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China’s Sunken Warships – Part 2

March 24, 2010

 Pivotal  Moments  (Part 2)                                      


1. The Beginning of the End 4. River Skirmishes 
2. In-Fighting 5. Fleet in Being 
3. Fighting with Rivers 6. Ships Still to be Traced


The Second Sino- Japanese War, which this, the inter-war years covers, would see engagements on rivers where the vessels might only be 1, 000 or 4,000 yards apart. The size of rivers are not of a European scale (save for something like the lower Rhine) but on a scale seen in North America e.g. the Mississippi, or the Amazon.

Right: Gunboats patrolling a river in China.

The Yellow River, for instance, which is China’s second largest, is approx. 3,900 miles long and 30 miles across – even at the 500 mile long flood plain region of its middle reaches.

Naval exchanges could equally be close up and personal or up to a distance of 10 miles apart. Often the broad expanse of water was uninterrupted by mountains meaning aircraft would have an unimpeded flight approach to strafe shipping. This would limited their ability to manoeuvre due to the possibility of shoals, submerged rocks and sand banks.

At other times the terrain would shelter shipping from aerial attack (see photo right). The hazards  of navigating poorly charted rivers  are shown below as seasonal rains cease and a gun boat is left ‘beached’.

Only if naval engagements were in coastal waters would the range more approximate European and American perceptions of distance. However, as exchanges in the English Channel between frigates, MTBs and E-Boats testify, coastal engagements can also be in the 100 to 4,000 yards category (approx. 100 to 4,000 metres).

It is not appreciated widely enough in “the West” just how epic was the scale of forces locked in mortal combat during this decade. For instance, for the 4 month defence of Wuhan in Sept 1938 (after the fall of Xuzhou, in May 1938). China marshalled more than one million troops to oppose the Japanese.

The photos above and below shows both the scale of Chinese rivers and the huge variation in available manoeuvring room.

 Left: Fighting on   China’s rivers – the view  from the bridge.

 Wuhan was a hugely  important communications hub and trading centre. It is where the Yangtze River meets the Han River and it had extensive road and rail links for the wider province.

In addition to the 1 million troops, China was able to assemble an array of around 200 planes and 30 naval ships. [1] It was this four month engagement that resulted in the destruction of the Chinese Navy and its Air Force.

The Beginning of the End

Japans defeat did not begin with its military engagement with America, or even the dropping of the atomic bombs, but in China. In the West we tend to forget that it was not just the attrition of US forces in the pacific theatre that led to Japan’s defeat but the hemorrhaging of money, men and material in their war with China, which had begun in 1931, that spelt the end in 1945.[2]

Most western historians see July 7th 1937 as the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War. They cite the ‘Marco Polo Bridge Incident’ (Battle of Lugou Bridge) as the trigger but Chinese historians place the starting point at the Mukden Incident of Sept 18th 1931.

The reason for this is that following the Mukden Incident, the Japanese Guandong Army (also spelt ‘Kwantung’ and ‘Kantōgun’ army’), occupied Manchuria. [3] Part 1 indicated how critical Manchuria was to Japan’s military expansion. After securing Manchuria (Feb 1932), Japan set up the ‘puppet state’ of Manchukuo. Japan then pressured China into recognising the ‘independent’ province of Manchukuo.

Japan’s had 20 years earlier, in 1915, tried to intimidate China by its “Listy of Twenty-One Demands” on pain of suffering dire consequences. These demands would give Japan control over the Shandong Peninsula, its railways, coasts and major cities in the Shandong province (the South Manchuria Railway Zone). Japan also demanded rights of settlement, priority for Japanese investments and the right to appoint financial and administrative officials. It also allowed for Japanese control of the Manchurian railway (right into the 21st century) and mining rights in Manchuria and Mongolia. China had to accede to most of these demands. [4]

But 1915 was a very different world with different allies. Japan’s status then had been high I those years but as it dealt more harshly with hian the cup of human kindness among the world’s leading nations began to evaporate.

The demands made in 1931 were never agreed and China and Japan never formally declared war against each other until after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour (Dec 7th 1941).

In its 1915 ambitions, Japan no doubt felt safe having as allies both Britain and the US. However, by 1931 both states were expressing reservations about Japan’s policy towards China. From a Japanese perspective it can be imagined the letter of March 13th 1915, from US Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan, affirming Japan’s “special interests” in Manchuria, Mongolia and Shandong, legitimated claims to expand its territorial holdings (even though the same letter expresses concern at Japan’s ‘further encroachments to Chinese sovereignty’), in much the same way that the informal Balfour note of 1917 has been used unmercifully by Zionist interests.


The Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek as outlined in Part 1 struggled to maintain a semblance of government while striving to fend off would-be successors, i.e. the Japanese, the puppet state of Manchukuo, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Soviet backed  NRA (National Revolutionary Army – see also Kuomintang [KMT]), People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Many of them were set up in the early 1920s.

Realising he faced threats from all of them, especially the growing Communist forces, and that

Militarily, his lines of re-supply passed through regions held by or hostile or unsympathetic

forces, Chiang Kai-shek decided to avoid heavy battles to preserve the strength of his army and navy.

Chiang Kai-shek’s strategy was to retain his grip on his provisional capital at Chongqing City, [5]out wait the Japanese who, on other fronts, were being pressed ever more homeward, and then be in a position to decisively take on the Communists of Mao Tse-tung (aka Mao Zedong). Chiang Kai-shek did not risk an all-out internecine campaign because he did not underestimate the well trained, well equipped and organised alternative Chinese armies and opposition against his leadership within and outside the Kuomintang.

There are uncanny parallels with the Spanish Republican forces. Its Navy too appears to have remained unproductively in port – even though it appears to have had a larger fleet than Franco. It too appears to have not captured or suck any opponent ships in meaningful numbers. Nor did they seriously harass or handicap any joint Sea and Army operations of their opponent. The Spanish Republican army and the internatioanl brigade threw themsleves into battle wbut with few suceses to show for their sacrifice.

The Soviets backed the rebel side opposing Chiang Kai-shek while Germany supported his regime. In Spain positions were reversed; the Soviets backed the legitimate Republican governement side with Germany backing the rebel side.

If anything the political in-fighting between factions within the Spanish Republican movement appears to be mirrored in the destructive rivalry between Chinese War Lords – much to the advantage of Franco and Imperial Japan respectively.

A measure of these formidable aspects of the war in China can be gauged by appreciating that:

  • The Kuomintang Army fought in 22 major engagements, including Wuhan, each of which involved at least one hundred thousand troops from both sides, and was involved in just over 40,000 skirmishes.
  • The CCP fought in 111,500 engagements of various sizes.
  • The Japanese recorded around 1.1 million military casualties, dead, wounded and missing.
  • The Chinese suffered much worse – they lost approximately 3.22 million soldiers.
  • China was the first to experience racial genocide as the definition is accepted today. Over 9.13 million civilians died in crossfire, and another 8.4 million were non-military casualties.
  • The Rape of Nanking (just one Chinese city), saw, in a six week period, the gratuitous slaughter of hundreds of thousands of civilians and the sexual rape of up to 80,000 women by Japanese soldiers beginning Dec 13th 1937. [6]
  • According to the currency exchange rate of July 1937, Chinese property and asset losses totalled over US 383,000 million dollars (i.e. 383,301,300,000,000). This is roughly 50 times the GDP of Japan (i.e. US 770 million dollars).

The practice of Japanese soldiers using live captured Allied solders hung up from trees as bayonet practice in Burma. Malaya and Indonesia sweeps away Japanese claims that the Rape of Nanking is a fabrication or at best an exaggeration. The beheading of captured Allied solders will forever put Japan in the same category as the vile excesses perpetrated by Islamic fundamentalist.

For those connected to such events the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs are not quite justice enough.

Fighting with Rivers

If measured by the West’s yardstick, i.e. from 1937 to 1945, the conflict lasted for over 8 years (97 months and 3 days). The 20th century is fast becoming known as The Century of Total War, and the war in China is now rated one of the most massive military conflicts of the 20th century. Nearly a whole generation of Chinese knew the country only to be in a perpetual state of war.

On a geographic scale its fronts would have engulfed the entire Eastern United States and were comparable to those of the Eastern Front between the USSR and Germany. Spread across more than 2,000 miles and embracing vastly differing terrain and environments, millions of soldiers and sailors were mobilized to fight it.

Millions of people were displaced in its wake; few Chinese did not become refugees at some point during the war or feel the imprint of an influx of desperate people from the areas under Japanese or collaborationist “control.”

The one common denominator were the rivers. They influenced battle tactics and the viability of fallback positions.

The map shown below lists the main rivers and the region most hotly contested, e.g. the Han, the Pearl River (the Guangdong), and the Yangtze.

Nanking (aka Nanjing) is a small distance westwards from Shanghai. The Pearl River and a dozen more flow south wards into the South China Sea near Hong Kong and Macau.

