Novik class destroyers (1911-1917)

A Long lineage and new standard: Novik (1911)

Russian Empire/Soviet Navy 1910-1941

In destroyer history, there are a few landmarks most authors agrees upon. Let’s cite for example the Spanish Destructor in 1886, recoignized generally as the earliest torpedo boat destroyer, the British Daring class in 1893, the US Bainbridge class inaugurated their own lineages, the massive HMS Swift in 1907, unhappy pet project of Sir “Jackie” Fisher or the much smaller, but more practical and innovative River class in 1903, the Shakespeare class (1916) Destroyer leaders, announcing the interwar standard, the 1917-21 Wickes/Clemson of first mass-production models, or the Fubuki class in 1926 or “special type” which also defined a new standard for the Pacific…
But in between is also Novik, considered by most authors as a landmark for destroyer design in 1911.

Indeed, the first vessel of that name was a prototype, built in Germany on Russian ideas. Novik was the forerunner of a new generation of Russian fleet destroyers which counted no less than 52 ships, within four classes: The Derzky-class, Orfey, Izyaslav and Fidonisy-class destroyers. This post will be followed by these classes, treated one by one on their own dedicated post in detail.
Novik was the world’s first oil-burning destroyer, and the first Russian destroyer with steam turbines as well. It became with an unmatched powerplant at the time, the world’s fastest ship, beating all categories. And as a destroyer, extremely well armed with no less than four 102 mm (4.0 in) guns and eight torpedo tubes in twin banks. The following will stick with these figures, sharing the same hull, powerpant and general design. This was quite a formidable new standard and in this pre-dreadnought age, all admiralties took notice, from Berlin to London, Paris, Rome, New York and Tokyo. Unlike previous generation, they all survived WWI and the civil war, and were preciously maintained by the Soviet Navy, renamed, and seeing a fair share of action in WW2 as well.

Origins and Development

The admiralty’s destroyers in 1908:

Three years after the devastating defeat of their war with the Japanese, the crippling losses of Tsushima, of the Pacific and Baltic sea fleets combined, a serious train of reform, a walz of officers and ministers equalled a “great reset” at the head of the Naval Staff. None was spared the maelstrom of mutations. Severe criticism about the Navy, albeit not made public, had for effect to put it back in shape, on a time schedule which was to end with the start on WWI. Like many other navies (and like in 1941), the Russian Navy was caught off-guard by the start of the war.
One aspect that was criticized, was the total lack of adequate support for the Battleships during the Battle of the Yellow sea in 1904 and Tsushima in 1905. Admiralties indeed had no plans to screen their precious battleships with a buffer of expandable vessels used for reconnaissance and protection: Fleet destroyers.

Special committee for the Navy’s reinforcement:

Emphasis on mine and torpedo warfare shown in this war shown the potential capabilities of more capable Destroyers, even their capabilities as “universal ships” carrying out torpedo attacks, patrol, minelaying, and even coastal bombardment as well as fleet screening. The last war involved 18 minelayers, enlarged version of the standard 350-ton destroyers as the basis of the mine forces ordered with funds raised by the “Special Committee for Strengthening the Navy”, based on voluntary donations. These Minelayers were more advanced ships at 600-700 tons, with improved seaworthiness and enhanced armament, but could not fully fulfill escort tasks for largeer ships in any sea state. The “Special Committee” secured 2 million rubles to spend on construction of a new type of ship taking into account the experience and new set of requirements.

Thus, Novik was financed by donations during the 1904-1905 war. The design was subjected to delays due to the study of numerous reports, a compilation of experiences. They were supposed to be very fast, in part as an active protection against rapid-fire guns, delivering a powerful torpedo broadside (eight or ten was envisioned, or even more), completed by artillery if needed, or to lay “active” minefields in the path of an approaching battlefleet, an idea that was to have a long reach in the Russian naval staff, well into the Soviet era.

December 1905 Reunion

By December 1905, the Marine Technical Committee (MTC) held a meeting presided by the commander of the 2nd Pacific squadron, Z. P. Rozhestvensky. The development of a new minelaying force was decided. Some participants proposed new minelayers with increased displacement, others supported the idea of small destroyers for coastal defense, also capable of minelaing. The majority, so 14 versus 9 wanted specialized “mine cruisers”. Characteristics proposed were a speed of 28-30 knots, 6-8 long-barreled guns (with two 120 mm, six 47 mm or four 75 mm) plus four machine guns and three 450 mm torpedo tube banks. They were to be given oil fired steam boilers for a range of at least 3,000 miles at 12 knots. Rozhdestvensky wanted tro limit the tonnage to 750 tons, but it was not accepted as unrealistic. The machinery type, VTE or turbines, remained open oto discussion. Mechanical engineers present wanted to push for steam turbines. Particular attention was paid also to structural strength of the hull and absence of vibrations at full speed, also important for the latter and construction engineers, which also played on the powerplant type. As a result, no form decision was made, but this was the starting point for further development, which later ended with a new type of turbine destroyers.

Technical aspects of Novik (old rusian publication)

Summer 1907 Reunion

In the summer of 1907, the “Special Committee” still lacking official instructions from the Naval Department to solve the issue of the powerplant, formed a technical commission of its own to study several technical aspects of a high-speed turbine destroyer. The operational-tactical task (OTZ) for this project had the proposed objective of reaching 36-knot and from this the Russian Naval General Staff for the first time whorked on a new multi-purpose mine-torpedo-artillery ship designed for high seas reconnaissance and commerce raiding operations. An untouchable thoroughbred and jack of all trades.

Special attention paid to speed and cruising range, plus seaworthiness had engineers proposing a hull able to clip through waves at a winds force 8-9 with 7-8 force waves, and supported the idea of a large hull to “ride” the wave lenghts at 35 knots, with a range of 1,800 miles or 86 hours of continuous travel at 21 knots. Displacement was eventually limited to 1000 tons with the armament precised to two 120 mm gun, two twin 450 mm torpedo tubes with spare torpedoes.

Final Requirements of 1908

All this led to requirements setup by the admiralty. Specifications developed by the Marine Technical Committee (MTC) under the guidance of shipbuilders A. N. Krylov, I. G. Bubnov and G. F. Shlesinger precised also a displacement of 1000 tons, full load speed of 33 knots, armament of two 120-mm cannons, 4 machine guns, three 450-mm twin torpedo banks and a main power plant with Parsons steam turbines. On February 11, 1908, the “Special Committee” sent these to several shipyards with a request to report cost and time of construction within two days.
Answers received in tome showed this was difficult and most importantly, yards did not wanted to deal with the specificications without a guaranteed order.

It was also decided to announce an international competition for the new “36-knot destroyer” with the right to provide the winning proposal with an order. Invitations were sent out in mid-1908, and more time was left/ The first answers came back in October. In January 1909, the commission rendered its verdict:
The four Russian yards’s proposals had been considered and foreign ones rejected at the preliminary stage (not meeting the competition’s conditions).
The former were Admiralty, Creighton, Nevsky and Putilov.
As a result, the Putilov Plant project developed by chief engineers D. D. Dubitsky and B. O. Vasilevsky were recognized as the winner.

Putilov won the order (1909)

The order to the Putilovsky plant was confirmed and approved at a “Special Committee” reunion of July 4, 1909 marking the end of the said committee. By July 29, representatives of the Putilov Yard signed an agreement of a delivery for trials within 28 months from signing date. The contract conditions were handed over to the Imperial treasury on August 1, 1912 to secure funds. These represented 2 million and 190 thousand rubles at the time, but assorted with trials and construction penalties for exceeding building time and not meeting speed requirements, as insufficient stability.

The detailed design was made in putilov’s design bureau in 1909-1910, together with the German company Vulkan which undertook to design, manufacture and install a powerful yet compact three-shaft boiler and steam turbine units. It would also looked at the tactical and technical requirements. This work was supervised by D. D. Dubitsky for the mechanical part, with B. O. Vasilevsky tasked of the shipbuilding part. Navy Supervision was entrusted to Lieutenant Colonel of the Corps of Naval Engineers N. V. Lesnikov, assisted by Staff Captain V. P. Kostenko for the mechanical part and Staff Captain G. K. Kravchenko foe the construction as well as Yard’s Chief Builder C. A. Tennyson. A permanent laison team was installed at Vulkan, Stettin, working with daily communications.

Design of the class

The main differences between the lead ship and subsequent mass-produced destroyers were that Novik had a four-funnel silhouette, two superstructures, and three-shaft powerplant. But the two masts, forecastle extending a quarter of her length, solid main deck, forecastle deck, were carateristic of subsequent Russian destroyers until the Gnevny, the new 1930s generation.

Hull Design

The hull was riveted and 102.43 m over its total lenght. She was 9.53 m in beam, making it for a 10.75 ratio. Particular attention was paid to ensure longitudinal strength, based on a 100 m (328 ft) wave length, with a 5 m crest (16 ft). The hull was assembled with high-strength steel framing and plating (tensile strength 55–70 kg/mm², elastic limit of 28 kg/mm²). The framing had intervals of 560 mm (1.83 ft) from the stern to the bow for extra rigidity. The main feature was the use of an longitudinal reinforcement around the boiler and engine rooms, proposed by I. G. Bubnov.

The hull bottom consisted of a 8 mm thick vertical keel, 1,050 mm high (3.31 ft) with double steel squares along the upper and lower edges, two bottom and one side stringers either each side, and one carling per side. The whole structure, together with a 4-mm (0.15 in) thick deck at the second bottom and upper deck, were enclosed between longitudinal bulkheads, 3.5 m (11.4 ft) from the centreline, with a 6-9 mm (0.2-0.3 in) thick outer skin and 11.5 mm (0.45 in) thick deck stringer. This formed a fairly rigid structure withstanding very hard longitudinal bending in any operating conditions.

The double bottom extended along the main powerplant, divided into compartments storing extra fuel. Outside the engine and boiler rooms, the vertical keel was sloped down, smoothly turned into a vertical forged stem and cast sternpost. The prow was shaped and reinforced in order to break ice. The transverse framing consisted of double frames, 6 mm thick each and interconnected by brackets of 4.5-5 mm sheets and beams of the upper and main decks (5-6 mm squares). According to this transverse scheme, the forecastle was made of 4 mm sheathing and flooring.
The outer skin consisted of 8 plating belts, including the keel belt and sheerstrake. Their thickness decreased from 9 mm at the keel belt and 8.5 mm at the sheerstrake down to 6 mm. Belts connection used rivets in 3 horizontal rows applied on same frames.

Superstructure Design

The bow superstructure consisted of a forecastle bridge, combat bridge and unprotected wheelhouse. The conning tower below was made of chromium steel walls, 12.7 mm (walls) thick (0.5 in) and 6 mm (0.3 in) for the roof plate. Low-magnetic steel was used for the compass area to avoid interferences. The navigator’s cabin was located behind the combat cabin (with the chadburn and acoustic pipes were located) made of 3-3.5 mm mild steel sheeting. The forecastle bridge was built atop the conning tower with the navigation cabin behind it, extending the entire width. Both the bridge’s spotting wings were supported by pillars connected by diagonal struts.

The stern superstructure started aft of the fourth funnel and was noticeably larger than the rest of the Novik-derived destroyers. It housed a radio room, a galley with an oil heating apparatus for cooking. The aft bridge wings were beam-wide, ans also fixed by pillars and struts. The “radio room” housed of course a wireless radio telegraph, and soundproofed. Walls and ceiling indeed had a built-in air gap 45 mm thick in 3 rows of 12 mm boards and 10 mm felt layers for better cushion. On top of the inner boards an extra layer of 10mm felt was added. The floor was paddled, with a 45mm air gap, two 25mm boards layers and 15mm cork layer. All internal surface were also covered with linoleum. To further reduce vibration and heat the floor was raised more above the machinery. Telephone for internal communication was coupled with a the dynamo located outside the wheelhouse.

During her major overhaul, this superstructure was redesigned: The stern superstructure was expanded, accommodating a division headquarters room, and a damage control post. The radio room relocated instead forward of the first funnel. The bow brudge was also expanded and fully enclosed. Instead of pole masts, tripods were installed to support heavier platforms, notably spotting top and projectors, and heavier wireless radio cables for longer range.


Novik was a brand new league for the crew accomodations, at the relief of the latter compared to previous destroyers. There was a well better though at and convenient distribution of living quarters with the commander and officers cabin as well as the “campaign cabin” and mess located under the forecastle, closer to the bridge for quick turnover and reaction time. They were also aklways close to the combat and navigation cabin, but not from the radio, which communicated via the internal telephone. The officer’s quarters were semi-luxurious with in addition to the mess hall, a bathroom and latrine. Each officer’s cabin had a bunk, wardrobe, folding washbasin, desk, chair and hanging hooks.

The later increased crew in the interwar led to a deterioration of living conditions. The latter was located mostly aft to avoid the noise from the engine compartments as much as possible. No bunks still, but hammocks. These rooms were located in the stern (two) and in a single bow cabin, mostly officers assistants. Depending on the space available, there were lockers and some folding beds. Personal gear were stored in lockers, but bed nets close to the bridge were a novelty. Conductor rooms (large enough for 6 men each) were located aft, equipped with lockers in two tiers but also wardrobes and a small living room with books, chairs and a dining table.
The galley was located under the aft bridge, with stoves using oil heating, for the ratings. There was a separate officer’s stove and samovar (because Russia), and provision srorage rooms. The attenant room to the galley had a table and shelves. When modernized, the larger crew forced to enlarge the galley and bridge.
To avoid internal shrapnels when hit by shells, sides were sheathed with cork plates with an air gap, and bulkheads painted with white lacquer paint acting also as lining, to prevent shards. The floors were covered with 5 mm linoleum for a better cushion while all the latrines and bathrooms were floored with chipped marble on cement. Cabinets and tables as well as lockers and washbasins were made of mild steel. Chairs however were made in wood, curved beech, and ash for the rest of the furnitures.

Protection layout

The danger of mines dicated a separation of the hull underwater into 9 main watertight bulkheads at the 14, 41, 55, 75, 96, 117, 139, 159 frames. This bulkheading went up to the upper deck and ended at the 175 frame to the forecastle deck. In addition, eight more separations were installed at 20, 28, 37, 142, 146, 153, 165, 169 frames up to the weather deck, down to the stern. Their thickness was 5 mm for the lower cord and 3 mm for the upper one. This was completed by the conning tower at the bow, 0.5 – 0.3 in between the walls and roof was seen above.


Novik was the first domestic ship fitted with steam turbines, operating only on fuel oil. Steam turbines were all the rage at the time for the Russian admiralty, which wanted to procure them too for the Sevastopol class battlecruisers and the new cruisers of the Svetlana type in construction. On the Sebastopol class though, this was coal heating and for the cruisers a mix of both. The choice of oil only for the destroyers was dictated by relative scarcity of both oil and space, prioritizing oil to that class.

The plant consisted of three steam turbines of the Curtis-A.E.G. Vulcan type (a licenced Curtis type by AEG). These were classic direct drive turbines made at Vulkan, Stettin in Germany.
They had a linear layout with the boilers. These were six water-tube Vulkan models. From the bow to the stern, at forst 6 boilers, located in three boiler rooms, were followed by the steam turbines, two in the bow, on in the stern. Funnels corresponded to boilers No. 1 and 6 to their own (1st and 4th funnel), and boilers No. 2 and 5 corresponded to Funnel 2 and 3 amidships.

As for the turbines they were of the direct-acting type, not fitted with a reduction gear. They drove the propeller shaft through intermediate shafts and composed from a high-pressure turbine (HPT), and low-pressure turbine (LPT), plus a reverse turbine (RTH). Components were located on one shaft and single casing. The low pressure turbine was supposed to deliver 35% of the forward, HP turbines with a total contract power rated at 42,000 hp (unofficially 42,800 hp). They were capable of 640 rpm, enabling speeds up to 37.3 knots. Full speed was however reduced in practice to 36 knots, and when cruising, 21 knots which was the standard for capital ships at the time. At the end of the shaft lines were three three-blade bronze propellers 2.4 m in diameter (7.8 ft) with a pitch of 2.3-2.2 m (7.5 ft).

The water-tube boilers were of the also classic triangular type. Two were located in each of the three boiler room. They had an unitary capacity of 50 t/h for a total of 290 t/h. Total heating surface was 850 m² for a total of 4,970 m². Note that the smaller Boiler N°1 had inferior values. Thes boilers produced supersaturated steam at 17 kg/cm² (1.19 Ib/Sq. inch) and 203° Centigrades (397° F). These boilers were fed with freshwater using piston feed pumps, two per Boiler. Double-capacity pumps were installed. The feed water was heated by Norman heaters, one per boiler, operated on exhaust (“mint”) steam. This loop enabled the feed water to be already heated up to 60–80 °C before it was fed into the boiler. The two 13 tonnes Feed water tanks were located in front of the bow boiler rooms, behind the aft engine rooms.
Fuel supply was 351 tons of fuel oil, stored in double-bottom compartments motly between frames 42 and 139, with exception, additional fuel located into side tanks between the 75 and 117 frames, for a grand total up to 418 tons usable in wartime and for long crossings. The upper tanks were of course those emptied first to not compromise stability. With all this, range was down to 740 miles if using a practical long run full speed of 34 knots, but up to 1,760 miles at the economic cruise speed of 21 knots.

Radio & Communication

The radio room was located under the aft bridge, and the first model installed was a long-wave transmitter of the MV type from the Naval Department, model 1911 rated for 2 kW and with a range of 200 miles. It also had a long reception range with its two tube receivers at 300-1900 m. The destroyer also had 30 W radiophones. Internal communication used traditional voice pipes, but also telephones and bells, notably to communicate from the bridge to the radio room, machinery, fire posts and torpedo room. Voice pipes were made of red-copper 45 mm in diameter with brass sockets and whistles. They passed from the navigation bridge and conning tower to the guns and other places directly behind. The telephone network was mostly useful to connect the conning tower with the bow and stern bridges and nearly all others compartments. The senior mechanic was in contact with the bridge on an open line. The conning tower was connected with the division commander’s room and commander’s office as well as the wardroom and mess in order to be sure reaching any officer.

Visual communication rested on a signal searchlight on the foremast platform, and a Semyonov system lights, Ratier system and STB stereo tubes. There were also day and night binoculars, and traditional signal flags and flares. After modernization, these were improved, as in 1931-1932, Novik received the “Blockade-1” receiver/transmitter radio with a much greater range, and after her second overhaul in 1937-1940, the “Blockade-2” system, plus the VHF radiotelephone station “Reid”.

Navigation Equipments

Novik was fitted with three 5-inch (127-mm) magnetic compasses, with direction-finding devices but also a sextant, chronometers and a laying tool. The main magnetic compass counted a large binnacle located in the center of the navigation bridge. Steering compasses were placed on the open bridge, next to the helm and the conning tower. Novik also had two 75 mm smaller boat portable compasses in order to carry them on the cutter or small boats in case of abandoning ship. Depth was measured by a Thomson mechanical system and traditional backups. Speed was measured by a Walker turntable with control posts located on the bridge and conning tower.
After her 1931 upgrade, Novik was given the Russian gyrocompass “GU mark 1”, first tested aboard. Its repeaters were added on all her control posts. The turntable was replaced with an electromechanical “GO mark-III” system, also domestic.



The main guns consisted in four 102 mm (4 inches) L/60 Obukhov cannons. These 4″/60 (10.2 cm) Pattern 1911 coincided with the Novik class. They were placed in the axis, one forward and the remaining three aft, alternating with the torpedo tubes banks. They had a high-mounted pivots for good elevation, but no gun shield.
Performances of these were as follows:
-Shell Obukhovsky 38.58 lbs. (17.5 kg) HE mod 1911
-Unitary cartridge 30 kg including the 17.5 kg shell
-Brass cartridge case containing a 7.5 kg charge
-Elevation Rate 3 degrees per second
-Train 360 degrees at 3 degrees per second
-Gun recoil 28 inches (71 cm)
-Muzzle velocity 823 m/s.
-Range at 30 degrees 16,800 yards (15,360 m).
-Rate of fire 12 rounds per minute.
More on Navweaps
These were rapid-fire guns, provided with 160 unitary artillery rounds per barrel (HE) for a grand total of 640 shells aboard. In 1941 this was increased to 810 rounds. Cartridges were stored in two artillery cellars. There was a feed system upwards using two elevators driven by electric motors (with manual backup), which was quite modern for a destroyer at the time.
Many more shells were made available on the long run as these guns were widepsread and still used in WW2: HE mod 1915 and mod 1911, FRAG mod 1915, HE mod 1907, Shrapnel, Star Shell, Diving shell (for ASW use), Incendiary shell.

Machine Guns

In the “monocaliber” tendency, apart these main guns Novik had nothing else but the torpedo boats. The only exception were 2-4 7.62-mm Maxim liquid-cooled machine guns installed on pedestals on the bow bridge, and upper deck aft, near the galley. Total boxed ammunition and belts totalled 810 rounds per Machine Gun.

Fire equipments

For night fighting, Novik was equipped with a combat 60 cm Sperry searchlight, to illuminate targets.
There was a single manual Barr and Strood 9-foot (base 2,745 mm) coincidence rangefinder installed on the bridge providing data. They were coordinated by a single Geisler-type fire control system communicating setting angles from sights located in the conning tower. There were four sets of data display (for each of the guns). These were equipped with bells and howlers to signal a shot or a volley.


The four twin torpedo launchers were all in the axis: Three aft of the forecastle, the last forward of the radio room and mainmast, and a fourth aft, in between the third and fourth gun mount.
These four twin-tube 450 mm torpedo tubes were already above the average destroyer armament. The admiralty thought of triple tubes already, but due to weight issues, the system was not ready to be adopted yet. The catch however was that if torpedoes were stored directly in the tubes, there were spare torpedoes provided. This was a one-way ticket. Loading torpedoes and feeding them into the tubes was a long and complicated, even dangerous task in case of unclement weather. Using manpower with beams, cranks and manual winches. These were Whitehead torpedoes, which detonaters can be loaded and stored separately in a single small cellar.

Despite the advantage of a twce larger tproedo volley, compared to previous designs, the main drawback of Novik and her followers in the Black Sea Fleet were the torpedo tubes used: The twin-tube made at Putilov factory had rigidly fastened tubes with the impossibility of target tracking, lacking the appropriate clutch in the gear train and with a slow mechanical rotation, plus a structural defect in the charger shutter that was never really solved before the late interwar.


Novik and her successors were also wanted by the Navy Staff, given the lessons of the Russo-Japanese war, as “active minesweepers”, capabk of a rapid delivery directly into the path of an underway enemy battle formation, even under fire. Their speed was their best weapon, but this meant dropping mines at 30 knots+ which was never done before, especially if the stern wake wave had the potential to create such a depresssion a contact mine could unexpectedly return to the stern and explode. This tactic was seen as a way to scatter the enemy formation and favor torpedo attacks. The staff launche itself in many new imaginative tactics as the last war was seen as missed opportunities, not having the proper ships. Novik’s mines were stored on two long rail tracks on either side of the lower hull aft, starting at the forecastle. That was quite a distance, enabling a larger number of mines can be carried, unlike previous destroyers.

According to the naval staff, Novik and her followers could lay up to 50 mine thanks to these permanent rails and mine slopes, which shaped was carefully studied in a basin to avoid high speed turbulence issues. In addition, the destroyer tested on-board mine ramps which were given a 20° angle towards the stern also to solve these high speed laying issues. The slopes protruded overboard by 1.5 m at this but this design turned out to be unsuccessful and only worked below 24 knots instead of 30 knots. Mines had even the potential to be sucked underwater towards the propellers.
In the 1930s, Nobik received two K-1 paravanes for anti-mine operations.

For ASW warfare, Novik was given in WW1 ten 10 depth charges of the types 4V-B or 4V-M on two five-charge racks at the stern. They were replaced in the interwar by more advanced BB-1 and BM-1, respectively 8 and 20, stored between racks, manually dropped overboard or using carts tailored to support 4 large or 5 small depht charges.


In WWI, Anti-aircraft defence was added to the ship with the installation of a single 76.2-mm Vickers type AA gun on the quarterdeck. This was likely done during the winter of 1914-15. There was a supply of 300 rounds located in the mine storeroom.
Also the main artillery received modified mounted with a greater elevation angle to 30°, whereas three guns were reinstalled behind the aft superstructure. The sol AA gun remained in place but both at the bow and stern decks a single Maxim 37-mm LMG was installed, replaced later in the interwar by a 45 mm 21-K semi-automatic gun. In the 1930s, two extra 12.7 mm DShKs HMGs were also added, to complement the Maxim machine guns. In 1940, a second 3-in (75 mm) Lender anti-aircraft gun was likely installed and the Maxims removed and replaced by four DShKs. The old Barr & Stoud rangefinder was left in place but a 1.5 m wide DM-1.5 was added on the aft bridge for better range and accuracry. The combat 60-cm Sperry searchlight was replaced by a Russia MPE 6.0 of the same diameter.
In the end, four 7.62-mm Maxim AA machine guns were also kept for close defence.

So to resume at the start of WW2 Novuk had two 76.2mm AA guns, one 45mm/46 mm 21-K AA gun, and four 12.7 mm DShK HMGs, plus potentially four Maxim LMGs.
Anti-submarine armament was increased from ten 10 depht charges to 28 (8 BB-1 type and 20 BM-1 type). Mine and torpedo armament was upgraded to three triple tubes and 50 sea anchor mines.
This torpedo overhaul gave Novik and her follow-ups the occasion of getting rid of her problematic torpedo armament: The stern No. 4 bank was rmeoved, the remaining three converted to new three-tube torpedo tubes banks model 1913 without all the main shortcomings of the two-tube banks. They allowed quick revolution for volley firing and better, more accurate speed control rotation notably by the use of a Jenny clutch. Spare torpedoes however were still not provided. Torpedo fire control rested on Mikhailov M-1 sights mounted on the bridge’s wings. Also Ericsson’s PUTS system were installed, and later removed.

Construction and Trials

In 1910, at the eve of her keel-laying, it was decided to assign Novik to the Baltic Fleet instead of the Pacific. One reason was the proximity of the German yard in case of any mishaps, and because the new head of the Baltic Fleet, Vice Admiral N. O. Essen, personally asked this to the Emperor, as well as securing the name “Novik”, in memory of the 2nd rank, 1898 cruiser Novik which he commanded in 1902-1904 scuttled during the war. Novik ship was laid down on July 19, 1910 at Putilov Shipyard, St. Petersburg in presence of the Minister of the Navy.

On May 1, 1912, Novik started her sea trials. On May 17, she achieved 35.8 knots at a measured mile, off Wolf Island, down to the contract speed by 0.2 knots. This was world record, but below expectations, and despite of this, it was judged still satisfactory and it was not considered to review the propellers or oil heating system. The ship also failed top reach the contract speed on June 18 and July 1 with an average of 35.85 knots. Eventually it was decided to change her propellers on July 30, and yet she still only reached 35,275 knots.

As a result, the commission found it was impossible to meet the contractual conditions and the Yard then returned itself towards Vulkan AG in order not to lose face and gain experience in design, manufacture and testing of powerplants. There was indeed no equivalent in any fleet at the time. Vulkan proposed to increase the boiler’s heating surface, replacing fans and inductors. The proposal was accepted and work started by the summer of 1913.

By August 28-30 torpedo launchung tests commanced, at speeds ranging from 18 to 34 knots. The commission decided to install bells and special signs inside the machinery also to raise wareness of the machinery engineers since te noise was unbearable at high speed, completely masking commands. On September 5-6, vibrations were tested and not judged too excessive for the guns, with residual deformations observed being minor. In the autumn it was established her metacentric height was excessive at 0.8 – 1.13 m with extra roll. At Putilov it was proposed to install extra ballast tanks to cure the problem, and extending the side keels, but at a cost of 1.5 knots speed.

In the spring of 1913, she was prepared to reach Vulkan, Germany, her armament removed, ammunition unloaded. On May 17, she was in Stettin and was gutted open for 3 months, to have her plant overhauled: All boilers were replaced, new inductors and fans installed, the expansion surface increased and thickness by 213 mm and 294 mm. After static tests, the steam output was increased by 15%. A casing was installed above the boiler room to allowed them to stand, being 325 mm higher. Also Vulkan precised the operation ad her displacement increased to 1,296 tons.

On sea trials on August 21 in German waters, Novik reached 36.92 knots (based on 13,60 tons, with an output of 42,800 hp) and even reached 37.3 knots over three preliminary runs, setting a world record. On August 27, official tests at full speed followed, recognized as successful with an average of 36.82 knots (41,980 hp and 141 tons more than normal displacement) over three hours, and with “peaks” at 37 knots and final average of 36.2 knots. On August 29, trials were complete so she was accepted for service. WW1 was just a year away.

⚙ specifications

Displacement 1,280 tons (1260 long tons) standard, 1,360 tons FL*
Dimensions 102.43 x 9.53 x 3.53 m ( feets)
Propulsion 3 steam turbines “A. E. G. Curtis-Vulkan, 6 Vulkan Boilers 42 000 shp (29.44 MW)
Speed 37.3 knots (21 cruise speed, 32 average service)**
Range 740 miles (32 knots)***
Armament 4x 102 mm, 4×2 533mm TTs, 2 LMGs, mines, see notes.
Crew 117 (1940: 168)

*1940: displacement standard – 1483 tons light, 1,717 tons normal and 1,951 tons FL.
**1940: Top speed 32 knots, 30.5 knots FL, 16 knots cruise speed.
***Cruising range 1940: 1800 miles (16 knots)

Final Assessment

On October 5, 1913 on the granite embankment of the Neva in St. Petersburg a crowd watched an unusual event, the arrival of a handsome new vessel, the destroyer Novik. The general public came here to admire her size and shape, but experts considered her advantage was a combination of innovation that were not perceptible by the general public: A true revolution in the development of such class of ships worldwide. Novik laid the foundation for the construction of a new type of fleet destroyers all fleets of the world. All admiralty took notice and prepare their own designs, when WWI broke out, many of these designs were ongoing. The first concerned however were the British, not the Germans, which strangely did not changed anything to their ongoing “hochseetorpedoboote” construction policy. The small black “toothbrush” style boats were judged sufficient for the confines of the Baltic and North Sea. The Russians hiwever had to care for the Pacific and the British their own far-fetched empire.

In WWI German “destroyers” were created exclusively for torpedo attacks as part of a flotilla, and focus on powerful torpedoes. The Germans unreasonably neglected artillery believing that keeping a tight formation would delegate fire protection to a light cruiser used as flotilla leader. German shipbuilders as the naval staff were also dismissive of radio equipment, assuming these flotilla were not intended either for reconnaissance or laying minefields, seen as a dangerous diversion of their core mission. However German High sees TBs had for them high speed, still good seaworthiness and long cruising range despite thir limited size.
The British Royal Navy developed their own type of destroyer, quite different and did not neglected other roles, ot the role of artillery. Their destroyers were traditionally more powerful than that the German ones, and constantly strengthened artillery.
The Novik, built on voluntary donations after the Russo-Japanese War favorably differed from other destroyers by its extremely low specific fuel consumption, due to the use of oil-fired boiler heating, high efficiency, compact power unit but also construction with a progressive use of longitudinal steel bracing, better seaworthiness with increased strength based on a still moderate displacement and high speed. Novik also combined a powerful artillery and torpedo armament, a very advanced radio station for the time, for better coordination, and versatility combining minelaying, torpedo attacks and duel with other destroyers, combined with the immense advantage of a superior speed to choose their own moment, and dictate their own battle rythm to the adversary.

The ceremonial keel laying took place on August 1, 1910 at Putilov shipyard was not secret, and thus, followed by naval attachés of all nations at St. Petestburg. The ship was ready a month and a half before schedule, and again, naval attachés came back to see her: This unusual ship borrowed all the best from British and German destroyers, while going further with ma,y other innovations kept on a 1500 tons design. Novik pushed the boundaries of all parameters on a moderate displacement.

In terms of artillery itself, Novik surpassed the competition. The organization of firing was les rational and suffered from cluttered arc of fires on places, but the guns themselves were judged superior to British 102-mm (4-in) guns in terms of muzzle velocity, shell weight and firing range, with the addition of a modern centralized fire control.
The torpedo armament was also formidable with an eight-torpedo broadside, more powerful than even the very latest planned destroyers. And the third advantage was this ability to lay minefields on the go. The concept of “active minelaying” proper to Russia was noticed by all, but raised still doubts about the Russian capacity to effectively lay mines at 30+ knots (which was a design issues that kept admiralties occupied for decades and never properly solved but perhaps by the Germans with their interwar R-Bootes, small enough to avoid turbulence issues).
The last point, probably the most spectacular, and most striking was the new destroyer’s unmatched top speed at the time. This record of 37.3 knots remained uncontested from 1912 to 1917.
The Royal Navy felt concerned by the Novik design, but only went for larger destroyes when WWI started, as destroyer leaders (like the Scott class) with four 102-mm guns instead of three and six torpedo tubes. The British admirakty realized it was extremely difficult to reload torpedo tubes in combat conditions and eventually in turn started to adopt multiple tube banks quickly. But still they were inferior to the Novik (and successors) on that plan, missing a bank. They became eve more concerned as the next Ushakovskaya class had twelve torpedoes to launch in one go.

In 1916, the need to equip destroyers for laying minefields came back on the table to constrain the Hochseeflotte to path of their choosing, and to compensate for the weight of the mines it was necessary to remove the stern gun and stern twin-tube torpedo tube. After a 12 hours operations, including fitting rails, a destroyer could take 40 to 60 mines (for flotilla leaders). Novik and their successors kept that possibility without sacrifice or delays.
In September 1914, Novik was the only ship of her kind in the Russian fleet and she was so different than her predecessors, the naval command had her included in a detachment of cruisers.
She performed well as expected in combat, and in the interwar, was large and solid enough to be upgraded and partly rebuilt twice. Thus, unlike all her precedessors, Novik and her circa 50 sister ships were relevant enough to be kept in service for the whole duration of WW2. Their original concept made them pioneers, and thus perfectly apt after two decades to perform all destroyers missions. They enabled the new Soviet admiralty to capitalize on their intimidating presence and not even considering starting any new design until the mid-1930s -with Italian help- for the Gnevniy class.

Read More


Breyer, Siegfried (1992). Soviet Warship Development: Volume 1: 1917–1937. London: Conway Maritime Press.
Budzbon, Przemysław (1985). “Russia”. In Gray, Randal (ed.). Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1906–1921. NIP
Budzbon, Przemysław (1980). “Soviet Union”. In Chesneau, Roger (ed.). Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1922–1946.
Budzbon, Przemysław; Radziemski, Jan & Twardowski, Marek (2022). Warships of the Soviet Fleets 1939–1945. Vol. I NIP
Campbell, John (1985). Naval Weapons of World War II. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press.
Friedman, Norman (2011). Naval Weapons of World War One: Guns, Torpedoes, Mines and ASW Weapons of All Nations. Seaforth Publishing.
Halpern, Paul G. (1994). A Naval History of World War I. NIP
Hill, Alexander (2018). Soviet Destroyers of World War II. New Vanguard. Vol. 256. Osprey Publishing.
Rohwer, Jürgen (2005). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939–1945: The Naval History of World War Two NIP
Watts, Anthony J. (1990). The Imperial Russian Navy. London: Arms and Armour.


Model Kits–187756



Livery of the Novik as built:
Grey: fan-ejectors capstan, fan-deflectors, 102-mm cannons, skylights, hull above the waterline, conning tower, bow and stern superstructure, steering wheel, fore-mast and fore-yard, chimneys, torpedo devices, shots, hull of a four-oar yal, hull of a whaleboat, hull of a motor boat above the waterline, davits, similar hatches, shields and machine gun casings, gangway, combat searchlights, steam siren steam pipe, main mast, gaff and main yard , ventilation shafts, min-beams, flagpole, propeller guard, fender, 102-mm shell elevators, round hatches, bed nets, outboard ladder, entrance doors, inclined ladders, boiler room ventilation casing, engine telegraph, steam boiler, deflectors boiler room fans, breakwater, signal flag fender, conning tower entrance platform, boiler room casing.
BLACK: Hall anchor, deck hawse, bollards, bitteng, standing rigging, chimney caps, mine rails, ladder brackets, bale slats, Legof stoppers and chain stop frames, anchor tubes.
WHITE: halves of each lifebuoy, spotlights.
RED: Port marker light, hull below the waterline, propeller shafts, propeller shaft brackets, powerboat hull below the waterline, rudder.
GREEN: starboard side marker light.
YELLOW: running rigging, fender.
LACQUERED WOOD: front gangway, main magnetic compass binnacle.
POLISHED METAL: propellers (bronze), side inscriptions, stern inscription, state emblem (copper), sights for 102 mm guns and twin torpedo tubes (bronze), magnetic compass caps (bronze).

Novik in two wars: 1912-1941

Prewar and wartime service 1913-1917

Novik as built in 1911

After sea trials and fleet training, gunnery and torpedo drills, the Novik was ready for her service with the Baltic fleet in the summer of 1914, as the only modern destroyer, enlisted in the cruiser brigade. On July 18, 1914, she operated in the area of Cape Dagerort, covering a large minelaying operation. On August 19-21 and 26, she went for several reconnaissance missions, looking for German vessels. On the night of August 19-20 she spotted and fired 4 torpedoes on the cruiser SMS Augsburg, but failed to hit her.
The commander of the Baltic Fleet, N. O. Essen, decided to carry out minelaying missions by nifght as close as the German coast as possible, and for these purpose, “Novik” was allocated to the special semi-division (Border Guard ships and the General Kondratenko, Okhotnik destroyers) but on site, Novik was supposed to act independently, laying mines in the Danzig Bay, west of the Stolpe Bank, the most dangerous spot. Her saving grace was her speed, which the other lacked.
On September 1914, Novik departed and met on the 2nd a German cruiser patrol, with the latter immediately retreating. SMS Augsburg spotted again her previous assailant and chased Novik for forty minutes, but could not catch up.
From the second half of September 1914, the Baltic Fleet started active minelaying in enemy waters, and the “special-purpose” destroyer unit wasn sent again with Novik appointed as formation leader. Minelaying was carried out in the southwestern and southern parts of the Baltic Sea. Indeed the Nile Bay and adjacent areas adjacent were used by the Kaiserliches Marine for their summer training manoeuvers. Also routes of German transports converged there, including the supply of many steel and weapons factories along the coast.
As a rule, a second destroyer flotilla covered the minelaying and once again, Novik departed to act independently, unsupported. Between secrecy and high speed the admiralty thought these missions would be performed without a hitch. Minelaying was made in full darkness, the flotillas returning at dawn to their shores.

The Germans did not conducted constant reconnaissance in these dangerously close areas, making it easier to approach, with severe consequences: Pn November 5, 1914, 12 days after the first minelaying mission, the armored cruiser Friedrich Karl blew up and sank. It was a stuning first success for the Russian admiraty and a complete surprise for the the German command, many believing this was due to a submarine action, as none though the Russian would have dared minelaying that close to their shores.

Gulf of Riga action (August 17, 1915)

In August 1915, the German fleet tried to break into the Gulf of Riga, mustering two battleships, four cruisers, 33 destroyers, and four divisions of minesweepers, plus a cohort of patrol ships and auxiliary vessels. The breakthrough was covered by ten dreadnoughts, 5 armored cruisers and 32 destroyers. The most important concentration of German naval forces in this area of the Baltic ever.

