Wartime tug model pulled back to base

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By Hannah O’Hanlon

Campbeltown Museum has roped in a model of a rescue tug which was part of the ‘Campbeltown Navy’ during the Second World War.

Phil Scales from Preston in Lancashire has donated the working model of HMRT Bustler, which he built in 1997, to the town’s museum.

‘I knew when I built it that it would end up here,’ he said. ‘I’m downsizing as I have more than 20 model boats so I offered it to the museum here.’

His Majesty’s Rescue Tug Bustler was built as one of a class of eight large, deep sea rescue tugs needed by the admiralty during WWII, and was launched on December 4, 1941.

Phil said that the Bustler was one of the biggest, strongest, most seaworthy of the fleet. ‘Bustler is actually the class but this was the lead ship,’ he said.

She was one of the first diesel tugs and was powered by two Atlas Polar 8 cylinder diesel engines which meant that with 3200 horsepower, she met her specification to tow a 12,000 ton tanker at 12 knots for 30 days.

She had a normal complement of 42 men but this increased during the war. One of those sailors stationed on the Bustler in Campbeltown, Wally Madra, is included on the model.

Campbeltown was a large base for rescue tugs and was the home of their shore base during the war. The Bustler, her sister ship MHRT Samsonia and others were based in Campbeltown but performed rescue duties around the world, affectionately called the Campbeltown Navy.

Measuring 205ft overall, the Bustler weighed 1630 tons at full load and coped with some of the worst weather conditions in the world, on more than one occasion sailing through a hurricane.

She worked an active and very busy life for around 40 years, and proudly won and wore the battle honour of the D-Day landings.

Elaine McChesney, the museum’s curator, said: ‘Phil’s lovingly crafted model of HMRT Bustler is a welcome addition to the permanent collection here at Campbeltown Museum.

‘The model is a vivid and detailed recreation of the rescue tug, down to the crew members who were stationed here at Campbeltown during World War Two.

‘The model will be officially launched at the museum next Wednesday, August 16, so pop in and have a look.’

Model-maker Phil Scales hands the tug over to Campbeltown Museum curator, Elaine McChesney. 50_c32museum01