Higgins 70ft "Hellcat" Motor Torpedo Boat, PT-564

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Higgins 70ft “Hellcat” Motor Torpedo Boat, PT-564

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TL;DR:
Coastal vessel, fast experimental MTB with fixed forward mounted MGs.

Overview:
A private venture of Andrew Higgins, who despite the success of his 78ft MTB, wanted to create the optimal PT-boat, as he had attempted with his “Dream Boat” design, PT-70. He reasoned a smaller and faster boat would be more effective, arguing that the larger boats were more cumbersome to transport, and that this smaller design would be able to be carried by transports to support landing operations. From this, Higgins made his 70 foot “Hellcat” and privately built a prototype in 1943. Admiral Horne, head of naval logistics, was interested in the design, though he did not want to interrupt PT-boat construction so the boat would never enter production, and bought the prototype, which became PT-564. The Hellcat dispensed with many crew amenities, such as the galley, which many naval officers thought were unnecessary and only weighed down the boats (though I am sure the sailors disagreed), and was about 20 000 pounds lighter than the 78ft Higgins. The boat was trialed against a 78ft Higgins, and was found to be considerably faster and more maneuverable, though it had some minor seakeeping issues. In 1944, it was assigned to MTB Squadron 4, a training squadron based in Rhode Island. Also in the year, as the US was experimenting with barge-busting weaponry for its PT-boats, PT-564 was fitted with 4 fixed M2 Brownings at the bow, which were remote controlled from the bridge, this loadout was not as effective as the various autocannon solutions, and wasn’t adopted. The boat was decommissioned in 1946 and later transferred to the War Shipping Administration. In 1948, it was sold, possibly to Israel where it would be commissioned to their nascent navy. Its further fate is unknown.

Specifications: (1944)

Armament:
1x1 20mm Oerlikon
4x2 12.7mm Browning M2
4x1 TC (Mk.13 torpedoes)

Displacement:
36.3 tons full

Length: 21.3m

Beam: 6.1m

Draft: 1.4m

Propulsion: 3 Packard W-8 petrol engines, 3600 hp, driving 3 shafts

Speed: 45.9 knots (85 km/h)

Range: unknown

Crew: 11-12

Images:

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Hellcat before it was purchased by the US Navy


Drawings:

Sources:
Friedman, N. (1987). U.S. Small Combatants: Including PT-Boats, Subchasers, and the Brown-Water Navy: An Illustrated Design History (pp. 149-151, 160). Naval Institute Press.
https://www.navsource.org/archives/12/05564.htm
https://www.navypedia.org/ships/usa/us_pt_pt564.htm

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