But minesweeping work was hampered by the battleship Slava. The destroyers V-99 and V-100 were despatched to spot her and sink her in the night of August 17, however they fell on two Russian destroyers, notably General Kondratenko, an older, but still potent design. The night battle had all four opponents quickly lost sight of each other. At 11 p.m. Novik while in the Irben Strait, was contacted by General Kondratenko and dispatched to prevent any German entrance to the bay. German destroyers were illuminated by searchlights from the the “Ukraina” and “Voiskovoy” and a new battle started, a quick exhanged lasting only three minutes. At 600 m, Russian gunners scored hits, launching two torpedoes so close they went under the keels of the nimble German destroyers. But in this exceptionally dark night, they lost sight again. The Germans retreated and waited for dawn to leave the bay through their own minefields.

However at this time, they were chased off by Novik, spotted and signalled in the predawn haze by the Mikhailovsky lighthouse. V-99 and V-100 were precisely built in Germany to deal with the new Russian destroyer generation and were capable of 35.5 knots. But they only totalled eight 88 mm guns, twelve torpedo tubes between them. Novik’s captain was confident, with motivated, eager and well drilled crews. They were in the best boat of the Baltic fleet and knew it. At last, Novik caught sight of the two fleeing black “toothbrushes” and was first to open fire from 8,700 m. The enemy destroyers turned around to present theior best broadside and close the distance to respond, but at that range it was still ineffective. Their own spotters soon realized with what destroyers that had to deal. At the third volley, Novik found its mark on V-99 and switched to rapid fire. Gunners swated hard to load and shoot faster than in training.

A cloud of smoke and steam enveloped V99, hit several times. A fire broke out on her quarterdeck, her funnel fell, and from her stern a ball of flames erupted. V-100 put up a smokescreen to cover her retreat, stopping the engagement for a withdrawal. Novik concentrated on V-100 next, and quickly set it on fire in turn. Enemy firing became erratic and Novik maneuvered, hoping to drive them into the Russian minefield, succeeding in this. V-99 soon hit two mines in succession and rapidly sank. V-100, badly damaged, however made good her escape damage, joining the cover of the main forces. Novik suffered no loss or any hit and came back a war hero. The ship commander, Berens, and artillery officer, Lt. Fedotov were awarded the Order of St.George.

Novik went on her operations of minelaying notably in the Irbensky Strait, Libaya and localized minefield to deny the German fleet any passage in the Gulf of Riga. By September 15-21, she had her propellers repaired in drydock, after being damaged on August 4 during the explosion of a 12-in projectile astern during one of her sorties, when straddled by a German dreadnought. On September 25, near Odensholm, she recured pilot Musgyats as his hydroplane crash-landed nearby. On October 29-30 and November 22-23, she sorties with Gangut and Petropavlovsk, providing cover for the 1st minelaying division operating near Gotland. Later she took part in yet another a raid on German patrol ships, in the central Baltic. On December 24-25, she towed the damaged destroyer Zabiyaka after the Revel raid, which hit a mine near Dagerort.

Further operations (1916)

This victory was followed by a series of no less outstanding combat successes of the brand new destroyer. Novik became soon a household name, its successes reported to the Tsar. On the evening of November 7, 1915, Novik discovered the patrol vessel SMS Norburg near the Spon Bank and in less a minute, paralyze her with rapid fire followed by a torpedo hit which sent her to the bottom.
As the Baltic Fleet intensified its minefield operations, Novik was always at the lead, and always acted independent action, being the most active ship in these campaigns. Night minelaying required still great skills from navigators, maneuvering in unknown areas and the ability to extract from the German, and their own minefields.

But to be effective these minefields had to stand in the most unexpected places. As dusk fell, the special detachment received a radiogram from the fleet commander that by the evening of December 4, 1915, Bremen cruiser and a large destroyer were sunk, likely by Novik’s mines given their location. This added two more success and confirmed the path to maintain for a numerically inferior Baltic fleet. Instead of seeking a classic line engagement against a largely superior Hochseeflotte, a serie of hit and run operations such these became the accepted norm. And there was the construction of dozens of sisters of Novik on the way.

On the night of May 18, 1916, Novik, Grom and Pobedel, covered by the cruisers Rurik, Oleg and Bogatyr, made yet another raid on a German convoy in Norrköping Bay. The enusing battle, Russian destroyers launched their torpedoes and dispersed the 20 ships, and between them and the cruisers, claimed a German auxiliary cruiser, two armed trawlers and two merchant ships. On June 26, 1916, when crossing to Helsingfors near Nargen at 17 knots, she was grounded on rocky shoals. She was towed out by the icebreaker “Peter the Great” on the third attempt, towed to Helsingfors for repairs at Sandvik Dock, until August 13. From August 22, and until the end of the campaign she operated off Moonsund. On September 17-22, she sortied to look for U-Boats.

From October 4 to October 16, 1916, Novik was prepared for more sorties, but their were all postponed each time. On October 18, at 7:30, she sailed with the semi-division for a raid on the Memel area. A storm had the ships soon rolling up to 36° forcing them to slow down and reverse. On October 19, they made another sortie to Moonsund. On October 23 and November 10, two more minelaying missions were successfully done. More German vessels were sunk, but of less importance. On December 2, after another canceled operation while back off Reval, she collided with the minelayer Narova and her her stem bent. She was repaired from December 4 to December 18, in Helsingfors. From December 21 she stayed for the winter in Reval.
In early October, he carried out a minelaying operation off the Steinort lighthouse, and searched for German destroyers in the area of Sarychesky lighthouse. On November 2, together with the destroyer Desna she sailed to Rogokul and on December, 12 moved to Helsingfors for repairs adn an overhaul.

Last wartime operations (1917)

In May 1917, she became flagship of the mine division of the Baltic Fleet. She took part in the defense of the Moonsund archipelago and by October 1917, took part in the Battle of Moon sund with the German fleet. Afterwards, she was sent to revolutionary Petrograd, and entered a drydock for repairs and by November 1917, a major overhaul, her crew learning that from October 25, 1917 she was now part of the Red Fleet. On September 9, 1918, she was decommissioned however (her officers and crew gone) handed over to the Petrograd port for long-term storage. The war ended and her fate in the civil war years, like the rest of the fleet, was all but uncertain.

Modernization and interwar career as Yakov Sverdlov

Until 1925, Novik was mothballed in Petrograd, but by order of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic, on December 31, 1922, she was renamed after the first Chairman of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee Yakov Sverdlov. The decision was initiated back in March 1921, in the 10th Congress, whien it was decided to revive and strengthen the fleet. On October 29, 1924, approved the allocation of funds for the complete overhaul of still extant Novik-style destroyers in the fleet.
This was the occasion for an overhaul, a complete refection after years of neglect, complete restoration, and on August 30, 1928, freshly painted anew, with her new name and red star on the bow, she became part of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet.

After indeed being laid up from 9 September 1918 to 1925 she was indeed extensively rebuilt between 26 September 1925 and 30 August 1929. Her rearmost twin torpedo tubes bank was removed, three 102 mm (4.0 in) guns relocated forward, a second 76.2 mm (3 in) “Lender” AA gun ounted aft of the quarterdeck (a problem of the rearmost 102 mm gun). The three remaining twin torpedo tubes bankis were replaced by triples, re-positioned. The bridge structure was completely redesigned and enlarged, the deckhouse aft of the fourth funnel elmininated and a new, larger deckhouse added about 30 ft aft of the fourth funnel. Masts were now tripod, re-positioned, the forward funnel heightened by 2 metres (6.6 ft).

Interwar Service

Fleet Exercises with the Red Banner Baltic Fleet marked her early interwar service. Decommissioned again from December 1, 1926 to August 30, 1929 at the Northern Shipyard it was decided during the ioverhaul and maintenance to convert her into a destroyer division command ship, requiring larger accomodations, dedicated rooms and larger crew. The modernization caused and increase to 1,771 tons standard and 1,951 tons fully loaded.
After further fleet manoeuvers and exercises from 1930 to 1937, she was overhauled again between 28 November 1937 and 8 December 1940. This included her machinery, with elements replaced or refreshed. She also obtained ip to four 45 mm (1.8 in) 21-K anti-aircraft guns but re-designated a training ship on 23 April 1940.
The same year it was decided to make another upgrade with her firepower enhance and taking a heavier displacement. The days of her record 37 knots were long gone. Her standard “best speed”, despite her machinery overhaul, was circa 30 knots.
Before invasion of the summer 1941, Yakov Sverdlov was part of the training squadron, Frunze Naval School and in late July she was moved to the 3rd destroyer division of the Baltic Fleet squadron, no longer training but now fully active again.

A short and deadly WW2 career

In the first two months she carried out escort missions and covered actions of the fleet, screening cruisers and looking for enemy ships and U-Boats. She also took part in fire support missions for the ground forces. Also in July she became shortly flagship of the fleet (“command post”).
As part of the 3rd Destroyer Division she covered the evacuation of the Soviet Navy from Tallinn to Kronstadt, Yakov Sverdlov escorted to the cruiser and flagship Kirov, under command of Captain 2nd Rank A. M. Spiridonov, ensured their breakthrough to a less exposed port.
On August 28, 1941, at 05:00, together with the rearguard destroyers, she was detached to the Soviet Estonian capital Port to evacuate city defenders.
At 16:00 on the same day, near Nargen Island, she was sailing to the northern part of the island with five minesweepers at the head of the formation, and then an icebreaker. The destroyer Yakov Sverdlov screened Kirov, followed by a submarine and the Flotilla leader Leningrad. She received an order to move to a new position slightly ahead, port side of Kirov when it happened.

The end and controversy

Describing the events immediately preceding what happened her indicated:

Approaching “to my place”, I was dumbfounded by events alternating with lightning speed – a semaphore was received from one of the minesweepers: “You have a floating mine on your nose. Dodge.” The port signalman reported: “Submarine periscope left 60 degrees.” Having found the periscope at a distance of 8 cables, I ordered Senior Lieutenant Orlov to open fire. At the same time, he gave the order to make bombs and had already decided to go to the boat in order to ram it and bomb it, when suddenly the starboard signalman reported: “Kirov has stalled.” Looking around, I found that the cruiser “Kirov”, moving at the slowest speed, lowered a Red Navy man onto the gazebo, who was cutting the minesweeping part with an autogen. At the same time, the commander of the signalmen’s squad reported: “To the left is the trail of a torpedo.” Having found a torpedo trail in 2-3 cables, I realized that I could do nothing more than sacrifice the destroyer. Besides, even if I wanted to evade it, I could not do anything in this position; I knew this as the former head of the department of torpedo firing.
-Captain A. M. Spiridonov’s report

Sverdlov in 1940

Further events were witnessed not only by those who escaped Yakov Sverdlov, but also by sailors on duty aboard Kirov. According to Alexander Panasenko, a signalman from Kirov, warned that Yakov Sverdlov raised the dreaded “torpedo on the left” signal, compounded by its siren, and increasing speed, the captain, which flanked-guarded the flagship decided to willingfully take the torpedo himself, turning to the left and sparing Kirov. By all accounts by her sacrifice she saved the cruiser. If hit, Kirov, which was lightly protected against ASW threats, would have never reached Kronstadt and the flotilla could have lost her flagship.

A 2018 dive to the location and examination of the Yakov Sverdlov’s wreck showed the torpoedo hit her under ​​the second funnel amidship. Due to the force of the detonation at this crucial point, she broke in half but did not sink immediately due to her excellent comparitmentation. This allowed part of the crew and refugee aboard to escape. According to Spiridonov report, the stern was still capable of moving independently, commanded by his assistant. Still 300 died: Circa 100 from her crew, 200 refugee from Tallinn (sources differs).
She sank 10 miles from the island of Mohni, resting for decades at a depth of 75 meters. Her bow was turned upside down exposing her keel, the stern however sank upright, still intact with guns and superstructure on an even keel. The soviet coat of arms was still clearly readable as her name. Many photos and a film were taken.
This put an end to a controversial theory about the origin of the torpedo. In fact she sat on the eastern edge of the German-Finnish Yuminda minefield, on the reported mine line D.27, and thus probably hit EMC mines (250 kg explosives), the Russian-Finnish also discovering three more wrecks of ships sunk during the Tallinn breakthrough. The location of the Yakov Sverdlov in a dense minefield is compounded by declassified German achives reported that not a single U-Boat was ever reported in the area of ​​the Yuminda minefield during this breakthrough, due precisely to the danger of the minefield. This put an end to the long-maintained myth of the “her destroyer of the great patriotic war”. A nice story ideal for the propaganda of the time.

ww2 soviet cruisers

soviet navy flag WW2 Soviet Cruisers

Between prewar, interwar and cold war designs, the Soviet Union’s Navy (Sovietsky Flota) aligned about 32 cruisers, many after the 1917 being relics of the pf even before the war of 1877 or the Russo-Japanese war. Those built afterwards were either designed to take the place of the cruisers sunk and captured, but also improved and updated in design. This was a considerable effort, so much so than a few were even ordered to Germany (Like the Amursky class), some being ordered even before the 1905 war in emergency like the US-built Varyag. So this post will present this inheritance and what was left of it after the Revolution, Interwar conversions, projects and relationship with Italy which dictated the first “domestic” designs, to end with wartime construction and projects, and cold war developments under Stalin’s direction.

chapayev class
Chapayev class cruisers (1950), designed in 1938, launched 1941 but completed after the war. A good example of the programmes stopped due to the invasion.

The Russian Fleet Inheritance

The Revolution of October 1917 which toppled the regime left many questions in suspensions, chief of which what would become of the Russian Imperial Army and belligerence, and the fate of the Russian Imperial Navy. The latter was at some point the third largest (before the Russo-Japanese war), with one of the most sizeable cruisers fleets to be present in the Baltic, Black Sea and Pacific at the same time. And the Navy with its mutinies was the first to side with the revolutionaries. It’s symbol was a cruiser, Aurora, which fired hthe signal shot for the storming of St.Petesrburg’s palace. Sailors of the Baltic fleet supplied arguably the best fighting force of the Bolsheviks. Long story short, in 1917, the new regime inherited of a collection of ships, some going back decades. The fleet was inactivated, ships at sea were ordered to come back to port and especially in the case of the Black Sea Fleet, officers were rounded up and shot. A comittee was set in place to decide of its fatet. Some cruisers had been sunk in action also during the war, like Minin, Gerzog Edinburgski, Pallada, Zhemchug.
Among the ships obtained by the revolutionary government were (from oldest to most recent):
Armoured Cruisers
General Admiral (1873)
Pamiat Azova (1888)
Rossia (1896)
Gromoboi (1899)
Admira Makarov (1906)
Bayan (1907)
Pallada (1906)
Rurik (1906)
Protected Cruisers:
Aurora (1900)
Diana (1899)
Askold (1900)
Bogatyr (1901)
Kagul (1902)
Oleg (1903)
Ochakov (1902)
Almaz (1903)

The state of these ships was variable, but as long as crews were framed by willful officers and had the capacity of doing propoer maintenance, it was done. However the new Revolutionary Government had no plans for the Navy yet, attention soon focusing on securing the interior in a still troubled situation, close to chaos. In 1919, the civil war started, with the implication of the Western Powers. Full support was given to the “white russians” and among others the Black Sea became the theater of naval violent takeovers, while Kronstadt in the Baltic was under attack by a coalition led by the Royal Navy. It’s at that time that the “Red Army Navy” -by default of a better name- was constituted to try to get these aforementioned ships in shape if possible.

The Soviet Navy was formally established as the “Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Fleet” or RKKF by a 1918 decree of the new Council of People’s Commissars, but it was a paper tiger, with ships worn out, in poor condition of lacking crews and fuel. One was sent into action though, the old Pamiat Azova reconverted into a minelayer, and sunk on 18 august 1919. She was attacked in the Bay of Kronstadt by torpedo boats backed by aviation. The second was Oleg (Bogatyr class), torpedoed and sunk on the night of 17 June 1919 by Royal Navy speedboat CMB-4.

Fate of WW1 Russian cruisers

Ships remaining in Sevastopol were captured by the Germans. The armistice of 1918 saw more ships confiscated by the British, or the Finns later.
Let also cite the unique case of the Wrangel’s fleet (which comprised two battleships, the cruisers General Kornilov and Almaz, 12 destroyers, submarines, torpedo boats, minelayers and many auxiliaries). This “White” flotilla, was soon deprived of its main bases, and forced to flee the Black Sea via the Dardanelles to the Aegean Sea and crossing to Bizerta (French Tunisia) for internment.

In the end, the once mighty Baltic Fleet was reduced to two cruisers and ten destroyers, still remaining a significant naval formation. The Black Sea Fleet was however in such a shape there was only room for expansion. There were also riverine vessels of all size and tonnage in various places, which however were in better shape and saw lot of action during the Civil War.
The general state of the fleet was such that the Soviets were not invited to participate in the Washington Naval Treaty negociations. Indeed, the bulk of the “old fleet” was sold by the Soviet government to post-war Germany for scrap. The new government eagerly needed cash and its focus was not on the fleet but on the Army. The Navy fell Imperial might and revolutionary glory, to the “poor child” of the Red Army.

Here are specific cases:

Prut (ex-Medjidieh) was captured after sinking off Odessa, hitting a mine. She was repaired and modernized, ready by January 1917 but captured in Sevastopol by the Germans by May 1918 and returned to their former owner.
Peresviet: The ex-Perseviet, ext-Sagami captured in Port Arthur, was returned to Russia, but hit mines off Port Said in 1917 by January 1917.
Variag: The US-built cruiser was scuttled in Chemulpo in in 1904, was raised to become Soya, and returned to Russia at Vladisvostock in April 1916. During the revolution she had crossed many miles to be interned in Liverpool, and latter scrapped.

The very famous Aurora, a floating museum of the revolution from 1948. After being the starting point of the St Petersburg revolution, she was left “to rot”, but eventually maintained and was put back into service in 1923 as a cadet training ship, a role she held until 1931. She remained Leningrad, until the 1941 invasion, bombed by the Luftwaffe and scuttled to avoid capture. Raised in 1944 she was repaired and restored to its original state of 1917, now quite an attraction in Leningrad today.

The case of the Svetlana & Nakhimov class

kraznyy krim
kraznyy krim, “red crimea” in 1941

In addition to the ships listed above, there was still the prospect of a later completion of the Svetlana class. These post-1905 replacements had been complementary of the pair ordered in Germany and requisitioned in 1914: The Murarev Amurski became the Pillau class. The Svetlana laid down in 1913 in the Baltic saw all construction stopped. The workforce was soon drafted and resources were focused on artillery and shells or armored trains.

Former naval yards started to work on armoured cars. In 1917 all four cruisers (plus two) had been launched, but not completed. Work until then had been slow, but proceeded anyway, but the revolution stopped all this. They were left in their slipways at Russo-Baltic Reval Yard and St Persburg’s Putilov Works, pending a decision. There again, more urgent issues prevented to resume any work. Meawnhile the hulls degraded, and it was not until well after the end of the civil war that the newly formed amiralty of the RKKF looked on how best to complete them (see later), despite their prewar hull design.

Also of note, there was another minelayer cruiser project of the Russian Imperial Navy that never came to fruition. They were authorized in 1915 by the emergency program, for the Baltic. As designed by the admiralty they were in the range of 4000-5000 tonnes, arled with six to eight 130mm/55 guns and able to cary 350 to 450 mines. Their design reflected what was learned during the the success of minelaying operations by light forces. They also draw some influence from the German Brummer class. They would stay a paper project, unnamed.

→ Svetlana (LD 07/12/1913) > Profintern 1922 Comp 1926 Renamed Krasny Krim 1939 BU 1960
→ Admiral Butakov (LD 29/11/1913) launched 8/1916 BU incomplete 1956
→ Admiral Spiridov (LD 29/11/1913) launched 9/1916 Hulked 1947
→ Admiral Greig (LD 07/11/1913) launched 12/1916 stranded 12/1938
The second serie also comprised four ships: Two completed (*one on a very different design)
→ Admiral Nakhimov (LD 31/10/1913) > Chervonia Ukraina 1926 Foundered 11/1941
→ Admiral Lazarev* (LS 31/10/1913) > Krazny Kavkaz 1932 sunk 1950s
→ Admiral Kornilov (LD 7.14) BU incomplete 1922
→ Admiral Istomin (LD 7.14) BU incomplete 1938

soviet navy flag Profintern class (1915)

Profintern, Chervonia Ukraina, Krasny Krim

Chervonia Ukraina in 1930

This class survived -almost- entirely the civil war and saw service in the interwar, modernized as part of the 1st 5-year plan: They allowed the new RKKA, with the sole survivors of the Nakhimov class, to constitute at least a solid core to the Baltic, Black Sea and Pacific fleets, with four cruisers.
The Admiral Nakhimov and Svetlana of the Tsarist Navy, ordered in 1913, launched in 1916, were never completed due to the outbreak of the civil war. They were the top two in the class. Another later became Krasny Kavkaz, after total reconstruction. These two ships were more piles of rusty sheets when seized in 1921, and it was decided to save them for a completion.
Profintern (ex-Svetlana) was the first to be completed on the original plans, in 1925. She spent another three years of trials before being accepted for service.
Chervonia Ukraina, her sister-ship, was completed in 1922, but again her trials continued until 1927. They were then of a totally outdated design, their machines delivering only 22 knots instead of the 29 planned and their artillery of 130 mm at the quarterdeck or barbettes being imprecise in heavy weather.

Profintern was sent to the Black Sea in 1929. She will be modernized there in 1939, receiving new modern rangefinders, lost her catapult, cranes and planes to regain stability while gaining a more effective AA than its four original 65 mm guns, with six 75 mm like her sister-ship. Renamed Krasny Krim she re-entered active service in November, only to return some time later for extra AA modernization completed in 1941. For her part, Chervona Ukraina received a modernization of the same type between 1939 and 1941. She was also in service in the Black Sea during the German invasion. Both sisters defended Odessa and Sevastopol. During these operations, Chervonia Ukraina was badly damaged by Stukas of Stgswr 77 on November 12, 1941. She sank the following day. After the fall of Sevastopol, Krasny Krim escaped to Poti, and led a number of offensive sorties, receiving two new 76mm AA guns, and in 1945 a USN air warning radar. In March 1945, she became a training ship, used as such until 1958.

chervonia ukraina profile
chervonia ukraina author’s profile


Displacement & Dimensions: 6,900t, 8,200t FL; 158.40 x 15.36 x 5.65m
Propulsion: 2 shafts Brown-Curtis turbines, 12 Yarrow boilers, 46,300 hp. 22 knots.
Armor: Belt 76mm (3 in)
Crew: 750
Armament: 15×1 130mm guns, 6×1 100mm DP guns, 10x 37 AA guns, 7x 12.7mm HMG, 4×3 533 mm TTS, 100 mines, 1 catapult and seaplane.

Krazny Kavkaz was the former Admiral lazaref, saved and completed in 1932 in a completely new design.
Krazny kavkaz is singular in more ways than one: Firstly because she was a completely redesigned and rebuilt old ship (a 1913 Svetlana class cruiser), but also because of her main armament and her configuration. She was at the time a ship assigned to the Pacific fleet, opposed to Japanese cruisers of that time. It was a question of facing the Kako class (six 8-in or 203 mm in simple turrets), a configuration also retained by the Russians, but limite to four, and with experimental 180 mm gins in fore and aft superfiring turrets. These 180mm guns however compensated by a faster rate of fire.

Ultimately, Krazny Kavkaz, launched in 1916, was completed in 1932 in this aspect, but sent instead to the Baltic in 1939 to participate in the Finnish campaign. By this time her AA armament had been changed from 4 x 45mm guns to 8 x 37mm guns and 6 x 12.7mm DHSK heavy machine guns. In 1941 she was damaged by German coastal artillery, then the Luftwaffe in 1942 off Tuapse. She was sent to Poti for repairs. She received on this occasion extra AA guns and jer machinery was changed for that of the recently lost cruiser Chervonia Ukraina. In 1944 her AA armament was reinforced with 6 twin 100 mm DP turrets, four 37 mm AA guns and two more 12.7 mm DsHk machine guns, then with the removal of the hangar and catapult, two quadruple 7 mm LMG on her upper turrets.
She survived the war and became a training ship, served in that role from 1947 until 1956 until being used as a test target for SSN-1 sea-to-sea missiles, sinking in 1956.

Krazny Kavkaz
Krazny Kavkaz, author’s HD illustration


Displacement & Dimensions: 7650t, 9030t PC; 169.50 x 15.70 x 6.20m
Propulsion: 2 turbines, 12 Yarrow boilers, 55,000 hp. 29 knots.
Armor: Decks, belt 76mm, barbettes 80, turrets 76mm, CT 152mm
Crew: 850
Armament: 4×1 180 mm, 4×1 100mm, 4x45mm AA guns, 4 12.7mm HMGs, 4×3 533 mm TTs, 100 mines, 3 floatplanes.

The 2nd five year plan and search for a new cruiser

The complete redesign of the Krazny Kavkaz and modernization of the three Profintern had provided the Soviet Navy with a welcome base. However these ships had essentially a pre-WWI conception and were too small to face treaty cruisers of the 1930s.

The Italian Design Influence

One aspect which is really specific to the Soviet Navy, given it’s isolation on the international sphere was the search for a modern design by the admiralty. Until then, the partial rebuiding of the Svetlana (Profintern class) and Krazniy Kavkaz has been on some help, but the admiralty wanted modern cruisers based on its own requirements, completely out and free of all limitations. Therefore instead of all other great navies of the time (USN, Royal Navy, IJN, French and Italian ones), or even like the severely restricted Versailles-treaty bound Kriegsmarine, the Sovietsky Flot was free to design its proper cruiser types, coming to a very peculiar set of designs.
Four types were envisioned overall in the early 1930s:
-Scout cruisers (Razvedchik Kreyzer or RKR): The old rebuilt WWI types, and a future class of scouts never built (Like Design X)
-Light cruisers (Legkiy Kreyzer or LKR), of a fleet type (The future Project 26 and following), the “Soviet Condotierri” as they were built in pairs on Italian design. They were designed to outclass contemporary light cruisers and therefore had larger guns, of 18 instead of 15 cm caliber.
-Medium Cruisers (Sredniy Kreyser or SKR), which really were “heavy cruisers” with not 8-in but rather 9 in (220-230 mm) to outclass or even hunt down other cruisers. Several Projects, but none realized.
-Battlecruisers (Boyevoy Kreyzer or BKR), which became the Kronstadt and later Stalingrad types at the insistence of Stalin.

Relations between Italy and the USSR

tashkent 1939
Tashkent, delivered from Livorno to USSR without armament due to international conventions regarding the bosphorus, despite degrading relations with USSR.

Due to the essentially “socialist” regime proned by Mussolini in its early years, a natural rapprochement was done with USSR. The Soviets and Italians maintained contacts since 26 December 1921, signing a trade agreement, and having full diplomatic relations from 7 February 1924, Italy being the first Western nation to recognize Soviet Union. On 6 May 1933, there was the signing an economic pact with shared interests in industrialisation, with Italy requesting Soviet oil and coal, while in returned Soviet engineers would have access to the latest designs in the aviation, automobile and naval fields.

Bridge structure of the Kirov class, reminsicent of the Zara class with its quad-leg mast.

The ideological conflict between the two was largelt an internal matter, and this frame enabled important transfer of technologies in the naval sphere. It was not limited to the Abruzzi class being copied. The second example was the “blue beauty”, the famous destroyer leader Tahskent, delivered as is, without armament to be declined into a full class and strong design influences for the Gnevniy class destroyers (single funnel, bridge, general design) as well and some submersibles of the era.

Other friendly exchanges in 1933 showed an Italian submarine visiting Batum (Black Sea) or three Soviet vessels visited Naples. However woth Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Germany compliocated the situation, between tense Soviet-German relations, uncertain Italy-Germany with the shadown of the annexion of Austria and incursions in South Tyrol, or a potential Soviet-Italian-Turkish stability alliance, which caused the ire of Berlin. In fact Mussolini even mobilised Italian troops in the summer of 1934 on the Brenner Pass to ensure Austrian independence.

Bditelnyy or the Gnevnyy class
Bditelnyy or the large Gnevnyy class, another example of Italian design influence.

But in 1936, Italy violated the pact when supporting Francisco Franco at the start of the Spanish Civil War, developing later de facto as a proxy war with USSR. In return perhaps, the Soviet Union applied economic sanctions imposed by the League of Nations on Italy for its invasion of Ethiopia. In return, Italy joined the Anti-Comintern Pact in 1937 with Germany and Japan. And eventually in 1939, Italy also provided Finland military assistance and equipment (the Regia Aeronautica for exemple sent 35 Fiat G.50 fighters and the Esercito some 94,500 M1938 7.35 mm rifles). However Soviet Union had now a new partner, Germany, which intercepted Italy’s aid, released after peace was signed. The near-dead pact was officially torn off on 22 June 1941 de facto at the start of the invasion of Soviet Union, since Italy joined in.

The Italo-Russian Project 26 Light Cruisers

VM Orlov query for Italian cruisers

At the end of 1930, a special commission led by the head of the Technical Directorate of the UVMS of the Red Army A.K. Sivkov in Italy negotiated the acquisition of a number of warships of various types for the USSR, including light cruisers. V. M. Orlov showed the great interest at that time for light, high-speed cruisers of the Condottieri superclass. Since the Italians refused to sell one of these, in January 1932, V. M. Orlov turned to Commissar K. E. Voroshilov with a proposal of an tailor order and later licence or unclicenced copying, or build a cruiser in USSR with the help of Italian specialists. In February 1932, V. M. Orlov was sure these would meet modern technical and military requirements.
On April 15, 1932, V. M. Orlov approved the document signed by the head of the Training and Combat Department of the Navy E. S. Pantserzhansky to develop a light cruiser project. Requirements were to:
-Support submarine combat operations
-Reconnaissance and reconnaissance support
-Lead destroyer attacks
-Repelling destroyers attacks
-Repelling enemy landings
-Providing tactical landings support
-Participation in fleet combined strikes at sea,
-Combat enemy light cruisers.
According to the OTZ, This initial project was to have:
Armament: four (2×2) 180-mm guns, 4×1 100-mm dual purpose, 4×1 45-mm AA guns, 4×1 12.7-mm heavy machine guns, 2×3 torpedo tubes banks, four DI-6 floatplanes, on two catapults.
Powerplant: Maximum speed of 37-38 knots, cruising range of 3,000-3,600 miles
Standard displacement: No more than 6,000 tons.

Later a second option with three twin-gun turrets (2 bow, 1 stern) were also proposed.
Pre-sketch design was entrusted to the shipbuilding section of the Scientific and Technical Committee (NTC), Yu. A. Shimansky. In the summer of 1932, the commission of the Navy with chief engineer of TsKBS-1 V. A. Nikitin, signed an agreement with Ansaldo to provide one set of powerplant modelled on the Raimondo Montecuccoli class and theoretical drawing. The Italians would also accordig to this document provide consulting on design, and technical assistance even at the stage of building the Yards slipway, production of boilers, turbines and auxiliary parts for the powerplant.

Project 26 evolution from two twin to two triple turrets

Preliminary calculations in 1932-1933 had the NIVK confirming the installation of six 180-mm guns in three twin turrets, with an increase to 6500 tons and reduction of the aviation onboard to two KOR-2. Hull armor scheme was calculated, based on the 6-in (152-mm) shells at 85-115 cables 0-50° angle of up to and 130-180°.
On March 19, 1933, V. M. Orlov approved the document asking for a light cruiser with turbines based on the Montecuccoli, capable of delivering 106-120,000 shp. By April 20, 1933 Orlov approved the first draft design and on May 8, the Naval Administration worked with TsKBS-1 (TsKB-17) on the full development of the project under A. I. Maslov as project manager, V. P. Blagoveshchensky as Navy observer and it became Project 26. The drawing evolved more into the Duca d’Aosta type, larger than the Montecuccoli class, but with the same powerplant.

On October 5, 1934, during a meeting, Leningrad Plant chief engineer A. A. Florensky presented his work on the main battery turrets, and proposed instead to install three guns in each, all mated on the same cradle which, at the price of increasing the mass of each turret by 30 tons. On November 5, the proposal was approved and draft modified accordingly. Thus also brought design changes to the aft hull design, barbettes, wells, and citadel. The stern was aksi changed with the installation of anti-mine paravane, with a transom shape, a first at the time. The hull would be of a mixed sdesign with amidship longitudinal beams construction with a frame spacing of 750 mm, and at both ends a transverse construction with 500 mm spacing, rather than the 760 mm on the Italian cruisers.

There were enough compartmentation to ensure floatability in case even of three adjacent compartments flooded. Deck and side armor were integrated into the main structure, providing overall longitudinal strength. The thickness of deck armor was increased, and after all these, these hulls ended much stronger than the contemporary Montecuccoli and Aosta designs.
It was necesary soon to also increased power, with the main geared turbine units modified with preliminary calculations of a final design of 7,700 tons, resulting in a top speed of 37 knots during tests based on 126,500 hp. The final project, leading to yard orders, was approved on October 29, 1934.

soviet navy flag Project 26: Kirov class (1937)

Kirov, Frunze, Maxim Gorky, Molotov, Kaganovitch, Kalinin

Molotive 7-in turrets crossed
The cruiser Molotov’s 7-in guns crossed

The two Kirov-class cruisers were the first new heavy cruisers since the Rurik of the Tsar’s Navy, apart from the three Svetlana rebuilt in the 25-30s. As a result, sorely lacking in competent engineers in the field, the Russians entrusted the study of these ships to the Italians from the Ansaldo design bureau. Quite classic in their design, the Kirov and her sister-ship Voroshilov however show two originalities, their transom stern, and main artillery of three triple 180 mm gun turrets.
Their initial hull was still very light (7,000 empty tons), greatly reinforced and rising up to 7,880 tons for the Kirovs and 7,970 for the Voroshilov. This very relative overweight was mainly the result of a better protection compared to Italians cruisers. In fact, the planned initial speed fell to 36 knots on the Kirov and 34 on her twin. They were completed in 1938 (Kirov) and 1940 (Voroshilov), their AA armament reinforced shortly before 1944 by ten extra 37 mm guns, replacing their old 45 mm mounts.

These two ships served actively during the war and survived it. Kirov took part in the Finnish winter war in 1939, carrying out coastal bombardments, before joining Tallinn for home defense after the German invasion of June 1941, then Kirov was returning to the defense of Leningrad. She was bombed by the Luftwaffe and badly damaged, but repaired and active by late 1943, supporting the Leningrad winter counter-offensive in 1944. Kirov remained in service until 1976-77 as a training ship. Voroshilov took part in various coastal shelling missions after June 1941, but by October by wreck by bombers and sent to Poti for repairs. She and came out in February 1942, to support the winter counter-offensive. She struck a mine in November 1942, sent for repairs to Batum, but still not repaired in 1945. She served in to the 1960s.

Frunze 1941
Frunze in 1941

Specifications – Kirov class

Displacement & Dimensions: 7,900t, 8,800t PC; 191 x 17.66 x 7.23m
Propulsion: 2 Parsons turbines, 6 Yarrow-Normand boilers, 113,000 hp. and 36 knots max.
Armor: deck crew, belt, 50 mm barbettes, 76 turrets, 152 mm blockhouse; Crew 734
Armament: 3×3 180mm guns, 6×1 100mm DP guns, 6×1 45mm AA guns, 4×1 12.7mm HMG, 2×3 533mm TTs, 2 catapults and 3 floatplanes.

Project 26bis: Maxim Gorkiy class cruisers (1938)

This second cruiser class was a straight line derived from the previous Kirovs. They differed externally only by their superstructure (tower rather than tripod), dimensions very slightly higher for 100 tons more, a higher output but unchanged speed. Their 45 mm AA artillery was augmented by two more AA mounts. Gorkiy was completed in November 1940 and the Molotov in June 1941. Both were in service during the invasion. They were followed by the Kaganovich (June 1944) and the Kalinin (1943). They received on this date all four ten more 37 mm AA guns and four ASW Depht charge throwers. The were also configured to lay mines.

Gorkiy hit a mine in June 1941, lost her bow. She survived, was repaired temporarily in Leningrad, embossed and used for AA defense. Whne German rail artillery and heavy filed guns engaged her, she was badly damaged, and finished off by the luftxaffe in April 1942. But she was repaired and operational in 1943, supporting the great Leningrad counter-offensive of 1944. She survived the war and was withdrawn from active service in 1958.
Molotov took part in the defense of the Black Sea. Present in Sevastopol she was attacked on August 3, 1942 by Italian MAS 568 MTBs, losing also her bow. She was repaired with the uncomplete Frunze’s bow whose construction was interrupted. She was back in action at the end of 1944, served many years post war until being turned into a training ships and was eventually decommissioned in 1972.

Kalinin and the kaganovich of the fourth batch were launched at Komsomolsk on the Amur, towed for completion at Vladivostock because of their draft. They were eventually in service with the Pacific Fleet, but remained inactive during the short hostilities with Japan in July-August 1945. They were withdrawn from service in the 1960s.


Displacement & Dimensions: 8,177t, 9792t FL – 191 x 17.7 x 6.33 m
Propulsion: 2 shafts Parsons turbines, 6 Yarrow-Normand boilers, 129,500 hp. 35 knots
Armor: Decks, belt 76mm, barbettes 80, turrets 76mm, CT 152mm
Crew: 734
Armament: 3×3 180mm guns (3×3), 6×1 100mm DP guns, 10x 45mm AA guns, 4x 12.7 mm HMG, 2×3 533 mm TTs, 2 planes.

Soviet Interwar Conventional Cruisers Projects

soviet navy flag Project X, large multipurpose scout (1930)

The soviet admiraly estimated the cruiser type has proven itself a very versatile vessel as shown in numerous battles, capable of performing a wide spectrum roles & tasks, in part dependent of its design philosophy. The Large Cruiser called Project “X” was initially intended to be a “cruiser killer”, and heavy cruiser but more combat roles were added and it was to be capable of coordinating a small fleet or flotilla or operate independently for the fleet command for about a week.

By 1935, Dr. Anatoly I. Maslov unveiled Project 26 (the future Kirov class, first Soviet Navy light cruiser, as part of the intensive efforts to rebuild the Soviet Navy, under the “Large Fleet Program” launched by Joseph Stalin. V. P. Rimsky-Korsakov designed Project “X” as a larger cruiser, in fact the very first heavy cruiser on the Washington/London treaty sense for the Soviet Navy.
Rimsky-Korsakov’s should be able to defeat other cruisers, even as large as the German Deutschland-class, and for this needed a greater artillery caliber than the usual 8-in (203mm) and to have the range to conduct autonomous operations while coordinating with a division or flotilla, ideally made of a few light cruisers and destroyer leaders such as Kiev & Tashkent class, and destroyers, submarines and support ships. This new universal cruiser was to be able to perform as well anti-submarine warfare, commerce raiding or interception of enemy raiders, minelaying, and skirmishing with larger fleets. Project “X” could only do this by unconventional means.

As designed her standard displacement was to be at least 15,518 tonnes and up to 17,350 tonnes fully loaded for a hull as large as 233.6 m overall for a beam of 22.3 m and draught of 6.6 m. Initial armament was to be four triple 240 mm/60 main guns supplemented by six twin 130 mm/50 B-2LM turrets as secondary battery and two triple 533 mm triple torpedo tubes. The AA battery was to comprised six single 45 mm/46 21-K AA cannons and four single 12.7×108 mm DShK. It was believed at that time indeed, these would provide an efficient cover against 500 kph+ monoplanes.
The 240 mm/60 naval guns as designed had the following caracteristics:
• Projectile weight: 235 kg
• Charge: 100 kg
• Muzzle velocity: 940 m/s
• Ammunition per gun: 110 rounds.
• Elevation –5 degrees to +60 degrees
• Rate of fire at 10 degrees optimal for reload: 5 rounds a minute
• Useful Range: Minimum 30,000 meters
Project X eventually was cancelled in 1941.
Instead, efforts already went into two direction: The Kronstadt class battlecuisers, and the more reasonable Type 82 and 66 cruisers.

