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Revell 1/48 Swift Patrol Boat Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review March 2006 Manufacturer Revell
Subject Swift Patrol Boat Scale 1/48
Kit Number 5031 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Still a nice kit Cons  
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $15.25

First Look


The Swift Boats were shallow draft, high-speed boats of all aluminum construction. They were powered by a pair of V-12 Detroit Diesel engines. Their primary function, in operations in Vietnam, was coastal surveillance.

They were equipped with radar, radios, several search-lights, bunks, a refrigerator, stove, and a toilet for the five man crew. They were capable of speeds of 25 knots and only required 4 feet of water to operate.

In some operations Swifts teamed up with larger Destroyer Escorts (DER’s), using them as mobile bases for extended missions. The DER’s carried the spare crews and supplies for the Swifts as they operated in waters far from permanent naval bases. In this way the Swifts could roam in coastal waters too shallow for larger vessels. They would run to the DER’s for pit stops, fresh crews, fuel and supplies to continue round-the-clock operations.

One of the most notable Swift Boat commanders was U.S. Senator John Kerry. He commanded the PCF-94 in early 1969, during which time he saw intense action and was decorated for valor during his tour of duty.

I am headed, soon, to a contest where one of the theme awards is for anything used in Viet Nam. Normally, I only do WWII stuff. But, I thought that I would cobble something together and enter it in this category at this contest.

This kit is a re-release by Revell. Underneath the deck piece, in raised letters, is the original copyright date of 1967. The instructions give a re-release date of 2004. So, the molds are almost 40 years old. The detail is not bad for back in that era.

The kit comes in a tray and lid type box. The box art shows boat number 10 tooling down a Vietnam river with guns blazing and obviously under enemy fire. A side panel has 3 color photos of the model made up.

Inside the box is a full hull (it would have to be cut to do a water-line model ) and deck piece (this part has the anchors and their lines molded in) , and three trees of medium gray colored parts. There is also a tree of clear parts for the cabin windows and a search-light lens.. The decal sheet and the instructions complete the kit’s contents. Only the 3 trees of parts are in one cello bag. The hull, deck and clear parts are loose. It would have been nice if the clear parts had been cello-bagged, to keep them from getting scratched up.

One part tree holds the two cabin sides. These parts have the antennas, flag staff, ventilators, flood lights etc. all molded into them.

The second tree of parts holds the cabin front and rear walls, a railing, 2 x 50cal machine guns, propellers, the base stand piece and a one piece crewman figure. (9 parts)

The final tree of parts holds the propeller shafts, more railings, rudders, hull bumper strips, the helm (steering wheel), another 50 cal. and it's ring mount, a life raft, radar antenna, bits, cleats and other small fittings. (32 parts).

The biggest omission in the kit is any kind of interior detail for the inside of the cabins. This is sad, because with all those clear windows you will be able to see into that void. I am researching what might have been in there and maybe I can scratch-build some stuff to BUSY it up.

The instructions consist of a single page that accordion folds out into 8 pages.

Page one begins with a different black and white illustration of a Swift boat in action. It is different from the box art. It shows a Swift under attack and helping a wounded man aboard out of the water. Overhead is a Huey helicopter and a Corsair jet making attack runs. In the background is a Destroyer Escort.

This is followed by a history of the vessel and READ BEFORE YOU BEGIN instructions in 3 languages (including English).

Page 2 begins with an exploded view drawing that shows all the kit parts. This is followed by the first 2 assembly steps. Paint colors, that need to be done as you assemble steps, are shown in each step.

Pages 3 through the top of page 7 give us a total of 26 assembly steps. This is quite a few steps for a kit with this few parts.

The bottom of page 7 gives a listing of paint colors needed to complete the kit and an illustration of the one crewman figure supplied in the kit and what colors to paint him.

Page 8 has 2 black and white photos of the two different paint schemes possible with the kit decals. One is for boat number 10 and the other one is for Kerry’s boat number 94. A U.S. flag is also on the decal sheet, as well as a name plate that says “Swift Boat” to put on the hull cradle display base.

I think this kit will make up nicely, for what you get in the box that is. However, it is state of the art for 40 years ago and does call out for some more detail.