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Updated: 7 hours 26 min ago

A26B Invader Pacific Theater

Mon, 04/12/2021 - 13:18
Product Image Review Author:  Chris Gibson ICM

Brief History

The Douglas A-26 Invader (designated B-26 between 1948 and 1965) is an American twin-engined light bomber and ground attack aircraft. Built by Douglas Aircaft Company during World War II, the Invader also saw service during several major Cold War conflicts. A limited number of highly modified United Sates Air Force aircraft served in Southeast Aisa until 1969. It was a fast aircraft capable of carrying a large bomb load. A range of guns could be fitted to produce a formidable ground-attack aircraft.

A re-designation of the type from A-26 to B-26 led to confusion with the Martin B-26 Marauder which first flew in November 1940, some 20 months before the Douglas design's maiden flight. Although both types were powered by the widely used Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp eighteen-cylinder, double-row radial engine, they were completely different and separate designs - the Martin bomber originated in 1939, with more than twice as many Marauders (nearly 5,300) produced in comparison to the Douglas design.

The A-26B variant is an attack bomber with solid nose carrying six or eight 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns. Production totals: 1,355 A-26Bs were built and delivered, 205 at Tulsa, Oklahoma (A-26B-5-DT to A-26B-25-DT) plus 1,150 at Long Beach, California (A-26B-1-DL to A-26B-66-DL). About 24 more airframes were built at Long Beach but not delivered to USAAF, some of those later sold to other civil and military customers. A-26B was re-designated B-26B with USAF in 1948.

The A-26 Invader saw service during World War II in Europe, and the Pacific, later in Korea and Viet Nam. Foreign service included France, Brazil, Chile, Biafra, China, Columbia, Congolese Republic, Cuba, Cuban Rebel Air Force, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Indonesia, Laos, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Portugal, The Royal Air Force, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Viet Nam. There were several civilian Invaders used in races, fire bombers, and military applications testing firms

Instructions

The instructions are provided in a 24-page, glossy paper book format. The cover page offers a brief description of the aircraft and includes a paint and color schedule based on Revell and Tamiya acrylic paints. The bottom of the page includes an instruction legend. The next three pages address the sprue layouts with parts identified as not to be used.

Pages 5 through 22 detail the assembly of the model with 96 individual steps shown. Each step is presented as an isometric or exploded view with the parts numbered and paint colors identified. The last two pages show the decal placements for the three aircraft that can be built from this kit. All are natural metal aircraft.

The Kit Parts

There are ten sprues included: All ten are bagged in a common clear plastic bag, except the clear parts are bagged separately within the main bag. Kit parts are molded in a medium grey plastic.

Clear Parts

Two canopies are included with one not to be used per the instructions, while the remaining canopy has an open section for viewing into the cockpit area. The smallest parts provided are for the underwing landing lights, extreme rear fuselage micro windows and wingtip navigation lights.

Construction

Cockpit

The cockpit was the first build on the docket with the instrument panel, floor, control column and center console all going together very well as well as the rear cockpit bulkhead. The interior color is called out as flat green, a bit vague, but I looked up what the actual interior color as yellow zinc chromate with black added, it didn't say how much black, so I guessed and it turns out when you add black to yellow zinc chromate you come up with a medium green  which looked like the original color. The instrument panel was the typical raised bezel with a decal added over it, which in this scale looks good because it is hard to see once everything is closed up. Things looked a little barren so I added some detail in the cockpit with aftermarket seat belts and photo etch.

Fuselage

The next step was the fuselage starting with the bombs and bomb racks. The bombs were two halves with a fused spinner, the fins and spinner were a little on the thick side and could be helped by photo etch. The fuselage itself was fairly detailed with ribs and stringers and also some boxes on the walls with decals for added detail. The four bulkheads had some detail with lightening holes an axe and miscellaneous boxes and tanks. Two of the bulkheads had extensions going through the fuselage for the wing attachment which was nice. Once everything was painted and detailed I assembled the left hand side including the left side nose gear door and cockpit assembly. Everything fit very well into the fuselage with no issues. Step 15 shows a .8mm hole needing to be drilled in the right side fuselage half for the antennae mast. Adding the bomb racks, window and right side nose wheel door, also a jump seat   completes the right side. And now the moment of truth, closing up the fuselage. After some pushing and prodding and clamping everything seemed to go together fairly well. Only a few small areas needed some filler after sanding the fuselage. The horizontals, elevators and rudder were glued together and installed on the fuselage. The nose cone went on next along with 40 g of weight, there are two versions one with six guns and one with eight. The nose did not fit the best to the fuselage and I had to really work to get it to line up.

Wings

This aircraft had under wing rockets so the instructions tell you to drill 14- 1mm holes for the rocket mounts for each wing. A cooling radiator is added and the wing halves go together. Add the ailerons and flaps and the wing is almost done. There is an option to have wings with six internal .50 cal guns or not. This step tells you to add the clear landing light lens and the wing tip position light but I left them off until painted and final assembly. The wings were mated to the fuselage and the fit could not have been better, the wings slid on to the bulkhead extensions and the fit to the fuselage is probably one of the best I have seen, there were no gaps whatsoever no filler needed. Kudos to ICM for that engineering feat.

The engine and landing gear nacelles went together without a hitch, all 9 pieces. I like how ICM built the landing gear doors into the gear bay sides as one piece. I painted the inside of the gear bays and doors the same color as the interior.  Attaching the nacelles to the wing was a little more involved, in the end it went together well and only a little filler was needed to fill gaps.

Gun Turrets

The upper gun turret had 8 parts which included the turret motor and mechanism you could see through the Bombay. The lower turret was simpler with just the turret and guns. The gunners sighting station consisted of 4 parts and once painted and seatbelts added looked fairly well. The one issue I had with the turrets was attaching the turret to the base on the inside of the fuselage, I had to do some cutting and filing to get the turret to sit down tight to the fuselage and then it wasn't possible to make them turn, you can elevate the guns though.

Engines

The engines were fairly detailed and assembly went smoothly. There is part #E34 that temporarily goes on the back of the engine so you can align the exhaust pipes, which I thought was a great idea. Once painted up the engines looked pretty good, the only thing you would need to make them look better is adding spark plug wires.

Landing Gear and Tires

The landing gear was fairly simple, a couple pieces and painted with aluminum and the oleos with a shot of chrome. The main tires were two halves with a two piece rim. The tires were painted flat black and the rims model master magnesium, I added some thinned black to the rims to give them some depth. The nose wheel was one piece with the rim and I painted them the same as the mains.

Painting

Prior to painting I attached the cockpit and gunners station canopies and used a mask set for masking. This is where things went south on me. I prepped the model as usual with plastic prep. I then sprayed one wing with Tamiya primer, before I went further I decided to spray that same wing with model master aluminum plate buffing metalizer the next day to see how it looked and wouldn't you know it I had issues. The metalizer in this one big area had orange peel but the rest of the wing was ok. Now before I primed the wing I did notice this swirl in the plastic that had a slightly different tint to it, and that was right where the paint had orange peeled. Now I sanded out the orange peel and tried spraying it again but to no luck the same thing happened. So now I had to make a decision, do I try again or do I go with another paint scheme, new paint scheme, instead of an all metal aircraft I went with the green over gray camo scheme. So I sprayed a coat of aluminum over the whole model then sanded out the areas of orange peel then laid on the green over gray.

Decals

After paint I prepped the plane with a clear gloss finish for application of the decals. The decals register looked good and the letters and numbers looked crisp. After a soak in warm water and letting sit for another minute, I added some micro sol to the wing. I attached the first decal, the wing star, and after positioning I added more micro sol on top, letting it sit for a few minutes. I then blotted out any extra water, micro sol and bubbles that might be present and let it sit. After doing a few more decals and a couple more shots of micro sol, I let it sit for about an hour. Upon return the decals laid down very nicely and there was no sign of silvering and the edge of the decals disappeared. The white sections were not opaque and looked excellent. After I placed all the decals and gave them time to all dry sufficiently, I shot a 50/50 mixture of semi-gloss clear and flat clear lacquer over the whole aircraft. The finished product looked great.

Final Assembly

After paint and decals the final assembly began. I removed all the masks, I added the engines and props, landing gear, painted and installed the rockets. I also installed the antennae mast and football and added the antennae wire with EZ line. Once completed I added some exhaust stains to the nacelles to give it a little used look.

Conclusion

The kit parts were crisp with no flash and no visible sink marks. The plastic in my opinion was a little on the soft side, I don't know what they put in their plastic but it seemed to affect my  Model Master aluminum paint in some way, something I haven't experienced before. Everything went together very nice with minimal gaps and fitment issues. The kit decals I was very impressed with. The only negative or weak point, in my opinion, was the landing gear, it seems the plastic being so soft is a bit flimsy with the weight of the model. I think using aftermarket metal gear would be a good addition in this case. Overall this kit is very nice, good fitment, nice exterior detail, good decals and overall good model. I would recommend this model to anyone interested in doing an A26B in 1/48 scale

I wish to thank ICM Holding and IPMS USA for the opportunity to build and review this model

The Naval War of the Pacific. 1879-1884 Saltpeter War. No. 3111

Mon, 04/12/2021 - 00:10
Product Image Review Author:  Luke R. Bucci PhD MMP Books

Thanks to Casemate Publishing & IPMSUSA for the review copy!

 

Piotr Olender is a Polish naval historian who lives in Gdansk, Poland. He has authored a series of books via MMP Books and Casemate that delve into the little-known, predominantly naval wars around the world in the last half of the 1800s and early 1900s.

 

This particular offering gives an operational history of the so-called Saltpeter War, or The War of the Pacific, that ultimately defined the geographic borders of three western countries of South American - Bolivia, Chile and Peru. This book is one of the Maritime Series published by Stratus s.j. in Sandomierz, Poland.

 

What You Get

A 11.8 X 8.2 inch paperback book 3/8 inches thick. Lavishly illustrated, although after the front cover, everything is B&W - two Tables, 20 maps, 69 prints/paintings and 115 photos. The major humans and ships involved in the war were pictured, as were many battle sites, usually immediately post-battle. The text is well-written (although there were a few minor typos such as is/are substitutions and missing letters in words that a spell checker would let go). I would have liked better explanations of antiquated words such as mitrailleusse and fougasse (multi-barreled rifles and flaming land mines), but this did cause me to look up and learn new words. The writing style is obviously from a non-English language native, but is clear and understandable. Because of the many illustrations and photos in the book, this is a relatively quick read for a book this length. Just keep the main map in the introduction tabbed for frequent referencing of where the actions were.

