Sino-French Naval War 1884-1885

Maritime • 2012
Autor(zy)Piotr Olender
ISBN 978-83-61421-53-5
Data wydania2012-07-12
Nr katalogowy3104
KategoriaAvailable KategoriaDostępne
FormatA4, 128 stron
Cena79.00 PLN Cena19.99 GBP
This new book covers the Sino-French Naval War 1884-1885, a little-known part of late 19thC naval history.

The background, operations and outcomes are described in detail. All the ships involved, both French and Chinese, are described and illustrated with full technical specifications. Profusely illustrated with scale drawings and photos.

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  • Amazon.com customer review (8th) • 2014-06-03
  • http://wwimodeller.co.nz • 2013-10-28

    Review By Ray Mehlberger

    Mushroom Model Publications is based in the UK. All their books are printed in Sandomierz, Poland by their associate Stratus in the English language. Stratus also does their own books in both Polish and English. This new book was sent to me directly from Stratus, wrapped in several heavy sheets of cardboard.

    The book is soft-cover and is 132 pages in 8 ¼” x 11 ¾” page format.

    In the late 19th Century, France and China fought over control of what is now Vietnam. This new book in the MMP Maritime series covers the naval battles, both at sea (especially around Taiwan) and in the extensive rivers of the disputed area, and puts these into the context of the overall conflict.

    The background, military operations and outcomes are described and discussed, providing comprehensive information on this little-known colonial war.

    All ships involved, both French and Chinese, are described in detail, and illustrated with full technical specifications, scale drawings, and many period photos and sketches.

    The period photos amount to 49. There are 87 sketches and 11 information lists. In the back of the book are line drawings of 11 French vessels in the scales of 1/200, 1/300, 1/400, 1/450 and 1/500. Chinese vessels are shown in no scale, 1/250, 1/300, 1/350, 1/400, 1/450 and 1/500. The book contains a 2 page bibliography at the rear.

    All photos and sketches are in black and white. The only color is the cover art painting of the French Armoured cruiser Bayard – flagship of the French Far East Squadron.

    The back cover shows color cover arts for 3 other books in MMP’s Maritime Series: Russo-Japanese Naval War 1905 volumes 1 and 2, and Austro-Hungarian Submarines in WWI.

    This book will prove to be essential reading for military and naval historians and enthusiasts.

  • ModelingMadness.com • 2013-10-28

    Reviewer: Scott Van Aken

    As frequently happens with MMP books, I was delightfully surprised to see this latest title arrive in the mails. Pre-WWI naval wars are something that is rarely covered in the popular media and this was one of which I must sadly say that I knew absolutely nothing. I say sadly as history was my minor in college and I guess I should have known about it!

    This was a war against two major powers. On one side were the French at the height of their colonialization period and the other was China, a country that had a huge army and a fairly well equipiped navy. However, in this case, it was generally the French that had the qualitative edge in terms of technical superiority and an edge in training that allowed them to eventually win out.

    It is difficult to tell the naval war of this conflict without including the events on land as so much of it was intertwined. This was also a time where though ships may have been steam powered, most of them still had a full complement of rigging and some of them were also wooden hulled. It was also the last combat use of the spar torpedo.

    To provide a bit of background, the French were consolidating their power in Indochina and this is where the events began. They had to not only overcome the Vietnamese powers, but also those of China who were moving in from the north. In this part of the undeclared war, most of the naval action took place on rivers in support of French troops. This then moved to the Chinese coast where the French forces went up against southern Chinese naval forces and forts in and around Foochow. The action then moved to Taiwan and events around Keelung and the Pescadores.

    The end result was the removal of Chinese influence in Indochina and French domination of that part of the world until their final defeat in 1954.

    The author has done a superlative job of telling the story of the events of this war as well as the politics surrounding it and the actions of the major players on both the Chinese and French sides of the conflicts. As you can guess, the Chinese had the edge in manpower, but also suffered the most casualties. Often this manpower was enough to thwart the French, but in the end it was French technical superiority and training that carried them through this war.

    In addition to an excellent telling of events, the book is full of period photos of the main men involved as well as their ships. Mostly French ships are in the photos, but there are enough of the Chinese ships to give an idea of what they were like. This also includes many period illustrations of the events as well as some very well done maps so you know what is going on.

    It all makes for yet another excellent reference book from the folks at MMP as well as what is really a fascinating look at naval warfare of the late 19th century. It is a book that I have no problem highly recommending to you as I am sure you will enjoy it as much as did I.

    August 2012

  • Amazon.com customer review (1) • 2013-10-28

    By shipster

    Another well written book by Piotr Olender on an obscure but interesting subject. While the title says it is about the naval war, much of the book is about the land war and how it was supported by riverine operations.

