RMN Perkasa

This conversion of the Perkasa class fast torpedo can best be described as a labour of love. Mohd Shah shows us how.

The Perkasa class of fast torpedo boats served with the Royal Malaysian Navy from 1967-71. In many ways, they were the most potent combat units available to the RMN at the time. Four boats were ordered from Vosper Thornycroft in the UK – namely KD Perkasa (P150), KD Handalan (P151), KD Gempita (P152) and KD Pendekar(P153) and entered service beginning 1967.

Originally fitted with 4 torpedoes, these were replaced by 8 SS12 missiles in 1971, in line with changing naval tactics and technology. KD Gempita made history as the first RMN vessel to fire a missile in 1971. Other modifications included extra fuel tanks as the boats has a relatively short range, limiting its use close to shore. The Perkasas served until 1977, and led the way for the continued use of fast missile boats by the RMN in the form of the La Combattante and Spica-M classes which are in service to this day. Unfortunately, no Perkasa has been preserved and photographs/histories are very limited.

This build was based on the well known 1/72 kit of the Perkasa. I had originally built one in its original 1967 fit (with torpedoes) and decided to build another in the 1971 fit with missiles. Reference material was kindly provided by SFTPMS very own En Badri (Bud Bilko). However, the available material was quite limited, being some black and white photos and a general article from Scale Modeller Magazine way back from 1971. Despite the limited material, I decided to go ahead and attempt to build a scale representation of KD Gempita in view of its historic importance to the growth of the RMN, in conjunction with the 2009 SFTPMS Merdeka group build.

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The scratchbuild work included the extra fuel tanks, missiles and launcher, deck awning and various other small modifications that could be made out from the pictures available. Materials used were bondite, plastic card and rod and scrap PE. The dark earth/dark green camouflage colour scheme was done according to the diagrams in the magazine, while weathering was added with washes and pastels. The Tamiya kit, despite dating from the early 70’s, had excellent detail and fit and remains the only one available of this class.

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A fair amount of discretion and artistic licence was necessary to render the build. Until more accurate and detailed reference information becomes available, I hope it is a fair representation of KD Gempita between 1971-77.

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All text and pics by Mohd Shah