Riverine combat is about as old as mankind. The Vikings were well known riverine raiders. In the West their longships would cross the North Sea or Atlantic Ocean and
then go up the rivers of Ireland, Scotland, England and France. In the East the longships would raid along the river banks of modern Russia, where Vikings were called
Varangians. Jump ahead almost a millennium and naval combat on rivers experienced a rebirth in the American Civil War. Gunboats, both armored and unarmored, were
crucial to the fight for the Mississippi River and its tributaries. The seven Union Eads
City Class casemate ironclads were especially prominent and the CSS Arkansas
had a spectacular one month career before idiotic General Earl van Dorn squandered this asset in one of his patented hare-brained operations. The
City Class and the
Arkansas were called gun boats at the time. Late in the war the Union developed a special type of gun boat in the form of the Casco Class riverine monitor, the first
monitor warship supposedly designed for river warfare. The design proved totally botched and ranks as probably the greatest design fiasco of the Union in the war,
considering that more money was pumped into it than any other program. After the American Civil War, gun boats were very popular for construction by European
powers. They were cheap to build and were great for overawing locals in the race for colonies and then to protect the conquests from other powers and native
uprisings. World War One saw the continued use of gunboats to support land forces, especially in the East.
Imperial Russia developed numerous classes of gunboats to traverse the plentiful rivers and lakes of the vast empire. Gunboats were employed in flotillas named after
the waterway or water body to which they were assigned. In 1852 the Aral Sea Flotilla was created and the year after the
Prut, double ended British-built steamer of
310-tons started the Danube Flotilla. Early gunboats were of wooden construction but over time were supplanted by steel gunboats. In the East there were the
Amu-Darya and Amur Flotillas. In World War One the Danube Flotilla even received two ocean going steel gunboats, the
Donets and Kubanets, of the Koriets Class.
During the Russian Civil War two new river flotillas were created by the Bolsheviks. Because of unrest and fighting in the Ukraine, the Dneiper and Pinsk Flotillas
were created on March 12, 1919. Consisting of a polyglot of various gunboats and armed steamers, headquartered at Keiv, many of these were lost to the Greens at
Kiev in April 1919. The Greens were armed peasant groups formed because of the Bolsheviks and although linked to the Whites by the Reds, the Greens were
independent and generally resisted all centralized authority, regardless of color.
After the end of the Civil War, the various river gunboat flotillas were neglected and decayed in common with the national Soviet Fleet. There was just not enough
money in the ravaged and cash-strapped state. By the early 1930s the situation had changed. A measure of industrial strength had been restored or created and there
was enough cash to improve the branches of the Red Army and Navy. The Dneiper Flotillas was one of the recipients of the new spending on military forces. In 1931
a large gunboat monitor was designed to be added to the Dneiper Flotilla. Designed by A. Baybakov and built at the Leninskaya Kuznitsa Dock Yard in Kiev, as Project
SB-12, the new design was to be heavily armored, heavily armed and to draw only 19-inches of water. Named the
Udarnyi, the ship was an one-off design, probably
because she grossly failed in the draft requirements. Very similar to the design failures of the Union’s
Casco Class monitors of the American Civil War, the design of
Udarnyi drew far more water than design requirements, limiting riverine use. However, unlike the flops of the Casco Class, the Udarnyi was a powerful river unit.

The increase in draft was the result of an over-weight design, which had large armored barbettes with an armored roof. On top of the barbette roof turntable were
fixed armored pseudo turrets, which turned with the barbette roof. Each turret mounted a single 130mm gun. This design allowed for more shell storage inside the
barbettes. There was an armored cupola on the bridge, which functioned as a conning tower and the bridge also carried rangefinder. The
Udarnyi was equipped with
a telescoping mast with crow’s nest that could be raised up to 39-feet (12m) above the deck. Displacement was 262.5-tons with a length of 181-feet 9-inches (55.4
m), beam of 36-feet 5-inches (11.1 m), and draft of 2-feet 8-inches (0.82 m) light and 7-feet (2.14 m) full load. Powered by two 400hp diesel engines with two
propellers, the
Udarnyi had a maximum speed of 9-knots. Armament consisted of two 130mm guns, two twin 45mm antiaircraft guns, and four quadruple 7.62mm
Maxim machine gun mounts. Armor plating on critical areas ranged from 6 to 12mm.
Udarnyi was launched at Kiev on May 17, 1932 and was part of the Dneiper Flotilla until 1940. When the Soviet Union took over Bessarabia in 1940 the Udarnyi was
transferred to the Danube Flotilla and became the flotilla flagship. She was still there when Germany invaded Russia in June 1941. With the Blitzkrieg overwhelming
western Russia, the entire Danube Flotilla was at risk to being lost. Romania was allied to Germany and Romanian shore batteries on the Danube cut off the Danube
Flotilla. On July 19, 1941
Udarnyi and the rest of the Danube Flotilla ran the Romanian batteries and made their way across the Black Sea to Odessa. The Udarnyi was
reassigned to the Dneiper Flotilla. Her luck ran out on September 19, 1941 when she came under attack by JU-87 Stukas. After
Udarnyi had used up all of her anti-
aircraft ammunition, the Stukas pushed their bomb drops to point blank range. Hit by multiple bomb strikes, the magazines exploded, sinking the ship and killing most
of her crew. Only 18 of the 74 in the crew survived. In 1963 the wreck of the
Udarnyi was rediscovered. In the 1980s one of the 130mm guns, one twin 45mm gun
mount and one quad Maxim mounts were recovered and placed into the history museum in Odessa. (Bulk of history is from
River Gunboats, An Illustrated
by Roger Branfill-Cook, Naval Institute Press 2018.)

