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Soviet Large Cruiser Project "X" - Multipurpose Reconnaissance Heavy Cruiser Concept

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Throughout the course of maritime warfare history since the advent of steam-powered engines in marine engineering, the cruiser-class warship has retroactively proven itself to be a versatile naval war machine on numerous naval combats, capable of performing a wide spectrum of combat roles & tasks depending on the nature of a cruiser's design philosophy, of which neither a battleship nor a destroyer were capable of at those times before the early years of Cold War.

Cruisers can be designed & built in various shapes & forms, such as armored cruiser, torpedo cruiser, battlecruiser, scout cruiser, light or heavy cruiser, cruiser killer & even aircraft cruiser. Both of those aforementioned varieties of cruiser-class warships were purpose-built on the framework of their respective design philosophies to determine their technical performances on both tactical & strategic values as an assets in naval warfare.

One of the most peculiar cruiser-class warships even existed in concept & design before WWII, was the USSR's Large Cruiser Project "X". Whilst its design was initially intended to be a "cruiser killer" type of heavy cruiser, it was also given a few more combat roles to ensure the Project "X" large cruiser, at least theoretically, is capable of coordinating a small fleet or a flotilla, as well as able to operate independently from fleet command for at least within a few days or within a week period at most. Hence, Project "X" was dubbed, for the lack of better term, the "Superman of Soviet Lands".


Soviet Large Cruiser Project "X" - Multipurpose Reconnaissance Heavy Cruiser Concept

1515944284_kreyh.png

By 1935, as Dr. Anatoly I. Maslov unveiled Pr. 26 - Kirov to be the first contemporary "light cruiser" for the Soviet Navy in the intensive efforts to rebuild the maritime force of the Soviet Armed Force under the Big Fleet Program at the behest of Joseph Stalin, his colleague V. P. Rimsky-Korsakov conceived the Project "X" large cruiser as the first attempt to materialize the first "heavy cruiser" for the Soviet Navy.

Rimsky-Korsakov's concept for his "large cruiser" was not only to be capable of destroying enemy cruisers being as large as the German Deutschland-class cruiser with its main guns being larger than 203mm in caliber, but also to be self-sufficient enough to conduct an autonomous operation outside of the fleet command's chain of command within a certain period of time while coordinating its task/strike force in the form of a small fleet division or a sizable flotilla consist of a few light cruisers, destroyer leaders such as Kiev-class & Tashkent-class, along with a handful of destroyers, submarines, support ships & other smaller sea combatants. Be it carrying out anti-submarine warfare, commerce raiding, intercept enemy raiders or operating a small-medium scale skirmishes, Project "X" was intended to fulfill those aforementioned roles in an unconventional means.

Proekt%20%20X_tabl-730x875.jpg

Project "X" was designed on the standard displacement of at least 15,518 tonnes & about 17,350 tonnes on full load displacement. In terms of ship hull dimension, it would be 233.6 m in length, 22.3 m in width & 6.6 m in waterline draft. Armed with 4 x 3 - 240 mm/60 main guns; supplemented with 6 x 2 - 130 mm/50 B-2LM twin gun deck turrets, 2 x 3 - 533 mm triple torpedo tubes, 6 x 1 - 45 mm/46 21-K AA cannons & 4 x 1 - 12.7x108 mm DShK heavy machine guns.

240 mm/60 naval gun specs:-

  • • projectile weight: 235 kg
  • • muzzle velocity: 940 m / s
  • • charge mass: 100 kg
  • • ammunition per gun: 110 rds.
  • • rate of fire at an elevation angle of 10 degrees: 5 rds / min
  • • traverse angle: –5 degrees to +60 degrees

 

1515946319_ptz.png

As for propulsion, Project "X" was designed in the 3-shaft propellers configuration; powered by a total six steam turbine engines & six boilers to generate a total power output of 210,000 shp to produce a top speed of not more than 38.0 knots, in theoretical calculations. Each propeller shaft was to be powered by two steam turbine engines & two boilers to generate a local power output up to 70,000 shp. Such kind of propulsion system would then be applied on destroyer Pr. 45 - Opytny.

