1:178 U.S. WWII Fleet Boats Pierside Diorama / Pre-War USS GATO SS-212 by Ken Hart

Recently, we were able to come in contact with artist Ken Hart, then show his composite works of the amazing SEAVIEW in dry dock. Today we are please to show some of Ken’s actual diorama builds of docked Submarines. Beautiful!

To contact artist Ken Hart direct, please click HERE!

Here is what Artist Ken Hart has to say of this diorama…

Attached are some of the photos to another of my old diorama displays, which features three variations of U.S. WWII Fleet Boats at rest at pier in 1/178 scale.  This diorama was on display for some time at the U.S. Submarine Force Library & Museum in Groton, New London.


Below is the text with photo captions.  Fair seas and following winds !

Ken —


U.S. WWII Fleet Boats Pierside diorama / pre-war USS GATO SS-212  in 1/178 scale


Featured in this pierside diorama are three variations of U.S. wartime Fleet Boats  –  an early-war GATO class, a mid-war configuration GATO, and a BALAO class.  They’re distinguished mainly by their different styles of conning towers, and sometimes by their limber holes and some of their deck arrangements.


Before the war, the new GATO design featured a much larger conning tower structure  (fairwater), with an open “cigarette deck” for a 20mm machine gun mount abaft the bridge.  The metal skinned sides of the cigarette deck were soon cut away and replaced with rigid steel railings to facilitate easier entry and exit, and less underwater drag.


Toward the middle of the war, the GATO conning tower was further chopped, replacing the enclosed front weather bridge with a forward cigarette deck for a 20mm gun.


The BALAO class came along with an even smaller, more open conning tower with reinforced periscope shears to reduce its silhouette, its underwater drag, and its diving time.  Doubled rows of slotted limber holes replaced the singel row of upended
D” shaped limber holes common on most of the early GATO boats.


Deck guns varied between 3″, 4″, and 5″ guns, mounted either fore or aft  –  or both.


This diorama was built in 1991-92 on an 18″ x 30″ base board, with a 12″ tall 1/4″ plexiglass dustcover.  It was featured in the FineScale Modeler SPECIAL: Modeling The Second World War,  October 1995 – The Fleet Boats: Building U.S. Navy Submarines (diorama),  and later in  Scale Modeler,  September 1996  (Vol.31, No.9).


Each of the three boats in this diorama, as well as the pre-war version of the USS GATO SS-212, were all built from the Revell USS LIONFISH 1/178 scale kit.  This old Revell kit appeared in the 1970s as the USS FLASHER SS-249, then in the 1980s as the USS GROWLER SS-215, and then in the 1990s as the USS LIONFISH SS-298.


FD1 – Bow view of U.S. WWII Fleet Boat pierside diorama.

FD2 – Staroboard bow oblique view of diorama.

FD3 – Close up of starboard side mid-war GATO bow and reflection.

FD4 – Starboard side view of diorama.

FD6 – Close-up starboard side view of moored subs.

FD7 – Oblique forward view of U.S. WWII Fleet Boat pierside diorama.

FD8 – Another close-up of the starboard side boat details.

FD10 – Port side view of U.S. WWII Fleet Boat pierside diorama.

FD11 – Overhead view of diorama layout.

FD21 – Midship close-up detail view.

FD23 – Conning tower comparison.

FD17 – B&W comparison of scratchbuilt conning towers and deck guns.

GATO2 – Starboard side view of USS GATO SS-212 in pre-war configuration, built from the same 1/178

scale Revell USS LIONFISH kit.

GATO5 – Port side view of pre-war USS GATO SS-212

GATO9 – Close-up starboard stern view of pre-war GATO conning tower.

GATO10 – Another close-up starboard view of pre-war GATO conning tower and forward deck details.












FD21 Diorama, view midship - by Ken Hart 1993


Pre-War USS GATO SS-212





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