 

There are 19 sections to this book - the first part being the origins of the conflict and the military capacity of each combatant at the start of the war. Chapter 3-17 are each devoted to a chronological presentation of each discrete operation, battle or short campaign, with a summary Outcome of the War and Appendices.

 

Like many wars, this one too was all about the money. At the start, Bolivia had a coastal region shared with Chile and Peru that was the Atacama desert - the world's driest land - a desolate wasteland. All three countries had won independence from Spain earlier in the century by bloody revolutions, and all three countries were wracked by frequent changes in government and wars with neighbors - some bloodless and some definitely not bloodless. Also, all three were financially burdened by huge debts (internally and to foreign banks), and primarily agrarian. Chile was probably the best off of the three but was just finishing up a war with Argentina over the southern tip of South America (Tierra del Fuego). All the countries had relatively small armies (under 10,000) with large reservist reservoirs of untrained citizens. Bolivia had no navy, but both Peru and Chile had recently purchased foreign warships that had been used in previous wars and in preparation for the next. Peru and Bolivia were Allies, mostly of convenience for sharing the coastal region with Chile around the 24th parallel.

 

When vast riches appeared in the shared area, the inevitable scramble to take control of these natural assets was on, and all knew it would bring yet another war. The new riches were mountains of guano deposits mined for fertilizer and making munitions, and soon thereafter the world's biggest source of easy-to-mine saltpeter, which supplanted guano for making fertilizer and munitions (gunpowder & explosives). The boom/bust cycles further weakened economies and hastened conflict to retrieve riches. Bolivia was a major exporter of copper, silver and tin, and the shared area was also rich in those and other minerals. The major European powers and the United States were the paying customers, and were always hovering around these countries' power centers to look after their economic interests and citizens.

 

Old war grievances and need for revenue to finance huge debts led to posturing over who would get the riches, and it soon escalated to armed interventions which led to declarations of war by Chile against Peru and Bolivia. But unlike most wars, the battlefields were in the world's worst desert, making ground transport almost nil, but reachable by a few ports strung along the coast - thus setting the stage for a naval struggle to determine the winner.

 

The importance of this book is the rise of seapower as a strategic war winner, and a testing ground for new technologies that revolutionized naval power. Most of this book describes the naval maneuverings and battles between Chile and Peru (Bolivia was an unwilling participant and actually did not want its coastal share - it shipped most of its exports through Argentina, a shorter trip to the buyers in Europe and USA than going via the Pacific with minimal infrastructure). Few railroads, fewer roads and miserable conditions made logistics king.

 

At the start, Peru and Chile had small and roughly equivalent navies. Each country had two capital ships each - ironclads of differing types and a handful of frigates, corvettes and gunboats - minor warships. A few old US Civil War monitors and new-fangled torpedo boats (the charge was attached to the boat which had to ram its target) were involved as was early use of self-propelled torpedoes, and new types of mines. Peru had more sophisticated naval facilities, but Chile rapidly caught up since the war was waged on Peruvian soil. The race was on to mobilize and equip armies as rapidly as possible - neither side acquired any substantial naval additions during the conflict. But receiving shipments of foreign munitions was critical for success. Whoever controlled the seas could blockade and strange the other country. Which is exactly what happened.

 

Peru quickly won early naval battles, delaying the ability of Chile to send their army via ships to the desert area. However, the fickle finger of fate soon caused Peru to lose both of her ironclads. Even worse, their remaining, and modern ironclad, the Huascar, was trapped and captured by Chile, repaired and sent to fight against Peru. The Huascar still floats as a museum ship in Valparaiso, Chile. After that Battle of Angamo, the tide of war swung to Chile's favor, and led to the inevitable buildup of land forces which slowly and inexorably picked off Peruvian towns until ultimately sacking the capital - Lima. The ground actions were covered rather quickly because by then they were predictable. Yet the war still had a couple more years to go before Peruvian changes in governments were able to legally surrender and enact a peace treaty.

 

Lessons learned were taken into account by the world powers. What was important was command of the sea which gave freedom of mobility for military forces, and prevented the opponent to build up their military. Trade and commercial warfare was first seen to be a war winner, as Chile intercepted shipments of arms and provisions to Peru as well as preventing exports, and that income. Because of the mobility of the Chilean navy, the numerically superior Peruvian army was spread out and defeated in detail, not knowing where the Chileans would strike next - the entire Peruvian coast was being raided. The effect on public morale was devastating, and helped to make Bolivia exit the war early. Conduct of both armies against the civilian populations was ghastly, and the Peruvians suffered harshly.

 

This war did set today's boundaries of these countries, landlocking Bolivia to this day. This was made most navies and their weapons obsolete. Breech-loading, rifled cannons with explosive shells ruled the waves and the coastal lands, initiating an arms race of bigger, more powerful, more armored and faster warships. Torpedoes failed miserably in action, but just their threat paralyzed entire fleets, naval movements, and conduct of the war - something that was accentuated in the next century when the threat became reality.

 

Summary

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as a naval historian wannabe. This book was a pleasure to read and had sufficient detail keep you wanting to read it all in one sitting (I did not but wanted to). It had important lessons for everything naval that followed, and for geographical boundaries that shaped what we see today in the area. It also showed how luck, fate, human folly and the fog of war never stop determining outcomes. The triumphs and travails of the Peruvian ironclad Huascar is the main event of this book and the war. But for a few isolated incidents, the Peruvians could have held on to their coastal area by doing exactly what Chile did to them - and our world would be different. Losing their two capital ships in the initial phase - one to self-inflicted grounding, the other to predictable overuse and falling into a trap - sealed the fate of Peru.

 

Highly recommended for its lessons on how to win, and lose, a war. Also for its almost soap-opera nature of luck and ambition ruling the waves. And for being an obscure bit of history that greatly affected the world we have today.

 

Figures:

Figure 1: Front cover of The Naval War of the Pacific, 1879-1884, Saltpeter War.

Figure 2: Back cover of The Naval War of the Pacific, 1879-1884, Saltpeter War.

Figure 3: Map of capture of Chilean transport Rimac by Peruvian warships.

Figure 4: Battle of Iquique showing sinking of Chilean corvette Esmeralda.

Figure 5: Battle of Angamos between Peruvian ironclad Huascar and Chilean ironclads.

Figure 6: Surrender of battered Peruvian ironclad Huascar, end of Peruvian Navy hopes.

Figure 7: Huascar as Present Day Museum Ship for Both Peru and Chile in Tulcahuano, Chile.

 

Stryker Interim Combat Vehicle: The Stryker and LAV III in US and Canadian Service, 1999-2020

Thu, 04/08/2021 - 12:06
Product Image Review Author:  Dana Mathes Pen and Sword Books Ltd

David Grummitt is an accomplished historian, author, and scale model builder.  With his 2020 work, Stryker Interim Combat Vehicle: The Stryker and LAV III in US and Canadian Service, 1999-2020, he has given the modeling community a comprehensive reference for this vehicle.  More than a simple photographic history, this book is tailored to the needs of an armor modeler as it provides many photographs, drawings, kit reviews, and variant details.

Grummitt begins by skillfully telling the story of how the Stryker armored vehicle was conceived and positions its development within the never-ending tension of wheeled and tracked vehicle doctrine, a debate that stretches back to WWI.  He helps the reader to see the Stryker as an icon of the tumultuous post-Cold War world, with its changing doctrines and threats.  Grummitt describes how the Stryker started its career in 2002 as a flexible infantry and reconnaissance vehicle and how its versatility has since been exploited in a wide range of variants.  Over time, Stryker variants were developed to take over the many tasks of the obsolete M113 system and to meet new threats.  Grummitt details the features of the Stryker variants: command, communication, medical, and engineering vehicles.  In addition, the author documents the upgrading of the Stryker's armament to meet new threat profiles.  Grummitt also gives the reader a bonus as he explains how the Stryker is related to the Piranha and LAV III wheeled vehicles.

Grummitt's work is organized with the modeler in mind.  After describing the history, development, and initial deployment of the Stryker, he inserts a modeling section prior to explaining the details of the many Stryker variants and the vehicle's service.  In his modeling section, Grummitt reviews the Stryker kits available.  He provides detailed critiques of the kits, the aftermarket accessory parts, and the stowage options available to the modeler.  This section of the book includes 62 photographs of excellent Stryker model builds by noted armor modelers, including Grummitt's personal work.  This section also includes 15 superb illustrations of vehicles from different time periods, configurations, and locations.

Special thanks go to Pen and Sword Books Limited for providing this book for review.  This reference work contains 77 clear and colorful photographs of actual Stryker vehicles.  They cover a range of training and combat operations.  Close-up pictures are provided for specific armaments and modifications.  Of special interest to the modeler dedicated to accuracy, the majority of Grummitt's photographs are dated and their locations given.  The Stryker's flexibility means it can be configured in several ways with many stowage arrangements.  Many of these vehicles have baggage and equipment covering up their exteriors.  Unlike most reference books, this book takes great care to show these many situations to the modeler with a plethora of photographs of the tops and rears of the vehicles.

Grummitt's Stryker Interim Combat Vehicle is an excellent reference for anyone interested in modern armored vehicles.  It is produced with high quality, with only a handful of minor typographical errors.  Grummitt is thorough in his documentation of the various production orders and specifications because his purpose is to help the modeler understand why the vehicle is designed as it is.  With its wonderful photographs, artistic figures, and modeling overview, this work is highly recommended and accomplishes what few reference books do.  Grummitt's book will inspire you to build a model of the Stryker combat vehicle.

Turret for Panzer IV, Ausf. H

Thu, 04/08/2021 - 11:36
Product Image Review Author:  Mike Lamm OKB Grigorov

OKB Grigorov produces resin kits and accessories. The kits are 1/700 submarines and 1/72 armor. The accessories are for 1/35 and 1/72 armor. I've built a couple of the kits, and some of the resin upgrade pieces, and they provide incredible detail.

This kit is an upgrade turret for any 1/72 Panzer IV kit, and I doubt you'll find a better 1/72nd turret out there.  The kit comes packed in a tiny box, but don't let its size fool you, inside it packed with 36 highly detailed resin and photo-etch metal parts, as well as a metal barrel.  There are 14 resin parts, and 22 metal pieces and each one is finely detailed.

