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Destroyer Archive #2: ORP Blyskawica


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I don't seem to have access to the Ship Reviews section, so I'm posting this here. Today I will be appraising T7 Premium destroyer Blyskawica. The aim of this post is to inform readers of the ship's characteristics, playstyle, strengths and weaknesses as I see it, and also to help potential buyers decide if this is the purchase they're looking for. All of the content below will have my own opinions, so feel free to discuss below in the comments - I'd love to see alternate viewpoints especially if you disagree or I made a boo-boo. This is not intended to be a high-quality review with pretty infographics, I just want to say my thoughts on this ship to help you form your own opinion on this ship. Anyway, 

Destroyer Archive #2: ORP Blyskawica

Historical background 

The second and last ship of the Polish Grom-class destroyers. Born out of the need to build up the Polish navy following the Danzig Incident in 1932, Blyskawica was built by British shipbuilder J. Samuel White in 1935 after its proposal was accepted, following rejection of French and Swedish shipyards. Considered the most well-equipped and fastest destroyers of their day, Blyskawica was commissioned in 1937, and would go on to serve in World War II. Just before the war she and sister ship Grom, as well as older cousin Burza were evacuated to Britain in accordance to the Peking Plan. Blyskawica's first notable action with the Home Fleet was during the Norwegian campaign (where her sister Grom was sunk). Most of her service was spent escorting, as is the case with most cute destroyers, most notably RMS Queen Mary. She also helped defend the town of East Cowes from German air attack, having undergone a refit in the J. Samuel White shipyard. In 1943 she replaced HMS Lightning in Force Q, then was assigned the Anglo-Polish-Canadian 10th Destroyer Flotilla the next year, serving alongside HMCS Haida and Huron (and their other British friends, who are not in the game). After the war she returned to Poland in 1947 and was refitted in 1951, replacing her equipment with Soviet-made armament. It is in this state that she is displayed today as a museum ship in Gdynia, Poland, where she is the oldest preserved destroyer in the world and the only Polish navy ship to have received the Virtuti Militari (which is a big deal). 

I'd love to visit her some day, her and Smaland in Gothenburg. 

Oh right, the ship in WOWs.

First Impressions

Blyskawica is represented as built and is a Tier 7 Premium destroyer. Her main armament consists of 7 120mm guns mounted in an ABXY layout, and two 550mm triple torpedo tubes mounted amidships. At the time of her release she was the first Pan-European destroyer, but was fairly recently joined by her sister Grom in the alternate tech tree line. 

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Quite the looker, I must say. The sharp-eyed, or well-informed among you will notice that the A turret is not a double, it's a single 120mm. This is mildly annoying. I think it plays a different gun sound when you fire. It's like the one person in the choir who is actually tone deaf. Utterly disappointing. Unplayable, even.

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Anyway, this is a destroyer built on her gun power. She very much resembles Soviet counterpart Minsk in terms of playstyle and characteristics, having fast and chonky hulls as well as guns with great ballistics. The same run-and-gun playstyle can very much be applied to Blyskawica, which also has the luxury of having decent torpedo power at T7. The guns are still by far the main focus, though.

This T7 is available in the Armory for 51,000 coal. Which isn't much, I think, but is it worth your time?

 

"Bottle of Whisky" - A deeper dive

(I'll mainly be comparing Blyskawica to her T7 peers.)'

As I said earlier, Blyskawica is a classic run-and-gunboat - her playstyle revolves around her ability to fire accurately at range while using her speed to stay out of trouble and incoming shells. In my opinion, she is closest to Leningrad in terms of playstyle - both can play the longer distance run-and-gun with serviceable torpedoes as well. Her tech tree analogue and dear sister, Grom also plays similarly, but there are some noticeable differences between the two, which I'll go over, because they are sister ships, after all. 

