Depending on your reference and the era to which it refers, you can find the Italian acronym MAS defined as Motoscafo Armato Silurante (torpedo-armed motorboat), Motorbarca Armata SVAN (armed motorboat SVAN, for Società Veneziana Automobili Navali, or Naval Automobiles Society of Venice), or Mezzi d’Assalto (assault vehicle). The Italian navy’s 500-class MAS was a 17-meter-long (56') fast torpedo boat with a top speed of 45 knots.
Italeri has expanded its range of 1/35 scale boats with the release of MAS 568, from the 4a series of the 500 class. Cast in gray plastic, the kit’s hull and deck are both molded as single pieces. The moldings have a bit of flash, and several pieces were marred by sinks and ejector-pin marks. The deck has a subtly molded plank effect that will disappear under all but the thinnest coat of paint. The clear parts are provided in die-cut plastic. A large sheet of photoetched-metal parts is also included.
The instruction diagrams are gray photos of the actual parts, sometimes making it difficult to figure out exactly how a part is installed. You also get a small reference pamphlet full of photos of MAS boats. Decals are provided for two different boats. As soon as I saw the one with the red and white air-recognition stripes, I knew which one I was going to build.
While the instructions start with the pilot cabin, I jumped ahead and built the hull and stand. After drilling out all the location holes on the deck, I painted it with Tamiya acrylics. The deck attaches to the hull with seven small screws; once the deck was installed, I proceeded according to the instructions and added the subassemblies to the boat as they were finished.
The die-cut windows work very well. I was able to install them using IPS Weld-on 3, an acrylic adhesive which bonded without fogging the clear plastic. The front three windows need to be curved a bit before installing.
Adding the photoetched-metal spinner windows was a challenge. After gently curving them to match each window, I attached them with Testors clear part cement. Italeri provides a form to shape the life-preserver racks. This works well for the pilot house racks, but not for the rail-mounted ones; once the rack is bent to shape, you cannot get it off the form.
I did not install the torpedo racks as shown in Step 16, but waited until all the torpedo supports were added to the deck to make sure everything aligned correctly while the glue set.
Italeri provides silver-colored thread to represent the control cable that runs over the deck to the rudder. This works well, but I did find that the cable interfered with the rear torpedo support, whether I ran the cable in front of or behind the forward leg.
The 20mm Breda 35 gun is very basic and could stand some additional detailing. At first I thought the instructions were wrong, showing the shells hanging down from the bottom of the ammo magazine. But a quick check of the Internet showed me it is positioned correctly. I found that a bending tool really helped in forming the six photoetched-metal ammo racks.
I was unimpressed with the decal flag, so I left it off. Also, while the silver thread was fine for the rudder cables it did not work so well for the antenna. The forward mast is too weak to stand up to the tension needed to tighten the thread.
Installing the rear antenna mast in Step 32, it took me a while to figure out that “stirred plastic” meant stretched sprue. Maybe I should have used some stirred plastic for the antenna wire as well.
I spent 37 hours building my MAS, not bad considering all the painting. While the kit presents some challenges, I was impressed with the finished model right out of the box. However, it takes an experienced modeler to build this boat.