While the kit parts are highly details, the one page instructions are less so.  The instructions show 7 different drawings of the completed model with lines drawn showing where the resin and photo-etch part are to be assembled, but the drawings weren't always clear to me about where the piece went and there was a considerable amount of looking at the drawing, then comparing it to photos in books, and on the internet, hoping to see how the part went on a particular location.  In the end, I think I got the majority of parts in the right places.

The finished product is superb, and the detail is really unmatched in 1/72nd.  The hatches can be molded open, but there are no interior details provided, other than the inside of the hatches.  If you're going to pose it open, I would recommend adding a figure in the hatch to hide the lack of interior details.

This kit is not a kit for the faint of heart, or those who don't like working with photoetch of CA glue.  However, if you're looking for an excellent upgrade to a kit, this is the one for you.

Thanks to OKB Grigorov, IPMS for this review kit.

German Sd.Kfz. 247 Ausf B with Crew

Thu, 04/08/2021 - 11:20
Product Image Review Author:  Eric Christianson ICM

History

This new ICM offering represents an unusual mark in a family of Sonderkraftfahrzeug (Sd.kfz.) 'special purpose vehicles' fielded by the German Wehrmacht in World War II.  The diminutive Sd.Kfz. 247 was an armored staff car outfitted with radio gear, intended for use by the commanders of motorcycle and motorized reconnaissance battalions.  The Ausf B version represented in this kit, was one of 58 built by Daimler-Benz between 1941--1942 on a four-wheel drive heavy car chassis (s.Pkw. Type 1c). The front-mounted engine was an 8-cylinder, 3.823-litre (233.3 cu in) Horch 3.5 petrol engine, giving it a road speed of 80 km/h (50 mph). It had a maximum range of 400 km (250 mi).

Although unarmed, its armor was intended to stop 7.92-millimetre (0.312 in) armor-piercing bullets at ranges over 30 meters.

 

The Kit

As far as I know, this is the only injected plastic kit of this vehicle; the only other one a short-run, multi-media kit from Sovereign.  The first thing I noticed about ICM's release was the unusual box.  The kit is shipped in a sturdy, white 'locking' clamshell box.  But instead of sliding a simple sleeve over the box, ICM drops a standard model box top over it.  The overall impression is one of sturdiness.  Since the kit is not shrink-wrapped, the double layering helps to ensure that nothing will be lost in transit.  Nice start.  Once open, all parts are bagged and the decals are slipped inside the instruction booklet.  The tires are molded in poly-vinyl, and the four figures included in the kit are bagged separately (more on these later).  The plastic is soft but not too soft, and the molding is excellent with no noticeable flash or sink marks.  The detail is crisp and the number of attachment points and nodes, while many, are located in areas that are easily addressed.

 

The contents of the box include:

Four sprues of parts molded in dark-grey plastic

4 vinyl tires

1 medium-sized decal sheet

1 28-page, full-size color instruction booklet, including a parts map and four three-view color painting and decal guide.  All text and label information are translated into English.

1 two-sided color instruction sheet and painting guide for the figures

Markings for Four Vehicles, all WWII German Wehrmacht

 

The Instructions

The instruction booklet is excellent.  Printed in color on high-quality, satin-finish paper, it starts off with a short history and vehicle specifications, color reference information, contact information, and an excellent parts map.  What follows is a two-color set of instructions broken into 113 well-illustrated, small steps.  Images are rendered from several angles so you are never forced to guess about how things go on 'the other side'.  The last two pages show four, full-color three-views of camouflage schemes - three German grey and one German dark yellow, spanning 1941 through 1944.

A separate full color sheet of instructions walks you through the assembly and painting of four figures; a driver, two radio operators, and an officer.

Clearly ICM has invested heavily in making an excellent set of instructions, and the quality shows through.  Good job.

 

What to Consider Before You Start

There is a decent amount of detail that is visible on the finished model even if you do not leave any of the doors, hatches, and widows open (which are build options).  This means there will be a few more painting steps than with a closed-top vehicle which could cause you to deviate from the instructions as needed.

The wheels can be assembled and attached without the tires, which can be slipped on at the very end of the build, after painting and weathering.

On two of the paint schemes illustrated, there is a German cross (balkenkreuze) that lies underneath the shovel.  If you are like me and paint the pioneer tools in situ, you will need to accommodate that when the time comes.

Otherwise, this kit seriously has no 'gotchas' or other odd things to trip up on, even for new modelers.

 

The Build

I haven't built an ICM kit in a while, and I have been told that their new moldings are spectacular, so I have been looking forward to building this kit ever since it popped up on the review list.  Now that I have finished, I am a real fan - ICM deserves a lot of kudos for such a great effort in engineering and design here.

Assembly starts with the lower chassis, which is quite detailed and built in layers.

The frame is formed from two parallel I-beams with several cross members.  I was pleased with how this went together; ICM has made an easy task of what has been a finicky chore from other manufacturers.  Each cross member can firmly be attached to (either) side, forming solid fit when brought together - no wobble here.  Some parts, such as E12 (Step 9) and C45 (Step 12) come as exquisitely-detailed single parts (!) instead of a handful of poorly fitting bits and pieces.

Steps 30-34 will have you attach the tires to the wheels.  I chose to leave that step until the end, after painting and weathering - the tires will easily slip on the wheels from the outside.

In Step 47, the front radiator and fan fit into a groove in the port sidewall.  Since this part also defines where the top of the front hood rests, I chose to leave that part out until Step 95, when the top and bottom of the vehicle are brought together and I could make sure the radiator did not interfere with the fit of the hood.  As it is, I could have left off entirely since the area is covered up with an armored plate.

The main doors (single on the port side, double doors on the starboard side) can be modeled open or closed, as can all the window and access vents throughout the vehicle.  The interior detail of the doors is light so you might want to beef that up if you choose to leave them open.  If you choose to close them, the fit is perfect, aided by a set of very thin plastic shims that are molded there as building aids.  Nice.

The fit of the lower chassis and the lower half of the vehicle - always a toss-up on trucks and other AFV's with busy undercarriages - is perfect on the -247.  From every angle, the seal is flat and solid.  Great engineering here.

Likewise, the assembly of the interior benches, chairs and radio racks (could) have been a real fiddley headache, but not in this kit.  ICM really excels here.  Each assembly has enough parts to make things interesting, but doesn't overwhelm the builder with dozens of odd little bits.  The hardest part about the interior is the finish - as it should be.

Each of eight visors come with interior hardware in case you wish to model them open.

The busy engine can be viewed only through a narrow hatch on top.  I didn't feel that the view warranted an all-out effort on finishing the engine, so I left it closed like all the other hatches.  Even so, a lot of interior detail can be seen looking down from above.

The front headlights are attached via small dimples in the fenders.  I felt I could get a sturdier connection by drilling some holes for those, as well as for some of the other 'protuberances' up front - there are quite a few!

I looked at the three-part exhaust muffler in the instructions and thought 'these are going to need some extra work since they are right up top and front, and likely to show gaps'.  Not so!  Once in place, they look like they were drawn on the vehicle - a perfect fit.

I felt that the two antennae were a little over-scale so I replaced them with .010" carbon fiber attached with a drop of epoxy.  

The jack (just three parts!) is detailed enough as is - I think this is a record for the fewest parts for a German jack I have ever seen in a modern model kit!

And then I was done - in three short modeling sessions.  This little guy was ready for paint.

 

Painting, Decals and Finish

I decided to paint my SdKfz 247 in an overall German yellow scheme with late-war dark green mottling.  I used paint and finishes from a variety of manufacturers, listed below.

Before painting, I made a sticky board of all the parts that were finished separately.  These included the radio racks, spare wheel, steering wheel and seats.

I started by applying a coat of (rattlecan) Krylon Flat Black Paint/Primer for my dark, primer/pre-shade coat.  Surprisingly, this low-cost enamel solution sprays on easily and dries very thin and tough - replacing a time-intensive task I normally use an airbrush and more expensive paint for.  I use a dark primer coat to give the plastic and PE some grip, and to fill in the recesses - creating a shadow effect near the flat surface edges and adding depth for subsequent coats to come.

After the primer had degassed, I followed the pre-shade coat with AK Interactive Real Colors RC062 Dark Yellow (Variant), a slightly 'richer' hue than the standard Tamiya Dark Yellow.  I followed that with a post-shade coat of Mig Ammo -11 DunkleGelb Aus. 44DGI acrylic - a light German yellow shade, thinned 50/50 with Gunze SLT.  I tried to go light near the panel lines so that some of that dark from the pre-shade would show through.  I finished the camo scheme with a mottling layer using AK Interactive Real Color RC048 Field Grey thinned 50/50 with Gunze SLT.  I like these AKI Real Color and Mig Ammo paints because they cover all the color variations I need right out of the bottle - no need to mix lighter shades, etc., making the colors easier to replicate from model to model.

With the basic scheme down, I went to work on the detail painting.  Vallejo Leather Brown mixed with Buff for the seats and steering wheel, Tamiya NATO Black and Uschi Chrome pigment for the radio sets and jack.  I used Vallejo 311 New Wood and Tamiya Flat Black for the pioneer tools.  These would be weathered with Mig Oils and Uschi Chrome pigment later.  I globed some Tamiya Gloss black on the ends of the shifters, and Gloss White on the ends of the curb telltales.

Next, I hand-painted the exhaust pipes and muffler with Lifecolor 702 and 703 Rust in a random pattern.  Once that was dry, I brushed on a layer of Mig Chipping Fluid followed by a coat of Tamiya Dark Yellow so that I could work off some of the base coat coming up to show some wear.

I gave the entire vehicle a healthy filter of Mig Oil Wash Brown, followed by a detail workover with Vallejo Cam Medium Black Brown to represent chipping.  Once satisfied, I laid down several coats of Pledge floor polish (Future) to prepare the surfaces for washes and decals.

I applied the decals using Red and Blue MicroSol/MicroSet without any problems.  The ICM decals are thin and separate from the backing effortlessly.  Once the decals were dry, I applied a wash using Mig Oil Shadow Brown to the entire vehicle.  When I got to the wheels, I laid the vehicle on its side to allow the wash to dry evenly. I covered the wooden portions of the pioneer tools with un-thinned Mig Oil Wash Brown and let that sit overnight to soak in before wiping off the excess the next morning with a Q-tip. 

I followed this with a 'road-dusting' coat of Vallejo Model Air Light Brown and then shot the whole vehicle with Vallejo Flat Varnish to kill any shine left over.

