by: Felix Bustelo [ ]
About twenty Woban Class of harbor tugs were built for the United States Navy between 1939 and 1943. The most famous of boats from this class are the Hoga and Nokomis, which were stationed in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. They both helped beach the sinking Nevada to prevent her from blocking the harbor’s mouth. Afterwards, they helped fight the fires raging on the ships in Battleship Row. Many of the tugs served well into the 1970s and the Yonaguska was loaned to the US Coast Guard from 1949 to 1954. Some were sold to private firms with a couple still operating today. Preservation efforts are underway for the Hoga, with the hope that it will become part of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum’s collection.
Alliance Modelworks has built a reputation for producing very good photoetch set and well-cast, detailed resin weapon upgrades and that is quite evident in one of their first full kits. The 1/350 scale Woban Class tug is multimedia kit comprising of resin and photoetch brass parts. This is a two part full-hull model with a waterline option. The resin parts for this kit are comprised of the upper and lower hull, deck/pilothouse structure and some smaller parts. The parts come well packed, wrapped in bubble wrap, taped to foam cushions and stored inside ziplock bags.
The upper hull is well detailed with rubbing strakes, bow fender, windlass, bitts and bollards. The casting is very clean and will only need sanding along where the casting plug is removed. The lower hull is hollow cast and also very clean. The casting plug runs along the keel and it will need some clean-up once it is removed.
The deck housing is one piece which includes the pilothouse and funnel. The part is also well detailed, with doors, windows and portholes. Again, the casting is clean with the only area needing attention is where the casting plug meets the part. Having the deck structure as one piece simplifies construction. The small resin parts include two boats, cable reels, cowl vents, a post for the photoetch boat handling crane and a large bitt.
The photoetch for this kit is quite thorough, providing standard and detail fittings and structural items. The basic items like railings, ladders and photoetch doors are included as well the rudder and propeller if you wish to build a full hull model. Some perforated bracing for the hull and the raised stern decking are provided as well as such detail bits as the water cannons, boat handling crane, cable reels (to use instead of the resin versions), ship’s wheel, search lamps and bumper tires. A few extra parts are also included to use at your discretion, such as simulated lengths of rope and porthole frames. The photoetch is well done, has relief-etching and comes sandwiched between a protective film of static wrap for protection. As the tugs varied in terms of fittings, some of the parts included may not be used in your build.
Waterslide decals are provided with hull numbers and names for a few specific boats as well as a selection of numbers in black and white, the words “U.S. Navy” and “U.S. Coast Guard” and draft markings. There are also what appear to be Coast Guard markings for the funnel. The decal sheet gives the modeler what they need to build almost any boat.
A small instruction sheet is included with a couple of illustrations showing where some of the resin and photoetch parts go. While the illustrations are well-done they do not cover all of the parts included with the kit. Modelers will have to rely on reference photos to help determine what parts to use and where they go.
Overall this is a very good kit and will look great either as a full-hull model or either in a harbor diorama setting or assisting a larger ship. Whatever you choose to do, this kit is worthwhile getting and is a relative bargain for the price.