The Battle of the Yalu was one of the first modern navy battles between ironclad ships armed with quick fire guns and torpedoes .
The Chinese ship Lai- yuen caught fire and burned so fiercely that the vessel glowed nearly white hot ; many crew died from the heat.
The Battle did not take place in the Yalu River but at the mouth of the Korean Bay at close quarters to the Yalu River.
The Chinese fleet contained two battleships and eight cruisers. Most of these ships were older than the Japanese cruisers, as they lacked modern rapid firing guns. The two battleships, Ting Yuen and Chen Yuen, were each armed with four 12in Krupp guns, but their layout made forward fire rather hazardous.
At the left of the Chinese line were the cruisers Tsi Yuen and Kuang Chia. The Tsi Yuen had an armoured deck and was armed with 8.2in guns. The Kuang Chia was at best a light cruiser, and was armed with one 5.9in and four 4.7in guns.
The two battleships were in the centre of the Chinese line. Admiral Ting was on his flagship, the Ting Yuen.
Admiral Ito couldn't match the firepower of the Chinese battleships, especially as his three 12.6in guns proved to be extremely slow firing (averaging one shot per hour during the battle). However, he had a large number of modern quick firing guns, so the Chinese cruisers were terribly outgunned.
The battle began at 12.50pm when the Ting Yuen opened fire. For some reason Admiral Ting was still on a vulnerable flying bridge at this point, and the Admiral was wounded by the blast from his own guns.
The Japanese opened fire at a range of 3,000 yards, concentrating their fire on the Chinese right. The lightly armoured Chao Yung and Yang Wei were both set on fire. The Chao Yung sank in shallow water. The Yang Wei ran aground on a reef and was later finished off by the Japanese.
The ships at the rear of the Japanese line suffered some heavy casualties. The Hiei had to retreat. The Saikyo was hit by four 12in shells, and was nearly out of control. The Akagi suffered heavy casualties, but did manage to hit the cruiser Lai Yuen, starting a fire that caused heavy damage.
The battleships did better. Their 14in armoured citadels performed as expected. The Matsushima was hit by one 12in shell at around 3.30pm and suffered heavy losses.
The Chinese lost five of the ten ships in their main battleline, and suffered 850 dead and wounded (many on the Chih Yuen and King Yuen). Japanese losses were around 300, with the worst on the Matsushima, but all of their ships survived.
The Chinese battleship Ting suffered 300 hits
Interested observers, especially the Europeans, considered the Battle of the Yalu River to have been a victory for the Chinese, for although the Japanese appeared to have won the day they failed to prevent the landing of Chinese troops, which was the primary object of their attack.