Vietnam Era Monitor
Viking/Blue Water Navy - 1/72
By: Bradford Chaucer
Viking Model Products recently released a line of three kits on Vietnam Brown Water Navy patrol craft, among them a PBR and a Coastal Monitor, all in 1/72 scale mixed media.
The monitor kit consists of about a dozen resin parts, about two dozen white metal parts and two frets of P.E. brass, along with some iron wire and several pages of instructions. Having just about completed the Monitor, here are my impressions of the kit.
Despite a number of problems, the kit can be built up into an impressive model of an unusual subject and I would consider it to be a worthwhile 2 night kit.
The hull is rather cleanly moulded in one piece with few if any defects. It is a hollow hull, in common with other Viking kits, which certainly cuts costs and saves weight. However, this causes a few problems. First, there was a slight oil canning or dishing of the hull bottom, which was noticeable if looked at carefully however, which would not be noticeable once the model is on a base. More critical however is that the thinness of the hull material on the bottom will preclude any type of pedestal mounting as there is insufficient material to hold mounting screws. A flat base with way timbers is the only way to mount this model. A second problem, particularly if you are a bit fumble-fingered like me is that the resin around the deck well where the mortar sits is very thin. I promptly pushed it in, breaking the well floor from the sidewalls!! All however was repaired by adding a block inside the hull for the floor to sit on, however be forewarned.
The remainder of the resin parts comprised the turrets and deckhouse assemblies. They were mostly clean and well moulded with the exception of some surface defects on one small turret. The parts cleaned up nicely and had little in the way of flash or pouring sprues to remove. The only area needing careful work was in opening the pilot house windows. Careful work with a Dremel and sharp knife was needed.
fittings, i.e. gun barrels, chocks and bitts, rubber tire bumpers, winch and
it's mounting etc. were all done in white metal. Herein lies the biggest
weakness with this kit; they were mostly trash!!! The misalignment of the mould
halves was so apparent as to render many of the parts unusable. With the exception
of the 50 calibre machine guns which seemed to have come from another source,
the parts had a major misalignment step on both sides of the mould line. The
gun and mortar barrel all went into the scrap pile, and new ones were made from
brass. some of the other parts like the winch frame assembly requires major
filing and trimming to clean up. Strangely the props and prop shaft assemblies
were ok as is. the rudders needed some cleaning up and the prop/rudder skegs
looked to be rather thick and clunky but usable. Cleaning up or re-fabricating
the white metal parts accounted for better than a third of the total kit assembly
These monitors carried shielding armour consisting of steel rods welded to frames placed around the hull above the water line and around the deck and pilot houses. They were intended to stop small explosive rounds like RPS etc. All of the screen sections were provided in P.E. brass. Additionally, the rod assemblies were also cast onto the hull sides. The instructions stated that the cast on screens could be sanded off and replaced with P.E. or left as is at the modellers discretion. The screens around the superstructure had to be added from the P.E. The P.E. was very well done, the only problem being the flat effect of parts that should have been round. This is an unavoidable problem with using P.E. in larger scales. I suppose one could try to make the screens up out of brass rod and wire stock, but I for one am not that masochistic! After looking at the hull screens, I elected to leave the cast in ones. First they didn't look bad, and had a three dimensional look which the P.E. replacements lacked. They were a bit rough, though in overall effect looked like they might after a couple of months of taking some incoming, being repaired and suffering the usual run of docking impacts.
The P.E. was not bad to install on the superstructure, however, in retrospect, I should have dry fitted some of it before attaching the deck house to the hull as some trimming of the upper deck overhangs would have allowed the sections to fit more evenly. Also, I would suggest that one sand down the bottom of the deck house by about 1/64 lower the upper deck slightly as some of the screens barely made it from the deck to the upper deck overhang.
The model is painted hull red below the waterline, olive drab above with some details picked out in black. The radome is white and there is a small mast with 4 signal lights which are painted white, red and green. Flagpoles and antennas were added from wire. A flag and unit pennant would look nice.
Overall, not a kit without problems, but one certainly buildable into a nice looking model with a bit of work.