At the beginning of 1936, an international conference on the limitation of naval arms took place in London. The tensions in the world were growing and the talks showed it clearly: on January 15, the Japanese delegation withdrew from them; the Italians followed on March 26. In the end, the treaty was signed only by Great Britain, the USA, and France. The USSR's naval attaché in London, Captain 3rd rank Antsipo-Chikunskiy, closely followed the course of the conference. As a result, the limits imposed by the London Treaty were taken into account when drawing up The Major Naval Shipbuilding Program of 1936. It was the first of the Soviet shipbuilding programs adopted in the second half of the 1930s.
The Major Naval Shipbuilding Program was developed in the utmost secrecy personally by the Soviet Navy's commander, Vladimir Mitrofanovich Orlov, and his closest associates from the so-called «young school," Ivan Martynovich Loodri and Romuald Adamovich Muklevich, who had replaced naval commanders and shipbuilders of the Tsar's time in the 1920's. The new program was radically different from those of the 1920s that proposed «gradual construction» of small and mainly defensive naval forces, with the focus on submarines and torpedo boats. The new plans, however, presupposed building a fleet of 533 warships of all types, with a total displacement of 1.3 million tons. Included were five light cruisers of the «new class» with a standard displacement of 7,500 tons. According to the limitations imposed by international treaties, the primary armament of new cruisers was to have a caliber of 152 mm.
Regardless of the fact that the plans of 1936 were approved by the Politburo and Stalin personally, they were reviewed as soon as 1937, because Orlov and his «young school» were declared «enemies of the state» and were removed from command. The Warship Building Plan for the Soviet Navy of 1937 was composed by other people—the new Navy commander Mikhail Vladimirovich Viktorov and the commander of the Baltic Fleet, Lev Mikhailovich Galler. They based their work on the experience gained during the events in Spain, where the Soviet civil fleet that had been providing support to the Spanish Republic without any cover from Soviet warships had found itself defenseless against provocations and even open attacks from the Italian Navy. The new program adjusted the distribution of planned ships by classes and fleets. For the first time, it included aircraft carriers with a displacement of 10,000 tons. The specifications of future ships were also reviewed and augmented, because the London Treaty's limits lost their relevance.
However, this plan could not avoid corrections either. Viktorov was replaced by P.A.Smirnov, Army Commissar 1st Rank. On February 16, 1938, together with Galler they presented their Major Shipbuilding Program to the Defense Committee. It proposed that 424 ships with a total displacement of more than 1.9 million tons be constructed before January 1, 1946. In 1938, as a result of another purge, Smirnov was replaced by Frinovskiy, who in his turn was replaced three months later (this time permanently) by Nikolai Gerasimovich Kuznetsov, who had previously commanded the Pacific Fleet. On August 6, 1939, he presented his 10-year Naval Shipbuilding Plan to Stalin, Molotov, and Voroshilov. It proposed to construct 699 warships of the main types with a total displacement of 2.5 million tons, including 32 light cruisers (six Kirov-class cruisers among them). Between 1940 and 1942, 21 light cruisers were to be laid down.
A government decree issued in 1940 by the People's Commissariat of Defense and Heavy Industry recommended that they begin designing a light cruiser. As early as on June 8, 1940, the People's Commissariat of Navy approved the performance specifications for the designed ship. The draft design was developed by OKB-196 of the Shipbuilding Plant No.196 («Sudomech»). The project was designated No.94.
The main purpose of Project 94 cruisers was to lead destroyers into attack; provide support to destroyers during reconnaissance, patrol, and raid operations; defend the main forces of a squadron against destroyer attacks; and participate in mine laying. To achieve this, the project needed to ensure «strong armor protection for all vital parts of the ship, the most advantageous artillery layout for close quarters combat, appropriate high speed, and high survivability." According to the requirements of the Commissariat of Navy, the cruiser's artillery consisted of six 152-mm guns installed in twin turrets, six 100-mm guns in coaxial turret-like mounts, eight 37-mm autocannons, and eight 12.7-mm machine guns. The ship should have carried two triple 533-mm torpedo launchers.
