Russo-Turkish Naval War 1877-1878

Published: June 16th, 2017     
Product Image
Front cover
Author: Piotr Olender, Robert Panek
Reviewed by: 
Frank Landrus, IPMS# 35035
Company: Mushroom Model Publications
ISBN #: 978-83-65281-36-4
E-Book ISBN #: 8365281368
Other Publication Information: Editor: Roger Wallsgrove, Soft Bound, A4 [8.27” x 11.69:], 224 pages, Publish Date: June 2, 2017
Price: $49.00
Product / Stock #: Maritime Series 3107

This is Mushroom Model Publications' seventh book in their Maritime series. A video trailer of the book can be seen on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQq9l4pRwjk. I counted 183 black and white photos and woodcuts, two black and white line drawings, and 33 black and white line ship profiles. Additionally, there are 13 tables and twelve maps. The cover painting is by Grzegorz Nawrocki and is what I believe to be of the Russian armed steamer Vesta and her running battle with the Turkish ironclad Feth-i-Bulend near Constanca on July 22, 1877.

Piotr Olender dives into the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, focusing primarily on the naval elements, although the land battles are included to provide context. This was a conflict between two major powers and religions, the Ottoman Empire (Muslim) and the Russian Empire (Christian). The Russian side was essentially an Eastern Orthodox coalition led by the Russian Empire and composed of Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro. The war was the outgrowth of the emergence of Balkan nationalism and the effort to win their freedom from the Ottoman Empire.

The Russians supported the Balkan nations in part to gain a foothold in the Black Sea and to regain Crimean War losses in territory. The result was a Russian victory that provided the Russians the Kars, Batum, and the Budjak territory, and also permitted Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro to regain their sovereignty after some 500 years of Ottoman rule. Ultimately, Britain jumped into the fray to restrain Russia from grabbing Istanbul. Britain had a good relationship at the time with the Ottoman Empire and were wary of allowing Russia to spread its dominance. The British were able to drag both parties to the negotiation table in a war that Russia was the clear victor, but despite initial appearances, the British Empire got more out of the war than either Russia or the Ottoman Empire. The war demonstrated to Russia the need to quickly improve their naval capabilities and they proceeded apace to accomplish that. The story was far different for the Ottoman Empire, as their naval capabilities faded away.

Piotr Olender describes in detail the background behind the war, the politics involved, and the military operations and outcomes. The story is well written and engaging. The Russian alliance and Turkish ships are described through pictures, line profiles, and technical specifications in tabular format.

Chapters

  • Crisis of the Ottoman Empire and Attempts to Repair the State in the 19th Century
  • Situation in the Balkans at the Beginning of the Latter Half of the 19th Century and Outbreak of War [Page 13]
  • Naval Policy of Russia and Turkey in the Latter Half of the 19th Century
  • The Belligerents [Page 34]
  • Plans of Both Sides [Page 51]
  • Combat Operations on the Daube
    • Characteristics of the Daube Theatre of Operations
    • Beginning of Hostilities on the Balkan Front
    • Russian Minelaying Operations in the Lower Course of the Danube [Page 65]
    • Operations of Russian Light Forces Against the Turkish Group from Macin
    • Russian Minelaying Operations in the Middle Course of the Daube [Page 80]
    • Crossing of the Danube by Russian Forces
  • Combat Operations on the Danube from July 1877 to the End of the War
    • The Operation at Sulina [Page 101]
    • Operations on the Land Front in the Balkans from July 1877 to January 1878
    • Combat Operations in the Black Sea
    • The Blockade of Northern Russian Coast by Turkish Fleet
    • Operations of Turkish Fleet in Caucasian Littoral
    • First Attacks of Russian Torpedo Boats [Page 136]
    • Russian Operations Against Turkish Communication Lines [Page 146]
    • The Debut of the Torpedo
    • Operations on the Caucasian Front [Page 161]
  • End of War
    • Russian Plans for the Cruiser War
    • The British Intervention [Page 172]
    • San Stefano Peace Treaty and Stipulations of the Congress of Berlin
    • The Summary of War
  • Appendices
    • Appendix 1: List of Inventories of the Russian and Turkish Fleets
    • Appendix 2: Artillery Armament of the Russian and Turkish Fleets
    • Appendix 3: Mines in the Inventory of the Russian Fleet in 1877
    • Appendix 4: Ship Plans [Page 215]
  • Index

I found the chapter related to the cover painting "Russian Operations Against Turkish Communication Lines" to be quite interesting. Although the damage inflicted by the Russian ships was probably insignificant, psychologically it was a major win for the Russians. The Russians had no armored ships that could go toe to toe with the Turkish ironclads. What they could do though, is harass Turkish shipping. It was one of these Russian probes to harass Turkish shipping that created the scene on the cover. The Russian's thought they had the advantage of speed when encountering a Turkish ironclad, but quickly learned that was not quite the case. The Russian Vesta did end up escaping with minor damage from the Feth-i Bulend, but just barely. The Vesta did score a few hits themselves, but did not inflict any major damage to the Feth-i Bulend. The Vesta did pay a price, though with roughly one third of their crew either being killed or injured.

I was extremely impressed with the coverage and quality of this book. Piotr Olender covers the ground well and his writing style is engaging with good pacing of the storyline. The drawings and photos support the entire timeline of the ships from ideation to present. Although there are a few minor typos, I was impressed with the job the translators did of the original text.

My thanks to Mushroom Model Publications and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!

  • Back cover
    Back cover
  • Page 13
    Page 13
  • Page 34
    Page 34
  • Page 51
    Page 51
  • Page 65
    Page 65
  • Page 80
    Page 80
  • Page 101
    Page 101
  • Page 136
    Page 136
  • Page 146
    Page 146
  • Page 161
    Page 161
  • Page 172
    Page 172
  • Page 215
    Page 215