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Japanese Battle Instructions

[Extracted from the Fleet and Divisional "Confidential Orders"]


General Instructions to the Combined Fleet by Admiral Togo.

These battle plans show the scheme to be followed when the full strength of the Combined Fleet meets the enemy's fleet, of nearly equal force, and joins battle with them. Of course, the conditions of warfare are always changing in accordance with the strategy adopted by ourselves and the enemy; we cannot always expect to have an open fight in the open sea. It is therefore impossible to foresee the future and definitely settle all details, and what is explained below is merely the absolute essentials of the movements which must be followed by the various units when the whole fleet is engaged. If it is found that these do not meet the case, further orders will be issued according to circumstances.

(1) The Duties of each Part of the Fleet.

(a) The First and Second Divisions, forming the main fighting force, are deputed to destroy the enemy's 2nd Class cruisers and above. Until the action becomes a chase they are not to act independently, but always to fight in combination.
(b) The Third and Fourth Divisions, forming a detached squadron, are to engage the enemy's weaker ships and destroyers, also to destroy and capture damaged or isolated ships. They are also to protect our destroyers from the attacks of fast cruisers.
(c) The Chihaya and Tatsuta's main duty is to run down and destroy the enemy's destroyers and torpedo-boats; if opportunity offers they are to try torpedo attacks on the enemy's fleet.
(d) All the destroyer and torpedo-boat flotillas are to withdraw at the beginning of the action and maneuver as convenient. If they see a favorable chance they are to attack the enemy's ships; also when the latter begin to run away in disorder they are to follow to the end, and taking advantage of darkness to blow them up.

(2) Battle Formation and Speed in Action.

(a) Each division will form in line ahead with the ship of the Officer Commanding at the head of the line. They are to change formation when necessary by altering course together.
(b) The speed of each Division is as follows:
First Division, 15 knots.
Second Division, 17 knots.
Third Division, 18 knots.
Fourth Division, 15 knots.
Chihaya, Tatsuta, and Flotillas of destroyers and torpedo-boats as convenient.

Although the speed of each division is laid down as above, each ship may alter speed as the action progresses. During the action speed signals need not be hoisted, but signals indicating the number of revolutions must be shown.

(3) General Rules in Action.

(a) The First and Second Divisions have the battle as their primary function, and the other divisions are in no way to hamper their movements.
(b) Any ship which cannot keep up with the fleet either from damage or a fire is simply to hoist the "Disregard" flag, and leave the line as convenient.
(c) In accordance with the enemy's distribution our fleet may be split up, but each sub-divisional unit must be kept together.
(d) In the event of a night action all ships will burn navigational (steaming) lights and speed lights. They will also hoist at the masthead a red light above a white one.
(e) During a night action the speed used must be that previous to the action, and alterations of course should not be made "together."

(4) Positions and Formations in Action.

When the enemy's position is accurately known and it is decided to come to action, our ships which may be dispersed in the neighborhood will first of all be recalled by signal or telegraph; and whether or not they are engaged at the time in scouting, guard, or patrol, all divisions will proceed with all possible speed to assemble at the place occupied by the First Division. Next, at the signal "Take up positions for action," the First Division will increase to battle speed and steam for a position suitable for getting contact with the enemy, and the remainder of the fleet will form on the First Division as shown on the accompanying figure.

While in this formation each part of the fleet will steam with the same speed as that of the First Division, which will shape the proper course; the other ships keeping their relative positions. This formation must be maintained till within about 8,000 yards of the enemy. The Chihaya, Tatsuta, and the 3rd destroyer division will specially guard the van against attacks by destroyers or torpedo-boats. If these should advance against us, they are to go ahead and exert their full strength to disperse and destroy them.

(5) Commencement of the Action and essential Points of our Movements.

When in formation shown in the previous article, we approach the enemy and are nearly within battle range, the ship of the Commander-in-Chief will hoist the Battle Flag, and give the order to engage. Whereupon the 3rd destroyer division and the Chihaya and Tatsuta (but only if there are no destroyers coming to attack us) will alter course and retire to the rear, leaving the way open for the battle squadron. The other destroyer and torpedo-boat divisions will change stations to the side which will probably be disengaged, and the formation will break up, each division increasing to its own proper battle speed and making the following movements:

(a) The First Division will select the division of the enemy easiest to attack and take up a T position against it, as shown below, making movements to press the enemy's leading ship as much as possible.

It may alter course together as convenient, in order to maintain the T formation with the enemy. However, it must be noted that the point selected for the first attack will not necessarily be the main strength of the enemy and will change in accordance with the enemy's formations, the point chosen being that where our attack will apparently be most effective. If our tactics are as above, the enemy will adopt correlative tactics with the certain result that the fleets will ultimately steam on the same or on opposite courses. When this happens the course will sometimes be altered about 4 points together to maintain the proper battle range, or altered 16 points together to change the side engaged.
(b) The Second Division will pay great attention to the enemy's movements with the object of bringing a cross fire to bear upon the enemy, or to place between two fires the section of the enemy's line which is being engaged by the First Division. To this end it will either follow the course of the First Division or the opposite course, moving in such a manner as to form with the First Division the letter L, round the enemy. The two divisions will then strongly attack the enemy with a cross fire.

