IPMS LogoInternational Plastic Modelers' Society / USA

IPMS LogoInternational Plastic Modelers' Society / USA



Subscribe to IPMS/USA Reviews feed
Updated: 10 hours 58 min ago

Miles M-65 Gemini

Sat, 05/23/2020 - 12:21
Product Image Review Author:  Chris Smith Croco Models

Yet another beautiful kit from Leonid Shilin and Konstantin Nikolaychuk aka, Croco models. This is the third kit I've reviewed from these gentlemen and they continue to produce subjects the big companies never will. This time around we get a fantastic replica of the Miles M-65 Gemini, a light twin with some novel design features I'll get into later. The Miles aircraft company started in the early 1930s and consisted of Fredrick George Miles, his wife Maxine and his brother George. Known for some interesting designs of both light civilian and several specialized military aircraft that were used for training and target tugs for gunnery practice. Examples of the later include the familar Martinet, Magister and Messenger. The Gemini included some of the elements Miles had used in other designs including trailing beam landing gear, fixed slats inboard of the engine nacelles and separate flaps that simplified the wing structure while increasing the wing area. Combining these features with the smooth structure constructed primarily of wood resulted in respectable cruise speeds while also allowing excellent short and soft field operations. In total, 170 examples were built and several preserved, flyable examples can be seen on Utube videos. Two of the aircraft marking options in this kit have numerous videos and photos online.

This is a full resin kit. The castings are very clean with very few bubbles. Some parts have alignment pins while other don't. My advice is don't assume everything is going to fit like a mass production kit would. That said, this kit actually fit together better than the other two I've built. The canopy is a vacuform part and a small photo etch fret provides a flap actuator and pitot tube. The instructions are a single page, double sided sheet. Three marking options are provided on the decal sheet and the placement of them is shown on a small marking and color guide printed on photo paper.

Construction is fairly quick but make sure you carefully align everything and expect to need some filler. The most difficult part of this kit was blending the vacuform canopy into the fuselage. The profile of the part didn't quite match the profile of the resin so it was a bit of work to blend it in. There is a basic cockpit consisting of seats, control sticks and instrument panel. Don't cut off the protrusion between the front seats as it's the elevator trim wheel. There are also small protrusions on the cockpit sides that represent the dual throttle controls for both front seats. The nacelles fit the wings very well as did the complex main landing gear legs.

All of the marking options are a single color with markings provided as decals. I chose G-AKKH finished in an overall off- white color that I mixed from Vallejo white and brown. One issue I noticed after I pulled the masking off the canopy was the side windows are not quite aligned. Careful comparison of the two sides during masking will solve the problem. Consistent with the other kits I've built from Croco, the decals went on perfectly and fit the spots they were supposed to be in. The only additions I made were, foil seat belts, fixed slats from plastic card, beacon light on top and a VHF and VOR antenna.

As with my previous experiences with Croco kits, this is another opportunity to add a rare aircraft to your collection. If you love general aviation aircraft like I do, it's especially welcome. However, you will have to put some modeling skills to work here. Blending the vacuform canopy into the fuselage is the biggest challenge. Patience will pay dividends in the form of a truly graceful looking little aircraft. Highly recommended if you don't mind the challenges I've raised. Thank you so much to Croco for the sample of this beautiful kit and to IPMS for sending it my way to build.

Mirage 2000

Sat, 05/23/2020 - 11:41
Product Image Review Author:  Rod Lees Kitty Hawk

IPMS/USA says "thanks kindly" to Glenn and the Kittyhawk team for supporting the IPMS USA reviewer corps with yet one more of their "nobody else did it" releases

So, on to the next Kitty Hawk "new" kit...

This kit is one of Kitty Hawk's better releases. The plastic is strong yet easy to work with, and receptive to standard cements. The parts have a clean appearance on the runners, and when assembled were accurate in dimensions and fit. External tanks that are round and require a minimum of seam cleanup made me happy.

On to the build: this is not going to be a horsey/ducky rundown; everyone has a different view on how to do these things, and I thought this would be better. First: It is my personal opinion KittyHawk did not go overboard on cockpit detail. The ejection seat is passable, and the model is set up for a good appearance straight out of the box. Cockpit detail is adequate, using the panel and decal method for the displays, dials, and switches. Color call outs are generic, and matched to paints currently available. Exterior engraving is there, and seems to match from part to part. Parts fit is mostly good... except for closing panels that are meant to be displaying the cannons, and the landing gear doors. Again, fit is designed to have much "Hanging out". Kittyhawk is improving all around from their first kit, the F-94C. Keep at it long enough and you'll be ahead of just about everyone else!

This kit contained a bonus resin pilot, appearing to originally been product of a 3-d printer master. Detail is astounding, and the facial features and relief are all extremely well done, as is the personal equipment and flight gear. This draws away attention from the detailed (but basic) cockpit and ejection seat. Included is a Photoetch harness, which I used to restrain the pilot figure after installation. I had also modified one of the arms to stay within the cockpit area, as the driver is obviously gesturing to a ground crew member with the right arm.

Early on I determined to build the model gear up, in flight. Many reasons for this, one of which shelf and display space are becoming a premium, and so up went the gear doors. The wells themselves are extremely "well" done (ha ha) but lack the super-detailing in there, just waiting for attention from the AMS crowd. Brake lines, electrical plumbing, and other details are not catered for, but will not be missed by the occasional model builder. The gear doors themselves took a bit of work to install, as they were not intended to be put in the flight position. This required a modicum of putty and sanding work.

The exterior surface parts went together pretty well.... The intakes were pre-painted, and after assembly fit snugly in place. A swipe with a sanding pad brought everything in line. There are two nose radomes in the kit, one with external lightning diffuser strips, and one with nothing on it. I did not use the radar parts, but you can display the kit with it exposed. Four very small and fragile dipoles are included for this on the photoetch fret. I also did not do a good job of fitting the radome in place, and had a small amount of sanding to do.

The kit includes a basic engine; the front has a detailed fan assembly, and the hot end has a basic turbine and flameholder, with generic ducting and a resin augmentor petal nozzle. This is particularly well done, making up for the less detailed plastic engine bits. This fits easily within the fuselage sides, and the previously mentioned cockpit and intake installations all came together without fuss.

The wing assemblies have separate elevon and ailerons, and the fin also has three different tip sections with different Electronic countermeasure protrusion additions. The builder decides which is important based on the operator of the chosen marking scheme on the instructions. The wing was an accurate fit, and the fuselage was now looking like a Mirage. The clear canopy is two piece, and fits well both up and down... rare these days. As the pilot was in and the gear was up, I used the new blue-light cement to install it, and had zero problems with fogging. This had the additional benefit of having the glue cure through the canopy, ensuring a dust-free seal. The wings assembled and fit well... the builder can show off the two wing root cannon, and the closed option of the cannon access door being the order of the day I built up the cannon wells and painted everything, after which I cemented the doors closed.

The landing gear and wheel/tire assemblies, even though I did not use them, were extremely well detailed, and now that I have a second kit and a SAC set, I'll be opting for the down position (and Eduards' new interior and exterior detail sets). I'd also like a resin cockpit and engine hot section, but I don't foresee much call for those.

With our current situation with CCP flu, the internet is the only option for paint in my case, and all the hundreds of little accumulated jars over the years I had no French blue, and many seemed to be out of it. Oh well, time to mix it by eyeball. Using the trusty Vallejo paints, I did so and was pleased how it all came out of my knockoff airbrush.

Time for decals and markings. There are sufficient stencils to take care of one jet; a separate full color section is included inside the instruction leaflet, allowing the builder to salivate over which country's paint scheme will be applied. Several dark blue-gray over light gray French, Taiwan, and Greek versions are catered to, and one desert tan and brown scheme French bird. The fin decals are the master touch, all being generated by Cartograph in rich saturation and fidelity, and I based my Greek decision on that particular fin's version. All the decals behaved well, but I found I "tented" both sides of the lower fin decal after they dried... leaving the decal standing proud but attached at top and bottom to the fin and upper fuselage. Some day they will fracture, but not today. I didn't have time to fix the problem or touch up.

