1/700 Combrig
Russian Armored Cruiser Russia

Reviewed by Vladimir Yakubov

Armored Cruiser Rossiya was a second in the line of three large armored cruisers build in Russia in 1890s.  It followed the Armored Cruiser Rurik, which caused a lot of consternation in UK after its commissioning in 1895.  Neither Rurik nor Rossiya were armored cruisers in the true form, since while they did have armored belts, their artillery was not armored.  They were designed as commerce raiders with a very long (for the time) range of 7700 miles.  In the sense of their design specifications and the reaction they provoked they were similar to the German Deutschland class Pocket Battleships 40 years later.

Rossiya was laid down in May 1895 and commissioned in September 1897, a very fast construction time for the Russian shipbuilding industry which took almost 6 years to build her predecessor Rurik.  Rossiya displaced 12580 tons, had top speed of 19.74 knots and was heavily armed with four 8” guns, sixteen 6”, twelve 75mm guns, twenty 47mm guns and eighteen 37mm guns.  She also had 5 above water torpedo tubes and was protected by an 8” belt of armor.

Soon after commissioning she was sent to the Far East, where she together with her half sisters Rurik and Gromoboy formed a Vladivostok Cruiser Squadron.  During the Russo-Japanese War they formed the only successful Russian naval unit of the war.  In the first 7 months of the conflict they made six cruises in the vicinity of Japan disrupting Japanese commerce and scaring Japanese citizens.  At one time the things got so bad in Japan that a crowd burned a house belonging to Admiral Kamimura, who was assigned to catch these ships.   The squadron’s biggest success came when they intercepted a Japanese troop transport Hitachi Maru in the vicinity of Korea.  After the transport refused to surrender it was sunk with at least a 1000 Japanese soldiers and eighteen 11” siege guns destined for Port Arthur.

The end for the combat operations of the Vladivostok Cruiser Squadron came as it comes typically for such raiders, cornered by superior force and unable to run.  It happened on 1 August 1904, when Vladivostok cruisers were ordered to sortie to rendezvous with the main Russian fleet attempting to break out of the besieged Port Arthur.  Unfortunately Russian fleet was defeated and was forced to turn back to Port Arthur, but the squadron was unaware of that happening since radio communications were still in their infancy.  As the cruisers steamed to the rendezvous point they were intercepted by Admiral Kamimura with 4 armored and 2 protected cruisers 36 miles north of Tsushima, near a Korean port of Ulsan.  Russian squadron slowed by old Rurik (able to do less than 18 knots at the time) was unable to evade more modern Japanese cruisers.   Rossiya, flying the flag of Admiral Iessen, was the lead ship of the Russian column, followed by Gromoboy with Rurik bringing up the rear.  The battle began at 0523 at 8500m.  Within half an hour Rurik was damaged and started to fall behind the other two ships.  Russian squadron made numerous turns to enable Rurik to catch up, but at 0640 a hit on the rudder put her out of control and unable to maneuver.  Two other Russian ships tried to interpose themselves between wounded Rurik and the Japanese, but by 0850 it was apparent that Rurik was lost and Russian ships made their final turn toward Vladivostok, while at 1000 Japanese believing that some of their ships were running short on ammunition slowed down and turned back toward Tsushima.  Last shots were fired at 1005 when the Japanese shell burst in the Rurik’s conning tower killing her captain and leaving a Junior Gunnery Officer, Lieutenant Ivanov, in command.  He realized the hopelessness of the situation and was determined to prevent the ship from falling into Japanese hands and ordered the Kingston valves to be opened and scuttled the ship.  During the engagement Russian ships suffered heavy loses with Rurik losing 170 killed and 230 wounded (only 4 out of 22 officers were unwounded), Rossiya having received over 30 hits lost 44 killed and 156 wounded, while Gromoboy having been hit 20+ times lost 87 killed and 170 wounded.

After return to Vladivostok with Gromoboy having hit a rock two months after the battle and the war going badly, Rossiya stayed in port for the rest of the war.  After the war the ship was modernized with middle mast removed and all of the small caliber guns replaced with 8 more 6” ones.  In 1906 she was transferred to the Baltic and spent the rest of her life there.  During WWI, along with her old squadron mate Gromoboy, Rossiya was active in nearly all of the operation of the Russian fleet, both laying mines and covering other ships during minelaying.  In the winter of 1916 she was again modernized with addition of 4 more 8” guns on the centerline tripling her heavy broadside.  For the rest of the war she was mostly inactive, and after the revolution she was placed in reserve and sold for scrap in 1922 to a German company.

