Combrig 1/700 Russian
Light Cruiser Kerch 1955
(ex-Italian Duca D'Aosta)

Reviewed by Timothy Dike

The Emanuele Filiberto Duca d'Aosta was an Italian light cruiser of the fourth group of Condottieri class that served with the Regia Marina during World War II. She survived the war but was ceded as a war reparation to the Soviet Navy in 1949. She was finally renamed Kerch and served in the Black Sea Fleet until the 1960's. 

Duca d'Aosta was on of the fourth or Duca d'Aosta class of Condottieri light cruisers. The design of Duca d'Aosta derived from the preceding Montecuccolili class with a slight increase in size and significant increase in armament. The machinery was rearranged. Duca d'Aosta was built by OTO, Livorno and was named after Emanuele Filiberto, 2nd Duke of Aosta, an Italian Field Marshal of World War I.

The ship joined the 7th Cruiser Division and in 1938 departed on a circumnavigation with her sister ship, Eugenio Di Savoria. The deteriorating world political situation caused this to be cut short after visits to the Caribbean and South America and the ships returned La Speizia in March . At the Italian entry into the war d'Aosta was part of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron and participated in the Battle of Punto Stilo between 6-10 July. In addition she protected North Africa convoys took part in a fleet sortie against the British cruisers and bombarded Corfu on 18 December. During 1941 d'Aosta served mostly with the 8th Cruiser Division laying minefields off North Africa  and protecting convoys. One of the convoy duties  in December  led to the First Battle o Sirte, in which d'Aosta took part.

Her duties in 1942 were much as before but with aggressive actions against Allied convoys including Operations Harpoon and Vigorous in June to resupply the British controlled island of Malta. She sailed in August to intercept the critical Pedestal convoy, but being without air cover this sortie was abandoned. On 13 June 1942 the d'Aosta survived a torpedo attack  by the British submarine HMS Unison while south of Sardina with the Raimondo Montercuccoli. In 1943 the d'Aosta was inactive due to fuel shortages for most of the remainder of the year. But in August she attempted, unsuccessfully a bombardment of the Allied positions around Palermo. 

After the Italian Amastice the Duca d'Aosta had a minor refit at Taranto and in October 1943 with the cruisers Duca degli Abruzzi and Giuseppe Garibahdi she sailed for the South Atlantic to serve with the Allied on the shipping blockade duties based at Freetown. There were seven patrols between November 1943 and February 1944. She was returned to Italy in April and thereafter was used only for transport.

After the war the d'Aosta was inactive. On 2 March 1949, transferred to the Soviet Union as Z15. She was first named Stalingrad, then as Kerch and served with the Soviet Black Sea Fleet until she was stricken on 20 February 1959 and scrapped in the 1960's.

This new kit from Combrig takes the World War II version of the Duca d'Aosta and upgrades it to it's Soviet Navy appearance in 1955.

The Hull cast waterline style with some really nice detailing. There are recessed panel lines cast onto the deck and plenty of nicely cast bits along the deck edge. The hull shape looks correct for this ship with the characteristic wide bow deck and sleek lines. There is a lack of detail on the walls of the cast on portion of the superstructure. There should be some doors and portholes along the sides.
click images
to enlarge
Most of the superstructure parts are cast on thin resin wafers. The parts are well cast with little flash. One thing that stands out is the way the parts are designed to fit together. In most cases there are properly sized sockets for the corresponding parts to fit into. This will save the builder a ton of time in sanding and getting the fit right. I'm not a big fan of the resin wafer method of casting parts, but Combrig manages to keep the thickness of the wafer to a minimum. 
Notice the nicely shaped funnel tops with an almost finished appearance. Like the hull these parts seem to lack portholes and doors that are shown on the plans but not cast on to the parts.
The main gun turrets are very plain appearing with only hatch and gun openings on the front face. Separate sighting hoods are provided for the upper mounts. The instruction profile shows that there should be some hatches on the sides. The twin gun barrels are cast with blast bags. Secondary guns are well cast with exceptional detail. But I wish the shields and gun assemblies has been cast separate. 

Some very finely cast fittings are provided for the ships anchors and various cable reels. Paravanes and other fittings are also provided. Mast parts are included, but if you plan to add rigging you will want to use these are templates for brass rod replacements.
The ships boats are very well cast with very nice detailing. Boat davits are extremely thin, but surpassingly strong thanks to the harder more durable resin that Combrig uses.
A fret is included with funnel grills brackets, anchor chain, and the various platforms needed on this kit. There are some extra parts intended to be used on the Italian version of this kit. You will need to supply your own railings. 
The Instructions are two pages with plan and elevation views and some exploded views on the back. These are pretty good and seem to show where everything goes.

A very well cast kit of an already obscure ship in a fit that mostly overlooked. It is nice to see Combrig back in action bringing this kit to life. It features excellent casting, but is somewhat marred by lack of doors and portholes on the superstructure. The latter is easily remedied by a drill and some aftermarket doors and hatches. This kit is listed for $50 US at Pacific Front Hobbies. a good price for this kit. It will make a fine addition to your early Soviet Baltic Fleet.