I finished the vehicle by attaching the clear headlight lenses with Mig Ultra Glue and inserting .010" carbon fiber replacements for the kits antenna. Done!

 

Conclusion
I must say, building this kit has made me a new fan of ICM.  The design and engineering throughout show through to the modeler in terms of buildability and, as hokey as it sounds - pure model-building fun.  Starting with the intelligent use of boxing and sprue to protect the parts, to the broad and consistent use of hidden connection points and modeler-assists, to the design of assemblies that other manufacturers are challenged by, such as with the undercarriage, engine and seats.  ICM was able to bring together a nice, little detailed kit without the use of photo-etch or other finicky additions.  And the instructions are flawless.

For these reasons I would recommend this kit for all modelers, regardless of experience level, as long as they go slowly and follow directions.  This is an unusual vehicle and will no doubt attract a lot of attention on the showroom tables or in your glass case at home.

 

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

 

 

Wars and Soldiers in the Early Reign of Louis XIV. Volume 3 – The Armies of the Ottoman Empire 1645-1718

Thu, 04/08/2021 - 11:08
Product Image Review Author:  Luke R. Bucci PhD Helion & Company

Bruno Mugnai is a prolific author and illustrator who has specialized in history of eastern Europe in the 16th-18th centuries, ancient Italian states and South America after Spanish conquest. He has previously published titles for the Italian Army and Helion & Company (UK), including five volumes on Wars and Soldiers in the early Reign of Louis XIV, and the Cretan War (1645-1671). He also an illustrator for his books.

 

This book is No 55 of the Century of the Soldier 1618-1721 series by Helion, and is an update in English of the original title published in Italian in 1997. This time period saw warfare escalate into serious national business, fostering a steady stream of advances, changing rulers, nations and history. Pike to musket era. This book focuses on the Ottoman Empire armies that occupied much of Eastern Europe.

 

What You Get

This 9 3/4 X 7 1/16 inch (246 X 180 mm) softbound book is almost 3/8 inches (17 mm) thick. Production quality is excellent. This book has been carefully edited and is easy to comprehend. There are 368 pages between the covers, with small print - a lot of info! There is one organization chart, 18 maps, 57 B&W print reproductions (persons, uniforms, battle scenes), 45 B&W photos (mostly of weapons, armor and gear from museums), 22 B&W drawings by the author (persons, gear, clothing, weapons), and a 16-page insert of color plates by the author in the middle of the book depicting uniforms and ensigns (flags). Sometimes we forget that history from the past (300+ years ago in this case) was not sepia or B&W, but vibrantly colored. The color plates are the highlight of the book and give life to the narrative.

 

There are 16 sections to this book, including an Ottoman chronology of events, Foreword, Preface to the prior Italian-language version (1997), Preface to current book (in English), Acknowledgements, and a Note on Ottoman Currency. Six main sections follow detailing the Sublime Porte (Ottoman Government), the Ottoman Commonwealth and Allies, Ottoman Armies, Allies and Tributaries, Ottoman Art of War and Dress, and Equipment and Ensigns. A large Appendix of the Orders of Battle with Tables, Colour Plate Commentaries, Glossary and Bibliography wraps up this history lesson.

 

This book professes to have greater detail of this time period than anything previously, and the detail presented leads me to believe that this statement is correct (at least in the English language). Anyone interested in the time period would enjoy this book and be immersed into the Ottoman way of life. Even if you are not a fan of this time period, this book is enticing, enthralling and unnerving. This knowledge certainly helps us all to understand the current issues of the countries of the former Yugoslavia and surrounding countries from Poland to Turkey. The wars, soldiers and leaders involved in this time period have repercussions felt today. Getting back to the details - lots of interesting facts pop up, such as probably the first mobile artillery and forerunner to the tank - a camel-mounted cannon, which actually was a disaster not repeated (see page 300).

 

This book highlights the revolution in warfare during this era. The Ottoman Armies did not progress as the European armies did on a number of areas, not just technical, but mostly socioeconomic. By 1718 (when the Treaty of Passarowitz was signed), the Ottomans had lost huge tracts of Europe, never to be regained. This period marked the transition of the Ottoman Empire from being the major power in the Western world (China was by far the major world power), to a lesser power, but still large, powerful and entrenched. The details in this book help explain why, making for good reading.

 

Summary

This book is extremely detailed, and highly useful for historians, the inquisitive, war gamers and figure modelers. The subject is not well known and has been viewed through the eyes of victors over the centuries.  Bruno Mugnai brings a welcome addition to the conversation, fleshing out pivotal events and conclusions that affect us today. The text is well written and explains the intricacies of Ottoman life and practices understandably. But be aware this is a massive amount of information from harsh times. Recommended if you fall into these categories and want to intimately know about the Ottoman presence that still has an effect on present-day Europe, Russia, former Russian Republics, Turkey and the Middle East.

 

Thanks to the author for spreading this history, Helion Books for publishing this history, and Casemate Publishers for getting this book to us.

 

Thanks to Casemate Publishing & IPMSUSA for the review copy!

 

 

 

Figures:

Figure 1: Front cover of The Armies of the Ottoman Empire 1645-1718.

Figure 2: Back cover of The Armies of the Ottoman Empire 1645-1718.

Figure 3: A B&W photo from a museum of an Ottoman karabela infantry sabre hilt captured at Slankamen, 1691.

Figure 4: Janissaries were the foot soldiers of the Ottoman Empire, and their classic tactic was the Janissary Charge. After getting hopped up on an herbal honey drink (maslach), and after a musket volley, charged their enemy fiercely with swords and knives until successful or dead.

Figure 5: Calvary was an important part of Ottoman warmaking, and the Serhaddkulu dely were an elite group designed to strike fear into adversaries, both civilians and troops. Gaudy dress with furs, feathers and wings was their identifying trait.

Figure 6: Ottoman troops were often deployed on the battlefield behind embankments and ditches fortified with poles and sand bags. Open spaces were made to allow cavalry maneuver and artillery placements.

F-104G/J, CF-104 Landing Gear

Thu, 04/08/2021 - 10:27
Product Image Review Author:  Michael A. Turco Scale Aircraft Conversions

Scale Aircraft Conversions (SAC) is a Texas based company that has been marketing resin and white metal parts for scale model aircraft for over 20 years.  They endeavor to be accurate in their moldings, claiming to correct inaccuracies if found.  I have bought about a half dozen of their metal landing gear sets in the past, all of which have turned out to be excellent replacements for the plastic kit parts.

SAC's two-piece landing gear set #72180 is labeled for the '60s vintage 1/72-scale Hasegawa F-104G/J, CF-104 kit but I find that the set matches the more recent 1990-issued F-104G/S landing gear as well.  A comparison photo of the metal SAC main gear with the F-104G/S gear is shown herewith. 

The main gear piece has what appears to be curved, protective outer framing that will need to be carefully removed before gluing the gear to the model.  This framing protects the thin, secondary (V-patterned) struts attached to the main strut during shipping and handling.  I consider the latter to be a benefit as I had a set of SAC metal gear for the Revell/Monogram 1/48-scale B-26B/C Marauder in which one of the main landing gear pieces was bent in its package.  Using the kit-supplied piece as a reference, I carefully bent the gear back to the correct shape. 

The flexibility of metal landing gear affords an additional bonus.  It allows the modeler to make a slight adjustment to equalize the level of the wingtips after construction should that be necessary.  You can't do that with plastic.  Metal gear is also better suited if you have a heavy model, such as one with a lot of nose weight to prevent it from being a "tail sitter".

Based upon experience and the benefits it provides, I can recommend this product.

Trinidad 1990: The Caribbean’s Islamist Insurrection

Thu, 04/08/2021 - 09:44
Product Image Review Author:  Luke R. Bucci PhD Helion & Company

 

Sanjay Badri-Maharaj is the author of this book but also was there when it happened. As such, he has a personal stake in getting this book a wide audience. Sanjay is a native TTer (TT stands forTrinidad & Tobago, as they say on the islands), an Indo-Trinidadian. He studied at Kings College London, and received a PhD from the Department of War Studies, focusing on India's nuclear capabilities. He has authored other books on modern-day military topics from the Caribbean and India, including an upcoming review of English-speaking Caribbean militaries. Sanjay was a visiting International Fellow at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi. Sanjay has also served as a Consultant to the Ministry of National Security in Trinidad, a key player in this particular book. Thus, when Sanjay explains how things are really done in Trinidad, it is not speculation, but eye-witness observation and experience, with the keen eye of a practicing lawyer.

 

This book is No 19 of the Latin America @ War series by Helion, covering the last 100 years of conflicts from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego. Trinidad 1990 explores the only Islamist Insurrection in the Western Hemisphere. Little attention was given in 1990 and it seems to have been a bad dream to all involved.

 

What You Get

This 11.7 X 8 1/4 inch (297 X 210 mm) softbound book is only 3 mm thick, but packs a lot of information. The covers are in color with four pages of color illustrations of personnel, equipment and a map. Production quality is good; however, there were many minor editorial mishaps - missing words/letters, misspelled words, and some awkward grammar. Nevertheless, these minor issues do not detract from the story. There are 68 pages, with small print - making this book appear small but actually having a lot of info. There is one Table, 4 maps, 71 B&W photos, 7 color profiles of military equipment and 3 color illustrations of personnel.

 

After a list of Abbreviations (do take note of these, they are used often), there are 7 sections to this book, followed by and Appendix of the Defence Force Today, a Bibliography, Notes and About the Author. Sections are: 1) Background; 2) Rival Forces; 3) Planning the Attack; 4) The Jamaat-al-Muslimeen Strikes; 5) Hostages and Negotiations; 6) The TTDF Responds; and 7) The Endgame, Amnesty, Surrender and Conclusions.

 

Trinidad and Tobago are small tropical islands off the coast of Venezuela, with a population of almost 1.5 million in 2011, the latest census, increased from under 0.5 million in 1946. The Introduction sets the stage for what how Trinidad & Tobago (TT) experienced a government takeover from endogenous radical Islam elements. TT is rich in oil and gas, but this bounty was sequestered by an oligarchy after the British left in 1962 and TT became a sovereign nation. Sanjay pulls no punches, points fingers and names names in describing how TT went from a comfortable, affluent country to a den of thieves, corruption and poverty by 1990. Disenchantment of poorer Afro-Trinidadians led to conversions to Islam, and the growing population of Indo-Trinidadians (now the largest ethnic group in TT) clashing with different mindsets about home, government and life in general.

