Project No.356-class Light Cruiser

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How should Project No.356 be implemented?
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What BR Should Project No.356 be implemented at?
  • 3.0
  • 3.3
  • 3.7
  • 4.0+
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(Photo Caption: Launch of the Project No.356-class Light cruiser Maraviev Amurskyy on 11 April 1914)

This is a suggestion for the Imperial Russian Navy Project No 356-class Light Cruiser which was a series of two ships ordered by the Imperial Russian Navy from the German Shipyard of Schichau-Werke in Danzig (now the Polish city of Gdańsk) as part of efforts to reinforce the Siberian Squadron further and replace two older Protected Cruisers which had become obsolete. However, the beginning of the First World War would see the two incomplete ships seized by the Kaiserliche Marine and redesigned for German needs as the Pillau-class. I feel like this class could make for an interesting addition to the tech tree as an early cruiser owing to their unique characteristics and decent armament.

Background

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Following the disastrous defeat of the Russian 1st Pacific squadron during the Battle of Tsushima and the heavy losses sustained by the rest of the fleet during the Russo-Japanese War itself, the Russian Navy found itself facing a very serious shortage of new ships. What ships remained in the Baltic, Black Sea, and Pacific fleets were noted as being combat-incapable due to their age and obsolescence. This was further compounded by the decision in 1906 to sideline most of the remaining cruisers in the Baltic Fleet which spurred the Russian Navy to begin efforts to procure new cruisers. These efforts would culminate until 1912, when several new ships were ordered including four Svetlana-class cruisers for the Baltic and a further four modified variants for the Black Sea Fleets and the four Izmail-class Battlecruisers. However, it was noted during procurement efforts that the Russian Navy possessed no ships capable of being used to train sailors to operate Turbine-equipped ships, furthermore, it was noted that immediate replacements were needed for the Protected Cruisers Askold and Zhemchug. These considerations led to a design competition that saw Russian Shipbuilders square off against other European shipbuilders such as Ansaldo and Schichau-Werke among others. Ultimately, the Nevsky Plant won the competition, and work was ordered to commence. However, in a twist of fate, it was noted that the proposed design was the most expensive one, and the proposed time frame for construction was deemed unacceptable. It was subsequently decided to order the cheaper and quicker-to-build Schichau-Werke design which was in essence a modernized Kolberg-class Cruiser. This decision eventually led to the construction of the Project No 356-class Light Cruiser Maraviev Amurskyy and its sister Admiral Nevelskoy.

History

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With the conclusion of the Russo-Japanese War in September 1905, the badly weakened Russian Navy found itself facing a very serious shortage of combat-capable ships. This was further compounded by the decision in 1906 to sideline most of the remaining cruisers in the Baltic Fleet which spurred the Russian Navy to begin efforts to procure new cruisers. These efforts would culminate with the design and start of the construction of eight new Svetlana-class cruisers and the four Izmail-class Battlecruisers. However, it was noted during procurement efforts that the Russian Navy possessed no ships capable of being used to train sailors to operate turbine-equipped ships, furthermore, it was noted that immediate replacements were needed for the already near ancient Protected Cruisers Askold and Zhemchug. These considerations led to a design competition that saw Russian Shipbuilders square off against other European shipbuilders such as Ansaldo and Schichau-Werke among others. Ultimately, the Nevsky Plant won the competition, and work was ordered to commence on their new Light Cruiser. However, in a twist of fate, it was noted that the proposed design was the most expensive one, and the proposed time frame for construction was deemed unacceptable. It was subsequently decided to order the Schichau-Werke design instead, with the reasoning that the ship could be built quickly and cheaply as a modified variant of an already existing class (the Kolberg-class) of Light Cruiser. This decision eventually led to the design and later construction of what was supposed to become the Project No 356-class Light Cruisers Maraviev Amurskyy and its sister Admiral Nevelskoy.


(Photo Caption: Design of the Project No.356 class Light Cruiser as prepared by the Schichau-Werke Shipyard)

The design by Schichau-Werke called for the Project No 356 Light Cruiser called for a ship 135 meters long, with a beam of 13.60 meters, displacing 4390 tons at normal load, and 5252 tons maximum. The ship was to be powered by ten Yarrow Boilers (four oil, six mixed) and two steam turbines which drove two screws propelling the ship to speeds of 28 knots. Armament was to have consisted of eight single 130 mm/55 B7 Pattern 1913 guns and four single 63 mm/36 Obukhov Guns. The ship as designed would also have featured 150 mines allowing the ship to perform the role of a fast minelayer. On 11 April 1913 the first of these two cruisers, Maraviev Amurskyy, was laid down at the Schichau-Werke shipyard in the city of Danzig (now known as Gdańsk). Construction of the lead ship of the class progressed quickly and on 11 April 1914 the lead ship of the class, Maraviev Amurskyy was launched and sent to be fitted out. Work on Admiral Nevelskoy however, progressed far slower and the ship would not be launched until 21 November 1914 by which time Germany had already seized the ship, redesigned, and renamed SMS Elbing.


