Elco 80' Torpedo Boat PT-596
Italeri Kit #5602
1:35th Scale
Review by Terry Ashley

ItaleriItaleri continue to break new ground with their 1:35 releases providing kits not tackled by others (DUKW and AB41/43/AS42 to mention a couple of examples) and we now have this massive kit of the ELCO 80’ Torpedo Boat PT-596 which measures out at 700mm in 1:35 scale.

A boat review on PMMS I hear you say, well it is 1:35 and includes an excellent selection of weaponry such as the 40mm Bofors, 37mm M9 gun, 20mm Oerlikon and twin .50cals that make the crossover for vehicle modellers all the more appealing.

The most notable thing about the kit other than its size is the inclusion of a 47 page reference book with detailed history of the ELCO PT Boats plus detailed walk around photos of a preserved boat and is perfect for vehicle modellers who wouldn’t have any reference on boats in their library. The book has many B&W wartime photos of Elco’s as well as colour detail photos to compliment the text which gives a technical description with development and service history along with the photo captions adding more info, an excellent bonus.

The model represents the latest configuration from WWII with the rocket launcher racks on either side of the deck and the torpedoes in the simple ‘roll off’ racks as opposed to the tubes used on early types with a full description given in the reference book.

The Kit:
The kit itself has 370 parts in light grey plastic, 87 etched parts in 0.4mm metal, 2 metal barrels for the Bofors and M4 guns plus a clear sheet for the many small windows and lengths of twine, wire, a small mesh sheet and screws to hold the deck in place. Added to this is the decal sheet and a 32 page instruction sheet all in a massive box measuring 725mm x 460mm x 105mm, something to take into account if ordering by mail.

The standard of moulding is excellent overall with clean crisp mouldings and a bare minimum of pin marks with those present being quite shallow making them easy to deal with. There are quite prominent mould seams on most parts which will take a bit to remove before assembly and this will need care on the many small finely moulded parts. There is also the odd sink mark about the place but these are in the minority although a bit tricky to fill when present and the plastic is of the softer variety making cleanup and assembly a little easier.

You will have to forgive me if some of my nautical terms are a bit off as apart from the LCMs of last year I rarely delve into boat kits.

The lower hull is in one large moulding with just two small moulding points on the keel to be trimmed with this being to only cleanup needed and the moulding is quite thick to eliminate any hint of warpage. There are openings at the rear for the separate screw shafts and rudders with moulded on bracket detail around the openings.

Added to the bottom are the three screw shafts and screws with separate support brackets plus the three separate rudders which are attached with small washers on the inside so they are movable and on the stern are the six large exhaust mufflers and valves.
On the bow the lower metal shield is provided as an etched part with the bolt heads included and it is very easy to bend the part on the hull itself using the keel as a guide but the metal part has to conform the hull contours and annealing by running the etched part through a candle flame before hand will make this a little easier.

The full upper deck is also one large moulding and again is quite thick to eliminate warping but the thickness is not noticeable after the deck and hull are joined together by means of the seven self tapping screws provided, just don’t over tighten these as its easy to strip the soft plastic from the screw holes.

The deck includes the subtle curvature across the foredeck and there are many small locating holes to be opened up for the deck fittings and the fact that not all the holes are required for the kit indicates there may be another kit to follow, an early configuration perhaps?

On the foredeck are the side hand rails moulded to match the deck curvature and the many small deck lights have clear sheet pre-cut to size with etched outer frames and the two forward and one stern access hatches are separate with inner hatch detail allowing these to be shown open if you wish but there is nothing inside the hull to see if you do.

The deck can be attached to the hull now or after final assembly with the instructions showing to do this after the deck structures have been added but before adding the weaponry so the choice is up to you but handling may be easier if the deck is left separate as the instructions indicate.

Added to the deck are multipart bridge, deck house and rear engine compartment assemblies and the fit of the major components was very good overall with the only trimming needed at all was to round out the inner wall of part 35D to fit the inner part 5B better and there were only very small join lines that shouldn’t require any actual filling apart from the usual seam cleanup after the glue has dried.

On the inside of the bridge is the instrument panel with etched parts and decals for the instruments and it may be easier to paint this before fitting inside the bridge housing. Any exposed pin marks on the inside walls are easily filled as the walls are mostly flat surfaces.