 

There are so many things that went wrong by every party to the sordid story that this book was painful to read. Disparity of wealth led to a bloated and corrupt government and police force, disenfranchising the majority of the population. In the 1980s, the oil crisis plunged TT into an economic depression. South American drug cartels found easy business in TT as a shipping point for drugs to the USA and other Caribbean destinations. Crime lords actually ran the country from behind the scenes, using uneducated youth as heavies and hooligans.

 

African Muslims came from slaves and later, British Colonial military personnel, but most Muslims were Indian Indentured immigrants. Sunni is the predominant sect. The 1970s saw a change in the well-integrated Muslim communities by African militants, with funding by Saudi Arabia and Libya. The Black Power movement in the USA helped to radicalize Muslims, and led to a bizarre revolt of an Army regiment in 1970, which was quickly put down without loss of life. This revolt led successive governments to neuter the military and police forces to ensure no armed rebellions from within would upset their oligarchy. Lenox Phillip changed his name to Yasmin Abu Bakr and proceeded on a campaign to restore his version of radical Islam, targeting the Indo-Trinidadian Muslims as well as the establishment. He formed the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen in 1982 and found funding from foreign sources. He and other members went to Libya for terrorist training, and began accumulating arms. The government hassled him over improper use of land (he simply took over some land and built a mosque), which was a sticking point for Abu Bakr increasing his anti-government rhetoric and actions.

 

Meanwhile, the TT military and police forces were rife with political corruption and were decayed vestiges of law and order, with little resources or funding. This is a Military Book Series, but TT had very little in the way of military or police forces. Their Intelligence was nonexistent, and nobody in the government felt they were threatened by any group.

 

Eventually, Abu Bakr decided to overthrow the government, assured that the population would follow and install him as the leader of a new Islamic nation. He smuggled arms from the USA by paying off a Customs Inspector, and through his religious teachings, attracted a following of young, rebellious youths. Finally, on July 27, 1990, he loaded up carloads of men with guns and simultaneously took over the only television station (TTT, Trinidad Tobago Television), the main Police station and the Parliament Building. Abu Bakr sent out one TV message that he had overthrown the government. His men shot and killed eight unarmed people in these places, including a women who bled to death from a gut shot in front of them and their captives. They also shot the Prime Minister, and forced him to abdicate, but not before signing a letter of amnesty to the attackers. Police were unarmed and fled as fast as they could. However, the TTDR (Trinidad Tobago Defence Force) took immediate action, mostly because most of them were watching a soccer match in a nearby stadium, and quickly contained Bakr's forces, and ended TV broadcasts by simply turning off their electricity.

 

The insurrection was poorly planned by any standards, and mostly succeeded in downtown Port of Spain being looted by the local population and insurgents, causing 16 additional deaths, and enormous economic losses to an already impoverished area. The military was also poorly coordinated, but to their credit, did their job and kept the insurrection from spreading. The negotiations for release of hostages at the three government facilities took three days, all the time with no food, water or facilities in the buildings. Amnesty was granted and holds to this day, despite revisits by TT. Abu Bakr continued his rhetoric and tried politics without results, and is alive to this day. No reparations were demanded or given to those killed or injured in the insurrection. It seemed to just have been a bad memory shortly after everybody went home, except for a devasted downtown district. The Indo-Trinidadians took over control of the government, and have continued to be the majority of TT and its controlling interest.

 

The whole situation would have been a comedy of errors on all sides, but nothing serious has happened to the government or country since. The military continues to be funded poorly and is in a state of torpor, except for its small Coast Guard, which still maintains a collection of small patrol boats and out of service helicopters.

 

Summary

The subject of this book is not well known in the USA, but the author gives a moving analysis of why and how it happened. The author, Sanjay, is passionate about telling the facts regardless of any political correctness, probably because he lived through the events and the anticlimactic aftermath. People were killed in cold blood, and the killers were let off scot free. Lawlessness abounded for a few days in the immediate area, but did not spill over into nationwide anarchy or unrest. The small, underfunded and undertrained military upheld the Constitution and allowed the civilian government to determine the outcome through proper channels, keeping the insurrection from becoming a serious bloodletting. Ineptitude abounded on all fronts, but somehow the government takeover became just another house-cleaning with different faces. Not much changed afterwards.

 

There are lessons from these events, but it really shows what happens when personal integrity is mostly lacking in government institutions, and how the sinister specter of organized crime can quietly manipulate outcomes favorable to their cause. One has to ask themselves the question: what would TT look like now if the military did not do their job? Perhaps everything that happened was for the good of the many, regardless of what outsiders might think.

 

Thanks to the author for this overlooked and unusual event into scrutiny, Helion Books for publishing this history, and Casemate Publishers for getting this book to us.

 

Figures:

Figure 1: Front cover of Trinidad 1990. The Caribbean's Islamist Insurrection.

Figure 2: Back cover of Trinidad 1990. The Caribbean's Islamist Insurrection.

Figure 3: A color map of Trinidad and Tobago, showing Port of Spain, the capitol where the insurrection occurred.

Figure 4: After the unarmed Police Constable was shot and killed, a car bomb was exploded in front of Police Headquarters, and then was occupied by the insurgents.

Figure 5: Photo showing destructive looting and arson in Port of Spain encouraged by the insurrectionists.

Figure 6: Screenshot of Abu Bakr's TV broadcast to the nation that the government was overthrown.

 

Thanks to Casemate Publishing & IPMSUSA for the review copy!

A-26C Invader

Tue, 04/06/2021 - 10:01
Product Image Review Author:  Mike Kellner Hobby Boss

The A-26 is a lesser known twin engine bomber from World War II which got its ancestry from the A-20 Havoc. After World War II it was re-designated B-26 and also served in Korea. At first glance Hobby Boss's 1/32 scale A-26C Invader is impressive. 

The kit is molded in light gray plastic, with crystal clear transparencies and rubber tires. There are decals for two options, a night black Invader and a natural metal one.  All parts were nicely wrapped in plastic but on my sample, the trim control wheel was badly damaged.

Assembly was straightforward and went fairly quickly. The kit recommends 150 gm of weight to keep it on its nose so I decided to use the cast-metal nose gear and wheel well from Scale Aircraft Conversions (Kit #32155), which supplied 42 gm of ballast.  I filled the space between the wheel well and cockpit floor with lead, put lead in front of the instrument panel and also hid more lead under the nose platform behind the Norden bombsight, and the model still barely sits on its nose.  I also modified the nose platform; as issued, it covered the bombsight, but looking at pictures, the Norden was shown exposed, so I cut the deck back one section.   

All interior parts fit great until I went to glue them together---then I had a little trouble around the nose section (I'm assuming that's due to some slight misalignment of the metal nose gear well box.)  I had at first reversed part C-3, the interior support deck for the belly turret.  It looks nearly square but actually has a slight taper and its narrower end goes aft.  There is an extra set of rudder pedals included in the kit so I assume there'll be a different version of the kit issued at some point.

Because of the airplane's size and the visibility of its interior, I decided to leave the bomb bay doors open so I built up the kit-supplied 500-pound bombs for the inside load. The bomb fins were tricky to fit and I got some with slightly misaligned fins. For underwing stores there are two choices: additional 500-pound bombs or gun pods, so the builder needs to drill the appropriate holes for each....they're clearly laid out in the instructions.  Having decided on bombs for the bomb bay, I opted to use two double .50-caliber gun pods beneath the wings instead. 

I needed to file the landing gear stubs that mounted into the wheel wells to get them to fit into the square sockets provided.  Parts K-28 and K-29, the back sides of the firewalls under the cowl flaps at the front of the nacelles needed to be sanded a bit to blend in with the nacelles and their tops have shallow sink marks that I was almost able to sand out. Each cowling also had a sink mark on the inside.

The engines are somewhat simple for a model of this size and are the wrong kinds as well---they have a double row, seven-cylinder engine when the real A-26 had R-2800 engines with two rows of nine cylinders. The kit is tight enough to enable me to just snap the engines and cowls to the firewalls with thoughts of maybe changing them out at a later date.

The glass fit fine until I went to glue it in place, then one side of the canopy moved off to one side. Part L-12, the center dash cover, needed some sanding to fit, and that may have contributed to the windshield problem. 

I painted the airplane with flat paint, and in hindsight that was a hindrance to applying the decals.  I overcoated it with gloss clear but it never really got glossy enough to suit me.  The decals went down OK but were very brittle and several of the square red wing boxes broke up. Also, each decal had a number by it and when I put them in the water, those would disintegrate and I had to be very careful so pieces of them didn't get under the decal. I overcoated the decals with Future floor wax which blended most of them in.  I believe the full-size airplanes were a gloss or at least a semi-gloss finish, so I left a sheen on mine.  Overall I liked the kit, but if I built another one I would paint it with gloss paint. 

Thanks to MRC and to IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review this kit. 

A-26B Invader Landing Gear Set

Tue, 04/06/2021 - 09:45
Product Image Review Author:  Mike Kellner Scale Aircraft Conversions

The SAC replacement gear seems to be an exact replica of the parts from the Hobby Boss A-26 Invader kit. The metal is soft but easy to clean and file. The set consists of main gear, nose gear, and nose wheel well. I decided to use the nose gear and its well to help balance the model since I have never tolerated tail sitters.

The nose gear well needs a little filing to fit. Even after adding more weight, the airplane barely stood on its nose, so I am glad I used it. I don't believe you could get enough weight in the nose without it. The SAC set claims it weighs 42 grams and the kit recommends 150 grams, so the builder has to make up the 108 gram difference.

After finishing the model, because of its weight I might've been better off using the metal main gear also.

I want to thank Scale Aircraft Conversions and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review this accessory.

Pacific Profiles, Volume Two: Japanese Army Bombers, Transports & Misc. Types, New Guinea & The Solomons 1942-1944

Mon, 04/05/2021 - 14:17
Product Image Review Author:  Keith Gervasi Casemate Publishers

The Author: Michael Claringbould spent his formative years in Papua New Guinea in the 1960s, where he became fascinated by the many WWII aircraft wrecks which still lie around the country. He has served overseas as an Australian diplomat including South East Asia and throughout the South Pacific where he had the fortune to return to Papua New Guinea for 3 years starting in 2003. Mr. Claringbould has authored & illustrated various books (at least 15) on Pacific War aviation. His history of the Tainan Naval Air Group in New Guinea 'Eagles of the Southern Sky' received worldwide acclaim as the first English-language history of a Japanese fighter unit, which was also translated into Japanese.

