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 Author  Topic: ELCO vs HIGGINS
Frank J Andruss Sr

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Frank J Andruss Sr   Send Email To Frank J Andruss Sr Posted on: Jan 5, 2007 - 8:00pm
For years people have asked me as they stolled into my Exhibits the stark differences between the Elco and the Higgins PT Boats. Of course we go over the obvious of the standard design differences, smaller crews quarters, larger engine room layout, different rudders, ect. I guess the big question that has probably been asked a thousand times. WHICH WAS THE BETTER BOAT................


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VCR

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message   Posted on: Jan 5, 2007 - 8:15pm
Well, i would have to say the Elco-not for any of the obvious reasons, As a kid looking in all my grandpas navy stuff, it seemed to be the boat I saw more of (other than the PT73-ole vosper). So that being the case it was the boat i drew alot of, it just seemed so sleek and rreally cool.


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C Marin Faure

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of C Marin Faure   Send Email To C Marin Faure Posted on: Jan 5, 2007 - 10:48pm
It's a question guaranteed to start a lively "discussion" at PT bull sessions. From everything I've read and according to all the PT vets I've talked to or interviewed over the last 15 years the conclusion I've come to is that-- assuming equal physical condition-- the Higgins maneuvered a bit better and was a bit faster. On the other hand everyone I've talked to who served on a Higgins boat said it was a pretty wet ride at speed.

The Elco had better crew accomodations and working spaces inside the boat (except for the engine room) and had a more comfortable and drier ride, relatively speaking.

My personal opinion having been on board both is that the Elco is the better "boat" in terms of overall layout and design. But in terms of the mission, the Higgins was just as competent as the Elco.


C. Marin Faure
Sammamish, Washington

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TGarth Connelly

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message   Posted on: Jan 10, 2007 - 6:24am
Frank,

There is ONLY one choice here - the 80 foot Elco MAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They RULE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Garth

You've got a question, I've got an answer.

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  Jerry Gilmartin

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Jerry Gilmartin   Send Email To Jerry Gilmartin Posted on: Jan 10, 2007 - 8:15am
I can't believe you guys like Elco better than the obviously superior boat, the 78 foot Higgins! At least there are more surviving examples today of the Higgins 78 foot boat, as I count them there are still 4 Higgins boats around (PT305, PT309, PT659 and PT761 while only 2 80 foot Elcos survive, (PT617 and PT485) the Higgins boats ___must___ have been built better to survive for so long! And as far as speed I dont think anything could touch the Higgins Hellcat! Just In My Own Humble opinion, which may be biased since I have been able to pilot the PT658 underway at 23 knots last summer. Dont be worried we should be able to get the center engine operational by springtime, and then maybe it will go 45 knots! I cant really speak out though on this debate, since I am __not___ a WW2 PT Boat veteran, and they are the true judges! Jerry

Jerry Gilmartin

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Russell Pullano

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Russell Pullano   Send Email To Russell Pullano Posted on: Jan 10, 2007 - 11:13am
When I visited Battleship Cove two summers ago, I boarded the Higgins for the first time. I am thankful that I served aboard an Elco. Whomever the guide was (Shannon was at the annual reunion at the time), he had served on a Higgins and he told me that the Elco was the Cadillac and the Higgins was the Chevvy. ...That coming from a member of a crew on a Higgins.


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TGarth Connelly

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message   Posted on: Jan 10, 2007 - 12:06pm
Jerry -------

ELCOs RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUULE!

And, you don't fergit that ...............

See ya.

Garth

You've got a question, I've got an answer.

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TGarth Connelly

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message   Posted on: Jan 10, 2007 - 12:08pm
And, oh Jerry,


The 486 and 615 are still around - Elcos.

See ya

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CJ Willis

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of CJ Willis  Posted on: Jan 10, 2007 - 12:11pm
Frank:
I never rode an Elco boat but rode a Higgins (PT 242) 13 months in the Solomons. From observation when running with Elco's - they were a sleek boat and seemed to ride higher in the bow and probably had less spray. As far as speed sometimes we could out run Elco's and sometimes they would beat us. If a boat had been in dry dock recently and had a clean bottom they were faster also new engines made a big difference. I do believe the Higgins was a tougher boat. We made 85 patrols in some of the roughest water imaginable and never cracked a rib or had any damage while I was aboard. It seemed we were always available for patrol. Of course we had a good crew of motormacs that kept the engines in good shape. I loved the sound of the Elco's when they fired up with open mufflers - it was a sweet sound. The Higgins had the underwater exhausts. The Elco's could and did start some fires at the fuel dock when they started up with open exhausts. I liked the Higgins but we had a great crew with two good officers to keep everthing going. We were the first Higgins squadron in the Solomons and I think we proved that we were just as durable and good as any of the Elco Squadrons.

C. J. Willis

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C Marin Faure

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of C Marin Faure   Send Email To C Marin Faure Posted on: Jan 10, 2007 - 2:45pm
One of the apparent advantages of the Elco was the positioning of some of its armament. Higgins vets please correct me if I'm wrong, but the staggered placement of the Elco's .50 cal. turrets would seem to provide some firepower advantages in that both pairs of guns could be brought to bear on a target from some angles. The side-by-side arrangement of the Higgins turrets (and early Elcos) would seem to prevent that.

Also the somewhat larger area of forward deck on the Elco would seem to offer a few more opportunities for the mounting of additional weapons like extra 20mm or 37mm guns.

I would think that motor macs preferred the Higgins because of the greatly increased space around the the engines and the fact that all three engines were direct drive, eliminating the need to maintain or repair the Vee-drives of the Elco's wing engines.

Knowing Higgins' reputation in boatbuilding I have no problem believing the Higgins PT was stoutly built. It was probably a toss-up in this regard between the Higgins and Elco boats. Operational environment, the type of action seen, and the maintanance capabilities of the base I'm sure had a far greater impact on the physical condition of a boat than the name on the builder's plate.

I think the number and type of the PT boats in existance today is irrelevant in terms of indicating which boat might have been better built. As I understand it the boats in existance today were all very-late-war or were launched after the conclusion of the war, and that for whatever reason weren't scrapped or sold off. Or were boats used in US waters. As opposed to a boat commissioned in a squadron in 1943 and that fought through the next several years in a combat theatre.

So the fact there are a few more Higgins boats in existance today simply means there are a few more Higgins boats in existance today. I don't believe it is any indicator of the relative quality of the two manufacturers.

The aesthetics of boat design is largely in the eye of the beholder. I happen to prefer the lines of the Elco 80' boat, but I have talked to plenty of people, vets and younger types, who prefer the simpler lines of the Higgins.


C. Marin Faure
Sammamish, Washington

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