The Borodino Class were the newest battleships in the Russian Fleet when the Russo-Japanese War broke out in February 1904. The design was based upon the French built Tsarevitch and featured a pronounced tumblehome. They were part of the Baltic fleet and were not immediately involved in the hostilities. When the Russian Admiralty formed a relief expedition, four of the Borodinos were included, as the most modern and powerful warships of the relief force. The four, Borodino, Imperator Alexander III, Orel, and Kniaz Suvarov made the journey from the Baltic, around the Horn of Africa to meet the Japanese at Tsushima. All four were lost. Orel was captured and the other three were sunk.
There was a fifth ship in the class. The Slava was the last and newest in the class. She was not ready when the relief force sailed to the East and therefore was spared the fate of her sisters. She was completed in June 1905, the month after the Battle of Tsushima. By that time she was one of the few battleships of the Russian Baltic Fleet, since almost all of the rest had been lost. Of the three of the class that sank at Tsushima, all three turned turtle before sinking. Because of the combat lessons of Tsushima, Slava was taken in hand and altered. This amounted to reducing the top-hamper and increasing stability.
During World War One the Russian predreadnoughts in the Baltic were far more active than the dreadnoughts. The dreadnoughts were retained in the Gulf of Finland to guard the approaches to St Petersburg. Four predreadnoughts were based forward in the Bay of Riga. Imperator Pavel and Andrei Pervosvanii were the two newest, Slava and the only battleship survivor of action in the Pacific, Tsarevitch. After three years of fighting, the Russians still held the Bay of Riga. In October 1917 the Germans made another attempt to take this position. This involved 20,000 army troops in amphibious operations against the islands on the northern half of the bay and the employment of the High Seas Fleet.
This time the Germans were successful and the Russian squadron used the Moon Sound which led from the Bay of Riga to the Gulf of Finland for their escape route. Slava was with Grazdanin, as the Tsarevitich was renamed after February 1917 revolution and the Bayan II armored cruiser. Konig and Kronprinz engaged them. Initially the Russian ships had the upper hand, even though they were heavily outgunned. Since they could elevate their guns to 30 degrees as opposed to the 16 degrees of the German battleships, the Russian guns outranged the Germans. However, the Germans rapidly closed and the Russian ships began taking hits. Slava was the most heavily engaged. Bayan II with one hit and Grazdanin with two hits were able to slip through the sound and escape but Slava had been hit too many times and drew too much water to get through the sound. She was beached and torpedoed by accompanying destroyers.
The Borodino design was roundly criticized after their poor performance at Tsushima but more than twelve years later, the Slava showed what they could do when they were well crewed and well led. The last of the class had credibly fought two dreadnoughts and only just missed living to fight again due to battle damage. Combrig now has a kit of the Slava in her 1917 fit. The photographs show the resin components but instructions and box art were not available when the photographs were taken.