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Molotov (Молотов) was a Project 26bis of the Soviet Navy that served during World War II and into the Cold War. She supported Soviet troops during the Siege of Sevastopolmarker, the Kerch-Feodosiya Operation and the amphibious landings at Novorossiysk at the end of January 1943. She was extensively modernized between 1952 and 1955. She was renamed Slava (Слава) in 1957 after Vyacheslav Molotov fell out of favor. She was reclassified as a training ship in 1961 before being sold for scrap in 1972.

Construction

Molotov was laid down at the Marti South, Nikolayevmarker on 14 January 1937 as a slightly improved version, Project 26bis as designated by the Soviets, of the first pair of Kirov s, which were called Project 26. She was launched on 4 December 1939 and was completed on 14 June 1941. She was long at the waterline, and long overall. The ship had a beam of and had a draft between . She displaced at standard load and at full load. Her steam turbines produced a total of on trials, and was just shy of her designed speed of 37 knots, reaching , on trials, because she was over overweight. Molotov normally carried of fuel oil, at full load and at overload. This gave her an endurance of at .

Molotov carried nine 57-caliber B-1-P guns in three electrically powered MK-3-180 triple turrets. The turrets were very small; they were designed to fit into the limited hull space available and were so cramped that their rate of fire was much lower than designed—only two rounds per minute instead of six. The guns were mounted in a single cradle to minimize space and were so close together that their shot dispersion was very high because the muzzle blast from adjacent barrels affected each gun. The turrets weighed approximately and the guns could be depressed to −4° and elevated to 48°. The guns fired projectiles at a muzzle velocity of ; this provided a maximum range of around , depending on ammunition and gun type. 100 rounds per gun were normally carried.

Her secondary armament consisted of six single 56-caliber B-34 anti-aircraft guns with 325 rounds per gun fitted on each side of the rear funnel. Light AA guns initially consisted of nine semi-automatic 21-K AA guns with 600 rounds per gun and four DK machine guns with 12,500 rounds per gun, but were significantly increased during the war. By 1943 Molotov exchanged her three of her 45 mm guns for twelve fully automatic 70-K AA guns with a thousand rounds per gun and two extra DK machine guns.

Six 39-Yu torpedo tubes were fitted in two triple mountings; these tubes could be individually adjusted to spread out their salvos. Molotov exchanged her 39-Yu tubes for more modern 1-N launchers during the war. 96 KB or 150 Model 1908/39 mines could be carried. A pair of depth charge racks were mounted as well as four BMB-1 depth charge throwers. Twenty large BB-1 and thirty small BM-1 depth charges were carried although no sonar was carried by Molotov. She did mount the Arktur hydrophone system although that was useless at speeds above three knots.

Molotov was the first Soviet ship to carry a radar, a Redut-K air warning system, which she used for the entire war. Soviet-designed Mars-1 gunnery radars were fitted by 1944.

She landed her catapult in 1942 to make room for more light AA guns, but an improved ZK-1a model was fitted in 1943. With this she successfully trialled a catapult-launched Supermarine Spitfire fighter, but the concept was not thought to be worth the effort. Her catapult was permanently landed in 1947.

World War II

As the only ship in the Soviet Navy with radar Molotov remained in Sevastopol for the initial period of Operation Barbarossa to provide air warning. The advance of German troops into the Crimeamarker in late October 1941 forced her to transfer to Tuapse where she continued to provide air warning. However, she did bombard German troops near Feodosiyamarker with nearly 200 180 mm shells on 9 November before returning to Tuapse. She helped to carry the 386th Rifle Division from Potimarker to Sevastopol between 24 and 28 December 1941. While off-loading troops on the 29th her stern was damaged by German artillery and she shelled Axis positions in response, firing 205 180 mm and 107 100 mm shells in response. She evacuated 600 wounded upon her departure on the 30th.

She reprised her role as a transport during the first week of January. Her bow was damaged during a heavy storm in Tuapse when it was thrown against the jetty on 21—22 January 1942. She spent most of the next month under repair, although her bow could not be straightened; the residual damage reduced her speed by several knots. She made a number of bombardment sorties in support of Soviet troops on the Kerch Peninsula until 20 March when she returned to Poti for more permanent repairs. On 12 June she transported 2998 men of the 138th Rifle Brigade to Sevastopol, shelling German positions while unloading. She evacuated 1065 wounded and 350 women and children as she departed. On 14—15 June she returned, carrying 3855 reinforcements in company with other ships, bombarded German positions again, and evacuated 2908 wounded and refugees. On 2 August, while returning from another bombardment mission near Feodosiya, of her stern was blown off by Heinkel He 111 torpedo bombers of 6./KG 26 acting in concert with Italian MAS torpedo boats. The damage reduced her speed to and she had to be steered by her engines. She was under repair at Poti until 31 July 1943 using the stern of the incomplete Frunze, the rudder of the incomplete cruiser Zheleznyakov, the steering gear from the Kaganovich and the steering sensor from the submarine L-25. Stalin's order that forbade the deployment of large naval units without his express permission after the loss of three destroyers to air attack on 6 October 1943 was the end of Molotov s active participation in the war.

Postwar career

Molotov was refitted in November 1945 to repair the last of her wartime damage. She suffered a fire in the shell handling room for Turret #2 on 5 October 1946 that had to be extinguished by flooding the magazine and handling room at the cost of 22 dead and 20 wounded. She served as the testbed for the radars intended for the and s during the late 1940s. Molotov's postwar modernization began in 1952 and lasted until 28 January 1955.

As part of this modernization she received a radar suite composed of Gyuys for air search, Rif for surface search, Zalp for main-armament gunnery and Yakor for anti-aircraft gunnery. All of her light anti-aircraft guns were replaced by eleven twin gun water-cooled 37 mm V-11 mounts and her 100 mm guns were reinstalled on fully powered B-34USMA mountings. Her anti-aircraft fire-control system was replaced by a Zenit-26 with SPN-500 stabilized director. In addition she lost her torpedo tubes, anti-submarine weapons, boat cranes and all remaining aircraft equipment. This cost 200 million rubles, between half and three-quarters the cost of a new Project 68bis .

On 29 October 1955 she participated in rescue efforts after an explosion sank the ex-Italian battleship Novorossiysk. Five of her own men were lost when the battleship capsized almost three hours after the explosion. She was renamed Slava on 3 August 1957 after Vyacheslav Molotov was purged from the government after an unsuccessful coup against Nikita Khrushchev that same year. She was reclassified as a training cruiser on 3 August 1961. She was deployed to the Mediterraneanmarker between 5—30 June 1967 to show Soviet support of Syriamarker during the Six-Day War. She returned to the Mediterranean between September—December 1970 where she assisted the Kotlin-class destroyer Bravyi after the latter's collision with the aircraft carrier on 9 November 1970. She was sold for scrap on 4 April 1972.

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