Russia is a land with numerous rivers that have been used for hundreds of years to transport goods when not frozen over during the harsh winter months. The more
famous among them include the Don, Dnieper, Neva, Dvina and the mighty Volga, which is Europe's longest river at almost 2,300 miles (3,700 kilometers) long. Early
is Russia's history these waterways were used for military purposes, but in a very limited sense. It wasn't until the reign of Peter the Great that the need for a modern
navy was recognized and real efforts made to build not only a seagoing fleet but a river based flotilla. During the Second Azov campaign of 1696 against the Ottoman
Empire, the Russians employed for the first time a large number of ships and boats built on the Voronezh River. In the early 20th century, the Russian road system
was still very primitive and difficult to move along. Because of this, fighting during the Russian Civil War mainly followed the networks of rivers and railroads. Rivers
played an important role not only as supply routes but were also good natural defensive barriers. The latter led to the building of flotillas of armored river gunboats.
Larger naval warships were disarmed and their guns were fitted on any suitable platform that could carry them. Heavier guns, some as large as 6 inches, were placed
on non-self-propelled barges and smaller guns on tug boats and other civil craft. During the 1920s and early 1930s, the river flotillas started to fall into disrepair. Older
vessels were scrapped and civilian craft commandeered for military use were returned to their original uses. However, the importance of a maintaining a river flotilla
was recognized and plans were being put into place to address this need. One of the first steps was taken as early as 1930 when the first purpose-built monitor was
laid down by the Soviets:
Udarnyi.

Udarnyi was a fairly large and heavily armed ship, with a flat bottom and a short draft for maneuverability in rivers. The ship measured 53.6 meters (175.85 feet) long
and 11.1 meters (36.41 feet) in the beam. She displaced a relatively hefty 385 tons thanks to her armament and armor plating. The original design called for a draft of
0.49 meters, but
Udarnyi’s actual draft was 0.82 meters. This limited her use as she was too big to operate in the Dnieper and Pinsk Rivers and then only in their
deeper lower sections.
Udarnyi was fitted with two 130mm/55 caliber guns housed in large, superimposed turrets forward. The anti-aircraft armament included two tank turrets with twin
45mm guns (one fitted at the bow and one abaft of the superstructure) and four quad 7.62mm Maxim machine guns fitted in tubs (two just behind the funnel and another
two offset aft). One interesting design feature was a telescoping mast which allowed a crew member to see over the river banks and to observe the fall of the shots fired.

Udarnyi was launched in 1931, commissioned in 1934 and initially assigned to the Dnieper flotilla as the flagship. This flotilla also operated in the part of the Danube that
flowed through Bessarabia, a contested region of Romania which the Soviets occupied in 1940. The Romanians eventually joined the Axis powers and participated in
Operation Barbarossa. When fighting between Romanian and Soviet troops started in Bessarabia,
Udarnyi immediately saw action, backing Russian troops in that region.
She also provided fire support in the defense of Izmail which was successful in preventing early advances by Romanian troops. However Soviet forces could not hold
their positions for too long, so
Udarnyi and the Dnieper flotilla fell back to Odessa.

The flotilla was split up with some sent back to the Dnieper and the rest, including
Udarnyi, sent to the Nikolaev-Kherson-Ochakov area to prevent German forces from
cutting off ship traffic and aid to Odessa. In the end this was unsuccessful and on September 11, 1941, the Germans broke through and captured key positions in this
region. On September 19,
Udarnyi was covering the retreat of the Soviet forces along the Dnieper River when German dive bombers attacked her. Udarnyi was hit by a
total of 11 bombs and sunk with 56 of her crew of 74 killed. Divers found her wreck in 1963 and twenty years later, one of the twin 45mm turrets, one of the main guns
and a quad machine gun were salvaged and put on display in a museum in Odessa.
The Kit - The ŘOP o.s Samek Udarnyi represents the ship essentially as she appeared throughout her relatively short career as it doesn’t appear that she changed at
all. Being a river monitor, there really is not too much to the actual ship, so the kit has an overall low part count. The kit is comprised of 26 resin parts, photo-etch parts
and a plaster cast river base. The hull is waterline only, measures just about 6 inches in length and it is nicely detailed. The steel plating of the deck is reproduced
effectively and lower superstructures, barbettes, skylights, hatch coamings, mooring cleats and bollards, cable reels and other smaller details are all integrally cast into
the hull part. Doors and vertical ladders are cast into the bridge structure but the hatch coamings have no detail other than being raised squares. Adding some photo-
etch hatches will address this. The edge of the hull bottom requires a little bit of cleanup to remove some stray bits of resin film, but overall the casting is clean and
looks really well done. The next largest part is the upper deck with the pilothouse/citadel, funnel, base for the gun director and aft housings. The bridge has a nice level
of detail and the overall casting is well done. This part is on a casting wafer which needs to be trimmed off.

