Reviewed by Timothy Dike
USS Patoka (AO-9, later AV-6 and AG-125), 1919-1946

USS Patoka, a 16,800-ton oiler, was built at Newport News, Virginia. Commissioned in October 1919, she transported oil fuel from the United States to European ports during the next few years, as well as performing other support services in both the Atlantic and Pacific. In 1924 Patoka was modified as a tender for the Navy's rigid airships, receiving a distinctive mooring mast on her stern and facilities for handling seaplanes. She was subsequently used as an operational and experimental base by three of the Navy's great dirigibles, USS Shenandoah (ZR-1) in 1924-1925, USS Los Angeles (ZR-3) in 1925-1932, and USS Akron (ZRS-4) in 1932.

Decommissioned in August 1933, following the loss of Akron, Patoka remained in reserve for six years. Reclassified as a seaplane tender (AV-6) in October 1939, she was recommissioned a month later and served briefly in that role, primarily in the Atlantic area. In June 1940, she returned to her original mission as an oiler, and was again designated AO-9. By late 1941, after carrying oil and other cargo in the Atlantic and Caribbean areas during the previous year and a half, Patoka had taken station at Recife, Brazil. She served there for most of World War II as a supply and repair ship for U.S. Naval forces operating in the South Atlantic. She also was employed as a personal and logistics transport during this time, and in early 1942 patrolled off Brazil in an effort to intercept enemy ships bringing vital cargo from the Japanese Empire to Europe.

In 1945 Patoka was refitted to serve as a tender for minecraft in the Pacific. Given the new hull number AG-125 in August, she spent the last four months of the year, and the first part of 1946, supporting mine clearance and other aspects of the occupation of Japan. USS Patoka returned to the United States in March 1946 and was decommissioned at the beginning of June. Soon transferred to the War Shipping Administration and stricken from the list of Naval vessels, she was sold for scrapping in March 1948.

The hull is cast in waterline style with part of the superstructure cast on. The deck and hull sides are pretty plain, but then so was the real ship. There are cast in portholes and cast on doors. The latter can be replaced with the included photo etch doors if the modeler desires. A nice deck winch is cast on forward of the breakwater on the bow. The lines of the hull appear to closely match the photos of the real ship.  Click images
to enlarge
The funnel, upper decks and a variety of nicely detailed winches and gear are cast on resin wafers. Detail is pretty good although care will have to be taken when removing them by flat sanding. 
The ships boats, vent pipes, and mast parts are cast on resin runners. The vents are well cast and I have to add that I love the numbered resin sprues! Sure makes it easier to identify the parts. 
A brass photo etch fret is supplied with railings, ladders, and especially the mooring mast. The latter is what really makes this ship. The mast has three distinct levels and a set of ladders and platforms that run up to the top. This will take some patience, but the end result should be stunning. The fret also has a number of other nice details including bridge face, platforms and rigging details. 
The instructions are fourteen pages with exploded assembly views showing the various sub assemblies. A color painting guide and prototype photos are also included. These are pretty extensive for such a small kit. 
Addendum to Kit #130 Instructions from David Angelo
Some thoughts from assembling the USS Patoka Kit:
  1. The U shaped area at the rear of the forward deckhouse is too narrow for the catwalk ladders to fit properly. It should have about .040 (1 MM) removed from each side.
  2. The instructions call for adjusting the shape of the upper rear deck to the shape of the hull at the stern. This shape should be checked against the photo etch netting part 18.
  3. The instructions call for installing the braces 19 & netting 18 in on page 5. Better to do it earlier, after the railing 17 & deck 9 are glued in place.
  4. The railings 30 need to be glued to the top of catwalk 29, not along the sides so the boom support 36 will fit.
  5. Be sure to sand away all the over pour on parts 2, A, & C. The deck edge on part 2 should be about .015 thick. Attention must be paid to keeping the deck height in sync with the front bridge face 38. Part A needs the rear corners rounded to match the deckhouse on part 2. The bridge wings need to be narrowed from the backside to allow parts 43 to touch the front corners of part 38. 
  6. The last panel in parts 43 should be cut off so there is an open space for the bridge ladders.
  7. The wheel & binnacle on top of part C are a guess on my part. Maybe they would be better installed on the front of part A behind the bridge windows. That area of part A may need a recess cut in it for them to fit.  The chart table 45 & RDF 47 can be seen in photos and are correct as modeled. 
  8. The center 5 windows in part 38 can be glazed, they were glass Patoka. The outer wings were open, with a canvas top.
  9. Part 1 needs to be shimmed about .040 at its forward foot to get the tower straight. I forgot about the curve of the deck when I drew the part.  OR This leg can be extended with the cutaway parts from 1 & 3 if desired.
  10. The lower horizontal bar of parts 3 & 16 should be removed to avoid a duplicate cross bar when the pieces are joined to part 1. Part 2 still goes at the base of these parts. 
  11. The hole in part 9 is too small to allow the part to fit in the right spot on the tapered mast. Careful filing is called for.
  12. Part R should be cut off at the bottom of the cylindrical sides. The directions arent clear on this point.
  13. The main deck railing is the 4 bar railing part 27; not part 21 as shown in the instructions. 
  14. The mooring boom tackle is a single part tackle, not the double part shown in the instructions. There should be 2 each of parts 14A & 14B glued to either side of 14. The longer, Part 14B goes at the top, attaching to the tower at part 13.
  15. The .020 X .020 radio mast goes through the hole in part 8 and projects down inside the tower when in the lowered position.
  16. In the overhead  photos the funnel had a solid cover over it so Ive modeled it without a hole. The funnel was gray with only the horizontal top black. Also the forward steam pipe should be shortened to match the ladder part 51. 



Loose Cannon East has produced yet another obscure ship that will really stand out in your Auxiliary fleet. This one is not for beginners, but those who choose to tackle this subject will have a one of a kind ship, guaranteed to stand out in the crowd. Now all we need are some 1/700 Dirigibles to moor to that mast.

This is Kit #130 - 1/700 USS Patoka listed for $60.00 US, a fair price for a complete kit with such an extensive photo etch fret. Check the Loose Cannon page for details on this and other kits.