The Treasury Class Cutter - With the passing of the Volstead Act in 1919, the Prohibition era began and with it the U.S. Coast Guard was authorized
to prevent the maritime smuggling of now illegal alcohol. While this led to an expansion in terms of size and responsibilities, the Coast Guard was not
prepared to assume this task with her fleet. It simply lacked the ships to effectively conduct this mission. As a result, the Coast Guard borrowed 31
flush-deck destroyers from the U.S. Navy and incorporated them into its fleet. This was deemed quicker and less-expensive than to build new ships to
meet the new demands. After Prohibition ended in late 1933, the Coast Guard’s law enforcement focus shifted to new contraband, illegal narcotics such
as opium. Also the growing passenger airline trade would present new search and rescue challenges. The 327-foot “
Treasury” (aka “Secretary”) class
cutters were designed to meet the changing mission of the service.

The machinery plant and hull below the waterline of the
Treasury class were identical that of the U.S. Navy Erie class gunboats. Cost-saving was
paramount to the Coast Guard, so some standardization would save money since the cutters would be built in Navy shipyards. A total of seven cutters
were built in this class and all were named for former Secretaries of the Treasury. They were all commissioned in the late 1930s and saw a lot of action
in World War II. Initially part of the Greenland Patrol, they conducted convoy escort duties, battling U-Boats in the treacherous waters of the North
Atlantic. It was in these waters that the
Alexander Hamilton was sunk by a torpedo from U-132, with the loss of 26 men. Their escort duties later
expanded to convoys crossing the mid-Atlantic, past Gibraltar into the Mediterranean and to North Africa. After their distinguished service in the Battle
of the Atlantic, the surviving cutters were transferred to the Pacific and converted to amphibious force flagships, where they served during some of the
most intense battles of the war. After World War II, the 327s continued to serve in combat situations as search-and-rescue ships during the Korean War
and as naval gunfire support ships during Vietnam. In peace-time service, the performed weather patrol, fisheries patrol and drug interdiction duties.
This class served for over 40 years and proved to be one of the most dependable and adaptable class of ships ever constructed. To quote naval historian
John M. Waters, Jr., the
Treasury class cutters were truly "maritime workhorses."  

The USCGC Spencer - The John C. Spencer was launched on January 6, 1937 at the New York Navy Yard and commissioned on March 1, 1937. She
left New York on May 13, 1937 for her first homeport of Cordova, Alaska, arriving on June 30, 1937. By the time she arrived her name was shortened
to
Spencer. She remained in Alaskan waters for the next two years or so, participating in the Bering Sea Patrols. Spencer was transferred to Stapleton,
Staten Island, New York, arriving on October 15, 1939, where she received orders to conduct Neutrality Patrols to enforce the newly passed Neutrality
Act. She completed two such patrols in the Grand Banks until late January 1940. Through October of 1940,
Spencer was reassigned to weather station
duties. She was then ordered to the Bethlehem Steel Corporation where she was fitted with depth charge racks, a Y-gun, and sonar equipment. Once the
rearmament was completed she resumed weather station duty until she became eligible for transfer to the Navy under an Executive Order of September
11, 1941. On  November 1, 1941, the Coast Guard became part of the Navy and
Spencer reported for duty with the Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet, on
January 9, 1942 and was designated
WPG-36.
On January 10, 1942 Spencer, arrived at New York Navy Yard where she was fitted with additional armament, including six K-gun depth charge
projectors, two 20mm anti-aircraft cannons and three additional 3"/50 caliber dual-purpose guns. As part of this rearmament one of her 5"/51 main guns
was removed. From 1942 through April 1943,
Spencer provided escort duties to numerous North Atlantic convoys. During east-bound convoy HX-233,
on April 17, 1943
Spencer sank U-175 by depth-charges and gunfire, subsequently picking up survivors along with the cutter Duane.

From May 1943 through October 1944, Spencer performed escort duties for several North African and Caribbean convoys before conversion to an
amphibious force flagship and being transfer to the Pacific Seventh Fleet. For the remainder of the war
Spencer supported several amphibious landings in
the Pacific Theatre.

Post-war
Spencer was refitted to her peace-time configuration and she returned to her traditional Coast Guard duties of law enforcement, search and
rescue, and weather station patrols. From February to September 1969,
Spencer was ordered to Vietnam and joined Coast Guard Squadron Three
supporting the Navy’s Operation Market Time. She conducted patrols of the Vietnam coast, provided gunfire support and prevented enemy infiltrations
along the coastal water routes.
Spencer was at sea for 70% of the nine months she was deployed with Coast Guard Squadron Three.
For the remainder of her career Spencer was home ported in Governor’s Island in New York Harbor conducted normal peace-time duties. She was
formally decommissioned on January 23, 1974 and for a time was an engineer training school where students learned using her steam propulsion plant.
Spencer was eventually sold for scrap on October 8, 1981.


The Niko Model USCGC Spencer - The Spencer is the second Treasury Class cutter kit released by Niko Model (the previous is the Taney in her
unique four 5”/38 turret fit). Looking at the kit, it is clear that it is not a copy of the
Taney with different parts but essentially a new model with some
new parts and as well as some parts common to both kits.

