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The PT-184 - A Model Study

1:24 Scale R/C Model of PT-184 Late In World War II
Model By: Wayne Traxel
Photos By: Wayne Traxel
Drawings By: Wayne Traxel

The real PT-184 in the Philippines in 1945. Photo supplied by
Wayne Traxel
Line Drawing done by Wayne Traxel of PT-184.
Supplied by Wayne Traxel.
The model underway, at speed.
Supplied by Wayne Traxel.
Picture taken in 1992 or 1993. Mr. Malecki looks at a model of his old boat, the 184. Just look at the expression on his face. You can see the love for and pride in the service on the boat. Supplied by Wayne Traxel.

This is a model of the PT-103 Class (first series) Elco eighty foot PT boat, PT-184, 1:24 scale, built by Wayne Traxel of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The model is radio-controlled and forty inches long and ten and a half inches wide. Mr. Traxel built the model from line drawings that he, himself, drew up with the technical advice from a former crewman of the 184, Richard Malecki, one Rich Malecki, TM 2/c (Torpedoman, second class). Wayne wants to have this particular piece be dedicated to the memory of Mr. Malecki. He said that Mr. Malecki was not only a great source of information in connection to the project, but ended up being a true friend.

Wayne said that the 184 project was the most memorable of all of the models he had done over the years. That was because of Mr. Malecki. Wayne said how Mr. Malecki's own knowledge, his photos, logs and even a model of the 184 Mr. Malecki built after he was discharged from the Navy all proved to be a wealth of information. Mr. Traxel first met Richard Malecki in 1988 when Wayne was operating his model of PT-48 on his local pond. When the boat finished its run, Mr. Malecki began asking questions about the model.

After a few minutes, Mr. Malecki mentioned that he served on PTs in World War II. Wayne's first question after hearing that was "When could I come over?" The following week, armed with a pad of paper, a pen and the scratchbuilt hull, deck and superstructure of the model of the eighty foot Elco boat that Wayne had already started, he arrived at Mr. Malecki's home. Mr. Malecki was ready for him, waiting for Wayne with all of his photos, logs, and the model of the 184 that he had built in the 1940s.

Mr. Malecki joined the Navy when he was eighteen in the Fall of 1943. He went through Boot Camp at the Navy's Great Lakes facility, followed by twelve weeks of Torpedo School and after he had two weeks leave in Milwaukee, he took a train to Seattle, Washington and boarded a troop ship, bound for New Caledonia. Then he was transported to Tulagi in the Solomons, where he boarded an inter-island steamer to the island of Emirau.

PT-184 was placed in service on 4 February 1943 and was assigned to Squadron 11, which was in the South Pacific. When Mr. Malecki joined up with the 184, she was armed with four Mark XIII torpedoes in roll-off racks, two depth charges in roll-off racks in front of the two forward torpedoes, a 20mm Oerlikon gun on a Mk. X mount located on the stern and a second 20mm Oerlikon on a Mk. X mount on the foredeck, on the port side. Also on the foredeck was a 37mm M-4 that was salvaged from a P-39 Airacobra fighter.

In January of 1945, while still at Emirau, the 184 was refitted with SO-3 radar that replaced the earlier SO-A model and she also received a brand-new 40mm Bofors gun. She was nick-named "The Fat Lady." The added weight of the 40mm gun and its ammunition made it necessary to remove the two aft torpedoes to maintain the boat's proper trim.

That first night, they talked late into the evening, as they would many an evening until the model was completed in 1990. Throughout the model's construction, Wayne would forget some details and Mr. Malecki was always there to point them out to him. Once completed, Wayne showed it to Mr. Malecki and received a wink of approval and then, the both of them took the model out for a test run.

Wayne also said that the model was his most accurate, most reliable, fastest and trouble-free model. Over the next ten years, the model was displayed at various Veteran organizations and model shows throughout Wisconsin. The best displays were the PT Boaters' 1993 National Reunion and the 1997 and 1998 Wisconsin Bull Sessions for PT boaters in Sheboygan and Oshkosh - it was at this type of displays where the boat was put through her paces for the PT veterans.

Wayne and Mr. Malecki remained friends until 1997 when Mr. Malecki went onto eternal patrol. The model was damaged in an accident in 1999 and while being repaired, the model was acquired by Alex Johnson in 2005 who transformed the model into PT-191.

All of the armament on the model of the 184 was scratchbuilt by Wayne and he used Pactra Forest Green and Testors Medium Green and the bottom was painted with Krylon Red Iron Oxide.

PT-184 at speed. Wayne said that Mr. Malecki loved this picture and made an 8X10 of it, framed it and displayed
in his living room in his home.
Supplied by Wayne Traxel
The model of the 184 as she appeared in 1945.
Supplied by Wayne Traxel.