This book covers 9 Sentai's plus HQ, Recon, Transport & Liaison units and where they were based during this campaign. The main aircraft covered in this book are: Mitsubishi Ki-21 I & II Sally, Mitsubishi Ki-46 II Dinah, Kawasaki Ki-48 II Lily, Nakajima Ki-49 I & II Helen, Mitsubishi Ki-51 Sonia, Kawasaki Ki-58 Thalia and the Mitsubishi Ki-57 / MC-20 and MC-21 Sally transport. With 66 B&W, 12 color photos and 22 pages of color profiles (covering 100 different aircraft), if you have any of these kits in your stash, you're going to have quite a few ideas to help with your build.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

  • About the Author
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 JAAF Bombers and Support Types in the South Pacific
  • Chapter 2 Technical Notes
  • Chapter 3 The 7th Hiko Sentai
  • Chapter 4 The 14th Hiko Sentai
  • Chapter 5 The 26th Hiko Sentai
  • Chapter 6 The 34th Hiko Sentai
  • Chapter 7 The 45th Hiko Sentai
  • Chapter 8 The 60th Hiko Sentai
  • Chapter 9 The 61st Hiko Sentai
  • Chapter 10 The 75th Hiko Sentai
  • Chapter 11 The 208th Hiko Sentai
  • Chapter 12 Headquarters and Command Units
  • Chapter 13 Reconnaissance Units
  • Chapter 14 Transport and Liaison Units
  • Sources
  • Index of names

Each chapter has a short history of the units but is well researched and even includes when possible names of unit commanders and some of the pilots. This book is well written and a very easy read and is a welcome addition to any library.....mine especially, since I recently picked up Ki-21 and Ki-49 kits.

I highly recommend this book for anyone with these aircraft in their stash or anyone with an interest in JAAF units in the South Pacific.

I'd like to thank Casemate publishers for providing this book and the review Corps for letting me review it.

SAAB Viggen Landing Gear (Tarangus/Special Hobby)

Mon, 04/05/2021 - 12:14
Product Image Review Author:  Paul R. Brown Scale Aircraft Conversions

This set is designed to provide replacement parts for the landing gear on the Tarangus/Special Hobby SAAB Viggen kits.  The set includes replacement parts for the nose gear and both main gear assemblies and as with most of SAC's landing gear sets, the metal parts are intended to be one-for-one replacements for the kit parts. 

The nose strut assembly includes the gear strut, the scissor link and the retraction/extension actuator.  The parts in my set were very well cast and after just a little clean-up of the casting seam where the casting plugs attach, the parts will be ready to go.

The main gear sets each include the gear strut, both parts of the retraction/extension strut and the smaller strut/actuator that attaches to the rear base of the main gear struts. Unfortunately, as shown in the photographs, the scissor links for both main gear struts in my set appear to be bent or twisted sideways so I will need to take a little time to straighten them out before painting and attaching them.  The replacements for parts A13 and A14 will also need a little work to spread the open ends apart a little in order to fit around parts A15 & A16 (or their metal replacements).   The main struts themselves will also require some clean up and slight reshaping as it appears that the casting molds were not exactly lined up on my set as there is a prominent mold seam on the smaller sections of the main struts, however, the struts do correctly portray the offset leg which attaches to the main gear door.

This looks like a nice set from Scale Aircraft Conversions and once cleaned up will make a nice addition to your Viggen. Thank you to Scale Aircraft Conversions for the review set and to IPMS-USA for letting me review it.

Tu-22 Blinder Landing Gear (Trumpeter)

Mon, 04/05/2021 - 11:44
Product Image Review Author:  Paul R. Brown Scale Aircraft Conversions

This set is designed to provide replacement parts for Trumpeter's Tu-22 Blinder kit.  As with most of SAC's landing gear sets, the metal parts are intended to be one-for-one replacements for the kit parts. 

The set includes replacement parts for the nose gear and both main gear strut assemblies and some of the associated actuators. However, it appears that a couple of parts are missing as the nose strut has two small parts to be fitted to the sides of the strut (parts E1 and E2) that are identical, but there is only one of them provided in the SAC set.  In addition, the kit includes a small secondary retraction arm (part E3) which attaches to the triangular retraction arm, but this actuator is not included in the SAC set.  As noted in the photos, my nose strut was slightly bent to one side when I opened the package, however, being white metal, it was easily straightened.  It also appears that my set has an extra triangular casting in it that does not match any of the parts in the kit, but it took me some time to figure this out by comparing the part to all the kit parts.

For the main gear, the set includes both the main strut and the actuator that is attached to each strut.  Unfortunately, as shown in the photos, on my set the retraction arm and the small bracing strut on each main strut were bent and would need to be straightened before being painted.  A bigger issue, however, is that the Blinder has four wheels for each main gear, two on each side, but both main gear legs in the set have axles only on one side when there should be axles on both sides! 

I have used SAC gear in quite a few builds and as the Blinder is a pretty bit kit, I was looking forward to counting on this set to help support the weight of a large aircraft, unfortunately as the main gear struts only have axles on one side, I will be using the kit parts instead of the ones in this set. 

Thank you to Scale Aircraft Conversions for the review set and to IPMS-USA for letting me review it. Hopefully, SAC has discovered the error of the missing axles on the main struts and recast the main struts correctly.

North American P51-D Mustang (Filletless Tails)

Thu, 04/01/2021 - 10:56
Product Image Review Author:  James Kelley Airfix

 

History

 

     Colonel Thomas J.J. "Jack" Christian's personal mount was an early P-51D-5-NA, serial number 44-13410, Code E2-C, with "LOU IV" painted on the port side of the engine cowling, forward of the cockpit and just rearward of the exhaust manifolds. The aircraft was named after his wife, Marjorie Lou Ashcroft Christian. The name "ATHELENE" was painted on the starboard side of the fuselage forward of the cockpit and below the exhaust manifolds. LOU IV was the most photographed P-51 Mustang of World War 2, and was an early P-51 D-5-NA (with the "bubble" canopy) without the stabilizing tail fin addition of the later definitive -D models. Additional photographs better indicate LOU IV's colors and markings, including a yellow propeller spinner, a yellow engine cowling, a bare metal fuselage with a mottled camouflage pattern of dark green and /or black on the top surfaces, and "invasion stripes" beneath the fuselage roundel and on the bottom of the wings. On 12 August 1944, at 1505 hours, 361st Fighter Group commanding officer Colonel Thomas J.J. Christian, Jr., flying the lead plane, Lou IV, was killed and his Mustang destroyed in a dive-bombing attack against the Arras railroad marshaling yards in Boisleux-au-Mont, France.

 

 

Instructions

 

     The instructions are what one would expect from Airfix these days. Printed in colour, colour callouts for Humbrol paints, and each previous completed step being highlighted in red. Interior decal callouts as the build progresses, and two full-colour paint schemes. One thing I really liked is that if the modeler wishes to paint the invasion stripes, there is a notation for exactly how wide to paint each stripe (9.5085mm) and how wide each wings' section should be when completed (47.5435mm). The dimensions are based on the real stripes having been painted 18" apiece in WWII. To me, this is a much-appreciated attention to detail. I will point out that Airfix thanks Christian Alamy and Roy Sutherland for their assistance in the development of this kit on the first page. Mr. Sutherland, you may know, is the owner of Barracuda Studios and produces aftermarket resin and decal sets. His line includes several P-51 improvements, and I believe his input is evident in this kit.

 

Construction

 

     Construction, of course, starts in the cockpit. The pilots seat has the side braces and harness belts molded into it in such a way that in 3 pieces, the seat, harness, and braces are perfect. Some careful painting and washes, and the seat looks great. The completed cockpit is very nicely-detailed, and aftermarket parts are not really needed. The cockpit then sits on the supercharger assembly, which goes back to the tail wheel well. There's a fair number of parts involved, and getting one out of line leads to big ripple-effect problems down the line. Once everything was said and done, it all fit perfectly into one side of the fuselage. When I closed it all up, however, there was a large gap along the underside from the supercharger intake back to the wheel well. No amount of manipulation corrected it. As a result, this model has way more filler putty on it than I think it ever should have. I may have misaligned something further up the line, but regardless, this design feature is rather poor. Fortunately, Airfixs' soft blue plastic allows for easy sanding. The rest of the build went pretty smoothly. Multiple options are in the build, included posable flight surfaces, wheels up/down, etc. Be careful with the propeller assembly. I painted it, then glossed and decaled the wrong side! It only fits one way into the spinner plate, and I neglected to test fit it first. There are numerous heavy sprue gate attachment points, seemingly on the more delicate and most important parts. The fuselage halves and wing parts were carefully removed with a micro saw to preserve the integrity of the molding. There is a tiny rear-view mirror that attaches to the top of the windscreen. I tried several times to mount it, to no avail.

 

 

Decals

 

     Primary Scheme: North American P-51D-5-NA Mustang 'Lou IV' flown by Colonel Thomas Jonathan Jackson Christian Jr, 37 5th Fighter Squadron, 361st Fighter Group, 8th Air Force, United States Air Force Station F-374 (RAF Bottisham) Cambridge, England July 1944.

 

     Scheme 2: North America P-51D-5-NA Mustang Aircraft flown by Major George Earl Preddy Jr, 328th Fighter Squadron, 352nd Fighter Group, United States Air Force, RAF Bodney, Norfolk, England August 6th, 1994.

 

     The decals are one of this kits' high points. They are in perfect register, and include cockpit data plates and something I've never seen in a P-51 kit prior to this-an instrument panel decal with the yellow demarcation separating instruments. I think that Mr. Sutherland's input is evident here. The decals responded very well to Micro-Sol. The decal sheet is not without a head-scratcher, like other aspects of this project, though. The modeler is instructed to trim 3mm from the port & starboard fuselage invasion stripe decals. Why not just print them to fit correctly in the first place??  I was unable to get the bottom edges to meet congruently, so maybe I didn't trim them straight. The underwing invasion stripes don't fit quite well either. When lined up perfectly with the wheel wells, they creep into the wings' leading edges unevenly. Again, maybe it's me. I do appreciate how well they reacted to the Micro-Sol, especially around the compound curves of the fuselage.

 

 

Paint & Finish

 

Paints used were a mix of Tamiya and Gunze acrylics. The bare metal is AK Extreme Metal Flat Aluminum.

