The Russian Navy has seemed to go in cycles. It is built up to a world class naval force and then gets demolished, only to rise again. The Russo-Japanese War resulted in catastrophic losses. In an odd way this was a benefit, as Russia could rebuild with new designs without be shackled with a huge number of obsolete or obsolescent designs. Imperial Russia rebuilt her navy at huge expense but didnít have to pay for the upkeep of a large number of predreadnought battleships, as other navies continued to do. Then, with World War One, the process was repeated. The war and the subsequent Russian Civil War was even worse for the Russian Navy than the losses of the Russo-Japanese War. Although the Baltic battleships were retained, by the end of the Russian Civil War these battleships with their 12-inch guns were far inferior to the more modern designs of other navies. The Black Sea battleships were all gone. The same was true with the smaller types such as cruisers and destroyers.

However, unlike the aftermath of the Russo-Japanese War, there were no funds to rebuild the navy. World War One, coupled with the Russian Civil War, had ruined the industrial infrastructure of the country. There was a huge loss of trained workers and what ship building yards were not destroyed, were very outdated. Even more crucial was the lack of money. The new Soviet Union lacked the finances for a new large or even medium naval building program. What limited funds were available for the military went to the Red Army, which had won the Russian Civil War. Ground Force commanders dominated military procurement and they saw little use for significant spending for new naval construction when those same funds could be used to further improve their beloved Red Army. 

What little funds were available for construction went to completing a handful of ships that were laid down right before or during the First World War. The largest of these were three cruisers all laid down in 1913. Both ships of the Admiral Nakhimov Class of 6,833-tons were launched in 1915 but work quickly ended as the war deteriorated. The Soviets decided to complete both. Chervona Ukrainia, originally Admiral Nakhimov, was completed in 1927 and Profintern, originally Svetlana, was completed the next year. As if a 14 and 15 year building history was not bad enough, the third ship spent 19 years from being laid down to completion. Originally named Admiral Lazerov, this cruiser of 7,650-tons was larger than the previous two. She too was laid down in 1913 but was launched in 1916 and not completed until January 25, 1932 as the Krasnyi Kavaz.  While other countries were in a race in constructing 10,000-ton Treaty Cruisers of 10,000-tons, the strongest ships being constructed in the Soviet Union were obsolete designs from before the First World War. For destroyers it was much the same. In 1914 with the Novik Class, Imperial Russia had a truly first rate destroyer design, equal or better than the best of other navies. Fast, well armed, large, these ships pointed the way to the future. After the Russian Civil War follow on derivatives of the Novik were completed. However, the 1920s was a decade of ruin and minimal expenditure for the Russian Navy.

By the early 1930s the Soviet Union was in better financial shape and finally looked at constructing new designs. Stalin was a believer in a big navy with battleships but it would still take time to build up the construction superstructure and yards to build a battleship equal to those of the major powers. In the meantime construction of modern smaller ships could be started. Cruiser, destroyer and submarine designs could still be prepared and constructed, even if the battleships would have to wait. The two Kirov class light cruisers of 7,880-tons were laid down in 1935 and a very large destroyer construction program also kicked off in 1935. 

The second five year plan authorized construction of 48 destroyers of the same class, known as Project 7. Called the Gnevnyi Class in the west, this design was completely modern and large. Standard displacement was 1,855-tons with a 2,380-ton deep load displacement. Length was 370-feet 7-inches (112.8m) (oa), width 33-feet 6-inches (10.2m), and draught of 13-feet 5-inches (4.1m). Two geared turbines fed by three boilers provided 48,000shp for a top speed of 37-knots. Armament was four 5.1-Inch/50 (130mm) single mounts with gun shields, two 3-inch/55 AA guns and four 50 caliber machine guns. Six 21-inch torpedoes were carried in two triple mounts and following Russian tradition mine rails were fitted, allowing the design to carry 56 mines and serve as fast mine layers. The fight in the Baltic in the First World War had been dominated by mine warfare and the Russian Navy had proven good at it. The main guns were not dual purpose and fired a heavy 75lb shell. 

