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The Petlyakov Pe-2. Stalin’s Successful Red Air Force Light Bomber

Sat, 07/25/2020 - 23:51
Product Image Review Author:  Brian R. Baker Pen & Sword


The Petlyakov PE-2 and PE-3 series were probably the most significant light bomber in the arsenal of the Red Army in its fight against the Nazi German invasion during World War II.  Produced in numbers exceeding 11,000, the PE-2 was initially produced as a dive bomber, but during its development it also served as a standard light bomber, fighter, and reconnaissance aircraft.  Its performance was closer to that of contemporary fighters than other light bombers, and its crews were awarded many citations for bravery and notable accomplishments.  The plane was in mass production until the end of the war, and remained in service for a number of years thereafter.  Many were exported to Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary, France, and Red China.  A small number survived until recent times, and are displayed in various museums, mainly throughout Eastern Europe. Warbird buffs are still locating crash sites and recovering wrecked PE-2's.

The story of the development of the aircraft is described in detail, with the head of the original design team,  Petlyakov, having been caught up in one of Stalin's purges of the late thirties, beginning the design from prison.  Later released, he didn't last long, as he was killed in the crash of one of his bombers due to poor production standards and workmanship, which were later rectified.  Of course the fact that as soon as production began, the Soviets moved their entire aircraft industry east to avoid the areas that they believed the Germans would capture. This caused immense problems, but these were eventually overcome through various means, fair and foul, even though the civilian workforce paid a tremendous price.

The author goes into extensive detail in describing the design development of the PE-2, and describes each prototype and the test program used to cure various design defects.  The fact that the VVS demanded the aircraft as soon as possible caused many aircraft to be placed in service before all of the problems were solved, causing numerous fatal crashes.

The combat record of the aircraft is described in detail, and the author identifies numerous units which operated the type, what missions they flew, with what result.  The author not only describes the action on the Western front against the Germans, but also shows how the PE-2 was used against the Japanese after the German surrender. Other chapters relate the accomplishments of the women's units, who were quite effective against the Germans.  One chapter relates the story of jet and rocket powerplants being used for tests and for takeoff assists. There is also a chapter dealing with color schemes, but while the development of camouflage systems is discussed in detail, there are no illustrations that would be useful to a modeler. However, one very impressive feature of this book is the detail the author goes into, using source material from official documents and firsthand recollections by individuals who were there when it all happened.

This is probably the definitive work dealing with the PE-2, as it provides more specific details of the aircraft's developmental and combat history that any other book I have seen.  The author uses many Russian sources, and must have been very fluent in the Russian language, or had an editor that did.   Each specific model's development and service is described in detail, and even Stalin's personal involvement in the process is covered.  The author alludes to the Soviet political process and how some of the participants tried to show their personal success in solving certain problems while actually failing to do so.  Soviet bureaucracy was alive and well, even during the difficult times of the war.

As for specific information provided, most of the data provided was metric, talking about kph rather than mph, and kilograms rather than pounds, which might drive an American reader to having a special ruler to convert the figures to a more familiar system.  Lack of color illustrations also means that a modeler who uses this book will also have to have copies of the other two popular publications dealing with the PE-2,  the Profile  #216 (1971)  and The In Action  #181 (2002).  These books have much less specific information, but include color drawings of the aircraft.  The photos in the book, however, are very well reproduced, and would be very useful in building a model.  

I expected the book to have a section specifically aimed at modelers telling what kits are available, and giving reviews, but this is not included.  This leads me to believe that the book would serve as an interest generator, getting the modeler all excited about building a model of the aircraft because of all of the information provided, but he would need one of the above mentioned texts for specific color information.  But it is very interesting reading, and I would certainly highly recommend it to anyone interested in this particular aircraft.

Thanks to Pen & Sword and Phil Peterson for the review copy.

American Destroyer USS Fletcher 1942. Super Drawings in 3D

Sat, 07/25/2020 - 10:06
Product Image Review Author:  Luke R. Bucci PhD Kagero Publishing

Thanks to Casemate Publishing & IPMSUSA for the review copy!

Waldemar Tubus Goralski is a prolific author of illustrated warship books for Kagero Publishing. He also makes exhibitions of his illustrations in Poland where visitors can virtually walk on ships. The late Piotr Forkasiewicz designed the ocean and battle settings (this virtual tour is not in this book). Waldemar is lucky to turn his passion into a career, igniting passions of many modelers around the world.

