Avrora was the third and last in the Pallada class of three protected cruisers. The specifications were as follows:


5,260 tons (normal), 6,731 tons (full load)


Length - 126.8 m (oa), 123.7 (wl), Beam - 16.8 m, Draft - 6.4 m


3-shaft Vertical Triple Expansion, 24 Belleville boilers, 11,600 ihp (8,535 kW)


900 t (normal), 1,430 t (full load)


2,200 nm at 9 knots


20.0 knots



Avrora was laid down at the New Admiralty shipyard in Saint Petersburg on May 23, 1897, launched on April 28, 1900 and commissioned on July 16, 1903. (In the Cyrillic alphabet, the name is spelled ABPOPA, which translates to Avrora, rather than Aurora.)

As built, Avrora and her two sisters (or brothers since ships are "male" in the Russian language) were much larger and more powerful than their predecessors were. Armament in 1903 was as follows: 8 x 6-inch/45, 24 x 11 pdr, 8 x 1 pdr, 3 x 15-inch torpedo tubes (one at the bow, above the waterline, the other two submerged on either side) 

Avrora Hull Photographs
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During the Russo-Japanese war, Pallada was attached to the Pacific squadron in Port Arthur and took part in the operations of that fleet until it was bottled up in the military harbor of Port Arthur by the Japanese blockade. When the Japanese army gained control of the heights above the Russian base, they shelled the helpless fleet. Pallada was sunk by 11-inch howitzer shells and abandoned by her crew. After the Russian garrison surrendered, the Japanese raised a number of Russian warships and restored them as part of their navy. Pallada was repaired and modernized to become the Isugaru, which served in a Japanese cruiser squadron until stricken and scrapped in 1923. 

Avrora's Armament
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Avrora was included in the Second Pacific Squadron, a collection of most of the warships available in the Baltic fleet, that was given the impossible task of sailing around the world to defeat the Japanese Navy in a decisive battle. As it happened, the Japanese fleet under Admiral Togo destroyed most of the Russian fleet at Tsu-Shima on May 27, 1905. Avrora, although damaged (2 direct hits, 17 dead and 80 wounded in the crew) survived the battle and escaped to Manila where she was interned until the end of the war. 

Avrora's Masts & Stacks
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Upon returning to Saint Petersburg, Avrora was repaired and served as a training cruiser until WW I broke out. Armament was increased to 14 x 6-inch/45 (Sister ship Diana was re-gunned with 10 x 5.5-inch and 2 76mm/AA). In November 1917, Avrora was in Saint Petersburg and most of the crew under the influence of the Bolsheviks. The cruiser was moved to prevent the Kerensky government from raising the bridges and isolating portions of the city. Furthermore, one of the guns of the cruiser fired a blank shot to give a signal for the Red Guards to seize the Winter Palace and arrest the Kerensky cabinet. 

Deck Photographs
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It is for that participation that Avrora was preserved as a monument by the Soviets. During WW II, the cruiser was stripped of its guns and sunk in shallow waters. After the war, the hulk was raised and restored to become a museum in advance of the 50th anniversary of the Revolution in 1957. Many pieces of equipment were gathered on board, including 14 130mm destroyer guns. The anchor gear was modernized and the ship was given a permanent berth on the banks of the Neva, where Avrora can still be visited today. 

Avrora's Fittings
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In 1987, Avrora was completely rebuilt to prevent the ship collapsing due to extensive damage to the hull. Today, the ship is as good as new and maintained in pristine shape by the corps of sea cadets. Portions of the upper deck have been renovated to illustrate the crew quarters and anchor gear space (the anchors themselves have been replaced by 1917-style look-alikes). The rest of the deck is devoted to exhibits of the glorious past of the cruiser and the Russian navy (including superb models). 

Builder's Models on Avrora
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The cruiser has been restored to its 1917 state, with only minimal concessions to her age and previous condition as a Soviet-era relic. For example, the guns are not 6-inchers anymore, and the shields have the wrong shape. But Avrora is still a glorious sight, anchored as she is on the Neva, with her distinctive 3 tall funnels. Avrora is a must-see for all ship lovers. (This article originally appeared in International Maritime Modeling)