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May 7th Focus: Kirov Class

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May 7th



1917 – Tenryū – Tenryū class - Laid Down



1942 - Coral Sea - Battle



1942 – Striker – Attacker-class– Launched



1942 -Prince William  - Bogue- and Repeat Bogue-class– Launched



1944 – Kaganovich – Maxim Gorkiy class – Launched



 



Allies



Laid Down - 35



Launched - 42



Commissioned - 26



 



Japan – 1



 



I’ll leave the Tenryū to NGTM_1R for a future time and the Coral Sea battle as well, and turn my attention to the Maxim Gorkiy class.



 



Disclaimer #1 - a certain precision of language is attempted by my colleagues and I. Some attempts are more successful than others. I will admit to a near complete ignorance of the Russian language and so must take it on faith as I see it written in English in the source materials I use such as Conway’s All the Worlds Fighting Ships 1922-1946. So for those that spot such errors of usage that might creep in I am happy to take direction from those more knowledgeable.



 



Disclaimer #2 – we have a database we’ve created with dates of commissioning, launching, and keel laying for larger warships that we use as well as other resources both web based and printed. In this case I see at least 3 different dates given for laying down, launching, and commissioning for ships in the Maxim Gorky class. Some sources don’t even consider this a class but a second “group” of ships in the Kirov class. Again direction from those with better sources, perhaps Russian language ones that have not made their way into English, would be gratefully accepted.



 



2mzd2mo.jpg



 



 



1944 (-ish)



 



One source indicated that the fifth of six Kirov class Soviet cruisers is launched. Or the third of four Maxim Gorky class. Or it was in 1943. Or it happened on a completely different date.



 



mkw75w.jpg



 



The Kirov class Soviet cruisers, termed Project 26, were laid down in pairs in 1935, 1936, and 1939. Some sources treat the later pairs as seperate classes but I'll lean the other way and treaty them all as Kirov's and at least half-sisters or better.



 



In the late 1930’s the pace of Soviet warship construction was not rapid and throughout the period design input and technical expertise was sought from international firms like Gibbs & Cox in the USA and Ansaldo in Italy. Occasionally ships were even constructed in foreign yards like the destroyer leader Tashkent, Project 20, which was constructed in an Italian shipyard. This explains why there are some features of the Kirov class ships that seem similar if one if familiar with the look of Italian cruisers in the same period. The Soviets did not participate in the naval treaties of the 20’s and 30’s and therefore did not have the type displacement limits, total tonnage limits, or gun caliber limits to accommodate.



 



2jbky2o.jpg



 



While the rest of the world was building cruisers with 6” or 8” guns the Soviets opted for a high performance 7.1/57 gun in triple turrets. The gun started as an 8” gun lined down but loose liner technology purchased from Ansaldo allowed an improved gun to be fitted to the ships and in many costal defense installations.



 



2ezixk9.jpg



180mm gun triple turret (are all three tubes in a single sleeve?)



 



o09r8n.jpg



A railway mount 180mm gun preserved in Moscow



 



The Kaganovich and Kalinin were being constructed in the new shipyard up the Amur river some 300+ km from the Pacific coast. The delay in getting parts shipped from factories in the western part of the Soviet Union explains part of the very long construction time.



 



2qtzg5y.jpg



The Kirovs are very similar to the later ships of the Italian Condotierri type cruisers being of similar size and configuration



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2yjxaxi.jpg



 



Plans for these ships were shared with Russia according to some sources. At about 8,000 tons, exact displacement varied within the six Kirov class ships, there was a shared emphasis on speed with the Italian ships. More than 110,000 horsepower was achieved from the machinery and speeds over 36 knots recorded. Armor was thin and with 2” on the belt and basically everywhere else there was armor. In addition to the three triple turrets of 180mm guns there were 100mm dual purpose guns in single mounts and a few 45mm AA guns. Two triple torpedo banks were fitted and they could carry more than 100 mines. And, unusually for 8,000 ton cruisers, they carried depth charges. Light AA guns increased in number as the war progressed. Lend Lease radars were later fitted as well. It does seem that the Soviet version was a step up from the Italian one in that the three triple turrets with 180mm guns seems more powerful on paper than the four twin 6” guns of the Italian ships.



