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citizen lambda
Post subject: Soviet Union, World War II gunboatsPosted: March 31st, 2016, 9:56 pm
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Now that I have given the designs a trial run in the newbie pen :D, it's time for the floating tanks to get out in the real world!

Let's start with the Projekt 1124 I have described already.
To summarize: this is the heavy (45 tons) half of the pre-war gunboat renewal project that created a family of low-draft, sturdy and armored river boats armed with then-standard tank turrets.
The Projekt 1124 carried two gun turrets along with one separate MG turret on top of the deckhouse.
The initial design used T-28 tank turrets armed with L/16.5 76mm guns, along with pre-revolutionary Maxim MGs, on a hull cut as low as possible to reduce weight and improve balance:
[ img ]

After tests showed that the cut-down bow made the deck wet in all weathers, the forward hull was patched up, leading to the first major production version.
Many boats retained that configuration, some even being rebuilt to it late in the war, like the BK-13 shown below. This boat entered service in 1937 and remained in service in the Amur flotilla on the Far East front, temporarily being outfitted with an M-13M 132mm rocket launcher in place of the stern turret, being being rebuilt to an all-gun configuration in 1944.
[ img ]

On the Western front though, even starting during the Winter War, the original argument proved woefully inadequate. While plans to develop a dedicated naval turret around a new gun with higher elevation for coastal assault was delayed by the hostilities, the turret of the T-34 then in production was selected as the new armament for the boats of Pr.1124 and 1125.
However, the supply of tank turrets was restricted to the Red Army tank forces, then hard pressed in their fight against Germany. Available turrets were hard to come by, and several boats ended with various weapons fits.
The opportunity was taken to improve the firepower of some boats by fitting them with Katyusha-type rocket launchers, either the 132mm M-13M or the lighter 82mm M-8M. While powerful, both turned out to have inadequate accuracy and protection for both the rockets themselves and the reloading crew, and all were phased out by 1945.
The BK-119 shown below carries the M-13M launcher on the stern deck, along with one of the new T-34 turrets and DShKM-2B armored twin-MG mount.
[ img ]

Another type of interim weapons fit involved adding anti-aircraft guns of various calibers, ranging from DShK HMGs on pintle mounts to Tsarist Lender 3-inch guns on open mounts replacing the tank turrets. Some, like the BK-33 shown below, carried a 37mm 70K naval automatic gun. This boat is shown in its configuration following a September 1944 refit while in service in the Danube flotilla. Until that time, it carried a Lender gun along with the 70K, having been built in 1941-42 during the tank turret shortage mentioned above.
[ img ]

After tank production picked up in 1942-43, more boats were refitted (and produced) with a complete T-34 fit and new MG turrets. The BK-221 shown below, part of the Azov flotilla in 1944, still carries a single DShK 12.7mm MG in a welded turret on top of the deckhouse, possibly since its launch in September 1943.
[ img ]

In contrast, the BK-121 below sports one of the final MG fits with the cast version of the DShKM-2B armored twin-12.7 turret, along with the final T-34 turrets. This boat served in the Azov flotilla in this configuration from May 1943 to July 1945 before being transferred to the border fleet of the NKVD.
[ img ]

The other end-of-war configuration features the welded version of the DShKM-2B turret, shown here on the BK-163, named "Saratovskiy Patriot" by its crew, having served in the Danube fleet in 1945.
[ img ]

That's it for the documented versions of Projekt 1124 so far, more to follow from other models.


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darthpanda
Post subject: Re: Soviet Union, World War II gunboatsPosted: April 1st, 2016, 4:05 am
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Great work! looking for more!

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Jackie Treehorn
Post subject: Re: Soviet Union, World War II gunboatsPosted: April 1st, 2016, 4:57 am
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Good start. Very nice and unusual boats,


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Skyder2598
Post subject: Re: Soviet Union, World War II gunboatsPosted: April 1st, 2016, 7:44 am
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Great work and nice start ;-)

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citizen lambda
Post subject: Re: Soviet Union, World War II gunboatsPosted: April 1st, 2016, 3:55 pm
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Thanks for the positive feedback, everyone!

