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Imperial Russian Cruiser Varyag by Jason - Artwox Model - Plastic - 1:350, Super Detail

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Imperial Russian Cruiser:  Varyag, (Variag)



I am really excited to work on this model, having followed it's development prior to release and finally purchasing one of the last remaining kits in the USA (that I could find anyway).  The kit was produced as a limited edition by Artwox Model, who are mainly known for their wooden deck offerings.  This kit was their first foray into a full model kit, detailed release photographs can be found here.  My interest in this kit was not originally in the actual ship itself, but rather in the type of ship, and the level of detail that the kit contains.  


What I was really looking for was a super detailed model of SMS Emden of World War 1 fame.  However, I quickly came to realize that if I wanted to do anything to the level of detail that I wanted, I would have to scratch build most of it.  Emden was appealing for it's operational history, type of ship, and the mission it was designed for.  These protected cruisers were at the time not conceived of as line of battle ships, but rather as commerce raiders.  Almost akin to the frigates of 100 years before.  Emden and her crew played that role to perfection in the Indian Ocean.  A highly detailed kit of Emden was not available, but the Varyag was.


So, not knowing much about the ship or it's history I sprung for the kit, putting it in my to do pile for a later day.  In the interim, I have learned a lot about the ship, it's history, and even it's crew.  I plan on doing a more detailed post later on to share some of the better details that I have learned thanks to a Russian co-worker, a museum curator, and good old fashioned research.


Some Quick Facts:


Built:  Philadelphia Pennsylvania, USA, William Cramp & Sons


Year Launched:  31 October 1899


Type:  Protected Cruiser


Length:   425'

Beam:     51' 10"

Draught: 20' 8"



12 single mount 6" Rifles

12 single mount 3" Rifles

10 Small Caliber, 1.9", 1.5" rapid fire Rifles

6   Submerged Torpedo Tubes, 15"




Russia:   1899 - 1904

Japan:    1907 - 1916

Russia:   1916 - 1918




Seized by the United Kingdom 1918, ran aground 1920. scraped 1925


The Kit:






Whats in the box:




as you can see from the photo above, there is a lot in the box!  The hull is a casting from Zvezda, the deck is a thick sheet of brass covered by a real wood veneer.  Everything else is either in the 248 pieces of resin, 86 scribed brass parts, or in two large sheets of PE.



Wood Deck + Some of the resin parts



Brass Deck Substrate



Scribed brass parts



PE sheet 1



PE sheet 2



Hull Detail


Kit Short Comings:  


Though at first glance, it appears that everything you could possibly want to build the kit was in the box, that isn't really the case.  For one, there is no stand or mounting contained in the contents.  Okay no big deal there.  The other, the instructions, though highly detailed, only show you where everything is supposed to end up in the assembly.  Not how to put the ship together.  So I hope that this log can be of service to others that may have a hard time deciphering the pictorial instructions.


The next post will include some history and research about the ship, then I will get into the build itself.


Best Regards!

Edited by Jason
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  • 2 months later...

Hello Greg, I am sorry, but this does not look like it is going to be a fast project! 


Research Trip To The Independence Seaport Museum:


Since the introductory post on this build log, many things have happened in life that have prevented me from working on this or any project for that matter.  The fact of the matter is, that this kit is currently in storage, as my family and I have moved and are waiting to get into our new house.  However, on the last day that we lived in our old location, I was able to do something that was a first for me.  I went to the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia, where some of the original plans for this vessel still exist.


Back in March, I made an acquaintance through a living history group that I participate in.  This person happens to be the collections manager at this museum, and in chatting with him he informed me that the museum had in it's collection plans for this particular vessel.  So, excited, yet intimidated, I planned my visit to do a research trip at the museum. 


The archivist was very helpful.  Before my arrival, she pulled all of the relevant documents and plans, as well as, prepared a list of all of the related items that I might want to see.  Needless to say I spent a very pleasant day viewing a lot of original documents that related to various types vessels from abut 1860 - 1910.  One of the most unique set of plans that I viewed, where that of the curious USS Vesuvius.  Take a moment to follow the link provided for this vessel, as it is truly a unique piece of naval history.  When Originally built, its armament consisted of three pneumatic guns that shot projectiles of dynamite!


Any way, on to the Varyag, or the (Variag) as all of the documents at the museum referred to her.  There were only two plans available from the collection, and neither are extremely useful to this modeling effort.  However, they are really interesting in their own right. 


The first was a launching plan.  This plan featured the calculations necessary for launching the vessel into the river from the building ways.  It shows the hull of the Variag at several different points along the path of launching, and it gives the various weights, centers of gravity and buoyancy, and the moment at which the vessel becomes completely buoyant.  It also provides the speed vs. time of the launching process.  Again, not very useful for producing the model, but very interesting.


Title Block:



On Board Weights:



Various Views:







View from the Research Room, the vessel with the buff super structure is the USS Olympia



Next post, the line drawing...

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Lines Drawing:


The other plan that was available at the museum, was the lines drawing.  I plan on using the information on this plan to measure the hull to see how close it is to the original plans, but that has to wait until it is unpacked from storage...


At first glance, it appears that the hull is pretty accurate at least in shape to the actual vessel.  The exception to this, is that the line, and station drawing indicates that the vessel had a slight tumble home above extreme breadth.  I do not believe that the model shows this, but rather has vertical sides above the extreme breadth line.  But, again, measurement must wait.








As you can see, this was a really large document, so a picture of the whole thing was not practical:





Title Block:



After I was done perusing the plans collection, the artifacts collection manager took me for a behind the scenes tour of the collections vault!  What a great experience.  I got to see the museum's entire collection of ship models, including a few bone prisoner of war models from the Napoleonic Wars!  I also got to see prints going back the American War for Independence, and a Medal of Honor awarded to a sailor aboard the USS Constitution in 1879.  The award was given for bravery of sailors entering the water to repair the damaged rudder at sea on a voyage to Paris.  You can read about it here.


Even in this collection there were a couple of items relevant to the Variag.  In particular, there was a print from 1900 AD that depicts the Cramp & Sons Yard.  The Variag can be seen floating at one of the yard's docks, with the US Battleship Alabama afloat in the river astern of the Variag. 






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  • 9 months later...

Brian, you could search on the card websites. They seem to go for that scale, along with 1/250 scale.


Started: MS Bounty Longboat,

On Hold:  Heinkel USS Choctaw paper

Down the road: Shipyard HMC Alert 1/96 paper, Mamoli Constitution Cross, MS USN Picket Boat #1

Scratchbuild: Echo Cross Section


Member Nautical Research Guild

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