Monday, March 16, 2015

Soviet PreWWII Destroyers

The experimental 1,570-ton destroyer Opytnyi, was built to test an all-welded hull and high-pressure Ramsin boiler design. After failing speed trials in 1940, when 35 knots were achieved against the 43 knots anticipated. She was provisionally armed with three single 130mm, four 45mm AA, three 37mm AA, two quadruple 533mm torpedo tubes and served as a floating battery at Leningrad. Experiments were continued after the war.

The Soviet Union was the other former naval power to revive its destroyer production program in the years leading up to World War II. In the late 1920s, a massive industrialization program was undertaken that proved crucial to the desire of Premier Joseph Stalin, Lenin’s successor, for a large battle fleet. By the early 1930s, Stalin attached importance to re-establishing his country as a naval power to expand Soviet influence. The need for a large fleet was also justified in the late 1930s by German rearmament. Included as part of the 1933 Soviet naval reconstruction program was authorization for 49 destroyers. This legislation produced three classes of destroyers by the outbreak of war.

The first of these was the one-ship Opytnyi class that when launched in 1935 was the first Russian destroyer design since World War I. This vessel was intended as an experimental ship, and its poor performance exhibited the fact that the ability of Russian shipyards to design destroyers had declined since the Communist takeover. Stalin consequently looked to foreign shipyards for the next class of vessels. Although the 31-ship Gnevnyi class was constructed entirely in Russian yards, the design was an Italian one. Between 1936 and late 1939, the Russians were able to launch 22 units of the class. The hull of Gnevnyi measured 370 feet, 7 inches by 22 feet, 6 inches by 13 feet, 5 inches, displaced 1,855 tons, and was powered by engines that generated 37 knots. It was armed with four 5.1-inch guns in single mounts housed in gun shields. Two each were located in the bow and stern. 

The ships also carried two 3-inch guns, six 21-inch torpedo tubes, two 45mm and four .5-inch guns for AA defense, and 56 mines. The latter weapon represented a continuation from czarist times of the Russian belief in destroyers serving as minelayers. Supplementing this heavily armed and numerous group were the Storozhevoi-class destroyers that signaled a return to wholly Russian designs. These vessels were large, displacing 2,192 tons, and possessed similar armament to the previous class. Sixteen of these ships were launched by the end of 1939. Like Germany, Russia had quickly resurrected its destroyer force.

No comments:

Post a Comment