Italeri 1:35 MAS 568 serie 4a/Jymy JI class conversion Review

Kit Number: IT5608
Scale: 1/35
Manufacturer: Italeri
Comments: Injection moulded, 164 parts (4 + 3 sprues frets), 1 Photo-etched fret, 1 transparency, 2 ropes, 1 transparency, 9 screws, 1 decal sheet, instruction booklet and a full colour photographic reference manual.
Price: £87.50 Available from Hannants of Lowestoft.

Moottoritorpedovene Jymy/Jymy JI Class Motor Torpedo Boat
Jymy FINAL Pictures 005 Jymy FINAL Pictures 017

History

The general history for this class of vessel is covered in the excellent photographic reference manual supplied in the kit. Therefore, I shall focus on the account of this boat in the Italian Ladoga Detachment and in Finnish Navy service.

The Continuation War (jatkosota in Finnish) the second of two wars fought between Finland and the Soviet Union during WWII began on 25th June 1941 when 487 bombers of the Soviet Air Force bombed Finnish territory.

Acts of war between the two countries began on 22nd of June 1941 when the Germans launched Operation Barbarossa, their invasion of the Soviet Union. The Finns sought to re-gain land conceded to the Soviet Union in the preceding Winter War. Once these objectives were achieved at the pre-WWII border, the offensive was stopped some 30km from Leningrad.

One of the primary objectives of the Finnish forces was the Ladoga Karelia region. Once Finnish troops had reached the shores of Lake Ladoga early in the war, they began re-establishing a flotilla on the lake and formed a headquarters in Läskelä on 02nd August 1941.

By 06th August 150 motorboats, 2 tugs (which were used as minelayers) and 4 steam ferries had been transferred there. In addition the Finns had installed a number of coastal batteries and installations around the shores of the lake.

As the Finnish land forces progressed along the shores of the lake the headquarters were moved, firstly to Sortavala and then to Lahdenpohja.

Finnish Lieutenant General Paavo Talvela and Colonel Järvinen formulated a plan to disrupt Soviet shipping supplying the besieged city of Leningrad. They presented this idea to the German regional headquarters and were surprised when their plan was enthusiastically received. In response, both the Germans and Italians sent Naval Units in support of the proposed operation with the combined Finnish/German/Italian unit being formed on the 17th May 1942. The unit was named Laivasto-osasto K (LOs.K., Naval Detachment K).

The unit consisted of four Italian MAS serie 2a torpedo boats (Motoscafo Armato Silurante: Torpedo Armed Motorboat), four German KM minelayers and the Finnish torpedo boat Sisu. The German and Italian units were divided into two groups under Finnish command, the Italian unit XII Squadriglia was the first to arrive on June 22nd, the boats having made a 3100km journey across land from La Spezia to Stettin, where the boats were shipped to Helsinki in the steam ship SS Thielbeck on the 09th June, then towed along a coastal sea lane and Saimaa channel, and finally transported by rail from Punkasalmi by Lake Puruvesi to Lahdenpohja by Lake Ladoga.

The 1917 vintage Italian-built Sisu was the only Finnish torpedo boat on the lake up until the arrival of the XII Squadriglia boats. The German KM Boats arrived in Helsinki on June 27th, and were transported overland, arriving in Lahdenpohja on 07th July. The combined unit commenced operations on the Leningrad supply convoys on 14th August.

The unit’s primary task was to harass Soviet shipping supplying the city of Leningrad. The unit also staged attacks on enemy bases and coastal installations and conducted limited landing operations on the shores of Lake Ladoga. Some smaller Soviet patrol boats and several barges were attacked and sunk during 1942 and 43. The Finnish Ladoga Flotilla engaged the Soviet Ladoga Flotilla on several occasions during this period.

The unit despite these engagements had failed in its primary objective of disrupting Soviet shipping and as such was disbanded. The Italian MAS Boats were re-assigned to Tallinn in Estonia, at the end of October 1942. From here they were purchased by the Finnish Government on 05th May 1943 and formally handed over to Kapteeniluutnantti Herlevi the liaison Officer for German and Italian Navies in Lake Laatokka and the Gulf of Finland in 1942 and 1944.

The XII Squadriglia MAS (Mezzi d’Assalto) (Italian for “12th Assault Vehicle Squadron”) was a formation of the Italian Royal Navy (Regia Marina).

The request for assistance on Lake Ladoga to the Regia Marina resulted in the formation of XII MAS in April 1942 at La Spezia on the Tyrrhenian Sea. XII Comprised of four MAS serie 2a boats, these were: MAS 526, 527, 528 and 529 which displaced 22 tons with a length of 18.7m and a top speed of 42 knots. The boats were armed with 2, 450mm torpedoes, one 20mm Breda cannon, depth charges and a mount for a 12.7mm MG (Which was invariably discarded). The range of these vessels was 330nm at 42 knots and 836nm at 8 knots.

