The situation by the end of 30-ies of the cruising forces of the Soviet Union, very much like the case of bygone days when the country was an Empire and was called Russia. Stalin and his loyal Commissars wanted to create a “large fleet” is not less than the last Tsar and his entourage. And again ambitious plans were constantly in conflict with higher-priority and urgent tasks, lack of experience and aspirations to create something, which is obviously superior to future adversaries. However, unlike tsarist Russia, the Soviet Union managed not only to develop but also time to implement in the metal is original and very interesting project domestic cruiser. “Light heavyweight” of the 26th (“Kirov”) and its development, 26-bis (“Maxim Gorky”) was undoubtedly an interesting alternative to the standard “contractual” light and heavy cruisers. But the idea with the intermediate 180-mm caliber, it turned out not quite successful, mainly due to insufficient rate of fire and survivability of the barrel of the gun. In addition, the ships were very expensive to reproduce them in dozens of instances seems unrealistic from a financial point of view.
Although the Soviet Union were rejected “bourgeois treaties”, global trends in Maritime armaments, our designers looked very closely. Appearance after the entry into force of the London naval agreement in all the major Maritime powers of light cruisers of the new generation also has not escaped the attention of national analysts. In 1936 the leadership of the fleet made the requirements for a new massive multi-purpose ship intended for solving a variety of problems, from exploration and work with the fleet, before the actions on enemy communications and active minefields. These requirements seemed quite reasonable and were under the “General stream”, since in the following year, the Soviet Union signed the UK agreement in accordance with which officially committed to adhere to Maritime contracts in terms of size and armament of military units. However, the original Soviet project had not even reached the contractual maximum. At standard displacement of 8,300 tons of new cruisers were supposed to be nine 152-mm guns of the main caliber in three towers located at the most logical scheme – two in the nose and one in the stern, eight anti-aircraft “acres”, twelve 37-mm guns, a couple of three-pipe torpedo tubes and could take up to a hundred min. In the tradition and characteristics of the main Maritime theaters of the USSR – the Baltic and the Black sea is provided for high speed (35 knots) with a relatively small range (4500 miles). Such a ship would look well-balanced (at 100-mm protection Board and 50-mm deck – a marked improvement over the predecessors – project 26 and 26-bis), and, importantly, economically acceptable.
However, the development of the preliminary draft, get the number 68, took over a year and a half, in no small part due to the beloved Patriotic leadership – attempts to lock to make changes that improve the “product”. (However, it was found that the desired characteristics still do not fit in the design displacement, which could not be less than 9000, etc) So on a cruiser there’s a fourth tower at the stern, and the displacement was increased to 10 000 t. the Reason is quite clear: Soviet ship could not yield to any nearby Western or Eastern or distant overseas “probable adversary”, which I prefer to build military units for the maximum allowed displacement, that is, in the same 10 thousand tons with the same armament of twelve six-inch. Indeed, a modified ‘ 68 project in your final caught up to rivals, and in some ways surpassed them. Strong looked a reservation, especially artillery. Tactical and technical elements were well balanced. In General, the project does not succumb to such worthy vehicles as the British “town” or the American “Brookline”. However, as expected, dignity had to buy at the cost of some losses. So, the design speed fell on a couple of sites, and, most importantly, the ship finally ceased to be cheap. But within the 3-year plan (1938 -1942 G. G.) was supposed to lay the largest domestic fleet series cruisers – 16 units, 5 of which had to be launched before the end of the five-year plan.
In reality the execution of the plan began on August 29, 1939, when in Nikolaev took place the tab of “Frunze”. After 2 days in Leningrad laid “Valery Chkalov”, and in the same Nikolaev – “Kuibyshev”. However, formally the head whose name is usually referred to as the entire series was “Chapaev”, although a similar procedure with him took place in the “Northern capital” in October.
What happened in the future, it is clear and not surprising. As “Svetlana” from the beginning of the 1st world war, “Chapayev” was in limbo after June 22, 1941. A sudden attack of the “new eternal ally” put an end to their construction. But at the same time the German technology was assigned to certain expectations: to accelerate the commissioning intended on some units to establish the German 150-mm guns, CC and 105-mm antiaircraft guns (the project received the designation 68И (“foreign”). Fortunately, this was abandoned in late 1940. But fate has laid cruisers, and so was sad. Of the number built in Nikolaev managed to save the hull, launched the “Frunze” and “Kuibyshev”, oboxious them first in Sevastopol, and then to the Caucasian shores. But those on the stocks of the “Ordzhonikidze” and “Sverdlov” fell into the hands of the Germans. However, the invaders did not even try to finish the trophies, but just quickly snapped them on the metal.
Not much better things were in the Baltic. Were afloat at berths Leningrad shipbuilding plant “Chapaev” and “Zheleznyakov” is fully preserved. A similar fate befell the “Chkalov”, which did not even have time to pull water. All five had to wait for the end of the world. And after the end of hostilities to the completion began at once: have bled much of the country lacked more important and priority tasks. However, in 1950-m to year all five went into operation formally as the other, modified – 68К.
Late on 7 – 8 years vehicles for entry into service was a contradictory sight. On the one hand, they had good characteristics. Powerful 152-mm gun had great for this caliber range – more than 160 office, and excellent ballistic characteristics, including a 55-pound projectile. The armor looked pretty decent: a 100-mm zone had a considerable width of 3.3 m and extended from the bow the first tower to the second feed under the guise of the ends 120 – 100-mm traverses. The case had even torpedo protection quite considerable depth (in the area of mechanical installation is about 4 m), even without the internal armored bulkheads.