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In-Box Review
184
Hydrofoil USS Tucumcari
PGH-2 Tucumcari Hydrofoil
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Introduction
PGH-2 Tucumcari Hydrofoil is a vintage model that evaded me. I did not know about this model until I watched a History Channel show featuring it (Remember when History Channel actually channeled history?) and PGH-2's CO mentioned the model. A few days later I found and acquired this kit. It has languished for a decade awaiting time for me to review it. Enjoy this nostalgic look at one of Aurora's exotics - PGH-2 Tucumcari.

Aurora can't be considered in the same league as today's mainstream (mainstream - get it?) ship model manufacturers, yet in the 1960s Aurora was as good, if not better, than their competitors of that era. Auroraís Tucumcari is a fair model and definitely one of the more exotic models Aurora gave the modeling world. Your reviewer offers mainly photographs and defers to you as to whether that still holds true.

Kit Hydrofoil Tucumcari
I wonít try to describe this vintage kit in great detail - instead Iíll let the photos do the talking. The model is considered fairly accurate because when Aurora cut their tooling they did so with some help from Tucumcari's builder, Boeing.

The kit consists of over 70 parts of hard gray and dark gray styrene (including eight figures). Unfortunately, several parts are off the sprues; I attempted to arrange them per sub-component.

Molding is generally crisp but many parts suffer from seam lines and ejector marks, and some flash. There is no texture on the metal surfaces.

Aurora designed the model in a conventional manner: two hull halves and a deck; left and right cabin halves, bridge, overhead; hydroplanes; dozens of individual pieces and sub-component parts.

The figures have some detail but the three seated figures have sink marks. I shot a few photos of them for you to judge their quality. Common for nautical models, a display stand is included; I think it looks a bit more like an aircraft display stand, which might be a subtle nod to the hydrofoil design. In the late 1960s Aurora made vacuform terrain display bases for their military vehicles and aircraft, and created square boxes to accommodate them. I have never heard of a vacuform display for Tucumcari.

Detail
Aurora animated the retracting foil struts with the simple tab-and-hole design.

The bridge/pilot house is detailed with seats and an instrument console.

Aurora created their models with a mix of separate pieces, and molded-on detail like the anchor and engine and crew access hatches. Tucumcari features dozens of separate pieces.

The figures are fair for the scale although their detail is inferior to contemporary HO (1/87) figures by AHM and Monogram. Four of the figures are posed sitting at their weapons. One standing swabbie has a silly overdone "popeye" hat.

The .50 caliber machine guns and 40mm Bofors are lousy. The deck rail posts are thick, as are all of the antennas, masts, rails and staffs.

Painting and assembly instructions, and decals
Aurora printed the instructions in shaded line art. No color was used. The illustrations are sharp but cluttered. Assembly is shown on two pages with 28 written steps. The front page has a halftone of the box art, an Important - read this first! inset, plus advertisements for Aurora's brands of glue and paint, and their catalogue. The back page has two photos of the completed model, foils stowed and foils deployed, a planform and side view of the boat's sections, and a history of Tucumcari. Very basic painting guidance is given - only four colors.

Decals are for Tucumcari only. The carrier film is thicker than tolerable today, yet registration and sharpness are printing are good. I am sorry the decals are yellowed.

cast off!
I plan to build PGH-2 Tucumcari Hydrofoil. It is a decent kit even if the guns are poorly molded. I plan to replace them with H-R Products castings (S72-18 40mm Bofors Single - although they do not make anything in this scale, but straddle it in 1/72 and 1/96) or Wespe Models resin 1/87 Bofors. The twin-fifties will probably come from Herpa (Minitanks) kits.

Regardless, Aurora's old model should be an interesting and unique model for my shelf. Photos on line show that it builds into a respectable and cool model.

Remembering Aurora
Aurora was one of the pioneers of plastic modeling. Their large series of standardized 1/48 scale models of aircraft and armor evolved from toy models into models as miniature prototypes that we expect today. However, Auroraís star dimmed and some of their models were issued under the K&B logo. Eventually Aurora died. Some of their molds were acquired and reissued by other companies. Monogramís 1/48 F-111, A-7, Fokker D.VII, Sopwith Camel and Se-5a are Aurora models. It was reported that Monogram bought the lionís share of the Aurora tooling but that most molds were destroyed in a train wreck in the late 1970s.

Click here for additional images for this review.

SUMMARY
Highs: Many individual detail parts.
Lows: Oversized parts. Many molding flaws - flash, visible ejector marks, etc.
Verdict: An interesting and unique model for your shelf. Photos on line show that it builds into a respectable and cool model.
  Scale: 1:84
  Mfg. ID: 727
  PUBLISHED: May 14, 2016
  NATIONALITY: United States
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.00%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 61.17%

About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)
FROM: TENNESSEE, UNITED STATES

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2017 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Model Shipwrights. All rights reserved.


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Comments

Thanks for posting this! Like you, I just learned about the actual craft myself from the History Channel and never knew it was real, let alone AURORA had it in a kit. Those were the days. Jeff
JUN 01, 2016 - 07:07 AM
This brings back a lot of memories, she was built here in Tacoma WA in the late 60s, and outfitted and tested at the Boeing facility in Seattle. I got the opportunity to watch her one afternnoon, I think about 1968 or 69 maybe even later in 70 while she was running acceptance testing here on Puget Sound. She was really fast-- and very futuristic looking-- but every bit looking the part of fast patrol boat-- when she lifted off the water on the hydrofoils, it was really something to see. I think she went from here to San Diego, then on tour, but was lost in Peurto Rico in an exercise as I recall. I Think Grumman had a competing design. VR Russ
JUN 01, 2016 - 04:38 PM
I agree - thanks, Frederick, for posting this! I like the idea of doing reviews of older (dare I say, Classic?) kits as well as the new stuff. I've never seen this model "in the flesh", but your pictures and text now have me trolling the auction sites trying to find one...
JUN 25, 2016 - 02:52 AM
I recently purchased an Aurora PGH-2 Tucumcari at an estate sale that was missing the kit instructions. I found your review of the kit and was wondering if you could provide me with a copy of the instructions. I will gladly reimburse you for your time and postage. Thank you.
JUL 02, 2016 - 06:15 AM
I have 2 kits by aurora 1 box has Boy scouts of America on it but to be honest the main wet deck is warped I have had my hands on quite a few of these kits and they are all the same FYI they have not been built
AUG 13, 2016 - 10:22 AM
I have 2 kits one box has the Boy scouts of America on it i have had my hands on quite a few of them and all of them had issues with the main wet deck (warped) mine are not built hope your main deck is better than the ones I have seen
AUG 13, 2016 - 10:42 AM
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