 

 

Conclusion

 

PROS:

  • Clever engineering for the pilot's seat.
  • Overall cockpit detail level.
  • 2 radios included.
  • Finely engraved instrument panel with a correct instrument decal.
  • Engine cowling is one, separate part.
  • Parts for in-flight or wheels-down configuration.
  • Correctly-molded .50 caliber guns/blast tubes.
  • Positionable flying surfaces.
  • Two types of weighted wheels- diamond tread or linear tread patterns.
  • Clever engineering for the main gear doors.
  • Two types of drop tanks.
  • Two windscreens (that appear exactly the same to me).
  • Three bubble canopies (that appear exactly the same to me).
  • The clear parts are absolutely crystal-clear.
  • Overall excellence of the decal sheet.

 

CONS:

 

  • Cockpit/supercharger intake/tail wheel bay are all one, modular construction subset & can lead to potential, major fit issues.
  • Main wheel well detail is soft.
  • Fit is dubious in several areas.
  • Cleverly-engineered main gear doors don't fit well.
  • Tailwheel fits poorly to hub.
  • Filletless tail design leads to potential fit issues.
  • Invasion stripe decals are curious.

 

 

     For a few bucks more than Tamiya's 1/48 counterpart, and for about $23-25 less than Eduard's Pony, this kit from Airfix is a solid contender in the quarter-scale Mustang market. Despite having some fit issues (which may have been my own doing), and those invasion stripes, this kit produces a gorgeous Mustang at a fair price point. Definitely recommended.

 

My thanks to IPMS/USA and Hornby Hobbies LTD for the opportunity to build this kit.

 

 

Staff Cars in Germany WW2 Vol.2

Thu, 04/01/2021 - 10:43
Product Image Review Author:  Phillip Cavender MMP Books

Staff Cars in Germany WW2 Vol. 2, is number 23 in the "Camera On" series published by MMPBooks/Stratus. The author, Alan Ranger, has written over 20 books in the Camera On Series dealing with German and Japanese armour specializing in soft skin and armoured vehicles. With Volume 1 Staff Cars in Germany WW2 # 9 published in 2019, the author presented photographs of passenger cars used by the German armed forces namely the line of Opel vehicles including the Admiral, Kadett, Kapitan and others. A lengthy article on the history of the Opel was presented in his first volume.

This 11.7 x 8.3 inches A4 format paperback has 80 pages with 150 period b/w photographs from the author's personal collection not the propaganda ones generally seen. The author, in vol. 2 concentrates on the remainder of the Opel passenger cars not covered in Vol. 1. Most are previously unseen and taken by ordinary German soldiers before and during the war. The book begins with a brief forward and a short introduction of the history of the Opel Company whose beginnings in 1862 was the manufacturer of sewing machines, then the production of bicycles in 1886 before introducing the first passenger car in 1899.

The author divides Vol.2 into eight sections with a brief description of each.

  • Opel P4
  • Mock-Up Training Tanks
  • Opel 2L
  • Opel Kadett Model 1937
  • Opel Kadett K38
  • Opel Super 6
  • Opel Kapitan
  • Opel Admiral

 

Opel P-4

The Opel P4, introduced in 1935, replaced the Opel 1.2-liter vehicle which had been in production since 1931. It was a 1073cc 4 cylinder in-line engine having 23hp with a top speed of 53mph. The images in this first section are spread over 4 pages with several clear black and white images and a noteworthy image on page 9 of a P4 taken by its owner presumably before it's confiscation by the army. The images are printed with mostly two to a page. Even though a few are a bit grainy, most of the detail is noticeable. The author describes in detail with each image what the reader is seeing.

Mock-Up Training Tanks based on the Opel P-4

In the late 1920's and early 1930's many of the Opel P-4s were fitted by the German army with metal and a rotating turret to resemble tanks. These were used as training tanks for the Panzer division as tanks couldn't be produced by the Treaty of Versailles after WWI. The author includes numerous images with detailed captions many with German soldiers on or near the vehicle. Page 15 depicts one of the training Opel P-4's in a Buntfarbenanstrich camouflage scheme.

Opel 2 L

Another Opel car manufacture for civilian use was the Opel 2 however, most were requisitioned for military use during the war. The author includes several images of the 2 L along with captions. An interesting photo on page 21 shows a garrison of vehicles including the 2 L painted in Panzer Grey.

Opel Kadett Model 1937 and Kadett K38

The next section examines the Opel Kadett used in the German army. Entering production as the first generation Kadett in early 1937, it had a unibody construction and was offered in two options, either the two-door sedan or the two-door soft top Cabriolet both having a 23 hp engine as the earlier P-4.  The second generation Kadett entered production in December 1937 with only minor changes.  From 1938 onward two versions were offered, the KJ38 and K38. Over 100,000 Kadett were manufactured many of which were in the hands of the German military. Page 29 (top image) shows a well maintained K38 painted in Panzer Grey with typical German markings of the Heer.

 

Opel Super 6

The Opel Super 6 manufactured in 1937 with a production run of only one and a half years had a 2500cc engine developing 71hp. Three versions were offered, a 4-door sedan, a 2-door coupe, and a 2-door carbriolet soft top. As with the other Opel models the Super 6 became a military vehicle seeing service in all areas of the war, however it did have problems in Russia due to its inability to traverse the muddy conditions. The Super 6 was eventually replaced with the Kapitan. The author has included 29 images on the Super 6 in various surroundings including summer, winter with wet and muddy conditions.  A clear profile image of the carbriolet taken on June 14th, 1943 is printed on page 40.

Opel Kapitan

Introduced in April 1939, the Kapitan was a replacement for the Super 6. The Kapitan had a unibody construction with the same powerplant as the Super 6. Unlike its predecessor the Super 6 it was also offered in the same 3 versions. Page 59 is an image of a doctor's car having the medical aid symbol on the driver's door.

Opel Admiral

The last vehicle the author writes about is the Opel Admiral. By far the most luxurious vehicle Opel manufactured, it had a separate body and chassis with a 3,626cc 74hp engine. Available in two models, the 4-door sedan and cabriolet. Production was stopped in 1939 due to the use of the engine in the Opel Blitz 3-ton truck. As in his previous sections, the author includes vehicles in a vast array of environments. The author also, includes on page 74 a full-page photo of the same picture used on the book front cover with an interesting caption explaining this vehicle was "Smiling Uncle Albert's".

Conclusion:

The author, as in his previous books, presents a history of military vehicles using images all containing ordinary soldiers in their surroundings. This undoubtedly is a great resource for the historical buff as well as an excellent reference for the modeler, beginner or skilled. Given the time frame the photos were taken, most are of high quality with an exorbitant amount of detail which the modeler or historian will enjoy. The various environmental settings will be of particular interest to the modeler giving another avenue of inspiration.

This book will make an excellent addition to any modeler or military historian's library. I highly recommend it. Thanks goes out to Casemate Publishers and MMPBooks/Stratus for this review sample.

Operation Crossbow 1944 Hunting Hitler’s V-weapons

Thu, 04/01/2021 - 09:01
Product Image Review Author:  Phil Peterson Osprey Publishing

Operation Crossbow was the Allies attempt to destroy Hitler's new Vengeance weapons, the V-1 and V-2. This book focuses on the bomber campaign rather than the defenses deployed in England to counter the attacks.

The usual soft cover book consists of 94 pages filled with Mr. Zaloga's usual well documented and written information. There are lots of photographs of not only the allied attacking aircraft but also the German weapons and their launch sites. The photos are supported by some colored artwork, drawings, diagrams, and charts and tells the story in a fitting manner.

The book contains an Introduction and Chronology chapters before giving the Attackers and Defenders Capabilities. The Campaign Objective is followed by the bulk of the book in the Campaign chapter. An Analysis and Conclusion chapter finishes off the format.

Crossbow was developed to protect the capital of London which was the main target. To do that the Allies used the RAF's Bomber Command and 2nd Tactical Air Force along with the US's 8th and 9th Air Forces. The campaign itself was split into two main Phases. The first phase was mainly attacks against the V-1 launch sites located within striking distance of London while also hitting some of the heavy bunkers and storage sites. Phase 2 focused more on destroying the enemy's ability to make the weapons and to get them to the launching sites.

I enjoyed this book and really liked all the information and photos regarding the V-1 sites as I have plans to build part of one at some time in the future. This book will be a great help in that endeavor.

Thanks to Osprey and IPMS/USA for the review sample.

South Pacific Air War: Buna & Milne Bay, September 1942

Wed, 03/31/2021 - 11:40
Product Image Review Author:  Frank Landrus Avonmore Books

Avonmore Books is an Australian publisher specializing in military and aviation history, with a particular interest on the early period of the Pacific War. Avonmore prides itself in being the only mainstream Australian military history publisher producing full colour, illustrated books. While expensive to produce, we strive to produce titles that are a pleasure to own and read, and which incorporate first-class profiles, illustrations, and maps. To date, Avonmore Books has published 25 aviation books.

Raised in Port Moresby, pilot Michael Claringbould is a globally recognized expert on the New Guinea air war and Japanese aviation in particular. In 1976 he conducted numerous surveys of crash sites in Papua New Guinea while based at Lae. The following year he continued his survey of crash sites in the Solomon Islands. In 1984 he was a key member of a RAAF salvage team, which recovered an intact Douglas A-20G "Hell'N Pelican II". From 1995 to 2001 he conducted fourteen surveys of crash sites in the Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. Michael is an established author in this field as well. His books include Helluva Pelican, The Forgotten Fifth, Forty of the Fifth, and Black Sunday.

Peter Ingman is an author specializing in aviation and WWII Pacific War history. Peter has co-authored five widely acclaimed Australian WWII history books: Zero Hour in Broome, Carrier Attack Darwin 1942 and four volumes of the South Pacific Air War series. Through his publishing business Avonmore Books, Peter has also had extensive input into further military history books by a variety of authors. An award-winning essayist, Peter is the Chairman of the History Group at the South Australian Aviation Museum. He lives in Adelaide with his two young children.

The front cover features a color illustration of an ex-RAF P-400, still in its RAF camouflage scheme. This 80th FS Airacobra struggles to gain altitude over Port Moresby in July 1942. The rear cover depicts a color illustration of Buntaciho Lieutenant Sasai Junichi lining up a 3rd Bomb Group B-25C Mitchell over the Huon Gulf in June 1942. I counted 17 color side profiles, 15 color illustrations, and three color maps by Michael Claringbould. There are also 56 period black and white period photographs, three modern color photographs, along with ten tables.

