Oktabriskaya Revolutsiya, built in 1914 was originally called Gangut, she languished unused and poorly maintained during the Russian civil war which followed the 1917 Revolution. Re-activated by the Soviet Government in the early 1920's, she was renamed Oktabriskaya Revolutsia (October Revolution) In the early 1930's she underwent an extensive modernization and rebuild. She retained the symmetrical 4 turret layout-- but gained a new flared clipper bow along with a new lofty forward superstructure which required the aft-swept funnel with its S-bend to clear smoke from the upper bridge levels. These features coupled with the two enormous boat and aircraft cranes made for a truly unique profile, which is among the most distinctive of any warship ever. She was affectionately named Oktabrina by her crew.

I acquired this HP kit of the ship unseen off e-bay Germany from fellow modeler Martin Kohring who was thinning out his collection. Once I had the kit in my possession its greatest flaw came to light immediately; the total absence of any kind of deck-planking. Oktabrina like most ships had her decks laid fore-and-aft but bisected in the Russian shipbuilding manner of the time by metal strips running athartships. Having inspected the hull casting-which is fundamentally accurate in dimensions, I found the casemates were not sufficiently high when compared to photos. With this finding I formulated the Oktabrina kit rescue plan. After a suitable interval of three years maturing in my kit stash, the time was right to tackle this challenging build. Having acquired a plethora of reference material to verify/counter the plentiful deck detail on the hull casting, I started to pare it all away, but only after the centres of all barbettes, vents, masts etc had been drilled through the hull and labeled to ensure a reasonable starting point after the decking was installed. In order to portray the cross-planking I made a small sliding jig out of styrene so as to be able to score the Evergreen N-scale car-siding across the 'planking'. I was concerned that the athwartships line effect may be too overpowering when painted--so elected to score only at 2mm intervals. The cross- scored styrene sheet deck was fitted to the now dead-flat smooth pared resin deck and cemented using CA gel.

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It is essential in this type of operation to ensure that a centre-line is drawn and adhered to. With CA you get only 20 seconds wriggle time. Thereafter the edges were trimmed, the lower quarter decks were cut, installed and any small remaining gaps filled. The centre positions of barbettes etc were re-drilled and construction could begin in earnest. After failed attempts to make perfect circles using styrene square section and the unsuccessful joining of the two ends, I decided to simplify making the barbettes by wrapping styrene square section around the turret bottoms and gluing bit by bit-crude but very effective. The deck was painted and the cross-scores were picked up with pencil lead dust applied by brush. On my next Russian dreadnought re-decking project I shall score the deck at 1mm intervals, as the effect was not overpowering at all. Indeed now the deck was affixed permanently, I could no longer use my sliding jig-so resorted to using a ruler and pencil to merely draw in the additional athwartshisp lines, which is a lesson learnt!

I was unhappy with the kit supplied funnel. After checking plans and photos it was slightly too thin as well as having a variety of casting blemishes. A replacement was fabricated of brass tubing-this being lightly scored to represent the handrails- wrong- but when painted effective in this scale. The steam pipes were made of brass and nickle silver wire, base vents were styrene block. The forward stack was actually of the right diameter and outline, merely needing the top to be added to in the form of a sliver of brass tube to complete the S-bend to the correct amount. The armoured conning towers previously severed from the hull casting were no longer looking as crisp as I wished, so replacements were made of aluminum tubing. The now exaggerated step was reduced to near scale by wrapping with vinyl tape and securing with CA. The fitting of a myriad of vents, coal-scuttles, hatches and all the 'stuff'í that should be on the deck. For siting of these details I used the plan from the Sevastopol monograph along with the Schwartzer plan along with the few on-deck photos I could locate. The vents were made of various sizes of model railway rivets, styrene rod, brass rod and stretched sprue according to whichever matched the appropriate size. All these items were placed into pre-drilled holes for secure mounting as well as easier painting. 

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The mooring bitts and fairleads were made of a sliver of CA infused paper for super thin bases and styrene rod for the bitts. The forward bulwarks adjacent to the anchor windlasses were made of paper infused with CA, as were the chainways and the fwd breakwater. The main capstans and windlasses were made of model railway locomotive washout plugs on 4mm scale(OO/HO and 2mm ( N-scale) scale respectively. One should never underestimate the value of a trawl through a well stocked model railway shop, for brass bits as well as alternative PE parts, many of which have great 'crossover' value. The breakwater supporting gussets were added later using small pieces of stretched sprue then infilled with thinned white glue--this saves lots of trial and error with ever decreasing triangles. The side armour belt extended forward adjacent to the anchor handling area, this was replicated using the RC Cammet self-adhesive tape for a sharp and crisp effect. Alongside the breakwater, vertically beside the forward and aft bridge structure there were required large cable reels of unusual proportions compared to European/US types. I made the drums and ends by placing a heated smooth knife blade to styrene rod and allowing to cool before removing. These items then had their support legs added using scrap handrail parts folded into a triangle; both easy and effective in a small scale.

