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In-Box Review
1350
Smârdan/”Brutar-II-Class
River Patrol Monitor
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by: Todd Michalak [ TRM5150 ]


Originally published on:
Model Shipwrights

Introduction


With an active Black Sea coastline of about 225 km and with a rather large stretch of the Danube River (Dunărea), including the basin, Romania certainly has the need to employ a full time navy to protect its interests. Romania does not the largest navy afloat, but for what it does have, it works for the coastal and inlet defenses needed for the country. Consisting of two basic parts, the Frigate and Riverine Flotillas, the bulk of ships in the Romanian Navy only total to about twenty-six larger ships with numerous smaller craft and auxiliary vessels.

In looking at the Riverine Flotilla, there is of course a squadron of River Patrol Boats but it is the River Patrol Monitors, specifically the Smârdan-class river monitors. These boats, with the NATO nickname of “Brutar” make up the backbone for the Riverine. There were a total of six boats made; however, the first boat, The Grivita (94) and considered a Brutar I-cass monitor was scrapped. The subsequent design of the Brutar II would yield five boats to the flotilla.

The Brutar-II River Patrol Moniors are figuratively and somewhat literally floating tanks. These monitors have a sleek, low profile putting them very low in the water. Displacing around 370 tons, these boats came in just over 166 feet in length. The Romanian ship designation of Vedete Blindante Mari translates nicely into what this boat actually is, “Large Armored Boat”. What these boats lack in superstructure, they make up for in firepower. Here is a list of what each of these monitors have for armament:

Armament
• 1 – 105mm turret mounted Tank Gun (Bow)
• 2 – 7.62mm and 14.5mm twin-mount machine gun turrets (Bow, one on each side of the 105mm turret)
• 2 – 14.5mm quad-mount machine guns in rotating open turrets (Amidships)
• 2 – 40 tube 122mm BM-21 Strela missile launchers (Main Deck aft the bridge)
• 1 – Twin-mount 30mm AA in rotating turret (Quarterdeck)
• 2 – Mine rails


The 105mm main gun on the Brutar-II is actually mounted within a T-54/55 tank turret which has been slightly modified to adapt to life aboard the ship. Straddling the 105mm gun is two smaller twin machine gun turret mounts. These turrets closely represent the turrets seen on the Russian made BMP-1 & 2’s. Each turret is equipped with one 7.62mm and one 14.5mm machine gun. Moving aft past the small, one-story and innocuous looking bridge are the quad-mounted 14.5mm machine guns. Mounted in Romanian styled open turrets, these quad-mounts are capable of a full 360 degree rotation. Move yet a few more steps aft of the boat there the two 40-tube 122mm multiple rocket launching system. These two mounts equipped with the CA-94(M) which is the Romanian version of the 9K32M Strela-2M missiles used in the Grad Multiple launching systems commonly seen mounted to the Ural truck chassis. This version of the BM-21 missile launcher has the capability of auto-reloading through hatches located in the deck forward their mounts. The launchers can be conveniently stowed away below deck when not in use. Walking aft over the mine rails that straddle the quarterdeck, is located the twin-mount 30mm antiaircraft gun which is mounted in an open-topped rotating turret similar to the quad-mount machine guns.

This floating tank is powered by three (seems to be a discrepancy in the documentation between two or three, but most likely three) 2700 hp M-50 diesel engines supporting the triple shaft drive. Add all of the firepower into a small, low-profile package with plenty under the hood makes for an ideal inland patrol weapons platform which is still in use by the Romanian Navy to this day.

Smârdan/”Brutar-II-class River Patrol Monitor


RB Productions was born from from a passion for modelling by Radu Nicolae Brînzan. Originally form Romania, Mr. Brînzan moved to Ireland in 1995. He has been published in many magazines as well as lending support on both English and Romanian penned books, an award winning modeller and the owner and designer for RB Productions. Primarily working in the aircraft genre of modelling, Mr. Brînzan and RB Productions expanded his focus to cover a wide variety of subjects offering Resin and Photo Etch Accessories, kits and Conversions for Aircraft, Ships, Armor and figures as well as offering a large selection of specialized tools for the hobby.

Not too long ago, RB Productions released their Smârdan/”Brutar-II-class River Patrol Monitor kit. This is a 1/350 scale multi-media kit depicting the Brutar-II Patrol Monitor used by the Romanian Navy at the present. The kit is supplied in a sturdy flip-top cardboard box with a 3D CAD rendition of the ship and possible variant options located on the front of the package. Inside, the kit is well packed inside a protective cocoon of bubble wrap and all of the parts are sealed in Ziploc-type plastic bags.

