Sanjay Badri-Maharaj, from Trinidad, received his MA and PhD from the Department of War Studies, Kings College London. His thesis was on India's Nuclear Weapons Program. He has written and published extensively, including two books - The Armageddon Factor: Nuclear Weapons in the India-Pakistan Context (2000) and Indian Nuclear Strategy: Confronting the Potential Nuclear Threat from both Pakistan and China (2018). He has served as a consultant to the Ministry of National Security in Trinidad and was a visiting International Fellow at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. This is his first instalment for Helion.
Helion's latest book in the Asia@War series is a square back soft cover includes 88 gloss paper pages. The front cover features a color (or possilby colorized) photograph of a 155mm FH77 Bofors howitzer in firing position along with stocks of 155mm shells overlaid over a color map of the Battle of Kargil theatre of operations (Page 40 viii). The color side profile by Tom Cooper is of an IAF Mirage 2000TH armed with a single Paveway II and a pair of Matra R550 Magic Mk.IIs. The rear cover features a color side profiles by Tom Cooper of an IAF Mil Mi-17 of the 129th Helicopter Unit, the 'Nubra Warriors'. I counted three color pictures and 68 black and white photographs. There also nine aviation color side profiles by Tom Cooper; seven armor color side profiles by Jerry Bocquelet; four uniformed figure illustrations by Anderson Subtil. There are eight black and white maps, one full color map, and 26 tables.
The 1999 Kargil conflict in Kashmir was the first battle that the citizens of India lived through the eyes of the Indian media. Journalists and photographers brought home the battle with violently graphic stories and images. Sanjay Badri-Maharaj brings this conflict to the western world with the first recounting of Kargil in the English language. Sanjay kicks off this tome with an introduction to the history and politics that led to this war. Notably, this was the first, and only instance to date, where both parties were nuclear states. India and Pakistan had both deployed nuclear weapons, possibly by the late 1980s. The division of British India into two independent states in 1947 resulted in the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, dividing the territories into non-Muslim and Muslim faiths. This partition itself was controversial, and the tension and open conflict have not disappeared.
Sanjay Badri-Maharaj covers the organizational structure of both India and Pakistan and provides Orders of Battle for both. A good discussion of India's and Pakistan's nuclear delivery capabilities follows. Politically, there was a last stab at peace, but militarily, the dice had already been cast. Interestingly, Pakistan surprised the Indian Intelligence operations with a tactical and operation plan that Pakistan utilized to invade Indian territory without any reaction from India. India did recover and pushed the Pakistanis back across the border, but it came at the cost of thousands of casualties. Fortunately, nuclear weapons were not used in this conflict, but the fact that both sides had deployed nuclear weapons to the battlefield shows how close it really came. India and Pakistan never acquitted anywhere near their complete forces to this conflict. Sanjay Badri-Maharaj does cover the air components of both sides, but this battle was really an infantry battle assisted by artillery. The sections include:
- Political Background
- A Rivalry Based on Partition
- The 1948 Kashmir War
- 1971 India-Pakistan War
- The 1972-1999 Period
- Political Situation in 1999
- Loss of Time
- Sharif Administration in Pakistan
- 21 February 1999: Lahore Declaration
- Contents of the Lahore Declaration
- The War at the Top of the World and the War that Never Was
- Indian and Pakistan Armies of 1999
- Organizational Structure
- Table 1: Typical Battalion Structure of the Indian Army
- Table 2: Typical Brigade Structure of the Indian Army
- Table 3: Typical Division Structure of the India
- Table 4: Nominal Structure of the Indian Army
- Table 5: Indian Army ORBAT
- Table 6: Typical Strike Corps Structure of the Indian Army
- Indian Combined Arms: Armour
- Infantry [Page 18]
- Table 7: RAPID Structure of the Indian Army
- Special Forces
- Para Special Forces Battalions
- Table 8: 50th Parachute Brigade, 1999
- Table 9: Para SF Battalions of the Indian Army, 1999
- Air Defense
- Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Warfare
- Unmanned Air Vehicles and the Army Aviation Corps
- The Pakistani Order of Battle
- Table 10: Pakistan Army ORBAT, 1999
- Status of Pakistani Combined Arms
- Table 11: Composition of the 9 Crops HQ & Force Command Northern Area, Pakistan Army
- Table 12: Nominal Composition of the Army Reserve North & South, Pakistan Army
- Air Defense
- Rival Air Forces
- Table 13: Primary Fighter-Bombers of the IAF, 1999
- Indian Strike Assets
- Strengths and Weaknesses of the IAF's Strike Force
- Table 14: Primary Fighter-Bomber Bombers of the PAF, 1999
- Pakistan's Strike Assets
- Weaknesses of Pakistan's Strike Force
- Strategic Air Defense Assets
- Strategic Air Defenses in India
- Indian Air Defenses: Sensor Network
- Manned Interceptors
- Table 15: IAF Order of Battle, 1998-1999
- Table 16: PAF Order of Battle, 1998
- Strategic Air Defenses in Pakistan
- Nuclear Factor
- Table 19: India, Consumption of Weapons Grade Plutonium
- Table 20: Pakistani Nuclear Capability in 1999
- New Missiles Add to the Delivery Options
- Table 22: Pakistan's Ballistic Missiles, 1999
- Pakistan's Nuclear Delivery Capability
- Available Warheads
- Nuclear Weapons During the Kargil War
- War Plans
- Possible Theatres of Operations
- India's Thinking Prior to Kargil: Conceptualizing a War Scenario
- Pakistan's Pre-Kargil Military Thinking
- Pakistan's War Plan: Kargil
- Pakistani Planning and Execution
- Defending Pakistani Positions
- The Detection
- Color Profiles [Page 40 v]
- Intelligence Failure
- Orders of Battle in Kargil
- Indian Army Order of Battle [Page 46]
- Table 23: Indian Army ORBAT, Kargil, 1999
- Indian Air Force Order of Battle
- Table 24: Indian Air Force ORBAT, Kargil, 1999
- Pakistani Army Order of Battle
- Table 25: Pakistan Army ORBAT, Kargil, 1999
- Pakistan Air Force Order of Battle
- Operation Vijay
- Forces in Kargil
- Understanding the Kargil War
- Discovering the Infiltration
- Scale of the Infiltration
- The Build Up
- Retaking Tololing - A Turning Point
- Initial Assaults
- Appalling Conditions
- Rushed Assaults with Tragic Consequences
- Building Up - Artillery Inducted
- Tololing Ridge
- The Final Assault
- Recapturing Point 5203
- Batalik Sector
- Point 4875
- Capture of Point 5140
- Taking Three Pimples and Point 4700
- Retaking Tiger Hill: The Beginning of the End
- Pakistani Withdrawal and Clearing Operations
- Zulu Spur
- Losses - A Bloody Balance Sheet
- Gunner's War [Page 67]
- Operation Safed-Sagar - The IAF's Campaign
- First Blood
- Environment and Air Power
- Operations Commence
- First Losses [Page 72]
- Enter Mirage 2000
- Lack of Laser-Guided Bombs
- Mirage 2000 in Action
- Strike Missions and Innovation
- Table 26: Combat and Support Sorties Flown, IAF, Kargil War
- Diplomatic Endgame
I really liked Sanjay Badri-Maharaj analysis of India's and Pakistan's nuclear development and capabilities. Pakistan had been supplied United States F-16s that had been "promised" to have been not-nuclear capable. Of course, if President Clinton had denied the F-16 sale to Pakistan, France was all too willing (And did) to sell Mirage III and V nuclear capable aircraft. India had several options for aircraft delivery in the Jaguar, MiG-23, and MiG-27; but it was the Mirage 2000 that India focused on for this role. Both India and Pakistan also had nuclear missile delivery systems that easily could have played a role as well.
Sanjay Badri-Maharaj leads the reader through an interesting journey in this battle between India and Pakistan. Although the actual conflict did not last long, there are some very interesting first person reports included. I really appreciated that Sanjay Badri-Maharaj introduces the background of both the military and the political policies that were involved. The contemporary photographs support the text, and they certainly give you a good perspective of the events described. Check out the picture on Page 72 that show the crew messages chalked on to the bombs for their enemy. If you own one the previous releases in the Asia@War series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.
My thanks to Helion & Company, Casemate Publishing, and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.
It wasn't so long ago that 1/32nd aircraft modelers were pretty hard pressed to find pilot or ground crew figures for dioramas they wished to make. ICM has rather single-handedly addressed this issue, and has been busy churning out wonderful sets to complement your 1/32nd scale aircraft collection. One of the latest of these is their WWII British Ground Personnel set.
This simple set consists of three ground crew figures, who seem to be specifically tailored to their excellent Gloster Gladiator aircraft kits. One is ostensibly removing the tail locks and testing the rudder, another is working on the engine and a third is preparing to prep the propeller. All three are useful additions to a good diorama, although obviously not all at once.