Compared to Grom, she gets: 

+ Longer range (12km vs 10.9km)
+ Access to AP 
+ Far better torpedoes, which both reload faster and deal way higher damage, as well as a longer range (though they are slower)
+ Better speed boost 

+ Marginally better firing angles on the A and B turrets

- Marginally worse AA
- Slightly different, though probably worse ASW 
- Slightly slower rudder shift (5.8s vs 4.3s) 
- Worse concealment (6.8km vs 6.5km) 

If you have played Grom, I'm sure you'll agree that Blyskawica would make a better gunboat. If you've played both, I suppose I don't have to spell it out for you. Blyskawica is able to do the same thing better and backs it up with torpedoes that don't deal the damage of a torpedo plushie. But how does Blyskawica scale up compared to the rest of the T7 destroyers?

Gunpower

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Blyskawica's DPM, shared with Grom, is above average for a T7 DD. However, with the exception of Huron and Vauqeulin, none of the DDs that outstrip her have ballistics that allow for easy hits past 8km. So in practice, Blyskawica has one of the highest DPM numbers on a T7 DD, especially one that is applicable at all ranges. This is incredibly useful for her open-water playstyle, and is a trait she shares with Minsk/Leningrad who have slightly lower DPM. 

Speaking of range, while Grom is stuck at a wimpy 10.9km stock (5th lowest in her tier), Blyskawica gets a 12km stock range. This is quite impressive for a T7 DD: Huron, Vauquelin/FR25 and Minsk have slightly longer ranges, but all the rest that outrank her in this aspect lack the ballistics to capitalise on this advantage (Sims and Haida).

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Here's a (admittedly rather blurry) chart. Blyskawica is the darker blue line. Her ballistics are only beaten out by the Soviet 130mm. To give you an idea of how fast these shells are, 
here's how fast they take to travel 10km:

Minsk: 6.4s
Blyskawica: 6.9s
Luca Tarigo: 7.4s (almost her max range here)
Vauquelin/FR25: 8.0s 
Huron: 8.1s 
Sims/Mahan: 8.8s 
Haida: 9.1s (I will clown on the British 120mm ballistics when I cover Huron or Cossack in the future)

Looking good, then! An awesome balance of ballistics and comfy range make Blyskawica a real treat of a gunboat at T7. 

Some drawbacks on the guns, though. The most obvious one is the lackluster turn rate of 10 degrees per second, or 18.0s to do 180. This isn't horrible like on the Japanese destroyers, but you could find yourself outturning your guns often enough when running and gunning. Additionally, the firing angles are not very good - the rear guns fire 30 degrees off the bow at best, which is pretty bad (in comparison, only Sims has similar angles). The front firing angles fire 148 degrees off the bow, which is honestly fine in my opinion. Still, you may find yourself showing quite some broadside to get all the guns off, though I wouldn't say this is a huge problem like it is with, say, Minsk or Vauquelin. 

Of course you don't have to run and gun - you have smoke. It's not there all the time, though. 

Overall a very strong point for Blyskawica - main guns that almost match the traditional run-and-gunboats in terms of performance. 

Durability

Looking at the list of T7 DDs, Blyskawica is ranked 9th in terms of HP (tied with Grom). However, the numbers tell a very different story, although it's not entirely fair to expect Blyskawica to beat them. As usual the suspects for the biggest HP pools are German, as well as the French destroyers (and FR25, because it's Ital- French too), and Blyskawica is more than 3k HP off most of them. The highest is the unconventional torpedoboat Tashkent 39. However this is largely balanced out by its higher DPM, so it should be okay (Vauquelin, though, is obviously a different story). The other worrying matchup in terms of HP is Huron, which has 2 (max 3) heals to bump up her already existing 200hp advantage over Blyskawica. 

In any case, this is quite a generous HP pool for T7, even if it's still some ways off from the gold standards of T7. It has smoke as well to help keep it alive, which is good as well. Do keep in mind though, she has no additional HP perk (do you consider smoke one? I mean a heal, armor plating or French saturation). Not like Minsk has a heal, either...it's not a huge worry at T7. Don't think about it too much, it's still not bad, but be careful when faced with a HP disadvantage. Play to your own advantage, which is your DPM and speed. Unless it's a Vauquelin, then please keep yourself safe. 

