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 US$42.00

Advantages: provides some useful items for other projects than PT boats

Disadvantages: expensive, designed more for the Italeri 1/35 scale PT boat kits

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 ssories.

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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