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Tupolev G-5 MTB Merit International 1:35 The G-5 was a Soviet motor torpedo boat built before and during World War II. Approximately 300 were built, of which 73 were lost during the war. Four were exported to the Spanish Republican Navy during the Spanish Civil War and others were transferred to North Korea after the war. Three were captured by the Finns, but only two were used before all three had to be returned to the Soviets after the Moscow Armistice in 1944. The class was an improved and enlarged version of the Sh-4-class motor torpedo boats which were derived from a design by Andrei Tupolev, the noted aircraft designer. It was intended to use Soviet-built engines and carry larger torpedoes than its predecessor. A prototype was designed and built by TsAGI the Central Aero-hydrodynamic Institute) in 1932–33. As its intended engines were not yet available two 1,000 bhp (750 kW) Isotta-Fraschini engines were imported from Italy. Unarmed, and with a partial fuel load, it achieved a maximum speed of 63.5 knots (73.1 mph; 117.6 km/h) during its trials in the Black Sea during 1933 and the decision was made to place it into production. The G-5 used a single-step, hydroplaning design with a whaleback upper hull. It was mainly built from duralumin which saved a significant amount of weight, but greatly complicated its use in service because of duralumin's susceptibility to galvanic corrosion in salt water. One captured Soviet torpedo boat commander said that G-5s could only be kept in the water for 5–7 days during the summer and 10–15 days during the winter before it had to be removed from the water and treated with anti-corrosion measures. The hull was divided into three compartments by two transverse bulkheads. The superstructure was very small to reduce top-heaviness, and crewmembers could not stand up inside it. Designed to use a version of the Mikulin AM-34 aircraft engine adapted for maritime use as the GAM-34. The two engines were fitted in the forward compartment of the hull. Each engine had its own transmission and drove a bronze propeller .67 m (2 ft 2 in) in diameter. The initial version of the GAM-34 was less powerful than planned at only 675 bhp (503 kW) and the initial Series 7 boats could only reach 45 knots (52 mph; 83 km/h). However the minimum speed was 18 knots (21 mph; 33 km/h) which caused a great deal of trouble when trying to moor and when manoeuvring in close proximity. The two torpedoes were carried in troughs set into the rear deck in a manner derived from that used by the British WW I-era coastal motor boats captured by the Soviets during Russian Civil War. The torpedoes were pushed off the stern by an arbor with a bell-shaped head that was activated by an explosive charge, but the torpedo motor was not activated until a wire trailing from the boat snapped, giving the boat time to turn away from the target. This launching system was very light, but it required additional training to properly aim the torpedo and prior coordination when making massed torpedo attacks to prevent the boats from ramming each other or the torpedoes. The gun armament initially consisted of a single 7.62 mm (0.300 in) machine gun, but this was upgraded to a 12.7 mm (0.50 in) DShK machine gun in later models. Some later boats carried two DShKs although the mounts varied; some were placed in a tub in the forecastle, but others carried theirs in a rotating turret behind the superstructure, above the torpedoes. Some boats carried 82 mm (3.2 in) ROFS-82 or 132 mm (5.2 in) ROFS-132 rocket launchers in fixed mounts above and behind the wheelhouse. The Model When this kit was first announced it was met with a fair bit of surprise, be it a very welcome one. The kit comes in quite a small box for the scale, as it’s not a very big craft, especially when compared with the similarly scaled Vosper and US PT boats released by Italeri. What there is though is beautifully moulded, with some very fine detail on the hull and small superstructure. On opening the box the modeller is confronted with six sprues of grey styrene, the two part hull, the moulds of which must have taken some machining to get all the well rendered curves reproduced, a single piece bridge structure, a sprue of clear styrene, a small sheet of etched brass and a smallish decal sheet. The biggest disappointment is the complete lack of internal detail, which seems to be coming a bit of a trademark for Merit. It’s like they get bored of a subject and just release as is, without any further thought on what the modeller might like to see in a kit. This does give the scratch builders and aftermarket companies something to do, but it would have been nice to have some included. Construction begins with the fitting of a small cross member just aft of the bridge opening on the inside of the upper hull, and the opening up of three holes on the upper deck. The upper and lower hulls are then joined together before being turned upside down for the two propeller shafts, which are moulded complete with their support bearings, and the two propellers. The hull is turned right side up and the two rudders, with their separate steering wire attachments fitted. Each of the three rear mounted torpedo rails are made up of two parts. These are then fitted to the centre and sides of the torpedo troughs. The transom mounted support braces are then attached, followed by to access hatches and the torpedo support cradles. The engine compartment hatch, front machine gun tub ring and forward access hatch are all glued into place, whilst along each side there are two hull strakes fitted. The various vents, hatches are attached to the sides, with the engine room clear skylights and hatch handles being fitted to the deck. The deck is also fitted with the various cleats, bollards, handrails, and boat hooks. Staying with the deck fittings, the ventilators, jack staff, torpedo trough fittings, ensign staff and the two fuel tank racks are glued into place. The three fuel tanks are each made up of upper and lower halves, which, when assembled are fitted to the racks fitted earlier. The tanks are then fitted with the eight sections of pipe work, six of which lead to the inside of the deck via the torpedo recess. Each of the long exhausts are then assembled from fourteen parts and attached to each side of the deck. At this point, we finally get to build the primary weapons of the boat, the two torpedoes. Each of them is made up from upper and lower halves, four part contra-rotating propellers, (the propellers blades being etched brass). The propellers are sandwiched between the two halves of the body, with the separate upper and lower propeller guards being attached. Each of the two DShK heavy machine guns are assembled, each made from a single piece barrel/breech, to which the rear mounted firing handle is attached, along with two fittings for the mount. The triangular mount is then fitted, along with the counterweight and three piece ammunition tank. The large searchlight is then assembled, with the mounting cradle made up from four parts and the searchlight from another three. The bridge structure is then fitted out with the five windows and top mounted screen, followed by the torpedo sighting plate, various vents, navigation lights and four hand rails. The torpedo sight is then fitted to its plate, followed by the searchlight, four piece mast, and the rear mounted gun tub, made from four parts, to which a previously assembled DShK is fitted. The forward gun tub is made from five parts and fitted with the remaining DShK. To complete the model the torpedoes, bridge and forward gun tub assembly are all fitted and the model displayed on the five piece stand, which comes complete with nameplate. Decals The smallish decal sheet contains a pair of Soviet Naval Ensigns, one straight, the other slightly wavy. The rest of the sheet contains three of each number 1 – 9 and ten zeros, to make up any numbers the modeller wishes. Although the boxart shows the two boats without numbers, it will require some research to determine what numbers were used. Conclusion This is a great looking kit, and from the build progressing on Britmodeller as I type, it looks like it goes together well. As mentioned above, you will have to add some interior as there are a few areas that make the whole boat see through. Fortunately there are some photos available that will help with this. All in all though, this will make into a very interesting and unusual model. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for