The kit comes with an array of cast resin parts, two frets of photo-etch, a turned brass mast, brass rod sections and decals. The hull comes in two
parts split at the waterline to give the modeler the option of a full-hull or water-lined model. The casting is very well done and fairly clean with a minimal
amount of resin over-pour along the bottom of the upper hull and the top of the lower hull. Full-hull modelers will probably need some filler along the
joint where the two parts meet. Looking at the upper hull, it is interesting to see that the deck-housings are not solid blocks but instead open spaces with
bulkheads. This reduces the amount of resin need to cast the part, which is most likely a cost savings for
Niko Model. There is a lot of detail cast into
the upper hull such as water-tight doors and hatches, portholes, boat cradles, lockers and mooring bits. The simulated deck planking I think is done just
right. If you compare the upper hull from this kit to that of the
Taney you will immediately see how different the layout is. The forward 3-inch and 5-
inch gun platforms and splinter shield are cast into the upper hull as well as the tubs for a pair of 20mm guns. The anti-skid texture is cast into the gun
platform decks and the tread plates for the 20mm guns cast into the deck of the tubs.
The upper deck and bridge is the next largest part and it fits over the open deck housings on the upper hull. Again the amount of detail is very good
with the tread plates for the 20mm guns cast into the deck of the bridge wings. Some resin flash will need to be removed along the deck edges and in
other spots. The bridge is also an open space and the round windows on the face are open as well. To fit over the top of the bridge is the upper deck
with the flag bags, bulkhead details and pedestal for the forward gun director. The platforms for the four 20mm guns and the two 3-inch guns and the
aft 5-inch gun bandstand are cast as separate parts again with excellent detail. The funnel is also well done with some vent piping and detail to the
interior that matches up with photos. Since the gun platforms are done as separate parts, it makes me wonder if
Niko is planning more Treasury Class
kits in different fits.

The 5”/51 and 3”/50 guns are well done with the guns and mounts cast separately. The 3”/50 guns are very detailed with the gunner seats also done in
resin. There is some flash present that needs to be removed and the resin gun barrels are suitable but you do have the option of replacing them with
turned brass versions and adding some photo-etch hand wheels from another source.

There is a multitude of smaller resin parts ranging from the boats and rafts, weapons, running gear, various deck and bridge fittings and other
equipment. These are all generally well-cast fairly clean with little resin flash to cut away. All of the small parts will give the model a very busy and
realistic look to it. The 20mm guns are adequate and the resin barrels are better than those in the
Taney kit. Still you may wish to replace with
something sturdier like brass wire or turned brass versions if you want to go the extra step. The depth charges are well done with actual end caps and
cast in such a way as to simplify assembly. It can be a bit of a pain cutting down plastic rod to make your own depth charges. The 26’ whaleboats are
little gems with lots of detail. Like with the
Taney kit, you get two versions of the hedgehog – one with the projectiles already cast into the part and
another with openings for you to fit individual projectiles. While the latter is of course more work I think it would produce a more realistic result.
Among the resin parts are 24 K-gun arbors, which are included in the kit parts images in the instructions, but they are not given a part number nor are
they referenced at all in the assembly diagrams. My guess is that they were included to be used at the modeler’s discretion and that you will need
reference photos to determine where they were stowed.
The kit comes with a complete set of photo-etch parts. The first fret contains two styles of railings, one with a little wider spacing between stanchions
for the main deck, and vertical ladders. If you look closely you will see that the railings have stanchion ends but you will also notice that the fret also
contains a drilling template for each style of railing. This is a helpful tool if you want to use the kits railings. The second fret has the detail parts such as
the depth charge racks, inclined ladders, boat details, 20mm Oerlikon parts, radar and communication equipment, mast details, propeller guards and
other fittings. The etch looks well done with a good amount of relief etching. As small bag with a turned brass fore mast and some lengths of brass rod
is included.

The decals come on two small sheets. The first sheet has the U.S. flag in two sizes. The second sheet is printed in white, with the hull numbers and the
background for the flags. As the red and blue colors are printed on transparent backing, you will have to layer the flag decals over the white
background to make a complete flag. This is the same decal sheet that is included in the
Taney kit but not doubled-up.

The assembly instructions are printed on four pages. The first page has images of the kit parts. The resin parts keyed to numbers that are referenced in
the assembly diagrams. The following pages are fully illustrated with sub-assemblies and more general placement of parts clearly shown. The last page
has generic painting instructions for what looks to be an MS 14 camouflage scheme that
Spencer appears to have worn in 1944. In this case, the
colors would be Ocean Gray 5-O for Navy Gray and Deck Blue 20-B for Deck Gray. These colors are available in
White Ensign Models Colourcoats
line.
Overall this appears to be another well-done and accurate kit of a Treasury class cutter and it depicts Spencer in her 1944 convoy escort fit prior to
her prior to her conversion to an amphibious force flagship. If
Niko is planning to produce additional Treasury class cutter kits, I do hope that they
will do a pre-war version and a modern fit with Coast Guard racing stripe markings. You can purchase this kit as well as others from the
Niko
catalog from such Steel Navy sponsors as
Free Time Hobbies, L’Arsenal and White Ensign Models.
Felix Bustelo
Titan of the Treasury and Wizard of Wall Street