The Model

Rossiya is has been in the Kombrig catalogues for a while and when I got the kit I was expecting the quality to be on par with their earlier kits, which is to say not all that great.  However I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the box.  The kit was cast in the tan resin used on the newer Kombrig kits with all of the small parts also being of very good quality.  The kit represents the ships as it appeared from commissioning until the end of Russo-Japanese War.  There are two paint schemes that would be appropriate for this model.  First is pre-war overall white hull and superstructure with yellow smokestacks with black tops and gunmetal gun barrels.  Second one is of the overall dark Green ship as she was pained during Russo-Japanese War.


The hull is very detailed and is nicely cast for the most part.  Unfortunately it seems to me that too much mold release was used and there were several pits in the hull and the texture was pretty rough in places. 

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Another gripe that I have with Kombrig hulls is that there is an indentation running across the windows in the hull on most of their models and this one is no exception.  I assume that it is from the master where they drew it so that all of the windows would line up, but didn’t smooth it out later. The hull would require some cleanup, which would be difficult since there is a lot of the hull detail that would either have to be worked around or sanded off and replaced.  On the plus, side the side and deck detail is excellent and it is the first Kombrig model that I’ve seen without any Aztec ladders. 
Superstructure and Small Details

One of the reason’s that I love those old armored cruisers is that there isn’t that much superstructure on them and Rossiya is of no exception.  The superstructure consists of conning tower, two bridges and boiler room tops with smoke stacks.  All of the superstructures are excellently cast on a very thin carrier film which will be easy to take off.  Both boiler room tops and smoke stacks have locator pins that fit snugly and will make it very easy to arrange them on the ship.  The castings are very clean and have no air bubble or rough areas. 

One of the criticisms that I heard leveled at Kombrig is that they include overly thick splinter shields in their models.  That is however incorrect, since in many cases those are not splinter shields, but rather storage lockers for the sailor’s hammocks.  This is the case in this model.  The aft bridge has what appears to be a thick splinter shield around it, but after an examination of the references it was actually hammock storage are.  The forward bridge also has canvas covered railings around it, but it much thinner and doesn’t appear to be out of scale.  One has to consult specific period references on whether it has to be removed or not, since at some photographs it appears that the canvas covering was used and at other times the rails were bare.  There are 14 boats in the kit which is enough to outfit all of the ship.  Complex boat davits are excellently cast and are easy to remove from their carrier film.

As appropriate for any armored cruiser the ship bristled with guns.  Unfortunately no casemate mounted guns are provided and will have to be scratchbuilt.  On the other hand all of the deck guns are provided.  There are two 8” guns, one 6” gun, twelve 75mm guns and twenty 47mm guns in the kit.  All are very well cast, but many of the gun shields on the 47mm guns in my example were broken off.  The two 8” guns behind the gun shields are usually included in other Kombrig kits as 6” guns, but after comparing them with my references the gun shields look about right for the 8” guns, since the gun shields for both types of guns were almost the same.  The gun barrel will have to be increased slightly in length from both sides of the shield to make a correct length of the gun barrel.  The same thing can be said about the aft 6” gun.  The gun shield looks about correct, but the gun barrel is too short.  I usually replace all of the gun barrels with hypodermic tubing, so the absence of some gun barrels and need to replace the others is not a problem for me, but others should be aware of them.


Instructions feature a brief history of the ship in both English and Russian (first time I’ve seen that in the Kombrig kit) as well as ship’s stats and a 700 scale 2 view drawing of the ship.  On the other side there is a photo of the parts of the ship and the diagram of what goes where.  Unfortunately, both the diagram and the part photos show the parts before they were updated and many of the parts shown on the diagrams don’t exist in the kit.  However it is still very easy to understand and will pose no problems in construction.


Overall this kit is a good representation of Rossiya (I haven’t measured the kit, since I don’t have the waterline length).  It as a potential to be an excellent kit since all of the small details are excellently cast, but the problems with the hull cleanup and to smaller extent with the guns keep it from reaching that.  It will certainly build up into good representation of Rossiya and I recommend this kit to an experienced modeler interested in the Russian ships or the ships of Russo-Japanese War.  With its four stack and three masts it will look distinctive, whether in its white or dark green camouflage.


For a  full buildup review  click the image on the right for a preview

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