The figures couldn't be simpler, each consisting of legs, torso, arms and head (one with separate cap) along with a tiny tie-back bow for each. Because of their simplicity, it appears that some swapping of parts would be a relatively easy proposition for the sake of variety. Assembly is, of course, equally simple, with just a bit of putty to blend the overalls together effectively.
The poses as presented are quite good, and fit the Gladiator models perfectly. However, if I were making these strictly for myself, I would replace the heads, as the molded features are not particularly distinctive, unlike some of their other sets. On the other hand, by the very nature of the poses you won't be seeing much of any of their faces if properly placed.
Painting is a very straight-forward process as you'll be using a pretty limited palette. This doesn't mean that you can't have some fun with the shading and so on, as the drapery of the figures is really first-rate. My only real niggle is with the engine mechanic, as it would have been nice if they'd included a tool box, although this is readily obtained from other sources.
All in all, this is a really nice set of figures which can be used to enhance any British aircraft diorama. They are simple to build and to paint and can be modified with only a bit of work. Once again, ICM is helping modelers broaden their horizons without breaking the bank.
My hats off to ICM for continuing this wonderful line of figures and to IPMS/USA for the chance to add these to my Gladiators. Simply wonderful! Keep modeling, friends, and stay safe out there.
Aircraft and history:
The F-35B is a single engine, single crew multi role fighter/attack aircraft that has stealth capabilities, supersonic speeds and the ability to land vertically. The F-35B is the first operational aircraft that is Short takeoff & vertical landing (STOVL capabilities. In 1993, a request to develop a new fighter/strike aircraft for the USAF, Navy, Marines and multi national air forces under the term of Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). The JSF competition battle was between the Boeing X-32 and Martin X-35. In 2001, Lockheed Martin was the winner with the X-35 which will become the F-35 Lightning II. The F-35B became operational with the USMC 31 July 2015.
Final development, flight test and production went into full swing after the F-35 won the competition. Three versions have been developed for the United States. The F-35A (USAF version) is designed for conventional take off and landing. A Navy version, F-35C is similar to the USAF version with an increased wing area and carrier capable landing gear and arresting system. The next version, F-35B was a major technological leap by incorporating short takeoff and vertical landing capability. This ability was accomplished using a lift fan located right behind the cockpit which is powered by a drive shaft connected to the front of the engine. Transition from level flight to vertical flight is accomplished by vectoring the exhaust, lift fan and roll nozzles in the wings. A complex set of doors open above and below the lift fan and doors below the engine nozzle open to allow the exhaust nozzle to rotate down for lift. Two small doors open under the wings exposing roll control fans that are driven by the engine.
Common to all airframes is advanced avionics with imagery projected on a helmet mounted display providing situational awareness, infrared imagery, weapons targeting and the ability to virtually see through the aircraft in all directions. The F-35B does not have an internal gun like the F-35A does however a multi mission pod can be carried on the aircraft centerline carrying a 25mm, 4 barrel rotary gun and only 220 rounds. Bombs and missiles can be carried internally in a weapons bay as well as external hardpoints under the wings when stealth is not required.
Compared to Academy's F-35A, the F-35B box is considerably larger, comparable to a 1/48 scale kit. The larger box is required for all the extra options for the F-35B on larger sprues than the F-35A kit (7 sprues each kit). The level of detail and fine mold features is amazing for any scale let alone 1/72 scale. The Radar Absorbent material (RAM) detail on the fuselage is slightly raised and Academy's solution to the different color for RAM are decals saving the modeler time masking the airframe. More about that later. Weapons bay, cockpit and engine air intake detail is very impressive. The intakes are full run including the engine auxiliary intake and lift fan detail. One item that is missing, but is included on Academy's F-35A kit is a pilot figure. I made a copy of the figure from my F-35A kit in my stash. The modeler gets a good variety of weapons to mount on the aircraft from precision guided bombs, AIM-9X sidewinders, AIM-120 missiles and a gun (multi mission) pod.
The first thing to decide is which configuration to build. In flight, hover, on the ground, weapons bay opened or closed, external pylons or stealth mode. If mounting weapons pylons, gun pod or radar reflectors, you will need to drill holes ad directed. I planned on building mine in hover with the addition of a clear rod to suspend the model from a base. Provisions for the clear rod will be added in this build. One thing I noticed at the end of the build is the gun pod will not fit if the inner weapons bays are open with the AIM-120 missiles mounted. After your decision is made on configuration, you are instructed to assemble the lower fuselage. I delayed that portion until the engine intake with bypass duct was assembled and painted (note a couple ejector pin marks to be filled). The reason for this is that the forward lower intake portion is part od the weapons bay molding. I wanted to make it easy to fill any seams when the intake assembly is joined to the weapons bay. The intake and weapons bay assembly can now be put in the lower fuselage. Reliefs for the intake are located where the white portion meets the fuselage color.
Next item to work on is the cockpit which detail is good for 1/72 scale. There are options to apply decals however you may need to remove the raised detail to add the decals. This is not mentioned in the instructions. The seat, throttle, stick and instrument panel can be left off until later and easily installed after the upper fuselage is attached. Right behind the cockpit is the lift fan which is installed on a small section of lower fuselage and nose landing gear. Make sure the fan and ducting is painted before assembly since the guide vanes prohibit painting at a later time. In either flight configuration, the exhaust can be installed at a later in the build and the engine bay is the same so installing just the bay in the fuselage will save you the difficulty of masking around the exhaust. Now the upper, lower aft, lower forward fuselage and engine bay can be assembled.
Moving on to installing wing flight control surfaces and radome as instructed on step 7 then I skipped to step 13 to add the remaining flight surfaces (rudder and elevator). Each of the flight controls are rigidly attached and did not pose a problem handling the build and damaging these surfaces. Once step 13 was complete, I completed the cockpit, added a pilot figure and closed it up in the canopy. Note that there is a very delicate canopy framing that goes inside the clear canopy. Take extreme care removing this from the sprue and attaching it inside the clear canopy. The remaining sub-assemblies were made following instructions for later installation after painting & decaling was completed. I did modify the landing gear by cutting the oleo struts and extending the landing gear as it would be for in flight.
Painting and Decals:
I have been looking into what the "true color" of the F-35 is for years and I still have a few questions. From what I have learned is the closest match to the primary color is gray, 36170 per AMS-STD-595 (formerly Fed-STD-595C). It has been called "Have glass" for the reflectivity seen in the paint as well. The paint may not follow AMS standards (secret mixture) and just be close to 36170, it may be officially 36170 or something else I am not 100% sure. Bottom line is paint your model to where you are happy with the results. With that in mind, I took the scenic route in painting this F-35B.
Academy has a nice feature (which is probably the reason for the larger box) of providing a duplicate door for nearly ever part of the aircraft. A complete set for in flight and hover/gear down doors are provided. This really helped when painting since I used the "in flight" doors as masks during painting saving a bunch of time. First I tested four different brands of paint that claim to be 36170 or F-35 paint. One was completely off the charts incorrect and one was close but I could not get a decent texture. Down to the last two, I opted to the darker gray after looking at a few photos. After paint was applied, it did look a little dark but not too bad. The radome was painted using a different brand of 36170 which was a lighter shade. Academy provided a nice but time consuming fix for painting all the RAM areas which is typically a little lighter than the primary 36170 color. There are about 50 RAM decals to apply and you need to work in stages. Three days later (can only work an hour or two a night) all the RAM decals were applied. What I noticed is the sharp contrast between the darker main color and very light RAM decals that did not match any reference photos out there. I was really getting concerned on what to do at this point and not happy with the base color. Since all the RAM decals were on and only a couple of the unit markings, I took a leap of faith and the results were better than I could ever expect.
The solution to reducing the contrast between the RAM and base color was simple. Using the same color used on the radome (which was a different brand of 36170 than the base color), I sprayed a light mist of paint over the entire model including the RAM decals. This lightened the primary base color slightly while darkening the RAM color. Controlling how much paint you applied determined the contrast of colors. On my next F-35, I will use this same technique from the start. Having spent an afternoon next to a F-35C in a hangar last year, I had a good perspective on RAM to 36170 contrast should be. Looking online, I do see quite a bit of contrast variations, especially in different lighting angles. Bottom line, build your F-35 as you like, there is a lot of variations to settle with. As for the brands of paint that made the cut was MCW Gray #2141 (darker color but had the brownish tone I liked) and final top coat MRP-280 "Camouflage gray 36170.
The remaining decals went on without any issues and the decal quality is nearly perfect. There are a few areas that decals are not called out in the instructions (RAM and stencil decals). There are raised areas (probably RAM) surrounding the landing gear and weapons bay doors that there are not any decals for. Looking at the real aircraft, the outer portions of these doors are hard to tell color differences.
