San Francisco, CA.
Oct '97, Mar '99
USS Pampanito SS-383
was one of the later Balao class boats used in the Pacific war. Outwardly similar
to the predecessor Gato class, they were capable of diving 100 feet deeper due to
their being constructed of 7/8" high tensile steel plates rather than the 5/8"
plate used in the Gato class. They also had a number of improved electronic and
Pampanito completed six war
patrols and was credited with 6 ships sunk and 4 damaged. She did not undergo any of the GUPPY (Greater Underwater Power and Propulsion) changes
postwar, so she largely retained her wartime appearance. Modelers should be aware that the
external appearance of Gato/Balao class subs evolved as the war progressed. The conning
tower was steadily cut down in size in order to reduce profile. Scuttles were added to
speed flooding and diving, and armament varied considerably, depending on availability and
the Captain's preference. It has been said that no two fleet subs were exactly alike, so
consult your references if you are modeling a specific boat. Pampanito
carried a 4"/50 deck gun (the same gun used on 4-stack Clemson class
destroyers) during all 6 of her war patrols. However many pictures show her with the more
powerful 5"/25 caliber gun. She was fitted with this 5"/25 during her last refit
and was on her way back to the war zone when the hostilities ceased. She has been restored
to her appearance during her war patrols, hence she carries a 4"/50 main gun. Pampanito
is displayed in a Measure 32 scheme, two
shades of gray on the vertical surfaces and black on the horizontal. This was a common
late war paint scheme on fleet subs.
She is part of the San Francisco Maritime
Museum and is on display at Fisherman's Wharf. She is in excellent
condition, and almost all of her below-deck compartments are open to the visitor. I
photographed her at different times over the course of 18 months. Pampanito
underwent a dry-dock overhaul during this period, so her appearance changed somewhat. Note
that the prominent hull number would have been painted out during wartime. During her
January 1999 overhaul the hull number re-appeared on the conning tower. The Maritime
Museum has an excellent web devoted to the Pampanito that I highly recommend. You can view
it at http://www.maritime.org/pamphome.shtml
and it should answer most of your questions about this sub in particular and the Balao
class in general. Two excellent and inexpensive (less than US $10) references dealing with
Gato/Balao class subs are "U.S. Subs in Action"
(Squadron/Signal Publications) and "Fleet Submarines of
World War Two" (Floating Dry-dock). Both include many clear photos,
diagrams, camo schemes and explanations.
Included with this photo tour are some views of the USS
Lionfish on display at Battleship Cove, Fall River, MA. She too is a Balao
class sub. I was able to photograph some of her fittings - especially in the stern area -
that I missed on Pampanito.
Balao Class Submarine
Launched: July 12, 1943 Portsmouth N.H. Navy Yard
Commissioned: November 6, 1943
Displacement: 1,525 tons surfaced,
2,415 tons submerged
Length: 311' 9" Beam: 27' 3"
Draft: 15' 8"
Maximum Speed: 21 knots surfaced, 11 knots submerged
Cruising Radius Surfaced: 11,000 miles Range
Submerged: 95 miles @ 5 knots
Patrol Endurance: 70 days Maximum
Operating Depth: 400'
Torpedo Tubes: 6 forward, 4 aft
Deck Guns: 4"/50 main deck gun, one 40mm AA gun, one 20mm
Complement: 70 enlisted, 10 officers
War Record: 6 Pacific war patrols, 6 ships sunk, 4 damaged
Click thumbnail image to view full size picture