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Thistle17

PBR Mark 1 River Patrol Boat by Model Shipwright Guild WNY - Scale 1:6

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With the imminent departure of the USS Langley model from the Military History Society museum, where we hold our meetings, a huge display area will be wanting. The director of the Society, a Viet Nam Special Forces veteran, has longed for a model of the first generation of the River Patrol Boats introduced to combat coastal and river combatants some 60 years ago. The scale chosen allows the outfitting of the model with some pretty amazing components. The model will be a waterline model of mixed materials built to as much accuracy as possible given the "plans" available to us and the many on line pictures and videos thus far discovered.

 

These vessels were the first builds for the "brown water Navy" in 1965 by United Boat Builders of Bellingham Washington. This company was well into the construction of a number of fiberglass hull pleasure and work boats at the time and was awarded a contract to build 120 of the Mark 1's. It is believed the hull is a direct takeoff of their 32 foot Sports Sedan as the lines and forward deck area appear to be almost identical. The company was later renamed as Uniflite Corporation and appears to have built a number of the follow on PBR Mark 2's as well as other naval support craft. Almost to a boat these vessels were left in Viet Nam but some did find their way to the US and have become either individual or club restoration projects that are fully operational today!

 

The mission of these vessels was to provide patrol duty to deny Viet Cong and North Vietnamese operations along the coast and inland water ways of the South. These vessels were typically operated by a crew of 4 and patrolled with another PBR. Often the conditions of sea to shore interdiction dictated that helicopter gun ships were called in to assist the PBRs.

 

We have included the following photo and specification of the PBR Mark 1 as reference. As we learn more of these vessels we will provide further background.

 

Craft Stats

vietnam-vector.svg
 
Featured: MK1 PBR
Type: Patrol Boat, River
Length: 31 feet
Width: 10 feet 7 inches
Weight: 8 tons (loaded)
Draft: 2.5 feet
Speed: 30 mph
Range: 574 km (355 miles)
Armament: 1 twin M2HB .50 Cal turret (forward)
1 single M2HB .50 Cal (aft)
1-2 M60 .30 Cal (side mounted)
1 40mm MK19 Grenade Launcher (1968 and later)
Location: Vietnam Experience Exhibit
Source: This patrol boat is on loan from Naval History and Heritage Command.

20160113_115907_resize (2).jpg

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Hi Thistle17

 

I'm definitely in!  This looks like it's going to a really different and unusual subject matter to model.  

 

I'm kinda struck by the colour of the hull above the waterline...it reminds me of green floating algae!  Is that just a coincidence, or was it chosen to blend in with the river water colour?

 

Just curious.

 

Cheers

 

Patrick

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Thanks all for the great photos Kurt and Jud and the directives. Jud it is an honor to communicate with you as one who was there! Yes I recognize the prior photo is a Mark 2, I am learning fast. I assume the transom overhang on the Mark 2s took the place of the "trim board" on the Mark 1s. Stern photos of the Mark 1 are quite revealing as our drawing graphics does not show that much detail. Certainly "miles to go before we sleep".

Joe

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Ken it adds another dimension to this project when I hear of folk involved in this or any other conflict for that matter. I must admit I never served, as I was in ASW engineering when this conflict arose. Hence I was never drafted. I would further relate I have great reverence for veterans of this or any other campaign! I was a babe in arms during WWII so when I began reading about those that served I tend to get pretty emotional. In Ian Tolls, trilogy, Pacific Crucible and The Concurring Tide, (one more volume to come) I pause when reading his account of Navy pilots flying off carriers with only enough fuel for a one way trip. Who were these folk!!!!!!!!!

Joe

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They were the heroes of "The Greatest Generation". We should all thank God or whatever Supreme Being you pray to for the likes of these men.  I grew up listening to the stories Dad and his friends told of their service in every theater of WW II. And I was fortunate to be able to serve with some heroes while in Viet Nam.

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Jud's photos bring back some memories although by the time I got to 'Nam, I'm not sure version they were using (1970).  We always looked for them when over rivers or off shore and if we saw them engaged, we'd offer air support.  They usually declined.  They weren't often engaged as by that time, the VC had probably learned not to mess with them. River bad-asses they were and got lots of respect.

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That explains why we were turned then....