Armour scheme

Floatplanes hangar hull details cut

Machinery cut

“Flea” type midget sub-Torpedo Boat

Flea 400 type Midget TB

Soviet interwar and WW2 projects with details (if any)

Project 68 (Chapayev) and 68 bis (Sverdlov)

Project 22: 17,000 tons Heavy cruiser 1936 design, cancelled 1939
Project 26: Kirov-class
Project 26bis: Improved Kirov-class
Project 27: Proposal to reconstruct Petropavlovsk as a battlecruiser
Project 28: Design of a scout cruiser (later evolving at the Chapayev class)
Project 33: Conversion of Kirov-class cruiser Voroshilov to missile cruiser
Project X: A prospective 1938 heavy cruiser (15,000 tonnes) armed with 240 mm guns.
Project 64: A Battlecruiser armed with 356mm guns, improved Project 25 created in response to the Dunkerque-class and Scharnhorst-class battleships.
Project 65: 1946 14,500-ton Light cruiser design
Project 66: The “cruiser killer” 1953 30,750-ton Heavy cruiser design, postwar evolution of Project X
Project 83: was the Ex-German heavy cruiser Lützow and projected completion to Soviet standards, obtained in 1941 but never completed.
Project 84: 1958 15,000-ton Heavy Anti-aircraft cruiser design
Project 94: Further development of the Project 26bis Light cruiser design with 3×3 152mm guns

Post-WW2 projects:

“Super Sverdlov” project

Project 66AV – 68AV 1953 Aicraft Carrier design conversion based on Project 66/Sverdlov class light cruisers
Project 67 1952 Modernized Sverdlov class light cruiser Admiral Nakhimov
Project 67Bis 1957 Modified Sverdlov class guided missile light cruiser design with SS-N-3C Shaddock missiles
Project 67EP 1955 Modified Sverdlov class guided missile light cruiser Admiral Nakhimov with 4 SS-N-3C Shaddock missiles
Project 67SI 1956 Modified Sverdlov class guided missile light cruiser Admiral Nakhimov with Aft SS-N-3C Shaddock missiles
Project 68 1939 Chapayev class light cruiser
Project 68A 1972 Modernized Sverdlov class light cruiser
Project 68Bis 1949 Sverdlov class light cruiser
Project 68C 1947 Modified Chapayev class light cruiser Chaklov with German 105mm AA Guns
Project 68E 1954 Modified Sverdlov class guided missile light cruiser Admiral Nakhimov with 1 SS-N-1 Scrubber missile
Project 68ER 1955 Modified Sverdlov class guided missile light cruiser Admiral Nakhimov with 1 SS-N-1 Scrubber missile but improved launcher system
Project 68I 1946 Modified Chapayev class light cruiser design with German Guns
Project 68K 1946 Improved Chapayev class light cruiser
Project 68U 1965 Modified Sverdlov class command cruiser design
Project 68U-1 1965 Modified Sverdlov class command cruiser Zhdanov
Project 68U-2 1966 Modified Sverdlov class command cruiser Admiral Senyavin
Project 68VVS 1948 Modified Sverdlov class light cruiser design to install the Engines of the Battleship Sovetskaya Rossiya
Project 69 1939 Kronshtadt class battlecruiser
Project 69AV 1945 Kronshtadt class battlecruiser conversion into carrier
Project 69I 1939 Kronshtadt class battlecruiser with German 38cm guns
Project 70E 1957 Modified Sverdlov class guided missile light cruiser Dzerzhinskiy with SA-N-2 Guideline missiles
Project 71 1958 Modernized Sverdlov class guided missile light cruiser design for Admiral Nakhimov

The Kutuzov as of today in the black sea.

Soviet cruisers in 1941

Kalinin, camouflaged in 1945
Kalinin, camouflaged in 1945

In 1941, the fleet included 8 cruisers, the oldest being the Komintern (ex-Pamiat Merkurya, 1904), training ship; the very famous Aurora, because before being kept as a floating museum of the revolution from 1948, it was put back into service in 1923, as a cadet training ship until 1931, and remained in the harbor at Leningrad, until the invasion, bombed by the Luftwaffe and then scuttled to avoid capture. It was refloated in 1944 and repaired, restored to its original state of 1917. It is still visitable and is one of the Kitsch tourist attractions of Leningrad today.
More recent and therefore of more obvious military value, the Svetlana class cruisers, built from 1913 and of a first class which was to include 6 units, suffered the vicissitudes of the conflict and only the three most advanced units entered service. , the Chevronya Ukraina (ex-Admiral Nakhimov) in 1927, the Krasny Krim (ex-Profintern, ex-Svetlana) in 1928, and the Krnasny Kavkaz (ex-Admiral Lazarev) in 1932. the latter, completely rebuilt, had no nothing to do with the other two. The first two had a relative military value due to their outdated design.

Kirov in the 1960s
The cruiser Kirov in the 1960s

The most efficient and newest cruisers of the Russian Navy were those of the Kirov and Maxim Gokiy class. the first had been built like the second in the Soviet Union, but their design was almost entirely Italian. In fact, they are reminiscent of certain ships of this navy. However, they have certain peculiarities such as the adoption for the main artillery of triple 180 mm turrets, an unusual configuration (standard 203 mm – or 8 inches, for heavy cruisers or 152 mm – or 6 inches, for light cruisers). But by their tonnage and the comparison with older units, they fall into the category of heavy cruisers. The two Kirovs were finished in 1938 and 1940, the Maxim Gorkiy in 1940 and the Vyacheslav Molotov in June 1941, the 6th, almost 15 days before the German invasion (June 22). The other two units of the class, the Kaganovitch and the Kalinin, will only be ready in 1943 and 1944. Finally, the Chapayev class cruisers, started in 1938-39-40, launched in 1940 for the first, will not be completed until well after the war.

soviet navy flag Proyekt 28 light cruisers design

Project 28 cruisers
Project 28 cruisers
The Project 28 light cruiser were an attempt by Russian designers of a light escort cruiser able to repel light enemy forces in a fleet underway. It was based upon a lengthened Kirov hull to have four turrets with 8-in/57 guns, prioritizing rate of fire ideal for their main purpose, but also a “light cruiser” according to the London Naval Treaty of 1936, which USSR considered signing. Five were planned (2 for the Northern flotilla, 3 Baltic fleet). Development started in July 1936 by the Leningrad Design Institute. Preliminary draft was completed in June 1937. It was however cancelled on October 1, 1937 ans remodelled as Project 68, the future Chapayev class.

The hull of Frunze, uncompleted in 1941
The hull of Frunze, uncompleted in 1941

The next class, studied in 1937-38, called Project 68, was ready and approved in 1938, the first keels beeing laid down as part of a mobilization, mass construction programme with seven ordered for the first batch, laid down in 1938-40, and only the first five were launched in 1940-41. They would be completed after the war in 1949-50. Overall, they looked like a new interpretation of the Kirovs and Gorkiys, but were much more powerful (15,000 tons at full load), larger (201 meters by 19.70), more comparable to a Cleveland or Mogami with 6-in rapid fire main artillery, and substantial AA. They served until the late 1960s.

soviet navy flag Project 68 (Chapayev) class (1941)

Chapayev, Zheleznyakov, Kuybyshev, Chkalov, Frunze
A class of “light cruisers” started in 1938-40, launched in 1941. All fitted with four triple gun turrets with 152 mm guns instead of 180 mm. The same type of choice made by US, British and Japanese post-London cruisers. Lighter but larger artillery with a higher rate of fire and AA capabilities was preferable. The hulls evacuated out of reach of the Germans were completed after numerous modifications in the 1950s. The class comprised the Chapayev, Zheleznyakov, Kuybyshev, Chkalov, and Frunze. A second derivative class, Project 68K (later Sverdlov) will be started on improved plans in the 1950s. They will be the last Soviet conventional cruisers.

Project 68 and 68K

The tactical and technical task (TTZ) determining Project 68 design was developed to take into account a changed naval doctrine which targeted the same armament as project 28 on a standard displacement of 8,000-8,300 tons (still London-Washington compatible) with the same three triple MK-5 type mount for the B-38 152 mm main battery. It was completed by four twin turrets B-54, 100-mm dual purpose guns, six twin 37 mm type 66-K. The belt armor was to be no more than 100 mm and the armored deck 50 mm, deemed sufficient to deal with 152 mm shells impact at about 50-120 cables (9,200-22,000 m). In order to expand her maneuvering area within distances safe from enemy armor-piercing shells the speed required was 35 knots. Compared to Project 26-bis, late Kirov class, this had increased armor protection, better cruising range and autonomy to fit the Northern and Pacific theaters. The Power plant was generally similar to the Project 26-bis.
Leningrad TsKB-17 worked on final drafts in 1938, approved by a resolution under the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR on July 13, 1939.

Project 68 cruisers

The preliminary design based on the TTZ was officially started in 1938 at TsKB-17 by team of designers led by A. I. Maslov during construction of Maxim Gorky class (project 26 bis). The choice of smaller, lighter 6-in guns enabled free weight for armor protection, increase the maximum fuel capacity and improve habitability. Steam turbine maximum power was slightly reduced to the detriment of maximum speed. Shipbuilders N. N. Isanin, A. S. Savichev, N. A. Kiselev, G. A. Gasanov participated in the development of project 68 also and soon realistic recalculations had her displacement rose to 9500 tons. Thus the admiralty soon estimated her tonnage was too high for such armament and asked for a fourth aft turret. By Decree on July 13, 1939 standard displacement rose to 10,620 tons, now, and 13,330 tons fully loaded, with a lenghtened hull up to 199 meters for 18.7 meters in beam, 5.9 meters draft and a metacentric height of 0.89 m.

soviet navy flag Proyekt 82 heavy cruiser design

Admiral NG Kuznetsov noted the somewhat strange “passion” of Joseph Stalin for heavy cruisers, and this led eventually to the Kronstadt class, either to be considered as a “super-cruiser” in the US Alaska class or Japanese B-54 sense. Or a battlecruiser. It inspired post-war the Stalingrad indeed, which were still called that way but by artillery calmiber, very much still large heavy cruisers.
Bith were to be armed with 12-in guns (30.5 mm) and were indeed in the class of the Alaska. However as shown Project X, the admiralty still wanted a more reasonable and versatile heavy cruiser, that was lacking in the Soviet Navy. Instead of going for a standard 8-in armed one as defined by Washington, from which the Soviet Navy was completely stranger, it was preferred and intermediary, just as the Kirov class which were classed as light cruisers but still had intermediate guns closer to the 8-in caliber.
These projected 220-250 mm guns cruisers in Soviet terminology were not even called “heavy” but “medium” to make a difference with the 12-in cruisers. Debate raged on the mid-1930s about the Istrebiteli Vashingtonskiskh kreiserov or Washington (treaty) cruisers, and wanted a model able defeat any of these 10,000 tonnes heavies. But Stalin had its final overriding preferrence and focus the attenton of design bureaus on his Proyekt 69 (Kronstadt) while the Navy was still left with light cruisers. As a stopgap measure it was decided at the time of the Russo-Germany non-agression pact to acquire the unfinish Kriegsmarine’s heavy cruiser Lützow in May 1940, leading to a new set of requirements in 1941 (OTZ).
This particular cruiser became Project 82, a development of the German cruiser with a top speed of 36 knots, and larger displacement.
Missions for the Type 82 included to engage enemy heavy cruisers, destroy light cruisers, support others, lay minefields, supress medium shore batteries and raiding.
Very little work had been done until the invasion of June 1941 but still interest on the project went on, later mutating into the Project 66.

soviet navy flag Kronstadt class supercruisers (1938)

Kronstadt, Sevastopol

The five-year plan approved in 1938 also included several battle cruisers or “super cruisers”. Since the Borodino class, experienced stalled. the Russians no longer had the experience. The first two units of the Konstadt class (Sebastopol was his sister-ship), were therefore defined a bit like super heavy cruisers of 20,000 standard tons, armed with 254 mm pieces.
It was thought at the time that the next step after the 203 mm caliber heavy cruisers would be this one. They were designed to deal with heavy cruisers, but not battleships. It was mainly a question of responding to the German Hipper, who were themselves well beyond the limits of the Washington Treaty.

Their design was revised six months later, this time to meet the Scharnhorst. Their caliber thus passed to 305 mm, and the tonnage climbed accordingly. But with 35,000 tons as standard, they were still respectful of the treaty, even though the head of the Kremlin did not care.
They had standard turbine groups but were close to those planned for the Sovietsky Soyuz battleships, developing considerable power of 230,000 hp, giving them a speed of 33 knots. They were retrospectively inferior to the Iowa. Their protection was relatively important, however, as they had a 230 mm armored belt and a 305 mm turret shield.
Started in July 1939 in Marti and Nikolayevsk, they were both suspended the following year, then captured on the arrival of German troops. The latter blasted Sevastopol’s hull, while Kronstadt was BU in the 1950s.

Konstadt 1937
Kronstadt class probable appearance as built in 1941. Author’s illustration


Displacement: 35 240t, 38 360t FL
Dimensions: 248 x 31,4 x 9,10 m
Propulsion: 4 shaft turbines, 231 000 cv. 33 knots max.
Protection: 120 to 305 mm
Crew: 1600
Armement: 9 x 305, 8 x 150, 8 x 100, 24 x 37, 8 x 12,7 mm AA HMGs, 4 planes.

soviet navy flag Proyekt 65 light cruisers (1939)

Project 65 was planned for the Pzcific fleet, facing Mogami, and plans has been to have the first laid down as a Treaty light cruiser, to be later upgraded to a heavy cruiser in case of war, just rearmed as the Mogami were, from 152 to 203 mm guns. Project 65 was postponed and later proposed for the 1946-1955 naval plan in two variant, a light cruiser with nine 152 mm (6 in) guns or with nine heavier 180 mm (7.1 in) guns of the Kirov type. Stalin cancelled the project in 1951, favoring Project 68(bis) and Project 82 instead.
Dusplacement: 9480 standard, 11600 loaded
Dimensions: 196.2 m x 17.7 m x 6.37 m
Propulsion: 2 shaft geared steam turbines, 4 boilers, 148,000 shp, 36.5 kn
Range: 4150 nmi at 18 knots
Armament: 9 × 152 mm (6.0 in)/57 cal B-38 in 3 triple Mk5-bis turrets, 150 rounds per gun
-8 × 100 mm (3.9 in)/56 cal Model 1934 (twin SM-5-1 mounts) 250 rds per gun
-16 × 45 mm in quad AA mounts
-24 x 25 mm in quad AA mounts
-2×5 533 mm (21″) TTs
Armour: Belt, CT: 70, Deck 50+16, Turrets 70, citadel 70-100 mm
Sensors: Search radars “Reef-A” “Gyuis-2” “Foot-N”, STS Zenith, KDP SPN-500, “Foot-B” “Coral” ECM, sonar GAS “Pegasus”

Project Option III-A displaced 12,960-15n580 FL for 220 x 19.7 x 6.88 m, was powered by two shaft geared steam turbines, 4 boilers for 148,000 shp and 35.4 knots, range 5,000 nmi at 18 kn, armed with 3×3 180 mm (7.1 in) Mk5-bis, 6×2 100 mm (3.9 in)/56 Model 1934 SM-5-1 mounts, 4×4 45 mm, 4×4 25 mm AA mounts, no TT. Armour belt 100 mm, CT 70 mm, deck 50+20 mm, turrets 175 mm front, 120 mm side and 80 mm roof, Citadel: 120 mm.
Sensors: “Reef-A” “Gyuis-2” “Foot-N”, STS “Ocean-65”, KDP SM-18, “Foot-B” “Coral” ECM, GAS “Pegasus” sonar.

soviet navy flag Proyekt 83 heavy cruiser (Petropavlovsk)

Lützow was towed from Bremen where she was completed to Leningrad on 15 April 1941 and the two navies agreed that Germany would ensire towing and escort, laced under responsibility of Rear Admiral Otto Feige which later also assisted Soviet effort to complete her.
She only had the two forward gun turrets installed, and the base of bridge superstructure, and 3.7 cm AA guns installed when renamed Petropavlovsk on 25 September 1940, becoming Projekt 83. Projekt 82 was indeed canceled before work began on a completion of the existing cruiser without much change but Soviet standard AA guns. Training proved contentious while in Germany, until instructors were rather sent to the Soviet Union. Sea trials for Petropavlovsk were scheduled by late 1941 but of course all was halted in June 1941.

Petropavlovsk was still incomplete but she was nevertheless used as a floating battery during the defense of Leningrad in August, later reinforced by Maxim Gorky. On 7 September she directly fired on German forces encircling the city, about forty salvos from her forward main battery, some 700 rounds. 17 September 1941 she was targeted and disabled by German heavy artillery, hit 53 times and beached to avoid sinking.

On 4 April 1942, I Fliegerkorps (some 62 Ju 87s, 33 Ju 88s, and 37 He 111s) attacked Leningrad and hit once Petropavlovsk was hit once (credited to ace Hans-Ulrich Rudel) and sunk. She would be raised on 17 September 1942, towed to the Neva and repaired, renamed Tallinn in 1943 and towed in position to assist the Soviet counter-offensive, ending the Siege in 1944. She remained afterwards as a stationary training ship and floating barracks in the Neva, renamed Dniepr in 1953. The disposal date is a conflicting matter among Historians. Erich Gröner place it as far as 1960, Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1958, Tobias Philbin as early as 1953.

soviet navy flag Proyekt 66 heavy cruiser design (1941)

OTZ May 1941 (Project 82) asked for 8×203 mm guns, 12×100, 12×37, 2×3 TTss, 8-in belt armor, 36 kts, 10,000 nm. Project 82 was cancelled and replaced by the Pr. 83, the completion of Lützow as she was.
OTZ 15 Septebmer 1943 called for a 20-22,000 tonnes vessel with 3×3 210-220 mm main battery, 12x130mm secondary, 32x37mm AA, four recce seaplanes, same armour and speed/range.
This revised set of requirements was worked on by TsKB-17, a bureau specialized in cruiser design. I all, it came out with eight variants, none meeting the stringent requirements. Sketches and models were sent to the Navy for evaluation. This only led to new requirements drawn in late 1944:

As said above, Project 66 emerged from a set of specifications which evolved over time:
OTZ 15 November 1944 called for a 25-26,000 tonnes displacement, nine 220 mm for the main battery (still the ideal 3×3 configuration), 16×130 mm, 32x45mm, 20x23mm so a completely new AA. Strangely even though it was late 1944 and the radar has proven itself in battle many time, the design still called for four seaplanes, presumably for long-range recce and target spotting.
Armor was to be the same, but speed and range decreased to 33 knots and 8000 nm respectively.
Kuznetsov referred to them as 230 mm guns cruisers though, and the 8.33 caliber was worked on by the arsenal.
Finally, the last one was discussed during a politburo reunion on 29 September 1945, so after V-Day in Japan, and with premices of a possible new war with the West in mind. Stalin was not sure he wanted an aicraft carrier, but all agreed on the heavy cruiser design, and despite kuznetsov’s objections, wanted a larger cruiser still. He notably wanted a 12-in caliber, but did not insisted before kuznetsov’s staunch opposition, backed by the admiralty.
Shipbuidlding Commissar I.I. Nosenko said Stalin that their team needed at least until 1950 to digest war lesson and passed them on a new prepared design. Kuznetsov however wanted none of it and stuck on his idea of a quicker design based on 220 mm guns.
A new inter-service commission was reunited, and eventually and this time Stalin’s joined kuznetsov for the emergency to start Project 66 as soon as possible.
Stalin eventually obtained to have four of the Project 66 laid down at Yard 402 in Molotovsk, Yard 444 at Nikolaiev and another planned for 1953, plus two more in 1955. This was approved on 27 November 1945. In 1946, TsKb-17 resumed work on both Project 66 and the alternative 12-in guns armed Project 82.

Meanwhile the naval acedemy would conduct studied on 220 mm armed cruisers and better defined their perimeter of action. Eventually Project 66 was fusioned into Project 82 as a variant called the “LKR-220” meaning “light cruiser, 220 mm” only in comparison to the 12-in guns variant…
In 1947, work proceeded and Kuznetsov remembered they were an ideal and relatively inexpensive solution to deal with other cruisers, recoignising the age of the battleship was basically over. He insisted over the 220 mm cruiser concept rather than the 305 mm battleceruisers wanted by Stalin. In February however, the admiral’s insistence over the alternative cruiser cost him his post. He was dismissed by Stalin in February and replaced by I.S. Iumashev. The latter tended to join Stalin in his views that a 220 mm cruiser was too small.

By October 1947 Iumashev came out with a new set of specs for TsKb-17, still nine 220mm, 12x 130mm, 16x 45mm, and variants going from 16,500 to 19,500 tonnes with hulls 233 to 260 m long. They had an output between 200 to 220,000 shp so as to reaching 36 knots but still with a thin armor of 60 mm for the belt, 50 mm for the lower deck, while the 8 and 9 variants had no armor at all.
TsKb 17 also wrked on its own Project X armed with two quadruple turrets forward and Project XI had five triple turrets with 180 mm guns, an evolution of those on Kirov. When Stalin was back to Moskow by November 1947 no decision was made yet, but by March 1948 and it was decided to suspend the 220 mm variant. It’s only by July 1951, before the lack of progress on the 305 mm gun avriant that Iumashev was dismissed by Stalin, and Kuznetov recalled from the Pacific Fleet, still hoping to obtain his 220 mm cruiser.
Unexpectedly Stalin now favored this lighter variant and pushed for it. In fact, after a reunion of the Council of minister, Project 66 was resurrected based on the August 1947 TSkB 17 design (30,000 tonnes, same armament as before, belt protection 150mm, decks 50x75x20mm, 33.5 knots and 6000 nm). The Type 82 was estimated an overkill to deal with “light cruisers”.

soviet navy flag Proyekt 66 heavy cruiser design (1951)

The Des Moines Killers

Current cruisers and capital ships wanted by Stalin in the 1950s

The 13 December 1951 agreed these Type 66 cruisers being laid down at Yard 194 Leningrad, changed to 189 Baltic Works in August 1952 and Yard 444 Nikolayev, 372 Sovietskaia Gavan, 402 Molotovsk, up to 1956, for completion estimated in 1957-59. First sketched arrived for examination from TsKb-17 in February 1952, approved on 23 April for further work and plans. It was the same as before with a revised displaement of 25,000 tonnes. The lead designer of the Project 68K (Chapayev class), N.A. Kiselev was hired to head the project assisted by the Navy envoy E.A. Karpukhin. Further work precised the displacement to 24,800 tonns with lesser AA, but better disposed.
The navy just wanted to increase horizontal protection and a new set of requirements was drafted on 1953, with a displacement of 26,330 – 30,850 tonnes, same armament as before but 24x 45 and 24x 25 mm AA, no TT or aviation but radars and FCS. Based on 210,000 shp they were capable of 34.5 kts and 5,000 nm at 18 kts.

The death of Stalin

Artist impression of Project 66 in 1953
The death of Stalin had one expected consequence, the immediate cancellation of the Project 82 Stalingrad class, while Project 66 was maintained curiously by Kuznetsov. He notably counted on them to have a decent fleet carrier escort, re-launcging his project of aircraft carrier indeed at the same time. This was approved by a reunion on 18 April 1953, and the final work by TsKb 17 reveals a silhouette very much like the Stalingrad class, albeit smaller in scale.
In the new cold war context, these were to engage and destroy the US Des Moines class thanks to a much greater muzzle velocity, so to procure both better penetration and range and a 176 kgs shell versus 152 mm, but still let down by a slower rate of fire.

The new cruisers counted on the new Molot 66 Fire Control System comprised radars for data, and a powerful ballistic calculator, a simplfied version of the Stalingrad’s More-82 which went nowhere. This was completed by a SM-42 director control tower and the Grot radars, Zalp (later NATO “half bow”) bearing indication radars. The sketches shows small radomes, presumably the Shtag-B (NATO “egg cup”) FCS for the DP 130 mm turrets, SNP-400 stabilized directors (NATO “Sun visor”) for the lighter AA. The 45 and 25 mm were all in quadruple mountings, for a better repartition and arc of fire. Not decribed the FCS associated would probably have been NATO’s “Slim Net” and “Hawk Screech”, Fut-N and B radars.

The armor design was refined by the studied led by the naval academy, still including a citadel and extra protection for the magazines and steering compartment. It was even heavier in places compared to the Project 83 Stalingrad. The underwater protection was supposed to cope with a 250 kgs warheard torpedo hit, not sufficient for the US Mk.15 which had 375 kgs warheads. The plant was essentally the same as the Stalingrad’s but on three shafts due to the smaller space available, each turbine delivered some 70,000 bhp, and possibly derived from the Brown-Boveri models seen on the Sovietsky Soyuz battleships.

1954 Cancellation
By late 1953, TsNII-45 warship research institute ctriticized openly the Project 66 as obsolete before the rapid development of missiles. On 23 December 1953 the Main Naval Staff of the Vorochilov Naval Academy worked on the practical applications of the design and published their conclusions in March 1954, based on tactical games with the Des Moines class. They concluded that based on the rate of fire notably, the latter would have in fact the advantage on an engagement and were credited of greater accuracy notably due to the more advanced US radar tech. The last concern was cost. It had direct consequence of other projects, notably the development of missiles. A single Project 66 was estimated 900 million rubles, not far fromthe Stalingrad class. It’s Kurshchev as premier that decided to pull all resources towards missile ships, a decision Kuznetsov eventualy accepted.

According to navweaps, Project 66 guns were only designed after World War II for the heavy cruisers of Project 22 initially and Stalin’s death meant all was stopped as the Cruisers were cancelled. The guns were still tried for experimental purposes, with the first completed in December 1953, tested at Rzhevsk until November 1954.
Kronstadt guns: 12-in/55 (305 mm) See the 305 mm/55 pattern 1937-40

Upgrade to 305 mm: A new 62 caliber was designed for the Project 82 class battlecruisers, born from Project 66. A prototype gun was built in 1948, tested in 1949-1951 and accepted, with 12 guns built before the project was cancelled in 1953. They were controlled by the Type 82 control system Grot radar rangefinder, including Zalp FC radars.
See the 305 mm/62 Pattern 1948 reserved for Project 66

Foreign cruisers: Murmansk and Kerch

soviet navy flag Murmansk (former USS Milwaukee) transferred 1944

USS Milwaukee was one of the Omaha class cruisers, a brand enw generation of fleet cruisers and destroyer leaders ordered in 1917. She was built at Todd Dry Dock & Construction Co., laid down on 13 December 1918 and launched on 24 March 1922. After a long interwar service and some limited modernization, she saw action in WW2 escorting convoys through south Atlantic. In May 1942 she was attacked by the submersible Barbarigo (Captain Enzo Grossi) but missed. She also intercepted the German blockade runner Anneliese Essberger. However she collided with her sister ship Omaha on 31 May off the coast of Brazil and was repaired in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, on 8 February 1944. There it was planned to have her temporarily transferred to the Soviet Union, in lieu of Italian ships allotted after the Italian surrender. The latter were in such state they needed many month for upkeep. The ceremony of hoisitng the flag was done after she escorted a convoy to Belfast on 8 March before and joined Convoy JW 58 to Murmansk from the 29th. On 20 April 1944, she was officially loaned to the Soviet Northern Fleet, Murmansk, bearing its very name. She performed convoy and patrol duty in the Arctic until V-Day in May 1945 and afterward became a training ship, participating in the 1948 fleet maneuvers.

By the summer of 1944 she passed course tasks, being prepared and started convoy escorrt missions with other ships of the fleet. On July 4, 1944, a detachment with Murmansk as flagship, the destroyer Baku, and the destroyers “Loud”, “Terrible” and “Reasonable” left Kola Bay for the White Sea. The commander of the Northern Fleet controlled the evolution of the formation ships using the cruiser’s radar. In the White Sea, the cruiser worked closely with the destroyers “Thundering” and “Loud”. Using radar, they carried out artillery fire on range on the Coast of the White Sea. On August 25, 1944, the squadron of the Northern Fleet began was supplmented by new vessels of the Royal Navy, and a brigade of destroyers. She made the only combat operation remaining well documented on October 30, as part of a group of 15 transports and two tankers, leaving Molotovsk for Murmansk. They were the “White Sea group” of convoy RA-61, headed by Murmansk. On July 3-5, 1945, a squadron consisting of the Arkhangelsk (ex Royal Oak), Murmansk and six destroyers travelled from Vaenga to the Kuisky roadstead, White Sea for exercizes. By November 26, 1945 Murmansk was sent in the Rostinsky shipyard for upkeep and maintenance.

For five years, she served in the Northern Fleet squadron and roadstead of Vaenga (Severomorsk) making rare and short trips at sea to work for combat training. She made more sorties and participated in final squadron exercises by August 1947. At last on 16 March 1949 she was transferred back to the US, first of 15 US lend-lease ships to be returned, to enter Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for upkeep and be sold for BU by 10 December. 1 2

soviet navy flag Kerch (former Duca D’Aosta) acquired 1949

With the exception of a battleship and two submarines delivered in the Albanian port of Vlore as a war reparation, the Montreux Convention still would not allow passage through the Bosphorus of thse, preventing them reaching the Black Sea. An agreement was found in which the ships transited with Italian civilian crews, under the control of Soviet representatives, flying the Merchant Navy flag. The Italians were responsible for their delivery as scheduled. To prevent sabotage, they sailed with no ammunition on board, carried later by cargo ships, with the exception of the battleship delivered with 900 tons of ammunition and a set of 32 533mm torpedoes for the submarines.

The former cruiser Duca D’Aosta was thus delivered with the initials ‘Z 15’ to the Soviet Navy in Odessa on March 2, 1949. Captain Semën Michailovič Lobov took command, a future fleet admiral in 1970. The cruiser was briefly thought to be renamed Stalingrad, then Admiral Ušakov and Odessa, but eventually this settled on “Kerch” for the Black Sea fleet. On February 7, 1956, she was withdrawn from active service, used as a training ship until May 11, 1958, then experimental hull “OS 32”, testing various armament impacts. She was eventually struck by February 20, 1959, BU in 1961.

Soviet Postwar Conventional Cruisers Projects

Project 66 Cruisers
According to Koestler the novel “Darkness at Noon” Soviet naval strategy prior to 1936 Joseph Stalin, decided to change abruptly for the construction of “big submarines.” Toward the end of 1935 in an almost obsessive fashion he became preoccupied by the rapid acquisition of a large oceangoing navy capable of achieving total supremacy on seas and oceans around the Soviet Union. The Sovietsky Soyuz class, really ambitious and with perhaps the best naval guns at the time were laid down in 1938. The non-aggression pact of 1939 created an exchange of wheat, manganese, and petroleum traded for German state of the art naval equipment. This also created a shift with the previous policy of ship design with Italy.

Source: Dr. Hauner, Department of History at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, article supported by the Naval War College.

soviet navy flag Project 68 bis (Sverdlov) class (1945)

Better known as the Sverdlov class, this was Stalin’s most important cruiser programme of his last naval plan. The Sverdlovwere the last soviet conventional cruisers, a massive class insisted upon by Stalin to answer the US Cleveland class. A total of 50 ships were planned to achieve a definitive supremacy. It as howeverreduced to 24, and then 20, started between 1949 and 1955 at the shipyards of the Baltic, admiralty yards, Nikolayev and Severodvinsk in parrallel to the Stalingrad class battlecruisers (Project 82) and Project 66 heavy cruisers.

The death of Stalin:
The death of Stalin had these plans completely scrapped. The idea of a classic battle fleet at the insistence of the Kremlin’s master, which had the same appeal perhaps to Hitler in terms of delusional grandeur, was no longer the priority of the day. Khrushchev, well advised by engineers abour the promised of missiles had more practical and realistic plans, to deal with the numbers deployed by the US Navy with better technology and re-establish balance instead of going on the same terrain. This even went against Admiral Kuznetsov still pleading to complete Project 66. Instead only Project 68 bis light cruisers would be completed. This was the start of a new policy enduring until the 1980s.
Of this total of twenty light cruisers, two never even reached launching stage, being cancelled and BU, four more were never completed, anchored in the Neva estuary (Leningrad) until 1961. Fourteen were completed between 1952 and 1955.
The Sverdlov class design:
Quite close to the Chapayevs, Project 68 bis cruisers had greater autonomy, better overall protection, (double hull on 75% of the length, 23 watertight compartments), inaugurated new radars and fire control systems, new 100 mm mounts also used by the Skoriy class destroyers. The main turrets were improved and the final design adopted in May 1947. However, if some were later converted as hybrid missile cruisers, notably with AS-1 and SS-N-1 “Scrubber” missile, this proved disappointing.

World of Warships renditions

Krazny Krim

Mikoyan, first project leading to the Kavkaz modernization, but with single turrets instead

Kotokvsky, one of the first projects of a Soviet light cruiser with 6-in guns in twin turrets (Bogus?).


Project 60 cruisers

“Riga”, An early variant of Project 82, early heavy cruiser design with 220 mm guns.

“Petropavlovsk”, Another variant of Project 82 with 220 mm main guns and a powerful DP artillery.

“Dmitry Donskoi”, Project 65, a development of project 68 with heavier armament and better speed

Alexandr Nevsky, Project 84 rendition, the last Soviet Conventional Cruiser

Sources/Read More
Soviet Light Cruisers 1950s
Soviet Light Cruisers 1950s

ww2 soviet sub-chasers: MO types, BO types and guardships

WW2 Soviet Submarine Hunters

Development of sub-chasers: The WWI experience

Submarine-chasers (or “submersible” chasers as they shoud be called) appeared in WWI, developed from sloops and often built by civilian yards. Many were converted trawlers. During the great war, the Russian Imperial navy used for that task a variety of “guard ships”, clearly distinct from gunboats: The Kopchik, Golub and Filin classes (2, 5 and 4 ships respectively). They were gun-armed only, with the exception of Kopchik which also carried mines.

The Kpochik and Korshun were built in 1916, the first discarded in the 1940s ad the second, renamed Pioner sunk in Kronstadt in September 1942. The 450 tons Golub class built in Helsingfors in 1917-19 were all captured, ending in German, then Finnish hands or resold to Chile. The Filin class (1918-19) were sized during completion and went to Finland and Poland or were BU. A 102 mm gun made them efficient against surface submarines, but there are no records of any sinking one. During World War I Russian ASW weapons technology was indeed fairly primitive and ineffective although its possible depth charges were shipped by the entente to Russia before the recolution. The first effective depth charge called the Type D, became indeed available in January 1916.

But again there are no recorded “kill” of a German sub in Baltic waters, which were rare anyway. It should be noted that tthe Soviet Navy also operated aft WWI its first true sub-chasers. In the interwar, three US-built Sc 110 feets sub-chasers were operated, later called the SK class: SK 14, 757 and 758. SK-14 was in fact an ex-French vessel, mined and sunk off Odessa in support of white Russians in 1919, salvaged, repaired and recommissioned in the Red Navy. She was later renamed Gnevnyy and scrapped in 1922. SK-757 and 758 were initially purchased by Bulgaria (from France too) in 1921, later captured by Red Army in September 1944 and operated for a short while like two Romanian vessels. The first had a DCT of the “Y”-gun type and the others combined DC racks and classic launchers.

Armament and tactics of Soviet sub-chasers

Two kinds of ships were used for submarine warfare by the Soviet Navy: The large guardships, a continuation of the versatile WWI concepts, and the dedicated, small sub-chasers built in large numbers, all primarily armed with depth-charges. Dropping depth charges off the stern via a rack or track became standard practice and was already experimented by Soviet Navy destroyers and patrol ships during the interwar. There were no sonars or any acoustic detection devices in the navy nor effective ASW doctrine before WW2 started. About “kills” performed by the Soviet Navy, only 7 German submarines were recorded to have been sunk by depth charges.

A grand total of 88,000 depth charges however were expended in total, many more being used to destroy magnetic mines at that. The “kill ratio” was therefore of around 4280 per submersible (based on 30,000 DCs on submarines). In comparison, 5,174 British depth charge attacks resulted in 85.5 kills, a ratio of 60.5 to 1 while the Hedgehog with 268 attacks had 47 kills, a ratio of 5.7 to 1. No wonder why this type soon became mandatory and was further developed during the cold war.

No Soviet ship possessed sonar until 1941 and all were equipped only from the middle of the war but only 5% of total ships losses experienced by the Soviet Navy were due to submarine attacks anyway. ASW efforts were never a priority for the Soviet Admiralty contrary to the allies notably because of geographic concerns and strategic concern. Nevertheless, the Soviet Navy had a large array of patrol ships that were developed as partial submarine hunter/gunboats, in addition to the versatile “guardships”, sort of large intermediate ships between sloops and destroyers. Tactic-wise, gunnery was still considered the main “sub-killer” when an U-Boat was surprised in surface. Let’s recall there, these were “submersibles”, not submarines. Surface navigation was the rule and not the exception.

After diving, grenades were dropped on the presumed location, or a chase started via hydrophone tracking, when there was one. Soviet naval aviation was never tailored for submarine hunting either, but many were later rearmed with depht-charges and sent patrolling the Baltic or the Black sea. However most of the Morskaya Aviatsiya deployed in this sector was used to sink axis reinforcement shipping, aptrol the Gulf of Bothnia in searhc of targets of opportunity, and a large part of the aviation was deployed to protect the arctic convoys, threatened by the Luftwaffe based in Norway. Read more about the subject.

Depth charges types

-WW1-derived base model (1930): Settings 40 feet (12 m) or 79 feet (24 m). Presumably in stock WW2.

-4B-B model (1930): Settings 40 feet (12 m), 79 feet (24 m), 118 feet (36 m) or 158 feet (48 m). In large stocks ww2.

-BB-1 model (1933): Total Weight 363.7 lbs. (165 kg), warhead 300 lbs. (135 kg) TNT, terminal Velocity 7.55-8.2 fps (2.3-2.5 mps), one setting – Main heavy depth charge of the Soviet Navy in World War II

-BM-1 (1933): 90 lbs. (45 kg), 55.1 lbs. (25 kg) TNT wahread, terminal Velocity 6.9 – 7.55 fps (2.1-2.3 mps), one setting – Main light depth charge.

The Soviet navy used two types of bomb racks:
-B-1 rack: Lever rack, loaded with 20 large BB-1 depth charges.

-M-1 rack: Scoop rack accomodating 32 BM-1 small depth charges models.

BMB-1 DCP:Main Soviet WW2 Depth Charge Projectors, developed in 1940. They were installed on most Soviet destroyers and had a setting to 43, 87.5 or 120 yards (40 m, 80m or 110m respecitvely) with an elevation going up to 45 degrees. One DC could be fired at a time and the launcher weighted 427.7 lbs. (194 kg). The reload operation was performed by three men with a winch.

Lend-Lease supplies

-British Mark VII Depth charge
-British Mark VIII Airborne Depth charge (used by the naval aviation from 1943)
-USN Mark 10/11 Depth charge projectors supplied with Mk 10 DCs
-USN Mark 20 Depth charge projector and associated DCs.

