Developed from the Potez 63 long-range twin-engine fighter first flown in 1936, the Potez 63.11 reconnaissance aircraft was delivered in prototype form in late 1938. So promising was the design--and so urgent the need--that the French Armee de l'Air ordered 145 examples from the drawing board even before the plane had begun its initial trials. The first production machine was delivered in July 1939, and in that year alone Potez received orders for 1,684 63.11s. Deliveries were hampered by various component shortages and production difficulties, but even so, French aerial reconnaissance units had been equipped with 860 of these aircraft by the time that Germany invaded France in May 1940. A two-volume survey of French military aircraft from 1939 to 1942 published in 2005 described the 63.11 as "the most emblematic plane of the dramatic Battle of France...its crews having to make up for its defects with their courage and skill." In fact, more 63.11s were lost in combat than any other type in operational service with the Armee de l'Air during that action.
That said, if you're seeking historical information regarding the Potez 63.11, you'll have to look elsewhere, as this publication has no such material. Nor does it provide any statistical details, or even a specifications table. So, what is the audience for which this short book is intended? This product is aimed directly at the modeler, and its visually oriented contents serve that purpose very well. For example, there are interior views depicting all three crew positions, along with photos showing the 'add on' installation of external guns beneath the wings. There is a nicely detailed side view drawing of the rear gunner's 7.5mm MAC 24 machine gun, and there are useful photos showing the 63.11's 14-cylinder Gnome-Rhone engines uncowled. The line drawings in 1/72nd and 1/48th scale show the aircraft in both wheels up and wheels down configuration, and from both above and underneath. The two-page, color four-view (with left and right side views in 1/48th scale and above and below in 1/72nd) depicts a 63.11 as it appeared when assigned to the Depot d'Instruction de l'Aviation, a unit manned by Poles at Lyon-Bron, France in March 1940.
If you've read this far then it's quite possible that you might have an interest in building a kit of the valorous Potez 63.11. Luckily, that's been doable for a good long while, as a quick jump over to www.scalemates.com will show. Heller first released a 1/72nd edition in the mid-1960s, and it has re-released that molding in multiple boxings over the years, most recently in 2018. I have one in the stash and it's a little dated, with raised panel lines and a very yellowed decal sheet, but still buildable. More recently, Azur has done the 63.11 in both 1/72nd and 1/48th, and there are bunches of after-market decals to be had.
Modeling can be an act of memorialization. Ponder the emotions of the gallant Frenchmen who flew these lightly armed airplanes, often without fighter escort, while they tracked the unstoppable flood of invading Nazi panzers. And then use this book to help build the kit.
Thanks to Casemate for providing the review sample.
Operation Colossus was an airborne commando raid into Italy early in the war to interdict a particular aqueduct vital to the towns in the 'heel' of Italy. The operation is not very well known and this book is a welcome addition to anyone's WWII library as it fills a void not covered in other publications. Author Lawrence Paterson spends a great deal of time at the beginning of the book relating the story of the creation and training of the UK's airborne forces, going into some detail as to the people and personalities involved as well as the training and equipment used. If you have any interest in airborne forces, you will find this part very interesting and even if you don't, it is written in a very readable manner, so it will hold your interest.
He then moves on to the actual mission itself, detailing how the target was selected and the planning and forces that were involved. His recounting of the actual mission is complete, very detailed, and easy to follow. What is almost more interesting, however, is the chapter on the manhunt for the British paratroopers after the 'deed was done'. It would make a good story for an action/adventure movie. The final chapters concern themselves with the short and long term effects of the raid as well as the post-mission stories of those involved, including the time spent in Italian and German POW camps and the numerous escape attempts, successful and not.
Short and sweet, if you have any interest in WWII, airborne troops, or Britain's war effort, this is a good book for you. As I already said, the style is very readable, even though the author goes into some pretty picky detailed information. His coverage of the formation of the first airborne units in England is worth the read by itself.
Thanks to Casemate Publishers for providing the review sample.
In January 1945, the collapse of the German front along the Siegfried Line led to a large-scale dissolution of German combat forces and capability. Pressed hard by Allied forces advancing eastward, German units often found themselves trapped west of the Rhine River. With his eye on history, US Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. was determined to be the first leader since Napoleon to make an assault crossing of the Rhine. The most logical crossing-place was at Mainz, as it served as a major railroad logistical link from west to east. However, Patton was aware that this would be obvious to the Germans, and therefore he and his staff made rapid plans for another site at Nierstein and Oppenheim, about 12 miles south of Mainz.
The crossing began at 2230 hours on 23 March, when the first boats carrying 11th Infantry Regiment troops left the western bank of the Rhine. They met with little opposition; despite a few sharp counterattacks, overall resistance was light and American forces suffered few casualties. By 24 March, the US 4th Armoured Division under Brig. Gen. William Hoge crossed the Rhine and began the exploitation phase. By 26 March, the exploitation to the Main River was clearly a rout, exacerbated by additional crossings of the Rhine by other Allied units over the next few days. Illustrated throughout with stunning full-color artwork, maps, and bird's-eye-views, this title details the complete history of this campaign.
The book is 95 pages and has great black and white photos, color maps of the areas of the campaign and is divided into the following chapters
- Origins of the campaign
- Opposing Commanders
- Opposing armies
- Orders of Battle
- Opposing plans
- The Campaign
- The battlefields today
- Further reading
Some sections in the book give information about opposing commanders, not only American and German, but also opposing American Generals against themselves and actions they took to be the first to Germany.
One section talks about the specific rivalry between Lieutenant General Courtney Hodges and Lieutenant General George Patton, and their run across Germany. Mostly what I have ever heard about a Patton rivalry was with Montgomery.
If you are a history buff and are interested in information about the battles associated with the American Army crossing the Rhine river, this book goes into very fine details. There are color maps in the book of how the offensive took shape for different campaigns and eventually crossing the Rhine.
Logistics were a Staff headache for the crossing of the river and are covered extensively and could be a book all on its own. American logistics staff were far more superior in the handling of real world, long distance movement of equipment and personnel while the German logistics staff were more experienced at handling tactical matters. Staff can make a mediocre commander look brilliant.
For me this book was an interesting read. Once again reviewing books gives me a better understanding of the events of World War 2. I want to thank Osprey publishing, and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to read and review the book.
This is a new publication from Mushroom Models Publications. The book opens with a brief description of the operational use of the Mirage III/5 family of aircraft. Like the F-104 Starfighter, the F-4 Phantom and the MiG-21, the Mirage III/5 was widely exported to nations around the world ranging from Argentina to Zaire and has participated in many conflicts over the years, in some cases on both sides of the fight. There is also a note from the author about the profiles he included, which are intended to illustrate aircraft from the nations that flew Mirages. Most of the schemes are for operational aircraft with a few commemorative schemes and test aircraft included as well. Each page has a side profile of one aircraft with a brief description listing the unit it was assigned to, the date of the image, the colors and weapons depicted. The names of the colors are generic, so a modeler will need to do some more research to determine the exact colors.