Proekt%20%20X_bronya.jpg

Armor scheme:

  • Belt - 115 mm
  • Deck - 75 mm
  • Barbette - 115 mm
  • Conning tower - 100 - 150 mm
  • Main turret - 75 - 115 mm
  • B-2LM turret - 50 mm
  • Bulkhead - 115 mm

Project "X" was designed on an unusually large hull profile possibly based on Kirov-class in design, with an elongated aft & stern sections to include a large aircraft hangar to accommodate an unusual number of seaplanes of choice (i.e. KOR-1/Be-2 or KOR-2/Be-4) up to at least 9 seaplanes. As such, Project "X" would have effectively function as an aircraft cruiser.

Proekt%20%20X_2-730x269.jpg

Proekt%20%20X_3-730x315.jpg

Interestingly, the design philosophy behind Project "X" was likely to be based on the Imperial Japanese Navy's Mogami-class & Tone-class heavy cruisers, which were then modified into an aircraft cruiser capable of accommodating between 6 - 11 seaplanes, with the former historically capable to carry up to 11 seaplanes at the very least. It was probably no accident that Rimsky-Korsakov came up with the idea of multipurpose large cruiser, based on the intel gathered from an espionage on the IJN's activities. Moreover, there also was the light cruiser Ooyodo which also initially built to function as an aircraft cruiser, but ultimately functioned more as a command cruiser.

ijn-oyodo-1944-cruiser.gif

OyodoJun43.jpg

IJN Light Cruiser Ooyodo

Ultimately, they would mean the Project "X" large cruiser would have been the combination of a firepower of German's Deutschland & Japanese's Tone, plus the multipurpose functionality of the Japanese's Ooyodo. In addition, Project "X" was to get at least two submersible torpedo boats/midget subs designed by TsKBS-1 design bureau, known as the "Flea" - «Блоха» .

1515944723_spusk-ustroystv.png

1515944836_179121037.jpg

"Flea-400" submersible torpedo boat/midget sub - «Блохи-400»

 

Edited by Xero_Snake
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No. Bad. Baaad. WeeGee already announed a Soviet cruiser split. Wait until they release them before trying to give them ideas for more bias botes.

Edited by Mad_Moff
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5 hours ago, Mad_Moff said:

No. Bad. Baaad. WeeGee already announed a Soviet cruiser split. Wait until they release them before trying to give them ideas for more bias botes.

This is just an intriguing design study to share with you guys. But people like you just come here & spit on it with this from your mind? You misunderstood the situation here.

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2 minutes ago, loco_max said:

OP: very cool post +1

Thanks.

A detailed documentary of Project "X" wasn't available in the internet a few years back, while I was doing some researches & I might have overlooked something along the way. But since mid-2018 or last year, someone finally published that with more scanned figures from original source material. And with that, I can finally see what was its intended purpose.

As mentioned, not only it was to primarily function as a "cruiser killer", but also to function as an aircraft cruiser. Its elongated hull was drawn as such for a reason - to make room for a hangar.

Basically, Project "X" was to be the Soviet Ooyodo because of the ability to deploy seaplanes for support, coordinating smaller ships within its vicinity & carry out "sneaky" operations at the same time. The Navy had a soft spot on the idea of forming a sizable recon fleets or flotillas, which is why both Kiev & Tashkent existed to lead DDs.

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11 minutes ago, Xero_Snake said:

A detailed documentary of Project "X" wasn't available in the internet a few years back, while I was doing some researches & I might have overlooked something along the way.

could be even cooler to see this Project "X" in the meta, can't wait, just imagine all the up-coming whine...So, Lesta, go for it!!!

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She's an interesting ship.

Quite a lot of 'stuff' on ~15,500t standard. 12x 240mm, 38kt, lots of seaplanes, moderate armor? That's seemingly a bit far fetched. For about the same standard load you end up with... a Baltimore. The Moskva with 9x 220mm is a far, far bigger ship.

Pretty extreme elevation for 240mm guns is shown as well. That would likely have had little benefit and quite possibly have caused problems.

