by Chuck Bauer
1/350 ORP General Tadeusz Kosciuszko (Pontos)
This is my rendition of the Polish Navy missile frigate ORP General Tadeusz Kosciuszko, which is named after the Polish Army general who assisted the American colonies during the Revolutionary War, and later was involved in Poland’s ongoing struggles for independence from Russia. General Kosciuszko (pronounced “Kosh-choosh-ko” in Polish) is an almost legendary figure in Polish history, having several landmarks and institutions named after him.
The missile frigate Kosciuszko began life as an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate built by Todd Shipyards for the United States Navy. She was commissioned as the USS Wadsworth in 1980. The Wadsworth received several commendations during her many years of service, and in 1990 she appeared in the movie “The Hunt for the Red October.” The Wadsworth was decommissioned on June 28, 2002, was handed over to Poland and commissioned in the Polish Navy--all on the same day. Today, the ORP General Tadeusz Kosciuszko plays an active role in NATO’s Baltic Sea Defense Force.
There are a several nice photos of ORP Kosciuszko on the internet, and I used these as references for my build. I also used photos of the USS Wadsworth and other USN Perry- class frigates. However, the best details I could find of the Kosciuszko herself were in a book I purchased on line. The book, authored by Witold Koszela, is titled The Guided Missile Frigate ORP Kosciuszko, Top Drawings Special Edition No. 65, and is published by Kagero Publications. This exceptional volume is filled with detailed scale drawings, descriptions, specifications and close up photographs of many key areas of the ship. Included are two separate fold-out sheets containing different views of the Wadsworth, the Kosciuszko in 2015 and the Kosciuszko in 2018.
My starting point for this model project was the 1/350 scale Pontos “Advanced” Perry-class Frigate Kit no. 38019F1. This package combines the original Academy plastic model kit with some incredible photo etched metal frets, turned brass, Veteran Models resin, and dry transfer markings. It even includes scale-correct metal anchor chain. This all proved to be a construction challenge, primarily because the instructions cover two different Pontos aftermarket sets. It takes awhile to get used to the photographic guides, as they are tiny and require magnification to be used effectively. But the parts are all superb, and will reward the modeler with some impressive 1/350 realism. After carefully reviewing all the instructions and parts, I decided to build my Kosciuszko to her 2015 configuration.
The kit comes with a very nice Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk helicopter. However, the Kosciuszko was equipped with a Kaman SH-2 Seasprite. Fortunately, I was able to find and purchase a set of two Orange Hobby 1/350 Seasprites. In addition to some finely etched PE parts, these models include a resin fuselage with opened cockpit doors and seats inside!
Even with all this terrific material to work with, I decided to add a lot of “bonus” detail, including some nominal items needed to convert the model from a USN ship into an ORP vessel. So, as usual, I dove into my inventory of Tom’s Model Works, White Ensign Models, Gold Medal Models and Eduard photo etched metal frets. I also used a couple of parts from a Fine Molds Binoculars and Spotting Instruments set.
Pontos’ photo etch designer Hun Chung deserves a big “Bravo” and “Thank You” for such a remarkable array of fine brass jewelry.
For example, the mainmast tower is designed to be folded into a square, with a tiny flat surface at each corner. These surfaces serve as attachment points for the turned brass legs, which have corresponding flats machined into them. If properly assembled, the tower looks outstanding, and with all the other accoutrements, the mainmast becomes the focal point of the entire model.
The AN-SPS 49 radar unit/platform in front of the mainmast is also worth mentioning. Once again, the terrific details in the photo etch set are not only historically accurate, but they go together well and up being much more pleasing than solid plastic kit parts.
The bridge face is a PE piece with wipers minutely and accurately etched into each window opening. I was able to leave these wipers in place and yet have glossy “glass” windows behind.
The fan-shaped rigging and ratlines on the mainmast are PE parts, so finely etched they even include insulators on the upper ends. They look as-good-or- better than handmade, and they saved a lot of time. I did have to scratch build attachment points on their lower ends so that they hang vertically--the Academy model doesn’t include these.
With the exception of the aforementioned mainmast rigging, all the rest of the rigging was handmade with conventional materials: Modelkasten nickel titanium wire, Nngineering model railroad stainless steel wire, and individual strands of unraveled copper speaker wire.
I used a total of 52 different paint colors, all commercially produced, except for two custom mixes. My sources include Testors, Tamiya, Model Master, Polly Scale, and Vallejo. The shading and pin washes were made from mineral spirits and artist’s oils. The slight hint of weathering was done with chalk pastels.
The helicopter markings, the ship’s ensign on the stern, and the “273” on the superstructure were all cobbled together from inventory decals.
I always use a variety of glues on my projects. On this project I tried Elmer’s Clear Glue for the first time, thinned with filtered water as needed. It doesn’t behave the same way that white glue/PVA does, but I liked it enough to keep some on hand for the future.
Here is a list of the parts I used to build the model:
- Plastic parts from the Academy kit: 85
- Photo etched metal parts from the Pontos frets: 253
- Pontos turned brass parts: 33
- Veteran Models resin parts: 12
- In addition, I used 27 resin and metal parts from the Orange Hobby Seasprite SH-2 helicopter kit.
I added another 225 pieces by adapting and/or modifying inventory PE, or by scratch building pieces from wire and styrene. This included making the whip antennas on the rear of the bridge roof, an anchor, an ensign staff, and a jack staff.
The finished model has a total of 635 parts in it.
It took 408 hours to build.
The plastic railings in the Academy kit are the thickest, most over-scale railings I have ever seen. If you purchase this kit, make sure you have photo etched substitutes. Oddly, the kit does not come with an anchor, an ensign staff or a jack staff, even though there is a mounting hole for one. On the positive side, there are some nice details molded into the side walls of the superstructure.
I can’t say enough about the Pontos and Veteran Models portion of this Advanced kit. It effectively converts the very mundane Academy kit into something that looks like the real ship.
Building a NATO warship was a conscious deviation from my previous Russian shipbuilding experience, and it turned out to be one of my most enjoyable builds.
Thanks for looking, and best regards.