TheSverdlov class, Project 68-bis, of light cruisers was the direct result of the fusion of Soviet pre-war cruiser design, as represented by the Chapayev Class, Project 68, laid down in 1939, and the incorporation of German gunnery and fire control technology. By any measure the class was large in size, in displacement of each ship and in the numbers of ships in the class. At 16,340 tons the Sverdlov was a larger, improved version of the preceding Chapayev Class. Only the Worcester Class of post war USN CLs exceeded the Sverdlov in individual ship tonnage for light cruisers.
Immediately prior to World War Two, Stalin had initiated a massive construction program for the Soviet Navy. Very little of that program came to fruition, as Hitlerís invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 immediately caused the construction program to grind to a halt. During the war most of the program that had been laid down was destroyed or dismantled for the steel. At the conclusion of the war, Stalin had new opponents. These opponents, the United States and Great Britain, were the most powerful naval powers in the world. Stalin revamped and re-energized his plans for a large Soviet surface navy. The first large surface ship design after the war was theSverdlov. The Soviet Navy did not do anything in half measures. Between 1947 and 1954, 23 members of the class were laid down.
In March 1953 Stalin died and members of the Politburo jockeyed for power. Krushchev had come to power by 1955 and proclaimed a revolution in Soviet military affairs. Krushchev preferred smaller numbers of "High technology" weapons platforms over large numbers of conventional weapons platforms preferred by Stalin and exemplified by the Sverdlov class. All members of the class that could not be completed in the near term were cancelled or scrapped on the stocks. Only 14 of the 23 Sverdlovs were completed in two slightly different versions. Sverdlov and other early members of the class had 37mmAA guns near the funnel, one deck higher then the latter members of the class. Krushchev considered large surface ships to be "floating coffins" and naval shipyards as "metal eaters". Eight of the largest building ways in the Soviet Union were transformed from combatant to mercantile construction.
VITAL STATISTICS- AS CONSTRUCTED
DISPLACEMENT:13,230 tons (standard), 16,340 tons)(full load); later 15,450 std and 19,200fl: DIMENSIONS: Length- 656 feet (200m), Beam- 72 feet (22m); Draught- 24.5 feet (22.5m)
ARMAMENT: 12- 6in (152mm) guns, 4x3; 12- 3.9 in (100mm) guns, 6x2: 32-37mm, 16x2; 10-21 inch (533mm) torpedoes 5x2 on deck mounts; 150 mines, mine launching rails on quarterdeck:
ARMOR: Belt- 4.9-3.9 in (125mm-100mm), Turrets- 4.9 in (125mm); Conning Tower- 5.9 in (150mm), Decks- 1-3 in (25mm-75mm)
MACHINERY: 6 watertube boilers, 2 shaft geared turbines, 130,000 shp:
PERFORMANCE: Maximum Speed 34 knots, Range- 8,700nm at 18kts:
COMPLEMENT: 1,000 (average)
SISTERSHIPS:Zhdanov, Aleksandr Suverov, Admiral Senyavin, Dmitrii Pojarskii, Kronshtadt (not completed), Tallin (not completed), Varyag (not completed), Admiral Ushakov, Aleksandr Nevskii, Admiral Lazarev, Ordjonikidze, Shcherbakov (not completed), Kozima Minin (not completed), Dmitrii Donskoi (not completed), Bez Nazvaniya ("un-named" not completed), Molotovsk (renamed Oktyabriskaya Revolutsiya in 1957), Murmansk, Dzerzhinskii, Admiral Nahkimov, Mikhail Kutuzov, Admiral Kornilov (not completed), Bez Nazvaniya (II) ("un-named" not completed, Thanks to Gordon Hogg for clarification of the two hulls listed as "Bez Nazvaniya", meaning un-named)
As western navies experimented with new concepts, so did the Soviet Navy. The Sverdlov Class was in the fore of these experiments. The great number of large hulls provided an excellent stable test bed to try new weapons systems and command & control systems. Just as the USN used the Baltimore & Cleveland Classes to experiment with new missile systems, so did the Soviet Navy use the Sverdlovs in the same field. The Soviets had been developing the SS-N-1 Strella, NATO code named "Scrubber" surface to surface missile since the mid-1950s. It was an air breathing derivation of the German V-1 and had a range of 150nm, although its effective range was limited to 30nm because the Soviets lacked over the horizon targeting technology at the time and were restricted to the acquisition range of the shipís surveillance radar. Admiral Nakhimov, of the Sverdlov Class was fitted with this system for testing in the Black Sea (Project 67-SI). The ship had her two forward turrets landed and the bulky "Strella" launch system was placed on her bow. The "Strella" proved to be an unsuccessful experiment. Dzerzhinskii (Project 70-E) had her X turret landed and replaced with a missile battery. This time the Soviets fitted a surface to air system to the ship, the SA-N-2, NATO code name "Guideline".
