After the end of the Russian Civil War, the new Soviet State was not left with much of a fleet. They still had three Baltic dreadnoughts but that was about it, as the Black Sea dreadnoughts and most of the other ships were destroyed or damaged beyond repair. Major new construction was not forthcoming as the Soviet Union did not have the infrastructure or funds. However, by the late 1930s the situation had changed and Stalin decided to start construction of new battleships and battlecruisers in order to rebuild the Russian/Soviet Fleet into a major force again, a position not enjoyed by the Russian Fleet since 1904. These plans came to naught with the German invasion. After the defeat of Germany Stalin was undeterred and still planned to construct a huge fleet but this time to counter the USN and RN on a world scale. The original focal point was the production of a great number of large light cruisers based upon a melding of German technology captured at the end of the war with the prewar Chapaev design. These cruisers, which became the Sverdlov Class, used their guns as their prime offensive assets. By 1952 two 40,000 ton battlecruisers armed with 12-inch guns and missiles were laid down but the death of Stalin in 1953 froze the building program in its tracks.
The battlecruisers were immediately terminated along with the least advanced of the final Sverdlovs. For the next two years there was no consensus as to future Soviet building strategy, as the leadership of the Politburo was in flux. Finally in February 1955 Nikolai S. Khrushchev became First Secretary of the Communist Party and defacto leader of the Soviet Union. Khrushchev favored high technology over massive conventional forces, which when it came to Soviet naval construction meant missiles rather than guns. He saw high technology, coupled with nuclear weapons, as the way of matching NATO naval strength without the high expense of massive conventional forces. Khrushchev described the large cruisers built under Stalin’s program as "floating coffins" and the shipyards as "metal eaters" due to the resources required to construct large conventional warships. Khrushchev’s vision of the future of the Red Fleet saw smaller, lighter warships that could strike at a distance, rather than have to slug it out in a gunnery exchange.
As a result of this momentous change, a new term was coined to describe a new type of warship. Raketny Korabl or Rocket Ship described this new mission capability. The USN had converted their own conventionally armed cruisers into guided missile cruisers, designated CG or CLG, depending upon the ship’s original classification but the mission of the Soviet designs was fundamentally different from that of the USN cruisers. The USN converted designs had guided missiles but they were SAMs designed to provide protection to the major combatants and force projection of the aircraft carrier. The Soviets did not have carriers so they designed their missile equipped ships to be their carrier killers with heavy batteries of surface to surface (SSM) missiles. The first such ships to appear in the fleet were not cruisers but four converted Kilden Class destroyers, which mounted a single launcher for the Strella SSM (SS-N-1 Scrubber). Although this system, derived from the air breathing V-1, had a theoretical range of 150nm, in reality its effective range was 30nm, which was the limit of Soviet surface radar. They were in service by 1960. The Strella system proved unsatisfactory as the missiles were error prone and were too large for the destroyer hulls.
The Soviet Navy had already recognized that the converted destroyers were merely stopgap experimental platforms. Before the converted destroyers entered service, a new larger design was under construction and was called the Raketny Kreyser, Rocket Cruiser. By 1960 Khrushchev’s high technology policy had evolved into a triad of weapon’s systems designed to attack NATO warships from long range through a massive barrage of missiles, surface ships primarily the Rocket Cruiser (RKR), missile equipped submarines and land based bombers. The first RKR class was codenamed Kynda by NATO and had no precedent either in Soviet design or NATO designs. It was designed from keel up around its SSM weapon’s system. This was the P-35 (SS-N-3B Shaddock) This anti-ship version of the missile had a range of 250nm. To utilize the long range of these missiles, the Tupolev Tu-95 Bear-D Maritime Reconnaissance bomber could provide targeting data for the missiles. The P-35 had its own targeting radar and would be guided through comparing the Tu-95 radar picture with that from the missile. Additionally the Kynda design carried the M1 Volga M SAM (SA-N-1 Goa) as well as the AK-276 76.2mm/60 DP gun system for AA defense.
