Considering the deplorable state the Imperial Russian Baltic Fleet was in at the conclusion of the Russo-Japanese War, the Russian Duma took an inordinate amount of time to make good the losses of Tsushima. The Baltic fleet was left with Tsarevitch, sole battleship survivor from the Pacific War; Slava, the fifth of the doomed Borodino Class, which fortunately for her was not completed in time to join her four doomed sisters in their voyage to disaster at Tsushima; and Andrei Pervozvanny & Imperator Pavel I, the last and largest of the Russian predreadnought designs. Only in 1908 was approval obtained to replace part of the losses with new dreadnought construction.
On June 3, 1909 four new dreadnoughts were laid down in Saint Petersburg, two, Gangut & Poltava, at the Admiralty Shipyard and two, Sevastopol & Petropavlovsk at the Baltic Shipyard. The construction of all four kept pace with each other and all four were launched between June to September 1911. All four were completed within two weeks of the other from October 21, 1914 to November 4, 1914. The design was a Russian modification of a German Blohm and Voss plan with adherence to many of the principles of the Italian designer, General Cuniberti. This is most noticeable in the four triple twelve inch gun turrets all on main deck, the higher than normal maximum speed of 23 knots and the thinner armor belt.
During World War One none of the four saw much action. After the years of inactivity during the War and then the Russian Civil War, they were in a deplorable state by 1919. Poltava, renamed Frunze in 1920, was in so bad a shape that she never was put back into service and instead was used as a parts replacement storehouse for the other three. It wasn’t until the last half of the 1920s that the Soviet government had the funds to undertake minor refits of the other three in 1926-1928. In the 1930s the three went in for major refits, one after the other because of the limited finances available. Marat, ex-Petropavlovsk was the first to receive this from 1931 to 1933 with the significant modifications being the installation of a new tube foremast and numerous platforms and a larger forward superstructure; a raised forecastle angled forwards, which lengthened the ship; the forefunnel was heightened and canted back; six new 45mm AA guns were installed, three each on A and X turrets, and originally a flying boat was stored on top of O turret; the guns received new barrels and the ship was converted to oil from coal burning. Oktyabrskaya Revolyutsiya, ex-Gangut, and Parizhskaya Kommuna, ex-Sevastopol, followed but both of these received a more robust bridge/forward superstructure refit than Marat.
The modernized Marat, as the first of the class to be refitted, took the lead in showing the flag. On July 25, 1935 she is reported to have rammed and sank the Soviet submarine, Tovarisch. She made a visit to Gydnia, Poland in September of that year. In May and June 1937 Marat represented the Soviet Union for the Spithead Naval Revue on the coronation of King George VI. During the "Winter War" with Finland 1939-1940, Marat shelled Finnish positions at Saarepaa and Koivisto. When the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, Marat was moved from Reval, further East to Kronstadt. She was there on September 23, 1941 when she was attacked by Ju-87 Stuka dive bombers. A hit by a 1,000 kg bomb detonated her forward 12 inch magazine, blowing off the bow as far aft as B turret. The forward superstructure and A turret were totally destroyed. Although she remained on the bottom her C and D turrets were still operational. They along with the repaired B turret acted as battery defending Leningrad, during that city’s horrific siege. She was decommissioned in her sunken condition in 1943 and reverted to her former name of Petropavlovsk. After the war she was raised and on November 28, 1950 became the stationary training ship, Volkhov. She was scrapped in 1952. (History of Marat is from Battleships of World War Two by M. J. Whitley and Soviet Warship Development, Volume 1: 1917-1937 by Siegfried Breyer.)
Smaller parts are also of a higher quality than the earlier kit. The superstructure parts fit easily together, although they need to be dry fitted first to insure that the masts travel correctly through the various platforms. Some of the nicer parts are the funnel bases, funnels, director and cranes. The turrets have the guns cast in place and require removal of a resin flash between the guns. I found that the guns were extremely fragile and broke three barrels in removing the flash between the guns. I also thought that the main guns were too spindly and replaced them with brass WWI German 11-inch barrels, available from NNT. Once the resin barrels were removed at the front of the blast bags, the brass barrels had the right length and configuration to make excellent replacements. (NNT now has brass barrels for WWI German 11-inch guns, WWI German 12-inch guns, WWI German 5.9-inch guns and WWII German 11-inch guns. These barrels with drilled bores are outstanding, equal to Japanese Clipper barrels.)
I found it much easier to remove the smaller parts from their film with the Marat kit, than I did with the Kirov kit. Only one AA gun was broken in the process. The secondary 4.7 gun barrels are not supplied with the kit. You can use plastic or metal rod for these barrels, which can be cut to the correct length using the 1:700 profile included in the kit. Likewise topmasts and yards must be cut from rod as they are not included. The main mast has two poles going parallel to the other for a portion of the mast. Only the thicker, rear pole is included. The sighting top on the main mast is provided but is of a different shape from photos, so that was scratch-built from resin scrap. No boat davits are provided but the instructions have a template for them as well as the bow and stern jacks.
The H-P Marat has some problems with accuracy, especially in the forward superstructure. Some of the platforms appear to be a little bit off in shape when compared to photographs. The most significant variance is the top platform that fits flush with the stack. Photographs and plans show this platform extending along about one third of the forward funnel. The part in the kit sits flush with the funnel but doesn’t extend far enough aft. I cut down the top of the forward tube mast slightly so that the director position would be slightly closer to the highest mast platform. The after superstructure is also slightly off. The photographs indicate that the aft superstructure should extend further forward of the larger pole mast than is present in the kit and the lowest platform seems to extend further out than the part provided. Photographs of Marat during the 1930s indicate that the platform on the second funnel did not have searchlights. The H-P kit has them and the platform appears too large. Bridge AA guns were oversized, using the same 47mm guns on the turret tops, which seem to be oversized themselves. No photo-etched fret is included with this kit so railings must be provided from another source. I used GMM railings for my build. The kit does include a paper sheet of flags.
The H-P Marat does have flaws. The greatest flaw is that the model is slightly off in the shape of certain platforms. On the other hand, it has a number of strengths, greatest of which is much fine detail on the hull casting. On balance, the strengths of the kit are greater than its weaknesses. It is an easy build and it results in a striking model for anyone’s collection. One final strength of the H-P Marat is that it is the only kit available of this modernized World War Two Soviet Battleship.
Pacific Front Hobbies (Phone: 541-464-8579, Fax: 541-957-5477, E-Mail Shipguy@internetcds.com) is the exclusive distributor in the United States for the Marat as well as the rest of the extensive H-P Models line of 1:700 waterline kits.