Gilyak was a large river gunboat that was built specifically for service in Chinese rivers. She was laid down at the New Admiralty Shipyard in St. Petersburg in 1896 and launched in 1897. Gilyak was armed with one 120mm shielded gun mount
forward and five 75mm guns with one shielded mount fitted aft. Four 47mm guns in casemates and various small deck guns rounded out the armament. A single torpedo tube with a hatch was fitted to the bow. She also had a thick tall mast with
a high enclosed observation post which allowed for a clear vision over river banks.

I could not find too much in terms of details on this ship’s career that wasn’t in Russian. From my meager sources I was able to ascertain that
Gilyak was one of three Russian gunboats that were part of the multi-national naval flotilla involved in
the Boxer Rebellion. During the Russo-Japanese War,
Gilyak was sunk in shallow waters at Port Arthur in 1904 by Japanese field guns. To prevent possible salvage by the Japanese, her crew attempted to destroy her with explosives. Their
efforts were not successful, as the ship was later raised by the Japanese for salvage.
Gilyak is another kit in Combrig’s series of Imperial Russian Navy ships that participated in the Russo-Japanese War. The kit will allow you to build the ship in her 1898 fit or later 1904 fit. The latter involves an additional deck housing in front of the
bridge, heavier guns fitted on the bridge wings and different vents in some locations. This kit can be built either full hull or waterline as both the upper and lower hull parts are provided.

The upper hull has a good amount of details cast into it, with hawse holes, hatches, skylights, portholes, mooring bitts and chocks. There are doors on the faces of the cabins spaces forward and aft of the central deck which are a nice touch but they
will not be seen when the decks that fit over those spaces are glued on. 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 with no pinholes. The lower hull is also very cleanly cast with bilge keels, shallow depressions to mark the
locations for the propeller shafts and struts and openings for the twin rudders. A dry fit of the two hull sections show that they align pretty much spot on with a little bit of warpage forward.
The kit is broken down into a number of individual parts. There are two thin resin casting wafers with structural parts. The first wafer contains the various deck housings and the second wafer has the forward and aft upper decks, the bridge deck and
some smaller decks. That wafer also has the fighting tops and roof for the armored helm position. 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 remaining parts are 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 the bottom section of the thick mast and funnel. The mast section has a slot that will accommodate the
enclosed separate observation position and the funnel has a fairly deep opening. Another runner has five boats comprised of a steam pinnace, large and small cutter, whaleboat and dinghy. The steam-powered boat has the funnel/boiler next it on the
runner. The cutters and whaleboat have no details cast into them as the thwarts and rudders are done in photo-etch instead as are the rudder and propeller for the pinnace.

The smaller resin parts include the enclosed observation post, the armored helm position, 120mm gun and mount, 75mm guns and mounts, 47mm guns and mounts, anchors, the top semicircular rings for the casemates, cowl vents in different sizes,
original drum vents, top section of the mast and boat stowage supports with skids. Other parts include the propellers, rudders, propeller shaft struts, searchlight, smaller guns and mounts, several smaller deck structures and supports and sundry deck
and bridge fittings. The amount of broken parts, which has been a common complaint with how
Combrig packages their kits, was very minimal and limited to the searchlight base and one of the anchors.
The kit comes with a very thin brass photo-etch fret. The photo-etch includes the railings, which have individual stanchion ends and not a bottom gutter rail. I prefer railings with the bottom gutter as I find them easier to work with. The photo-etch also
has the individual casemate and side gun position doors, which means I can build the model with fully closed, partially open or fully open gun positions. This is an interesting approach but a bit of a pain to deal with. Also provided on the brass sheet are
decorative scroll works for the bow, all of the gun shields, inclined ladders, accommodation ladders, auxiliary anchors, funnel cap hatches and control mechanisms, support gussets, boat details, boat and anchor davits, helms, parts for the cable reels,
running light boards and other small detail parts. The brass looks generally good and has a bit of relief etching as evidenced in fold creases in the larger gun shields.

