any French vessel.

She was visited by Royal Navy officials, and her crew was decorated notably with De Gaulle’s order of liberation in October 1941. After 1946, she was used as a training ship, retired from service in 1948 and used as a target sonar in the Mediterranean. Her wreck is still visible off Cavalaire, now a lush reef after 70 years.


Saphir class specifications

Dimensions 66 x 21,5 x 8,4 m
Displacement 761/925 t. FL
Crew 892
Propulsion 2 screws, 2 electric motors 550 hp each, 2 diesels, 650 hp each.
Speed 12/9 knots surf./sub. (22/17 km/h)
Range 7000 NM (12 964 km) @7,5 knots, 80 NM sub.
Armament 1 x 65 mm, 2 bow, 4 TT sides 533 mm, 32 oarsmines Sautier-Harlé HS 4.

wikimedia photo of the Rubis in grave difficulties in a minefield off Norway, Coastal Command, Ministry of Information, 1942.

Rubis crew, posing with mascot

British Pathe 1941 Footage of Free French Sailors marching along in the grounds of Dartmouth naval college. General Charles de Gaulle meeting crews of the submarines ‘Rubis’ and ‘Minerva’.

1/400 Naval Encyclopedia’s own David Bocquelet illustration of the Rubis in the 1930s.

The blueprints – Rubis in wartime markings and FNFL service, 1942

Another profile, as found in Cape Camaret.

Evstafi class battleships (1910)

Russia (1910)
Battleships – Evstafi, Ioann Zlatoust

Genesis: 1905′ cruel lessons

The total defeat suffered by the Pacific fleet, then the entire baltic fleet in the hands of the Japanese in 1905 not only durably harmed the regime’s authority outside but weakened it inside as shown by the Potemkine mutiny and popular bread walks suppressed by force. This will re-emerge in 1917 and bring the Romanov dynasty to its knees. For the Navy, lessons had been learnt, and when designing the next pre-dreadnought, still on the basis of the Potemkine class (1903) but larger and with many modifications that much delayed their completion to 1911. By then they were hopelessly outmatched and stayed in the black fleet, facing the Turkish navy as possible opponent and their career was relatively short, as both has been scrapped in 1922, barely after ten years of service.

The previous Potemkine class, on which the following design was largely based.

Not the last Russian pre-dreadnoughts

As such, these battleships not only capitalized on the Potemkine design, but many aspects were studied with caution. They displaced 12,738 long tons (12,942 t), versus 12,480 long tons (12,680 t). In reality they were 45 tons lighter. They were slightly larger, 385 ft 9 in (117.6 m) instead of 378 ft 6 in (115.4 m), a bit wider at 74 ft (22.6 m) vs. 73 ft (22.3 m), however their engines were essentially the same and top speed about 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph), unchanged. Despite being late in the game, the Evstafi class was not the last one, strangely, it was indeed superseded by the next Andrei Pervozvanny-class battleship, which were completely designed from the bottom-up with the 1905 lessons at heart and probably among the most powerful and capable pre-dreadnoughts worldwide ever designed.

The next Andrei Pervozvanni class was much larger and hybridated with dreadnoughts features, namely greater speed and much powerful armament. These were designed since the beginning to integrate 1905′ battles lessons, while the Esvstafi has been modified so after launched.

Evstafi Class Armament

In armament however, they received an additional four 6in secondary guns (203 mm) in addition to their main artillery of 152 mm, slightly reduced from 16 to 12 cannons to compensate. The main artillery comprised two pairs of 12-inch 40-calibre Pattern 1895. Each had a 260 degrees traverse, +35/-5° elevation can fire at 4 rpm, with 75 shells in storage. The 331.7 kg shells can find their mark at 20 km (22,200 yards). The brand new 8-inch (203 mm) 50-calibre Pattern 1905 guns were mounted in armoured casemates fore and aft, each with a 120° traverse, and 20° elevation. The HE shells weighted 264.3 pounds (119.9 kg), travelled at 2,647 ft/s (807 m/s) and found their mark at 14 km (15,800 yds), with 110 more in storage for each artillery piece.

Evstafi at anchor, black sea fleet, prewar.
Evstafi at anchor, black sea fleet, prewar.

