M.O. Round 1: Kiev class aircraft carrier . . Category: Dark Side of the Moon
Many of you are most likely familiar with the phrase ‘dark side of the Moon’ even if you are not fans of Pink Floyd. At times, some people have been of the belief that one side of the Moon was always dark. This is not entirely correct. The orbit of the Moon is such that one rotation is just about as long as one revolution in its orbit around the Earth. That is the reason why we actually see only one side of the Moon from our blue planet. Therefore the ‘other’ side is correctly speaking the ‘far’ side of the Moon. During a ‘new moon’ (a term known before Twilight books) our ‘home side’ is totally dark and the other side is getting some tan, but when the Moon is opposite from the Sun, the side we know has the full capability of providing romantic light (unless it is ‘Obscured by Clouds’ :P).
But if you think of dark as meaning something unknown, unexplored, then the far side of the Moon has truly been a mystery until the Soviet Luna 3 mission in 1959. The Soviet war machines could also be considered as kind of a ‘dark side of the Moon’ for the Westerners. Some of their achievements remain a mystery to this day. That is the reason why I have chosen this title to present you one of my personal favorites among the numerous vessels that have sailed the seven seas- Kiev class aircraft carrier.
The Dark Side of the Moon is the eighth studio album by Pink Floyd. It was released in March 1973 and it somewhat differed from their previous albums. Most advanced recording techniques of the time were used which, combined with exceptional music and lyrics, gave the album an indisputable quality. An estimated 50 million copies have already been sold worldwide and impressed various types of audience. When the aircraft carrier Kiev entered service in 1975 and sailed through Bosporus to Mediterranean in 1976, foreign observers were also highly impressed. Bristling with weapons and electronic equipment and with a displacement of over 42.000 metric tons full load, it was the largest and most advanced Soviet surface vessel at the time.
Due to restrictions imposed by the Montreaux Convention limiting the tonnage of aircraft carriers traveling through the Bosporus, all Soviet and Russian aircraft carriers are named as aircraft carrying cruisers. However, in the case of Kiev, this accurately reflects the ship's mission and weapons fit. The primary mission of these carriers was to deny NATO ASW forces access to the Soviet ballistic missile submarine bastions. The heavy missile armament would provide means to combat enemy surface vessels, especially aircraft carriers.
The album’s lyrical themes include conflict, greed, the passage of time, death, insanity and a lot more. It is a continuous piece of music even though some songs are (understandably) often played individually on radio. Finding true meaning of a quality song, regardless of genre, can sometimes be a daunting task. But sometimes the fact, that it has made you think about different aspects, can be a reward in itself. I will bring this to another, probably slightly bizarre level. I will try to relate the titles of individual songs found on album to different parts of my build- partially only using the titles, partially relating it to the entire song.
SPEAK TO ME- Communication between 1200-1600 crew members at the same time is nearly impossible, therefore is good training essential for the ship to function effectively. Damage control parties need to be organized quickly in order to prevent losing the ship. But if such a disaster occurs, numerous life rafts and life boats are there to help the crew to survive in cold waters. Decision, which design should I use to represent the life rafts was not easy, but I am quite satisfied with the final result. Who would have thought that those ‘podracer’ cables will be so useful one day…
BREATHE- Eight turbo pressurized boilers, four steam turbines can crank up 200.000 worth of power to speed the vessel on its way. Not very environmentally friendly, but no one really cared about that at the time of construction. Soviet ships were already well known for their distinctive thick black exhaust gases. 32 knots take their toll…
ON THE RUN- Richard Wright was afraid of flying and I think that a mission with Yak-36 Forger would not help him get over his fear. The Kiev was designed to accommodate 12 of these S/VTOL fighters. In conflict that fortunately never happened, they would most likely attack NATO aircraft such as P-3 and other airplanes on ASW duty. The Kamov Ka-27 Helix replaced Ka-25 Hormone as an advanced anti-submarine warfare helicopter and is still in service today. Twenty of them could be taken aboard.
TIME- and how its passage can control one’s life? It surely did change lives of three Kiev class carrier and its subclass Admiral Gorshkov. The latter was extensively modified and sold to Indian Navy and is already conducting sea trials in its new role as a STOBAR aircraft carrier. The first three ships of the class had different fates. Kiev was sold to China in 1996 and is now a luxurious and extravagant hotel in Tianjin, while Minsk is part of the CITIC Minsk World in Shenzen. Novorossiysk suffered a serious engine room fire and was scrapped in South Korea in 1997.
ANY COLOUR YOU LIKE- I’m not sure how much does the lack of choice define one’s living in society, but pallet of targets for the mighty surface-to-surface cruise missiles was certainly somewhat limited. Sandbox had a maximum range of over 300 nm, but it was impossible to target further than line-of -sight from a surface vessel. Therefore a target designator like Ka-27 Helix was required for over-the-horizon operations.
THE GREAT GIG IN THE SKY- Pink Floyd’s music got really high up there, when the cosmonauts on Soyuz 7 took a cassette copy of ‘Delicate Sound of Thunder’ to the MIR space station on November 26, 1988. Gilmour said: “To say that we are thrilled at the thought of being the first rock band to be played in space is something of an understatement.” So it would be unfair to say that connecting Pink Floyd with something Russian is silly. Red star does belong here…
BRAIN DAMAGE- Ship’s island represents the ‘brains’ of the entire vessel. Being hit in such an important part of a warship can seriously hamper its ability to fight effectively. The radar in front of the mast is Top Sail and the one immediately behind it is called Top Steer. One level down on both sides are the Head Light radars which are used in conjunction with the SA-N-3 Goblet SAM. The rounded pieces in the centre of the island are Side globe electronic warfare radomes.
MONEY and US AND THEM- Looking at mighty machines of all kinds can really make you feel humble. Military ships and aircraft rarely fail to impress me from aesthetical point of view. But I am constantly aware of the fact for what purpose these machines were made, and how this never ending circle of arming causes pain and sorrow and drains numerous national budgets. But there are moments in history when armed response is unavoidable if we want to prevent even worse consequences. And even then, sad and pointless events take place on a daily basis. Roger Waters lost his father in a desperate stand against overwhelming force of German Tigers near Anzio. Generals in command did not allow them to retreat and all men from C Company lost their lives. The fact that Kiev never fired a shot in anger hopefully makes my odd mixture of Pink Floyd and a Soviet carrier somewhat more excusable.
ECLIPSE- “everything under the sun is in tune, but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.” A part of Roger Waters’s explanation of these words goes like this: “I don't see it as a riddle. The album uses the sun and the moon as symbols; the light and the dark; the good and the bad; the life force as opposed to the death force. I think it's a very simple statement saying that all the good things life can offer are there for us to grasp, but that the influence of some dark force in our natures prevents us from seizing them…” Let me joke a little bit by saying how traumatic it (occasionally) is for us, LEGO builders, to find a piece we are looking for. As if a strange, dark force was protecting it from our hands. Building this 165 cm (5.4 feet) long, out of thousands and thousands of bricks, surely gave me some grey hair… But it was still a lot of fun building it and I sincerely hope you have enjoyed viewing my newest creation.
“Roger, I have a feeling, we’'re not at Abbey Road Studios anymore…”
P.S. The first one to explain why Dorothy (should or should not be) connected to the Dark Side of the Moon gets, hm, not likes on your creations, that would be considered a bribery, not eternal fortune and fame, because I cannot assure you that, sooo, ok, I can promise you that I won’t aim those Sandbox missiles at you… :D