Plastic Magic!

M.A.S. 568 4a Serie

DAVE ABBOTT converts the Italeri kit to radio control

In 2011, Italeri released a 1:35 scale kit. Part No. 5608, of an Italian M.A.S. 568 motor torpedo boat, producing a model 562mm long and 126mm beam. This is an excellent kit to convert to a radio control, particularly as the one piece removable deck enables easy access into the hull. I am not covering the detailed kit building process here, but just the conversion aspects of the project, since the assembly and painting of the kit is straightforward as the included instructions are first-class and there is nothing particularly unique in construction terms.

The hull is a one piece moulding and the deck is simply screwed to it, the screws being hidden by deck fittings, but these can be easily extracted so the deck can be lifted off to enable any maintenance required to the drivetrain, battery and electronics. One wonders whether Italeri designed it this way, simply to facilitate possible installation of motors and r/c gear?

A superb well illustrated reference/instruction booklet is included with black and white pictures of the full-size boat, a history of its development and a colour illustrated step by step building sequence. Photo 1 shows the contents of the kit box and please note the well-moulded one piece hull and its deck (which is separate), together with the numerous detail parts on the sprues, all of which are neatly packed in a very well illustrated box. Decals are included and photo-etched fittings feature prominently in the kit and this is by no means unusual now with the new plastic kits of all types coming into the marketplace.

Conversion

This was going to be different from the Italeri S-100 ( MB Winter Special 2009) as of the three shafts, the outer two would not be driven and therefore dummies, but the centre would have a small and powerful, brushless outrunner motor. S.H.G. Model Supplies supplied much of the hardware with the esc and brushless motor in particular coming from Mtroniks. Included in the G2 Hydra 15 Combo is a 15 Amp brushless reversing speed controller especially designed for model boats, all priced at around £60. It is recommended for small to medium sized model boats and the esc can cope with a stock 540 type of brushed motor according to the information supplied. Yes, you can buy cheaper brushless motors and esc's, but in theory this combo should do what it says on the packet and please note that it includes a conventional type of motor mount, Photo 2.

The outrunner motor is rated at 1000kv which equates to 1000rpm per volt, so for example, if using a 12 volt battery pack then 12000rpm should be the motor's theoretical output speed. Such a motor can be powered by a normal NiMH battery pack, although if you want to go 'lightweight', then suitable LiPo packs of either 7.4v or 11.1v are readily available. However, they do need special charging facilities and ideally should not be charged when within a model. Having said that, technology is moving onwards in leaps and bounds and I note that Component Shop, who advertise in this magazine, offer a 7.4v LiPo pack that is exactly the same size as a 7.2v Sub-C buggy pack, but roughly half the weight. Prices are coming down as well. Anyway, I stuck to a standard NiMH battery configuration, primarily because I already had it!

A 7 inch propshaft with a 20mm three blade propeller replaces the dummy centre shaft unit in the hull and Photo 3 shows all the basic running hardware, including the Planet 2.4Ghz receiver. This picture also gives a good idea of just how small the motor actually is.

Photo 4 is the JP S7.5D mini-servo, the readymade 'off the shelf' rudder and tiller arm. An alternative is to use an S.H.G. Models mini-rudder kit as in Photo 5.

The complete motor, driveline, battery and receiver installation is shown in Photo 6. The small black square object to the port side of the motor is a small piece of wrapped lead to counteract the weight of the speed controller on the other side of the hull. Two part epoxy, silicone bath sealant and Velcro tape is all that is needed to hold the various components in place, although you must double check the seal around the propshaft tube exit point from the hull.

Photo 7 is a close-up of the rudder servo and the linkages. The push rods have no connectors, they being just bent to fit. The battery pack initially used was a 7.2v NiMH 2600mAh type, but the addition of another four cells increasing the voltage to 12v did improve the performance immeasurably after the first on the water trials.

Photo 8 shows the complete installation which turned out rather well. Note that I keep in the hull a spare Allen key for the motor to propshaft coupling and the instructions for the Mtroniks brushless motor esc. The esc on/off switch lead has been extended, so that it is hidden between some ropes on the deck. Turning the switch on (or off), allows the receiver, esc and rudder servo to be 'powered-up' or turned off. However, Mtroniks recommend that the battery should also always be unplugged when the model is not in use.

Painting and finishing

No great dramas here. Humbrol satin paints were used, all sprayed wherever possible and finished overall with a couple of coats of satin varnish. The standard kit instructions include a recommended colour scheme, so there is nothing really different from painting any normal decent plastic kit. It might be worth including some buoyancy in the hull in the form of foam blocks, or perhaps bubble pack, should disaster at the pond occur. The one piece removable deck means that there is no immediate access through the deck, but no doubt someone might modify theirs in such a fashion. The crew is an optional Italeri extra (Part No. 5611) and the included figures and accessories are of excellent quality and probably very much essential to make this model truly realistic, Photos 9 and 10. We do still seem to see models at the pond being steered and operated by invisible crews, but it of course it depends on the model, the subject and its size. A large scale model usually requires some sort of crew presence, but on a small scale warship for example, you can get away with not having a visible crew.

On the water

The model performed well with the 7.2v battery pack, but when on 12v, the performance was stunning, Photos 11 and 12. Probably not a rough weather model, but nice to build and easy to convert. This was my first foray into the world of brushless motors and the Mtroniks motor and reversing esc combination pack certainly made the project much easier.

Album photos below show the model in more detail and on the water.