I could not figure out the various armaments which were on this particular Greek jet (probably none with these markings but I decided to use the twin-cannon centerline pod. The instructions and parts seemed to be for different models than the 2000 series fighter; the holes in the struts did not match the pods. I had to use my trusty drill and bits to figure out where to mount the thing, and with no pictures I just guessed on what seemed correct. In the end, it's good and looks different. Various Captive and live missiles are included, and the decal sheet caters to them as well... I'm not an expert on French Missiles, but they look pretty well spot on.

At the end of the day I'll be having a great looking Mirage 2000 on a stick... which should allow easy display. Either that, or I start reverting to 1966 and hanging them off the ceiling. Hmmm.

Thanks again to Glenn at Kitty Hawk for sending IPMS USA this kit to review, and Phil for agreeing for my reporting on it. Like so many other models, being a reviewer means I can decide which kits are worthy of a second effort. This one is such a model... and yes, I have one now in the stash.

Building the Revell 1/32nd Scale Bell AH-1G in a Vietnam Vignette

Sat, 05/23/2020 - 11:10
Product Image Review Author:  Floyd S. Werner Jr. Richard Marmo

This is my first time reviewing a PDF book. The author, Richard Marmo, is a long time IPMS member. His IPMS/USA number is #2 so that means he has been modeling for years. So he may know a thing or two about modeling and being an author.

Richard has taken this 52-year old kit and enhanced it with some Cobra Company (now Lonestar Models) upgrades and placed it into a neat vignette. He describes how to build the model and the entire vignette, including a cover for it. As a former Cobra pilot, I couldn't wait to see what he had to say.

Utilizing the 1967 release of the Revell Bell AH-1G, Richard puts a unique camoflage scheme on the model, but first he tells you how to build it. There are plenty of pictures of how to build it included. There are 47 photos interspersed throughout the 49 page 'book'. Because it is in PDF format you can enhance and blow up the photos to see them on your computer and print them out should you want or need to.

The writing style of 12,000 or so words is very conversational, which makes readability quite easy. Think of the first part of this book as an in depth build review of the kit and aftermarket products. This isn't his first time building this model or even this particular vignette. His experience will prove invaluable to the modeler. While he uses an old kit and some old updates sets, both are still available. Lonestar Models bought out Cobra Company molds and products so they are still available and the model is readily available at most model shows.

Besides building up the model, which is expertly done, he shows you how to display it. OK shameless plug, I wish he had used the Werner's Wings vacuformed canopy. The finished model is quite nice and the unique four tone camoflage pattern found on these early AH-1Gs makes for an attractive scheme.

So after finishing up the model, Richard continues to make it more realistic by explaining how to design the revetment and ground work. This is of particular interest to me, as I don't do it enough to be proficient at it. He explains the techniques for everything including the sandbags, groundwork and grasses.

As if that weren't enough information, he also explains how to design a plexiglass cover to put over top of the model to protect if from young hands and puts a very professional touch to the finished presentation. I've never done this before but after reading the explanation I don't feel intimidated by doing this.Working with acrylic cases is not something many modeler get to deal with by Richard explains how to do it and takes the mystery out of it. This section alone makes it worth the price of admission.

When it is all said and done, the camoflaged Cobra looks perfectly at home in its dust free environment. A real professional looking finished product that would look perfectly at home on an executive's desk.

Let's review, professional built model with great tips on how to build it. Then how to design a vignette. Followed by how to execute it flawlessly and finally how to protect it. All of this for $3.99 and a simple download. You will be hard pressed to find a better bargain. Learning to work the groundwork will prove invaluable as will working with the acrylic cover. You can't go wrong, even if you don't like the model (how can you not love the Cobra) the techniques are universal. An excellent resource that would rank right up there with a Shep Paine book.

Highly recommended

Thanks to Scale Publications and IPMS/USA for the review copy. You can obtain Purchase your copy at http://scalepublications.freeyellow.com or if you are lucky enough to see Richard at a show you can pick up a hard copy of it direct from him.

Mission Models Paint – Color Change

Sat, 05/23/2020 - 00:26
Product Image Review Author:  Pablo Bauleo Mission Models

Several of my modeling friends have been using Mission Model Paints and telling really good things about them. When I had the chance to review some of them I jump on that opportunity.

Before I go into the particular details of these color change colors, I wanted to mention a few things about the Mission Models Paints:

The very first thing you notice is the volume you get in each bottle: 1 fluid oz. That would keep you painting for a while. You might worry about the fact that the paint might go bad before you are out of it, but don't worry. Based on the chemistry of it, it is shelf stable. I don't know if after 5 or 10 years it will still be as good as pristine, but it should last you a long, long time.

Another thing to highlight is that each bottle has a "mixing ball" inside. I'm not sure if it is truly a ball, but you can shake that bottle and the little "rattle" will help you mix the paint thoroughly.

The Mission Models Paint website has an extensive section on "FAQ" and "Tips". I would recommend you read it before you use this paints. As they say there "...we are teaching you new tricks".

This paint seems to be thicker than other paints, yet it sprays wonderfully. The recommended way to prepare it is 10:1:1 parts of Paint, Thinner and optionally a Urethane finish for enhanced strength.

The bottles have a small opening, which works like an "eye dropper" of sorts making very easy to get the correct ratios. Even if you get the "wrong ratio", based on my tests this paint is still very forgiving.

To prepare the paint I simply counted drops into a beaker, mix the paint and additives well and then pour into the airbrush. Set the pressure to about 20 psi and spray away.

Another consideration to have is how little these paints smell. While spraying I had a respirator on (always do that), but once I was done with the spraying, I didn't need to keep my respirator on while cleaning the airbrush as there was no remnant vapor or smell.

Cleaning of the paints is trivial as well. Simply put some water in the airbrush cup and scrub gently. Spray it out and then put a few drops of the thinner in the cup. Spray it out and you are done!

In particular, for this article I have reviewed the following paints

  • Color Change Red (MMP-166)
  • Color Change Purple (MMP-162)
  • Color Change Green (MMP-165)
  • Color Change Blue (MMP-163)

I had to think how to better demonstrate these colors, so I took some parts and sprayed them with an aluminum/silvery color from my personal set of paints (Acrylic based). Once the paint was fully cured, I placed to strips of tape in the center of each wing, as to preserve the original color and each section of the wing was then sprayed with each one of the colors listed above.

In this case I sprayed about 4 inches/10 cm away from the surface. I was doing my best to make sure I had a light, slightly wet coat to have good coverage.

From the pictures you can tell that the finish of the paints is flat (see how much shinny the centers of the wings are). The paints also impart a slight shade of the applicable color in each case. It is hard to see and often you need to have an almost specular reflection relative to the light source to make it stand out.

That actually is quite cool, as it means that first you might think it is a given color and as you look at the model from different angles you get different shades.

I can think of a few applications for these paints

  • Car paint finishes (to get that extra "Ah!" as you look at the model from different angles
  • Exhaust finishes (cars, planes, armor)
  • Metal paint finishes to show some heat distress
  • Figures (think of a wizard cape having different shades)


Truly these paints enable you to push your imagination to the limit and create new finishes and applications.

Highly recommended.

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

Bulgarian Fighter Colours 1919-1948 vol.2

Fri, 05/22/2020 - 23:50
Product Image Review Author:  Pablo Bauleo Mushroom Model Publications

The Bulgarian Air Force might have been modest in size compared with other Air Forces during World War 2, but certainly saw its share of combat. While located near the Eastern Front, it was not involved in combat against Russia, but against the Western Allies, when in late 1944 with the Soviet Army amassing on its borders, Bulgaria switched sides and fought its former allies, the Germans.

During the early part of World War 2, Bulgaria had a "symbolic war" against the Western Allies. After the 1943 Ploesti raid that changed rapidly. Germany provided Bulgaria with more modern airplanes plus allowed the purchase of more obsolete types from other occupied countries. This book is the second of the series and covers, in extensive detail the following airframes

  • Messerschmitt Bf-109G-2 and Bf-190G-6
  • Avia B.135
  • Dewoitine D.520
  • UMe-109G (a local modification to G-6s to be used as trainers, not to be confused with the G-12)

Basically the book covers the 1943-1948 period, given the airframes listed in this volume. It makes some reference to previous sections of the Volume 1, but you can read each section as a standalone book.