Starting at the Shantung Peninsular near Peiking (Beijing), one can visualize Japanese forces utilising the water network; first of the Grand Canal in the Shantung Peninsular (Yellow Sea), then southwards linking up to Shanghai (East China Sea), and then turning westwards taking Wuhun.

Even if there were no internal waterways, the Japanese could have nimbly leap-frogged down China’s sea border until Hong Kong was reached.

The Yangtze River gives access to the Mekong which facilitates penetration into Indo-China. The Yangtze River also comes perilously close to the border regions of Burma and India.

River Skirmishes

Fighting on hugely wide rivers would be quite unlike deep sea battles where the enemy would see each other as hazy silhouettes on the horizon. The fighting between opposing ships – and between ships and opposing land forces – would, therefore, frequently be up close and personal.

A peculiarity – at least by today’s standards – is the almost casual arrangement for guns and gun crews. As the picture (right) illustrates, field pieces would often be deck mounted and a thin wall of sand bags arranged to reduce the effects of small arms fire on the gun crew.

Indeed, there is one account of shore based rifle and machinegun fire being so intense that naval gunnery had to stop as causalities on the deck and superstructures rapidly mounted with ricochets claiming many wounded.

River gun boats of the time and regardless of their displacement were equipped with open-backed turret. This would take the form of a naval gun mounted on a pivot with a think metal plate front and side offering protection from incoming shells and bullets. It was an arrangement found on many World War 1 ships and had been phased out by World War II.

Left: A typical gun emplacement showing the metal shields front and side to protect the gun crew.

In Part 1 the list of ship sunk amounts to a veritable litany. In Part 2 the list of sinkings grows ever longer. The absence of any epic naval engagement has also been alluded to and this has been partially answered by Chiang Kai-shek’s decision not to squander valuable resources.

However, there are other very practical reasons why naval engagements were avoided and particularly those in coastal waters – the height of gunwhales. A significant number of ships had very low gunwhales – as the photo below of the USS Panay shows. 

Unlike ships such as the Ping Ha, featured in Part 1, this restricted gunboats to use on the calmer waters of rivers.

Right: USS Panay, seen in 1928.

Not renown for being sophisticated or remarkably robust, river gunboats had the added disadvantage of being vulnerable due to the very shallowness of the water. The phenomena attached to the physics of explosives above and below the water can cripple a ship. An underwater explosion (particularly one underneath a hull) can be more devastating than a direct hit on the desk by a shell or a bomb. The resulting shock wave from a nearby underwater explosion can break hull plates apart or even break the back (keel) of a ship. Secondary shock waves and pulsed bubble streams increase the damage and the lowered water pressure is unable to support the vessel and the ship will be engulfed in water.

The same principle applies to anti-submairne depth charges and Barnes Wallis’s ‘bouncing bomb’.[7]

Fleet in Being 

It is disappointing, from a naval historians point of view, to learn that much of the Chinese Nationalist Navy remained in port, at anchor or ploughing along rivers, thereby making them attractive targets for Japanese air attacks.

Rationalising the Chinese posture one is driven to conclude that they had pushed aside ideas of audacious tactics and any form of blitzkrieg campaign and had settled for the inactive stratagem of a “Fleet in Being.”

This stratagem avoids any decisive but crippling battles and instead draws out the length of a campaign. Essentially it is play for time; a policy where a fleet is not so much rapidly decimated but eroded over time by constant attrition.

Adopting a “Fleet in Being” policy can be a valid stratagem; however, the circumstances must be conducive and fully warrant it. It is a policy where a less powerful navy stays in port and thereby ties down a more powerful one. [8]

By choosing not to engage but always being ready to do so from its safe anchorage, immediately poses a threat to the more powerful fleet which will fear a sudden break-out or ‘raid’ will cause damage to the more powerful fleet and reduce its margin of superiority.

The naval definition of a ‘Fleet in Being’ is:

“A naval force that extends a ‘controlling influence’ without ever leaving port. Were the fleet to leave port and face the enemy, it might lose in battle and no longer influence the enemy’s actions, but by simply remaining safely in port the enemy is forced to continually deploy forces to guard against it.

A fleet in being can be part of a ‘sea denial’ doctrine but not one of ‘sea control’.

Such a policy was first used, and most successfully, in the 1690s by the English against the French. Until reinforcing ships could reach the English fleet and swell their numbers, they remained in harbour influencing the actions of the opposing fleet.

Notwithstanding the above, each war is subtly different and the key phrases from the above definition have been italicized; namely 1/. controlling influence, 2/. sea denial, 3/. sea control.

