Protected Cruiser Varyag

Projectile weight    HE: 1.5 kg
Bursting charge weight    HE: 20 g
Propellant charge weight    0.75 kg
Muzzle velocity    700 mps
Ammunition stowage    625 rounds per gun
Elevation    -23° to +25°
Rate of fire    approx. 20 rounds per minute

Hotchkiss QF 1 pounder gun (37mm)
Gun weight    32.8 kg
Gun length oa    1.485 m
Grooves    12
Projectile length    HE: 167 mm
Projectile weight    HE: 0.505 kg
Bursting charge weight    HE: 15 g
Propellant charge weight    0.08 kg
Muzzle velocity    442 mps
Ammunition stowage    1292 rounds per gun
Rate of fire    approx. 20 rounds per minute

Six fixed 15’’ (381 mm) torpedo tubes supplemented the artillery. All of them were mounted above the water line (although according to the preliminary design two were supposed to be underwater) with armoured covers. The first one was in the stem. Four torpedo tubes were on the sides, right behind main artillery No. 3 and No. 4 guns and parallel to the aft superstructure. The last one was in the stern beneath the stern walk. The torpedoes were launched with compressed air (fore tubes) or powder charges (aft tubes). The Varyag also had two smaller calibre 10’’ (254 mm) torpedo tubes which could have been installed on board of the steam cutters. Moreover, the cruiser carried a supply of 35 moored contact mines (22 according to other sources) which were being laid using special rafts.
The ammunition was stored in 18 magazines, grouped together at the bow and at the stern. It was transported up by means of electric powered ammunition hoists (which could also be manually-operated) and so each of the twelve 6 inch guns had its own hoist that could carry 4 rounds at a time. The 75 mm ammunition was transported by 3 hoists, 47 mm by two (installed inside both masts) and the remaining hoists were used for 63.5 and 37 mm rounds. The Varyag’s ammunition stowage was as follows:
• 152 mm – 2388 rounds (199 per gun),
• 75 mm – 3000 rounds (250 per gun),
• 47 mm – 5000 rounds (625 per gun),
• 37 mm – 2584 rounds (1292 per gun),
• 63.5 mm – 1490 rounds (745 per gun),
• 15'' torpedoes – 12 (2 per tube),
• 10'' torpedoes – 6,
• mines – 35 or 22 moored contact mines.
A system of electric transmitters was used to relay the information concerning the type of ammunition and firing parameters from the conning tower to the magazines and guns crews respectively. Three small rangefinders placed in the fighting tops of both masts and in the fore superstructure helped to determine the distance to a target.
The maximum speed and relatively high range required to fulfil cruiser tasks had to be provided by a strong machinery. Under pressure from the shipyard’s owner, Charles Cramp, it was decided to use the Niclausse boilers. They were characterized by light weight and good performance, but unfortunately were also prone to frequent failures. During her career the Varyag had to spend long periods of time on repairs. Thirty boilers were arranged in three boiler rooms (10 in the fore, 8 in the midship and 12 in the aft). They were divided into 4 units, each of them with a separate funnel (first funnel was slightly narrower than the remaining three). The total heating surface was 5 786 m2 and the working pressure was 18 atmospheres. The boilers contained 110 tons of water and the spare 120 tons were kept in the double bottom. The coal bunkers were situated on the sides of the boiler rooms and the coal was transported to the furnaces by means of carts. Coal was dumped through the oval scuttles in the upper deck.
Steam produced by the boilers drove two vertical triple expansion steam engines of 16 000 ihp total. In fact they were designed for higher power, but it was never achieved due to the low conductivity of the steam pipes. Each engine had one high pressure, one intermediate pressure and two low pressure cylinders. The shaft rotated at maximum 160 rpm. It was initially planned to install two four-bladed propellers, but finally the three-bladed ones were used (4.4 m diameter). They propelled the Varyag to a maximum speed of slightly over 24.5 knots (instead of 23 knots planned). The normal coal capacity was 720 tons. At the economic speed of 10 knots the range was 3 270 nautical miles. At the maximum coal capacity of 1350 tons, it increased to 6 100 nautical miles.

Additional equipment

The Varyag had many electrically driven devices on board, therefore, she needed dynamos providing them with sufficient amount of power. Two of those were installed below the armoured deck at the masts bases (132 kW each) and the third was in the living quarters (66 kW), They produced 330 kW of power at 105 volts DC. Additionally, there were two small 2.6 kW dynamos for operating the boat davits.
Under the armoured deck, the fire-fighting system was composed of water hoses led to all cartridge chambers, the boiler room and the engine room. The coal bunkers were equipped with special sensors and if necessary, steam was used to extinguish the fire. All lower deck quarters had pumps for removing water and were well-ventilated with air exchanged several times an hour.
A single rudder with the surface of 12 m2 guaranteed the appropriate manoeuvrability. It was being operated from the armoured conning tower, glazed navigation room above it or the control room below the deck. Two master compasses were outside, on the roofs of the fore and aft superstructure. Out of necessity elements in direct proximity were built of nonmagnetic materials (bronze, brass).
The Varyag had a modern internal communication system that included a network of telephones, voice tubes and a staff of messengers. There were also various alarms, bells and electric indicators. The radio station and signal flags were used for communication with other vessels.
A considerable number of life boats, also used for communication purposes, was carried on board including:
• two armed steam cutters (stored on both sides of the second funnel);
• two 16-oared launches (between the third and the fourth funnel);
• two 14-oared launches (right behind the fourth funnel);
• two 6-oared whaleboats (on the sides of the aft mast);
• two 6-oared yawls (between the fore superstructure and the first funnel);
• two 4-oared launches (on the inboard side of the 16 oared boats).
Apart from the two smallest launches all the other boats were lowered or raised by their own davits. The midship davits could be collapsed outboard.
Two 4.77 tons Hall anchors were at the bow in closed hawsepipes. Two spare anchors were stored on the starboard, right behind gun No. 13 and on the face of the armoured conning tower. They were operated by two electric windlasses and the forecastle anchor derrick. There was an additional steam windlass on the quarterdeck. A few smaller anchors were carried on the sides behind gun positions No. 14, No. 7 and No. 8.
Protection against torpedo attacks while at anchor was supplied by special iron nets hung from the sides on eleven spars that could be swung in and out. Six searchlights with 750 mm mirror diameter enabled the cruiser to fight in low visibility conditions. They were installed on the wings of the fore and aft superstructure (2 on each) and on both mast platforms (1 on each).
At the beginning of her career, the Varyag’s complement consisted of 21 officers, 9 non-commissioned officers and 550 sailors. During the war with Japan it was slightly reduced to 558 (21 officers, 4 non-commissioned officers, 529 sailors, the chaplain and 3 civilian workers).

• Hansgeorg Jenstschura, Dieter Jung, Peter Mickel, Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy 1869–1945, Naval Institute Press 1977.
• W. I. Katayev, Krejser Varyag, Morskaya Kollektsya 3/2003.
• Maciej S. Sobański, Wariag - krążownik opiewany w pieśni (Varyag – a cruiser glorified by a song), “Okręty Wojenne” (Warships) - issues No. 67 and 68.


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