The profiles are strictly limited to paint schemes and markings, there are no drawings of any aircraft parts or details. One downside of the book is that there are no overhead views showing the full paint scheme for any of the aircraft, which I found disappointing as several of the schemes were new to me and I would like to have gotten a better feel for the full scheme, such as the Egyptian Air Force one with ID markings and the . However, the author's note makes it clear that his intent is to introduce the reader to quite a lot of paint schemes, not to provide full detail of them. As a result, this is not a book for someone looking for reference material to super-detail a Mirage III/5 or to provide the full color scheme, there are other books for that purpose. However, if you are looking to build a Mirage III/5 that is different from the standard French Air Force scheme, this book offers plenty of interesting options.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the Mirage III/5 family and wants to get inspiration to paint something different.
Thank you to Mushroom Model Publications for the review sample and to IPMS/USA for allowing me to review it.
The setting: On June 25, 1950, President Harry Truman was flying back to Washington, D.C. to deal with the outbreak of war in Korea. He thought, "In my generation, this was not the first occasion when the strong attacked the weak. I recalled some earlier instances: Manchuria, Ethiopia, and Austria. I remembered how each time that the democracies failed to act, it encouraged the aggressor to keep going ahead. Communism was acting in Korea just as Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese had acted, ten, fifteen, twenty years earlier . . . If this was allowed to go unchallenged it would mean a third world war."
About the Author
Dagmawi Abebe was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. His father was a naval officer and his mother a nurse. He moved to the U.S. as a teenager and later earned a bachelor's degree in Criminology. He currently works as a criminal investigator and has experience in both private and public sectors. His interest in military history of the obscure nature ranges from the Barbary Wars to 20th Century Imperial Ethiopia.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 First Kagnew Battalion
Chapter 2 Second Kagnew Battalion
Chapter 3 Third Kagnew Battalion
Chapter 4 Fourth Kagnew Battalion and Firth Kagnew Company
About the Author
This is a review I am especially pleased to write, not because this book is the most amazing one I have ever read, but rather because this book really challenged me to acknowledge and confront my biases. For that, I'm grateful to have read it. The Korean war was before my time, and I am largely not as knowledgeable of it as I am of World War II or contemporary wars. This book--based on a pretty esoteric topic---filled a big gap in my knowledge of history.
The Introduction is not to be ignored. It provides a wealth of background knowledge about Ethiopia, the Italian occupation on October 3, 1935, battles between Ethiopian soldiers and Italian troops, and the re-capturing of Addis Ababa in 1945 by Emperor Haile Selassie.
Chapter One begins with the start of the Korean War and the beginning involvement of the Ethiopians. On April 11, the Emperor inspected the Imperial Bodyguard Academy. One day later, the battalion assembled in front of Swedish instructors, diplomats and tens of thousands of spectators. Emperor Selassie presented the battalion with their unit colors and the designation "Kagnew Battalion." Kagnew was the name of General Ras Makonnen's war horse. General Makonnen fought in the First Italo-Ethiopian War and was Haile Selassie's father.
This book is chockfull of interesting information. The photographs show images I've not seen elsewhere, and I especially appreciated the color plates showing Ethiopian military uniforms. This book serves two functions: it teaches the reader about the Korean War, but more importantly it tells the story of how a proud people and a proud nation rose to meet the call to protect democracy and joined the world in squelching the aggression of the North Koreans.
I strongly recommend this book. It is worthy reading, and it will undoubtedly expand the reader's worldview. My knowledge of the Korean War mostly comes from having watched MASH, I hate to admit. But, because of this book, I have grown. This is perhaps, the best compliment I can give.
Thank you to Helion for publishing such a fine book, thank you to Dagmawi Abebe for sharing your culture, thank you to IPMS for the opportunity to review it and to Casemate Publishers for providing it. Thank you Bill & Phil for all you do for the Reviewers!
This is the second of a 2-volume set covering, as the title suggests, the day-fighter aces of the Luftwaffe. Picking up where the first volume ends, this book covers the time period from the peak of Germany's victories through to its defeat in 1945. Casemate's typical high production values are present, including stiff glossy outer covers and glossy pages on heavy stock within.
The book is organized by campaigns and theaters of war, going chronologically through each area. There is a good mixture of individual aces' stories interspersed among the historical narrative. Almost every page has good-sized, clear photos. There are plenty of color profiles of the aces' aircraft as well. In addition to the general text, there are few "In profile" pages that discuss an ace (or specific squadron) in detail. A brief glossary of terms and an index of all the aces mentioned concludes the 128 pages of the book.
Easy to read, clear photos and nicely done profiles make this a good book to have on hand (if the subject is of interest). Many lesser known (or unknown) aces are mentioned, and that is information you might now be able to find elsewhere.
Thanks to Casemate for the review copy, and to IPMS for allowing me to review it!
In Part One, I alluded to some issues I had with the windows in the kit so I'll start with that. The portholes had acetate to represent the glass, which turned out to be larger than the flat spots they were intended to nestle into, so most had to be trimmed down. The same needed to be done for the ones that were in the deck.
Although the deck is meant to be screwed down, I elected to glue it as well, and discovered a section on each side of the deck that had flash which I hadn't caught, and I paid for that by having to remove a glued-up deck just for that purpose, but in the end it turned out OK. Word to the wise: make sure that's cleaned up before putting the deck on.
Most holes for items which attach to the deck needed to be opened up by the builder. I didn't particularly like having to drill my own and inadvertently missed a bunch, but with careful measuring---and a bright light---I could see thin spots where to locate and drill the holes. The photoetch was thicker than most kits' I've dealt with previously, but this is a larger scale so it makes sense. Those items worked well.
Many parts needed to be sanded and trued where their 2 halves joined together, and there seemed to be a lot of "round things" on this boat that needed sanding. The forward torpedo tubes on the bow required clamping, and then the torpedo tubes didn't sit squarely on the deck so I needed to clamp them there too. Also, the torpedoes wouldn't fit into them, so I had to carefully go inside the tubes with the file and sandpaper and sand from the inside so I could insert the torpedoes into them.
I like the kit's camouflaging, which made it look unique. I sprayed Future where the decals were to be located, but when I tried to flat coat them with a matte acrylic spray, they got a milky white look. To rectify this, I lightly sanded over them to touch them up, re-glossed them, and then re-flattened them with lacquer-based flattener this time (Dullcoat). Attaching the rigging to the yardarms on the mast, both sides ended up breaking. For purposes of getting the review completed, I decided to repair them, so cut sticks to hold them up in their glued position. It worked OK, but later I'll probably remove those and put a metal beam across the mast.
The kit comes with seven very-nicely molded figures. I have never done a figure, so I'm sure I did not do them justice, but they look neat on the boat. This build took a little longer and a little more effort than I anticipated, but I liked it enough to get Italeri's Elko 80 foot torpedo boat to build as a companion piece.
Like all my ships and submarines, I weight them, and they all get test floated. This is just a childhood habit that I've done since I first started building models in the first grade.
I used mostly Tamiya paints with a few Gunze Sanygo colors which I had on hand. I would think anybody that has done a model or two should be able to handle this one. Most of the problems I had, I believe, were self-induced.
Many thanks to Italeri, MRC Academy and IPMS for the opportunity to review this kit.
Camera On 17 Sd. Kfz. 7 Mittlerer Zugkraftwagen 8T Vol. 2, is number 17 in the "Camera On" series published by MMPBooks/Stratus and is a follow up to volume 1. The author, Alan Ranger, has written several books in this series with subjects such as "German Horse Power", "The Einheits-Diesel WW2 German Trucks to "No 22 Krupp Proze Lorry".
