At the start of WWII, almost all American lightships were withdrawn from active service as aids to maritime navigation. Many of these ďidleĒ ships were hurriedly pressed into service as patrol and guard vessels. These lightships traded their red paint for gray, had their beacons removed, and were equipped with deck and antiaircraft guns. Some were equipped with sonar and equipped with depth charge. The 149 foot Nantucket lightship(LV-112) was one such vessel. Like the other off shore lightships, the Nantucket left itís exposed station, was re-fitted at the Boston Navy yard with weapons and radar as well as a powerful radio set. Assigned to Portland Maine, the Nantucket was listed as patrol vessel 112 and guarded the shipping channel to Portlandís harbor. Challenging military and merchant with coded message traffic, it stayed in contact with the shore based harbor command. Frequently the harbor pilots travelled aboard patrol craft 112, available to guide approaching vessels. At the end of hostilities all lightship stations were re established to peacetime conditions, all wartime appearance covered with a fresh coat of red paint. The Nantucket returned to itís position 65 miles south of Nantucket Island, the only light vessel in the world anchored in international waters. Light ship 112 was de-commissioned in 1974 and exists today as a museum.
The Pyro Nantucket model dates back to 1956 and depicts the arrangement of the ship as it looked at that time. Plastic ship models were relatively a new model phenomena in the early 1950ís and this lightship model was really a state of the art kit. The detail was well done and the model was accurate in appearance. Offered by Lindberg models today, this old Pyro kit holds up well in spite of itís age. The ship can be modified to depict the lightship in different guises. The simplest modification is painting the ship to reflect the time period of service. For example, the 112, as commissioned in 1934, had a red hull, funnels, lifeboats and masts. The deck superstructures were painted white with a black smoke stack. The ship had no railings atop the deck houses with the exception of the flying bridge. My version of the Nantucket shows the wartime modifications made to the ship. First step was to remove the mushroom anchors, fog bell, mast beacons, lifeboats, for horn, and omit safety railings. All hull port lights were covered as well as the anchor pocket. I drilled out the overboard discharge hull openings and scribed the hull doors outline. I then built a gun deck aft and scratch built a 3Ē gun as well as two water cooled 50cal guns. Other additions were ladders, ammo lockers, signal light lens and mast navigation lights. I replaced the deck railings with chain which is more prototypical. I added a powerboat for the harbor pilots and added detail to the ships surfboat, as well as boat booms. The model was painted to depict the ship as it looked in 1943. For a modeler that wishes to build something a little out of the ordinary, try a lightship.