At the start of the 20th Century, the Imperial Russian Navy was building two basic types of cruisers. The large protected cruisers and armored cruisers were listed as Cruisers, 1st Rank and the smaller warships as Cruisers 2nd Rank (Kreyser 2 go Ranga). A number of different designs were tried for the Cruisers 2nd Rank. The Novik, laid down in 1898, was a sleek, modern design with three short funnels and only one mast, which was between the 2nd and 3rd funnels. The Almaz, laid down in April 1902, Listed in Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1860-1905 as an armed yacht was listed as the Russian Navy as a Cruiser 2nd Class. She was very graceful with her clipper bow and yacht-like lines. Boyarin was more of a return to the designs of the end of the 19th century. In many ways she was a smaller version of the Cruiser Bogatyr. The raised forecastle and quarterdeck joined by the lower main deck with the foremast in front of the bridge were very distinctive features of this ship.

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Boyarin, completed in 1902 was sent to join the Russian First Pacific Squadron, based in Port Arthur. Originally painted white with yellow funnels, the standard Russian paint scheme for warships in the far east, she was repainted to an olive green. Between December 1903 and January 1904, the warships of the First Pacific Squadron were repainted into this color. 

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Boyarin was one of the first casualties of the Russo-Japanese War. In fact some authorities show that she was sunk before the start of hostilities. She struck a Russian laid mine off of the port of Dalny, near Port Arthur. Abandoned by her crew. The tough little cruiser refused to go down and she was taken under tow with the intention of getting her back to Port Arthur. During the night she broke loose, struck a second mine and sank. According to Conway’s, she was sunk February 12, 1904.

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The Naval Annual, 1905 notes at pages 128,130, "On February 11 an incident occurred which was repeated on several occasions afterwards. The Russian mining-transport, Yenisei, whilst laying mines at Dalny was blown up by one of them and it was reported that four officers and 92 men had been lost in her. She had laid 400 and was destroyed by the 401st. The case of ships being destroyed by mines will be referred to later. The telegram announcing the destruction of the Yenisei stated that the mines she had laid had been blown out to sea by a storm. It further reported that the cruiser Boyarin had run ashore at Dalny (on February 12) and was a total wreck. It is stated that the Boyarin had been sent from Port Arthur to Dalny to see in what state the mine-field was after the storm; and that she found many mines loose and drifting about the harbour. She was either blown up by one of these, or in her efforts to avoid them ran aground, and the weather at the time being rough, became a complete wreck."

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Russian sources refer to the loss of Boyarin as occurring about two weeks earlier, before the start of the war. The Combrig instructions mention that Boyarin left Port Arthur on January 27, 1904 for Dalny, that on January 29, she struck a mine laid by the Yenisei and that Boyarin sank on January 31. The Russian reference Encyclopedia of the Ships of the Russian Imperial Fleet states that the Boyarin struck the first mine on January 29 and sank on February 1, 1904. The Conway’s date of loss may be based upon the date reported in The Naval Annual, 1905. How did Boyarin leave Port Arthur after February 8, when the Japanese Fleet started blockading the port? It appears that the more likely date of loss is in January, when Boyarin clearly ran into Russian mines that had drifted loose from a protective mine field. It is interesting to note that it took two mines to sink Boyarin

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Mines were extremely deadly in the Russo-Japanese War. On April 13, 1904 the Russian flagship, Petropavlovsk, sank in two minutes after striking one mine, taking Admiral Makarov and almost all of her crew with her. The Imperial Japanese Navy lost 1/3 of her battleship force, when on May 15, 1904 Hatsuse sank after striking two mines and Yashima sank after striking one mine. The fact that one mine could sink a battleship and it took two to sink Boyarin proves that Boyarin was a good design.