Having painted the hull and done some preliminary weathering I applied the underwater with boot-top trim line. This was affected by first applying some white RC Cammett tape and then covering with a strip of narrower red. The edge on the underside of the hull then had runny CA applied so as to prevent any subsequent slippage or distortion. I next turned my attention to the forward bridge tower. This on the original ship was built up of numerous decks, with no splintershields, the open railings were covered with canvas dodgers and window frames placed on top of, or suspended from the overhead deck. The kitís platform outlines looked good- they were albeit too thick and the window/railing section was cast as a solid lump with windows merely indented far too small. I really had to replicate this area in the same manner as the real thing, so ground off all surplus resin with a motor tool, applied railing and topped off with PE window frames. These came from a special fret, more about that later. The second deck-level was then placed on top of this delicate structure and the process repeated. The railings were infilled with white glue to simulate the canvas covering. The kit's forward funnel base was incorrectly proportioned, it did not allow the placement of the first level of stairs. The shaded area shows the area that had to be cut away. As all stairs between the bridge levels are visible from certain angles cutouts had to be made and the twin sets of stairs inserted at every deck level. This required some creative deck carving and adjustment-accomplished by the judicious use of white glue and slips of paper. The next bridge deck level up required the addition of MG platforms, these were made after the handrail had formed the outline thereof by infilling the apertures thereby formed with thinned white glue, hence ensuring no excess thickness. The upper bridge level with windows had a roof of canvas. This I made using thinned white glue, however so as to prevent it from sagging and to give the glue something to grab, I installed some paper supports and then back filled with the glue. The upper tapered bridge tower from the kit was very good and was used but supplemented with various small styrene additions. 

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I needed to make a correctly shaped upper platform, the thereof 'wall' was made of thin brass from PE scrap. The wall being painted on the inside first, then the deck was made by infilling the hole with white glue. When dry it becomes transparent, so therefore the underside of the 'floor' was painted, hence giving a perfect colour demarcation twixt deck and wall. The under platform braces were made using triangular pieces of paper. Paper was again used for the end of platform/funnel joint sheeting, this required a few tries to get right, the photo shows the first undersized template. Paper was used again for the 'false wall' alongside the lower conning tower, with the stair aperture within. The funnel base inspection hatches were made of brass PE scrap, these were removed and re-applied after I had seen this photo. The aft superstructure was constructed partly from kit parts and new deck shapes cut of styrene sheet, as the kit parts did not match any of my drawings or photos. The main mast and crane apertures were drilled through the different levels in situ whilst checking for square. The holes were drilled somewhat oversize to allow for final setting up of verticals, the holes being backfilled with white glue. The entire structure again has prominent external stairs with intermediate platforms. These were tricky to locate and make work feasibly in a prototypical manner, due in the main to their minute size and fragility. The crane leg bases were made of alloy tubing. The slightly convex tops being made with 3 layers of white glue. I find the self-leveling properties of this material to be immensely useful in 1/700 model making. The main weakness with HP kits sadly is the total lack of any photo-etch parts, even when major components would lend themselves perfectly to this medium. The main stumbling block in this build would have been the huge distinctive girder cranes. These were supplied as a resin casting, which were broadly the right outline shape but alas a solid chunk of resin! I attempted various methods to surmount this problem; I made a jig and attempted to build the jibs of evergreen strip material--whilst possible I was unable to achieve two, never mind four jibs that were absolutely identical. Exact repeatability was the problem. I scaled down the plan and photocopied the outline to paper and styrene sheet, cutting any of these out perfectly and crisply was beyond both my dexterity and patience.

To the rescue came Peter Hall, the designer of all WEM photo-etch. I commissioned him to design a custom PE fret to contain those vexed cranes, bridge windows, machine guns etc. Some railing ladders and as a bonus some crane jibs for the Pariziah Comuna, for my next Gangut class ship project. This solved the repeatability problem in one fell swoop! I bent up the first set of cranes and was delighted. After viewing from all angles and re-consulting yet more photos I came to the conclusion that they now appeared to lack substance and longitudinal profile depth. I circumvented this issue by gluing another set of jibs on the inside of the assembled crane very slightly offset. They were supported apart using small strips of evergreen styrene. This allowed me to create a visible line when brushed with a pencil, giving the impression of girder depth rather than a PE blade.