Either a different translation of 'Standard' or well, I'm a bit dubious.

 

As for the design itself it's quite interesting, though I doubt it would have been very successful. The roles of operating aircraft and fighting as a cruiser are somewhat hard to reconcile. The US Navy started getting rid of cruiser seaplanes mid-war as it turned out that when under fire they had a strong propensity to burn with poor consequences for the ship. The storage of volumes of aviation fuel for them was also fraught with risk as it was highly flammable. The British started ditching seaplanes from cruisers mid-war too, radar and carrier availability reduced the need, and as topweight was needed for radar and more and more AA guns.

The Japanese concept never really quite worked out, though they had much more reason to try it. There is some logic to farming out scouting to a couple of Tone class in a formation with multiple carriers, it's just that scouting often went poorly and the US approach of using carriers seems to have worked out better. Some of that is implementation. Without a carrier to support, the Project X is really just scouting for itself and a surface fleet which seems to have less value. Operating seaplanes does come with some major disadvantages which were occasionally very dangerous too, the Japanese at Java Sea were caught with Nachi and Haguro stationary and recovering their aircraft which was nearly a disaster. If you're in combat dropping to low speed to recover your fragile brood of aircraft may be impossible.

I'm not sure which Soviet Fleet these would be aimed at. Weather conditions for the Northern Fleet seem to preclude seaplane ops a lot of the time. The Baltic Fleet would in the event likely have seen these ships bottled up in Leningrad, bombed and maybe acting as floating batteries. The Baltic might be useful, though you might be able to rely on land based aircraft. The Pacific Fleet seems a possibility, but Soviet plans there I'm very unclear on, and I'm not sure how these would fit.

 

Ultimately the Ooyodo turned out to be pretty useless, and the Tone/Mogami's had a dubious record. I might suspect a finished Project X would spend 95% of her time acting as a 'normal' heavy cruiser, maybe plating over the hangars and building in more AAA.

 

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12 hours ago, mofton said:

She's an interesting ship.

Quite a lot of 'stuff' on ~15,500t standard. 12x 240mm, 38kt, lots of seaplanes, moderate armor? That's seemingly a bit far fetched. For about the same standard load you end up with... a Baltimore. The Moskva with 9x 220mm is a far, far bigger ship.

Pretty extreme elevation for 240mm guns is shown as well. That would likely have had little benefit and quite possibly have caused problems.

Either a different translation of 'Standard' or well, I'm a bit dubious.

 

As for the design itself it's quite interesting, though I doubt it would have been very successful. The roles of operating aircraft and fighting as a cruiser are somewhat hard to reconcile. The US Navy started getting rid of cruiser seaplanes mid-war as it turned out that when under fire they had a strong propensity to burn with poor consequences for the ship. The storage of volumes of aviation fuel for them was also fraught with risk as it was highly flammable. The British started ditching seaplanes from cruisers mid-war too, radar and carrier availability reduced the need, and as topweight was needed for radar and more and more AA guns.

I'm not sure which Soviet Fleet these would be aimed at. Weather conditions for the Northern Fleet seem to preclude seaplane ops a lot of the time. The Baltic Fleet would in the event likely have seen these ships bottled up in Leningrad, bombed and maybe acting as floating batteries. The Baltic might be useful, though you might be able to rely on land based aircraft. The Pacific Fleet seems a possibility, but Soviet plans there I'm very unclear on, and I'm not sure how these would fit.

 

Ultimately the Ooyodo turned out to be pretty useless, and the Tone/Mogami's had a dubious record. I might suspect a finished Project X would spend 95% of her time acting as a 'normal' heavy cruiser, maybe plating over the hangars and building in more AAA.

Stalin's Ocean Going Fleet lists full load as 20,000t displacement, so I would err on the side of the standard figure being on the lighter side of things. 

Especially as the design from the TsKB-1 bureau from the same time is 19,500t standard, marginally larger (~4m long, ~2m wider, ~1.5 deeper), but with only 3 x III main guns (and 2-3 fewer planes) and the same machinery (2 knots slower, in theory).   