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Although the Soviet Union had the yards and finances for new destroyer construction, it was another matter when it came to ship designers. With age, two wars, purges, and poverty there was an extreme lack of personnel with any experience in warship design or construction. For Project 7 the design was in large measure outsourced. Before the Spanish Civil War soured relations between Stalinís Soviet Union and Mussoliniís Italy , the countries had a close relationship. For the Project 7 design Italian ship designers were consulted so the new Soviet destroyers reflected Italian design concepts and appearance. The Italians favored single funnel fast designs that would provide ample deck space for armament. To provide high speed for this large displacement design, the Italians didnít worry about lengthening the space between the frames (ribs) of the design, making them more frail than a design with closer spaced frames. Well, the Italians had experience with the ships in the Mediterranean . The Project 7 design would be fine in the Black Sea but sea conditions and weather in the Baltic, Northern Pacific and especially the Arctic were considerably different from the Mediterranean . The light weight construction proved the weakness of the Project 7 design.

After the first 30 units of Project 7 design had been laid down, it was recognized that its structure was too light and the design was modified to provide a stronger structure. Called Project 7U and known as the Storozhevoi Class, this new design was actually six inches shorter with the same beam and draught. Although slightly shorter, weight was 347-tons greater to provide a stronger hull. The ships of Project 7U also went back to two funnels, rather than the single funnel of the Project 7 ships. The first Project 7 units also had severe turbine problems that required correction. The 30 units of the Project 7 were slated to comprise five destroyer flotillas with the ships of each flotilla starting with the same letter. B Flotilla (all ships started with the letter B) would go to the Black Sea , G and S Flotillas the Baltic and P and R Flotillas the Pacific. The P Flotilla destroyers were renamed in 1940-1941 to names that started with the letter R so that all Pacific 7Us had names that started with R. Two of the S Flotilla boats were so early in construction that it was possible to change their design to the Project 7U, one of which, Storozhevoi, became the class name for the Project 7U ships. The Pacific ships were partially built in modules at Nikoyavev on the Black Sea and then transported to the Pacific yard at Komsomolsk . Once at the Komsomolsk yard they were constructed through launching but had to be towed to Vladivostok for completion. Otherwise they would draw too much water to get through the shallow channel of the Amur River to the Pacific. Three ships of G Flotilla in the Baltic, Gremyashchiy, Gromkiy and Groznyi were transferred to the Arctic in 1939 and were followed by Sokrushitelny and Stremitlney in 1940. 


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After the invasion of the Soviet Union by Germany and with the combat experience of the Soviet warships, as well as that of the destroyers of other navies, antiaircraft armament was greatly augmented. Three or four 37mm/67 guns were added and the machine gun armament was increased to up to eight guns. Unlike the British, US, German, Italian or Free French navies a 20mm gun never replaced the machine guns. Depth charge throwers were added to the ships. Late in the war Great Britain provided sonar and radar sets so some of the Project 7 destroyers were fitted with these arrays. With the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 the Project 7U ships were frozen in their locals, except for those of the Pacific Fleet. Obviously the hammer fell initially on the ships of the two Baltic Flotillas. Two days after the invasion, the first of the Project 7 destroyers was lost. On June 23, 1941 Gnevnyi was lost to a mine and Gordyi and Steregushchy were damaged. From the start of the war in the Baltic it was largely a replay of the war in the Baltic from the First World War, concentrated on mine warfare. The Baltic destroyers were laying mine banks to close the Gulf of Riga in late June when they had to leave the Riga area and retreat through Moon Channel to the Gulf of Finland due to the rapidity of the German advance. Anyone familiar with Operation Albion conducted by the German Army and Navy in 1917 may see a partial replay 25 years later. As the Germans continued to advance towards Leningrad , the ships of G and S Flotillas supported evacuations, from Riga to Reval, from Reval to Kronstadt. Gordyj was heavily damaged by a mine in August. The Baltic Fleet destroyers finally were forced back to Kronstadt or Leningrad where they became floating batteries engaging German Army units during the grueling siege of Leningrad . On 21 September Steregushchy was at Kronstadt when she was sunk by the Luftwaffe. She was subsequently refloated in 1944 long after the siege was lifted and combat had rolled westward riding on the tracks of T-34s. In November Hango at the western entrance to the Gulf of Finland was evacuated and the destroyers were sent to support the evacuation. Smetlivy was lost to a mine on the return to Kronstadt on November 4. Gordyi followed her sister the bottom only ten days later on November 14, again lost to a mine. Only Grozyashchy was left as the last Project 7 in the Baltic and was immobilized at Kronstadt for the rest of the war.

