| Title |
R/C Boats |
WWII PT-Boats |
My PT-Boats |
PT Boat information
I get lots of questions about my PT Boats, and I'm not very good
about returning emails. So I have put some answers to some of the most
Frequently Asked Questions on this page in the hopes of keeping most of
you from having to wait for an answer to your questions. Also, if you have
not already seen it, check my "PT-109 and -169 Information" page. The
link is above and at the bottom of the page. I hope the information you need is here.
I have this information broken up into two categories: information on the
real PT Boats, and information on
modeling the PT Boats. Generally, this
applies just to the 80 foot Elco PTs, because that is what I modeled.
Information on real PT Boats includes :
| Theaters of Action |
Color Schemes |
Modeling tips for R/C boats include :
| details of my PT-109 & PT-169 models |
Detailing Information |
Propulsion Systems |
Kits and General information |
What I would do different |
Boat Plans |
Other online PT Boat fans |
Information on the real PT Boats
The information below is taken from "PT Boats in action" and "United States PT-Boats of World War II in Action."
Follow the link at bottom of page, 'PT-109 and -169 Information,' for the above 2 references.
Theaters of Action
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- U.S. PT Boats served in all theaters of operation during WWII from 7 December 1941
to August 1945.
- They served in the U.S. Navy, the British Royal Navy, and the Russian Navy.
- I have read several accounts that say PT-23 of Squadron 1, one of 12 PT Boats
stationed in Pearl Harbor on the morning of 7 December 1941, was responsible for shooting
down the first Japanese aircraft of the war with it's .50 caliber machine guns.
- PT Boats were heavily involved in the South Pacific. In the early stages of the war, they came
up against destroyers and the "Tokyo Express." The majority of the action in the Pacific theater though
was "barge busting" or going after and destroying the supply barges. This was mostly the 77 and 80
foot Elco boats. The Higgins boats took a back seat to the Elcos.
- In the Pacific, the PT Boats' main weapons were not the torpedos, they were heavy caliber guns,
rockets, etc. that could destroy heavily armored barges. Many PT Boats made field installations of army
artillery cannons, and the 37mm automatic cannons from the P-39 fighter plane.
- PT Boats were very active in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO). Whereas the Pacific
Theater was mostly barge busting, the PT Boats in the MTO came up against every kind of boat
and ship the enemy could throw at them. The Higgins PT Boats ruled this Theater.
- In the MTO the PT Boats came up against heavily armored and armed ships, some, the equivalent
version of the PT Boats.
- Also in the Mediterranean, the torpedo was the PT's primary weapon, due to the types of ships
- PT Boats had a role in the D-day invasion, that of keeping the German E-boats away from the
- The PT Boats played a large part in the retaking of the Philippines. It was the PT Boats that
got Gen. Douglas MacArthur out of the Philippines in 1942, and it was aboard the PT Boats that he went
back in 1945.
* This information is based on what I can decipher from the text and pictures of the books I have. *
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- Except for the pictures of the PT Boats fresh from the factory [these were the light gray boats
with a darker (red or dark gray) below the waterline] every picture I came across of boats in action
were dark or camouflage. Whether it's dark gray or green or some variation I can not be sure.
- I'm still working on confirming the actual paint scheme of the PT Boats in combat zones.
The camouflage paint scheme is confirmed because there are so many obvious pictures of
the boats painted in camo.
- The light gray paint job on the PT Boats was the peacetime color. I was able to confirm
this when I came across a caption of a photo in one of my books. So the light gray paint job that is
shown on some of the model kits was actually the peacetime color scheme.
- I came across several references to a camouflage paint scheme called "Measure 31 camouflage"
which was designed for inshore operations. This was used on boats in the Pacific as well as in
the Mediterranean. One picture of a boat in 1944 based in the Med. had this Measure 31 scheme.
I don't really know what that means, but maybe you can find exactly what "Measure 31" means.
- Pacific Theater PT Boats were almost always painted camouflage (greens) or some form of
green with red below the water line. The reason being, the boats were harder to see against the
backdrop of the islands.
