The Amur-class minelayers have the distinction of being the first ocean-going minelayers to be designed for this purpose. Previously, ships were either
adapted or converted to lay mines but
Amur and Yenisei were purpose-built for this task. Both ships were laid down in 1898 at the Baltic Works in Saint
Petersburg and completed the following year. They were designed to drop their mines while at high speed and were given a pronounced, over hanging
stern that was fitted with doors through which mines could be dropped safely behind the propellers. Each door was served by a rail that led directly to
storage compartments capable of holding 500 mines.

Amur-class measured 300 feet long and 41 feet in the beam with two funnels and masts. They were fitted with steam boilers which produced a total
of 4,700 indicated horsepower which gave the ship a top speed of 18 knots.
Amur and Yenisei were armed with five 75-millimeter (3.0 in) Canet Pattern
1892 50-caliber guns, seven 47-millimeter (1.9 in) Hotchkiss guns and a single 15-inch (381 mm) torpedo tube.
The Amur and Yenisei were assigned to the Pacific Fleet and based in Port Arthur when the Russo-Japanese War began. Two days after the February 8-
9, 1904 surprise Japanese naval attack on Port Arthur,
Yenisei was in the process of laying a minefield at Dalian Bay when one of the mines somehow
broke loose and began floating towards the ship. While maneuvering to avoid the stray mine,
Yenisei accidentally entered her own minefield and struck
another one. The explosion caused eight mines, that had not yet been deployed and still sitting of the rails, to detonate.
Yenisei sank in 20 minutes with
the loss of about 100 crewmembers. The cruiser
Boyarin, in the company of four destroyers, was sent to provide assistance and pick up survivors.
While responding to the accident,
Boyarin herself fell victim to one of Yenisei’s mines. The explosion opened the hull and flooded the ship's machinery
spaces, which forced her crew to abandon ship. The cruiser remained afloat, but foundered in Dalian Bay the next day during a storm.

On May 14, 1905,
Amur laid a field of 50 mines. The following morning, Rear Admiral Nashiba Tokioki led an Imperial Japanese Navy squadron
consisting of the battleships
Hatsuse, Yashima and Shikishima to bombard Port Arthur. The squadron entered this minefield and Hatsuse and Yashima
both hit mines.
Hatsuse first hit one mine which disabled her engines and steering, which caused her to drift and strike a second mine, detonating one of
her forward magazines. The ship sank in about 90 seconds, taking 496 men down with her.
Yashima struck a mine as she maneuvered to avoid the
Hatsuse, but she was towed away. However the damage was severe and the flooding could not be controlled, which forced her crew to abandon
her. Three hours after
Yashima struck the mine she capsized and sank.

During the December 8, 1904 bombardment by Japanese artillery,
Amur was struck several times while she was moored at a dock. The damage from
the 11-inch shells caused her to list at an angle of 68° at her moorings. Ten days later she was again hit a number of times during another artillery
bombardment and was sunk. The Japanese eventually raised her and she was scrapped.
This kit is the one of the newer releases from Combrig and the latest in their series of Imperial Russian Navy that participated in the Russo-Japanese
War. The kit will allow you to build either ship which were essentially identical with the exception of the type of anchors fitted. As usual, Combrig offers
this kit in both a two-part full hull and a waterline version. My kit is the waterline version, so this review does not have images of the lower hull.

The upper hull has a good amount of details cast into it, with hawse holes, hatches, skylights, portholes, mooring bitts and chocks. The stern has the
prominent minelaying doors cast into it. The deck is basically devoid of any detail, with the exception of the mooring bitts, chocks, skylights, some
coamings and wood planking. While the simulated wood planking is done well enough there are no butt ends, which is a common issue with kits from
Combrig as well as others. The decks have recessed outlines and shallow depressions and holes for the various housings and fittings which are separate
parts. The hull casting is very clean and there are only a few pinholes along the stern that need to be filled in. One thing I did notice is that the bottom
edge of the hull is pretty much flush and there is no resin lip to remove. There is a minimal amount for excess resin along the bottom edge that can be
quickly sanded down.
The kit is broken down into a number of individual parts. A thin resin casting wafer contains the pilot house, a deck housing, bases for the funnels, the
forward upper deck and aft deck extensions. Overall the detail in these parts is very good but again there are no butt ends in the wood planking on the
deck parts. The funnels are also well done but the openings are a tad shallow compared to those in other Combrig kits.

As mentioned above, there are a lot of smaller parts all attached to casting runners. The parts are very well cast, need little, if any, clean up and must be
carefully removed from the casting runners. One runner has cowl vents which are fitted around the funnels at their bases. Another runner has the larger
boat davits. A total of 10 boats of four different types (steam pinnace, cutters, whaleboats and dinghies) are provided. The steam-powered boats have
funnels next to them on the runner and additional details are done in photo-etch. The other boats have no details cast into them as the thwarts and rudders
are done in photo-etch instead.

The smaller resin parts include the 75-millimeter and 47-millimeter guns, two styles of anchors, anchor skids, various pipe vents and sundry deck and
bridge fittings. The propellers, rudder and propeller shafts and struts are also included even though this is the waterline version of the kit. With respect to
the guns there is a problem – a total of seven 47-millimeter guns were fitted to these ships and the kit instructions clearly show where the seven are to be
placed but the kit provides parts for only six! Even the photo-etch provides parts for seven mounts. This is an unfortunate but serious oversight on the
part of Combrig that really should have been caught. I will have to see if I have any spare resin parts from another Combrig kit.
The kit comes with two brass photo-etch frets. The larger sheet includes railings, which quite frankly is not common with Combrig kits. The railings
have individual stanchion ends and not a bottom gutter rail. I prefer the latter style as I find them easier to work with but it is still good to see railings
included with the photo-etch. Also provided on the larger brass sheet are boat skids and other parts to detail the resin davits, other styles of davits with
parts to detail those, inclined ladders, parts to finish off the boats as mentioned above, ratlines, a catwalk, bow and stern crests, gun shields, deck
platform supports, searchlight bandstands and other fittings. Four of the eight davits on the fret are missing the pulleys, which is most likely the result of
over-etching; but have no fear as a smaller extra fret contain four replacement davits. Anchor chain is not included with the photo-etch, though most
modelers would probably use modeling chain instead. The brass looks generally good and has a bit of relief etching as evidenced in the two crests.

The instructions come on six pages but have a different format than what I have usually seen in other Combrig kits. The first page has small a profile
drawing of the ship with a brief history in Russian and the specifications in English. Page two has the standard resin parts laydown but this time the
parts have reference numbers. Page three has a laydown of photo-etch parts, along with reference numbers with a “t” prefix, and three insets that cover
assembling the guns, davits and accommodation ladders. The following three pages have very detailed assembly diagrams with each page focusing on a
different section of the ship: forward, amidships and aft. Page four, which covers the forward part of the ship, also has other insets with illustrations for
some other sub-assemblies. As good as these illustrations are there are some glaring omissions. The assembly and placement for the two masts are
completely ignored and templates for cutting the masts and yards, which are a common feature in other Combrig instructions, are omitted. In certain
points in the guide some instructions are provided to cut down brass wire or rod for certain assemblies or parts. An illustration of the fully assembled
model would have been helpful.
This is another good release from Combrig though there are some issues. It is good to see another ship from the ill-fated Imperial Russian Navy and one
that was very handsome. You can purchase this kit from
Free Time/Pacific Front Hobbies, which is the sole source for Combrig kits in the United
Felix Bustelo