Admiral Senyavin had X and Y turrets landed and replaced with a helicopter platform & hanger, four AK-630 30mm CIWS mounts and a SA-N-4, NATO code name "Gecko", surface to air system (Project 68U-2). She was also fitted for command and control. Zhdanov had X turret landed but instead of a missile system the ship was reconfigured as a command and control cruiser (Project 68U-1). Her large size made her much more suitable for this role than the much smaller contemporary Soviet Rocket Cruisers. She had the size and habitability necessary for the additional communications fittings and personnel needed to adequately function in this role. Radar systems associated with the different weapons groups were also installed. Some of the class, such as Oktyabiskaya Revolutsiya (originally Molotovsk), Admiral Ushakov, and Mikhail Kutusov received a square box structure on the forward superstructure (Project 68A). Others of the class received less noticeable upgrades.
For a class of warships, designed in the mid-to-late 1940s, the Sverdlov Class enjoyed a long run of service to the Soviet Union and latter to Russia, after the disappearance of the Soviet state. Starting in the late 1980s, most of the members of the class began leaving active service. Murmansk was the last to disappear, being scrapped in 1994, 39 years after first being commissioned. (The bulk of the history of the class comes from Soviet Warships 1945 to the Present by John Jordan and various issues of Janeís Fighting Ships.)
Kraysera Tipa Sverdlov, Morskaya Kollektsia #2/1998- (Cruiser Type, Sverdlov) Written by A.B. Shchirokorad, this is another issue in that wonderful series published in the Morskaya Kollektsia series by Modelist Konstruktor. Written in Russian with a few titles in English, this is undoubtedly the best reference on the class. The contents of itís 32 pages, plus covers, include 42 photographs (two in color), 30 line drawings and 13 tables. The drawings include plans and profiles of Chapayev (preceding class), and Sverdlov in 1952. Profiles without plans are Oktyabriskaya Revolutsia (Project 68A) in 1970, Dzerzhinskii (Project 70E) in 1970, Zhdanov (Project 68U-1) in 1989, Mikhail Kutuzov (Project 68A) in 1993, and Dmitrii Pojarskii in 1980. In addition, among other treats, there is a nice two page isometric (forward starboard quarter view) of Sverdlov. Cover color artwork includes the front cover painting, profile color schemes of Admiral Senyavin in 1961, Dzerzhinskii in 1980 and the design for the never completed Shcherbakov with quad AA mounts rather than the twin 37mm mounts. Lack of knowledge of Russian deprives you of digging into the gold mine of information contained in the text but as usual, the graphics alone make this the best source of information on this topic. Get it if you can find it!
Soviet Warships 1945 to Present, by John Jordan (Arms and Armour Press, 1992) This volume is normally an excellent English language source on Soviet warships. However, in the case of the Sverdlov Class it is a disappointment. The volume has only general information on Stalinís naval legacy, which includes the Sverdlovs. It hits its stride starting with the construction under the new management of Krushchev. Good for covering the change of emphasis and strategy in the 1950s, there is only one photo of the class and no drawings. Most of the history of the development of the class in this article comes from this source.
