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USS Cobia, 1/72 Scale

  • port_bow
"MSW Crew-mate John Bardwell (johnb593) shares his build (and first MSW submission) of the Gato class submarine, USS Cobia, in this MSW "Build Story"!

the vessel...
USS Cobia (SS/AGSS-245), a Gato-class submarine, is a ship, formerly of the United States Navy, named for the cobia, a food fish found in warm waters. Cobia (SS-245) was launched 28 November 1943 by Electric Boat Co., Groton, Conn., sponsored by Mrs. C. W. Magruder; and commissioned 29 March 1944, Lieutenant Commander Albert L. Becker in command.
Builder: Electric Boat Company, Groton, Connecticut
Laid down: 17 March 1943
Launched: 28 November 1943
Commissioned: 29 March 1944
Decommissioned: 22 May 1946
Recommissioned: 6 July 1951
Decommissioned: 19 March 1954
Struck: 1 July 1970
Status: Memorial at Manitowoc, Wisconsin, 17 August 1970

General characteristics
Class and type: Gato-class diesel-electric submarine
Displacement: 1,525 tons (1,549 t) surfaced
2,424 tons (2,460 t) submerged
Length: 311 ft 9 in (95.0 m)
Beam: 27 ft 3 in (8.3 m)
Draft: 17 ft 0 in (5.2 m) maximum
Propulsion: 4 × General Motors Model 16-248 V16 diesel engines driving electrical generators
2 × 126-cell Sargo batteries
4 × high-speed General Electric electric motors with reduction gears
two propellers
5,400 shp (4.0 MW) surfaced
2,740 shp (2.0 MW) submerged
Speed: 21 knots (39 km/h) surfaced
9 knots (17 km/h) submerged
Range: 11,000 nautical miles (20,000 km) surfaced at 10 knots (19 km/h)
Endurance: 48 hours at 2 knots (3.7 km/h) submerged
75 days on patrol
Complement: 6 officers, 54 enlisted
Armament: 10 × 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes (six forward, four aft)
24 torpedoes
1 × 3-inch (76 mm) / 50 caliber deck gun [4] four machine guns

Additional Cobia information can be found here.

the build...
Although I have built aircraft models almost exclusively for over 50 years I've long wanted a decent scale, and accurate, WW II Gato/Balao sub model. When Revell announced this kit I awaited it with eager anticipation. I was not disappointed. I'm not going to go into parts breakdown and all that as that has been covered elsewhere.

I did a LOT of research when deciding on just which sub I could represent but finally came to the conclusion that the USS Cobia was the only one that could be done accurately. No two Gato's were alike. Variations were many. So, to keep from having to do WAY too much kit bashing to change the subject to a different boat, I decided to do the Cobia.

Instead of representing her as she is "out of the box", I decided to make some changes and show her as she was in the closing weeks of the war, ie: two conning tower mounted 40 mm's and a 5 inch 25 forward. I also wanted to include a bridge watch with lookouts as she would appear while on patrol.

I used the White Ensign resin/photo etched 5 inch 25 deck gun, photo etched SJ radar dish, and color matched paints plus Eduard photo etched parts for the conning tower decking, 40 mm sights, and various fittings. The extra 40 mm was provided by Mario Grimas (thanks Mario!). The figures are a mix from Czech Masters and Warriors. I replaced the handrail "thread" supplied in the kit with clear thin nylon thread that I sluiced through dark gray paint to get the correct color.

downfalls, along the way...
There were a few problems in construction, such as the poor fitting limber hole side plates (see photo) and the not too well thought out instructions provided. (Should you decide to build this kit do not glue the bilge keels in place until after you have the hull cemented together. You will have to use clamps and/or rubber bands to hold the hull together while the glue dries and this will bugger-up the bilge keels.) Study the instructions well and plan ahead.

Problem areas, (both sides)

The last stanchion on each side is shown reversed on the instructions. This is the correct way.

I thoroughly enjoyed the build and the research involved. Thanks go to James at AAA Hobby Supply (Nautilus Models), Tom Walkowiak at The Floating Drydock, and of course to Mario Grimas at Iron Bottom Sound.
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  • SAIL
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About the Author

About John (johnb593)

Long-time model builder. Mostly WW II aircraft.


Nice build, looks really good, thanks for posting. I can relate to the problem of doing a speciffic boat, theres a lot of pitfals as to how a single boat looked at a given time. Too bad that Revell didn´t put a little more efford into molding the sides of the casing - it lacks a lot of details. Congrats on a nice build.
SEP 04, 2008 - 11:00 PM
Excellent build on the Cobia John. Nice and clean, I had a chance to visit the memorial and it is worth the time.
SEP 05, 2008 - 02:29 AM
Congrats on the Cobia, John! Apart all the effort you had in reproducing the Cobia, which you managed well, the inclusion of the crew adds scale effect and a nice touch too! For my taste it lacks only a "little rusting here and there" Rui
SEP 05, 2008 - 04:21 AM
Nice job! Really clean build!
SEP 05, 2008 - 10:46 AM
clean crisp build, thanks for sharing!
SEP 06, 2008 - 02:38 AM
John, Great project my friend.I hope to see more of your work posted here in the future. Regards, Gregory Jouette A former SAM' member
SEP 06, 2008 - 12:59 PM
Very nice work John. Kenny
SEP 07, 2008 - 09:46 AM
John, nice work, and I agree, adding the crew is an extra dimension. Good logic on choosing a boat, too. Nice work, enjoy her finished!
SEP 08, 2008 - 12:23 AM
Thanks Jan. It was an enjoyable build. Sure wish someone would come out with a conversion for another boat (Flasher, Tang, Spadefish, etc.) John
SEP 08, 2008 - 05:46 AM