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Trumpeter 1/144 Gato - tricks/tips/traps?

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Trumpeter 1/144 Gato - tricks/tips/traps?

Postby rmfield » Sun Aug 26, 2007 4:01 pm

I picked up a 1944 Gato yesterday for half price. Now I've got a few questions (please bear in mind that I'm not a sub person):

1) The shop guy pointed out that you can't build the box art version from the kit contents (he's right - the conning tower on the box and the one in the kit are very different). He went on to say that the box art was probably more accurate for 1944 than the kit tower. Is he correct?

2) The box art also shows the boat submerged with the handrails in place. I had thought that the stanchions and hand lines were for in-port use, and would be stowed before submerging. Am I all wet (get it? Submarine; "all wet"; HAW!)?

3) Everything I've heard and read about this kit is good (that and half-price is what prompted my purchase). Has anyone built this kit and/or have any words of wisdom to offer?

4) Both the pressure hull and the inner surface of the outer hull will be visible when assembled. What color(s) should they be? I'm thinking medium gray, right?

5) Are there any significant cosmetic improvements that can be made either by scratch or after-market? I see that Nautilus sells a pattern for the lower hull free-flood holes, which are strangely missing; the guns look a bit simplistic as well.

TIA for any help!
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Postby RickNelson » Sun Aug 26, 2007 4:44 pm

I have the kit but have not built it yet. I'm still working on my Revell 1/178. I'll take a quick look at the Trumpeter and see if there are any gotchas.

It was only the first six Gatos that had anchor pockets on both sides. The yards were not able to get two sets of anchor equipment installed under the superstructure so one of the pockets was covered up before the boat was commissioned.
Squadron has two good books on WWII Fleet submarines. The FD DVD is a must. The book on the USS Cod is also a good reference for late war Gato boats.

Late war Gatos did not have as much railing as they did when they were comissioned. It was concentrated around the fairwater. From the gun decks fore and aft there was no railing. Also, the radio antennas were quite different late in the war and did not run the full length of the boat.

Since each boat became as unique in appearance as your fingerprint it is best to pick one boat that has good documentation and build to that boat. By 1944-45 there was no "generic" Fleetboat.

Here's my biblography of references:


Alden, John D., The Fleet Submarine in the U.S. Navy, 1979, United States Naval Institute, ISBN: 0-87021-187-0

Friedman, Norman, U.S. Submarines through 1945, 1995, United States Naval Institute, ISBN: 1-55750-263-3

Stern, Robert C., U.S. Subs in Action #2, 1983, Squadron/Signal Publications, ISBN: 0-89747-085-0

Stern, Robert C., Gato-Class Submarines in Action #28, 2006, Squadron/Signal Publications, ISBN: 0-89747-509-7

The Fleet Type Submarine, NAVPERS 16160, June 1946, www.Periscope.com, ISBN: 1-4116-7753-6

Fleet Submarines of World War Two, 1988, The Floating Drydock, ISBN: 0-933126-72-7

Plan Book, Gato & Balo Class Submarines, 1990, The Floating Drydock, ISBN: 0-944055-06-0

U.S.S. Cod, Photo Museum Guide, 1999, Oxford Museum Press, Inc., ISBN: 1-930127-01-4
Rick Nelson

Qualified in Submarines 1965
SCM #2583

"D..n the pressure, Six-Zero feet!"
"Most men would rather die than think, Most of them do!" - Bertrand Russell
"Boomers hide with Pride"
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Gato anchors

Postby Fred Tannenbaum » Mon Aug 27, 2007 2:02 pm

Dear Rick:

When you talk about the first six having twin anchors and hawsepipes, are you speaking of the first six built by Electric Boat? Several of the early Government-built Gatos also had two anchors.

Fred
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Postby RickNelson » Mon Aug 27, 2007 8:26 pm

Hi Fred,

The first five EB boats had the double anchor pockets. By date of commissioning:

12/31/41 Gato 212
1/21/42 Greenling 213
2/21/42 Grouper 214
3/20/42 Growler 215
4/11/42 Grunion 216

The next boat out of EB, the Guardfish 217, does not as far as I can tell from it's commissioning photo.

The first Gato Class boat was built by Portsmouth, the Drum, an comissioned 11/01/41 had double anchor pockets but wound up with a starboard anchor which was rare. Most Portsmouth boats had their anchors on the port side. The next Portsmouth Gato boats, the Flying Fish and the Finback, had a single port side anchor at comissioning.

The Silversides comissioned 12/15/41 and the Trigger comissioned 1/31/42 both built at Mare Island had two pockets and wound up with a starboard anchor. Again, a bit out of the ordinary because Mare Island being a Navy yard used Portsmouth designs but since the Silversides was so close to the Drum Mare Island just followed Portmouths lead apparently.

Some people may rely on launching photos to determine the anchor issue but launching photos should NOT be used because in a lot of cases a temporary anchor is hung on the opposite side from the installed anchor to bring the boat to a stop after launch, if need be. A good example of this is the launching of the Wahoo at Mare Island in February 1942. There are two photos of the Wahoo launch on: http://www.navsource.org/archives that show this.

So I was off by 2. It looks like the count is 8. None went to war with two anchors.
Rick Nelson

Qualified in Submarines 1965
SCM #2583

"D..n the pressure, Six-Zero feet!"
"Most men would rather die than think, Most of them do!" - Bertrand Russell
"Boomers hide with Pride"
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