On June 21, 1941 five Project 7 destroyers were in the Northern Fleet having been transferred from the Baltic, three in 1939 and two in 1940. All initial operations support the Red Army against Finns and Germans. The Luftwaffe claimed the first of the Arctic Project 7 on July 20 when Stremitlney was sunk. In the fall of 1941 the four remaining ships were involved in mining the approaches to the White Sea . The weakness of structural strength of the Project & destroyers is best exemplified by the loss of the Sokrushitelny on November 20, 1942. Her loss was not due to a bomb or a mine, instead she broke up during a severe storm in the Barents Sea . However, most of the destroyersí duty was to support the Red Army with an occasional mission to escort incoming or outgoing Arctic convoys. The Pacific destroyers of the Project 7 designwere inactive during the war and in July 1942 three of the Pacific destroyers were sent into the Siberian Sea to transit westwards to reinforce the Northern Fleet, thousands of miles to the west.  However, not long after leaving Revnostnyi was involved in a collision and had to return to Vladivostok for repairs. The other two, Razyaryonnyi and Razumnyi, joined their four sisters in the Northern Fleet in October 1942. Two Pacific Fleet Project 7 destroyers were lost through accident. Reshitelnyi when it was stranded while being towed to Vladivostok for completion and Redkiy by an unknown cause, probably accident. 

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The Black Sea Project 7 destroyers of B Flotilla also incurred heavy losses. Bystryi was the first to go on July 1, 1941 when she struck an air-deployed mine off Sevastopol . The Russians still used the hulk to strip parts for other Project 7 destroyers in the Black Sea . With German push towards Stalingrad in 1942, the Black Sea destroyers were now targets of Luftwaffe dive bombers. In 1942 they had been making supply runs into Sevastopol but on June 26, 1942 Bezuprechny was caught south of Crimea by Ju-88s and sunk. Six days later on July 2 it was the turn for Bditelnyi to take the dive. Bombers caught her at Novorossisk and she went to the bottom. She was sunk in shallow water and was refloated but not until 1948. As the Germans took Sevastopol , the Crimea and surged eastwards towards Stalingrad , the remaining units of the Black Sea Fleet fell back to the eastern ports. After the Russian offensive of early 1943 that surrounded the German 6th Army at Stalingrad , the momentum had swung permanently in favor of the Red Army. The Black Seas Fleet steamed to the west again, cooperating with the Red Army, cutting off German supplies and interdicting German sea evacuations. The three remaining Project 7 destroyers were handled aggressively but on October 6, 1943 disaster overtook the Black Sea destroyer force. Three Soviet destroyers, including the Besposhchadni, were sunk by Ju-87 Stukas off Crimea . Thereafter the remaining Soviet Black Sea destroyers were used with far more caution. The surviving Project 7 units were scrapped in the 1950s but four were transferred to Maoís Chinese Navy, PLAN, in 1955.