- In the Mediterranean, I believe they were more the dark gray color with the red or dark
gray below the water line, although, there were likely many camouflage boats as well.
- Elco tried a black & white "Zebra" scheme to confuse the outline of the boat. It didn't really
prove its worth in action and it was so hard to maintain that the idea was scrapped.
- A lot of PT Boats had the white star, typical of WWII marking, on the deck or the top of
the cabin. This was done, mainly in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, because the enemy boats looked
very similar to the enemy ships when American pilots were flying overhead. There were a number of
tragic cases of American pilots attacking US PT Boats.
- Early PT Boats had an ensignia painted on the cabin sides. This was the mosquito carrying a
torpedo. This logo was removed when the Boats entered the combat zone. The logo was very
obvious and stood out so much so that it looked like a target on the side of the cabin. You'll probably
see this logo on other PT Boat WEB sites. It's a pretty neat illustration of an angry mosquito ready to
drop a torpedo into the water.
* This section could be huge because of the "customization" the soldiers typically did to their boats
in the field. In general, in the Pacific, they did many "field installations" of cannons and other heavier
artilery pieces because they were attacking heavily armored, lightly armed supply barges. *
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* In the MTO and Atlantic, it seems that there was more factory installations of new weapon systems
because they were up against heavily armored AND heavily armed boats. *
- Elco boats had 4 torpedos. The first half of the war all PT Boats used old, WWI era Mk VIII torpedos
that were launched out of a torpedo tube. The torpedos were troublesome at best. They were prone to
not explode and they often missed their targets. Plus the launching method often gave away the position
of the boats at night. This was due to the charge that launched the torpedo exploding outside the tube and
lighting the PT boat up for the enemy to see. This warned the enemy of incoming torpedos
so they could easily turn into the "fish" so they would miss, and it gave the enemy an easy to see target.
- By late war, a rack system was developed that would allow the PT boats to launch airplane torpedos,
Mk XIII torpedos, from a rack. The torpedos would roll out of the rack and into the water next to the PT
Boat. The torpedos were more reliable, smaller, lighter, and just all around better. However, by the time this
new launcher was installed on PT Boats in the Pacific, the use of torpedos was a rare event due to the barge
busting campaign going on.
- All PT Boats carried a smoke generator with a non-refillable bottle on the stern. This was used often times to cover
their retreat after firing their torpedos at an enemy ship.
- At least some PT Boats carried Type C 300 pound depth charges. This wasn't so much for the purpose
of sinking submarines as it was to deter enemy ships from pursuing them.
- Elco 80 foot PT boats were armed with two Browning .M2 twin 50 caliber air cooled machine guns,
one on each side of the boat.
- Early PT Boats usually had an Oerlikon Mk 4 20mm cannon on the stern. Primary use was against aircraft, but in
the Pacific, it was great for barge busting and shore bombardments.
- The Bofors 40mm cannon was highly favored by PT crews because of the destructive power it packed. After 1943 the
Bofors was a standard feature on all PT Boats. They were usually on the stern, but could also be found on the bow of some
boats. The Bofors could only be added after the lighter Mk XIII torpedos and racks were installed. The extreme weight of
the old steel torpedo tubes being removed allowed the heavy Bofors to be added without hurting the PT Boat.
- 37mm automatic cannons were also a prized item. Early on, they were taken from a P-39 and field adapted to the
bow of the PT Boats. Later in the war, they were supplied as standard armament.
- Eight shot rocket launchers for 5 inch, fin stabilized rockets were also added to some PT Boats.
- Mortar launchers were typical armament used. Often the crews took standard army mortars which
were very hard to aim from a moving boat.
- After mid-1943, almost all PT Boats carried the following armament: Mk XIII torpedos on light weight racks, 37mm
automatic cannon on the forecastle, a 20mm cannon on the bow, a rocket launcher, a 40mm Bofors cannon on the stern,
and usually extra .50 cal machine guns on mounts on the sides of the boat.
