Italeri 1/35 M.T.M. "Barchino"

By Chris Banyai-Riepl

Overview

As this kit showed up literally hours before this issue came together, I did not have much time to research this boat. Luckily, though, the kit comes with a wonderful booklet that contains a brief history as well as over 20 pages of walkaround photos! In short, the M.T.M. (abbreviated for Motoscafo da Turismo Modificato, or Modified Leisure Motorboat) was an incredibly successful part of the Italian Navy, where these fast and small boats with explosives in the front would ram into enemy ships. They were not a suicide mission, either, as the driver, located at the extreme aft end of the boat, would fall out backwards, surviving to fight another day. Sort of, anyway, as the brief history provides very little information on these brave drivers, other than to say that none lost their life, and that in one operation all were captured after performing their mission.

The Kit

The kit by Italeri is quite simple, much like the real vessel, and includes both plastic and photoetch pieces. The plastic is molded in light gray, with the usual crisp detailing that we have come to expect from Italeri. This includes a standing figure as well. The photoetch is of a heavier brass than you might expect, but it should pose no problems in usage. A small decal sheet provides the few markings found on these boats, as well as a pair of titles for the stand.

The instructions are a bit of a departure from what you might expect, employing photos of the kit parts rather than drawings. Still, these are easy to follow and there should be no real surprises here. The hull is split into a right and left half, with the upper deck all separate. Interior fittings are minimal and include the explosive charge in the front and the driver's section in the back. The explosive is simply a cylinder, made up of four pieces, mounted on two brackets. The driver's section is a bit more complex, but still fairly simple. The instrument panel is photoetch, with decal instrument faces. There is a separate steering wheel and separate floorboards and seat. A forward bulkhead mounts all this to the hull, and another bulkhead at the front end adds strength and detail for the explosive charge area.

The back of the hull is separate and gets a separate multi-piece engine fitting. The contra-rotating propellers are provided in photoetch, which means you will have to bend the blades to shape. An interesting feature of this boat is that the aft propeller is a three-bladed type, while the fore propeller is a two-bladed one. The upper hull is in three main pieces, mainly so you can have the forward section open to show the explosive charge. The flotation cushion for the driver is separate piece, as i the coaming around his compartment. After that, all that remains are the details, and these are a nice combination of photoetch and plastic.

Painting this boat will be quite simple, as these were basically overall gray with a black lower hull. Interestingly, although the photos, profiles, and painting instructions all show the bottom as black, the painting on the boxtop has a red hull bottom. Speaking of the boxtop painting, this is also presented as a pull-out print, suitable for framing for those so inclined.

Conclusion

This is an absolutely fascinating subject for a model kit, and the quality Italeri brings to the table makes it a great kit to have. Even if you are not normally a ship modeler, this might be one worth picking up, both for its uniqueness and its simplicity. Of course, I cannot quite get beyond the "Modified" portion of the title, so I am already wondering if it would be possible to convert this boat into a 1930s Italian pleasure boat. The booklet seems to indicate that these were custom built for military purposes, but perhaps someone could shed some more light on that for me. My thanks to MRC for the review sample.

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