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Updated: 9 hours 3 min ago

Ford M8 and M20

Fri, 06/18/2021 - 00:45
Product Image Review Author:  Frank Landrus Schiffer Publishing

David Doyle's book on the Ford M8 and M20 is one of the latest entries in the 'Legends of Warfare' series with entries in Ground, Naval, and Aviation.  The Legends of Warfare series has expanded rapidly since its 2017 debut in the market with now over 100 titles released. This hard cover series covers a wide variety of monographs at a good price point.

After many years of being published in enthusiast publications focused on military vehicle restorations, David Doyle 'graduated' to full-fledged books in 2003. His first book was a hefty 512 page history of US military vehicles. He has now had more than 175 books published in military vehicles, aviation and naval topics. David and his wife Denise have amassed a collection of ten Vietnam era military vehicles that still displays at shows. In June 2015, was honored with the Military Vehicle Preservation Association's Bart Vanderveen Award, given in recognition of "...the individual who has contributed the most to the historic preservation of military vehicles worldwide." Be sure to check out David's website at www.DavidDoyleBooks.com where you can see and buy at a discounted price off of MSRP, all his books that are still available.

The Ford M8 was a 6x6 Light Armored Car manufactured between March 1943 and June 1945 with 8,523 produced.  Armed with a 37mm anti-tank gun, which was ineffective against German armor but quite effective against Japanese armor, the M8 was lightly armored that would not stop much more than small arms fire.   In British service it was known as the Greyhound, but due its light armor, crews often ran with sand bags to provide additional protection.  Although it featured a six-wheel-drive, it was essentially a road car and not an off-road vehicle, capable of speeds up to 55mph.  The M20 scout car was similar to the M8 except it lacked a turret housing the 37mm gun.  Its open top structure was usually fitted with a ring mount for a .50 caliber M2 heavy machine gun.  Primarily utilized as a command or reconnaissance vehicle, some 3,680 were manufactured in 1943 and 1944.  Utilized by many countries over the years, the M8 and M20 are still in service today in some countries.

 David Doyle traces the U.S. Army's Standard Armored Car of World War II, from the beginning of its development in July 1941.  Other entries from Fargo (a division of Chrysler) and Studebaker are also presented.  The development of the M20, T69, and T30 are also presented, all on the same basic chassis as the M8.  The story of the M8 and M20 are told through carefully researched photos, many of which have never before been published, and are reproduced in remarkable clarity.  Large clear photos, coupled with descriptive and informative captions, unlock the secrets of this armored vehicle.

The front cover features a color photograph of a M8 belonging to the Museum of the American GI in College Station, Texas [the full photograph can be found on page 052].  The rear cover features a black and white photograph of an M8 from the 2ndPlatoon, C Troop, 113th Cavalry approaching the Belgian - Dutch border on September 8, 1944 [the full photograph can be found on page 114].  You get 128 glossy pages graced by clear, well captioned, photographs. I counted 212 photographs; 59 in color and 153 in black and white. Many of the selected photographs are being published for the first time.

Table of Contents


Introduction [Page 010]

Chapter 1: The M8 [Page 024]

Chapter 2: M20 Armored Utility Car [Page 057 and 093]

Chapter 3: Multiple Gun Motor Carriage T69 and Armored Chemical Car T30

General Data (M8, CM20, T69) [Table]

Engine Data [Table]

Radio Equipment [Table]

Chapter 4: Field Use [Page 125]

David Doyle does a great job of covering the U.S. Army's Standard Armored Car of WWII through well-captioned photographs. Most chapters begin with about a page of text describing each variant, followed by period and modern day photographs.  Doyle also includes walkaround's of surviving M8 and M20 armored cars in color that show plenty of detail. This book is an easy read, with the majority of the text being in the photo captions.

One point that I was surprised at was the Secret project of converting the M8 to arm it with 7" rocket launchers.  Five launchers were to be mounted at a 55-degree elevation on each side of the turret.  An additional fifteen rockets would be stored in the vehicle.  Ford bid on the project, but due to slow progress, and a changing battlefield, the project was dropped.

This is a gorgeous hardbound book and is well worth the money at the MSRP of $19.95. Primarily a photo-essay, David Doyle provides plenty of detailed photographs with detailed captions. This is an excellent reference book solely for the pictures. I am definitely looking for more monographs in this affordable series of books from Schiffer.

My thanks to David Doyle Books (www.DavidDoyleBooks.com) and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!

Ronny Bar Profiles: British Two Seaters of the Great War

Tue, 06/15/2021 - 10:57
Product Image Review Author:  Brian R. Baker Casemate Publishers

Historical Background

Most of the information published on the subject of World War I aviation deals with the development of single seat fighter types, and it is refreshing to see a book dealing exclusively with the less publicized two seaters.   At the beginning of the war, airplanes were seen primarily as a means of observing the enemy to see what they were doing, or were capable of doing, and for spotting the results of artillery fire.   A the war progressed, it became important to deny the enemy the same advantages, so planes were equipped with guns, and the fighter plane evolved.  However,  the observation plane and bomber continued in use, and these needed better performance in order to defend themselves against fighters.  As engine power output increased over the years, two seaters became better performers, and some, such as the British Bristol Fighter, became creditable fighters, and actually remained in service long after the end of the war, some lasting into the early thirties.  The basic layout of these aircraft changed from a short fuselage in front with an engine with a propeller at the rear and a gunner located ahead of the pilot , and exposed structure reaching to the tail surfaces, to the standard long fuselage biplane with the engine in front,   with the pilot ahead  and the gunner behind.  The structures remained mainly wooden, and nearly all were still biplanes until the thirties.

The Book

The book consists of a series of paintings, providing side profiles and plan views in smaller scale of the major British types of two seaters used during the war.  The types of aircraft are as follows:


            RAF BE-2a                                         RAF BE-2e, BE-2f, BE-2g

            RAF BE-2b                                        RAF FE2d

            Avro 504                                          Armstrong Whitworth FK8

           RAF BE-2c                                          AMC DH-4

            RAF BE-2d                                        RAF RE8                               

            Vickers FB5                                      Bristol F2B

            RAF FE2b                                          AMC DH-9

            Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter                     AMC DH9A


Each aircraft has at least one side profile drawings in large, 1/48 scale, and a number of plan views are also provided in 1/72 scale.  Drawings are highly detailed, and include such things are extra equipment, armament details, and ordnance carried.  Other details, such as control cables and structural rigging wires, are also shown.   The wide variety of types shows the development of these aircraft, and the drawings themselves show the progress in aeronautical development that occurred during this time period.  I would hope to see more publications of this type from this artist, as it looks like the beginning of a very useful series of books dealing with early aircraft.  Maybe German aircraft will be next.


This book  will be an excellent reference for anyone building a model of a British World War I biplane.   If you have any interest in the aviation of this time period, this is a book that should be in your collection.  Very highly recommended.

My thanks to Casemate Publishers for the opportunity to review this book.

RQ-4B Global Hawk "Yokota AB"

Tue, 06/15/2021 - 09:57
Product Image Review Author:  Tom Pope Platz

The Northrop/Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance, remotely piloted aircraft with an integrated sensor suite that provides global all-weather, day or night intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability. The Global Hawk's mission is to provide a broad spectrum of information collection capability to support forces in peacetime and wartime. For example, USAF RQ-4's from Yokota Airbase (AB), Japan, have been used for relief and recovery efforts after recent natural disasters in the region.

PLATZ Models of Japan has just re-released their 1/72nd scale RQ-4B kit (# AC-34) as a Special Edition (# AC-34SP) that includes new Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) markings for Yokota Airbase (AB), Japan. The JASDF has recently purchased RQ-4s and is awaiting delivery. These aircraft will have the Japanese livery as portrayed in this kit.

'Thank you' to PLATZ Models for providing this kit to IPMS for review.

In the Box

This is a well-engineered kit consisting of only 36 parts, on 5 sprues, molded in light gray. The finely detailed parts are without flash, push-pin marks or other molding process remnants. Recessed panel lines, access doors and fasteners are very clean and easy to see. The air data probes and antennae are very small but accurate and also nicely done.

The instructions are captured on a single, double-sided foldout sheet. The black & white instructions are written in Japanese with English translations of the RQ-4 aircraft and its mission and the color callouts for painting. There is also a double-sided foldout sheet with painting callouts and decal placement guide for the USAF versions and double-sided sheet with the decal placement for the JASDF version on one side and the low-visibility JASDF decal placement guide on the other.

There are two sheets of water-slide decals provided - US markings for two different aircraft and the new 'Special' sheet with high and low-visibility Japanese markings.


With only 36 parts, this kit goes together very nicely and quickly. The sides of the fuselage were ever-so-slightly bowed inward just behind the wing area so spare bits of sprue were used to push the sides back out so they lined up better with the fuselage bottom. If you intend to display the RQ-4 on its landing gear, you need to be sure to add the 10 grams of weight to the nose called out in the instructions (the callout is easy to overlook).

A really nice feature of this kit is the way the wings attach to the fuselage. Even at 1/72nd scale, this aircraft has almost a 22 inch wing span but a relatively small fuselage at almost 8 inches. There is a plate with raised bumps that is installed inside the fuselage with a screw. Then, there are holes in the root of each wing that fit over those bumps when the wing is inserted into the fuselage (see photos). This hole/bump interface solidly holds the wings in place without glue but also allows for the removal of the wings if needed (like when you want to paint the top of the wings without masking or when you want to apply the decals). This turns out t be a really handy feature.

Painting is pretty straightforward - the whole aircraft is Gunship Gray with top surface of the wings and antennae in White and the two radome areas on either side of the nose in Dark Gray.

Decal placement is a little confusing so be sure to study the placement guides closely. The decals on the USAF decal sheet are numbered and the decals on the new JASDF decal sheet are labeled with letters. You'll need to pay close attention to the decal placement guides because they refer to letters and numbers for the various aircraft you can build so you might need decals from both sheets. These decals are strong but very thin and sensitive to decal solvent, so you'll want to make sure they are in place before using solvent or setting solution and use them sparingly.


This is a fun kit to build, and it could be completed in a weekend. I highly recommend this kit for modelers with a little more experience due to the size of the tiny antennae but a nice display model could be built by modelers of any experience level.

Thanks again to Platz Models for providing this kit for review. Thanks also to IPMS USA for giving me the opportunity to review it.