    The French were trying to colonize Vietnam and needed to force China to recognize French claims and to withdraw Chinese support and Chinese troops from Vietnam. (The book explains that the Chinese Troops went to Nam in support of Vietnamese independence.) The French, for lack of manpower, were not able to win the land campaign, but were finally able to force China to withdraw support and allow France to claim Vietnam by using the French navy to destroy the Chinese navy and disrupt the Chinese economy by blockading their coast.

    The book is complete with tables covering the tonnage, dimensions and armanment of the ships of the respective navies and has profiles and plan views of some of the ships involved. The BIG drawback to this book is the terrible terrible reproduction of the photographs in it, for which in my opinion there is no excuse. I firmly believe that they would sell more books like this if they put some money and effort into better reproduction of the pictures.

  • scalemodellingnow.com • 2013-10-28

    Review by Geoff Coughlin

    Our thanks to Stratus – Mushroom Model Publications for supplying our review sample. Get this title here now at: www.mmpbooks.biz


    Now this has to be a period of maritime history that’s not well known about, well the detail that is – the Sino-French Naval war 1884-85.

    In the late 19th Century France and China fought over control of what is now Vietnam. This new book in the MMP Maritime series covers the naval battles, both at sea (especially around Taiwan) and in the extensive rivers of the disputed area and puts these into the context of the overall conflict. The background, military operations and outcomes are described and discussed, providing comprehensive information on this little-known colonial war.

    All the ships involved, both French and Chinese, are described in detail and illustrated with full technical specifications, scale drawings and many period photos and sketches.


    I got more into this volume than I had originally thought I would. It’s well written and has plenty of visual stimuli to keep the reader engaged. Fascinating and will appeal to many maritime historians or those interested in this period of military history.


    Geoff C.

  • IPMSUSA.org • 2013-10-28

    Reviewed by: Dave Morrissette, IPMS# 33653

    Like many modelers, my knowledge of history is never as complete as I want it to be, and when MMP issued The Sino-French Naval War, I found a great opportunity to learn more about the conflict that occurred in 1884-1885.

    For those of you unfamiliar with these actions, during this time colonization was the policy that many countries pursued to expand growth, secure mineral and trade rights, and protect their people and interests. In this case, the French wanted Vietnam also to protect their Catholic Missions.

    Piotr Olender has researched the war in depth, including the ships and people involved and also the reasons behind the start of the war. The book starts with a description of the actions leading up to the start of the conflict, including the bombardment of Hue and the vessels involved. The text follows the start of the war, including all the major battles and counter attacks, and has many maps describing the action both at sea and on the many rivers. Finally, the end of the hostilities is covered.

    What really sets this book apart (and makes it a great reference for modelers) are the period pictures and the drawings of the ships involved. The period pictures of the areas and ships are superb and cover almost all the major ships. Also included are pictures of the armament used by the French and Chinese. An example of this is an excellent reference photo of the 37mm French Hotchkiss revolver canon which was one of the first rapid fire cannons. There are drawings of the ships involved, showing their profiles. There are tables of the armament showing their bores, barrel length and weight, manufacturer, and muzzle velocity.

    This book is recommended to all history buffs and modelers, too! It is well written, thoroughly illustrated, and a great insight into the history of naval warfare in the late 19th century. My thanks to Mushroom Model Publications for the review sample and to IPMS/USA for the chance to review it.

  • Kitmaniac.com • 2013-10-28

    The Sino-French War, (1883–85), was a conflict between China and France over Vietnam, which disclosed the inadequacy of China’s modernization efforts and aroused nationalistic sentiment in South China.

    The French had already begun to encroach on Vietnam, China’s major protectorate in the south, and by 1880 controlled the three southern provinces, known as Cochinchina. In the 1880s they began to expand northward in Vietnam, stationing troops in Hanoi and Haiphong. The Chinese responded by building up their forces in the area and engaging the French in a series of limited battles.

    In 1882 the great Chinese viceroy Li Hung-chang negotiated an agreement with France in which the two countries agreed to make the area a joint protectorate. This agreement was, however, rejected by Paris, which dispatched additional troops to North Vietnam. Meanwhile, a war party emerged within the Chinese government and began to pressure the court to take a harder line. But Chinese reinforcements were quickly defeated by the French (1883), and the wavering court attempted to seek a new settlement.

    The subsequent Li–Fournier Convention called for the admittance of French trade through the Tongking area of North Vietnam, the withdrawal of Chinese troops from the area, and the recognition of French rights in North Vietnam. In return, China was not required to pay any indemnity. Meanwhile, the war party again became dominant in China, and it refused to accept any loss of sovereignty over Vietnam. Hostilities were therefore resumed. Chang Chih-tung, one of the leading hawks, was appointed to take command of the land forces. He was successful against French forces that had attempted to advance north into South China, but at sea the new Chinese fleet of 11 steamers was destroyed. The great Foochow shipyard, which China had built with French aid, was also demolished. A peace treaty was finally signed at Paris in 1885 in which China agreed to recognize the Li–Fournier agreement.

