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Shmel-class (Project 1204)


Armored Artillery Gunboat / Patrol Boat


Soviet Union | 1967



"About 118 of the Shmel-class armored artillery gunboats were built by the Soviet Union between 1967 and 1974 - the type continues service today."



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 11/14/2023 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The Soviet Navy began its commitment to heavily armed and armored river boats back in the military build-up of the 1930s. These vessels were then put through their paces during World War 2 (1939-1945), charged with operations centering on lakes and rivers where their modest short-to-medium ranged weaponry could best be brought to bear. In the massive military draw-down of the post-war period, there seemed little interest in evolving the line amidst a rise of more advanced and potent technologies centered on jets and missiles. It was not until the mid-1960s that thought was given to developing an all-new entry into the river artillery boat category for the Soviet Navy and this became the Shmel-class (Project 1204).

The boats were slim in their base design though specifically given shallow draughts, allowing for operations in shallow waters as well as in Close-to-Shore actions (littoral). Each carried a crew of about fourteen and featured a bow-to-stern length of 90 feet with a beam of 14 feet and a draught of just 2.7 feet. Installed power allowed for a maximum speed of 24 knots to be reached and the boats ranged out to 322 nautical miles.

Beyond its armor protection, the war boats were well-regarded for their mix of armament. This was led by a PT76B turret fitting a tank-killing 76mm main gun. The turret was installed at the important "lead" position over the forecastle, just ahead of the pilot house (bridge). Over the stern was a 25mm twin-gunned turret capable of countering low-flying enemy aircraft as well as assisting against shoreline actions. Near midships was installed a 140mm seventeen-shot BM-14-17 rocket launcher atop a trainable mounting for ranged target area suppression. Up to 4 x 30mm BP-30 Plamya automatic grenade launchers were carried as was 1 x 7.62mm SGMT machine gun. The boat could also lay down naval mines to deny access to strategic waterways in the event of war.

All this made the 78-ton Shmel-class potent surface vessels. While they could be taken out to open water, they were not necessarily designed for choppy seas and served better in a tactical role, denying passages, protecting vital harbor points, transporting goods or troops to and fro. Additionally, the potency of its armament fit allowed the boats to assail shoreline targets in support of ground troop movements. While the 76mm was well-known as a tank-killer in its time, it served a potent HE (High-Explosive) shell as well. The twin-gunned 25mm fit could also bring about devastating results to shoreline troop positions and soft-skinned vehicles unfortunate enough to come through its crosshairs.

About 118 of the type were constructed from 1967 until 1974. While something of a Cold War relic, several of the boats continue to serve the modern Russian Navy today (2017).

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one sea-going vessel design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for Shmel-class (Project 1204).
Conventionally-arranged powerplant with propeller-based drive.
Propulsion
24.0 kts
27.6 mph
Surface Speed
322 nm
370 miles | 595 km
Range
Structure
The bow-to-stern, port-to-starboard physical qualities of Shmel-class (Project 1204).
14
Personnel
Complement
89.9 ft
27.40 meters
O/A Length
14.2 ft
4.32 meters
Beam
2.8 ft
0.00 meters
Draught
78
tons
Displacement
Armament
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of Shmel-class (Project 1204).
1 x 76mm PT76B turreted deck gun.
1 x 25mm 2M/3M twin-gunned gun mount.
1 x 140mm 17-shot BM-14-17 rocket launcher.
4 x 30mm BP-30 "Plamya" grenade launchers.
4 x UGDM mines OR 10 x YaM mines.
1 x 7.62mm SGMT (D-56TS) machine gun.
Ships-in-Class (118)
Notable series variants as part of the Shmel-class (Project 1204) family line as relating to the Shmel-class / Project 1294 group.
118 vessels completed.
Operators
Global operator(s) of the Shmel-class (Project 1204). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national naval warfare listing.
National flag of Russia National flag of the Soviet Union

[ Russia; Soviet Union ]
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Image of the Shmel-class (Project 1204)
Image from the Russian Ministry of Defense.
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Image of the Shmel-class (Project 1204)
Image from the Russian Ministry of Defense.
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Image of the Shmel-class (Project 1204)
Image from the Russian Ministry of Defense.
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Image of the Shmel-class (Project 1204)
Image from the Russian Ministry of Defense.
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Image of the Shmel-class (Project 1204)
Image from the Russian Ministry of Defense.
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Image of the Shmel-class (Project 1204)
Image from the Russian Ministry of Defense.
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Image of the Shmel-class (Project 1204)
Image from the Russian Ministry of Defense.
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Image of the Shmel-class (Project 1204)
Image from the Russian Ministry of Defense.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to seaborne requirements.
CLOSE-TO-SHORE
OFFSHORE OPERATION
Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
Shmel-class (Project 1204) Armored Artillery Gunboat / Patrol Boat appears in the following collections:
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