Additional RQ-4 Info:

Field Toilet

Tue, 06/15/2021 - 02:16
Product Image Review Author:  Michael Reeves ICM


If you were born in the last century at any time, you probably remember an older relative- perhaps a grandparent or older aunt who had an outhouse in the backyard. At the very least-- maybe a campsite or campground anyways. I frequented the one in my grandfather's backyard as it was much easier than having to take off my shoes to go in the house and back then, I never wanted to come in. ICM has provided a relatively straightforward kit of the standard field toilet, although to be sure- one would probably only see these in more permanent set-ups. Most of the time these were set up over a hold in the ground with no wooden floor- but this is a dolled up version to be sure.


The Kit

Inside the durable cardboard box is just one sprue that contains the roof, door,  sides, rear, and front frame of the assembly. There are also a few parts for the seat and inside assembly as well as a latch to lock yourself in and a handle for the front.


The Build

Assembly is quick and painless- in just 5 steps you have it all built. Things start out with the base, rear, and sides. From there you add the seat and front door frame. Then the door details are added to the door and the door and roof complete assembly. You have the option of building the seat assembly or just having the floor with a hole in it with no seat. I went with the seat so I could add a roll of TP for good measure...we aren't savages after all!


Painting and Weathering

I went with bare bones paint-- just basic wood to start, then some diluted white paint as a whitewash and some oil paints to weather and age the look of the wood. I added some green washes to the base to give it that mossy plant growth look. I noticed as I went to take photos that the door handle must've came loose...have not had any luck finding it so I will have to scratch build something for it when I go to put it into a diorama.



This is a quick and easy build- no complex camp schemes or decals...and will make an interesting addition to a diorama of your creation. Many thanks to ICM and IPMS-USA for the review sample.

A-20 Havoc

Sat, 06/12/2021 - 23:59
Product Image Review Author:  Frank Landrus David Doyle Books

David Doyle's book on the A-20 Havoc is one of the latest entries in the 'Legends of Warfare' series with entries in Ground, Naval, and Aviation.  The Legends of Warfare series has expanded rapidly since its 2017 debut in the market with now over 100 titles released. This hard cover series covers a wide variety of monographs at a good price point.

After many years of being published in enthusiast publications focused on military vehicle restorations, David Doyle 'graduated' to full-fledged books in 2003. His first book was a hefty 512 page history of US military vehicles. He has now had more than 175 books published in military vehicles, aviation and naval topics. David and his wife Denise have amassed a collection of ten Vietnam era military vehicles that still displays at shows. In June 2015, was honored with the Military Vehicle Preservation Association's Bart Vanderveen Award, given in recognition of "...the individual who has contributed the most to the historic preservation of military vehicles worldwide." Be sure to check out David's website.

Originally designed by Donald Douglas, Jack Northrop, and Ed Heinemann in 1936, the DB-7 was dropped following reports from the Spanish Civil War.  Responding to a US Army Air Corps requirement in 1937, the updated proposal was designated DB-7B and featured a more powerful and capable aircraft.  First flight was achieved on October 26, 1938.  France was the first to place an order (100 aircraft) for the DB-7B as the clouds of war in Europe were stirring.  The DB-7B received some improvements in power and a deepening of the fuselage as a result of the French order.  The USAAC eyed this updated design and ordered 186 of this aircraft as the A-20.  Some 7,478 of all versions were eventually built and served in all theatres of World War II.  The Havoc saw service with the French, the British (as the Boston), the Soviet Union (under Lend-Lease), Australia, and the United States.  The Dutch had placed an order, but they were delivered to the Dutch East Indies (where Japan ended up getting their hands on one for evaluation).

The front cover features a black and white photograph of a Douglas A-20G-20-DO Havoc (sn 42-86657), one of 2,850 of this model [an enlargement of a photo found on page 43].  Originally fitted with four 20mm cannons, they were replaced with .50 caliber machine guns due to jamming.  The rear cover features a color photograph of the Long Beach factory with the nearest aircraft being a A-20B (41-2687). You get 112 glossy pages graced by clear, well captioned, photographs. I counted 176 photographs; 83 in color and 93 in black and white. Many of the selected photographs are being published for the first time.  The Table of Contents includes:



Chapter 1: A-20 and A-20A

Chapter 2: DB-7B

Chapter 3: A-20B

Chapter 4: A-20C

Nose Development: A-20B to A-20 C [Black and White Drawings]

Chapter 5: A-20G

A-20G Specifications [Table]

Nose Armament Development: A-20G (Early to A-20 G (Late) [Black and White Drawings]

Rear Gun Position: A-20G (Early to A-20 G (Late) [Black and White Drawings]

USAF Museum A-20G-45-DO modified to represent A-20G-40-DO "Little Joe] Color Walk-Around

Chapter 6: A-20H

Chapter 7: A-20J and A-20K

Chapter 8: P-70 Nighthawk

David Doyle does a great job of covering the Havoc from the Douglas Model 7B to the P-70 Nighthawk through well-captioned photographs. Most chapters begin with about a page of text describing the Havoc variant, followed by period photographs, many in color. You can see from the Chapter titles many of the variants that are discussed. This book is an easy read, with the majority of the text being in the photo captions.

I was surprised to learn that the P-70 Nighthawk saw very limited service, primarily be used as a trainer to support the Northrop P-61 Black Widow.  Still some saw service in the Pacific on Guadalcanal and New Guinea, but only two kills were attributed.  Primarily this was because the P-70 didn't have the power to intercept Japanese fighters.  Still, I have fond memories of building the Revell 1/72 P-70 as a teenager.  Indeed, there is no shortage of Douglas Havoc/Boston kits in 1/72 and 1/48.  Going up to 1/32 will require a bit more searching to find a Combat Models Havoc, although HpH models has been promising one for a few years. 

This is a gorgeous hardbound book and is well worth the money at the MSRP of $19.95. Primarily a photo-essay, David Doyle provides plenty of detailed photographs with detailed captions. This is an excellent reference book solely for the pictures. I am definitely looking for more monographs in this affordable series of books from Schiffer.

My thanks to David Doyle Books (www.DavidDoyleBooks.com) and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!

F-4B Phantom, Part 2

Wed, 06/09/2021 - 01:59
Product Image Review Author:  Dave Morrissette Tamiya USA

To start part 2, I started with the unique horizontal stabilizers. These are molded in a single piece (check out part one for a picture. This slots into the bottom of the fuselage with a rubber grommet and the two moving parts are actually separate allowing the entire thing to be posed. The fit is so good; I assembled the parts and left them off until later to ease painting.

I assembled the tail next and it consists of four parts. Since I was doing the VF-111 plane and its tail was white, I was worried about masking it off; no need to , the fit is so good, it also can be added later making painting easier. I did add the outer wing panels at this time and did have to do a little bit of filling with Perfect Plastic Putty.

Before painting (I like to go bottom first), I prepped all of the bottom white parts including fuel tanks and pylons, landing gear doors, pylons and other miscellaneous parts. I then used Model Master Insignia white on everything and slowly got a nice clean coat. Outer panels of the tail were included in this also.

Since this was going to take a bit to dry, I built the missiles- four AIM-7E Sparrows and four AIM-9G/H Sidewinders. These are the same as the F-14A kit in construction and are fully decaled also. Next, I jumped to the exhausts. I had checked the4 base earlier and to no surprise, they fit well enough to add later. Each exhaust consists of seven parts and the fit is tight and they come out looking good.

Back to the plane, I masked the white and shot gloss black for the metal areas. I like to use Tamiya Gloss Black thinned with lacquer thinner. It is glossy and dries quickly. I sued 4 shades or Alclad including magnesium, jet exhaust, aluminum and pale burnt metal. I also masked and painted the horizontal stabs too. Lots of Tamiya tape was used!

At this time, I added the windscreen and canopy and it fit well. The kit comes with Tamiya's uncut masks. Also, the inside of the canopy has separate rails and parts which were painted black and added. One the canopy was added, I pre-shaded with black and then masked again and shot the entire plane with Xtracolor Light Gull Gray. This was set aside to dry overnight and I finished off the seats. They are very good and build up from nine parts each. Tamiya includes decals for the seats. I used an extra Quinta set from and F-14. The pull rings are the same and look great and while the seat belts are not accurate, they look better than the decals and are a close enough for me.

One dry, it was decal time. Decals are typical for Tamiya. A little thick but go on well. Doing the Sundowners meant a couple very large tail decals. I can say they went on well, settled using the Microsol system and thee were no issues. Also, because of the version I chose, there were a lot less decals. I can say they they have different decals for folded wings versus extended so you do not have to worry about cutting which is great. Once dry, I started final assembly.

I added the horizontal stabs. They stabs go in first, then the bottom and you add the two top side plates and everything fit perfectly. Not good mind you- perfectly with no seam at all. The tail was added and the same, slide into place, no seams. Same with the pylons. The only thing I had to monkey with was the fuel tanks. I holes seemed a little small and I had to ream them out a bit but no big issues. I flat coated the kit and removed the masks and done!

I'll say it again, this a marvel of engineering and fit. Each sprue gate, ejector pin and parts breakdown was thought through from the view of modeler to make it easy. Best kit ever and that is saying a lot from Tamiya.

My total gratitude to Tamiya for not only making and letting IPMS/USA review this kit but to their efforts in making so much fun to build.

AV-8B Harrier Cockpit

Tue, 06/08/2021 - 17:09
Product Image Review Author:  Paul R. Brown Brengun

This set provides an upgrade for Hasegawa's AV-8B Harrier II kit and provides a complete overhaul of the kit cockpit and along with a number of photo-etch details for the exterior of the aircraft. 

The cockpit parts include photo-etch rudder pedals, sidewalls, replacement tops for both the left and right-side consoles, two different main instrument panels, a photo-etch HUD bracket with clear film for the reflecting glass, and photo-etch harnesses and other upgrades to the ejection seat.  The two instrument panels give you the option to model either an early AV-8B, such as those that saw combat in Desert Storm, or an AV-8B Night Attack Harrier or AV-8B+.  The early panel has a single multifunction display, while the Night Attack Harrier and the AV-8B+ panel has two multifunction displays.  The casting for each instrument panel is outstanding with exceptionally fine detail.

I decided to build an AV-8B Night Attack Harrier, so I painted the appropriate instrument panel Tamiya NATO Black and used acrylic paints and a white colored pencil to make the dials and gauges pop.  I painted a thin layer of Tamiya clear green on the multifunction displays to give them a little depth and then placed a drop of Future in each instrument dial and on each MFD to simulate the instrument glass or the display screen.  The side consoles are also exceptionally well cast and again I painted them Tamiya NATO Black and used a white colored pencil to highlight the knobs and switches.

