The four funneled Vnimatelni class (literal translation = alert/watchful) of 5 units were built for the Tsarist Navy in France, with the subject of this model being built by Normand, laid down in 1898 and completed in 1901. Decidedly French in design with their turtle decks and suspended main deck of grating they resembled somewhat the Durandal class and were swift and elegant. The fate of these sisters was mixed, two being sunk by IJN gunnery, two eventually being taken over by the Royal Navy in 1918 and subsequently scrapped in 1921, whilst the subject of this model, Vnimatelni was wrecked on 26 May 1904.

This model was built using the Combrig 1:700 scale resin kit; which appears to be based on the side elevation, perspective and cross-section drawings found in issue No 1/ 2000 Morskaya Kollektsiya, a really excellent publication which I used extensively as reference myself along with a number of photos from various on-line resources.

Upon opening the box one is initially surprised by the diminutive size of the hull in 1:700, not even 3 1/4 inches long. The kit comprises the essential parts of hull, deck, TT and guns. Alas the cast deck is way to thick in scale. I was tempted to replace it with thin styrene but was put off by potential later warping problems. A new brass deck was discounted due to differential expansion problems of dissimilar materials. I elected to use the supplied deck but scraped away at the edges to near scale, tapering inboard so as to maintain a near scale height above the hull. 

Vni10jb90.jpg (15575 bytes) Vni15jb.jpg (15273 bytes) Vni19jb.jpg (10052 bytes)

The deck was supported on the real ship by a myriad of struts and girders. On the model this was simplified by supporting the deck on funnel and hatch stubs. I then added the through deck gunmount struts and stays, as well as a number of struts around the deck edge. Ammunition hatches and the shaft trunks between under deck and hull were added. I wished to portray the vessel at speed, inspired by the cover illustration of the MK magazine. To allow some of the lower hull to be seen I added a thin piece of styrene sheet and sanded to the appropriate shape. This was then painted anti fouling colour, and the hull mounted in a wave pattern of white glue.

The kit supplied funnels at first made a good impression but careful study of plans and photos suggested they may be a little thick. This was compounded by the need to get 3 coats of paint on to achieve density as well as steam pipes on the funnels. So despite having cemented them to the deck I decided to remove them and install replacements made of brass tubing; these had a groove cut into them with a tube-cutter to assist painting the colour separation between the black and yellow.

Vni18jb.jpg (14768 bytes) Vni16jb.jpg (10038 bytes) Vni44jb.jpg (10952 bytes)

The 11-pdr platform mounted atop the conning tower was supplied as a resin item, cast onto a wafer of varying thickness. . I attempted unsuccessfully, to sand this evenly to a near-scale thickness but it collapsed immediately prior to success. I made a new platform base using a photo-etch funnel cap from the White Ensign Models Askold set and in-filled the gaps with CA .

I then added two bar Gold Medal Models Gold-plus railing, which was partially in-filled with white glue to simulate the part splinter shield/railing combination. The searchlight platform was made in a similar manner, the searchlight itself was made of stretched sprue and the supporting bracket of photo-etch railing scrap bent to shape. The mast abaft the bridge was installed. Unusually this was offset to starboard of the centreline on the real ship and therefore on my model also for reasons I cannot fathom.

The main challenge on this model was that of adding the netting to the deck-edge rails--these were white on the original vessel. The photo-etch items when painted looked too dense and did not allow the see-through effect I desired. I hunted through haberdashery stores, buying yards of fabric ranging from wedding dress veils to mosquito netting, air filter mesh to hosiery. Eventually at a jumble sale I came across an old little rectangular timber frame (6 " x 3") labeled 'Letraset' Carrier frame. This frame was spanned with the finest mesh giving the desired airy look when dry brushed with thin white paint giving a recognizable mesh pattern. This was attached to the inside of the previously fitted rails using thinned matte varnish applied with a fine pointed brush.

Vni82jb.jpg (11539 bytes) Vni89jb.jpg (9829 bytes)
Vni80jb.jpg (13952 bytes) Vni81jb.jpg (29681 bytes) Vni83jb.jpg (16995 bytes)

The awning stanchions were cut from 1:350 photo-etch handrail longitudinals and rigged with white stretched sprue as per photos. The aft companionway spray hoods were made of scrap photo-etch parts and given a cover of thinned white glue as were the canvas dodgers covering the railings of the conning platform. Anchors, simulated chain, and various other details including coal scuttles and small hatches, doors, platform supports, davits and boats completed the model. The destroyer was then rigged using black stretched sprue for the standing rigging and brown sprue for the signal halyards. The naval ensign aft was made using a blue ballpoint pen on thin paper. All in all a delightful model, which despite its small size held my interest all the way through the build.

Length OA 185ft 8in Displacement 312 tonnes
Coal fired boilers--at 5200iHP = 26.5 kits(!)
1 x 11pdr 5 x 3pdr 2 x 15in Torpedo tubes
59 crew

A website with useful views of all members of the class

Morskaya Kollektsia magazine was obtained from Sergey Myagkov