11 minutes ago, jud said:

MARK;

We started seeing the PBR MK 2s in mid 68

Hal 3, Sea Wolfs provided most air support, we all worked together which smoothed tings a bit. the following was the body of a 4 ship award that highlights what we spent our time doing on the rivers.

 

 

That would explain why we were turned down more often than not.  You guys had your own air cover. :)

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I am so taken by the responses I am getting from all of you. You bring life and breath to this endeavor. I certainly hope we can live up to expectations and we do you all proud.  Keep your experiences and memories coming it speaks and means so much to us. 

Joe

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As a retired Naval Officer who worked in the ship design business, I was able to track down the division of the Naval Sea Systems Command that is responsible for small combatants and boats. The Combatants and Boat division (NAVSEA 05D) did the design of the PBR 31, in house (Navy), and they have complete sets of of both the Navy's contract drawings and as well as the builder's detailed drawings. My contact has initiated a "Request for Approval to Release" drawings to the general public for a number of drawings that he thinks will be of use to us.  This is a necessary procedure to ensure that there is no classified or proprietary information on the drawings that would preclude their release.  This process might take a couple of weeks.  When approval is received I will be in contact with the division's librarian to arrange to get copies sent to us (Model Shipwright Guild of Western New York).

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I have been sitting on this news from Jim for a few days now. I felt it wasn't mine  to relate. Our original drawings were from Maryland and Silver (I think I have the source right) and they appear to be concept drawings. When looking at the photos folks have submitted we began to realize we needed more help.

 

This opens up a new vista for us to replicate this model for the museum. I am sure many of you would share in our excitement and gratitude to Jim for his dogged pursuit of authenticity. Jim is a recent new member of our group and his contributions are already felt. Thank you Jim!

Joe

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That's fantastic, Jim & Joe!

 

I hope that the material can be made available to others, either through yourselves, or at least via links to the appropriate government office.

But I wonder how that would work... doesn't such material only go to NARA, from where one can eventually get copies?

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Standby Pat and as soon as we understand the process and route to document capture I believe Jim can relate that. Jim has a storied background in naval construction and was able to connect into resources not readily available to all. It was all done by the book, but it never hurts to have some "good old America know who" as well. 

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As you may have picked up "humanizing" this project means so much to me. I just learned yesterday from a family member that my recently departed brother in-law and childhood buddy hurt his back for a life time of pain and limitation in Viet Nam. For you see he was a MASH unit surgeon assigned to one of the Special Forces encampments. His brother related that in pulling up a wounded solider from one of the water craft into a helicopter he over extended himself and ended up hurt for life. He was just out of school, in residency when he was pulled into service. I am told he saved many lives and limb. His name was Jim.

 

What are the chances it may have been a PBR? 

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Jud just this past Friday I was on the phone asking for an update on the Navy drawings. Not surprisingly the answer, as you guessed, was it will take time to get the drawings released to us. We are hopeful that this happens before the summer is over but we are on the "wag end of this puppy". Standby.

 

In regard to your latest post it must have been just crazy nuts there! The guys were just amazing in getting the job done!

 

Joe

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An inquiry for the drawing request was made within the past few day's to our Navy contact. Hopefully we will hear sooner than later.

Joe

 

Update as of 8/12/17: The request for drawings was finally signed off and I am to understand that the request has gone to the David Taylor Model Basin (old name) for fulfillment.

Edited by Thistle17

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The Naval Museum at Bremerton Washington has a special display currently devoted to small costal patrol craft. A friend of mine is the author of the book this display is based on. My Friend currently owns an 83 ft Coast Guard Cutter launched in the 1940s and 3 PBRs. If I can help you with any details let me know.

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I haven't visited here lately as I had no new info until this afternoon. The release has been approved but the path to get them to send the drawings is a bit circuitous. I am working with the department that prints the drawings and I have to go through a few steps to get them. Maybe more on that later.

 

fnkershner", sorry I do not know your name, I have read your posts and will get back to you when we receive the drawings. Many thanks for the offer.

 

Joe

Edited by Thistle17

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This is an update as of 10/29/17. I received another call last week confirming that 3 of the 4 drawings will be released to us. I was not told which one was not released but I speculate it has something to do with the armament. In this day and age it is small wonder that it could be as I suspect.

 

The drawings will be released to us as soon as the office that controls this type of transaction gets instruction on how to bill us. Is it any wonder that nothing in the US Government moves along with any reasonable pace?

Joe

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