Hasegawa's kit seat is very basic and the Brengun set gives it a major upgrade by adding lap belts, the shoulder harnesses, a new headrest, the ejection handle and several other smaller details along the sides of the seat.  Brengun's instructions do not provide any painting details for the seat, so check your references or go online to find photographs of the SJU-4 ejection seat used by the Marines in their AV-8B's.  Duke Hawkins' recent book on the Harrier II has some excellent photographs of this seat.

The set includes new side panels for the inside of the fuselage halves.  Be sure to remove the small section shown on the instructions before supergluing them into the respective fuselage halves.  Once these were installed, I painted the fuselage interior and the Hasegawa cockpit tub Testors Modelmaster Dark Gull Grey (FS36231).  I then applied a black wash to the side panels to bring out the molded details.  Next, I removed the molded rudder blocks from the kit cockpit tub and replaced them with the photo-etch rudder pedals.  Then I superglued the replacement side consoles onto the kit cockpit tub and checked its fit inside the kit fuselage halves.

While painting the replacement instrument panel, I happened to set it down beside the kit supplied panel and realized that not only was it much more detailed than the kit part, but it was also deeper and wider that the kit part.  To verify my suspicions, I inserted the cockpit tub between the fuselage halves and then taped the two fuselage halves together.  Next, I tried to insert the new instrument panel and discovered that my suspicions were correct - it would not fit as it was wider than the cockpit opening and taller and wider than the instrument panel coaming.  I un-taped the fuselage halves, measured how much I would have to remove of the kit instrument coaming and broke out the razor saw.  To ensure that I did not remove too much of the coaming, I removed small slices of it, one at a time, checking the fit of the new panel each time until I had removed enough for the panel to fit where it was supposed to be.  I then used a sharp Xacto blade to cut a notch in the kit side rails next to the coaming to widen the opening for the instrument panel.  Once happy with the fit on one side, I repeated the process on the other side until I was able to slide the new instrument panel into place.  Surprisingly, there is no mention of the need to do this surgery anywhere in Brengun's directions.

Once I had resolved the fit issue for the instrument panel, I glued the cockpit tub into one fuselage half and joined the two halves together.  Once this assembly had dried for a couple of days, I inserted the painted instrument panel, refining the fit with sanding sticks and an Xacto blade, and then glued it in place with superglue.  Since the new panel is still wider and taller than the kit instrument coaming, and my cuts were not as perfect as I had hoped, I used some Mr. Surfacer to blend together the new instrument panel and the coaming, and then painted the entire assembly NATO Black. 

The last item to be installed was the HUD bracket and glass.  I held off installing the HUD until I had completed assembly of the kit and the filling and sanding of the seams in order to avoid knocking it off or destroying it.  In fact, I did not install the HUD until right before I attached the kit windscreen, just to be sure.  The HUD bracket is provided as a photo-etch part and is easily bent into the proper shape.  I touched up the black paint after bending it to shape and glued in on top of the instrument panel.  I recommend completely assembling the HUD, including the two film panels, and then gluing it in place before attaching the windscreen.  Otherwise, you could spend a lot of time fishing the films out from under the windscreen if you drop them before they were in place.

The photo-etch fret includes three rear-view mirrors for the main canopy, which I painted flat black for the back side and the frames, and chrome silver for the mirrors themselves. There are also two small photo-etch parts for the front edge of the main canopy that are either handles or possibly part of the environmental control system piping, but they are much too small for my eyes to tell.  I painted both of these black as well based on photographs.

The set also includes photo-etch replacements for several aerials or sensors on the Harrier II.  I wish Brengun had reversed the order of the diagrams showing the installation of these items as the last diagram should actually be the first diagram for the set as it shows the installation of a couple of sensors inside of the kit intakes, which will need to be installed before you join the intakes to the fuselage or the fuselage halves together. 

This is a nice set from Brengun and provides a nice upgrade to the Hasegawa AV-8B kit.  The only real issue I have with it is that there is no mention of the need to cut back the instrument panel coaming in order to get the new instrument panel to fit, so someone might assume that it has to fit somehow and not do the surgery like I did.

Highly recommended.

Thank you to Brengun for the review sample and to IPMS-USA for letting me review it.

Lockheed Martin F-104 Starfighter A/C

Tue, 06/08/2021 - 11:29
Product Image Review Author:  Paul R. Brown Italeri

This is a re-release of the F-104 A/C kit originally released by Italeri back in 2014.  The kit includes six sprues of grey plastic, one clear sprue, a photo-etch sheet and two large decal sheets. In examining the sprues, it is clear that some of them are common to Italeri's 1/32 F-104G as the sprues include the later zero-zero ejection seat, AIM-9L Sidewinders, several pylons that are not used on the F-104A or C, as well as two styles of ventral fins and exhaust nozzles.  The decals depict five F-104As and one F-104C, however two of the six aircraft (markings E and F) are repeats from the original 2014 issue. Unlike the previous release, all 6 of the aircraft depicted in this kit are in a natural metal finish with white upper wings.  I build 1/72 aircraft almost exclusively, so this kit was a real change of pace for me, initially just due to its size - almost 23 inches long and 9 inches wide, but also because I have fastidiously avoided building any kit that required me to finish the model in natural metal. 

I strongly recommend that the first thing you do is to review the instruction sheet completely, decide which markings you are going to use, and which weapons you plan on using, and then set aside the parts you are not going to need in order to avoid confusion later.  Resist the temptation to add the extra parts to your parts drawer until after you have completed the build or to throw or give them away, as errors do happen.

The kit is designed to allow several display options in that the fuselage is split into forward and aft halves, so that you can display it as a complete aircraft, or in sections with the tail section removed with the J79 engine sticking out of the forward fuselage or with the engine also removed.  The kit also gives you the option of leaving open the gun bay doors to display the M61 Vulcan (if installed on the version you are building), the speed brakes deployed or closed, the upper fuselage avionics bays open or closed and the cockpit canopy open or closed.  In addition, the slats and flaps on the wings are separate pieces allowing them to be displayed either fully retracted or lowered.  As I wanted to illustrate all these options, I elected to have pretty much everything deployed or opened up.

On page 3 of the instructions, which are presented in CAD style, Italeri includes a color chart referencing both FS numbers and Italeri paints (for those that exist).  I did find one error on the paint chart as it lists color "O" as Flat Gull Gray FS 36622, Flat Light Gull Gray would be 36440 and the instructions list Flat Dark Gull Grey FS 36231 as a separate color called Interior Grey, while FS36622 is the underside grey in the Southeast Asia/Vietnam paint scheme.  I opted for FS36622 where color O was indicated.

As with most aircraft kits, construction starts in the cockpit, but in this case with the ejection seat first.  Each step includes color callouts for the various parts, however, be sure to check your references as parts 5D and 8D, which make up the headrest for the ejection seat, are listed as being FS36231 Interior Grey, when they should be flat red (color E).  The kit includes photo etch parts for the harness and lap belts along with restraints along the sides of the seat.  The etch is a little stiff to use, so I recommend annealing it first before painting and bending it.  After the seat was completely assembled, I set it aside for installation at the end of the build in order to keep it clean and undamaged.  The next step was construction of the cockpit itself.  The kit includes very a nicely detailed instrument panel and detailed side consoles, which paint up very well.  What is surprising to me is that despite the decal sheets being large and extensive, there are no decals for the instrument dials for the front instrument panel and there is absolutely no detail molded inside any of the instrument dials, so once painted you end up with a lot of black circles.  I used a pin and a fine paint brush to create my own dial faces using photos of F-104A cockpits.  I then placed a drop of Future in each dial to represent the glass.  When you are ready to install parts 27C and 28C, the ejection seat rails, you will need to use the completed ejection seat to set the proper spacing between them.

The next step is assembling the main landing gear and the main landing gear bay.  Italeri has molded the two main gear legs as a single piece which slots into the aircraft's keel and this assembly is then attached to the roof of the gear bay.  I like this approach as it ensures that both main gear legs are fixed at the correct angle.  The bay is completed by attaching the front and rear bulkheads.  I painted everything flat aluminum as per the instructions, however, when I was dry fitting this assembly in the fuselage, I discovered that depending on your viewing angle, parts of the upper surfaces of the gear bay and the outer surfaces of the bulkheads were visible, so I ended up painting both sides of everything aluminum along with the inside of the fuselage halves above the main gear bay.  This step also has you construct and paint the aft section of the intake trunking leading from the aft gear bay bulkhead to the front of the engine.  Initially I thought it was interesting that there is no intake trunking from the intakes back to the forward gear bay bulkhead, however, after building up the intakes, I discovered that it is nearly impossible to look down them and tell that there is no trunking. 

Next is the J79 engine and again, I recommend you check your references regarding colors as the instructions advise you to paint the interior of the exhaust tube flat black, but in several of the photos that I found, this area appears to have an almost transparent green tint to it.  To capture this color, I painted the inside of the engine FS36231 and then applied an uneven coat of Tamiya clear green.  The engine builds up into a nice replica right out of the box with just two seams to address - which can be minimized with careful gluing - providing a good canvas for those who like to superdetail.  I contented myself to experimenting with painting to make the engine look used.  If you decide to super detail the engine, you will probably have to display it on the provided engine stand as tolerances around the engine and the photoetch aft bulkhead (part 6E) are tight.  If you have decided to model the fuselage completely closed up and the tail section attached, you can skip most of the painting of the engine as all that will be visible is the exhaust tube.

Two other options that you will need to consider before closing the fuselage are whether you intend to install the inflight refueling probe and whether or not the aircraft you are modeling has the M61 Vulcan installed.  If you are going to install the refueling probe, you will need to open the mounting holes on the left fuselage.  I also recommend installing either part 14A (gun nozzle) or 4A (blanking plate) in the left fuselage at this time rather than in step 14 as provided in the instructions as it will be much easier to fish it out with before the fuselage halves are joined together.  I also jumped ahead several steps at this point and installed the intakes and ramps as I felt it would be much easier to sand and fair them in before the fuselage halves are joined and the cockpit installed.  Fit of the intake parts was surprisingly good and again the plastic used by Italeri sands very well.  I did tape off some of the surrounding detail before sanding in order to protect it.