Gremyashchiy was laid down July 23, 1936 at the Zdanov Yard in Leningrad . She was launched March 12, 1937 and completed November 11, 1939. Shortly after being commissioned into the G Flotilla of the Soviet Baltic Fleet, she was transferred to the Northern Fleet. Since World War Two had already started and the British were not happy with the Red Armyís invasion of the Baltic countries and partition of Poland with the Nazis it was decidedly unsafe to transit the Baltic into the North Sea . Instead the destroyer laboriously used an inland route of canals and lakes to make her way to the North and Murmansk . As with other units of the Northern Fleet, her operations centered of supporting the ground operations of the Red Army. However, between November 24 and 25, 1941 Gremyashchiy and Grozniy worked in conjunction with the Royal Navy. They hooked up with the cruiser HMS Kenya and destroyers HMS Intrepid and HMS Bedouin for a shipping sweep between Vardo and the North Cape . Finding no German shipping, they turned back to shell Axis positions at Vardo. ďIn spite of all communications difficulties, Soviet destroyers cooperating initially with the British warships did not permit operational errors, whereas during the shelling of Vardo the British destroyers disengaged from formation, mistook one another for the enemy,  and began to exchange recognition signals that revealed the location of the whole detachment.Ē (Soviet Naval Operations in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945, by V.I. Achkasov and N.B. Pavlovich, United States Naval Institute, Annapolis, Maryland 1981) (Originally published by the Military Publishing House of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR, Moscow 1973) Gremyashchiy remained in service with the Soviet Navy until she was decommissioned in 1958. 

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Combrig 1:350 Scale Gremyashchiy
This is an exciting prospect. No, itís not the first 1:350 scale resin kit from Combrig, there are plenty of outstanding Combrig kits in the larger scale. It is however, the first 1:350 scale of a World War Two warship. The model is clearly built in conjunction with Box 261, as that companyís logo appears on the box with that of Combrig and the photo-etch is of the reddish brass color associated with photo-etch found in Box 261 models, as opposed to the golden yellow brass found in Combrig kits. The Gremyashchiy comes with both the upper and lower hulls so that the modeler has the option to build a full hull or waterline model. The casting is excellent. In fact it is so fine that it is subject to breakage in transit. With the sample received two parts had suffered breakage. One of the propeller shaft supports had broken but the broken pieces were in the box and it is simple to attach the parts back together. The top of the bow of the lower hull had a chip taken. Although I couldnít find the broken off chip, it will be a minor chore to replace the missing chip with shaped resin and a little putty and sand smooth.

As with any model, with the Combrig Gremyashchiy you look at the upper hull casting to notice those features that will set the model apart from others. There is no way getting past the mine rails running 2/3 the length of the sheet. Starting just aft of the forecastle deck break, they run the length of the ship aft to the transom stern. On the forecastle the anchor chain deck hawse extend outwards beyond the deck, as the anchors were carried high and the single fittings provided both the deck and hull openings for the anchor chain. Shortly aft of these is the anchor machinery fitting which is raised rather than a flat plate. Deck side fittings deserve mention due to their excellent fidelity and fineness. It is difficult to get excited over chocks and bollards but with the Combrig Gremyashchiy you canít miss their exceeding merit. The two open chocks are very fire with a single bollard post in the middle. The twin bollard fittings are equally notable, as they have not only the fitting plate but also the bits slant outward as they go up. With most companies, the bollards are purely vertical but actual bollards to slant outwards to prevent the cable securing the ship from slipping over the top of a bit, which would be possible with a purely vertical bit.

