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Gato Kit

Trumpeter 1/144 USS Gato SS 212 1944 Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2007 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject USS Gato SS 212 1944 Scale 1/144
Kit Number 5906 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 1944-configuration USS Gato in 1/144 scale and once again, they've done a nice job with the subject. I built up the 1941-configuration boat (kit review here and build-up review here) and was quite impressed with how well the kit goes together.

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 still 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?

The only difference in this kit versus the 1941 Gato is the last parts tree that contains the conning tower. The 1941 Gato had an enclosed bridge for surfaced operations but this was removed to facilitate a gun deck platform at the front of the conning tower. The rear gun deck of the 1941 Gato also had high walls but these were cut down to the upper decal level to provide a clear field of fire for the rear upper deck gun.

The main gun was located behind the conning tower in the 1941 Gato, though Trumpeter had premolded the deck extension sponsons ahead of the conning tower. These sponsons provide room for crews to work behind the gun while it is aimed off the port or starboard sides. In this release, the main gun is up forward with its pre-positioned sponsons.

The kit also comes with a display stand.

Definitely recommended to the submariner modelers out there.

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!