This ship has been so far the one I loved most. Variag (the Viking), built in the United States for Russia, was one of the most elegant and fast ships of her times, with 7000 tons and a test speed of almost 25 knots. The vessel was armed with 12 152mm guns, most of them exposed on the decks without protection, as the ships main operational target should have been merchant traffic on the eastern routes. On the eve of the battle of Port Arthur, Variag and the little gunboat Koreyets found themselves trapped in the Korean port of Chemulpo by a Japanese fleet of 6 cruisers and 8 destroyers. In response to the ultimatum of the Japanese rear admiral Uriu, captain Vsevolod Rudnev led both ships out of port to engage the enemy in a fierce and unequal battle, under the vexill of St.Patrick. The battle lasted about 5 hours and, at the end of the day, the Russian decided to sink the heavily damaged Variag and to blast the Koreyets to prevent them falling into enemy’s hands. The surviving seamen of Variag and Koreyets, rescued by Italian, British and French cruisers stationed nearby, were give a hero's welcome upon their return to Russia and honored with tribute and ceremony. From that time on, up to the present days, there shall always be 2 ships called Variag and Koreyets within the Russian navy.
The model is a 1:350 scale plastic kit by Zvezda, actually my first experience with that company. I must state immediately that the quality of the kit is extraordinary good, with very detailed parts, extremely crisp and well done, even the smallest ones. As usually, I built the ship nearly as out of the box, adding only photo-etched railings and ladders, anchor chains and cables. Painting was done with Humbrol enamels with great attention to give a realistic appearance of the wood planking of the bridge, that really deserves such attention due to its exceptional relief. I chose to paint the Variag in her peacetime livery of 1903, with white hull and superstructure and dark yellow funnels and vents.
For those who are interested in the history of the Russo-Japanese war and the story of Variag, I advice a research through Google that shall lead them to very interesting information and documents. In particular I want to mention that you can find and unload a series of beautiful songs and music of the RJ war (among them the patriotic song "Variag") as well as that you could find and purchase on eBay the authentic silver medal coined in Russia in 1905 to honor the seamen of Variag and Koreyets.
Florence - Italy