Elco PT109 Torpedo Boat Model
This handcrafted Elco PT-109 Torpedo Boat model, in 1/40 scale, is painstakingly built by our skilled craftsmen with a wealth of detail. The PT-109 was a PT boat (Patrol Torpedo Boat) last commanded by Lieutenant, junior grade (LTJG) John F. Kennedy (later President of the United States) in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Kennedy's actions to save his surviving crew after the sinking of the PT-109 made him a war hero, which proved helpful in his political career.
The only completely restored Elco PT-boat in existence, PT 617, is on display at the Battleship Cove Museum in Fall River, Massachusetts. Decorated as the PT-109, PT 796 was used as a float in John F. Kennedy's inaugural parade.
Our wooden PT-109 Torpedo Boat model is an exact replica of the original, handcrafted with vigilance by master craftsmen. After it is sanded and puttied, skilled artists paint on the intricate details. Clear lacquer provides the finishing touch and long-lasting protection. Each ship model comes on a a display base with brass pedestals and a brass name plate.
PT-109 belonged to the PT 103 class, hundreds of which were completed between 1942 and 1945 by Elco. PT-109's keel was laid 4 March 1942 as the seventh Motor Torpedo Boat (MTB) of the 80-foot-long (24 m)-class built by Elco and was launched on 20 June. She was delivered to the Navy on 10 July 1942, and fitted out in the New York Naval Shipyard in Brooklyn.
The Elco boats were the largest PT boats operated by the U.S. Navy during World War II. At 80 feet (24 m) and 40 tons, they had strong wooden hulls of two layers of 1-inch (2.5 cm) mahogany planking. Powered by three 12-cylinder 1,500 horsepower (1,100 kW) Packard gasoline engines (one per propeller shaft), their designed top speed was 41 knots (76 km/h).
For space and weight-distribution reasons, the center engine was mounted with the output end facing forward, with power transmitted through a Vee-drive gearbox to the propeller shaft. Because the center propeller was deeper, it left less of a wake, and was preferred by skippers for low-wake loitering. Both wing engines were mounted with the output flange facing aft, and power was transmitted directly to the propeller shafts.
The engines were fitted with mufflers on the transom to direct the exhaust under water, which had to be bypassed for anything other than idle speed. These mufflers were used not only to mask their own noise from the enemy, but to improve the crew's chance of hearing enemy aircraft, which were rarely detected overhead before firing their cannons or machine guns or dropping their bombs.
PT 109 could accommodate a crew of 3 officers and 14 enlisted, with the typical crew size between 12 and 14. Fully loaded, PT-109 displaced 56 tons. The principal offensive weapon was her torpedoes. She was fitted with four 21-inch (53 cm) torpedo tubes containing Mark 8 torpedoes. They weighed 3,150 lb (1,429 kg) each, with 386-pound (175 kg) warheads and gave the tiny boats a punch at least theoretically effective even against armored ships.
Their typical speed of 36 knots (67 km/h) was effective against shipping, but because of rapid marine growth buildup on their hulls in the South Pacific and austere maintenance facilities in forward areas, American PT boats ended up being slower than the top speed of the Japanese destroyers and cruisers they were assigned to attack in the Solomons. Torpedoes were also useless against shallow-draft barges, which were their most common targets. With their machine guns and 20 mm cannon, the PT boats could not return the large-caliber gunfire carried by destroyers, which had a much longer effective range, though they were effective against aircraft and ground targets.