The Imperial Russian destroyer, Novik was ordered in August 1909 and launched in July 1911. Novik was the super-destroyer of her day. With a length of 336 feet and a displacement of 1,280 tons normal, she was far larger than almost all other destroyers completed, or under construction with the world’s navies. She was also exceptionally fast. She was able to reach 37.2 knots maximum speed and average 36.86 knots on a three hour run during her trials in August 1913. These feats made her the fastest warship in the world at that time.

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The design of Novik was a collaboration of Russian and German companies. The design was given to the Russian Putilov yard with assistance from the German Vulkan Yard of Stettin. Vulkan also supplied the machinery and many fittings. Novik was commissioned on September 4, 1913 and became part of the Baltic Cruiser Brigade.

During World War One Novik was very active, first with the cruiser brigade and then in 1915 as flagship of the destroyer division. While the dreadnoughts of the Gangut class and the pre-dreadnoughts of Andrei Pervozvanny class stayed mainly near St. Petersburg, the old battleships Slava and Tsarevitch, along with the First Cruiser Brigade with attached destroyers were consistently used in a more aggressive capacity. Operating from the Western end of the Gulf of Finland and from the Bay of Riga, they were very active in the heavy mine warfare operations that characterized naval operations in the Baltic. On July 1, 1915 Novik escorted the powerful armored cruiser Rurik in a sortie. They were supposed to join the rest of the cruiser brigade but missed them in the fog. On the 2nd Novik and Rurik join the rest of the cruisers in an engagement with German convoy escorted by cruisers and destroyers. Due to a false submarine sighting, the Rurik turned away and the German vessels were able to escape.

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The Bay of Riga served as a base for the force, safe from the retaliation of the German High Seas Fleet. The islands of Osel and Moon were barriers in the Northern half of the Gulf and created two choke points for ingress and egress. The Straits of Irben was the Western entrance, which was guarded by 12-inch gun batteries at Zerel and Moon Sound was the very narrow Northern entrance. The German Fleet made several attempts to breach this barrier in order to get into the Bay. On August 8, 1915 the Germans made their first attempt to breach the Straits of Irben but were turned away. In an action running from August 16 to August 21, 1915 the Germans attempted to breach the Straits of Irben for the second time. Battleships of the High Seas Fleet (Posen and Nassau) supported this attempt. The German destroyers V 99 and V 100 (B 97 class)(1,350 tons design/ 1,847 tons deep load) gained entrance to the Bay with the mission of torpedoing the Slava. After a skirmish with Russian destroyers, the two German destroyers retreated. Novik raced towards the German destroyers, began chasing them and because of her high speed, was able to catch them. V 99 was hit several times by gunfire from Novik and set afire. V 99 was then forced into a minefield, where she struck two mines and was wrecked.

There is an exceptional reference for the Imperial Russian destroyer Novik. Squadron Destroyer "Novik", (ЭСКАДРЕННЫЙ МИНОНОСЕЦ “НОВИК” (Eskadrenni Minonosets "Novik") by V. Y. Usov, published by Gangut Press of Saint Petersburg in 2001, is that reference. The monograph runs 38 pages and is packed with photographs, map and drawings of the Novik, plus photographs and color artwork on the front and back covers. Additionally it comes with a separate fold out color profile of the ship, as she appeared later in the war.
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The body of the text is in Russian but the photographs and the map of Moon Sound have Russian and English labels. This is an excellent publication, illustrating this fine warship

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On November 20, 1915 Novik with six other destroyers attacked the German patrol line. The force caught and sank the patrol ship, Norburg. In an operation on December 16, 1915, Novik with two other destroyers laid 150 mines along a coastal route used by German forces. This operation proved very successful as the mines laid were responsible for sinking the cruiser, Bremen, the patrol ship, Freya and the destroyers / torpedo boats, S 177 and V 191. On June 13, 1916 as part of a cruiser and destroyer task force, Novik and two other large Russian destroyers attacked a German ore convoy, comprising ten steamers and three patrol ships. The steamers flee into Swedish waters with the patrol ships guarding the retreat. The Russian commander mistakenly believed that the convoy was heavily escorted and broke off the action. The Russian force then attacked the German auxiliary, H, which was steaming separately. H, armed with four 105mm guns was quickly dispatched by the Russian destroyers and nine prisoners were taken aboard the Novik. October 17 & 18, 1916 saw Novik and four other destroyers lay 200 mines but only the steamer, General Kutuzov is sunk in this barrier before it is discovered and cleared.

