In the entire history of the Russian fleet were built many ships. Among them were some who surprised his views. The project, proposed by the Russian Admiral AA Popov, perhaps the most unusual. Round battleships already provoked mixed public reaction. In history, they were called "Popovka».
In 1853, the Crimean War. The reason for the war was the dispute over the control of the Bethlehem church between Orthodox and Catholics. Turkish Sultan handed over the keys of the temple to the Catholics, whose interests are defended by the French Emperor Napoleon III. In order to put pressure on Turkey, Nicholas I sent troops into a protectorate of Russia in the conditions of the peace treaty of Adrianople Principalities, demanding his patron of all Orthodox subjects of the Ottoman Empire. After the failure of Nicholas I to withdraw its troops, Turkey declared war on Russia. Turkey joined France and Great Britain, who wanted to oust Russia from the Black Sea coast. The outcome of the war was the victory of the coalition. Russia was forced to conclude in 1856 a peace treaty. Under this agreement, restrictions were placed on the number of vessels, which have allowed the Russian Empire in the Black Sea, and their displacement. Project Admiral AA Popov did not fall under these restrictions.
Proposition AA Popov was unusual. He proposed the creation of a vessel round shape, which is a floating battery. In place of the wooden ship while coming huge battleships with guns of large caliber. According to Popov, the new ship also had to be powerful tools that can withstand enemy artillery. The long trips are not planned to send ships. Their main purpose - to help coastal batteries. On these floating battery was supposed to place the powerful 11-inch rifled or smooth 20-inch guns. Due to a smaller area of the body such vessels require fewer armor plates that promised big savings: While the Russian government is desperately short of money. Although some Popov was accused that the ship has turned low-speed, they develop greater speed was not originally planned. They were designed for entirely different purposes. Whatever it was, it looked like an ambitious project. At the time, it seemed he had little chance of implementation. The fact that these ships were still built, the great merit of Admiral Popov. Through perseverance and connections, he not only made sure that his project was considered, but did so to the construction of such a vessel was completed.
The issue of construction of battleships intended for the defense of the coast in the south of Russia, was raised in 1869. That's when AA Popov proposed a draft unusual shaped vessel. Property interests management Naval Ministry. Pilot boat was built with a diameter of 3 m, equipped with two steam engines. Tests have shown that this boat has a high maneuverability. At the beginning of 1870 he was commissioned to develop another round vessel with a diameter of 7 meters already. It was equipped with four screws. This boat shows the speed of 5 knots. The project is approved. The final round was decided to build a battleship diameter of 29, 26 m (initially envisaged the construction of the vessel diameter of 46 m). During the construction of the ship surged 1, 5 m. Battleship offered armed with two 280-mm rifled gun. Protection vessel should ensure that the armor thickness of 305 mm. The power plant includes four steam engines.
It was planned to build four vessels. Two of them - at the shipyard in St. Petersburg, the other two - in Nikolaev. The construction of the first Popovka (the name he gave the ship Alekcandr II) started at the St. Petersburg shipyard in 1871. A little later, we laid the second in Mykolaiv. Even then it was clear that the construction of four ships due to lack of funds does not overpower. So bookmark the two postponed indefinitely. First Popovka was named "Novgorod", the second - "Kiev". After the first ship was ready, he was transported by rail to Nikolaev for assembly. Descent "Novgorod" in the water held in May 1873.
In the fixed open the tower was equipped with two 26-ton 280-mm rifled gun design Krupp. Both could be induced and shoot independently. Inside were six steam engines of Wolfe. To reduce the pitching Popovka supplied 12 external longitudinal keels. During the first tests at half speed machines Popovka has a top speed of 6 knots. During the test firing was revealed the weakness of stoppers machines. The problem persists, but the rumor that the vessel rotates with the shooting, spread rapidly.
Rate "Novgorod" was low. If the gun turn 180 ° for 3 minutes was required, in order to charge it, it took 10 minutes. "Novgorod" made several voyages. At first, he swam to the Caucasian coast, and then to Taganrog. Tests have shown that Popovka digs into the waves, although resistant to roll. In addition, the ship drifting by wind and current. When 8-point headwind Popovka could not move.
AA Popov decided to amend the second Popovka - "Kiev". As a result of its construction was delayed. In 1873, it was proposed to build a circular vessel larger in size, with a diameter of 36 m. Its supposed to be equipped with two 305-mm artillery shells and 457-mm protected by armor. This ship was named in honor of the designer, "Vice Admiral Popov." The case for the Russian navy unique. New Popovka laid in 1874, the year she was launched. In 1876, "Vice Admiral Popov" has a top speed of 8 knots. As is the case with the "Novgorod", proved to be bad for the machine guns. It was necessary to strengthen them.
When in 1877 began Russian-Turkish war, Popovka guarded Odessa, but really to fight they had no chance. Once they even went out to meet on the horizon Turkish ship, but the fight never happened.
Popovka fell short of management's expectations of the Navy Department. They pinned too much hope. From popovok demanded active measures, right up to the sea. However, they were not intended. In 1898, the death of their creator AA Popov. Five years Popovka finished his service. In 1911 they were sold for scrap.