Both Kirov and Maxim Gorky were bottled up in Kronstadt and supported the Siege of Leningrad.



 



16gd635.jpg



Maxim Gorky frozen in near Leningrad



 



Voroshilov was in the Black Sea and supported as best she could but damaged by a mine she was not repaired until the end of 1944. Molotov was also involved in the Black Sea defense but had her stern blown off by and Italian torpedo boat.



 



2s9rn0y.jpg



 



She was also repaired by 1944. The last two ships were being built on the Amur River but were towed to Vladivostock for completion and took no part in the war. All the ship survived the war and served through the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and last two were not discarded until the 70’s


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To add on, yes the guns were single sleeved and not only that, but they were in a common cradle. They were designed for 5rpm, but in actual combat barely achieved 2rpm due to cramped conditions in the turret and space to operate all 3 guns so close together. So they might have had a larger weapon than the Italian designs and with 1 more gun, but in practice the different Condotierri classes could achieve 5rpm up to 8 depending on the class and hoists. What the soviets did have over them was a much larger shell reserve with the Condotierri holding around 35-60 rounds per gun, with 50-60 during wartime.

 

I do have to admit I am very curious to know the dispersion on those Kirov 180mm guns due to the single sleeve and how close the barrels are including the fact I do not see any information with them having a delay coil to attempt to offset to reduce it.

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Alpha Tester
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I usually don't read to many of these posts unless I have the time. But this was one of the more interesting ones, I really enjoyed it (+1)! I found the picture of the railway mounted artillery piece interesting. It reminded me of the German "Schwerer Gustav". The biggest artillery piece every used in combat. (31 inches). Anyway, great article!

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To add on, yes the guns were single sleeved and not only that, but they were in a common cradle. They were designed for 5rpm, but in actual combat barely achieved 2rpm due to cramped conditions in the turret and space to operate all 3 guns so close together. 

Strictly speaking, it isn't very important in most of situations; For example, Prinz (with real firing cicle of 12sec/salvo, and 10 as designed) fired one salvo per 27 sec in Denmark strait.

 

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Dat tripod mast. Early USN/IJN.

 

Strictly speaking, it isn't very important in most of situations; For example, Prinz (with real firing cicle of 12sec/salvo, and 10 as designed) fired one salvo per 27 sec in Denmark strait.

 

 

Spotted fire. Any realistic assessment of a ship's rate of fire should at least make reference to shell time of flight.

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Spotted fire. Any realistic assessment of a ship's rate of fire should at least make reference to shell time of flight.

Yeah, but not only; if you're trying to fire at 5+ rpm - very soon you'll cease fire at all - simple overheating.

It's useful in certain situations(close range night fight; close action against enemy DDs, for example in fleet defence...but cruisers intended to work with new battlefleet had 6" in relatively wide turrets anyways; Kirovs, on the other hand, never vere fleet cruisers).

 

p.s. delay was implemented on Kirovs.

p.s.s. and price of independent guns would've been very high(remember, initial italian variant hadn't them!): 3x152,4mm MK5 weighted even slightly more, then 3x180mm MK-3-180.

Yes, with decent ROF(btw, with barel life of soviet naval guns it may be not only pro; late 180mm guns could do 320 shots; B-38 - 450), yes with much heavier armor, but still.

p.s.s.s. and hey say, that Kirov surpassed come close to designed ROF, but waaaay later(after war).

 

 

Edited by Ainen

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Great read Cap! Never really knew these ships, except the name sounding familiar. They do look nice though...which is good enough a reason to grind out the Russian line when it's implemented in WoWs. :teethhappy:

 

Anyway, +1!

