The Russian battleship, Georgi Pobedonosets, (George the Victorious) was the fourth and last ship of the Ekaterina II class, designated as ‘Barbette" ships. The first three, Ekaterina II, Tchesma and Sinop, were all laid down in 1883 and were not completed until 1889 and 1890. They were called barbette ships because the twelve inch gun positions were open positions, atop an armored cylinder or barbette. With no turret or gun house to protect them, the gun crews were very vulnerable. Georgi Pobedonosets, laid down in 1889, corrected this problem by adding armored gun houses to the twelve-inch gun positions. She was launched in 1892 and completed in 1894.
The class was in advance of their time and in some ways could be said to foretell the coming of the all big gun battleship. The main armament was six twelve-inch guns mounted in pairs in a triangular redoubt, two positions forward, one aft. The next largest gun was a six-inch and there were only seven of them. The design clustered all three positions towards the center of the ship. Between the aft position and the two forward positions was a small superstructure, surmounted by a deck that had a huge overhang over the main guns.
This was a design weakness in that battle damage to the over-hanging deck could have caused major encumbrance to the main guns below. Another design weakness was the placement of the conning tower. It was located well under the overhang, on the centerline to the rear of the two forward gun positions. The gun positions on either side and forward of the conning tower and the superstructure immediately to the rear greatly blocked line of sight from the conning tower.
All four ships of the class were launched and operated in the Black Sea. On June 27, 1905 the Battleship Potemkin mutinied, an event celebrated by the famous Sergei Eisenstein film, The Potemkin Mutiny. After the crew of the Potemkin mutinied, the rest of the Black Sea Fleet, minus Ekaterina II, whose crew couldn’t be trusted, put to sea to quell the mutiny. As the fleet approached the Potemkin, who was flying red flags of revolt, the crew of Georgi Pobedonosets also mutinied and fell in behind the Potemkin. The fleet broke contact without a shot being fired and Potemkin and Georgi Pobedonosets steamed away. The next day crew loyal to the government managed to run Georgi Pobedonets aground and the revolt aboard her was quelled.
By 1914 the Georgi Pobedonosets was too old, too slow and too weak to participate in Black Sea operations in World War One. She was the port guardship for Sevastopol on October 29, 1914, when Goeben shelled the port. For the first and only time in her career, Georgi Pobedonosets fired her guns in anger. During most of World War One she was Staff Headquarters Ship for the Commander, Black Sea Fleet, as she rode at anchor in Sevastopol.
After the world war, during the Russian Civil War her engines were destroyed on April 19, 1919 by British interventionist forces. When the White Russian force fled the Crimea in 1920, the immobile Georgi Pobedonosets was towed along. During the oddesy of the White Russian naval force, as it sailed from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean looking for a home, the forward funnel of Georgi Pobedonosets, corroded with rust, collapsed, crushing two officers and one seaman. The White Russian Fleet arrived at Bizerta, Tunesia and was interned. The Imperial Russian St. Andrews Cross was lowered on the former Fleet flagship for the last time October 24, 1924. The ancient, engine-less, dilapidated Georgi Pobedonosets was scraped in France in the 1930s. (History from Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1860 – 1905, Potemkin – A Ship – More Than a Mutiny by Falk Pletscher Plastic Ship Modeler #27, and Battleships of the Imperial Russian Navy, Part One by Edward C. Fisher, Jr. Warship International, Volume 5, Number 3, September 1968)
The 1:700 scale model of Georgi Pobedonosets by Combrig is one of the newest releases by the company known for its exhaustive coverage of the iron and steel warships of the Imperial Russian, Soviet and Modern Russian navies.