After the finish and airframe decals are completed, time to finish the little details. Jumping back to step 8, adding the landing gear (modified for in flight). The gear has nice detail including the wheels. During the lower fuselage assembly, the landing gear struts were assembled then removed from the airframe and painted. The landing gear is easily installed at this point. Installation of the internal weapons bay missile pylon is something Academy needs to look at and is probably the few areas that was an issue. On the real aircraft, the missile pylon has a hinge point for when the inner weapons bar door opens. The position of the pylon rotates too far down placing the missile fairly low and forcing the weapons bay door to nearly vertical. The issue this causes in that the multi mission (gun) pod to be a tight fit between the doors. Looking at reference photos, while hovering, the inner weapons bay doors are at about 45 degree angle from horizontal. On the kit, (I assume the same on the real aircraft) the inner doors can be either fully open or between 45 degrees to fully closed. The lower lift fan doors will hit the weapons bay doors. To fix mine, I bent the missile pylon so the AIM-120 was further outboard and hung the bay door about 45 degrees. If the missile pylon can be made in two pieces to rotate the missile further inside the weapons bay, this would help. The other issue in the weapons bay was mounting of the bombs. The GBU-31 barely fits in the weapons bay and locating pins (3) need to be removed to install the bombs. The external weapons went on without any issues.
The Academy F-35B has been one of the most enjoyable builds I have ever completed. From extreme attention to detail to fit of parts is impeccable. I would almost call this a "shake & bake" kit but there are some areas to can be a challenge so I recommend this kit for experienced modelers, especially if opening the weapons bay, landing gear extended or in "hover" configuration. Academy really raised the bar with this kit by giving the modeler a potential contest show stopper. There area a few areas that aftermarket companies should step in and make to enhance this kit more but this kit offers a lot more than other brands in this scale. Some suggestion to aftermarket companies, exhaust nozzle actuator details for when in hover, extended landing gear oleo strute for "hover" and correction of the AIM-120 launch rail inside the weapons bay. It is really hard to Academy to make this any better for modelers. Many thanks to MRC/Academy for providing this kit to IPMS for review.
AFV Club has released their third version of a 'Gun Truck' employed by hard-pressed convoy security forces in Viet Nam. This time around we meet the 'King Cobra', sporting three 50cal M2 'Ma Deuce' machine guns mounted on a fully equipped M113 APC hull, sans wheels and track, thrown right up into the bed of a M35 5-Ton truck, all black and bad. I took one look at the box top and I knew I had to build it.
The Viet Nam gun trucks have a fascinating history; borne of necessity, built with Southern ingenuity, and purpose-made to rain hell on its adversaries if attacked. While they were never officially sanctioned by the U.S. Army, an estimated 300 to 400 trucks were transformed in this way. Only a single gun truck, the 'Eve of Destruction', survives today, permanently on display at the Army Transportation Museum in Fort Eustis, VA.
Opening the box
The enormous, and sturdy, AFV Club kit box is relatively heavy and filled to the brim with parts and extras. The plastic is soft and in places, very thin, but I did not find any warpage or damage in shipping. There was some flash but nothing significant and what is there is limited to the smallest parts. Each substantial truck tire comes in two, crisply-molded halves made of plastic - which was a pleasant surprise, actually. I would much rather clean up an easy seamline than fight trying to paint and weather poly-whatever 'rubber' tires.
Of note: online and box-top images of the completed model show detailed, heavy fabric striations in the driver's compartment 'canvas' cover. The cover included in the kit (Part M2) lacks any such detail, reflecting a hardtop configuration for the M35 cab.
The contents of the box include:
- 24 sprues in soft, light-green plastic, packaged separately.
- APC Hull Body, packaged separately.
- 1 length of string for securing the M113 to the truck bed via two stanchions.
- 1 very small photo-etch sheets of mostly straps and belts and very small details.
- 1 small bag containing two gun mounts in dark grey resin
- 2 small sprues of clear parts containing headlights, mirrors and windows.
- 1 medium-sized sheet of decals with markings for one vehicle.
- 1 24-page black and white instruction booklet with 48 steps, including a single back color page showing a 5-view decal placement and paint guide.
The side-bounded instruction booklet, unfortunately, does not contain a list of unused parts - an omission which is compounded by the fact that the parts map is printed on one half of one page - far too small to read the numbers (on 24 sprues!). In fact, it is difficult to even make out the shape of many of the parts. I would humbly suggest that AFV Club either use an entire page for a legible parts map, or re-task this half-page space for a more useful purpose. In addition, in many places in the instructions, the part numbers are super-imposed directly over the main image which makes it a challenge to keep track of what has been added and what still needed to be attached. It would be better to pull the part numbers away and to the sides of the main images to help the modeler visualize the assembly steps.
On the plus side the instructions contain color call-outs for Gunze Sangyo (lacquers and acrylics), Humbrol, Revell and Lifecolor, and the decal placement instructions are supplied in a beautiful, five-view CAD image. Also, AFV Club thoughtfully includes a short, fascinating history of many of the gun trucks used in Viet Nam.
Sprues and parts are color coded in the instructions, so I was able to set aside the (13) sprues for the M113 while I focused on the truck, which greatly streamlined the assembly process - this kit has a lot of parts!
Things to consider before starting
On the plus side, the pieces of armored 'glass' can be carefully dropped into place after assembly and painting - thank you, AFV Club - this makes things so much easier. Likewise, the plastic wheels can be painted and weathered separately, and attached at the very end.
On the negative side, inexplicably, two of the three gun mounts are provided as very thin, delicate resin parts that broke immediately - one by using too much force to open up the too-small hole required for the M2 mounting post (it shattered and was unrepairable), and the other when the top-heavy truck gently rolled onto it's side (on to a small towel, nonetheless - a towel placed there to protect this very part in case the truck rolled over). I was able to repair that one, gluing two pieces along a razor thin edge. What surprises me is that AFV Club produces some of the finest moldings in the industry - why choose resin here? It's a shame, since the guns up top are the heroes of the model; what everyone looks at first. My ever-supportive wife claimed, as the second stand broke again at the end of the build, that "the (cobbled-together gun mounts) gave the finished model a look of authenticity true to the vehicle's heritage". Bless her heart.
The Lower Chassis, Running Gear and Main Deck
Assembly begins with the lower chassis designed with two main rails that run the length of the truck and numerous other parts set at 90 degrees along the length of the rails. A nicely detailed engine and transmission sit down on top of this latticework, as well as the three articulating axles. There are a lot of parts and a lot of opportunities to get things wrong, so go slowly.
The fit of parts B23 and B24 in Step 7 is vague at best. Make sure you are holding the axle with the correct orientation and the larger image on the bottom of Step 7 should help.
In Step 9 there are several parts in the right-hand image whose placement is vague at best. I figured out what went where by attaching the two rods (Parts C19 and C50) to the triangular plate (Part C31) using slow-drying, black-bottle Testors cement. That gave me time to swivel them and the plate around to see where things fit once I attached one end of Part C19 to the chassis to anchor the assembly. In the end, everything ends up fitting fine.
I canted the front axle to turn 'right' before cementing it in place, and left the wheels off until the end of the build. The six brake drums work fine for supporting the heavy model during assembly.
In Step 13, a tool rack that sits on top of one of the fuel tanks can be painted and attached at the end, if desired.
AFV Club includes four water cans in the kit, I assembled and used two, putting the others in my spare parts box.
The Driving Compartment and Truck Bed
The pieces of armored 'glass' can be dropped into place after assembly and painting, although care must be taken to ensure that they don't drop inside the cab - this mostly is the case with the windows in the doors. A rear-cab split window (Part N6) is not mentioned in the instructions (??), and is inaccessible after the M113 is added. I painted the edges of all the thick pieces of glass black so that light didn't refract off the surfaces when in place.
The fit of the seven-part cab and six-part hood is flawless; each piece set into pre-engraved slots which need very little cement. AFV Club should be commended for absolutely nailing this oft-challenging task.
Separate decals are provided for each dashboard dial, etc., with a nice paint & placement image in Step 16. You might want to take a picture of your work, however, since the thick, armored glass, while transparent, limits visibility to the cab area to almost zero.
The placement (or purpose) of Part C9 in the bottom right image of Step 19 is a mystery - but if you work out the angles and fit, you will find that it can only go in one place - hopefully the right place.
Caution: the two small PE sheets are both labeled 'G' and contain parts that are numbered identically between the two. I was about to apply CA glue to four brackets for the cab (Parts G5 in Step 17) when I realized they were the wrong G5 parts - the correct ones were on the other PE sheet.
The truck bed is solid and, once you remove the upper wooden slats from the four sides, comes together quickly and easily, with two minor exceptions. First, the locating holes for placing the bed on the chassis, and the male parts that go into these holes do not quite fit. I suggest you simply remove the male parts and glue the bed down with some weight to keep it in place. Secondly, there are two chain runs, one on each side of the flip-down door that were simply too small for my big, meaty hand to manipulate. Since the APC forces the door to be down anyway, I left them off.
The M113 APC
The novel aspect of this version of the gun truck is that it contains a fully equipped M113 Armored Personnel Carrier. On page 10, there is a clean break between building the truck and building the APC. In fact, you can remove all truck-related stuff from your workbench - the next 12 pages are dedicated to this 'reworked' AFV.