The secondary armament also comprised a traditional set of 6 in (152 mm) pieces in lower casemates, 12 Canet Pattern 1892 45-calibre guns in all. With a 20° elevation, these 91 pounds (41 kgs) shells had a maximum range of about 7 km, with a rate of fire of up to 15 rpm with a well-trained crew. The tertiary artillery meant to deal with TBs comprised fourteen 75-millimetre (3.0 in) guns Canet Pattern 1892, versus 14 × 75 mm M1892 Canet guns and six 47 mm (1.9 in)/40 Hotchkiss guns on the Potemkine.
For close encounters, the ship was given the same two single 17.7-inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes on the broadside. Each travelled at 29 or 34 knots at about 2000 or 3000 m depending on the speed selected, and carried to the target a 212 pound (96 kg) warhead of TNT.

Evstafi Power Arrangement

As explained before, the Evstafi class relied on a solution similar to the previous class, with
2 shafts propelled by 2 Vertical triple expansion steam engines, fed by 22 coal-fired Belleville water-tube boilers. Top speed was 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph) and range 2,100 nmi (3,900 km; 2,400 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). By comparison the next class would be able to reach 18 knots. The boilers operated at 242 psi (1,669 kPa; 17 kgf/cm2). On trials, the ships reached 10,800 ihp (8,100 kW) for a top speed of 16.2 knots (18.6 mph). They carried 1,100 long tons (1,100 t) of coal.


Both ships were given a reviewed protection, with German Krupp armour which had a max. thickness (belt) of 9 inches (229 mm) down to 3 inches on the underwater ends and decks. The upper belt was 3.1 to 5 in (79–127 mm) in thickness, the Casemates 3.1 to 5 in (79–127 mm), the conning tower 8 in (203 mm), while the Main turrets were protected by 8 to 10 in (203–254 mm) and main barbettes by 4 to 5 in (102–127 mm).

A lengthy fitting out

The Evstafi was laid down in 1904 and launched in 1906 at Nikolayev Admiralty Shipyard, Nikolayev and the Ioann Zlatoust Sevastopol Shipyard, Sevastopol at the same dates, but in May rather than November. However fitting out took years, whereas it’s usually much faster, as many design revisions accumulated as long as reports from the Russo-Japanese war bring new elements to consideration. One such modifications were the main and secondary gun’s elevation, suppression of three torpedo tubes, mine stowage and the 47 mm QF Hotchkiss guns. Protection at the waterline fore and aft of the main belt was enhanced greatly. Also a second conning tower was added at the rear, and the heavy masts were replaced by light pole masts and light booms for increased stability.

The Evstafi class in service

Both ships appeared as the most powerful battleships in service in Russia by 1911 and they joined the Black sea fleet as flagships; Famously the Evstafi was the Black Sea flagship, carrying Vice Admiral Andrei Eberhardt’s personal mark at the battle of Cape Sarytch. Before that, the fleet performed a shelling of Trebizond on 15 November and again on 17 November. They went hunting for Turkish shipping along the Anatolian coast but changed course and headed to Sevastopol when they intercepted on theyr way back the German battlecruiser Goeben and the light cruiser SMS Breslau.

Evstafi colorized
A nice colorized photo of the Evstafi in service with the black sea fleet

Cape Sarytch Battle

The battle was not an easy win as the fog prevented the ships in line to spot the enemy and the new Russian tactic using a “master ship”, there the Ioann Zlatoust to direct fire for the whole line, caused delays. Both the Evstafi and Goeben duelled at 4,000 yards (3,700 m), taking hits. The Evstafi was stuck in the middle funnel, destroying the antennae for the fire-control radio. This caused the battleship to not relay anymore accurate data (she was the lead ship) to Ioann Zlatoust, and from then on, had to rely on her proper data. As expected all the other ships included the master ship all fired inaccurately due to Ioann Zlatoust’s incorrect data, and the Goeben escaped disaster. Goeben hit Evstafi four more times before Admiral Souchon decided to break and head for Constantinople. Evstafi suffered 34 killed and 24 wounded, fired about 12-16 main shells, and 14 and 19 secondary battery shells. Figures were about the same for the Ioann Zlatoust were lower, with just six shells fired and no hit. So the battle was seen afterwards like a draw.

Russian battleships en route to battle, November 1914

Before the Revolution (1915-1917)

The two next years of the war, the ships went partly inactive, but for exercizes, however from march to May, both sister ships and the fleet performed bombardments on the Turkish forts and installation of the Bosphorus. In May, 9, Turkish destroyer Numune-i Hamiyet spotted the ships, alerting the Goeben that quickly rallied; Both forces spotted each other from afar and set parralel courses but duelled at 17,400 yards (15,900 m), scoring only near-misses. The Russian Admiral then decided “brake” to 5 knots (9.3 km/h; 5.8 mph), which leaved the Goeben at full speed unable to “cross the T” of the Russian line. After more turning manoeuvers, Tri Sviatitelia and Pantelimon rallied the line, and Pantelimon hit the Goeben twice. The German battlecruiser broke and fled but the slower Russians were unable to catch it.

