Cruel Seas US PT boat

In the January 2019 issue of Wargames Illustrated (WI 375) they gave out a free sprue of the US PT Boats (or Torpedoes) for Cruel Seas, and cover an Elco and a Higgins PT boat each. The sprues are the same from the US Navy PT boat flotilla (included there 3 times). I have covered the other two plastic sprues for the game, the German S-Boats and British Vospers already here.

Wargames Illustrated - Issue 375 January 2019 Cruel Seas - US Pt Boat Sprue Cruel Seas - US Navy PT Boat Flotilla

In the mid of World War 2, the US Navy only had 3 squadrons of MTB (motor torpedo boats) or PT boats (patrol torpedo) as they were named in the US. The US Navy had access to the Vospers due to a licensing arrangement with Great Britain, and roughly 146 units were build for Lend Lease and were exported to Allied Powers like Canada, Britain and the Soviet Union. Yet only 50 were used by the Roval Navy and none were used by the US Navy.

We want to focus on the two they mainly used and covered by Warlord Games in the Flotilla, the Elco and the Higgins. The Elco was the most numerous of the US MTBs, with 326 units being built until the end of the year. Only roughly half as many of the Higgins boats were produced. If you think about the US Navy, you might think about battles in the pacific and very late war in the D-Day landings, but the US Navy fought the Germans in the Mediterranean as well.

As of today, only seven hulls of the Higgins (three of which in the World War II configuration) and only three hulls of the Elco (one restored) are known to survived the war until today.

Cruel Seas - US Pt Boat Sprue

Unforunately there were no assembly instructions with the sprue in the Wargames Illustrated. But that is due to the fact, that Warlord Games didn't supply the PT boats with any, they only got the sprue picture including the listing of the parts, as did the other Cruel Seas sprues. If you're unfamiliar with maritime warfare, that is rather unpleasant. I used the pictures from Donner & Blitzen Wargaming and the according Lead Adventure thread by von Lucky, along with a Youtube video by Jon Harrington, to build these.

Cruel Seas - US Pt Boats Elco and Higgins

There are multiple antennas for the Elco, as well as two different states for the missile launchers of the Higgins. I hope these pictures help you with the assembly of yours.

Cruel Seas - US Pt Boats Elco and Higgins Cruel Seas - US Pt Boats Elco and Higgins

And here are the build Elco and Higgins ships a little bit closer.

Cruel Seas - US Pt Boats Elco and Higgins Cruel Seas - US Pt Boats Elco and Higgins
Cruel Seas - US Pt Boats Elco and Higgins Cruel Seas - US Pt Boats Elco and Higgins

The US PT boats are a bit longer than the Vospers, but still shorter than the S-boats of the Kriegsmarine.

Cruel Seas - US Pt Boats

It is important to note, that these PT boats are not the same as the PBRs (Patrol Boat, River), which were later used for example in the Vietnam War. Maybe parts of the US Navy range can be used for the Korean War (to accompany the Bolt Action supplement), for example the Battle of Chumonchin Chan.

For more input on the US Patrol Torpedo Boats in World War II, Osprey has #148 of their New Vanguard line with 48 pages incl. colour tables on these ships.

You could build a rather versatile US Navy flotilla, as they not only fought in the Pacific, but in the Mediterranean and during the D-Day landings in Europa. Yet, I think the most fitting set up would be the pacific battles, among the many islands, against Japanese forces. Warlord Games will release the Close Quarters supplement for Cruel Seas in early 2020.

It will be interesting to see where Cruel Sea is heading in the long term. I really like the fact, that you can build up the bulk of your fleet with plastic vessels and have a few additional units made from resin. The rules may need a bit of tweeking, but I am glad that a non-28mm mass combat system is available that easily and supported in a proper manner. Yet the range would benefit a lot from adequate assembly instructions and / or more reference material.

Naval / maritime combat is an interesting part of wargaming and I'll follow up on that topic with further posts on Cruel Seas and Black Seas.

Posted by Dennis B.

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  1. If you need referance material you could try googling pt boats or maybe try to find some old episodes of McCails Navy from the 60s it was a tv show about a goof ball pt boat crew and used footage of actual pt boats

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