Rrrrrrrrrrrrr! If you step out of your house or office anywhere in Marietta, Georgia, you’re liable to hear the rending noise of a chainsaw biting into wood. The noise was been a daily and nightly happening in this northwest suburb of Atlanta for most of 2004. For those readers who have never been to Georgia, the state is heavily forested. As you take I-75 southeast out of Chattanooga, Tennessee, you enter the state of Georgia almost immediately. You’ll be at the southern end of the Appalachian mountain chain. This series of mountains, hills and uplands starts near the New York-Pennsylvania boarder and runs southwesterly until it ends in central Alabama. In Georgia it runs through the northwest corner of the state. This upland corner of Georgia is almost totally forest. Even as you reach Atlanta and get to flatter land the forest continues outside of the urban area. Of course you will now start to find far more cleared land devoted to farming but the lines of Georgia pines seem endless. From Atlanta to Macon, then left on the long trek to the coast at Savannah, you will be almost continuously driving through forest. It is a tree-huggers paradise.
This environment is now under dire threat! There is a scourge loose in the Georgia forests far more threatening than any southern pine beetle. Green Peace needs to be alerted. Where is the EPA when you need them? The threat comes from the slashing blade of Chainsaw Corley, Deforester of Continents. Ever since he released his wood deck for the Revell 1:72 U-Boat kit, Chainsaw has been attacking Georgia trees at an ever-increasing pace. So, you say, what is the harm in producing the wooden deck for the submarine? Well, if it was only that, I would agree with you but the U-Boat deck was only the tip of the iceberg. The quality was so good that the product has been in great demand. As a result Chainsaw needed even more forests to topple in expanding his wooden deck empire. Next came wood decks for the 1:350 scale kits of the Trumpeter USS Hornet. Then a separate deck came to convert the kit to an Enterprise or Yorktown. First one deck, then two or possibly three decks, the trees continued to fall. Now with the latest releases from Nautilus Models the true danger to America’s forests can be clearly seen, for after Chainsaw denudes his home state of trees, he will undoubtedly turn to the forests of the neighboring states of Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina. The newest from the Woodman are not one, not three but now five new wooden decks.
Revell produces a box scale of the USS Lionfish World War Two Fleet submarine. This off scale kit has been variously described as 1:144 scale, 1:187 scale but on the Nautilus Models site it is listed as 1:178 scale. Whatever scale the kit happens to be, Chainsaw is helping Revell sell even more of these kits through his five new decks for that one kit. USS Lionfish SS-299 was a Balao Class fleet boat built by Cramp Ship Yard of Philadelphia. The Balao Class was a follow on, improved design for the preceding Gato Class boats. The Balao Class boats were physically almost identical to the Gato Class boats but internal improvements significantly enhanced their operational characteristics. The Gato Class were products of the 1940 program and the Balao Class were introduced in 1942.
So why did Chainsaw produce five unique decks for this one kit, other than his intense antipathy for our leafed brethren? One obvious answer is to make a buck but the fact remains that the Gato and Balao boats were modified as their programs continued and operational challenges were encountered. The five new wooden decks are for the Gato SS-212, Bluefish SS-222, & Harder SS-257 of the Gato Class and the Balao SS-285 & Icefish SS-367 of the Balao Class. Besides representing two different classes, the differences among the five decks are probably the result of the year of the fit. There was no documentation with the decks but if you visit the Nautilus Models web site, you’ll find that for four of these five submarines Nautilus also produces a separate resin modification set. Of the five only Balao is not represented by a resin modification set. The product numbers on the wooden deck sheets also match the numbers of the corresponding submarine resin sets. Looking at these resin sets established the year of fit for each set and therefore fore the corresponding wood deck.
Gato Class Boats
Balao Class Boats
The Balao SS-285, Portsmouth Navy Yard has no separate resin modification set and the deck probably represents the boat from 1942. She stayed in the USN for a long time until stricken in 1963. For the Icefish SS-367 is a late war boat built at Manitwoc with the deck showing a summer 1944 fit.. Launched on February 20, 1944, the deck reflects some of the last changes made to the Balao Class. The Icefish was transferred to the Netherlands in 1953.
* Chainsaw Corley Action figure and Impact accessories are not included with any Nautilus Model wood deck. Chainsaw Corley has no connection with Krispy Kreme Doughnuts other than liking them a lot, as does this reviewer.