With all due respect to the original exercise that led to the birth of the “red Caucasus”, it can be noted that they were not too helpful from the point of view of creating a modern cruiser. Designed 20 years ago, the case did not fit modern standards. Therefore, the leadership of the Navy of the USSR with great interest looked to what was done abroad. Negotiations on cooperation were conducted with almost all the major Maritime powers — great Britain, Italy, France, the United States, slowly reviving Germany, and even Holland. However, the “mistress of the seas” on co-operation was extremely reluctant, as well as the French; overseas designers interested primarily (if not exclusively) money — they were ready to “beautiful draw” any project, not caring about who and how will build it, and international weight, they are clearly lacking. The Germans have not yet turned in full force. As the main source of ideas and knowledge could only fascist Italy. I must say that at that time she had considerable authority in shipbuilding. According to tradition, beginning with Cuniberti naval theorists of the Peninsula set the tone in the original development And, most importantly, the totalitarian regimes of countries that had as its goal the building of socialism (albeit much different), experienced each other some trust. In 1930, the great Soviet delegation stayed in Italy, having examined the 37(!) shipbuilding, artillery, and other related metallurgical plants and having visited two dozen of the most modern ships. Not surprisingly, when choosing a prototype of the first Soviet cruisers of the Italian “condo-Thierry” was out of competition. Moreover, the assurances of cooperation was followed by “from the top”.
Fortunately for us, the process has slowed down, and by 1932, I really had to choose from: new “condottieri” series D (“Raymondo, Montecuccoli”) was a well-balanced ships, with a good outline, enough waste and very powerful power plant and, most importantly, had a decent defense, the almost complete lack of which previously caused a fair criticism of Soviet specialists.
However, these same experts believed that can accommodate the “Italian vessel” is much more than its original “owners”. The highlight was the artillery: once taken for granted was that the first Soviet cruisers will have a 180-mm guns. In principle, the idea seemed reasonable: not associated notorious agreements, the Soviet Union could obtain a combat unit displacement with a more powerful armament than the “London” light cruisers with their six-inch. But then arose the problem of how and in what quantities to place these formidable cannon. In the first draft with a displacement of 6,000 tonnes are generally placed no more than four pieces, for which he was rejected. The designers promised due to raise 500 tonnes to create a cruiser, covered with 50-mm deck and side armor, with three two-gun 180-mm of towers and a speed of 37 knots.
Great result, but… not technically justified. During detailed design it became clear that the project, like many Soviet plans for those years, proved to be too optimistic due to lack of experience. More or less reasonable distribution of weight increased the displacement of up to seven thousand tons, and this value is unlikely to have been able to execute in metal. For those dashing years loomed “typical sabotage”. And then followed the course of close to genius. The designers have proposed to increase the artillery of the main caliber in half, placing the towers on three stems instead of two. It is clear that an increase in the tonnage of 200 t seemed quite modest. The project received full approval.
Thus was born the cruiser “Kirov” is the first class of Soviet cruisers, only on paper and still not in the final version. Even had to show the finished drawings and calculations to the engineers of the company “Ansaldo”, which not only acted as the main consultant, but also supply mechanical installation. After all corrections the standard displacement “light” cruiser had grown to almost eight thousand tons. In principle, it is a reasonable value for a very interesting combination of elements of the ship, but a lot more the initial value. This kind of “overloading due to optimism”, unfortunately, was typical for the majority of our first projects.
193. Light cruiser “Kirov” (USSR, 1938)
Built to plant them. Ordzhonikidze in Leningrad. Standard displacement — 7770 t, full — 9440 tons, maximum length—191,3 m, width—17,66 m, draught — of 7.23 m. Capacity twin-shaft steam turbine 110 000 HP, speed 35 KTS. Reservations: belt 50 mm, deck 50 mm, 50 mm towers, barbettes, 50 mm, combat tower 150 mm. Armament: nine 180/57-mm guns, six 100/47 mm anti-aircraft guns, six 45-mm semi-automatic, four 12.7 mm machine guns, two three-pipe 533-mm torpedo tubes, 2 seaplane, up to 100 min. In 1936-1938, the years project 26, built two units: “Kirov” and “Voroshilov”. The last in 1959, reclassified as optovoe the ship, from 1972—a floating barracks in 1973 are excluded from the lists and scrapped. “Kirov” since 1961 the school ship, excluded from the lists in 1974, dismantled in 1977
194. Light cruiser “Maxim Gorky” (USSR, 1940)
Built to plant them.Ordzhonikidze in Leningrad. Standard displacement 8050 t, full — 9800 tons, maximum length—191,4 m, a width of 17.7 m, draught — 6,85 m. Capacity twin-shaft steam turbine 110 000 HP, speed 35 KTS. Reservations: belt: 70 mm, deck 50 mm, 70 mm tower, barbettes: 70 mm combat cutting 150 mm. Armament: nine 180/57-mm guns, six 100/47 mm anti-aircraft guns, six to ten 45-mm semi-automatic, four 12.7 mm machine guns, two three-pipe 533-mm torpedo tubes, 2 seaplane, up to 100 minutes, 1940-1944 project 26 bis built 4 units: “Maxim Gorky”, “Molotov”, “Kalinin” and “Kaganovich”. “Bitter” since 1953 for repairs and upgrades that were never completed; in 1956 excluded from the list in 1959 and scrapped. “Molotov” (1957 — Glory) 1961 — training cruiser, in 1972, excluded from the lists. “Kalinin” from 1960 is a floating barracks, in 1963, excluded from the lists and scrapped. “Kaganovich” (from 1946 — “Lazar Kaganovich”, 1957 — “Petropavlovsk”) in 1960, excluded from the lists and scrapped.