Contents

1 – Cast resin boat (integrated hull, main deck and superstructure)
• 26 – Cast resin parts
• 9 - turned brass parts
• 1 – Sheet of photo etch parts (144 pcs.)
• 1 – Decal sheet
• 1 – instructional placard with link to downloadable .pdf file of instructions


As I mentioned in the Contents listing above, the hull is integrated with the main deck and superstructure all in one casting. There is no flash or air bubbles visible on this piece and other than some minor cleanup to the transom located at the stern of the boat where the casting blocks were attached this piece is crisp and ready to start building on. A quick check of the measurements of the scaled ship to the original puts the length within 1mm and while the width appears to be slightly larger by almost 2 mm, the measurements are more or less negligible in this scale and cast hull is more than proportionally sound. All of the locating holes for the brass propulsion system are open and sized correctly for the shafts and rudder to be installed. Since the basic large components such as the bridge superstructure and vents for the engines are molded into the deck the most of the boat is technically together aside from the smaller resin and photo etch add on pieces.

Of the twenty-six cast resin parts that get added to the hull section all appear to be cast very well. There is a small amount of flash, and other than being typical for cast resin, most of this shows up on the casting stems which support the parts and not on the parts themselves. All of the resin parts are labeled with letters and are located on two separate casting block ad cleanly marked. Upon inspection of the kit once it arrived, there were three parts that came off of their casting supports, but since the attachment points are in an inconspicuous location and no damage was seen. The eight bollards for the boat are cast onto one thin casting block and will need to be removed and the bottoms of each sanded to the correct thickness. The capstans look great and only a small amount of detail sanding might be required around the top. The life boat comes with its support brackets molded into the bottom of the small boat and appear to look similar to the original boat supports. The rudder on the life boat looks a tad small in its casted form, but this is easily fixed with a small snipping from the outer edge of the photo etch sheet. Also, there are two distinct ridges on the outside of the original boat. There are two options here as well; first, if you feel the need to add the outer ribbing, some strips of styrene of photo etch strips can be glued into place. The second option is to not use the life boat at all. A quick look through many reference pictures, several of the Monitors actually do not carry the life boats for whatever reason. So the omitting of the life boats is more or less and option.

The 30mm twin-mount AA gun has two pieces of cast resin and looks as if it is well cast. There are additional parts including photo etch and barrels to complete the detailing of this gun. There are four rectangular boxes in two sizes, these are deck storage lockers; again, cleanly cast. There are base mounting which are used when the option to display the 120mm BM-21 missile launches are used. The kit gives the option of having these launchers deployed or stowed away. The underside of these bases have a hexagonal key-wedge which inserts into the corresponding holes located in the deck. The last part on the first casting block is the 105mm turret. This is basically a scaled down T-54/55 turret. This part is cast very well and show the two hatches located on top. If the builder so chooses, grab handles which are located on the rear right-hand side of the turret can be added, however, these are extremely small in this scale and probably would go unnoticed if left out as would the two fire extinguishers mounted to each side of the main turret. This is another case of an option is desired as the crew often removed this living only a small circular base attached to the side of the turret.

The second casting block holds the two BM-21 missile launchers. There are 40 tubes depicted as seen on the original system. There is a small amount of flash located in the hollowed out tubes. This can easily be removed by using a micro drill bit and little effort. There are two small cylindrical casting located on this block; these are the search lights which get mounted to the roof of the bridge cabin. As with many of the parts on this model, there are photo etch parts that will be needed to finish off the pieces. The last two pieces of resin on this block are the two forward mounted twin machine gun turrets that straddle the main 105mm battery. Both of these turrets are indicative of what is seen on the original boat and are cleanly cast.

There is a small but part laden sheet of photo etch included with this kit. There are 144 parts included on this 2 inch by 3 inch sheet. The sheet itself is 0.15 mm in thickness which keeps the parts from being flimsy. This sheet has everything needed to finish off the model with a high level of detailing. The railings are nice and sized to length for easy installation. There are more than a few microscopic parts on this sheet and both patience and quite possibly magnification will be needed when attempting the installation of the photo etch. There are a few options outlined in the instruction which might eliminate a few of the parts, but overall, the bulk of the photo etch parts will be needed to complete this model.

One of the high points I found inside the kit was the inclusion of some turned brass parts which are supplied through Master Models exclusively for this kit. RB Productions has included three turned gun barrels; one 105mm barrel for the main battery and two 30mm AA barrels for the twin mount located at the stern. These are all have hollowed out muzzles which raise the detailing of the boat considerably. There are three turned propeller shafts include along with an exhaust stack which get mounted just aft the back take vents. There are two main aerials, again, turned from brass included in the kit. These are an excellent addition adding a nice level of detailing to the roof of the bridge cabin.

RB Productions includes a nicely appointed decal sheet. While there are not a lot of markings on these boats there are several options given by the manufacturer. A choice to depict the model as any one of the five boats being used as well as three configurations for two of the boats and two configurations of the remaining two boats….ten options in all. Most of these configuration differences consist of different colored and/or shapes of the identification numbers.

The instructions for this kit are given in a downloadable .pdf version and the link is supplied upon purchasing the kit as well as inside the kit itself. At the present, the instructions are downloaded through Dropbox. The seven-page layout to the instructions are in color, drawn in a 3D CAD formatting and when needed, exploded views are given for sub-assembly constructions. All of the photo etch parts are denoted in gold coloring over the grey tone coloring to the boat in the drawings. There are four basic colors needed to paint these boats and the basic colors are listed in the instructions along with several profiles to show painting and marking layout of these vessels. There is a link provided to a fantastic reference site which has a large collection of walk around photos from almost all of these boats.