The book has chapters for each aircraft type in detail, including an introduction of how the airframe entered service, the historical strategic situation at the time, and it includes combat record (if applicable) for each type. It also finishes each section with a sub-chapter devoted to the camouflage colors, patterns, and gorgeous color profiles (sometime even 3-view) of different aircrafts, next to a historical picture of the airplane.

You can see a full preview of the book -including all the pages- at


The book has several appendixes covering details of the Bulgarian Air Force combat record, including victories, losses, fate of the crew, and even fate of different airframes. 

I've truly enjoyed reading this book. It is a great historical read; it has very good quality black and white pictures and amazing color profiles. 

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

I would like to thank Mushroom Model Publications, Casemate Publishing, and IPMS/USA for the review sample. 

T-38C Heritage Talons Decals

Fri, 05/22/2020 - 01:27
Review Author:  Pablo Bauleo Twobobs Aviation Graphics

Two Bobs has released a decal sheet covering the Heritage Schemes for the 50th Anniversary of the T-38 in USAF service. You get a total of 5 camouflage schemes, covering an overall grey, a South-East Asia scheme, an Aggressor/Air superiority scheme, a two-grey with a blue fin, and an overall white scheme.

The instruction sheet (printed in full color) it is truly huge at 11"x17" and it includes color callouts in FS standard, plus Testors, Humbrol, Mr. Color, Xtracrylics, and Mr.Paint making finding the right paint color a breeze.

The decal sheet is printed by Cartograf and it looks thin, glossy and it is in perfect register. Likely the color density will be excellent too. 

From an inspection to the decal sheet, I think it is possible to actually finish all the airframes in the sheet.  I think the hardest thing will be to choose which camouflage to finish it on. But why choose? You can make them all. Kudos to Two Bobs for allowing that!

Highly recommended. You will have an astonishing T-38C in your display area. 

I would like to thank Two Bobs decals and IPMS/USA for the review sample.

Mission Models Paint – Extra Dark Sea Grey

Fri, 05/22/2020 - 00:43
Product Image Review Author:  Pablo Bauleo Mission Models

Several of my modeling friends have been using Mission Model Paints and telling really good things about them. When I had the chance to review some of them I jump on that opportunity.

The very first thing you notice is the volume you get in each bottle: 1 fluid oz. That would keep you painting for a while. You might worry about the fact that the paint might go bad before you are out of it, but don't worry. Based on the chemistry of it, it is shelf stable. I don't know if after 5 or 10 years it will still be as good as pristine, but it should last you a long, long time.

Another thing to highlight is that each bottle has a "mixing ball" inside. I'm not sure if it is truly a ball, but you can shake that bottle and the little "rattle" will help you mix the paint thoroughly.

The Mission Models Paint website has an extensive section on "FAQ" and "Tips". I would recommend you read it before you use this paints. As they say there "...we are teaching you new tricks".

This paint seems to be thicker than other paints, yet it sprays wonderfully. The recommended way to prepare it is 10:1:1 parts of Paint, Thinner and optionally a Urethane finish for enhanced strength.

The bottles have a small opening, which works like an "eye dropper" of sorts making very easy to get the correct ratios. Even if you get the "wrong ratio", based on my tests this paint is still very forgiving.

To prepare the paint I simply counted drops into a beaker, mix the paint and additives well and then pour into the airbrush. Set the pressure to about 20 psi and spray away.

In this case I sprayed about 4 inches/10 cm away from the surface. I was doing my best to make sure I had a light, slightly wet coat to have good coverage. You can see from the pictures the paint covered the part very well, without obscuring any detail while providing a uniform color coat.

Another consideration to have is how little these paints smell. While spraying I had a respirator on (always do that), but once I was done with the spraying, I didn't need to keep my respirator on while cleaning the airbrush as there was no remnant vapor or smell.

Cleaning of the paints is trivial as well. Simply put some water in the airbrush cup and scrub gently. Spray it out and then put a few drops of the thinner in the cup. Spray it out and you are done!

Regarding the color shade of this paint (Extra Dark Sea Grey) I would simply say that to my eyes it looks spot on. I don't have any chip paint to compare against but I would expect the manufacturer to have done their research and get the color right.

In short, I'm so impressed with these paints that I ordered a bunch (you can do that from their website https://www.missionmodelsus.com/).

Highly recommended.

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

Detail & Scale F/A-18E & F/A-18F, also includes the EA-18G Growler, Digital Version

Fri, 05/22/2020 - 00:33
Product Image Review Author:  Rob Benson Detail & Scale, Inc.

Thank you to Haagen Klaus, Bert Kinzey and Rock Roszak for continuing to bring back a tremendous resource for the modeler and aviation historian, in a digital format.  Thank you to the IPMS Reviewer Corps for allowing me to test out this new and exciting method of researching history, details, and versions of the Super Hornet.




The publication is a thorough and up-to date documentation of the Super Hornet and derivative Growler, well-suited for modeler and the aviation aficionado. The first Detail & Scale Super Hornet volume was released in 2004 at the start of the Super Hornet's operational service, when far less documentation and photographs were available.  Vol 9 includes much more information than what was available in 2004. While I am not a subject matter expert on the F-18 family, I found all the material contained in this volume to correlate well with information accessible to me, including current NATOPS documents. I certainly learned a thing or two during this review!


This iBook features 240 digital pages, 306 zoomable high resolution digital photographs, and five superb illustrations.  The iBook format retains the cherished look and feel of the original and current print-on-demand Detail & Scale series, and this new volume fits right in with my research collection.


Content coverage


Front Matter:  The title page continues a Detail & Scale practice of a colorful content "teaser" with a superb color image of a VFA-115 F/A-18E launching from the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan, CVN-76. The list of contributors and sources fills a good part of a page and is a testament to the thoroughness of the volume.  On digital page iv of the Front Matter section is an excellent description of how to use the iBook format on an iPad. I would expect a similar operational description in a Kindle version. The authors' biographies begin on digital p. viii and the illustrator's biography appears on digital p. xi.  The lead author, Haagen Klaus, is appearing in his first Detail & Scale publication.


Introduction:  This chapter provides a great context for the development of the Super Hornet.  Many USN squadrons contributed both photos and access to the authors to allow an up-to-date volume.


Chapter 1 Super Hornet Origins and Development:  The lineage of the F/A-18 family starts with the YF-17 Cobra.  It is pleasant irony that a failed design competitor evolved to a highly successful aircraft today.  Changes and adaptations to Hornet airframes to address operational shortcomings are highlighted.  Intriguing stories about the never-developed A-6F, the flying wing A-12, and the Super Tomcat give some background for the eventual decision to proceed with development of the Super Hornet. The production contract for the Super Hornet was awarded to McDonnell Douglas on the same day that Grumman delivered the last F-14 Tomcat.


Chapter 2 Aircraft and Systems Overview:  The F/A-18E/F certainly retains similarities to the legacy Hornets. In a very general sense, the Super Hornet looks like a slightly larger version of the earlier Hornet.  Extra fuels cells are crammed in everywhere.  Leading-edge extensions, low-observable features, improved avionics, cockpit, and powerplants are new additions.  A widened range of weapons and stores make Super Hornet a completely capable multi-role aircraft.


Chapter 3 The EA-18G Growler:  I personally found this chapter very interesting, as I have been looking for a good current accounting of the Growler for a modeling project.  The nature of electronic warfare (EW) is nicely summarized, as well as the role of previous EW platforms used by the USN.  The most distinctive feature other than the pylon and fuselage mounted ALQ pods are the wingtip pods that look somewhat like very stocky Sidewinder missiles.  The Growler is not cleared to carry Sidewinders, but can carry HARM/AARGM for enemy radar site suppression.   Furthermore, a pair of AIM-120s may be carried for air-to-air self-defense.  The EA-18G incorporates aerodynamic improvements to improve flight stability.


