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Soviet Naval Battles -Manchuria during WW2 (updated 2019)

Soviet cogitations: 317
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 30 Mar 2018, 11:35
The naval warfare on the Eastern Front during the WW2 (Great Patriotic War) was the largest conflict involving the Soviet Navy and without doubt it was the greatest naval war ever faced by a socialist or communist nation. In five years of warfare (excluding preliminary conflicts like the Winter War), the Soviet Navy endured times of sacrifice and losses, fighting against a formidable foe and writing bloody and glorious pages of naval war history poorly known in the western world.
Decades after the end of the war, destruction and confidentiality of documents make numerous details still unknown, it is only after modern-day researches of authors that a number of false myths and wrong claims (committed by all sources, post-war) receive a neutral assessment.
Contrary to the popular western belief that the naval warfare played no real part in the war, the Soviet Navy engaged in specific operations in the different areas of competence of the Fleets (Baltic, Black Sea, Northern, Pacific, and other Flotillas).
During the decade before the war, the Soviet Navy initiated large programs of expansion with a number of warships entering service (including cruisers and destroyers): such plans not completed in time, and by the time of the Nazi invasion, the shipbuilding programs stalled or diverted to wartime emergency plans.
The Soviet leadership, wisely realized how the submarine warfare was a key of strategic success and despite all classes of warships increased in numbers, submarines received a peculiar attention (with over 200 submarines in 1941!).

Soviet riverine forces in Far East was a strong force by the time of WW2. The “Tayfun” class of monitors proved an invaluable asset during the 1927 Sino-Soviet War and were still powerful warships by 1945.
Shipyards did not stay idle and exploited the lack of warfare to put in service two impressive vessels of the new “Khasan” class (in 1942/1943), that could hardly be defined simply as “monitors”, given their size and their capabilities of navigating in high sea.
However, none of these large vessels saw real actions against the Japanese and Manchukuo forces and smaller gunboats committed in most of actions. Despite presence of military and police riverine flotillas, the puppet-state of Manchukuo (nominally ruled by the former Chinese Emperor, but de facto under complete Japanese control) made no real resistance and in matter of few days the Soviet riverine forces captured or destroyed dozens of riverine crafts with minimal losses.

NOTE: This page focus on Soviet surface actions against enemy targets and the general offensive and defensive activity of Soviet ships.
It is interesting to stress how apparently the Manchukuo and Japanese Navy failed to commit real offensive naval operations (and defensive actions were extremely limited). No submarine operated against the Soviet Navy, nor offensive minefields laid.

This article is a cross work of multiple sources, from and with modern-day Russian authors. The database Navypedia is also a good source, even if contain some mistakes or lack details and fate of vessels.
An essential source for the Far East and Manchuria operations was author K.B.Strelbitskiy, the work further refined and corrected by modern author Alexander Shirkorad (active on
Currently there is an active research on discovering details of the naval warfare in Far East, with much left to discover!



Unclear date – spring of 1935
The main ship surface action occurred during the years of border conflict between Soviet Union and Japanese Empire.
A Japanese boat carrying soldiers moved between Poyarkovo and Konstantinovka islands in Amur River, with support of artillery shelling.
Soviets dispatched the guard boat Otvazhnyy, opening fire with support of border guards.
During the action, the Otvazhnyy suffered a direct hit (probably by ground artillery) with damage, and the captain wounded, however soon patrol vessels arrived in reinforcement and in the end the Japanese boat was seized and crew captured.

It is worth to remember that during these years both sides seized vessels, but these appears to be mostly river-police operations rather than naval engagements).
However many other skirmishes occurred, the most bloody on the Kanchazu Island incident

30 June 1937
Kanchazu Island incident
In Amur River, Soviet gunboats BK-72, BK-74 and the Border-Guard patrol boat n°308 come under fire by Japanese ground artillery, sinking BK-72. Patrol boat n°308 received only bullets hits. Commander of BK-72 and other 4 crewmembers KIA (including one drawn while swimming away from the wreck), and 6 WIA among the of the 11 survivors. Western claim of Soviet suffering “37 killed” completely mistaken (1124-class gunboats had far smaller crew!).
Some sources said BK-72 recovered by Soviets, but really, Japanese raised her. It is unclear if she saw service or eventually scrapped.


9 August 1945
Soviet gunboat BK-63 intercepted and captured a riverine ferry close Saratovka in Amur River. There were 79 prisoners
Photo of a sister-ship of 1124 class: these boats (developed from the smaller 1125, armed with only 1 76mm gun) proved successful on this area: the two turrets cleary an effective threat to force riverine forces to surrender.

On the same day, the Soviet patrol boat KM-113 intercepted another riverine ferry in Amur River. This time occurred the only direct engagement between ships with Soviet suffering from enemy fire: KM-113 received damage with 13 bullet holes. However, the ferry surrendered after the fight, with 26 prisoners.
KM-4 class was small, having crew of 10, armed with only a machine gun plus light personal weapons.

On the same day, Soviet gunboats BK-61 and BK-62 intercepted and captured another riverine ferry close Sindunya in Amur River. There were 117 prisoners.

On the same day, Soviet gunboat BK-64 captured a police-boat close Bibikov in Amur River (6 POW).