Conclusion


Well, I am very impressed with RB Productions’ Smârdan/”Brutar-II-class River Patrol Monitor kit. This full resin and photo etch kit provides a very high level of detail on an interesting subject not offered by any other manufacturers. The unique styling of these boats has been nicely incorporated into the 1/350 scale rendering of the boat(s). All of the parts have been designed well and cast very cleanly. While I did notice a couple of areas that need attention with regards to sanding, this is certainly something typically seen with just about all cast resin kits and minor in nature. The photo etch supplied for this kit raises the level of detailing greatly and the parts have been well designed and cleanly etched.

Three high marks for this kit go for the quality of the kit, the service provided by the manufacturer and finally the value; the suggested retail pricing of €44.00/$50.00US seems to be reasonable for a resin ship model of this quality. I will suggest that some experience is needed with both resin construction and photo etch installation as the parts can be delicate if handled improperly. I will highly recommend the Smârdan/”Brutar-II-class River Patrol Monitor to any model shipwright who enjoys fine resin ship building and/or desires to work with this subject matter.

Model Shipwrights would like to thank RB Productions for providing this review sample. A full listing of this kit, other scale offering as well as a full line of modelling related tools can be found on the RB Productions Website.

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SUMMARY
Highs: A highly detailed multi-media kit with an interesting subject matter. Great resin casting and supportive photo etch parts.
Lows: Some minor cleanup is needed on the transom, but other than that the kit is a finely manufactured model.
Verdict: High marks go for the interesting subject, quality of the kit, the service provided by the manufacturer and finally the value.
Percentage Rating
98%
  Scale: 1:350
  Mfg. ID: RB-K13501
  Suggested Retail: €44.00/$50.00US
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jun 12, 2015
  NATIONALITY: Romania
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 95.50%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 93.70%

Our Thanks to RB Productions!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Todd Michalak (TRM5150)
FROM: MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES

I am building what I like, when I like and how I like it; having fun doing it. I have been building and finishing models on and off my whole life but the past ten years things really exploded. Just about anything goes when it comes to hitting the bench, but wrecked armor, rusted hulks, ships or ...

Copyright ©2018 text by Todd Michalak [ TRM5150 ]. All rights reserved.



Comments

Todd, thanks for spending my money I like this a lot, different from most we see and interesting.
JUN 11, 2015 - 10:38 PM
Sorry 'bout that Luciano! Didn't mean to empty your pockets on this one...LOL!! I hope to see more nautical offering from RB Productions in the near future. They are a great source for tool and aircraft related items (if you are into the things with wings ) I hope to have a good look at some of the tools soon! Another thing us builders can't stop from buying!
JUN 11, 2015 - 10:57 PM
What Luciano said, It is interesting little beast, and looks a cracking kit as well. Will be looking out for this. Cheers Si
JUN 12, 2015 - 12:30 AM
Thanks for the review Todd. But just for the sake of accuracy i have to add that it has 3 engines and of course 3 shaft drives. Anyway, the model is correct, as you can see from the photos you took. And to prove my point, take a look here LINK , the first photo from the topic.
SEP 16, 2015 - 07:48 AM
Thanks for the kind words about the review Dragos. I am not sure if this is a case of accuracy or simple typographical error on the supported documentation and subsequently followed by me. The picture does appear to have three controls which would support the possibility of three engines. The kit clearly defines three shafts and props. I did however mention early on in the review two engines and shafts, but the information was actually taken from the same reference you provided as this was basically the only source of information I had available at the time. The author of the thread does state three engines at the top, but the copied and pasted text from his or her book reference stated two engines more than once. I have amended the review to reflect three engines for arguments sake. Not that this was a large point other than color information for the review...but why not? It only makes sense there are three independents. Thanks again!!
SEP 16, 2015 - 04:44 PM
Hi Todd! Like you say, all public sources i found state 2 engines and shafts, the one i provided was intended only for the photo. I have no idea why he mention the two reference books, which are known for their not so accurate information. And although i know that nobody disputes the 3 engine, my information comes above all from my cousin, who was on service on one of this ships, so i can guarantee for this. The most important thing is that Radu managed to make an accurate model. I hope we will see some of them built very soon.
SEP 25, 2015 - 11:51 PM
Radu has indeed created an excellent scaled version of this boat Dragos! Even in this scale, there is some fantastic detailing! I too would like to see a few more built at some point! I had a blast getting mine together! my build - LINK
SEP 26, 2015 - 05:22 PM
Thanks for the link Todd, i didn't saw that one. I had a few crazy months at work so i had no time to really check the forum. Great job again.
SEP 27, 2015 - 03:52 PM
We broke our quick reply box. Working on it. Until fixed go to topic to reply.
Thanks.
   

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