Nor surprisingly, AFV Club chose to go to one of their many M113 offerings for most of the sprues needed in this kit. The final result is quite literally a fully-detailed APC minus the track and wheels, leaving the bottom of the hull placed directly on the bed of the truck, just as you might imagine happening in some backlot of a maintenance facility, sticky hot with red clay soil and an old lifting crane. Grab a bucket of black paint, some guns and ROLL.
Assembly starts with the highly detailed interior. All hatches fully open, including the large rear door, so what is offered inside will go a long way for someone to super-detail this kit. Of specific interest are the three significant crew stations, complete with articulating seats that are small models in themselves. Radios, benches, stowage racks, control panels, fire extinguishers, etc., line the walls around the three stations. Stencils and decals are included, along with detailed painting instructions.
The fit of everything is superior, with the only hiccup encountered when dropping the main roof down into the various grooves and notches provided. The (now) reinforced hull was a little narrow along the sides, preventing the top to fit snugly into where it needed to go. I cut two cross members to fit tightly in between the sides to hold them slightly apart until the glue started to set, when I removed them from the interior. I attached clamps at the rear on both sides to force the corners into place.
One easy issue to address - do not attach Parts D33 to the interior of the roof (Step 38) until after the roof is in place, (Step 39).
Machine Guns and Mounts
AFV Club kits have beautifully rendered M2 50cal machine guns, but getting them together has always been a challenge for me. I don't know if I just can't interpret instructions, or the fit and design is poor, or what. The ammunition box connection points never seem to sit right, and when they do, they block other parts from fitting. I've probably built a dozen of these now and every one of them has been a 'load-the-glue-on-and-move-the-parts-around-until-it-looks-like-a-gun' affair. In the end, I have decent looking guns, but close inspection reveals a mess. In addition - these particular guns have shields, which, in one case, required a plastic shim to extend the gun base backwards from the shield so the ammunition box could fit in behind.
I suggest that you use slow-drying Testor's 'Black Bottle' cement, which allows ample drying time for coaxing these parts into place.
The last sequence in the instructions guides you through assembling two stanchions that supposedly keep the APC from rolling backwards off the truck bed. The hasps (Parts P5) are not deep enough to allow the rings on the end of each stanchion to find purchase, and once they are attached, they barely stand off the surface of the APC hull, unlike the image in the instructions. I decided to leave them off. Sometimes you just gotta say 'done'.
Painting and Finish
Except for priming and pre-shade coats, I used Tamiya paints throughout, thinned 50/50 with Gunze Leveling Thinner. I've come to really like airbrushing this paint mix and although not as healthy as the new acrylics, I can depend on the consistent results I achieve every time I pick up the airbrush.
Paint it Black
I would normally start by applying a coat of (rattlecan) Krylon Flat Black Paint/Primer for my dark, primer/pre-shade coat, but this is an unusual case - the entire model is black! Since I wanted to break up the monotone look of just plain black, I painted the cab and truck front end with Tamiya X-18 Semi-Gloss Black, the chassis and truck bed using Tamiya XF-69 NATO Black, and the M-113 using Alclad Gloss Back Primer.
Drivers Compartment and Cab
I painted the interior of the driver's compartment, spare water cans and odds and ends using Tamiya XF-62 Olive Drab mixed with XF60 Dark Yellow 80/20. The exhaust stack received Tamiya XF-16 Flat Aluminum, and the yellow identification stripe on the hood Tamiya XF-3 Flat Yellow with a couple of drops of Tamiya X-6 Orange to deepen the bright yellow to a more 'school-bus' shade. I painted the inside of each headlight Molotow Liquid Chrome before pushing them into their receptacles.
On-Deck Equipment and Guns
After the primer had degassed, I attended to the pioneer tools and guns. The shovel and sledge hammer heads were first painted Tamiya NATO Black, and then detailed with Uschi Chrome powder. The shafts were painted using Tamiya XF-59 Desert Yellow, and then, when dry, covered with MIG Brown Wash Oil paint from a tube. I let this sit for a few minutes and then rubbed most of the oil off with a clean brush, leaving enough residue to simulate wood grain and dirt.
The machine guns were painted Tamiya XF-84 Dark Iron, and then detailed with Vallejo Saddle Brown and Uschi Chrome metallic powder. I painted the ammunition boxes AKI Real Color RC094 IDF Sinai Grey 1990, a somewhat faded version of my go-to-and-out-of-production Pactra Artillery Olive, the color I've always used for this application. Both parts then received a brown wash.
Decals and Photo Etch
With painting finished, I hand-painted a coat of Future on the (NATO Black) chasses where the various stenciling went, and relied on the glossy surfaces of the other areas to take their decals as is. Once the Future was dry, I went about applying the decals using the Red and Blue MicroSol and MicroSet products. The decals were very thin and surprisingly stubborn once on the surface. Patience prevailed, however, and I was able to coax them into place. The long (Snake) decals gave me the most trouble as they tended to fold back on themselves during application. I followed this with a second, sealing coat of Future to help hide the edges of the decals.
I weathered the wheels using a mixture of Mig African Earth, Dark Mud, and Europe Dust pigments applied as a thin slurry thinned with Mona Lisa thinner. Once dry, I brushed off the excess and worked the pigment around a little using a stiff paintbrush. Once I had those right, I attached them to the truck and attached the three gun mounts and other breakable items (rear view mirrors, tool rack, etc., to prepare for weathering.
Dark pen washes would disappear into the black background, so I mainly stayed with the same colors I used for the tires, applying them wet individually and mixed, and adjusting them after they had dried. If I put too much on, I adjusted those areas by using a thicker black wash, essentially starting over. I left the cab and hood sections shiny since these areas would have been cleaned off and shined more often by the proud crewmembers.
No doubt about it, this kit was a challenge to build, and to finish. AFV Club has a solid reputation for offering unusual, highly accurate injection-molded kits. There kits have a lot of parts, and sometimes dealing with that level of detail can be maddening. I have often said that AFV kits are not for the faint of heart, and I mean it. You have to know what you're doing, you have to have a lot of patience, and you need to know how to slow down.
I have been building AFV Club kits for years, and I have often complained about the lack of positive locator pins or holes or other (common) assists found in other kits, such as interior ridges and/or insets that may not have existed on the real thing, but could be included, out of sight, and would really help modelers. Well, I'd like to think that AFV Club has finally heard my message, but more likely has simply decided to add more design features that assist in buildability. Whatever the case, the complex, multipart truck cab and front end literally fell together; each piece inserted into the other along inner edges and corners. Complex pieces could only fit a single way, etc., etc. I would like to heartedly commend the company for adding these features to their design process.
I am more than satisfied with the end result, and all that busy detail looks great on the finished model.
The number of small parts, the complicated assemblies and use of photoetch and resin leads me to recommend this kit to experienced modelers only. Go slow, pre-fit everything, and above all, have fun!
I would like to sincerely thank AFV Club for providing this kit for review, and to IPMS USA for giving me the opportunity to build it.
This 50-page reference document presents a nice pictorial history of the P-38H in the Pacific theater of WWII. While all but two of the photographs are black & white, this shouldn't be a problem for modelers trying to duplicate the color scheme since all those shown were olive drab over gray.
This e-document allows a reader to navigate from a thumbnail list at the front or scroll through full-size photographs. The photos reveal the irregularities of the camo painting, the painted-on number designations, and general weather-beaten condition of the Lightnings in the Pacific. While the author admits the variable quality of the photos due to wartime limitations, there are some sharp, up-close ground and mid-air shots of the plane from various angles.
The author was not able to identify the individuals in photo #19. While I have yet to ID the women, I submit that the fellow in the photo is actor Gary Cooper. Cooper was too old and unfit for duty at the time, but he toured SW Pacific as a morale booster.
This work is both an interesting read from a purely historical viewpoint as well as a valuable resource for someone who wants to build a specific P-38H from the Pacific theater.
My thanks to Richard Marmo, IPMS #2 and IPMS USA for the opportunity to review these pictures. The timing couldn't be better with Tamiys hew P-38H hitting the shelves
The Ilyushin Il-2, commonly known as the "Sturmovik," was a ground attack aircraft used by the Soviet Union during the Great Patriotic War (World War 2) in great numbers. In fact, it was the most produced aircraft of all back then, with almost 37,000 being made during the course of the war. Simple, sturdy and heavily armored, it played a crucial role on the Eastern Front fighting against the Axis, destroying innumerable vehicles and tanks and greatly blunting the force of Hitler's attacks on the homeland.
This new volume by MMP Books in their "Spotlight On" series is a wonderful reference for modelers. It begins with a quick overview of the camouflage specifications for aircraft of the Soviet Union, and then follows with page after page of profiles. In fact, the book is almost entirely dedicated to color profiles and plan views.
This slim 42-page hardbound journal features 34 different aircraft in a bewildering range of schemes for both the early single and the later dual-seat versions, including one with a torpedo! All are beautifully rendered and displayed in vivid color. If there isn't something here you can use on your next build, you're a tougher audience than I am.