The instructions come on 10 pages and are fairly complete and in the improved
Combrig format. The first page has small a profile drawing of the ship with its specifications in English. Page two has the standard resin parts laydown and a small image of
the photo-etch fret, however there are no part numbers provided. The following pages have very detailed assembly diagrams laid out in a logical order. Since this is a rather small ship, the assembly diagrams show the entire ship with parts and
subassemblies added on with each advancing page. Page 6 has all of the subassembly diagrams with a reference number that is used in larger illustrations. Page 6 also has the templates for cutting brass rod and wire for the masts, yards, propeller shafts
and supports. The last page has an illustration of a fully assembled model which I found to be very helpful. The illustrations, including the final image, focus on building the 1898 fit but the alternate parts are pointed out where it is needed. Unfortunately
no painting instructions or flags are provided.
After some effort searching on the Internet, I found a photo of a museum model of Gilyak in her 1898 fit with a black hull/white upper works and yellow funnel paint scheme. I also found what appeared to be a page from a Russian book or magazine
Gilyak in her 1898 colors and 1904 fit in an overall olive green scheme. I found the 1898 scheme more appealing, so I decided to build my model in that fit and as a waterline which is my preference. Rather than a step by step account of my
build, I will focus on what where in my opinion the highs and lows of the kit.

Overall the resin parts where a pleasure to work with and everything went together without too much problem. The bridge deck and aft steering position platform were slight warped causing any of the extensions and overhangs to sag a bit. The resin
support columns were not tall enough to help compensate this and I tried to add some bits of plastic strip make them a bit taller. I was more successful with the aft platform than with the bridge wing extensions, with the latter still showing some sag.
The photo-etch was good and in most cases fairly easy to work with given how thin the brass is. I did find that a few photo-etch parts were too overly complicated to work with and some I decided not to use due to personal preference. One example of
the latter is that I substituted the kits railings with individual stanchions with ones with the bottom gutter. With the exception of the railings for the bridge deck and aft steering position platform, which I sourced from some leftover railing, I used
s Predreadnought Railings set. The cable reels firmly fall under the overly complicated column. The cable drums in different widths are done in resin and the cable reels to fit onto each end are comprised of individual reels and separate delta-shaped
legs. It was difficult, at least for me, to properly line up the legs so that the bottoms were facing down exactly the same or at the same height. I gave up and instead used photo-etch cable reels from the
Gold Medal Models and some leftovers from other
photo-etch. I clipped off the reels from the bottom strip and glued them to the ends of resin drums. It was easier for me to align these without having the reels and legs as separate parts.

Another part of the photo-etch that I found a bit difficult to deal with were the individual doors for the rounded corner casemates. Now I understand what
Combrig was trying to do here by giving the modeler flexibility to have the casemates partially or
fully open or fully closed. However, for the closed casemates, gluing each individual door was quite frankly a pain in the rear end and the individual doors did not fit the curve of the casemate making it not very flush with the hull. I would have preferred a
one-piece door and if I wished to have them partially open I would clip off the sections I need to attach in an open position. The jack and flagstaffs were also difficult to work with as the brass was so thin and difficult to keep straight. In hindsight, I
probably would have been better off using brass wire rather than wrestling with the photo-etch versions.

For my build I used a Master Models tapered brass yardarm instead of using plain old brass wire. I also added oars from the
White Ensign Models set and substituted blackened chain for the photo-etch anchor chains. The model was painted with White
Valspar primer and Tamiya NATO Black from rattle cans. The decks were painted with Testors Model Masters Radome Tan and dry brushed with raw umber watercolor to add bring out the planking and add some depth. Rigging was done with .005 inch
Nitinol wire for the standing rigging and steel wire painted tan for the halyards. I added crew figures from the
North Star Models Imperial Russian Navy sets, at least those I could remove without breaking, and the Imperial Russian Naval ensign from the
Combrig decal set. Lastly the water was done using acrylic gel painted with acrylic artist paints.
This build took a while to complete, mostly due to other things going on that kept me from the workbench but in part due to some frustration with those photo-etch parts that I mentioned above that made me step back at times and work on another
project. In the end, the
Gilyak model came out pretty well though, in my opinion, not necessarily my best work. It is a very interesting looking ship and a cool addition to my slowly growing Imperial Russian Navy fleet. Due to some of the fiddly
photo-etch parts, I would recommend this model to someone with experience and patience working with photo-etch. My thanks to
Combrig for providing the review sample.
Felix Bustelo
New York