ORP Błyskawica

The ORP Błyskawica (English = Lightning) and her sister ship the ORP Grom (English = Thunderclap) were designed and built for the Polish Navy by J Samuel White of Cowes, Isle of Wight, and built in their shipyard on the island.

When built the two destroyers were the most powerful warships in the Polish Navy and had barely come into service when the Second World War started. ORP Błyskawica managed to escape to Britain, where she formed part of the Polish Navy that was controlled by the London-based Polish Government-in-exile. ORP Błyskawica served alongside ships of the Royal Navy, and took part in many naval operations.

After the end of the Second World War ORP Błyskawica returned to Poland and served as one of its major units until. It was then retired from active service, and after a spell acting as an alongside training ship she was renovated and became a museum ship. She has now been returned to the state of appearance that she was in 1945.

Her specifications are as follows:

  • Displacement: 1,975 tons
  • Length: 374 feet
  • Beam: 37 feet 1 inch
  • Draft: 10 feet 10 inch
  • Speed: 39 knots
  • Complement: 192
  • Armament (1937):
    • 7 × QF 4.7-inch guns (3 x 2 & 1 x 1)
    • 4 × 40 mm (2 x 2) Bofors anti-aircraft guns
    • 4 x 13.2mm (2 x 2) Hotchkiss anti-aircraft guns
    • 6 × 21-inch (3 x 3) torpedo tubes
  • Armament (1941):
    • 8 × QF 4-inch Mk XVI guns (4 x 2)
    • 4 × 40 mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns (2 x 2)
    • 4 × 20 mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft guns (4 x 1)
    • 6 × 21-inch (3 x 3) torpedo tubes

Forward 4-inch Guns
ORP Błyskawica was re-armed with two twin 4-inch dual-purpose gun mountings. These were capable of both surface-to-surface and anti-aircraft fire and gave the ship considerable hitting power.

Aft 4-inch Guns

40mm Bofors Anti-Aircraft Guns
ORP Błyskawica was re-armed with a number of 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns. There was a twin mounting amidships aft of the funnel, …

… and a second twin mounting just forward of the aft 21-inch torpedo tubes.

37mm Anti-Aircraft Guns
ORP Błyskawica was also re-armed during the Second World War with a number of 20mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft guns, but these were later replaced (after the ship had been returned to Poland) by 37mm anti-aircraft guns. There were two 37mm single-mountings in the bridge wings.

21-inch Torpedo Tubes
ORP Błyskawica was originally armed with two triple 21-inch torpedo tube mountings, but the forward one was removed to improve the ship’s stability.

Anti-submarine Weapons
ORP Błyskawica was originally armed with two depth charge throwers, and twenty depth-bombs, but by the end of the Second World War she was armed with two pairs of depth charge throwers/mortars …

… and two depth charge racks.

Bridge, Fire Control, and Radars
The ORP Błyskawica had an enclosed wheelhouse and an open bridge. This followed the standard design practice followed in Britain. Her bridge was surmounted by a Gun Director and just behind the bridge she carried a tripod mast which supported the ship’s radars and ‘huff-duff’ (High Frequency Direction Finding) equipment.

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10 Comments on “ORP Błyskawica”

  1. BobGreat stuff. I am jealous (again). The history of the Polish Navy in WW2 is very interesting and I've thought about beating up a British Tribal class DD. I do have a Polish Hunt class in my 1:2400 Med fleets.CheersPD

  2. Peter Douglas,The Free Polish Navy might not have been very large, but it was certainly very active, and made a valuable contribution to the Allied war effort.I would love to have been able to go aboard Błyskawica, but she was shut for lunch when we arrived. By the time we went back after lunch – when she was open again – the queues were very long and we were concerned that we might not have enough time left to visit Błyskawica before we had to return to our ship.I would have thought that it would not be too difficult to model Błyskawica using a model of a Tribal-class destroyer as a basis.All the best,Bob

  3. BobIn 1:2400 it should be reasonably easy from either a Tribal or a larger French DD (I can't recall where the Poles got the plans for these ships). It may be that Tim Gow has cooked up something similar in his workshop (which I feel must be located on a remote island ala Bond villains).CheersPD

  4. Peter Douglas,The design of Grom and Błyskawica was undertaken in the UK, and they are follow typical British/Royal Navy design practices … unlike the two earlier Polish destroyers, which were French in origin and were nowhere near as good a design.Tim Gow's 'secret' hideout is cunningly disguised as a converted loft in a house near Sheffield … but I suspect that he may well have an underground lair somewhere else as well!All the best,Bob

  5. BobThanks for the details on the designs – which I should have known from earlier in your post. CheersPD

  6. Peter Douglas,I am trying to get hold of some design drawings for the two ships. If I do, I will make them available via my blog.All the best,Bob

  7. Tim Gow says:

    I missed the start of this exchange as I've been on my secret island HQ….I think an Airfix Tribal would make an excellent starting point for such a conversion. I'll have a look in Conway later.

  8. Tim Gow,Ah ha! So you have a secret underground island HQ? Now that is clever!I agree that the Airfix Tribal-class model would make an excellent starting point for such a conversion.All the best,Bob

  9. Bob and TimWikipedia gives dimensions and quick google search led me to basic plans of both classes. The biggest obvious difference is that the Polish ships had one large trunked funnel while the Tribals had two slimmer funnels. Otherwise, rivet counters would note differences in layout and superstructure but real wargamers would work on the 2 foot principal. Where I work in 1:2400 it's an easy fudge and I'm sure TIm's minions are up to the challenge in 1:1200.CheersPD

  10. Peter Douglas,I am sure that the Sheffield shipyards of T Gow & Company will rise to the task with alacrity.All the best,Bob


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