Plainly speaking, this is very much a modeler's reference, with enough ideas and information to make your next project something special. I certainly intend to use this reference when I finally gird my loins enough to tackle the Trumpeter 1/32nd kit. The only question, of course, is with so many choices, which to choose?
I can gleefully recommend this volume for any modeler interested in WW2 aviation, and I suspect the others in this range would prove to be equally useful. My thanks to MMP Books for releasing this useful text and to IPMS/USA for a chance to add it to my library. Excellent!
The Women's Airforce Service Pilots organization was a unit during World War 2 in which women became trained pilots in order to test or ferry aircraft to war zones, the whole intent being to free more male pilots for combat roles. Formed from the Women's Flying Training Detachment and the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, the WASPs merged these two into a single unit in 1942 and carried out their various duties until 1944. Despite their service, WASPs were accorded no military standing and did not receive any of the benefits accorded male members of the Army Air Corps. Thirty-eight members of the unit died while transporting military aircraft or cargo, towing targets for live anti-aircraft training, or performing any of a number of other high-risk training missions in the service of their country. In 1977, thirty-three years afterwards, the survivors were finally granted veteran status. In 2009 the unit was collectively awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for their selfless duty.
ICM has once again come out with a figure set unlike anything else on the market. In this case, they provide three beautifully sculpted figures of women pilots and support staff in casual poses which can be employed in a variety of dioramas or stand as individual display pieces. All three figures are very well detailed with distinctive features and character.
Assembly is relatively straight-forward with a couple of exceptions, one being the pilot with the parachute harness, which took me a bit of fiddling to figure out. Unfortunately, ICM no longer shows multiple views of their figures in the instructions, instead offering a sort of "low rez" version of the box art. This means that you're sometimes stuck piecing things together from guesswork. I THINK I got mine right, but without further visual reinforcement I can't be sure.
The only other place requiring a bit of patience and putty was the office woman's dress, which did not fit well and required some persuasion to come together. Putty is definitely required in any case. No other problems with assembly were encountered, however.
When it comes to painting, I discovered online that the range of uniforms used is a lot broader than what is presented on the box art, so I took liberties and used some of the online information to paint them up in more than the fairly drab khaki shown. I love the differences among the figures, in that you can clearly see that the woman with the parachute is an "older hand" than the other two women. All three positively exude character and I can hardly wait to find a suitable setting for each of them. Outstanding!
All in all, I can't think of anything about this set I didn't like with the exception of the somewhat vague instructions. This is a unique set that I am really charmed with. I cannot recommend them highly enough.
My thanks to ICM for constantly pushing the modeling frontier, and to IPMS/USA for a chance to add these lovely ladies to my collection.
Everyone be safe and happy modeling!
Steven J. Zaloga was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts to John and Muriel Zaloga on February 1, 1952. Steven earned his undergraduate degree Cum Laude in History at Union College and his Masters' degree in History at Columbia University. He obtained a Certificate in International Affairs from the graduate program of the University of Cracow. He has worked in the aerospace industry for some twenty years as an analyst specializing in missiles, precision guided munitions and unarmed aerial vehicles. Steven has served with a federal think tank, Defense Analyses. He was the writer director for The Discovery Channel's "Firepower" series from 1987 to 1992. He has authored many books on military technology, especially in armored warfare. Steven is a noted scale armor modeler and is a member of AMPS (Armor Modeling and Preservation Society).
Illustrator Jim Laurier, a native of New England, provides the color profiles. Jim has been drawing since he could hold a pencil. He graduated with honors from Paier School of Art in Hamden, Connecticut, from 1974-78. Throughout his life, Jim 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 Laurier prefers working in oils on canvas and has specialized in Vietnam War era aircraft. He currently lives in New Hampshire. You can find his artwork at http://www.aviationarthangar.com/jimlaurier.html . Check him out!
Osprey's 283rd book in the New Vanguard series is a square back soft cover including 48 gloss paper pages. The front cover features a color painting of four of the 413 VB-1 Azon dropped in Burma on December 1944, by Jim Laurier (a larger one-page landscape version is included inside on Page 37). I counted 35 black and white pictures, five color photographs, and five tables. Jim Laurier contributes four battle-scene color illustrations in addition to a two-page keyed color cutaway of the BQ-7 (B-17G). Jim also provides color side and top views of the GB-1 and TDR-1. Steven J. Zaloga contributes a color illustration of one of two PB4Y-1 Privateers that was converted to the Anvil guided bomb.
Steven J. Zaloga kicks off this tome with a short introduction to the Kettering Bug of World War I. Budgets were slashed after the war, and of course this "cruise missile" was a casualty. General 'Hap' Arnold's familiarity with the Kettering Bug, returned with his promotion to Chief of the Air Corps in 1938. Charles Kettering again became involved and pushed Arnold to be more ambitious with the concept. The desire for a greater load and range led to the concept of using war weary four engine bombers. Many are more familiar with this program, Operation Aphrodite, since John F. Kennedy's brother was killed when the bomb load prematurely exploded. Steven J. Zaloga also covers many of the other programs that sought to match the perceived effects of the German missiles. This included purpose built aircraft like the TDR-1 that actually saw missions in the Pacific theatre. In the end, the guidance technology simply was not mature enough to make the investment from the Air Corps or Navy's perspective. Guided vertical bombs in the form of the VB-1 Azon had some success in attacking bridges in Burma, but again success was limited. The contents include:
The Aerial Torpedo
Project Castor: Weary Willies [Page 07]
Table: AAF Aphrodite Missions
Color Cutaway Illustration: BQ-7 Missile Aircraft
Table: Castor BQ-7x Expended in the ETO
Table: Old Codename - New Codename
Navy Assault Drone Programs
Color Illustration: Interstate TDR-1 "Dog" Assault Drone, South Pacific [Page 15]
Jet Bombardment Missiles
Guided Glide Bombs
Grapefruit and Batty: The AAF Guided Guide to Bombs
Color Illustration: GB-1, Operation Grapefruit, Mission 376, Cologne, May 28, 1944
Color Illustration: GB-4, Operation Betty, La Pallice, France, August 17, 1944
Table: Controlled Guide Bombs
Pelican and Bat: The Navy Guided Glide Bombs
Color Illustration: SWOD Mark 9 Bat, VPB-109, Philippines, 1945 [Page 29]
Color Illustration: Taylorcraft LBT-1 Glomb
Guided Vertical Bombs
Color Illustration: VB-1 Azon, Sittang River, Burma, December 1944
Table: AAF Guided Vertical Bombs
Air Defense Missiles
Air-To-Air Missiles [Page 44]
Surface-To-Surface Ballistic Missiles
Books and Publications
America's efforts in guided missiles was largely kept secret and has not received the attention that the Axis countries did in WWII. I found quite a few of the programs that never came to fruition to be quite interesting. The US's attempts to copy the German V-1 cruise missile was troubled by not fully understanding all the technology involved. In the end, the American version, the JB-1 Loon, never solved its issues before the end of the war. It was instrumental in the later development of cruise missiles, but that would not support its planned use for the bombardment of Japan prior to landing troops. Perhaps showing off the huge issues faced in guidance systems, the US even considered utilizing pigeons to guide missiles. This would be accomplished by having a pigeon pecking at one of three television screens that showed the target. This would cause the missile to alter course. Luckily for the pigeons, this plan never became operational.
Steven J. Zaloga provides a very readable text with plenty of photographs that is supplemented illustrations from Jim Laurier. I was able to read the book easily over two evenings. If you own one the previous releases in the New Vanguard 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.
Somewhat of a trend in the hobby industry of late has been certain manufacturers releasing detailed, stand alone models of ship components. Fujimi has a 1/200th scale kit of a main gun turret from the Yamato battleship, Meng released two 1/35th scale kits of Russian Naval vessel armaments: a 130mm gun turret and the Kastean Close-In Weapons System. While Naval armaments are fine, what if your modeling interests are aircraft? Fear not gentle reader, HK Models has come to the rescue.
HK Models is releasing a complete kit of the nose section from their 1/32nd scale Avro Lancaster. This 'Nose Art' kit features all the bits from the full-size model, leaving you with a detailed, standalone replica of the Lancaster's pilot, bomb aimer/forward gunner, flight engineer, navigator, and radio operator positions. (The other two crew members sat in the mid and aft sections of the fuselage.)
Don't concern yourself with not being able to see all the detail when you're finished. HK Models has provided the right fuselage side in clear plastic that will allow for a see-through model of this kit. Additionally, there is a cradle/construction dolly included to appropriately show off your 'Nose Art'.
Per Wikipedia: "The standard crew for a Lancaster consisted of seven men, stationed in various positions in the fuselage. Starting at the nose, the bomb aimer had two positions to man. His primary location was lying prone on the floor of the nose of the aircraft, with access to the bomb sight controls facing forward, with the Mark XIV bomb sight on his left and bomb release selectors on the right. He also used his view out of the large transparent perspex nose cupola to assist the navigator with map reading. To man the Frazer Nash FN5 nose turret, he stood up placing himself in position behind the triggers of the twin .303 in (7.7 mm) guns.
