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Periscope Up!
AFV Club’s USS Gato SS-21
In 1/350th scale
By: Valentin “the Evil Mad Cao” Bueno

Featured in June 2011 Newsletter

AFV Club has been really upping the stakes in the world of 1/350th scale submarines. They started off with the German U-XXIII several years ago and then in 2009, they started releasing other U-Boats and Japanese submarines. Finally, they have released a 1/350th scale US submarine in the form of the USS Gato in its 1941 fit. They have also released the 1942 and 1943 outfitting of the USS Gato and these can be easily converted into other ships of the class.

Out of Drydock

As usual I built this kit out of the box. I’ve run out of time and energy to do anything else. The model goes together easily. The fit was as spot on as one can get with only one exception, the fit of the waterline hull to the underwater hull. This was the only seam that I had to sand with any vigor. All other seams (the one between the conning tower halves for example) disappeared with a few swipes of the nail buffer.

I will admit that I lost a few parts on this build. For instance, I dropped and lost the conning tower front piece. I have no idea where that tiny little thing flew off to. Oh well.

The entire model was sprayed with IJN Kure grey (isn’t that an oddity) only because it was readily at hand and because it really wouldn’t matter after all the weathering I was planning to add. The lower hull was masked off and sprayed with a rattle can Tamiya Dull Red. This was followed by a sludge wash. I added subsequent additional sludge washes in the downward direction to look like water running off of the hull staining it.

Black pastel was added to all the weld lines and around all the hatches in the deck. Rust pastel was added to areas I thought would have rust stains. MiG Productions Concrete pigment was mixed with Tamiya thinner and plastered all over the underwater portion of the hull. After this dried, I used a cotton swab moistened with thinner to remove as much of the pigment as I could. This left some nice streaks of green algae looking material along the waterline and in the weld seams.

Last Patrol

After all the rough handling was done with the weathering, I glued the model to the kit supplied stand and added the PE parts. The kit supplied PE parts include the propeller guard of the fantail and the railings along the deck. These were painted with the Kure Grey before I cut the parts from the PE sheet.

Oh wait the stand. The stand was glued together and this included a plastic base, two uprights to support the ship and a name plate with raised letters for the ships name. The whole thing was sprayed with Tamiya Matt Black from, what else, a rattle can and allowed to dry. I highlighted the name of the ship with white weathering powder from Tamiya.

As a last step to humanize the model, I added several figures from Fujimi’s IJN Crew set. Quit your moaning! I dare you to be able to tell the difference between a 1/350

scale figure painted as an IJN figure or as a US submariner. Go on, I dare ya! I cannot wait for the 1943 version of this submarine to be released. It’s going to be painted PINK!

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