Avrorawas the third and last of the "Goddesses". Each of the three protected cruisers of the Diana Class were named after a Mythological goddess with Diana, the goddess of the hunt, Pallada (Pallas Athena) goddess of wisdom and Avrora the goddess of the dawn. Avrora could easily be distinguished from her sisters by the presence of gun shields on her gun mounts. Diana and Pallada had open mounts.
Part of the 1895 naval program, Avrora was laid down in St. Petersburg in June 1897, launched on May 11, 1900 and commissioned July 16, 1903. Designed for 20 knots, Avrora was slower than designed with a speed of 18.97 at trials. The class packed a considerable armament for their 6,371 tons with ten 6-inch/45 and twelve 75mm/45 guns. Avrora was rearmed prior to World War Two.
Upon completion Avrora was ordered to the Pacific to join the Port Arthur Squadron, however she was held up in the Mediterranean because the Oslyabya, which Avrora was escorting, needed repairs in Italy. When the Russo-Japanese War erupted, the ships were ordered back to the Baltic to become part of the relief expedition. Avrora was with Rovhestvenski’s ill fated 2nd Pacific Squadron, which weighed anchor from Libau in the Baltic on October 15, 1914 to steam half way around the world. The Battle of Tsushima lasted from May 27 to May 28 1905. Avrora, along with the cruisers Oleg and Jemchug became separated from the main fleet during the night on May 27. They headed south and were interned in Manila on June 8, 1905. In the night action Avrora had been hit twice with 17 killed and 80 wounded.
After the end of the war she returned to the Baltic, which she reached in February 1906. In 1907 Avrora was assigned to train naval cadets and subsequently went on cruises. During World War One, she was part of the 2nd Baltic Cruiser Brigade. She was fairly inactive, basically guarding the entrance to the Gulf of Finland. In November 1916 she went into the yard at St. Petersburg for a major overhaul, which amounted to removing stacks and guns and replacing the boilers.
During their prolonged inactivity, the crew listened to the Bolshevik propaganda and became ardent followers of the Bolsheviks. In a disturbance the commander of the Avrora was killed and the Executive Officer wounded by the crew. The crew elected a lieutenant as the commanding officer. The Avrora was ordered to sea for trials and then to proceed to Helsinki, however, she refused to go. On November 6-7 1917 (western calendar) October 24-25 (Russian calendar) the Bolshevik Revolution (the October Revolution) took place and seized power by throwing out the Kerensky government, which had come to power with the February Revolution.
By nightfall the Winter Palace was one of the last major buildings that remained in the hands of the Kerensky government. This gave rise to the event for which Avrora is best known. The Avrora steamed to the raised drawbridge which led to the Winter Palace and a boat load of sailors went to lower the bridge. The military cadets guarding the bridge fled and at 9:00 PM the Avrora fired one blank round from her forward gun position to signal the storming of the Palace, which occurred without casualties on either side.
From July 1918 Avrora was laid up at Kronstadt with little or no crew as the Russian Civil War raged. She was undamaged by a Royal Navy MTB attack on August 18, 1919, even though she was one of the six major targets. Finally in November 1922 repairs on Avrora with Comrade Plolenov in charge (ex-Ensign, as military rank had been initially abolished by the Bolshevik government.) By the summer of 1923 the Avrora was in business again, this time training naval cadets in the new Red Navy. On November 2, 1927 Avrora was awarded the Order of the Red Banner for her part in the October Revolution. During World War Two she assisted in the siege of Leningrad. Her main guns were landed but she still retained AA guns and fought in defense of the city. She was damaged in an air raid and had to be scuttled in shallow water to prevent capsizing.
In the summer of 1944 Avrora was raised and it was decided to make her a memorial to the October Revolution. She is still there on the Neva to this day, a museum ship open to the public, more than 100 years after she first slid into the water at St Petersburg. (Click for Tour of the present day Avrora by Jean-Paul Binot)(Bulk of the history is from Soviet Cruisers Part 1 by Christopher C. Wright, Warship International No.1, 1978)
Combrig has a model of Avrora as she was initially built with her shielded 6-inch guns. The 1:700 scale model reflects her appearance from commissioning in 1903 until she was regunned in World War One.