Said source does list intended deployments for the new shipbuilding programmes, at various stages, which in this case is given as August 1937. Project 22, although ultimately unsuccessful, is similar to Project X, so seems like a fairly indicative reference. 10 ships total: 4 Pacific, 2 Baltic, 1 Black Sea & 3 Northern. 

Given that Project 45 was not a great success, it seems unlikely that the design speed would have been reached. 

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14 hours ago, mofton said:

She's an interesting ship.

Quite a lot of 'stuff' on ~15,500t standard. 12x 240mm, 38kt, lots of seaplanes, moderate armor? That's seemingly a bit far fetched. For about the same standard load you end up with... a Baltimore. The Moskva with 9x 220mm is a far, far bigger ship.

Pretty extreme elevation for 240mm guns is shown as well. That would likely have had little benefit and quite possibly have caused problems.

Either a different translation of 'Standard' or well, I'm a bit dubious.

 

As for the design itself it's quite interesting, though I doubt it would have been very successful. The roles of operating aircraft and fighting as a cruiser are somewhat hard to reconcile. The US Navy started getting rid of cruiser seaplanes mid-war as it turned out that when under fire they had a strong propensity to burn with poor consequences for the ship. The storage of volumes of aviation fuel for them was also fraught with risk as it was highly flammable. The British started ditching seaplanes from cruisers mid-war too, radar and carrier availability reduced the need, and as topweight was needed for radar and more and more AA guns.

The Japanese concept never really quite worked out, though they had much more reason to try it. There is some logic to farming out scouting to a couple of Tone class in a formation with multiple carriers, it's just that scouting often went poorly and the US approach of using carriers seems to have worked out better. Some of that is implementation. Without a carrier to support, the Project X is really just scouting for itself and a surface fleet which seems to have less value. Operating seaplanes does come with some major disadvantages which were occasionally very dangerous too, the Japanese at Java Sea were caught with Nachi and Haguro stationary and recovering their aircraft which was nearly a disaster. If you're in combat dropping to low speed to recover your fragile brood of aircraft may be impossible.

I'm not sure which Soviet Fleet these would be aimed at. Weather conditions for the Northern Fleet seem to preclude seaplane ops a lot of the time. The Baltic Fleet would in the event likely have seen these ships bottled up in Leningrad, bombed and maybe acting as floating batteries. The Baltic might be useful, though you might be able to rely on land based aircraft. The Pacific Fleet seems a possibility, but Soviet plans there I'm very unclear on, and I'm not sure how these would fit.

 

Ultimately the Ooyodo turned out to be pretty useless, and the Tone/Mogami's had a dubious record. I might suspect a finished Project X would spend 95% of her time acting as a 'normal' heavy cruiser, maybe plating over the hangars and building in more AAA.

 

It did offer an interesting all-in-one solution concept on the table at that time. But based on the technical data specs drafted for Project "X" design, it would seem doubtful to function well as initially thought.

Personally, the designer should have further expanded the standard displacement to nearly less than 17,000 tonnes & full load must not exceed 20,000 tonnes, by redesigning the superstructures, opt for A-B-Y turret configuration to make more rooms for better AA armaments, larger aircraft hangar, command & communication modules & necessary equipment to maintain floatplanes/flying boats & midget subs. Top speed should reduce to between 33 - 36 knots, cause 36 - 38 knots for a such a large heavy cruiser like that is... not gonna happen. Otherwise, be like what Project 22 supposed to be - a mini-battlecruiser/quasi-battlecruiser

But ultimately, despite being a promising design on paper, it ended up what it is, just a design study that never left out from the drawing board. However, this left me with a sound impression that the intriguing concept of Project "X" could as well be representing a potential missing link to the development of more modern aircraft cruisers of the Soviet Navy, such as the Project 1123 "Kondor" - Moskva-class helicopter cruiser & Project 1143 "Krechet" - Kiev-class aircraft cruiser. Design engineers may have picked that up from naval archive for further studies while developing those aforementioned Cold War-era aircraft cruisers.

On side note, you left out the Black Sea Fleet. Maybe it could work feasibly on the Mediterranean Sea.

