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Tretij Internacional

Line drawing of Tretij Internacional

Displacement 35,000 tons
Armament 4 X 2   15"
MCG and AA
Speed 32.5 knots
VTS Rating   4   4   7

The newly formed Soviet Union was eager to pursue international prestige, and so asked to be included in the Washington Naval Treaty Conference. As a "world" power with coastlines in the Pacific and Atlantic, she fought for and was granted naval construction tonnages greater than France or Italy and equivalent to Japan. The other great naval Powers weren't worried about her ever achieving that, with her backward industry as disarrayed as it was. The Treaty of Rapallo had set up a rapproachment with Germany, and out of need the two Powers began helping each other. Future German Luftwaffe pilots were being trained to fly at secret Soviet facilities, and in turn German naval architects and skilled laborers were used by Russia to begin rebuilding her fleet from the disasters of the Revolution. The half-finshed battleship Borodino was completed, and work progressed on a further, curious dreadnought.

The Krupp works had been building dreadnoughts of the Mackensen class when the Armistice halted progress and limited future Naval construction. Before the Armistice Commission came around to inspect the works, Krupp had surreptitiously buried five complete twin 15" gun turrets with the intention of "investing" them for an appropriate future time to sell. The hard economic depression after the Amistice and Soviet inquiries led Krupp to secretly unveil the turrets' existence to the Weimar Republic's leaders, and for the Soviets to set up a construction/training deal.

Named after the Comintern that established Russian domination over world Communist parties, Tretij Internacional put WW I guns on a modern hull, much like the HMS Vanguard project some fifteen years later. The result was similar to the later Bismarck's but less compartmented, less armored, and suffering slightly from older-model guns. When Hitler came to power and found out about the earlier trade deal he was outraged that such staunch German armament should be riding on the "enemy" vessel, when his own panzerschiffs had to make do with less. His naval designers, however, had learned a lot during their Soviet apprenticeship and kept their hands in naval matters, discussing hull lines instead of bread lines. The sleek battlecruiser's hull was designed by Italians, and with the subsequent loss of German expertise the Soviets relied increasingly on Italy for future warships.

Tretij Internacional had a crew hand-picked for their Communist loyalty and was the only capital ship allowed to sail beyond the Baltic when she arrived off the coast of Spain in support of the Loyalists during the Spanish Civil War. She shelled Fascist positions far inland but never effectively influenced a land battle. Tretij and the German pocket battleship Deutchland exchanged a few salvoes off the Spanish coast for honor's sake, but the engagement wasn't pressed for fear of damage so far from home. In 1941, as with most of the Baltic Fleet, Tretij Internacional was hampered during WW II by fuel shortages and aircraft-inflicted damage. The German carrier Peter Strasser sent in some planes to Khrondshdat Naval Base near Leningrad and pummeled the ship just as she was leaving port. Repairing slowly, she spent most of her wartime career back in port.

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