There is no evidence to suggest that the Chinese were successful in any of these target requirements. On the contrary, it would appear that it was Japan which fulfilled all 3 criteria. China was forced to fight further and further inland and at a time of Japan’s choosing.

It was legitimate of the Chinese naval commanders to avoid decisive fleet actions but concurrent with that is a proper appreciation of location and strength that would have necessitate counter-concentrations by the Japanese. This appears not to have happened. Japan was not forced to reduce or divert a number of ships available for on-going operations elsewhere in order to oppose the threat from China’s fleet. Superior air power seems to have negated the fleet in being concept.

Prior to Second Sino- Japanese War (1931 – 45), a ‘Fleet in Being’ approach was successfully adopted by the Imperial German High Seas fleet. Apart from the inconclusive engagement at the Battle of Jutland, Germany preferred to keep its fleet intact rather than take the risk of losing an engagement with the larger Royal Navy.  Memories of the fate that befell the two Tsarist Russuin fleets at the hands of the numerically less strong  Japanese fleet may have influenced this decision.[9]

Notwithstanding this, as a result both nations, Germany and Britain, under-utilised their naval power through out World War 1.

Germany’s newly found undersea power, however, was not so constrained and arguably would have been even more effective had German surface vessels distracted or stretched the ships of the Royal Navy.

The march of time, and rapid developments in aeroplane performance meant that by the 1930s the stay- at-home option as no longer viable. The policy was finally shown to be damgerously obsolete by the Fleet Air Arm attack on Taranto and the later attack on Pearl Harbour by the Japanese.

Table 3: Still to be Traced

There still remains a large number of ships that need to be definitively identified, classified, and/or categorized. Table 2, below, lists in the region of 160 such vessels that are not yet fully traced and confirmed.

In an endeavour to ‘firm up’ what for the most part is conflicting information from varios sources, the data Table 1 should be viewed as slightly more reliable than that in “Table 2: China’s Warship Fleet

Table 2 lists ships where the citations are sketchy and cannot be cross-referenced or where the most objective attribute, i.e. tonnage and name, do not always match or appear duplicated.

Table 3. China’s Warship Fleet 

Unknown class / category

approx. 160 ships not fully traced, some might be duplicates. 

Listed in order of Tonnage
Name Launch / Laid down Length Displacem’t Speed (kts) Engine Main Guns Torpedo / Secondary  Fate
Jiang Ping

– –

  40 tons ?          No details
Guangan Guang An ?    80 tons          No details
Hu Sun / Husun ? 

– –

  96 tons         Damage Sept 4, 1940 Survived the war
Hu Tsuin

– –

  97 tons         Lost circa 1937

– –

  140 tons         Sunk Aug 24 1941 by Japanese planes at Taiziwan
Jianru Jian Ru ?   140 tons         Sunk by aircraft Sept 1937 near Humen. Salvaged but sunk again by Japanese planes in Oct 1938
Jiang Kun

– –

  140 tons         Sunk Aug 24, 1941 by Japanese planes at Taiziwan
Kiang Hsi    But see also Chiang Hsi   140 tons         – –
Kiang Kun But see also Chiang Kun Table 1   140 tons         – –

– –

  140 tons         Sunk by Japanese shore batteries in Oct 1938
Hai Wei  Sloop   200 tons ?         Sunk by aircraft Sept 1937 near Yamen  
Li Chieh / Spelling ?Li Sui  See also Vaterland Table 1   266 tons       Captured by Japan and renamed Lisui Is this  former German Li Chien ?
Chen Shan

 – –

  275 tons         – –
Qingtian / Qing Tian Survey Ship   280 tons         Sunk by Japanese planes Oct 1937 near Jiangyin
Gong Sheng / Gongsheng / Gongan  Survey Ship / Cantonese gunboat  ? / see below   280 tons       ] Sunk by aircraft Oct 22 1937 near Guangzhou
Yong Sheng / Yongsheng ?  See Table 1 Yungsheng   280 tons         Sunk Nov 1938 by Japanese planes at Ouchikou
Cheng Sheng   Chengsheng ?   280 tons          Armaments removed &
scuttled in Shandong 22  Oct 1938
Chen Chou Fang ?

– –

            Sunk in Fuzhou Minjiang River mouth Nagato. 1 July 1937
Yung Shen Is this Yung Sheng  misspelt ?   300 tons         – –
Hai Ning / Haining ? 