I drank a bottle of whisky and the car keys are calling

Blyskawica's dynamics are...odd. In terms of top speed, she's real good. Her 39kn top speed means that she is only beaten by the Soviets (again Tashkent 39 running away faster than I do from my responsibilities at 44kn). Luca Tarigo may outrun her in short bursts with her Emergency Engine Power, but I'm just saying. This is still a very talented destroyer in terms of speed at T7...in a straight line. 

Let's not beat around the bush. She responds like a heavy truck driver on 3 pints of Bud. Her 5.8s rudder shift is the worst of any T7 DD - a clear second worse than Tashkent 39, the next worst offender (I close one eye because she's real big). Keep this in mind when you dodge. Do you want to farm from smoke? No one's stopping you. Watch out for the torpedoes.

Her turning circle is average at 610m. Let's agree to disagree that this could be way worse. 

Basically, her rudder is clumsy. That's probably the only real weakness I see here. Everything else is pretty sublime. She's not touching Sims for athletic prowess, but it's still not bad overall.

Torpedo power

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Blyskawica does not get the usual Pan-European flavoured torpedoes, because she came before them. This is, well, both good and bad. 

They actually deal damage, which is admittedly on the lower side but still tolerable. Her range is average at 8km, which is fine, on a ship with 6.8km concealment. The salvo weight is on the low side with 2x3 torpedo tubes. She also has a fairly fast reload because of this. Which is a good thing her cousins later inherited. She has no access to the super narrow spread. That's ok, though. But her torpedoes are on the slower side, and that makes me sad. The reaction time is slightly below average, too, at 7.8s. (with yuudachi at 12.4s, suddenly this doesnt look so bad, right?)

They're not the main focus of the kit, so I guess I am content with what she has. A mediocre secondary weapon to complement the good guns. 

Concealment

Here is the main problem. Blyskawica is not sneaky. This is the price she pays for having great guns. She's big and well-armed, after all. Fast, too. 

So obviously the tradeoff has to come in the form of the worst concealment in its tier, at 6.8km. (bar Tashkent 39, which i will close one eye for because she is real big.) Minsk, not Leningrad, has this same problem, curious, I wonder why. But at least this weakness is well-justified. She fights well at any range and has good DPM to boot. You will be detected first against a majority of DDs, and you know why. In most cases, you're faster, you have better guns or you have more HP. Hopefully all 3. 

Just a few numbers. Maass is a giant turd that also has 6.8km. Everything else is slightly more concealed. Tarigo and Akatsuki sit at 6.4km, while everything else sits at 6.2 (Huron) to 5.8km (Shiratsuyu). You may have as much as a kilometer to close in before you find that enemy DD. If you can do it without attracting all his friends over, it will be over fast, so don't worry too much.

I know that Vauquelin is still a thing, that one does 6.6km like Mahan (6.7km) or Sims (6.5km) which is also terrifying at short range, but has no smoke, and also Haida's bonkers conceal, but just open the range. What is it going to do? Chase after you? 

Verdict

So is Blyskawica worth the coal? If you agree with these, probably...

- I like running and gunning. (preferably, the low tier soviet destroyers) 

- I wish they had a bit more torpedo power, though.

- I want to visit Blyskawica irl, but have no money. 

In case you couldn't tell, I like Blyskawica. I think she's a Polished gunboat (you have no idea how long i waited to put in this joke). Tell me she's powercrept and I'll disagree with you. She's still one of the best ships of her type at T7. Do you like open water gunboating, and did you hate having torpedo plushies for torps on Grom? This way, sir. 

Do I recommend her? Eh...I'm a bit on the fence about this one. It's true that she doesn't shine like she used to. There's some drawbacks on her kit, but these are standard for a DD like her. I'd call her game impact mediocre at best. She is fun though, at least to me. It feels even better if you played Grom. Blyskawica feels way more "finished" overall. It's not a particular challenge to play, nor is she particularly unique now, but she is good in what she does, at least to me. 