This A4 format paperback has 80 pages with 140 plus photographs from the author's personal collection. Most are previously unseen and taken by ordinary German soldiers. The book is comprised of an introduction, a short history of the Sd. Kfz.7 on two pages and the remainder of the book covering a few of the various sub-types. The author provides in his abridged history of the Sd. Kfz.7 several facts including the number of units produced, at what plants, and an excellent table with the different production variants. The images are clear, with a few a little grainy given the age, and as the author describes are no more than 25mm by 45mm in size. The author has included captions with each image giving the reader a detailed and, in some cases, rather lengthy description of what they are viewing.
The book is divided into five sections with a couple sections only being one page.
- Sd. Kfz. 7 HLm11
- Sd. Kfz.7 with 2cm Flakvierling 36
- Sd. Kfz.7 with 3.7cm Flak 36
- Mittlerer Zugkraftwagen 8t (Sd. Kfz.7) mit gepanzertem Aufbau
- Mittlerer Zugkraftwagen 8t (Sd. Kfz.7) mit Holzpritsche
Sd. Kfz. 7 HLm11
The first section, "Sd. Kfz. 7 HLm11" is the largest covering pages 5-64. Numerous photos depict the Sd.Kfz towing anti-aircraft guns, in environments such as stalled in mud, deep fording water, and even images of burnt-out units. Most images show the German soldier in or around the vehicle.
Turning to page 15 we see a photograph of a group of soldiers casually standing near the Sd. Kfz.7 towing a s.K 18 105 howitzer. The author draws the reader's attention to the two-tone paint scheme of the canvas top. Something this reader didn't notice until reading the image caption.
Page 25 draws our attention to a winter scene in the top picture with the Sd. Kfz 7 having its wet weather covering. Notice the canvas top, the window panels, and door coverings. Another great idea for the modeler.
As we read further in this chapter the author has included an image on page 28 depicting a group of soldiers training to be drivers in a Sd. Kfz.7. Also, note the author brings our attention to the folded down windshield with a canvas covering.
Sd. Kfz.7 with 2cm Flakvierling 36
Moving onto the next chapter "Sd. Kfz.7 with 2cm Flakvierling 36" starting with page 65 showing a Sd. Kfz.7/1 anti-aircraft half-track with only two Flak 38 20mm cannons fitted to a Flakvierling 38 body. The author has included several images in this chapter of the Sd. Kfz.7 7/1 flatbed variant 20mm Quad some with ammunition trailers.
Sd. Kfz.7 with 3.7cm Flak 36
Moving on to page 77 the next section, "Sd. Kfz.7 with 3.7cm Flak 36", being one page in length are two images of the Sd. Kfz.7/2 variant armed with a single 37mm Flak 36 anti-aircraft gun.
The last two sections covering three pages deal with little known versions of the Sd.Kfz.7.
- Mittlerer Zugkraftwagen 8t (Sd.Kfz.7) mit gepanzertem Aufbau
(With Armoured Structure) - Google Translate
- Mittlerer Zugkraftwagen 8t (Sd.Kfz.7) mit Holzpritsche
(With Wooden Platform) - Google Translate
If the author's goal in writing this book was to show the average German soldier in wartime settings, and to show images of the Sd. Kfz.7 vehicle, then I believe his goal was met. The author includes a caption with each image providing information, some with minute details often unseen by the untrained eye.
This undoubtedly is a great resource for the historical buff as well as an excellent reference for the modeler, beginner or skilled. The author presents a plethora of inspiring ideas through images many unseen before.
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.
The Weathering Magazine is one of three magazine series published by the AMMO/ Mig Jimenez Company. This division of Mig Jimenez's modeling products empire also publishes two other magazines are: Weathering Magazine: Aircraft and Special Editions. Special Editions are primarily focused on one, specific subject. The Weathering Magazine: Abandoned. Is the thirtieth edition in this series and encompasses six, specific How-To articles on a variety of subjects.
Those subjects are :
- Beast in the River: an abandoned T-55 in a river
- Radioactive Rust: an abandoned firetruck at Chernobyl
- Highway of Death: an abandoned Iragi T-54
- Derelict: an abandoned aircraft on a gunnery range
- MSN-04 Sazabi: an abandoned Gundam
- Chieftain: A Sweet Retirement: an outdoor armor museum Chieftain
This issue of The Weathering Magazine also has a lovely tribute to Elizabeth Weise, dear friend, muse, and co-founder of AMMO and founder of the AMMO for Life project. Additionally there is a photo essay of the 2nd Spanish Marine Infantry Corp Model Contest.
Ammo for Life:
Each article is written and the subject modeled by premier scale modelers. The subjects, as you can see from the list, are diverse and there is plenty here for any scale modeler. And when I say How-To articles I mean just that. Each installment in this issue of The Modeling Magazine: Abandoned has blow by blow accounts that illustrate each authors process in achieving their visions. This step-by step approach also highlights the proper use of the myriad of finishing products available in the market place. The reader is presented with a wealth of information with concrete examples of how best to use chipping fluids, filters, oil weathering, and modeling pigments, to name a few.
Those visions are often spurred on from a photograph or online image experienced by each individual author/modeler. The beginning of each project is thoughtfully included as part of the articles. That genesis for each project is most welcome. It is always nice to know where the idea for a diorama or modeling project began and the progress from idea to fruition.
All of these articles are beautifully illustrated with multiple images that document not only the construction of each model but the layers of weathering that go into achieving the desired effect for each project. Several of the articles involve dioramas and the authors provided all the detailed steps they undertook to create the proper setting for their 'abandoned' vehicle.
As you go through this edition of The Weathering Magazine, I'm sure you will find any number of tips and tricks to use on your next project. Or rethink how you might display a modeling project. Case in point is the 'Derelict' article. This article outlines the use of an aircraft model as an electronic target on a gunnery range. Possibly a great way to rethink how to display a shelf queen that might otherwise be missing a critical part(s).
This issue of The Weathering Magazine: Abandoned is an excellent read. The number (six) of articles highlight the plethora of finishing products available to the modern scale modeler. Which should be of immeasurable use for those that may be unfamiliar with them.
This magazine should also be useful to those that have already been experimenting with them in order to move your skill set to another level. While all of these step-by-step articles are built and written by superb modelers there is no reason why anyone (myself included) couldn't copy their techniques to achieve similar results. This issue of The Weathering Magazine contains modeling and finishing techniques that you will be referencing again and again.
My thanks to AMMO/Mig and IPMS/USA for the review copy.
Support Your Local Hobby Shop.
This book is part of a series of excellent Osprey Publications dealing with the history of World War II in the air. This volume deals with the conflicts between the Japanese Army, who were attempting to dominate New Guinea early in World War II, and the United States Army, who were attempting to remove the Japanese and send them back where they belonged. Several JAAF units were involved, using primarily the Nakajima Ki-43-II "Oscar" fighter, opposed by the U.S. 5th Air Force P-47D units. This story has not been told before.
The book deals with the campaigns in New Guinea, and explains the development of fighter aircraft of both services. The Japanese developed lightly armed and low powered fighters which excelled in maneuverability and rate of climb. This had been the emphasis of Japanese designers for many years, and this tradition was carried out in the Nakajima Ki-43. Lightly armed and with no armor protection, the Ki-43's performed well against older enemy fighters, but they could not compare to the heavier, higher powered American fighters, especially the Republic P-47D "Thunderbolt". The Japanese Ki-27 "Nate" fighters did very well in China, but their descendants, the Ki-43's, were at a disadvantage against more modern fighters.
