Combrig 1/350 Smerch / Kirov River Monitor

Reviewed January 2018
by Sean Hert
The Imperial Russian Navy originally commissioned this class of river monitors for service on the Amur river before WWI, and they served in various fits until after WWII. Their notable combat use was in the 1929 conflict with China. 

Smerch entered service on 02.09.1910 as part of the Amur river flotilla. On 21.12.1921 the monitor was scuttled by the crew due to fears of foreign invaders. By 1932, the vessel was raised and restored, and was later modernized in 1936-37. By 1939, it was renamed "Kirov". Post war, "Kirov" was reclassified as a training veseels, and was later scapped post March of 1958.

This kit from Combrig allows for either a full-hull or waterline build of "Smerch" in 1910 fit or the "Kirov" in a 1945 fit. (The use of the name "Kirov" is particularly confusing, as there were up to three different vessels in service with the Soviet Navy named "Kirov") 

This gunboat guns in a two-piece hull configuration. Like most monitor/gunboats, the upper hull is relatively minimalist and free of clutter, but well detailed with various hatches, turret locators and other pin holes for deck fittings.

The lower hull is very simple, and lines up well with the upper hull.

The resin parts of this kit breat down into 3 groups; the various superstructure and deckhouses needed for the 1910 and 1945 versions of this monitor, the different weapons fits of the two versions, and the assorted gear common to both the 1910 and 1945 vessels.

The "M" parts, M1-M18, are molded on from one single mold and joined by resin film. The various turrets are provided loose, and some are similar in shape and lack any sort of identifying part number, so close examination of page 2 of instructions will be required. The same applies to the remaining resin parts attached to sprues. The resin gun barrels have open muzzles cast in shape- and nice detail.

Many of the resin parts exhibit moire patterns, indicating 3D printed masters; these patterns will need to be sanded or filled in before final assembly and paint.

This kit comes with a fret of photoetch, composed mostly of railing, splinter shields, with extra details for items like the whaleboats and guns. 
There are no decals included in this kit.
The instructions are made of of three sheets of paper with 5 pages of instructions; 2 of the pages giving some historical information on the vessel in Cyrillic, a page with the parts contents, and then 3 pages of assembly- one page for Smerch, 2 for Kirov. These instructions will require careful study and planning of the photoetch parts and required rods for mast and stanchions. 

This is an interesting and unique release from Combrig that is ready for a diorama build. The general fit and finish of this kit seems to meet the high standards Combrig has been exhibiting for years now, but I think this kit would benefit from brass barrels for the guns and some included brass or styrene rod to meet the various call-outs in the instructions. Additonally, the instructions are lacking any sort of painting instructions- at least none in English- and for such an uncommon subject with few resources, this will be a troublesome problem to research. Nevertheless, it's still a great kit and I recommend it. 

Thanks to Combrig for the review sample.

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