Chapter 4 Flight Test and Operational History:  The complexities and challenges of "debugging" flight problems were often solved with relatively simply fixes.  The Super Hornets and the Growlers went quickly to the fleet, and timing was such that they also went quickly to war post 9/11.  Since that time, the F/A-18E/F and the EA-18G participated in no less than 5 major operations in the Middle East, including the first hostile aircraft shoot down since Operation DESERT STORM.  Over the last decade the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) purchased 24 F/A-18F and 12 EA-18 to supplement their fleet of aging "classic" Hornets.

Chapter 5 On the Horizon:  Super Hornets and Growlers for the 2020s and Beyond:  Intriguing upgrades and foreign sales aspirations are detailed in this chapter.  Part of the upgrades are designed as stopgap measures that will later merge with the capabilities of the delayed F-35C Lightning.   Conformable fuel tanks are the most visible upgrades, however low-observable coatings and improved avionics are included.

Chapter 6 Super Hornet Gallery:  This chapter is a collection of excellent high-resolution images taken in a variety of settings.  Five of the images are of "302", the Super Hornet that downed a Sukhoi Fitter on 18 JUN 17.

Chapter 7 Growler Gallery:  This gallery, like the previous gallery, is also a collection of excellent high-resolution images taken in a variety of settings.  The six images nicely show the overall configuration and paint tonalities of the Growler.

Chapter 8 Super Hornet Details:  This section is truly a gold mine of close-in detail images of the Super Hornet.  The extraordinary quantity and quality of the images is exceptional.   Multiple aircraft are represented, in varying degrees of operational weathering. I particularly appreciated the aircrew flight gear images and the section devoted to the Growler.  I also discovered some model building challenges in tinting windscreen and canopy glass.  The windscreen has an amber tint and the canopy has an iridescent tint.

Chapter 9 Modelers Section:  This hallmark chapter reviews the extensive kit and aftermarket offerings for the
Super Hornet and the Growler.  I had a Growler on my build list for many years and with the information in this section, I purchased a kit and add-ons.  The corrections and suggestions in this section were easily accommodated in my build, greatly adding to a fun experience. The last part of the section highlights some of the shortcomings of the current offerings, particularly the aftermarket ones, but ends on an optimistic forward look toward many new possibilities for the scale modeler. 


More from Detail & Scale:  Many of the Detail & Scale online resources, publications, and related links are found in this section.  The live links put all sorts of good information at your fingertips.

Content coverage summary:  I found the volume's organization to be excellent.  I came away with a more thorough understanding of the Super Hornet and Growler development histories.  I also spent lots of time in the extensive image collections, scheming about the best ways to detail a model!   

In terms of content, this is another exceptional publication.  In addition to the tremendous wealth of photographs and other information, this volume is written well, with an engaging style.  The photograph resolution is superb, and the variety and diversity of images make Volume 9 invaluable.  As always, the ability of electronic media to effectively conduct research and find information reduces barriers to verify and/or discover other sources.

Other considerations for digital format you should know: 


I certainly would expect the first question a reader would ask is, "Why do I want a digital format book, instead of a paperback?"  I like reading through traditional books as much as anyone else, with the page-by-page discovery of storyline or new information.  I also have tons of books in my library, mostly in dusty residence on stoic-looking bookshelves.  This e-book format provides many advantages for the modeler.  I cannot imagine that this publication will not be a stunning addition to any USN aviation enthusiast's digital or traditional library.  I evaluated this copy in the iBook/iPad format, but operations on the Amazon Kindle platform are nearly identical.  At about $13.00, you can't beat the price!   I no longer buy hardcopy references if a digital version is available, following the trend of many major research libraries. 


But if you are not sold on digital format, Detail & Scale is taking advantage of print-on-demand technologies and at this time many of their publications are available in one-off, hard-copies for traditionalists.  Everyone will be happy!


I am extremely positive about this publication, as I continue to be for all the D&S digital publications I use.  I found Volume 9 to be an exceptionally effective and efficient research tool. 


Overall recommendation


Detail & Scale Series Volume 9 has my highest recommendation.   I can't find any negatives in this publication or in the delivery format.

Thanks again to the wonderful folks at Detail & Scale!  I am very pleased to see the Digital Volumes continuing to be released, and I'm sure I echo the thoughts of the modeling community in saying I hope to see many more of the Digital Series published.  Thank you again to the stalwart Reviewer Corps for your hard work in making these review opportunities happen!

Wooden Airfield Base

Thu, 05/21/2020 - 17:34
Product Image Review Author:  Paul Mahoney Tiger Werke

As an aircraft modeler, I was unfamiliar with this company that is primarily focused on 1/35 resin armor accessories.  According to the box inserts and website, they are under new management and are expanding the current line.  This base fit right into my area of focus, so I was pleased to have a chance to write a review.

The first thing I noticed was how hefty and sturdy the packing box was.  It is made of thick cardboard and has a few images of the product on the top.  Inside, the resin base is wrapped in a plastic bag and tucked very securely between foam blocks.  This is definitely not going to move around in box during shipping or handling!

The base itself is a good-sized chunk of resin (approximate 10" x 11"), and thus relatively heavy.  It will not be sliding around on the display shelf!  The casting seems crisp, and the texture of the mud and boards looks good to me.  Some textures appear more distinct than others, but this is replicating all-natural materials, so that made sense to me.  I did think some of the gaps in between the planks were a bit deep or wide, but that issue disappeared after I painted and weathered it.

I first coated the entire piece with Tamiya's Grey Primer in a rattle can.  You can give this a washdown first, but I did not see any trace of mold release or other issues that needed cleaning.  After the Primer had dried, I airbrushed the planks with AK "Buff" and the dirt area with Tamiya Dark Brown.   The textured effects on the dirt inspired me to augment that area with some Vallejo "European Mud".  While the texturing on the base is nice, I thought this improved it just a bit more.  I then airbrushed variations of the two previous colors onto the base, lightening and tweaking them to make things less uniform.  The wooden planks received a few washes of various dark colors, and pigments were randomly applied.  Finally, I added a little of Vallejo "puddles" to create some water effects around the muddy area.   The entire process was done in a few hours, allowing time in between for drying.   

As Tiger Werke states this is suitable for WWI or WWII airfields, I posed an aircraft from each period on the base.  It is almost too big for a 1/48 WWI aircraft, but that space allows you to add figures, another aircraft, or whatever to complete the scene.  It did seem perfect for a 1/48 scale Me262 that you will see in one of the photos.

As someone who fiddles around with bases and small dioramas a lot, I was incredibly pleased with this item.  Spend some time painting/weathering it and you will be rewarded with a good-looking base for a model, or a great starting point for a vignette.   Highly recommend!

Thanks to Tiger Werke for the review copy, and to IPMS for allowing me to review it!

F-8K/C Crusader Hells Angels/NASA

Thu, 05/21/2020 - 09:16
Product Image Review Author:  Ben Morton Platz

Courtesy of Platz (Japan): The world's first supersonic fighter was the American F-8 Crusader. Development proceeded according to the requirements of the US Navy, and the first flight was successful completed in 1955. Operation started in 1957. 

The F-8 Crusader adopted a high wing swept wing design. The wing had a special mechanism that raised the front by 7 degrees. This slight operation succeeded in keeping the distance between takeoffs and landings short. The F-8 demonstrated excellent performance as an on-board fighter operated on an aircraft carrier. The aircraft was equipped with a 18,000 pound thrust engine with an afterburner and was adopted and operated by the US Navy, the Marine Corps, the Philippines, and France.

The model is a plastic model assembly kit that reproduces the F8 Crusader fighter operated by the US Navy in 1/144 scale. This kit, with parts for two complete aircraft,  is a remodeled version of the F-8C and models the F-8K type with upgraded parts. The total length is 11.5 cm.

Three types of markings are available:
VMF-321 'Hell's Angels', US Marine Corps (F-8K) with an attractive blue back.
NASA aircraft that became a test bed of digital fly-by-wire system in the 1970's ( F-8C / F-8DFBW)
 VF-142 'Ghost Riders',  US Navy (F8U-1) with a red arrow as a bonus decal.

The rest of this article is courtesy of me: This re-issue of the 1/144th scale F-8 Crusader by Platz comes with new box art. Originally it was released by Platz in 2007 and updated with new decals in 2010. Which is not to say that the kit lacks for any molded detail or features. Platz has thoughtfully provided cockpit detail parts (control stick, seat, instrument panel). Detail bits that are almost always absent from other manufacturers. 

