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Revell PT-109 patrol torpedo boat

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/72 scale PT boat kit with detailed 37mm antitank gun
First deployed to the South Pacific in August 1942, PT-109 was already war-weary by the time Lt. j.g. John F. Kennedy took command. The saga of the boat’s collision and sinking and the subsequent rescue is well worth researching.  

PT-109 was first kitted by Revell in 1963. And while there are a few similarities between that classic and this one, this 1/72 scale kit is all new. And, while this one offers some construction challenges, it goes together quickly and is true-to-scale.

The excellent 20-page, 52-step instruction booklet offers two build options: as a 1942 newly built boat in Navy gray or as the dark green scavenged boat at the time of its sinking on August 2, 1943, with a 37mm antitank gun mounted on the forward deck. I chose the latter with red oxide below the waterline tempered with a bit of light weathering. 

Inspecting the sprues, I was hit by a wave of nostalgia — the attachment points are as robust as those in the 1963 kit. While little flash marred the parts, I cleaned up seam lines throughout. The styrene is forgiving and not brittle so cleanup is easy. 

The overall quality is fairly good and, with a few modifications, the finished model is a decent replica of an early Elco 80-foot PT boat.

After joining the hull halves, center bulkhead, and transom, I inserted the prominent bow chin plate. Unfortunately, the right-hand alignment tab was thicker and offset the part to port. I sanded it for fit.

Steps 5-7 involve the interior spaces for the chartroom and day cabin. Be sure to drill holes in the deck for the appropriate version. If you are building the 1943 version, the instructions show the depth charges mounted near the edge of the foredeck. However, on the full-size boat, these weapons were mounted more inboard so the forward torpedoes could be fired without striking them. You may wish to modify their position in Step 40.

The Mk.18 torpedo tubes required significant cleanup of the seam between parts I63 and I64. Be careful when cleaning the sprue attachments from the supports (Part I66) because they fit snug to the lower half of the tubes. 

The balance of the armament builds well, but be careful as the fits are tight. The barrels of the .50-caliber machine guns are straight and lack the prominent flash suppressors seen in period photos.

The instructions show how to lash the 37mm gun to the front deck, but no thread is included to do that.

Overall, this kit is a nice extended weekend, out-of-the-box built. Its dimensions are true-to-scale. A modeler prone to scratchbuilding could easily enhance the look with aftermarket details. But, sometimes it’s fun to just build a model and this is one kit that provides the perfect opportunity!

Note: A version of this review appeared in the December 2018 issue.


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