– –

  300 tons         Sunk July 9 1937 / 24 1938 by Japanese planes at Dingjiashan
Jiang Ning / Jiangning 

– –

            Sunk May 1938
                – –
Nai Shing  / Naishing

– –

            – –
Zeng Wei / Zeng Wei 

– –

            Sunk by 3 bombs, Huangshi-gang.
Sui Ning / Suining Shanghai Jiangnan Dec 1932     10 Coal   Not all said to be identical Sunk 1 June 1937
Yi Ning aka Yining  Shanghai Jiangnan 1934 140 ft 260 / 300 tons 10 Coal   Captured June 1938 Nian Liu Japanese boats in Hukou Bai Xu Zhen Not sunk 1950 fled to serve Nationalist government. Damaged June 25, 1938/ Cconverted to survey ship “AGS-863 heyking”.    In service until 1961.
Wei Ming Shanghai Jiangnan Dec 1934 140 ft 260 / 300 tons 10 Coal   Captured by Japanese 1937 Given to Wang puppet regime, Re- named Jiang Sui. Captured war by Communist forces. Survived / Sunk in Fuzhou Minjiang River mouth Nagato. 1 July 1937
Nianba ?  Shanghai Jiangnan Dec 1934     10 Coal     – –
Tingshen / Tingshen  Shanghai Jiangnan Dec 1932     10 Coal     – –
Fu Ning / Funing aka Sayi Day Shanghai Jiangnan Dec 1932     10 Coal     – –
Shi Guanbing / see Yat Sen  1934     10 ? Coal 2 x 57 mm guns, 3 x 7.9 mm machine guns. Ruishiaole Gang 20 mm anti-aircraft cannon – –
Ling Miao 

– –

            Sunk 1 July 1937

– –

Jen Sen

– –

  300 tons         – –
Yi Shen / Yi Sheng 

– –

  350 tons         – –
Tung An

– –

  350 tons         Listed as a  Destroyer, scuttled at Tientsin circa Aug 1937
Fu Yu

– –

  360 tons                       Attacked by aircraft. Canton.  Fate not known
Chi Fu Po See Fu Po see Table 1 & below   1912 Elbing, Germany Renamed Chien Kang 390 tons (196 ft)  32 (reduced to 20 post 1937  Coal  2 x 3″ QF, 2 x 47mm QF   Sunk Sept 1937. Refloated by Japanese as Yamasmi. (Stricken in 1939)
Chien Kang aka Chi Fu Po & Chien Kang ?  1912 Schichau, Elbing, Germany   390 / 435  tons 32.But after refloating down to 20 Coal 2 x 1 76/402 x 1  47/40 Hotchkiss 1 x 1 450 mm TT Sunk by aircraft in Yangtze Sept  27 1937 Refloated by Japanese as Yamasemi (Stricken in 1939)
Tongan Tong An ?   390 tons         Sunk Dec 1937 Tsingtao as  blockship
Chang Ning / Chongning Table 1  Possibly Chiang Ning Changning    400 tons         Damaged June 25, 1938. Sunk  July 1, 1938 
Ganlou Survey Ship   400 tons         Sunk Sep 3rrd 1940 by Japanese planes at Taiziwan
Ming Chuen

– –

  465 tons         – –
Ming Sen

– –

  465 tons         Damaged by aircraft Oct 1937. Salvaged & repaired by Japanese in 1939. Sinks after collision with Kosho merchant ship Dec 21, 1944 but mined and sunk at Hankow
Tunri   Survey Ship   500 tons         Sunk by Japanese gunboats Aug 1937 near Jiangyin
Chi Jih

– –

  500 tons     Survey vessel   – –
Kiang Li But see also Chiang Li ?   550 tons         – –
Kiang Heng

– –

  550 tons         Captured by Japanese Fate not known
Kiang Yuan But see Chiang Yuan Table 1   550 tons         – –
Jiangli   Jian Gli ?   565 tons         Sunk Dec 1937 Tsingtao  as blockship
Hoi Fu

– –

  680 tons         Believed sunk by aircraft   Sept 1937   in Canton
Haihu Hai Hu ?   680 tons         Sunk by aircraft Sept 1937 near Humen
Chu Tong / Chutong ?

– –

  745 tons         Damaged Oct 24, 1938 Reportedly survived the war
Yung Feng / Table 1  1912   780 tons       . Became Chung Shan Sunk Oct 24th 1938
Yongjian / Yong Jian / Yongji ? 

– –

  860 tons         Sunk Aug 1937 by aircraft at Shanghai
Yong Ji / Yongji ? 

