NOTE: I did not draw this awesome Kirov outline. I used the model from Shipbucket which was made by Gollevainen.
Shipbucket is a great online resource for ships of a bunch of eras and nations. I modified it to fit what I thought the Dreadnaught should look like.
Country: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics/Russian Republic
Builder: Baltic and Leningrad Shipyards
Armament: 11x SS-N-19 (or Land Attack Cruise Missiles)
2x RBU-12000 ASW Rockets
1x AK-130 130mm Cannon
10x 533mm ASW Torpedo Tubes
8x AK-630 30mm CIWS
Air Complement: 2x Helicopters
Through the 1960s the Soviet Navy grew by leaps and bounds. Hulls were being laid down and ships produced at a fearsome rate. In a decade the USSR was in procession of a new modern surface force. “The flag of the Soviet Navy now proudly flies over the oceans of the world. Sooner or later the Americans, Europeans, and Japanese will have to understand that they no longer have sole mastery of the seas” Admiral Sergey Gorshkov told a graduating class from the Soviet naval academy in 1966. In addition to their new fleet the Soviets found allies in the developing world, the World Socialist Alliance. New ports of call and bases to resupply from were established in Iraq, Libya, Algeria, Cuba and other Third World nations.
During this expansion however a fearsome debate raged in the Soviet Naval service as to what the core of their new fleet should be, missile armed cruisers/destroyers or aircraft carriers? This issue divided the Russian naval staff and officers into camps. Many of the younger officers and admirals were advocates of carriers, with older officers having more faith (even with the evidence of Allied carrier operations in World War II) in traditional ships. Admiral Gorshkov, the CINC of the Soviet Navy was an abstract being from the older generation and supporting the carrier argument.
However politics inside both the Navy and the CPSU itself prolonged the debate. General Secretary Romanov was convinced that new technology in naval warfare would eliminate the aircraft carrier as it had eliminated the battleship. He was captivated by the idea of guided missile ships striking at targets from hundreds of kilometers away. While Gorshkov too supported the development of missiles (especially for his older Tu-16 Badger and new Tu-26M Kirov Bombers) he recognized the power carriers brought to a surface force. Eventually the Admiral was able to convince the General Secretary and Politburo to develop carriers but first under the guise of anti-submarine warfare with the small Moskva Helicopter Cruiser. In the late 60s the first of the Kiev class mini carriers were laid down with seven being completed before the Third World War. The main strength of the Soviet Fleet would be missile armed cruisers and destroyers.
The most powerful of these was the Dreadnaught Battlecruiser. Larger than the Slava and Kara cruisers its size was closer to that of a World War I battleship. Each Dreadnaught was powered by a nuclear reactor giving it extensive range and no need to refuel for over twenty years. To protect these powerful warships multiple Vulcan style guns were placed over it for point defense. Eventually short-range SAMs were added as well. The main weapon system of the Dreadnaught was its eleven missile tubes. For naval warfare these tubes are loaded with SS-N-19 SSMs. Having a huge range and powerful warheads these missiles were built by Soviet engineers to devastate American carriers. After a short conversion process they could also fire land attack cruise missiles.
In the development of their anti-carrier tactics the Soviets knew that it was best to destroy them before their air wings could be launched. As a result the Russians created a combined arms strategy. Using sub-surface, surface, and air assets the Soviets would spam American and Allied carrier groups with missiles. Even the new American ‘Aegis’ cruisers coming onto the line in 1970 would be overwhelmed by the sheer number of weapons. Extensive war-games practiced and refined these tactics over the years leading to the war.
The best example of Soviet anti-carrier operations occurred north of Cuba on the first day of war. A Soviet surface group (KUG) of Dreadnaughts, Karas, Slavas, destroyers and submarines closed with the carriers Douglas MacArthur and Midway plus their escorting ships. The American carrier task group was tracked by a Tu-95D Bear. It coordinated the approach of over five submarines and three regiments of Tu-26 Kirovs from Cuba escorted by MiG-25s. Firing their missiles from maximum range, the Kirovs pulled away before the F-14s could break away from the dogfight with the MiG-25s. The AS-4 missiles were guided to the target by the radar of the KUG, who launched a coordinated missile strike with two Echo submarines.
