US Coast Guard 83" Patrol Cutter

Black Cat Models. 1/144th scale. Resin
Reviewed by Devin Poore, August 2019

The 83' Coast Guard patrol cutters were wood hulled, and initially fitted with a bronze wheelhouse. While metal shortages later dictated that wheelhouses were to be made from plywood, the entire class followed mostly the same construction methods, with over 250 units built. The boats served a variety of purposes, most notably anti-submarine search and warfare, and air search and rescue. Sixty of these boats were specifically outfitted for search and rescue during the Normandy invasion, with the majority of their armaments stripped away for the purpose. Nearly 1500 men and women were rescued by these boats during that operation. The cutters also served in the Pacific theater, performing their usual anti-submarine warfare and patrol duties. Post-war, many of the craft served with the Coast Guard, continuing on with their Search and Rescue duty, as well as being used for harbor security. The last 83 footer served until being decommissioned in 1963.
The hull is a single-piece, full-hull, resin casting. Detail is outstanding, with handrails, bulwark supports, and small details such as vent pipes, life rings, horns and other details crisply represented with no flash or voids. What little cleanup there is to do be done on my copy is on the lower part of the hull, on smooth surfaces that won't be a problem to sand. The only possible issue I see with my casting is that the bow line fairleads are not hollow, and appear as if they were filled with excess resin during casting. These are easily drilled out, though. I have only one issue with the entire kit, and it's here on the hull: the wheelhouse is solid, and as such the windows are cast as part of it. It would be nice to be able to open those up for a little interior detailing, as it would certainly show in this scale, but I can understand why Black Cat went with a solid representation.

Assuming the full sized boat's hull was exactly 83" long, that would be 6.9" or more precisely 175mm in 1/144th scale. This hull measures out to almost exactly that.

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The other cast resin parts in the kit make up the bulk of the details. Vent cowlings, ammo lockers, life rafts, storage lockers, searchlights, props, and everything else are included on these casting gates. Everything is clean and well detailed. The parts are all on runner casting blocks, which look to be easily removed. The only issue I had is that all of these parts are shipped in a single plastic bag, and a few of the finer pieces had broken free in transit. It doesn't appears as if the pieces themselves are damaged, but it'd have been nice if they had been packed as well as the hull and 3D printed resin bits.

One item to note is that the 20mm gun mount is provided both as an assembly of cast resin and photo etch, or as an assembly of completely 3D printed components. The builder can decide which they prefer to use.

The 3D printed components of the kit are the above mentioned pieces for the 20mm mount: pedestal, shield, gun assembly (barrel, sight and shoulder braces, all printed as a single piece), ammo drum, casing bag, and elevation wheel. Also included as prints are duplicates of the stern smoke generators.
A small sheet of brass contains the boat's safety rails, ship's wheel, and several pieces of deck equipment supports. Also included are the gun shield and elevation wheel for those that wish to use them in place of the 20mm mount printed pieces. 

Additional brass is included in the form of turned accessories with the Master logo. These include components for the mast (verticals and yardarms), prop shafts, flagstaffs, radio aerials, and a 20mm gun barrel.

The decals are mostly numbers, USCG letters, and a skull-and-crossbone "nose art" for a specific cutter involved in the Normandy invasion.

Instructions are on 8 pages, front and back, small format. The cover has a brief history of the class, along with a duplicate of the box cover art. The following two pages have an inventory of the kit's parts, color coded to denote if they are cast resin, printed resin, or brass, and specify the number of each included. Assembly steps are covered on 2 pages. There are no written instruction, but color-coded CAD perspective drawings, that show the placement of all the pieces. In theory this should be enough, as there are indentations in the deck for the equipment. The model can be built as either an anti-submarine version, or the D-Day rescue craft, with those optional parts being called out in the drawings. The final 3 pages of the instructions give plan and profile drawings of the ship in both anti-submarine and D-Day versions, with color recommendations and decal placement. 
Another stellar offering from Black Cat Models. Yes, I sound like a broken record (do people even know what those are anymore?) but everything I've seen from them has been exemplary. The resin cast parts are very high quality, and the 3D printed resin accessories are the best I have ever seen. The instructions appear to be adequate to build the model, but additional photos and references will help get all of the details in the right places. Additional research should also allow any number of variations to be built from the kit, as there were hundreds of these boats, many of them modified by their yards and crews.

Highly recommended.

Thank you to Black Cat Models for the review sample.