On the roof of the bomb bay the pilot and flight engineer sat side by side under the expansive canopy, with the pilot sitting on the left on a raised portion of the floor. The flight engineer sat on a collapsible seat (known as a "second dickey seat") to the pilot's right, with the fuel selectors and gauges on a panel behind him and to his right.
Behind the pilot and flight engineer, and behind a curtain fitted to allow him to use light to work, sat the navigator. His position faced to port with a chart table in front of him. An instrument panel showing the airspeed, altitude, and other information required for navigation was mounted on the side of the fuselage above the chart table. The wireless operator's radios were mounted on the left-hand end of the chart table, facing the rear of the aircraft. Behind these and facing forwards the wireless operator sat on a seat at the front of the main spar. On his left was a window, and above him was the astrodome, used for visual signaling and by the navigator for celestial navigation.
Assembly begins with the cockpit. Oh wait! This is a kit of a cockpit so where else would one begin.... There are 171 kit parts in the box which includes a small fret of photo etch (seat belts, air scopes, etc.) and all the clear bits (canopy, windows, and such) plus the afore mentioned fuselage side panel.
Just to shake things up, I began with the last set of steps and built the construction dolly first. This cradle was used to move the completed, forward fuselage about in the factory. This is a fairly simple construction project although the assembly instructions did get some of the part numbers wrong. (The dolly wheels should be part # 9 and the casters should be part # 7). If you wish to use the dolly to display your 'Nose Art' kit you will need to drill out a few holes in the fuselage sides but that is clearly marked in the assembly instructions.
HK Models didn't designate a particular color for this cradle and a brief search of the internet didn't reveal much in the way of color photos. I did manage to find an image of some red/ white scaffolding used in the final assemble stage of the Lancaster, so I went with an overall reddish shade. These things were probably banged around a lot in the factory, so a weathered or well used look might be appropriate.
Now it is on to the actual cockpit and that begins with the pilot seat. But before you dive into building, pay careful attention to the assembly instructions. Make careful note of what needs to be removed and what needs to stay on specific parts. HK Models lists color callouts for the various parts throughout assembly. A handy color guide is included which matches paints from AK Interactive, Tamiya, and Gunze/Mr. Hobby for the specific color.
The pilot seat is comprised of fourteen parts (some of which are very delicate) including photoetched seat belts. Of note is the seat headrest. This armored headrest was hinged and can be modeled folded down behind the seat. The assembly instructions show a large yellow circle painted on the headrest. Allegedly this was gas sensitive paint that would alert crewman to the presence of unhealthy agents. But I like the other explanation better. The Lancaster only had one pilot and this spot was the optional place to whack the seat to awaken the pilot when they dozed off.
Various components for the bomb aimer, wireless operator, and navigator stations come next as well as some additional detail components for the pilot (rudder pedals, control column, etc.). There are seven parts for the pilot's forward instrument panel but, sadly, no decals for the instruments. Both Eduard (cockpit details, seat belts, canopy masks) and Airscale (instrument panels) have after-market bits to enhance this area. I went with 'hand painting' the instrument dials with a silver Sharpie and a toothpick to apply assorted colors to the other instruments. All of these subassemblies as well as side walls and additional detail bits get attached to the cockpit floor which is actually the roof of the forward bomb bay. Which gives a whole new meaning to "being on the hot seat"!
There are a number of ejector pin marks on the backside of the instrument panel, bomb bay bulkhead, wireless operator's panel, and a cockpit side panel (one with the flight engineer's instruments molded onto it). That side panel (part # P 1) may be the problematic one as the rear side will be visible through the clear fuselage. Speaking of that clear fuselage side, HK Models has embossed it with their logo and the part number. If you remove those, get out the polishing compound as that removal might leave a mark.
Another aspect of using the clear fuselage side that may present a challenge are the number of parts (fuze/ instrument panels, etc.) that are added to the inside of the forward fuselage side for the bomb aimer station. One challenge of note are the attachment points on the clear fuselage side. Those attachment points seemed a bit vague. What isn't so vague is the need to paint most of these parts before you attach them to the clear fuselage. The inside of both fuselage sides have excellent molded detail to which all those previously mentioned extra bits (fuse panels, controls, etc.) get added. HK Models even provides an alternative photoetch bit (mounting bracket) for one of the bomb aimers aiming devices.
Next on the assembly agenda is the twenty-two part forward gun turret. The gun barrels are designed to be added later should you wish to avoid the possibility of knocking them off as you continue your 'Nose Art' model. Master Models has brass, replacement barrels for this kit. This step is the first use of the excellent, clear parts for this kit. Due to the size of this kit you may wish to give some thought to painting the inner canopy framing as you progress through your build. A black Sharpie might ease this task. Be careful removing all the clear parts from the sprues, I didn't and wound up with some laborious polishing to remove the sprue attachment points from some of the clear parts.
The interior assembly gets sandwiched between the two fuselage halves. Remember you have the choice of either a clear side panel or the traditional (non see-through, of course) plastic part. Pitot tubes, cooling vents, and some other bits are the last things added to the outer fuselage. I added some maps to the navigator's station just for grins. If you look closely you can just make out the Port of Calais.
HK Models provides marking options for four different aircraft: one from the RAF, two RAAF (Australian) and one Canadian bird (the option I choose). As you only apply decals to just one side, this task is pretty quick and simple. The decals settled down beautifully. Having previously drilled out some mounting holes in the fuselage panels, the 'Nose Art' model gets placed in the transport trolley/shop cradle. The only thing left to do is sit back and admire your handy work.
The Avro Lancaster B Mk.I 'Nose Art' Kit from HK Models is a neat, easy to build, space saving model of the business end of that iconic British bomber. For the avid (or rabid) detailer out there, there are ample opportunities to add a plethora of extra bits (wiring, control cables, etc.). And the fun part about detailing this kit is that it isn't the entire aircraft. Not only does this offering save space, it will be a real time saver as well. Just be sure to give this impressive kit a place of honor in your display space of choice.
My thanks to HK Models and IPMS/USA for the review copy.
Support Your Local Hobby Shop!
MENG has released a new tool kit of this great British AFV, which I have always wanted to have in my collection.
I jumped at the opportunity to review this kit for two reasons, firstly I love the look of this vehicle and it's a British AFV with no other offerings in this scale on the market.
In the box is;
- 5 x very light grey Sprues
- 1 x clear sprue
- 1 x Upper Hull in light grey
- 1 x Turret in light grey
- 1 x Lower hull in light grey
- 1 x small Decal sheet
- Track links
- 1 x Metal Gun Barrel
- Polycarp's - Big and small
- 1 x Photo etch sheets (small)
- 1x Instruction booklet
- Data sheets
The kit consists of a very well details and molded sprues. A couple of great additions to the kit are the PE masks for the wheels and the Track pads. Also, the PE is all pre-cut and do not need clipping from the sheet which is an awesome idea that I hope other will do as this makes PE so much more workable. They also include a small tool for assembling the tracks.
Stages 1 and 2 is the construction of the lower hull suspension and torsion bars. Which was easy to complete.
Stages 3 to 5 are attaching details to the upper hull.
Stages 6 to 7 assemble the hull and add the rear door bulkhead.
Stages 8 to 10 assemble the road wheels etc. I did not attach the wheels at this stage as that will be after the main painting.
Stage 11 is the track assembly, again I did not assembly to the Warrior at this point. The track assembly was very easy once I got into the swing of it using the provided tool. You have to be careful lining the pins up as they can be bend very easily and I did ruin a couple the first go.
Stages 12 to 22 adds more details to the hull and all when together well.
Stage 23 and 24 add the rear tool box and AC unit. Here I did add some PE from my spares box to improve the A/C mesh/grills which were the only area on the kit I did feel was not as good as it could be.
Stages 25 to 27 add the main hull bar armor which is very good.
Stages 28 to 37 are the assembly of the Turret. This too was a very easy build.
Stage 38 adds the turret and metal barrel which I did out in some metal burnishing liquid overnight.
Now I did the priming and main painting. Next I attached the road wheels, mud guards and then tracks.
This was awesome build and I enjoyed every minute of it. I would have liked a few more options on the decals and schemes.
This was a fantastic kit, it goes together like a dream and I highly recommend it.
Thanks go to MENG models for providing this kit to review and IPMS USA for allowing me to review it for them.
Two Bobs Aviation Graphics is one of leaders in aviation decals with an impressive variety in 1/32, 1/48 and 1/72 scale. This latest release has very interesting subject of privately owned company that offers airborne adversary support (dissimilar aircraft) known as "Red Air". With a fleet of over 50 aircraft, eleven airframes are McDonnel Douglas A-4 Skyhawks and the other six aircraft types range from a single Beech Baron to twenty seven MIG-21's. This sheet, from my count, will allow you to make two of ten different aircraft.