– –

  860 tons         Damaged  Oct 21, 1938  Sunk Oct 1938 by aircraft at Xindi /    Yong Ji
Yong Xiang   Or Yongxiang   860 tons         Sunk Dec 1937 at Tsingtao as blockship ?
Jian Wei  see # Table 2  1902 250 ft 871 tons 23 Coal 1 x 4.1”3 x 65 mm 6 x  37 mm 2 x torpedo tubes Modernised 1931
Ta Tung aka Chien An  1900   900 tons         Rebuilt in 1930 – 31 renamed Ta Tung.  Scuttled in Yangtze as blockship 1937
Tse Chiang Formerly Chien Wei   900 tons       Rebuilt 1930 -31 Scuttled as block-ship
Ding Hai Dinghai ?   900 tons         Sunk Dec 1937 at Tsingtao as  blockship
Wei Sheng Converted to seaplane tender late 1920’s Sloop 932 tons         Scuttled as blockship Yangtze River 1937. Raised in 1960
Teh Sheng Gunboat converted to Seaplane Tender late 1920’s   932 tons         Scuttled in Yangtze River 1937
Jian Wei # see Table 1  1931 260 1,050 17   2 x 4.7”, 1 x 3”, 2 x  57 mm 6 x 20 mm cannon m/guns. Torpedo tubes  removed ‘Hatsukade’
Dingan  Transport ship   1,140 tons         Sunk by aircraft Dec 17 1942 at Chuan Jiang
Hairui Hai Rui ?   1,200 tons          No details
Hai ZhouHaizhou ?  British built. Used as revenue cutter   1,250 tons     1 x 4.7” . Seriously damaged by Japanese warships. Sunk by aircraft in Sept 1937 near Humen
Hai Chao  sloop   1,250 tons         – –
Hai Chou [dubious]SloopAka Hai Zhou / Hai Chao British built.Used as Revenue Cutter 328 feet 1,250 tons / 2,950 tons 19.5   1 x 4.7” / 3 x Krupp 5.9“ single-loaded 8 x 4.1”  6 x 1 lbs (37 mm)3 x 14-inch torpedo tubes with  underwater launch tube/Laid up mid-1930’s, Raised 1964 Seriously damaged by Japanese warships / towed to Shajiao where her gun removed and put into Fortress. Scuttled as blockship.
Zhen Hai /  Zhenhai

– –

  1,400 tons         Sunk Dec 1937 at Tsingtao as  blockship
Tonhji aka Lian Xi 

– –

252.7 ft 1,900 tons 10   2 x 6”     5 x 4.7” 3 x 6 lbs  (57 mm)    8 x 1 lbs (37 mm) Originally transport /  merchant ship
Tong Ji / Tongji ? aka Lian Xi cruiser Transport ship ? See above 252.7 ft  1,900 tons  10.5    2 x 6”  starboard 5 x  4.7” Krupp guns  3 x  6 lbs  (57 mm),   8 x 1 lbs (37 mm) guns Sunk Aug 1937 block ship at Jiangyin ? 
Fu An

– –

  1,900 tons         – –
De Sheng  Sloop   2,000 tons         Cut in half & raised in 1959

– –

  2,460 tons         Sunk by Japanese planes near Humen
Chou Ho 1909 protected cruise   2,600 tons 20   2 x 152 mm guns   Damaged on Sept 14 1937. Salvaged and sunk on Sept 25  1937 near Humen.
Zhen Hai Formerly Hsiang Li 