Guardships and Frigates used for ASW warfare

Uragan class (1929)

img src=”photos/Vikhr-uragan-class.jpg” width=”100%”>

The Uragan class were the first all-purpose patrol ships built in the Soviet Union, planned in the 1926 naval programme in order to replace the old Tsarist-era torpedo boats still used as patrol vessels. They were small vessels intended to deal with any threat, with guns, AA protection and mines, which could be swapped for ASW grenades as well. As the first Soviet designed surface ships their construction was marred with conception and construction problems and they had many issues.

The experience was so painful in this regard, the admiralty turned to Fascist Italy, soon to become its number one designer/provider of ships. This led to the Dzerzhinskiy class built in Ansaldo (launched 1934) for the far east coast guard. Dzerzhinskiy and Kirov were used by the NKVD, commissioned for the Pacific fleet and active in WW2. They brough some input for naval contruction and design that were used for the next guardship classes, Yastreb (8 ships) and Albatros (12 ships) from 1943.

In between, in 1936, the experience of the Uragan class led to the design of the Rubin class (1936), directly developed instead from the successful Tral class minesweepers. Brillant, Rubin, Saphir and Zhemchug were built in Zhdanov yard Leningrad for the northern fleet, used by the NKVD coast guard. Both Brillant and Zhemchug were lost in action.

The Uragan class comprised the Uragan, Tayfun, Smerch, Tsiklon, Groza, Vikhr, Shtorm, Shkval, Metel, Vyug, Grom, Burun, Molniya, Zarnitsa, Purga, Burya, Sneg, Tucha, called internally Proyekt 2 (until Shkval launched at 198 Yd (Marti Yd), Nikolayev in 1930), then the sub-class Metel` (launched 1934), Proyekt 4, with four ships, and proyekt 39, from Molniya (1934) up to Tucha launched in 1936. Most project 2 were built in 190 Yd (Zhdanov Yd), Leningrad, but two at 198 Yd (Marti Yd), Nikolayev and the rest at 190 Yard (Zhdanov), Leningrad and 202 Yard (Dalzavod) in Vladivostok, the last at 190 Yd.

They will be seen in detail in a dedicated article.
Quick specs (Project 2): 450/619 tons, 71.5 x 7.4 x 2.58 m, 2 shaft geared turbines, 2 watertube boilers 6300 hp, 23 knots, 125 tons oil. Armed with two 4-in/60 gns (102 mm), three 13.2 mm DsHK HMGs AA, a single triple 450 mm torpedo tubes bank betwene funnels and 48 minesn or depht-charge racks for ASW grenades. They were used for ASW warfare with little success due to their lack of depht-charge handling equipments and underwater detection devices.

Yastreb/Albatros class (1940-44)

Ships listed: Yastreb, Oryol, Korshun, Sokol, Berkut, Kondor, Voron, Gryf (Project 29/29K Yastreb)
Zorkiy, Chaika, Fregat, Krechet, Orlan, Bditelnyy, Tigr, Leopard, Rys`, Yaguar, Pantera, Tigr, Burevestnik, Albatros (Project 29K Albatros)

They were a development of the Uragan class guard ships with much increased dimensions for improved seaworthiness and better armament. Program was authorized in 1937 and design assignment in December, 1937. In all it was planned to built 30 ships, but only 14 were laid down on most were never completed due to the summer 1941 German invasion.

Quickspecs Project 29 Yastreb: 906/1025 tons FL, 84 x 8.3 x 3 m, 2 shafts geared turbines, 2 watertube boilers, 23,000 shp, 31 knots. Armed with three 100 mm/56 guns, 4x 37 mm AA, 3×2 12.7 mm DsHK AA, triple 450 mm TT, 20 mines or two DC racks (B-1) – 40 DCs. It is not known if they had this time some handling device to reload the racks. Sonars were fitted during WW2.

Quickspecs Project 29K Albatros: 920 tons standard, 8.40 m in beam, reduced machinery with two less boilers for 12.300 shp and 25 knots. Same armament but four twin 12.7 mm DsHk AA mounts. They were authorized by the third five-year plan, 12 laid downbefore the war and distributed between the pacific, and blak sea fleets. The removal of boilers was meant to improve their reduced range by increasing fuel storage massively. Six ucomplete hull were sized by the Germans and scrapped, but Albatros and Chaika were eventually completed in 1945 and Krechet after the war. They were built at 190 Yd (Zhdanov Yd), Leningrad or 820 Yd, Königsberg (Kaliningrad).

Captured guardhips/sub chasers of WW2

Ametist was the former Estonian torpedo boat Sulev, itself the former German A32 seized by the Soviets after annexing the country in 1940 and assigned to the Baltic fleet. She became an harbor auxiliary in 1942 and scrapped in the 1950s.

Gangutyec: Former Russian dispatch vessel Sputnik, captured by the Germans in WWI and reused as Möwe in 1918, then handed over to the Estonian Navy, recaptured in 1940. She became for a time the minesweeper T49, then was turned into a guardship in 1941 and lost by mines off Hangö in December the same year.
Musson, Toros: Former Romanian Sborul and Smeul, themselves former Austro-Hungarian TBs 81T and 83F. Seized in Constanza in 1944 and later returned in 1945.
O51-54: Ex-German minesweeping boats (R-Boats) scuttled in August – September 1944 by own crews and salvaged by Soviets. Latter boat was captured by Red Army 8.9.1944 and commissioned by Navy one month later.

Lend-lease guardships/sub-chasers of WW2

BO201 class (1943): 138 Transferred

These were USN SC 110ft class submarine chasers, transferred to USSR on lend-lease. There were two certain losses (four for conways), BO-230, sunk 5.12.1944 by German submarine U365 and BO-224 on 2.3.1945 by U995. 12 were delivered to the northern fleet in 1943, and 34 in 1944, 32 to the pacific fleet, and 10 returned to the US in 1955, 29 scuttled in the barentz sea that year, 10 more in the pacific, and the remainder purchased and converted to other roles.

EK-1 class guard ships (1944): 30 Transferred

These were Tacoma-class frigates, transferred to USSR on lend-lease without additional re-equipment and classified as escorts. EK-3 18.12.1948 ran ashore during a storm at Korsakov (Sakhalin), was refloated, repaired, but was used afterwards as depot and accommodation hulk, BU in 1960. All were returned to the USA in 1949.
They were armed with three 76mm/50 Mk 20/21, two twin 40mm/56 Mk 1.2 AA, nine 20mm/70 Mk 4 AA and a 24 tubes 178 Hedgehog MK 10 ASWRL plus 8 DCT and 2 DCR (100 grenades).

MO1 Type (1935): Prototype

Note: No photos know, this is the OD-200

In the early 1930s, the main focus for the Soviet shipbuilding industry was to create smaller, easier to make patrol ships for various sea duties, either gunboats, or submarine hunters. The MO class was indeed the first Soviet-built, fully dedicated submarine hunter class. The MO abbreviation meaning “Small Hunter” (“Malyj Okhotnik”). Their seagoing abilities were reduced as they were mostly coastal boats, and their armament comprised only depth charge launchers and light defence guns. Still, they were nicknamed “Moshka” (Midge) in Russian service and relatively well liked by their crews. During the war they performed many additional roles, such as supporting landing operations and escorting convoys.

The very first in the serie was the MO-1, a 51 tonnes (50 long tons; 56 short tons) border patrol boat. It was designed and built as PK-139 in Leningrad 5th Yard, but given the class designation of MO-1 in 1935. She was initially built as fast yacht, but actually tested, then adopted by the NKVD Board Guard boat. Still, she was low-powered and lacked the proper speed or armament, so she mostly served as prototype for the improved MO-2 serie and the next mass-produced MO type family. MO-1 was renamed in September 1941 N°0132 and in May 1944 СК-132 (SK-132), and auxiliary at that point. She was discarded in 1946.

Quickspecs: Displacement 51 tons FL, Length 26.0, beam 3.80, draught, 1.20m, 3 shafts petrol engines 1130 shp total, 14 kts, endurance 400 nm at 8 kts. MO-1 was armed with two 12.7/79 mm DsHK HMGs and two DCR (racks) for a crew of 21.

MO2 Type (1935): 6 built

The production series was to be more powerful and slightly faster and better armed. The serie was given the designation MO-2, production records going from 6 to 36 ships built in 1935–1936. The MO-2 was authorized under the second five-year plan as a peacetime NKVD coast guard and wartime sub-chaser. Of wooden construction, still not a satisfactory design, as they ever reached their design speed of 25 knots. They lacked agility and stability as well, while their fuel feeding system was completely unreliable. Approx. six boats built in 1935, more cancelled. A slightly modified MO-3 led to deliver four more ships built, but there is little information available.

MO-2 specifications

Dimensions 26 m long, 4 m wide, 1.30 m draft
Displacement 51 tons Full Load
Propulsion 2 shafts GAM-34 ptrol 1,350 bhp 14 kts, 5t petrol
Armament 2x 45mm AA, 2x 12.7mm DsHk, 2 DCR.
Crew 14

MO4 Type (1936): 80 built

Development history & design

The MO series were designed by a team led naval engineer S. V. Pugavko as a further development of the MO-2 type, to replace and fix all its problems. Unlike the latter, dimensions were slightly increased, the deck was cut at the stern (transom), the beam was reduced by 10 cm (4 in) for a better ratio. They also received more powerful main engines, three GAM-34BS instead of two GAM-34, for a much, much better speed (26 vs. 14 kts). Two prototypes were built in 1936, of mixed construction with a new gearing system giving reverse thrust. Seakeeping qualities, agility and stability were also all greatly improved, but they lacked any sort of ASW specific equipment and were sidelined in WW2 as utilitary patrol boats. They also could carry four large mines.

Like the MO2 in peacetime they carried out normal patrol service for the NKVD maritime border guard, whereas in wartime, they were to track and hunt enemy submarines as well as protecting Russian coastal waters.

Serial construction started the Leningrad plant No.5 (NKVD). Before the war, 187 were built, 75 for the Ministry of Defense to create new flotillas, and 113 as part of the NKVD Maritime Border Guard. Some also joined the Red Banner Baltic Fleet (KBF) and took part in the Soviet-Finnish winter war. Maritime border guards roamed also the coast of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia after 1940, now part of USSR. After the German invasion, the MO-4 mass-construction program called for several factories, the No. 5, No. 345, No. 640, Astrakhan shipyard and Moscow shipyard (Narkomrech fleet). Despite all difficulties, 74 more MO-4 were still delivered until 1944.

One survived to this day: MO-215, in the “The Road of Life” museum, in the village of Osinovets, a station on the Ladoga Lake. Exposed to the elements is slowly degraded but now it had been preserved, protected by a specially built pavilion, and prepared for full restoration. The serie was split into minor differences:
-The PK-3 border guard boats (MO-4) completed in 1942 and later were given two Packard petrol engines for 2000 shp, 25.5 kts.
-Those completed in 1944-1945 received two single 45mm/65 21KM AA guns or a twin mount, and a single 20mm/70 Oerlikon Mk IV or a twin 25mm/80 84KM and still 2 DCR (8 grenades).
In 1944-45 they were all equipped with a Tamir-1 sonar. Their denomination changed when replaced by MO4 boats as SKA- (Guardboats) from 1943. They were many losses.

A single MO5 was built, launched 9.1941 and also called N°113 at 5 Yd, Leningrad. She was an upgraded version with displacement standard/FL of 58/60 tons, 27.2m long for 4.01m wide and 1.45 Draught, 3 shafts GAM-34BS petrol engines delivering 2,550 shp for 26 kts and 6.2 tons petrol for 700 nm at 15 kts. She was armed with two 45mm/43 21K, and two 12.7mm/79, plus 2 DCR (8) and fitted with a tamir-1 sonar (crew 21).

⚙ Specifications MO-4

Displacement Displacement standard, 53/57 tons
Dimensions 26.9 x 4.02 x 1.48m
Propulsion 3 shafts 3 GAM-34BS petrol engines 2550 hp
Speed 22 knots ()
Range Petrol 6.1 tons, Endurance, nm(kts) 367(15)
Armament 2 x 1 – 45/43 21K, 2 x 1 – 12.7/79, 2 DCR (8)
Crew 21

Battle records of the MO4

MO4s in the Black sea were named “SKA” or patrol boats and indeed acted that way since axis submarines in this area were very few: Only the Romanian ones, and at some point, U-19, U-20, and U-23 also operated there, as well as most of the CM type midget subs of the Regia Marina. On 3 July1942 SKA-0112 and SKA-0124 evacuating soldiers fro Sevastopol were attacked by S-28, S-40 S-42 and S-102. Both were sunk, 37 sailors and soldiers captured, including a soviet general. S-28 had one killed, the S-40 was heavily damaged (3 killed, 10 wounded), 11 months in repair.

On 25 July 1942 SKA-0175 and the MTB TK-154 attacked and sunk the German schooner n°2412. On 20 November 1943 SKA-031, SKA-0141 and SKA-0512, covered by a Che-2 seaplane depth charged the German submarine U-18, forced to return to base, repaired until the end of January 1944. SKA-84 was the most decorated among them: She destroyed two enemy patrol boats and one aircraft, escorted a total of 184 ships in convoys, sweeped 20 sea mines and was the first ship in the Soviet Navy to have the naval 82 mm (3.2 in) Katiusha variant. She ended sunk by field artillery on September 11 1943 off Novorossiysk.

In the Baltic, on 25 August 1942, Ladoga Lake, MO-206, MO-213 and MO-215 ambushed and captured off Vekkosaari the Finnish motorboat E-32. On 23 May 1943 Finnish patrol boats VMV-8, VMV-9, VMV-10, VMV-11, VMV-17 attacked MO-207 and MO-303. This was inconclusive, the two forced breaking away. MO-207 had its commander killed and 3 wounded. VMV-17 had one killed, one wounded but the MTB Raju was claimed sunk, while the Finns claimed both MO4 boats. On 14 May 1944, MO-122, MO-202, MO-213, MO-401 and MO-413 clashed with S-76, S-79, S-91, S-132, and S-135. MO-122 was sunk (9 killed) while S-91 had two wounded.

On 26 May 1944, MO-104, MO-302 and MO-313 engaged S-91, S-97, S-114, and S-135 in another epix small boat clash. The Commander of MO-302 was killed and 2 sailors, 11 wounded and the boat badly damaged. S-97 was also badly damaged (3 killed, 1 wounded) and another on S-114. On 15 July 1944, MO-104 and MO-105 teaming with the MTBs TK-47 and TK-57 to badly damage the surfaced U-679, cauht off-guard. A torpedo missed the submarine but it was badly damaged by gunfire before submerging with 8 sailors wounded.

On 20 July 1944 MO-103 depth charged and sunk U-250 in low waters so the crew escaped, its captain and 5 sailors were captured. The Soviets recovered the wreck and captured an Enigma machine plus the new Zaunkonig German acoustic torpedoes, and this intell was passed to the allies right away. On 9 May 1945 MO-121, MO-122, MO-131, MO-204 (MO-4 class) and the D-3 MTBs now used as PBs n°175, n°176, n°177, n°183, n°192 plus other smaller boats intercepted a Kriegsmarine convoy with escaping Latvian collaborationists on board. An armed tug was sunk, Rota surrendered and the barge n°833. Another barge and two schooners were scuttled but the tug Una escaped with 100 passengers. In all, 670 were captured, a coup for soviet propaganda and probably the last naval action in this sector of the war.

In the Arctic, MO4 mostly were used for mine-laying purposes, as they were enough lend-lease allied vessels for ASW patrols. From March 1942 to the end of the war, MO4 mines claimed the German merchant Utlandshorn (2643 GRT), German auxiliary TB Schiff-18 Alteland, the Westsee (5911 GRT), Hans Rickmers (5226 GRT), the patrol ship V-5909 Coronel, the Norwegian tug Pasvik, the German Antje Fritzen (4330 GRT), patrol ship V-6016, the tanker Mil. MO-121 and MO-163 clashed with German forces on 15 April 1943, together with MO-123 and MO-133 destroying a defecting cargo, Shchuka on the German shore.

In the Pacific, quieter theater, there were just two notable actions: On 10 August 1945 the Japanese merchant Riuko Maru n°2 (2230 GRT) was captured by Border Guard patrol boats off the mouth of river Vorovskaya (405 POW) and on the 19th, PK-31 shelled and repelled the Japanese schooner Maoka off the Shakalin island (Src

BO2 Type (1939): 2(+15) built

The first large Soviet sub-chasers/sub hunters of WW2. Programmed in the third five-year plan, they were much delayed due to the lack of manpower and resources, only 11 planned for service in January 1939 and 17 laid down, two commissioned before 1945 and 15 completed after. The first five were given Soviet diesels, the remainder US supplied General Motors diesels, and they were built at Krasnaya Sormovo Yard in Gorki, Zelyenodork Yard in the Volga, 42 Yard in Molotovsk, Diomedes inlet yard near Vladisvostok. They directly inspired the larger Project 122.

⚙ Specifications BO2

Displacement Displacement standard, 240/280 tons
Dimensions 49 x 5.8 x 2m
Propulsion 3 shafts GAM-34? petrol engines 3,600 hp
Speed 22 knots
Range Petrol 18 tons, Endurance, nm(kts) 1200(12)
Armament 1x 76mm/55, 2x 37mm/67 AAn 3 LMGs, 2 DCR (8)
Crew 30

BO 163 class large sub-chasers (project 122/122a/122bis)

These were large seaworthy boats used as patrollers in coastal or close offshore waters in peacetime as well as anti-submarine hunters in wartime, built for Border Guard (NKVD) and Navy: Project uniform was approved on 2.3.1939. Armament comprised a single 76mm/55 gun 34-K, a single twin and two single 12.7mm MGs DShK and 16DC heavy machine guns. In 1939-1940 plant No340 started the first four project 122 boats for the Border Guard. All the rest of the order was built for the Navy as war was slooming, called project 122a. Plant 402 in Molotovsk adopted riveting instead of welding, and the boat in general had a larger displacement and length while the speed was cut down to 18kts, but traded for increased range. Their superstructure was modified as well as their armament.

They were built at 300 Yd (Leninskaya Kuznitsa), Kiev, 340 Yd, Zelenodolsk, and 402 Yd, Molotovsk, six laid down 1939, five in 1940, six in 1941 and the rest in 1943 and 1944 (as well as many in 1945 and postwar). Around 300 boats were ordered, and within, about twenty cancelled. They diverged in specs beteween Project 122, 122a and 122bis. The latter was armed for example with one 85mm/52 90K gun, on 37mm/73 70K AA, two twin 12.7mm/79 HMGs, two quintuple 250 RBU-1200 DCT, one DCR (36) and 18 mines, plus the Lin` or Neptun radar, Tamir-10 or Tamir-11 sonar (will be developed in the cold war section).

Project 122 boats received a Tamir sonar later in the war. Project 122a boats had a Tamir-1 installed since the origin. They were armed in addition with two 37mm/63 70K AA guns, but late war boats had a single 85mm/49 90K, two single 37mm/63 70K AA, two twin 12.7mm/79 HMG AA, two DCTs, and one DCR (55)

After WW2 ended, construction shifted towards the new improved project 122bis, built until 1955, with a new ASW armament and Tamir sonar. They stayed in service in the early cold war and some were sold to China. In the cold war years they returned to their patrol duties for the NKVD as the OKhT-1 TOPAZ border guard ships (projects 122, 122bis) until 1955-60 but some survived into the 1970s.

⚙ Specifications BO-163

Displacement Displacement 340/380 tons
Dimensions 56.6 x 6.6 x 2.20m
Propulsion 3 shafts 9D diesels, 3,300 hp, 23 kts
Range 18 tons oil, Endurance 1750 nm/12 kts
Armament 1x 76mm/52 34K, 3x 12.7mm/79, 2 DCR (72)
Crew 49

BMO Type (1939): 48 Built

These were armoured small submarine chasers designed and built in Leningrad during the siege with whatever was available. This predetermined a number of prominent features like a simpler rectilinear hull form, a steel hull mostly riveted, and all vital parts like the engine room oil tanks and deck house received additional armour to defeat bullets and shrapnels. They were also equipped with two main Packard W8 petrol engines and a single cruising motor ZIS-5. Conways states they displaced 74 tons but most sources point out 55.

Also, a number of D3 class motor torpedo boats were pressed into service as TK class patrol/guard boats, most repurposed, but others were completed as such, as they proved too slow for regular MBT duties. See Soviet WW2 MBTs

⚙ Specifications BMO type

Displacement Displacement standard, 53/55 tons
Dimensions 24.8 x 4.20 x 1.60m
Propulsion 3 shafts, 2 W8 petrol, 1 ZIS-5, 2400 hp
Speed 21 knots (6 kts)
Range Petrol 7.2 tons, Endurance, 495 nm/8.4 kts
Armament 1x 37mm/63 70K, 2×2(+1) 12.7mm/79, 2 DCR or 10 mines
Crew 22

Sources/Read More

Conway’s all the world’s fighting ships 1922-47.
Soviet Warships 1941-45: Volume IV Armament, by A.V. Platonov
S. V. Patyanin, Ships of the Second World War, Soviet Navy 1941-1945
Moscow Magazine, “Sea campaign” No. 3 (24) for 2009
G. Smirnov “Stories about Weapons”, M, Detlit, 1976.
Directory “Ships and vessels of the Soviet Navy 1928-1945”.
Reconstitution on
MO4 On
Artillerist On
Russian guardships on navypedia (generic)
Passage on Google Books
Youtube video New sub-chasers war on U-boats – 1942

ww2 Soviet Minesweepers

WW2 Soviet Minesweepers

Soviet Navy – 327 minesweepers 1924-45

Introduction: Soviet Mine warfare WW2

About early Russian naval mines & tactics:

The Russians wre pioneers of mine warfare. They started to use them during the Crimean War, laying some 1,865 in the Baltic Sea to channel enemy ships into the path of fortification’s heavy guns. This was basically the bedrock of coastal defense at the time and that tactic stayed valid for decades. Mines however claimed no ship, but their presence alone prevented a Royal Navy raid on Kronshtadt itself, which was spared the fate of other fortifications in the area orr the black sea. Another occasion to use mines surged during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. In total, 1,218 mines were laid down in the black sea, to protect ports and the mouth of the Danube river, claiming one Turkish vessel.

The third occasion, and probably the best remembered was at the occasion of the Russo-Japanese War of 1905: Mines became in effect the most effective naval weapons in the Russian arsenal, claiming in fact way more IJN warships than the fleet. In all, 4,275 mines were laid down, claiming two Japanese battleships, two cruisers, five gunboats, six destroyers and a dispatch vessels and giving the world a lesson all navies were made fully aware of. Soon, minesweeping was perfected, and nets were carried by capital ships at anchor.

Russian Mine warfare in WWI

The minelayer Amur (sunk in 1904)

After 1905, the Russian Navy, almost amputated from half of its naval power more than ever bet on mines to defend its interests. When World War One brok out in August 1914, the Russian expertise reached its pinnacle during World War I. Due to the discrepancy of the forces in the Baltic, the Russian Navy had to resort to mine warfare as its primary offensive weapon. In the Baltic Sea, the knew a peak, with the use of 38,932 mines in the baltic alone, and new tactics by using both offensive and defensive mine fields (a concept in which fast mionelayers would precede a naval force and quickly lay a minefield directly in their path.

This cost the Kaiserliches Marine no less than 48 warships sunk, 21 warships badly damaged, results even better than in 1905. In 1916, the Baltic was infested so much by minefield that special missions were devised to send minesweepers with an escort, degenrating in battles. In 1916, eleven Hochseetorpedoboote en route to raid a Russian force was driven off by a minefield after seven had been sunk, more than 50% of the flotilla.

Many mines were also laid down in the Black sea as well, for a grand total of 52,000 mine and 64 warships sunk, including Turkish ones.And this was only for warhips, the number of enemy transports and auxiliaries lost to maines is vutally unknown wand probably in the order of 150 vessels or more. However in the post war years an assessement was made to judge the efficiency of mines. It was calucalted that it took on average 800 mines so sink a single warship.

Compared to the 308,700 mines aid by all belligerents durring WWI, this was still favourable, as it represented 1,500 mines per ship. Russian mine tactics as a result were seen twice as effective as other belligerents, but it is in part explaines by the confines of the Baltic and black sea, where numerous island channeled ships towards minefields easier. Nevertheless, the Russian were quite proficient in this art, inventing notably the “flying minefields”, as said above, directly into the path of an approaching fleet.

Russian Mine warfare in WWII

T404 in port. src:

In World War II with a much reduced fleet compared to what it was in 1905 or 1914, the Soviet Navy more than ever relied on minefield to defend its coasts. But this time, with a limited success. In total, the Soviet Navy laid 40,070 mines, claiming about 200 enemy warships but also transports and auxiliares. However management of these minefield was less expert, as miscommunication and the absence of updated minefield charts claimed also many Soviet ships on their own minefields. Another reason was simply the greater success of the German land forces, claiming a large part of the Russian coast, especially in the baltic and controlling the black sea coast beyong Crimea at some point. With that few sites from which operating minelaying operations, success was hardest to come by.

Only Germany and the Soviet Union in fact included a large mine countermeasures naval force in 1939, largely in part due to their WWI experience, notably in the baltic. Both countries also had the largest mine inventories of all belligerents. The Germans took some advance in this field, exploiting the WWI early British magnetic mine technology and making their own improving model. Grand Admiral Erich Raeder failed to see their potential in 1939 and never fully exploited them at their best potential. From the summer 1941 the Baltic sea became a new battleground for mines and the Kriegsmarine was no long alaying minefields early on, a decisive factor and major hazard for Soviet shipping. Soviet minefields severely restrained Axis naval operations, especially in coastal waters. Like for other belligerents, Soviet defensive minefields concentrated around key ports and coastal areas, and minefields were laid this summer of 1941 in great numbers, all reported on top secret charts. They of course restricted maritime movements and channeled them into known “transit lanes” where submarines and MTBs can wait in ambush, and naval artillery positions.

Soviet moored mines, many dating back from WWI stocks were used until 1945 but found often drift with the tide and current. So the Soviets themselves had to perform frequent clearing missions. Another aspect of soviet mine warfare was the use of “flying minefields” litteraly so then. In WWI, small, fast motors boats were used, and in WWII the development of soviet naval aviation led to fast minelaying operations where a single squadron can lay more than 400 magnetic mines in one mission. They needed to be escorted however, and were often heavy preys for the FLAK and Luftwaffe coastal bases, using radars.

Soviet Minesweepers were built before the war, but few: One in 1924, another in 1926, but the first real effort was made with the Tral class od coastal minesweepers, of which production started in 1935, integrated into the 5-year naval plan. It stopped in 1940 after 48 ships had been delivered. They formed the backbone of the Soviet Navy, however in 1937 already, the admiralty expressed its will to give its fleet dedicated, fast and long range minesweepers. Designed in 1938, they were launched in 1940-41, some completed only after the war has ended: The Vladimir Polukhin class. Limited industrial resources during WW2 only allwoed the construction of small ships. Thus was the case of the third last Soviet minesweeper class of that war: The 200+ T class coastal steel minesweepers, the T-297, T-301, T371 classes which formed the backbone of such operations in the baltic and black sea. Let’s not forget either lend-lease vessels: The Lekryev (T111) class, ex-US Admirable class in 1943, the T-108 (various) in 1944 and the larger T-151 (YMS type) in 1945.

Technical history

The first Russian mines used contact fuzes, and some even shore control (by cable) plus simple gunpowder. In 1876-1908 galvanic caps started to be use so that mines became fully independent, and their fuse used both platinum or an electrical device as a trigger. The common explosive in 1876 became gun cotton. Past 1908 mechanical percussion for their primed fuzing was used and TNT as explosive. Eventually magnetic mines were introduced from 1939, used until 1942. Russia was also a pioneer in minesweeping. During WWI, they invented the Oropesa sweep, essentially a “wire sweep” trailed behind the minesweeper, cutting cables circa eighty meters from the ship. Generally each vessels carried two sweeps, for each side. The Soviet Navy also provided its cruisers and destroyers paravanes, this time to have them trailed from the bow. Each flotilla had a lead ship for the sweep formation, guiding all vessels in the minefield. 10% of them were sunk in action, but the training vessels at the rear, needed also to avoid and destroy the mines cut out by the lead formation. The Oropesa gear was only soccessful against moored mines, like the Paravane. German bottom magnetic mines led to the Soviets to develop an influence sweep gear, which plans were passed via lend-lease by the British having paid a great price to them in the early weeks WW2.


Before 1939 the designation used only model year, but in WW2, Soviet mines had a letter code related to their use, KB for examples stands for Korabel’naya (“shipbone”) Mina, whereas submarine-launched mines had the prefix “PL” (for “Podvodnaya Lodka”) plus extra codes reflecting some special features. Magnetic mines were designated AMD followed by and identification number.

Russian Mines in service:

Model 1908: 1268 lbs with 254 lbs (115 kg) TNT warhead, 5 Hertz horns, max depht 360 feet (110 m): The was the standard Russian mine of WWI, used with multiple iterations until the 1960s.
Model 1912: 1323 lbs. (600 kg), 221 lbs. (100 kg) warhead, max depht, 425 feet (130 m), mod M1909 with hydrostatic system for automatic depth setting
P-13: Floating mine with electrical flotation system prototype
“Rybka” 1915: Small 418.9 lbs. (190 kg) 20-27 lbs. (9 – 12 kg) warhead, percussion mechanical fuze, max depht425 feet (130 m), riverine mine.
PL-100 1915: 221 lbs. (100 kg) warhead, percussion mechanical fuze, max depht 425 feet (130 m), submarine model, tube-launched.
Model 1916: 1654 lbs. (750 kg), warhead 254 lbs. (115 kg), trigger 5 Hertz horns, max depht 1,400 feet (425 m), great depht moored contact model.
Model 1926: 2,116 lbs. (960 kg), 551 lbs. (250 kg) warhead, percussion mechanical fuze max depht 425 feet (130 m). Main Soviet interwar model and by June 1941 (26,823 in storage). 16,794 were laid down in 1941 alone.
MAB-1 (1932): Warhead 253 lbs. (100 kg), percussion mechanical fuze, max dpt.425 feet (130 m) aircraft laid mine.
Model 1908/39: 1,305 lbs, wh 254 lbs. 5 Hertz horns dpt 390 feet (120 m)
Mirab, 1939: 617 lbs. wh 141 lbs. dpt 50 feet (15 m) Magnetic aircraft mine.
R-1, 1939: 606 lbs. wh 88 lbs. (40 kg) dp 130 feet (40 m), main river mine
AMG-1, 1939: wh 552 lbs. (250 kg), Aircraft laid mine.
KB, 1940: 2347.9 lbs. wh 507 lbs. dp 850 feet. Best mine of the war.
AG 1940: 2469 lbs. wh 508 lbs. 0-2 Bronze antenna fuzes, 5 Hertz horns dpt 1,575 feet (480 m)
PLT, 1940: 1,808 lbs. wh 529 lbs. Percussion mechanical fuze, dpt 425 feet (130 m)
EhP, 1941: 2,315 lbs. wh 661 lbs, 5 Hertz horns dpt. 525 feet (160 m), for K-class large submarines.
A Mark IV 1941: 1,479 lbs. wh 728 lbs. Magnetic fuze. British lend-lease model.
A Mark V, 1941: 1,003 lbs. wh 617 lbs. Magnetic fuze. Same
PLT-2, 1942: 1,686 lbs. wh 661 lbs. 5 Hertz horns. Submarine launched.
PLT-3, 1942: Submarine mine compat. 533 mm (21″) torpedo tubes.
AMD-1-500 1942: 1,102 lbs. wh 661 lbs. 20-100 feet, magnetic small mine.
AMD-1-1000 1942: 2,205 lbs. wh 1,543 lbs. dpt 20-100 feet Magnetic aircraft/ship mine.
YaM 1943: 379 lbs. (172 kg) wh 44 lbs. Hertz fuze dpt 164 feet (50 m) coastal mine.
PLT-G 1943: 1,808 lbs. wh 529 lbs. dpt 855 feet, deep water mine.
EhP-G 1943: 2,315 lbs. 573 lbs. 5 Hertz horns 1,150 feet EhP mine mod.
AGSB, 1944: 2469 lbs. 507 lbs. 0-2 antenna fuzes, 5 Hertz horns dpt 1,640 feet anti-submarine mine.
AMD-2-500 1945: 1,102 lbs. 661 lbs. 20-165 feet, Magnetic, acoustic.
AMD-2 1000 1945: 2,205 lbs. wh 1,543 lbs. 20-165 feet, Magnetic-acoustic.

WW2 Soviet minesweepers in action (examples)

minelaying operation
Minelaying Operation in the baltic – src

Actions in the baltic:

-On 22-23 June 1941 Tszcz-201 (Fugas class) laid a 206 minefield off Libau, sinking the submarine hunter UJ-113, patrol ship V-309 Martin Donandt, minesweeper M-1708 Aldebaran, and M-1706 Gertrude.

On 19 July 1941 small naval clash between the Finnish MTBs Raju, Syoksy, Vinha and Tszcz-202: Missed, but Vinha hit and towed away by Raju.
-On 11 July 1942 Tszcz-205 Gafel and Tszcz-207 Shpil escorted the guardship Burya, during the Battle of Someri Island but eventually did not took part in the battle.

Second Battle of Nerva

On 16 July 1944 the Minesweepers Tszcz-211 Rym and Tszcz-217 (Counter-Admiral Yurkovskiy) and guard boat Tucha engaged the T-30, T-8 and T-10 (Elbing class) with hits on both sides but the Germans retreated, resulting in a tactical soviet victory, with the T-30 sunk.

First Battle of Cape Sorve

Other engagement between German minesweeper M-328 and four smaller auxiliary minesweepers, against four Fugas (Tral) class units. Tszcz-207 Shpil hit M-328. Soviet gunboats Volga, Bureya and Zeya intervened and the Germans retreated. The Second Battle of Cape Sorve was won without mineweepers.

Black Sea

-Minefield laid by Tszcz-404 Shchit off Odessa harbor, before 16 October 1941, claiming a harbor tug on 22 April 1942. Another was laid by Tszcz-405 Vzryvatel claiming the German landing barrge F-145 on 3 June 1942. Tszcz-404 Shchit and Tszcz-408 Yakor laid mines in the same area on 24 October 1941 claiming the German auxiliary minesweeper Drossel and Brusterort, the German minelayer Theresia Wallner. On 10 June 1942 Tszcz-410 Vzryv duelled with the Italian MAS-570.

Battle of Fidonisi, 13 December 1942: Tszcz-408 Yakor and Tszcz-412 Arseniy Rasskin engaged the Romanian torpedo boat Smeul escorting merchants Tsar Ferdinand (1994 GRT) and Oituz (2686 GRT). Exchanged on both sides but apparently no hits. The Soviet minesweepers spotted approaching R-boats and reterated. On 27 February 1943 Tszcz-403 Gruz was sunk by S-28, S-51, S-72 and S-102. The tug Mius and gunboat Krasnaya Gruziya were badly damaged and later sunk. On 31 March 1943, U-24 was caught on surface and hit by minesweepers Tszcz-406 Iskratel, Tszcz-407 Mina and Tszcz-409 Garpun assisted by two seaplanes MBR-2 which attacked her with with depth charges. On 24 October 1943 the same was depth charged again by Tszcz-401 Tral and Tszcz-412 Arseniy Rasskin.

Actions in the Arctic:

-30 November 1939: Tszcz-895 and Tszcz-897 seized two abandoned Finnish motorboats (Rybachi peninsula) and on 19 July 1941 Tszcz-31 shot down a Ju-87 Stuka. Crew MIA. On 5 September 1944
U-362 was attacked and sunk with depth charges by Tszcz-116 (Of the lend-lease Admirable type).

Actions with the Pacific fleet:

-24 August 1945: Tszcz-155 (auxiliary) captured a Japanese schooner. The 28, T-589 and T-590 (lend-lease) had landing parties capturing five Japanese barges in Kuriles Islands and on the 31, T-590 captured a Japanese schooner, all in the Kuriles islands

WW1/Interwar Minelayers/Minesweepers

Part of the ships dedicated to mine warfare in 1941 were ships built more than 20 years ago, already veteran of the last war. We will have a quick review of these here. They will be treated in detail in the WWI section.

WWI era Minelayers

Bug class (1891) Old masted mine transport built in 1891. Bug and Dunai were fitted for minelaying in 1907 and both deployed with the black sea fleet. Bug scuttled in Sevastopol during the Potemkine mutiny to avoid mine explosion, and raised in 1907. Both served in WWI, Dunai was rearmed and still in service in 1941, renamed Maya since 1922, but her status in unsure afterwards.

ZAGRADITEL (1906) Built in Crichtn, Abo NyD, this was a 388 tons mine transport, reclassed as a survey vessel 2.1927, a netlayer 7.1941,and survey vessel again on 10.1941.
VOLGA (1909) 6,500 tonnes Minelayer (230 mines) from New Admiralty, St. Petersburg. She became a TS in 10.1922 and a depot ship 12.1938, extant WW2 and from 1944 back to civilian duties.

Amur class (1909) Amur and Ienisei were 2,926 tonnes ships, 320 mines from Baltic Wks, St. Petersburg. The second was sunk in June 1915, the first became a depot ship in May 1938, extant WW2.

Voin (1916) Built in Kononna Yard, she was sold in 1918 to Finland, renamed M1 and then Louhi (see Finland WW2). She was lost in 1945 (mine).

WW1/Interwar Netlayers

Demosfen class netlayers (1917): Eight ships, built in Nizhegorodskiy Teplokhod, Nizhniy Novgorod.Iset, and Kolomna S Yd (Kuban subgroup): Kivach, Kuban, Luga, and Demosfen, later Prypiat. Carried 100 mines, Most captured by Finland in 1918. The rest discarded in the interwar. Quikcspecs: 320 tonnes, 47.5 x 8.00 x 1.47, 2 shafts diesels 400 bhp, 8.5 kts, 2x 75mm/48 Canet guns, 6x 7.6mm MGs, 60 mines

BEREZINA class netlayers (1918-1919): Two ships built at Kolomna S Yd from 1916, completed by the “reds”. The first was a minesweeper 5.1920, a netlayer 10.1923 and stricken on 8.1926, the second a minesweeper 5.1920, a netlayer on 10.1923, and Training Ships in 5.1926, a dispatch vessel 8.1929, and TS again in 1930, and depot ship 9.1939, extant WW2. Quickspecs: Displacement 380/450 tons FL, 50.7x 8.8 max (16.7 wheels) x 2.00, side wheels powered by 2 diesels 600 bhp, 7.5 tons fuel, 2000(6.5) nm; Armed with 2x 75mm/48 Canet guns, 2x 7.6mm/94 MGs and 120 mines. Crew 47.

Three more ships were ordered to Baltic Wks, Petrograd, laid down in 1917 but cancelled in 1918. The Kivach class would have been 480 tons, diesel-powered 60 m long vessels armed with three 102mm/60 guns, one 76mm/28 Lender AA guns, two 7.6mm MGs and 80 mines.

WWI era Minesweepers

Fugas class (1910): 150 tons, 45m vessels, carrying 50 mines. Five to the baltic fleet, four lost in action WW1 last one discarded 1932.
Albatros class (1910): 106 tons, 25.9 m vessels (Albatros, Bakan), fate unknown.
Gruz class (1916): Four Petrograd built 248 tons vessels, carrying 64 mines. Baltic fleet, one lost, other to Finland, discarded 1930s.
Patron class (1913): 445/500 tons, 42.7 m vessels, three built at Smith Dock, Middlesborough UK 1913 for the Siberian flotilla. One lost, two to Finland.
Zashnitnik class (1916): Four 190 tons, 45m ships able to carry 30 mines; Built in Patrograd for the Baltic fleet. Two lost, others to Finland. Udarnk modernized 1937, extant WW2.
T13 class minesweepers trawlers (1916): Thirteen trawlers built by Smith Dock (UK) for the Arctic Flotilla, 520 tons, 39.6m. Various fates, none extant WW2.