Before you join the fuselage halves together, be sure to insert clear parts 10F in each intake.  I believe they are position lights as the instructions have you paint the inside of the left one red and the right one green.  I recommend you sand them down a bit as well so that they are flush with the fuselage sides as mine stood a little proud of it.  You may also need to use a little filler or white glue around the sides of each as mine were slightly smaller than the holes.  As discussed above the engine can either be attached to the airframe or displayed by itself on the provided engine stand.  I elected to keep mine separate.  Once the fuselage halves are dry, the next step is to assemble the nose gear bay.  As I am a bit of a klutz, especially with a model that is much larger than I normally build, I decided to not glue the nose gear strut in at this point, but instead to leave it moveable to that I could rotate it up into the gear bay while sanding or doing other work to avoid snapping it off.  I also left off the actuators, nose gear steering unit and the landing light for installation after painting was completed.  If you forget to install part 5F before installing lower fuselage panel like I did, it is not a big deal as the hole is easily filled with Krystal Klear later. I recommend not installing assembly Z (the shell ejector chute) until the end of the build as it is a butt joint against the lower fuselage.  I also recommend leaving off the nose gear doors and the retracting mechanism (part 26C) until much later in the build.  If you are building version F, you will need to decide what you are going to hang on the centerline station as there are different holes to open up in part 9C before installing in the fuselage, depending on which pylon you will be using.  Take your time and do a couple of test fittings for part 9C and assembly "Y" in order to ensure the best fit and to minimize the amount of filling, sanding and polishing you will need to do in light of the natural metal finish.    

Next up is the cockpit coaming and the doors to the avionics bays.  I dipped all the clear parts in Future and let them set up for a couple of days before installing them.  Be sure to paint the side brackets for the HUD display (part 2F) before installing it.  The instructions do not list a color, so I used flat black on mine.  It was at this stage that I noted a downside to the kit in that in some areas - the exterior side of some of the avionics bay hatches have slightly sunken areas where there is detail molded on the inside the hatch.  This is also the case for gun bay doors and some of the gear doors.  I assumed that painting would help hide this flaw, but I discovered later that the AK Interactive Xtreme Metal paints I used, went on in such thin coats that they did not cover this issue.  This stage also addresses the construction of some small photo-etch parts for the cockpit.  I found the instructions on how to bend part 8PE confusing and managed to mangle two of the three samples included before getting the third one to look sort of like the one in the instructions.  Once completed these assemblies were set aside for installation later.

The instructions call for the installation of the avionics bay hatches next, which is fine if you are going to have the hatches closed on your model, but mine were going to be open, so I tacked them in place with white glue for now.  You are also supposed to build, paint and install the M61 Vulcan at this stage, but I also left this off for later installation and tacked on the gun bay doors with white glue for painting.  As I had already installed the intakes, next up was attaching the nose radome.  Mine went on a little off kilter but fairing it in with a little filler and some sanding was straight forward.  As the front fuselage was now complete and fairly easy to handle, I elected to address the seams at this stage.  The raised spine of the F-104 actually made it easier to address the upper seam without worrying about damaging the fuselage detail.  On the underside, I did not have to do a lot of filling and sanding as I had spent some time refining the fit of the various inserts.  One area that I did spend a fair amount of time on was blending in the two ends of the main gear bay spar section into the lower fuselage as there was a slight step between the two.  I checked my progress on the seams by spraying them with Testors gloss black.  Once I was happy with the seams, I used 3200, 4000 and 6000 grit sanding sponges to smooth out and polish the seams and the black primer coat, and then restored any lost detail with a sharp Xacto or a scribing tool.

Moving on to the wings, before gluing the top and bottom halves together, if you are going to hang pylons under the wings for either drop tanks or bombs, you will need to drill out the inner set of holes on the lower wing halves.  The fit between the upper and lower wing halves was good and as the leading-edge slats and trailing edge flaps are separate pieces, the only seam to address is a small one on the underside of the wing.  This step also includes the installation of the speed brakes, which I skipped as I was going to have them deployed.  The fit of the wings to the fuselage was exceptionally good and I only had a small seam along the aft wing root on one side to address.  You could probably leave the wings off and paint them separately if you wanted to, but I glued mine on and they turned out to be a particularly useful handle during the painting and decaling stage (I left the slats and flaps off until the end of the build as well).

The next stage of assembly is the construction of the rear fuselage and F-104's "T" tail.  I recommend installing all four of part 7F, then painting the exposed interior side of each flat red before you paint the interior of both halves of the tail section.  I used flat green instead of gloss green as the pictures I looked had more of a flat finish.  While the paint was drying, I attached part 37B to part 15B (the rudder) and blended it in with a little filler and some sanding.  Once the paint was dry, I glued the fuselage halves together, attached the rudder and the horizontal tail.  I recommend using superglue on the lower fuselage seam as mine split a couple of times, including once after it had been primed, causing extra work.  I left off the photo-etch front bulkhead until after painting so that I could plug the inside of the tail with foam to protect the interior color.  Once the tail assembly had dried, I did a dry fit of it to the fuselage just to see if there were any issues.  I discovered that Italeri has molded the fuselage halves for the tail section with a very narrow lip (about 1/16th of an inch) that fits inside the front fuselage halves.  If you are going to build the fuselage closed up and the tail section attached, I think that this joint could be problematic, and I would recommend adding some sheet styrene tabs for additional support when attaching the tail section.

I really like the fact that Italeri has done its homework and has included in the kit several pieces of the maintenance gear used on the F-104.  These include not only the pilot's boarding ladder, but also a stand for the engine and a rolling stand for the tail section.  The instructions include detail painting instructions for all three pieces, however, I disagree with the instructions regarding the color for the boarding ladder as Italeri says it should be painted FS34079 flat green, whereas all of the photos I found of early F-104s show it as being painted yellow.  I opted for yellow and painted all three pieces Tamiya flat yellow over a NATO Black primer coat, to tone down the yellow a bit.

I left off all of the gear doors and the remaining gear struts and actuators until after painting was completed to simplify painting them and the airframe.  I did a quick test fit of the nose pitot and decided to install and blend it in before painting in order to eliminate a slight step between it and the radome.

The canopy sections provided by Italeri are commendably thin and very clear.  I dipped them all in future as additional projection and once they were dry, I masked them with frosted Scotch tape, trimmed with a new blade in my Xacto.  The canopy frames are raised just enough to make this a fairly easy process.  There is a small bump at the base of the front windscreen that in most pictures appears to be a clear lens for some piece of equipment, so I put a drop of masking fluid over it to protect it from paint.

I was fortunate enough to find a color photograph of the aircraft depicted by markings "E" of the kit and the photograph showed an exceptionally clean airplane that was mostly polished aluminum with white upper wings and a light grey radome.  To minimize later cleanup in preparation for the natural metal paint I taped off the wings and the radome and sprayed both of them Testors gloss white.  Once this was dry, I painted the radome FS36622 light grey.  I tried to tape off the pitot tube to keep it white but managed to bang it into the spray booth while doing so and snapped it off (1st time).  After re-attaching the pitot and re-sanding it, it was sprayed white again and once this was dry, I was able to paint the radome.  I set the fuselage aside to allow the white and grey colors to harden completely and focused on painting the tail section.  First step was to apply masking fluid to the outside of each of the part 7F's installed earlier to ensure they remain clear.  Next, I painted the entire tail section with AK Interactive Xtreme Metal Black Base as a base coat, with mixed results. In some areas the black base went on very smoothly and dried with a nice glossy finish, while in other areas it had a patchy appearance and when dry the finish varied from very glossy in some areas to very flat in others.  Next time I think I will use a gloss black enamel as my base coat to achieve a more consistent finish.  In the photograph I found of the aircraft I was replicating, the silver on the tail section has a different sheen than the forward fuselage does, so I painted the tail section Dark Aluminum overall and picked out a couple of darker panels with Metalizer non-buffing steel. Once I was happy with the colors on the tail section, I removed the masking around the edges and the foam I had filled it with and set aside the tail section aside to dry and harden.

Before painting the fuselage, I masked the two position lights on the intake sides with masking fluid, taped over the white upper wings and taped off the grey radome.  I then sprayed the entire fuselage with AK Interactive black base for the base coat.  This time most of the black base dried with a nice glossy finish, but there were still a couple of areas under the fuselage where the base coat dried with a flat finish.  I then applied a couple of very thin coats of AK's Polished Aluminum to the fuselage.  To ensure the paint had plenty of time to dry and harden, I stuck a piece of foam in the nose gear bay as a support, cleaned out the kit box and then placed the painted fuselage in the box, put the lid on it and put it away for about a week.

While the fuselage paint was drying, I painted the slats and flaps (white on top, polished aluminum underneath), the landing gear doors and speed brakes (flat aluminum inside and polished aluminum outside) and then set them aside as well.  I also painted and assembled the M61 Vulcan next using the colors listed in the instructions at this time.

Once the tail section had dried for a couple of days, I applied the decals, starting first with the unit and aircraft markings and then applying the stencils as some of the stencils are actually stenciled over the unit or aircraft markings.  The decals are printed by Cartograph and are very thin.  One thing that was surprising is that many of the decals actually depict several separate stencils but have been printed as one long decal with thin sections of decal film connecting them.  Since almost all of the decals were applied to the silver painted sections, the decal film pretty much disappeared as the decals dried, but I would be concerned using decals like this on a finish that was not perfectly smooth, as I think there would be a fair amount of silvering.  I tried to avoid using setting solutions as much as I could as I was not sure how these solutions would react with the metal paint, but in most cases, they were not necessary as the decals conformed very well when applied.  I also made sure to soak up as much of the water after applying each decal in order to avoid water stains.

While the decals on the tail section were drying, I went back to the fuselage, removed the masking from the wings and the radome, snapping off the pitot tube again (2nd time).  After re-attaching the pitot tube, I masked off the radome and the upper wings, using sticky notes and sprayed on a couple of coats of Future to prepare these areas for decaling.  I then used sticky notes to mask off the speed brake wells, the nose gear bay and the main gear bay and painted them all flat aluminum.  I also painted the gear struts and actuators flat aluminum at this time.

Now that the painting was done it was time for decaling the fuselage.  Be sure to set aside a fair amount of time for decaling this airplane as there are over 100 stencils on the decal sheets, plus the national insignias and the markings for the specific aircraft you are modeling.  Again, I applied the markings for the specific aircraft I was modeling first (including the national insignias) followed by the stencils. If you are going to have the speed brakes deployed or the gun bay opened, you will need to tack them in place before decaling as there are markings that go over them.  Once these decals had dried, I used an Xacto knife with a new blade to gently slice through these decals following the panel lines.  I noted a couple of errors in the decal sheet in that the stencil diagram lists stencils 102 and 103 to be applied to the vertical tail, but I was unable to find them on either of the two decal sheets.  In addition, the kit only provides decals for the upper sides of the AIM-9 wingtip rails when there should be decals on both sides of each rail.  I also discovered that the anti-glare panel decal is much too wide when it reaches the windscreen.  If you look at photos of silver F-104s the antiglare panel should be snug up against the windscreen and then extend back right up against the horizontal frames of the main canopy.  Unfortunately, the kit decal is too wide and when installed there is a significant gap between the sides of the anti-glare panel and the canopy.  I did not notice this until I was almost done decaling, when it was too late to go back and paint the anti-glare panel instead.