- In the Pacific, around mid-1943, many of the 77 foot Elco PT Boats were converted to gun boats. They sometimes
carried 2 40mm Bofors and lots of other heavy fire power. This made them a formidable barge busting boat.
Modeling tips for PT Boats
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- Check out HR Products (link from my "Cool Links" page) for tons of great cast metal detail parts
including 40mm Bofors, 50 cal. guns, cleats, bitts, deck vents, fire extinguishers, etc.
- The military figures I have on my PT Boats came with the Lindberg kit. I modified them a little in regards
to their arm positions, etc. You can buy scale military figures from just about anywhere. I'd suggest your local
hobby shop first, then check some online hobby shops (again, go to my "Cool Links" page for a few sites).
- When I painted my boats, I used a dull-coat spary over the whole thing to tone down the shiny paint and decals.
The advantage was, it looked a little more realistic, the downfall was that it's hard to clean the boats after a run. After
a few short runs in less than sparkling clean pond water, the boats got a little . . . grimy, dirty. This makes them look
weathered so it does have a positive affect I suppose. Weathering in general though is pretty hard. You'll
have to use paint and a "dry" brush to lightly brush on the "weathering effects" details. Sorry, I don't know how to explain it!
- Most of the other detailing things can be found on my other page "PT Boat Information Page" (see link at bottom of page).
- Don't forget to add the limiting rails to the gun tubs and 20mm cannon. The limiting rails kept ampitious gunners from
accidentally shooting up their own boat if they had something in their sights they were following. I made them out of
thin brass rod.
- Torpedos can be modeled if you're really good. I've read about torpedos being modeled that used CO2
cartridges for propulsion. I've also read where they use small motors and props and make it just like the R/C submarines.
With a 1/32 scale kit, those torpedos might be a little small to make them functional. If anyone knows how, I can put your
information here so others can contact you!
- Frank's Mosquito Boat Hobbies sells complete kits with all the detail parts for the Dumas 1/20 scale kit. See links.
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- This isn't exactly a "propulsion" thing, but it's related - Radios can be simple 2-channel
AM surface radios up to multi-channel AM or FM surface radios. The basic you need, and what I
use, is a 2-channel AM radio. There are very good surface channel radios that give you over 7 channels
for use. You only need more than 2 channels if you want to control some of the details, such as:
a working smoke generator, turning the guns, firing torpedos [if you can model that!], etc.
One word of caution - make sure you use a SURFACE use radio ONLY!!!!
- 2 motors with direct drive or 1 motor and a transmission? Both work from what I know and have
heard from other modelers. The advantage of 1 motor and transmission is, less weight because you
have one motor and one battery. I don't know the performance differences though.
- Speed controllers:I do not have an ESC speed control because I can't afford one with
reverse that can take the 2 batteries and 2 motors. I'd say it's better than a mechanical speed control,
but I can't recommend one. Anyone have ideas? I'll put them here!
- Motors: I personally would suggest the .05 or equivalent 540 type can motor. You
can get water cooling jackets for them (also recommended!), they're cheap, and they can take a
fair amount of abuse (I've personally submerged one on accident and it still works!). Plus I've heard
from others who were concerned with a tuned, high RPM engine because it could vibrate the flexy
hull too much. Check your local hobby shop, they may have some suggestions.
- Running hardware: I just used straight 1/8" threaded brass shafts and brass stuffing tubes
on both boats. I used universal joints from R/C cars to go from the motor to the shaft. It works OK.
- I also found out from an email that Dumas also makes a complete shaft coupling kit that fits
the stock motors and shafts (1/8 inch shafts). It is Dumas stock #2008 for around $4 for each shaft.
This is basically what I had used, just in a kit form made specifically for boats.
- Running hardware con't: Many people have emailed me about using a flex shaft set up,
I have not heard how well it works though. Biggest thing is, make sure the angle of the prop shaft coming
out the bottom of the hull matches the kit angle. This will get the bow out of the water.