At the forecastle break there are triangular curving solid deck bulkheads that kept water away from the deck immediately behind the drop from the forecastle to the main deck, where deck wash would be highest. The bulkheads are a trifle thick but not excessively so. A narrow deckhouse extends aft from the deck break to middle of the hull as a supporting structure for the superstructure and stack. Combrig provides locator outlines for getting an accurate placement for separate superstructure parts. The deckhouse comes with doors and bulkhead fittings cast in place. Amidship, aft of the deckhouse are two different pattern skylights, torpedo mount turntables, two more twin bollard fittings, a square deck access fitting and the locator outline for the deckhouse, which supports the 3-inch AA guns. Five asymmetrical circular deck plates that look like coal scuttles but canít be as coal fired destroyers hadnít been built in decades. At the stern is outline for placing that aft deckhouse, which supports the third 5.1-inch gun mount and a circular base plate for the 4th 5.1-inch gun. There is a cluster of fittings on the quarter deck that include two square deck access fittings, two large fittings on a base plate for a 37mm gun on centerline, as well as a small circular fitting. At deck edge are two small open chocks, two large open chocks with a single bit in the middle and two single large bollards. At the stern the deck slants downward with a recessed ramp for depth charge racks. Of course the hull sides have the usual rows of portholes, two rows at the forecastle and a single row at the stern with locator lines for the propeller guard fittings. 

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The lower hull casting fits flush with the upper hull casting. Both castings made the same shrinkage rate, as resin castings shrink slightly upon cooling. What this means for the modeler is that both castings have the same length and width, so that all that is required to acquire a smooth even fit between the upper and lower hulls, glue and then smooth the seam with light sanding to remove the slight casting flash. Since there is such a clean fit between the upper and lower hulls, it may not be necessary to use putty for the seam line and if there are any gaps they will be minimal. Other than the chip in the cutwater, the lower hull is perfectly cast with excellent shaft housings, a curving centerline keel, locator rectangles for the legs of the shaft support fittings and a slot for fitting the rudder.

A thin resin casting sheet contains the various deckhouses and superstructure decks. The casting of the sheet is so thin that it is translucent with minimal cleanup of the various parts. The largest of the parts is a notable architectural feature in its own right. It is a deck that runs from the forecastle break on top of the narrow deckhouse. The deck, however, extends over the main deck to hull edge, except for a notch port forward and a larger notch starboard forward. The boat fittings are on this deck, one to starboard and two to port with chocks but are open to the main deck below. On the forward part of the deck is the foremast locator hole and two base mounts for 37mm AA guns. Aft is another centerline 37mm AA gun base fitting and two side by side ventilator base plates. Outlines are provided for fitting the large stack and small deckhouse, which supports the searchlight deck. The sheet has seven more decks, only two of which are of the same pattern. There is an oval deck for the amidship deckhouse supporting the 3-inch AA guns; a 01 deck for the 2nd 5.1-inch gun which slants upward to reduce spray; a seven sided 02 deck which supports the bridge, navigation equipment and signal lamps; an aft 01 deck with the base for the 3rd 5.1-inch gun, which slants upward on the aft edge and two MG base plates; a 02 level search light deck with base mounts for the equipment; a small 02 level deck, which connects the bridge with a deckhouse; and two small circular decks, which actually the decks for the 3-inch AA gun mounts.

Seven separate deckhouses and a smaller fitting are also included on the casting sheet. The deckhouses are for support of the searchlight deck, aft superstructure supporting Y gun, amidship deckhouse supporting the 3-inch AA guns, bridge base deckhouse, a smaller 02 level bridge deckhouse, 03 level bridge deckhouse supporting the gun director and another 02 level deckhouse aft of the bridge. The separate fitting for the base of the torpedo control/director. Deckhouse bulkhead detail is remarkable with fire extinguishers, electrical cables, junction boxes, raised porthole rims, porthole rigoles (eyebrows), doors and other fittings, all as part of the deckhouse castings. The stack is a large casting with open top, flared cap apron, access door and steam pipe. 

