Soviet warship designs have often displayed an odd mixture of conservatism along with trend setting advances, all in the same design. At the start of the 1960s a new destroyer design appeared in the Black Sea. The initial ships were built at the 61 Kommuna Shipyard in Nikolayev and the class was called Project 61. NATO gave the design the code name Kashin.
The Soviets originally classified the design as an Eskadrenny Minonosets, which had been the Russian designation for destroyers since the 19th century. When the Royal Navy designed a ship to combat the threat of torpedo boats, it was called the Torpedo Boat Destroyer, which after awhile was shortened to destroyer. In Russia torpedo boats were called minonosets with the larger destroyer design called eskadrenny minonosets, literally squadron torpedo boats. The term had outlived its usefulness in describing 4,000 ton vessels armed to engage aerial, surface and submarine threats. Soviet nomenclature policy started listing the type of vessel by their functional mission. The Project 61 warships were given a new type designation, Bolshoi Protivolodochny Korabl (BPK), which meant large anti-submarine ship.
The Project 61 appeared at the same time as the Kynda rocket cruiser and it was assumed to be the designated escort for the new cruiser. The Project 61 BPK could be built at the rate of two per year, whereas the cruiser had a build rate of one per year. This suggested a conceptual surface strike package of one Kynda and two Kashins. Unlike the cruiser design, which was completely new, the Project 61 design had some developmental traits from the earlier Soviet destroyer designs, specifically the Kotlin design. Both designs were flush decked with a symmetrical fore and aft arrangement for the weapons systems. However, the Project 61 ships were far larger and more capable. With a full load displacement of 4,750 tons, these large vessels were really multipurpose in spite of the type name emphasizing their ASW role.
Soviet designers were never shy about loading on weapons systems and it showed to full advantage with this design. The four 76.2mm guns in twin mounts were dual purpose, AA and anti-surface, although their comparatively small size limited this function. The primary anti-surface weapon was the five tube 533mm torpedo mount amidships. In additional to the guns AA weapons included the SA-N-1 twin arm Goa missile system with 32 reloads. This system could also be pressed into an anti-surface role in a pinch. For ASW the design featured the RBU-6000 system of ASW rockets in mounts which covered the frontal arc of the ship and the RBU-1000 system of ASW rockets for engaging subsurface targets on the flanks of the ship. The RBU-6000 had 12 250mm rocket tubes and was mounted forward to engage submarines maneuvering to attack. The RBU-1000 was a self-loading mount derived from the hand loaded RBU-600 and had six 300mm rocket tubes with a shorter range (1,000m) but larger warhead than the RBU-6000 rockets. The heavier warhead was to destroy submarines that had revealed themselves and gone deep to avoid attack. The RBU-1000 system had replaced the BMB-2 depth charge throwers of the earlier Kotlin design. Additionally following the Imperial Russian and Soviet emphasis on mine warfare the Project 61 had mine rails and storage for 20 mines.
In one area the Project 61 was truly innovative. The propulsion system selected was the gas turbine that incorporated jet technology. At this time USN designs used high-pressure steam designs, which were the most advanced development of the steam turbine propulsion that first made its appearance in a major warship with HMS Dreadnought in 1907. Another ten years were to pass before the USN first adopted the gas turbine with the Spruance Class. Steam turbines were most efficient at lower speeds but the gas turbine reached its maximum efficiency at the higher power settings. The Royal Navy and West German Navy had developed destroyer and frigate designs at around this same time that used the gas turbine but they were tentative designs that used the gas turbine to supplement steam turbine (RN County Class destroyers and Tribal Class Frigates) or diesel (German Koln Class frigates) propulsion. Neither country took the plunge to an all gas turbine system. The Soviet Project 61 took the leap to all gas turbine and was rewarded with a power plant that was significantly more advanced than their western competitors. Not only was the design all gas turbine powered, the machinery used was at twice the power rating of the German gas turbine plant and three times that of the British design. Each of the four gas turbines generated 24,000hp for a total of 96,000hp and maximum speed of 36 knots. "Western Intelligence sources were so taken aback by this development that for many years the ‘Kashins’ were credited with eight, or even twelve turbines." (Soviet Warships 1945 to the Present, 1992, by John Jordan, at page 39)
The selection of the gas turbine gave insight into the intended use of the new design. Capable of fast start up, quick response and high-sustained speeds, the design did have one disadvantage, a lower radius of action than steam powered equivalents. The design was clearly meant for sustained combat operations but those had to be fairly close to the Soviet Union or an allied port, rather than a global reach. Indeed, since the efficiency of the power plant rose with the operating speed of the ship, the system was inefficient in a cruising role and drank fuel in copious quantities while cruising. To economize on fuel consumption, the Project 61 ships would operate on one turbine and one shaft when cruising but even this was not economical. The class had fixed propeller blades, so the blades of the propeller of the shaft not being operated would cause drag.