There was a three year break before the next class of Rocket Cruiser appeared. This reflected a downgrading in the production of the RKR type as well as a full evaluation of the Kynda design. This was Project 1134 Berkut, codenamed Kresta I. The first of the class, Admiral Zozulya was laid down in September 1964. Although this design still carried the P-35 SSM there was a significant change in design philosophy from the Kynda to the Kresta I. In the Kynda design every aspect of that ship’s design was subordinate to the SSM striking power. The Kresta I had a much more balanced design. The Kynda had two four P-35 missile tubes on each end with four reloads per mount, for a total of 16 of these 33-foot missiles. With the Kresta I, M1 Volga M SAM mounts were placed at the ends of the ship with the P-35 SSMs placed in canisters on either side of the bridge with only two missiles per canister an no reloads. To round out the capabilities, the Berkut was given RBU-1000 and RBU-6000 ASW rocket systems. The hull was also much larger than the preceding design. Clearly the earlier Kyndas had tried to do too much on too small a frame. The design also carried a hangar for assigned helicopter, the Ka-25 Hormone B used for SSM guidance. This gave them a targeting capability independent from the need of land based targeting assets. However, due to a shift in Soviet naval policy to emphasize defense against NATO submarines the ships of the Kresta I design were typed as Large Antisubmarine Ship BPK on completion and only later reclassified as RKR.
The last of the four Berkut, Project 1134, Kresta I was the Sevastopol, laid down in 1966. In June 1966 a new ship was laid down in the same Zhdanov Yard. The new vessel at first appeared to be a follow-on derivative of the Kresta I. As Sevastopol completed in July 1969, the first of the new class, Kronshtadt, was only two months behind. Because of the close similarity with the Kresta I cruisers, NATO gave the new design the code name of Kresta II. In fact the Soviet designation also reflected that the new design was derived from the earlier Project 1134 Berkut, as it was designated Project 1134A Berkut A. In spite of the BPK designation for the Kresta I, it was clear to NATO planners that the Kresta I Class was a more balanced RKR design to follow the Kynda design. Kresta I clearly reduced SSM punch in favor of a greatly expanded SAM capability. In spite of the Large Anti-Submarine Ship designation, the Kresta I design was only provided fairly short range ASW torpedoes, in tubes, and the point defense RBU-1000 and RBU-6000 ASW rockets. Of the three possible missions, anti-surface, anti-air and anti-submarine, the Kresta I was least suited to the ASW mission.
At first NATO planners thought that the new Kresta II design was only a reworked Kresta I with double the SSM complement as each of the missile canisters flanking the forward superstructure carried four missiles each, rather than two each as in the Kresta I. When it appeared that the missile canisters were shorter than those on the Kresta I, the missiles were reclassified as SS-N-10 SSMs with a shorter range than the SS-N-3B. Although also designated a BPK by the Soviet Navy, the new design did not appear to have any great ASW advantage over the earlier Kresta I. The new class did carry the SA-N-3 Goblet SAM, instead of the SA-N-1 Goa SAM of the earlier design, so anti-air capabilities were clearly enhanced. It took seven years before a NATO reconnaissance aircraft caught one of the Kresta II ships with her missile canisters open in 1974. Of course a number of photographs were taken of what was inside of those canisters. When photo analysts got hold of the photographs, the truth about the mission and capabilities of the Kresta II design was finally unveiled. Though outward appearances seemed to show that the Kresta I and Kresta II were very close in mission capabilities, it was the photographs of what was contained in the missile canisters that finally showed NATO that the Kresta II design was indeed created to kill submarines. These photographs showed that the Kresta II missiles were tipped with homing torpedoes. They clearly were long range ASW weapons, rather than the big SSMs, carrier killers of the Kresta I design. This design clearly lived up to it’s Russian designation as a Large Anti-Submarine Ship, (BPK).