– –

Ex- German transport ship. WW1 prize. 2,708 tons 12 coal 2  x 4.7” g naval gun 
4 x 3” field gun
Converted to Sea plane tender 1924 Scuttled in Tsingtao harbour on Dec 26 1937
Hai class [?]  needs to be confirmed
Hai Chen  Described as gunship 328 feet 2,680 / 2,950 tons 19.5   3 x Krupp 5.9“ single-loaded 8 x 4.1”  6 x 1 lbs (37 mm)3 x 14-inch torpedo tubes with  underwater launch tube Scuttled Oct 26, 1937. Raised in 1960,
Hai Rong  1897German built 328 feet 2,950 tons 19.5   3 x Krupp 5.9“ single-loaded 8 x 4.1”  6 x 1 lbs (37 mm)3 x 14” torpedo tubes with  underwater launch tube Sunk Sep 1937 at Jiangyin as blockship Raised Apr 25 1959
Hai Chi  Sister ship Hai Tien ?  British built see below   2,980       Cruiser, 2,980 tons, partly exploded by Japanese in 1940, cut up and raised  in 1959 / 1960, Scrapped nearby One of four aged cruisers scuttled Oct 26, 1937 (is Hai Tien sister ship ?)
Hai Tien  class
Hai Tien   1897British built 396ft 4,300 tons 24 Coal 2 x 8” (203 mm) 10 x 4.7”  (20 mm)  5 x 18” torpedoes Reportedly sunk 1904
Hai Yung class  listed as cruisers
Hai Yung / gunship  1897 238 ft 2,680 19 Coal 3 x 6”8 x 4” 3 x 14” torpedo  Scuttled 11th August 1937 blockship
Hai ChouHaichou ?  1897 238 ft 2,680 / 2,950  tons 19 Coal 3 x 6”8 x 4” 3 x 14” torpedo Described as gunship.  See also SloopHai Zhou Scuttled 11th Aug /Sept 1937 /  at Jiangyin as blockship
 Hai Chen / See Hai class [?]    1898 gunship 238 ft 2,680 / 2,950  tons 19 Coal 3 x 6”8 x 4” Described as gunship Scuttled 11th August 1937 blockship
Hai Chi 1897 British built 396ft 4,300 tons 24 Coal 2 x 8”  (203 mm), 10 x 4.7”  (20 mm) 5 x 18” torpedoes Sunk 1937 as blockship in Yangtze river.
Tong Ji  Training ship   6,000 tons         Raised between Feb & May 1962
Jiang Zhen Jiangzhen  Chiang Zhen ?             Scuttled Oct 26, 1938
Yu Chang Old destroyer             – –
Chien Ju aka Jian Ru 

 – –

            Sunk near Tanzhou
Hu Peng                   See table 1             – –
Chao Ho class  – cruiser
Chao Ho 1911 / see below           Sister ship Ying Swei and Fein Hung ? / Sunk 28 Sept 1937 Run aground after disabled by Japanese warships and abandoned – Canton / Scuttled as blockship on 25 Sept
Chao Ho  1909   / 2,460       cruiser – Chao Ho class . sister ship Ying Swei ? Damaged  14 Sept 1937 / Sunk 25 October 1937
Ying Swei  1911 See above           Sister ship Chao Ho and Fein Hung ? Sunk 25th October 1937
Fein Hung / Fei hung ?  1912 / Fei hung ?         Sister ship Chao Ho ? Sold to Greece 1914
Fei Hung / New York Shipbuilding  1913 Cruiser 303 ft 2,600 tons     3 x 6” 2 x 2 x 3”3 x 40 mm 2 x 19” torpedo, 100 mines Sold to Greece. Renamed Elli. Sunk Aug 15, 1940 in Aegean
Kiang Li See Chiang Li           Duplicate ? Captured by Japanese. Fate not known               
Wei Hai Formerly Guang Li”           Japan built freighter – –
Hai Hu See below             Sunk in Hwangpu
Haihu Hai Hu ?   /680 tons         Sunk by aircraft Sept 1937 near Humen
Tung Chi                1895 See below           Laid up mid-1930’s, Scuttled in Yangtze River as blockship
Tung Chi gunship   /1,900 tons         Sunk 11 August 1937
Ho Oah

– –

            Attacked by  aircraft Oct 1937  in Yangtze
Ying Swei 1911 ? / see above Chao Ho class cruiser ? / 2,460 tons       Attacked by aircraft in Yangtze. Fate not known / Sunk 25 October 1937
Haon Transport ship             Damaged Aug 6, 1939
Shunli Transport  ship Shun Li ?           Sunk Dec 25, 1942
Gongan Transport Ship             Damaged Apr 22, 1943
Min Sheng  / Minsheng

  – –

            Damaged  July 20, 1938 Scuttled Oct 26, 1938
Chu Yew

– –

            Reported Scuttled   Aug 37 at Tsingtau
Wu Sheng / Wusheng  Sloop   740 tons         Sunk Aug 1937 Jiangyin as blockship. Raised in 1960
Zi Qiang  Sloop           See source notes Sunk. No details
Chenzi   – –   90 tons         Sunk Aug 1937 at Jiangyin as blockship