Gas turbines operate at a higher heat range than their steam equivalents and this caused another design decision on the Project 61 that gave it its unique appearance. They featured four huge exhaust stacks, one per turbine. They were double walled with the exterior wall being pierced by numerous round cooling openings to reduce the heat generated. The four stacks were paired and canted outward in order to reduce the deleterious heat and corrosive effects of the exhaust gases to the electronic equipment amidships and aft. The first unit completed was the Komsomolets Ukrainy, which entered service in February 1962. Apparently tests on the lead ship showed that further steps had to be undertaken to reduce interference of the electronics from the exhaust. The fore funnels of all following ships were heightened by 1.5m.
Electronic Counter Measure (ECM) equipment for the early ships was similar to the Kynda cruisers. They had a single Bell Slam fitting on a platform on the front of the foremast and pairs of Top Hat fittings, two above the bridge wings and two on platforms on the sides of the mainmast. They were also fitted with additional platforms for future equipment.
After production of Project 61 had started at 61 Kommuna on the Black Sea, the type also went into production in the Baltic at the Zhdanov Yards with the phase out of Kynda construction. When the Kresta cruiser design went into production at the Zhdanov yards, production of the Project 61 was discontinued in the Baltic but continued on the Black Sea. Even the uniform early Project 61 units had small fittings and appearance differences among the units of the class. Sometimes this was compelled by system shortages and what the yard had in stock and sometimes it was the result of experimentation to find a more efficient arrangement, or experimentation with a new system. In 1966 the Stroyny was the first of the units to be fitted with the new Head Net C air surveillance radar in place of the Head Net system of the earlier units and the addition of the Big Net system on the main mast. Generally the older units were not retro-fitted as new equipment came on line, except for Odarenny, which received the Head Net C in the 1980s. Ships completing in the period of 1968-1969 received new navigation radars. First the Don-2 and then the Don-Kay.
In the late 1960s the Soviet Navy was actively engaged in forward deployments and came in frequent contact with the navies of the NATO powers, especially in the Mediterranean. The Soviets would stalk the task forces with their carrier killer rocket cruisers and submarines and maintain close contact with destroyers. Since the prime anti-surface platforms of rocket cruisers or submarines were not designed for this close contact, the right destroyer class for this mission had to be found. The Type 61 Kashin was perfect for this role as they had high speed and their gas turbines provided extraordinary acceleration. They needed a high performance ship that could maintain close contact with the western forces. The Project 61 ships had the necessary performance but were weak on anti-surface capability. To fulfill this mission of close contact with western naval forces, the Project 61 received a major redesign to add significant SSM capability to the design. The design added four missile canisters, which faced aft and fired over the stern. This was a reasoned decision as the mission of the Type 61M was to vector missile fire onto the carriers from a stand off distance and then as they retired, fire their own barrage over the stern. This new design was called the Project 61M or "Modified Kashin". Six of the type 61M variants were built. Five were rebuilt to the configuration from the original Type 61 ships. They were Ognevoy (Curtain of Fire) converted 1973, Slavnyy (Glorious) converted 1975, Stroynyy (Harmonious) converted 1980, Smyshlennyy (Clever) converted 1974, and Smelyy (Daring) converted 1974. A sixth unit, Sderzhannyy (Cautious) was built to the specifications and in service in 1973. The modifications also included raising the flight deck one level, addition of variable depth sonar from the transom of the new aft deck house created by raising the flight deck, lengthening the hull six feet, addition of four AK630 30mm six-barreled Gatling guns for close in air defense added with the RBU-1000 ASW rocket mounts deleted, Bass Tilt radars to control the AK630 mounts, upgraded ECM fit, and Head Net C air search radars replaced the earlier Headnet A sets. Displacement rose by 200 tons to 3,950-tons, 4,950-tons full load.