As noted above; the marking option decals are printed by Cartograf of Italy. Included amongst the decals are the complete fin flash for two active duty aircraft as well as decals for the canopy framing for all three options. Alone, the inclusion of just those decals makes this kit worth the price of admission. For them that model in this scale you know how cool that really is. You will need to do some painting as the decal is just for the forward section (windscreen) of the canopy.   

In addition, the Marine Corp F-8 does have a rather snazzy paint scheme ( attractive blue spine) that was applied to the aeroplanes spine and dorsal fin. One thing to be aware of should you choose the NASA F-8, the 'Digital Fly By Wire" flash along both side of the fuselage will need to be applied before you attached the horizontal stabilizers.  

The breakdown of the parts is pretty standard for just about any aircraft model, regardless of the scale. You get fuselage halves (split vertically), a two-piece main wing, separate and pose-able horizontal stabilizers (two types), delicate and in-scale landing gear with wheels/tires, an exhaust tail cone with some brilliantly molded detail, as well as a number of weapon  pylons common to the Crusader. 

The 'under wing' stores consist of Sidewinders for the fuselage mounts and two Bull Pup missiles. I couldn't find where these weapons were mounted on operational aircraft (F-8 K), so best check those references. But just including them is kinda cool. I chose not to include them with my build as NASA research aircraft are softened not armed. I did  add a photo of the under wing stores  for your viewing enjoyment. 

Platz does provide dimples on the lower wing half  that will need to be opened, that I assume, are for mounting the under wing stores pylons. The assembly instructions, all in Japanese, do not seem to mention this option but then again my Japanese reading skills are non-existent so I could have just missed it. If you choose an unarmed F-8 you might wish to remove the small mounting tab (for the 'Y' pylons) that is molded onto each side of the fuselage. 

The single, clear part provided is for the canopy and it fits well. Overall the kit goes together without much fuss. Just pay attention to the parts number and its position on the model. Case in point: the main landing gear are provided as right and left sided. There is some molded detailed on those main gear legs that will go missing if you don't get them situated properly on the model.  Oh, the two-piece wing mentioned earlier, is pose-able. All parts exhibit nice recessed panel lines and fine engraving throughout.

One neato aspect that having two complete kits in the box gives you is that it allows the serious modeler the option of dropping the flaps, opening avionics bays , etc just by scavenging the needed parts from the other kit. Not me, but somebody!  

This F-8 Crusader twofer from Platz is most welcome edition back to the market place and with the newish marking options, some colorful editions, as well. 

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

Support Your Local Hobby Shop!

F-15E Big, Bold and Nasty Tigers Decal Set

Thu, 05/21/2020 - 08:58
Product Image Review Author:  Pablo Bauleo Twobobs Aviation Graphics

Two Bobs has released a decal sheet covering the 2018 deployment of the 391st to the Middle East to support Operation Inherent Resolve. During the deployment, 18 airplanes got individual mission markings and nose art.

The instruction sheet (printed in full color) it is truly huge at 11"x17" and it includes color callouts in FS standard, plus Testors, Humbrol, Mr. Color, Xtracrylics, and Mr.Paint making finding the right paint color a breeze.

As a "bonus" typical loadout is included, this will help you create an accurate model during their deployment in the Middle East.

A point to make is that they provide two different set of stencils, one for the Revellogram and another for the Great Wall Hobbies. Kudos to Two Bobs for doing that!

The decal sheet is printed by Cartograf and it looks thin, glossy and it is in perfect register. Likely the color density will be excellent too.


Highly recommended.

I would like to thank Two Bobs decals and IPMS/USA for the review sample.


Buick Riviera 1963 to 1973

Thu, 05/21/2020 - 08:50
Product Image Review Author:  Jim Stepanek Veloce Publishing

This is a review of the Veloce Buick Riviera 1963 to 1973

I haven't written a book review in over 50 years, so bear with me.


The Veloce book is packed with information about the first three generations of the stylish, luxurious, and performance-oriented Buick Riviera. Tons of pictures accompany performance data, available option equipment for each year, changes and upgrades by year.  I didn't realize Buick started using the Riviera name in 1949 as a trim package and would later be changed/upgraded to compete with the Ford Thunderbird.

Also included are pictures of Riviera's that have been customized with paint, wheels/tires, and body modifications.

The Veloce Buick Riviera is a fantastic addition to your hobby area reference materials.


Thank you to IPMS for allowing me to review this kit.

Masterpiece Models Waco CG-4A Glider

Mon, 05/18/2020 - 01:05
Product Image Review Author:  Rod Lees Masterpiece Models

IPMS/USA welcomes the proprietors of Masterpiece models back, and serious appreciation for supporting the IPMS USA reviewer corps with yet one more of their newest releases, in a scale never before attempted:  1/35th!  A perfect diorama subject, we certainly will see some of these in a D-Day or Market Garden setting. And my personal thanks to IPMS leadership for sending it to me to be reviewed.  

Both wings are two-part and fit extremely well.  Using the instructions, pre-drill holes to accept the pins from the struts.  These are functional and required items, and do a great job on supporting the almost no-dihedral position they are installed in.  There are engraved lines in the wings, chord-wise, that represent where the ribs go.  On another build I will be filling those with fine monofilament line and CA, and since they will be raised will run and smooth a bead of filler over those ribs so I can sand it all down and It will look like actual fabric over frame work.  The actual Aircraft does not have grooves, and I only figured this out well after the wings were assembled and installed. 

The ailerons fit in place and can be displayed in any desired position.  Leading edge light wells are incorporated, and would benefit from large light lenses.  Resin light housings are provided, but I opted to install MV lenses later with a Scotch clear tape cover over the location carefully cut out after the tape is burnished into place.  Then run a drop of CA around the tape, capillary action will facilitate it sealing the tape.  Once that has cured, you can paint the frame outline on the tape, and it really looks good.  I've done it before on other large aircraft, as I found vacmolding these lenses was painful and trying in execution and filler requirement.  

The underwing struts need a bit of fettling, and once in place support the entire structure well.  It even survived a crash from two feet when I had a box stand collapse, so I know it's durable.  (I just had to use Epoxy and do more repainting of the damage were the fuselage sides broke loose) 

The stabilizers and fin were next in line for installation.  I noted three holes on each side of the tail, so I held up the stabilizer parts and determined to drill out the pins, then install replacements of coat hanger wire, then drill out the stab mount to match.  I did all these without alcohol or swearing.  

After finishing up including superglue installation, I learned I installed both stabilizers about 1/4 " too far back.  There was another hole, and a hump on the tail section showing DISTINCTLY where the stabilizer would actually mount.  The fin got the same treatment, using coat hanger wire as mount pins, and installed everything where it needed to be. The rudder post required a bit of work, but no bother. 

 One thing I had to focus on at this point: A final paint scheme.  I looked at the instructions, and of course D-Day was a major thing to me.  The Waco was also used at Arnhem, which is really an interesting small town by the way.  When I lived in Europe I visited, and was amazed how small the bridge was.  Typical for a European town, it was tenaciously fought over for Strategic reasons, and Gliders were used along with Paratroops to take the "bridge too far". 

But I needed stripes. So the stripes were painted over automotive primer light gray undersides and olive drab flat topside.  Masking foam sheets were removed and I let the model sit for two weeks more to "flash off" the paint and let it harden.  Now, most of the paint remained on the surface.  I measured out the invasion stripes, and using Vallejo, hand-painted each one white and black for all five stripes, over each area of the model.  I also did that in one evening, much like the actual invasion maintainers had for time to mark their birds.  

They aren't perfect, but from what veterans from that time period told me, "Neither were ours".  

The decals actually performed pretty well for the stars and bars, the nose numbers, and the tail numbers.  Except the last decals (the numbers) were translucent yellow, which means they almost disappear into the OD surface.  I recommend you find aftermarket.    I cut around all the insignia with a #11 blade, and they all worked well on even a slightly curved surface.  And the invasion stripes barely were noticeable on the white areas.  The aircraft was put aside to normalize the decals.  On to the next task. 