Nevertheless, it was obvious that this ship would be inferior by its specifications to similar light cruisers of other countries. That's why in February 1940, OKB-196 presented two variants of the draft design to the Navy command—with six and nine 152-mm guns as primary armament accordingly.
|Name||6-gun variant||9-gun variant|
|Waterline length, m||185.0||185.0|
|Maximum length, m||191.0||191.9|
|Average draft at normal displacement, m||6.3||6.66|
|Standard displacement, t||7,500||8,200|
|Normal displacement, t||8,100||8,800|
|Total displacement, t||8,715||9,565|
|Maximum displacement, t||10,150||11,170|
|Steam turbine power, hp||132,000||132,000|
|Cruising range (at 18 knots), mi||7,700||8,100|
|Cruising range (at full speed), mi||1,900||2,050|
|152 mm/57||3 – МК-4(150)||3 – МК-5(150)|
|100 mm/55||3 – B-54(300)||3 – B-54(300)|
|37 mm||2 – 66-К, 1 – 46-К(3000)||3 – 46-К(3000)|
|12.7 mm||4 – DShKM(3000)||4 – DShKM(3000)|
|Torpedo launcher 533 mm||2 – 1Н(12)||2 – 1Н(12)|
In March 1941, having reviewed both variants, the Navy command decided to abandon the 6-gun version due to its unsatisfactory set of armaments. The 9-gun variant was approved and the decision was made to go through with engineering design development. Unfortunately, it was not realized, because of the Nazi Germany invasion in June of 1941.
To reduce the displacement as much as possible, a double-deck ship type without a forecastle was adopted, with the upper deck gradually rising from the aft to the first turret and then more steeply from the first turret to the stem. The ship was divided into 26 compartments by watertight bulkheads. Within the citadel and towards the aft from it, traverse watertight bulkheads were installed, which delimited engine and boiler rooms, posts and magazines, as well as side fuel and water tanks. Extensive use of electric welding was planned for the hull construction. All the joints of the external plating were to be welded, as well as all its grooves outside the citadel below the waterline, all the angle framework by the plating, all the stringers except for the vertical keel, all the joints of the inner-bottom plating, and the ends of the lower and upper decks.
The main propulsion plant would have consisted of steam turbines, boilers, and auxiliary mechanisms designed for Project 35 destroyers, with a power output of 44,000 hp.
MK-5 gun turrets that had been developed for Project 68 cruisers were to become the main battery of this cruiser. This solution allowed engineers to unify ships by the armaments used, shorten the design stage, and accelerate the ships construction in the future.
The secondary armament consisted of three B-54 twin turrets, which were used on Project 68 cruisers as well. The mounts were manufactured by Plant No.232 («Bolshevik» plant).
|Barrel length in calibers||56|
|Number of guns in a turret||2|
|Shell muzzle velocity, m/s||870|
|Shell weight, kg||15.6|
|Traverse speed, deg/s||15|
|Elevation speed, deg/s||15|
|Elevation angle, deg||85/-8|
|Rate of fire (per barrel), shots per minute||16|
|Turret weight, t||42.4|
The antiaircraft armament consisted of three 46-K quadruple 37-mm turret mounts (produced by Kalinin's Plant No.8) and four DShKM coaxial 12.7-mm machine guns.
Gun Fire Control System
The primary armament's fire was controlled by a B-41 director equipped with two 8-meter range finders (one of them was double) and a VMC-4 sight (stabilized). The immediate fire control was carried out from the central gunfire control station, where the CAS-1 master director was installed. Additionally all the main battery turrets were equipped with 8-meter turret range finders. The secondary armament was controlled from two SPN-300 stabilized laying stations installed on each side and equipped with 4-meter range finders, and the Smena master director. Traversing arcs for main battery turrets were 302° for the first turret and 298° for the other turrets.
The 4-meter SPN-300 range finder was used to control torpedo tubes as well as night sights installed on the bridge wings. Targeting for torpedo launchers could also be provided by the B-41 director.