login   |    register

USS Tirante

  • move
The story...

By 1945 U. S. submarines were finding it more difficult to find Japanese merchantmen at sea, so the more daring commanders took their boats into harbors to find their quarry, as in Gene Fluckey's spectacular attack on the USS Barb. The Tirante was a Tench-class boat captained by Commander George Street. On his first patrol in April 1945 he made a nighttime attack on Japanese merchantmen in a Chinese harbor and was awarded the Medal of Honor.

On 12 June 1945 he took the Tirante into the entrance to the harbor complex leading to Nagasaki. In daylight, he crept up to the Hakuju Maru which was moored to a colliery on the small island of Ha Shima. After inconclusive results from his first torpedo attack, he fired a second salvo as the merchantman's gunner opened fire on his exposed radar mast. The ship was fatally hit this time and Street opted to surface and makes his escape on the surface using his diesels.

However, the bow planes would not retract once on the surface and they caused the racing boat to pitch and throw out a great deal of spray. By this time shore guns and anti-aircraft batteries were reaching out to the Tirante. Street had to bring his boat almost to a stop to get the planes rigged back in, all the while his gunners were trading shots with the shore batteries. With the planes rigged back in, the Tirante continued her sortie and escaped into the open sea.

Interestingly, Street's Executive Officer was Edward Beach who commanded the USS Triton on the first submerged circumnavigation of the globe in 1960 and became a best-selling writer, including the novel "Run Silent, Run Deep." The protagonist in that work was inspired by the real-life exploits of George Street.

The Kit...

The 1:144 Trumpeter later war Gato was the basis. Since I am also working on another submarine scene requiring the stern portion of a Gato, I now had a bob-tailed submarine. I found the Tirante story while looking for a scene where the aft portion of the lower hull would not be visible and the bucking characteristic of the Tirante's bow plane problem was the answer. The rest of the kit is largely stock, though I had to modify the conning tower and scratchbuild the periscope shear rig. The guns are all WEM, and the figures Preiser.

  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move

About the Author

About Karl Zingheim (CaptSonghouse)

I am the staff historian for the USS Midway Museum in San Diego. I've been modeling since age 5 and specialize in naval dioramas. Larger scales (for ships) is my preference as is naval warfare up to 1945. The more that comes out in 1:350, the better!


That's wild! I never knew about that episode! Great job!
APR 04, 2011 - 11:37 AM
Great idea and modelling! Bravo Zulu all out! Cheers, Guido
APR 05, 2011 - 12:04 AM
Photo #3 gives me the feeling of desparation you describe in your very interesting narrative. The muzzle flash and harbor buoy are the frosting on this cake. Delicious!
APR 18, 2011 - 02:27 PM
Thanks everyone! The genesis of this scene was actually dictated by the need to find an event that permitted hiding the after 20% of the hull since I cut that part off to support another diorama! The Tirante's story of the pitching bow planes suited the kit situation nicely. --Karl
APR 20, 2011 - 11:05 AM
Interesting story and a fine model to tell the tale. Al
MAY 04, 2011 - 06:55 AM
Beautiful build, Karl. Great with a short history lesson on an interesting subject. Thanks for sharing
MAY 22, 2011 - 08:28 PM