Battleship Ioann Zlatoust
Battleship Ioann Zlatoust

In 1915, the threat if air warfare was taken seriously and QF anti-aircraft guns were mounted on top of each of the turrets and screens on top of their funnels to avoid lucky bomb drops. Tertiary armament also varied from an addition of four 75-millimetre guns to two and two 63.5-millimetre (2.5 in) guns. After the dreadnought Imperatritsa Mariya entered service, both ships formed the 2nd Battleship Brigade. On November, the ships bombarded Zonguldak and Kozlu and later in May 1916 to the second bombardment of Varna. After the revolution started both ships has been mothballed and went into reserve in March 1918.

In May, thy were both captured by the Germans in the context of civil war, and then passed on to the allies. The British inherited both ships in December, and after the situation went badly for the “whites”, their engines were wrecked in 22–24 April 1919. Eventually the Whites returned and the ships were recaptured in turn by the Bolsheviks in November 1920. Records shows both ships had been scrapped in 1922-23 but not stricken from the lists before 1925.

Evstafi class Specifications

Dimensions (L-w-h) 117.6 x 22.6 x 8.5 m 386’x74’x28′
Total weight, fully loaded 12,738 long tons as designed
Armament 2×2 305mm (12 in), 4x203mm (8′), 8x152mm (6′) 12x75mm (3′), 2×457 mm (18′) TTs
Armor Belt: 9′ (230mm)
Turrets: 10′ (254mm)
Barbettes: 10′ (254mm)
Conning tower: 8′(203mm)
Crew 928
Propulsion 2 shafts, 2 VTE engines, 22 boilers, 10,600 ihp
Speed (road) 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph)

Links, sources
Conways all the world’s fighting ships 1860-1905

Battle of Cape Sarytch (18 November 1914)

Turkish Navy vs Russian Navy
18 November 1914

Prologue: New recruits for the Turkish fleet:

In August 1914, the declaration took by surprise all German units stationed outside the metropolis. These forces remote from home comprised initially the Pacific squadron under Von Spee (see battles of Coronel and the Falklands), but also of the cruiser Königsberg and the old gunboat Geier in East Africa, the Panther and Eber in West Africa (Cameroon), the Condor and Cormoran in Oceania, and the German Mediterranean squadron, stationed in Dar es Salaam (see the “Goeben’s run“). The two German ships, a battle-cruiser and a light cruiser, had fled to Constantinople since August 10 and had officially joined the Turkish navy since the 16th, with the consequent entry of Turkey alongside the central empires. The Goeben would be renamed Yavuz Sultan Selim later, but the Breslau became almost immediately the Midilli. The crew remained the same, and officers willfully exchanged their cap against the fez. The two ships now showing the red flag and crescent of the “sublime gate.”

admiral souchon and staff

Why this battle ?

Admiral Andrei Augustovich Ebergard The two ships were now the de facto spearhead of the Turkish fleet. They could attack mercantile traffic in the Black Sea, and strike Crimea and the Russian coasts by shelling coastal fortifications. A raid of the Turkish fleet against Sevastopol was no longer desirable but could not be foreseen. The fleet of the Black Sea was commanded by Vice-Admiral Andrei Augustovich Ebergard (or Eberhardt). It consisted of the pre-dreadnoughts battleships Evstafi, Ioann Zlaloust, Pantelimon (the former Potemkin), Tri Sviatitelia, and Rostislav, and several cruisers. The battleship crews had been trained in the technique of concentrating the firing of several ships on a single one, which had been learned at the expense of the Russo-Japanese War, and which required the use of one of the battleships as is, placed at the center of the line and correcting the shooting of the other ships by radio.

battleship goeben

Admiral Souchon On 29 October diplomatic relations between Turkey and Russia were broken off. If the Turkish fleet, now reinforced, was now more threatening, the Russians awaited the completion of three modern dreadnoughts that were to restore the balance (the Imperatritza Mariya). On 15 November Eberhardt gathered his forces at Sebastopol (5 battleships and the cruisers Pamiat Azovia, Almaz and Kagul, as well as 13 destroyers) and tackled to raid the fortifications of Trebizond. He arrived there on the 17th, shelled the coast, and then ascended it to find possible enemy ships at anchor. Failing to find any valuable targets, he changed course for Sevastopol. For his part, Admiral Souchon, who commanded the Goeben, thought that a raid against the Russians would be relatively easy. The latter whom he considered to be undermined by political troubles after the 1905 mutiny and commanded by incompetent officers of best, also featured slow, obsolete ships. Informed by the headquarters of Constantinople of the raid of the Russian fleet, he set sail at 15:30 hoping to intercept him.

