Originally planned to be enlarged and improved versions of the preceding Borodino Class Battleships, Andrei Pervozvanny and Imperator Pavel I were completely reworked to incorporate the lessons learned from the Russo-Japanese War and most importantly the defects of the preceding class. One problem of the Borodinos came from the numerous scuttles, port holes and other hull openings in the previous design. As they were heavily loaded with coal at Tsushima, they rode low in the water. Battle damage and intake of water submerged some hull openings below the water line and they took on more water. Three of the four Borodinos at Tsushima (Kniaz Souverov, Imperator Aleksandr III & Borodino) lost stability and capsized. Only Orel survived, being captured by the Japanese Fleet.
The design of Andrei Pervozvanny eliminated all scuttles in the completely armored hull. All ventilation had to come from deck facilities. The battle ranges during the Russo-Japanese War proved to be much greater than had been anticipated before the war. As a result the Russian Navy in advance of contemporary navies, designed the 12 inch guns to elevate to 35 degrees, greatly increasing their range.
The most striking features were the two lattice masts. These two ships were the only capital ships to carry cage masts that were not built in the United States. Their design was different from those in the USN, in that they were smaller diameter and had a wasp waist, with a gentle flair outward near the tops. These were unsuccessful and were cut down to funnel height in Imperator Pavel I and to half funnel height in Andrei Pervozvanny in the winter of 1916-1917. Pole masts were stepped through the remains of lattice work. The two could also be distinguished by their crane designs. Andrei Pervozvanny had derrick boat cranes and the Imperator Pavel I had goose neck boat cranes.
Because of all of the modifications to the design of these ships, they were very long in building. Andrei Pervozvanny was laid down in April 1903 and Imperator Pavel I in April 1904 but neither ship was completed until 1910. Since the battleships of the Imperial Russian Baltic Fleet had sailed as the Second Pacific Squadron and had all been lost at Tsushima, Andrei Pervozvanny and Imperator Pavel I formed the core of the new Russian Baltic Fleet, along with Tsarevitch, which had escaped Port Arthur to be interned at Kiao-Chau, and Slava, the fifth of the Borodino Class, which had not been ready to sail with her four sisters. The two sisters were among the largest predreadnoughts constructed being 460 feet in length overall and displacing 17,400 tons normal and 18,580 tons full load.
At the start of World War One the class was active in Baltic operations but as the war progressed their activity decreased. Imperator Pavel I was renamed Respublika after the first revolution of February 1917 and kept that name after the Bolshevik revolution in October 1917, when they were both incorporated into the Red Fleet. During the allied intervention into the Russian Civil War, Andrei Pervozvanny was torpedoed by a British motor torpedo boat attack on Kronstadt on August 18, 1919. She was repaired and put back into service in 1920. At the conclusion of the Civil War both ships were laid up and were scrapped in 1923.
The Andrei Pervozvanny hull reflects the actual battleship design, long and smooth, unpierced by scuttles, except those for drainage. The hull casting was free of defects and featured the vertical strakes and anchors cast integral to recessed wells. Combrig provides plenty of deck detail. Bollards, skylights, ventilators, amidships boat chocks, all features that are very well executed. Additionally the casemate positions are very well delineated.
The smaller parts are well executed as well. I especially liked the turrets. Each turret has recessed openings where the guns go through the turret. Guns and turret are all one piece, so I don’t know how Combrig did this but their appearance is excellent. As is true with other Combrig offerings, solid shielding is provided on all decks, even those that had railing. However, the railing on these ships was often covered with canvas and the solid shielding adequately reflects canvas covered railings. If you wish to take the final step in detailing the decks and platforms, you can easily remove the resin shielding, add Photo-etched railing and to simulate canvas covering, cover with tissue of Micro Krystal Klear. However, this build of Andrei Pervozvanny is right from the box without those alterations. The model still comes with solid resin Aztec steps cast at inclined ladder positions. I did remove these to add photo-etched inclined ladders. There is at least 17 such positions and I believe that photo-etched inclined ladders are much more aesthetically pleasing than solid resin stairs. Separate boat chocks are also provided for most of the boats located amidships.
The stacks are not the same. They are well done with delicate banding but the oval stack is forward and the circular stack is aft. There are locator studs on the underside of the funnels but no corresponding holes on the decks to which they are attached. The only significant preparation was the removal of some pour subs from the main turrets. The resin was of good quality and was easy to work. No significant difficulties were encountered during the build.
Combrig provides a number of options in this kit. They provide solid stump cage masts for those that wish to model the ship after the masts were cut down. I believe it would be better to cut down the photo-etched pieces to the correct height, using the resin pieces as templates, and use those rather than the solid pieces. The Combrig photo-etch is stainless steel and is easy to cut and shape. To achieve the correct taper for the cage masts, I rolled the lattice-work around the tapered end of a paint brush. The material very easily and quickly adopted the correct curves and taper. Another option is the types of crane to use. Solid one-piece resin cranes are provided as well as six-piece PE cranes. I assembled the PE cranes.
The inclined ladders of the Combrig PE have side railing but no separate treads. Instead there is a solid panel with scribed lines. Obviously open ladders with individual rungs or treads would have been better. Both masts have four pointed starfish. Under each point there is triangular bracing. Combrig provides four solid triangular starfish braces in its photo-etched fret, rather than the eight that are needed. This oversight proved to be a moot point as photographs of Andrei Pervozvanny showed that the bracing was open and not solid. I used strips cut from the edge of the PE fret for these braces, rather than use the solid braces provided. Among the PE parts are two cinder screens/grates for the funnels. When cutting them from the fret, cut the pieces as close to the outer edge as possible. You will need the bracing to extend past the oval of the screen to properly place them on top of the funnels.
The Combrig Andrei Pervozvanny has very good resin parts and good but not perfect photo-etched frets. Considering that this is Combrig’s first effort at PE in their 1:700 line, I think that it is very commendable product. Every model kit is a representation of the original. The basic question is, Does the model capture the appearance of the original? With the their model of Andrei Pervozvanny, Combrig has captured that appearance.
Pacific Front Hobbies (Phone: 541-464-8579, Fax: 541-957-5477, E-Mail Shipguy@internetcds.com) is the exclusive distributor in the United States for the Andrei Pervozvanny as well as the rest of the extensive Combrig line of 1:700 waterline kits.