On the same day, during the landing at Fuyan (in Amur River) Soviet gunboats BK-13, BK-21, BK-22 and BK-24 (all 1124) seized a motorboat. Interestingly, these gunboats had rocket-launchers on deck and used them against the Japanese defense.
Painting of the operation, showing also riverine gunboat Proletaryi. Seizure of dinghy/motorboat however currently assigned to smaller gunboats.

On the same day, Soviet patrol boats of the Border Guard, sunk two steamers and seized another steamer and four barges in the Amur River, close Huma.

10 August 1945
Raid in Sakhalyansky harbor
Soviet gunboats BK-45, BK-46, BK-55, BK-56 (of 1124 class) and BK-71, BK-73, BK-74 and BK-75 (all unique “K” class gunboats) and other unidentified units sunk 2 police-boats and 4 cargo scows moored at Sakhalyansky h in Amur River during an aggressive riverine assault on the small harbor. BK-74 suffered minor damage by ground fire from Japanese troops. Other sources apparently increase the number of police-boats sunk from 2 to 6 by mistake.
In addition, the steamer Shao Sin (no detail known, except power of steam engine of 200hp) alongside 16 to 20 different boats (up to 20tons each) captured. Some sources describe these seizures as successes for the Soviet gunboats, but it appears seizures achieved by disembarked troops.
The small class built in 1915 for service in Europe, but transferred to Far East in 1940

On the same day a barge (alternatively described as a cargo scow) captured by still unidentified Soviet gunboat, close Manchzhoutune in Amur River.

On the same day, a tug with a barge captured by still unidentified Soviet boats close Raohe in Ussuri River.
Unclear who seized them: possibly gunboats BK-31, BK-32, BK-33 and BK-34 (all 1125class) but other Soviet vessels involved in Raohe operation, including larger riverine gunboats).
Photo of BK-34, her group had a different shape of main turret and extra small turrets for 7.62mm machine guns.

On the same day, Soviet gunboats BK-28, BK-29 and 2 patrol boats (RPK type of the Border Guard) sunk the Manchurian riverine patrol boats Shun Tsu, Shuan An and Shuan Kai, in addition to 11 fishing boats, in Lake Khanka. Previously the Manchurians abandoned and partially scuttled the first two guard-boats and intentionally grounded the third vessel; still considered victories/destructions of enemy combatants.
Soviet gunboats were 1125 class (of altered design with different shape of turret and extra machineguns).

11 August 1945
Soviet reports the capture of a police-boat and 18 small landing crafts close Fujin (Sungari River).
Currently unclear if seizures achieved by Soviet boats or by ground troops.

Between 12 and 13 August 1945
More than 50 small landing crafts (exact number not reported) captured in Lake Khanka by local Soviet patrol boats. Unclear but likely the seizures actually involved disembarked troops.

15 August 1945
Two still unidentified Soviet gunboats captured a police-boat in Lake Khanka.

A group of unidentified Soviet gunboats captured the Manchurian small gunboat Hai Yuang in Sungari River, close Jiamusi. Soviet sources identified her just with hull-number (n°203). Navigation maps for the river seized onboard the vessel.

18 August 1945
Unidentified Soviet gunboats sunk 1 armed ship and 3 barges in Sungari River, at Sanxin.
According Soviet sources, the armed ship (steamer) opened fire against Soviet vessels while attempting to flee from Sanxin, but shelled and sunk by Soviet fire.
Also one passenger ship, 6 tugs, 2 dredgers and 19 barges captured. (Note: another Soviet source indicate 5 tugs seized rather than 6, and no barge sunk by soviet fire; the passenger ship seized also described simply as a steamer).
Soviet painting of Sanxin action: showing also monitors Lenin, Sverdlov and Dalnevostochnyy Komsomolets. It is unclear if they engaged directly the Manchurian/Japanese boats, or it was entirely an action of smaller BK gunboats.
Soviet cogitations: 317
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 16 Sep 2019, 10:06
1) Inserted proper intro (basic Soviet WW2 intro + specific one for Manchuria operations)
2) Inserted source credits
3) Added the Kanchazu Island incident in 1937
4) Inserted number of POW taken by BK-64 on 9/Aug/45
5) Inserted new operation at Fuyan on 9/Aug/45 with one seizure
6) Other operations (by Border Guards) on 9/Aug/45 with other seizures and two sinking.
7) Re-worked and refined info for the raid at Sakhalyansky on 10/Aug/45. Soviet gunboats sank 6 different targets. Also partecipants included uncommon "K" class
8 ) Inserted POSSIBLE Soviet gunboats involved in Raohe operation on 10/Aug/45
9) Added extra info for the operations in Lake Khanka on 10/Aug/45
10) Inserted mentions of seizures occurred on 11/Aug/45 and between 12 and 13 Aug 1945, but unclear if Soviet boats partecipated
15) Described identity of a Manchurian small gunboat, "Hai Yuang" seized by Soviets on 15/Aug/45
16) Refined and extra detail for the operations on 18/Aug/45, including multiple seizures, and one enemy steamer sank by shelling after attempted resistance.
Sadly there is no yet clear description of the Soviet gunboats partecipating in this rare gunfire fighting (also name of steamer so far unknown).
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