The Japanese occupied New Guinea in late 1942 and established air bases along the North Coast from which to operate against American positions on the Eastern side of the island. However, some of the major Japanese efforts were against Rabaul and Guadalcanal, and the efforts in New Guinea were fairly low key. Originally equipped with Curtiss P-40's, in mid 1942, Republic P-47D's arrived in Australia, and these were moved up to oppose the Japanese attempts to complete the occupation of New Guinea. Later in the year, combats between the Japanese Ki-43's and American P-47D's became more common, and Japanese losses became a serious problem. One factor in the American effectiveness was their basic formation strategy. American flew in groups of four fighters, with leader and wing man operating as a paired unit, while the Japanese operated in formations of three aircraft, a tactic that had long gone out of style in Europe. The Japanese suffered serious losses, and replaced units with new ones, sometimes made up of pilots fresh out of flight school. Besides air-to-air combat, much of the American action consisted of strafing attacks against airfields and military installations, and eventually, the Japanese base at Wewak was attacked heavily by P-47's, causing the Japanese to retreat. The term "Wewak" eventually became synonymous with utter devastation.
The book gives a fascinating account of the events that resulted in the American dominance of the area. The design and development of the P-47 is described in detail, and this is compared with the origins of the Ki-43. Each aircraft featured a totally different design philosophy, with the P-47 featuring very high power, heavy armament, and an extremely strong structure. The Japanese Ki-43 was light and maneuverable, but its two 12.7 mm machine guns could not compare with the eight .50 caliber machine guns on the P-47D. Of course, the fact that the P-47D was about 100 mph. faster than the Ki-43 was another factor. Japanese pilots were at a distinct disadvantage.
The book begins with a chronology of the events. Following this is a description of the technological development of both aircraft, and a discussion of the technical specifications of each aircraft. The author then describes the strategic situation in the New Guinea campaign, and the number and quality of the units committed to combat. Several maps are provided for the reader to visualize the geographical factors involved.
Later, the author explains the statistical analysis of the campaign, explaining why the Ki-43's were destroyed in such numbers, one factor being that many of them were strafed on the ground. Pilots on both sides tended to over count their victories, but the fact that the Japanese employed mainly fighters, while the Americans also operated heavy bombers and other fighter types tended to make the totals a little confusing. Many accounts incorrectly identified aircraft types, and claims were often totally inaccurate. So exact numbers and specifics are sometimes hard to obtain, and much description of the action is speculative.
Although dealing with a lot of inaccurate information, the author still manages to answer the questions "what happened?" and "Why did it happen?" The reader of this book should come away with a good understanding of the campaign, and why the P-47D was so important to American success. Don't miss out on this one. Highly recommended.
Thanks to Osprey Publications for the review copy.
This book is part of an excellent series on the course of World War II in the air, and although it is a little more inclusive than the title implies, it covers the action between the 3rd Kokutai and the Tainan Kokutai, Japanese Navy units equipped with Mitsubishi A6M-2 Zero Sens, Mitsubishi G4M-2's, and Nakajima C5M2 reconnaissance types and based in the former Netherlands East Indies, and the U.S. Army 49th Pursuit Group, (Later 49th Fighter Group), armed primarily with Curtiss P-40E "Warhawk" fighters, and base in Northern Australia around Darwin. The Japanese were attempting to destroy Allied installations in Northern Australia, while the Americans were attempting to defend them. In general, the Japanese were probably better trained and more experienced than the Americans, but given the conditions of combat, the outcomes were fairly even. Although a few Japanese attacks were carried out with carrier based aircraft, most of their raids were from land bases north of Australia, well out of range of American aircraft.
The book begins with a chronology of events, beginning in 1941, and ending in late 1942. Each major raid or mission is described. Following is a chapter dealing with the design and development of the Curtiss P-40E and the Mitsubishi A6M-2, explaining the factors that affected the design of these aircraft.
The book includes a large selection of black and white photos of the aircraft and people involved, color drawings, maps and other visuals which serve to explain the sequence of events. The technical specifications of each aircraft are presented in detail, and one chapter thoroughly explains the strategic situation that faced the combatants.
One area I thought was especially good was the section on individual combat using each aircraft, and the comparison between the low powered and lightly loaded and constructed Japanese fighter and the heavier and better protected American P-40. American pilots developed tactics which usually overcame the superior maneuverability of the Japanese planes, and individual American commanders were allowed to engage the enemy using whatever tactics they thought would be most successful.
There is quite a bit of information included in the book that would be useful to model builders, including photos and line drawings of the aircraft used by either side.
One particularly useful part of this book is the discussion of the personal lives and qualities of some of the outstanding pilots of both sides, outlining their strengths and weaknesses, and describing their subsequent careers. Many survived, but quite a few did not.
Conclusions and Recommendations:
The author includes an excellent section on the statistical analysis of the various engagements between the two forces, discussing the differences between the claimed victories of either side and the actual records, when these are available. Both sides tended to over-claim, but they usually admitted their own losses. The Americans used mainly the P-40E, and nearly all losses were of that type, whereas the Japanese lost not only Mitsubishi A6M's, but also Betty bombers and C5M reconnaissance types, and this makes the totals a little confusing at times.
All in all, this is an excellent little book, useful as a historical reference and also as a source of information for modelers. It is certainly worth getting a copy if you have an interest in this part of our history. Highly recommended.
Thanks to Osprey Publishing for the review copy.
The story put forward by author Annette Carson, took place over 100 year ago. It is the story of a young man named D'Urban.V. Armstrong. DVA, as he is called throughout the book, was one of many airmen who served during the Great War. Unlike many of the pilots who became famous for their exploits during World War I, DVA survived the conflict, (spoiler alert!!!) only to meet his end two days after the Cease-Fire while flying an aircraft (Sopwith Camel) which he had gained fame having mastered. Ms. Carson writes about the reputation of the Camel being less than positive, and how DVA learned how to control the aircraft, and then instructed others how to control the Camel, significantly reducing accidents during training, (350 men died in Camel-related air accidents during training) and leading to the Camel having a very positive reputation among today's historians.
Ms. Carson has a well-established record of interest not only in famous pilots, but also in aerobatics. A review of an Annette Carson publication by Gordon Penner states, "Annette Carson is becoming quite the historian concerning the history and development of aerobatics. Three of her nine books are on aerobatics."
The path that led me to this excellent publication began with the receipt of a calendar for 2021. I received the 2021 calendar from "Cross and Cockade International", and it was an item that I was requested to review for "IPMS/USA". That calendar can be viewed and purchased by visiting the C&CI website at https://www.crossandcockade.com/store/Product.asp?cat=3&id=882
The review of the calendar can be viewed on the IPMS/USA website at https://web.ipmsusa3.org/content/cross-cockade-2021-calendar
And just a word about C&CI taken from their website; "Proceeds go towards ongoing maintenance of the British Air Services Memorial at St Omer, which was erected by the society in 2004 to commemorate the 8,000 airmen who gave their lives in France and Flanders during WW1." The review of the calendar was very positive, so if you are in need of a 2021 calendar then it is recommended that you purchase the calendar from C&CI, thus helping to maintain the British Air Services Memorial at St. Omer.