51k coal isn't a steep price anyway. Do pick it up if you like this kind of ship.

Uptiers 

Of course I had to talk about this, and it's why I clarified why my comparisons would be purely T7. The power gap between T7 and T9 is the highest in the game that you can conceivably run into in normal matchmaking. For those who don't know, T9 (and T8) get concealment in slot 5, and another slot, slot 6. This combined with the HP and DPM increase gives them basically better concealment over the poor little T7 DDs, who are trampled on and get mauled alive. Have you ever seen a Maass fight a Kitakaze? It's the same for cruisers (T9s get a heal) and battleships (plating differences), but I'm talking about DDs here. 

Blyskawica, being in this unfortunate tier, will face such a situation. It's not pretty. Her conceal and rudder stack up badly against higher tier DDs. But I won't go on too much about this. I know being in T7 can make some ships automatically worse off, but Blyskawica has some merit against T9s. Her effective dpm is respectable especially at range. Worst comes to worst you're relegated to an open water farmer. I would advise you to steer clear of a T7 DD in most cases. (Haida, Z-39, you don't count because 1) you somehow get slot 5/unnaturally good concealment and 2) you're not available anymore). So if you want this ship, do keep in mind that uptiers will cloud your experience. Play more cautiously than you normally would. I don't care if you permakite. Just stay alive and influence the battle as best as you can. (hey, you get more XP for damaging T9s!)

Why did I isolate and leave this to the last section? If I talked about this in my judgement of the destroyer you'd probably cry and not get it. Blyskawica is still strong in her own right. It's not fair to her. Most DDs get crapped on in uptiers anyway, why should this be any different? This is more of a disclaimer than anything, to tell you what you might get into before you buy her, that kind of stuff. Also, Maass exists as the essential T9 DD punching bag, so please don't feel bad for Blyskawica. 

(i will probably apply this to most T7 DDs. some are more...equal than others, though.)

Taking care of my little destroyer

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I'd recommend this for Blyskawica. A few changes you can make if you feel like you need them, though. I don't recommend these, though. I'm just saying. A build for Blyskawica should improve her gunpower, especially in regard to open-water gunboating, hence FB. 

First, if you think you want to invest a bit in torpedoes, you can drop FB for the torpedo reload skill, or the torpedo speed skill. Depending on how daring you are, you may or may not get enough kick out of FB. You absolutely should, though. 

You can also drop BFT and GtG (or alternatively FB, it's up to you) for RPF if you feel that you need help in locating the nearest helpless DD. 

In slot 4, I do NOT recommend dropping prop mod for steering mod. I know the rudder is clumsy, deal with it. You need prop mod to help you dodge, it's just better that way, as is the case for most DDs, and probably ships in the game. 

Again for slot 2, if you really love Blyskawica, spend a bit more coal to put that speed boost mod on it. 

If it were a car

Car of the Year 2011: No. 9 Aston Martin Rapide – Robb Report

The 2011 Aston Martin Rapide.  Supposedly capable of taking on a vast majority of situations with great composure, but never quite as formal underneath as its competitors. A little bit chubby, and disappointing in certain places (looking at you, A turret), but you can't deny it looks good. Naturally comfy and British-designed, too. 

I was going to use the actually Polish Arrinera Hussarya, but that didn't go down well outside of video games. Phooey. 

Afterword

Maybe i got too technical here, not as many jokes this time, i just want to say she's not bad because she's old. I know people say she's powercrept, please play her and tell me if you think so. Hope you had a good read, please don't mind my heavy bias.

I'll probably put out a review for Grozovoi soon, but do give me suggestions if you have any. 

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Personally, I'm fond of the Blyskawica destroyer in-game.
Fond, yes.  Thrilled?  Not quite.
I play her occasionally for snowflakes or when the mood strikes me.  I may need to train her Captain for some more skill points.
So, my Blyskawica is a work-in-progress.

From a Collector's point of view, she's welcome in my Port.  🙂 


 

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