First off, we have the data from Wikipedia:
Ship yard: William Cramp and Sons, Philadelphia
Laid down: October 1898
Launched: 31 October 1899
Commissioned: 2 January 1901
Fate: Scuttled 9 February 1904
Acquired: by Japan as prize of war
Commissioned: 9 July 1907
Fate: Returned to Russia, 5 April 1916
Acquired: 5 April 1916
Fate: Ran aground 1920, sank 1925
Type: Protected cruiser
Displacement: 6,500 long tons (6,604 t)
Length: 129.6 m (425 ft 2 in) w/l
Beam: 15.8 m (51 ft 10 in)
Draught: 6.3 m (20 ft 8 in)
Speed: 23 knots (26 mph; 43 km/h)
12 × 152 mm (6 in) guns
12 × 75 mm (3.0 in) guns
8 × 47 mm (1.9 in) guns
2 × 37 mm (1.5 in) guns
6 × 381 mm (15.0 in) torpedo tubes
I thought to provide a brief recap out of the cruisers wealth of history but found I could only add little relevant information to the superbly written article at Wikipedia.org, which I highly recommend the audience as a quick readup.
The ships name Varyag translates roughly as “Viking” or "Wiking"
What the Wiki article does not reveal is why the Varyag stayed at Chemulpo along with the Russian gunboat Korietz/Koreets.
Fact of the matter is, that the Japanese had taken the telegraph station in that harbor just a day before the Russo Japanese war began.
For this, both ships were cut from the command line residing at Port Arthur.
The Captain of the Varyag was about to leave for Port Arthur as soon as he got aware but the local attaché advised him for unknown reasons to stay.
Now, this is why Varyag and Korietz were doomed at the harbor and confronted with an overwhelming Japanese fleet. Speaking of latter one let me tell you that the following ships were taking part for the Imperial Japanese Navy:
1. Cruiser IJN Asama was blocking the harbor bay off Chemulpo.
find a photo here: Photo 1
2. The ships IJN Chiyoda, IJN Takachiho and IJN Akashi were accompanied by 5 Torpedo boats and shipped into the harbor surrounding the Varyag and Korietz.
Find a picture of IJN Chiyoda here: IJN Chiyoda
3. The protesting HMS Talbot, the French cruiser Pascal, the Italian cruiser Elba and the USS Vicksburg accompanied by an American hospital ship achieved, that the Japanese restrained themselves from attacking Varyag within the vicinity of the harbor - as long as Varyag nor its crew interfere with the Japanese landing operations ending 20:00.
Find a picture of HMS Talbot here:
4. Prior to the outbreak of Varyag, the gunboat Korietz was sent to inform high command at Port Arthur and receive instructions. However, the Korietz was attacked by the IJN and was forced to return. According to the captains report of the Korietz he fired a salvo at the Japanese fleet at no avail, which should make this salvo the first shot in the Russo Japanese war.
5. After that, both ships tried to escape without success, facing outside the harbor the following ships:
IJN Asama, IJN Naniwa, IJN Chiyoda, IJN Takachiho, IJN Akashi und IJN Nitaka and some Torpedo boats.
Find an image of IJN Akashi here:
IJN Akashi Photo
Find an image of IJN Naniwahere:
IJN Naniwahere Photo
As far as the Wikipedia writing refers to the case "Tucker v. Alexandroff", decided by the Supreme Court 183 U.S. 424 (1902), you may read up the reasoning of the decision right here:
Tucker vs Alexandroff
Before we precede let me tell you personally this: It is really a shame how few English, even lesser German, written literature can be found about Russia and its complex history. Unlike the history of Japan, Russia never received as much attention to even slightly comprehend their way of thinking and working real life. This dilemma is upheld until today and is part of the current conflicts with Russia. Do not get me wrong, I am not pointing at anyone and this is definitely not about political systems but I feel things might have turned out easier if a broader community had the chance to catch some sort of objective Russian flair.
For this, this kit is a superb subject to get started in many ways....
The kit comes in a double strengthened cardboard box. The front of the package shows a painting of the Varyag probably at the moment of the heroic attempt to break through. However, the ship is shown in the peacetime livery and I am undecided this to be true or not. The painting instructions, see some below, indicates a peacetime and a war livery. For this, the painting may be wrong color wise.
The side of the package shows a small b/w photo of the Varyag as well.
... And what is inside...