During my review of the calendar I was extremely impressed by the excellent aviation artwork and was featured on each "month page" of the calendar. I was particularly impressed with the artwork on the February page (a jpg of that page accompanies this review). The artwork features a Sopwith Camel flown by DVA, conducting aerobatics at a very low level. During the course of working on the calendar review, I had an email conversation with the artist, Lynn Williams, and it was Mr. Williams that led me to Annette Carson's excellent book.
Table of Contents
Ch 1: South Africa: Family, Home & Military Service 1
Ch 2: Royal Flying Corps: Early Days 22
Ch 3: 60 Squadron, The Battle of the Somme 43
Ch 4: Part 1: Bloody April 76
Part 2: Ferrying & Flight Testing 83
Ch 5: Home Defence, Forming Up With 39 Squadron 97
Ch 6: 44 Squadron: Armstrong Meets Camel! 106
Ch 7: 78 Squadron: By Day and By Night 137
Ch 8: 151 Squadron & 3rd AIC: Master of the Night Flying 163
Ch 9: In Retrospect 197
Appendix I: Crash Analysis 210
Appendix II: DFC Citation 216
Appendix III: Posthumous Tributes 218
Ms. Carson sets the stage with chapters 1 and 2. As with all of the chapters in the book, Ms. Carson relies on documentation and historical records, where available, to describe DVA's upbringing and early years. In fact, Carson's research techniques and "time spent" ascertaining "fact" from "fiction" is one of the most significant factors contributing to the excellent and reliable quality of the information in the book.
My thanks to Casemate Publishers for the chance to review this great book.
The Jadgpanther was a Heer (German Army) tank destroyer based on the Panzer Mark V Panther tank chassis. They had an 8.8cm anti-tank gun installed in a fixed superstructure that replaced the Panther's turret and 7.5cm gun. This Meng Model's Jadgpanther is the last production run made from November 1944 to May 1945.
Meng packages this kit in a large, sturdy box with very nice box art and an AK-Interactive paint chart of the required colors to finish this kit. Inside this box are 10 tan colored sprues of plastic, one clear plastic sprue, one photo-etched sheet, one metal side skirt sheet, a sprue of poly caps, a small decal sheet, metal tow cable and a small length of chain for the boom. A bonus for this first edition run is a metal barrel. The instructions are a 26-page booklet with all color printing. There are 38 building steps. I like how Meng has the parts you need to add in each step a tan color and the unfinished kit in a grey. This makes it easier not to miss parts. The history of the vehicle in on three aged tan card stock sheets that are three holed punched on top, like they go on a hanging clipboard. There are over 1000 parts with about 650 being the tracks. You have to decide what version (A, B or C) you are building before you start since there are different steps for some. Three full color painting schemes are at the end of the booklet.
Construction starts on the road wheels and lower hull, like most other armor kits. I did go ahead and drill the 20 holes in many different hull parts. I just looked ahead in the instructions and drilled them all while I had my pin vise out. The road wheels have poly caps in them, so they can be removed easily. The lower hull is built from flat pieces, but has internal supports, so everything lines up well. I did have a very small gap under the front plate, but a little pressure helped seal that. There are details on the bottom of the hull too. The suspension arms have some play in them, and I left them unglued. This helped line the wheels up later and them I glued in place.
The upper hull is a sub-frame that the armor plates and engine deck glues to. This has guide pins that line up with holes in the lower hull that almost snap in place. But this caused gap problems with the rear plate and the upper hull. Also, the front joint between upper and lower hull had a small gap. I used lots of glue to soften the plastic and pressed parts together hard to fill these gaps. This was a big sloppy and I wish these parts fit better.
The next construction step is the tracks. Be prepared to spend about 10 hours on these. Each track link has three sprue attachment points that need to be cleaned. The problem is that the sprue gates are the concaved parts of the tracks. I had to uses a knife to carve away the cut nubs, then use a rounded metal file to get it all out of these concaved areas or the tracks will not fit together. Then there is flash on the other side of the track links that need to be removed or the links will not join properly. I used a small square metal file for that. There are two hollow guide horns that need to be glued to each link. The sprue gates are on the bottom of these horns, but still need to be filed down or they will not fit correctly on the links. You have to do 87 links per side - 174 total, plus 12 more for the extra tracks on the side storage area. That is 372 guide horns that need to be added. There are also extra cleats that can be added to every other track link. After I spent a week and about 12 hours doing about 120 track links, I decided to take a shortcut. Since I was using the side skirts, I skipped making the upper run of links. I made the links just long enough to wrap around the sprocket and rear idler. Building the tracks was very tedious and it almost killed my motivation to work on this kit. Luckily, I went on a weeklong vacation to the beach after finishing the tracks. Meng does offer a working track and running gear option you can buy. This might be a better option then the kit supplied tracks.
The rest of the build went well. The front plate needs a lot of pressure to get it to fit in place correctly. This plate needs to line up perfectly or the side armor will not fit well. The exhaust system and engine deck builds nicely. The instructions do have the round photo-etched screens marked incorrectly. Screen 27 is the smaller one and needs to go where 26 is shown going. Screen 26 then goes where 27 is supposed. There is a lot of photo-etched parts on the rear deck and side skirt brackets. I like how Meng has clear tape on both sides of the photo-etched sheet. I could cut pieces off and not sorry about them flying off into the unknown. There are some long, half-rounded plastic left over from the push pin molding process. These will interfere with the interior construction, so they need to be removed.
There is just a little interior detail. The gun breach is included and inside of hatches are detailed. The two top hatches and rear superstructure hatch can be opened and closed. I included these details so I can add figures later. The antenna mount has just a nub for an antenna, so I cut this off and replaced with wire. The crane was easier to build on the vehicle unlike the instructions would have you built it off. To get the angles of the supports correct, it needs to be on the vehicle. I did not glue in on, so I could remove it of painting. There is a metal chain for the boom and a photo-etched chain for the block and tackle. This photo-etched chain was a pain to get wrapped around both blocks correctly. Then I used burnishing fluid to darken it so paint would stick to it. After a couple application, the chain started falling apart. I replaced it with black sewing thread. The tread was so much easier to work with.
I left the road wheels, tracks and side skirts off for paint. I found it worked best to paint the wheels, lower hull and tracks, then install them. I installed the side skirts next and masked off the lower hull. You can not add the road wheels or tracks after installing the side skirts, since they block the top part of the wheels. I only decals supplied are the crosses, so I added some numbers from my spares. The kit decals are very nice and thin.
Overall, this kit was enjoyable to built, but the tracks really will try your patience. I would like to thank Meng Models and IPMS for the opportunity to build this new kit.
This is a thin book but very large format, and the images are of a very high quality of the various 4 Wheeled German armoured cars of WWII.
The book covers the Kfz.13, Kfz. 14, Sd.Kfz. 221, 222, 223, 247, 260 and 261.
The most widely used 221, 223 and 223 take up most of the book. The photos and descriptions are great and very detailed.
I found this book fascinating and will be using some of the Photos as inspiration for a few kits in my stash. This this a fantastic reference for all armour modelers.
I highly recommend this book.
Thanks to MMP Books and Casemate Publishers for providing this book for review and to IPMS USA for allowing me to review it.
Once again ICM is modeling one of the worst man-made disasters of the 20th century - the catastrophic explosion and meltdown of the Number 4 nuclear reactor at Chernobyl in 1986 - an event that would impact most of the world in one fashion or another. That ICM has the boldness to create such a fascinating look at recent history in model form says a lot about this company's choices of subject. The fact that they are continuing with this series says even more.