It was then that I really started to work on the nose. The canopy required a bit of hot water treatment to align the canopy to the lower nose section, and I used blue-light curing cement to hold it all together.  Better than epoxy, not as messy, holds really well, almost as fast as CA, and cures through the clear parts.  (Note:  It will not cure where the blue light cannot access, i.e. Opaque mating surfaces; just the exterior) 

The small, fragile parts are extremely difficult to scrub without breaking; indeed, one of the Control "steering wheels" (co-pilot in my determination) broke out into four pieces when I attempted to clean it up.  I lost the scratchbuilt replacement (hence the missing control wheel in the cockpit).

So, I proceeded to work the cockpit.  I did not install any of the control cables, because this area is a spider web of them, and they were not included in the kit.  

After masking off the clear areas, I shot it with the SE primer and that is the color you see in the pictures.  In real life it is very close to the olive drab Krylon, but the camera reads it as a lighter dark gray green.  

I also learned here that my preparations did not include matching dimensions of the assembled nose to that of the main fuselage.  The forward section was about 1/16 too small all around the frame for the aircraft body, so that would be major rework at this point. 

I painted and installed the block tread resin wheels (which were excellent) and drilled out the axle hole.  The aircraft is a tail-sitter, and the very small tail wheel strut actually took the weight originally.  

It is here I called it quits, as my new copy of this kit arrived in the mail. Yes, I want to do it again, but now know where the pitfalls are.  I shall move the review model into a dark corner, anticipating a moment to use it as a diorama item.  For now, my final thoughts:  

  • This kit is underpriced for the amount of work the manufacturer put into it.  Hand-made, every one.  Obviously a labor of love of the subject. 
  • Instructions are provided on CD.  I went to my trusty UPS store and download and print cost almost $40.  THAT IS WHY THE CD was provided.   I kept the printout for the next build. The only difficulty I had was there were some areas where the drawings were not self-evident.  It's 129 pages, front and back.  If you like watching a monitor while building, it is cheaper that way, but I won't be doing that anytime soon.   
  • This kit is for the stalwart master builder.  A lot of little points would have others chuck the kit into the trash.  If you have the skills and, more importantly, you WANT to build an accurate Waco GC-4 in 1/35nd Scale, this is the only game and can be forced into one fantastic item combined with the Armor scale.  A lot of scratch building skills helps. 
  • Clean all the parts of all the flashing and non-airplane bits with new scalpel or #11 blades; then wash with Dawn detergent, warm water, then spray all and soak overnight with Blech-white, then rinse with warm water, then use 409, then Dawn, then use a micro pad and rough up all the surfaces you can to  give tooth for the paint to attach to. 
  • Once done, prime everything with self-etching automotive grade spray primer. 
  • Expect a lot of parts to have excellent fit, but bring good quality solvent based primer to the fight.  
  • Invest in wet/dry abrasive papers and USE them. 
  • Make a pledge to stick it out.

Only then will you succeed.  Half-hearted attempts or ego-based builds will not suffice. And for those who are of the badmouthing a manufacturer ilk (and we have unfortunately many) I challenge them to rather BUY THE KIT like I did and show how great you are.

My Heartfelt thanks to Masterpiece models for providing this kit to IPMS USA to review.  My sorrowful, slug-like building pace is not a normal standard, but we are not in normal times.  I'll do better on the second kit. Thanks to Phil for allowing me the leeway to keep at it! 

Brengun Yakovlev YAK-1 “ACES” with Accessories

Sun, 05/17/2020 - 23:42
Product Image Review Author:  Brian R. Baker Brengun


The Yakovlev Yak-1 series design work began in the late thirties, with the first flight taking place in 1939.  Production started in the same year, and by 1941, these planes were beginning to be issued to Soviet Air Force fighter squadrons. The type went through a considerable amount of development, resulting in the Yak-7, Yak-9 and later the Yak-3.  At first designated I-26, the Yak-1 was later redesignated Yak-1 in honor of its designer, and during its service life was upgraded in several ways, including replacing the faired-in canopy with a version allowing the pilot to see directly behind him.  Some units modified their aircraft, using what was known as the Shinkarenkov Modification, which was later incorporated into all Yak production aircraft.  The Yak-1 was the first of a series of fighters that became the mainstay of the Soviet Air Force for the duration of World War II.


There is a lot of material available on the early Yak fighters, including the old  1961 edition of William Green's Fighters, Volume 3, which describes all of the Russian fighters of this era. Yak-1 coverage is rather sparse in this source. A better source of information is the Squadron-Signal publication, Yak Fighters in Action, No. 78, dating back to 1986.    There is also the internet.


The instructions are on a single standard size sheet, folded in half to provide four pages of instructions.  Page one has an extensive sprue diagram, identifying more than 50 parts and the clear canopy parts, a color guide, and some of the first cockpit assembly drawings.  There is no sprue diagram for the PE parts.  Page two shows how the fuselage and wings go together, while pages three and four illustrate the landing gear and final assembly.  Also, the location of the PE parts on the lower wing surface is illustrated. The color guide for the four aircraft included in the decal sheet is printed on the back of the box.

The Photo Etch Accessories.

This kit comes with a standard PE sheet, which provides underwing details, flaps, and landing gear covers.  In addition, a Model Accessory sheet, Yak-1b, BRL 720194, provides additional details,  including radiator surfaces and details, seat belts, some interior cockpit details, rudder pedals,  an instrument panel, a pilot's seat and mounting hardware, some interior bracing for the main wheel wells,  and tailwheel doors for the retractable tailwheel.    


The four aircraft for which decals are provided  include  a Yak-1 of 296 IAP, L.V. Litvyak (12 v.) Stalingrad, Summer, 1943; 183 IAP, M.D. Baranov (25 v.), Stalingrad, Summer, 1942; 20 IAP, E.V. Petrenko (17 v.), Murmansk-Vaenga 1, September, 1942; and 273 IAP, A.M. Reshetov (35 v.), Kharkov, May, 1942.  The decals are well printed and can be applied without trimming them to the edges. Good four view color drawings are provided on the box for each aircraft. I had no problems with the star decals, but found that the squadron and kill markings tended to adhere prematurely to the model surface, requiring a large amount of water and decal solution to get them to move into the correct locations. 

The Kit and Assembly

The kit consists of over 50 injection molded light grey styrene parts, four clear plastic canopy sections, and  one small photo etch sheet with an instrument panel,  two seat mounts, and another part of the cockpit assembly.  There is some flash that needs to be trimmed off, and there are no mounting pegs on or in the fuselage.  The wings are made of three major sections, a one piece bottom and two top half sections, with a couple of fishhook sections forming the wheel wells, which have considerable detail. Photo etch sections are provided for two panels in each wing lower surface, along with the flaps.  These can be easily attached using superglue, and they fit perfectly. The major problem is the cockpit assembly, which is made up of at least 20 very small parts, with rather unclear instructions as to exactly how they should be assembled.  The whole thing ends up as one unit, but there is no method of attaching the thing to the fuselage interior.  I wound up just attaching the thing to the right fuselage section, and after some jiggling around, it looked acceptable.  After joining the fuselage halves, a small amount of filler was needed to get rid of the seams. The cockpit assembly, however, is quite impressive once installed.  

The wings needed little trimming to get the proper dihedral angle, and small amounts of filler were needed to fill in the cracks.  Underneath the rear portion of the center section, a radiator unit fits in place, and the fit here was quite good.  The horizontal tail units were easy to install, although the mounting pegs needed to be trimmed very carefully, and the whole thing was pretty easy to line up correctly.  The landing gear is a bit complex with six parts for each unit, but they fitted snugly into the wheel well and were superglued into place. The wheels were mounted on a resin bar and looked very good once installed.  I had problems with the oil cooler intake under the nose, and had to use quite a bit of filler to get it looking right.  In addition, there was a small oil cooler intake that mounts on the leading edge of the wing on the left side, and this part was so fragile that when I tried to remove it from the sprue, it broke in two, and was almost impossible to repair.  Be very careful with part No. 23.  The canopy is divided into three sections: the windshield, cockpit cover, and rear window part.  These fit very well, and can be masked off for painting. Once the main airframe was assembled, the aircraft was ready for painting

Painting and Finishing.