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Alpha Tester
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Since Tenryū was laid down. I want to commemorate with one of my favourite destroyers xD

 2pyb2bs.jpg

 

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That wasn't the Kirov class cruiser I expected :veryhappy:  +1

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Disclaimer #2 – we have a database we’ve created with dates of commissioning, launching, and keel laying for larger warships that we use as well as other resources both web based and printed. In this case I see at least 3 different dates given for laying down, launching, and commissioning for ships in the Maxim Gorky class. Some sources don’t even consider this a class but a second “group” of ships in the Kirov class. Again direction from those with better sources, perhaps Russian language ones that have not made their way into English, would be gratefully accepted.

"Soviet Cruisers of the Second World War. From Kirov to Kaganovich" gives 7 May 1944 as well, Conway's was the only source where I read weird dates. If I can make a wild guess it's possible that it used pre-Perestroika sources that were incorrect.

Anyway, Maxim Gorky and Kalinin group (Project 26 bis and Project 26 bis bis) were considerable improvements over Kirov, first of all in terms of protection, armour was increased, reaching 70 mm on the belt:

 

kirov_armour_values.jpg

Project 26 bis' values are between parentheses

 

The ugly giant tripod mast limited the arcs of fire for the AA guns and it was apparently subject to heavy vibrations, it was replaced by a lighter one and the superstructure was further modified with the addition of a conning tower similar to the one found on Aosta and Abruzzi (you can notice the differences in the first picture with Polish text). Stern and bow were remodelled and the German (Heinkel) K-12 catapult was substituted by a Russian (Kirov Plant) ZK-1. The catapults were rarely used anyway, in part because the original KOR-1 (Beriev Be-2) seaplane proved to be disappointing, only Molotov kept hers during the war, in September 1943 her catapult was exchanged for a new ZK-1a model and during the following year she made tests with both the KOR-2 (Beriev Be-4) flying boat and a wheeled Spitfire aircraft, the latter solution was similar to the one we used on the Vittorio Veneto class

 

molotov_spitfire.jpg

I need this in WoWs

 

Gorky's one was removed in late 1941 while the catapult was disembarked from the first two cruisers in 1942, in both cases AA MG were installed in their place. The last two cruisers received an improved ZK-2b model in 1945, but the catapult was removed from all cruisers in 1947.

As far as I can tell the last two cruisers (Project 26 bis bis) mainly differed because of the DP guns installed, a lack of 100 mm/56 guns forced the Soviets to opt for eight 85 mm/52 90K (T-34-85's gun on a naval mount), but actually Kalinin was initially fitted with 76 mm/55 34K as a stopgap measure. They were also completed with heavier AA MG armament, but as you mentioned all the cruisers were variously refitted with more and better weapons as they became available.

Lend Lease radars were later fitted as well.

Molotov was an exception, she received some of the first Soviet radar sets, namely the Redoubt-K search radar (1941) and Mars-1 fire control radar (1944). Molotov's radar was instrumental in the defence of Sevastopol during the famous siege because there weren't other radars available. Kalinin received another early Soviet fire control radar, the Jupiter-1, in 1945-1946, but unlike Molotov she also had western radars. Lend-lease radars were received from 1944 onwards, they were mainly British sets (281, 291, 284, 285 and 282) and the American SG set (the American radar was mounted only on the last two cruisers).

All the ship survived the war and served through the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and last two were not discarded until the 70’s

In general they were quite neglected, Kirov and Molotov (Slava after the destalinisation) lingered around longer probably because they were refitted before Stalin's death with improved 100mm B-34 USMA guns, 37mm V-11 AA MG, new fire control systems and radars. Voroshilov was variously used as towing ship, test platform for rockets and floating barracks, her superstructure was radically rebuilt between the late 50s and early 60s.

 

%25D0%259E%25D0%25A1-24.jpg

As you can see she was renamed OS-24 after this refit, later she was again renamed KSP-19 when she became a floating barrack.

 

EDIT: I guess it's worth mentioning that Kirov had the machinery originally intended for Eugenio di Savoia.

Edited by RedBear87
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Thanks RedBear87 that is some great info. 

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