Turkish Cruiser Midilli

Order of battle

Souchon traveled up the Anatolian coast and first headed towards Sinope, but received by radio the news of a course change from Eberhardt to Sevastopol. He also headed north, hoping to catch up with his fleet. Indeed, the Goeben and Midilli could easily exceed 25 knots. But Souchon believed that the Russian fleet had to sail at the rate of the slowest units, like the Old Tri Sviatitelia, while himself had to stick to 15 knots, sparing the fuel reserves. On the morning of the 18th, Souchon was in sight of the Crimea, by a very dense fog. He sent the Midilli as a scout, while himself hit at 18 knots.

Battleship Pantelimon (ex-Potemkine)

On his side the Russian Admiral had divided his forces as follows: He placed his three cruisers in a vanguard, in one line (Pamiat Azova, Almaz and Kagul) and then followed himself 6.4 km behind, with a battle line on board battleship Evstafi, followed by Ioann Zlatoust, Pantelimon, Tri Sviatitelia and Rostislav. The latter two were slow, and when the Admiral ordered the speed to rise to 14 knots, only widening the gap that existed between the ships initially (457 meters). The line of battleship itself was followed and framed by two lines of destroyers.

Battleship Rostislav

The battle starts

Around 12:10, the Midilli and the Almaz saw at the same time. The two units flipped over to get back to the bulk of their fleet. The Russian cruisers then departed from the bulk of the forces and the Goeben headed east-southeast to face the Russian line. The two lines came in frontally. But if the tension and enthusiasm were palpable on board the Goeben, Admiral Eberhardt was very anxious on his side: The enemy’s line ship was still not visible. On paper, the Evstafi and the two battleships that followed immediately had 12 pieces of 305 mm of an old model against the latest Krupp batterie of ten 280 mm of the Goeben, less powerful but more accurate, faster to the point of being able to deliver almost two volleys for one. The armor of the Russian battleships had been defined before the Russo-Japanese War and was therefore poorly arranged, while the Goeben had internal armored bulkheads of 220 mm running over all the vital parts of the ship, and although theoretically less protected, Had for him its much superior speed. Finally, in the Russian tactics of fire concentration, it was the second battleship, Ioann Zlaloust, which had to correct by radio the firing of the other two.

Battleships are trying to catch up

Commander Galanin, oboard the leading battleship, was impatient to see the Admiral ordering the classical maneuver of “closing the T”, ie tacking all his ships in a course perpendicular to that presumed of the enemy in order to present a full broadside all his battleships. The maneuver had to be ordered quickly to have time to be executed by ships not exceeding 15 knots. But Eberhardt hesitated. He did not want to expose his ships while maneuvering. The German battle cruiser indeed could force the pace, arrive from a slightly different route to that planned, taking advantage of both the fog and its speed, bypass The Russian line and fall back on his rear before successively engaging his units starting with the weakest at the tail, whereas the line of fire of his ships were in a blind angle… On board battleship Ioann Zlaloust, the fire control lead ship for the whole line which followed at 450 meters, did not see the change of course of the Evstafi nor the German ship, such dense was the fog.

Battleship Ioann Zlalouts
Battleship Johan Zlatoust

Goeben’s manoeuvers

The Goeben, for his part, had spotted the leading ship and in turn tried to “bar the T” by heading south, in order to present all his battery. The distance fal rapidly to 7040 meters, and Eberhardt, to the great relief of his men, decided that he could not wait further and opened fire at approximately 12:20. Only his front turret gave voice, for his maneuver to place himself in parallel was not yet completed. When his rear turret entered the dance, he also gave all his secondary battery pieces in view of the distance, letting the Goeben believe that he was gunned down by the whole line of Russian battleships. On the side of the second battleship was the Evstafi and its departures of fire, but not the German ship. The telemeters gave an erroneous first report, estimating the Goeben at 11,000 meters. He opened the fire followed by the Tri Sviatitelia, whose blows fell, of course, too long, while the Pantelimon gave up temporarily, and that the Rostislav engaged the Midilli whom he could see.

