"MSW crew-mate T. Garth Connelly (TGarthConnelly) shares his treatise focusing on the Revell releases of plastic kits of USN PT-boats, in this MSW Reference Feature!"
This treatise will focus on the Revell releases of plastic kits of USN PT-boats. Namely, their PTs-212/211/207 kits and their PTs-109, 117, 167, 190 kits. I might do other ones on wooden and resin kits of PT boats in the future, I do not know yet. It depends on a number of factors; one of which is the availability of information on those kits.
The famous PT boat, they were called “fifty tons of fighting fury”, the “Mosquito Boats”, ‘Knights of the Seas’, and the President-maker. This type of vessel has been, in my opinion, ignored in spite of the type’s contribution to the out-come of World War II.
Granted, last year saw the much awaited release of the long-anticipated Italeri 1:35 scale kit of PT-596 in plastic. However, as much as this kit is a beautifully detailed model when built up, it depicts a series of PT boats that came out during the last few months of the war and did not see action with the enemy.
If a modeler wants to have the kit depict a boat that saw action, much re-working and scratch-building is needed, not to mention the financial expenditures needed to purchase the added weaponry that those boats (earlier than the series which PT-596 was an unit of) carried. Although, as Mr. Wayne Traxel has told me, the basic structural layout of this kit lends itself beautifully to the boats of the Elco-eighty footer equipped PT Squadron 27 beginning with PT-372, the first boat to incorporate structural features found in the 596 and all the later Elco squadrons in the Pacific and Europe that did see combat.
To quote Mr. Traxel, “There are modelers who are content to build straight out of the box, but there are those modelers who will buy what a model company offers and with research and scratch building turn it into a historical work of art. Yes, at times, modelers do have to spend a little more money to accomplish our objective, but when we are done we have something that no one else has. So with that in mind I think the Italeri 596 has been the greatest release since Revell’s PT-109 in 1963.”
There was a kit put out in the late-1960s or early-1970s, by the now defunct model kit manufacturer named Hawk that was in 1:160 scale. It was/is of a PT-103 Class PT-boat. For a kit of its size, it was a pretty good kit. It was recently re-released by Testors.
Other than the Italeri kit, in recent years, if a modeler wanted to do a PT boat, they just had a few kits from a few ‘Cottage-industry’ style companies in various scales like 1:350 and 1:700 as well as the 1:72 (actually 1:71) scale kits of the eighty foot Elco PT boat from Revell as well as their older kit of the Higgins PT boat, which was, until this year (when Revell re-released it as a 1:96 scale kit) considered as “box-scale.”
Although, back in the 1950s and the 1960s, Lindberg released a 1:64 scale and a 1:32 scale kit of a PT boat that was, obviously a plastic copy of the 1940s vintage Varney wooden kit. As I am to understand it, Varney was bought by Lindberg in the 1950s.
Neither the 1:64 scale nor the 1:32 scale Lindberg kits, (both having the feature of having an electric battery-powered engine installed and the 1:32 scale version being suitable for Radio-Controlled operation) were very well detailed and nor were they in any way accurate whatsoever and have become the targets for heavy (and well-deserved) criticism.
At some point in the 1990s, there was a 1:35 scale PT boat produced by Viking Models, which I have been told by Alex Johnson, a modeler who specializes in PT boat models, was, for lack of a better term, the precursor to the Italeri kit as it was of a late-war Elco eighty-footer PT boat. I have never seen an example of this kit. Mr. Johnson also advises me that, during the same time frame, there was a 1:96 resin scale kit of an Elco seventy-seven foot PT boat by a company called Gulf stream Models. Other than a couple poorly-lit photos on the internet of a finished one, I have not seen an example of this kit as well.
So, until the advent of the two 1:35 scale plastic injection-mold type kits from both Viking (the Viking PT kit had a very short life-span apparently) and Italeri, the only plastic and ‘normal’ scale kits of PT boats were the 1950s vintage Revell ‘box scale’ (although recently, it was re-released as a 1:96 scale kit) PT-212/211/207 kit and the 1960s vintage 1:72 (actually 1:71) scale PT-109/117/167/190 kit as well as the Hawk/Testors 1:160 scale kit.
Whereas it is gratifying to see both the Elco and Higgins PT boat as well as the Elco seventy-seven foot PT boat kits being produced in 1:350 and 1:700 scales, the amount of detail that one can put into these kits and can be seen, at least in my opinion, is limited upon the size of the model.
Both 1:350 and 1:700 are very good scales for Capital ships, but for vessels like PT boats and one hundred ten foot Sub Chasers, it is, again, in my own opinion, practically useless. For these types of vessels, the scales from 1:72 and up are needed. Mainly, this is just to see the details on the models. This meant as no slight concerning the 1:350 or the 1:700 scale kits and certainly not the skills of the modelers, it is just a personal observation.