The new missiles were code named SS-N-14 Silex. Smaller and lighter than the SS-N-3B Shaddock SSM, 25 feet length (7.6m) vs 33 feet (10.2m); 7,050 lbs (3,200kg) vs 11,900 lbs (5,400kg), extreme speed for the missile was not a requirement. The large SSM had a speed of 1.4 Mach and a range of 250nm (460km), while the new ASW missile was subsonic at .95 Mach and a much shorter range at 4-30nm (7-55km). However, the payload of 1,000kg HE or 350 kT nuclear clearly showed the SSM ability of the Shaddock and the E45-70A homing torpedo with 5kT nuclear ability reflected a pure ASW mission. The helicopter carried aboard the Kresta II design was the same Ka-25 ASW variant as carried aboard the Moskva and Leningrad, rather than the targeting variant carried aboard RKRs. Early Soviet ASW missile designs, such as the 1959 FRAS-1, were designed for nuclear warheads to go after Polaris SSBMs. The SS-N-14 was designed to add more flexibility in weapons load outs as it could be armed with conventional munitions as well as nuclear weapons. It also appeared that under Soviet multi-platform cooperation doctrine that the ASW missiles were capable of accepting target data from Soviet ASW aircraft, including the organic Ka-25, or other surface and sub-surface targeting systems. One other big advantage came with replacing the SS-N-3 SSM with the SS-N-14 ASW missile. With the Kresta I a great deal of the radar fit was devoted to targeting the SSMs. This was not necessary with the SS-N-14 so the radars could be modified to track aerial targets for the SA-N-3 Goblet SAM, which were much superior to the SA-N-1 Goa SAMs of the Kresta I. Although the Kresta II had sacrificed its anti-surface capability, this sacrifice allowed it had become a far better anti-air and anti-submarine platform than the earlier design. The design further added close in anti-aircraft/missile defense systems (CIWS) in the form of the AK-630 30mm gatling gun. Each of the four six-barreled mounts was capable of expending 3,000 rounds per minute in this Soviet answer to the Phalanx weapons system.
Ten of the Project 1134A Berkut A, Kresta II BPKs were built, all at the Zhdanov Shipyard. Their production run was between 1966 and 1973 with the units being completed between 1969 to 1977. The first four were assigned to the Northern Fleet followed by the next two going to the Pacific Fleet. For the last four to be completed, three went to the Northern Fleet and one to the Pacific Fleet. Admiral Makarov was the fourth of the class to be started. Laid down in May 1968, she was launched in April 1970 and completed in June 1972. The first four units, including Admiral Makarov, were not fitted with the Bass Tilt radars for control of the AK-630. (Soviet Warships 1945 to the Present, 1992, John Jordan)
The Combrig Admiral Makarov
The hull is very cleanly cast with minimal cleanup. This is a characteristic of Combrig resin casting techniques. Normally the only thing you need to do with a Combrig hull is to give it a very light sanding along the waterline. In most situations you won’t find any resin parts breakage, although occasionally some bollards will be broken and need to be replaced. Both With my copy of the Combrig Admiral Makarov BPK, all of the parts were cleanly cast but a couple of pairs of bollards had been broken. These are easily replaced by sections of very thin plastic rod. All of the basic lines and features are there, including two prominent knuckles. One runs along the level of the forecastle to the deck break, basically delineating the forward superstructure and forecastle deck. The second knuckle starts just aft of the break and runs the rest of the length of the ship, until it terminates with two short solid bulkheads that curve down to the short, low quarterdeck. The shark-like cutwater and slanted anchor recesses further refine the sleek look of the ship. There are a couple of nice air induction louvers amidships but the doors on the sides of the superstructure are a trifle on the heavy side. You may want to sand these down a little bit or replace them with brass doors.
The deck displays a moderately good but not overwhelming sense of detail. As an example the bow area could have had more detail in anchor gear detail, such typical detail like anchor chain plates. As it is there are four pairs of bollards present before the breakwater. Then there is a good, thin breakwater followed by four more pairs of bollards and a cast in place hose reel in front of the superstructure. There is also a raised plate or platform on which the RBU-6000s are mounted. On the forward 01 level the forward SA-N-3 Goblet mount is bracketed by four deck mounted reload ports and there are a couple of nicely thin blast shields which protect equipment and crew from the blast of the SAMs ignition.