The central deck house has the many small windows in pre-cut clear sheet with etched outer frames and again the fit of the walls and roof is very good making for a relatively quick assembly. There are additional fine grab rails along the sides and roof and as mentioned care is needed when removing the fine mould seams from these parts.

Further aft is the engine compartment with the fine mesh provided used on the large intake with the fit of the parts again very good with all three structures having locating lugs that fit into slots in the deck and you should ensure these sit as flush to the deck as possible while gluing in place.

Once the main structures are together there are numerous smaller bulkheads such as at the back of the bridge with these having etched inner support brackets as well as the aerial mast with etched star aerial and the searchlight with a separate clear lens.

Added to the roof of the bridge is a nicely moulded life raft in just two parts but looks very convincing and there is a fine frame rail added over the engine deck which will require care removing from the sprues and in cleaning the mould lines but looks nicely to scale.

The large radar mast is mostly moulded in one piece with smaller details added and this makes for a nice robust mast topped of with an etched radar antenna and you are provided with a large four part stand to sit the assembled Boat on for display that comes with a couple of nicely printed name labels for a nice finishing touch.

The weapons:
Assembling the Boat itself is probably the easiest part with the large assortment of weapons provided really lifting the model to a new level.

The four lightweight Mk.XIII torpedos are in two halves each with engraved surface details and open nose hook with the fit being very good leaving just a small join seam easily sanded smooth. The small twin screws are nicely done but there is a bit of cleanup needed on these with the four fins provided in etched brass for simple but nice looking torpedos.

The roll off racks are nicely moulded with very small attachment cable eyes and wing nuts with the torpedos attached with the fine wire provided with these mounted on simple deck racks.


5” Rocket Launchers:
The later Elco Boats had two eight-tube 5” Rocket Launchers mounted either side of the foredeck and these are made up of two racks of four tubes moulded in the usual halves which have additional etched parts for the mountings. There are a couple of pin marks on the mounting posts to deal with but the fit overall is good and the racks can be positioned in the stowed or firing positions as required.

The rocket storage boxes are also provide and the lids can be shown open or closed with 12 rockets included in the box moulding to show if open.

Twin Browning .50cal:
There are two hydraulically powered twin .50cal MG turrets fore and aft with each in two parts that fit neatly together and the thin guard rail added to the front. The rear backrest of the turret has a fairly large mould seam to be removed but other than that there is no other cleanup required.

The MGs themselves are superbly moulded with excellent received details which are actually some of the better plastic .50cals you will see and have the aircraft type perforated barrel cooling jackets. The cooling holes may be a little oversized and the muzzles could be drilled but the overall effect is very good.

The cocking handles are rather basic but the thumb firing levers are included at the back and the two are joined by a large pin on one and the locating hole on the other, there is also a sizable pin mark on the inside of one gun but this is hidden when they are fitted together.

Added to the guns is the lower mounting ‘tray’ and nicely moulded .50cal ammo belts which you need to carefully bend to shape and the guns can be fitted to the central mount so they can elevate as well as the turret traverse.

Added to the turrets are very intricate ‘cages’ with very thinly moulded railings that again will require care removing the mould seams but again have a good scale feel to them.


20mm Oerlikon gun:
The gun is moulded in one piece with excellent details and just the mould seam to be removed but the muzzle could do with being drilled out for a better look and the distinctive ammo drum is superbly moulded with crisp details. There are four magazines provided, one for the gun and three for storage and these are in two parts each with the magazine and one end section separate for good definition but there is a minor sink mark on a couple of the magazines which should be easy to fill.

The gun is mounted on a simply pintle mount with separate legs that fit into the deck mounting plate and its best to fit the legs pins to the mounting plate at the same time as gluing them to the mounting (part 4F) to ensure everything lines up correctly.

An ammo storage locker is provided which has etched latches and this is positioned on the deck behind the gun with the three additional ammo drums positioned on top of the locker. 


37mm M9 gun:
The Oldsmobile 37mm M9 Automatic Cannon from the P39 Airacobra fighter plane with a distinctive curved 30 round magazine and mounted on a simply deck mounting plate on the foredeck and was especially useful against surface target such as Japanese barges.

