Background - The United States Coast Guard 83-foot patrol cutters were wood hulled craft. The design was completed on March 19, 1941 and Wheeler Shipyard, Inc.
in Brooklyn, New York was contracted to build 40 units. World War II started before the initial contract was completed and additional contracts were awarded to
Wheeler. In total, 230 cutters were built for the Coast Guard. The first 136 units were fitted with an Everdur bronze wheelhouse, which were prefabricated in Boston and
shipped by rail to the Wheeler Yard in Brooklyn. The remaining units had plywood built wheelhouses due to the shortage of bronze during the war. Most of the units had
rounded wheelhouses but the last 94 had vertical faced wheelhouses with flat-roofs.

The cutters were capable of reaching 20.6 knots, but the additional weight of armament, radar and sonar fitted during the war increased displacement and degraded the
speed. Initially, they were armed with a single 1-pounder gun and two .30 caliber machine guns. During the war, they were fitted with a 20mm Oerlikon gun, four depth
charge racks and a pair of mousetraps on the foc’sle. In wartime service, the 83-footers were used for anti-submarine patrols, as coastal convoy escorts and in the more
traditional Coast Guard role of search and rescue duties. For the Invasion of Normandy in 1944, 60 cutters were shipped to Great Britain to serve as rescue boats. These
60 units formed Rescue Flotilla One, based at Poole. England. The boats were renumbered, switching from the standard 83### scheme to USCG 1 to USCG 60. On D-
Day, 30 cutters covered Sword, Juno and Gold beaches and the remaining 30 covered Omaha and Utah beaches. Rescue Flotilla One was credited with rescuing over
1,400 men. After D-Day, 30 cutters were returned to the United States, 24 remained in Europe and four were transferred to the Royal Navy. Two cutters,
(83415) and
USCG 47 (83471) sank in a storm off Normandy on June 21, 1944 after suffering damage from invasion wreckage. In January 1945, 30 cutters were
shipped to the Pacific as USCG PTC Flotilla One operating out of the Philippines. An additional 24 units were shipped to serve at bases in Okinawa, Eniwetok, Saipan and
Guam. After the war, the remaining units continued to serve in the USCG into the late 1950s and early 1960s.
The Kit - Black Cat Models has recently earned high praise for its line of 3D printed accessories but when the business was first getting of the ground, Ben Druel
was looking to produce ship model kits. The 1:350 scale 83-foot cutter was actually the first product designed. My build was a test build to provide some feedback to
tweak the final release. When you look at the photographs of the kit contents, you are indeed seeing double as you get a complete set of both resin and 3D printed small
parts. Early on, Ben did not own a 3D printer, so the master parts were CAD designed and the 3D printing outsourced. The master parts were used to make molds for
resin casting, the traditional way. Fast forward many months and Ben can now do his own high-quality 3D printing, so he decided to include a set of 3D printed small
parts. Since he already had the cast resin parts, instead of wasting them he is including them as well. Also included in the final production version are turned brass
parts from Master Models. This model gives you the option of building an anti-submarine patrol/convoy escort or D-Day Rescue Flotilla cutter.

The one-piece full hull is very nicely detailed, with recessed windows and handrail on the wheelhouse, bulwark stiffeners, vents, piping, life ring, running lights and
other details cast into the part. The sides of the hull have rubbing strakes. In the deck there are deep slots and holes which are meant to fit the smaller parts. There are
also some shallower depressions which are used to mark the locations of the photo-etch round hatches. The smaller parts, both the cast resin and 3D versions, consist
of the various lockers, rafts, winch, small cowl vents, 20mm Oerlikon gun and pedestal, depth charge racks, searchlights, radome, rudders, propeller shaft struts and
propellers. In most cases, like the lockers and rafts, the resin and 3D printed versions are pretty much equal and it is up to you to decide which ones to use. However,
the 3D printed 20mm Oerlikon is lightyears better than its counterpart. The fact that you get two of the 3D printed machine guns is a bonus as you have one for the
spares box or a backup in case you mangle the first one.
The small photo-etch fret is comprised of premeasured railings, parts for the ASW mousetraps, circular deck hatches, bridge platforms, ship’s wheel and support for
the foremast. Parts to detail the resin 20mm Oerlikon, such as the shield, gun sight, shoulder harnesses and handwheel, are included but are marked not to be used
because the 3D printed version has all of these incorporated. There is a little bit of relief etching to the photo-etch parts but then again not much is needed. The
mousetraps can be modeled either deployed or stowed if you do not use the supports, photo-etch parts 5. A set of turned brass parts from Master Models is included
and they consist of a tapered foremast and mainmast, jack and ensign staffs and propeller shaft sections. The turned brass parts are a nice touch and they eliminate the
need to cut down brass rod and wire. Photos of 83-footers operating during the war show that a small yardarm was fitted to the mainmast which is not provided in
the turned brass parts or referenced in the assembly instructions. This is not really a big deal as you can easily cut down some brass wire or plastic rod.

