The Azov was the fourth member of the Kara Class, Project 1134B Berkut, but with Azov, it was Project 1134BF, the only one of the seven ships in the class to carry that designation. Azov carried a separate designation because she was the most extensively modified of any of the ships in the class.
The ships of the class served from building as trial vessels for a number of different weapon, sensor and other electronic systems. Azov served as the test bed for the SA-N-6 Grumble (NATO Code Names), VPU ZRK "Fort" vertically launched missile system (VLS). The system had been designed for the Kirov and Slava classes of large rocket cruisers (RKR) but before investing in an untried system for two expensive classes, Soviet designers decided to try it out first on Azov. The SA-N-6 replaced the aft SA-N-3 system on the Azov.
The aft portion of the superstructure was widened to accommodate six missile silos. Each silo had a rotating eight-missile magazine. Other ships in the class had an open area between the aft Head Light C guidance radar and the corresponding SA-N-3 mount. The SA-N-6 missile cylinders went in this location. Not only was the open area filled in as part of the magazine area but also the additional width forced a design change on the torpedo mounts. All other Berkut B class ships have two five-tube 533mm torpedo mounts, placed one mount per side. Because of the additional width of the SA-N-6 housing, Azov only received two twin-tube mounts.
As a general rule, each Soviet weapons system had a sensor/guidance system designed specifically for the weapon. That is one reason for the bristling look of Soviet designs. The multitude of weapons systems, each with its own sensor/guidance system, provides for a formidable appearance. Not only did Azov test out the new weapons system, but also she tested the new guidance system that went with the SA-N-6 system. The sensor guidance system was given the NATO code name of Top Dome. This system did seem to be modified during trials, as early photographs showed the SA-N-6 to be more closely resembling an enlarged Head Light C, than the final Top Dome configuration. As you can see from the very busy photograph of the Combrig model below, weapons and sensor systems are found all over the design.
Azovwas laid down at the 61 Kommuna Shipyard on the Black Sea. All members of the class were built at this shipyard at the rate of one ship per year from 1969 to 1976 with an additional one year gap between Petropavlovsk (5th ship laid down in 1973) and Tashkent (6th ship laid down in 1975). Azov was the fourth in the series, laid down in 1972 (one year before Kirov, launched in 1974 and was in service in 1977. From launching until 1986 Azov remained in the Black Sea, while others of the class went to the Northern or Pacific Fleets.
The photographs below show the Combrig Azov built straight from the box, with no additions other than the pylon for the Head Net C radars on the fore lattice mast. That pylon was shown in the instructions but was missing from the parts. It was easily created from plastic sprue. Only stretch the sprue a little bit, as the pylon is thick. Cut the sprue to include the inverted golf tee shape. The counter-balances for the Top Sail search radar were also reduced slightly in size. A build review will follow, with the review of the Kerch, the fourth distinctive model produced by Combrig of the variations of Project 1134B.