The Diana class of protected cruisers was ordered as part of the 1895 naval program to reinforce the Russian Baltic Fleet. Each of the ships was named after a
mythological goddess: Diana, the goddess of the hunt, Pallada (Pallas Athena) the goddess of wisdom and Aurora the goddess of the dawn.
Aurora was the last of the
three to be completed. She was laid down in St. Petersburg in June 1897, launched on May 11, 1900 and commissioned July 16, 1903. Designed for 20 knots,
was slower than designed with a speed of 18.97 at trials. The class packed a considerable armament for their 6,731ton displacement with ten 6-inch/45 and twenty-four
75mm/45 guns.
Aurora could easily be distinguished from her sisters by the presence of gun shields on her gun mounts. Diana and Pallada had open mounts.

Upon completion
Aurora was ordered to the Pacific to join the Port Arthur Squadron, however she was held up in the Mediterranean because the pre-dreadnought
Oslyabya, which she was escorting, needed repairs in Italy. When word was received of the start of the Russo-Japanese War, the ships were ordered back to the Baltic
to become part of the relief expedition. Aurora was with Rovhestvenski’s ill-fated 2nd Pacific Squadron, which weighed anchor from Libau in the Baltic on October 15,
1904 to steam half way around the world. During the Battle of Tsushima, May 27 to May 28 1905,
Aurora, along with the cruisers Oleg and Zhemchug, became
separated from the main fleet during the night of May 27. They headed south and reached the neutral port of Manila, where they were interned by the United States until
the end of the war. During the battle
Aurora had been hit twice with 17 killed and 80 wounded.

After the end of the war she returned to the Baltic, which she reached in February 1906. In 1907 Aurora was assigned to train naval cadets and subsequently went on
cruises. During World War One, she was part of the 2nd Baltic Cruiser Brigade. She was fairly inactive, basically guarding the entrance to the Gulf of Finland. In
November 1916 she went into the yard at St. Petersburg for a major overhaul, which amounted to removing stacks and guns and replacing the boilers.
During their prolonged inactivity, the crew listened to the Bolshevik propaganda and became ardent followers of the Bolsheviks. In a disturbance the commander of the
Aurora was killed and the Executive Officer wounded by the crew. The crew elected a lieutenant as the commanding officer. The Aurora was ordered to sea for trials
and then to proceed to Helsinki, but the crew refused to follow orders.

Aurora would play an important role in the Bolshevik Revolution (aka October Revolution) which seized power of Russia by throwing out the Kerensky
government. The Winter Palace was one of the last major buildings that remained in the hands of the Kerensky government.
Aurora steamed to the raised drawbridge
which led to the Winter Palace and a boat load of sailors was sent to lower the bridge. The military cadets guarding the bridge fled and the
Aurora fired one blank
round from her forward gun position to signal the storming of the Palace, which occurred without casualties on either side.
Aurora was laid up at Kronstadt during the
Russian Civil War. She was undamaged by a Royal Navy MTB attack on August 18, 1919, even though she was one of the six major targets. Repairs were completed
in November 1922 and by the following summer the
Aurora was in business again, this time training naval cadets in the new Red Navy. On November 2, 1927 Aurora
was awarded the Order of the Red Banner for her part in the October Revolution.

During World War Two she assisted in the siege of Leningrad. Her main guns were landed but she still retained AA guns and fought in defense of the city. She was
damaged in an air raid and had to be scuttled in shallow water to prevent capsizing. In the summer of 1944
Aurora was raised and it was decided to make her a
memorial to the October Revolution. She is still there on the Neva to this day, a museum ship open to the public, more than 100 years after she first slid into the water
at St. Petersburg.
The Kit - Combrig adds to its growing 1/350 scale Imperial Russian Navy fleet with the release of the Aurora kit (along with kits of her two sisters). The kit is
comprised of resin and photo-etch parts and depicts
Aurora as she appeared from commissioning in 1903, with her shielded 6-inch guns, until she was re-gunned in
World War One.