    The Book:

    I’m a lover of the XIX century history, Imperialism and your politics and conflict always was something special to me. So, when I get this book I start the read and don't stop until it finished. The book gives an excellent understanding of the political situation and events that turn the war on the sea something inevitable. All naval operations and materials, ships and tactics involved in this conflict are deep explored. Drawings and designs of the ships that participate of the battles are presented. But in my opinion the textual concept and high quality of information are the great point of this book.


    This new release from MMP Books Blue Series are amazing and something indispensable for those love naval history, but for people interested in the history of the XIX Century. The combination between Information, images and chronological events turn this book an awesome publication.

    I Recommend it.

    Special Thanks to MMP Books for this Sample for Review.

    Best regards,

    Vini Pompeo

  • InternetModeler.com • 2013-10-28

    By Chris Banyai-Riepl

    The evolution of naval vessels in the latter half of the nineteenth century saw some dramatic changes in both propulsion and armament. This latest title in the Mushroom Model Publications' Maritime Series takes a look at one of the lesser known conflicts during this period of evolution, the war between France and China over what is now Vietnam.

    As rediscovered in the twentieth century, naval warfare in Indochina is not restricted to blue water skirmishes, and this war in 1884 and 1885 highlights this fact. This book covers the sea battles between the French and Chinese, but it also documents the extensive river warfare that took place. Although not an officially declared war, this conflict was France's largest naval interaction before the First World War, and as such it really deserves more coverage than it has received in the past. This book aims to rectify that, and it does so in a highly detailed manner.

    The book begins with the background of colonial expansion in Indochina before diving into the actual rise of conflict. There is a discussion of the relative strengths of each side, as well as detailed examinations of the various battles that took place. The book finishes with the end of the conflict, and throughout the book there are copious illustrations and maps to help visualize the war. For the modeler, the last few pages include scale drawings of some of the boats and ships that took part in the conflict.

    For those interested in 19th Century naval conflicts, this is definitely a book worth picking up. It is unlikely that we will see as nice a presentation on this little-known Sino-French war, and that makes this book a valuable addition to any naval library.

  • Hyperscale.com • 2013-10-28

    Reviewed by Glen Porter

    F i r s t R e a d

    Sometimes, when you are reviewing a book like this, it can be an advantage to know absolutely nothing on the subject at all and just let the book teach you. From the title I knew it was about a Naval War between China and France that lasted only about a year. What I learnt was that this was how France got control of what was later called French Indochina (Vietnam).

    The book begins with a considerable lead-up to the conflict to explain how and why. What was known as North and South Vietnam during the Vietnam War was then known as Tonkin, North Vietnam, hence the Gulf of Tonkin, and French Cochinchina, South Vietnam. France already had concessions and control of South Vietnam but of coarse wanted the North as well.

    Although this was considered a Naval Conflict, after several fleet versus fleet battles, nowhere near as big as those in Japanese or European waters, most of the fighting was done on land between land Armies but with naval Gunboat support from the rivers.

    What stands out is the total superiority of the French in both training and equipment and though lacking in numbers in most cases managed to whip the Chinese Armies well and good. The author quotes figures like 67 French dead and 125 wounded while from the other side 1500 Chinese dead and 3000 odd wounded.

    However, although the French Government sanctioned the war which, by the way was never declared, it was a bit miserly in sending supplies, men and equipment to the point that France lost a couple of important battles which caused them to sue for piece. The fighting, on the other hand, had done so much damage to the Chinese Navy and Army that France was able to negotiate most of what she wanted anyway.

    So, France got control of Tonkin (North Vietnam) and later added Cambodia and Laos to be known as French Indochina.


    Some books like this are very dry and hard to read, all facts and figures. This one’s not. What’s more, it was informative and interesting and I learnt a bit of history that filled in a gap, and that can’t be bad.

  • Strategypage.com • 2013-10-28

    The Sino-French Naval War deals with a long-forgotten colonial conflict with far reaching consequences

    Although hardly known in the English-speaking world, American readers in particular will find many of the places named in this book familiar from a later war. Olender, author of several books on naval warfare in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, does a good job with a complex subject. He opens with a discussion of the origins of French colonialism in the area now encompassed by Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, and the resultant clash with China. Olender’s review of the military resources of the two sides is excellent, and particularly useful; the war occurred as armies and navies were sorting out the possibilities of innovative technologies, and some of the “transitional” weapons and warships are likely to be unfamiliar to even fairly seasoned students of military history. His account of the actual maritime conflict between France and China is certainly the best recent one in English, and reminds us that this war was on a surprisingly large scale. In what was one of the largest naval wars of the nineteenth century, the French defeated in the Chinese in several fleet actions, blockaded the Chinese coast, and captured the Pescadores Islands, off Taiwan. Operations on land are also well covered, and Olender’s survey of the Chinese Army is particularly useful, as they are usually often neglected in accounts of conflicts with Western powers.