Janeís Fighting Ships, various issues. The standard in warship references, the various Janeís Annuals are good for tracing the evolution of members of the class. They are especially valuable in identifying changes in weaponry with associated NATO code names.
Krayseri Sovetskogo Flota, (Cruisers of the Soviet Fleet) by A. V. Platonov, Sankt Peterburg, 1999. Another source written entirely in Russian, this volume does have nice filled drawing profiles of Sverdlov, Dzerzhinskii (Project 70-E), Admiral Senyavin (Project 68U-2)(not shown in MK 2/1998), and Admiral Nahkimov (shown with no A or B turrets and the ungainly SS-N-1 "Scrubber" mount on the bow, which is also not shown in MK 2/1998) The presence of these last two drawings is very valuable for those who wish to convert the Sverdlov, Dzerzhinskii or Zhdanov kits into Admiral Senyavin or especially Admiral Nahkimov. You have to love that "Scrubber" mount.
(When I purchased Sverdlov, I also purchased the KomBrig kit of Chapayev. The Chapayev hull was extremely unusual in that it is very pliable/bendable. I donít know if this was an experiment by KomBrig or an accident in the resin composition mix. The pros and cons to the resin mix of that hull will be described in a forthcoming review of the Chapayev.)
KomBrig continues to add more and more detail, cast integral to the hull. The model displays better detail than earlier efforts. Some of the nicely done detail, cast as part of the hull, are the three anchors (Two at the bow and one at the stern) cast into anchor wells, the mine-laying rails on the quarterdeck, nice paravanes, reels, bollards and breakwater. The capstans and anchor chain could be a little better but are serviceable. All in all, there is more intricate detail cast into this hull then in previous KomBrig kits that I have built. The fittings layout on the deck closely followed the detailed plan in Kraysera Tipa Sverdlov, Morskaya Kollektsia #2/1998. The hull is cast with "Aztec steps" at inclined ladder locations. I recommend removing these with a hobby knife, which is easily done, and replacing them with Photo-Etch inclined ladders.
The kit has quite a number of small parts that are generally very well executed. I especially liked the SPN-500 s RLS "Yakori" fire control radars and the 3.9 inch (100mm) secondary mounts. There are 16 twin 37mm gun assemblies, mounted on one resin block (4x4). Use a hobby knife and care when you remove them because the way they were cast connected to one square block, places them close together and easy to break. Dry fit the forward bridge decks/levels. One deck level will sit on top of and flush with the base of the forward stack. Unless you sand these forward bridge levels, you will not get a proper, flush fit. This is because the resin casting film on which these levels are cast is still substantially thicker than found in the kits from the Western European manufacturers. Basically, you have to sand off the width of the casting film to get the proper fit. One area that could cause confusion is the presence or absence of positioning studs or holes in the deck levels. It was a nice idea to provide them but the execution was incomplete. Some levels had a positioning stud but no co-responding hole and others had the hole but no co-responding stud. I ended up removing most of the studs and just dry fitting to insure proper fit before gluing them down.
The KomBrigSverdlov could benefit from the usual additions to KomBrig kits. I added Photo-Etch railing (photos show that members of this class were at different times, fitted with two, three and four bar railing), inclined ladders, yard arm railing and inclined ladders. Other additions were a plastic rod (.02) boat boom for the main mast, platforms where the inclined ladders go from quarter deck to main deck (from resin film or plastic card), horizontal supports for the fore mast (from .01x.02 plastic strips) and rigging from stretched sprue.
The instructions provided with the kit are specifically for the kit, modeling the ship as originally constructed. Although the kit provides for a small amount of additional parts, undoubtedly used in building Dzerzhinskii or Zhdanov, they are not shown in the assembly drawing, thereby avoiding the pitfall of the earlier cruiser kit. The assembly drawing is fairly simple and logical. The only difficulty came in determining which platform goes where on the two masts. The shapes on the assembly diagram donít show the right shaped platforms with sufficient clarity. I relied on the drawings in the instructions and in the Sverdlov Morskaya Kollektsia title to clarify their location.