Goeben at full speed

The engagement

The German and Russian reports diverge on certain points of the battle, but it seems that it was the Russian battleship Evstafi who shot first, with a good aim since the Goeben was touched twice in its freeboard. Moreover, the Goeben was slow to adjust its rise because the Russian ships were now advancing parallel to the coast, merging with the fog. But once a shooting solution was found, the first burst fell too long, although a shell smashed the front chimney, thereby simultaneously knocking out the radio sighting station, preventing during all the engagement the command ship to correct the firing of the other units that followed.

The Russian Battle line in the battle of Cape Sarytch

Her second salvo fell too short, but the next two put two blows to the goal each. The Russian ship, on the other hand, replied with powerful 203 and 150 mm secondary parts, even though the Goeben’s battery contained only 150 mm, which apparently did not come into action. The Goeben, to the stupefaction of Souchon who greatly underestimated the Russians, was struck by some other impacts, not very serious (the German reports are vague).

Then distance decreased to 6000 meters and towards 12h35, SMS Goeben disappeared from sight of the Russian battleship in vanguard. She took advantage of the cover of the mist. Although this fact is still debated, it is hard to believe that Goeben intentionally wanted to do battle in the thick of the fog. Her captain was also afraid of the nearby coastal batteries of Sebastopol, for his parallel race with the Russians was now leading him straight on. Still, 10 minutes later, Eberhardt ordered the squadron to head back to the harbour. German reports of the action of Cape Sarytch will attest that only 19 heavy caliber shells were fired during the engagement.

Tri Svitatelia
Battleship Tri Sviatitelia

The port side casemate had been hit hard by a 305 mm, and one gun was HS, its servants killed instantly. It is possible that the sharpness and density of the Russian fire disconcerted Souchon. It is also true that the range of his ship was not inferior, but he had the sight because of his position in relation to the coast and that the fog was indeed too thick to continue the engagement with success. Actually, and whatever opinion the Germans had at the time of the Russians, a battle cruiser could not face 5 battleships and hope to emerge unscathed… One thinks what would have happened had the weather been fine, which is common in the Black Sea.

Damage of the battleship Evstafi after the battle


In the end, the Goeben was doing quite well: If the 150 mm ammunition magazine located under the affected casemate had caught fire, the explosion that followed would have been catastrophic. There were about 16 victims on the German side, 33 dead and 25 wounded on the Russian side. The casemate was quickly repaired, as the Goeben made another sortie on December 6, but its activity became more modest until the end of the war. On the Russian side one could not speak of victory. Eberhardt had to fight against the fog since he had had a unique opportunity to sink the German ship thanks to a clear superiority of fire.



Staff, Gary (2014). German Battlecruisers of World War One: Design, Construction and Operations. Naval Institute Press
Halpern, Paul G. (11 October 2012). A Naval History of World War I. Naval Institute Press.
O’Hara, Vincent P. (2017). Clash of Fleets – Naval Institute Press
Battle_of_Cape_Sarych (wikipedia)
Russian Navy (Fr)
About the Turkish fleet in 1914 – (Fr)

Grillo class tracked torpedo launches

Italy (1918)

Tracked MTB or amphibious tank ?

The Grillo is one of the least known Italian small craft of ww1, and for good reasons as on an operational level it did not really moved the needle. But this was one of these purpose-built mechanical contraptions that escape all classifications. General assumption is the Grillo are tracked MTBs because of the programme, construction techniques, and deployment by the Italian Navy. But in general conception it can be compared to the Japanese Type 4 Ka-Tsu. In short, it was not a tank designed to be amphibious, but rather at its core, a Motor Torpedo Boat modified with a chain of grippling hooks, track-like device, and that’s the reason it its covered here on

The Grillo in SVAN yard, venice, 1918.

Development of the Grillo

The Grillo (“Cricket”), was a MAS boat (Motorbarca Armata SVAN or ), from the SVAN yards, designed by engineer Attilio Bisio. The subject is quite interesting in itself as more than four hundreds of these were built until the end of the war, literally forbidding the Austro-Hungarian navy to leave Pola Harbour, even more after battleship Szent Istvan was sunk by one of these. The paradox is the Navy is often rather the more conservative of all arms, but in that case, was the first to introduce “tanks” in combat.

