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Gato Kit

Trumpeter 1/144 USS Gato SS 212 1941 Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review August 2006 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject USS Gato SS 212 1941 Scale 1/144
Kit Number 5905 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Simple build Cons
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $42.95

First Look

Gato Kit
Gato Kit
Gato Kit
Gato Kit
Gato Kit
Gato Kit

The USS Gato was first-in-class diesel attack submarine laid down in Groton CT in October 1940. She was the first of 73 examples in the class, which was an incremental improvement over the earlier Tambor-class submarines. The Gato-class had improved engines, batteries, and crew facilities to facilitate longer durations at sea.

The USS Gato was commissioned 31 Dec 1941, several weeks after the attack upon Pearl Harbor. After her shakedown cruise, the Gato was transferred into the Pacific where she conducted 13 wartime patrols before the end of the war. The USS Gato was awarded a Presidential Citation and thirteen battle stars during her wartime service. She was decommissioned in March 1946 and scrapped in March 1960.

Trumpeter has released the USS Gato in 1/144 scale and they've definitely done a nice job with the subject. I saw a built version of the kit at the Trumpeter/Stephens International booth at the IPMS/USA National Convention recently and the model looked nice. More important, in 1/144 scale, the built model is nearly 26 inches long. Those that are waiting for the Revell 1/72 Gato are going to have a huge parking problem.

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on five parts trees, plus a separate main deck. According to the specifications, there are 121 parts in the box, but many of these parts aren't really needed. Let me explain.

The kit designers did an interesting job of recreating the Gato. Not only is the external hull nicely represented, they've also included the internal pressure vessel that housed the crew and most of the machinery. In the kit, this is two halves of that long tube. Inside the pressure vessel, the designers have added nine internal bulkheads, complete with passageway door openings and an internal deck. What puzzles me is why anyone would even install this internal structure into the pressure vessel when NONE of it will be visible after the vessel halves are glued together? I'd almost be tempted to eliminate the pressure vessel if it doesn't some useful purpose inside the kit hull (like providing some rigidity to the plastic hull).

If you eliminate the pressure vessel and all of its internal parts, plus the secondary vessel for inside the conning tower, kit construction gets even easier.

The kit also comes with a display stand.

One interesting hurdle has been overcome by Trumpeter. In previous World War II US ship releases, they've overlooked the number of stars in the US flag in those days (48) versus today (50). With this kit, we now have the 48 star flag of the day in two different styles, plus the Navy Jack also in two different styles.

This is a very nice looking model that really will be a quick and easy build. The details contained inside the pressure vessel hint at a little over-engineering by the Trumpeter designers, but the modeler can choose to use or set aside these parts as they see fit. The rest will be a breeze.

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!

For a look at the built-up model, go here.