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October 1917 saw the last and successful attempt to penetrate the Bay of Riga by the Germans. In a large-scale amphibious operation, 20,000 troops were landed on the islands in the northern Bay. The coastal batteries guarding the Straits of Irben were captured and the High Seas Fleet, including the Moltke and ten dreadnoughts, gained the western entrance to the Bay. To avoid being caught in a bottle, the Russian ships, including Novik made for the northern entrance, Moon Sound before the Island of Moon could be captured by German troops. In a running gun battle against the German battleships, Konig and Kronprinz, the Russian force was successful in their attempt to avoid certain destruction and escaped through Moon Sound to the Gulf of Finland. Only Slava, which drew too much water from battle damage, could not escape. Slava was run aground and scuttled on October 17, 1917 in Moon Sound. This was the last significant action of the Russian Fleet in the Baltic as within a month the Bolshevik Revolution (The October Revolution) took place and the new government took Russia out of World War One by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

VITAL STATISTICS

Launched: July 4, 1911; Sunk by Mine: August 28, 1941

Dimensions: Length 336 feet 3 inches (102.5m); Width 31 feet 3 inches (9.5m); Draught9 feet 10 inches (3.0m): Displacement: 1,280 tons

Armament: Four 4-inch (102mm); Two MG; Eight 18-inch Torpedo Tubes; 60 Mines

Machinery: 3 Shaft AEG Turbines, 6 Vulkan Boilers; 40,000shp;

Maximum Speed: 36 knots: Complement: 130

Novik survived the war and was laid up in 1918. She was refitted as a 1,717 ton (normal) Flotilla Leader and was recommissioned in 1931 as the Yakov Sverdlov. What the High Seas Fleet could not do in World War One, the Kriegsmarine accomplished in World War Two. The Yakov Sverdlov, formerly Novik was sunk by a mine on August 28, 1941.

(History of Novik is from The Russian Fleet 1914 – 1917, Squadron Destroyer Novik (Eskadrenni Minonosets Novik) and Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1906 – 1921.)

RESIN CASTING
The Combrig kit of the Novik is dominated by the hull. In keeping with other World War One designs of almost all navies, destroyers were hulls and stacks with minimal superstructure. The Novik has more going for it than just the hull and stacks. First there is her size. Novik was the super destroyer of her day. In 1913 1,300 ton destroyers were rare indeed. They were giants among the Lilliputians. This size is brought out in the photographs comparing the hulls of the Novik, Italian Carini, and German A 80 & V 106. They were all World War One designs but Novik dwarfs the others.

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The Combrig casting is quite nice. Cast in light gray resin, the hull displays a number of fine features. One of the first things that you notice are the mine rails. These can be seen throughout the length of the main deck from the foc’sle break to the squared stern. Considering the frequency of mining operations and success enjoyed by Novik in mine warfare, the railings are an essential ingredient of the Novik and symbolize the dominant factor in the Baltic naval campaign of World War One. Other fine details cast as part of the hull are the anchors, breakwater, bollards, three pairs of skylights and inclined ladder entrances.

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The casting represents Novik at the start of World War One when the aft deckhouse was flanked by two smaller structures on each side. Later during the war the gap between these structures was filled, creating a singular structure flush with the hull sides. The existing boat deck was connected these side structures with the aft deckhouse. In comparing the hull casting with plans and photographs of the Novik, the only discrepancy that I noticed was that the solid bulkhead transition from the foc’sle to the main deck was too gradual. Photos indicate a more angular transition at this location. This however, is a very minor problem as a little judicious sanding will be sufficient to achieve the more angular appearance.

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The Combrig Novik has 40 smaller resin parts. All of them are crisply executed. The armament has extremely fine detail cast in place. As the Novik had four 102mm guns and four twin 450mm torpedo mounts, all on centerline, these will add greatly to the finished model. The four stacks are in three different designs and are hollow almost to the base. Other notable features are the ventilator cowls. Novik had three large, squat ventilators. The Combrig parts are hollow well into the cowl. The eight boat davits are extremely thin and delicate. Because of this delicacy, special care should be used in separating them from the runner and attaching to the hull. Lastly the two bridge platforms and aft boat deck are also very well done. The aft boat deck has openings between the boat chocks and an opening for the inclined ladder. The Novik has some the nicest small resin parts cast by Combrig.

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INSTRUCTIONS
In common with the other Combrig kits, the instructions for Novik come as one back-printed page. The front side gives the ship’s history and statistics in Russian, along with a clear profile and plan. The plan also shows the rigging for the ship. The rear side shows a photograph of all of the parts and an isometric assembly diagram. This diagram is rather small but is sufficient to show where all the parts are located. With a Combrig kit always use the profile and plan on the front side of the instructions to aid in the correct placement of the smaller parts.

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VERDICT
In the naval history of World War One, the Baltic campaign always seems to be mentioned in passing. However, in the intensity of mine warfare operations and the use of the Bay of Riga as a citadel for the Russian fleet to sortie against German warships and shipping, the operations in the Baltic form a very interesting area of study. The Novik proved to be a very successful design that appears to be under appreciated in the West.

The 1:700 scale model of the Novik by Combrig is worthy of its namesake. It is a very well done model, packed with a lot of detail and fine parts. Unlike models of World War Two destroyers, there are only a handful of models of World War One designs in this scale. As was true with the original Novik, the Combrig Novik can hold her own against all challengers.

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