WWI era Minesweepeing launches

MT series motor minesweepers: Eighteen 25-29 tonnes, 15.3 m launches from Abo yard equipped for minesweeping. Single gasoline engine 50 hp, 9 kts. Ordered in 1917 for the baltic fleet. Various fates, most to Finland, some incomplete.
A class motor minesweepers: Thirty-Five 13-21 tons minesweeping launches built at Crichton Nyd (Abo) for the baltic fleet, also ordered 1917. Most unfinished, completed after capture by the Finns and still in use in WW2. Twelve of a derived designed were also in construction in Krogius, Helsginfors. Four were completed by the white Russian Navy in 1919. Fate unknown.

Auxiliary Minelayers

Note: fate of these is not known, some could have been still extant in WW2, but most were discarded, scrapped or converted back to civilian service in the interwar.

Baltic sea fleet

Bureya, Dyuna, Ilmen, Irtysh, Khoper, Lena, Lovat, Mtsa, Mologa, Ob, Sheksna, Svir, Terek, Ural, Zeya

Black sea fleet

Beshtau, Dikhtau, Mina, Tsesarevitch Giorgi, Velikaya Knyazinya Kseniya, Veliki Knyaz Alexiev, Veliki Knyaz Konstantin

Siberian flotilla

Monogugai, Shika, Usuri

Auxiliary Minesweepers

Baltic fleet

N°1-24 1875-1911, Alesha Popovich, Dobrynya, Dulo, Garpun, Ilya Murometz, Kitoboj, Kometa, Mikula, Namet, Nevod, Planeta, Potok Bogatyr, Stvol, Svyatogor, Tsapfa, Tumba, Yakor

Black sea fleet

T 221 – T293, Batum, Kharaks, Khersonets, Metcha, Rossiya, Truvor, Vesta, Vityaz

Arctic Flotilla

T 1 – T 45, Aleksandra, Atvans, Kovda, Orezund, Sever, Svyatoi, Vera, Yug

Siberian Flotilla

Ayaks, Paris, Patroki, Uliss.
Note: Conways gives no clue about their fate, so we can assume that about 20-30% of them were still extant in WW2, since the civil war saw many scuttled, destroyed, or reconverted.

WW2 Soviet Netlayers

VIATKA class netlayers, project 149 (1941/1944)

Viatka (26.5.1940), Onega (7.1941), Iset (1940), Tura (26.6.1940), Mologa (1.8.1944) and Sukhona (1944)

All ordered 264 Yd, Krasnoarmeysk (near Stalingrad) in 1938. Construction was of course for some suspended during the siege and resumed in 1944. They were shallow-draught netlayers, carrying also 50 M1926 or 40 KB mines and minesweeping equipment for good measure, so to act as jake of all trades. They had three diesels, one used for harbor operations: Two 140hp diesels on side-shafts and one 50hp diesel on the central shaft. Vyatka and Onega were armed by three 45mm/43 21K AA guns, two 12.7mm/79 DHSK HMGs and 50 mines. Mologa and Sukhona: same but four 12.7mm/62, Iset two HMGs, Tura a single 45mm/43 21K and two DSHK. Viatka, Onega and Mologa were stricken in the 1960s. Iset’ became a communication ship in 1942 and Tura was completed as a depot ship.


Displacement 527 t. standard -? t. Full Load
Dimensions 56.80 m long, 9.80 m wide, 1.70 m draft
Machinery 2 shafts 4SD-19/32 diesels + 1 2SD-20/30 diesel, 330 bhp, 8.4 kts, 14 tons fuel, range 1280nm(4.5)
Armament See notes
Crew 54

USSR also operated a captured japanese netlayer, Tyumen’-Ula. This 1944 vessel built in Mitsubishi (Yokohama) as IJN 13-Go, was obtained as war reparation in 11.1946 and served as rescue vessel 7.1948. Probably scrapped in the late 1950s.

WW2 Soviet Minelayers

Less specialized, the role of minelaying could be given to any ship which could receive rails along the hull, which was the case of all cruisers and destroyers in service with the Soviet Navy in 1939. That’s why true specialized minelayers were rare, like in most navies:

Profintern class cruisers: They carried 100 mines each.
-Krasnyi Kavkaz (1916): The rebuilt interwar cruiser also carried 100 mines.
-Kirov class (1935): All three groups six cruisers carried also 100 mines, and even 200 for the 1940 Chapayev.
-Novik class destroyers: About 54 built, the majority still active in WW2. carried 50-60 mines.
-Leningrad clas flotilla leaders: 80 mines
-Tashkent & Kiev class flotilla leaders: 80 mines
-Gnevnyi class Destroyers: 56 mines
-Storozhevoi class destroyers: 60 mines
-Ognevoi class destroyers: 96 mines
-Series II minelayer submersibles: 20 mines
-Series XI minelayer submersibles: 20 mines
-Series XIII/XIII bis minelayer submersibles: 20 mines
-Series XIV minelayer submersibles: 20 mines
-Yastreb class guardships: 20 mines
-Albatros class guardships: 20 mines
-Dzerzhinskiy class guardships: 24 mines
-Uragan class guardships: 48 mines
Note: The minesweepers themselves carried mines, see later.

An example of Lend-lease minesweepers: T-112; note the two-tone 1945 allied livery -navsource). Originally planned as Agent (AMc 116), reclassified AM-139. Laid down 8 April 1942 by the Tampa Shipbuilding Co., Tampa, FL, Launched 1 November 1942 she was Completed 7 July 1943 and transferred to the Soviet Union, reclassified T-112 immediately, so she never was commissione din the USN. She was formally named Senior Lieutenant Vladimirov 13 April 1944. Returned to the USN in 1955 she was eventually struck from the Navy Register 1 January 1983 and abandoned on 31 January 1991.

Sources/Read More
Video about the Tral class battle records, Tral class
Fugas-class on navypedia
Rusian & soviet Minesweepers on navypedia
Type 53U on
D.A. Bertke, D. Kindell, G. Smith, “WORLD WAR II SEA WAR VOLUME 4 GERMANY SENDS RUSSIA TO THE ALLIES. Day-to-Day Naval Actions from June 1941 through November 1941
Mikhail Monakov, Jurgen Rohwer, “Stalin’s Ocean-going Fleet: Soviet Naval Strategy and Shipbuilding Programs 1935–1953
Платонов А. В. Энциклопедия советских надводных кораблей, 1941–1945 / А. В. Платонов. — СПб.: ООО «Издательство Полигон», 2002
“Miny VMF SSSR” (Mines of the Soviet Navy) by Yu. L. Korshunov and B. K. Lyamin
“Miny Rossiyskogo Flota” (Mines of the Russian Fleet) by Yu. L. Korshunov and Yu. P. D’yakonov
“Sovetskie Boevye Korabli 1941-45: IV Vooruzhnie” (Soviet Warships 1941-45: Volume IV Armament) by A.V. Platonov

Model kits

Kombrig Soviet WWII Patrol Ships Tral Minesweeper/Storm Sloop/MO-4 Hunting Craft/OD-200 Hunting Craft
AER Model Studio N40002 1:400

Nomenclature of Soviet Minesweepers/Minelayers

Marti (converted 1923)

The 1893 Imperial Yacht Shtandard from Burmeister & Wain NyD, Copenhagen, completed 1896 was a known figures in the years preceding WW1. Captured after the civil war, it was for a time used an a floating exhibition, and mothballed until it was decided to convert her as a minelayer. This was performed at Marti Yard in Leningrad, so she was renamed after her namesake yard. The conversion started in 1932 and was completed on 25 December 1936. This was not a success: She carried too few mines on her 6,000 tonnes displacement and was too slow for effective service with the fleet. Naturally, she was commissioned with the Baltic fleet.

In 1941-42 she was attacked by the Luftwaffe and damaged. Repaired in 1943 she was used as a floating battery during the defence of Leningrad. After the war she was sent to Rostock in east Germany to receive a new powerplant and was used afterwards as the training ship Oka from 1957, after being an accommodation ship in the early 1950s. She was discarded in the late 1960s. By that time her hull was 70+ years old.

Conways profile, Marti in 1941

Specifications (1936)

Displacement 5,665 t. standard -6198 t. Full Load
Dimensions 122.30 m long, 15.40 m wide, 6.80 m draft
Machinery 2 shafts VTE, 4 boilers, 11,500 shp, 14 kts
Armament 4 x 130mm, 7x 75mm AA, 3x 45 mm AA, 3 MGs, 320 mines.
Crew 400

Note: The Soviet Navy also used the Suurop class, captured Estonian minelayers Suurop and Ristna in 1940. Both were recommissioned with the Baltic sea fleet. The first was sunk by the Luftwaffe in 1941 but the second survived as a training ship into the 1960s. Also the Soviet Navy captured the Romanian Admiral Murgescu in 1944 during the west black sea coast advance. She was renamed Don, and commissioned with the black sea fleet, returned after 1945 to Romania. In 1941, two 530 tonnes steam barges in construction in Kraznaya Sormovo Yard in Gorkyi were converted into netlayers, recommissioned with the baltic fleet with minelaying rails. Class: Onyega, Vyatka. Fate unknown.

Minesweeper Doroteya (1924)

No information available


Displacement 443 t. standard -500 t. Full Load
Dimensions 46.20 m long, 6.50 m wide, 4 m draft
Machinery 2 shafts VTE, 2 cym boilers 400ihp, 8 kts
Armament 2 x 45mm/46

Minesweeper Dzhalita (1926)

No information available or photo. The two ships were specially built as experimental minesweepers, and very close in armament, powerplant and dismensions. Data from Conways 1922-47.


Displacement 470 t. standard
Dimensions 40.50 m long, 6.30 m wide, 2.90 m draft
Machinery 2 shafts VTE, 2 cyl boilers 300 ihp, 8 knots
Armament 2 x 45mm/46

Tral (Fugas) class coastal minesweepers (1935)

Arguably the most imporyant minesweepers class of WW2 for the Soviet Navy. Although less in numbers compared to the small coastal T301 Diesel Minesweepers, the “Fugas” class (soviet reference, Russian for the French word “Fougasse” an ancient incendiary defensive mine, was also known in the west, especially after the war, “Tral”. Amazingly, some, very modified were in service in the North Korean Navy as recently as 2015.

What made them stand apart was their simplicity of construction allowing large scale production, good armament and capabilities, making them also valuable escort vessels in addition of their roles as minesweepers or minelayers. In total 44 were built, before and during the war. The design specification was issued in 1930. The design was approved in 1931 under the project number 53, later 53-U and 58, retroactively applied in 1939 upon the new desigation policy. They were built in steel, using mixed welding and riveted elements. The crew compartment, which was rare at the time, was additionally coated by wood laminate for thermal isolation. The ASW protectin was assured by nine water-proof compartments below the waterline. They were intended to be livable for long cruises and had also a central heating system, a sauna and even a cinema room. No wonder why they were immensely popular.

They were equipped with a full Minesweeping geared, with three towed trails. Leading trails were tested but not adopted. Magnetic trails were fitted in 1944, and acoustic trails in 1945, to keep them relevant with the latest types of German naval mines. They had been equipped to deal also with magnetic-sensing mines by the addition of 3-section degaussing coils. Wartime lessons brought a serie of modifications, like an upgraded anti-aircraft armament while mines provision was reduced as well as the main shell storage. It was mostly intended to cope with stability issues, as the ship was calculated to be irrecuperable after listing to 38 degrees, with standard load. The crew also was armed, and could muster a small landing party with one Degtyaryov machine gun and 15 rifles, leading to many raids onshore in the baltic and pacific (notably Sakhalin). They were for some even convered as gunboats for onshore landings, armed with ten 45mm anti-tank guns on decks, and carried up to 600 infantry. Two ships could land a regiment and support the with the onboard artillery. In retrospect, the Fugas class was considered overall satisfactory. They had flaws, a reduced seaworthiness and stability, poor maneuverability, but these issues were gradually rectified during wartime. But not their draft of 2.75 m which prevented their use for riverine warfare and was overall clearly unsufficient for a minesweeper to deal with minefields. Many in fact, were lost while perfoming their minesweeping mission.

Production variants

  • Project 3 (1930): 8 preserie vessels with a crew of 52 men.
  • Project 53 (1933): 10 modified ships with a rigid ballast, better steering gear, and improved doors and hatches sealing
  • Project 53-U (1937): 17 ships with a widened hull for stability increased AA, 66 men crew
  • Project 58 (1937): 7 ships with improved compartmentalization and stability, better diesel engines (1,600 hp), main production version.

On a total of 44 ships built at 190, 196, 363, 370 Yards Leningrad, and 201 yard at Sebastopol, the last two were completed as escorts. T-1 to T-8 were in service with the Pacific Fleet, T-201 to T-221 in the Baltic fleet, T-401 to T-415 Black Sea fleet. Armament differed among models:
-The project 3 ships had a single 100mm/49 B-24, one 45mm/43 21K, two 12.7mm/79 HMG, 2 DCR.
-Project 53, 53u and 58 were armed the same, but T-217 was given a single 37mm/63 70K, and T-219, 220 had two, the later keeping its 45 mm guns.
All were given the ShT-1 and ZT-1 mechanical minesweeping gear and could carry 31 mines.

T1 Strela
two hull color examples
MS94 profile
Tral profile

Specifications (All types)

Displacement 406-428 t. standard, 445-503 t. Full Load
Dimensions 62 m long, 7.20-7.40 m wide, 2-2.26 m draft
Machinery 2 shafts 42-BMRN-6 or BD diesels, 2800-2900 hp, 17.8-18.5 kts, 2840-330 nm
Armament 100mm, 45mm AA, 2x 12.7 mm AA, 2 DCR, 31 mines
Crew 42-47

Polukhin class fleet minesweepers (1935)

Polukhin off Turkey seen from a US ship, src:

Project 59 (1939)

These large sea going minesweepers were called Project 59, of which two were built at xxx, T-250 Vladimir Polukhin, T-254 Vasiliy Gromov; and the modified version, Project 73K, after the war – 20 laid down, none complete during WW2 (see later). They were the T-251 Pavel Khokhryakov, T-252 Aleksandr Petrov, T-253 Karl Zedin, T-255 Andrian Zasimov, T-256 Vladimir Trefolev, T-257 Timofey Ulyantsev, T-258 Mikhail Martynov, T-259 Fiodor Mitrofanov, T-260 Luka Pankov, T-261 Pavlin Vinogradov, T-262 Stepan Griadushko, T-263 Semion Pelikhov, T-450 Pavel Golovin, T-451 Ivan Borisov, T-452 Sergey Shuvalov, T-453 Semion Roshal, T-454 Ivan Sladkov and T-455 Nikolay Markin.

These Fleet minesweepers were designed to assume reconnaissance minesweeping in long range, far away areas but also to assume mine warfare support for large squadrons. Project 59 was setup a top speed of 20kts which predetermined steam turbines and not diesels. Design work started in 1938 and in 1939 were laid down the first two at No370 and No363 yards in Leningrad, while in the black sea, Sevastopol Yard, no less than 20 hulls were laid down in 1941 at No201 yard. Delays for delivering turbines and boilers none were completed before the start of the war. In 1942-1943 however, the first two ships were eventually completed and commissioned. Eventually of the remainder 20, only 15 were completed after the war as project 73K.


conways profile

Project 59 Specifications

Displacement 690 t. standard, 880 FL
Dimensions 79.50 m long oa, 8.10 m wide, 2.50 m draft
Machinery 2 shafts DK1 geared steam turbines, 2 boilers 8000 hp, 22.5 kts, 191 tons oil, 2000 nm/11 kts
Armament 2x 100mm/54 B-24BM, 1x 45mm/43 21K, 3x 37mm/63 70K, 2x 20mm/70 Oerlikon Mk IV, 4x 12.7mm/79, 2 DCR (20 in store), 20 mines
Crew 125

Project 73K (1949)

Their steam turbines were replaced by GM diesels, they carried new modern sensors, a modernized and reinforced AA armament (2x 85mm/52 90K, 4x 37mm/73 70K, 4x 12.7mm/79 HMG, 2 DCT, 20 mines) and a brand new anti-mine equipment setup to deal with the latest magnetic mines: PT and MT-2 mechanical sweeping gears, TEM-1 magnetic and two BAT-2 acoustic minesweeping gear. Also the incomplete hulls of T-451 (Ivan Borisov) and T-452 (Sergey Shuvalov) were commissioned in December 1943 static landing barges, used until 1944. After WW2, T-250 Vladimir Polukhin and T-251 Vasiliy Gromov were given a modernized mechanical minesweeping gear, comprising a PT gear plus MT-2 mechanical, TEM-1 magnetic, and two BAT-2 acoustic minesweeping gear. They were also retrofitted with the Project 73K sensor suite: Giuys-1M, Zarnitsa and Rym radars, and the Tamir-5 sonar.

Project 73K Specifications

Displacement 703 t. standard -863 t. Full Load
Dimensions 78.60 m long, 8.10 m wide, 2.48 m draft
Machinery 2 shafts GM diesels 3200 hp, 17 kts, 3700 nm/16 kts
Armament See notes
Crew 118

T297 captured minesweepers (1939)

These were the ex-Virsaitis, Viesturs, and Imanta, former Latvian gunboats and minesweepers seized in 1940 and commissioned into the baltic sea fleet as T297, 298 and 299. The first was lost to a mine in December 1941, the the third also on July 1941. See more details about the Latvian fleet in the small fleets page.

T301/371 (MT) class coastal minesweepers (1942)

T442 and 446 at sea, Jerzy Michinski coll. via Conways.

Dsigned under the Soviet designation Project 253L, with Specifications issued in April 1942 by admiral Lev Galler. Initial they were planned by TsKB-32 but the design was judged unsatisfactory. It was transferred in 1943 to TsKB-51. Improvements resultied in Project 253L (for N. G. Loshchinskii, lead designer). These were badly needed in the Baltic Sea, and a pre-production of 32 was ordered on 12 April 1943 then full scale production in two shipyards from 12 June 1943. They became extremely successful and four more shipyards were also assigned to their production, from 31 October 1943.

MT-1 Introduced in June 194, it displaced 126.6 tons
MT-2 Introduced inApril 1944, 141.3 tons, but smaller engines (160 hp).

They were fitted with four mine-sweeping gears composed of two mechanical trails as well as magnetic and acoustic towed trails. A grand total of 92 T301 class vessels were delivered for the Baltic fleet. They were numbered T-222-249, T-351-391, T-434-441, T-459-479. T-387 was sunk by U-481 28 November 1944 but this was the only loss of the class in WW2. In 1946, seven of these were transferred to the Polish Navy. They were retired from 1956 and many converted into diving support ships.

Conways profile.


Displacement 126.6 t. standard -141.3 t. Full Load
Dimensions 38-39 m long, 5.50-5.70 m wide, 1.4-1.5 m draft
Machinery 2 shafts diesels, 3 props, 1440 hp, 14 kts.
Range 2,500 nmi (4,600 km) at 8.6 kn (15.9 km/h)
Armament 2x 45mm/46 21K, 4x 0.5in AA MGs, 18 mines
Armor 8mm (control room only)
Crew 32

T111 lend-lease minesweepers (1943)

T218, ex-USS Perile

Also called “Starshkyi Leytnant Lekaryev” these were thirty-four US admirable class minesweepers loaned to USSR under lend-lease, starting with the frist ten in 1943, commissioned with the northern fleet as T-11-120. The next fourteen were sent to the Pacific fleet in 1945, T-114, 118 and 120 were all sunk by U-Boats in the Kara sea. T278 was lost in the Pacific (unknown causes), T279 hit a mine off Korea, three were scrapped after heavy damage after the wae, five were scuttled in 1956, the remaining were purchased in the 1950s so non returned to the US. No doubt their desig influence also the cold war generation of Soviet Minesweepers. Outside their identification numbers they all received names.

T108 lend-lease minesweepers (1944)

Fifteen RN and RCN motor minesweepers were sent to USSR in May-September 1945 via end-lease. A very late date as Germany was already defeated but this was to help the Soviet navy clean waters of mines in the arctic and baltic in order to maritime trade to resume as soon as possible. They were commissione din the northern fleet as T-101-T110 and T-121-122, and the T-193-202 sent to the black sea. They were all returned later in 1946. The types varied, see the WW2 British/Canadian sections for more.

T151 lend-lease minesweepers (1945)

These were forty-three ex-US YMS class coastal minesweepers, delivered in May-Setember 1945. 31 ended with the Pacific fleet as T-151-156, T581-592, T599-611 and two more batches of six delivered to the Baltic and Black sea fleet (T181-186 and T187-192 respectively). Two were lost in action, seven scrapped after the war in 1954, eleven more in 1956, twelve declared unseaworthy and scrapped in 1954, and eleven scuttle din the Barentz sea ynder USN supervision.

ww2 Soviet Motor Torpedo Boats

Soviet WW2 Motor Torpedo Boats

Soviet Navy 1921-45: Circa 400 Boats

During WW2, the Soviet Navy went on producting motor torpedo boats in larger numbers than any other warship. Cheap and capable of operating on rivers as well, with gunboats, they soon proved highly valuable to perforom a large variety of roles, from the black sea to the baltic and their confined shallow waters, but also the pacific. Indeed in total, around 500 were delivered to Soviet Forces, in five main types, the last being produced for many years during the early cold war. They were identified by letters and very comparable to Italian MAS boats, for which they took inspiration from. Their style was unique, notambly the famous G5 type which basically were the standard Soviet MTB of WW2. Statistics of their actions are hard to find. Only a dozen axis surface ships and u-boats combined were sunk during the war, and because of the small sizes of the torpedoes carried by the main TMB series, a hit was rarely fatal. Losses however, were heavy. It is estimated for example, that for all of G5 boats delivered (Circa 292), only 191 were still extant in 1945. However, with their powerful engines and sturdy design, quite unique, these MTBs achieved amazing speeds. On trials, a prototype aluminium unladen G5 reached 62 knots (115 kph, 71 mph).

Development of Soviet MTBs

Brief overview of WW1 Russian MTBs

The invention of Motor Torpedo Boats (abbreviated since the beginning of the 20th century “MTB”) had many fathers, but it’s the marriage between more reliable torpedoes and fast civilian boats that created them. Smaller and cheaper than regular torpedo boats, they became a way of detterence on a budget, an attractive solution for coastal defense. In that realm, Imperial Russia already had some experience:

Nikolson MTBs (1905)

In 1904 already, seeing tests made in the UK for harbour defense and concerned over the safety of Port Arthur, an order was passed in 1904 to the US shipyard Flint & Co., for 35 tonnes, 20 knots MTBs. They were carried in modules, assembled in Sebastopol, and scheduled to be sent to the far east, but the war ended before this was realized. They were shipped instead to the Baltic and laid up in 1910-11 because of oil shortages. Places in reserve in 1921, they were reactivated in 1937 to be converted as sub-chasers (Mo 312 class) and saw WW2 as well, almost three wars in a career.

Motor Launches (1915-18)

Although these were not MTBs (they were slow and only had machine guns) these small vessels used for patrols were quite numerous and provided extra experience with small boats construction:

  • SKA series (1916): 12 built hy Zolotov NyD, Petrograd, for the Baltic
  • SK series (1915): 18 US-built, assembled at Revensky NyD for the black sea fleet. On was converted as a MTB.
  • MN series (1916): 18 of the Same, for the Arctic defence.
  • N°511 serie (1916): 31 of the same, also assembled in revensky for the black sea.
  • BK series (1917): 12 built by Revensky for the Black sea fleet.

Soviet authorities have a look at MTBs again (1921)

As a fighting type, the MTB was a cheap, light unit of great interest to Soviet authorities, not having the industrial capacity for a large fleet (yet), and prioritizing coastal defense policy. The observation of the successes of the Italians against the Austro-Hungarian fleet during the great war naturally led them to consult once again their main technological partners in naval matters, but also the British. Up to that point, the latest MTBs in the hands of the red army were eight British CMB 40ft-type MTBs, transferred to Whites and later captured. They were not only pressed into service with the Soviet Navy until worn out, but inspired greatly some developments. Propelled by a Thornycroft V-8 or Thornycroft V-12 or even a FIAT or Green 12-cyl. petrol engine they reached from 27 to 27 knots, but were armed the same way. The last was discarded in 1934.


Tupolev, the famous aeronautical designer, was approached thanks to his experience of aluminum, to build the first ANT1-4 prototypes in 1921-23. These units used Italian (Isotta-Fraschini) or American (Wright Cyclone) engines. Subsequently different models were defined, starting with the Sh-4 (1928), SM1 (2 prototypes, 1931), and ultimately the G5 (1933) by using the standard powerful GAM-34 engine and standard marine torpedoes (21 inches). Several hundred of the G5 will be produced, and used intensely in the black sea fleet and baltic, but without registering a resounding victory. They remained the bread and butter of Soviet coastal warfare during WW2. Experiments were made for more power and heavier armament: The G6 (1935), G8 (1938), SM3 (1940), D4 (1940). Only another serie than the G5 built and operated in USSR existed, the D3 (139 built). It should be noted that the Soviet Navy also received via lend-lease US and British MTBs, 90 Vosper 70ft types, a few Higgins 78ft, and 60 Elco 80ft types, plus 12 captured MTBs from Romania and Bulgaria after Thrace was retaken by the Soviet Army. On the latter chapter, these 12 MTBs were captured in August and september 1944 when this coast was retaken by the Soviet army, recommissioned as TKA-951-955 and TKA-958-964, all returned in 1945.

G5 in patrol. The most popular Russian torpedo boats were designed by the aircraft manufacturer Tupolev.

Tupolev’s G5s were an interwar design, but produced in much smaller numbers during the war (circa 39). They were most famous, but the larger D3s were far most popular and used wooden hulls, saving on strategic materials. At the end of the war, the Soviet Navy needed to rebuilt its pacific fleet for intended operations against Japan. The Komsomolec class were supposed to replace the G5s, but arrived too late and will see action against Japan.

Experimental Vessels:

The Stalnoi SM1 and 2 in 1931, the G6, quite heavy (70 tons) and equipped with 8 GAM-34BS engines, the G8, with 4 engines and capable of 47 knots, the prototype of the D3, the D2, in 1939, equipped with 52 ASW grenades, the SM3 (1940), capable of 45 knots, and the D4, the last avatar of this series, capable of 39 knots with 3300 hp procured by three engines. They will all be seen in detail in this post.


Drawing (cc)
G-5 model

Scale model by Hristo Boevski (cc)

Armament of Soviet MTBs

With approx. 300 MTBs in 1941, 250 G5 and 52 Sh4, the Soviet Navy had a way to defend its coastal waters. To this were added a complement of G5 boats of the last serie and about 140 larger D-3 class vessels.
They were armed with two types of torpedoes:
-Two 18-in naval torpedo for the Sh-4 (like British CMB)
-Two 21-in naval torpedoes (G5, D3), 533 mm (21″) 53-38 type.
They were also all given heavy machine guns, the 12.7 mm “Duskha” (DSHK):
-One on Sh-4, 1-2 on G5, or even 4 on D-3. The 1945 Komomolec class had two twin mounts
Some D3 replaced their 0.5 in heavy MGs by lend-leased 20 mm Oerlikon guns.
Other D3s combined a Soviet 25 mm (0.98 in) with a 12.7 mm HMG.
-ASW armament: It was limited to the D3 and converted vessels like the Sh-4 serie and olders G5 series. They carried 4 standard ASW depth charges or more aft, on rails.
-Rockets: After trials were made with Katiusha rocket launchers in 1942, the authorities confirmed the use of 82mm and 132mm army type, mounted behind the conning tower on the last series and converted earlier boats.
-Mines: Although this is not well documented, photos showed boats modified to carry aft (in the former torpedo cradles) eight small naval mines. At least five G5 boats were converted this way, which served on the baltic.

Tactics of Soviet MTBs

The ANT-1, Sh-4 and G5 types were all based on the Italian WW1 standard SVAN type, which carried two torpedoes aft. They were launched tail first. This implied the MTBs needed to approach their target more than standard front-firing, tube launching MTBs (like German E-Boats). Once at the required distance, the Boat turned hard, presenting its stern for launch. When in the right direction, the torpedo was dropped, and a cable release actioned their engine (most often oxygen turbine). The boat was in the right direction by then to depart the other way at full speed, now much lighter. The unguided torpedo precise launch time was complicated to establish, more than in a standard torpedo tube. Indeed, additionally to trigonometry, the boat needed to present ots stern at the right angle before firing, which was far less straigthforward than just “aiming” the bow of the boat on the expected point where the target would be before firing.

The standard 533 mm (21″) 53-38 used on Soviet MTBs was first designed in 1936 and shared with almost all other soviet surface combatants, but also submarines. It was based on an Italian model, powered by a Wet-heater, carrying a 661.4 lbs. (300 kg) igh explosive warhead to three possible settings: 4,270 yards (4,000 m)/44.5 knots, 8,750 yards (8,000 m)/34.5 knots and 10,940 yards (10,000 m)/30.5 knots. Given the way G5s approached, the first setting was more likely. Such small and agile target, either presenting its bow and stern most of the time, and its flank only when turning, was a hard target to hit by any means from 4000 yards/meters away. It was more likely also these MTBs launched both torpedoes when engaging, to keep the benefit of speed and agility when retiring, launching in succession to avoid wake interference of the first on the second torpedo, and maximizing any hit chance.

Soviet MTBs operated in pairs, so that one boat would help another in case of one ship being hit or disable for any reason. Trained crews precious, even to soviet standards. This also ensured there was always a patrol at sea when the squadron was in harbor, with some boats in repair and maintenance. With four torpedoes also, there was at least four chances of hitting a target.

Being made a bit like aircraft, in aliminium, or wood for he D-3, the boats were light but totally unprotected due to stability issues. Sometimes crews welded over some plating but it was a non-compliant field measure, endangering the boat’s stability. Their light construction (espcially G5s) was also a problem. Aluminium was hard to work on, and the boats could be damaged by collision with any obstacle and between themselves or badly damaged by heavy weather. They were judged too small to operate past Force 4. The problem was solved with the D-3s, much larger and designed to carry on and operate in Force 6 waves.

-It should be added that the two aft torpedo cradles, when free, were handy to cram inside around 20 men, ten seated on each side. G5s were used as fast transports on rivers and coastal areas, a nice, fast way to bring reinforcements. At 55 knots (101 kph 63 mph), they were much faster than any truck or tank, with the advantage of a free surface. They were fast less vulnerable to the Luftwaffe due to their speed and agility. They were used also often in night operations for the same reasons, but hardly fit for “commando” operations due to the high level of noise produced by the engines. They were all but stealthy.

Prototypes MTBs

Proyekt ANT class (1921-28)


The denomination “ANT” shared by planes designed by A.N.Tupolev (hence the acronym), was applied to four motor torpedo boats built in the 1920s, in order to test the adptation of two WWI designs by the Soviets: Captured British CMB (notably at Kronstadt) and Italian SVAN Type MAS were studied. Both used the same stern-launched torpedoes and used several petrol engines to drive two propellers.

-ANT1 (1921):

As small speed boat propelled by a 160 hp Isotta-Fraschini engine for 40 kts.

-ANT2 (1925):

Unknown petrol engine, 35 kts. Appearance not known.

-ANT3 Pervenec/Pervenetz (1927):

8.9 tonnes, armed with a single 18-inches torpedo, two MGs, designed at TsAGI, Moscow. She was given two Wright Cyclone aviation engines for a total of 1050 bhp, for a top speed of 54 knots. She was discarded in 1941.

-ANT4 Tupolev (1928):

Also called N°14, also from TsaGi Moskow. Ten tons, same powerplant, 50 knots and two 18-in torpedoes. The latter vessels were designed specifically by the aero-hydrodynamic institute headed by Engineer A.N. Tupolev (giving his name to ANT-4), Pervenec being just a project name. The last boat was the basis for the next SH-4 serie, and went on as prototype to tests some improvements on the Sh-4 in the 1930s. She was BU in 1937. The other were also likely discarded before even WW2 broke out.

SM1 class (1931)

Two experimental MTBs, officially named “Stalnoi”, the first to receive the Soviet GAM-34 petrol engine. They were much larger at 25 tonnes, and the two engines developed a total combined of 1540 bhp for a top speed of 30 knots. Although as testbeds for the engines they made their point, they were not considered very successful, too large and underpowered, whereas the Soviet admiralty wanted to reach at least 45 knots. The next G-5 were in effect a completely revised version of the Sh4 using the same engines.

Also related were two vessels built at 194 Yd (Marti Yd), Leningrad: The S-1, and S-2. They displaced Displacement fully loaded 28 tonnes, measured 23.5 by 3.80 with a 1.90 m draught, had three shafts connected to GAM-34BS petrol engines for 2,250 bhp total, allowing for 27 kts. They carried 3.5 tons of fuel oil, for an endurance, of 270 nm at 12 kts, and armed wit a twin 7.6mm/94 MGs mount, and three aft 450 TT (stern) or 3 DCR (36). Complement was 6. They were not followed by any production because too slow. In 1942, both received a single 20mm/70 Oerlikon Mk II/IV, and one 12.7/79 DSHK They were active during WW2.

G5 (1933)

Also called Proyekt ANT-5, this model was developed by TsAgi Moskow and built at 194 Yd (Marti Yd), Leningrad as No1. This was the prototype of G-5 MTB series. A further development of Sh-4 type with 21-in or 533mm torpedoes, increased length and more powerful engines: Displacement 14.5 tonnes, 19.1 x 3.40 x 1.20, 2 shafts Isotta-Fraschini petrol engines 2000 bhp, 5,8 tonnes fuel, 200 nm/31 kts. Armament: single 7.6mm/94 (.3 in) LMG, two 533 TT mm (stern) or 4 mines, crew 6.

G6 (1935)

A single, 70 tonnes (standard) experimental boat designed at TSaGi from 1932, she was powered by no less than eight GAM-34BS (later BPF) in the initual design, for a total of 6800 bhp, procuring 42 knots. This boat was an attempt to create a large weapon platform, with a much heavier armament and even some armor; The final design carried no less than three torpedoes tubes, one 45 mm/46 AA gun and three heavy machine guns. Many of its lessons were incorporated in the D3 serie. This was a far larger vessel akin to a “destroyer leader” but for MTBs.
The G6 Displaced 86 tonnes FL, was 34.9 pp 36.5 max long, for 6.60 wide, 1.90 m of draught, two shafts, eight GAM-34BPF petrol engines, 7760 nhp for 50 kts, and carried 8.9 tonnes of fuel oil for an endurance of 435 nm at 28 kts. Armament: Single 45/43 21K, single 12.7/79, quadruple – 7.6mm/94 LMG AA, 3three 533 TT (stern)/3 mines, and at first a single triple trainable TT later removed. Complement 30. Fate:
-In 1937, three other boats are being reported built, the No104, 114, 124, or DTK class. Almost no info, specs or photo exist today.
-In 1937 also, also a special program saw the development of the UKU class, laid down in 3.1937 and launched in 3.10.1939. This MTB was given Multipurpose turbines running on coal with Ramsin boilers. Probkems with the concept led to suspend development, eventually cancelled in 1951.

G8 (1938)

A single experimental 26 tonnes boat, so closer to the SM1/SM2, with two TTs and three MGs, four petrol engines which produced 3200 bhp. With all that power, the G8 was able to reach 47 knots. Displacement fully loaded was 31 tonnes, for 24.2 x 3.78 x 1.50 and four GAM-34BPF petrol engines 4000 bhp and 32 knots. She carried 4.2 tons of oil and had a complement of 10.

D2 (1939)

The D2 was a brand new type of experimental boat, the denomonation reflecting its armament as a sub-chaser, slightly larger and better armed than the G5. The first was in fact built after the D3 prototypes, in 1939, and was much smaller at only 17 tonnes. It was propelled by two GAM-34FN engines for a total output of 2200 bhp. She carried two MGs and no less than 52 depht charges. Tested in 1940-41 it was not followed by any production.

L5 class (TKL-1 class) (1939)

Possible photo of a TKL-1 src

Technically also a motor torpedo boat, but semi-experimental as only three were built. With this class, the Soviet Navy was stepping into a brave new world, of air-cushion vehicles. Indeed, the idea of air-cushion was known for sustentation and speed, however it took several years until 1939 to have the first operational of such MTBs ever. Displacement fully loaded ws estimated 11 tonnes, for an overall lenght of 24.0m, 5.40 m width, unknown Draught. They were powered by an unknown powerplant estimated 2,000 bhp 70 kts, two single 12.7mm/79, two 450 TT (stern) tubes. Crew was 5. In 1940, TKL-1 was followed by TKL-2, 3 and 4. Fate is unknown. They probably were discarded during WW2. There was also in 1941 a smaller version of the L5 called Proyekt TKL-20, with three boats made, 20-22, using air cushion too.

SM3, SM4 (1940)

A continuation of the earlier SM design, the SM3 was about the same displacement of 26 tonnes, and was equipped with three shafts, each drving a GAM-34FN petrol engine for a total of 3300 bhp and 45 knots. Armament was unchanged two torpedoes and two MGs. The SM4 built in Marti comprised the N°124 in Sept. 1941 and 164 in 1944. These were endurance boats tailored for minelaying. Displacement 42 tons FL, 23.3 x 4.60 x 1.80, 4 GAM-34 petrol engines for 4000 bhp and 30 kts, same armament and 9 crew.

D4 (1940)

An evolution of the D3 serie, the experimental D4 built in 1940 had three of the new GAM-34FN engines, 1,100 bhp each for a total of 3,300. With 22 tonnes, however she only reached 39 knots, but she was basically a gunboat with no less than twelve 0.5 in heavy machine guns and the same torpedoes. A smaller boat, a return to the philosophy of the G5 at 15 tonnes and two diesel engines for 2400 bhp and 56 knots was developed, but this unnamed prototype became the basis for a famous serie: The Komsomolec class.

-Another foggy type, developed in 1944-45 was the TK-450 YUNGA (project TM-200) (1944 – 1945). They were developed as sub-chasers, and Displacement was 47 tons, 23.4 x 4.40 x 1.70, powered by three Packard petrol engines, 3600 bhp for 30.7 kts and 488 nm of autonomy. Arament was three 12.7mm/79, and two 533 TT, crew 11. They had a partly wooden and metallic hull but soon appeared overloaded and slow.

Lend-lease soviet MTBs

A1 class

US-Built Vosper type 70feets, transferred in 1944-45, 90 actually shipped, on 140 scheduled, but 50 cancelled after the end of the war with Japan. All but one joined their destination, three were sunk in action: TK-224 (9.9.1944), TK-239 (15.7.1944), TK-565 (16.8.1945). Displacement standard: 33 tonnes, 45 FL, 22.1 x 5.87 x 1.68m, 3 shafts petrol engines (various), 3,375 bhp, 39 kts, 11,200 L petrol, 570 nm, one 20mm/70 Mk 4, two twin 12.7mm/90, two 533 TTs and 2 DCs plus SO or SCR-517A radar, crew 11. Discarded 1949, 1955-56.

