USS Sargo (SS-188) was the lead ship of her class of 11 submarines. Construction begin on May 12, 1937 at the Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut. She was launched on June 6, 1938 and commissioned on February 7, 1939. Sargo had the
distinction of being the first submarine equipped with a new lead-acid battery designed by the Bureau of Steam Engineering to resist battle damage. To prevent sulfuric acid leakage, the battery had two concentric hard rubber cases with a layer of soft
rubber between them instead of a single hard rubber case. The design would prevent the dangerous leaking of sulfuric acid if one of the cases cracked during depth-charging. Leaking sulfuric acid would be capable of corroding steel, burning the skin of
crew members it came into contact with, and if mixed with any seawater in the bilges would generate poisonous chlorine gas. The new battery design was dubbed the “Sargo battery” and was the standard battery design until the GUPPY program post-war.

Sargo measured 310 feet 6 inches long with a beam of 27 feet and a draught of 13 feet 9 inches. Normal displacement was 1,450 tons surfaced and 2,350 tons submerged. In her original fit with the large conning tower, she had a 3-inch gun fitted aft and
a .50 caliber gun on the aft deck of the conning tower and on the main deck forward. Later during the war, during her first overhaul, the conning tower was cut down to reduce her silhouette and two unshielded 20mm Oerlikons were fitted on the
cigarette decks. The 3-inch gun was also moved forward. Later in the war, a 4-inch gun was fitted aft and the 3-inch gun removed.
Sargo had eight torpedo tubes, four at the bow and four at the stern, and she carried a load of 24 21-inch torpedoes.
Sargo left the east coast on July 1939 for duty with the Pacific Fleet, transiting the Panama Canal and arriving at San Diego, California, in mid-August. She operated in the eastern and mid-Pacific for the next two years. She departed Pearl Harbor on
October 23, 1941, for Manila and was there when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th.

The day after the attack, she began her first war patrol long the coast of French Indochina and to the Dutch East Indies. While on this patrol, she encountered several merchant ships and a tanker but with no hits.
Sargo’s skipper, Lieutenant Commander
Tyrell D. Jacobs, called into question the Mark 14 torpedo’s reliability with headquarters.

Sargo conducted a few other patrols around the Dutch East Indies before heading to Freemantle, Australia. One day out of Freemantle, she was attacked by an Australian airplane, which mistook her for a Japanese sub. She suffered minor damage due
to a near miss by a bomb and arrived safely to her destination on March 5, 1942. With the panic over a potential Japanese invasion of Australia,
Sargo was detailed to guard Darwin's approaches, however no invasion occurred.
Sargo conducted two patrols out of Australia with limited success, due to the issues with the Mark 14. Her one sinking was a cargo ship which suffered some damage from a torpedo but was finished off with fire from her deck gun. On her sixth patrol,
while heading to Pearl Harbor,
Sargo finally had some success. On December 31, 1942, she encountered an enemy tanker and fired four torpedoes while submerged. Although heavy explosions could be heard, that sinking was never confirmed. After
arriving at Pearl, she left for San Francisco and a three-month overhaul in the Mare Island Navy Yard.

After her overhaul,
Sargo conducted six more patrols and credited with the sinking of six merchant ships. During this time period, she had another major overhaul in May 1944 at Mare Island. Sargo finished her wartime career as a training submarine in the
Marshall Islands and Eniwetok Atoll. She arrived at Mare Island on August 27, 1945 and decommissioned on June 22, 1946. She was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register the following month and sold for scrap on May 19, 1947.
Sargo was awarded
eight battle stars for her service in World War II and received the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation.
The Kit - The Blue Ridge Models kit 1:350 scale Sargo kit gives you the option of building the submarine in her as built fit, with the large conning tower, or 1943 fit, with the cut down conning tower. You could build a later war fit, but you would have
to obtain a 4-inch gun from another source. You could conceivably build any of the boats in this class with some research to account for any differences they may have had. The kit is comprised of resin, 3D printed and turned brass parts, photo-etch
parts and a decal sheet.

The main part is the full resin hull which has a casting runner along the keel on the rear half of the hull. The hull is full of details, such as the numerous limber holes, torpedo tubes and wood planking on the decks. The deck has several openings to fit the
conning tower and other parts. In order to build an as built version, a large number of the limber holes will need to be filled in. The deck edge has slight recesses to help with the placement of the main railings. The two different conning towers are also
done in resin and are well detailed with portholes, running lights, and access doors. There are slight recesses were railings are to be fitted on the conning towers to help with their placement.

