Review Mirage Hobby 1/400 ORP Orzeł

ORP Orzeł was the lead ship of her class of submarines serving in the Polish Navy during World War II. Her name means “Eagle” in Polish. The boat is best known for the Orzeł incident, her escape from internment in neutral Estonia during the early stages of the Second World War.ed Army after the German invasion.

At the beginning of the invasion of Poland Orzeł was docked in Oksywie. The submarine was deployed on patrol in a designated strategic zone of the Baltic Sea. With the situation rapidly deteriorating, Orzel abandoned its assigned sector on 4 September and began to withdraw into the Baltic Sea. The submarine was attacked by the German minesweepers M3 and M4 and damaged, but evaded that evening.

Orzeł incident
Orzel’s crew decided to head to Tallinn, Estonia as a result of the damage. Orzeł reached Tallinn on 14 September 1939. At the insistence of Germany, the Estonian military authorities boarded the ship, interned the crew, confiscated all the navigation aids and maps, and commenced removing all her armaments. However, only fifteen of her twenty torpedoes were removed before the hoist cable parted; this was because it had been secretly sabotaged by her new commander, former chief officer, Lieutenant Jan Grudzinski.

The crew of Orzeł conspired together to carry out a daring escape. Around midnight on 18 September, the submarine’s Estonian guards were overpowered, the mooring lines were cut, and Orzeł got underway. The alarm was raised, and her conning tower was peppered by machine-gun fire. Running half-submerged, Orzeł ran aground on a bar at the harbour mouth, where artillery fire damaged her wireless equipment. Grudzinski managed to get the boat off the bar by blowing her tanks, and she proceeded out of the Gulf of Finland, intending to sail for a British port, the crew had heard a radio report that the Polish submarine Wilk had been welcomed in Britain.

Orzeł in the United Kingdom
Since Orzeł’s navigational charts had all been removed by the Estonian authorities, the submarine’s sole remaining navigational aid was a list of lighthouses, and using these as a reference, Orzeł followed a course along the Baltic coast, around Denmark, and out into the North Sea where she came under attack by British as well as German forces, since without her wireless equipment she had no means of identifying herself.

Forty days after she had originally sailed from Gdynia, Orzeł made landfall, off the east coast of Scotland. She lay on the bottom until emergency repairs were made to the radio, then surfaced to transmit a message in English. A Royal Navy destroyer then came out and escorted her into port, much to the surprise of the British who had thought her long since sunk.

Norwegian Campaign
After a refit, Orzeł was assigned to the Royal Navy’s 2nd Submarine Flotilla, and was assigned to patrol missions. Shortly after noon on 8 April 1940 she sank the 5,261 ton clandestine German troop transport Rio de Janeiro off the small harbour village of Lillesand in southern Norway, killing hundreds of German troops intended for the invasion of Norway.

Orzeł departed on her seventh patrol on 23 May, to the central North Sea. On 1 and 2 June a radio message was transmitted from Rosyth ordering her to alter her patrol area and proceed to the Skagerrak. No radio signals had been received from her since she had sailed, and on 5 June she was ordered to return to base. She never acknowledged reception, and never returned to base. 8 June 1940 was officially accepted as the day of her loss. Although various theories exist regarding her loss, and it is commonly believed that she ran onto a mine in the Skagerrak, the true cause of her loss remains unknown to this day.

The kit is in a top opening box. All the parts are mounted on 2 sprues which are sealed inside a single bag which in turn is wrapped in bubble wrap. Attached to the front of the instructions is a resealable bag containing a small decal sheet. The instructions are printed in black and white on both sides of a single piece of paper.

The box contains:

  • 30 plastic parts on 2 sprues
  • 1 decal sheet
  • instructions sheet

This is a re-boxing of Mirage-Hobby’s earlier kit from 2005. However, this is still the only ORP Orzel on the market in this scale.

The sprue attachment points are not too bad, a little large in places, but nothing that will be a problem. The ejector pin marks are either out of the way or on the sprue and not a concern. The level of detail on the parts of the kit is fair with subtle recessed panel lines and raised detail where appropriate. The propellors seem a little large though.

The instructions are clear and are shown in black and white diagrams. The kit is built in 4 simple steps displayed on one page. The actions for each step are described below:

  1. Put the hull halves together with the stand and add the bow diving planes.
  2. Add the rudders, aft diving planes and propellers to the hull
  3. Assemble the conning tower
  4. Add the one piece deck to the top of the hull and then add the conning tower and aerials.

Paints and Decals
You’re given one black and white painting guide and a small decal sheet. The decal placement is also shown in the painting guide. The paints are named and referenced to the Humbrol range.

Overall this is a nicely detailed kit of an unusual subject. The details on the plastic parts look fair and there’s plenty of small parts to add fine detail. Some smaller details will need some work, such as hollow out the exhaust and use the rubber band tracks. There’s no interior detail and as expected there are no hatches that can be mounted in the open position. Basically, it’s apparent that the basic kit was released almost 20 years ago, but it’s still a good kit and will make a good build. The price Mirage Hobby is selling this for makes it a good deal too!

I found this kit available at Mirage Hobby for $8.45 plus shipping which is a good price.

Many thanks to Mirage Hobby for the review sample.

Paul Tosney – Editor
ModelBuilder International

Paul Tosney

Paul has been with Model Builder International since almost the beginning. He started building models as a boy, and took a hiatus, but started building again a few years ago. He builds pretty much anything, but mostly WW2, with a smattering of modern and the occasional SciFi model.


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