Japanese cruiser Nisshin

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Armoured cruiser Nisshin in 1905
Nisshin in 1905
Career Japanese Navy Ensign
Name: Nishin
Ordered: 1903 Fiscal Year
Builder: Ansaldo Yards, Italy
Launched: 9 February 1903
Commissioned: 7 January 1904
Struck: 18 January 1942
Fate: Scuttled, 1936
Later raised and expended as a target ship, sunk by Yamato on 18 January 1942
General characteristics
Type: Armored cruiser
Displacement: 7,698 long tons (7,822 t)
Length: 108.8 m (356 ft 11 in) w/l
111.73 m (366 ft 7 in) o/a
Beam: 18.9 m (62 ft 0 in)
Draught: 7.32 m (24 ft 0 in)
Propulsion: 2 shaft Reciprocating Vertical Triple Expansion (VTE) Engines
13,500 shp (10,100 kW)
Speed: 20 knots (23 mph; 37 km/h)
Range: 5,500 nmi (10,200 km) at 10 kn (12 mph; 19 km/h)
Complement: 600
Armament: • 4 × 203 mm (8 in) guns
• 14 × 152 mm (6 in) rapid fire guns
• 10 × 80 mm (3.1 in) rapid fire guns
• 6 × 47 mm (1.9 in) rapid fire guns
• 2 × Maxim guns
• 4 × 450 mm (18 in) torpedo tubes
Armour: Belt: 70–150 mm (2.8–5.9 in)
Deck: 25–38 mm (0.98–1.5 in)
Barbette: 100–150 mm (3.9–5.9 in)
Casemate & Conning tower: 150 mm (5.9 in)

Nisshin (日進?), also transliterated as Nissin, was a Kasuga-class armored cruiser of the Imperial Japanese Navy designed and built by Ansaldo in Genoa Italy, where the type was known as the Giuseppe Garibaldi-class cruiser. Designed as a cross between a battleship and a cruiser, but with a very small displacement, it had the ability to stand in the line of battle and the speed to avoid action with battleships. Its armor belt was only 6 inches (150 mm) thick, but covered a far greater percentage of the hull than previous armored cruiser designs.

The Nisshin had a sister ship, the Kasuga.


The Nisshin was the last of the Garibaldi-class armored cruisers to be built. Originally ordered by the Italian Navy as the Roca in the spring of 1902, it was sold immediately after launch to the Argentine Navy, who renamed it the Mariano Moreno. However, the possibility of war between Argentina and Chile abated before the ship was completed on 7 January 1904, making it surplus. The Japanese quickly purchased it due to increasing tension with Russia.

Service record

Completed in January 1904, the Nisshin was convoyed to Japan by British sailors under Royal Navy escort, so that she could arrive in Japan safely (the Imperial Russian Navy was shadowing her with the intention of sinking her as soon as the conflict started). The British sailors were welcomed as heroes in Japan, and the British captain had the honor of an interview with Emperor Meiji.

At the start of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, the Imperial Japanese Navy had six modern battleships. This was slightly fewer than the number of Russian battleships at Port Arthur, but Japan had an edge in armored cruisers. On 15 May 1904 in a major disaster for the Imperial Japanese Navy, two Japanese battleships were lost to Russian mines, and the Kasuga accidentally rammed and sunk the cruiser Yoshino in a fog bank. With a third of Japan's battleships thus depleted, the unprecedented decision was taken to use the Nisshin and Kasuga in the line of battle together with the remaining four first line battleships Mikasa, Asahi, Shikishima and Fuji during Battle of the Yellow Sea (10 August 1904). The Nisshin received significant damage but stayed in the fight.

At the subsequent Battle of Tsushima on 26 May 1905, Nisshin, as flagship of Vice-Admiral Misu Sotaru (second in command after Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō), was 6th and last in the line of battle, following the Kasuga. At 14:15, Nisshin opened fire on the Oslyabya, the lead ship in the second column of the Russian fleet at a range of 7,000 yards (6,400 m). At 14:40 Nisshin received her first hit as a Russian 12-inch (300 mm) shell cut her right 8-inch gun of the forward turret in half. Between 14:57 and 15:05, the Japanese fleet reversed course to block Russian northward movement, which put the Nisshin as first ship in the battle line. At 15:00, a Russian 12-inch (300 mm) shell punched through the armor belt of Nisshin one foot below the waterline and flooded a coal bunker. Another 12-inch (300 mm) shell hit the belt about three feet above the waterline but did not penetrate. At 15:06, the Russian cruiser Zhemchug charged the Japanese line for a torpedo attack but was driven off by fire from Nisshin, Kasuga and Iwate at 3,300 yards (3,000 m).

At 15:30, the Japanese line again reversed course, placing Nisshin at the rear again. Another 12-inch (300 mm) hit was made on the Nisshin but without any significant damage. At 16:05, Nisshin was hit once more A 9-inch (230 mm) hit on the fore turret sent shell splinters into the conning tower, wounding Admiral Misu. By 17:07, the Japanese line was firing into the light of the setting sun and the Russian line had better visibility. Nisshin was hit again at 17:20 by another 12-inch (300 mm) shell, which cut the left 8-inch gun of the aft turret in half. She was now down to half her main armament. As daylight was dying, Nisshin was hit yet again at 19:00 by a 12-inch (300 mm) shell with her left 8-inch gun of the forward turret being cut in half. She now just had a single 8-inch (200 mm) gun operable, the right gun of the aft turret. After nightfall, the action of the main Japanese line concluded. Nisshin had expended 181 8-inch (200 mm) shells during the battle. Her rate of expenditure obviously decreased significantly as she lost first one, then two and finally three of her four 8-inch (200 mm) guns.

While serving on the Nisshin at the Battle of Tsushima, then ensign Yamamoto Isoroku lost two fingers on his left hand.

Of the battle damage received by the Japanese, Nisshin received the second most hits after Mikasa. Mikasa received over 40 hits, of which ten were from 12-inch (300 mm) shells. Nisshin was hit 13 times, including six 12-inch (300 mm) and one 9-inch (230 mm) hits. Given the number of hits on the Nisshin and the fact that she stayed in line throughout the battle, it can certainly be said that she had validated the hopes of the designer: a cruiser able to stand in the line of battle. The performance of the Japanese armored cruisers during the Battle of Tsushima and that of Nisshin in particular was such that it led to a burst of construction of armored cruisers in the world's navies and also directly led to the battlecruiser designs that were shortly to follow.

From 1917, the Nisshin participated in World War I in the Mediterranean theater, where she led a group of eight Japanese destroyers based in Malta, in a mission to protect Allied shipping against German and Austrian submarine attacks, as part of Japan’s contribution to the Allied war effort under the Anglo-Japanese Alliance.

During the 1920s, Nisshin was partially disarmed in accordance with the Washington Naval Treaty. It was used to transport Japanese soldiers and supplies to Siberia in 1922 as part of Japan's Siberian Intervention. She was then used as a training ship until decommissioned in 1935. In 1936, she was scuttled.

In a strange footnote in history, the Nisshin was later raised, and towed as a target by the battleship Mutsu at the Kamegakubi Naval Proving Ground, Inland Sea, 15 miles (24 km) SW of Kure. There, on 18 January 1942, it was sunk again by the battleship Yamato with her new 18.1 inch guns.

The city of Nisshin in Aichi District, Aichi prefecture was named after the cruiser Nisshin in 1905.




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es:Nisshin (1904) it:Nisshin (incrociatore) ja:日進 (装甲巡洋艦) pl:Nisshin (1904)