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USS Fleet Boat Etch

Nautilus Models 1/144 USS Fleet Boat Etch First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review December 2006 Manufacturer Nautilus Models
Subject USS Fleet Boat Etch Scale 1/144
Kit Number 144201 Media Photo-Etch
Pros Significant detail improvement for the Trumpeter Gato-class boat Cons
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $25.00

First Look

USS Fleet Boat Etch

Nautilus Models has released two very nice detail sets for the equally nice Trumpeter 1/144 USS Gato submarine kit (see the review here, and the build-up review here). One of the limitations of the kit revolves around how fine you can make stantions and railings out of injection-molded styrene. The kit provides the details, but they look a little thick installed on the model. The best way to get the details there and be closer to scale thickness is photo-etch.

Nautilus Models to the rescue! In this release, they've provided the following details in photo-etch:

  • Aft Gundeck rail (no ladder)
  • SD-a Detection Radar
  • Aft Gundeck Rail (for ladder)
  • Fwd Gundeck Rail
  • SD-4 Detection Radar
  • SJ Radar Mounting Bracket
  • SJ Radar Dish
  • SJ Radar Bracing
  • Aft Radio Mast
  • Aft Radio Mast Support
  • Radio Aerial Supports
  • 40mm Gunsights
  • Inclined Ladder A
  • Inclined Ladder B
  • Handwheel A
  • 20mm Gunsights
  • Handwheel B
  • Safety Line Stanchions
  • Gunsight Crosshairs
  • SV Radar Mounting Bracket
  • SV Radar Dish
  • Gunmount Seats A
  • Gunmount Seats B
  • Aft Railing Assembly
  • Amidships Railing Braces
  • Railing Stanchions
  • Forward Railing Braces
  • Lookout Platform
  • Lookout Platform Braces
  • Small Ladder Steps
  • Large Ladder Steps

You obviously won't use all of these details on one boat, but Nautilus has provided the various radars and fittings to replicate most of the Gato/Balao class fleet submarines. When used with one of their resin conversions, you're provided with still more options for your submarine of choice. No two superstructures were the same once these boats went into the field and were upgraded or repaired with whatever was available at the time.

This is a nicely done enhancement for the Trumpeter Gato kit. If you stop by their website, you'll see a variety of other conversions available for the Trumpeter kit. Look for many of these conversions to be scaled up for the new 1/72 Revell Gato, but unless you have lots of display space, you can enjoy a wide variety of Tambor/Gato-class boats in 1/144 with the help of Nautilus Models.

My sincere thanks to Nautilus Modelsfor this review sample!