AFV 1/350 Guppy IB "USS Dace"
KIT #: AFV 73512
PRICE: $27.91 on sale at HLJ
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver


            USS Dace (SS‑247), a Gato class submarine, was launched on April 25, 1943 (sponsored by Mrs O. P. Robertson), and commissioned on 23 July 1943.

             USS Dace cleared Brisbane on September 1, 1944, for her fifth and most successful war patrol.  On October 14 she joined forces with USS Darter (SS-227) off the Palawan Passage in the western Philippines to scout for the Japanese Navy, which was expected to sortie following the invasion of the Philippines at Leyte on October 17.  Shortly after midnight on October 23, she picked up ships in the Palawan Passage on radar.  This was Admiral Kurita’s Center Force: 5 battleships, six cruisers and twelve destroyers, the most powerful Japanese surface force to ever put to sea.  They were enroute to cross the Sulu Sea and enter San Bernardino Strait, to attack the invasion fleet in Leyte Gulf on October 25.  Dace sent off her contact report, which set in motion what came to be known as The Battles of Leyte Gulf, and was ordered by Darter’s CO to prepare for a pre-dawn surface attack.  In a feat of skill and courage which brought both submarines the Navy Unit Commendation, both closed the task force; Darter attacked first, sinking Admiral Kurita’s flagship, the cruiser Atago and damaging the cruiser Takao. Dace followed with a torpedo attack that sank the cruiser Maya, then both went deep to avoid the destroyers. Once Kurita was fished out of the ocean and back aboard his new flagship Yamato, he ordered two destroyers to accompany Takao back to port.  That night the two submarines worked through the treacherous Palawan Passage in an attempt to sink Takao; Darter ran aground on the Bombay Shoal.  With enemy ships nearing, Dace evacuated Darter’s crew, then attempted to destroy the submarine by torpedo unsuccessfully.  The wreck of the Darter can still be seen today on Bombay Shoal.

            Dace completed seven war patrols in the Pacific War and was at Saipan preparing for her eighth when the war ended.  During the Second World War, Dace was credited with sinking 28,689 tons of Japanese shipping.

            With the end of hostilities, Dace was went to New London, where she was placed in reserve at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on January 15, 1946, and was towed to New London, where she was placed out of commission in reserve on 12 February 1947.

Recommissioned on August 8, 1951, Dace operated with the Atlantic Fleet until placed in reserve at New London on  December 31, 1953. She was given extensive modernization to GUPPY 1B standard at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and was  recommissioned on October 22, 1954. After training men of the Marina Militare, she was decommissioned on January 31, 1955, and transferred the same day to Italy under the Military Assistance Program.

            Dace was commissioned in the Marina Militare Italiana as Leonardo da Vinci (S‑510). Originally on loan for five years, this was extended another five years in 1959 and extended for yet another five years, twice. Together with Enrico Tazzoli (S‑511) (ex‑USS Barb SS‑220), Leonardo da Vinci formed the backbone of Italian submarine strength from 1955 to 1972, when she was returned to the U.S. Navy. Dace was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 15 October 1972. Dace was sold for scrap on April 1, 1975.


            This is one of a series of five U.S. Fleet Boats released by AFV Club that allow a modeler to create representative examples of Gato-class submarines in all their iterations from pre-war through wartime configurations to two of the three major post-war redesigns.  This Guppy-1B represents the earliest of the post-war redesigns with the low sail.


             As with the other kits, construction is easy, but be careful not to lose the vary small parts, which are very small indeed.  Assembly is straightforward, as is the case with most submarine models.

            Dace/Leonardo Da Vinci was painted in the haze-grey submarine scheme originally developed during the Second World War.  I painted the lower hull Tamiya “Hull Red,” then painted the upper area of the ballast tanks Tamiya “Flat Black” and the deck Tamiya “NATO Black”.  I used Tamiya “RAF Ocean Grey” for the upper works.


             I think the US Fleet Boats in all their iterations are among the best-looking submarines ever, and could easily do several more of the World War II versions, modifying them to do various boats, since no two were really alike.  This 1/350 kit is nicely detailed and certainly doesn’t take up the room of the Revell monster.  Highly recommended to submarine fans.

 Review Kit courtesy HobbyLink Japan: order yours here.

Tom Cleaver

November 2012

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Review Index Page