The Orion, auxiliary cruiser/merchant raider of Nazi Germany‘s Kriegsmarine, was commissioned in December 1939. Before that, she had a career as a general cargo carrier for the Hamburg-America Line (HAPAG) under her original name, The Kurmark. She was built in 1930 at the ship yards of Blohm & Voss in Hamburg. To save money during her construction, a discarded engine of the liner New York was reused for her. This will cause regular technical problems during all her existence. Her duty was to transport goods between Hamburg and the Dutch East Indies. When Germany declared World War II, it’s Navy command considered starting a plan for merchant raiding like the one the German Empire had rather successfully used in World War I. The objective was to disrupt British merchant shipping worldwide. The Kurmark and her sister Neumark were the first towing merchant ships to be modified as raiders. The Orion was ready in April 1940. she crossed the Atlantic disguised as a merchant ship, passed Cape Horn and entered the Pacific Ocean. Once there she laid mines and raided merchant vessels until the summer of 1941, sinking a total of 10 ships. The ship stayed out of duty until she was shortly renamed Hektor and used as an artillery training ship. In early 1945 she was named Orion again and started transporting German refugees in the Baltic. On the 4th of May the ship was hit by two soviet union bombs. The crew managed to beach the heavily damaged ship. For this reason, relatively few people died. Her wreck was scrapped in 1952.
This model built by mater Helmut Schmid in a scale of 1:100 is part of our exhibition on modern maritime warfare on deck 5.