Painting the assembled model went smoothly.  All of the versions for which decals were provided were the standard Soviet dark green and black over light blue, colors which are provided in the Model Master enamel paint series. After painting, the exhaust stacks need to be installed, a very tedious process since each stack is an individual (and VERY small) part, and very easy to lose on the workbench.  Although half of them have one part number, # 39, and the other #36,  they look fairly similar on the sprue.  This kit has a lot of small, highly detailed parts, and I would advise having a pretty good size magnifying glass on hand during assembly, as losing track of small parts might be a problem. They have a tendency to want to escape.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Brengun is one of the up and coming kit producers in the Czech Republic, and they have been introducing some kits of some obscure but needed kits of Czech, German, Japanese, and even American aircraft.  They seem to be doing their research correctly, and the results have been some fine models which, although somewhat complicated to build, can result in some spectacular models for your model cabinets.  These guys have a lot going for themselves.  Keep your eye on them.

This is Brengun's second issue of a kit of the Yak-1. They differ mainly in the rear fuselage, canopy, and the underwing PE detail. This is not a kit for beginners, and really, seems to be a little bit overdetailed for the average modeler.  It is possible, however, to get an excellent model out of this kit, and if you are interested in this particular version of the Yak-1, you should certainly consider it. Just remember that it will take a lot more time than the average single seat fighter, but the results will certainly be worth it.

Recommended.  Get one.

Thanks to Brengun and Phil Peterson for the review kit.

UGears Motorcycle

Sun, 05/17/2020 - 12:37
Product Image Review Author:  John Noack UGears

This is my second review of a UGears wooden kit.  The "U" refers to the fact that these unusual products are engineered and manufactured in the Ukraine.  Each kit is precisely - and I do mean precisely - laser cut and etched from fine plywood.  This particular kit contains two sheets consisting of 189 parts, along with peripherals such as rubber bands (for the drive mechanism) and toothpicks (used to anchor a number of the subassemblies together).  A small stick of wax, for lubricating moving parts, is also included.  More on that later.

For the purists who read this review, no, it's not a typical model kit.  There's no gluing, filling, painting or decaling involved (although I suppose one could paint or stain the kit).  But it's a nice break from working in the model room - I was able to fiddle around with this one while sitting in front of the TV with Sharyl, and it could also be a great parent-child project (check the website for some other kits that build into working toys).

Accompanying the laser cut parts is a very detailed, full color assembly booklet.  That being said, I discovered on both kits I've built that it is easy to mis-orient parts and have them go together (until a few steps later, when they don't).  So careful attention to the instructions is warranted.  Fortunately, since all of the parts are press fit, undoing an error isn't difficult - just frustrating.

In order for the completed kit to function, a lot of wood parts need to move.  Even with liberal applications of wax to every moving part, my bike doesn't move very well yet.  On the prior model, I had to exercise the mechanisms a number of times until things "loosened up".  I may try melting some candle wax and applying it to the various gears to see if that improves function.  That being said, the completed model is impressive and I have a couple of friends who ride who may appreciate the finished kit as a gift.

So, if you want to take a break from "traditional" modeling, come up with a family project, or get away from the bench and be social - I highly recommend one of these wood kits as an alternative.  Thanks go to UGears and IPMS/USA for the review opportunity.

Designing the T-34, Genesis of the Revolutionary Soviet Tank

Sun, 05/17/2020 - 12:27
Product Image Review Author:  Allan Murrell Casemate Publishers

This book sets out to explain how the Soviets came to develop what has become arguably World  War two's most revolutionary tank design.

I have always been intrigued by the history and development of the T-34 as it helped greatly in changing the fate of Russia on the Second World War. This book goes in to incredible details and reasons behind its design and history. There is so much information included that I had not seen before. The pictures are also a great resource and will be invaluable when researching the T-34. There also a few Profile pictures are a particular favorite and great source for modeling.

I was impressed at the amount of information and history found in the pages of this extremely enjoyable book. The pictures along are worth the cost of the book. I will find this book indispensable in my library of reference books.

I recommend this book to everyone with an interest in armor and modeling armor. I very much look forward to other releases in this series.

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


Mission Models Earth Red Brown Paint MMP-130

Sun, 05/17/2020 - 12:15
Product Image Review Author:  Bob LaBouy Mission Models


There is a wealth of information on the web regarding the various colors commonly used by the US Army (and Marine Corps) in the US Mobility Equipment Research & Design Command, commonly known as MERDEC camouflage patterns.  I recommend these basic URL's for your research.  I have also attached two images of vehicles painted in MERDEC schemes to better illustrate these camouflage patterns.

Fine Scale Modeler article and attached comments:


Great color examples of many types of vehicles displaying MERDEC camo patterns:


Richly illustrated article on the Armorama site at:


There are also color sets produced by AK Interactive, Vallejo Model Air and Lifecolor available.


The Paint and Process:

Mission Models recommends their own proprietary thinner  and airbrush cleaner which I strongly urge anyone new to this process to review Mission's basic painting and mixing guidelines (or FAQ's as noted below).  I also recommend using only the Mission Models thinner and poly mix.

Additionally, I recommend that you initially review the Mission Models paint FAQ's to familiarize yourself with their basics. https://www.missionmodelsus.com/pages/tips-and-tricks-faq

My personal experience with the Mission acrylic paints is to thin them initially using a 60% paint to 40% thinner with just a couple of drops of polyurethane mix additive.

Though hardly scientific, I spray this paint using about 50/50% mix and feel the paint color is as close a match as I see.  I also find that this provides a great tight coat of paint and dries quickly in approximately 15 minutes to touch.  You will also notice that I apply a small paint sample on each bottle top to illustrate its color.



I am thoroughly impressed with this paint and recommend it's use.  My thanks to both IPMS-USA and Mission Models for the opportunity to review this paint.

ICM 1/24 Renault London Taxi

Sun, 05/17/2020 - 08:03
Product Image Review Author:  John Noack ICM

Reviewer's Comments:

And now for something different - for this reviewer at least.  I've always been intrigued with the bright brasswork of early automobiles and the combination of dark green paint and brass trim caught my eye when perusing the list of review items.

The kit arrives in a very sturdy cardboard box with separate cover in full color.  Each tree is carefully wrapped, clear parts and rubber tires are packaged separately, and a very nice gloss printed instruction manual is included.

Construction is relatively straightforward, I deviated from some of the sequences to facilitate painting and avoid knocking off some of the smaller bits.  The 10hp Renault engine is nicely detailed but I ran into problems attaching the exhaust pipe.  Part of this is due to somewhat obscure illustration and compounding this was the fact that the pipe itself was broken during assembly.  Let's chalk that one up to builder error.

The leaf springs at each wheel are (realistically) springy and can present a challenge during chassis assembly.  For some reason, one of the rear springs didn't want to line up and you can see that it is slightly out of line in the build photos.

All that aside this is really a nicely engineered kit and carefully following the instructions results in a simple build.  No filler was required anywhere.  I mixed a dark green to match the artwork starting with Testor's gloss green, adding small amounts of black until I reached the right shade.  I used Model Master acrylic Gloss Black for the chassis components and Semi-gloss Black for the interior and the (leather?) soft roof.  I dry-brushed a lightened version of this onto some of the seat cushions and roof folds.

Our good friends at Tru-Color came through at my request for a sprayable brass paint, as all that I had was some Testors brass that doesn't airbrush well at all.  I used this for the radiator, hood trim, and the front pillar-mounted lamps.  Great stuff.

Once all the subassemblies were painted, final assembly began.  I dipped all the clear parts in Pledge Multi-Surface finish and after they dried, used the same product to adhere them in place.  If you load a brush with MSF and touch it to the edge of the clear part, it will wick into the joint and you don't risk glue marks. 

I elected to show the cab doors open.  After several attempts to do this with CA adhesive, I switched to GS Hypo clear cement which worked well.  There really were no fit problems other than the one leaf spring mentioned above.