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For a battleship she carried a decidedly sparse fit of boats which were deployed from cradles on deck and raised boat gantries. The kit supplied boats were actually quite usable, however the boat gantry parts were far too simplistic for my liking. Despite their being virtually almost invisible, I chose to construct four replacements from pieces of PE from a variety of sources to approximate the correct outline and girder pattern of the original ship. The photo shows the effort in my view to be to be worthwhile. The remaining construction was straight forward, with various details being added in an unremarkable manner. The exception being the huge aerial and halyard spreaders on both masts. These needed to be thin, yet strong enough to resist the cumulative tension of even sprue rigging posing the only true problem. I solved the dilemma by making the yards of the spring steel bristles from a stainless steel wire brush, these resisted all movement much more effectively than brass or nickel silver ever could.

The project was just starting to become fun with the end at last coming into sight, when I discovered a new photo. This showed the crane masts to be square rather than round...
I loathe finding a near catastrophe a long way into a build, yet I fall into these holes with most of my models! The problem was solved by gluing styrene strips to the crane masts to form a square. The ship carried a floatplane on turret 3 at various times of her career. Some photos show her without. Then again there are many photos with the KOR-1 perched atop the turret, making the ships side profile even more outrageous to the eye! Although there is no aircraft supplied with the kit I decided it would be an interesting project to scratch-build one. I carved the fuselage from a piece of scrap resin casting block. The wings were made of paper infused with CA. I drilled out both cockpits, atop of which perched the engine on a strut assembly. I made the engine cowling from a cocktail stick dipped into CA to harden it, merely adding a more rounded profile to the existing point. Pieces of cut down handrail were used for the struts under the tailplane and main wings and also to make the twin barrels of the aft cockpit machine guns. I utilized the inter-plane struts from a GMM PE fret-this ensured absolute symmetry. When painted I applied some Soviet star decals from a Pitroad set. Alas these had white centres, so I hand painted the inside of the stars in solid red. I rigged the aircraft with stretched sprue. All the deck edge railings used were GMM Gold plus Superfine, coloured with a permanent marker with the individual stanchions picked out in hull colour, the black for and aft cables being very lightly dry-brushed to tone them down.

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Some of the upper levels and the bridge structure were furnished with more robust items from the Peter Hall fret. The figures are GMM, stairs and anchors are WEM. The interwar naval ensign is from the venerable GMM flag decal set. Being a long hulled ship, I mounted her on my usual 3mm stainless steel plate to prevent any warpage of the hull in the future. Most photos of Oktabrina show her either at anchor or proceeding slow ahead, I have yet to locate a picture of her at speed, so I chose to portray her trickling ahead at 8 -10 knots or so. I rigged the whole ship using black stretched sprue for the standing rigging and WT antennas. The ten longitudinal items being a particular challenge. So as not to overpower the visual effect ship the signal halyards were made of light brown stretched sprue. The overall effect is quite pleasing. I also used stretched sprue for making the top funnel grates as well as the handrails on the forward funnel. Sprue was used for the straps securing the sea boats that are slung in davits. I have found the GMM stainless steel etched pulley sets can be cut into a very useful material for making robust but delicate ensign staffs. The anchor cables had check chains added of black sprue. The mine cutting gear cables were added of sprue also

The paint used all-over was Humbrol 28 but washed down in various shades of enamel and watercolour. Linoleum decks were painted using WEM Colourcoats Corticene washed with light grey to knock down the intensity. Canvas dodgers were painted using Revell white. This is a creamier white than Humbrol and not as glaring on a finished model. I have to extend my thanks to all my virtual and tangible friends via the interenet, without whom I would have had many a headache without answers. A special thanks must go to Jean Paul Binot who unhesitatingly sent me his precious set of Helmut Schwartzer plans of Oktabrina he acquired from the museum in St Petersburg, which as it happens were not infallible!

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In conclusion the HP kit is fundamentally about right, giving a springboard start over scratch-building a model of this ship. Alas the lack of PE and some simplification is sadly not reflected in the relatively very high price. Combrig has announced a kit of this esoteric ship for release some in the future. Should anyone wishing to attempt a model of Oktabrina want make me a sporting offer for some the numerous surplus crane PE frets, due to minimum order at the etchers, it may help me recover some of my costs and make the commission of a future custom ship fret more tempting. Please contact me!!

Principal Bibliography:

Russian Battleships Sevastopol Class, Maciej S. Sobanski
Marine Arsenal special Band 4 Stalins Dickschiffe, Siegfried Breyer
Gangut magazine 33/2003
Soviet Warship Development Vol 1, Siegfried Breyer
Russian monographs of Marat and Petropavlosk
Dreadnought, Richard Hough
Conways All the worlds battleships 1906 to the present Ian Sturton
and many more!!