195. Light cruiser “Red Caucasus” (USSR, 1932)
It was built at the plant “Russud” in Nikolaev. Standard displacement of 7450 tons, the full — 8890 tons, maximum length—169,5 m, width—15.7 m, draught — 6.5 m. Capacity twin-shaft steam turbine 55 000 HP, speed 30 knots Reservations: belt 25 — 75 mm, deck: upper 20 mm, 25 mm armour, turret and barbettes 25 mm, combat tower 125 — 75 mm. Armament: four 180/60-mm guns, four 100/45 mm anti-aircraft guns, four 45-mm semi-automatic, four machine guns, four three-pipe 450 mm torpedo tubes, up to 100 min. Ex – “Admiral Lazarev”. Modernized with the installation of eight 100/47 mm anti-aircraft guns and enhanced small-caliber antiaircraft artillery. Since 1947 training ship, 1952—the ship target. In the same year sunk during the testing of missile weapons.
In General, the cruiser came a much more formidable on paper than in metal. Triple 180-mm installation, the trunks of which are housed in a common cradle and rose and fell together as one, was located too close to each other. So overly forced ballistics increased mutual influence of the shells in the salvo firing. This reduced accuracy and reduced potential advantage over possible opponents to be ephemeral value. To reduce the time and cost required for the replacement shot-guns, cannons did finally planirovali, made possible thanks to the purchase in Italy of equipment for the production of manerov. But this improvement was probably the only. For starters, the introduction of this, of course, useful innovations have led to some reduction in the length of the barrel compared to “Caucasian” gun that required for maintaining the same ballistic data to make a new propellant and to develop a new shell. As a result, the ammunition for the guns “Kirov” was not suitable for the “red Caucasus” and Vice versa. Even worse was to be the case with the second trump of the 180-graph paper — fire rate. Close the tower was no place for a well-developed mechanization adopted at the “Red Caucasus”. Had to give up to the breech in favor of more reliable and smaller in size and weight of the piston, at the same time and charge in a metal cartridge case has been replaced traditional silk “bags” of powder. All this has simplified the system, but not positively affected and so is not too high rate of fire. Although the designers assumed that a weapon will have to produce a shell every 10 seconds, but actually at high angles of elevation, the time between shots was 20 and more seconds, that is no less than “Washington” vospityvat. In addition, the persistence of the barrel were extremely low: 60 — 70 shots
A lot of trouble had to endure and anti-aircraft artillery, particularly a 100-mm units B-34. Undoubtedly, the progressive gun with good ballistics, a unitary cartridge for installation with a pneumatic rammer should give up to 15 rounds per minute, but in practice, again, the shot is noticeably slower. So familiar forced “design registry” for the artillery (because of failure of compliance with the technical specifications of the guns was not “specific socialism”) of course combined with a modest reservation “semi-heavy” cruisers.
Him in the first place and drew the attention of the leadership of the fleet. “Kirov” was still on the stocks when the original project 26 turned on the drawing boards in option 26 bis. The reservation side has increased by 40%, the same has managed to improve the defense towers. Moreover, due to the introduction of the liner with deep cuts had been significantly — up to 300 — 320 shots is to increase the survivability of the trunk. The result was another remake of a shell under a new thread, which is now not fit to the guns “Kirova” or “red Caucasus”. And if the latter the question of what to do with guns, and hung in the air, with the main fire cruisers 26-year project, it was decided simply replacing all the old trunks improved.
Much has changed and appearance “26 bis”. A graceful four-legged forward mast, bedecked bridges and cuttings, took a typical Italian design in the shape of a solid cone, ending with turret fire control system, “borrowed” the same “, Montecuccoli”. It is clear that the improvement was worth another three hundred tons, and full load have become the head “besom” “Maxim Gorky”, has exceeded a landmark limit of 10 thousand tons. However, not forgetting about all their “diseases”, we can say that the Soviet “light-heavy” cruiser was quite on the level.