Edited by Xero_Snake

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13 hours ago, Xero_Snake said:

On side note, you left out the Black Sea Fleet. Maybe it could work feasibly on the Mediterranean Sea.

I've never understood the USSR's Black Sea strategy. You don't need much to deal with the other, rather laughable sea powers on the Sea - Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey.

If you want to operate in the Mediterranean then you're stuck behind the Bosporus which sucks because a) Turkey might just close it, b) even if you pass it you're >500nm just to get into the Adriatic from Sevastopol and c) there's little element of surprise for anyone passing through the Bosporus/Sea of Marmara.

For myself a more realistic version would mirror the size increase, turret reduction, speed reduction. I'm not really sure on the midget subs ether, successfully retrieving them seems very difficult - submarines practically never did acting as similar motherships and at least they didn't need to steam around at 35kt doing other things.

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10 hours ago, mofton said:

I've never understood the USSR's Black Sea strategy. You don't need much to deal with the other, rather laughable sea powers on the Sea - Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey.

The USSR tended to overestimate the opposition it would face, with that being especially true of the Black Sea & Arctic. 

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23 minutes ago, mr3awsome said:

The USSR tended to overestimate the opposition it would face, with that being especially true of the Black Sea & Arctic. 

INB4 Syrian campaign sorties, but in Cold War/late WWII colorized :cap_look::cap_rambo::cap_win:

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On 2/9/2020 at 6:23 PM, mofton said:

She's an interesting ship.

Quite a lot of 'stuff' on ~15,500t standard. 12x 240mm, 38kt, lots of seaplanes, moderate armor? That's seemingly a bit far fetched. For about the same standard load you end up with... a Baltimore. The Moskva with 9x 220mm is a far, far bigger ship.

Pretty extreme elevation for 240mm guns is shown as well. That would likely have had little benefit and quite possibly have caused problems.

Either a different translation of 'Standard' or well, I'm a bit dubious.

 

As for the design itself it's quite interesting, though I doubt it would have been very successful. The roles of operating aircraft and fighting as a cruiser are somewhat hard to reconcile. The US Navy started getting rid of cruiser seaplanes mid-war as it turned out that when under fire they had a strong propensity to burn with poor consequences for the ship. The storage of volumes of aviation fuel for them was also fraught with risk as it was highly flammable. The British started ditching seaplanes from cruisers mid-war too, radar and carrier availability reduced the need, and as topweight was needed for radar and more and more AA guns.

The Japanese concept never really quite worked out, though they had much more reason to try it. There is some logic to farming out scouting to a couple of Tone class in a formation with multiple carriers, it's just that scouting often went poorly and the US approach of using carriers seems to have worked out better. Some of that is implementation. Without a carrier to support, the Project X is really just scouting for itself and a surface fleet which seems to have less value. Operating seaplanes does come with some major disadvantages which were occasionally very dangerous too, the Japanese at Java Sea were caught with Nachi and Haguro stationary and recovering their aircraft which was nearly a disaster. If you're in combat dropping to low speed to recover your fragile brood of aircraft may be impossible.

I'm not sure which Soviet Fleet these would be aimed at. Weather conditions for the Northern Fleet seem to preclude seaplane ops a lot of the time. The Baltic Fleet would in the event likely have seen these ships bottled up in Leningrad, bombed and maybe acting as floating batteries. The Baltic might be useful, though you might be able to rely on land based aircraft. The Pacific Fleet seems a possibility, but Soviet plans there I'm very unclear on, and I'm not sure how these would fit.

 

Ultimately the Ooyodo turned out to be pretty useless, and the Tone/Mogami's had a dubious record. I might suspect a finished Project X would spend 95% of her time acting as a 'normal' heavy cruiser, maybe plating over the hangars and building in more AAA.

 

It was not just the British cruisers that started ditching the use of seaplanes, but BBs like KGV Class during refits had their aircraft and aircraft facilities removed and were rebuilt with heavier / more numerous AA gun mounts. The DOY in game appears to be the late war refit version except that it’s lacking some of the AA mounts from the refit, but those would make it far too overpowered for tier VII I guess.