After the decals had dried, I again used sticky notes to mask off the radome and the upper wings.  The upper wings received another coat of future while the radome and the anti-glare panel received a coat of clear flat.  Once this had dried for a couple of days, it was time to start installing everything.  I first installed the retraction arms and actuators for the nose gear strut and glued the strut in place.  I then added the actuators and retraction arms for the main gear.  Next up were the wheels, which had been assembled and painted earlier.  Each wheel is molded with a flat spot on one side to simulate the weight of the aircraft.  The main wheels are keyed with square attachment pegs to ensure that the wheels are installed with the flattened side down, so I attached them first.  Once they had dried, I attached the nose wheel with slow drying superglue and setting the fuselage on a piece of glass to ensure all three tires contacted the ground. Next up was installation of the landing gear doors.  Unlike many other military aircraft, the large main gear doors of the F-104 are actually almost completely closed when the aircraft is on the ground and powered down.  Since I wanted to depict an aircraft undergoing maintenance, I glued these two doors closed up.  The doors will not close completely as they hit the gear actuators, but they come pretty close. 

Before installing the speed brakes, I popped off the main canopy, which I had tacked on with white glue and removed the masking from the canopy.  I found that I had to go around the outline of the tape with a sharp Xacto in order to cut through the metal coating from the paint before I could remove the masking.  After cleaning up the masked edges, I installed the ECS pipe inside the main canopy section along with the photo-etch mirrors and I installed the small photo etch parts assembled earlier on the canopy rails.  Next up was installation of the slar and flaps, which I posed slightly drooped, followed by the speed brakes in the fully deployed position.  I then installed the M61 Vulcan, followed by the aft gun bay door which hangs down vertically when open.  The forward gun bay door was not attached as it is not hinged like the aft door but is completely removed when the bay is opened up.  I then installed the avionics bay hatches using the actuators provided in the kit followed by the main canopy.

The last step was to install the engine on its stand.  It is such a tight fit that I did not use any glue at all when installing it.  I also did not glue the tail section to its stand to simplify transporting it as it is rather top heavy when in place.

This kit took a lot longer to construct than I had expected partly due to its size but also, I suspect in large part due to my aversion to natural metal finishes.  Now that the build is done, I have to admit that I actually enjoyed it and learned a lot about how to apply metal finishes and more importantly what not to do when applying natural metal finishes.

This kit builds up into a really nice model of an early F-104 Starfighter and I really liked the options of displaying it opened up and broken apart.

Highly recommended for those not adverse to natural metal finishes.

Thank you to MRC for the review sample and to IPMS-USA for letting me build and review it.

Panther Medium Tank IV. SS Panzerkorps Eastern Front 1944

Tue, 06/08/2021 - 10:46
Product Image Review Author:  Michael Novosad Pen & Sword

During the summer of 1944 a series of massive Soviet offensives threatened to destroy the entire German army on the Eastern Front. As the Wehrmacht scrambled to hold what ground it could many formations simply disappeared and the available armored units were used to plug the gaps in the front line. One of the most important elements of the defense was the newly raised IV.SS-Panzerkorps which contained the veteran Totenkopf and Wiking divisions. Although both were well equipped their real striking power lay in the battalion of Pzkpfw V Panther tanks with which each was outfitted, perhaps the most effective armored fighting vehicle produced by Germany during the Second World War.

In Dennis Oliver's latest volume in the TankCraft series, he uses archive photos and extensively researched color illustrations to examine the Panther battalions of these famous units that fought to hold back the Soviet advance during the last months of 1944. A key section of his book displays available model kits and aftermarket products, complemented by a gallery of beautifully constructed and painted models in various scales. Technical details as well as modifications introduced during production and in the field are also examined providing everything the modeler needs to recreate an accurate representation of these historic tanks.

Dennis Oliver is the author of over twenty books on Second World War armored vehicles.

The Development and history of the Panther has been covered many times of in many publications so I will focus on this publication. This book was first published in 2021.

Contents Introduction

This is a one page history of the development and initial combat deployment of the Panther.

The Eastern Front 1944

Here a map of the Eastern front is provided along with a chronology of events from January 6, 1944 through December 27, 1944. A single paragraph of events for each date is included. There are six pages in this section.

IV. SS Panzerkorps Units

here we have historical and organizational information. Although the Germans were retreating from the Russian armed forces they could on ocaission put up a stiff defence to blunt the advances or cause signficant losses to the other side.

Camouflage and Markings

Ten pages of color plates are included in this section Depicting ausf A and G versions. Black and white period images are also included for details and markings. Scale modelers will appreciate this section.

Model Showcase

A Panther Ausf A SS-Panzer Regiment 5 in 1/35th scale by Kevin Potts is featured first. Next Theodoros Kalamatas offers a 1/35 th scale Panther Ausf with PE zimmerit and winter white-wash, and a Bergepanther Ausf D. Stanislav Noskovic present a Panther Ausf A with zimmerit and a very nicely done tri-color camouflage scheme. This section has some very nice images of the completed models that will be quite inspirational for armor modelers. The text offers bare information on the models construction, detailing, aftermarket accessories or painting, but is still useful.

Modelling Products

Plastic kits and available accessoris are noted in this section.

Technical Details and Modifications

The various modifications and upgrades to the Panther series are addressed in this section. Vehicle profiles are included with notes identifying the upgrades and modifications, along with period photos with text and notes showing the changes.

Product Contact Details

The last page offers a list of the various kit and accessories manufactures with addresses and websites information. Several of the names were new to me and I was sure to check them out.

My thanks to Casemate Publications for the opportunity to review this publication. There is a nice balance of modeling information, historical and technica facts to make for quick and enjoyable reading. This soft cover publication will offer a nice reference source for the armor modeler's library.


Single No. 26: Messerschmitt BF 108B-2

Tue, 06/08/2021 - 10:22
Product Image Review Author:  James Kelley MMP Books

The Messerschmitt Bf 108 Taifun (English: "Typhoon") was a German single-engine sport and touring aircraft, developed by Bayerische Flugzeugwerke in the 1930s. The Bf 108 was of all-metal construction.

Originally designated the M 37, the aircraft was designed as a four-seat sports/recreation aircraft for competition in the 4th Challenge International de Tourisme (1934). The M 37 prototype flew first in spring 1934, powered by a 250 PS (247 hp, 184 kW) Hirth HM 8U 8.0-liter displacement, air-cooled inverted-V8 engine, which drove a three-blade propeller.

Although it was outperformed by several other aircraft in the competition, the M 37's overall performance marked it as a popular choice for record flights. Particular among these traits was its low fuel consumption rate, good handling, and superb takeoff and landing characteristics.

The Bf 108A first flew in 1934, followed by the Bf 108B in 1935. The Bf 108B used the substantially larger, 12.67-liter displacement Argus As 10 air-cooled inverted V8 engine. The nickname Taifun (German for "typhoon") was given to her own aircraft by Elly Beinhorn, a well-known German pilot, and was generally adopted.

This book is a compilation of 4-view color profiles, scale plans and photographic details of the Messerschmitt Bf 108B-2 Taifun, featuring scale plans in 1/72 and 1/48 scales plus drawings form wartime technical manuals and also photographs of the details in B+W and color The scale plans are exceptionally well done. I find the technical drawings, taken directly from the aircraft manual (Ersatzteil-Liste Me 108) to be fascinating.

One page even breaks the seats down to the frame and bolts. Two pages cover the cockpit and instrument panel with photos and technical drawings. Every dial and lever are numbered and listed. The four-view color profile is of a machine that saw service.

The photos are all ones I've not seen before, which I appreciate. Two color photos include the oldest airworthy Bf-108 in existence, W.Nr. (37)0114, built in 1937 & a rare, inflight color photo of Bf-108 D-IMTT. This was the personal aircraft of none other than Willy Messerschmitt himself.

While this 24-page volume is more a monograph than a "book", it is full of drawings and photos that will be a valuable resource to the scale modeler. It goes into great detail without going into great detail, if that makes sense. It does. I can highly recommend this volume to the modeler and historian, alike.

Thank you to Casemate Publishing, and IPMS/USA for the review sample.

F6F-3K Hellcat "Dawn of Drone"

Tue, 06/08/2021 - 10:14
Product Image Review Author:  Ben Morton Platz

Shocking in the stark realism of perfected three dimensions...out of the muck and mystery of a hundred million years ago...up from the depths of unknown horror comes an abomination to confound science and terrorize the world. It''s ' Dawn of Drone ' !

While that might be a bit melodramatic and with apologies to the producers of 'Creature from the Black Lagoon' this release from Platz Hobby does illustrate beautifully (in scale model form) the beginnings of the use of drone aircraft in the early 1950's. Platz Hobby's 1/144th scale F6F-3K Hellcat depicts F6F-3K Hellcats used during the atomic weapon tests at Bikini atoll in the early fifties.

For a more detailed description I encourage you to click the link to an article by Dan Gettinger about those events and the early use of drone aircraft (Hellcats/B-17's) as research platforms. [The Drones of the Atomic Age (bard.edu)]

The 'Dawn of Drone' Hellcats from Platz Hobby come packaged as two complete kits with markings for five separate aircraft. Two in overall yellow and three in overall red. [Fun Fact: the tail section of some drone aircraft were painted different colors (blue, pink, green, etc.) to designate particular radio frequencies for the control equipment.] Probably to help the controllers keep track of which one was theirs. I can hear the conversation now..."Hey, Carl! Are you flying the blue one or am I?"

Each model consists of thirty-nine parts with petite, engraved panel lines and comes with some cockpit details. Those details include two styles of pilot headrests, an instrument panel with a decal for the instrument faces, and two types of canopy, one for a 'dash 5', the other for a 'dash 3'. (This boxing is a re-release of an early Platz Hobby offering of the Hellcat with some new parts and decals.)

The canopy glazing is provided as three parts: the main canopy and individual, clear bits for the side windows either side of the pilot seat. Very clever! You will need to attach those side windows before closing up the fuselage.

