Italeri 1/35 MAS 568 serie 4a
KIT #: IT5608
PRICE: £87.50
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Richard Reynolds


Originally conceived in 1915 as a small coastal torpedo boat, the early prototypes were failures. This was largely due to the excessive weight of the stern-positioned torpedo tubes which kept the speed well below 20 knots, relegating the the first two boats to mine laying duties.

World War I saw vast improvements in fast small patrol craft, 20 boats were ordered for coastal anti-submarine duties. Wartime technology requirements resulted in no less than 244 MAS boats entering service with the Regia Marina.

These advancements in maritime technology resulted in the development of the SVAN 12t type – the first true torpedo MAS, which gained considerable fame when Commander Luigi Rizzo sank the Australian Battleships Wien and Szent Istvan on MAS 9 and MAS 15 respectively.

 During the 1920s and 30s speed was considered the principle factor in Italian torpedo boat design. Hull shape design and more powerful engines resulted in the much sought after goal of 40 knots achieved by MAS 424 in 1928. Four boats were fitted with three 500hp Isotta Fraschini Asso engines which akso included the first use of the ‘Side impulse’ 450mm torpedo launcher which would be a feature of the Italian boats up to the 1970s.

 The new 1935 Baglietto project craft, considered the first ‘true’ 500 craft was designed with a 17 metre long, 4.4m wide planning hull with two steps and twin 1,000hp ASM180 engines producing speeds in excess of 45 knots. An order was quickly placed for 24 boats (MAS 501-524). Production started in five different yards, with the first boat (MAS 509) launched on February 15th, 1936. Tests proved that the boats performed as expected. All of the 24t boats reached 45 knots; the fastest (MAS 524) reached a top speed of 51.6 knots!

 Teething troubles delayed delivery of the MAS boats to the Regia Marina. MAS 501 was finally ready in in January 1937, armed with two torpedoes and two 13.3mm machine guns. Amongst the early modifications the bow 13.2mm was discarded as its use had proven problematic at high speeds. A better longitudinal weight distribution was achieved by re-positioning the torpedo launchers in a ‘nose up’ position

 The 25th and final 1a serie boat (MAS 525) was delivered in October 1937; this differed from other boats in the series in having a metallic hull. Though lighter than its wood-hull counterparts performance was similar.

 The 3a serie (MAS 551-564) was ordered in May 1940. It was broadly similar to the 2a serie with the exceptions of a Breda ’35 20mm MG, reinforced stern and a flying bridge steering wheel. The fuel load displacement was 29t and four boats of this series had metallic hulls. Compared to the 3a, the 4a serie (MAS 566-576) only had minor detail differences; all featured wooden hulls. The final boat (MAS 570) was delivered in October 1941.

 The performance of the ‘500s’ at war was severely limited by sea conditions. Planing hulls meant that the high speeds deemed necessary for a successful torpedo attack could only be reached in calm weather. Nevertheless a few important operations saw these boats involved against British shipping in the Mediterranean area. In the night between August 12th and 13th 1942, 13 2a and 3a serie boats attacked the ‘Pedestal’ convoy bound for Malta, together with six Italian heavy torpedo boats and four German Schnellboote.

 Successes by ‘500s’ included the sinking of two transports, the Wairanghi and Almeria Lykes and the damage of two more.

 It was on the Eastern front on Lake Ladoga that the ‘500’ series met ideal operating conditions. In mid-1942 the 12a Squadriglia (MAS 525-529) were deployed for operations against Soviet shipping. Intense activity over the summer resulted in the sinking of a gunboat and several transports. The four boats were finally sold to the Finnish Navy in June 1943.

 A total of 10 ‘500s’ were deployed to the black sea from April 1942; operating from Yalta, the MAS attacked Soviet shipping in the Sevastopol area. MAS 568 heavily damaged the cruiser Molotov and sank a transport. MAS 571 sank a submarine, MAS 573 another transport. Plans to deploy four of these craft to the Caspian Sea came to nothing. And in May 1943 the surviving boats went to the Kriegsmarine and later to the Romanian Navy.


 The box art depicts a suitably exciting scene which implies great promise for the contents. I have made Italeri’s Vosper MTB and ELCO 80’ and the MAS were similarly well packaged with the hull semi-recessed into a card tray with card folding retainers and the parts stored in polyurethane bags. I shouldn’t have been surprised at the size of the MAS, but having made two other boats in Italeri’s 1/35 series, this kit is small.

Nevertheless, the subject is a welcome edition and the parts are cleanly moulded in a crisp, grey plastic. The deck detail is subtle enough without being too overpowering and an initial dry-fit showed great promise (despite their being so few parts!).

There are 164 parts in total, when compared to the 395 parts included in the Vosper MTB you can almost see my point. The instruction booklet is clear and concise and as always the photographic reference booklet is an invaluable reference source.

This kit was kindly supplied by Spot-On Models and Hobbies of Swindon as part of their window display. It looks impressive with the MTB 77’ and the ELCO 80’, the comparison between the boats is quite dramatic. 


As with all of these large Italeri boats, I cannot fault the construction process. They really are a joy to make. The hull and deck are constructed first, take care to refer to the drilling diagram when drilling the locating holes in the deck. After pre-assembling the upper-works the completed hull and sub-assemblies were primed in grey primer and left to dry over-night. The cabin was constructed and deck-fittings mounted before the model was pre-shaded in matt black. All deck accessories were painted prior to fitting.


Markings are provided for two options, Regia Marina, MAS 568 Garzuf (Yalta) Black Sea (Russia), summer 1942. And the option that I decided upon: Regia Marina, MAS 563, Mazara del vallo, Italy 1943 as it includes the red and white identification stripes on the deck. For colors I used Humbrol Matt 34 White and White Ensign Models Rosso (RM 08) for the forward deck identification markings. White Ensign Models Grigio Chiaro (Light Grey RM 02) for the upperworks and the hull and White Ensign models Grigio Scuro (Dark Grey RM 01) for the deck and the below the waterline.

This is a beautifully crafted kit, with some after-market accessories and Italeri’s MAS crew set this torpedo boat could be made into a real show stopper. Highly recommended.


M.A.S. Classe 500 Photographic Reference Manual,

Italeritalian MAS Boats (Specifically the 500 series)

Baglietto Velocissimo Type Motor Torpedo Boats -

Richard Reynolds

October 2012

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