(Photo Caption: Hull of the Maraviev Amurskyy shortly after launch)

Despite the rapid progression of work on Maraviev Amurskyy, the ship was still undergoing its final fitting out in August 1914 when following months of tensions, the German Empire formally declared war on the Russian Empire and issued an order seizing all Russian property in Germany. Among the property seized were the incomplete hulls of Maraviev Amurskyy and Admiral Nevelskoy. Subsequentially both cruisers were added to the German Naval Register and were renamed SMS Pillau and SMS Elbing by German Naval naming regulations. Initially, the Schichau-Werke shipyard chose to continue building the ships to their original design, however owing to supply issues and the inability to procure the 130 mm/55 B7 Pattern 1913 guns for the ships it was ultimately decided to rearm the ships with the 15 cm SK L/45 Naval gun which would become the standard German Naval gun for Light Cruisers going forward. Both SMS Pillau and SMS Elbing saw extensive service during the First World War with both ships even partaking in the Battle of Jutland where SMS Elbing herself was scuttled following a collision with the German Battleship SMS Posen. SMS Pillau itself would survive the First World War and would be assigned to the Italian Regia Marina as part of the required War Repatriations as prescribed in the Treaty of Versailles.

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(Photo Caption: The former Pillau in Italian service as Bari during the 1930s)

The ship now renamed Bari would serve in the Regia Marina until 28 June 1943 when she was sunk by an Allied bombing raid on Livorno while undergoing a large refit to convert the ship into a dedicated Anti-Aircraft Light Cruiser thus ending the nearly 29-year service life of the ship originally named Maraviev Amurskyy. The wreck of the ship would be raised and scrapped in 1948.

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(Photo Caption: Wreck of the Light Cruiser Bari in Livorno in the summer of 1944)

Specifications for Project No.356 as designed

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General Specifications :
Displacement: 4390 tons (Normal) 5252 tons (Full)
Length 135 meters (Overall) 134 meters (Waterline)
Width: 13.6 meters
Draught: 5.98 meters
Propulsion 10 × Yarrow water-tube boilers (6 Coal-fired, 4 Oil-fired), 2 × steam turbines, and 2 × screw propellers.
Power: 30,000 SHP (22,400 kW)
Speed: 28 knots (50.9 km/h)
Complement: 359 men
Armament:
Primary Armament
8 x 1 – 130 mm/53 Pattern 1913 Guns
Secondary/Anti-Aircraft armament
4 x 1 – 63 mm/36 Obukhov Guns
Mine Armament
150 mines
Armor: (See SMS Elbing in-game)
Deck 80 – 20mm
Slopes 40mm
Conning Tower 75mm
Gun Shields 50mm

Recognition Drawings prepared for Project No.356

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(Photo Caption: Cover of the recognition manual released by the General Staff of the Imperial Russian Navy)


(Photo Caption: The manual showing various views of the Project No.356-class cruisers for recognition training)

Additional Photos:

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(Photo Caption: Internal subdivision of the Project No.356-class Light Cruiser as originally designed and laid down)

(Photo Caption: Internal Subdivision of the Project No.356-class Light Cruiser as originally designed and laid down)

(Photo Caption: Model of the Project No.356-class Light Cruiser showing various design details)

(Photo Caption: SMS Pillau in 1915-1916 showing the design alternations done by the Kaiserliche Marine)

Text Sources

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McCartney, Innes. 2018. Jutland 1916: The Archaeology of a Naval Battlefield. Oxford: Osprey Publishing LTD.
Pillau-class cruiser - Wikipedia
Pillau History (german-navy.de)
Russia / USSR 130 mm/55 (5.1") Pattern 1913 - NavWeaps
Russia / USSR 2.5"/38 (6.33 cm) Pattern 1916 - NavWeaps
Лёгкие крейсера типа «Пиллау» — Википедия (wikipedia.org)
Легкие крейсера типа Pillau — Wiki. Lesta Games

Image Sources

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Bari (incrociatore) - Wikipedia
SMS Pillau - Wikipedia
Pillau-class light cruisers - Wiki. Lesta Games

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