The package included crews and support staff, equipment and maintenance support, a total of 99 men under the command of Capitano di Corvetta Bianchini.

XII MAS Served on Lake Ladoga for 90 days, making 59 sorties and engaging in 17 actions, during which they sank a Soviet Gunboat (Bira class), a merchant ship of 1300 tons, and several barges. Despite this, their efforts proved too little to affect operations on the lake and they were withdrawn.

On the 05th May 1943 the Italian MAS boats were formerly handed over to the Finnish Navy in Tallinn Estonia. Upon their return to Finland they were overhauled and received new designations. These were:

• Jylhä (J1, Ex MAS 526)
• Jyry (J2, Ex MAS 527)
• Jyske (J3, Ex MAS 528)
• Jymy (J4, Ex MAS 529)

The class was designated “moottoritorpedovene jymy” or Jymy JI Class Motor Torpedo Boat. Between mid-1943 and the armistice with the Soviet Union in 1944, the Jymy class of boats served in the Gulf of Finland.

The primary objective of the Finnish Navy during the period 1943 to the armistice in 1944 was anti-submarine mine warfare. Mine barrages were constructed at Kalbadagrund (named “Pälkjävi”) which had 100 mines in two lines.

At “Seehund” west from Lavansaari, 200 mines and 250 anti-sweeping devices, were laid during August. To prevent Soviets clearing routes through “Seeigel”. Additionally mine barrages were laid in “Norppa” and “Ontajärvi” south from Someri in July-August with Smaller offensive barrages, “Sauna”, “Peninkulma”, “Tiger” and “Brummbär” These were laid in sea ways between Kronstadt and Lavansaari. The German air force dropped 200 mines in the Kronstadt area.

The Soviet submarine fleet had broken through the mine barrage too easily in 1942. Action was required to protect Finnish interests in the Gulf. Larger barrages and a double submarine net were added, additionally the use of mine laying patrol boats was increased, types which included German M-class sweepers, the four Jymy class torpedo boats, and at the end of the summer of 1943, “Hurja” class boats of the second MTB flotilla dropped mines in the area of the Diamant shallows, northeast from Seiskari.

A change in Finnish leadership in August 1944 precipitated a peace agreement between Finland and the Soviet Union. This resulted in the Lapland war between Finland and Germany and led to the evacuation of all German forces from Finland to Norway and brought about an end to Finland’s involvement in the Second World War.

The Jymy class boats were eventually converted into patrol boats in 1949 and in accordance with the restrictions placed upon the Finnish Navy by the Paris Peace Treaty, the J-class vessels were scrapped in 1961.

The Kit

The kit is supplied in an attractive well-presented box depicting a scene of the MAS boat at speed in rough seas. Opening the box reveals an extremely well packaged model. The hull is recessed in its own cardboard tray and the deck is packaged separately. Additional parts such as the ropes and screws are supplied in sealed plastic wrappers.

The hull is approximately 18” long which makes the kit practical for display purposes. Four sprues of plastic parts are included in the kit which is clearly marked, in addition there is a large photo etched sheet and a sheet of clear parts included which are crisp and clear with the pilot house window frames pre-painted.

The instruction booklet is clear and concise and presents the modeller with a logical sequence of diagrams to follow. There are two painting diagrams presented in this 38 step booklet. The photographic reference booklet is excellent. There are 19 pages of historical facts, 19 black and white photographs and two full colour painting guides included.

Decal options are for two different boats, option one: MAS 568 4a serie boat deployed on the Black Sea in the summer of 1942 and MAS 563 3a serie, stationed at Mazara del Vallo, Italy, 1943.

Construction

I had elected to build a Finnish Navy MAS 500 2a serie boat which would require some modification. Having extensively researched the subject, I enlisted the help of members of the ‘Model Ship Forum’ who were extremely helpful. In particular Secondo Marchetti a forum member who is scratch building an excellent 1/20 MAS 527 1942 who kindly supplied plans and scale drawings of the MAS 500 Serie 2a. Some of the early boats had an extended windshield above the wheelhouse, which would have been my first job. However, several photos of the period show that the MAS boats of the Ladoga detachment may not have had such a modification as shown in the picture below:

MAS 528

Therefore, I decided to begin the construction process as per the instruction booklet. Stages 1 through 8 deals with the construction of the pilot house. After washing all of the parts in a warm-soapy solution, I sprayed the hull, deck and sprues with grey auto-primer and left it to dry.

