Soviet River Gunboats of the Great Patriotic War

During the Second World War the Soviets utilized several types of gunboats to take advantage of the mobility afforded by the country’s large river and canal network.  Production centered around two similar types of Bronekatar (BK) which means “armored ship”.  The project 1124 was the slightly larger of the two, with a length of 82′ and a beam of 12.5′ (25 x 3.8 meters) for a displacement of 42 tons.  Armament varied, but originally consisted of a 76mm open gun mount fore and aft, with a twin 12.7 mm gun mount on the pilothouse.  Tank turrets were used in place of the open guns when they became available, first utilizing T28 or T35 turrets, then ultimately T34/76 turrets which became the standard configuration.
The project 1125 were slightly smaller, with a length of 74′ and a beam of 10′ (22.6 x 3.5 meters).  Draft was slightly less than that of the BK 1124, 1.6′ versus 2.6′ (0.5  vs. 0.8 meters) which could sometimes be crucial for riverine operations.  The 1125 only carried one tank turret forward, but often carried additional machine guns or a Katyusha rocket launcher aft of the pilot house.
Propulsion was provided by lend-lease gasoline engines produced by Packard or Hall-Scott.  These were mounted in the hull under large hatches provided with skylights located aft of the pilot house.  Exhaust gasses were routed along the deck to the fantail.
A total of 310 units of both designs were completed, 90 were lost during the war.  Several survive today in Russia as monuments, many mounted on concrete pedestals.  Here a captured 1125 equipped with a T35 turret is being examined by Finish soldiers.  (SA-Kuva archive)
This 1124 displays another variation in armament with a 37mm anti-aircraft gun in place of the T34/76 turret aft.  The makeshift pier is interesting, a line from her bow secures her to the shore.
Both types were designed to be transported by rail, which placed limits on their weight and dimensions.  Lifting padeyes were provided at the deck edges to facilitate hoisting the boat with a crane.  These camouflaged examples are well supported with timber blocking.  The 12.7mm pedestal mount is interesting, but armament variations were fairly common.
Another 12.7mm gun, this time in a shielded position aft.  This camouflaged boat has her lifelines removed to clear firing arcs for the guns and allow movement of the embarked troops.  A wooden gangplank is visible on her fantail, and the engine exhaust is running along the deck to starboard.
Diorama bait with this 1124 moored with her stern to the riverbank and her gangplank on the shore.  The crew has made a rather futile attempt at concealment using brush and limbs to break up her silhouette.
Ïåðåïðàâà ÷åðåç Äóíàé
A section of infantry with Maxim machine guns embarks on a gunboat, cornstalks cover the decks.  Gunboats were often used to transport soldiers and supplies, and could provide fire support to the troops once they were ashore.  Their shallow draft and flat bottoms allowed them to run themselves onto the banks to disembark their passengers.
The gunboats could also provide escort to assault boats carrying troops as this 1124 is doing.  Note the low profile of the T34/76 turret on the fo’c’sle and that her lifelines have been removed to clear firing arcs for her guns.
The crew discussing an upcoming evolution using the T34/76 turret as a chart table.  Behind them the helmsman looks on from within the pilothouse, which has both doors open.
A fine view of an 1124 boat alongside a pier, with an S40 in the background.  Several details are visible.  These gunboats would make an interesting construction project for a scratchbuilder as many of the major components are readily available.  Length of a 1124 boat would be 13.7″ in 1/72 scale, 28″ in 1/35.