Originally the 61M units were typed as Large Rocket Ships (Bolshoi Raketni Korabl) but were retyped as Large Anti-Submarine Ships (Bolshoi Protivolodochni Korabl). The four missiles were thought by NATO to be of a new design and were designated as SS-N-11. However, in reality they were an improvement over the SS-N-2A/B Styx (P-15M Termit) and were subsequently designated as SS-N-2C. These missiles used active radar and infrared homing and had a range of 45nm (80km). The original Termit missiles were in turn to be replaced with eight SS-N-25 Switchblade (Uran Kh-35) missiles but these may not have been mounted due to a ten year delay in fielding the system. It was during the period of the delay that the modified Kashins started leaving the fleet. The Project 61M design was very well balanced with good systems for service attack, ASW and AA defense. This balance was carried over to the next large class of Sovremenny class destroyers. In 1987 the Smelyy was transferred to Poland and purchased in 1992 as the Warszawa. By 1990 the Project 61M ships started to be stricken. (History from Combat Fleets of the World 1988/89, 1989, English Edition prepared by A. D. Baker III; Guide to the Soviet Navy, Fourth Edition, 1986, by Norman Polmar; Soviet Warships 1945 to the Present, 1992, by John Jordan; Warships Today, 2004, by Chris Chant)
The Combrig Project 61M "Kashin"
Almost all of the class appeared in the original Project 61 guise (Click for review of the Combrig Project 61 Obraztsovy) when they originally entered service in the Soviet Navy and were subsequently modified to incorporate new features. The original Project 61 design represented the cleanest appearance of the class, as future modifications created a more substantial superstructure along with the addition of new weapons and sensor systems, making the ships of the class even more "busier".
The five Combrig kits of Project 61 Kashin destroyers cover the entire service life of the class.
Obraztsovy- Combrig model #70336 is of the initial Project 61 design as of 1965. Almost all of the ships appeared originally in this configuration. Obraztsovy had a different ECM arrangement than the earlier ships.
Slavny– Combrig model #70337 is of the Project 61M "Modified Kashin" after the design was reworked to add SSM missiles as of 1975. The major addition was the inclusion of Styx missile canisters with blast deflection shields on the aft portion of the ships. All except one were refitted Project 61 ships.
Provorny– Combrig model #70338 is a one-off variant Project 61E which represents the ship after it was modified as a weapons test platform for the Shtil SA-N-7 SAM system and substituted a tall solid pylon in place of the lattice main mast as of 1981.
Smetlivy–Combrig model #70339 is another one-off variant of the class. Reworked in 1991, the ship also received the designation Project 61E but in appearance was very different from the Provorny. Smetlivy lost her aft 76.2 gun mount to allow for more robust flight operations and sonar capability. Also she substituted a seven-tube 406mm torpedo mount for the standard five tube 533mm version.
Rajput– Combrig model #70397 is the model for Project 61ME, the variant built for the navy of India, which was built with SSM mounts forward and no aft 76.2 mount for a more robust air operation capability. They were completed from 1980 and throughout the 1980s.
The Combrig Project 61M Slavny has a significantly different hull from the Combrig Project 61 Obraztsovy. The hull casting only requires a minimal clean up at the waterline. One quickly notices the first level of the superstructure two-thirds the length of the ship, 80% the length if you include the raised deckhouse with the flight deck. That is a true indicator that there will be many interesting things to come in superstructure, weapons, electronics and other fittings. Looking at the hull sides a knuckle running the aft 80% of the hull sides is immediately apparent. A single anchor well on either side of the bow further decorates the shark like bow with extreme sheer and sharply raked cutwater. There is no doubt about it, Soviet designers created some absolutely spectacular designs that had aggressive good looks. Cast onto the rounded stern is the door for the variable depth towed sonar VDS, which was housed inside the aft deckhouse. The 01 level superstructure bulkheads have incised square windows, ventilator louvers and doors. With a metal deck, you of course don’t find wooden planking detail but with large expanse covered by the superstructure, deck space on the Project 61M was very limited and crowded. The short forecastle features cast on anchor chain running from locator holes for separate windlasses to two deck hawse plates. There are also four sets of twin bollards and four open chocks on the deck edge. Two incised rectangles represent some fittings, probably access hatches. The V-shaped breakwater is excellent. It is admirably thin with intricate support gussets on the aft face. The short deck area between the breakwater and forward superstructure in dominated by the raised circular base for the forward twin 76mm-gun mount. The only other detail found there are two twin bollards and two open chocks. For the greatest length of the forward superstructure the main deck is just a narrow gangway on either side of the superstructure with limited fittings. On each side are two twin bollards and one open chock. Towards the aft end are some delicious architecture as there are three curving blast deflection shields running from the superstructure to deck edge on each side. Fittings aft of those is another base for the aft 76mm gun mount, four more twin bollards and two open chocks. Most of the 01 deck will be covered by additional superstructure parts but there is additional detail found there. Two parallel lines of curving rails are found on either side of the quintuple 533mm torpedo mount. On top of the aft deckhouse is an angular flight control position.
