Airfix - 1/600
By: Mike Dunn
I do seem to have a lot of aircraft carriers, don't I? This one is an exception,
however, in that she is a dedicated helicopter carrier, with no fixed wing aircraft
at all, and represents the USSR's first try at air support at sea.
On opening the box (slightly larger than that of the 1/700 Kiev or Minsk), you get eight pages of instructions, two large sprues and two smaller ones, a returns sheet (nice to see this - most companies don't bother with an explicit sheet for getting replacement parts) and the decals.
Looking at the sprues, the two large ones hold the main hull (one half each), the hull spacers (a nice touch - keeps the hull rigid once assembled), the base, and all the detailing parts, eg missiles, radars, small boats. I was very disappointed to see only two helicopters in the entire kit - bearing in mind that the standard complement was 20 KA-25 Hormone helicopters, and could go up to 30, I feel that this is a major omission. Readers of my other aircraft carrier reviews will know that I feel this is pointless cost-cutting. Moving on, the two smaller sprues hold the foredeck, the bridge assembly, and flight deck. A nice feature of the flight deck is the ability to have one, both or neither access lift recessed. I would have liked to have this recess going as far as the hanger deck, but I guess I can always scratch-build this. Another nice feature is the recessed boat deck at the stern - I guess this makes up for the hanger deck! Moulding is clean and crisp, with little excess flash on the majority of parts. Those that did have flash had only small amounts.
Looking at the decals, these are split into two areas. You get a choice of three pennant numbers (remember, the Soviet Navy changed pennant numbers of their ships on a monotonous basis - and there were only two vessels in this class, the sister ship being the Leningrad), and five flight deck numbers with heli-netting. The numbers are hard to make out under the netting, but this is my only quibble with the decals.
As mentioned, the instructions are across eight A4 sheets. The first is a multi-lingual history of the vessel, the second being the various warnings and icons. Page three has the first 3 procedures, being the hull, the boat deck and the under-hull. Page four has procedures 4 to 7, being the fore deck and bridge deck, the bridge assembly and the recesses for the flight deck. Page five has the next 3 procedures, being the deck assemblies onto the hull, the crane sub-assembly and the fore deck detailing. Page six has sub-assemblies of the radars and the KA-25 helicopters, together with the detailing of the bridge assembly. Page seven finishes with the last 3 procedures, where the bridge detailing is finished. Page eight covers painting and decal locations. The various sub-assemblies are exploded and are clearly shown. The various detailing sections for the fore deck and bridge assembly could be confusing with the number of parts, but are handled carefully and clearly. It's good to see an instruction set like this, as too many lack clarity.
The painting guide is, all things considered, good. You get a side profile and a top profile, with the four main paints clearly shown in shades of grey. Two of the other colours used are indicated quite clearly here. However, you have to refer back several pages in the instructions to find the other colours are shown to be done during some of the sub-assemblies. These are not clearly marked, and can be missed if care is not taken during assembly. The decal locations are clearly shown, and all required decals are present.
The box art is OK. Several parts of the details are out of scale with the model, and I have my doubts about the validity of the railings shown all around the perimeter, except for the bow - the first deck above the fore deck/flight deck level is flush against the sides of the Moskva, yet the artwork shows the railings extend here. Additionally, no collapsible railings are seen along the flight deck, except by the lifts. While this artwork is probably OK for general guidelines, research photos of the real vessel have to be a must.
Overall, I'm happy with this kit. The lack of helicopters means that I'll have to try & track down some in this scale, and I'll have to source some good photos to ensure I get the detailing correct. Apart from this, a kit I can happily recommend to builders of carriers, or of Soviet vessels.