Russia had provoked war with Japan in 1904; gorged on decades of ‘unequal treaties’ with China, it held a colonialist contempt for Asiatic opponents that proved wholly misconceived. In a series of engagements the Japanese defeated the Russians on both land and sea, forcing redeployment of Russias Baltic Fleet to the east to salvage the situation. Having sailed 18,000 miles (33,000 km), the Russian fleet was heading for Vladivostok, when Admiral Togo pounced in the narrow straits of Tsushima between Korea and Japan. The Japanese battle formation ‘crossed the T’of the Russian column, which meant their ships could fire broadsides, while the Russian could only fire from their forward turrets. The Japanese had the most vessels (89:38), but the Russians had the advantage in battleships (8:5). In the furious engagement that ensued, the Japanese fully exploited their positional advantage, sinking five Russian battleships while incurring only superficial damage, forcing the Russians to surrender.
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