Smaller Resin Parts
With this kit there are a lot of smaller parts. Most striking are the two sets of sharply raked twin funnels. Each stack part has two side by side exhaust stacks with hollow tops and ventilator slits incised on the sides to cool the exhaust gases. The forward pair is significantly larger than the aft pair. The forward superstructure tower is comprised of four parts that fit one on top of the other. On the 02 level are found base plates for the RBU-6000 ASW rocket mounts. Round portholes and square windows are incised into the sides of three of these parts. A large resin sheet contains many of the platforms and smaller superstructure parts. There are eleven various platforms on this sheet ranging from large platforms for the fore and aft missile positions, to other equipment platforms, to tower platforms to masthead platforms. Each AA missile platform has loading door detail. All parts on this sheet are easily removed from the sheet but will require minor sanding to remove any sheet residue. Although three of the tower superstructure parts previously described are on this sheet, other superstructure pieces include AK-630 base mounts and assorted other small deckhouses found on top of the 01 deck. A second smaller resin sheet has the flight deck, two platforms for the aft face of the tower, two side platforms for the tower, two blast deflection wedges for the SAM mount platforms, two ECM superstructure platforms, two notched platforms extending from the superstructure to deck edge upon which the AK-630 deckhouses rest, four deck-side bulkheads for support of the AK-630 deck, curving deck edge solid spray shields, and frankly a couple of parts whose locations I could not ascertain. However, I’ll cover that quandary further in the instructions section.
Other superstructure parts not found on either of the two resin sheets include the round pedestal tower for the forward Screech Owl gun control radar, base deckhouse inside lattice foremast, deckhouse inside aft lattice mainmast, and aft radar tower. The large number of weapons and fittings for the model are found on resin runners. One runner has platforms that are on top of the aft pair of Styx canisters. Weapons runners are for the Styx canisters, detailed AK-630 gatlings, RBU-6000 mounts, 533mm torpedo mount, 76mm twin guns and turrets, SAM mounts and two open 45mm gun mounts. Runners of fittings include life raft canisters, anchor winches, anchors, ECM fittings, signal lamps, ship’s boats, boat chocks, davits, mast platforms, radar houses and the smaller electronic gear. This kit was released a couple of years ago. The parts are not as detailed has the outstanding components of current Combrig kits. They give you the shapes but not quite the same level of detail. However, en masse, as you assemble the kit the model still appears to be a very exciting, if challenging, build.
Brass Photo-Etch Frets
Combrig kits don’t come with decal sheets but the five Kashin kits do have a sheet. The same sheet is used in all five kits but it provides specific markings for each of the kits. You don’t have to know the Cyrillic alphabet to identify which gold nameplates go to the Slavny kit, carried on the hull sides aproximately abreast with the aft 76mm mount. Combrig provides the name in English next to the two Russian nameplates. There are also five different decals for flight deck landing circles. The Combrig instructions show a simple circle but undoubtedly Slavny also had other designs. In Combat Fleets 1988-89 a photo of Slavny (page 612) in 1985 with a double circle, which is also provided on the decal sheet. Russian hull numbers are also provided with two sets of numbers 1 through 0. The 1985 photo shows Slavny wearing 487 but ships changed hull numbers from time to time. Just remember the decal sheet only supports three digit groups in which no digit repeats itself. Also included are Soviet stars for each side at the bow, multicolor crest for centerline stern, Soviet ensign & jack, modern Russian navy ensign & jack for 1990s ships and small yellow number, for which I cannot a placement location.
No doubt about it, the instructions are by far the weak link in the Combrig project 61M kit. There are far too many parts and it is far too complex of an assembly to be even remotely addressed with one isometric assembly view. These instructions are in the old format with only one back-printed page. Page one of course has a 1:700 scale plan and profile, which can be very helpful in identifying the locations for certain structure locations. Even so, there is so much going on that structural shapes can be difficult to find on the drawings. The history of the ship and statistics listing are in Russian. Page two is divided between photographs of the components and one drawing showing assembly. This kit REALLY, REALLY NEEDS insets with subassembly drawings. Combrig now uses two back-printed pages of instructions with most kits and also uses subassembly diagrams. If any Combrig kit needed that type of treatment, it is this one. Some of the parts are shown already attacked in the assembly drawing and are easy to miss after the initial study. You have to study every cm of the assembly drawing to pick up all of the parts shown already attached, just to make sure you don’t miss them. Even so, I still have not identified the assembly locations for a few of the parts. Using photographs of the Project 61M ships can also be helpful.
The Project 61M, Modified Kashin, destroyers were wonderful looking warships. With the Combrig Slavny Project 61M BPK in 1:700 scale, the modeler will get all of the resin parts, two brass frets and even a decal sheet to model this complex design. The only item that mars this kit is a set of inadequate instructions.