|During the Battle of the Atlantic, Allied navies had to develop a way to counter the U-Boat threat and their success rate against shipping. The depth charge was the most
commonly used anti-submarine weapon fitted on a ship. Depth charges had time or barometric fuses which would cause detonation at a pre-determined interval. The
goal was that charges would detonate close enough to the submarine’s hull so that the resulting shockwaves would cause enough damage to sink it or at least force it
to the surface. However the success rate from depth charge attacks was considered very poor.
In 1942, the Royal Navy developed a forward-throwing anti-submarine weapon that fired up to 24 spigot mortars in an array ahead of a ship when attacking a U-Boat.
The weapon was nicknamed “Hedgehog” because after the projectiles were launched, the empty spigots resembled the spines of a hedgehog. These projectiles were
fitted with contact fuses which would detonate when actually hitting the hull. Though one or two projectiles were sufficient to sink a submarine, it was hoped the
subsequent explosion would trigger all the other bombs to explode as well. It was deployed on convoy escort warships such as destroyer escorts and corvettes to
supplement the depth charges. The main drawback of the depth charge was that the disturbance caused by the explosions would blind the sonar for about 15 minutes,
giving the submarine enough time to escape. With the Hedgehog charges only exploded on contact, so if they missed, the submarine could still be tracked by sonar.
The success rate for Hedgehogs was also better than that of depth charges. USS England sank six Japanese submarines in a matter of days with the Hedgehog in May
Niko Model released a resin accessory set with two Mk. 11 Hedgehog launchers in 1:350 scale. The set provides one Hedgehog launcher with the projectiles launched
and empty spigots and another with openings to fit individual projectiles for a fully loaded launcher. These are the same parts that are provided with Niko’s 1:350 USS
Spencer and Taney kits. Each launcher is comprised of the base and the cover/blast shield. My sample had a total of 31 individual projectiles though the instructions
show that 28 normally come with the set and only 24 are needed for the actual launcher. Given the high probability, at least for me, to lose a couple of the projectiles at
some point during assembly, I appreciate the cushion provided. The casting of the parts is generally good, though some minor cleanup is required. Being resin, there is
a bit of warping of some of the spigots on the spent launcher and the individual projectiles. The parts come packaged in a blister pack stapled to thin cardboard backing
that also has the assembly instructions printed on it. The assembly diagrams do the job as neither version is a complex build.