There are color call outs throughout each of the five assembly steps. One example of the Hellcat drones does have wing guns (a training aircraft) while the others will need to have those removed, simply a matter of clipping off the molded-on guns. While not a speedy build, this kit didn't take that long to assemble and the parts do fit together nicely.

There is a small decal sheet with star and bars, aircraft numbers, data /stenciling, and prop logos for the three bladed prop. Platz even includes decals for the anti-glare panel and wing walk area for select versions, a pretty extensive set of decals for this scale. The decals are well printed and go on without any difficulties. No muss, no fuss.

Painting these beauties is a snap. Whether you select a red Hellcat or a yellow one, everything gets painted the same color. Fuselage, wings , stabilizers,wheel wells, landing gear and doors, wheel hubs, fuel tank ...everything!.

After assembling the cockpit parts I brushed painted those bits with yellow citron. Maybe not the proper shade but more visible through the canopy. Aside from the kit supplied instrument panel decal not much else was done to the interior. I brushed painted the small bits (engine, interior of the cowl, propeller, gear parts, etc.) and air brushed the main portions of the aeroplane (fuselage, wings and such). The tail section was masked off and air-brushed a lovely shade of rose brown.

I have always been impressed with Platz small scale aircraft models This set (two complete kits) of Hellcats from Platz does not disappoint. The shape is spot on as are the petite engraved panel lines. The auxiliary fuel tank has three, individual anti-sway braces! Couple all of that with ease of fit and finishing, these kits are a pleasure to build and represent an important era in aviation. I mean , who can forget the Battle of Palmdale? [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yipdlyF9HP0]

My thanks to Platz and IPMS/USA for the review copy.

PzKpfw IV Ausf G Early Version

Tue, 06/08/2021 - 00:55
Product Image Review Author:  Eric Christianson Tamiya


Tamiya has yet again enhanced their venerable line of PzKpfw IV German main battle tank kits, tossing a few new bits into an already brand new Ausf. F(1) release, resulting in the long-barreled Ausf. F(2)/G model.  The offering also includes five of the most detailed Tamiya figures to date, as well as a variety of personal equipment and bags to lay around on the upper deck.  One thing is for sure - these last two kits are two of the finest armor models ever produced by Tamiya, and that says a lot.

The Germen PzKpfw IV was constantly modified throughout its service life, with Ausfuhrung (variants) stretching from ("A"), which entered service in early 1936 to the ("J") which was being built right up to the end of the war.  The Ausf. F tanks that received the new, longer, KwK 40 L/43 gun were temporarily named Ausf. F2. Differences between the Ausf. F1 and the Ausf. F2 were mainly associated with the change in armament, plus other modifications, including an altered gun mantlet, internal travel lock for the main weapon, new gun cradle, new optics for the L/43 weapon, modified ammunition stowage, and turret mounted smoke grenades.  Three months after it entered service, the PzKpfw IV Ausf. F2 was renamed Ausf. G.

Opening the Box

This is a Tamiya armor kit - which means it can best be described in five words: not many parts, perfect fit.  As always, there is something for every kind of modeler in here.  For those new to modeling, Tamiya kits are a snap to assemble and come with excellent instructions and sprues that are laid out and numbered logically.  For those who enjoy the painting and weathering part of building a model most, Tamiya kits quickly and painlessly become excellent canvases on which to ply one's artistic talent.  For modelers who go for accuracy, Tamiya has the industry clout that ensures a variety of after-market products to enhance what modelers get in the box, products that these types of modelers would purchase anyway, no matter how accurate or inaccurate the original kit is.  One thing everyone gets, however, is an enjoyable build and a perfect-fitting model.

It wouldn't be a Tamiya kit without some oddities, however, such as nylon string tow cables, brass wire, figures and jigs to assist with proper track-sag.  As with most of their latest releases, Tamiya has replaced their one-piece rubber-band track with link & length track, which fits together as well as I have ever seen.  All in all, this is about as good as a model kit can get.

The contents of the box include:

  • Lower hull packaged separately
  • 7 sprues in soft, tan plastic, packaged separately
  • 1 20-inch piece of string for use as tow cables
  • 1 10-inch piece of brass wire to tie the tow cables or for wiring the headlights
  • 6 polycaps to allow the movement of the drive sprockets during track assembly
  • 1 small sheet of Tamiya decals, with excellent registration
  • 1 20-page, black and white instruction booklet with 41 steps
  • 1 6-page color foldout showing two paint schemes and decal placement - Paint callouts are made for Tamiya Acrylic Paints only.


The Instructions

Up front, Tamiya offers two build options identified with a capitol letter 'A' or 'B'; nearly every step has alternate instructions (and images) to follow, depending on what version you are building:


  1. 21st Panzer Division, El Alamein, North Africa, Autumn 1942 (DAK Yellow)
  2. 12 Panzer Division, Northern Russia, Autumn 1942 (German Grey)


The CAD images are crisp and represent assembly from different angles to show exactly where parts are placed.  Beginners will find the pages full of quick hints and images showing where to trim, cut, use tweezers for small parts, etc., etc.  A complete novice could build a nice model from this kit using what is offered here.

While there is no parts map included for the seven sprues, there is a list of un-used parts to assist the modeler.

The Build

Looking through the instructions for my notes I find that there is very little written besides the occasional 'Cool!' and 'Nice!'.  The build simply goes right along without a hitch.

That said, almost immediately (in Step 2), the modeler is instructed to perform a very un-Tamiya-like task: drilling a hole for a trailer hitch.  There are no go-by's or indentation's to help here - measurements are given in millimeters as to where exactly to drill the hole, although most can merely eyeball it and have it be reasonably accurate.  The rest of the rear panel, as well as the chassis and bogies go together well. 

In Step 8, Tamiya provides nylon inserts for the two drive sprockets.  These allow the modeler to 'fine tune' the position of each sprocket when fitting the upper length of track coming up next.

In Step 7, the magic of Tamiya's link and length track comes to fruition, starting with a plastic jig that is used to produce the correct track 'sag' along the top runs of track.  Even though the jig is made of plastic, careful placement of glue will prevent the track pieces (also plastic) from sticking to the jig.  I used thicker, Testor's 'black bottle' liquid cement here for its longer drying time, even though the instructions call for using Tamiya's Extra Thin Cement, which, presumably, will evaporate before sticking the track to the jig.  Either way, what looks like it won't work, actually works great.  Have faith!

Step 10 finishes the track around the top run already in place on each side, and I have to say, these are the first runs of Link and Length track that I have ever assembled that ended up fitting perfectly - not even a half-link short or over.  Follow the instructions and build them backwards - toward the rear of the tank, down around, along the bottom toward the front, and up and over to the top run.  Piece of cake!

The next bunch of steps cover the main superstructure, the fenders and rear deck - which all come together without any problems.  Make sure that you only assemble those parts that belong to your version (A or B).  I actually crossed out every 'B' section first with a thick Sharpie to ensure that I didn't start down a road I didn't mean to. 

Step 19 finishes the front and rear decks with hatches (as does Step 24, later).  There is no detail provided inside the vehicle, or even on the inside of the hatches for that matter, so if you wish to model any of these open, you will have your work cut out for you.  

In Step 21, when assembling the cables, measure the string exactly as shown in the diagram; you will find that it fits precisely and can be 'tightened' on the surface of the model by swiveling either Tow Cable ring slightly before gluing.  Tamiya receives criticism for using string instead of wire, and some of that is justified, especially on WWII vehicles when the cables might be modified to show them in use. 

While assembling them (with white glue) was easy when left to dry overnight, getting two complete cables wrapped around the delicate hooks in back was too iffy for me.  I left one off, using more diluted white glue to fix the cable in place.

Tamiya provides a slide-molded, one-piece main gun barrel with a two-piece muzzle - a huge improvement from the long, two-piece barrels of days past.  The barrel, as with most parts in the kit, fits only one way into the mantle, simplifying the sometimes-troublesome task of lining up the openings in the muzzle brake with the horizontal plane.

In Step 33, the commanders cupola comes together in no less than sixteen pieces.  Fret not, however - the parts 'chunk' in to where the need to go.  If they don't, look at it again before you apply any glue.

In Step 37, if you are building the 'A' (DAK) version, Tamiya provides you with great fitting decals to replicate the white crosses signifying 'water' on the Jerry cans.  Normally I would mask and paint these lines, but the fit and opacity of the decals are perfect.

That's about all I can add about the general build steps.  In Step 39, the five figures are assembled and directions are given for paint.  The arms are created in such a way as to fit into the shoulder sockets only one way - purposely directing the poses so that they will rest correctly on the hatches and other surfaces.  This is brilliant if you are like me and intend to pose them as Tamiya wants.  You will have to do a little surgery if you want to do otherwise.

Painting and Finishing the AFV

I knew I wanted to depict the DAK version of this kit, but I wanted to make it a darker yellow than the ubiquitous faded German Yellow of all my other desert builds.  Something about the iconic black and white Balkenkreuzen (German crosses) against a mustard-yellow background brings back childhood memories of the opening scenes of the movie Patton (even though the 'Germans' were depicted riding American M48s!).  These days I have settled on Tamiya and AKI Real Color paints, which can be intermixed and used in exactly the same way, AKI's line greatly enhancing the variety of Tamiya colors available.

Note: I thin all Tamiya paint and primer products 50:50 with Gunze Mr. Color Leveling

Thinner, which has its own retarder for airbrushing.  If you haven't tried it, you should.  I use a Pasche-H Single-Action airbrush, Number #3 tip, at 20 lbs. pressure for everything.  I use the same thinner for hand-brushing Tamiya paints.

I first created a sticky-board to hold the some of the loose parts for painting.  Since there is no photo-etch in the kit, I didn't feel it necessary to apply a primer first.  Everything else was painted as assembled, using the following steps.

I started with airbrushing a pre-shade coat of Tamiya NATO Black for the sticky board and running gear, Tamiya Dark Iron for the track and track sectional track armor, and Tamiya German Grey (XF-63) along the panel lines and recesses overall.

This was followed with an overall coat of hairspray to assist with chipping later.

Next, I laid down a careful coat of Tamiya Desert Yellow, creeping up on the pre-shade, careful not to cover it all.  My sticky board also received everything the tank hull and turret did.

I then applied a filter using thinned Mig Wash Brown Oil paint to tone down the yellow a bit.  Since I had used Tamiya paints and enamel/oil weathering products so far, I didn't bother with laying down a glossy coat for the decals - I had a satin sheen on the model already.