The smaller resin parts are comprised of the rudders, diving planes and top of the conning towers. Other resin parts include the original planked sections or the wartime blisters that were fitted aft into the large opening long the deck edges. Some additional
resin parts include a .50 caliber gun and parts for the 20mm pedestal and gun. The resin parts come on casting runners and generally very cleanly cast with some excess resin wafer needed to be removed from the .50 caliber gun and light clean-up on
some other parts.
A number of parts are 3D printed and come on several bars. One set of parts include the anchors, mooring cleats, aft chock with a stern light, hatches, capstans, searchlights and the pedestal for another 20mm gun. This set of 3D printed parts were
printed using a very brittle but hard material, which made removal troublesome. The other two bars of 3D printed parts include the propeller struts, stern diving planes support arms, 3-in gun and mount, 20mm gun barrel, loop radio antennas, the second
.50 caliber gun and the propellers. These parts were printed using a different media which is similar to that used by
Black Cat Models and Model Monkey, which is easier to remove and work with.

A photo-etch fret is provided with deck railings for both the as built and wartime fits and the conning towers, propeller guards, vertical ladders, conning tower details, hatch hand-wheels, parts to detail the 20mm guns, deck plates, aft diving plane
support arms (in case you don’t wish to use the 3D printed versions) and torpedo loading cranes. There is some relief etching on the conning tower railings to help fold them at the right spot. The turned brass parts include the different periscopes and
snorkel. A decal sheet with conning tower and hull numbers and boat names is provided for the as built version.

The instructions come in a 12-page color booklet. The cover page, page 1 has a brief, partial history of
Sargo. The first two pages have a breakdown of the kit parts, with the resin and 3D printed parts common to both fits at the top of page 2 and the
parts unique to each fit broken down in the bottom half. Page 3 has images of the turned brass parts, the photo-etch fret and the decal sheet. There are some assembly notes at the bottom. Pages 4 through 9 breakdown the assembly of the model from
bow to stern and clearly pointing out what parts are to be used for each fit option as needed. At different points, the diameter and length of brass rod is provided in millimeters to make staffs, rigging posts and the torpedo loading cranes. The last pages
provide painting instructions for each fit and the placement of the decals for the earlier fit.
The Build - I decided to build the model as Sargo in her 1943 fit, but with the cranes and rigging in place as per the kit instruction. Basically, the model went together well but there were a couple of issues, some with the kit and some thanks to yours truly.
The hull was very cleanly cast and removing the runner was not too difficult using a #11 blade and scoring it enough to break it off along the keel and taking more care at the stern as not to damage the rudder skeg. A little bit of cleanup along the keel was
need with some sanding and filling. I drilled two holes along the keel to fit a pair of brass rod sections to display the model. A dry fit of the conning tower showed that the fit was too tight, so I had to scrape away at the opening in the deck towards the
back to allow it to fit better.

As mentioned above, the 3D printed parts that were comprised of the anchors, mooring cleats, capstans and hatches were printed on a very hard but at the same time brittle material, which made removal from the bar even with the seemingly thin
attachment points a bit problematic. All the parts needed some additional cleanup where the part was attached and to do this, I placed the part on some blue masking tape to hold it in place while I used a razor the remove the remnants of the attachment
points. Otherwise the parts would have probably gone flying into the abyss of lost parts. Trying to remove the aft chock with the stern light turned out to be an impossible task without breaking off the stern light – I went through all of them, even breaking
one in half.

The other 3D printed parts, which were printed using a different type of resin material, where much easier to work with. However, while attempting to attach the first V-strut to the hull, the piece plinked out of my tweezers and into the aforementioned
abyss, not to be found after searching all around for a day on and off – sigh…  So, I had to dip into the spares box and I found a suitable pair of leftover struts from an
Iron Shipwrights kit that needed to be cut down a little using the surviving kit strut as
a guide.
The kit 20mm guns require attaching the gun barrel to the pedestal and then adding PE shoulder harnesses, sights and elevation wheels – this made me appreciate the 3D printed versions that are now available infinitely more. After putting these together, I
attempted to glue them into place only to find out that they are too large to fit properly. On the front cigarette deck, it does not clear the conning tower and on the aft deck, it gets in the way of the loop antenna. Since these 20mm guns had no shields, I
substituted them a pair of
Black Cat Models guns after removing the shields the best I could - they were the right size and fit properly.

The photo-etch was mostly easy to work with but the aft deck railings were a bit of a challenge to attach due to the length and due to the gaps over the blisters, they were a bit flimsy. I found that the forward railings were too long and overlapped the aft
railings a little bit, not leaving the gap as show in the instructions. I cut them off at the previous stanchion and added a little bit of the cut off railing to fill in the space to try to leave the proper gap. The model was painted with Tamiya NATO Black from a
rattle can and airbrushed with Testors Lacquer Dullcote. The rigging wire was Albion Alloys .004-inch steel wire painted black and the flags came from the
Gold Medal Models decal sheet. The nameplate came from Model Monkey.

The build was a little more challenging then I had expected but not to the point that it was a hassle and discouraging. I am generally satisfied with the end result and it makes a nice addition to my submarine fleet. I am tempted to get another one from
Free
Time Hobbies
to build as the USS Squalus in her original fit with the larger conning tower. The Blue Ridge Models Sargo kit is recommended for modelers with some experience with resin kits.

Felix Bustelo
New York
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