I elected to articulate the front wheels by carefully sawing the front axle assembly, gently bending each wheel hub, and using CA to fix them into the angled position.  I did the same with the tie rod part.  I think this just adds a bit of interest to the kit.

The rubber tires were gently sanded to remove the gloss which resulted in a nice natural effect.  These were stretched over the wheel hubs.

The wood spoke wheels were painted body color, brass was dabbed onto the valve stems, and I used white glue to attach each wheel.  I added the remaining fiddly bits and went to apply the front and rear license plates, only to discover that the rear frame assembly isn't deep enough for the height of the license decal.  I cut a piece of Plastruct strip to size and used it as a license plate holder for the rear plate.

This was a fun build right out of the box, and as I noted, the few difficulties I faced were probably builder-induced.  The finished vehicle is a nice and colorful addition to my display case and I really once again must compliment ICM for an exceptionally well-engineered kit.  Thanks to them and to Mother IPMS for the review opportunity.



BMW R75 Escaping from the Falaise Pocket

Sun, 05/17/2020 - 07:51
Product Image Review Author:  Phillip Cavender AFV Modeller

The Book:

Robert Doepp and AFV Modeller Publications capture for its readers a comprehensive detailed construction of a BMW R75 in 1:9th scale. Inspiration for this 112-page softbound book, "BMW R75 Escaping from the Falaise Pocket" comes from a rare black and white WWII image found in, Pallud, Jean-Paul. Ruckmarsch! The German Retreat from Normandy: Then and Now. Battle of Britain Internat., 2007. The German wartime image depicts a crew of 4 German paratroopers retreating on a BMW R75 with a sidecar attached.

Before this undertaking, several model magazines have showcased Robert Doepp's work including Tamiya Model Magazine, Model Time, Dioramag and Steel Art. As well as being a contributor to several magazines, he has won numerous awards.

What you get is a 112-page softbound book with 425 illustrations in color with many historical images in black and white. The book is printed in A4 print size on matte paper with construction pictures photographed in high detail. Numerous black and white historical images were used in reference along with color images of restored motorcycles. The front cover has the completed diorama in color with the back cover showing the author's construction before painting with a comparison image of the wartime image. The book is divided into 10 sections.


As a prelude to what follows, the author gives a background on the inspiration for the build before the actual construction including images of himself at the age of 26 and current.  A half-page image is presented with a full-page wartime image on page 74 including a description of the historical photo.

Chapter 1 Construction: pages 8-27

 Detailed construction of the motorcycle and sidecar are described by the author on pages 8-27. The basic kit the author used was the Revell BMW R75 in 1:9th scale. The author breaks down the construction into sub-assemblies describing each beginning with the wheels and frame and ending with a couple of two-page layouts illustrating the completed model. The level of scratch building using plastic, metal and resin and the minute details he added are truly amazing. As one goes through each page reading and comparing the images the level of modeling skills Robert Doepp has attained shines through. Whatever your area of interest, be prepared to be astonished. His writings and description of his techniques are clear and concise.

Chapter 2 Painting: pages 28-41

In these pages the author describes in detail his painting and weathering processes. Due to the scale of the model and attaching many assemblies using screws, he was afforded the opportunity to disassemble the motorcycle for painting. During the painting process he describes his use of various brands of paints not relying upon one brand. All along the painting process he captures remarkable up-close images and adds text describing the painting in detail. Additionally, he explains his weathering process using oils and pigments. His discussion of the painting and weathering process will allow the reader to follow on with his own model builds. At the end of the chapter the author adds a large photo spread showcasing the completed model. After reading the first 2 chapters this reviewer was left with a feeling of aw and left with the conclusion that he too would be able to follow along using Robert Doepp's techniques in a future build.

Chapter 3 Figures: pages 42-53

On pages 42-53 the author describes his techniques for construction of the 4 figures perched upon the bike and sidecar. Using a single black and white image he describes how he was able to define the size of the figures then in a step-by-step process sculp using plastic card stock, plastic rods, copper wire and Magic Sculp. As with the figures, he also presents in the same format the construction of the uniforms and accessories on the motorcycle. Wrapping things up at the end of the chapter as he did with previous chapters, he has a photo spreads of the completed figures. The level of detail is amazing as seen in the images along with captions and for this reviewer a "How-To" guide to figure construction.

Chapter 4 Figure Painting: pages 54-67

In this section Robert describes his entire painting process dividing the chapter into head painting, uniform painting and painting the accessories hanging from the figures. Several pages are included in his step-by-step detail painting with up close color images. All along the chapter the author provides actual images of the containers of oils and paints he uses. This undoubtedly would be of benefit to the modeler if he chooses to use some of the same techniques. What this reviewer found remarkable was how ingenuous he used rods to construct his figures in sub-assemblies. Thus, permitting the body parts to be painted individually before final attachment to the body. He describes this detail in the previous chapter. The finished painted figures are included on full page layouts as he provided in the previous chapters.

Chapter 5 Base: pages 68-71

One of the shortest chapters in the book was chapter 5 the base. The author decided to place his model on a round wooden base with a glass dome. He gives the reader a step-by-step description of the making of the diorama to represent his historical picture he was intending to represent. As he had done in previous chapters, he includes the materials he uses.

Chapter 6 Wartime: pages 72-83

In this chapter the author presents twenty black and white wartime images of BMW R75 motorcycles in various surroundings one of which is the basis for his build. As he states the image of reference picture is of high quality.

Chapter 7 Restored: pages 84-93

The author in the next 10 pages includes color photo images of a restored BMW R 75 with up close views of various sections of the motorcycle. All the images are of excellent quality and high resolution. The author further expounds by adding captions with each image. A nice addition for reference.

Gallery: 94-110 Items Used, Acknowledgements, References and Links:  111

In the next several pages the author presents the completed model on photo spreads from different views sitting on the completed base. He adds notes to some of the pages to explain his thinking about the mistakes he may have made.


If the author's objective was to present a detailed build in chronological order with imagery capturing his techniques, he did in fact meet this goal. What becomes apparent while reading the book is how talented the author is from the way he explains scratch building parts of the motorcycle and figures to his approach to painting.  The author presents all facets of his build in a clear, concise easy to read book with images and captions explaining his progress leaving the reader with another approach to model building.

This book will make an excellent addition to any modeler's library.

Thanks goes out to Casemate Publishers and AFV Modeller Publications for this review sample.



M-46 Patton Tank

Sun, 05/17/2020 - 00:19
Product Image Review Author:  Ron Bell Atlantis Model Company

The Kit

Remember these? This kit is from the dawn of armor modeling in the 50's. Aurora had a series  

of 1/48 tank kits that included the Stalin III, Chi Ha, M-109, Swedish "S" tank, Centurion, M-70, and Churchill, none of which would be modeled in any scale for literally decades. This is the Atlantis re-release of the M-46 Patton. 

There are 127 parts, including four crewmen. The tracks are of the rubber band type, but have decent detail, especially given the age of the kit, join together and fit well. The overall kit detail is on the sparse/simplified side and the turret MG is cartoonish, but over all it does look like a Patton. The lifting eyes are given as rings that you fit into slots in the turret and hull whereas in real life they are more inverted "U" shaped, but this is easily fixed by just nipping off one end. The main gun muzzle brake is decently done, but the barrel end needs to be drilled out. There are no brush guards for the lights. 


Fit is problematic in some areas and shimming and putty were necessary to close some of the larger gaps. There was also lots of flash and mold seams, but remember these are almost 60 year old molds. I  drilled out the main gun barrel and the exhausts, and had to retexture the turret after I fixed the huge top/bottom seam. I added the stiffening ribs to the fenders as they were large flat areas with no detail. I deepened the rear deck engine vents to better allow them to retain the black wash that would give them depth, and added handles to the commander's and loader's hatches. The .50 cal. MG would be a project in itself and given that this was just for a review, I did not want to spend the money on any pricey replacement part. 

The paint color was MM Green Drab, but with weathering and washes, it looks more brown than green. 


This is not a kit for a serious armor builder. It can, however, be a fun trip down memory lane and would make a nice gift for a youngster. It also might make a good father/child joint project, but I'd stick with one aged 12 and up as some parts as small and the fit problems could be frustrating for a real beginner.