– –

  90 tons         Sunk Aug 1937 at Jiangyin as blockship

– –

  2305 tons         Sunk June 1939 at Shanghai as blockship
Da Tong Built in France   Launched in Jan 1899. Sloop 258 ft 871 tons 23 coal 1 x 4.1” (100 mm) guns, 3 x 9 lbs (65 mm) 6 x 1lbs (37 mm) guns; 2 x 14“  torpedo tubes. Fated unknown. / Raised in 1959.
Da Tong / Datong ?  See above   1,050 tons ?         Sunk Aug 1937 at Jiangyin as blockship
Jiang Gong  Jianggong              Sunk by aircraft Oct 1937 near Punyu
Gong Sheng Cantonese gunboat  ? / see above Table 2             Sunk by aircraft late Oct 1937
Zhong Kai Zhongkai ? Cantonese gunboat  ?           Sunk by aircraft Oct 1937 / Nov or Dec 1938
Liang Jian (“flat sea”)  Circa 1899 / 1900 ? Quote: Denial-of-flight paths from Cypriot Dept of the Navy immediately thought of them.       . Reportedly shot down  4 Japanese planes &  damaged two Submerged in shallow rivers. Raised 1938 emergency repairs by Japanese. renamed  “80 islands” by Japanese.
Chung Kai (?) Is this  Zhong Kai ? Cantonese gunboat  ?           Sunk by aircraft Oct 1937
Zhong Yuan aka Zhongyuan ? Cantonese gunboat  ?           Sunk by aircraft Oct 1937 / Nov or Dec 1938
Fei Peng Feipeng ? Cantonese gunboat  ?           Sunk by aircraft Oct 1937 / Nov / Dec 1938
Hu Shan Hushan ? Cantonese gunboat  ?           Sunk by aircraft late Oct 1937 / Nov or Dec 1938
Guangjin Guang Jin ?             No details
Hai Jiang Haijiang  ?   – –          No details

 – –

  – –          No details
An Dong Andong ?   – –         Sunk by Japanese planes in Nov / Dec 1938
Sui Jiang Suijiang ?   – –          No details
Wufeng Wu Feng ?   – –         Sunk by aircraft Sept 1937 near Humen
Jiangda Jiang Da ?   – –         Sunk by aircraft Sept 1937 near Humen
Fuan 1894 See Fu An ?   – –          No details
Yongfu Yong Fu ?   – –          No details

– –

  – –          No details

– –

  – –          No details

– –

  – –          No details
 Song Jiang Songjiang ?   – –          No details
Guang Hua Guanghua ?   – –          No details
 Li Chen  Lichen ?   – –          No details
 Zhu Jiang  / Zhujiang ?   – –          No details
 Jiang Cheng   Jiangcheng / Jiang Sheng ?              No details
Anbei An Bei ?   – –         Sunk by aircraft Nov / Dec 1938
Barge No. 3 – –             Sunk at Badong Sept 17 1943
Barge No. 4 – –             Sunk at Ouchikow Nov 11, 1938
Barge No. 6 – –             Sunk at Ouchikow Nov 11, 1938
Barge No. 7 – –             Sunk Sept 14, 1940 at Badong
Hai Hola  class (1898)
Hai Hola 1898           – – No data
Hai Lung 1898           – – No data
Hai Nju 1898           – – No data
Hai Ying 1898           – – No data
NB – citation found reading “two torpedo boats (Chen and Su) and one sloop (Zi Qiang) were not salvaged.”Source: and  ‘Battlefleet 1900’ ,  and and / / and ,  and , ,  , Torpedo boats ,

[1] Battle for Wuhan

[2] Japan-101 Information Resource This site also give a brief history of the great powers interest in and participation in China’s affairs pre-1939  

[3] The Guandong Army was the largest and probably the most prestigious regiment/group. Answerable to the Imperial General HQ it nonetheless was semi-autonomous and politically came to dominate Japan’s cabinet and army command.

[4] Twenty-One Demands

[5]  See map below – located on the Yangzte River due west of Shanghai and north west by north of Hong Kong.

[6] Emporer Hirohito had personally ratified (on August 6th 1937), his Army’s proposition to remove the constraints of international law on the treatment of Chinese prisoners. This directive also advised staff officers to stop using the term “prisoner of war

[7] The “Dambusters” raid by RAF 617 squadron to breach the Eder dam, Mohne dam, and the Sorpe dam in the Ruhr May 1943, . See also ‘skip bombing’ using conventional bombs  – Battle of the Bismarck Sea (Dec 1942).

[8] The term was first used in 1690 when the commander of the British navy in the English Channel, Lord Torrington, was faced by a stronger French fleet. He proposed avoiding a sea battle, except under very favourable conditions, until  reinforcements arrived.

[9] Russo-Japanese War 1904 – 1905

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 25, 2010 7:05 am


    How could you do so much so quickly from a standing start. Congratulations.


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