Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Proposed Soviet Battleships/Battlecruisers

The Sovetsky Soyuz-class battleships (Project 23), also known as "Stalin's Republics", were a class of battleships begun by the Soviet Union in the late 1930s but never brought into service. They were designed in response to the battleships being built by Germany. Only four hulls of the sixteen originally planned had been laid down by 1940, when the decision was made to cut the program to only three ships to divert resources to an expanded army rearmament program.

The K-1000 battleship was rumoured to be a type of advanced battleship produced by the Soviet Union at the beginning of the Cold War. Soviet intelligence agencies actively encouraged the circulation of rumours about the type, which were reprinted by several Western journals including Jane's Fighting Ships.

The Kronshtadt-class battlecruisers, with the Soviet designation as Project 69 heavy cruisers, were ordered for the Soviet Navy in the late 1930s. Two ships were started but none were completed due to World War II. These ships had a complex and prolonged design process which was hampered by constantly changing requirements and the Great Purge in 1937. They were laid down in 1939, with an estimated completion date in 1944, but Stalin's naval construction program proved to be more than the shipbuilding and armaments industries could handle. Prototypes of the armament and machinery had not even been completed by 22 June 1941, almost two years after the start of construction. This is why the Soviets bought twelve surplus 38-centimeter (15.0 in) SK C/34 guns, and their twin turrets, similar to those used in the Bismarck-class battleships, from Germany in 1940. The ships were partially redesigned to accommodate them, after construction had already begun, but no turrets were actually delivered before Operation Barbarossa.

Only Kronshtadt's hull survived the war reasonably intact and was about 10% complete in 1945. She was judged obsolete and the Soviets considered converting her into an aircraft carrier, but the idea was rejected and both hulls were scrapped in 1947.

The Stalingrad-class battlecruiser, also known in the Soviet Union as Project 82, was intended to be built for the Soviet Navy after World War II. Three ships were ordered, but none were ever completed.

A heavy cruiser was designed before the Second World War as an intermediate between the light cruiser Kirov and Chapayev classes and the Kronshtadt-class battlecruisers. The specification, or OTZ in Russian, was issued in May 1941, but plans were shelved with the invasion of the Soviet Union by Germany. Construction was proposed again in 1943. After a lengthy design period, which Premier Joseph Stalin—a major supporter of the project—often had a hand in, keels for two ships were laid at the Marti South Shipyard in Nikolayev (1951) and the Baltic Works in Leningrad (1952) and a third ship was planned for the shipyard in Severodvinsk.

The Project 82 design which was ordered would have been much larger than the original intermediate design, so much so that they were considered the successors to the Kronshtadts, which had been canceled at the outbreak of World War II. As envisioned by Stalin, the Stalingrad battlecruisers' role would be to disrupt and break up an enemy's light cruisers when they approached the Soviet coast. However, after his death in March 1953, the ships were canceled by the Ministry of Transport and Heavy Machinery. Only the incomplete hull of Stalingrad was launched; used as a floating target for anti-ship missiles, it was scrapped around 1962.

The Soviet Union, by the late 1930s Soviet dictator Josef Stalin believed that his nation, like all the other major naval powers, should once again begin the construction of battleships. Ignoring the restrictions of the 1936 London Naval Agreement, Stalin ordered the construction of four battleships of no less than 58,000 tons (10,000 tons more than the contemporary U. S. Iowas) and nine 16-inch main guns (the same armament as the Iowas). The Soviets were able to purchase design assistance from the preeminent U. S. naval architectural firm of Gibbs & Cox, but their hopes to buy guns, mountings, armor plate, and perhaps even a complete U. S. battleship were frustrated by the Franklin Roosevelt administration. Sovyetskiy Soyuz, Sovyetskaya Byelorussiya, and Sovyetskaya Ukraina were laid down in 1938-1939. None was ever completed. The three ships (a fourth, Sovyetskaya Rossija, was never laid down) would have far exceeded the limits of the Washington Treaty and were scheduled for completion, optimistically, in 1941. Although it is generally believed that their construction was halted by the German invasion of the Soviet Union commencing in June 1941, building was actually canceled in 1940, and the incomplete rusty hulls, home to thousands of crows, were dismantled in the late 1940s.

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