And I agree a Russian Heavy CA or Large CA / BC that was expected to operate a fair number of aircraft would have been a dubious idea with how they often would have arctic conditions that would cause far too many issues from aircraft storage, maintenance, flight operations, landing, retrieval, and then multiply this by several aircraft plus Russian equipment standards at times. So while idea ideas of heavy CAs and Large CA/ BCs certainly had their merits, I just agrees that the lots of aircraft idea was a bad one for ships operating near or in the Arctic oceans.

Now the IJN concept of CAs and BBs carrying the scout aircraft has good aspects as well as downsides. And I can understand both sides of that argument. And based on their combat history and success I would deem them to be efficient and practical as long as they had operated in their intended role as a united force. The Kido Buntai force did rather well until 2 of their CVs were put temporarily out of commission prior to Midway which was a massive error in judgement to divide up theirs main CV force that had been working so well together and had likely gotten used to working together. And if you pull even 1 CV out for repairs and restocking then it’s assigned escort ships had to be pulled out to escort / guard it. And IJN had managed to have not 1 but 2 CVs out of commission unnecessarily when Midway plans were getting set into motion. So it’s little wonder their reconnaissance was incomplete/ inefficient when some of their recon units were not with the fleet. Which in and of itself could be seen as a strength when United, but a bad weakness in terms of operational flexibility if they could not adapt and make up for any missing scout aircraft.

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On 2/11/2020 at 4:12 PM, Xero_Snake said:

INB4 Syrian campaign sorties, but in Cold War/late WWII colorized :cap_look::cap_rambo::cap_win:

Need to court Turkey a little more for that to happen.   

Indeed, Turkey was counted amongst the forces ranged against the USSR in the Third Year Plan programmes of construction. 

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On 2/11/2020 at 9:46 AM, mr3awsome said:

The USSR tended to overestimate the opposition it would face, with that being especially true of the Black Sea & Arctic. 

Yep, never know when those wily Turks might just give poor old Yavuz that ultimate WWII or Cold War refit. (To be fair though, if they kept it in decent working condition it would have at least been a mildly decent mobile floating battery, even with old WWI era guns.)

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Quote

But ultimately, despite being a promising design on paper, it ended up what it is, just a design study that never left out from the drawing board. However, this left me with a sound impression that the intriguing concept of Project "X" could as well be representing a potential missing link to the development of more modern aircraft cruisers of the Soviet Navy, such as the Project 1123 "Kondor" - Moskva-class helicopter cruiser & Project 1143 "Krechet" - Kiev-class aircraft cruiser. Design engineers may have picked that up from naval archive for further studies while developing those aforementioned Cold War-era aircraft cruisers.

Turns out, the Black Sea Fleet could be viable for the precursor of Cold War-era aircraft cruisers like Project "X" to work around with the Turkish Strait problem, should both ASW, aerial point defense & small intensity airstrikes become a niches as the concept evolves. Given the Nikolayev Shipyard was the only shipyard which its architects & engineers have a key knowledge on aircraft cruiser designs & the capacity to build them.

Two Pr. 1123 "Kondor" helicopter cruisers were seen serving the Black Sea Fleet, so ASW could be a viable niche for the fleet to deploy ship-borne aircraft with limited capacity, as the Turkish Strait restricted "real" aircraft carriers from going in & out of the Black Sea. It shouldn't be an issue for Project "X" to find its place on the VMF.

Perhaps it come with no surprise that the Japanese Navy's supposedly "debacle of a concept" managed to make its way to the USSR through intel gathering means & it turned out came in handy for the Navy to... "persuade" the conservative-minded top brasses about the usefulness of those "cruisers".

On 2/13/2020 at 11:36 PM, mr3awsome said:

Need to court Turkey a little more for that to happen.   

Indeed, Turkey was counted amongst the forces ranged against the USSR in the Third Year Plan programmes of construction. 

Which was a "fortunate" scenario that Erdogan cozy up with Russia that made way for the Black Sea Fleet to go ahead with their operations on Syrian coast, until the carrier strike force of the Northern Fleet came to take over & put their carrier-borne jets & choppers into test.

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