Parading the Colors


The Gromoboi, an armored cruiser of the Imperial Russian Navy, as she appeared shortly before the outbreak of World War I. Laid down in 1897 and commissioned in 1900, Gromoboi saw service during the Russo-Japanese War, being damaged in action with Japanese armored cruisers at the Battle of Ulsan. Subsequently she was transferred to the Baltic Fleet and during WW I participated in several actions, including an engagement with the German battlecruiser Von der Tann. In 1917 she was placed in reserve but returned to active service after the October Revolution. In October 1920 her crew mutinied, executing all Bolshevik officers and commissars, and scuttling the ship. Though later refloated she was judged to be not worth repairing and in 1922 was sold for scrapping.

Gromoboi was a typical example of a late nineteenth-century armored cruiser. Her main armament consisted of 4 x 8-in. guns, two disposed in forward armored casements and two in aft sponsons protected by gun shields. The casements were two-storied, with the 8-in. guns over 6-in. guns. Another 8 x 6-in. guns were in broadside casements and  two more were mounted under the aft 8-in guns, in sponsons protected by gun shields. A final two were mounted fore and aft, firing forward and to the stern. Defense against torpedo boats and destroyers was provided by 24 x 76mm quick-firing guns and 18 x 37mm Hotchkiss guns. Gromoboi also had four submerged torpedo tubes, two on each broadside. During WW I 4 x 6-in guns were replaced by 8-in guns and all the light guns were removed, being replaced by four antiaircraft guns.

In this photograph, Gromoboi is shown flying the Imperial Russian naval ensign—the Andrew Flag—at the stern and the naval jack at the bow. Both of these flags were personally designed by Peter the Great, the founder of the Navy. At the foremast is the flag of either a vice-admiral (blue horizontal stripe) or a rear-admiral (red horizontal stripe). See also Russian Empire Naval Ensigns and Flags.

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