A2 class

US-built Higgins boats, 78 feets type, of which only two were effectively transferred in 1943, of an original total of 59 scheduled for transfer and all but four transferred, some of which were lost at sea during the transfer, leaving two operational in the Soviet Navy (accoridng to Conways). They were called in service the No21 motor torpedo boats class and sources converged to say seven were lost in action: No21 (12.5.1943), TK-214 (10.3.1945), TK-203 (19.8.1944), TK-209 (9.5.1944), TK-212 (10.4.1944), TK-217 (8.5.1944). In reality, those effectively transferred were the N21 (ex-PT89) and 22 (ex-PT86), 202 to 213 (ex-PT265 – 276), TK-215 to 218 (ex-PT289 – 292), TK-219 (ex-PT294), TK-222 (ex-PT293) and TK-851 – 882 (ex-PT625 – 656).

A4 class

US-Built Elco Type, delivered in 1944-45. The 60 scheduled all arrived in port. There were no loss to the enemy. In fact, in all, the allies planned to ship 259 US-built MTBs to the Soviet Union. Of these, 205 were shipped, three lost en route, and 53 shipped in “knocked out” kits, assembled in Russia. Displacement standard 38tons, 54-61 tons FL, 24.4 x 6.30 x 1.60m, 3 shafts, var petrol engines 4050-4500 bhp,
41-43 kts, 11,400 liters gasoline, 500 nm at 20 kts, variable armament.

Losses amounted to 9 and 76 were later returned to the US in 1954 (and scrapped afterwards) while the Soviets themselves 26 and 66 others were declared unseaworthy in 1954 and probably scrapped or recycled. 25 were also scrapped in the Barents sea in 1956 under US supervision.

Read More/Src

D3 russian source
Soviet MBTs on CMB40 ANT3 ANT4
Soviet coastal warfare on
On navypedia.or
G5 on project 123
G5 On o5m6
D3 On o5m6

On, MBT armament

The Models corner

G5 Merit International No. 63503 1:35Test Repacked as ILK 1/35 Soviet Navy G-5. Also produced by Trumpeter.
1/300 D3, 3D printed

Main soviet MTBs Types

Type Sh4 (1925)

Also called N°21 OSOAVIAKHIMOVETS class, this was the first serie of MTBs in the Soviet Navy. Derived from the ANT-3/4 prototypes, it was slightly larger at 10.8 tonnes standard, and swapped the former powerplant for two more modern Wright Typhoon, which together developed the same 1050 bhp as previous boats. Since they were heavier, top speed, light and on trials was around 49 knots, but maintained at 44 knots in service. They were armed the same way as the previous ANT-4, with two light torpedoes of 18-inches or 457 mm, and one light 0.3 (7,62 mm) machine gun. Like the late ANT serie they had the characteristic hull later also found on the mass produced G5, with a turtleback hull and amos a flat belly, largely inspired by the British CMB. This help’s the ships stability even in heavy weather. There was a small conning tower and observation deck, plus the aft section left free for two torpedo cradles. The front housed the crew.

When the design was authorized, 36 were ordered under the FY1926 naval program, followed by an extra sixteen under the first five-years program in 1932. For the first time, they used an aluminium alloy that the soviet aeronautical industry just started to master. This made them light, and for the extra 16 boats ordered, they were given more powerful Isotta-Fraschini engines to reach a combined 1600 bhp, allowing them to reach 50 knots. They were designed, as for ANT-3/4 by TsAGI under guidance of A. N. Tupolev. They had a duralumin stepped hull, reminding the shape of a seaplane float; As usual torpedoes were launched from chutes astern, there was no torpedo tube. Circa 55 were commissioned and they were spread between the baltic, black sea and pacific; But at that stage, careless maintenance in part due to the poor training and lack of equipments meant their hull suffered much. By the end of the 1930s they were all worn out and reclassed as sub-chasers for some, and NKVD guardships or harbour training and utility launches. They were no longer active in WW2, quickly retired due to be considered of low seaworthiness, with a small endurance and weak armament (the main torpedoes were changed on the next model).

Specifications Sh4 1928

Displacement: 10.9 tons standard, 12.8 tons full load
Dimensions: 18.08 x 3.33 x 1 m (59 x 10 x 3ft)
Propulsion 2 shafts Gasoline Wright Typhoon engines 1050 bhp
Speed 44 knots ()
Armament 2x 18in Ts, 1x 0.3 in
Crew 6

Type G5 (1934-44)

Type G5 4-views (1/48)

These were the Soviet standard for torpedo boats, also called No13 motor torpedo boats. Globally derived from the Sh4 and under the influence of the MAS, they were produced from 1934 to 1945 in several series, 7, 8, 9, 10 before hostilities, and type 11 during the war. The output of their successive russia-designed GAM-34 engines (GAM-34B, BS, BS-F) rose from 1,250 to 2,000 hp and their top speed from 45 to 56 knots. They were also made in aluminum alloy, with the same general lines as the Sh4, curved “turtle back” deck, shallow draft and torpedoes released from the stern, rudder first. Crucially however their aft section was lenghtened and strenghtened to carry to 21-inches torpedoes, to carry the same standard type in use throughout the fleet.

Until 1941, 253 were put into service, and another 39 after for a total of 292. This was the largest production of such ships in the world. Some also participated in the Spanish War, 4 being offered to the Republicans, and there were still 191 left after 1945. They were divided between the Baltic (42), the Black Sea (77), and the Pacific (135). Most had one or two standard 12.7 mm DSH-K heavy machine guns, but others had a Katyusha ROFS-82 or 132 rocket launcher on their rear range from 1944. It should be noted the G5 had another use, Finland: 3 MTBs were indeed captured between 1941 and 1944 and served under Finnish colors either from Vihuri or Viima but all were later returned to the USSR and returned to the Baltic Fleet.

Specifications G5 serie 7/8 1934

Displacement: 14.03 tons standard
Dimensions: 17.30 x 3.33 x 0.6 m (57 x 10 x 1ft)
Propulsion 2 shafts Gasoline GAM-34 engines 1,250 bhp
Speed 45 knots ()
Armament 2x 21in Ts, 1x 0.5 in
Crew 6

Specifications G5 serie 9 1936

Propulsion 2 shafts Gasoline GAM-34B engines 1,600 bhp
Speed 49 knots ()

Specifications G5 serie 10 1938

Displacement: 16.25 tons standard
Dimensions: 17.30 x 3.40 x 0.6 m (57 x 10 x 1ft)
Propulsion 2 shafts Gasoline GAM-34BS engines 1,700 bhp
Speed 53 knots ()
Armament 2x 21in Ts, 2x 0.5 in DSHK

Specifications G5 serie 11 1940

Displacement: 16.25 tons standard
Dimensions: 17.30 x 3.40 x 0.6 m (57 x 10 x 1ft)
Propulsion 2 shafts Gasoline GAM-34BS-F engines 2,000 bhp
Speed 56 knots ()

Type D3 (1938)

D3 type at sea (src conways)

with also a much greater range allowing them long patrols. The D3, still was way smaller than the G8, at 28 tonnes versus 70, and it was a radical departure of the small MTBs built until then.
These wooden boats were developed in 1938 as larger dimesnions, able to withstand high seas and heavy weather. But the GAM 34-FN or BS engines being rare, they were not all equipped with three. The slowest therefore served as submarine hunters, giving rise to the TK. Habitable and better armed, their torpedoes were launched by a more modern system. 130 will be built until 1945, the vast majority (110) for the Baltic. 10 were lost in operations.

Specifications D3 serie 1938

Displacement: 32 tons standard, 35 FL
Dimensions: 21.62 x 3.96 x 1.33 m ()
Propulsion 3 shafts Gasoline GAM-34FN engines 3,600 bhp
Speed 39 knots ()
Armament 2x 21in Ts, 2x 20 mm AA, see notes
Crew 14

D3 type blueprint

Type Komsomolec (1945)

Komsomolec class
Komsomolec class
Komsomolec class at St. Petersburg

The last Soviet MTBs of the war, these well-armed and fast units were to succeed the G5 in 1941. But development dragged on so much that they were not operational until 1945. One of these was for example the 1943 STK DD, built at 340 Yd, Zelenodolsk. Design-wise they represented a radical departure from 1930s designs and leaned towards Western models, many of which were Vosper, Higgins and Elco boats transferred bia lend-lease. But the Komsomolec type was noticeably smaller, faster, with the same flat deck, larger aft section, and two side torpedo tubes. The first 12 entered service in the Baltic sea Fleet, and another series of 12 in the Pacific Fleet, deployed against the Japanese in August to September. These MTBs were also known in the Navy ast the TK-7 ODESSKIY PATRIOT.
Light and very fast (world record), they had two twin DSHK heavy machine guns of the latest model, formidably precise and fast. They served as the basis for major post-war series, including their successors, the Shershen. In all, the Project 123bis saw 89 boats produced until 1949, followed by the Proyekt M123bis (1949, 42 built), and Project 123K in 1950-55, so all in all a total of 336 units that made in 1955 the bulk of Soviet coastal defense.

Komsomolec class

Specifications Komsomolec serie 1938

Displacement: 15 tons standard, 18 tonnes FL
Dimensions: 18 x 3.6 x 0.9 m ()
Propulsion 3 shafts Gasoline GAM-34FN engines 3,000 bhp
Speed 57 knots ()
Armament 2x 21in Ts, 2×2 0.5 in (12.7 mm) AA
Crew 24

Chapayev class cruisers

Project 68 Chapayev class cruisers (1941)

5 cruisers (1941): Chapayev, Zheleznyakov, Kuybyshev, Chkalov, Frunze

The Chapayev class cruisers were a continuation of Soviet cruiser design of the 1930s. Although USSR was not a signatory of the Washington treaty in 1921, the naval staff was well aware of the developments of the time, in the West and Japan as well. The Kirov class, an in-between light and heavy cruiser type, was the original solution of a universal cruiser for mass production, that proved flawed. After the treaty of London in 1930, confirmed in 1935, the new direction taken by navies was to create 10,000 tonnes light cruisers, as the 8-in category was now capped. USSR was no exception to this and started planning a new generation of large 6-in cruisers.
This design followed the Maxim Gorky class (1938, comp. 1943), and were largely improved, by their size, with the addition of 5,000 more tons allowing room for armour improvements, secondary artillery and AA. They were in fact the first Soviet cruisers designed completely out from Italian influences started with the two Kirov of 1935. However their construction was caught by the German invasion of 1941. The most advanced were evacuated for a later completion, and the last two were captured and scrapped by the Germans. Due to their post-war completion they became the first of the last wave of conventional cruisers in the USSR, abandoned after the death of Stalin in 1953, succeeded by the Sverdlov.

wow, Top view of the Project 68
wow, Top view of the Project 68

Design Development of Project 68 Чапаев

The tactical and technical assignment (TTZ) for the design of a new cruiser (“Kreiser”, abbreviated KRS) was developed from 1936, by taking into account a change of naval doctrine which defined the main combat missions for cruisers in an oceanic role. A significant influence came from the main artillery revision and auxiliary caliber, which were to be specially created for the new class. With a standard displacement of 8000-8300 tons, composition of the armament was determined soon, three triple gun turret of the MK-5 mount type, housing 152-mm (6-in) caliber guns of the type B-38. This was completed by four twin mounts type B-54 turrets, 100-mm universal (dual purpose) caliber guns. It was completed by six twin 37-mm 66-K AA guns. Protection needed to include a belt thickness of 100 mm, 50 mm armored deck, and a citadel offering protection from 152-mm shells in order to expand the area of ​​evolution within hitting distance, the immune zone against enemy’s armor-piercing shells. Top speed was to be maintained at 35 knots. Compared with the previous project “26-bis” Gorky class (Laid down December 1936), Project 68 had a much enhanced armor protection, with better cruising range and autonomy in accordance with the conditions of the North and Pacific theaters, while composition and layout of the powerplant was to that of project “26-bis”. Later, project 26-Bis2 was started, with the Kalinin class, laid down at Amur Shipbuilding Plant, Komsomolsk-on-Amur in August 1938.

Development of project 68 really started at the Leningrad Central Design Bureau-17 (TsKB-17) in 1938. Technical design was approved by a decree at the Council of People’s Commissars in July 13, 1939, followed by orders placed to various yards. Development of a preliminary design at TsKB-17 (Leningrad) was headed by A. I. Maslov. The project defined a new type of oceanic cruiser, using part of the Project 26-bis base. The main caliber of 152 mm had a smaller mass and dimensions which, which, by combining a larger hull allowed enhance armor protection, as well better fuel capacity and habitability. To increase the efficiency of the steam turbine engines, maximum power was slightly reduced at the expense of the maximum speed. Shipbuilders NN Isanin, AS Savichev, NA Kiselev, GA Gasanov participated in the development, and the estimated displacement shifted from 8300 to 9500 tons to be more realistic. The Navy staff however estimated a nearly 10,000 tonnes cruiser needed a fourth aft main-caliber turret, to be better aligned with foreign constructions, like the British Town class, American Brooklyn class or Japanese Mogami class (which even had five). The approved Resolution of July 13, 1939 accepted a total light displacement of 10 620 tons, up to 13 330 tons normal, with a lenght of 199 meters and a width of 18.7 meters and 5.9 m at normal dislpacement, plus a metacentric height of 0.89 m.


wow’s rendition of the Chapaev, front section view

Power plant

The ensembles of boiler-turbine occupied eight compartments in the middle of the hull, in two autonomous echelons. They included in all 6 main water-tube boilers of the KV-68 type (oil fired) and two main turbo-gear units (GTZA) of the TV-7 type for a total capacity of 110,000 liters and four turbo generators of 300 kW each, plus two diesel generators of 250 kW each for the all-electric systems onboard. Total power as rated was 124 600 shp (91 580 KW). By comparison, the previous class had 6 Yarrow-Normand water-tube boilers and 2 geared steam turbines rated for a total of 113,500 shp (84,600 kW), and a top speed of 36 knots, whereas the Chapayev class had a top speed of 33.5 knots (62.0 km/h; 38.6 mph). This slight decrease was compensated notably by a better reliability, and overall a much better radius of action, worthy of “oceanic” type cruisers: 7,000 nmi (13,000 km; 8,100 mi) at 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph) versus 3,750 nmi (6,940 km; 4,320 mi) at 18 knots for the previous Gorkiy class. The Chapayev carried 3,500 short tons of oil fuel.


In comparison with the previous project 26-bis, the armoured scheme was much improved.
-Armor belt: 100 mm (4-in) instead of 50 mm
-Bulkheads: Forward: 120 mm, aft: 100 mm (5-in) instead of 50 mm
-Main artillery barbettes: 130 mm (5.5 in) instead of 50 mm
-Turrets face: 75 mm (3.0 in) instead of 70 mm
-Conning tower: 150 mm (5.9 in) as before
-Armored deck: 50 mm (2.0 in) as before
In general, the previous design was vulnerable even to destroyer artillery, whereas the new design had an immune zone against 130 mm calibers.
The wheelhouse was protected by bulletproof armor 10 mm thick. Total Armor weight represented 22% of the standard displacement or circa 2910 tons, 1.85 times more than on the USN Cleveland class at the time. Structural underwater protection was absent, to the exception of a double bottom, but transverse bulkheads divided the hull into 23 main watertight compartments. As for the previous class, speed was estimated a good enough active protection.

wow’s rendition of the Chapaev, aft section view


The approved final composition included four main caliber artillery mounts of the type MK-5 (4×3) 6-inches, four auxiliary type B-54 DP mount, six twin type 66-K AA mounts and a complement of four twin 12.7 mm heavy machine gun mounts. The initial torpedo armament comprise two triple 533 mm torpedo tubes (21 in), and provision was made for one catapult and two KOR-2 reconnaissance and spotting seaplanes.

Beriev KOR-2

Main guns
The 152 mm/57 (6″) B-38 Pattern 1938 was originally developed for the Sovietky Soyuz class Battleships planned in 1937, and later was declined for the new Chapayev class but did not enter service until 1949. According to naval experts it was was a good, if not outstanding weapon.
Designed started at the “Bolshevik” factory in 1938 and the first gun production prototype was completed in 1940 and after tests, production started. By 1941 10 were available, used in further testings, and the remainder were used as railroad guns by installing on cradles reworked, originally made for 8 inches/45 (203 mm) guns.
There were four different turrets types designed for this gun and past the initial MK-4 (Sovetsky Soyuz class), the “cruiser type” was the MK-17, a lighter version designed for the Kronshtadt class battlecruisers while the MK-5 was a triple turret designed for the Chapayev and Sverdlov classes. The MK-9 was intended for the modified Sovetsky Soyuz class, also cancelled.
The total weight of the gun was 38,581 lbs. (17,500 kg) for an overall length of 351.8 in (8.935 m) and chamber Volume of 2,002 in3 (32.8 dm3).
Rate Of Fire was 7.5 rounds per minute, and the Chapayev class only carried 170 rounds per gun.
The Type 5 main guns, caliber 152-mm guns could fire either armor-piercing (AP), semi-armor-piercing (SAP), and high-explosive fragmentation (HE) shells, all weighing 55 kg, with an explosive charge A-IX-2 TNT 2% for armor-piercing shells to 11.4% TNT for the high-explosive fragmentation model. Maximum firing range was 30 215 m. These guns could also fire parachuted flares (48.5 kg) for illumination, and even ASW remote grenades 54.23 kg. The Soviets contrary to the Japanese never tried the radical shrapnell AA shot for AA fire.

Schematics of the Chapayev class
Schematics of the Chapayev class in 1950 (Kombrig)

Secondary guns
The 100 mm (3.9 in)/56 model 1940, or 100 mm/56 B-34 Pattern 1940 guns resulted of the failed B-14 gun in 1935 at the “Bolshevik” factory. A revised prototype was made in 1937, modified, and restarted in 1938, and returned for more changes with final trials in 1939, yet failed again. As war started, the need for a heavy AA gun was such that mass production was ordered anyway, and by start of 1941, 42 guns were at hand, all crippled by issues. In 1941, an improved version called B-34-U was delayed until 1946 and 213 were manufactured by 1950. Notably the pneumatic-powered semi-automatic breech was replaced by a more reliable spring-powered semi-automatic breech, which didn’t fix all problems. Falling rounds of the breech and fuze setting problems persisted.
They were fixed on the B-34-USM designed in 1948, of which 114 were built until 1952, their mount modernized in 1953.
They were used notably on the Riga-class frigates and Don-class submarine tenders.
With the 1951 “Sfera-50” control system these guns could hit targets up to 35,000 yards (32,000 m) and jet aircraft.
Denomination “100 mm/56 Model 1934” found in Wikipedia and other sources is mostly incorrect.
On the Chapayev class, there were four twin mounts located abaft the aft funnel on the superstructure. They were capable of 15 rounds per minute, the mount weight 13.53 tons, cold elevate/depress at -8 / +85 degrees, with a 10 degrees per second traverse and 12 degrees per second elevation. Maximum range was 17,500 yards, effective range 10,900 yards (16,000/10,000 m), 24,323 yards (22,241 m) against surface targets with the 34.4 lbs. (15.6 kg) HE Shell. They fired a fixed round about 61.7 lbs. (28 kg) with propellant. There were three types of AA shells, the HE model 1928, a diving shell, star shell and anti-ECM shell. Outside the Chapayev, this gun was used in many other design, notably it was copied in China and equipped the Luhai, Luhu, Jiangwei and Jianghu classes well until the 1990s for some.


Of course back in 1938, this was out of question. No provision was made for a radar and instead, a spotted plane was to be carried, as for the previous class (Project 26). Provision was made for a catapult, which was never mounted. Instead, the deign was revised before completion, as Project 69K, and improved over the years. The ships were given the following systems before decommission in 60-65:
Detection radars
-Main surface detection radar “Guys”
-Detection radar NTs, two “Rif” systems
-AA detection radar “Tamir-5N”
Fire control radars
-2 “Volley” for the main artillery
-2 “Anchor” (as part of SPN-500) for DP armament
C&C, rangefinder:
-2 KDP2-8-III for main battery
-2 SPN-500 for the DP 100 mm AA
Identification radar – “Fakel-MO/MZ”


Baltic yards cruiser hull in construction
Baltic yard’s cruiser hull in construction, shot by the Luftwaffe on 26 june 1941

According to the ten-year plan for the construction validated by the RKVMF, in accordance with the development program of the oceanic fleet, by the end of 1947 it was planned to lay twenty-six more cruisers of the projet 68, including 17 ships integrated into the five-year plan FY 1938-1942. In reality, only seven cruisers were laid down in Leningrad and Nikolaev. Since the start of WW2, only 5 were launched, but completion was stopped and they were mothballed. Also two, Ordzhonikidze and Sverdlov, were not ready in time for launching and has been captured in Nikolaev by the Germans. They were dismantled under the occupation for scrap metal, only 20% complete by then.
In addition, it was planned to lay down five more cruisers in Soviet shipyards by August-December 1941, four of them already named. The same number was planned to be laid down in 1942, but the Great Patriotic War shattered these plans. It was decided to reaffect men and material to more urgent tasks, notably completing ships and maintenance of existing vessels. The 100-mm dual-purpose/anti-aircraft guns on paper matched or exceeded the allied pre-war artillery systems but development was rocky at best and reliability was achieved well into the 1950s. They would have however a long service life, covering most of the cold war, at least on the Chinese side. The 37-mm anti-aircraft gun were close in concept to the Bofors in terms of performance and characteristics, and were used in various occasions during the war. The following list details the ships’s construction status.
Completion was put on hold for the duration of the war, once the ships were safe of capture or destruction. The design was modified to include improvements, notably in radars and fire control systems, and naturally the catapult and spotter planes were removed as a result, as well as the torpedo tubes, now considered an obsolete feature.

Chapayev named after: Vasily Chapayev (Ordzhinikidze Yard, Leningrad), Laid down 8 October 1939, launched 28 April 1941, completed 16 May 1950.
Zheleznyakov Named after: Anatoly Zheleznyakov (1895-1919), Built by: Admiralty Shipyard (Leningrad) Laid down 31 October 1939, Launched 25 June 1941, Completed 19 April 1950
Kuybyshev Named after: Valerian Kuybyshev. Built by: Marti Yard (Nikolayev). Laid down 31 August 1939, launched 31 January 1941, Completed 22 December 1950.
Chkalov (later Komsomolets). Named after Valery Chkalov, Built by Ordzhinikidze Yard (Leningrad), laid down 31 August 1939, launched 25 October 1947, Completed 1 November 1950
Frunze Named after Mikhail Frunze, Marti Yard (Nikolayev), Laid down 29 August 1939, Launched 31 December 1940, Completed 15 December 1950.
Ordzhinikidze and Sverdlov were also ordered in 1938, but scrapped on the slipway after capture by the Germans in Nikolayev. Sverdlov was the name for the successor’s class.


11,130 long tons (11,310 t) standard, 14,100 long tons (14,300 t) full load
Length: 201 m (659 ft), Beam 19.7 m (65 ft), Draught 6.4 m (21 ft)
Propulsion 2 shaft geared steam turbines, 6 boilers, 124,000 shp (92,000 kW)
Speed 33.5 knots (62.0 km/h; 38.6 mph) Range 7,000 nmi (13,000 km; 8,100 mi) at 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph), 3,500 short tons (3,200 t) tons of oil fuel
Complement 840
Armament: 12 × 152 mm (6.0 in)/57 cal B-38 guns in 4 triple Mk5-bis turrets, 8 × 100 mm (3.9 in)/56 cal Model 1934 guns in 4 twin SM-5-1 mounts, 28 × 37 mm (1.5 in) AA gun, 6 × 533 mm (21.0 in) torpedo tubes (later removed)
Armour: Belt: 100 mm (3.9 in) Conning tower: 150 mm (5.9 in) Deck: 50 mm (2.0 in) Turrets: 75 mm (3.0 in). Aircraft carried: 2 seaplanes planned (later removed), 1 catapult (later removed)

The design was based on the Kirov-class cruiser, but with significant changes in armament: 4 triple 152 mm (6.0 in) gun turrets replacing 3 triple 180 mm (7.1 in) gun turrets. The 152 mm B38 guns fired a 55 kg (121 lb) shell to 24,000 m (26,000 yd). The rate of fire was 6 to 7 rounds per minute. The guns were mounted in individual cradles with separate elevation. The secondary armament consisted of 100 mm (3.9 in) CM-5 guns in twin enclosed powered turrets with a rate of fire of 15-18 rounds per minute. The light anti-aircraft guns consisted of 37 mm (1.5 in) weapons.

The hull was enlarged, and protection was improved compared to the Kirov class. The machinery was based on a unit system with alternating boiler rooms and engine rooms. The five ships were completed after the war to a modified design (Project 69K). The aircraft facilities and torpedo tubes were removed and radar and improved anti-aircraft artillery added (37 mm guns in twin powered and water cooled mountings).

Detail of Sverdlov
They sacrificed nominal firepower (150 mm guns instead of 180 mm), to integrate an additional turret, carrying three more guns, to go for a twelve guns battery, as for the American ships of the Cleveland class. However, in category, they rank undoubtedly in the “heavy” class, and even near the top of it.

They were well served by a powerful AAA, according to wartime lessons, were further modified along the way to reach more firepower. Secondary armament consisted of eight traditional twin mounts giving way ultimately to four twin turrets, 130 mm caliber, reaching the Soviet fleet standards of 1960.


Postwar completion and service of the Chapayev class

Although development of Project 68 started in 1938, the Great Patriotic War freezed all ambitious Soviet naval programs, scheduled for completion in 1943-44. According to the TTZ, the Chapayev class were to be part of a squadron, cover the withdrawing of light forces during an attack, supporting ship patrols and making reconnaissance sweeps, as well as protecting the squadron from light enemy forces, and this included AA cover.

During the war, the shortcomings of the Kirov class cruisers became clear, notably unreliable anti-aircraft armament, outdated artillery fire control, insufficient communications and the lack of radar and hydroacoustics for ASW warfare, as well the use of open combat posts. The naval staff concluded that Project 68 needed a drastic modernization, and this request was originally issued in March 1944. But only in April 1945, TsKB-17 received a detailed specification book for adjusting the design to new the request. This development primarily affected anti-aircraft weaponry and associated guiding systems, as well as radars as a whole.

In order to balance the additional load required in the design modernization called Proyekt 68K, it was decided to abandon both the onboard aviation and associated equipments, as well as the 12.7 mm heavy machine guns considered obsolete when facing the first jets. This did not produce significant results as some tactical and technical elements deteriorated simultaneously with the load increase. The crew also increased, leading to degrading living conditions, in particular the traditional bunks were replaced by three-tiered bunks. In the end, to cram the additional personal and correct possible stability issues it was decided to sacrifice some original features, such as the torpedo tubes and torpedo stores, the paravanes, the ASW grenade launchers, and even reduce the number of 37 mm to 28, as well as many other detail changes.

Taking into account also the deterioration of shipbuilding quality, with skilled personal missing from the yard, it was proposed to complete only five of these pre-war cruisers on the modified 68K project, but to built as a second phase seven more ships according to the Sverdlov 68-bis project, starting in 1949: No less than 18 light cruisers keels were laid down according to project 65 validated by the TTZ, for which was issued in September 1945 already a specific order. The Project 65 existed in two versions originally, with 152 (6-in) and 180 mm (7.5 in) artillery. However in 1947, Stalin ordered personally to concentrate only on 6-in caliber, only suitable for light cruisers, and force the completion of the project 68K cruisers in every possible way. The new Project 65 was delayed, and later cancelled, freeing up the personal to complete the the project 68-bis (Sverdlov) and develop the preliminary design of Proyekt 82.

This decisions allowed the program to go forward despite massive difficulties, and last and fifth cruiser of the project 68-K entered service in 1959, so six years after the death of Stalin, which put an end to all the other conventional ships design. These vessels saw service for the duration of the early part of the cold war. They were discarded in the 1960s, contrary to their successors the Sverdlov class, which for some were still in service at the end of the cold war, mostly for training, as was Komsomolets, withdrawn from the fleet in 1979 after being used as a schoolship. Here is following a detailed account of the ship’s career:


Laid down on 31.10.1939 at Shipyard No. 194, mothballed after launch on 10.9.1941 and completed in April 19, 1950 (or July 29, 1950), entering service with the 4th Fleet on 7 September 1950. By 07/30/1951 she was transferred to the Black sea Fleet on 7/8/1968, and transferred to Leningrad district. From 28.5.1973 she was transferred to the Baltic Fleet. From 10/14/1957 to 05/08/1961 she underwent overhaul in Leningrad. From April 18, 1961, she was withdrawn from the Navy and reclassified as a training ship for air suveillance radar operators, and was disarmed and discarded from the Navy on October 21, 1971, stricken on 03/15/1976, and BU in 1976-77 at the Glavvtorchermet base in Liepaja.


Laid down on 31.8.1939 at Shipyard No. 200, launched 31 January 1941, from 14.8.1941 she was towed from Nikolaev to Poti and mothballed for the duration of the war. Completed and commissioned in April 20, 1950 (or July 29, 1950), she became a part of the Northern Fleet on 6.8.1950. By April 18, 1958, she was withdrawn from the Navy and reclassified as as a training ship for air surveillance radar operators, disarmed and discarded on April 24, 1965; From 20.12.1965 she was sold for BU, scrapped at Glavvtorchermet base in Sevastopol.


She was Laid down on 8.10.1939 at Shipyard No. 189 but mothballed after launch on 10.9.1941 and completed on May 16, 1950 (or May 27, 1950), entered the 4th Fleet on 19.9.1950. In 07/30/1951 she transferred to the Black sea fleet and on April 18, 1958, was withdrawn from the Navy’s active fleet, and reclassified as training ship for air surveillance radar operators, disarmed and reclassed as PKZ on 6.2.1960. Discarded and stricken on 12.4.1963 she was sold on October 29, 1963, and from 1964 BU at Glavvtorchermet facility of Murmansk.


Laid down on 31.8.1939 at Shipyard No. 189 and mothballed after launch in September 1941, she was relaunched on 10/25/1947, completed and commissioned in 10/25/1950. She was transferred to the 8th fleet on April 22, 1951. From 12/24/1955 she transferred to the Baltic. She was renamed on 29.10.1958 “KOMSOMOLETS”. In May 1973, she was transferred to Leningrad district and on 01/28/1976 to the Baltic again. She was discarded on September 27, 1979 and in 1980 BU by the Glavvtorchermet facility in Liepaja.


Laid down on 08/29/1939 at Shipyard No. 198, she was launched and on 9.8.1941 towed to Poti to be mothballed until 1942. There, her stern was detached and welded to the hull of the damaged cruiser Molotov (project 26-bis). She was completed and commissioned on 19.12.1950 (or 28.3.1951), Northern fleet fromn 8.4.1951. On April 18, 1958, she was withdrawn and reclassified as a training radar ship, disarmed and stricken on 6.2.1960, sold and BU in 1960-61 at Glavvtorchermet Sevastopol.

Kuybishev in 1954, 25 July Navy Day at Sevastopol. The ships were equipped to carry and lay more than 200 mines. The equipments were removed bu theyr kept their railings until the end of their service.



Chapayev class

Chapayev class cruisers were in service in 1960. However the dates were they were stricken from the fleet list is unknown: Chapayev is believed to have been retired 1961, as Frunze or 1962, and the Kuibyshev. Chkalov and Zhelezniakov were however maintained in service until 1990 as training ships. With the decomposition of the Soviet Union, no doubt they were mothballed and left to rot. None was preserved.

Komsomolec, of the Chapayev class
Komsomolec, of the Chapayev class


Displacement: 11,300t, 15,000t FL
Dimensions: 201 x 19.70 x 6.40m
Propulsion: 2 turbines , 6 boilers, 130 000 hp = 34 Knots
Crew: 840
Armour: 50 – 80 mm (3.8 in), blockhaus 152 mm (6 in).
Weaponry: 18 x 150 (6 in) (4×3), 8 x 2 AA 100 mm (4.6 in), 24 x 37 mm, 6 533 mm TTs (21 in) (2×3).

Sverdlow class
The next Sverdlov class.

Read More/Src

Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1947-1995
Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1922-1946
Cruiser “Frunze, Kuybishev” from Black Sea Fleet (in Russian, with photos)
Jarovoj, V. V.; Greger, René (1994). “The Soviet Cruisers of the Chapayev and Sverdlov classes”. Warship 1994.
MJ Whitley – Cruisers of World War 2, an International Encyclopedia, Arms & Armour Press
All Russian Chapayev Class Cruisers – Complete Ship List

WW2 Soviet submarines

WW2 Soviet submersibles

Soviet Navy – 238 submersibles 1928-45

Boats surviving the civil war

long before the civil war, with the appearance of the first submarines at the occasion of the 1878 war, to negate the advantage of the massive Ottoman Turk navy, and in 1905, as a way to counterbalance the Japanese Imperial Navy. The delfin, Kasatka, Son, Forel, Osetr single units or limited classes were of the 1905 era, and the Pochtovy, Minoga, Akula, Karp class, Kaiman class, Morzh class, Narval class and the revolutionary Krab were all related to WWI. Modern Western designs were considered when licence-building in wartime the ‘Amerikansky Golland’ (Holland 602GF/602L type).

Pantera 1917
The Pantera in 1917. She almost look modern as the drop-collars initially planned were never fitted.

The very last properly Russian type was the Bars class (“Bear”), a 650 tons semi-oceanic type from the Baltic Yard, St Petersburg, and Noblessner Yard, Reval (now Tallinn), both planned for the baltic, black sea, and later “Siberian flotilla” and delivered between 1915 and 1917, but of course completion was disrupted by the Russian revolution for some. Of the 25 started only a handful survived the revolution and civil was and were still in service in 1930: Leopard, Pantera, Rys, Tur, Volk, Yaguar, Zmeya and Ezhr.

Two were lost in 1931, two in 1935, and the remainder were BU in 1936. The Bars design drew from previous designs from Ivan Bubnov, which already signed the Morzh class. They were crude, single hulled and lacked internal bulkheads. But they were a kind of upgraded and enlarged Morzh, with more powerful engines, better torpedo armament and larger guns. Diesels were of various origins and not satisfactory as thos intended were almost never delivered. Armament for the same reasos diverged greatly between boats, 63 mm, 37 mm, 63 mm and 75 mm. Torpedoes were of the old 457 mm caliber, but only four in conventional hull tubes in the bow, while the remainder 8 were surface-fired in drop-collars.

From these humble beginnings, the Soviet Navy, started late in the game but settling, like in other matters, on mass production rather than overall quality or innovation, and created the largest submarine force in the world, with 285 submarines, the immense majority of which were already in service when the war broke out. There was a vacancy of ten years on which to draw better, modern designs.

Rebirth in 1926

Submarine development of the Soviet Navy before WW2 started again in 1924 when early strategists of the Soviet Admiralty envisioned a form of naval defense close to the French theories of the young school, comprising few heavy units but many torpedo boats, minelayers, submersibles and coast guards. A green water navy that was defensive in essence, but designed to inflict maximal damage. The glory and power of the Imperial fleet prior ro 1905 was just a distant memory.

Surprisingly enough and despite of this, the Soviet submarine fleet in 1941 was the largest in the world, ahead of Germany and Italy, and Western democracies. It was classified in three categories: oceanic, coastal (coastal) and light (coastal). In addition, there were a number of former personnel on duty, the US-based class 4 (1916-23) and the Bezbozhnik, a former British class L submarine, sunk by “red” destroyers at Kronstadt, then captured, refloated, repaired and returned to service in 1931.

The oldest cruisers submarines were those of series I, comprising 6 boats (1928-29), followed by series II (6), series XI (6), series XIII and XIII bis (7 and 6). The latter, assimilated into a single large “L” class, of minelaying boats were completed shortly before, during or after the invasion. The Series IV (1934) was an unfortunate experimentation of submarine squadrons comprising only 3 units designed for the pacific fleet, not unlike the Dutch East Indies models. The XI series, of a standard oceanic type was produced around 38 boats, and the XIV series, 12 boats. These were the last of these major classes completed during the war.

Development of Soviet submarines

ww2 soviet submarine types
Tailored poster about WW2 Soviet submarines, with all series and sub-types, to have a better idea of their respective size.


There was a letter associated to the major class, and series detailing each iteration. These letters were generic classes each filling a role:
-D class (Dekabrist) were “large positional submarine” (long range ambush types): Serie I
-L class (Leninets) were Mine layers (26 boats, series II, XI, XIII, XIII-bis or 1938 sub-type)
S class (Shchuka) were coastal boats called “Medium-sized patrol submarines” (88, series III, V, V-bis, V-bis-2, X, X-1938)
P-class (Pravda) were long range cruisers “oceanic types”, the three boats of the serie IV
M class (Malyutka) were standard small coastal patrol submarines (110 boats, series VI, VI-bis, XII, XV)
S-class (Stalinets) were German types oceanic “medium” types (41 boats, Series IX,IX-bis)
K class (?) were Cruiser submarines with combined arms (12 planned, 6 completed, series XIV)
Added to this there were a few captured boats integrated in a “TS” class, the former submarines of the Royal Romanian Navy, Rechinul (TS-1), Marsuinul (TS-2) and Delfinul (TS-3), of German construction and design.


The earliest class was called as ShCh, Shchuka or SC-class, as deriving from a prototype called “Schuka” (Russian for ‘pike’). This was the very first originally Soviet submarine design. The first boats of what will be called in Soviet nomenclature the series III were developed and built in the late 1920s. These were patrol boats able to stay in operations for 20 days at sea. The following V series had a larger endurance, an enhanced conning tower and a better gun. Although the first series III could only reach 11 knots in tests, the V series hopefuly solved this problem and were indeed much faster. The next X series again improved the speed factor, but also endurance, able to keep at sea for almost a month, whereas the the X-bis series were even faster.

The Shchuka class had two shaft diesel electric units rated for 1,020 kW (1,370 hp) from the diesel alone, and 600 kW (800 hp) in electric mode. Surface speed was mediocre at 12.5 knots (23.2 km/h; 14.4 mph) and submerged speed even worse at 6.3 kn (11.7 km/h; 7.2 mph). These were not sub-standard figures for the time however. If such surface speed prevented the submarines to be used to chase warships, they still can manage merchant traffic. They were best deployed however in “ambushes” in the German WW1 U-Boat screen fashion. All the surviving boats of the first groups were brought to the standard of the X-bis series. Numeration was organized along the four fleets, with Pacific fleet boats from 100, Black Sea Fleet from 200, Baltic fleet boats from 300, and Arctic fleet from 400.

Narodovolets of the Dekabrist class on display at St Petersburg.
Narodovolets of the Dekabrist class on display at St Petersburg.

The earlier Dekabrist class had two shafts with three-bladed propellers, mated on two 1,100hp MAN/Kolomna diesels, and as auxiliary, two 525hp PG-20 electric motors, plus two electric creeping motors of 50hp each, and 60 DK storage batteries. Performances were average, at 14 knots (26 km/h) surfaced, 9 knots (17 km/h) submerged. To compare, the early Type VIIB were capable of a top speed of 17.7 knots (32.8 km/h; 20.4 mph) surfaced and 7.6 knots (14.1 km/h; 8.7 mph) submerged. So like Holland-types, these Soviet types were faster submerged, giving them on paper better chances of survival. These figures remained the same for the Leninets class, except the Group 3+4 which was propelled by 4,200 hp (3,100 kW) diesels and 2,400 hp (1,800 kW) electric motors at 18 knots (33 km/h) surfaced and 10 knots (19 km/h) submerged.

