1/700 USS Torsk SS-423 1952
By Bruce Simard
This is the first of several conversions I will be doing using the Tamiya 1/700 Gato class Submarine. After WWII, the Navy found itself with quite a few Gato,Balao, and Tench class submarines. Many more than was needed, or could be manned with the reduced manpower of the post-war Navy. Sooooo.... off to mothballs they went. Or so it seemed at the time. Flash forward a few years, and we find the "Cold-War" starting in ernest. Now the USN finds itself trying to contain the Soviet Navy which has now undergone a serious increase. There was no way with the budgets at the time all new boats would be built, hence the Navy came up with the "Guppy" improvement program.
Eventually there were various conversions accomplished to these boats which changed them quite radically in some cases. These boats and their crews would "Hold the line" for the Navy, while the new nuke boats were being designed and built. It started out with the fleet snorkel mod. (This was adapted after tests on captured German Type XXI's post war.) Later it would progress to the Guppy I, II, and III mods, along with several sub-variations. In some cases, for instance a boat with the "Atlantic Sail and Guppy III" mod they were quite unrecognizable as the original craft. Sooooo... now that I've bored you to tears,what has this to do with modeling, you ask ? Now comes the fun.
Many moons ago, Tamiya came out with a kit of the Gato Submarine in 1/700 scale. It was quite novel at the time. It also had a 1/700 B-24, as well as a Japanese Patrol Boat. The real novel item at the time was the fact you got 2 complete kits for your money. Even today, these kits can be picked up at an extremely attractive price in some shops, and definitely on E-Bay. Trust me, I'm still picking them up....way too many mods to let this opportunity pass. It also was novel in that it could be built as a waterline or a full hull example. In my opinion these kits have more than stood the test of time. Granted today we have Gato examples in 1/72, 1/144, and now AFV just released a 1/350 example injection molded kit. Obviously the newer kits have more detail, and with that comes a much higher initial cost. Since I'm cheap, I go with the earlier kit that I get quite less expensive. This way, if I mess up a conversion build, at least I don't feel I just threw out a bunch of cash. And besides that, it really is pure fun!
Any and all comments are welcomed, "till next time .....