latest scale ship, the PT-109, is a 40"
deep vee displacement hull modeled after the famous Navy torpedo
boat, the PT. PT stands for Patrol Torpedo and their initial role
during World War II was intercepting japanese destroyers and ultimately
sending them to the bottom with any one of their four massive
1-ton torpedoes. Later versions of the PT were used as gun boats
against much smaller targets such as armed barges used to shuttle
Japanese troops between islands. When most people see a PT boat,
they instantly think "PT-109" but in reality, PT-109
was a specific boat commanded by Lieutenant John F. Kennedy in
the Pacific theatre during WWII. Other famous PT boats were PT-34,
PT-59, and PT-105.
the true essence of a PT boat, Proboat delivers a fiberglass hull
bristling with scale weapons, a semi-scale helm, and running lights.
Twin 540-sized motors deliver enough punch to plane the big hull
out almost instantaneously and the watercooled esc with reverse
gives it's captain the ability to maneuver it into any port.
that you have a brief history of the real PT-109, let's take a
close look at Proboat's model of this glorious ship.
battery packs with Tamiya-style connectors (Nimh 7.2v)
AA batteries for transmitter
Soldering Iron (used for lighting system)
Ballast for adding weight to the hull which creates a more realistic driving boat
M3 37mm anti-tank gun
M2 .50 cal machine gun
Mark 13 torpedo
Proboat PT-109 features many scale-like elements that were modeled
after features found on the real boat. Up front is an M3 37mm
anti-tank cannon that was actually retrofitted by JFK's crew,
the wheels removed and the gun bolted to the deck. On the starboard
and aft of the boat are two M2 fifty-caliber machine guns. The
essence of a PT boat, it's torpedoes, are fitted to either side
of the deck. Each torpedo comes bagged separately and must be
attached and glued in place. The helm is identified by a sticker
packed with gauges and a steering wheel. The rest of the PT-109
is adorned with various air scoops, boxes, tanks, depth charges,
cleats, and hand-holds. There's alot of goodies attached to this
PT-109 hull is painted with a flat olive-drab color and a semi-gloss
black is used for the depth charges and deck guns. There is no
clear coat so if the hull brushes up against anything too hard,
it will probally show as a faint scratch.
two 540 silver-can motors included with the PT are a good match
and push the hull very well. They are mounted side by side and
feature water jackets designed to keep them cool when under way.
Water is picked up from a tube on the left rudder and pushed to
the right motor, then to the left motor and then expelled out
the side. Aluminum collets attach the drive shafts to the motors
and are held tight with grub screws. The stuffing tubes, which
house the shafts and provide a watertight exit through the hull,
are standard brass and have a grease tube at the top to allow
easy lubrication of the shafts without removing them. Another
nice feature are the bullet connectors on the motors. Should you
need to remove them for any reason, the wires will come apart
Twin 540 motors
power to the motors is a watercooled electronic speed control.
The watercooling jacket also doubles as a waterproof compartment,
preventing moisture from frying it quickly. The great thing about
this little unit is it's reverse feature. There really aren't
many rtr boats out there with reverse and having it adds to the
scale experience. Powering the entire system, two 6-cell battery
packs, which are not included, sit on either side of the esc in
separate wooden cradles. tamiya connectors are used on both sides.
No means to attach the batteries is provided with the kit but
two strips of double-sided velcro will do the trick. Since the
hull doesn't break any speed records, you can get away with just
placing the batteries in the cradles without any velcro. Water
for the esc is picked up from the right rudder tube and pushed
through the water jacket, then expelled out the left side. There
are two switches inside the hull; one is for power, the other
is to turn on and off the lighting system.
fact that this boat features running lights makes it even more
unique. There are interior lights, port and starboard lights,
and a white running light attached to the mast. This is where
the soldering iron comes into play because you'll need to solder
the mast light's wires to the wires in the hatch. When you place
the hatch on the hull, the magnets used to keep it held tight
create a circuit and provide power to the mast light. If your
a little confused, don't worry, it's clearly explained in the
manual. The remaining lights don't require any soldering and are
ready to be switched on. The power for the lights is provided
by the two 6-cell packs.
rudder linkage on the PT-109 is very simple for a 3-rudder configuration.
All 3 are attached with a 4-40 sized rod and the center rudder
has an arm for the servo linkage. The attachment points feature
swivels so everything moves smoothly. Bushings are found on the
outside of the hull and keep the rudder spaced away from the hull,
and also help keep water from entering. On the inside, small wooden
discs act as spacers for the steel linkage-mounts.
