What was a pt boat made of?

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Haylie Lueilwitz asked a question: What was a pt boat made of?
Asked By: Haylie Lueilwitz
Date created: Fri, Mar 12, 2021 11:58 AM
Date updated: Thu, Sep 29, 2022 7:13 PM

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This event came to be known to history as the "Plywood Derby" despite the fact that the PT boats were constructed of mahogany. In the end, the USN was sold on boats from all three manufacturers - ELCO, Higgins and Huckins - and offered defense contracts to all three.

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This competition led to eight prototype boats built to compete in two different classes. The first class was for 54-foot (16 m) boats, and the second class was for 70-foot (21 m) boats. The resulting PT boat designs were the product of a small cadre of respected naval architects and the Navy.

Dubbed PT-9, America’s first PT boat was subjected to numerous sea trials, alone and against other PTs in prototype stages. Over the next two years, PT-9 and subsequent Elco-improved PTs won a series of comparison “plywood derbies” In 1939 Elco doubled the size of its plant and tripled its capacity in order to build PTs. At the height of its PT boat production, Elco employed more than 3,000 men and women working three shifts a day six days a week.

The Elco boats were the largest PT boats operated by the U.S. Navy during World War II. At 80 feet (24 m) and 40 tons, they had strong wooden hulls, constructed of two layers of 1-inch (2.5 cm) mahogany planking, excellent for speed, but providing limited protection in combat.

These fast, light vessels, their hulls made of double-planked mahogany, have been portrayed on-screen torpedoing larger Japanese warships in daring night raids in the Pacific. In reality, they seldom succeeded in such attacks.

After experimentation, the first PT boat built in any quantity was the 77-foot type built by Elco. These boats were used early in World War II. In 1943 in the Solomons, three of these 77-foot PT boats, PT 59, PT 60 and PT 61, were even converted into gunboats by stripping the boat of all original armament except for the two twin .50 caliber gun mounts, and then adding two 40mm guns and four more twin .50 caliber machine guns.

Though often said to be made of plywood, they were actually made of two-inch thick planks of mahogany, and the PT-109 was strong enough that airtight compartments kept the forward hull afloat even after being run down by a destroyer.

PT's 7 and 8 were 81' boats built by the USN at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. PT 8 was the only all aluminum hulled boat developed during the war. They were powered by two Allisons and one Hall-Scott. There were two Allisons of 2000 hp each, but actually they were four 1000 hp engines mounted on two common blocks.

They were made of wood, carried no heavy guns, and would sink at the drop of a hat. But they were fast, hard to hit, and could kill nearly anything afloat. Pound for pound, the deadliest boats of World War II weren’t the carriers or the legendary battleships, they were the humble patrol torpedo boats.

Contrary to popular belief the Packard V12 4M-2500 marine petrol engine did not start it's life as a licence built US made copy of the British Rolls Royce Merlin engine, this has been pointed out to me by various people and the historical evidence proves this, the Packard V12 1M 2500 engine was used extensively by Garr Wood in his world record holding speed boats of the 1930's and the licence built Merlins were not produced by Packard until well into the war years.

John Drain's Model PT Boats - Scale model German Schnellboot's and US and British Patrol Boats, remote control model kits & parts. PT-Boat uses frames, but your browser doesn't seem to support them.

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