The Grillo were designated “climbing boats” or even “jumping boats” according to the initial barchino saltatore designation. They had been designed specifically by Engineer Attilio Bisio at SVAN yards to overcome harbour barrages (with Pola in mind) designed to prevent the small MAS to rush in. The goal was to produce a small serie of these crafts, that will launch their torpedoes when in, possibly by night, and then climb out the same way to safety.

In the larger picture, the Grillo registered in the change of doctrine of the Italian Navy induced by the introduction of numerous light vessels of the MAS type and the Grillo registered together with the mignatta (“leech”), and the latter Torpedine Semovente Rossetti or Rossetti self-propelled torpedo. Perhaps excessive caution from both fleets also led to this economical “small warfare” where limited means could bring maximal destruction. It was confirmed when MAS sunk the battleships Wien (December 1917) and Szent Istvan (June 1918), and even more when in November, just before reddition, battleship Viribus Unitis was sunk by a single frogman.

Blueprint, two-views of the model

Design of the Grillo

It was designed as a fast boat, all in wood, with rounded sides, and a rectangular, narrow flat bottom surrounded on both sides by rails. These comprised a serie of narrow links, with grippling hooks welded on every two of these. Drive sprockets were at the front, and large idlers were fitted up at the boat’s back, while the links circulated thanks to two more bottom wheels at the front per side, and two tender wheels at the back. The tracks rested on the bridge but were raised by the open air wheel pair at the rear which acted as manageable tension wheels.

The four units were 16m long, 3.10m in width, with a 70cm draft. In fact the rear tensioners and front sprockets acted like toothed pulleys. The aft ones, near the obstacle to overcome, were coupled to the propulsion system. The power required quietness, and consisted of a pair of 5 hp electric motors. The hooked chains were designed to pull the vehicle over the obstruction. They were officially known as “tank marino”. The weaponry consisted in two aircraft type light 450 mm torpedoes (same as MAS) held in cradles each side of the hull. The 2 electric motors Rognini and Balbo on 1 axle, for 10 hp overall, made for a top speed of 4 knots (7,4 kph) and a radius of action of 30 mn at 4 knots, which required the boats to be towed or carried near to the action. These boats were manned by a crew of only four and were all named after jumping insects (Grasshopper, Cricket, Locust …)

Prow of the Grillo

The Attack on Pola

Already Fazana channel’s forcing action in the night between 1 and 2 November 1916, showed by having a weight to lower the metal obstruction at the mouth of the canal and let passing MAS through inspired Attilio Bisio, director Of SVAN in Venice for a boat capable of doing it by its own weight. He proposed his idea to vice-admiral, Paolo Thaon di Revel in june 1917 just when an attack on Pola was in preparation. Its entrance protection system, was multilayered and consisted of several parallel lines of metallic obstructions. Hand-held hydraulic shears could no longer overcome them. Therefore a light naval vehicle which could literally leap these protection nets forward with the same capabilities as MAS boats was all that was required. This crossing could be obtained by means of sudden changes in trim from the displacement from electric accumulators acting on the motors housed on sliding carriages underneath.

Drawing of the type

Experiments were carried out but proved to be unsatisfactory at first. A new revised designed of crawler with hooks clinging to obstructions, with hook-studded, engine-driven chains somewhat reminiscent of British Romboid tanks was initiated, gave satisfactions in tests, and resulted four boats of Grillo crafts to be built in early 1918. They knew various fates, but the lead boat was the most famous Grillo, which action proved disastrous: In the night of 13 May 1918 she was released near the entrance, approaching in perfect silence. However soon at work, the chain mechanism produced a frightful clatter which negated all the advantage the electric propulsion and the boat was quickly spotted and destroyed by shellfire before even getting over all the booms (passed four). The Cavalletta and Pulce were both scuttled and lost on on 13-4-1918, Locusta abandoned and eventually scrapped in 1920.

The Austrian copy of the Grillo, never tested.

At the end the Grillo left mitigated impressions, but impressed the Austrian navy enough to raise the Grillo and copy it at the end of the war. The idea of “naval tanks” was also shared by Great Britain that designed an amphibious tank, the Mark IX duck also in 1918.

Grillo specifications

Dimensions Length 16m, Beam 3.1m , Draft 0,7m
Displacement 8 Tonnes
Crew 4
Propulsion 2 screws, 2 electric engines, 20 hp combined
Speed 4 knots (7 km/h)
Range 30 nmi at 4 kn (7 km/h; 12 mph)
Armament 2 x 450 mm torpedoes
Armor None