The very large Pravda class had diesels of a gargantuan model, which together developed 5,400 hp (4,027 kW) while their electric units produced 1,400 hp (1,044 kW). Therefore top speed on the surface was standard, if inferior to other oceanic models, at 20.5 knots (38.0 km/h; 23.6 mph), while submerged it was still good 11.8 knots (21.9 km/h; 13.6 mph).

Also relatively fast were arguably the best and most successful models of the war, the S-class, resulting of a collaboration between Soviet and German engineers. The Hague project, redesignated E-2 had its blueprints sent to Moskow at the end of 1933. By August 14, 1934 as modified and adapted, the design was officially approved for production, designated IX series. The western “Stalinets” class was factice, to make a difference with the earlier “Leninets”. These were quite versatile boats as well, capable of laying mines, but well armed in torpedoes. What is important is their use of German engines and batteries, while the second prototype series used domestically produced machinery. This allowed an upgrade over an earlier powerplant derived from WW1 MAN diesels. The third series introduced further improvements, trying to lower production cost and time, but many remained incomplete during the war.

S-56 of the successful S-class preserved at Vladivostock
S-56 of the successful S-class preserved at Vladivostock.

The fastest by far were the large oceanic models, fleet submarines called the K-class. They were given 2 large diesel units which developed 8400-hp in total and two 1200 hp electric units each, for a top speed in surface of up to 22,5 knots and 10 knots submerged. But perhaps even better, they could manage far away commerce raiding dur to their 14,000 nm range at 11 knots. They were quite superior to the Type IX U-Boats, which were rated for 4,300 shp and had a couple of SSW 1 GU 345/34 double-acting electric motors which developed 1,000 PS or 990 shp, meaning they were able to reach at best 19 knots surfaced, for a 10,500 nmi (19,400 km; 12,100 mi) range at 10 knots.

L1 Series 2
Author’s old 1/350 illustration of the L1 (eninec class), serie 2.

What made the Soviet Navy a winner by numbers was a considerable coastal fleet: The average coastal submersibles (‘Schch’ general class) included the four series III units, the fourteen series V, V bis and V bis-2, the thirtry-three series X and the twelve series X bis completed during the war. This fleet of light coastal submarines (Class M) included also the Series VI/VI bis, and series XII/XII bis, the last of which entered service in 1942. The Series XV units entered service well after the German invasion, the first 3 in 1941-42, and 3 others after the war. “medium” series were small enough to be considered extended coastal ones, designed for service in the Baltic and Black sea.

Final poster of soviet submarines in WW2
Final poster of soviet submarines in WW2. It shows the scope of the production, all 238 models. Also, like the first one, free to share at will.

Specifics of Soviet submarines

M107 - credits
M107 – credits

Щ-103 of the Serie V at sea
Щ-103 of the Serie V at sea. credits

Rail Transportation scheme of the M-type
Rail Transportation scheme of the M-type

Armament of ww2 Soviet submarines

D4 Series 1
Author’s old 1/350 illustration of the D4 (Dekabrist class), serie I.


M104 torpedo tube
M104 torpedo tube

-Standard 53-27 torpedoes (1927): Based on the earlier model 1912, 456 mm and the next 1917, 533 mm pattern. It was developed domestically in the so-called Ostekhbureau. The 1927 model had a 3,770 lbs. (1,710 kg) warhead, an overall Length of 22.97 feet (7.0 m), and explosive Charge of 584.2 lbs. (265 kg) and a Range of 3,700 m at a top speed of 45 knots. The power was provided by a Wet-heater. Production stopped in 1935. They were allso used by surface ships. When introduced they had a poor range and models from the Whitehead plant in Rijeka (53F) were judged better.
-Standard 53-36 torpedoes: Design started in 1932 to replace the 53-27. First introduced in 1936, basically a modified 53-27 torpedo, quite unsuccessful and production stopped in 1938, just 100 has been delivered.
-Standard 53-38 torpedoes: Design started in 1936 over the Italian 533 mm torpedo purchased from Fiume in 1932 and a copy of the 53F model. It became the standard Russian torpedo of World War II.
Powered by a wet-heater, it carried a warhead 661.4 lbs. (300 kg). The torpedo weighted 3,560.5 lbs. (1,615 kg), and had an overall Length of 23.62 feet (7.2 m). Range was 4,270 yards (4,000 m) and top speed 44.5 knots, less than the 1927 model. But it was much more reliable and went farther, with a larger explosive charge. The engine could be setup to two other ranges and speeds: 8,750 yards (8,000 m) at 34.5 knots and 10,940 yards (10,000 m) at 30.5 knots.
The 53 Family was fairly large and the model 38 alone was declined into several variants: 53-38/53-38U/53-59/53-56V and -56VA models.
-Standard 53-38U torpedoes: Modernized version with a larger warhead (400 kgs). Some had a magnetic fuze, installed from 1942.

type 53-39 at the great patriotic war musuem
-Standard 53-39 torpedoes: The fastest torpedoes in the world at 51 knots. Propelled by an improved wet heater system they sacrificed range for extra speed and were often carried in submarines alongside standard models. They weighted 3,924 lbs. (1,780 kg) for an overall Length of 24.61 feet (7.5 m), and carried a larger explosive charge of 698.9 lbs. (317 kg) of Trotyl (trinitrotoluene or TNT). Their settings were: -4,370 yards (4,000 m)/51.0 knots, 8,750 yards (8,000 m)/39.0 knots and 10,940 yards (10,000 m)/34.0 knots.
-Electric ET-80 torpedoes: The first electric torpedoes denominated 533 mm (21″) ET-80, designed in 1939 but introduced into service by 1942-43, exclusively for Russian submarines. They weighted more than conventional models due to batteries, at 3,968.3 lbs. (1,800 kg) for an verall Length of 24.61 feet (7.5 m) and carried a large 881.8 lbs. (400 kg) warhead up to 4,370 yards (4,000 m) at 29 knots but left no bubbles track, which compensated fo the lack of speed.

Russian naval aviation used the -450 mm TAV-15 (1932): An Aircraft torpedo based on the shortened Pattern 1910/15 torpedo, launched from 6,500-9,800 feet (2,000-3,000m), with 3 drogue parachutes and the TAN-12 (1932). In 1939 they were gradually replaced by the wartime 45-36AV-A model. There has been planes to carry planes on large cruiser submersibles in the Pacific, but they were never realized.

-Oceanic, station and medium models:
100 mm B-24
100 mm B-24 being fired – credits This was the grand standard of submersible deck guns in Russia during the interwar and WW2.

The standard revolved around the 100 mm caliber. Compared to WW2 German standard, this was better on paper than the 88 mm. However both optics and rate of fire limited its effectiveness.
100 mm/51 (3.9″) B-24:
Thos was the product of a request of 1932 by the admiralty to the “Bolshevik” factory to design and manufacture a new 100 mm (3.9″) gun, mainly for submarines used, ans small crafts. The prototype was ready by 1935, trials lasted until 1936 and it was accepted in to service.
In 1937, it was modified and redesignated B-24-IIc, and in 1938 it was lengthened to 56 calibers, re-rested and accepted into service in 1939. This new standard was called 100 mm/56 (3.9″) B-24BM Pattern 1939.
This 1939 pattern used a gun shield but was reserved for small crafts. A few of these B-24 guns were made additionally (5) but 63 more after the war, all for new submarines. The base was an A tube, fastened with a hot hammered casing. The B-24BM used loose-liner tube, casing casing and breech. Semi-auto Breech block mechanism, pneumatic power with horizontal sliding. However after 1942, it shifted to a spring-driven, semi-automatic breech. They also differed by the gun sight and shield. This model was also used (two guns) on the very large Pravda class.

-M-Boats and other coastal models:
In standard, they carried two standard 21-in TTs and a single 45 mm (2 in) semi-automatic gun
45 mm/46 (1.77″) 21-K: This gun was developed from the standard Army 45 mm Pattern 1932 anti-tank gun, placed on a navalized mount and with a semi-automatic breech. Tested in 1934 it was accepted into production but manufacturing limitations prevented the adoption of automatic breech mechanisms before 1935. It became also the standard AA mount until 1941-42, replaced by the much faster 37 mm/67 autocannon. In AA use, it was not very successful due to its semi-automatic nature and absence of a time fuze. River monitors received 40-K turreted mount and 41-K twin mount. Overall a grand total of 2,799 of such guns were manufactured until 1947.

-Light AA: 25 mm/79 (1″) 110-PM
Also used on soviet submarines was the typical tandem-tube 84-KM which, designed in 1943-44, which helped to create the 110 PM, developed in 1945, tested in 1946 and accepted into service in 1947. It is related to immediate postwar submersibles and manufacture went on until 1984, so most of the cold war. It became standard on the Zulu, Whiskey and Quebec classes.

Minelayer models (Leninec class):
These only minelayer models were based on the British L-class HMS L55, sunk during the British intervention in the Russian Civil War, refloated and “reversed engineered”. They were of the saddle tank type and mines were carried in two stern galleries. The concept however by pioneered by the Russian submarine Krab before WW1.
In addition to the bow TTs, stern TTs in some cases, 100 mm and 45 mm guns, they carried 20 mines and sank many ships, Vladimir Konovalov (1943-1945) being considered an ace commander.

Soviet submarines in action during WW2

Performances of this large submersible fleet in WW2 remained nearly without highlights, just like the entire Red fleet. A few German, Finnish, or other axis vessels (in the Black sea) were lost to Russian submarine attacks while suffering much heavier losses. Poor performances caused probably both because of not the best equipments, but overall poor training and command, following the great purges ordered by Stalin, that decapitated his submersine staff as well. The boats however were not really at fault. Alson the relative lack of targets and weak traffic (compared for example to the situation in the Atlantic) explains in part while Soviet submariners seldom found any target, and if spotted, did not properly acted.

M174 damaged by a mine
Soviet submarine M-174 badly damaged by a mine in the arctic: The bow was decapitated but the boat survived thanks to its compartimentation and the pressure hull was not fractured. Src:

Among others, SC 305 was rammed and sunk by Finnish U-Boat Vehehinen in 1942 and an Italian MTB torpedoed SC 214 in the Black Sea in surface and in total 34 boats of the ShCh class were sunk in action. The Soviet Navy hat large did met a few successes against the dreaded German U-Boats, as two were ‘surely’ sunk, by a submarine, and depth charges, four more uncertain. Three U-boats were heavily damaged, either by depth charges and ramming. In the Arctic Lend-Leased ships and aircrafts such as the Catalina and B-25 Mitchell in Soviet Navy service managed to damage German U-boats or at least make them “keep their head underwater.

Soviet submersible successes

5 Victories painted on the conning tower of L-3. Src:

Common awards were the Guards Badge and/or Order of the Red Banner. Flags were displayed on the coning tower together with the fleet flag and Navy flag. Like in other arms, patriotic slogans were also often painted on the conning tower, but rarely individual badges, like found on British and German submersibles, to the expense of a certain “esprit de corps” in the crew. However successful sub captains were individually promoted, and there were indeed, quite a few Soviet submarine aces.

Soviet submersible aces

-Polyakov Yevgeniy Petrovich (L4, Black Sea Fleet, 9 victories)
-Mogilevsky Sergey Sergeyevich (L21, Baltic fleet, 9 victories)
-Greshilov Mihail Vasilievich (M35 and ShCh-215, Black sea fleet, 9 victories)
-Avgustinovich Mihail Petrovich (K1, Northern Fleet, 8 victories)
-Vlasov Vladimir Yakovlevich (ShCh-214, Black Sea, 6 victories, sunk by MAS-571 in 1942)

Other commanders with 5 victories included Grishchenko Petr Denisovich, Konovalov Vladimir Konstantinovich, Schedrin Grigoriy Ivanovich, Lisin Sergey Prokofievich, Lunin Nikolay Alexandrovich. Many more made 2 to 4 kills during their carrer. Other notable commanders included the infamous Marinesko Alexander Ivanovich which sank the German liner Wilhelm Gustloff (25484 GRT), with the greatest losses of life for a sinking ship in WW2, and General Steuben (14660 GRT). Pavel Ivanovich Bokarov also sank more than 13000 GRT of shipping. In the Pacific, Fedor Grigorevich Vershinin and Anatoly Stepanovich Kononenko which sank the Japanese transport Taito Maru (887 GRT) and badly damaged the Auxiliary gunship Shinko Maru n°2 in 1945. Mines also caused quite many losses to German forces: L3, of commander ace Vladimir Konovalov (1943-1945) for example sank with torpedoes the German transport ship Goya (1945) and Swedish C.F. Liljevalch (on 18 August 1942) but also claimed with mines 14 vessels from 1941 to 1945, in total 30,965 GRT. But the L3 was only the 12th best Soviet submarine by torpedo score.

Shch 218 of the Pacific fleet receiving a torpedo
Shch 218 of the Pacific fleet receiving a torpedo with the slogan “death to the samurai”. Despite of the motivation there is not a single case of IJN vessel sunk by the Soviet submarine. Src:

Before the cold war: Projects and influences

When the war ended in 1945, USSR obtained as part of the peace treaty a number of axis submarines as war reparation.

Read more/Src


3D Corner

Nomenclature of WW2 soviet subs

Oceanic Series I -Dekabrist class (1928)

Dekabrist-I – credits

Main class of Russian ocean submersibles in 1941, she was also the oldest. In this regard, the last units designed were the B, G, and V of the Tsarist fleet, designed and started in 1916-17, but never completed due to the civil war. They were taken under the strong influence of the American engineer John Holland, one of the great pioneers of this field at the beginning of the century. In 1925-26, Soviet engineers started again from very old references: The 10 Bars class designed by Bubnov, and 4 type AG designed on Holland plans.

Three sets of six units were therefore designed with a certain amount of time between them, in order to draw lessons from their exercise design. The first, the D1-6 or series I, also bore the names of personalities of the Party. These units had suffered from design flaws, such as the compartmentalization of part of the engine, complicating maintenance and risking overheating, as well as more general quality problems, which were common in the Soviet industry. time.

Their immersion time was also too long, making it very vulnerable, a defect that was quickly corrected. They plunged to 91 meters in operations, were fast, good walkers, and holding the sea quite well. They were modernized extensively in 1940. During the conflict, three of them were lost at sea in the Northern Fleet , based in Arkhangelsk. The D4 was sunk in 1943 by two captured U-Bootes (UJ-102 and 103). The last two survived until the end of the 1950s.

Dekabrist class
New (above) author’s illustrations. The top one is based on the CC profile is therefore stays under CC licence. Same for the following.


Displacement: 933t surface, 1351t diving
Dimensions: 76 x 6.50 x 3.80 m
Propulsion: 2 shaft diesels and word. elect., 2600/1600 cv.
Speed: 14/9 knots surface / dive.
Crew: 53
Armament: 8 x 533 mm TTs (6 bow, 2 stern), 1 x 100 mm, 1 x 45 mm AA, 1 x 12.7 mm AA.

Leninets-class oceanic Series II (1931)

Serie II, L4
Serie II, I-4 credits

This draft of the Serie I was very useful for the series II, the L1 to 6. But these were mainly inspired by a British submarine of the class L, the L55, sunk in 1919 during the civil war, then bailed out, repaired , and reintegrated into the Soviet Navy in 1931 under the name of Bezbohnik. The Serie II thus had a different ballast, a raised bow, no engine compartment, a tub tube in the British fashion, and its 6 tubes in the bow. Last but not least, they had two mine tubes, long enough to store ten each, at the rear of the hull, closed by an underwater hatch. A configuration similar to that of 1910 Krab, the first of its kind in the world.
In operations, three were lost, two of them in 1941 (one by mines, the other by German batteries on the Neva), and one sunk in the Black Sea (off Costanza) in 1944 by the UJ-104.

Leninec serie II
Leninec serie II


Displacement 1,051 t. standard -2,327 t. Full Load
Dimensions 81 m long, 6.60 m wide, 4.18 m draft
Machinery 2 shaft diesels and electric mot. 2200/1050 hp
Top speed 14 knots surface/9 knots underwater
Armament 1x 100mm cannon, 1x 45mm AA gun, 6x 533mm TTs, 20 mines
Crew 54

Leninets-class oceanic Series XI (1935)

This improved class comprised six units numbered L7-12

L-4 Garibaldiec
L-4 Garibaldiec (cc)


Displacement 1,051 t. standard -2,327 t. Full Load
Dimensions 81 m long, 6.60 m wide, 4.18 m draft
Machinery 2 shaft diesels and electric mot. 2200/1050 cv.
Top speed 14 knots surface / 9 knots dive
Armament 1x 100mm cannon, 1x 45mm AA gun, 6x 533mm TTs, 20 mines
Crew 54

Leninets-class oceanic Series XII (1938)

Seven ships were built of this third group (L13 to L19), launched from 1937 to 1938, assigned to the Pacific Fleet. They were considered a brand new project, as the hull was based on the Srednyaya class, and carried carried 18 mines. All but two survived the war. L16 had the most unusual end, torpedoed by the Japanese I-25 on 11 October 1942, near the coast of Oregon, while in transfer to the Soviet Northern Fleet.

Class Leninec - Serie XI
Class Leninets – Serie XI L-12 Molotovets


Displacement 1,051 t. standard -2,327 t. Full Load
Dimensions 81 m long, 6.60 m wide, 4.18 m draft
Machinery 2 shaft 2 diesels and electric mot. 2200/1050 hp.
Top speed 14 knots surface / 9 knots dive
Armament 1 100mm cannon, 1 45mm AA gun, 6 TLT 533mm, 20 mines
Crew 54

Pravda-class Oceanic Series IV (1934)

P-4 cruiser submarine

Studied in 1929 under the first five-year plan, these wing units, similar to those designed by the Japanese, suffered from poor design, although their construction lasted five years. Their hull was too light, badly compartmentalized, they were excessively noisy, slow, not very marine and easy to handle. In addition they were poorly armed, with only six tubes and ten torpedoes shipped, despite relatively generous dimensions. Finally, their batteries did not charge fully until twenty hours, leaving them vulnerable during this time.

This failure made it possible to stick to the three authorized units, the Pravda, Zvezda and Iskra, also used as transport, demoted to the second line. Only Pravda was sunk during the war, jumping on a mine in September 1942, the other two being badly damaged in front of Leningrad by the Luftwaffe or the German artillery.

Pravda class submarines
Pravda-class submarine cutaway blueprint

Serie IV Zvezda in 1940
Serie IV Zvezda in 1940

Serie IV Pravda, withough gun shields
Serie IV Pravda, withough gun shields, 1945


Displacement 1,200 t. standard -1 870 t. Full Load
Dimensions 90 m long, 8 m wide, 3.10 m draft
Machinery 2 propellers, 2 diesels MAN and word. elect., 5400/1000 cv.
Top speed 18.5 knots surface / 7.7 knots diving
Armament 2 guns of 100, 1 of 45mm AA, 6 TLT 533 mm (4 bow, 2 stern, 10 torpedoes)
Crew 54

S-class Oceanic Series IX & IX bis (1935)

S56 memorial Vladivostock

Designed with the close assistance of the German office of the Hague, the famous Ingenieurskantoor voor Scheepschouw, under cover of research for the Navy Batavian, that were conceived several future formidable U-Bootes of the Kriegsmarine, thanks to the needs of certain countries, as Turkey, Finland, Spain and the Soviet Union.

The latter received the plans of the series Ia and copied them literally to the bolt near Ordzonikidze. The first three of the IX series were launched in 1935-36. They served to define the mass construction of the following type IXa units, in several slices, comprising 17, 27 and 6 units, with another 10 (Series XVI) waiting. But of this mass, only one-third was operational at the time of the June 1941 invasion. The others entered service during the remainder of the conflict.

S7, stern view.
S7, stern view.

Some were built in Krasnaya Sormovo, Gorky, in the Moscow suburb, then towed on the Neva to Leningrad for completion. They had many qualities, fast, manoeuvring and solid, and were probably among the best units in the fleet. Most were affected in the Baltic, and others in the Arctic. The figures differ, but between 35 and 37 units were admitted to service during the war. Of these, at least 16 were in service in June 1941.

The S13 was decorated for having – the controversy of historians still raging – sank two German steamers fleeing in 1945 the front and losing 7900 people (soldiers probably mixed with the civilians). 16 will be sunk in combat, four awarded to China in war damage in 1955, and one preserved.

S class Serie IX


Displacement 856 t. standard -1 090 t. Full Load
Dimensions 77.75 m long, 6.40 m wide, 4.06 m draft
Machinery 2 shaft diesels and 2 mot. elect., 4000/1100 cv.
Top speed 19 knots surface / 8.8 knots dive
Armament 1 x 45, 1 x 7.7 mm AA, 6 x 533 mm TTs (4 bow, 2 stern, 12 torpedoes)
Crew 45

Leninets-class Oceanic Series XIII/XIII bis (1937)

Improved versions of the previous series II and XI, the 6 units of the XIII series (L13 to 19) will be born in 1937-38. The hull was enlarged, the power doubled, and the speed and autonomy increased in proportion. They served in the Pacific fleet, but returned to the Baltic and the Northern Fleet after the invasion. It was during this trip that the L16 was mistakenly torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-25, in November 1942, off the American coast.

The passage through the Panama Canal was part of this journey. The L13 was also sunk in the Pacific. The following XIII bis were ordered at the beginning of the hostilities, including the L20 to 25. Launched in 1939-41, but completed at the time of the invasion for the last, they constituted an integral recovery of the previous design. Three were lost in action, two of them in 1944.


Displacement 1,123 t. standard -1 416 t. Full Load
Dimensions 83.30 m long, 7 m wide, 4.80 m draft
Machinery 2 shaft diesels and word. elect., 4200/2400 cv.
Top speed 18 knots surface / 10 knots dive
Armament 1 x 100, 1 x 45, 2 x 12.7 mm AA, 8 x 533 mm TT (6 bow, 2 stern), 20 mines
Crew 55

K-class Oceanic Series XIV (1938)

Preserved К-21 today, central square of Severomorsk, Murmansk Region, Russia.

The Series IV units proved extremely disappointing, making the Soviets sceptical about their ability to design fast squadron submarines alone. However, the Admiralty demanded it, and 12 buildings of a new type were approved under the Third Plan, begun in 1936-38 and completed during the war. Specially designed for the Baltic, they suffered from none of the faults of the previous ones and were in many respects even the best Soviet submarines of that time.

Their seven-compartment double hull was much more spacious and solid, and it was even a question of time to equip them with a reconnaissance seaplane. This space allowed them to opt for a doubling of power, and thus the projected speed (22.5 knots) was almost reached, as well as the autonomy of 14,000 nautical miles. They also carried 24 torpedoes, divided between 10 tubes, 2 at the rear surface, and 20 mines in horizontal tubes.

12 units will be built, but all were not in use in 1941 during the invasion: less than 10 units were in this case. Four will be transferred in 1940-41 in the Arctic. Two will be completed in 1945 and five will be lost in action in 1942-43.

serie XIV


Displacement 1,490 t. standard -2,600 t. Full Load
Dimensions 97.65 m long, 7.40 m wide, 4.51 m draft
Machinery 2 shaft diesels and electric motors, 8400/2400 hp.
Top speed 21 knots surface / 10 knots dive
Armament 2 x 100, 2 x 45mm AA, 10 x 533 mm TTs (6 bow, 4 stern, 24 torpedoes)
Crew 60

Shchuka class Coastal Series III (1930)

Serie III Shchuka class

First of a long and prolific series of medium coastal submersibles, the Schch 301 to 304 were four units defined in 1929, of which one offered by public subscription. They had some defects, being slow enough with a range of between 6500 and 9000 nautical miles on the following series. Three were lost in the Baltic Sea, including the Juminda Dam.


Displacement 578 t. standard -704 t. Full Load
Dimensions 57 m long, 6.20 m wide, 3.80 m draft
Machinery 2 shaft diesels and electric motor 1370/800 hp.
Top speed 12.5 knots surface / 8.5 knots dive
Armament 1 barrel 45, 2 ML 12,7 mm AA, 6 TLT 533 mm (4 bow, 2 stern)
Crew 35

Shchuka class coastal Series V/V bis (1933)

Serie V 106 and 107
Boats 106 and 107 of the serie V – credits

Series of mass construction (19 series V, 12 series V bis and 9 series V bis-2, for a total of 40), they broadly resumed the precedents of series III. Their booth, however, was different, their hull deeper, they wore a stronger DCA. The figures diverge but it seems that eight were lost in action, most of them on mines, of which the Gulf of Finland was literally infested. The Schch 305 had a fate for the less moose, if not fatal: it was rammed and sunk by the Finnish Submersible Vehinen November 5, 1942.

H201 of serie Vbis

Shchuka V


Displacement 589 t. standard -708 t. Full Load
Dimensions 58.50 m long, 6.20 m wide, 4.30 m draft
Machinery 2 shafts diesels and electric motors, 1600/800 hp.
Armament 2 x 45, 1 x 12.7 mm AA, 6 x 533 mm TTs (4 bow, 2 stern, 10 torpedoes)
Crew 40

Shchuka class Series VI/VI bis (1933)


First of a long and prolific series of light coastal submarines, the M1 to 28, M51 and M52, were 30 units defined under the first five-year plan, and intended for the Pacific fleet (except the M51 and 52, remained at sea black, despite a short assignment in Caspian). Among the lightest of the time while being solid and spacious, far from the pocket submarines that the Axis invented and used during the conflict, they only had two torpedo tubes in the bow, without refills it seems.

They were designed to be built in a complex located in the Eastern Urals, well inland therefore, and transported for final assembly and completion by rail, each of which can be stored in sections on large wagons limited to 120 tons of cargo. load: These units were therefore ultimately limited to this tonnage. Units completed in the Black Sea made their tests and were again dismantled for transport to Vladivostok.

Of a reduced military value and especially unable to cope with the North Pacific sea conditions, these units saw little fighting. 5 will be transferred to the Black Sea. None were lost in combat, and all were withdrawn from service between 1947 and 1952. The VI bis, built in 1934-36, differed from the first, being built this time by more experienced shipyards at Nikolayev and Leningrad. 20 will be built, with a remodelled tower to improve their hydrodynamics. They were M53 to M56 and M71 to M86. 4 will be transferred to the Pacific, 3 will be sabotaged in June 1941 to avoid capture, 7 will be sunk during the war in the Baltic. The M74 to Kronstadt by bombers and the M78 by the U-144 on the coast of the Lithuanian in June 1941.

M32, credits

serie VIb
Original plans of the serie VIb – credits


Displacement 160 t. standard -200 t. Full Load
Dimensions 37.81 m long, 3.13 m wide, 2.58 m draft
Machinery 2 shafts diesel, 1 electric motor, 685 hp.
Top speed 13 knots surface /6 knots sub
Armament 1 x 45 mm, 2 x 533 mm TTs (stern)
Crew 16

Shchuka class coastal series X/X bis (1936)

M class cutaway plan

Last series of average coastal mass construction (33 series X, 13 series X bis, for a total of 46.), they resumed in their main lines the precedents of the series V. Their kiosk was however different, with a heavy machine gun additional, and better sound insulation: The precedents were real vibration generators, very easily spotted by German and Finnish submersible hunters.

In addition they were slightly faster diving. It seems that 22 were lost in action. The later X-Series units were launched from 1939-40, and several in 1941. Two more were demolished in their building basin. They did not possess the heavy machine guns of the first series.


Displacement 590 t. standard -708 t. Full Load
Dimensions 58.75 m long, 6.20 m wide, 4.30 m draft
Machinery 2 shaft diesels, electric motors 1600/800 hp.
Top speed 13.6 knots surface / 8.7 knots dive
Armament 2 x 45, 2 x 12.7 mm AA HMGs, 6 x 533 mm TTs (4 bow, 2 stern, 10 torpedoes)
Crew 40

Malyutka class Medium Series XII/XII bis (1936)

M351, credits

Second series of light coastal submersibles, built in mass, the units of this series did not have as imperative to be able to settle only on rails in prefabricated sections. Therefore, it could be larger, better armed, among others. In fact, they mainly benefited from a doubling of their autonomy, going to nearly 2000 nautical miles. built in Leningrad, the first four (Series XII) were accepted into service in 1938. Three will be transferred to the Arctic in 1939, and renamed M171, 172 and M401. The second jumped on a Barentz sea mine in 1943.

The 45 units of the next mass series, the XII bis, will be equipped with new kiosks and larger oil tanks (3000 nautical miles). They were built in three yards and assigned to the Baltic. 17 will be lost in combat. In 1938, a ship of this type was taken for experimentation on new closed-circuit diesel engines (patent of Dr. Walter). But it was never operational, and trials continued after the war.


Displacement 210 t. standard -261 t. Full Load
Dimensions 44.50 m long, 3.30 m wide, 3.07 m draft
Machinery 2 propellers, 1 diesel and 1 word. elect., 800/400 hp.
Top speed 13.5 knots surface / 7.7 knots dive
Armament 1 x 45 mm ???

Malyutka class Coastal Series IV (1940)

M-class blueprint serie XIV
M-class blueprint serie XIV, credits

The latest series of light coastal submersibles, the XV series included 4 torpedo tubes instead of 2, all in bow, as well as a larger hull, two machines, a better speed and a range of 3000 nautical miles. They were diving at 80 meters in operation. They were built in Leningrad, but they were built too late: Only three were in service early enough to take part in the conflict (M200, 202 and 203), three others will be completed after the war and the rest will not even be started.


Displacement 281 t. standard -351 t. Full Load
Dimensions 49.50 m long, 4.40 m wide, 2.75 m draft
Machinery 2 propellers, 2 diesels and 2 electric motors 1600/875 hp.
Armament 1 x 45, 2 x 7.7 mm AA MGs, 4 x 533 mm TTs (stern)
Crew 24

Sovetsky Soyuz class battleships (1938)

Sovetsky Soyuz class battleships (1938)

Soviet Navy

Stalin’s mighty battleships: In 1938, the final five-year plan, under the express direction of Stalin, included a fleet of 19 ships of the line. Among these were fast battleships to succeed the old dreadnoughts of the Gangut and Imperatritza Maria class. The Sovetsky Soyuz were defined from the authorization of January 21, 1938 concerning a class of four units.

Sovietsky Soyuz
Armour scheme ad other technical specs of the Sovetsky Soyuz

From the outset, it was planned to break the limitations of Washington Treaty and of London’s. Admiral Isakov oversaw the project, retrieving data from an order dating from 1936 to the Ansaldo shipyards.
They were laid in 1938 for the first two, Sovestky Soyuz (Советский Союз) and Sovietskaya Bielorussia (Советская Белоруссия), and 1939 for the Sovietskaya Ukraina (Советская Украина). The fourth (Sovieskaya Rossiya – Советская Россия) was canceled when it quickly became apparent that the project would require considerable resources. They were known for these names as “Stalin’s Republics”.

De facto, on blueprints, these battleships reached 65,000 tons at full load, 13,000 more than the contemporary Bismarck. They were in fact closer to a Yamato, although the Soviet Union as well as the Westerners did not know the existence of the latter, and none were planned for the Pacific fleet, although initial plans were for 15 battleships, enough for all three fleets at all times. Needless to say the objective was extremely optimistic.

A single ship costed 1,180,000,000 rubles. In 1939 as was was ongoing, it was decided to keep only three ships and scrap the fourth in order to divert resources to an expanded army rearmament program. By any means, and if construction received full support, delivery would have been at best around the winter 1944-45, at which point the German naval threat was non-existent.

These impressive battleships would have been a match, if completed, for any top-of-the-line battleships in existence in any Navy. Project 23 was in tonnage on par with both the Yamato class and Montana class but with the same armament of a 20,000 tons lighter battleship, only the usual nine 406 mm in triple turrets which were the norm from 1935 designs as it maximized protection, compensated by a greater range than any competitor. However Soviet armor plate industry was unable to produce cemented armor thicker than 230 millimeters (9.1 in), making the ship only shell-proof by multiplying inner layers of smaller thicknesses in order to disperse energy.

Design of Project 23

Design work started in 1935, in response to the known Scharnhorst then in completion. A commission spent some time visiting yards in Italy and the United States, purchasing drawings until Gio. Ansaldo & C. proposed a 42,000 long tons battleship armed with nine 406 mm pieces, inspired by the Litorrio they designed. Since the Italians did not match the caliber specified, the Soviet commission also contacted an USN arsenal which already worked on such caliber for USN Battleships, although the final artillery pieces were to be forged and assembled by Obukhov and tested.

Gibbs & Cox naval architects were also contacted for two designs: One of a conventional battleship and three hybrid battleship/aircraft carriers. All thee showed a raised flight deck and central, axial reduced superstructure while the main armament was still there forwards and aft. Back home however, Soviet engineers proceeded from the conventional design and drawn their own plans.

The 1936 TT3 initial design
The 1936 TT3 initial design

The first Tactical-Technical Requirement (ТТЗ) was issued on 21 February 1936 but soon judged too ambitious due to the limitations of the time, combining nine 460 mm guns for 36 knots, but under a displacement of 55,000 tons. Noth only forging local guns of such caliber was a challenge, but the powerplant needed in such small displacement was unrealistic at best.
The design TT3b was revised in May 1936 by Admiral Orlov, C-in-C of the Soviet Navy, cutting the speed down to 30 knots, lowering the ain caliber to 406 mm and with less AA secondary batteries, while the displacement at 45,000 tons.

More acceptable, it was even authorized by other navies under the London treaty under the Anglo-Soviet Quantitative Naval Agreement of 1937.
Final design of the TTZ (TT3c – unofficial denomination) was approved by Orlov on 3 August.
Displacement was setup at 41,500 tons, armament to 9x 406 mm reinforced by a 12x 152 mm (6.0 in) battery and 12x 100-millimeter (3.9 in) AA plus 40x 37mm (1.5 in) AA guns. Maximum armor thickness as specified was 380 mm (15 in). Top speed as designed was 30 knots.

Soviet yards submitted their own designs and ultimately, Baltic Yards won with its KB-4 project. They later accepted on 22 November 1936 an increase of the deck armor in exchange for a displacement rising to 47,000 tons. Meanwhile, other designers lobbied Stalin for a radical increase in displacement and the latter eventually accepted in July 1936 to raise it to 56,000 tons. However this required a complete redesign, which coincided with the great purges. This unfortunate coincidence ruined all time tables and the redesign dragged on until early 1938.

The design completion was originally set to 15 October 1936, an incomplete version was presented in November. The navy’s Shipbuilding Administration specified the numerous sub-designs to be completed, such as machinery plant and secondary gun mounts and turrets.

Hull changes

In all 27 million roubles would be spent in R&D throughout 1937, testing a hull form model in a ship model basin all along 1938. More than 100 models were tested, even one-tenth-scale launches for maniability at sea, while protection was seriously tested, a replica of the future armor decks on which a 500-kilogram (1,100 lb) bomb was dropped. Tests dictated to raise the main armor deck one leverl above and a splinter deck was added underneath. Reduced models of the underwater protection, compartimentation and bulges were also tested on two barges. New modifications were made in light of this, with multiple bulkheads as the best system estimated.

Last blueprints alterations

After the final design was submitted on 28 February 1938, blueprints were edited and sent to Baltic yard where the first ship was to be laid down on 15 July. However design changes were still ongoing at that stage. At the same time was it predicted the hull form will claim almost two knots, final specs were changed again, down to 27.5 knots (50.9 km/h; 31.6 mph) designed top speed; On the same time, a new propeller design was introduced and the centerline rudder deleted.

A calculated stern-down trim also obliged to cancel the two aft quarterdeck 100 mm turrets, and the armor belt height changed two times. In fact it was raised again in 1941 by State Defense Committee. Catapults were also modified, the single axial one replaced by two, on both sides of the quarterdeck. The final hull design was established as 269.4 m long overall for 38.9 m of beam and full load a draft of 10.4 m.

However revisions of the battle displacement showed it was to reach 60,000 metric tons standard and up to 67,000 metric tons (65,942 long tons) fully loaded. It was a “full-bodies” hull, with the torpedo protection system inside it rather than external, making the ship bulkier than it really needed to be. The 7.14:1 ratio dictated powerful turbines to overcome the drag. Decision was taken by Stalin to use three shafts instead of four, saving seom weight to the armored citadel while metacentric height was 3.4 meters and radius when turning 1,170 meters (3,840 ft).

406mm test mount
A still existing test mount for the 406 mm B-37 heavy naval guns (wow video). Such naval gun was used in the battery N°1 during the siege of Leningrad, the most impressive in the Russian arsenal up to that point, firing a total of 185 shells on German positions during the war.


Producing plates of cemented armor proved a real problem. The greater thickness achieved was 230 mm (9.1 in). Therefore it was chosen to use lower resistance cemented plates combined with face-hardened ones in November 1940. A problem soon emerged however as thinner plates were made harder, but also more brittle and ofte failed acceptance tests. They were provided anyway and in total 23,306 metric tons of the ship was made of armor protection. This was still exceptionally large, above the larger Yamato class.

Belt armor and the citadel were designed to resist 406 mm impacts as well as the decks a 500 kg bomb impact. Shells were best stopped if coming between 35° and 50° of angle from the centerline. The armor belt was thickened near the bow since the ship was narrower near the forward magazines and thicker armor installed there. This belt was 148.4m long (57% of the waterline), ad angled to 5° inwards. It was 220 mm (8.7 in) forward of the magazines.

The machinery spaces were protected by 375 mm plating with steps up to 420 mm (17 in) over the forward magazines and 380 mm (15 in) over the rear magazine. The belt ended with 30° angled transverse 285 mm bulkhead. It was downed to 250 mm on the lower deck and 75 mm (3.0 in) below. A 20 mm splinter beltwas added above up to the bow. A belt “step” 180 mm (7.1 in) was installed and a 365 mm transverse bulkhead was placed between the rear turret and the hull. The citadel was closed off by a 230 mm forward bulkhead, 180 mm rear backed by a splinter armor of 25 mm (0.98 in) above. Deck armor ranged from 25 mm (Forecastle) up to 155 mm (6.1 in) over the citadel, completed by a 50 mm middle deck and 100 mm top deck completed with a 220 mm waterline belt extension. There was also a 65 mm (2.6 in) arched deck covering the front section, and stern aft of the rear transverse bulkhead.

406 russian naval guns
Main 406 mm in elevation tests in a provisional covered mount (not a turret), same as above, profile. These 156 tons (with breech block) pieces of ordnance were the best in the world in terms of characteristics, besides the Japanese 18-in made for the Yamato, which had a superior caliber but slightly lesser range.

The main turrets frontal arc was covered by 495 mm (19.5 in) in additive (combined) thickness as stated above, while the sides and roofs were 230 mm (9.1 in). Gun ports were 18 mm strong, and while 60 mm bulkheads separated each barrel. Barbettes were 425 mm above the upper deck and the ammo wells were thinner underneath, but protected by the citadel. MK-4 turrets were protected by 100 mm faces, down to 65 mm for their sides with 100 mm barbettes down to to 65 mm for the ammunition wells. The MZ-14 turrets were uniformely prorected by 100 mm of armour. The conning towers were 425 mm in walls thickness forward, down to 220 mm aft. The bridge tower was protected by 75 mm (3.0 in) walls.

ASW protection was tailored to withstand a 750 kg (1,653 lb) warhead TNT equivalent. The ship must survive wth five adjacent compartments flooded (Rouhly also three torpedo hits). There was a Pugliese-type protection on 123 m in the mid-section with multi-bulkhead ended system 33 m further back 8.2 m in height amidships and 7 m fore and aft. The outer layers were 14 down to 10 mm and the inner bottom 7 mm. The Pugliese cylinder had 7 mm thick walls, and the main bulkhead was 35 mm thick with a 10 mm extention below and could be filled with fuel oil or water for damping the underwater explosion energy.


