Neustrashimy, the Russian word for "Undaunted", is also the latest Russian frigate design to enter service. It is the follow on class for the Burevestnik (Krivak) frigates and is optimized for ASW missions. The design incorporates significant efforts to reduce radar and infrared signature. The superstructure is broken with flat convex planes to break up radar return and is covered with radar absorbent material. The sonar door at the stern of the ship was originally flat but was redesigned to provide for a saw-tooth, angular design to break up radar return. This is basically the same concept used in multifaceted USAF F-117 but in this case applied to a 4,000-ton frigate. The two stacks are low and designed to diffuse emissions to break up the infrared signature. At first glance you don’t realize that the ship has two stacks because the aft stack, behind the main mast is so low as to appear parts of the superstructure. Another application of stealth design to this frigate is the design of the six torpedo tubes. Instead of separate mounts, torpedo tubes are mounted into the hull, three to a side in multi-facet/plane fixed positions. The principle is that the multiple facets reduce radar return.

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Primary ASW weapons systems include the six 533 torpedo tubes, using SS-N-15 missiles and wire guided torpedoes, and single RBU-6000 rocket launcher in front of the bridge. This weapons suite is complemented by the Ka-27PL Helix helicopter. One of these is carried aboard Neustrashimy for search and targeting. The Helix is also capable of carrying mines. Anti-Air weapons include four SA-N-9 Klinok missile silos behind the turret on the forecastle. Each silo has a revolving eight chambered cylinder with 9M-330 Kinzhal (NATO-Gopher) missiles for 32 surface to air missiles in all. The range of the system is 1.5 km to 12km with a maximum altitude of 19,700 feet. For close in defense she carries the 100mm DP/70 cal AK-100 gun in the turret and two CADS-1 Kortik AA systems. Each Kortik has a CIWS 30mm gatling gun and four 9M-311/SA-N-11 Grison missiles. These are mounted on either side of the Cross Dome radar on top of the helicopter hanger. A total of 64 SA-N-11 missiles are carried. The missiles have a range of 2.5 to 3 km and can reach an altitude of 10,670 feet. The 30mm guns have a range of 200 to 4,000 meters and can reach up to 3,000 meters. Rate of fire for the 30mm is 2,5000 rounds per minute per barrel. (Design history and statistics are from Combat Fleets of the World)

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RESIN CASTING
This is the best cast 1:700 scale kit from Combrig so far. The crispness, fineness and detail of the castings put it on equal footing with the established resin firms of Europe, the USA and Japan. There is quite a bit of nicely done deck detail from the double breakwater and missile silo positions in the bow to the sonar position in the stern. There is nice detail on the sides of the hull as well with the saw-toothed sonar door and helicopter hanger door. The angular sides of the superstructure capture the multifaceted design to reduce radar signature.

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Oddly enough, given the detail of the deck fittings, Combrig missed certain elements of detail on the superstructure sides. The Neustrashimy has a very noticeable series of square windows at the 01 and 02 levels. There are also vents at the top of each exhaust housing and louvers at the bottom. None of these are present in the casting. To add the windows I cut a series of squares from an Evergreen plastic strip and attached them into place. For the vents at the top of the exhaust housing (two per side), I cut small strips of 1:350 vertical ladder from a spare brass fret. For the louvers at the bottom of the housings, I found that some Japanese radar pieces from a 1:700 Japanese Battleship fret had almost the same shape and a similar pattern as the exterior of the louvers.  

NEUSTRASHIMY VITAL STATISTICS

Laid Down: April 1986; Launched: May 1988; In Service: January 1993

DIMENSIONS: Length – 129.63m (123m oa); Width – 15.60m (14.30m wl);

Draught – 4.26m mean Displacement – 3,210 tons light; 3,800 std; 4,250 fl

ARMAMENT: Four SA-N-9 Kinzhal VLS SAM systems with 32 9M-330 Gopher missiles (8 per system); One 100mm/70 cal AK-100 DP gun with 350 rounds; Two Kortik (CADS-1) CIWS ( each with 30mm gatling gun and 16 9M-311 SA-N-11 Grison SAM missiles); Six 533mm Torpedo Tubes (with SS-N-1/RPK-6 Vodopod or SS-N-16 missiles and torpedoes; One RBU-6000 ASW mount with 96 RGB-60 rockets; One KA-27PL Helix-A helicopter equipped for mines & SS-N-25 Switchblade missiles

MACHINERY: Two M70 gas turbines (10,000 shp each) for cruising; two M-90 boost turbines 18,500 shp each; two propellers; 57,000 maximum shp; 31 knots:

Range: 700nm @ 30 kts; 3,000nm @ 18 kts Complement: 35 officers; 34 wo; 141 em

Sisterships: Yaroslav Mudryy & 300 Let RossiyskomyFlotu

 

Of course the major problem about adding detail in this manner is that it raises the detail above the surrounding surface, whereas the detail is sunken in the prototype. Falk Pletscher believes that it is better to paint on this missing detail by painting the area black and then masking it before painting the superstructure. On reflection, I think Falk is right. The detail would not be raised and you could get nice squared corners. Of course it would be advisable to do this prior to assembling the model. Since these windows, vents and louvers are quite noticeable in photos of Neustrashimy, I do recommend that these be added.

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The smaller parts are very well done as well. The bulk of the ship comprises four parts; the hull, the bridge, the deck on top of the bridge and the helicopter deck. All of the parts fit very well and other than minor cleanup, needed no changes whatsoever. Use white glue or another slower drying adhesive to attach the bridge because it is necessary to get it in proper alignment with the hull.

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The 100mm gun mount, Helix helicopter (with photo-etched rotors), radars, RBU 6000 mount and Kortik CADS mounts are especially fine minute castings. Other parts include plenty of life raft canisters in different configurations, two different types of boat davits (with two different boats), radar pylon, signal lights and chaff launchers. All parts were done to high standard. The only resin pieces that I replaced were the two radar arrays (the resin pieces were too thick), for which I substituted photo-etched parts.

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PHOTO-ETCHED FRET
The Neustrashimy is the third 1:700 Combrig kit to come with a photo-etched fret. The first two are found in the kits for sisterships, Andrei Pervozvanny and Imperator Pavel I. (Click for review) The frets in the first two kits were satisfactory but not at the level of detail of contemporary European or American photo-etch. The fret for Neustrashimy has closed the gap completely. It is of high quality and is equal the frets found in the newest quality kits being released today. The fret is stainless steel. However, I found that it was easier to work and cut the fret than other frets of stainless steel. It is almost like a blend of the strength of stainless steel, coupled with flexibility of brass. I found this fret to be a true pleasure to use and assemble. All P-E parts are numbered on the fret with matching numbers on the instructions. The tops of the lattice masts end in four sided pyramid structures. It is difficult to get these two structures (#22) to fold into four sides. It would have been better for me to cut each part in two, to easy folding and then assemble the two parts. I think doing this will give cleaner, sharper angles.

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In 1:700 kits it is typical to find lengths of generic railing. Not so with the Combrig Neustrashimy. With this kit, railing is designed for use in certain positions. Although you have to trim the railings for some positions, there is no trimming required with others. Some railing has a bottom runner and some ends with stantion posts. I found both types easy to attach. Of special note is the shape of the main deck railing. On Neustrashimy the end of a run of some railing is of a unique inverted triangular shape, that is present on the prototype. Another high point is the photo-etched ship’s nameplate. Look at the photo of the P-E detail. You can make out each Cyrillic character in the ship’s name.

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INSTRUCTIONS
Combrig has followed their tried and true format for the instructions. There is one page, printed front and back. One side shows a to-scale plan and profile of the ship, which doubles as a template for positioning items or providing lengths for antennae or other items. This side also has the ship’s statistics and history, all in Russian. The backside has the assembly diagrams. There are photographs of all resin pieces and the P-E fret. One isometric view of the ship is shown, showing the attachment location of the parts. The resin parts are not lettered or numbered but the drawings of the parts are clear as to what parts are involved. All photo-etched parts are shown by drawing and number, which is the number of the appropriate part on the fret.

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I thought that it was very nice to have P-E parts numbered on the fret and instructions. However, to place some of the resin pieces, you’ll need to consult the plan and profile on the front side of the instructions. There is no question that the assembly of the Neustrashimy is more complex than earlier Combrig kits. You can do this with the instructions provided, however because of the increased complexity, you may feel more comfortable by having an additional source (photos or drawings).

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VERDICT
I believe that this is the best 1:700 scale kit yet from Combrig. Casting is of a uniformly high quality. The only significant problem was a lack of certain details on the sides of the superstructure. The photo-etch fret is top notch. It is sturdy and yet easy to work. Instructions are adequate. By any yardstick, the Combrig Neustrashimy is a high quality product that should please anyone interested in modern warship design. The quality and detail of this kit are sure indicators that forthcoming Combrig kits for the big Rocket Cruisers, will be outstanding.

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