The beginning of the great Patriotic war in the strength of our Navy were four new cruisers, quite equally distributed between the major theaters of war. The Baltic was one of the “26th” head “Kirov” and one “26 bis” — “Maxim Gorky”, and on the Black sea — the second unit of each of the subtypes of the “Voroshilov” and “Molotov”. “Bitter” became one of the first victims of the war. On the third day, June 23, he stepped on an enemy mine, when together with other the newest ships carried out the search of surface ships of the enemy. In vain — the Germans were not going to risk their few cruisers and destroyers in open combat with quite a strong Soviet Navy, preferring to lock mine fields and attack aviation. Fully experienced the impact of these funds, “Kirov”, which became the flagship of the Baltic fleet during the unfortunate Tallinn transition. Close to a cruiser here and there, one after another exploded and sank destroyers, minesweepers, transports. Nevertheless, he safely reached Kronstadt, where attacks have already become a permanent flagship vehicle did not stop. In September 1941, he got two hits bombs and retreated even further, to Leningrad. There the cruiser was one of the favorite objectives of the Luftwaffe, competing in honor sink so honorable a purpose. Kirov had survived, but lost about a hundred crew members and their entire 100-mm anti-aircraft battery. “Bitter” became a target for German artillery, receiving eight hits. But the maximum 6-inch – “Goodies” not too affected the fighting ability of a great cruiser, good repair facility was located immediately on the shore.
Our ships did not serve the helpless and fought back. Their 180-graph paper have rendered good service in repelling attempts to capture Leningrad and later in breaking the siege of the city. Only “Bitter” released 2300 the enemy shells. Not very far behind the flagship. After 1942 are gradually weakened and the pressure of enemy aircraft. The war was already over when “Kirov” received its heaviest damage. Naturalna bottom magnetic mine exploded under the bottom, fortunately without fatal consequences (a similar blast five years earlier almost sank the British battleship “Nelson”).
In contrast to long chained ice, aviation, and mine – “Balts”, black sea cruisers had a more familiar work. Numerous military campaigns were made and “Voroshilov”, “Molotov”. However, and here the main enemy was the German dive-bombers. In November 1941, the “u-88” has achieved two direct hits, after which the “Voroshilov” had to tow his older friend— “Red Caucasus”. “Not left side” and the mines: at the slightest activity of the cruiser was exposed to serious danger from the depths. So, shortly after receiving damage from enemy aircraft “Voroshilov” was blown up on two mines in a RAID to the mouth of the Danube. After that, the cruiser name not a thousand people and hundreds of tons of cargo to the besieged Sevastopol, went out to attack the enemy only once.
A kind of “fast travel” served as his colleague and “Molotov”. He was transferred to Sevastopol fresh, firing “on the move” positions of the enemy and taking on the way back the wounded and evacuees. Fate kept the cruiser on this path, despite the attacks of various types of aviation, but another RAID (this time captured by the Germans in the Crimea) was unhappy. A combined attack by the Italian torpedo boats and German torpedo bombers led to hit by a torpedo, tear of more than 20 m of the stern. The cruiser was brought to Poti, where he “transplanted” the “foreign body” — the stern of the unfinished cruiser “Frunze”, vehicle is fundamentally a different type of project 68. Although the operation was quite successful in fighting the “hammer” is no longer involved. In the course of “combating the personality cult” in 1957, the cruiser received a new name — “Glory”.
Many victims of the cruiser, however, lasts quite a long time. The exception was the “Maxim Gorky”, derived from the Navy in late 1956 and scrapped in two years. The rest remained in the lists until the early 1970s, and an impressive and graceful “Kirov” for several more years after that, was head of the naval parade on the Neva.
Fighting four “Balts” and “the black sea” program of the Soviet “light heavyweights” had not been exhausted. Another two units of the project 26-bis laid in the far East in 1938. However, the shipyard of Komsomolsk-on-Amur were unable to complete work on the “Kalinin” until the end of 1942, and “Kaganovich” was delayed at the factory for another two years. Kalinin was supposed to overtake to the Northern fleet via the Northern sea route, but it is a serious operation had to first postpone and then cancel, the good situation in the theater in late 1943 improved markedly since the allies have allocated for operations in Arctic waters, considerable forces finally secured his convoys and Soviet ports against possible attacks surface ships.
The further fate of the far Eastern pair were dull and short. “Kaganovich” was renamed twice: in 1946 — wit: “Lazar Kaganovich” and 11 years later — in the politically correct “Petropavlovsk”. Both cruisers were disarmed in 1960, a decade before “European” sisterships, and after two or three years follow-up and dismantling on metal.
It may be noted that curious concept of the Soviet “light” cruisers were not lucky, as, indeed, many other not useless surface ships, leaders and destroyers, and for failing to show his fighting qualities in the battles with equal opponents. They had to deal with a fundamentally other hazards, coming silently from under the water, or suddenly “falls down from the sky”, which is a much more important elements is the survivability and anti-aircraft weapons than the original and powerful 180-graph paper with their advantages and disadvantages. But a purely speculative assessment allows to say that the “26” and “26 bis” could be very awkward opponents for most of his contemporaries-classmates, especially in good weather and visibility.