The Natick Class is a single screw, 2,000 horsepower diesel propelled District Harbor Tug Large (YTB). A total of 77 tugs in this class were built since the early
1960s. The tugs measure 109 feet long with a beam of 31 feet and a draft of 14 feet and all but one are named for Native American tribes. These tugs were designed to
maneuver large ships, submarines and barges in close quarters such as channel operation, harbors and coastal waters. They also assist docking or undocking of ships
pier side. Although these YTB's displace only about 350 tons, their two diesel engines generating 2,000 horsepower are capable of nudging a 97,000 ton
Nimitz Class
carrier to her mooring or out to sea. The tugs are also equipped with powerful fire pumps and firefighting equipment to provide waterfront or harbor firefighting service.
With the downsizing of the US Navy’s fleet and outsourcing of port operations, the majority of the tugs have been decommissioned and have either been sold or
awaiting sale.
The Kit - The 1:350 scale Natick Class from Orange Hobby is labeled “Large District Harbor Tug YTB-782 (Yokosuka)”. This is a fairly accurate description as
two of the three tugs that you can build out of the box were based at the Yokosuka Naval Station. The model is a full hull multi-media kit with resin, turned brass and
photo-etch parts and a decal sheet.

The hull is a one-piece full hull with a lot of detail cast into it like fenders, hull strakes, scuttles, rudder and propeller skeg. The deck has a large depression for the
main deck housing. The deck also has the bases for the H-bitts and capstans and deck hatches and the hull bulwarks have locater holes for the twin bitts. The casting
is very clean and the details crisp. The hull comes on a substantial casting block that, because the way it is attached to the hull, will be a bit of pain to remove. The
pain point is the three middle attachment points. The two that are closer to the bow are actually four individual ones in pairs that come up the hull. The third point is v-
shaped and wraps around the keel to the hull. Since they are not strictly along the keel, they will require more work to remove without marring the hull. I am
disappointed that there is no waterline option to easily place the tug in a diorama of vignette.

The main deck housing is also one piece with door frames, portholes, piping, vertical ladders, fire hoses and other details. The upper deck has a deep opening for a tab
on the bottom of the pilot house, an outline for the funnel and locater holes for the fire pumps. Other than a bit of excess resin from a casting block at the edge of the
overhang for the forward fire pump, the casting is very clean and there is no casting block to remove. A dry fit shows that this part fits perfectly into the depression in
the main deck.
The pilot house has windows, door frames, and inverted “J” vents cast into the part. There are two bits of casting block, one underneath the base and one underneath
the roof overhang, the will need to be removed. There is a tab on the bottom of this part that fits into a corresponding slot in the main deck housing. A dry fit shows
that a wee bit of thin filler will be needed to blend the pilot house to the top of the main deck housing. Also, I would strongly recommend assembling and painting as
much of the main deck housing and pilot house as possible before attaching it to the main deck, as there is very little room along the bulwarks to add photoetch doors
and other parts to the main deck housing once it’s glued into place.

The smaller resin parts include the funnel and funnel cap, individual bollards to fit along the hull bulwarks, propeller, life raft cannister, H-bitts, mast, radome, fire
pump bases, rollers and wing fenders. The funnel components and individual bollards are on separate casting blocks and the remaining parts are on a larger casting
runner that resembles a sprue from a plastic kit. A few of the parts on the latter need some clean up to remove from resin film. Overall the smaller parts are well cast.
The kit comes with turned brass parts which are comprised of a pair of capstans and a pair of fire pump nozzles. The turned brass parts are a very nice feature and
are excellent. Parts to make a clear plastic display stand are also included with the kit.

A large and small photoetch brass fret is provided and they are well-done with relief-etching to add some detail and depth. The parts on the larger fret include pre-
measured lengths of railing, vertical ladder, watertight doors, fantail deck, bases for the capstans, cradle for the life raft cannister, hatch covers, parts for the wing
fender cradles, parts for the anchor, hand wheels for the fire pumps and various other details. The smaller fret has open chocks that are fitted to the hull. You need
only four, so you will have extras in case you lose one or to add to the spares box.
The decal sheet contains markings for three tugs: Redwing, Manistee and Kittanning. The decals for each ship include flags, the hull numbers, numbers for the
front of the pilot house and funnel and name for the transom. For
Manistee and Kittanning, name plates are provided for the funnel and for Redwing her unique
rearing horse logo. The decals for
Redwing are all white and did not come out clearly in the photo I took. The decals appear well done with good color registration
and there are identification numbers for each decal. It would have been a bonus to include some extra hull numbers to give the modeler an option to build a model of
one of the other 74 tugs. Personally, since I live on Long Island in New York, I plan on building my model as
Massapequa YTB -807, since it is also the name of a
town there. I will have to use decals from another source to supplement the kit decals.

The assembly instructions are printed on four pages and are top notch. Each step of assembly is depicted in well-illustrated diagrams with resin, photo-etch and
turned brass parts clearly identified. Painting instructions with generic color references are included throughout the assembly diagrams. The final page has decal
placement guides for the three tugs with call outs to the identification numbers for each ship and a breakdown of the kit components at the bottom.
The Orange Hobby Natick Class kit will build into a very detailed model of a US Navy YTB. The level of detail in the parts are clearly above-par. My only complaint
is that a waterline option is not provided for modelers wishing to add a tug to a harbor diorama or some other vignette. My thanks to
Orange Hobby for the review
Felix Bustelo