Review - Italeri 1/35 scale PT Boat Conversion Kit

Kit Review: Italeri 1/35 scale Kit No. 5617; PT Boat Conversion Kit; 171 pa
rts (145 in grey styrene, 25 etched brass, 1 thin nylon cord); retail price
Advantages: provides some useful items for other projects than PT boats
Disadvantages: expensive, designed more for the Italeri 1/35 scale PT boat
Rating: See Text
Recommendation: for any armor modeler needing a 20mm or 40mm gun and some o
dd bits
As the old song says, "everything old is new again". Back in the 1960s mod
el companies began releasing separate upgrade or modification kits, mostly
for cars, that offered new wheels, engines, frames, accessories, or even ne
ar complete kits. When mixed with stock kits or leftover bits, the modeler
could create something new.
In recent years model companies have been parsing out some things which us
ed to be included in the box, such as figures, weapons, ammunition, cargo,
etc. This is fine if all you want or need is the base kit, but if you wante
d a super kit to build up now it will cost you.
Take Tamiya's excellent 1/35 scale GMC CCKW cargo truck kit No. 35218. The
kit alone retails for US$36.00 and comes with a driver, but nothing else.
For an additional $11, you can purchase kit No. 35231 which is an accessory
set for this kit with another figure, a puppy, M49 machine gun ring and gu
n, cab canvas, and four jerry cans and racks mounting on the bumper. And fo
r another $13 you can get kit No. 35229, US cargo and equipment, which prov
ides crates, boxes, bags, fuel drums and other cargo to fill up the cargo b
ed of the truck. Total cost for a "complete" kit: US$60. Oh, and that does
not include the rear bed tarp either.
While you can thus take it or leave it, it comes out that the kit can be m
ore than advertised if you want to get it dolled up with custom-fitted acce
The same is true with the new kits from Italeri. Their lovely new 1/35 sca
le PT boat - available as either kit No. 5602 for Elco PT Boat PT-596 or as
No. 5613 for Elco PT Boat PT-109 - comes with a good deal of kit in the bo
x but not all of the bits needed to make specific boats, or a crew for them
either. The crew, kit No. 5606, is US$30.95 and provides ten generic PT bo
at crewmen (I guess if you want a Kennedy figure you have to find him somep
lace else!)
But in order to cover all of the bases, Italeri offers a supplemental kit,
No. 5617, which covers the missing bits not provided in either of the othe
r kits. This adds another $42 so if you want to do up a boat that is non-st
andard with crew it will run you around $272 complete. And a dock is also e
xtra, but that isn't something one would expect in the kit.
What comes in the extras? Mostly items for PT boats: a pair of radar masts
with one radar dome and mounting hardware; a full-size Mark 8 torpedo and
the smaller Mark 13 aerial torpedo; four depth charges with racks; two life
preservers with mounting hardware; a small life raft with accessories and
mounting hardware; an anchor; a 40mm Bofors gun mount; and a 20mm Oerlikon
cannon mount.
Of use to armor modelers are the 40mm Bofors and the 20mm Oerlikon. Both a
re listed as "100% new mold" items and the Bofors does look to be more deta
iled than the one which came in the separate Bofors AA gun kit (No. 6458).
This kit offers 47 parts against the 33 of the land mount and includes etch
ed brass sights. Other than the "sea legs" base most of it could be used in
a conversion of another vehicle.
Also of use is the 20mm Oerlikon. This weapon consists of 23 parts and inc
ludes a spare 60 round ammo drum. Once again it is a naval mount but the up
per part is useful elsewhere.
No decals are included and only generic finishing instructions are provide
d. Based on photos it is likely they would have been color-matched to the b
oats they were fitted to in any case.
Overall, while expensive and not of great use to armor modelers in general
it does have two nice weapons that are of use and can be fitted to items l
ike armed LVT-4 vehicles, which have photos of both guns mounted on individ
ual units. I obtained this one on sale, so by watching sales fliers it woul
d be a good pickup.
Cookie Sewell
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