Building the Russian Gunboat Khrabri in 1897 by Jim Baumann
The Russian Gunboat Khrabri  meaning ‘The Brave/Courageous in Russian ) was completed in 1897 for the Tsarist navy. 

Displacing 1735 tons on an overall length of 237 ft, she was armed with  2 x 8in  45 cal guns in shielded mounts in  sponsons forward  and a   6in  45 cal gun aft. Along with  5 x 3 pdrs,  4 x 1 pdrs and a 20 in TT in the bow she packed quite a punch for her size!  She was coal fired, and could reach 14.5 knots. 

Crewed by 201 officers and men she was heavily armoured as well—so much so that she sat somewhat below her designed waterline!

 In 1899-1900 she was at the French yard at Toulon and had some of this excess weight removed.  After updating her armament to 50 cal she served and partook in most engagements throughout the First World War in the Baltic Sea region. She was also used for convoy escorts and coastal bombardments.

In Soviet times the vessel was renamed ‘Krasnoye Znamya’ 

In 1942 she was stationed at Lavensaari, one of the newly occupied islands in the Gulf of Finland. On 18 November 1942 three Finnish high-speed torpedo boats attacked the port of Lavisaari and sank Krasnoye Znamya with a torpedo hit. 

Almost a year later, on 13th November 1943 she was raised, extensively rebuilt and modernised and on 17 September 1944 returned to service! 

Her outline had changed considerably by now and was almost unrecognisable from the original ship. She served until the late 1950’s and was scrapped in 1962.

Note:  The historical background has been gleaned from various German and Scandinavian websites. I had the very useful Russian Morskie Kollektsia  issue   11/2005 to assist in the build of this model, from which the above images originates,

within which  are  some very useful drawings and photos along with many pages of text - in Cyrillic…! Despite my inability to read any of the text this magazine is highly recommended for anyone whishing to detail their  Khrabri model

My model represents Khrabri as in 1900- based on photos in the above publication. The kit produced by Combrig is fundamentally very good -  alas it is not flawless…

The first thing I changed was the funnel, the kit supplied item being rather too short, cast solid and having an incorrect profile at the base.  A replacement funnel was made using copper tubing cut with an old and deliberately blunt miniature K& S Metals tubecutter; this resulted in the very pleasing slight flare at the top of the funnel.

The lower end was made using two different sizes of wire rings and a wrapper of paper infused with CA glue. The steam pipe was added with the pipe-standoff being made of a drop of thinned white glue. The ram-bow was re-shaped, the torpedo tube enlarged and furnished with a lid of brass. The bow and stern scrollwork was made using scrap PE and thick paint. 

The conning tower was the right shape in plan outline, but would not satisfy in profile view, lacking the overhang and sighting slit. A squashed-tube replacement was made, with the bevelled roof being made of styrene sheet carefully pared and sanded.

 Examination of photos shows the access stairs to have changed position from fwd to aft around 1902, presumably accessing the top of the conning tower in a head-sea and a biting wind was deemed to be more pleasant in the shelter of the conning tower!

The gun houses for the sponson mounted 45 cal 8 in guns were rather too tall; I cured this by cutting off the bottom, and sanding down the top until they matched photos. The barrels are also over length; resembling more the later 50 cal items, a quick trim with a knife and sanding stick was all that was required. The various skylights and deckhouses had additional ports drilled in according to plans. Navigation light boxes were made of paper; davit and crane pulleys were made of aircraft wheels and Pompom PE sights respectively!

The cowl vents in the kit did not compare well to photos, the real ships vents  mouth being very flared and much larger than those in the kit parts

. I modified them with the application of a small copper ring affixed to the fwd face with CA glue, the resulting hollow being backfilled with white glue. Once the white glue had thoroughly set I opened up the mouth of the vent with a round burr drill bit. 

The  model was mounted in a seascape made of artist water colour paper  as described here

However, I wished to portray the ship moving at 14 knots plus, the beamy hull travelling at speed would create a ‘hollow’ waveform midships. This necessitated Khrabri showing some lower hull.  I remedied this by infilling the void between the waterline and the sea-base with white glue, and then painting the underwater part red.
Once the sea was painted the deception is impossible to detect!


The QF guns that were supplied as a resin casting were rather good, apart form the solid base. Photos show the guns to be mounted on what looks like an Oktapod

I had a few PE items suitable for this; the photos illustrate the method.

The remainder of the build was straightforward; merely constant referral to photos and plans being required to permit the addition of more small details that make this diminutive vessel to appear  larger  than this tiny 1/700  model actually is!

Tapered stainless steel pole masts were rigged in the usual manner as described here:

khrabri-11 khrabri-12 khrabri-13 khrabri-14 khrabri-15
khrabri-16 khrabri-17 khrabri-18 khrabri-19 khrabri-20
khrabri-21 khrabri-22 khrabri-23 khrabri-24

All in all a most enjoyable little ship model, despite a few shortcomings I would readily recommend the kit  as an inexpensive means of building something unusual!

More of Jim Baumann's work.
Updated 2010