    An even-handed account, Sino-French Naval War makes an excellent short introduction to this largely forgotten war.

    Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor

  • Amazon.com customer review (2) • 2013-10-28

    5.0 out of 5 stars Much needed coverage of an overlooked part of history.

    January 11, 2013 By The Starosta of Isborsk

    There are thousands of books that cover World Wars 1 and 2, with many of these being just pictoral presentations and not even a history, but this book presents a solid introduction into the history of the colonial wars of conquest, which now are considered as agitation. But are in fact fascinating to read.

  • Cybermodeler.com • 2013-10-28
    By David L. Veres

    Dien Bien Phu. Khe Sanh. Quang Tri. Tet. Linebacker.

    Few realize that bloody battles of 20th-century Indochina arguably originated from obscure 19th-century fighting between France and China.

    Now MMP BOOKS provides those links in Sino-French Naval War 1884-1885. Author Piotr Olender capably charts the conflict's largely coastal and riverine operations from Tonkin to Taiwan. And after helpful notes on causes and comparisons, the bulk of the book competently chronicles key actions.

    Olender contends that the French "owed their unquestionable success to the navy which, by seizing control the sea, was able to seriously threatened the Chinese economy, most significantly with the 'rice blockade'."

    And he confidently confirms his thesis in fascinating fashion. Beset by political divisions and low combat readiness, China's navy officially comprised the Peiyang and Nanyang fleets. The Nanyang component, in turn, incorporated the southern Fukien and Kwangtung fleets – all of which bore the brunt of battle.

    Audacious French moves – coupled with mainly dispirited, disjointed Chinese reactions – pepper passages. From France's overwhelming victory over China's Fukien Fleet at Foochow through its Min River actions to its Taiwan blockade, sea power forged France's complete, "undisputed control of Vietnam."

    Nor do naval clashes completely consume contents. Author Olender critically covers French Marines, Black Flag bandits, native defenders and other land forces. He even notes an early modern Chinese "human wave" attack!

    An 1885 peace agreement resolved all "contentious issues" between both countries. And by 1893, Cochinchina, Annam, Tonkin, Cambodia and Laos comprised the colony called "French Indochina" – thereby sowing the seeds of future fighting.

    Helpful annotations, bibliography, and transcription/transliteration notes augment MMP's instructive account. But a chronology with index would have considerably clarified coverage. And my inner modeler personally prefers warship drawings to one scale.

    Maps proved perplexing, too. Page 55's Min River estuary chart, for instance, imprecisely locates the crucial Pagoda Point landmark. And larger scale insets would positively put local actions into clearer geographic perspectives.

    Still, I simply couldn't put Sino-French Naval War 1884-1885 down. Connect some historical dots. And brilliantly illumine your Asian conflict studies with this superbly vital volume.

    Rabidly recommended.

  • Amazaon.com customer review (3) • 2013-10-28

    5.0 out of 5 stars Another Maritime Series winner

    January 27, 2013 By Jim Davis TOP 1000 REVIEWER

    This is the fourth book (No. 3104) in MMP's Maritime Series. It is an 8-1/4" x 11-3/4" square bound card cover with 132 pages. Color is restricted to the front and rear covers with a specially commissioned (and quite well done) front cover painting and the other books in the series on the rear. Like others in the series it focuses on a relatively obscure naval subject and does it complete justice.

    Despite the title, coverage extends to the history leading up to the conflict, the land campaign, and the various diplomatic maneuverings. This is necessary to get the context in which the naval actions were being fought. Everything is exceptionally well illustrated with period photographs and contemporary newspaper woodcut illustrations. The latter are especially valuable as most of the photographs from this period have not reproduced particularly well. Possibly the original negatives have been lost which means scanning from secondary sources. In addition the text is quite ably supported with numerous maps that make following the described actions relatively easy. The maps are not always placed exactly where one might expect so if you're thinking "A map would really be useful here" look ahead and you'll probably find it. The text is an excellent translation and easy to follow. Indeed, it gives few hints that it is a translation. The highlight of the book was the Battle of Foochow and the subsequent escape via the Min River to the open sea.

    Appendices include tables summarizing data on the ships and guns involved. In addition, there are some basic profile drawings of the ships. The smaller vessels and all the Chinese ones also have plan views.

    Highly recommended. I hope further titles in this series are well advanced.

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