Just at the deck break, inboard of the SS-N-14 positions are two inclined ladders. These positions are in notches in the deck and the inclined ladders are solid, sort of like aztec fashioned steps. Although you may want to add some handrails, it is probably not worth the effort to cut them out to add brass photo-etch inclined ladders. First, they will be very obscured by the missile canisters and fittings that are outboard of them and secondly, since they are located in notches in the deck, very little of any inclined ladder would show, other than some handrail. Amidships you’ll find some incised mine rails, which adds a degree of interest, as well as a couple of pairs of more bollards. The aft SA-N-3 mount has the same reload doors as the forward mount and the main deck has another four pairs of bollards. There is a very short and low quarterdeck with two pairs of bollards on the sides and two open chocks/cleats at the stern. Also found at the break of the main deck to the low quarterdeck are two more inclined ladders done in aztec step fashion. Unlike the pair at the forecastle/main deck break, these two are in the open and not in notches. If you are going to add any extra detail to the ship at all, I recommend removing these resin inclined ladders with a hobby knife and adding photo-etched inclined ladders.
Smaller Resin Parts
A lot of the smaller separate resin pieces are still attached to casting blocks. The parts are easily removed from the block and quickly cleaned. The highlights among these parts go to the pieces of armament. The quintuple 533mm torpedo mounts, RBU-6000 mounts, RBU-1000 mounts are good castings but the best as far as detail are the SS-N-14 missile canisters and AK-630 CIWS, which all have nice lines and detail. The SS-N-3 goblet launchers are rather spartan and the 57mm gun mounts have the all the lines for the shape but no extra details on the casting. The other small parts also reflect this balance of solid, good parts with no extra detail mixed with other parts with considerable detail. The parts with the detail include head light radars, tilt bass radars, life raft canisters, anchor windlasses.
I mentioned earlier that there is a product, or more accurately products, that will add substantial punch to the Combrig Admiral Makarov and that is the Gold Medal Models Russian Cruisers GMM 700-09 and the separate Russian carriers GMM 700-31 photo-etch sets in 1:700 scale. (Click for review of the GMM photo-etch fret for Russian cruisers) I highly recommend that you acquire these sets to use in building this kit! They are almost essentials. Why? It really boils down to the radar arrays. There is no photo-etch set included with the Combrig Admiral Makarov. As a consequence all of the multitude of Russian radars are done in resin. With any kit, from any source, resin or plastic parts can never compete with the fineness of detail of photo-etch in certain areas, such as latticework and especially radars, involving intricate arrays. Combrig provides the large array for the Top Sail radar on the tower but it is solid. The Russian carriers fret GMM 700-31 contains a beautifully done Top Sail as well Head Light radars, if you wish to substitute the photo-etch for the solid resin Combrig pieces. The reason that both frets are listed is because of the division of radar arrays between them. If you have to get only one, get the carriers fret, because it has the essential Top Sail. The Cruiser/Destroyer fret has the Head Net C mounted on the Kresta II but this array is not as large as the Top Sail. In addition to the radars there are railings, inclined ladders and a ton of other items on these frets that you can use for any model of a Russian/Soviet warship.
These are standard Combrig format. One page, back printed, the instructions cover the assembly adequately but can be somewhat sparse. The adequacy normally depends upon the complexity of the kit. The more complex the Combrig kit, the more unanswered questions are left with this format. Since the Admiral Makarov is a fairly simple kit, the instructions provided appear adequate. The first page has the ship’s history and vital statistics written in Russian but also includes a 1:700 scale plan and profile of the ship. It is essential to consult this plan and profile during assembly of the model as it clarifies the process. The assembly diagram may show you the general area for attaching the part but the plan and profile pin-points the location. Even if you are confident that you know precisely where a part goes or how it fits, consult the P&P first to confirm your opinion. It will save you mistakes!
The second side has the typical isometric drawing, which shows the assembly of the kit. With the drawing there are no modules and no particular order of sequence of building. For the most part it is not too difficult to ascertain the parts or where they are attached but again, consult the P&P frequently. There are also photographs of all of the parts in the kit, in reduced scale, so you can verify that you have all of the parts necessary.