The model comes as a two-part hollow cast hull giving you the option of either a waterline or full hull model (a waterline only version is also available).The upper hull
casting is overall well done with a good amount of detail, such as chocks and mooring bitts, hatches, gun ports for the 75mm guns, skylights and portholes. The bitts
have the more accurate hour glass shape, rather than the straight posts used by most other manufacturers. Deck detail is also good, with the decks all having wood
planking, however there are no butt ends. Skylights that are cast into the deck have good detail as well. The main deck has numerous engraved circles, which represent
the coal scuttles. The decks also have recessed outlines for the separate citadel and deck housings as well as the deck guns. This is supposed to serve as an aid,
showing where the corresponding parts are to be glued to the deck. There are some locator holes to accommodate some smaller vents and a support pillar for the
lower bridge deck.

The lower hull is good, with nicely done bilge keels, propeller shaft fairings and two recesses (port and starboard) for the underwater torpedo tubes. Strangely the
space for the third propeller, in front of where the rudder is fitted, is solid with a scored outline. My guess is that this was done to make casting easier, but you will
have to cut this area out in order to fit the propeller. Along the lower edge of the upper hull and upper edge of the lower hull there are resin lips that are a result of
casting that will need to be removed. However, there are scored lines that will guide you when doing this. When joining the two hull sections, some filler will probably
be needed to hide the joint.
Two thin resin casting wafers contain various structural parts, decks and platforms. The first wafer has the bases for the funnels and deckhouse that is located aft.
The second wafer has the pilot house, fighting top, bridge decks, aft flying deck and other smaller platforms. The details are fairly good on these parts, especially on
the different decks.

The next largest parts are the three prominent funnels. They have deep openings and good cap aprons but the steam pipes must be made by the modeler using brass or
plastic rod. There are notches in the base to accommodate the pipes. A total of 10 boats in four different types (steam launches, cutters, whaleboats and dinghies) are
provided. The steam launch has a small boiler and funnel cast separately next the hull on the runner. The other boats have cast in thwarts and bottom planking detail
and all boats have rudders.

The smaller resin parts include the propellers, rudder, propeller shaft struts, the citadel and armored conning tower, the 6 inch guns and mounts and the 75mm guns in
two styles – some with the mounts for the deck and just the barrels for the others to fit into the gun ports in the hull. Other parts include another deck structure fitted
aft, cowl vents in different sizes, mushroom vents, 37mm guns and their mounts, searchlights and their mounts, anchors in two styles, boat davits in two styles,
storage lockers and sundry deck and bridge fittings. The parts are generally very well cast, need little, if any, clean-up and must be carefully removed from the casting
runners. The thinner davits are flimsy and some are a little warped. These should have been done in photo-etch brass; while they would be flat and two-dimensional
they would be sturdier. Making your own with brass wire will be tedious.
Combrig provides two photo-etch brass frets, produced by North Star Models, which are comprised of ship specific parts. The modeler will have to use after-market
photo-etch railing. There are part numbers etched into the frets to aid identification in the instructions. The larger brass fret contains lengths of perforated beams that
that run the length of the main deck which support the photo-etch boat stowage skids. Other parts include boat stowage cradles, funnel cap grills, inclined and vertical
ladders, parts for the accommodation ladders, 6-in gun shields, parts to build the bases for the larger boat davits, triangular supports for various platforms,  searchlight
platform supports, bow and stern crests and numerous other details. The smaller fret has the parts to build the bridge wing supports and control platforms that extend
over the anchors on the foc’sle. The photo-etch will add a lot of detail and some of the sub-assemblies appear fairly involved  Alas, there is no relief etching on the parts,
which would have added some depth to parts like the crests.

The instructions come on eight pages and are in the typical
Combrig format. The first page has a small plan and profile drawings which are rather small but the profile
does provide a basic rigging diagram. The ship’s history is written in Cyrillic but the statistics are in English. Page two has the standard resin parts layout. Page three has
images of photo-etch frets and the first general assembly diagram. The subsequent pages have additional assembly diagrams and most of the pages have smaller insets
which focus on certain sub-assemblies and sections of the ship. One inset provides the metric dimensions for cutting the masts and yards though funnel steam pipes are
not covered. Unfortunately there is no final illustration of the fully assembled model and the placement of the different types of boats is omitted, though the plan drawing
on the first pages covers the latter.
Overall this appears to be another good release from Combrig though there are a few minor issues. It is great to see another Imperial Russian warship in 1:350 scale,
especially one as lovely as
Aurora. You can purchase this kit from Free Time/Pacific Front Hobbies, which is the sole source for Combrig kits in the United States.
Felix Bustelo