After the action has opened in this manner, the First and Second Divisions, without regard to which of them is making the main and which the subsidiary attack, will cooperate in developing a powerful combination upon a part of the enemy, either of the divisions taking up a position for the main attack according to the circumstances of the moment. We will then take in hand another section of the enemy, the essential principle being that we concentrate our whole force upon one part of the enemy, and do not each select our own objective.
(c) The Third and Fourth Divisions will follow the directions given in Article I of these remarks and make appropriate movements paying great attention to the combinations or dispersals of the enemy, especially to the movements of his cruisers, which are to be prevented from attacking our destroyers and torpedo-boats. When a favorable opportunity offers they are to enfilade one wing of that division of the enemy which is engaging our main squadron, provided this will not hamper the movements of the main squadron. When the decisive moment of the action is past they are to attack any damaged or isolated ships they may see, giving them no time to recover. If any of the enemy's ships are seen attempting to escape, they are to chase them at full speed and stop them.
(d) The Chihaya and Tatsuta will follow the directions given in the Article I of these remarks, acting independently according to circumstances, and will chase the enemy's destroyers and torpedo-boats and endeavor to destroy them. Moreover, if opportunity offers they will attempt torpedo attacks on the enemy's disabled and isolated ships.
(e) The destroyer and torpedo-boat divisions will follow the directions given in the Article I of these remarks, and at the beginning of the action will move away as convenient to a position out of range of the enemy's guns, whence they will watch the progress of the action. When a good opportunity appears (a specially good occasion will be when the enemy's auxiliary armament is temporarily silenced by the effect of our shells) they will boldly attack the enemy's fleet. The 1st destroyer division should combine with the 2nd, the 4th with the 5th, and the 14th torpedo-boat division with the 9th, in order to ensure the effectiveness of the attack, but the 3rd destroyer division will always attack independently. When the enemy begins to disperse and run away in all directions, the flotillas may break up into divisional units, follow them up and, taking advantage of the dark, will blow them up. Also, according to circumstances, they may go on ahead and wait outside the enemy's naval ports, and attack his ships on their return.
(f) The Officer Commanding each part of the fleet will decide the tactics and the use of the armament and torpedoes of the part under his command.


Special Instructions to The First Division by Admiral Togo.

These plans are a forecast of the essentials of the tactics to be adopted when the First Division, acting independently, meets the enemy's fleet. I consider the power of offence and defense of this division to be very great, and that, however strong an enemy we may meet, if we adopt the plan of concentrating our whole strength and attacking the enemy part by part, there is not the slightest probability of our defeat. Therefore it must be clearly understood that the tactics given below are to be followed regardless of whether the enemy is superior or not.

(1) Battle Formation and Speed.

(a) The normal formation will be an undulating line with my flagship at the head and the flagship of the Second in Command at the rear. As convenient the ships will alter course together and steam in line abreast or in single quarter line. Sometimes we shall turn 16 points together whereby the order of the ships will be reversed, the rear ship becoming leader of the line. Therefore whatever the head, rear, or direction of advance, the formation will always be single line. The arrangement of the ships is shown below:-
1st Subdivision.-1. Mikasa (Flag). 2. Asahi. 3. Fuji.
2nd Subdivision.-4. Yashima. 5. Shikishima. 6. Hatsuse (Flag).
(b) The speed in action will be 15 knots in general. If there are no special orders this speed is to be used. But, if in accordance with the enemy's speed, there is no necessity for high speed, there may be a reduction to 14 knots. After the order for battle speed has been given, each ship will haul down her speed signal, leaving up only the revolution signal. After this every alteration of speed will be indicated thus: "half speed" will always mean half the present speed, and "slow speed" will be fixed at 14 knots.

(2) Fundamental Tactics.

The fundamental tactics of this Division will be those described in the Commander-in-Chief's "General Instructions," Section 5 (a), namely a T-shaped formation. Whether the T be upright or not, we will maintain this position with regard to the enemy and concentrate our whole fire on the end of their line. If we cannot do otherwise we will steam parallel to them on the same or opposite course, and exchange fire under equal conditions. Although we cannot always maintain the proper battle range, we will attempt to choose a range of not less than 3,000 meters. If the enemy is inferior to us we will break up into subdivisions as convenient, and, as explained in the Commander-in-Chief's Instructions, Article 5 (b), will take up the L formation, and subject the enemy to a cross fire (the order for this being the hoisting of a time flag). When this occurs, the 2nd subdivision's leading ship, observing a favorable opportunity, will go to the right or left and adopt a separate movement so as to form the L with the 1st Subdivision. When the L is formed both subdivisions will continue the attack and combine to develop a cross-fire.

When we are fighting in the L formation, should there come a time when it seems advisable to return into a single line and adopt the T formation, either the 1st or 2nd Subdivision will alter course together the requisite number of points and, as shown in the accompanying diagram, follow the other Subdivision. Although the numerical order of the ships in the line will become confused this will be disregarded and single line will be formed as convenient.

In short, this Division will make its main formation the T, changing as occasion serves to the L formation by breaking into subdivisions. Since in the latter case there will be neither head nor rear, the foremost or the wing ship will always be considered the leader of the line without regard to the seniority of the officer commanding it.

(3) Points concerning the use of Guns and Torpedoes.

(a) There will be no special orders given as to the time when to open fire. When within a range of less than 6,000 meters each Captain is to open effective fire as convenient at his own discretion. At more than 3,500 meters expect only 1 percent of hits. There must therefore be no hurried or careless firing.
(b) The object to be kept in view is a concentration of fire on van, rear, or wing of the enemy, bearing in mind the essence of the Battle Plan. But in accordance with the varying circumstances the officer commanding any ship is at liberty to disregard this and direct its fire on any object which it will have most useful effect.
(c) The T and L formations are designed to give us maximum use of our guns, and there will be no special alteration-formation or closing with the enemy with the idea of making an opportunity for firing torpedoes; but if in the course of the action there should be a chance of using them with effect, the "A" Class should be discharged. Ships in the line may alter course not more than 2 points for this purpose.