In the Chernobyl #1 set, we explored the sealing of the area and the first radiation checks by local authorities. In this set, we confront the conflagration itself, with firefighters taking the first steps to control the resultant fires caused by the explosion of the reactor. This set combines a large fire engine, four new firefighter figures, a bit of debris and a picturesque backdrop that duplicates the cover of the box.
First up is the assembly of the fire truck itself, which went together with few difficulties. Full engine and underbelly detail is included, as well as the rear control piping for the onboard water tank. Unfortunately, none of the equipment lockers or cab doors are designed to open, which is rather a shame as I would have liked to make a somewhat more active diorama that I was provided with. However, the truck itself is a complex enough build, as it comes with all the external equipment found on such a machine. A note here - one of the firefighters is carrying the rescue hook, which is also provided on the fire engine itself. If you want to be strictly accurate to the diorama, you'll want to cut off the brackets and install them separately. I also noted that one of the firefighters on the kit box seemed to have nothing really to do and was holding his arms in an odd manner. Checking up on a hunch, I discovered that the figure is really meant to be unloading the small personnel ladder, as the arms were at exactly the right position for this. So if you want to use this figure in the same manner I did, don't install the smaller ladder on the truck either. In order to paint the cabin first, I chose to leave the roof off initially, although the water cannon mounts to this. With careful assembly, however, you can assemble this and simply slip the cab roof under it when you're done with the interior, as I did.
Painting the fire engine exterior is an involved affair, as it has an interesting two-tone finish plus a black chassis. The kit doesn't provide any masks, so care should be taken at this point as it's easy to screw it up. There were also some discrepancies between the kit cover and the instructions, as the instructions show the wheels with white sidewalls. Inspection of a number of online pictures dissuaded me from adding this feature, as it is apparently rare. I chose to keep weathering to a minimum, as most fire departments maintain their machines in meticulous order. In keeping with the topic of the kit, the markings for the 2nd and 6th Fire Departments from the nearby city of Pripyat are included. These are the departments which initially responded to the emergency.
Moving on to the figures, four firefighters are included - one manning the hose, one adjusting the hose pressure, one carrying the rescue hook and the last one removing a ladder from the fire engine. All are well molded with excellent equipment and clear face shields - four raised and four lowered, so you have a range of options. Because of the complexity of the firefighting equipment, you might want to do the assembly in stages. For the three figures with oxygen systems, for instance, I found it easier to put these on the figures before installing the heads. I also painted the helmets separately and attached them after the rest of the figures were painted.
The painting instructions were surprisingly poor, and I once again resorted to the internet to see Russian firefighters in all their glory. I noted that there is no mention anywhere of the reflective strips that almost all firefighters worldwide wear on their gear, and which were clearly visible on all the pictures online. These added a little additional interest to the figures. It is also good to note that even with Russian firefighters, there's a fair amount of variation in the protective gear colors. These seemed to be close to what I could find in relation to Chernobyl.
Small bits of rubble are included with the figures, and I am sorry to say that literally every piece came with an annoying pin mark right in the middle of the most awkward location possible. A little filling and sanding fixed these, but really . . . quite annoying. If you're going to go whole hog on a diorama for this, you might supplement these with appropriate chunks of plaster or molded brick.
Lastly, in setting up the scene, ICM supplies a small piece of rubber tubing to attach the firefighter handling the hose spout to the truck. This piece of rubber was far too stiff to permit any drape, so I simply substituted a piece of appropriate solder bent to a natural shape as substitute.
The diorama backdrop is brilliantly printed and does a wonderful job of depicting the hellscape that confronted these brave firefighters. With all the pieces from the kit appropriately arranged, a lovely full scene was the result. Fascinating!
All in all, this is a remarkable kit with excellent quality and value, plus the sheer audacity of the concept itself leaves me somewhat agog. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in this period in history (or who lived through it). You will not be disappointed. My thanks to ICM for continuing the knock my socks off and to IPMS/USA for letting me take another shot at this incredible series. Stay safe, everyone, and happy modeling!
If you are in the market for a single, thorough modelers guide to the venerable Spitfire, this new offering from Model Aircraft Publications LTD would certainly fit the bill. With photos and text of scale model builds of the plane in 1/72, 1/48, 1/32, and 1/24 scale, this book covers 17 variants of one of the most famous fighter planes of WWII. For fans of the Spitfire looking to create their own in plastic, I would consider this a must-have book. While the company currently shows this as a pre-order item with a June 2020 release, I have recently seen it available through an online retailer here in the USA.
The book begins with an eight-page introduction of the plane, and then moves into the 24 builds by various modelers, as compiled by Andy Evans. As mentioned, all four of the most popular modeling scales are covered in this book from the diminutive 1/72 scale to the incredibly large 1/24 scale. Manufacturers including Airfix, Ari, Eduard, Hasegawa, Pacific Coast, Revell, Tamiya, and Trumpeter are all represented. The reviews run from three to six pages in length, with the majority being four pages long.
The Introduction has sections covering the background, design and the Merlin engine, armament, operation, overseas operations, Griffon engine Spitfires, and the Seafire, which tell the story of this famous plane. All of the builds are beautifully done with great photography and a convenient table showing the kit manufacturer as well as the kit number. The variants covered include (as listed in the individual reviews) the FR.IX, FR.XIV, FR.18, Mk.IIa, Mk.Va, Mk.Vb (covered in three reviews), Mk.VII, Mk.VIII, Mk.IX, Mk.IXc (covered in two reviews), Mk.XIc (covered in three reviews), Mk.XIV (covered in three reviews), Mk.XIVc, Mk.XVIe, Mk.22, PR.XIX, and Seafire F.XVII.
The hits of this book for me are the array of variants of the plane, including four different popular scales, and showing the products of eight different manufacturers. As mentioned, the photography is all very good, and the work displayed is top-notch by all of the contributors. My only personal miss for the book would be "more cockpit" (yes, in reference to the Saturday Night Live skit). Seven of the reviews include photos of the cockpit prior to installation in their aircraft, but I would have enjoyed seeing a few more. Again, this is just a personal preference.
Overall, I would highly recommend this book to any modeler looking for an all-inclusive book on building the Spitfire. I would like to thank the folks at MA Productions LTD for providing this book to the IPMS-USA for review, and I appreciate having been afforded the opportunity to write this appraisal. As always, thanks to you the reader for taking the time to read my comments.
This is a new publication from Duke Hawkins Books and is the sixth volume of a series of books that they have recently published highlighting modern jets. This volume focuses on the Eurofighter/Typhoon.
When the book was published, the Eurofighter/Typhoon was operated by 7 countries - England, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, Saudi Arabia and Oman and the volume includes at least one photograph of a jet from each country. There is text scattered throughout the book, however, to be honest, most of it is expanded captions discussing the photographs that it accompanies.
The strength of this book are the stunning photographs in it. I counted 290 images. All the photographs are in full color and are beautifully reproduced. The photographs are from several photographers and include not only excellent air-to-air shots, but also quite a few photos of the aircraft on the ground. While the Eurofighter/Typhoon is almost always painted in grey, there are a few variations on this theme. There are also a lot of photographs showing the markings of individual aircraft and several eye-popping air-to-air shots of anniversary or Tiger Meet schemes.