There are three sheets with one sheet (standard 5x9) and two smaller sheets covering additional details like intake warnings and external pylon warning triangles. Each sheet is printed perfectly without any print register errors and the few items that have color are very accurately printed. There are some very small markings and easy to read. All the markings are included from tail numbers down to the stencils and the few walkways that exist. There are two (front and back) full color instructions sheet that clearly show placement of markings for the ten different subjects. As a bonus, there is a large section showing reference photos of the real aircraft. The instructions indicate the correct FS paint colors along with five paint brands, AK/MiG, Hataka, Mr. Color, Mr. Paint and Xtracrylix. In addition to all the data, there are a few comments listing aftermarket masks from DNmodels and resin upgrades from Phase Hangar resin so you have everything you need for a contest show stopper.
This is one of the most comprehensive decal sheets I have seen. Very fine work from Two Bobs and that is what I have always seen from them. It is nice to see a company covering the uncommon subjects like Draken International. Hopefully Two Bobs will produce decals for more aircraft in the Draken International fleet in the future. I would like to thank Two Bobs Aviation Graphics for this review sample.
IPMS/USA appreciates the continued support of Jan at Hauler/Brengun for supporting the IPMS USA reviewer corps with yet one more of his unique and useful products!
Today's review is a pair of AGM-45 Missiles and Launch rails from Brengun.
What you get: Two Missiles, launch rail adaptors, decals (YAY), and diorama parts. The diorama parts are the transport spreader bars in PE for the aft Missile launch lug, and the electrical umbilical's for a pre-loaded missile. Also included are the missile motor nozzle rings.
The missiles are well detailed with appropriate screw holes and scribing. The missile forward wings are separate, which allows them to be displayed in "off-line" condition, or in a missile transport coffin with the wings off. (This is not included).
Assembly was uneventful. The wings require a bit of pour flash to be carefully removed. Be aware the resin is not brittle and cuts/sands/drills well. The wings can be assembled as a push-fit, but I recommend a bit of thin superglue to hold them in place.
The aft fins needed a bit of careful knife work to clean up the pour point, but afterwards were very well rendered. I drilled out the missile body to facilitate painting and make it easier to install the engine nozzle rings. No flying away if the glue didn't grab, as the nozzles just sat on the end with the cocktail stick capturing the ring if it popped off. Once the superglue cured, they were in place.
The mounting rails fit the missile rails nicely and I opted to drill a hole through the launch rail and into the missile with a length of coat hanger wire remaining exposed, in order to facilitate using the pin to hold the assembly to the launch pylon, and making for a more durable fit.
Painting was simple; gray primer to fill scratches and check for too much CA, followed by Tamiya white spray cans primer. This was followed by Krylon's gloss white over all, and allowed to cure.
Decals behaved very well, and did not silver. I went ahead and micro-soled them, and they were held firmly in place. A light mist of satin gloss, and done. These decals seriously made a big difference in the final appearance of the missiles... a trend most manufacturers have been following for a few years now. It is worth the extra time and struggle to get them in place!
I was very pleased to have been the reviewer of this AGM-45 set, as it is a solution for my F-105 "Wild weasel". The Trumpeter Shrikes have the missile front wings mounted extremely too far to the rear. (As a note, the Hobbyboss 1/48th F-105G is a downsized computer copy of the 1/32nd Trumpeter kit, and this error is prevalent on their Shrikes too...) 1/48th scale is easier to source Shrikes for. Brengun got the whole assembly correct!
End of review notes: No problems, an excellent evening of light detail work, and another couple of hours for decals and finish paint (most of it waiting for paint curing).
Full marks for this item, thanks very much to Jan for providing the set and thanks to IPMS for the opportunity to review them!
Osprey is a prolific publishing company based in England that not only covers historical military history topics, but modern ones as well. Published in 2020, this work as a tight focus on vehicles used by the wide variety of elite and specialist troops in the Russian Republic. As with nearly every series of Osprey the book is filled with well reproduced photographs (all color) and illustrations. It divides the book into the various users and, again as a regular feature of these books, a short list of suggested works for those who would like to know more.
The first part of the book is related to Russian Special Forces, the Spetsnaz. The book focuses on a cross section of light vehicles used by these elite soldiers. They book focuses on light military vehicles, primarily their equivalent to HUMVEEs and buggies used by U.S. Special Forces. Given the recent support Russia was giving to the Assad regime in Syria, much of the use of these vehicles is in that context. From Special Forces, the book moves to airborne, concentrating on the venerable BMD and BTR. The BMD, a smaller version of the Russian BMP fighting vehicle has seen a great deal of use and service. Obviously, it has continued to evolve into a vehicle that meets the needs of the airborne which serve as light infantry....akin the American Stryker Brigades.
From the airborne, the book briefly covers the naval infantry and their choices of newer vehicles before moving to more specialized vehicles used in the arctic and urban warfare before moving to domestic security services. It is interesting to note, for example, that there is a domestic manufacturing capacity for snow mobiles. Given the specialty vehicles built for urban warfare, I would have liked to see more about the development and use of the Terminator, the specialty vehicle built on a T-72 chassis. The remainder of the book covers the plethora of light vehicles used by the various internal security divisions of the Russian Republic.
Given the relative lack of public information on Russian vehicles, this is certainly a welcome addition. I am assuming most of this information came for public sources, so it is nice to a place where you can get this information. It is a nice balance between describing the nomenclature of the vehicles and there use. I imagine that this book is a snapshot in time and will have to be updated in the future. For modelers, there are some vehicles that are highlighted that have been made into kits. My thanks to IPMS and Osprey Publications for giving me the opportunity to review this book.
This book covers a little-known major operation within the campaign at Monte Cassino which was a success in its own right.
The operation was to build a road and assault German positions north of Monte Cassino with tanks of the New Zealanders, Indians and Americans forces. The plan was audacious and daring by building a road able to carry the tanks on a narrow mountain track. The operation would help in breaking through the infamous Gustav Line. I have long been interested in the Monte Cassino operation as my Father was involved in this campaign, but I had never read anything on this operation and found the book fascination and illuminating. The work and effort put into this action was enormous. The pictures and maps help the read to outstand the events and actions. The picture of the area as it is now also adds another dimension to the readers knowledge.
I recommend this book to everyone with an interest in WWII.
Thanks go to Pen and Sword Casemate Publishing for providing this book to review and IPMS USA for allowing me to review it for them
Continuing in their Scale Plans series, MMP Books has released Scale Plans No. 65, covering the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MF. Consisting of 6 pages, which are each a fold-out set of plans (Nerd Centerfolds, according to my wife) in both 1/72 and 1/48 scales. Opening each set of plans, the book now has 12 pages.
Each set of plans consists of:
- Port & Starboard views
- Top and Bottom views
- Head-on views
- Fuselage cross section templates
- Underwing pylons
- Weapons/missiles, including:
- UB-16 Rocket Launcher
- MBD-2 Multiple Bomb Rack
- FAB-100 on MBD-2 Bomb Rack
- FAB-250 Bomb
- FAB-500 Bomb
- Three different Fuel Tanks
Each graphic is meticulous in detail, and printed on heavy, semi-gloss stock. One of the head-on views depicts the drogue parachute deployed, which I found to be an interesting detail to include. For any modeler considering a scratch-building or super-detailing MiG-21MF project, this book(let) is an invaluable asset. Even if you are not, and you just like looking at plans of aircraft, this volume is for you. If you need the scale plans to be in 1/144 or 1/32 scale, it would be an easy task to size them up or down on a copier.
Highly recommended, and a good value as well.
My thanks to IPMS/USA and Casemate Publishers/MMP Books for the review sample.
This book is part of a series providing detailed information on a particular aircraft intended for scale modelers. It is not a historical account of the service life of the aircraft and does not provide a variety of color schemes for the type as by used by different units. It provides detailed six-view line drawings of the specific aircraft in three scales, plus black and white color photos of several complete aircraft (museum display survivors) and detailed photos of specific parts of the aircraft. Several drawings are included, including an excellent one of the instrument panel, and some drawings from maintenance manuals are includes.
The book is not intended to be a historical coverage of the type, only a detailed reference showing specific parts of the aircraft not included in ordinary references. Other publications provide numerous color and marking varieties for the type, while this one only covers several aircraft, however, in much greater detail. It is heavy on pictures and drawings, and light on the text.
This book would be especially useful if you are doing a series of Spitfire Mk. II's in your favorite scale and want to include as much detail as possible. Or also if you are just interested in the airplane. Excellent color drawings are provided for one aircraft, and a few photos are provided of several other Spitfires of the same type. This book is truly intended for serious modelers. Highly recommended.