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Fittings come on resin runners with twelve runners. One runner contains the four 5.1-inch main guns with excellent gun detail. Another has both twin torpedo mounts with open tube openings. A third runner has the two 3-inch guns, anchors, torpedo control/director, searchlights, cowled ventilators, signal lamp, binnacle, and windlass. The gun director is the sole part on another runner. The director has access doors, vertical ladder and locator marks for separate sighting lens housings. Another runner has more signal lamps, binnacles, MG pedestals, flagbags, ready ammunition lockers, director cowlings, two types of binocular mounts, speed enunciator and large deck access door. Two paravanes and twelve separate depth charges are on yet another runner. Another has the four 37mm AA guns with flared flash suppresser and elevation gear and various posts and pillars. Two more runners have the davits and masts. The last runner has the underwater fittings with the rudder, two propellers and shaft support struts. The propellers are accurate in that the blade slant is different between the two, counteracting torque.

Brass Relief Photo-Etch
A very large relief photo-etched brass is included for even finer parts. All four 5.1-inch main gun and both 3-inch AA gun housings are on the fret. They all fold along incised fold lines to get the right shape with two different patterns for the main guns. Detail includes gunners view ports, locator slots for separate support triangles and side doors. Various small decks have a raised anti-skid pattern relief-etched, including torpedo mount decks. There are also numerous circular equipment mount decks for light AA guns and torpedo director position. The bridge bulkhead is a separate piece with folding lines and open windows. I love this approach since it allows using micro-klear to provide open clear windows that replicate real glass windows, rather than a black painted square. Shipsí boats get brass thwarts, wood main decking, relief-etched anti-skid aft decking and rudders. Cable reels have raised rim and open weight-saving voids. Inclined ladders come in different patterns. Some are rungs with side railing and others have trainable treads and side railing. The funnel gets handrails, cap grate, siren platform and supports, and funnel ladder. A huge number of fine parts provide all of the fitting and equipment minutia such as binocular mounts, torpedo mount fittings, machine guns, AA gun fittings, speed enunciator dials/controls, paravane mounts, davit pulleys, separate portholes with rigoles, anchor chain, bow paravane deployment mount, anchor detail, depth charge thrower fittings, depth charge racks,, mast platform and detail, radar, flag and jack staffs. And support triangles. There is railing custom fitted for specific locations as well as runs for the main deck. The railing does not have a bottom runner/scupper. The list seems to go on and on but I donít think that I have seen that much detailed brass parts in a 1:350 scale destroyer kit, resin or plastic.

Instructions
The kit comes with a good set of instructions. Comprising eight pages, Combrig uses isometric drawings in a sequential presentation. The first page is typical of Combrig kits with a profile and plan drawing and history, written in Russian. Of course, unlike the Combrig 1:700 scale kits in which the drawings are in 1:700 scale, the drawings on this set of instructions are smaller than 1:350. Page two has a resin and brass parts laydown where all parts are numbered to make clear which part is used at each step of assembly. This page also contains length guides for cutting various yards and posts. Page three starts the assembly with an overall view with attachment main guns, torpedo mounts, four deckhouses and three decks. Three detail insets show the main gun assembly (two different patterns) and torpedo mount assembly. Page four concentrates on the bow with assembly of additional deckhouses, decks, funnel director, equipment and fittings. Smaller insets show assembly of speed enunciators, funnel assembly, 37mm gun assembly, MG assembly, and large binocular mount assembly. With page five you get amidship assembly with insets for boat assembly, 37mm gun assembly and paravane detail. Page six goes back to the bow with even finer detail. Additional insets show how to further detail cable reels, boat chocks and small platform locations. Page seven concentrates on the stern with insets on depth charge throwers and twin machine gun mounts. The last page goes back to an overview for railing, masts and running gear. Insets are provided for the fore mast, mainmast and under water running gear. 

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Verdict
Project 7 was the first new destroyer design of the Soviet Union . Called the Gnevnyi Class in the west, this design was completely modern and large and provided the back bone of the Soviet destroyer force in World War Two, suffering high losses in the Baltic and Black Seas . Combrig/Box 261 had provided their first 1:350 scale kit of a World War Two subject with their Northern Fleet Project 7 Gremyashchiy. The kit can be built full hull or waterline and contains not only finely detailed and crisp resin part but a huge reliefĖetched brass fret. Bravo Combrig

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