For modelers, the bulk of the photographs are detail photographs of the aircraft and include not only the standard ones of the cockpit and landing gear, but also shots of things like the area under the canopy with once the canopy has been removed, the underside of the canopy and the inside of the engine bays when the engines have been removed. There are also several photos of the aircraft undergoing maintenance with panels removed showcasing the internal workings of the jet for those of you who cannot resist a bit of super detailing. There are also a couple of pages of a RAF Typhoon fresh out of maintenance, but before it was repainted, showcasing some of the different materials used in construction of the aircraft.
My only gripe with the book is that I would have liked a few more photographs illustrating the weapons carried by the Eurofighter/Typhoon as it has now been in service for around 20 years and has participated in a number of combat actions in recent years.
This is an outstanding book and a must for anyone itching to detail up a Eurofighter/Typhoon - highly recommended.
Thank you to HMH Publications for this excellent book and to Casemate Publishing for providing the review sample.
This book covers the complete history of the 3rd SS Panzer Regiment - part of the Totenkopt Division. The subject is approached from the men's stories, profiles, battles and weapons used.
The "first person" accounts are the highlight of this book. It is written in such a way that it draws you in and you are there experiencing what they did. I must admit I enjoyed this so much and learnt a lot about the feeling, day to day routines as well as the battles. The soldier's profiles are another great way to help you understand who these people were.
The regiment was formed in late 1942 in France but was transferred to the Eastern front and was involved in many major campaigns and battles in this part of the war. The chapters are broken down well and each covers major events and periods in the regiment's history.
The illustrations, photos and documents are impressive and significantly added to understanding the whole period in history for these men.
I cannot recommend this book enough. It is a treasure trove of information and photos for everyone with an interest in WWII. I must again say that the "first person" accounts really do make this book such a incredible read!
Thanks to Casemate Publishing for providing this book to review and IPMS USA for allowing me to review it.
Peter E. Davies has published 37 aviation books, over 20 of them for Osprey. He has also contributed to magazines such as Aeroplane Monthly, Aviation News and Aircraft Illustrated. He concentrates mainly upon combat aircraft of the Cold War and Vietnam War. Jim Laurier is a native of New England and lives in New Hampshire. He attended Paier School of Art in Hamden, Connecticut, from 1974-78, and since graduating with Honours, he has been working professionally in the field of Fine Art and Illustration. He has been commissioned to paint for the US Air Force and has aviation paintings on permanent display at the Pentagon. He lives in the US.
Illustrator Jim Laurier, a native of New England, provides the color profiles. Jim has been drawing since he could hold a pencil and throughout his life he has worked in many mediums creating artwork on a variety of subjects. He has worked on the Osprey Aviation list since 2000, and has been featured in hundreds of aviation books. Jim prefers working in oils on canvas and has specialized in Vietnam War era aircraft. He currently lives in New Hampshire. You can find his art work at http://www.aviationarthangar.com/jimlaurier.html . Check him out!
Osprey's 132nd book in the Combat Aircraft series is a square back soft cover including 96 gloss paper pages. The front cover features a color painting by Gareth Hector of a Green Mountain Boys F-102A (37th FIS, F-102A-35, 54-1400) on a practice intercept mission out of Ethan Allen AFB. I counted 28 color photographs and 194 black and white pictures. Jim Laurier contributes the 30 color side profiles in the Color Plate section.
Peter E. Davies opens up with the development of the delta wing concept, starting in Germany with the Lippisch DM-1 glider. Dr. Alexander Lippisch was captured and became part of Operation Paperclip, and eventually became a consultant with CONVAIR. An outcome of this was CONVAIR winning a USAF interceptor contract in 1946 that eventually led to the XP-92A. This ended up being an experimental demonstrator for the delta wing concept, but generated enough interest to lead to the F-102. Peter E. Davies covers in detail all the bugs that had to be solved for this 'interim' interceptor, including the revelation of 'area ruling'. Although originally perceived as a stepping stone to the ultimate interceptor, that would eventually lead to the F-106 Delta Dart, there were 1,000 F-102s built as compared to the 342 Delta Darts.
Peter E. Davis follows up with the F-102's service career. The Deuce entered service with ADC (Air Defense Command), replacing F-86Ds, F-94Cs, and F-89s. Interdiction of Bears, Badgers and Coots was the primary order of business as the Deuces played tag. Six squadrons also were deployed to Europe, with the USAFE. It did see service in Vietnam, ostensibly to intercept Il-28 Beagles, but they also served as bomber top cover and even dabbled into ground attack. The contents include:
Chapter One - A New Shape
Delta Data [Page 09]
Chapter Two - Daggers Drawn
Interim Interceptor [Page 22]
T For Two
Chapter Three - Sharpening the Dagger
Colour Plates [Page 36]
Chapter Four - Caging the 'Bear' [Page 55]
Gin and Giuk
Chapter Five - On Guard With PACAF [Page 71]
Chapter Six - On Guard at Home and Away
Supersonic Night Interception
Chapter Seven - Latter Days
The Hunter Hunted
Colour Plates Commentary
One of the sections I really enjoyed was with the Texas ANG (Air National Guard). Based close to Convair's Fort Worth plant where B-58 Hustlers were manufactured provided some exciting training opportunities. Intercepting Hustlers was good training for both the B-58 crews as well as the F-102 pilots. The Hustler crews learned quickly how to defeat the Deuce's missile locks. A first person account from Lt. Col. Trojcak revealed the solution was to go to manual control to get a good lock. Of course, all the B-58 had to do was light its afterburners and the F-102 could not keep up.
Peter E. Davies provides a very readable text with plenty of photographs. The color side profiles from Jim Laurier are aptly described in the Appendix. I was able to read the book easily over two evenings. I really enjoyed the operational accounts and the inclusion of first person perspectives that Peter included. If you own one the previous releases in the Combat Aircraft series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.
My thanks to Osprey Publishing and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.
In 2019 ICM introduced their newly tooled A-26/B-26 collection. The B-26B-50 kit and the A-26B-15 kit have now been joined by the A-26C-15 released in 2020. The A26B-15 Invader, kit # 48282, and the B-26B-50 Invader, kit # 48281, are available, but my "A-26/B-26" experience is limited only to the A-26C-15, and at every turn, this kit was extremely impressive.
Packaging: The box is a very sturdy cardboard box. The box "lid" flips up when a tab is freed from a holding slot. The parts within are safe and secure in a large baggie. The clear parts are contained in a separate baggie which prevents any contact with other parts runners, keeping the "glass" in pristine condition, and there is a lot of glass because the A-26C-15 is the "glass-nose" variant. The box art is an exceptional example of aviation art and particularly useful during the construction phases of the project as well.
The decals: The decals are of high quality. Color registration is excellent, the printing is so clearly done that one can read the text on the decals that display verbiage. The decals are "thin" and sturdy. I know they are sturdy because I managed to mangle and tangle one of the stencil decals that are placed on the prop blades. I had to "unroll" it after I failed to apply it properly to the prop blade. In the end, after much poking and prodding, I got the decal to lay out nicely and it went on the prop quite easily after I had developed a lighter touch with the tweezers. My fault and not the fault of the decal. A significant feature of the decals is that the backing film does not extend beyond the outside borders of the marking. For example, the "star and bar" insignia for the wings and fuselage did not require any trimming. In fact, I did not trim the exterior lines on any of the decals. I was somewhat apprehensive about the four "wing walk" decals (basically each is a rectangle of clear carrier film outlined with a black rectangle of four lines that form the rectangle. I was considering the wisdom of removing the clear carrier film inside the area surrounded by the black lines but having seen how well the "star and bar" decals behaved during application, I chose to apply the "wing-walk" decals as they are presented on the decal sheet. In the end, the clear film simply disappeared upon gently squeezing them unto the wing surface with an absorbent cloth. The decal sheet does not identify the company that printed the decal sheet, but their work is quite impressive.