A decal sheet with hull numbers for both the ASW and D-Day fits of the cutter, the white star painted on the pilothouse roof for D-Day cutters and the skull and
crossbones painted on the bulkheads aft of the bridge on USCG 6 during D-Day. The markings are all white and having decals with the prefixes CG-83 or USCG for
the hull numbers are a time saver. My one complaint is the lack of a 48-star U.S. flag on the decal sheet. The eight-page assembly guide is nicely done with excellent
illustrations showing how the various parts go together. The cover page has a brief history of the cutters used at D-Day in both English and French. Pages 2 and 3
breakdown the resin/3D printed, photo-etch, turned brass parts with each type numbered and color coded to facilitate identification in the assembly diagrams. Pages 4
and 5 have the assembly diagrams and parts not to be used for the D-Day fit marked with an exclamation point (!). For those parts not used for the D-Day fit, you
will have to fill in the openings in the deck. The last few pages are painting and decal placement guides with color references for the MS 13 scheme worn by
ASW/Escort cutters and the MS 21 scheme worn by D-Day rescue cutters.
The Build - As I mentioned above, my build was a test build of a pre-production version of the kit. At that time, all the parts were resin, the photo-etch was not the
final version and there were no turned brass parts. The initial photo-etch design did not have the parts for the ASW mousetraps (I suggested that they be added), so I
felt somewhat compelled to build a D-Day fit but albeit not a fully accurate one in that I kept the depth charge racks but eliminated the forward storage lockers
(resin/3D printed parts number 5). I also decided to build a waterscape model, which required flattening down the bottom of the hull to make it sit a little lower. As a
reference, I used the article on 83-footers at the Normandy Invasion in Model Ship Journal’s Summer 2002 issue (Volume Three, Number 2). After my build, I was
able to purchase a used copy of
U.S. Coast Guard Cutters and Craft of World War II by Robert Scheina. I selected USCG 21as my subject. She was completed as
CG 83402 in 1943 and stationed in Miami, Florida before being shipped to Europe. After the Normandy Invasion she was transferred to the Royal Navy but returned
to the Coast Guard in early 1946.

For the most part the kit went together well but the fit of the lockers and winch into the corresponding slots was an issue as the slots where not large enough to
accommodate the parts. I had to sand down and scrape away some resin from the plugs underneath the small resin parts. I also used an Exacto knife blade to scrape
away some material from inside the slots. The combination of the two help correct this issue. I used a micro drill bit to open up the locator holes in the deck for the
vents. I filled in the slots used for parts 5 with some plastic strip and a little putty. The photo-etch was easy to work with and the same should be the case with the
production version. However, I did find that the decals were not very responsive to MicroScale decal setting solutions and the white star and numbers on the sides
of the wheelhouse really insisted on curling up. After repeated attempts I was able to get the decals to adhere as hoped. I did not have any issues with the hull
numbers. Based on what I was told by
Ben Druel, another modeler doing a test build encountered the same issues. As a result, a different decal maker was selected
which has solved the problem. I painted the model using
Colourcoats paints, used a flag from the Gold Medal Models flag decal sheet and populated the vessel with
L’Arsenal figures.
In the end, I had a very good experience building this test model even with the minor issues I encountered. It is reassuring to me that Ben Druel listened to the
feedback provided and made what tweaks he could make to improve the model. I was very happy to see a kit of any U.S. Coast Guard vessel let alone that one that
played such an important role during World War II. In addition, this model goes very nicely with the boats from the ex-
White Ensign Models Narrow Seas range
that are being reissued by
Atlantic Models. I can’t wait to build the production version in an ASW fit. My thanks to Ben Druel for providing the samples.
Felix Bustelo
New York