Michael Claringbould and Peter Ingman describe the battles between June and September 1942 over Buna and Milne Bay from both sides. The previous three volumes cover the first six months of the Pacific Sea, leading into the Battle of the Coral Sea. Volume four starts off with an overview of both the Allied and Japanese sides to get the reader orientated. The rest of the book provides detailed operational accounts of the air reconnaissance, air strikes, and air battles; both in overview along with detailed first person accounts. The authors provide details of both sides claims aligned against actual battle damage that clearly displays the fog of battle. The period of June through September 1942 saw no major sea battles as carriers from both sides were otherwise occupied, so most of the action was from land based aircraft.

The Chapters include:

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 Overview
  • Chapter 2 Night Raids: Regional Operations 19-30 June [Page 29]
  • Chapter 3 Independence Day: Regional Operations 1-7 July [Page 43]
  • Chapter 4 The Lull Before the Storm: Regional Operations 8-20 July
  • Chapter 5 Buna Landing: New Guinea 21-31 July
  • Chapter 6 Target Townsville: Solomons & North Queensland 21 July-1 August
  • Chapter 7 150 Bombers Destroyed! New Guinea 1-8 August [Page 91]
  • Chapter 8 D-Day: The Solomons 1-8 August
  • Chapter 9 Prelude: Milne Bay 4-22 August
  • Chapter 10 Buna Resupplied: New Guinea 9-22 August [Page 125]
  • Chapter 11 Emergency: Milne Bay 23 August - 8 September [Page 143]
  • Chapter 12 Tainan Ku Annihilated! New Guinea 23 August - 8 September
  • Chapter 13 Conclusion
  • Appendix 1 Allied Aircraft Losses & Fatalities
  • Appendix 2 Japanese Aircraft Losses & Fatalities
  • Appendix 3 Cumulative Losses
  • Sources
  • Index

There are a plethora of tidbits and first person accounts that make this book an easy read. One of the more memorable operations for me addressed two Consolidated Catalina nuisance raids on 27-June-1942 over Lae and Salamaua. Circling for over four hours, they both randomly unloaded eight 500-lb bombs while the crew dropped 20-lb fragmentation bombs by hand. To spice things up, they also dropped empty beer bottles which made a whistling sound as they descended.

Michael Claringbould's color side profiles and color illustrations add a lot to the period black and white photographs to this tale. This was an easy read over four nights that was hard to put down. Now I just need to go back and grab the first three volumes!

My thanks to Casemate, Avonmore Books, and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!

In the Claws of the Tomcat: US Navy F-14 Tomcats in Air Combat Against Iran and Iraq, 1987-2000

Mon, 03/29/2021 - 14:02
Product Image Review Author:  Paul R. Brown Helion & Company

The book is Volume 29 of Helion & Company's Middle East@War series.  The book includes over 80 black and white photographs which include not only photographs of some of the US Navy F-14 squadrons that were engaged in operations in the Persian Gulf and over Iraq, but also quite a few good photographs of Iraqi Air Force aircraft, surface-to-air missiles and other defenses systems, as well as Iraqi pilots.  The photographs are supplemented by 21 color profiles of various F-14s and Iranian and Iraqi aircraft that were involved in the actions discussed in the book.  There are also several charts setting forth the order of battle for the two forces along with maps of the theater of operations.  

Tom Cooper is an Austrian aerial warfare analyst and author with extensive contacts both within the US military and with many current or former senior officers of air forces across the Middle East and he has taken advantage of these sources to put together a much more balanced look at the employment of the F-14 Tomcat in the Persian Gulf region, before, during and after Desert Storm.  Mr. Cooper's portrayal of how the F-14s were employed during Desert Storm demonstrates that they played a much bigger and more integral role in US Navy air combat operations during the conflict than has previously been published.

The book begins with an overview of the genesis of the F-14 Tomcat, including a good discussion of how the sale of F-14s to Iran in the mid 1970's saved Grumman from bankruptcy and forced the US Congress to continue authorizing the purchase of more F-14s for the US Navy.  He also discusses the problems encountered with the TF30 engines that the F-14A was equipped with, problems that were only solved with the replacement of the TF30 with F110 engines in the F-14A+/B and F-14D.

The author also discusses the advantages and disadvantages of the variety of fighter aircraft flown by the Iraqi Air Force as well as its reliance on ground control during intercept operations.  He points out that many of the Iraqi pilots faced by the Coalition air forces in Desert Storm were not only very experienced, but also had much more combat experience than the Coalition pilots.  Unfortunately, they were not able to take advantage of this experience due to the Coalition's control of the airspace over Iraq and the degradation of the Iraqi ground control network.

Like many others, my impression has always been that the F-14s were relegated to secondary roles far away from the action during Desert Storm due to their lack of the non-cooperative target recognition features built into the F-15 and later aircraft which allowed them to distinguish between friendly and enemy aircraft independent of outside sources.  Mr. Cooper puts this myth to rest by showing that rather than being on the sidelines, Tomcats were in the thick of the fray, doing what they had trained to do for years - protecting the strike group from enemy aircraft.  He discusses several instances where F-14s were actively engaged with bandits but were unable to fire on them due to the Rules of Engagement which required two types of identification to confirm the target as hostile.  He also points out that despite these shortcomings, the F-14s did what they were there to do and prevented the Iraqi fighters from engaging the strike aircraft. 

Due to his contacts on both sides, Mr. Cooper is able to provide both sides of many of the engagements or near engagements that occurred during this period and in some instances, to finish an unfinished story by telling the other side of the encounter, such as the confrontation between 2 VF-21 F-14s and an Iranian F-4E Phantom II in 1987 and fairly conclusively showing that the VF-103 F-14A+ lost over Iraq was actually shot down by an Iraqi Air Force MiG-29, not an SA-2 SAM as has been previously reported.  He also explains that despite having well trained, seasoned pilots, since the Iraqi leadership decided that preservation of its aircraft was more important than opposing the Coalition's air campaign, Iraqi pilots were not often given opportunities to engage Coalition aircraft but were instead either kept on the ground or vectored away from threats instead of towards them.

I really enjoyed reading this book and I felt it gave a much more balanced presentation of the F-14's employment during the Gulf War and offered a glimpse of what could have been had the Tomcat's radar system and software had received the upgrades that the newer aircraft such as the F-15 & F-18 had.

Highly recommended.  Thank you to Casemate Publishing for the review sample.

Kagero Super Drawings in 3D SMS Derfflinger

Mon, 03/29/2021 - 12:07
Product Image Review Author:  Allan Murrell Kagero Publishing

The book provides great 3D style detail drawings of the German Battle Cruiser SMS Derfflinger. The Derfflinger was built in early 1910 and was considered to be the best of the Battle Cruisers up until the end of World War One.

The book is pack full of amazing pictures of the ship from all angles and showing all the finer details of the ship's make up. The details are fantastic and provide much for any modeler who wishes to super detail a model of the ship.

There is also a pull out outline drawing of the ship in 1/350 scale including a hull "cut-through "for the length pf the ship.

I recommend this book to everyone with an interest in the SMS Derfflinger or any war ship for that matter, and this is a must for anyone going to build a model of this ship. In fact, I am now off to build my Flyhawk 1/700 Model of this ship with the book as all the reference material I will need.

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

Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet- Kit Build 5

Sat, 03/27/2021 - 11:33
Product Image Review Author:  Phil Pignataro Kagero Publishing

The F/A-18E Super Hornet is the US Navy's truly ubiquitous aircraft. It's their main fighter and attack platform as well as its electronic warfare aircraft, the E/A-18G Growler. Model manufactures followed the Navy's lead and have produced numerous kits of this aircraft in all the popular scales. Consequently, Kagero recently released a publication in their "Kit Build" series about this fighter. The paperback chronicles model builds of two Super Hornet kits: Academy's 1/72 scale and Eduard's 1/48 scale F/A-18E's. Color photos document progress of the build while short paragraphs of text offer further explanations. The last four pages of the book contain eight color profiles of "E" and "F" versions - four apiece. As a bonus, a small masking sheet for the canopies of 1/72 and 1/48 models is included in the book. The publication is divided into two equal parts with the first half dedicated to the 1/72 build by Adrian Wolnicki and the second to the 1/48 build by Sebastian Piechowialk. It is further divided by language: text is in English first then followed immediately by Polish.

First, Wolnicki briefly describes his kit, Academy's 1/72 F/A-18E (12565) and notes the resin and photo-etched aftermarket products he will use. Since this is a relatively straight-forward build, he states he will concentrate more on painting the model.  At each step, Wolnicki shows the paints he uses (Alclad, AK, Mig, etc.) and the various techniques to apply them. Weathering is a big part of this build as the author replicates a worn, operational machine. Again, he shows the products he used. There are several photos of the finished model and you can see he definitely achieves his weathering goal. He produces an excellent model.

In the 1/48 scale section, Piechowiak builds Eduard's F/A -18E (11129). Though he follows the same format as in the first half, he takes a slightly different approach by concentrating a little more on the actual construction. He goes through the initial assembly steps starting with the cockpit, then the intakes, and finally the gear bays. Piechowiak additionally shows the aftermarket products he added for more detail. Comments about painting these sections are secondary to the build. When the model is assembled, he then concentrates on the painting and weathering. He shows several techniques and the products he employs to achieve a slightly weathered look. The various external stores which were resin aftermarket products also receive attention regarding their painting and weathering.  Overall, he also produces an awesome model.

I have several Kagero publications in my library and I have always enjoyed them since they provided a lot of relevant information via text, pictures, drawings, etc. This is my first exposure to the "Kit Build" series and I have to keep that in perspective. This publication has a definite "magazine" feel because of its size, page layout, and photos with descriptions near them. I was inspired by the two builds and learned a little from each section. Both models are really well done. Also, I used the 1/72 mask on my Revell F/A-18E and it was easy to apply and worked perfectly.

However, I do have some issues keeping me from giving a hearty, "must have" recommendation. Here they are: several pages in each section (about 10) are filled with large photos of the completed models taken at slightly different angles. This felt very repetitive. The four pages of eight profiles didn't really grab me as they showed rather plain, generic markings. Finally, the information and photos do not come cheaply - $24.95. I would recommend this publication to those of you interested in the late model Super Hornet, but with the aforementioned reservations.  

My thanks to Casemate Publishers for providing this publication and IPMS USA for the chance to review it.