History of Japan
War and Military History
History of Russia

Why did Japan win the Russo-Japanese War?


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The war was settled by battles at sea. If it had been strictly a land war, Russia might have won it...the Transiberian railroad was just completed, and Russian troops were still building up (growing); and being shipped (by train) to the front. Russia had unlimitted manpower, Japan did not. Additionally Japan was stretching their pocket book, and money was running low. It was at sea where Japan held the aces. The Russian battleship fleet, although equipped with 4 brand new state of the art battleships (Borodino class), had to travel 18,000 miles to fight them. By the time they reached the Tsushima Straits they were wore out, and covered with sea life (barnacles) on their hull bottoms; and gunnery practice while enroute hadn't been all that satisfactory for the fleet. When battle would finally come, the Russian gunnery was surprisingly good, but the battleship speeds were down to 8 knots to the Japanese 15 knots, which kept the Russian battlewagons under constant 12 inch gun fire. Japanese Battleships had been in home waters and could maintain their ship's hulls (free from sea growth), which enabled good speed. Admiral Togo also kept up steady gunnery for his 12" gun crews aboard the battleships, so much in fact, that some men worried that he may have worn them out; with the consequences of ruining accuracy. These factors combined together, allowed Japan to win the crucial battle at Tsushima; the only decisive modern battleship fleet action in history; and it was this battle that forced the Russian's hand to mediate an end to the war.