“Midget Sluggers” Elco PT Boats Wartime Film

Oh ya! Just like you went to go see a picture show when you were 10. Got your Pop corn? JuJuBes? Goobers?

Ya the official name of the film is Giant Killers, but the term Midget Sluggers was used in the film and felt more Woodyboaterish.  We are talking PT boats now. Not Higgins or even Huckins

Cool graphic of the three brands

But Elco’s! This is a very cool film that runs 30 minutes. If you have seen this on Youtube, this copy is far far better. It’s a great way to ease into a Fall Sunday. WOW!

In color on Youtube

The digital version we are featuring. see the difference? This is from a digital archive from University of North Texas

WOW, a sweat shirt like that would be very very cool

I love this all, this was produced during the war, not some new thing, but the real propaganda deal. The type of films that would be shown in Movie Theaters before a show and get you confident to buy war bonds.

Great Graphics

I did learn some cool stuff, like Elco was in Bayone NJ. I would love to go find where the plant was. If parts of it are still there. I have a new client there so could be a fun Extra time deal.  Of course this got me digging deeper.

Not in the film.

PT 109 was an Elco PT boat.. Also Elco built some wild sub chasers during WW1. How cool is this history? Which leads me to a interesting question.. Why in the hell didn’t Elco leverage all that brand history for slow launches. Ya ya, I know.. The launches are very cool, and stood the test of time. Cant say that about Higgins.. But.. But wow!

Beast masters!

I want an Elco now, but would like to go over 5 mph..  When you click on the film below,Double click and it should enlarge’ Also turn out the lights and grab your loved one. Ya.. my cup of varnish coffee

A huge thanks to fellow Woody Boater Jim Sheafer for the tip on this. We also found a better color version thats the entire run from UNT See below.

31 replies
  1. Shep on Lake Shafer IN.
    Shep on Lake Shafer IN. says:

    Matt these were awesome boats back then. Not many of them left. My understanding is they burned most of them to the water line instead of bringing them back to the states.
    I was in Key West a few years ago and there was a PT boat giving rides there. So we had to go for a ride. I think it was a 66’ boat that had new power with twin 12 cylinder Detroit diesel motors. They told us the original motors were triple 12 cylinder packers!
    It was an awesome ride! They showed us how they used the boat to attack other boats and launch torpedos at other targets then turn and speed out of range so there targets could not fire back at them. It was a great history lesson for me.
    Thanks for sharing the story!

  2. Andy C
    Andy C says:

    Elco’s are cool. Matt, I happen to have one just for you…it is almost ready for the water😉! I couldn’t see it be destroyed, so I saved it. Boy, I must have a problem.

  3. Mark in Ohio (sometimes da U P )
    Mark in Ohio (sometimes da U P ) says:

    Good story, Commander Mc Hale would be proud. I have not taken the time to watch the movie yet. It is on my list for today. I too saw the P T boat in Key West, but I didn’t take a ride. One of my few regrets in life.⚓️

  4. Russ
    Russ says:

    Particularly liked the clip of Irwin Chase, “Managing Constructor,” dressed in suit and tie working his slipstick (slide rule for those of you under 45…wait you might not know that either, how about mechanical analog computer).

  5. Syd Marsden
    Syd Marsden says:

    I forget exactly but there is a museum in the south, I am thinking Mobil AL but not sure, They have one fully restored that you can go ride on. I believe the cost is around $500.00 I do know of someone that did it. They were great boats. It would be fun to run and feel the power of those 3 Packards.

  6. Captain Nemo
    Captain Nemo says:

    Can you imagine flipping an 80’ Hull? It makes flipping the 18 footer in your garage seems like nothing 😁.

  7. Syd Marsden
    Syd Marsden says:

    The area is now a park, at one time I believe that the crane was still standing but that was a few years ago not sure any more. There is also a plaque there telling about ELCO.

  8. Patrick L.W.
    Patrick L.W. says:

    We still use the same manufacturing equipment in our mill – the deihl straight line rip and the Whitney planer we use every day. To this day it’s still considered the best. Great movie!

  9. Clay from Crosslake
    Clay from Crosslake says:

    What a fabulous documentary of an all but forgotten industry and a testimony to American “can do” ingenuity. Those boats must have been an amazing ride! The sailors who crewed them sure were Woodyboaters.
    About 10 feet aft of the bow on the water footage of the passing 80 footer there is a fin-like structure jutting down from the keel. Does anyone know it’s purpose?

    • Captain Nemo
      Captain Nemo says:

      The fin on the keel helps the bow track better in tight turns. There is a name for it but I can’t come up with it. Like a Cunard on an aircraft wing?

  10. Miles Kapper
    Miles Kapper says:

    And when the war was over the Navy stripped, beached and burned most of the PT boats. Another part of history euthanized. Great Doc.

  11. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    Elco (Electric Launch Co) was a division of Electric Boat and eventually part of General Dynamics. In addition to building PT and other WWII era boats the Electric Boat Division built the first submarine and have been building them continuously for 100 years located in Groton and New London, Connecticut now for more than 65 years . I can’t tell you how many times I watched the movie “PT-109” and “They Were Expendable”. The “plywood derby’s” were an interesting process of determining the best designs of the 3 PT boat manufacturers that included Huckins and Higgins. I really liked the early 77′ Elco PT boat design which was more “organic” with rounded cabin and a flared bow stem. Those features were superceded with faster production built squared off cabins and slab sided boats. I bought a book that chronicled the making of “They Were Expendable” which was filmed primarily in south Florida around the mango trees and inlets that matched the WWII south Pacific island ports the PT’s were known to operate from.

  12. Miles Kapper
    Miles Kapper says:

    Gotta love the writing referencing women working in the plant. And when the war was over the Navy stripped, beached and burned most of the PT boats. Another part of history euthanized. Great Doc!

  13. Al Schinnerer
    Al Schinnerer says:

    In 1944 I was on the crew on a destroyer operating out of Melville RI, which was home to a PT base. We used to pass them coming and going in the main channel. What a great sound!

  14. Briant
    Briant says:

    Patrol Torpedo, PT 658 based now in Portland Oregon is the only remaining true PT boat. The only other survivor is the PT in Louisiana but was modified to satisfy Coast Guard regulations for tours etc. PT 658 was rescued from the drink in Long Beach California, barged up to Portland where many veterans and others lovingly restored her to Authentic WW2 condition and spec. One can go an tour, both at the dock and in the water, and hear first hand from the Vets all about her history and her workings…including the three (3) huge Packards down below!!!

    Here she is at one of our Lake Oswego Boat shows….

  15. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    I wonder where that cool PT boat model went that was sitting behind Irwin Chase in the movie who was head of the small boat construction division?

  16. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    I’ve seen PT 617 and PT 796 on exhibit at Battleship Cove in Fall River, Mass near the Rhode Island border. One is an Elco and the other is a Higgins (which was in JFK’s inauguration parade) and painted with number PT109 even though that number was originally an Elco.

  17. Denis D
    Denis D says:

    Great film, American ingenuity and productivity at it’s best!
    There is one important question however, are these “woody Boats’ or “Wooden Boats”?

  18. thomas d
    thomas d says:

    there was a PT boat displayed on mud island in Memphis when it was just a muddy island back in the ’70’s. not sure what happen to it but the last time I saw it had been moved and was in really bad shape.

  19. Scott Robinson
    Scott Robinson says:

    If you go to Fall River,Mass. the Naval Museum they have 2 PT’s restored in a Quonset hut, they are awesome !!!, Scooter

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