A brief history...
Launched in June of 1942, the PT 109 was a PT103 Class Elco 80. A doubled lined, wooden hulled, 80 foot Motor Torpedo Boat, the 109 could accommodate a crew of up to 17. PT Boats carried a number of different weaponry throughout their carrier including 20mm Oerlikon AA Gun Mark 4, Single and twin mount Browning .50 Cal M2 Machine Guns, Four Mark 8 Torpedoes, Depth Charges, Smoke Generators, not to mention various added weaponry specific to individual boats and crew such in the case of the PT 109. The crew of the 109, prior to the final patrol had commandeered a 37mm Anti-tank cannon, removing it’s wheels and lashing the cannon with ropes to the bow of the boat.
On the night of August 2nd, 1943 the crew of the PT 109 commanded by LTJG John F. Kennedy, who would later serve as President of the United States, would be on patrol in the Blackett Strait in the Solomon Islands. This area was a supply route to staging grounds for the Japanese War Machine and was know as the Tokyo Express, as the supply ships would cruise in swiftly under the cover of darkness, unload their supplies in hours and sail out returning to their home bases.
Ad chance would have it the PT 109 had it’s 4500 hp triple Packard engines at idle to allow the boat to run silent and without wake to avoid detection from Japanese aircraft, not knowing that they were in the direct path of the Japanese Destroyer, Amagiri. Not having enough time to react to the impending collision, the Destroyer rammed into the PT 109 creating an explosion and sinking all but the forward compartment immediately. Two crew members died inn the collision and explosion and two others seriously injured. The remaining crew would survive after they were led by their commander, JFK, to the closest island that was not occupied by the Japanese which was 3 ˝ miles away. Kennedy would later lead the remaining crew to two more islands around 3 miles from the first one, in search of food and water. The crew would be saved by Coastwatcher natives who delivered a rescue note written by JFK on a coconut.
There are conflicting stories as to how the collision actually came about but the fact remains the same, that the boat was hit and sank taking two of here crew members with her and that JFK and his crew pulled together to save themselves from the ordeal.
This is Italeri’s 1/35 scale Motor Torpedo Boat PT 109 plastic model kit. The kit is very impressive, not only in the size of the box and model inside but in the details that have been added by the use of new molds.
Contents of the Box:
- 1 Hull section
- 1 deck section with 4 grey styrene parts attached within
- 410 grey styrene molded parts on 5 sprues
- 1 sheet of clear, pre-cut acetate for windows and skylights
- 1 sheet of photo etch parts
- 7 mounting screws
- 2 lengths of scale roping
- 1 Instruction Booklet
- 1 correction sheet for sprue trees labeled ‘E’
- 1 Reference Guide Booklet
At first glance after removing the lid to the box, the massive hull is notice. Thickly molded grey styrene, this piece is crisply molded sleek lines of the PT boats. Measuring in at a hefty 27 ˝ inches from stem to stern, she is a big boat! There appears to be no flash on the hull at all, only a could of pin marks on the keel that can be easily sanded off.
Moving onto the next section of the box, I came across the deck section. Equally impressive as seeing the hull for the first time, the weather deck has scribed wooden planks as seen in the original PT Boats of this class. Deck features, such as hatchways and fuel caps are molded with nice detail. Little to no sanding appears to e required. After a bit of research the rivet detail around the outer parameter of the deck section it a bit overdone for accuracy reasons and can be sand down if the builder wishes to go through the trouble.
Sprue C contains parts for the display stand along with parts for the chart house, cheek strips for the hull, the walls for the well that contained the 20mm Oerlikon AA Gun and many various detail parts. At first glance I was drawn to the “oil canning effect” that was added to the 20mm well walls. This effect is where with the normal fatigue of metal under normal stress conditions, the metal will deform to what will appear to be denting to the side walls. This give a pleasant sense of realism to this kit.
Sprue D contains the remaining parts to construct the Chart and Wheel house sections of the PT Boat. Contained as well in this sprue is some railing pieces and of course the 20mm Orelikon AA Gun and swivel mount, both beautifully molded.
Spue E (X2) contain the mounts and fitting for the torpedo tubes including the torpedo tubes themselves. There is various hatch way covers, cleats that will be mounted on the deck as well as the twin .50 caliber machine guns and ammunition belts. Again, little to no flash and/or ejector pin marks on either of these two sprue trees.
Spue D contains the parts to construct the PT 109, deck mounted 37mm Anti-tank gun. Highly detailed and with some styrene molded shells included, this is an excellent addition that tops off this kit. There is scale rope supplied along with the instructions for tying this gun to the deck as did the crew of the PT 109 did in 1943.
The photo etch sheet contains various detailed including hatchway covers and the decks skylight covers. This etch piece is very thick from what I encounter normally from after market photo etch. This will aid in an easier construction and application of the photo etch parts to the boat.
The sheet of pre-cut acetate contains pieces that will be used with the photo etched skylight grill plates along with the various dead lights and window sections included in the kit.
I am confident that this will not be a difficult kit to build. Please take note that there is several mounting holes that will be needed to be drilled out of the main deck. If the deck part is flipped over and using the diagram located on page 1 of the instructions, the holes are ˝ drilled out already and just about 1mm of styrene need to be removed with a pin vise and tiny drill bit.
The instructions included in this kit are very easy to follow. In English and numbered clearly the construction is shown in a large print, exploded view of the parts to be installed. These instructions start us off with the lower hull construction working our way up to the weather deck and all of it’s components along with the display stand. This is a good idea as the stand can be used to hold the ship safely while attaching some parts but keeping the boat safe when not working on the boat.
There are a few inconsistencies between this kit and the real PT 109, but they are minor and should be easy to correct if you feel the need to be completely accurate with you building of the boat. One such lacking would be the added armor to the walls of the bridge section. This should be easy to replicate by using styrene sheet stock and adding some rivets. One more would be the addition of a jack staff mounting bracket to the front of the boat. Again are all minor additions and can be easily found with a little research of the boat.
I used a couple of different sites in the aiding with this review and I can only suggest that the below listed site will help you, the builder, to gain a pile of technical data on the PT Boats and many incredibly helpful photographs.
Sites for review reference and technical information:
Excellent site with CAD drawings of the PT 103 by Jeff Davidson.
Run by PT Boats Inc., this site will aid in any research you want on this subject.
This site contains an amazing amount of technical data on the PT Boats as well as numerous reference pictures.
I feel this is an exceptional kit. The size seems a bit daunting at first but once the hull and deck sections go together, the rest of the build should be not so dissimilar from construction any other model in 1/35th scale. The parts are crisply molded and the part numbers and legend are easy to read and maneuver. The instruction a clear and precise and should be a treat to use.
This kit will build up amazingly out of the box resulting in a fine display piece for the owner. However if you wish to take the extra step to complete a couple of minor accuracy improvements then I would urge the buyer to take the time to research not only the PT 109 but other PT boats as well, to gain a bit of knowledge on any additions and/or subtractions to this kit.