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USS Barb (SS220), in 1/72...

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"MSW crew-mate Jan Klarbæk (MrMox) shares a fine gallery of images of his 1/72 scale, Gato Class submarine in this "On Display" Feature!"

The build...
It all began last summer, when the family was on vacation in southern France. On the way back to Denmark, we had arranged to stop over in Munich at some close friends for a short visit. I also had the sneaky plan to pay a visit to a down town toy store called Obletter, as I knew, that the had Revell’s submarine type VII C in 1:72 for a decent price – around 60 Euro, which isn’t bad considering that you save the postage.

I had for some time wanted to do the VII C, but the size of the kit, and the prize had a sobering effect on me, but now I had talked myself into the utter need to get a VII, my mind was set, the cash was ready … until …. right in front of me was not one, but a full pallet with Gatos, and to make things worse, the prize was only 60, - Euros ….

Considering that the size of the VII had been an issue before, buying the Gato was sheer lunacy.

This is a very big kit, the assembled boat measures 132 cm. The base I made for mine is 140 cm x 18 cm – you are going to need a very big cabinet or like I plan, make a glass case for it. Considering the prize you get an awful lot of plastic for the money.

Revell deserves a lot of praise for tackling these big and attractive subjects, especially the Gato is somewhat of the beaten (German) path, and is probably a risky investment, as the Gato has a more limited appeal than the VII C.

When that is said, this is not a perfect rendering of the Gato, there’s a lot of omissions and shortcuts and it will provide hours of fun for anybody who wants to take this kit all the way using all the upgrades that’s slowly tickling in on the market.

But out of the box you will still get an impressive Gato, good quality casts – especially the hull sections that in my sample were strait and true – and a fair amount of details.

To get in the mood I borrowed the following books from a friend of mine:

"Thunder below" by Eugene Fluckey, commander of Barb (SS220)
“U.S. Subs in action” from Squadron
“U.S. Submarines trough 1945” by Norman Friedman

Since this was my first submarine kit (discounting the Italeri “Maiale”) it was a learning process, and I soon realized that if variations is seen on tanks and soft skins, its nothing against U.S. subs. There is a slight chance that 2 subs looked alike when they left the yard, but that would quickly change the first time one of them returned from a patrol to the usual overhaul at the yard.

Not 2 boats looks alike, buts that’s ok, we can deal with that, but ad that the same boat would change in varying degree between every war patrol then you can calculate the number of variations multiplying the number of boats (77) with the number war patrols.

Paint-job, armament, radar and radio, sizes of the fairwater, the casing on the periscopes, the number of flood holes and placement etc …. would all change and be distinctive for every single boat at a specific time.

As a modeler you only chance would be to find some decent references – pictures from the yard preferably as they were taken to document the changes – ore whatever snapshots there are. And of cause a good amount of educated guesswork.

So what have I done during my build – well not enough, but this being my first submarine, I’m quite happy with the result.

List of changes...

• Swapped the 20 mm on the cigarette deck with the 40 mm on aft deck.
• Invested in WEM´s small update for radars etc. nice little fret that takes care of the most pressing needs on the superstructure.
• Adding some pressure hull inside the area over the diving planes - it looks very empty as it is.
• Added a crew - it’s a set of 5 from warriors - quite nice, by fiddly for my big fingers...
• Open the doors aft in the fairwater - I haven’t seen any wartime Gatos fitted with those doors, probably a addition made for exhibition of surviving museum boats to keep the crowd from crawling all over the place.
• Detailed the upper casing on the sides, it’s unfortunately void of details, but is in fact riveted, a detail captured in Eduard’s Photo Etch set.
• Weld seams here and there …
• Some wires.

Painting was done with Tamiya for the basics – highlighting with Vallejo, washes etc. with oil. Be prepared – this model “eats” a lot of paint. Painting and effects took almost as long time as assembly – so if you like working with paint effects, this is a great canvas!

All in all a satisfying build a lot of modeling for your money and an “eye catcher” at any show.
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About the Author

About Jan Klarbæk (MrMox)

I want more hours in my day ....


Jan Beautiful build! I keep threatining myself with getting a Gato, but so far have resisted. This really makes me want to get one. Thank you for sharing her with us!
DEC 22, 2008 - 03:07 AM
BEAUTIFUL work sir!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
DEC 22, 2008 - 03:11 AM
Superb weathering and detail. Jan's a true master. --Karl
DEC 22, 2008 - 05:47 AM
That is one gorgeous build...cheers
DEC 22, 2008 - 06:18 AM
Thanks alot guys - you are much too kind. Sorry for getting back so late, We spent last day travelling and is right now at my familys place i PA for the hollidays - so getting online will be limited and building is not a option Anyway, had to redo the photosession 3 times to get a satisfying result, getting a decent lighting and colourbalance on something that big sure is hard. That boat is propably the most demanding paintjob I have ever done, due to the size I had to work in sections, which meant that I had a lot of difficulties keeping the consistant, but in the end, with a filterjob, it came out ok, Merry christmas to all and everyone. Cheers/Jan
DEC 23, 2008 - 07:02 AM
Truly awesome work Jan! Kenny
DEC 23, 2008 - 12:43 PM
Hi Jan Sorry for the late reply! Your Gato is great and for a first time sub build is excellent, but we already know that from your works! Thank you so much for sharing it with us Enjoy the Xmas with your family - and have a safe return! Congratulations!! Rui
DEC 24, 2008 - 03:29 AM
The sub looks great Jan, Welcome back to the states for the holidays.
DEC 24, 2008 - 12:45 PM