by: Jay Massey [ ]
Originally published on:
Intro, and a bit o' history...
The Mirage ORP Wicher Wz.35 Destroyer kit in 1/400 scale is one of several of Mirages' offerings in their ship kits line. The ship was constructed at Chanteirs Naval Francais over a period of 4 years from a Polish design. The steam turbines that powered her were designed and built by Ateliers et Chantiers de la Loire in St Nazaire and her armaments were mounted at the French Naval Arsenal in Cherbourg. She was commissioned into the Polish Navy on July 8, 1930 giving the Polish Navy its' first modern destroyer of the times. She was named Wicher (Gale) by the French builders following their tradition of naming destroyers after weather phenomena.
During the inter-war years she served a number of functions from taking the Polish Ambassador and his family from Poland to Spain in 1931, entering the free port at Danzig to show the Polish influence there in 1932. She cruised the area around the Baltic visiting several cities to show off the Polish Navy’s' modern outlook and performing official state visits. She was also used as a training ship.
In 1935 it was determined that her main armament was a little under gunned, slow firing French Schneider-Cruseout Model of 1924 130 mm as well as lacking protection from aerial threats. To solve the problem of the lack of AA protection she had two sets of 13.2 mm Hotchkiss heavy machineguns added.
At the outbreak of war on September 1, 1939 she was in Danzig harbor and repelled an air raid. From there she set off to Heil's Naval base in preparation for Operation Rurka, an attempt to lay a minefield at the entrance to Danzig's harbor. She was to act as the screen for a minelayer and several other supporting ships. After the ORP Gryf, the minelayer had loaded up her cargo of mines the little flotilla was attacked by Stuka Ju 87 dive bombers that the Wicher fired upon, the Wicher was not damaged but the Gryf was struck by 4 bombs and her Captain was killed. After escorting the Gryf back to Heil she set of for Danzig and stood by observing two German Destroyers. Not wanting to attract attention to any Polish units operating in the area she held fire. She returned to Heil and discovered that the operation had been called off.
On the morning of September 3, 1939 while in port at Heil she was attacked by two German Destroyers Z1 and Z9. The Polish warships in port and shore batteries opened up on the German ships and they withdrew under a smoke screen. After repelling two Luftwaffe aerial attacks during the course of the day, a third one struck home hitting the Wicher in four places and breaking her hull in several places. She started to sink and all but one of her crew escaped with 22 wounded.
In November 1939 at the end of the Polish Campaign, the German Navy raised the ship and towed her to shallow waters. They intended to repair her and add her to the fleet as the Seerose. These plans never came to anything as other concerns took center stage. The wreck of the ship survived the war and in 1946 she was raised again from her resting place and towed outside Jastarnia and anchored there for bombardment practice until 1955. In 1963 she was partially scrapped and that was the end for her.
I liked the look of the ship, and her lines showed that she was capable of a good turn of speed, 39 knots, the main reason for my purchase. The kit is inexpensive, always a plus in my book, and Mirage makes a rather nice PE set specifically for it. While it is not necessary to build the model it is always a nice addition for those that like to detail to a higher level. The kits' styrene is of a good quality, neither soft nor brittle, and the molding of all parts is crisp and fairly clean. There is a little flash here and there but nothing excessive.
They give you a decal sheet that is nice and thin and includes the wooden platforms that go around the main guns as well as the required lettering and flags and ensigns. The six page instruction manual is quite complete and includes rigging diagrams as well as painting codes in Humbrol paints as well as color names.
The optional dedicated PE set (available seperately) is very nice, it has just about any parts you would care to add including the main gun mount turrets, foredeck, railings, small boat tops, oars, davits, walkway tread plate, ladders, props, anchors, stairways, and cable reels. The four page instruction manual that accompanies the PE set is laid out in pictograph style and easily understood.