The pilot house construction presented no problems as the fit is perfect. The tub in the deck was sprayed humbrol gloss white as was the interior of the pilot house. The mount for the throttle controls was painted in a mixture of Windsor & Newton Burnt Umber and Cadmium Orange oil paint to achieve a wood finish. The Throttle levers were painted in humbrol silver and given an Ivory Black oil wash.

The deck came next. This was primed in auto-primer and then given 4 to 5 coats of Citadel Tallarn Sand. I masked the caulking between the deck planking with Tamiya tape, and painted the lines with burnt umber oil paint. Once dry; the deck was given a wash of both burnt umber and raw umber oils in varying degrees to achieve a planked wooden deck effect. I used many references to realise this effect and while some may feel that the caulking is on the heavy side, I feel pleased with the result.

The next stage was to construct the amid-ship crew compartment. This was a straight forward affair with the unit being sprayed humbrol gloss white in the interior and given a mixed wash of burnt umber and cadmium orange oils. I over-painted the compartment with a fan brush with burnt umber whilst the burnt umber and cadmium orange mix was still wet in order to achieve a ‘wood grain’ effect.

Next came the section that sets the standard Italeri MAS serie 3a/4a from the serie 2a conversion. The 2a torpedo launchers had to be scratch built. Unlike the 3 and 4 serie boats the torpedoes are positioned ‘nose down’ as can be seen in the photograph below.

MAS 451

The side aspect of the launch system clearly shows the correct positioning of the launcher assembly and the angle of the 2a serie torpedo arrangement. Thanks to ‘Secondo’ for the supply of this plan.

Jymy Launchers in Profile (2)

Using the plans kindly supplied by Secondo of the Model Ship Forum, I constructed two identical launchers using .020 sheet Evergreen plasticard, Plastruct square rod 2.5mm and plastruct round rod 2mm.

Jymy Launchers 01

The process was relatively straight forward; however I had to trim the connecting bars as they were 4mm too long. The results can be seen below.

Jymy Launchers 008

As ‘Secondo’ explained: “The torpedo launcher may well be the less documented thing aboard. Drawings on the plans I used are useless, except for the rear view, and photos are scarce.

In essence, the launcher worked as a cradle resting on rails and was operated by compressed air; when the torpedo man opened the firing valve, a mechanical trigger started the torpedo and a pair of pistons pushed the cradle aside with enough force to let the torpedo clear the deck”.

Once the deck was dry and the launchers completed, it was time for the initial dry-fit.

The deck required 2 weeks to ‘cure’ due to the consistency of oil paint. You can see the more mature look to the paintwork in the completed model.

The engine covers to the rear of the deck and additional deck-fittings were all painted using White Ensign Models ‘Grigio Chiaro’ before receiving a light wash of ivory black and burnt umber oil paint.

The deck fittings were then post-shaded in humbrol 67 before being airbrushed with Alclad gloss. The hull was sanded down using a fine grit wet and dry paper available from an auto-supplies outlet. It was then primed using grey auto-primer and the process repeated until I was satisfied with the result.

With the torpedo in place, you can clearly see the downward attitude of the launch system in the picture below.

Jymy Launchers 05

The launchers at this stage were too long. A quick trim with sprue cutters, some sanding and re-positioning corrected the launch system, once the correction work completed it was time for a final mock-up.

The hull was prepped and primed with grey auto-primer before being given at least 5 coats of White Ensign Models Grigio Chiaro (Light Grey) (RM 02) from their Regia Marina range.

Once dry, the lower-hull was masked with Tamiya tape and the area below the boot-line was painted with US Navy Anti-Fouling Red (M 06) also from the White Ensign “Colourcoats” range.

The deck was then screwed to the hull for the final mock-up prior to the deck fittings being added and was photographed (below).

Jymy 27-12-12 009

All of the deck fittings were now pre-prepared by priming and spraying with White Ensign Model’s Grigio Chiaro.

These included the railings, bollards, cleats, fairleads, the rudder assembly, the microphone booms for the anti-submarine detection equipment, the smoke generator and depth charge rack and the parts for the Breda 20mm 35 machine gun. Once dry, the gun, depth charge rack and smoke generator were assembled and put to one side.

The ammunition boxes were constructed including the etched-brass handles. Three boxes were placed behind the gun. On the 3a and 4a serie boats, the boxes are stowed in baskets on the railings around the Breda 35 gun. As I saw no evidence of these baskets in photographs of the Jymy boat, I elected to discard the baskets in favour of just three boxes placed behind the gunner.

Next, the torpedoes were put together and painted using a combination of Humbrol Metal Cote 27002 and Humbrol 67 dark grey. Finally, the rear cabin and forward hatch covers were painted using a combination of Windsor & Newton yellow Ochre and Burnt Umber oils in a 60/40 combination followed by a sparing amount of thinned burnt umber paint streaked over the surfaces whilst still wet using a fan brush to achieve a wood-stained effect.