The smaller resin parts include the 130mm turrets and barrels, 45mm twin turrets, 7.62mm quad guns and tubs, mast, lookout tub, boats, searchlight, gun director and
other bits. Some of the parts are on casting wafers and some attached to runners. The 130mm barrels are well done with a shallow opening at the muzzle. As you can
see, the photo-etch is produced by Eduard and it looks pretty good. The photo-etch fret contains railings, various styles of davits, anchors, anchor chain, life rings,
running light boards and brackets, inclined ladders, bases for the 7.62mm quad guns and a name plate. Each item has a part number etched into the fret. I personally
would have liked to have had some hatches included with the photo-etch, so the modeler will have to find another source if they wish to add them. The plaster cast
water base is a novel idea but the water appears a bit to choppy for a river and there is no recessed area into which to fit the hull. Regardless, this will help save time
since the kit is a waterline model. There are no decals provided with the kit but they are not really needed as the ship had no markings that I am aware of. A small paper
Soviet naval ensign is provided.

The instructions are printed on two single-sided sheets of paper, with the first page having a small plan and profile drawing of the ship with a brief history of the ship
and technical specifications. The second sheet has three color photos, two small ones at the top of the page and one larger one at the bottom. The top left photos shows
the resin parts laid out with part number references. The top right is a photo of the
Udarnyi and the two other Soviet river monitors produced by ŘOP o.s Samek
assembled but not painted. The larger photo shows a fully assembled
Udarnyi with each resin and photo-etch part identified. Thankfully this is not a terribly
complicated build but another view or two from different perspectives would have been helpful. There are other photos of a completed and unpainted model on the
ŘOP o.s Samek website which will help with the placement of some of the smaller parts that aren’t quite visible. No painting instructions are given but the color
illustration on the box label shows that the vertical surfaces were painted a medium gray; the decks very dark almost off black and the life rings were red. The top of
the funnel was black with a red band near the top.
The Build - I will admit that this was not one of my better builds. There were some issues with the model that factored into this but my ineptitude also contributed. I
will not venture into a step by step build log but rather discuss my experience in more general terms. The resin parts themselves are all very well done but being such a
shallow model, it made handling the hull a bit precarious at times during some of the assembly. Overall, all of the major parts went together fairly well. If you look
closely you will see where I made a mistake with the placement of the main turrets: the turret with the larger viewing hood is the one that should be superimposed over
the other. Because I was not paying attention at the time I glued these into place, I switched them. When I noticed my error it was too late to correct without causing
major damage to the model. So the moral of this story is pay attention to and if you are feeling tired, stop what you are doing and leave the next step for later or another
day!

I used photo-etch hatches from
L’Arsenal and Gold Medal Models to add some detail to the blank faces of the coamings in this kit and I think that this improved the
overall look. I also filled in the skylights with a black mechanical pen and used a regular pencil to highlight the seams in the deck plating after it was painted. I used
Testors Model Master Neutral Gray the vertical surfaces and Aircraft Interior Black for the decks. I added some
L’Arsenal figures the model to give it some life.
For some reason I found the railings very difficult to work with. They were a bit flimsy and therefore hard to handle without some degree of mangling and I also had a
very hard time attaching them to the deck, hence some ugly glue build up along the edge of the decks at several points. Also, there is barely enough railing provided to
use along the deck edges, which leaves really no room for error. The openings for the ladders in the upper deck should have railings around three of the four sides but
you don’t get enough railing to do so. . An extra length of railing would have been welcome. Another issue with the photo-etch is the running light boards. The way they
are designed, when you bend board at the seam you are blocking the running light from being seen. I had to clip off that part from the arms while still of the fret, bend it
into shape and the glue it back on to the arms and them clip it off the fret. Some more thought into the photo-etch design would have eliminated this workaround to
correct the error.

I decided to show the
Udarnyi in her most common setting -on a river patrol. I built a wood frame around the plaster water base after it tried smoothing it down a bit
with wet rags to remove some of the choppiness. I made one side of the frame wider to which I glued some Styrofoam strips that I cut down and made uneven to
replicate how I imagined the terrain would be. I applied acrylic gel over the Styrofoam to seal it and to also blend the plaster base into the wood frame. I then used
Woodland Scenics Scenic Cement and Fine Turf in different shades to replicate grassy areas along the riverbank, adding a couple of pebbles from my yard as boulders
along the river’s edge. It was my first attempt scenery like this and I think it came out OK. One thing this is obvious is that models will attract dust and even though you
try to remove it as best as you can, when you airbrush dullcote in the garage like I do, you will certainly blow some on your model. Unfortunately very dark surfaces
will make this even more evident! Adding to this, while painting the waterscape I accidentally got some paint of the deck aft by one of the 7.62mm gun tubs. I tried to
correct this by brush painting the spot with the deck color and then some dullcote but as you can see, the lack of dust makes it standout even more!
While there were some hiccups with this build for reasons both within and not within my control, this is a pretty good kit of an off-beat subject. Ships like this did play a
role in World War II and while not as sexy as battleships or even destroyers, they do make for an interesting model. My thanks to
ŘOP o.s Samek Models for the
review sample.
Felix Bustelo
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