- For the PT 109 I used the kit props, the 169 I used counter-rotating, after-market props. I like the
counter-rotating props better because it counteracts the torque. One question I get often is what type of
prop to use. That is a good question. A realistic sized 3 blade prop (which is what they really used)
may not work well for a model. The kit props work well. I'd suggest contacting Octura
for prop suggestions. This is not Octura's
WEB site, but it has the list of props and guidelines, plus the address for Octura.
If anyone has suggestions for what works well for their boats, I'll put it here.
- I received an email regarding props that are reportedly better than the kit props. A group of PT
Boat modelers in Charlottesville Virginia have found that the Dumas prop #3002 (1/8 in. plastic prop/09),
which is a 1 1/4" diameter nylon propeller (Tower Hobbies at $2 ea.)
for 1/8 inch shafts, works great. It allows the 540 type motor to spin at high rpm which keeps it
and the batteries from running hot so you get higher speeds and longer run times. Thanks Ernie!
- The real boats ran with 3 engines, 3 props, and 3 rudders. Difficult to model, but probably not impossible.
- Lindberg's propulsion kit may still be available, but I do not know. I prefer the kit because it came with
the counter-rotating props. This can easily be duplicated with after-market props though.
Kits and General information
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- The Lindberg kit, as far as I have found, is out of production. They had a limited run
of a "special edition" kit, but that seems to be discontinued as well. I'd suggest checking
ebay and your local shop for the kit. One guy emailed me that he was selling his kits on
Ebay of the PT-109, but that was mid-2000.
- Dumas makes a PT 109 kit, 1/20 scale, but I've received emails from people that have that kit
and say the instructions are vague. Plus, most of the time Dumas kits don't come with the
running hardware. Also, I do not believe the Dumas kit comes with people, whereas, the
Lindberg kit came with the figures that are seen on my boats. See Frank's Mosquito Boat Hobbies
detailing kits for the Dumas 1/20 scale model. Link is below and on "Cool Links" page.
- Plastic models: The hulls on the Lindberg kit are rather flexy. I would strongly suggest
putting internal bracing in. I used a sheet of thin (1/8") modeling plywood to mount all of my
radio gear and motors to. This also acts as a good brace. I also put some styrene tubing across
the hull to keep it from twisting.
- Weight: I must caution against adding too much bracing and/or weight to the boat. You don't
want it sitting too low in the water. My PT 169 is too stern heavy, you can see when it's running that
the stern is way low in the water. That has to do with my placement of the batteries and motors. I
should have put them further forward. When you add the R/C stuff, including batteries, put the boat
in your tub and see if it sits on the waterline. You can use tape or pencil marks to temporarily mark
the waterline until the boat is painted.
- I've been asked about converting static kits to R/C. I say go for it! Absolutely you can
make a static display model into R/C. Make sure the hull is sealed so you don't get water leaks
and make sure you reinforce it so it doesn't vibrate apart from the motor vibration (see bracing
- Build for a price: I do not build models to sell. Sometimes I wish I had the time to, but I
don't, so I can not build you a boat. And my boats are NOT for sale! If anyone does build models
to sell, please let me know and I'll put your contact information here.
- Check out Ebay. I've heard from several modelers that
they've sold and/or bought kits and finished boats online.
- The cost of a PT Boat model (R/C or static) can range from about $50 to over $700.
The old Lindberg 1/32 scale kit was about $50 if I recall correctly. Of course, if you have to
buy the R/C gear, motors, etc., then you'll add about $200 to $300 at least for the R/C gear,
batteries, motors, etc. The Howard Enterprises kits themselves go for as much as $600+
[of course, these are museum quality and can be R/C]
I also heard, via email, that one modeler sold one of his complete PT Boats with radio for $250 on Ebay a while ago.
What I would do different
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- Try a single motor, 1 battery, running through a transmission to run the props counter-rotating
- Make a better radio box built in to protect the radio. I put that in as a last minute thought, so it's
really bad. Stuff gets wet sometimes.