This book is part of a series of highly specialized coverages of specific World War II aircraft types and is intended for serious scale modelers who work in 1/72, 1/48, and 1/32 scale. This book covers the Mitsubishi A6M-5 Zero 52 fighter and serves mainly as a reference for specific details of this particular aircraft type. There is little text other than the captions for photos and drawings, and only covers a few specific aircraft that have survived in museums throughout the world. In this case, the planes in the Imperial War Museum in England, and the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, California are shown. The Chino airplane may still be flyable, and I recall seeing it flying years ago. One of the photos of it also shows the museum's P-51D and North American O-47A in the background.
The book has excellent information for the serious modeler, and detail drawings and photos of specific parts of the plane. An excellent color drawing of the instrument panel is provided, as well as closeup photos of specific parts not normally seen in references of this type. Some of these drawings are from actual Mitsubishi technical manuals. The drawings are of a specific A6M5 captured on Saipan towards the end of the war, and photos of it also appear in standard Navy and Army recognition manuals published towards the end of the war.
This highly specialized work would be a worthy addition to any modeler's library and would be extremely useful in constructing models of this aircraft. For the price, it is an excellent bargain. Highly recommended.
The siege of Malta - a small island in the Mediterranean Sea - held by the British from 1940 to 1942 against the combined might of the German and Italian air and sea forces is one of the more memorable stories from World War 2. Directly on the route from Europe to North Africa, it was a thorn in the side of the Axis supply line to their forces duking it out for control of Libya and Algeria. They decided to reduce the island and its garrison as a threat, and Malta became the most bombed area of land in the entire war. Only a few fighters were on the island during the early months of the siege, and they were the already-obsolete Sea Gladiators of the Royal Navy. Totaling six in all, three of them became famous in military lore as "Faith, Hope and Charity", fighting off incessant bombing by the Italian and German air forces and earning themselves a place in history.
ICM now tops off their 1/32nd scale Gloster Gladiator series with the pugnacious Sea Gladiator. This boxing includes all the parts to make both the standard Mk. I and Mk. II Gladiators, along with a small sprue containing the arrestor hook housing insert for the fuselage, the arrestor hook itself, and a dingy stowage underbelly compartment. Four sets of markings are provided, although only one of them is for a Malta defender. As with the other releases, all control surfaces are separate, and it includes the option of exposing the engine for display.
As always, construction begins with the interior, and as before, the fuselage guns are included in their entirety although they lack ammunition channels. As they are virtually invisible upon completion, this doesn't really pose a problem. In common with all releases, there is a noticeable pin mark in the middle of the seat back that really needs to be filled in before adding aftermarket seat belts. The decal sheet provides all instrument faces for the control panel as separate items, and although I normally prefer to hand paint these details, the decals were so good I couldn't pass them up.
Once the interior is complete, the fuselage goes together very quickly - just be sure to use the correct insert for the arrestor hook on the bottom. The dingy compartment was apparently not always used, but I added mine to my build just to make the model a bit more distinct from the other variants. I would recommend not installing the gun sight bracket until other work is completed, as it is quite fragile. The wings and tail fall together nicely and require only a bit of cleanup for installation. Depending on how you prefer to rig biplanes, you may choose to leave the upper wing off until later in the build. To simplify painting, I elected to install all the struts on the top wing, and then fit the wing and struts to the rest of the model after basic painting. Step 46 features the oil cooler intake, and it really should be drilled out for accuracy as it is quite visible on completion.
The engine is a detailed build, but you have to be cautious about what parts to use depending on whether you intend to fully enclose or expose the engine, or just open a panel or two. The exhausts install either on small stubs meant for an open cowl, or on the cowl parts themselves. In addition, you only install the piston caps on exposed cylinders, so some careful planning is useful to finish this part of the model off as intended.
Rigging is where some modelers really sweat, and the options for doing this are up to the individual. Personally, I drilled holes in the wings for all the rigging and used metallic thread and tensioners made from tiny bits of wire jacket. I'm sure there are more accurate ways to perform this task, but I like the ease and durability that comes from this simple technique. Like I said, the choice is all yours.
As stated before, there are four marking choices provided with the kit, although they are more or less similar as the British were sticklers for standardization. The decals, however, are outstanding in every way - well printed, colorful and adhering extremely well to uneven surfaces. My only beef is that the sheet provides a host of technical marks suitable to this aircraft, but there is literally no information provided on their use or application. I wish they'd correct this oversight, as I really would have liked to have added them to my model.
All in all, this is an excellent addition to the Gloster Gladiator stable from ICM. It finally permits me to add one of these gallant Malta defenders to my collection and looks wonderful next to my other Gladiators. I cannot recommend this kit highly enough for anyone interested in this fascinating story and aircraft. Well done again, ICM!
As always, my thanks to ICM for making such a wonderful kit, and to IPMS/USA for the chance to complete my line of these tough little biplanes. Stay safe, everyone, and happy modeling!
As I sit writing this review, I cannot help but think that I should just be returning from seeing some of you at the IPMS Nationals in San Marcos. Well, hopefully there are better days ahead, and I do already have my hotel reservation set for Las Vegas next year. Like many of you, I have met some great folks over the years and look forward to seeing at least some of those folks again in the future, and meeting even more fellow modelers.
So how much can you really say about masking sheets? Well, this new set from Mig contains five sheets measuring 280 by 195mm or roughly 7-11/16 by 11-1/16 inches, which seems to be a pretty good value for the price. The sheets are yellow in color for the masking material with a slightly rough texture. I measure the masking material as 0.0035 inch or 0.08 mm in thickness with an adhesive similar to that used by Tamiya on their masking tapes as far as "stickiness" is concerned.
I would say that the big plus with these sheets is the size of the material that you have to work with. I am thinking that one could hold the painting diagram for something like a WWI 1/35 scale tank against a window or other light source, and trace out the camouflage pattern for easier application. Large, flat surfaces will be the most easy to tame with this material. Of course there are numerous other uses as you will have the option of cutting the sheets to any width or shape needed. I have no minuses to mention.
In summary, I would highly recommend these sheets to modelers for their masking needs, especially those working on larger projects that require bigger masks than one can accomplish with a single piece of tape. I have not had issues with the adhesive lifting paint in my limited use of the product, but would say that if you are not having issues masking your paint with Tamiya tape, this should work equally well for you.
I would like to thank the folks at Ammo by Mig Jimenez for being gracious enough to provide these Masking Sheets to the IPMS-USA for review! Thanks to Phil Peterson for running the Review Corps along with our Post Master Bill, and the other folks behind the scenes publishing the reviews. Finally, my sincere appreciation to all who take the time to read this.
John Miller, IPMS member and owner of Model Paint Solutions (modelpaintsol.com) has an electric pencil sander called the David 400 (D400) on his web site. The sander has a wall cord that plugs in the back of the sander, fits nicely in the hand, and is very comfortable to use.
When I first saw the tool, I thought why do I need an electric sander? I have an abundance of sanding tools already. It just so happened that I was working on the Airfix 1/72 scale Tiger Moth and had a very small area to sand under the horizontal stabilizer. With that small an area to be sanded and the delicate nature of the sanding that had to be done, I thought the D400 would have made the job a lot easier and faster.
How many of us are getting to the point where it's tough to hold a piece of folded sand paper (or sanding stick) in one hand while holding the part being sanded in the other. Moreover, if it's a sanding job that is going to take a while, how long does it take for your hands to start cramping, especially after a day of filing and sanding? This little tool goes a long way to solving that problem.
In the Box
The D400 comes in a well packed box and contains:
-The D400 Sander
-A wall plug w/cord that attaches to the sander (D400 is not battery operated)
-Three boxes adhesive backed sand paper; 1000, 600 and 400 grits; ten sheets each.
-7 sanding styluses to attach the sand paper in various geometric shapes
-2 sanding files with collets
-A set of stylus templates that aid in cutting pieces of sandpaper that match the contours of the styluses.
Using the D400
The sander fits comfortably in your hand and is quiet to use.
- Dimensions and weight
- D30mmxL187mm/89 grams.
- AC input 12v?0.5A
- Speed 1000-6000 linear strokes/min
- Stroke Length 3mm
The power cord plugs into the back of the D400; out of the way of your hand. Construction has a quality of its own, there is nothing low quality about it.
Because of its small, ergonomic design, the D400 is comfortable and balanced when used. Instead of the usual rotary sander I have used befor with a drum sander, this sander has a reciprocating motion front to back allowing for easier sanding without burning through your sanding subject.
The sanding stylets have a corresponding template so you can easily cut your sand paper to the desired sanding stylet shape. The sanding paper supplied with the D400 has a sticky peel off backing allowing it to be attached to a stylet.
With some double backed tape, you can also use the sand paper you desire on a stylet.
I really liked using this sander on small parts. It is difficult enough to even hold a small part let alone try to sand it. The D400 makes the sanding process easy and especially sanding the spine fuse joint on aircraft is certainly made a lot easier.
If you are getting to the point your hands don't work the way they used to when trying to hold some small part or you have an extended sanding session, then the D400 might be something for you to try. If you are a tool guy, then this is the tool to have.
Thank you to John Miller at Model Paint Solutions and IPMS/USA to be able to review this product.