Decals went on well using the Micro-Sol/Micro-Set (Blue/Red) decal solutions, although I had to work at getting the red Unit numbers to lay down over the vision slots on the sides of the turret.  Poking holes in the decals followed by repeated applications of Micro-Sol (Red) did the trick.  Tamiya provides white 'cross' decals for Jerry Cans (identifying them as containing drinking water, not gasoline or diesel fuel), which laid down beautifully, preventing the need to mask and paint these very visible items.

Next, I went over the entire vehicle, dry-brushing Old Holland Warm Sepia Extra, focusing on the barrel, Jerry Cans, wheels, fenders and generally any hard-edge that I could get to.  

I then set about painting the wide array of on-board accoutrement that adorns German Mark IVs:

  • Jack Block - Vallejo Panzer Aces 310 Old Wood treated with AKI Wash for Wood
  • Fire Extinguisher - Thinned Vallejo Model Color Cavalry Brown 70.918 with Uschi Chrome powder highlights.
  • Metallic surfaces and Jack - Tamiya Dark Iron treated with Uschi Chrome Powder
  • Wooden Surfaces - Mix of Vallejo New Wood and Vallejo Buff, treated with Mig Wash Brown Oil Paint
  • Track and Tow Cable - Tamiya Dark Iron treated with Uschi Chrome Powder
  • Misc. Bags and packs - Vallejo Panzer Aces 314 Canvas
  • Hatch pads - Vallejo Panzer Aces 312 Leather Belt
  • Turret and hatch Interiors - Mission Models Elfinbein


I then dry-brushed the tires and other spots here and there using Mig 502 Abteilung Buff Oil, after allowing the linseed oil to leech out on to a piece of cardboard.

Once satisfied with how everything looked, I airbrushed all the spots that should not be shiny with Mig Ammo's Lucky Ultra-Matt varnish, which leaves surfaces dead-flat straight form the bottle.

The Figures

I am not a figure painter so my entire approach to painting figures is to get from here to there as quickly as possible, resulting in 'just enough' to pass muster.  To that end I use rattlecan Grey Tamiya Primer, an airbrush, and Panzer Putty to paint everything except the faces and arms, following the suggested colors in the instructions.  For example, for the pants, once the primer was dry, I masked off the blouse using the putty and held the figure head down and laid down the base color (in this case, Khaki).  From that angle, most of the recesses were hit pretty well.  I then add a few drops of white to the color cup, and flipped the figure right side up, spraying the lightened shade from top down.  This approach, in effect, adds 'darker' paint to the recesses, and 'lighter' paint to the raised surfaces.  The Panzer Putty simply helps to set the demarcation line and limits what gets painted and what doesn't, since I start with a completed figure. 

For the arms and faces, I carefully hand-brush the #1 Base color from Andrea's acrylic flesh line, and that's it.  Once everything is dry, I apply a thin wash of Mig Dark Wash (aka Burnt Umber) to the entire figure, and then dry-brush Mig 502 Abteilung Buff Oil to pop the highlights.  I probably spend less than 5 minutes on each figure total, and if I can do them in batches, so much the better.


What more can I say about Tamiya kits?  There is something for every kind of modeler in each kit; the fit is perfect and the instructions are excellent.  I was thrilled with the fit and look of the link-and-length track, the single-part main gun barrel, and the excellent figures included in the box.  I literally have no complaints.

I recommend this kit for all modelers; Beginners to Advanced.  This is one fun model to build.

I would like to thank Tamiya USA for providing this kit for review, and to IPMS USA for giving me the opportunity to build it.

Illustrated Weathering Guide to WWII Late War German Vehicles

Tue, 06/08/2021 - 00:47
Product Image Review Author:  Eric Christianson AMMO by Mig Jimenez

It is arguably safe to assume that most modelers who visit the IPMS Reviews website know a thing or two about assembling models, at least.  I think it is also safe to assume that most Armor modelers know that you don't need to start painting until well into the assembly process, many times not until the very end of the build.  That is where Mig Jimenez's recent offering starts - he takes the armor modeler from an assembled kit through to the finish line.

The Illustrated Weathering Guide to WWII Late War German Vehicles takes a dive into finishing ten iconic late-war German AFV's, and while no can argue that (one) goal of this book is to market Mig/Ammo products, the information contained between the covers is still both valuable and informative.  Let's face it - Ammo by Mig produces (or re-brands) many of the very best products available to modelers, and a 'how-to' book using those very products makes for an excellent great quick-reference guide.

The ringed, side-bound, soft cover book lays flat on your workbench, which is pretty handy if you have the space for its relatively large 12.5 x 8. 5" footprint.  Once the cover and preliminaries are out of the way, the reader is presented with a visual table of contents, with profile images placed next to the chapter and page numbers - a nice touch.

These contents include:

  • Panzer V "Panther" Ausf. G
  • StuG. III Ausf. G Final production
  • Sd.Kfz 251/21D Hanomag
  • Jagdpanzer VI "Jagdtiger"
  • Panzer VI Tiger Ausf. B "Kingtiger"
  • Jagdpanzer V "Jagdpanther"
  • Sonderfahrzeug IV Porsche Type 205 "Maus"
  • Sd.Kfz 234/4
  • Panzer VI "Tiger I"

The tenth and final chapter covers the Panzer IV Ausf H Late Production, and looks like it was added after publishing since you need to scan a QR code with your phone to download it.  Presumably you can then print it out and keep it with the rest of the book.  I wonder how much of this was a mistake, or, more likely, a preview of regular additions to be added over time, to this initial list?

After the table of contents, the reader is brought through several pages discussing the book's approach, the tools used (such as paint brushes and airbrushes) as well as a description of each of the products mentioned.  Like a majority of Mig's work, everything is provided in both English and Spanish.

A note about the products - the paints used are Mig's yellow-top acrylics, which places this book somewhere between AKI Real Color acrylic lacquers and 'white-top' Mig 3rd Gen Acrylics.  Fortunately, I believe that the naming convention used for all of the above is basically the same, which makes this book useful even if you don't use their yellow-top paint line.

After paints, the remainder of the Mig/Ammo products used include the following: 'One Shot Primers', Transparators, Aqua Gloss Clear Primers, Acrylic Thinners, Ultra Decal Set and Fixers (1 and 2), Filters, Streakingbrushers, Washes, OilBrushers, Pigments, Splashes, Mud, Engine, Fuel &Oil Effects, Wet Effects, and Enamel Odorless Thinners.

No less than 21 informational icons are used throughout the book, and defined up front with the products.

Each modeling section thereafter starts with a page providing a brief description of the vehicle, when and where it was fielded, where it was made, etc.  Also, not surprisingly, Mig offers further informational resources for the vehicle type - from the company's stable of books and periodicals.  Opposite this introduction page is a visual representation of the next 10-15 pages, showing a thumbnail profile of the vehicle going through its changes as painting and weathering steps take place - a brilliant idea, actually.  The modeler, once familiar with the book, can use this page as a 'checklist' to see where in the process he or she is at the time.

The next 10-15 pages of each section goes into detail on each step, one per page.  The products used and directions occupy the left side, while a full-size representation of the results are displayed to the right.  Nice.

And that's it.  The 9 vehicles depicted take up the vast majority of all 231 pages, which is as it should be.  The back cover shows the thumbnail weathering images of the PzKpfw IV Ausf. H "Mark 4" vehicle that is downloadable from the internet, as explained earlier.

While most of the vehicles in the book use the same colors (they are all late-war versions, after all), many of the products and techniques were new (or their application was new) to even an old WW2 German Armor builder such as myself.  I found the entire treatment of the subject useful and I will have this book at arm's reach on my bench for some time.  I think many other armor modelers, of any age and skill level, will agree.

I want to heartedly thank Ammo By Mig for providing this book for review, and IPMS USA for giving me the opportunity to review it.

The 38M Toldi Light Tank Photosniper

Mon, 06/07/2021 - 01:29
Product Image Review Author:  Phillip Cavender Kagero Publishing

The following appears in the Introduction.

"The 38M Toldi light tank entered into service in 1940. Before that time the Army had its WWI style armored trains, armored cars, and the tiny Italian FIAT Ansaldo tankettes. The 38M Toldi light tank and its Swedish origin the L-60 were the same class as the German Pz. II, the Polish 7TP, the Soviet T-40 and T-60 light tanks, designated for reconnaissance and liaison role. However, at the beginning of the war it was the only tracked armored vehicles of the Hungarians to fight the Red Army in 1941. The 38M Toldi light tank was also the first armored vehicle produced by the Hungarian War Industry during the war".

The 38M Toldi Light Tank Photosniper is the latest book published in the Photosniper series by Kagero Books. This 11.6" (297mm) x 8.2" (210mm) A4 format paperback has 120 pages with 290 black and white photos, 10 painting schemes and is printed on gloss coated paper.

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 - Hungarian Army and Armoured Forces before WW2
  • Chapter 2 - The Defense Industry in Hungary
  • Chapter 3 - Landsverk L-60
  • Chapter 4 - License Negotiation of the L-60 Light Tank
  • Chapter 5 - Design and Production of the 38M Toldi Light Tank
  • Chapter 6 - Organization and Training of the Armoured Troops equipped with the 38M Toldi Light Tank
  • Chapter 7 - Operational History of the Armoured Troops equipped with the 38M Toldi Light tank
  • Chapter 8 - The 38M Toldi Light Tank in Soviet Services
  • Chapter 9 - Camouflage and Markings of the light tanks in Hungarian Service
  • Chapter 10 - 38M Toldi Light Tank Individual vehicles' history
  • Bibliography
  • Elevation drawings and color profiles

The author starts by giving the reader a brief introduction into the history of 38M Toldi Light tanks. It's interesting to note there are only two Toldi's surviving, both were captured by the Red Army and are in the Tank Museum of Kubinka. In researching for this review, I came across a source that stated the tank designation "Toldi" was the name of a Hungarian medieval warrior.


The first two chapters are dedicated to the brief history of Hungarian Army and Armoured Forces in WW2, and the design industry of the tank. The author includes two images on page 9 depicting an automotive depot with a large assortment of pistons and engine waiting for repair and maintenance. The images are crisp and clear especially due to the age of photos.

In chapters 3 and 4, the author describes the history of Sweden's L-60 and the background of the Hungarian Defense Departments measures to obtain the licensing and purchasing of the Landsverk L-60 production rights from Sweden.

On page 15 is a detailed photo of the frontal view of the 38M Toldi Light Tank. Tank insignias can clearly be seen in the image. The author includes Images in chapter 5 of the 20mm and 8mm machine guns.