Sections 28 to 35 of the instruction booklet were then completed which was the fixture of all of the deck fittings. The railings and masts were the last items to go on, the jack-staff and flag being the last items applied.

The figures were a combination of Italeri’s 1/35 M.A.S. crew with the helmets from ICM’s 1917-1918 WWI Assault Troops. The Finnish Armed Forces bought surplus equipment from the Austro-Hungarian Army at the conclusion of the First World War, including the distinctive “Stahlhelm”, which I have used on three of the figures. Apart from the addition of the helmet, the figures are straight from the box as it has been indicated that The Italian M.A.S. crews donated much of their equipment to the Finns including their life-vests.

The figures were primed with Tamiya white primer and base-coated with a wash of Windsor & Newton yellow ochre oil. Once dry flesh-tones of yellow ochre, burnt sienna and flake white oils were added in a ratio of 2,1,4. The uniform was base-coated with Tamiya XF-17 sea blue and given a wash of Vallejo German grey. The life vests were based with Citadel “Rhinox-Hide” and dry-brushed with Citadel “Tallarn Sand”.

The Finnish Naval Ensign was a BECC flag supplied by ModelFlags.com which was prepared by painting the outside edges of the material with fabric glue, being allowed to set and then cut out using a metal ruler and a fresh scalpel blade. A section of material was left to glue and wrap around some 0.75mm Caldercraft natural rigging thread.

Caldercraft 1.00mm natural rigging thread was used for the anchor rope and the fore and aft mooring ropes, which were affixed to the deck with a small blob of thick cyanoacrylate and coiled as per pictures of the Jymy class docked in Tallinn in 1943.

Finally, the aerial wires were added, these were 0.2mm black copper wire supplied by little-cars.com and formed the final stage of construction before a coat of Alclad 2 gloss was applied. Below is a selection of photographs of the completed boat:

Jymy FINAL Pictures 031Jymy FINAL Pictures 030

Jymy FINAL Pictures 029Jymy FINAL Pictures 028

Jymy FINAL Pictures 026Jymy FINAL Pictures 025

Jymy FINAL Pictures 019

Jymy FINAL Pictures 018

Jymy FINAL Pictures 016

Jymy FINAL Pictures 015

Jymy FINAL Pictures 014

 

Jymy FINAL Pictures 012

Jymy FINAL Pictures 011

Jymy FINAL Pictures 010

Jymy FINAL Pictures 009

Jymy FINAL Pictures 008

Jymy FINAL Pictures 007

Jymy FINAL Pictures 006

Jymy FINAL Pictures 005

Jymy FINAL Pictures 004

Jymy FINAL Pictures 003

Jymy FINAL Pictures 002

Jymy FINAL Pictures 001

Conclusion

This model presents excellent value for money. Building the “straight from the box” serie 3a or 4a presents the modeler with many options for mediterranean or Black Sea vessels. For the more adventurous, the 2a conversion increases options for Italian operated examples and can expand this versatile kit into the navies of Finland and Sweden. Highly recommended.

References

• The Finnish Navy from 1918 to 1969. Helsinki: Marine Officers’ Association, 1968.
• Orvo – Pirhonen, Jouko – Kullervo: Ships of wood, iron men – Motor Torpedo Boat fighting the Gulf of Finland 1941-1944. Porvoo: Werner
Söderström Corporation, 1956.
• The Italian Navy in Finland: http://www.ww2f.com/eastern-europe-october-1939-february-1943/25227-italian-navy-finland.html
• War on Lake Ladoga: http://heninen.net/laatokka-war/english.htm

The Jymy J1 Article is also available to view on Modeling Madness: http://modelingmadness.com/review/misc/ships/italy/reyjy.htm

and a photo gallery at Model Ship Gallery: http://www.modelshipgallery.com/gallery/misc/it/JymnJ1-35-rr/index.htm

Richard Reynolds

13 thoughts on “Italeri 1:35 MAS 568 serie 4a/Jymy JI class conversion Review”

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  5. What an incredible journey just to get the boats there: the boats were shipped to Helsinki in the steam ship SS Thielbeck on the 09th June, then towed along a coastal sea lane and Saimaa channel, and finally transported by rail from Punkasalmi by Lake Puruvesi to Lahdenpohja by Lake Ladoga. A beautiful build, and an extremely interesting article. What more could any of us want?

    1. Thank you. That is very kind of you to say. I spent some time in Finland and became inspired by the spirit of the nation. They used extremely limited resources to great effect against overwhelming Soviet numbers.

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