Italeri 1/35 Elco 80' PT boat
KIT #: 05602
PRICE:  £99.99
DECALS: options
REVIEWER: Richard Reynolds
NOTES: 322 parts on 6 parts trees; one photo-etched fret

HISTORY

The US Navy operated three types of motor torpedo boat during World War II. These were the Higgins 78 footers and the ELCO 77 and 80 foot boats. The ELCO 80 was by far the most numerous design with more than 300 being built in no less than five sub-variants by the end of the war.

Italeriís PT-596 represents a late production design representing the switch to the gunboat role which took place in the latter stages of the war. As the war progressed and more equipment was added the ELCO 80í rose from an approximate weight of 51 tons to 61 tons in the 1945 production run.

The ELCO 80í PT boats were constructed of wood and were powered by the Packard 4M-2500, developed specifically for this series of boats. The Packard was a 2,950cu.in; 12-cylinder supercharged engine with a 1,350hp output which was increased to 1,500hp in later versions. Each boat had three of these engines each driving a three bladed screw delivering 41 to 43 knots

The equipment systems and armament carried by the ELCO 80ís changed considerably throughout the war, often reflecting the varying tasks and roles that they were required to perform. The four torpedoes (originally Mk.VII or Mk.VIII in tube launchers, later Mk.XIII in roll off racks) were supplemented with a variety of guns and other weapons. Most common  were the 20mm Oerlikon and the 37mm M9 rapid fire gun (Originally a field modification adapted from the P-39 Airacobra fighter) on the bow, Browning 0.5Ē twins in hydraulically- powered mid-turrets and a 40mm Bofors on the stern. Later boats, such as this particular kit; often featured two 8-tube launchers for 5Ē rockets, and many other weapons such as mortars, reflecting their increasing use as coastal gunboats.

The crew of the late boats reached three officers and 14 enlisted men, five more than in the early boats. Altogether, 296 ELCO 80 footers entered US Navy service, serving in most of the 43 commissioned PT boat squadrons and operating in all theatres of WWII.

THE KIT

 The box is well packaged and presented with the parts trees contained in pairs in polyurethane bags with a cardboard divider separating them from the hull. There are six parts trees containing 322 parts and a one piece hull. Included is a fret of photo-etched parts, two turned aluminium barrels for the main armament, wire and two lengths of thread for rigging details, one bag of screws, an instruction booklet and one photographic reference manual.

CONSTRUCTION
COLORS & MARKINGS

The first steps were to clean the parts using a warm soapy solution to remove any mould release. A careful examination of the instructions is required to determine which holes will be needed to be drilled out on the surface of the main deck in order to correctly locate the sub-assemblies later in the build. Any excess styrene from the drilling process was removed using a medium sanding stick. The entire kit was then primed using motor-primer from a rattle can.

I elected not to use the acetate deck windows when installing the photo-etched frames. Masking these items can prove tricky, therefore once the project is near completion I fill the frames with small amounts of micro-krystal clear.

I airbrushed the interior humbrol flat black in order that any of the grey styrene should not be visible through the PE window frames. Then I added the deck railings around the bow. At this stage I reviewed the camouflage scheme as I would be painting the deck independently of the hull and deck housing and fittings. I used White Ensign Modelsí Colourcoats: Deck Green 20G (us 16) for the deck; Pale Green #2 Green (US 23), Medium Green #3 (US 24) and Flat Black for the hull and deck fittings. And finally, USN Anti-Fouling Red (US 14) for the lower hull.

Having prepared the deck and applied the first coat of Deck Green 20G, the effect looked a little odd. The colour didnít look quite right to me but after extensive research, credit to White Ensign (should I ever doubt them?!) the effect is quite correct. I gave the deck several thin coats which produced the rich effect that I was looking for and put it to one side to concentrate on the hull and the sub-assemblies.

Next I focused on the deck house. I would recommend dry-fitting this item first to ensure a good fit to the deck. The deck house goes together nicely as does the engine room deck cover and the mid-ship deck house. All assemblies were airbrushed with Medium Green #3, Flat Black and finally Deck Green 20G. Once dry, I mounted the acetate windows and fitted the sub-assemblies to the deck.

The pilot station was the next area to receive attention; the benches were painted in White Ensign Mahogany and then over-painted with burnt umber oil. The deck house was further weathered using an oil wash and post-shaded using an airbrush.

At this stage, I focussed my attention on the hull. As it had already been prepped and sprayed with grey primer from a rattle can, I loaded my airbrush with USN Anti-Fouling Red and gave the lower hull three coats. Once dry, the hull was masked and the three-tone camouflage of green, medium green and flat black were applied.

Next I constructed the Bofors gun starting with the frame and then the 40mm Bofors gun itself. The anti-aircraft machine gun mounts went together smoothly, which is typical of this excellent kit. I continued the weapons fit with the torpedo racks and torpedoes, thread is provided to secure the items, after market items can be used however this kit was a construction project for a window display for Spot-On Models and Hobbies of Swindon, UK. The rocket launchers went together easily enough, be aware though that it is possible to mount them on the wrong side of the hull, so please refer to the instructions!

The final stage of the weapons fit included the completion and fitting of the 37mm M4 deck gun and the 20mm Oerlikon cannon, which presented no problems at all.

Finally, the deck was screwed to the hull, the deck railings, life rings, Photo Etched antennas and PE shields atop the forward deck house were added. Once the decals were added and the Stars and Stripes flying the ELCO 80í was complete.

CONCLUSIONS

I have built Italeriís Vosper and MAS 568 MTBís and I have to say that I have enjoyed building this one the most. It is an excellent kit and provides scope to super-detail this gunboat with after-market accessories and crew figures. Highly recommended.

Richard Reynolds

November 2012

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