Trumpeter 1/72 PT-815 Torpedo Boat

KIT #: 02503
PRICE: $14.99 from Trident Hobbies
DECALS: Stickers
REVIEWER: Greg Ewald
NOTES: Meant for use as a motorized toy boat


The patrol and torpedo boat has been around for quite a while, and really came into it’s own during world war 2, when daring skippers made fast raids against enemy shipping off the coasts of almost every continent, popularized by such movies as “They Were Expendable”,”PT-109” and others.  A constantly changing combat environment meant that these little “mosquito” boats had to also change quickly to meet new demands, and the amount of different armaments fitted onto the boats was staggering!

   The modern patrol boat is not much different, the hulls are larger, and the engines bigger, but the role is just about the same…hunt down and destroy larger targets of opportunity, and in today’s clandestine world, stop pirates and spies from infiltrating ocean space.

    This series of boat design was built in Japan in the 1970’s, and used as a test bed for a variety of weapons, from larger guns to guided missiles.  With the development of the hydrofoil boats, the PT (or PG, as they are referred to on some military websites) fell into disfavour in larger navies, and were sold off to smaller coastal navies or scrapped. Many versions of the patrol boat are still being widely used by the navies of Thailand, Indonesia, and India, as they are adept at getting into shallow waters and maneuvering quickly around small islets and islands where pirate skiffs lurk in wait to attack coastal freighters and civilian vessels…


This appears to be a re-issue of Tamiya’s motorized toy boat, #79002, at least from what I can see in photographs, and the kit is no disappointment !   Well over 400 pieces go into this boat model, and the detail is of high quality, with almost no flash on the sprues at all.   The lower hull is molded in one 19” long piece of grey styrene, with the fittings for a motorized boat in place.

    Twelve figures are included, as well as rigging rope and chain.  The decals are of “toy” origin, and are pick-and-stick…I recycled mine.

    No photo-etched details are included, but since these boats underwent constant changes in the field, any 1/72 detailing could be considered accurate…kind of liberating, in a way!

     The upper deck sections are held in place by a series of retaining protrusions of plastic, so as to be able to get at the motor and batteries, you may want to remove them to build a static kit.


The whole kit is very straightforward, with quite a lot of repetition…the guns themselves are almost small models, and take a fair amount of work…do one? Time to do another!  Test fitting is a must on this project, many of the pieces are pressure fit (snap into place) and may have to be trimmed with a razor knife to get it just right. 

      The torpedo tubes (step 3) are the hardest to make look right…you can either have the tips of the torpedoes exposed, or covered…this model needed to be colourful, so the tips were added…in the next kit, they will be covered, as the heads of the torpedoes are almost impossible to align with the tube, and have it all look alright. The seams on the tubes are going to take quite a bit of sanding and filling, in this case, get ready to spend some time ! Parts E53 and E54(charging system for the tubes) must be dry fit prior to assembly, and will take some finagling to get installed…these parts are small and tender, be careful !

      The main deck is awash with little goodies…ammo cans, stanchions, and hatch covers…grit your teeth and go to it !  I painted all of my details a different colour from the general grey of the deck, so as to stand out a bit…weathering can help a lot here also.  Painting as you go during construction is a must with the 815, once you have everything up, you won’t be able to reach a lot of the areas that need to be detailed…luckily, the instructions point this out by giving you colour recommendations at every step.

     In step 7, you begin the interior of the bridge…I made the mistake of detailing this like crazy, only to let out a howl of anguish when I realized that none of the details are visible once the kit is assembled…perhaps if the kit was lit from the inside, with Led’s or something, they might be?  Ah, well…it’s a learning experience, right?

     Leave off all of the masts and antennas on the three upper deck sections until they are installed on the hull…you will only snap some off if you follow the directions. I did. Once you have the main deck, upper wash deck, and bridge in place, you can begin adding on the smaller detail items working from the center of the boat outwards…I left the stanchion rails until the very last.  Chain is included with the kit for the fending/egress lines, but I used cord, as the chain looked very out of scale.  Stretched black sprue was used for the rest of the safety lines surrounding the deck, wire could also be used. Refer constantly to the front of the instructions for rigging, and the boxtop…quite a lot of the locator areas are easy to miss.


This kit was built for use in a television program, and needed to be bright and colourful…so I ditched the drab grey of the Japanese Defense Force, and went with a “coast guard” look…white hull with a broad red band  at an angle raking from the bow to the stern on either side. The lower hull was painted black, then oversprayed with red primer, then painted black again…once dry, 200 grit paper was used to bring out some of the hull lines…subtle, but effective. Model Master acrylics were used to colour the guns and details, while Testor’s enamels did the job for the metallic surfaces.

      Decals were from the spare parts box…not too much, just a flag and some small markings…the overall impact of the ship is enough!


For the dollar value, this kit is unbeatable…to make it into a showcase would require a minimum of effort and a few detailing kits!  Luckily, I purchased three of these models, so while this one was built out of the box, the next two can be customized to anything you can imagine (one of the best parts of PT boat modeling)…hmmm…just need some 1/72nd missiles, and I could make one of the test-bed boats???

    Quite a lot of small, easily breakable parts, but builds into a very, very satisfactory kit, whether you put motors in it or not!


These “brown water” craft are hard to track down, but some great information can be had on the web…try these sites out to start!

Greg Ewald

January 2005

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