Dodo Models 1:700 Scale Udarnyi – Dodo Models is known for producing fine multi-media models of modern warship topics. With the 1:700 scale Soviet river
Udarnyi, Dodo Models has certainly departed from the normal script. The quality of this multi-media kit is still at the high Dodo standards but the Udarnyi is a
very esoteric release. The hull casting is completely clear of defects. There are no pin hole voids, even on the bottom of the casting and zero breakage. There is
cleanup of the casting channel to the hull. A thin wafer and casting stalk are present at the stern. A rotary cutting tool is the best way to remove this but it can also be
accomplished with a hobby knife. Of course the stern will need to be sanded smooth.  As a river monitor/gunboat the
Udarnyi had a very low freeboard, so that
certainly limits the hull side detail on a 1:700 kit. Even so, there is hull side detail consisting of a line of port holes, narrow belt shelf and anchor hawse openings.
However, you’ll find plenty of detail on the deck of the casting. The forecastle is short and slightly lower than the main deck. On the forecastle are minute mushroom
ventilators, windlass, open chocks and what appears to be a deck access coaming. Locater holes are present for the forward twin 47mm gun turret and deck hawse.
The forecastle as well as the entire deck area on the ship have metal plate rectangles inscribed throughout. The forward half of the main deck is dominated by the two
large barbette depressions, while the aft half of the deck is dominated by the superstructure deck bases and secondary gun mount bases. Running along each side of
the barbette depressions are a series of deck access coamings, as well as deck edge twin bollard fittings. There is a deck house that forms the base of the bridge
superstructure. This base has porthole and door detail. Aft of this is a raised base plate followed by another deck on which rests the aft twin 47mm gun turret. Locater
holes are present for mushroom ventilators. The square quarterdeck has two bases for quadruple Maxim mounts, deck access coamings, twin bollard fittings and
mushroom ventilators.

There are not that many smaller resin parts.  Multiple parts are found on three runners and a single part on a small casting block. The single part is the bridge.  Details
on the bridge include the windows, doors and the mast base. Another runner has the two barbette roofs with their fixed pseudo turrets. There is a lot of detail here,
including triangular supports/gussets on the turret fronts and sides, front vision ports and turret crown cupolas. The longest runner has 19 parts. Included on the
runner are: superstructure Maxim bases; six mushroom ventilators in two different sizes; a finely done funnel; one powered launch; one open boat; searchlight;
director; two twin 47mm gun turrets that resemble two-gun tank turrets; the 130mm gun barrels; two cable reels with photo-etched frames; two deck access
coamings with crown porthole windows; and a strip of triangular deck access hatches that fit between the barbettes. The last runner has two KV-2 tanks, which will
make for an interesting diorama. For those not familiar with the KV-2, it was a derivative of the KV-1, the premier Soviet heavy tank in 1941. The KV-1 was slow but
was heavily armored and mounted a good 76mm gun. The KV-2 used the same chassis but mounted an 152mm gun in a huge, towering turret. Unlike the KV-1, the
KV-2 was not a successful tank. The huge turret made an excellent target for German tanks and anti-tank guns.  Detail on the tanks is fabulous with highly detailed
road wheels, engine deck, hull and turret detail.
A moderately sized relief-etched brass fret is enclosed. Relief-etched parts include hull side name plates, cable reel frames, mast platforms, deck grate, and deck tubes.
The largest part is the 01-level deck with outlines for the upper superstructure positioning and railing, which folds up. Other excellent brass parts the four Maxim
quadruple machine guns on tripod mounts (arranged horizontally, rather than vertically like the Quad Vickers used by the RN, or the box arrangement for USA/USN
quad .50 machine guns); anchors, railing; vertical ladders with rungs instead of trainable treads; accommodation ladder with overhead frame; anchor chain; platform
bracing; boat davits; mast, booms and yards; flag staffs; and bow anchor crane. A small decal sheet rounds out the parts list. Included on the sheet are naval ensign
and different jack flag. Two sheets of instructions are included, only one of which is back-printed. Page one has a profile and plan, as well as painting instructions for
Gunze paints and an instruction icon glossary. Page two has modules on bow assembly, stern assembly, KV-2s, Maxim mounts and mast assembly. Page three has
two modules on amdidshps/superstructure assembly.
The Dodo Models Soviet River Monitor Udarnyi in 1:700 scale is an excellent kit of an unusual subject. As in common with other multimedia kits, you get resin and
relief-etched brass parts to complete a fine miniature but with the
Udarnyi the parts count is low enough for any modeler, especially valuable for those wishing to try
resin and brass for the first time.
Steve Backer