The instructions: A downloadable PDF of the kit instruction booklet is available at
( https://www.scalemates.com/kits/icm-48283-douglas-a-26-15-invader--1259719 ) for those who wish to preview the project. The 24-page booklet includes the usual items such as a brief history of the aircraft, technical specifications of the aircraft, and a paint chart that includes color ID numbers for Revell and Tamiya paints. Page 1 also includes the 9 icons that you will see throughout the booklet and their meanings. For example, a question mark within a square translates to "optional", and the image of the business end of a drill bit indicates that a hole must be opened. All 9 icons are easy to interpret. Pages 2, 3, and 4 are illustrations of the parts runners, with each part on the runner identified by its part number. Also, those parts which are not to be used on the A-26C-15 are highlighted in a pink color.
The construction sequence that is presented in the instruction booklet is important. There are some bits of advice that I can share regarding that sequencing. First- make a list of parts that should/could be painted prior to their removal from the parts runners. You will find that construction progresses more rapidly, and more enjoyably, if you have painted the interior parts, engine parts, and landing gear parts prior to assembly. In many cases you will find that when the parts are removed from the runners and assembled, that the gates (the connection point between the part and the runner) are easily removed, and in many cases, will not be visible when joining parts during assembly. Secondly- decide if you wish to display the finished project in gear up/down, bomb-bay open/closed, canopy w/ hatch opened/closed. Two canopies are provided in this kit. One is in the standard configuration with no hatch opened, making the canopy a single part. The second canopy has the "hatch" piece as a separate part so the hatch can be glued in the open position. Either way, the cockpit is easily visible. As for the bomb-bay, I modeled my project with the bomb-bay doors opened and the landing gear extended. There is no way to view the bomb-bay unless one picks up the model, and woe be onto the judge/guest that attempts such a foolish action! The bomb-bay is very superbly detailed and is impressive, but the opening simply cannot be "inspected" without handling the finished model. Were I to build another of ICM's A-26/B-26 offerings it would be with the bomb-bay closed.
I cannot be sure about this next point, but in Step 25 on page 9, my notes indicate that the part labeled, H1-6, is, in fact, H1-5. The illustration of Runner # H1 on page 4 identifies that part as H1-5. Supporting that notion, there is no step on the instructions that refer to part H1-5. Frankly, it is of little importance. The illustrations of part H1-5 and H1-6 within the assembly "steps" are very clear and accurately "picture" the correct parts. Lastly, while no painting masks are provided, ICM does provide, on page 22, masking templates. It does not take much time or effort to use those templates to "manufacture" your own masking materials.
Assembly: In my view, during the assembly of the kit, the excellent design and engineering of the parts, and the thought and planning that went into the manufacture of this kit will become evident. My experience with ICM kits is sparse, and those that I have built are rather old kits, but I found that the A-26 puts this kit among the "Elite", when considering which manufacturers produce superior products. For example, one of the images that accompanies this review shows the unpainted fuselage with the main wings in place. It should be noted that the wings are not glued to the fuselage in the photo but are merely dry fitted. In fact, the fit was so precise that no putty was used to fill the usual seams along the wing roots, because there were no seams to fill! You will notice other areas have some putty applied and that is due mostly to my being a bit heavy-handed during assembly.
On pages 6 and 7 of the instruction booklet, the steps direct the modeler to attach various internal parts to the fuselage halves. In Step 13, four bulkheads (parts B6, B9, B3, and the subassembly glued together in Step 8) are attached to the left fuselage half. This is an example of superior engineering. Not only do these bulkheads provide strength and alignment assistance when the fuselage halves are assembled, but B3 and B5 provide support arms which extend about 2 inches outward, on either side of the fuselage halves, upon which the wings are "slid" into position. There are no concerns about achieving the proper dihedral of the wings, and no worries about having to fill seams along wing roots.
Throughout the assembly phase I found that the locating pins/holes that ICM molded into the kit were such that when dry-fitting the parts, I could "feel" the connection of the parts take place as the pins and holes aligned. This engineering also appeared when attaching the gear doors and bomb-bay doors to the nacelles and fuselage. It was possible to "feel" when the correct position for the part had been achieved. Another example of the quality of the engineering and molding can be seen by dry fitting some "glass" pieces in place. The canopy for the cockpit and the canopy for the turret gunner's position fit so well that the parts could be dry-fitted, and the model flipped upside down, and the "glass" remained in place.
There are a few recommendations that I present for consideration. It is not necessary to attach the machine gun barrels into position until after the model has been assembled and painted. The barrels can be clipped off the arm to which they are molded, and then inserted into the holes in the turrets after assembly, painting, and decaling. The chance of breaking off a barrel is diminished. Another recommendation involves the cylinder blocks of the engines. The engines look great when assembled but only the front of the forward set of cylinders is visible after assembly. Do not spend time worrying about the small seam that appears along the joint line when assembling the cylinder blocks. It is not visible when the model is finished. Of course, one could open some of the paneling on the cowl to display their handiwork if one wished. It would be advisable to drill some rather tiny holes on the tail to make it easier to attach the antenna rigging when that time comes. Those two holes could be drilled at any point after the fuselage halves have been joined. A point about the landing gear; the landing gear plus tires are not attached to the nacelles until Step 81, and that is after the nacelle halves have been assembled and glued to the wings. In other words, you must carefully insert the assembled gear into the wheel wells, find the four locating holes into which the locating pins should fit and then apply glue. Were I to build a second A-26 I would assemble the landing struts, leaving the tires off, and dry-fit the gear struts into the nacelles prior to gluing the nacelle halves together. I would then test fit that sub assembly onto the wing and if the nacelle and wing fit properly, I would glue the gear struts in place in Step 55 and not wait to Step 81. The danger, of course, is that the gear struts might be damaged in the intervening steps. As I saw it, the most difficult assembly task was to get those assembled gear sub-assemblies to fit into the assembled nacelles in Step 81. But then that was "just me" and your experience may be vastly different. And another comment about the nacelles. The instructions indicate that in order for the finished model to rest on its gear rather than drag it's tail on the ground, is to add weight into the front portion of the nacelle. The instruction indicate that 100 grams of weight should be added to each nacelle. I used BB's mixed into a "clod" of Silly Putty. And, indeed, when tested, the model sits on its gear. One last comment about assembly, more of a suggestion, would be to determine which of the three variations provided for with parts and decals, you will decide to model prior to beginning the project. There are subtle differences in what parts are used for each of the variations.
I found this kit to be of superior quality as evidenced by the excellent "fit" of the parts, the order of assembly suggested by ICM, the exquisite detail molded into the surface of the instruction panel, the wings, and the fuselage. I chose not to use after-market seat harnesses. The kit does not provide parts or decals of seat harnesses and, for review purposes, I do not add after-market or scratch-built parts. The instructions are clear and well laid out. The decals are superior. Well Done to ICM! Thanks to ICM for providing this review sample to IPMS/USA