Laid Down: 1899; Launched: June 1901; Completed: 1902; Sunk: January 31, 1904

Displacement: 3,200 tons: Dimensions: length- 345ft (105.16m); width- 41 ft (12.5m); draught- 16ft max (4.88m) Complement: 266

Armament: six 4.7 in/45 cal (6x1); eight 3 pdr (47mm); four 1 pdr (37mm); five 15 inch torpedo tubes (all above water)

Machinery: 16 Belleville boilers, 2 shaft VTE, 11,500 ihp;
Maximum Speed:
22 kts

The Combrig Boyarin is a beautiful little kit. It is all resin, no photo-etch and can use the benefit of photo-etched detailing. (See sidebar about the White Ensign Models photo-etched fret for their Askold.) I did not detect any defects in my kit and the only warp to any part was a minor, easily correctable to one of the masts. The hull and the smaller parts are very finely done. Boyarin has plenty of graceful curves, which have been captured by Combrig. The 47mm secondary guns are very delicate. Be careful in removing them from the resin runner, as it is easy to dislodge the shield on these guns. Remove these guns from the runner over the box, so you can find the shield if it comes loose. When I first looked at the hull, I noticed something odd. Wood planking was scribed on the quarterdeck but not on the forecastle or main deck. I checked the instructions and they too showed a wood deck only on the quarterdeck. After checking, I found that the forecastle and main deck were on the red-brown linoleum. The re-brown color for the bulk of the decks with the wooden quarterdeck aft gives the Boyarin a very different appearance from most ships, especially when she is painted in her First Pacific Squadron olive green.

Resin Parts of the Combrig Boyarin
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There are 13 small, 2 medium and four large J ventilators. Combrig has marked the placement location for each one by placing locator holes at their positions. Small holes indicate locations for the 13 small ventilators and six larger holes indicate the positions for the larger ones. Locator holes are not provided for the guns or other parts but they are easy to place by looking at the assembly diagram or plan and profile provided in the kit. Further refinements by Combrig in their production of Boyarin, include separate steam pipes found fore and aft on each funnel and the openings for the inclined ladders on the bridge. All of the numerous deck fittings are very well done, especially the skylights and square, incised bridge windows. The kit appears to be lacking one medium ventilator as there are two such parts provided but there appears to be three centerline positions for them (two on the stack-house and one on a fitting right behind the third stack). The four longest ventilators are used in a box formation at the end of the main deck.

If you wish to add photo-etched detail to the Combrig Boyarin or any other 1:700 kit of an Imperial Russian warship that does not have its own PE, the WEM brass fret designed for the WEM Askold kit is the outstanding source. The fret is available by itself from WEM (PE730) and comes with a lot of detailed parts that the Imperial Russian warships had in common. For the Boyarin I used the anchor chain, yardarms, medium and small boat davits, two & four bar railing, sponson drop-down panels and inclined ladders. Since no one makes a generic Imperial Russian photo-etched fret, this WEM product is as close as it comes in providing the PE detail that you would want.

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Since Boyarin does not come with photo-etch are represented by solid resin "Aztec steps". I removed those (except for two) and added PE from the WEM Askold fret. Be careful if you remove the resin steps as the sponson shielding is admirably thin and can be damaged by your hobby knife if you’re not careful. I left the two resin steps leading from the lower bridge to the upper bridge because they serve to locate and lock the two bridge levels together and are hidden by the upper bridge. (Note: Combrig now has some of their 1:700 kits with a stainless steel photo-etch fret. Imperator Pavel and Andrei Pervozvanny come with a PE and upcoming releases on the modern Russian frigate, Neustrashimmy and Russian dreadnought, Imperatritsa Maria will come with photo-etch.) About the only detail missing are the drop down panels on the gun sponsons. Each sponson had a number of panels that would be lowered to give the gun a better field of fire. I added PE from the WEM Askold fret to duplicate these. The bridge, mainmast platform and sternwalk pieces come with solid bulkheads, which would represent canvas covered railing. If you just want to have railing at these locations, you’ll have to remove the bulkheads. The Plan and Profile in the instructions clearly show which decks and platforms had railing.

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The instructions are in Russian and follow the established Combrig format. The front side has the history of the ship and statistics as well as a plan and profile. This P&P is especially nice as it is a template for the model. It shows a number of detailed features, such as the individual coal scuttles, if you wish to super-detail your kit. The back of the instructions show photos of all of the parts as well as two isometric diagrams on the assembly. The instructions presented no ambiguities as the construction of the kit is easy and logical.

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This is an excellent kit. It is not perfect but no kit is, and represents high value for your dollar, euro, pound, franc, yen or ruble. Combrig has done a wonderful job in capturing the complex curves of the original. With her unique color scheme and deck layout, Boyarin stands out from the lines of gray warships.