Triple rudders/ twin screws
2 channel am transmitter
propellers are simple, plastic, and have 3-blades. They sit at
the end of the stuffing tube and are set at a fixed angle by non-adjustable
struts. They are screwed on the threaded prop shaft and held in
place with a lock-nut on the back side. Even though there are
only two props, there is a 3rd prop tube in the middle to keep
with the scale appearance.
against the usual choice of rtr transmitter, the PT-109 comes
with the PB-2S am` twin-stick radio, possibly for a more scale
feeling? Maybe it's because of the unspoken law of rc; slow and
scale gets a stick, fast and race-like gets a pistol-grip. For
whatever reason, Proboat's decision to give the PT-109 a stick
radio turned out to be a great one. The twin-stick radio functions
well and offers a feeling of precision, something that comes in
handy when parallel parking her at the dock. The transmitter features
3 led's to warn against low batteries as well as a charging jack
for using rechargeable aa's. There's also a dual rate switch for
the throttle; in the "up" position, you get 50/50 forward
and reverse. Switch it "down" and it splits to 70/30.
The receiver is your standard 2-channel number and comes wrapped
in a balloon to help keep moisture from damaging it. It's attached
to the hull with double-sided tape. The antenna wire runs through
a small hole under the hatch and up to the front. I kept the antenna
inside the hull for a more scale appearance and was surprised
at the radio range; a little more than 50 yards. An antenna tube
is included with the PT-109 should you choose to use it.
PT-109 requires a little preparation to ready it for it's maiden
voyage. You'll need to attach the torpedoes, which is accomplished
by sliding them on their mounts and then using a drop of CA to
keep them from falling off. The search light, flag pole and antenna
tube also come bagged separately and will need to be attached.
The only hard part ...well, hard if you don't have a soldering
iron, is the mast light. After it's installed, you'll need to
solder the wires to make the connection. Proboat also recommends
you use some ballast, somewhere in the order of 2.3 lbs, to make
the boat turn better and look more realistic. Knowing where to
put the ballast comes down to trial and error. Run the boat and
see if it runs with the bow excessively high or low and adjust
the ballast forward or aft to compensate.
you break a bottle of champaign across the bow of this beauty,
make sure you do a range check, and check the servo throws. It's
hard to tell if the props are spinning in the right direction,
which is counterclockwise, with the boat on dry land.
PT-109 can be run in two configurations; with ballast or without.
With ballast, the boat sits a little lower in the water with the
extra 2.3 lbs and really throws a wake off the vee hull as it
punches through the waves. Turning is alot more scale-looking
because the boat is deeper in the water. Top speed and overall
quickness of the boat are slightly reduced. Without the ballast,
the PT will instantly plane out and travels quicker because more
of the hull is above the water, but turning suffers a little.
The boat will want to lay down in the turns, almost dragging it's
sides in the water.
way you run it, it's a blast. The PT looks very realistic, especially
if there is a light chop on the water. It will ramp a small wake
and bring the bow out of the water, only to slam into the next
wake and throw a spray out on either side. The triple rudders
provide positive control at any speed, as well as in reverse.
The inside of the hull stays relatively dry when crusing which
is a plus, there just isn't alot of water coming up over the bow.
There's a nice progressive feel to the throttle; just the slightest
movement in either direction will get the props spinning and the
PT-109 will creep slowly as if it's stalking it's prey. But throw
the stick full forward and the twin 540 motors will burst to life
and plane the large hull out in a hurry as she races across the
only complaint about operating the PT-109 is the motor noise.
When idling forward or backward, the motors emit a distinct whine
as electricity passes through them. Also, when underway, the hull
acts like a drum, amplifying the sound, which is a combination
of the prop shafts in their tubes, the props, and the motors spinning.
It's a little loud when compared to other boats I've run, but
by no means unbearable.
time for the PT-109 was over 10 minutes. Even with two motors,
the use of dual 6-cell packs give you ample time to explore the
lake or river. Radio range is also good. I chose to leave the
antenna inside the hull for a more scale look and still got at
least 50 yards away with no loss of signal. When it's time to
bring her back in after a mission, care needs to be taken when
operating in the shallows or near the dock. Because the hull is
painted in flat military-style olive drab, it has no clear coat
and will scratch easily.
PT-109 is a real joy to operate. It's a step away from the fast-paced
nature of racing boats and that makes it a winner in my book.
I enjoy all aspects of rc boating and the PT-109 fills the "sit
back and relax" niche quite well. I think half the fun is
maneuvering the PT near the dock or around the shoreline. I found
myself trying to master docking the boat without hitting the side,
and executing 2-point turns with the handy reverse feature. I
would definitely suggest this rtr scale boat to anyone who enjoys
rc boating because of the PT-109's ease of operation, scale appearance,
and high fun factor.
Champaign, IL 61822
Support Phone: (877) 504-0233
Web Site: www.proboat.com
to Jessica Halsak for helping me test the PT-109.
The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.