Here at LSOZI, we are going to take out every Wednesday for a look at the old steampunk/dieselpunk navies of the 1866-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week.
- Christopher Eger
Warship Wednesday, November 28
Here we see the Petropavlovsk (Russian: Петропавловск) when she was commissioned around 1915
Laid down as a member of the four-ship Gangut class of battleships, the Petropavlovsk was the most advanced design ever to sail the Baltic under a Russian flag. Laid down in 1909 to replace the ships lost at Tsuhuma, the Petro was only completed in September 1915, a year into World War One. She spent her war years in quiet readiness as a member of the Russian fleet in being that largely barred the Gulf of Finland from German ships.
In arguably the last Russian naval action of WWI, the Petropavlovsk led the break out of the Baltic Fleet from their ice locked bases at Tallinn and Helsinki to Kronstadt in February 1918. The Russian navy was instrumental in the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the ship itself flew one of the first red flags in the fleet. Her sailors served ashore with the Red Army as shock troops during the Russian Civil War while the ship itself traded shots with British torpedo boats and destroyers, who were assisting the counter-revolutionary White Russian forces. In a twist of fate, her sailors, long the bulwark of the Red forces, rebelled in the epic Kronstadt mutiny in 1921. After this, to erase the memory of the ship that fought for the Tsar, then the Soviets, then against the Soviets, she was renamed in 1921 at the end of the Civil War Marat, after French revolutionary sailor Jean-Paul Marat.
With more than a dozen battleships inherited from the pre-1917 Tsarist navy, the Soviets made a move to modernize and keep a few of these around in the late 1920s. The Marat was refitted 1928-31 and turned into something of a floating showcase for the People’s Navy. She was one of the few truly oceangoing Red Banner Fleet vessels in good repair and in 1937 represented the CCCP at the Royal Navy’s Fleet Review at Spithead, sailing alongside such modern ships of her day as the Dunqurque, Graf Spee, and Rodney. She spat out 12-inch shells against Finn batteries during the Winter War in 1940 and during World War Two, she became a legend of the siege of Leningrad. Four months into the war she was hit literally by a ton of bombs (one dropped by famous German Stuka tank ace Hans-UlrichRudel ) and sank.
However the ship only sank in 36-feet of water and the Soviets cut away the front, refloated the stern, filled the forward areas with concrete, and managed to get three of her four 12-inch gun turrets back in action within weeks. Her upper decks were covered with inches of concrete and slabs of granite to help provide reinforcement against future air attacks. She literally became a concrete battleship. During 1942-43 she fired more than 1900 rounds of 12-inch shells against German army land targets around Leningrad, while her excess crew fought ashore. Her small guns were landed and rushed to the front where they fought panzers face to face. Even though she never sailed again, the Soviets kept the battered relic around for another eight years after the war ended as a stationary training ship before finally breaking the half-century old ship up in 1953.
Displacement: 24,800 tonnes (24,408 long tons)
Length: 181.2 m (594 ft 6 in)
Beam: 26.9 m (88 ft 3 in)
Draft: 8.99 m (29 ft 6 in)
Installed power: 52,000 shp (38,776 kW) (on trials)
Propulsion: 4-shaft Parsons steam turbines
25 Yarrow Admiralty-type watertube boilers
Speed: 24.1 knots (44.6 km/h; 27.7 mph) (on trials)
Range: 3,200 nautical miles (5,900 km; 3,700 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Armament: 4 × 3 – 12-inch (305 mm)/52 guns
16 × 1 – 4.7-inch (119 mm) guns
1 × 1 – 3-inch (76 mm) Lender AA gun
4 × 1 – 17.7-inch (450 mm) submerged torpedo tubes
Armor: Waterline belt: 125–225 mm (4.9–8.9 in)
Deck: 12–50 mm (0.47–2.0 in)
Turrets: 76–203 mm (3.0–8.0 in)
Barbettes: 75–150 mm (3.0–5.9 in)
Conning tower: 100–254 mm (3.9–10.0 in)
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