The manufacturer, Zvezda, chose the initial 1901 configuration of the ship. For this, you can not build the 1916 configuration without going through a lot of scratch building and research.
The sprues were lying without further protection within the fairly well filled box.
I am not sure this is true only for my kit but if not, it was a bad choice by Zvezda to deliver the kit like that. When being shipped the one or other part might get off the sprue or even worse, might get harmed.
Now, the modeler will have to deal with 5 sprues over all.
The complete hull comes in two halves leaving no obvious option for a waterline model.
The hull halves show above the (C)onstruction (W)ater (L)ine (CWL) sharply molded details. The portholes with the "eyebrows" intact are as well provided as closed hatches and step irons. Despite the age of this kit I consider it superbly executed parts even nowadays.
Where there is light, there is shadow as well. The hull planking is missing all over - unfortunately. What I mean is, this Varyag is called "Protected" Cruiser 1st class and there is no indication in the kits hull why that is. The modeler is well advised to have a close look at some photos of the ship to resemble the hull structure e.g. by applying primer in differently masked sections of the hull or to use very thin foil.
One of the sprues is provided 2x and deals with some parts of the superstructure, Davits, various Boats, masts and armament.
In fact, I did not find one piece in the sprues to criticize much about.
The turrets, casemates and armament are done stunningly well. I have learned the masts are a bit too small in diameter but otherwise also superbly done. The only problem I can see is that upon rigging the modeler may be confronted with some stability issues due to the delicate structure. This of course depends also upon how you do your rigging so your mileage may vary.
The boats consist of several parts which are to be glued horizontally upon each other. The provided pictures honestly speak for themselves regarding the kits quality. Excellent should be among the first phrases to use.
Two further sprues deal with the decks, some more davits, the provision for the torpedo netting, funnels etc.
The main deck comes in several parts and show some sort of wood planking resemblance. Again, this is done very impressive even though not truly to scale. The planking structure is crisp and lives up to the expectations, even nowadays!
Only few parts of the superstructure are molded on the decks. This is a nice move by Zvezda giving you less headache when painting. However, the declining ladders are molded on and require some thoughtful actions if replaced by PE parts. You will loose some of the planking structure there.
The provided doors and hatches of the kit are stunning with the doors having the hinges as well.
The funnels come in two parts with attached ladders and handrails. Of course, the handrails do not have the required distance and support structure to the funnels body, but I have not seen a kit in this scale that did it right.
The underlying supporting structure of the super structure and platforms are rudimental at its best. Zvezda would have been well advised to provide those separately instead of molding them right on.
On the other hand, the manufacturer did not forget to provide the catwalk from bow to stern as well as the ammunition transport beam and those bent side support beams. The catwalk does have overexposed edges though but at least it is there and can be sanded down for more realism.
This is something those building the REVELL 1/350 SMS Emden can only dream of.
The painting guide…
The painting guide is presented on a roughly Letter sized paper. The print is clear and the instructions easy to understand.
The modeler gets two options: 1. Peacetime 2. War time livery. All colors are given with ModelMaster No.
The under water hull/ship is given as green, which may sound odd to start with.
However, even though the Varyag was built in the USA, there are indications that the Russian navy as well as the K.u.K. Austrian Navy used green anti fouling for a period of time.
The language barrier and the lack of proper information either in English or German makes it for this author quiet difficult to give a final word upon facts.
Zvezda provides self adhesive paper decals which show the Russian flag and the ships name. Well, not much to tell about these since the print is fine and without coloring errors. However, a few more flags and radio signs would not have hurt.
The model stand…
The model stand consists of two brackets resembling some steel beams. Those take the hull quiet well and give it a stable position. Regarding how significant the ship is I would suggest scratch building something different.
The instructions come on a big sheet of paper which is folded roughly Letter size. The needed building steps are clearly laid out and are always easy to follow. As far as there is text included, it comes in Russian and English language.
Over all this is a really impressive kit. What Zvezda delivers here will withstand even closer inspection. You will miss sinkholes and mold errors though ... if you are into filling and sanding much this kit is not for you.
I really kind of fell in love with the Davits since they are performed so nicely and really show the dedication that went into making the molds.
The missing hull plating is sad for itself and obviously few companies can make a hull like Hasegawa´s 1/350 SOYA or TAMIYA´s 1/350 i-400 kits. The shape and size of the hull is spot on though.