In chapter 5, the author presents information on the design and production of the 38M Toldi light tank with excellent historical images of various radio equipment, a detailed photo of the NAG engine, closeup views of the track and sprockets, and numerous images with crews in various settings. Not only would these images be helpful for research, but a good basis for any diorama the modeler is contemplating building. On page 36 a side view of the track and sprockets can be seen. Also, of interest on page 40 is a photo taken by a US Sergeant in Bavaria in 1945 of a 44M Toldi tank with a rocket launcher located behind the turret.

Moving on to chapter 6, the author describes the organization and training of the armoured troops equipped with the 38M Toldi light tank as well as devoting nearly forty-five pages to the operational history of the troops using the tank in chapter 7. The author summarizes the Yugoslavian and Soviet Campaigns in 1941, the Eastern Front in 1942, and the final battles in 1944.

In chapter 8 the author includes paragraphs of the 38M Toldi light tank in Soviet service while chapter 9 is dedicated to a few pages depicting the camouflage and markings of the tank in Hungarian services.

Finally, the author includes a lengthy individual tank history listing for the 38M Toldi Light Tank from 1940-1944 with an example on page 99, several elevation views, drawings of various parts of the tank taken from the maintenance manuals and two and one-half pages of insignia and unit signs. Lastly, the author includes nine color profiles of the 38M Toldi tank.


The author presents a detailed history of the 38M Toldi Light tank with imagery capturing the tank in various settings with and without military personnel. The images are clear and crisp despite their age. Not only would this book make an excellent resource for the military history buff, but for the armour modeler this book provides numerous photos to use for future builds. The level of detail in some of the photos also makes this book a great resource. For these reasons this book will make an excellent addition to any modeler's library.

Thanks goes out to Casemate Publishers and IPMS/USA for this review sample.

Stalin’s Armour 1941-1945 Soviet Tanks at War

Mon, 06/07/2021 - 00:28
Product Image Review Author:  Allan Murrell Pen & Sword

This book covers the story if the Soviet introduction and use of Tanks in World War two and the battles and politics around them.

  • A Tank Aficionado
  • Lost Advantage
  • Stalin's Mechanical Corps
  • Desperate Counter-Attacks
  • Tank City Falls
  • The T-34 Escapes
  • The Stalingrad Flank
  • Save the Oil
  • New Tank Armies
  • Other Peoples Tanks
  • Triumph at Kursk
  • Battles for Kharkov
  • Victory in the Crimea
  • Stalin's Armoured Steamroller
  • Punishing Traitors
  • Stopped Before Warsaw
  • The Road to Hungary
  • Beneath the Brandenburg Gate
  • Heroes of Socialist Labour

The book goes into extreme detail on the full history of the Soviet formation of the tank units and their use in WWII.

I found this book fascinating and made me aware of a lot of facts I have never heard before when it comes to the development and politics behind tank warfare in the Soviet Union. The writing style is clear and concise. The images included are all ones I have never seen before.

The first two chapters were of particular interest to me and seeing the early views on tanks and their use against the Japanese.

The book is full of details that really make reading it very informative. This gave me a very expanded view of the Soviet armoured units and the uses in the war.

I recommend this book to everyone with an interest in the Soviet tanks and military history.

Thanks go to Casemate Publishing/ Pen and Sword for providing this book to review and IPMS USA for allowing me to review it for them.

Scale Plans No. 69, RWD-14 Czapla. 1/72, 1/48, 1/32

Fri, 06/04/2021 - 23:35
Product Image Review Author:  Brian R. Baker MMP Books Historical Background

The RWD-14 Czapla was a light, two seat observation aircraft designed during the middle thirties by the RWD Design Team for the Polish military forces. It was intended to replace the Lublin R-XIII. Due to its extended development time, and relatively low performance, it was viewed as a stopgap measure until the LWS-3 Mewa became available. Just over 65 RWD-14's were built, and these equipped five Polish Air Force squadrons at the beginning of the war in 1939. Most were destroyed during the German invasion, but 14 survivors were passed on to the Rumanians, who used them during the war. Several were captured by the Germans and Russians, but these were not used by them. None survived the war.

The Book

The book is basically a collection of very high qualify line drawings of the RWD-14 series aircraft, in 1/72, 1/48 and 1/32 scale. Most of the pages are double sized, and fold out to allow full coverage of the aircraft. Aside from identification labels, there is almost no explanatory information, only the drawings. The drawings are better than I have seen anywhere else, and include full top and bottom views, both side views, and direct front views. In addition, the engines and machine guns are illustrated, both in scale. There is almost no text included.

It is refreshing to see MMP coming out with detailed information on some of these more obscure aircraft. I hope that they continue to cover aircraft that other publishers have ignored up to this point. There are kits of this aircraft in 1/72 scale, and this book will certainly be of valuable assistance in building a quality model of the type.


Fortunately, this is a relatively inexpensive book at $11.99, and it is worth getting if you intend to build a model of this plane. Thanks to Casemate and IPMS/USA for the review copy.

SdkFz.251: 251/9 and 251/22 Kanonenwagen German Army and Waffen-SS Western and Eastern Fronts, 1944-45

Fri, 06/04/2021 - 20:21
Product Image Review Author:  Pablo Bauleo Pen & Sword

Pen and Sword continues to expand its LandCraft series, this time with an installment of the SdkFz.251, focusing on the /9 and /22 versions of one of the most versatile halftracks of WW2. These units were first used for infantry support and later as tank-hunters with the 7.5 cm gun.

The book is divided in the following sections

  • The Panzer Units
  • The Panzer Brigades
  • Camouflage and Markings
  • Modeling Showcase
  • Modeling Products
  • The Panzergrenadier Units
  • Waffen-SS Units
  • Other Units
  • Technical Details and Specifications

The Modeling showcase includes models in both 1/72 and 1/35 scale and have some very good detail pictures that can be used as guidance for your own kits. Each section is well written and the historical information is well researched and easy to understand. The historical information is mainly focused around unit locations. Also there are a few sections of the book where the unit composition strength (order of battle) is described.

This book has a good balance of historical and technical information together with modeling project and products. If you like the SdkFz.251, you will want to consider getting your own copy of this book.


I would like to thank Pen & Sword, Casemate and IPMS/USA for the review sample.

Macchi C.202 Folgore

Fri, 06/04/2021 - 20:13
Product Image Review Author:  Pablo Bauleo MMP Books

MMP Books continues its Orange Series, this time with the 3rd Edition of the "Macchi C.202 Folgore" book by Przemyslaw Skulski.

The C.202 Folgore was probably the most significant aircraft of Italian design during WW2, given that is was one of the best performers of the bunch -maybe not the best, but among the best- and certainly the one produced in the larger numbers among those airframes competing for the "best of" title of Italian design.

The book describes the XVI series (or "Marks") of this airframe, although some of the series were similar to each other, it only referred to which company manufactured the airplane. Some series were not built due to the armistice or other issues, meaning that only about 1200 airframes were ever completed.

The book the describes (briefly) the operative service in different fronts, like Malta, North Africa, Defense of Italy, the expeditionary force to the Soviet Union, or even lesser-known fronts like combat operations after the armistice, in Luftwaffe service, Croatian service or even the Swiss attempt to purchase some airframes. All these combat actions are not in deep detail, just enough to understand how the airplane was used and at times there are some details on a specific pilot or combat engagement.

The real "meat" of this book are the period (B&W) pictures of the Folgore, together with the work-around pictures of the only 2 survivors, plus some detailed drawings which seem to be from technical manuals.

Finally there are 58 color profiles of different airplanes, including a table with the matching FS standard number of many of the Regia Aeronautica paint colors.

If you are interested into the Macchi C.202 Folgore, this book won't disappoint you. It has everything you want to know about this particular airframe, it is extremely well researched and the color pictures got me pulling my own "202s" from the stash thinking that I should build one... or maybe two of them.

This book is highly recommended to historians, modelers and aviation aficionados.

I would like to thank Casemate Publishers, MMP Books and IPMS/USA for the review sample.

How To Paint WWII RAF Early Aircraft

Fri, 06/04/2021 - 20:07
Product Image Review Author:  Pablo Bauleo AMMO by Mig Jimenez

In recent months I had the opportunity to review some products from Ammo by Mig and I have been impressed with the quality and ease of use of them. To the point that I started purchasing some other items from the line... but at times it is not clear what the product is for, or rather, how to use it.

Enter "Solution Book" series. Each book of this series describes what the products are for, how to use them and it has a series of pictures (in a "how to" style) showing step-by-step how to use the each products like the streakingbrusher, or the pigments, the oilbrushers, or the filters.

The book is divided in a brief introduction of each and all products of the line in English, Spanish, French and German. At times multi-lingual books left something to be desired on their translations, but this is not the case. I'm fluent in two of the languages of this book and capable of reading a third language of this book and the narrative is impeccable. Even so, the book is pretty graphic in nature, with each action described by a series of "icons", indicating the dilution of a paint, if to use an airbrush or a brush, how long to wait before the next step, etc.

The next (and main) section of the book relates to the "Step-By-Step" building and finishing of a Tamiya Spitfire. From the cockpit painting, interior weathering, painting, masking, decal application, external weathering and final finishing, everything is covered in the book. Not only this book teaches you how to build better models, in particular this book teaches you how to properly use the supplies of the Ammo by Mig line.

Like every other item in the Ammo by Mig line, this book teaches you everything you need to build a model from beginning to end and make it look fantastic. With clear graphic explanations, supported by text only when needed, clear in-focus images, this book won't disappoint you.

You can also get this book as part of the "Solution Book" offer, which includes all the tools and supplies used in this book. Only the model is not included.

Highly recommended.

I would like to thank Ammo by Mig and IPMS/USA for the review sample.

Albatross L-39Z0

Fri, 06/04/2021 - 19:55
Product Image Review Author:  Pablo Bauleo Aires Hobby Models

Aires Models from Czech Republic specializes on aftermarket details; for the most part releasing "drop-in" resin replacement parts.

This set is intended to replace the wheels of the 1/48 Trumpeter L39Z0. The parts are molded in grey resin, free of bubbles or imperfections and with great surface detail, down to the manufacturer of the tires molded with enough raised detail that will take dry-brushing fantastically!

The attachment points of the wheels to the casting blocks are miniscule and removal and clean up should be an easy task. The resin wheels are of the "non-weighted" variety.

In addition to the resin parts, they include painting masks which are super-handy to have and use. The masks are pre-cut so it is as simple as peeling, placing and you are ready to airbrush.

Highly recommended.

I would like to thank Aires Models and IPMS/USA for the review sample.