by: Stefan Halter [ ]
I got this tiny little sub off the Internet for less than $5 dollars, not having known before even that Hobby Boss do ships. Since I’m probably not the only one in this situation, I decided to make a little review for everyone to see what’s in the box.
History and Technology
Gato was the lead ship of her class of 77 fleet submarines and together with the Balao Class (which differed only internally from the Gato) formed the backbone of the US Navy’s submarine fleet during WWII. 77 were built and 20 were lost during the war. The boats had a range of 11’000 miles and were armed with 10 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes (six forward, four aft; 24 torpedoes), 1 × 3-inch (76 mm) / 50 caliber deck gun, one Bofors 40mm and one Oerlikon 20mm cannon. The Gatos were designed to conduct 75 day patrols and were quite a bit larger than contemporary subs. They were very advanced for their time in regards to crew comfort. Not only did they have bunks for almost all the 60 – 80 crew members, they were also air conditioned and had refrigerators.
Gato was laid down in October 1940 and commissioned on the last day of December. Starting in April, Gato conducted 13 successful war patrols, earning 13 battle stars. She was part of the submarine screen during the Battle of Midway. During her 4th patrol she sank 3 Japanese transports. She landed Australian commandos and evacuated civilians during her 5th patrol. She dodged depth charges and aircraft and in one memorable incident sent an un-exploded depth charge that got stuck on her deck adrift on a rubber raft. Several more enemy ships were sunk and more than a dozen aviators owe her life to her. She was then present at the signing of the surrender documents on September 2nd 1945 and served as a training ship before being sold for scrap in 1960.
So what’s in the box? Really not that much: The boat consists of 10 parts of which you will only need 8. There is a nice pre-painted stand with inscription and a small decal sheet with hull and turret numbers. Definitely a one weekend build.
Quality of molding is very good with a little flash and no sink or pin marks and several slide molds used. The details are very fine, especially on the hull and the antennas on the conning tower. With a few washes the details should really stick out.
The ship can be built in either the surfaced (with extended antennas and dive plains in the up position, making for the two additional optional parts) or submerged configuration.
The instructions are printed on the back of the box and leave no questions – no wonder with 9 parts. An additional piece of paper serves as the painting instruction, with paints given as Gunze Mr. Color. There really isn't much to it with the boat kept in overall dark gray.
Dimensionally the kit is very accurate with length and width at 13.5mm / 1.15mm respectively being exactly 1/700 of the Gato’s measures.
That’s really all there is to say to this tiny boat. Mine will be built in the water for the 2013 dive campaign. Looking forward to that!