The kit gun is in two halves and the large curved magazine as a separate part with a choice of plastic or metal barrels plus the rear firing handles for a fairly simple assembly. There is again a large moulding seam on the inside of the magazine to be removed while the seam line over the moulded on 37mm rounds is along the shell casing/round join and can be left to better simulate this join just being trimmed from between the rounds.

Added to the magazine are two etched frames and four cross members that add considerably to the final appearance but you must ensure the two frames are positioned evenly or the cross members will not sit correctly.

The simply ‘U’ pintle mount fits tightly to the gun which is good as the gun doesn’t flop about and this mounting is held to the lower mounting by an inner washer that allows the gun to rotate as well as elevate in the upper mounting.


40mm Bofors gun:
In some ways this is the centre piece of the model especially from an armour modeller’s viewpoint and is an extremely detailed assembly with the gun and an elaborate mounting base and deck mounting plate.

The gun has the large receiver in two conventional halves with very good details included that match photos well including the lower toothed elevation bracket with again nice details included. There is a separate cocking handle and rear bracket and the good fit of the gun halves means the resulting join seam is very easy to deal with once the glue has dried but the upper ammo clip guides are a little thick and could do with careful thinning for a better appearance. 

There is also a choice of plastic barrel with separate flash suppressor or one piece turned aluminium barrel with flash suppressor included and the choice is very easy really.

The gun has the two lower equilibrator cylinders are in two halves with separate end caps and again the fit is good making cleanup of the join seam easy along with separate piston arms. If you do not glue the pistons to the cylinders or the elevation bracket when the gun is trapped between the two gun mountings (parts 16F and 34F) then the gun will elevate after assembly. You are provided with three 4 round ammo clips but photos show the clips mounted in the gun have 5 rounds while those on the rear ammo racks have the 4 rounds as depicted?

Added to the gun is the upper sight frame with the four circular sights provide as etched parts for a finer appearance than could be obtained from plastic parts and added to the gun mountings are the left side elevation hand winder.

The large mounting base has numerous parts including the central mounting guides, the two ‘gunner’s’ seats with the small cut-outs included as well as the lower and rear mounting frames that again will require care in removing the moulding seams but a quite thin in overall appearance.

The gun mounting is attached to the large deck plate with an underside securing disc to allow the whole mounting to rotate for quite an impressive assembly.

There are some smaller details that can be added as with any kit with the reference images showing these if you wish to add the finer details to further improve the gun assembly.


The large instruction booklet has clear exploded view drawings and I had no problems following the sequences but as always you should study these carefully before any cutting or gluing to avoid any problems.

The small sheet has the markings for the one Boat PT-596 U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet RON 39, Samar, Philippines, 1945 plus the US Flag to add to the mast and some small stencilling data.

There is a problem with the decals in that the black shadow is along the top and left on some numbers and the top and the right on others when the black shadow should actually be below and to the right of the white numbers as shown on the box art, hopefully an aftermarket company will come to the rescue?


Also included are two large name stickers to add to the stand if you use this to display the model.


This kit has probably more cross over appeal between genres than even 1:35 Helicopters with the inclusion of the excellent weapons selection but other than that it is a very well done kit with very good details and just the mould seams on the parts contend with.

The fit of most parts is very good and while the level of detail is good there is plenty of scope for adding more details and the larger 1:35 scale certainly adds to the possibilities. The etched metal parts while thicker than a lot of 1:35 sets at 0.4mm certainly do not look over scale when the parts are fitted with most looking more ‘in scale’ than some of the thinner parts in other kits.
While Boats are not my forte I know a good kit when I see one and this has all the ingredients for a superb model. It Italeri were to release the 40mm Bofors as a separate kit with ground carriage it would certainly be very well received by armour modellers as would the continuance of this series with say a German S-Boat, that would be quite something in 1:35 scale.

Highly recommended

The Sprues
Click for larger view,
Detail images
close new window to return to review

PT Boats in action
Ships in action #4007
Squadron Signal Publications

ISBN: 0-89747-312-4



WWII US War Department Technical Manual CD-ROM TM9-252 40mm Anti-aircraft Gun (Bofors)

Easy 1 Productions #T006


Thanks to Italeri for the review kit.

Page Created January 5, 2007

Click Browsers BACK button to return to list
Home / Reviews / Vehicle Reviews / Italeri