Now onward to Projekt 1125.
As explained before, this is the lighter sister-class of Projekt 1124, with a displacement around 30 tons. This secondary design was meant to have a shallower draft and serve in a wider array of waterways.
Compared with the Projekt 1124, this version had a shorter hull and replaced the aft gun turret with an MG position, while a thrid MG was installed in front of the (now single) tank turret.
Its evolution over the course of the Second World War was similar to that of Projekt 1124:

It started out with a low hull, cut-down bow and T-28 turret:
[ img ]

After tests showed, as for Pr.1124, that the bow was inadequately wet, the forward hull profile was modified for the main production variant.
The BK-114 shown below is an example of that series configuration: Built in 1938-39, it was part of the first batch to see combat on the Western front, successively in the Dnepr flotilla, the Baltic fleet and the Danube flotilla, before being sunk by artillery fire near Antonovka on the Dnepr in September 1941:
[ img ]

Once trial by fire showed the inadequacies of the original weapons fit, a lot of boats were submitted to various refits with what weapons were available at the time.
As for Pr.1124, some were outfitted with multiple rocket launchers, although the heavy M-13M Katyusha was of little use on such a light hull.
For example, the BK-14 below was refitted with T-34 turret and M-8M small-caliber MRL mount in 1944. This boat would end up having a distinguished career on the Western front, fighting all the way from Stalingrad to Berlin, then soldiering on until being transferred to the DOSAAF in 1956.
[ img ]

In parallel, other boats saw their anti-aircraft capacities improved, such as the BK-92 seen here with a DShK hevy machine-gun on an AA pintle mounted in an armored bucket over the engine room, in addition to its T-34 turret. This boat entered service in late 1942 in the Volga flotilla, then transferred to the Dnepr flotilla, following the offensive westwards through Belarus until being heavily damaged and sunk by artillery fire in Pinsk in July 1944.
[ img ]

As for Pr.1124, new boats built from 1942 onward started showing the second standard configuration with a single T-34 turret and armored DShK mountings. At the same time, the forward MG turret was often removed as it interfered with the fire arc of the gun turret.
The BK-93 below, carrying the new T-34 turret along with the rarer original single-tube DShKM turret, was launched and put into service in 1942 before joining the Dnepr flotilla in 1943. This was another of the boats serving through the fighting on the Western front from Stalingrad to Berlin, and was removed from service as a river gunboat only in 1958.
[ img ]

Further boats produced between 1943 and 1946 used the same general weapons fit with the same variations in MG mounts as Pr.1124.
One significant difference appeared in 1944 when, in a move strangely not replicated on Pr.1124, some boats started being equipped with open mounts for DShK MGs with anti-aircraft capability. This mount, standard on any seagoing ships, traded armor protection for a higher elevation and turn rate to engage fast-flying fighter-bombers.
The BK-241 here shows that final configuration with 2 twin DShKMs in open AA mounts. Built in Perm in 1942-43, this boat followed combat operations from the Caspian flotilla to the Black Sea Fleet to the Danube flotilla, within which it fought in Iasi-Chisinau, Budapest and Vienna.
[ img ]

More to follow!

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Charybdis
Post subject: Re: Soviet Union, World War II gunboatsPosted: April 1st, 2016, 5:29 pm
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That's some fiddly work. Well done!

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eswube
Post subject: Re: Soviet Union, World War II gunboatsPosted: April 2nd, 2016, 3:55 pm
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Excellent! :D


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citizen lambda
Post subject: Re: Soviet Union, World War II gunboatsPosted: April 3rd, 2016, 3:36 pm
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Now for something similar but slightly different in scale, we enter the realm of the "small artillery ships" aka MAK for "Малый артиллерийский корабль", even though these ships carried various designations during their service lives, such as MBK or MKL.
Compared with the smaller Pr.1124 and 1125 discussed previously, these are less "floating tanks" than honest-to-goodness small ships that happen to mount tank turrets as well. As such, they fall closer to the category historically described as "monitors", and are sometimes described as such in Russian.

The Project 161 shown below was designed as a sea-going monitor during 1941-42 based on the experience from the Project 138 built in besieged Leningrad. Consequently, the design was kept as straightforward as possible, using plate metal and standard parts where available.
20 boats were built from 1942 to 1944, in different configurations. The initial weapons fit included 82mm mortars in addition to the T-34 turrets and one 70K 37mm AA gun, but the mortars were replaced during production with additional 45mm AA guns.
[ img ]

Starting in 1944, a new flaring bow was introduced to improve navigability, while the deckhouse was rearranged and equipped with an armored conning tower replacing the initial hatch with optional DShK pintle mount. The storm bow was retrofitted to some of the earlier boats.
[ img ]

Fixed: I noticed a bit too late that the deckhouse handrails were missing on the versions I posted.


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Hood
Post subject: Re: Soviet Union, World War II gunboatsPosted: April 4th, 2016, 7:47 am
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Very nice additions. All of these look very good, especially given the small size.

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Skyder2598
Post subject: Re: Soviet Union, World War II gunboatsPosted: April 4th, 2016, 6:44 pm
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Again great work ;-)

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