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1:72 Airfix RAF ASRL to Royal Navy MGB

Converting the 1:72 Airfix RAF Air-Sea-Rescue-Launch Into A Royal Navy MGB (Motor Gun Boat)

Model Built By: Stan Pienkowski
Photos By: Stan Pienkowski
Article By: T. Garth Connelly
Model Owned By: T. Garth Connelly

The real MGB-61 in 1942. (T. Garth Connelly Collection)

How does one transform a kit of a rescue craft into a model of a Motor Gun Boat?

Take one 1:72 scale Airfix RAF Air-Sea-Rescue Launch, add in a few after-market accessories, mix in the talents of a skilled modeler and baked well and you will come away with a beautiful model.

For years, ever since I bought the Airfix kit and saw a photo of MGB-61, I have held a theory that a conversion of the kit into a MGB could be done. I even was told that it could not be done without major “plastic surgery” to the hull and basically that it could not be done.

Still, I never let go of that theory and I knew that, one day, as soon as I met the right modeler that it could be done and done correctly and from that kit, without major “plastic surgery.”

The modeler who did my bidding was Stan Pienkowski.

I gave him my kit (that was originally purchased in 1980 but never built) and the following items:
Two of Great Little Ships’ single depth charges and racks sets in 1:72
One of White Ensign Models’ 20mm Oerlikon on a Mark IV mount in 1:72
One tin of White Ensign Models’ Colourcoats RN 03 (AP 507C Admiralty Light Grey)
One tin of White Ensign Models’ Colourcoats RN 01 (AP 507A Admiralty Dark Grey)
One 1:72 scale cloth Royal Navy White Ensign made by Accurate Model Parts

I don’t know how since the box has not been touched since around 1980 or 1981, but one important part had gone missing down through the years and that one of the superstructure’s sides was missing. When Stan emailed me to tell me that it was missing, I put out a request for that part on a website on the internet. A modeler name Dave Dinan was kind enough to offer to send the part to me, and in fact, he was kind enough to offer to send both sides and I said that I only needed the one side. I did not want to be greedy, as the gentleman was doing me a favor.

In Stan’s words, this is what was done:

The model taking shape. (Stan Pienkowski photo)

The process of changing the R. A. F. Air Sea Rescue boat into a Motor Gun Boat (M.G.B) was a little less complicated then I first thought it would be. Because the basic shape and construction of the two boats were somewhat the same it only required adjustments to the upper deck areas. Although the actual size of the M.G.B was a bit larger in length, it was decided not to increase the Airfix kit.

Looking at a lot of photos we decided to keep the kit at its 1: 72 length and work from there The necessary length change would have been a lot of work and I think the outcome proved to be effective If you look at the photos and compare it to the model you could see a slight difference in length when next to each other. Apart it looks like the same boat.

Four of the eight depth charges from Great Little Ships are on, as is the 20mm gun from White Ensign Models. (Stan Pienkowski photo)

The two Mark V turrets for the twin Vickers gun are in place. (Stan Pienkowski photo)

About the Author

About TimConnelly (TGarthConnelly)



That's a sharp looking boat! Great inspiration, too! Cheers! Guido
NOV 17, 2010 - 07:55 PM
Excellent job, and very interesting conviersion. Great work Stan Si
NOV 17, 2010 - 09:52 PM
Thank you Simon. I'm pleased with the outcome ... Garth
NOV 18, 2010 - 02:14 AM
Thank you Guido. I like the outcome. I might ask him to do something with my Revell Vosper. Maybe making it as a Vosper which were used as a G.I.S boat by the Italians into the 60s and into the 70s. Garth
NOV 19, 2010 - 06:21 AM
Hi Garth, Nice looking build. The gun tubs look a little to wide compared to the picture but it's a fine looking boat. Good conversion. Al
NOV 19, 2010 - 09:17 AM
That may be due to the constraints under which the builder had to work - that is, build, without modifying the hull, a 70' boat on a 63' hull. At 1/72 scale, the model is a bit over 1" too short and about 7/16" too narrow. Had one of the 63' MASB/MGB been selected, this would not have been a problem. The turret placement may also contribute to this perception. If you look at the photo of MGB 61 and others of her sisters, you'll see that the back of the turret is in line with the back of the charthouse. There's a 2'3" x 5' 0" open cockpit directly behind the charthouse. The original superstructure for this group of boats was nearly identical to this (70' CPB MTB), including the turrets on the trunk cabin. These turrets were later removed, the openings faired over, and the MKV turrets mounted. These items aside, it's a lovely model and a fine example of the builder's skill. Al Ross
NOV 19, 2010 - 04:36 PM
Well,... I like the model. It looks fine to me ... And, ... Stan and I went back and forth for several weeks before Stan decided that no modifications would be needed ... and since he is qualified and classified as a Master Builder, I defered to his judgement ... Plus, since my brother was paying for the build, and more work equals more money ... I didn't ask for more than what was ABSOLUTELY needed .... Mr. Ross? You always need to rain on my parade - don't you? Thank you again,Mr. Ross .....
NOV 20, 2010 - 02:05 AM