Write-up on a 1/72nd scale model of PT 167
This was my third venture building a PT-103 series Elco eighty foot PT Boat with the 1/72nd scale PT-109 kit by Revell and photo-etched parts manufactured by White Ensign Models. My previous projects earlier this year included PT-105 and PT-171. The former was a display model built for a former crewmember as the boat appeared in 1942 and she looked exactly like PT-109. The 171 Boat was a late-war configuration rebuild of a model owned by T. Garth Connelly. While attending the PT Boat Reunion in Spokane, WA in July of 2006 I met two former crewmen from PT-167. These two gentlemen served together aboard the boat in Borneo and the Philippines with RON 10 in 1945. One of them asked me to build a display model and I eagerly accepted the project. With their cooperation, I was able to determine the boat's appearance late in the war through their recollections and personal photographs. It was time to begin construction.
Some people love to criticize the Revell kit and I am not one. It is an excellent starting point for modelers to build any eighty foot Elco PT Boat they choose. She just needs some custom work to make everything just right. My first step was to strip the Revell kit of the inaccurate and unneeded parts. The most striking deletions were the bases for the four torpedo tubes. I cut them out and filled the holes with sheet plastic and generous coats of putty. The entire deck was sanded to remove the deadlights, toe rails, cleats, chocks and fuel fills. The deck is molded with lines to simulate deck planks which were removed. Late eighty foot Elco boats had solid plywood decks.
While the early series indeed had mahogany planks, the lines between boards would not visible to the naked eye on a model. Unfortunately, Revell did too good a job trying to simulate the lines between planks. Numerous other molded components were cut or sanded off from the including the grab rails, instrument panel, throttle quadrant, muffler linkages and window frames. Now I had a smooth and bare PT-167. Thank goodness there is an excellent line of parts available from White Ensign Models to make this PT Boat look sharp.
I started with the superstructure and added the numerous photo-etched fittings from the PT-109 set. The majority installed very easily with drops of CA. Cockpit and cabin parts included the instrument panel, throttle quadrant, grab rails, day room windows and searchlight. Simultaneously, I attached the many plastic parts from the Revell kit including the helm, life ring, engine room hatch and ventilators. The 40mm ammunition box and SO radar were scratchbuilt. I turned the radar dome from a wooden dowel on the drill press and fabricated the mast from scrap plastic components.
With the superstructure complete, I proceeded to outfitting PT-167's topside. The photo-etched toe rails, cleats, chocks and fuel fills dressed up the deck very nicely. I scratchbuilt the numerous 20mm, 37mm ammunition and 5" rocket stowage boxes as well as the pads for the 40mm, 37mm and 20mm guns. Most of the armament came from White Ensign Models and they are excellent in all regards. The 40mm kit assembled in short order and the detail is impeccable. I was most impressed with the carriage and gunsights. I used the White Ensign Models 37mm gun but built the field-fabricated base from pieces of sheet styrene. For the 20mm gun, I used an AeroClub gun and a White Ensign Models Mark 14 stand. The Mark 13 torpedoes and Mark 1 roll-off racks were time-consuming but it was well worth the effort. White Ensign Models really did it right, all the way down to the release handles and linkages. The two depth charges were from the PT-109 photo-etched kit and I attached the Revell-supplied smoke screen generator on the stern. The two sets of plastic twin .50 caliber machine guns were enhanced with the White Ensign Models photo-etched parts. Finally, I attached the two depression rails onto the gun turrets. It was a bit tricky to get the curves just right but I was happy with the finished product.
To complete the armament package, I built an 81mm mortar and two sets of Mark 50 5" rocket launchers completely from scratch. The mortar was a relatively straightforward affair. I made the tube with a piece of aluminum tube. The base, brackets, aiming mechanism and end cap were fabricated with various plastic stock and scrap parts. The rocket launchers were quite challenging. With eight tubes on each set, they really had to be uniform. The tubes were cut from aluminum and the rest of the mounts were built with sheet and strip styrene as well as various parts from my scrap box.
Below decks, I installed the plastic mufflers and the photo-etched baffles and actuating rods. I replaced the kit-supplied plastic propeller shafts with metal shafts. Interestingly, the Revell kits manufactured in the 1960s came with metal shafts as well. The propellers, struts and rudders went on right out of the box. With an outfitted boat, it was time for me to paint the 167 Boat and install it on its stand.
Painting the boat was both easy and enjoyable. I painted the bottom an oxide red and the boat a dark green. Model Master paints covered very well with my airbrush. As they say, less is more and I was pleased with the way the detail showed through my several light coats of paint. With a brush I painted the propellers and shafts bronze. The boat numbers and nickname were done with dry transfers. PT-167's nickname was "WHO ME?" and featured an image of a duck pointing to himself with both wings. The duck logo on the front of the charthouse was applied using a scaled-down photograph of the actual image at the PT Boat Museum aboard the USS Massachusetts at Battleship Cove in Fall River, MA. Interestingly, the artifact was donated to the museum by one of the former PT-167 crewmembers I met at the last PT Boat Reunion. He told me how he removed the logo from the boat when the war ended before the boat was decommissioned and destroyed. Finally, I installed the 48 star flag to the radar mast and attached the four photo-etched brass ammunition belts to the .50 caliber guns.
The boat was mounted to a mahogany stand, the same material of which the real PT Boats were constructed. I installed a brass plaque which was custom-engraved with the boat number and squadron as well as the crewmember's name, rank, and dates of service. The completed model was protected by a clear Lexan plastic case which sat snugly on the mahogany base.
I was delighted when the veteran received the model boat safely though the mail. He sent me a very kind and most humbling note. How lucky I was to hear about PT-167 first-hand from the two men who served aboard her late in the war. I thoroughly enjoy building models but the real thrill is contact I have with the PT men while researching my boats. This was my third custom job using the Revell 1/72nd scale PT-109 and the White Ensign Models photo-etched detail sets. This project was memorable in all regards and I sure hope it will not be my last venture of doing making models for others.