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 1944.

Black Cat Models’ Hedgehog set (AC350043) contains four 3D printed launchers that are extremely detailed and a sight to behold. Each mortar is faithfully reproduced and the printing is so refined that the hand wheel looks better than a photo-etch
counterpart. The beauty of this set is that there is no assembly required!  All you have to do is to clip the Hedgehog from the very thin attachment points, clean up the bottom if needed, paint and glue into position. No need to glue on individual
mortars or fuss with photo-etch. The units are 3D and much better than flat 2D photo-etch versions.
You can now add more realistic detail to any kit in 1:350 scale that is fitted with a Hedgehog by replacing the kit part with a Black Cat Model version. Since each launcher is complete and ready to go, I can’t think of an easier upgrade solution. My
thanks to Ben at
Black Cat Models for the review sample.
Felix Bustelo
New York