- Airbrush both models, skip the spray paint. I sprayed the 169 and airbrushed the 109. Both used the
same testors paint color, but I like the tone of the 109 better.
- Redo the rudders. They fit really badly in their mounts and I always get water coming into my hull from
there. Very annoying!
- Water cooling! Water cool the engines and maybe the batteries. No air gets inside the hull. One time
when I took on a lot of water, the batteries were partly in the water. It kept them cooler and run times
increased. Of course, water in the hull is always bad, but I got a good 2 minutes longer, so water cooling,
done right, is a definite must!
- Get rid of the Tamiya style battery connectors on the batteries and speed control and replace with Sermos
style connectors (by AstroFlight and Litespeed). The Tamiya style connectors have a lot of resistance which translates into less power, lower run
times and more heat build up. See pictures. Tamiya style on left, Sermos style on right (These are Litespeed I think).
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- Heres a few places I found that have some plans:
- Taubman Plans Ship plans. He has a 1/4" scale
80 foot PT Boat plan for sale. I don't know anything about it, but I found it when I did
a search of his database of plans.
- The Floating Drydock They are the definitive
ship plans source, includes lots of PT Boat plans
- Frank's Mosquito Boat Hobbies
sells the Howard Enterprises PT Boat kits, plans, books, etc. These are museum quality models, literally!
- Smithsonian Institute
Other Online PT Boat fans
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- I have been asked several times for information regarding other PT Boat groups. I have received
email from wonderful people, some of whom had relatives who served
on PT Boats [my personal favorite is a gentleman who's father served on the PT-169!], or just
have lots of interest in them. If you are interested. I will put your
email and/or WEB page here so others can contact you direct. Just send me your name, a brief blurb
on who you are and your online information and I'll put it here.
- Ernie Dodrill, firstname.lastname@example.org, Lindberg kit modeler,
one of a large group of modelers that run the Lindberg PT Boats. Also, he has plans for extending the
length by 3", adding 3 props, 3 rudders, 3 motors. To quote Ernie, "When you see 6 [model]
PT's all in a line, breaking 3 right and 3 left at speed you have arrived, and want to be on the Lake every day!!!"
- Ben Smeaton, email@example.com
- James A. Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org
- First son of Ltjg Max L. Wilson, from Winfield IA (deceased 1979) ExO PT-169, Ron 10, 1942-'44.
Skipper Clyde "Tex" Webb.
I am interested in static plastic model kits. Need info. on 1/64 scale detail
parts for PT Boats like 40mm Bofors and other late war PT Boat armament.
- Paul (no last name given), McHaleNavypt73@aol.com.
Paul is in the Navy and wants to start an internet chat for people that are building PT boat models.
He has a Dumas PT Boat that he is working on.
- Tom B. from Canada, a R/C aircraft modeler, has a 1/20 scale Dumas PT-109. He wants to put a
.15 engine into the Dumas PT-109. Does anyone have any suggestions for Tom. Will it work or does he
need to get electric motors. Email him at email@example.com.
- Christopher S. Gamaliy firstname.lastname@example.org. Chris
has 3 Lindberg PT Boats, a PT-323, PT-141 and a PT-119.
The PT-119 has: one Super Rooster speed controller (Used also with PT 141) for both motors, 2 standard
Mabuchi 540 motors, counter-rotating 1.25 inch 25 degree props - speed 15 mph. All lights operational.
The PT-323 has: 2 Blast speed controllers independently controlling each motor, 2 modified 27 turn motors
(no load 24,000 rpms), counter-rotating 1.25 inch 25 degree props - speed 18 mph. All lights operational.
The PT-141 (Training PT Boat used by the Navy) has: one Super Rooster speed controller (used with PT119)
for both motors, 2 modified 27 turn motors (from Tower Hobbies - No load 24,000 rpms), counter-rotating
1.25 inch 25 degree props - speed unknown at this time. All lights operational.
If you want more info. on his customized PT boats, email him.