When Novik joined the Imperial Russian Fleet in August 1913, Russia had one of the largest destroyers in the world. Heavily armed, the Novik also happened to be the fastest warship in the world. The Imperial Admiralty was so satisfied with their new "Super-Destroyer", that the decision was quickly made to dramatically increase the Russian destroyer construction program but not with the small and mid-sized vessels built prior to Novik. All of the new ships were to be based on the Novik. (Click for review of Combrig Novik)

The first of the derivative designs was the Pospeshnyy Class of nine ships ordered for the Black Seas Fleet. Only four of this class were built on the Black Sea. The remaining five were apportioned among three Baltic Sea shipyards and transported by rail in sections for assembly at yards on the Black Sea. All were launched before the start of World War One but completed in 1914-1915 after the war began.

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Almost immediately after the Pospeshnyy Class order, 22 destroyers of another modified Novik design were ordered for the Baltic Sea Fleet. Some sources call all 22 the Gavriil Class but others divide the 22 into three classes, Gavriil (Russo-Baltic Yard, Reval), Leitenant Ilin (Putilov Yard, St Petersburg) and Orfei (Metal Works, St. Petersburg). As with the preceding, actually concurrent Pospeshnyy Class, the new ships were not exact copies of the Novik. They were slightly shorter, narrower and lighter (321 feet 6 inches, 30 feet 6 inches, 1,260 tons normal) than the Novik (336 feet 3 inches, 31 feet 3 inches, 1,280 tons normal). With two shafts rather than three and rated at 30,000 shp, rather than the 40,000 shp of the Novik, the new designs were only capable of 32 knots, rather than the 36 knots of Novik. All of the class required German assistance. The ships being built at the Metal Works Yard received turbine plans, boiler layouts and auxiliary engines from Vulcan at Stettin. Obviously, the advent of the war instantly ended cooperation and delayed completion of the ships to a certain degree.

The Pospeshnyy design of the Putilov Yard was modified and parceled out among the three yards, mentioned above. The original design called for two 102mm/60 (4-inch) guns and twelve 457mm (18-inch) torpedo tubes in six twin mounts. Using six twin mounts utilized a lot of deck space and was replaced with four triple mounts. All three yards agreed upon a common design. In August 1915 based upon war experience, a further modification added a third 102mm gun with one of the triple torpedo mounts being suppressed, followed shortly thereafter by an addition of a fourth 102mm gun with three guns clustered aft.

Fourteen ships of the 22 were completed from 1915 to 1917 and formed the 1st through 3rd Torpedo Flotillas, later renumbered 11th through 13th. Azard was laid down in July 1915 at the Metal Works Yard, launched on June 5, 1916 and completed October 10, 1916. With the Bolshevik Revolution in November 1917, the readiness of the fleet quickly degraded. As Imperial officers and petty officers were replaced by the Soviet government with true believers, fewer and fewer ships were capable of operations. The Azard was among those ships that stayed in the Active Squadron.

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During the Russian Civil War the new Soviet Baltic Fleet was active against the Royal Navy during the Interventionist Period of 1919-1920. Azard was probably the most distinguished Soviet ship during this period. On May 31, 1919 Azard engaged the RN W Class HMS Walker. Later on June 9, 1919 Azard helped sink the British submarine L-55, which was subsequently raised by the Soviets.

Azard was renamed Zinoviev on December 31, 1922. She underwent a very long refit from 1923 to 1933 due to the chronic resource constraints of the time. The refit included an enlargement of the bridge, and the installation of additional antiaircraft and fire control equipment. When she was recommissioned the name was changed to Artem in 1934. By World War Two normal displacement had climbed to 1,538 tons, 300 tons over the displacement as completed. This significant increase in weight, plus the age of the machinery significantly affected the maximum speed of the ship as it had dropped to 24 knots. As the Artem, she was an early casualty in the German invasion of Russia in World War Two. On August 28, 1941 Artem was lost to a mine in the Juminda Barrage. (History from Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1906-1921; and Soviet Warship Development, Volume 1: 1917-1937 by Siegfried Breyer)

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This Combrig kit represents the Azard as commissioned in 1916. Measuring 5 ½ inches in length, the model depicts the odd congested stern. Three of the four 102mm guns are mounted centerline on the aft quarter of the destroyer. There is only a hint of warfare to come with the addition of a single 7.62mm anti-aircraft machine gun on the fantail, further concentrating the armament aft. However, you still get three triple torpedo tubes to round out an impressive armament array.

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Assembly should be rather easy, given the uncomplicated nature of the World War One design. Before starting assembly you should decide if you wish to use brass photo-etched inclined ladders. The kit does not come with any photo-etch and the inclined ladders aboard the ship are represented by solid resin aztec steps. If you decide to go with photo-etch, it would be best to remove the solid aztec with a hobby knife before starting assembly. Other than that, everything in the assembly is straightforward. Combrig has also produced the Valerian Kuibyshev. This sistership of the Azard was originally Kapitan Kern, then named Rykov and finally Valerian Kuibyshev was incomplete until October 1927, when the Soviets finally had the time and resources to complete the ship that had sitting on the stocks for over ten years. The Valerian Kuibyshev shows the ship as she appeared in 1944.