Only a single Aegis Cruiser was with the task group. Bunker Hill quickly exhausted its supply of Standard SAM missiles. These combined with fire from the other escorting ships destroyed many of the Soviet missiles. CIWS also cut down more along with electronic warfare methods. However over twenty missiles made it past the defenses. MacArthur was set ablaze from stem to stern, the Midway heavily damaged. Seven other cruisers, destroyers, and frigates were lost. The Soviet submarines closed and sank another four ships including the damaged Midway.
Many of the USN aircraft managed to get airborne before the missile assault. These however where hastily loaded with some not sporting anything but their cannons. Despite the lack of weapons the naval airmen proved deadly opponents. Soviet losses were moderate (a damaged Dreadnaught, two cruisers were sunk, and three destroyers (two sunk by American submarines). Other Soviet attacks on D-Day against USN carriers in the Pacific and Mediterranean were not as effective, not sinking any but damaging two (the Carl Vision heavily). Dreadnaughts helped the Soviets isolate the United States by sea. They could deliver more firepower than similar US ships and were capable of shore bombardment with land attack missiles. However the Soviet’s lack of carrier based naval aviation would prove a factor in the defeat of the Dreadnaughts.
As the US Navy regrouped, its carrier battlegroups were able to strike at long range against Soviet KUGs. The few Kiev class carriers couldn’t provide adequate air cover. The Yak-38 VTOL planes it carried were outmatched by American Tomcats and Hornets. Once their air defenses were suppressed the big Dreadnaughts were just as vulnerable to Harpoon armed US planes as USN ships were to Kirov bombers. The last great Soviet surface action of the war occurred during the failed Battle of Hawaii.
The bulk of the Soviet Pacific Fleet engaged the US Seventh Fleet around the Hawaiian Islands. A strategic decision to isolate and harass Pearl Harbor made earlier in the war proved to be a mistake. While surface ships did not operate far from the Hawaii islands out of fear of Soviet air attack (from Far Eastern and Mexican based SNA assests), submarines deployed out from Hawaii and went after Soviet Pacific Fleet (SPF) units. To end this threat to Soviet SLOCs in the Pacific, Moscow ordered Pearl Harbor be taken. Amphibious assets were rounded up and the SPF assembled.
However the USN was eager for a chance to go after the SPF and the build up for the operation was impossible to hide. Three carriers and their escorts challenged the SPF with CONUS based B-52s armed with Harpoons. Forced to operate at their maximum ranges the Kirov and Badger bombers were unable to play the deadly role that they had earlier in the war. Many were shot down by Tomcats and Hornets, due to the lack of long range fighter escorts for the Tu-26s and Tu-16s. The Soviet KUGs came under bomber attack themselves. Combined B-52 and USN aircraft attack withered down the Soviet ships including the mighty Dreadnaughts. Nearly two thirds of the SPF was lost to the USN’s fighters, bombers, and submarines.
After the Battle of Hawaii, Soviet naval power was never the same. The declaration of war against the USSR by the European Alliance saw the Soviet Northern Fleet devastated by Allied naval actions in the North Atlantic, Caribbean, and Norwegian Sea. Only a handful of Dreadnaughts survived the war. All are in the hands of the Russian Republic’s Navy. Allied intelligence believes only three of the ships are in any sort of operational status, the others requiring heavy maintenance before they can put to sea.
Once again this Red Alert 2 Soviet vessel is based on a real ship the Kirov Battlecruiser. I have used the base picture of a Kirov from Shipbucket and added the missile launch tubes to the front of the ship. The real Kirov has VLS tubes in its forward section. I created the fake history here.
Thanks in advance for any comments!