The machinery arrangement of the sovetsky soyuz was well compartimented and separated but wing shafts were rather long at 105 meters. Wing turbine compartments were located forward of boiler room No. 1 and aft of the No. 2 turret magazines and the axial one between boiler room No. 2 and No. 3. Initially turbines were to come from Cammell Laird but the Soviet commission was rebuffed by the £700,000 price tag, and they turned to Brown Boveri for £400,000, bringing with them design features from Cammell Laird.

The latter Swiss manufacturer created single-reduction, impulse-reduction geared turbines. At first a set of four was ordered, three for the first battleship and an extra one to be sent in Kharkov to be replicated, and having Russian-built turbines provided for the next battleships. Together, once fitted, these turbines were to deliver 201,000 shaft horsepower (149,886 kW). They were fed by six triangle-type water-tube boilers per boiler room. Working pressure was 37 kg/cm2 (3,628 kPa; 526 psi) at 380 °C (716 °F).

Design speed was 27.5 knots but estimated top speed on trials shoukd have been around 28 knots, thanks to the revised propellers forced heat. Fuel oil capacity as designed was 5,280 metric tons (peacetime. Top capacity in wartime was 6,440 metric) and endurance was estimated around 6,300 nautical miles to 7,680 nautical miles (14,220 km; 8,840 mi) at 14.5 knots in maximal capacity.

Armament of the sovetsky soyuz

Main armament

Three MK-1 triple turrets with electrical power housed each three 406 mm/40 B-37 guns. Depression was −2°, elevation 45° with a fixed loading angle of 6°. Rate of fire ranged from 2.0 to 2.6 rpm, but that’s depended on the elevation. Elevate rate was 6.2°/sec., traverse 4.55° sec. 100 rounds, 1,108-kilogram (2,443 lb) were provided per gun. They exited the muzzle at 830 m/s giving a maximum range of 45,600 meters (49,900 yd) in maximal elevation, which had given these ships a very long reach: It was 39,000 m for the Iowa, even greater than the Yamato (42,000 m) and largely compensated for armour shortcomings in a naval gunfight.

Secondary armament

This secondary armament of the Sovetsky Soyuz comprised twelve B-38 152 mm/57 guns in six dual MK-4 turrets placed on each side of the main deck. Eight were aimed at all times in both frontal and chase. Elevation was −5° to +45°. Loading angle was fixed to 8°, decreasing their rate of fire to 4.8 rpm, up to 7.8 when the position was fixed.

These turrets could elevate at 13°/sec and 6°/Sec. in traverse. 170 rounds were provided, 55 kg HE shells per gun. Maximum range was 30,000 meters (98,425 ft) with a 950 m/s (3,100 ft/s) muzzle velocity. These figures were superior to the secondary battery of many battleships of the time.

Anti-aircraft defense of the Sovetsky Soyuz

Twelve 56-caliber 100 mm B-34 dual-purpose guns were installd, each with a twin MZ-14 turret, elevating to 85°, depressing to −8°. They were given 400 rounds each, 15.6-kilogram (34 lb) high explosive shells. Only by January 1941 all these turrets were installed. They can travers 12°/second, elevate at 10°/sec. Muzzle velocity was 895 m/s (2,940 ft/s), range 22,241 m against ships to to 9,895 meters (32,464 ft) ceiling.

Light AA comprised ten quadruple 37 mm 70-K gun. These water-cooled models were fitted on 46-K mounts and 1800 rounds per gun was supplied. Initial design only planned eight mounts but two more were in January 1941, on both sides of the forward superstructure. These mounts were fully enclosed, both against splinters and the muzzle blast of the larger guns. These shells were 732-kg (1.61 lb) rounds exiting the barrels at 880 m/s (2,900 ft/s) for an AA ceiling of 4,000 meters.

Beriev KOR-2 floatplane.

Observation and Fire control

Of course the Soviets advance in radars was nonexistent at this point. Classic telemeters were fitted. Each main turret roof was fitted with a DM-12, 12m concidence rangefinder. However main fire direction came from the three top-mounted KDP-8 fire-control directors. Their two 8-meter (26 ft 3 in) stereoscopic rangefinders tracked the target and measured the splashes distance.

Protected by 20 mm (0.79 in) armour, they were placed atop the rear superstructure, the tower-mast, and on the conning tower. The latter had 50 mm (2.0 in) of armor. In the main bridge was located the central operation TsAS-0 mechanical computer which gave firing solutions to each tower.

The secondary turrets of the Sovetsky Soyuz were served by four KDP-4t-II directors (4m rangefinders) mounted abaft the tower-mast and aft funnel. Also three SPN-300 stabilized directors were in charge of the main AA armament, either side of the forward funnel and atop the rear superstructure. For long range obersvation the ship depended on two Beriev-4 KOR-2 floatplanes. Each flew at 356 km/h (221 mph)
for a range of 1,150 km (716 miles), and outside two MGs could carry up to 400 kg (880 lb) of bombs or depth charges.

Wow's rendition of the S. Soyuz
Wow’s rendition of the S. Soyuz

Fate of the Sovetsky Soyuz

Sovietsky Soyuz photographed by a German plane on 26 June 1941 in the Baltic Yard

These ships were a considerable challenge as production facilities and skills were limited in USSR as shown by the Kirov series numerous issues. Production was moved to the brand-new Shipyard Nr. 402 in Molotovsk, while parts and equipments were to come from Leningrad and shipped via the White Sea Baltic Canal to Molotovsk.

Of course these plans collapsed after Operation Barbarossa. The turret shop at Nikolaev proved soon unable to fill the demands on the 406 mm guns mountings while propeller shafts were ordered in 1940 from Germany and the Netherlands. Shipbuilding steel was also plagued by quality problems which curtailed already meagre deliveries. In fact only 1,800 metric tons were delivered in 1939, a far cry of what was expected, ten times more.

Ultimately the face-hardened plates were no subsitute for proper cemented armor of large thickness. Foer propellers, the Brown Boveri turbines reach their intended yard in 1939 via Arkhangelsk, but the Kharkhovskii Turbogenerator Works which tried to copy it failed to deliver a single turbine before the German invasion. On 10 July 1941 by order of Stalin all three ships were suspended, little work went on just to keep the most advanced, Sovetsky Soyuz, to resume completion when a sedond order came on 10 September 1941, this time for a full cancellation, while all three hulls were stricken from the navy lists.

The Sovietskaya Rossiya, canceled in 1940 saw reused parts of its hull to build the Netron Menya floating battery. At the end of 1940, the hulls of the first two were 75% complete when it was decided to suspend the work. With the arrival of the Germans, the Russians withdrew trying to plasticize the hulls, but in the end, the damage was small. The Germans finished work in 1940, blowing Bielorussya’s hull.

The Soyuz and Ukraina were partially dismantled, then totally after 1946. Compared to the American Iowa, they were much wider and heavier, better protected (500 mm for the turrets) but also slower, although having still a power available quite considerable (20,000 hp more). All three were to be assigned to a fleet, that of the north (Polyarni), the fleet of the Baltic (St. Petersburg) and Odessa for the Black Sea, where they would have been formidable opponents, with an unmatched gunnery range to protect them from an enemy response.

Sovietsky Soyuz photographed by a German plane in June 1942

Sovietzky Soyuz 1942
Battleship Sovetsky Soyuz probable appearance as built in 1942. Author’s illustration

Sovietsky Soyuz
3D rendition of the Project 23 class on Reddit src

See in HD VR (Virtual Reality)

Specifications 1941

Displacement: 24,000t, 27-28,000t FL
Dimensions: 181.20 x 26.80 x 9.20 m
Propulsion: 4 shaft geared turbines, 25 Yarrow boilers, 42,000 hp. 23 knots max.
Armor: 230 to 254 mm max.
Crew: 1130
Armament: -12 x 305 mm (4×3, 12 in)
-10 x 120 mm (4.7 in)
-6 x 76 mm AA (3 in)
-8 x 37 mm AA (2 in)
-8 x 12.7 mm (0.5 in) DShK MGs
-4 x 533 mm TTs (21 in) sub.
Aviation: 2x KOR-2 floatplanes

Other unfinished Soviet battleships

Apart the Tsarist Borodino, looking like a lightened, stretched-out Gangut, never completed, there were two known, REAL battleships which completion was never achieved: The modernized battlecruisers of the Konstadt class, the same plan, and in 1945, modernized battlecruiser/fast battleships of the Stalingrad class, which project evolved until 1951, when it was finalized, approved and construction launched, to be cancelled at the death of Stalin in 1953. We will develop both ships in future dedicated articles.

wow Petropavlovsk wow Tallinnwow Riga

Stalingrad class battlecruisers (1945-51)

Sovetsly Soyuz armor protection
Armour protection scheme of the Stalingrad class

In 1944, various plans for reinforcing the fleet were approved, and studies were made on new battleships and cruisers. Project 24 ships, commissioned with Stalin’s insistence, were upgraded Sovietsky Soyuz, with a reinforced DCA and a tonnage of 75,000 tonnes standard, suggesting that they would be close to 85,000 tonnes as far as the 1960s USS Enterprise aircraft carrier !

Stalin, despite all the persuasive force of Admiral Kusnetsov, continued to demand a fleet of classic lines, not wanting to hear about aircraft carriers. His intransigence certainly caused the Soviet navy to lag behind during the Cold War.

Alongside Project 24, Project 82 was set up to bring a heavy cruiser of naval superiority to the fleet: It had to be armed with 254 mm pieces, then at the insistence of Stalin who wanted us to take up the idea again. Kronstadt, pieces of 305 mm. Various projects were studied between 1945 and 1957.

Finally the Kremlin leader had insisted on making corsairs in the image of the German Deustchland. The project was finalized in 1948 and changed again until 1950. Finally, the Stalingrad and Moskva were started in the 50s, the first in December 1951, the second in October 1952.

In the end, these ships planned for a start in 1955 were large but light, because of their armor designed only to withstand the shots of American cruisers, armed with 203 mm pieces. This armor was in some places thick enough to be able to participate more of the rigidity of the immense hull than the protection.

They did not have float planes, but would certainly have operated helicopters. The 130mm cannons were double and rapid fire, the 45mm cannons and the 25mm were in quadruple carriages.

The work began slowly, the group responsible for the construction of the first assuring that it would be launched for the anniversary of the revolution on November 6, 1953. In March 1953, the death of Stalin caused the immediate cessation of the construction of the first two.

Kusnetsov, returning from his “exile” from the Pacific, firmly opposed to the plans of these ships, will nevertheless try to take advantage of the study efforts made with the launch of a new hybrid missile cruiser, the Kronstadt, in May 1955, but it was canceled a few months after the keel was laid.

Stalingrad 1955
Stalingrad class probable appearance as built in 1955. Author’s illustration

See it in HD VR (Virtual Reality)


Displacement: 36 500t, 42 300t FL
Dimensions: 278 x 32 x 9.20 m
Propulsion: 2 shaft turbo-electric turbines, 280,000 hp. and 35.5 knots max.
Protection: From 180 to 240 mm max;
Crew: 1700
Armament: 9 x 304, 12 x 130, 24 x 45, 40 x 25 mm AA.

Other Soviet battleships: Reality vs. Fantasy

From a game we will not mention here as it is obvious, several more designs seems to pop-out from hats, despite the fact they have little backing, at least in the West. To be convinced for example of the “Lenin” reality, once only need to google for it and see where the results are coming from. Let’s be clear: The reputed and well-documented Conway’s, confirmed by Jane’s records is not shy for exposing projects, detailing even many Western proposals, same as French, US, Japanese projects, with force details and profiles.

However, nothing is said apart the Sovietsky Soyuz class above and the battlecruisers Kronshtadt (called “large cruisers”), as well as Izmail and Stalingrad classes for two other publications. Only a list of projects could be found in the declassified archives, with very few clues to dress any sincere portayal. In what is following, some of these paper proposals even lack a proper “project” denomination.

Project 21 (wow’s”Lenin”): Looking like a Russian version of the Rodney is its known as Project 21, a simple 1930 admiralty Study for a 35,500-ton Nelson class-style battleship.
Project 24 (wow’s “Kreml”): It is mentioned in the continuation program, with the type 23 as “prototypes”, and decribed as a 1950 improved version of the type 23, in the 80,000 tons range.
-Project 25: It was a Study for a 30,900-ton light battleship, a cruiser-killer designed after the cancelled Project 22 and alongside the Project 68 Kronstadt class.

> “Pyotr Velikiy” – The alleged MGSh study for a fast armoured cruiser in 1907, here impersonated by the X variant of Projet 707 by Blohm und Voss in 1911, a 4×2 12-in, 21 knots armoured cruiser for the Baltic, but it can’t be backed by Conway’s. Most of the design studies were passed onto the Izmail/Borodino.

> The “Sinop” is allegedly a paper proposal designed by naval engineer Bubnov, based on a 1913-14 design for a successor to the Ganguts, in march 1914, with nine 406 mm guns in triple turrets made by Obukhov. The war cancelled all proposals. Conway’s only overviewed the Borodino design, so the unnamed Sinop has little backing, if any.

Stalin’s controversial ten-year naval plan
In 1944 Stalin drawned a ten-year naval plan (1944-1955) and insisted on building battleships to the dismay of his chief advisor, naval minister Admiral Kuznetsov. The plan included ten battleships and battlecruisers. The BS were based on the prewar Type 23. They were indeed developed by the TsKB-17 and pre-project estimates for a complete design was 1945. The Project 24 was to be a 75,000 tons battleship, 30 knots, with nine 16-in guns like the previous ship.

It was also stated a secondary battery of 24x 5.1 in in twin turrets, and uniform 24 twin 45 mm plus 60x 25 mm AA guns. The armour scheme was raised to withstand a 1000 kg bomb hit, 16-in impact. It was also roomy enough for two catapults and six planes. A photograph was released which was lated debunked as one of the Stalingrad model. It is “impersonated” by the “Kreml” while the “Validovostok” is the initial 1936 Type A battleship developed before project 23, with no less than nine 457 mm/48 and a displacement above 75,000 tons standard.

The project 25 was in essence Battleship ‘B’ study, redesignated as Project 25. It was small battleship design for the Baltic and Black Seas. It was to hunt for treaty cruisers and German pocket battleships. Its design was accepted mid-1937 with both the armor scheme and machinery layout revised several times. Four were ordered, planed to start late 1937, early 1938, so before the Great Purge. Project 25 designers were arrested and executed and the whole design was later rejected as too weak for a battleship and cancelled in early 1938.

More serious and well-documented also are the various preliminary studies for the “Stalingrad” class, which are evolutions of the Kronstadt, and evolved well in the long term. A 1941 8-in cruiser revised by Stalin in 1945 to include a 12-in artillery, and first studies drafted by the TsKB-17 in 1943 up to 1947. So it was a post-war design by all means. These studies also included Kuznetsov ideas of a fast-firing cruiser with automated 9-in guns. This was in essence, a 39,500 tons, 32 or 35 knots cruiser design, validated in 1949. It was later passed to TsKB-16 in 1950 for final design, but by no means was a battleship. It was eventually named project 82, the Stalingrad class we know.

Read More:

Main SRC: Conway’s all the world’s fighting ships 1922-1946, 1947-1995
Russian and Soviet Battleships Hardcover (2003) by Stephen McLaughlin
The Lure of Neptune: German-Soviet Naval Collaboration and Ambitions, 1919-1941 By Tobias R. Philbin
Stalin’s Ocean-going Fleet: Soviet By Jurgen Rohweree
Russian Naval Construction, 1905-45 By J.N. Westwood

Kirov class cruisers

Kirov class cruisers (1930)

Soviet Navy
Light cruisers (1930-60) Kirov, Frunze, Maxim Gorky, Molotov, Kaganovitch, Kalinin

The Kirovs: Italian flavored light 7-in cruisers

The first modern interwar cruisers built in USSR were the Kirov class. A name made even more famous at the peak of the cold war in the 1980s with the arrival of a class of giant missile battlecruisers. Three series of ships pairs were built with gradual improvements, a bit like the Italian Condotierri class. And they were of Italian design. Commissioned before or during the war, they saw heavy action and were scrapped in the 1960s and 70s. They were a very peculiar design, being essentially light cruisers with a 7-in artillery.

Kirov 1942
The Kirov in 1942 (cc)


The first two cruisers of the Kirov class were the first laid down in the interwar for the Soviet Navy. Apart from the three Svetlana rebuilt in the years 25-30, they were brand new. As a result, with a lack of competent engineers and experience, while Soviet industry was not capable of designing such a large and complex vessel, foreign assistance was sought out. They entrusted the Italians, who at the time enjoyed a certain technical and design prestige compounded by many export successes.

The Ansaldo company, responsible for the Condotierri class was contacted, and an agreement was signed. They provided plans of their latest design, the Raimondo Montecuccoli-class cruisers to be studied. They also provided engineers and assistance in order to draw the final planes on Soviet specifications.

blueprint of the Kirov
Since speed was everything at that time, the Italians focused on it, and promised a 7200 tons cruiser armed at first with three twin turrets with the Russian intermediary caliber of 180 mm (7.1 in). This odd concept derived from the experimental artillery made for the previous Krazny Kavkaz, in single turrets, made to answer early 1930s IJN cruisers in the Pacific.

The idea was to have a bit more range and hitting power than the classic 6-in while being a bit faster than the harder-hitting 8-in. Such twin turret was produced in 1933, and the chief Italian designer of Ansaldo guaranteed a speed of 37 knots within the 7200 tons limit. The turret designer afterwards claimed it was even possible to fit three barrels instead of two, although solidarity. Impressed by this firepower increase, the Soviet committee approved the blueprints on November 1934 as Project 26.

Shipyard model of the Kirov
Shipyard model of the Kirov


Quite Italian-looking in their design, the Kirov and Voroshilov however had another singularity, their square prow. The initial hull as planned was very light (7000 tons empty). This proved a colossal burden, and it will be much reinforced thereafter, up to 7880 tons and even 7970 on the Voroshilov, 1/8 increase. This overweight was the result of a revision of armor. The Italians initial proposal was woefully under-protected. A ‘tin-clad’ cruiser. With this design revision, the planned speed fell to 36 knots on the Kirov and 34 on Voroshilov.


The Soviets borrowed the machinery of the later Duca d’Aosta-class cruisers on paper (nominal 10,000 hp) but struggled to fit these inside the smaller hull. In the end the engine compartment was horribly cramped. This was the main reason it delayed the start of construction until 22 October 1935 for Kirov, laid down at Ordzhonikidze Yard, Leningrad and Voroshilov at Marti, Nikolayev, on 15 October 1935.

Like Italian cruisers this was a simple twin-shaft-unit machinery layout. For protection, they were compartments of alternating boiler rooms and engine rooms. The machinery for Kirov was directly shipped from Italy (Initially planned for the Eugenio di Savoia).

Voroshilov in 1941

The Voroshilov machinery however was built on the same plans, in Kharkiv. These TB-7 geared turbines proved to be more fuel-efficient and with more raw power than the originals. Indeed, the Kirov burned .8 kg (1.8 lb) of fuel oil per hp, versus Kalinin’s 623 kg (1.37 lb) and the end result was 113,500 shaft horsepower (84,600 kW) on trials versus 122,500 shp (91,300 kW). Voroshilov reach a full knot more on trials but designed top speed was 36 knots (67 km/h; 41 mph).

Pressured steam came from six license-built Yarrow-Normand type water-tube boilers. Nominal capacity was 106-tonnes per hour of superheated steam, working at 25 kg/cm2 (2,452 kPa; 356 psi) of pressure. Optimal working temperature was 325 °C (617 °F). The shaft drove each a three-bladed 4.7-metre (15 ft) bronze propeller. Oil capacity ranged between both ships from 600 to 650 tonnes but it diverged at full load at 1,150 versus 1,660 tonnes, even 1,750. Endurance was 2,140 nm (Kirov) to 4,220 nautical miles and 4,860 mi at 18 knots.


Main armament
Although impressive on paper, the final result was really not up to the expectations. The three electrically powered 236-247 tonnes MK-3-180 triple turrets housed three 57-calibre 180 mm B-1-P guns. They were mated on the same mount, therefore no individual elevation was possible. The entire cradle elevated to 48° and depressed to -5°. The end result was the blast affected their accuracy terribly. Dispersion was abysmal when firing simultaneously, whereas the rate of fire fell to two rounds per minute instead of six promised by the Italian engineer.

Kirov X & Y turrets stunning photo -scr Src

These B-1-P guns fired a 97.55-kilogram (215.1 lb) shell at 900–920 m/s (3,000–3,000 ft/s) muzzle velocity. Range was 38,000 m (42,000 yd). Provision for each gun was 100 rounds, so 900 total and even more in the initial paper project.

Secondary armament
The secondary armament comprised six 100-millimetre (3.9 in)/56 B-34 anti-aircraft guns in single mounts under masks. They were placed abaft the rear turret, a well open space. Each received a provision of 325 rounds per gun. Their Light AA artillery consisted of six semi-automatic 45 mm/46 (1.7 in) 21-K AA guns. A development of Rheinmetall German 3.7 cm (1.5 in) sold before Hitler arrive to power in 1933, they were an adapted sub-version of the antitank 53-K.

They fired a 45×386 mm. SR Shell weighting 1.065–2.14 kg (2.35–4.72 lb). Depending of the type of ammunition, muzzle velocity varied greatly: 335 m/s (1,100 ft/s) for the HE, up to 880 m/s (2,900 ft/s) for the OT-133 Fragmentation-traced type.

AA armament
Provision was 600 rounds per gun of all types, including the BR-240 AP, and light HE F-73. The gun complete with its pedestal, weighed 507 kg (1,118 lb). It was manually operated. Elevation reached 85° and depression -10°. Rate of fire was 25-30 rpm (practical) with and effective range of 6,000 m (20,000 ft) (ceiling) and maximum firing range of 9,200 metres (10,100 yd) at 45°.
The tertiary armament comprised four DK 12.7-millimetre (0.50 in) machine guns, with 12,500 rounds per gun. The standard-issue 0.5-in “Dushka”. This armament varied with wartime upgrades and additions.

On board aviation

Author’s illustration of the Beriev-2 KOR-I

The Kirovs carried two aircraft, but with imported German catapults. These Heinkel K-12 catapults were purchased in 1937 and could traverse 360°. They had a launch capacity of 2,750 kg (6,060 lb), the plane being thrown up to 125 km/h (78 mph). However no float plane was available then, but the KOR-1 which only entered service in September 1939. These models were slow, vulnerable to bad weather when landing, to such a point they were disembarked in the summer of 1941.

The Maxim Gorkiy circa 1942 (cc)
The Maxim Gorkiy circa 1942 (cc)

Later, the second serie Gorky and Molotov had Soviet-built ZK-1 catapults; but no plane was ever fitted to them, the all four ships stayed without plan provision. In fact the Kirov’s catapults were landed to carry more AA guns. Molotov was in the same position by 1942. The later ZK-1a catapult successfully launched a Supermarine Spitfire fighter ad the last serie Project 26bis2 was given an improved ZK-2b, eventually removed by 1947. Radars made these all obsolete.


That was hardly the selling point of the design: The weak Kirov’s scheme formed a boxed ‘raft’ around the vitals. Both flanks were closed by a waterline belt. Traverse bulkheads were 50 mm (2.0 in) as well as the decks. The 50 mm belt measured 121 m (397 feet) – about 64.5% length- by 3.4 m in height (11 ft 2 in) less than half of which was below the waterline. This was on paper, after strengthening the hull and adding hundreds of tons, it sank below it.

For ASW protection, a double bottom extended longer than the belt, with armored traverse bulkheads and a fine longitudinal bulkhead which stopped flooding but this by no means prevented serious torpedo damage.

The Kirov in 1939
The Kirov in 1939 – src

In the end the arrangement only allows the ship to stay afloat, but listing by some measure.
Overall Project 26 design was faithful to the Italian ‘tin-clad’ armor of the time and the ship was vulnerable down to under 10 km (6.2 mi) to destroyer shells. At least the design of the next four ships included additional armor.

Both cruisers were completed in 1938 (Kirov) and 1940 (Voroshilov), and their AA armament strengthened during the war, before 1944 ten 37 mm mounts were added, replacing the slowed 45 mm batteries.

Voroshilov post war
Voroshilov post war (cc)

Rendition of the Kirov in world of warships
Rendition of the Kirov in world of warships

An Italian Design on the black sea

The first cruisers to bear the name were not only the first Soviet ‘heavy’ cruisers, but also the first designed on a fresh base, contrary to the previous Kavkaz and Chervona Ukrainia completed in the interwar but based on pre-war Russian designs of the Svetlana class. The Soviet Navy did not existed in 1922 and never was admitted to the Washington naval conference. So Soviet Russia was never tied to the treaty’s restrictive clauses. But despite of this, the Navy’s requirements in terms of cruisers did not required more than what was already defined as a “treaty cruiser”. So they even never met a 10,000 ton displacement fully loaded, let alone standard. In fact they were closer to a light cruiser in this area.

Soviet Navy cruiser Molotov firing in 1942 (cc)

The Kirov (first group) in action

These two ships served during the war and survived. The Kirov was sent to Finland in 1939, carrying out coastal bombing, before joining Tallinn for his defense after the German invasion of June 1941, then returned to the defense of Leningrad, bombed by the Luftwaffe and badly damaged, then again beginning 1942, he was repaired and resumed service at the end of 1943, supporting the Leningrad winter counter-offensive in 1944. He remained in service until 1976-77 as a training ship.

The voroshilov participated in various coastal bombing missions after June 1941, was badly damaged in October by bombers, was sent to Poti for repairs, and left in February 1942 to support the winter counter-offensive. he jumped on a mine in November 1942 and was sent for repairs to Batum, but in early 1945 he was still there. It still served until the 60s.

Post stamp showing the Kirov in 1953
Post stamp showing the Kirov in 1953 (cc)

Kirov 1970s
The Kirov in the 1970s (unknown src – imgurl)

Kirov class general appearance in 1941, author’s illustration

Frunze in 1941, author’s illustration

Dimensions 191 x 17.66 x 7.23 m ( feets)
Displacement 7900 tons, 8800 tons Fully Loaded
Crew 734
Propulsion 2 Parsons turbines, 6 Yarrow-Normand boilers, 113,000 hp.
Speed 36 knots (50 km/h)
Range 6000 nm @ 10 knots.
Armament 9 x 180 mm (3×3), 6 x 100 mm, 6 x 45 mm AA, 4 x 12,7 mm, 6 x 533 mm TTs (2×3), 3 airplanes.
Protection Deck, belt, barbettes 50 mm (2 in), turrets 76 mm (3 in), conning tower 152 mm (6 in)

Second group: Maxim Gorkiy class (1938)

This second class was closely modelled after the previous Kirov. Their superstructure diverged however with a simple conning tower on top of which was mounted the bridge and fire director, instead of a quadripod mast. They were slightly larger at 17.70 m wide instead of 17.66 m (58 feets), weighting 100 tons more at 9792 tons fully loaded versus 9950 (on Voroshilov). The power-plant was also revised and produced 129,500 hp but with an unchanged top speed of 35 knots.
Their 45 mm AA artillery received two additional mounts. The Gorkiy was completed in Ordonikidze Yard in November 1940 and the Molotov in June 1941. Both were in service during the invasion. They were followed by Kaganovich (June 1944) and Kalinin (1943), started both in 1939 at Komsomolsk. In 1944 all four had received additional 37 mm guns for 10 in all, and four ASW mortars.
Note: The Gorky class will be the object of a dedicated post in the future.

Kaganovitch stern (cc)

The Project 26bis ships (Gorkiy class) carried the same turrets with with improved 21-K mounts. In addition to their standard AA they were given ten additional fully automatic 37 mm (1.5 in) 70-K AA guns. 1000 rounds were provided for each one. During wartime, their 45 mm guns were removed and replaced by 37 mm guns. Also Lend-Lease quadruple Vickers .50 machine gun on MK III mounts were fitted on Baltic and Black Sea ships, either one or two.

Protection-wise, the belt, traverse bulkheads, barbettes and turret (face) had their armor thickened to 70 mm (2.8 in). The steering gear was armored box was increased to 30 mm (1.2 in). Their armor scheme was singular, with a joint between the armour deck and the belt. The top and bottom edges of this belt were tapered up on 200 mm (7.9 in) 45 mm thick. The deck edge was also tapered down to 25 mm. This was probably a weight-saving measure applied during construction.

The Gorkiy class in action

Gorkiy hit a mine in June 1941 and lost her bow. But she survived and was repaired temporarily in Leningrad, stayed in drydock but defending herself meanwhile against German air attacks. However in April German rail artillery and field artillery added their weight to the Luftwaffe, and the cruiser underwent a real hell in April. But she was repaired and again operational, supporting the great Leningrad counter-offensive of 1944. She survived the war, withdrawn from active service in 1958.

The Maxim Gorkiy repaired in Kronstadt
The Maxim Gorkiy repaired in Kronstadt (cc)

Molotov was defending the Black Sea. Present in Sevastopol and providing her defense, she was attacked on 3 August 1942 by the Italian MAS 568, losing her bow (too !). Repaired with the bow from the suspended Frunze, she resumed service at the end of 1944. She would survive the war and be disarmed in 1972.

Third group – Kalinin class (1941)

Kalinin camouflaged 1945
The cruiser Kalinin, camouflaged in 1945 (wikimedia cc).

Kalinin and Kaganovich were launched at Komsomolsk on the Amur, but were towed to Vladivostok for completion because of their draft. They were put into service in the Pacific fleet, but remained inactive during the short hostilities against Japan in July-August 1945. They were withdrawn from service in the 1960s. Project 26bis2 used eight single 52-caliber 85 mm (3.3 in) 90-K guns, supplied with 300 rounds per gun.

Kaganovitch 1958

Heritage: Chapayev class (1949)

The next class, the Chapayev, was started in 1938-39. This was a mobilization class with 7 ships ordered for the first batch, laid down in 1938-40. Only the first five were launched in 1940-41. For lack of manpower and resources diverted to more urgent priorities, construction was suspended. They were therefore completed after the conflict in 1949-50. Overall, they presented themselves as a new interpretation of the Kirov and Gorkiy, but with a powerful machinery to carry their 15,000 tons at full load and more generous dimensions (201 x 19,70 meters). Just like the Cleveland or London treaty type cruisers, they carried a 12 gun battery of 6-in (152 mm) quick-firing artillery, and a powerful AA to match. They served until the end of the 1960s alongside the following Sverdlov class, the last Soviet conventional cruisers, in service until the 1990s for some.

It should be noted that USSR also had the heavy cruiser Tallin in service by 1943, a former German heavy cruiser of the Hipper class, Lützow. She was sold under provisions of the Germano-Soviet pact in 1939 and renamed Petropavlovsk. By 1942 she still had not been completed and the Germans attacked and sunk her in Leningrad. She was later refloated and towed to safety, repaired, completed, renamed Tallin in late 1943 and was back in action in the offensive against Leningrad in 1944, then served as training ship.

Sources/read More
3d view (WT) more about the Kalinin

Profintern class cruisers

The “admirals class” planned in 1913. The ships studied there are from two very similar classes: The Admiral Nakhimov and Svetlana classes of the Tsarist Navy, ordered in 1913, launched in 1916, but never completed due to the onset of the civil war. Another launched later became the Krasny Kavkaz, after a total reconstruction. These ships were more deserving of the description of rusty sheet piles in their basin when in 1921 it was decided to save them for completion again, after the civil war.

Chervonia Ukraina

Genesis of the Svetlana class

In 1910, the Russian Duma approved construction of modern dreadnought, whereas there were no modern cruisers or destroyers to follow them. It was only after the first Gangut-class battleship was ordered, that the Russian admiralty proposed a cruiser design to the Duma, which was approved as part of the 1912–1916 shipbuilding program. These four brand-new light cruisers were to scout for the battleships but also act as flotilla leaders teaming up with the new Novik class destroyers.

First design sketch of the future Svetlana class went back to 1907, however, numerous revisions occurred amidst specification changes over the years. by early 1912 the Admiralty decided to plan a design contest for a 4,100–5,100 metric-ton cruiser armed withat least twelve 130mm Pattern 1913 guns. They had to be capable of 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph), with light side armor.

They also had to resemble to the dreadnoughts under construction and lay mines. As submissions from shipyards failed to meet requirements, the admiralty passed new requirements for an heavier ship, of about 1500 tons. Eventually, both Russo-Baltic and Putilov Shipyards 6,700 ton designs were accepted and combined in November 1912.


Wow’s rendition of the Svetlana before reconstruction

By February 1913, however, development of the new Svetlana class was hampered by funds reallocated to the new Borodino-class battlecruisers which were eventually never completed, shipyards had to agree to reduce their bill to 8,300,000 rubles while the ships could be speed downgraded to 29.5 knots. Two ships from each yard were ordered on 13 February. During construction, Frahm anti-roll tanks were added as well as installations to use a future seaplane.

The Profintern (ex Svetlana, of the Svetlana class) was the first to be completed on the original plan in 1925. She spent another three years of testing before being admitted in service with the new Soviet Navy. Her sister-ship, the Chervonia Ukraina (ex. Admiral Nakhimov, of the Nakhimov class), was completed in 1922, but again, her trials went on until 1927 and she was pressed into service afterward. By 1930 they had a completely outdated design, with pre-war machinery delivering only 22 knots instead of 29 predicted, and their underpowered artillery (130 mm) placed on the decks, forecastle and barbettes in single shielded mounts were noted as imprecise in heavy weather.

The first serie (Svetlana) was to consist of four ships. Only the first was completed.

  • Svetlana (LD 07/12/1913) > Profintern 1922 Comp 1926 Renamed Krasny Krim 1939 BU 1960
  • Admiral Butakov (LD 29/11/1913) launched 8/1916 BU incomplete 1956
  • Admiral Spiridov (LD 29/11/1913) launched 9/1916 Hulked 1947
  • Admiral Greig (LD 07/11/1913) launched 12/1916 stranded 12/1938

The second serie also comprised four ships: Two completed (*one on a very different design)

  • Admiral Nakhimov (LD 31/10/1913) > Chervonia Ukraina 1926 Foundered 11/1941
  • Admiral Lazarev* (LS 31/10/1913) > Krazny Kavkaz 1932 sunk 1950s
  • Admiral Kornilov (LD 7.14) BU incomplete 1922
  • Admiral Istomin (LD 7.14) BU incomplete 1938

It should be noted also that alongside these new cruisers, Russia ordered two modern cruisers in Germany: The little-known Murarev Amurski class. Both were laid down at Schichau, Dantzig in 9.13, launched in April and November 1914 and not surprisingly, requisitioned in August 1914. They were completed in December 1914 and September 1915 as SMS Stettin and Pillau respectively.

Krazny Krim (Profintern, ex-Svetlana) during ww2, Ukraine winter 1941

Design of the Svetlana/Nakhimov class


These cruisers were approximatively the same length of the battleships, but their profile was quite different. They measured 158.4 meters long, 15.3 meters wide for a 5.56 meters draught and finally displaced 6,860 metric tons (6,750 long tons) standard. Propulsion consisted in four geared Curtis-AEG-Vulkan steam turbines connected each to a propeller shaft, and fed by 13 Yarrow boilers. In total this powerplant was rated for 50,000 designed shaft horsepower (37,000 kW), enough to give them the required 29.5 knots. Their range was about 3,350 nmi (6,200 km; 3,860 mi) at 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph) thanks to 1,167 long tons of fuel oil (Kransy Krim figures).

Bow of the Profintern


While the planned armament of twelve 1913 pattern 130 mm guns was kept, the increase in size allowed the engineers to add three more guns, all in shielded single mounts. Six were located on the main deck in casemates. They were the more problematic in bad weather. The other were located on the decks, forecastle and aft, and on the superstructures and broadsides. These guns could hit a target at 15,364 meters (16,802 yd) when elevated at +20°. They fired a 36.86kg (81.3 lb) shell at 823 m/s (2,700 ft/s) and with a trained crew of gunners, eight rounds per minute.

The secondary armament of the Svetlana class ships was reduced to four 38-caliber 63.3 mm (2.5 in) AA guns with a +75° elevation. The hull’s broadsides also comprised two 450 mm (17.7 in) torpedo tubes. Also as specified, rails and fittings allowed to carry and operate 100 mines. Before the end of their construction, the original AA guns were replaced by 76.2mm/30 (3.00 in) Lender AA guns. 102mm (4.0 in) AA guns were also planned for the rest of the serie.

Chervonia Ukraina in the 1930s


Due to their high speed, the Svetlana class cruisers were intended as light, agile cruisers, so protection was an afterthought. However as specified early on, they received a waterline belt of 76 mm, extending all along the hull and and up to 0.91 meters (3 ft) below the waterline. The upper part awas protected by a 25-millimeter (0.98 in) strake of armor between the lower and main decks. Both decks were 20 mm (0.79 in) thick. The funnel base was protected by 25 mm. The conning tower was 76 mm thick and the gun shields only 25 mm, only sufficient for shrapnells.

Krazny Krim during ww2Krazny Krim during ww2

Modernization of 1939 and 1941

The Svetlana class in 1927 and 1939

The Profintern was sent to the Black Sea in 1929. She will be modernized in 1939, receiving new modern rangefinders, had her catapult, cranes and planes removed to improve stability while gaining a more effective AA than the original four 65 mm guns, with six new long-range, fast-firing 75 mm AA guns, just like her sister-ship. She was to be renamed Krasny Krim and re-enter active service in November, only to return a few times later for another modernization of the AAA that ended in 1941. For her part, Chervona Ukraina receive a modernisaton of the same type between 1939 and 1941.

The Profintern class in action

Krasny Krim

Chervonia Ukraina was also on duty in the Black Sea during the German invasion. She defended Odessa and Sevastopol. During these operations, she was attacked by Stukas of Stgswr 77 on November 12, 1941, and was severely damaged. She would sink the next day despite all the effort of her dedicated crews.

After the fall of the fortress of Sevastopol, Krasny Krim escaped to Poti, and from there led many offensive sorties, receiving two new 76mm AA cannons, and in 1945 one of the first Soviet Navy aerial radar, of American design and manufacture. In March 1945, she became a training ship, withdrawn from the front. She held that role until 1958.

wow Profintern rendition profile
wow’s Profintern 3D rendition profile

Chervonia Ukraina
Author’s illustration of the Chervonia Ukraina in 1941


Displacement: 7560t (metric tons) to 8330t standard, 9030t Fully Loaded (8,890 long tons; 9,950 short tons)
Dimensions: 169,50 x 15.70 x 6.20 m (523 ft 4 in x 51 ft 6 in x 21 ft 8 in)
Propulsion: 4 shafts, 2 Brown-Boveri geared turbines, 12 Yarrow oil-fired boilers, 55 000 hp (41,000 kW)
Speed & Range: 29 knots (33 mph; 54 km/h), Range: 3,500 nmi (6,480 km) @15 knots (28 km/h)
Armour: 20mm (decks) to 76 mm (turrets, conning tower)
Crew: 850
Armament: 10 x 130mm (5.5 in), 6 x 75mm (3 in), 16 x 45mm AA (in), 4 x 12,7mm AA (0.5 in), 12 x 533 mm TTs (4×3), 100 mines, 3 seaplanes (before 1939).

Krazny Krim in the black sea during ww2

Sources/read More

Meister, Jürg (1979). Soviet Warships of the Second World War.
J.Gardiner’s Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships: 1906-1922.
Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press

Chervona Ukrainia