Kagero Publishing, from Poland, is one of the major military history publishing houses. Since 1998, when Kagero started publishing in English, over 550 titles have been produced. Topics focus on individual planes, armor and ships, along with a bevy of focused topics, such as a class of warships or an armor type. Kagero caters to ship modelers by turning out books filled with line and 3D computer-generated illustrations, with incomparable accuracy to details. For warships, Kagero has two series: 1) Super Drawings in 3D and 2) Top Drawings, focusing on a single ship per book. The topic of this book review is one of the Super Drawings in 3D series, which are designed for modelers to have a reference for detailed appearances of individual ships at a particular fit (moment in time). Super Drawings consist of color covers with full-color, 3D computer graphic images of the ship, particular features, and equipment, especially armament. As usual, a large-scale (1/200), line drawing B&W foldout shows starboard, port and overhead full-length views on Sheet A, and Sheet B has five 1/350 profiles (including front & stern views) and five different close-up line drawings of various portions of the ship.

The latest offering from Kagero Super 3D is the USS Fletcher DD445 in early1942 fit. The book is a softbound European A4 size (210 X 296 mm or about 8 1/4 by 11 5/8 inches) with a short history in English of the lead ship in the world's largest class of destroyers. The history of the Fletcher describes the design intentions, and then the usual description of the features of the ship. Changes to armaments and fire control are outlined, and the service record is summarized. That lasts all of seven pages and incudes two color profile views.

Like all the Fletcher class destroyers, there were major changes in armament, radars throughout the war, but those are not shown - this book is the Fletcher in 1942. She represents the first batch of Fletcher class destroyers with the tall, "round" bridge and the main director on a cylindrical pedestal. The first 57 units were built to this design. Later Fletchers had a lower, wider rectangular bridge. I am sure one of those is coming up from Kagero later.

Most of the book has page after page of beautiful, full-color illustrations in impeccable detail of the entire exterior of the Fletcher in 1942 fit. She is painted in Measure 12 (Modified) splotch pattern. Paint colors are: 1) 5-S Sea Blue or 5-N Navy Blue for the darkest splotches on the lower hull; 2) 5-O Ocean Gray for the lighter gray areas of the hull and the darker splotches on the superstructure; 3) 5-H Haze Gray for the lighter gray color on the superstructure; and 4) 20-B Deck Blue for the decks. To me the horizontal colors in the illustrations are a little dark, and the Deck Blue is light, but that could be the printing or scale effect. Many close-ups of each exterior section of the Fletcher are presented. Every nook and cranny are depicted, and the detail is thorough, even showing the camo scheme for each individual turret. At this point in her career, the Fletcher had less equipment, so it represents the simplest Fletcher fit.

The only complaint I have is trivial and is the poor punctuation, spelling errors and odd grammar of the text in the first seven pages. Not a problem, and even amusing sometimes.


This book is intensely focused on modeler's needs for building early war, round bridge Fletcher class ships in any scale. As usual, the B&W drawings and full-color illustrations are clean, simple and appear accurate. This book is a necessity for building models of early Fletcher class ships, and would be helpful for building later versions for areas that did not change appearance. It is also a guide for standard US Navy destroyer equipment for other WW2 classes. A must-have for WW2 warship buffs, destroyer buffs, and anyone building the early Fletcher class destroyers.

Vigilante! A Pilot’s Story: 1,200 Hours Flying the Ultimate U. S. Navy Reconnaissance Aircraft

Sat, 07/25/2020 - 09:55
Product Image Review Author:  Rob Benson Specialty Press

Thank you very much to Specialty Press for providing a review copy of their new release, Vigilante!  A Pilot's Story:  1,200 Hours Flying the Ultimate U. S. Navy Reconnaissance Aircraft, by CDR Robert R. "Boom" Powell.  As always, I appreciate all those in the IPMS Reviewer Corps, whose work is critical to sharing new and exciting modeling publications and products with the world.


This book is not simply one pilot's compiled experience, nor is it merely a description of operational and combat records of the Vigilante.  It tells the fascinating story of the entire Vigilante's lifespan in an extraordinary anthology of forty-plus aircrew and support staff stories in context of the aircraft's history.  An excellent balance of technical language and human perspective makes for an engaging read with a relaxed style.  Both naval aviation fans and scale modelers will find a wealth of information throughout the publication.  The photographs and details are excellent, wrapped within an easy-to-read narrative.  The hardback format has 192 glossy pages, 142 color images, and 125 B&W images.  The book dimensions are 10 x 10 inches, with a colorful dust jacket.  

I highly recommend this book!  It was a very enjoyable read.

Content coverage

Brief highlights of each chapter are included here. While each chapter has a specific historical focus, Vigilante stories and intersting sidebars are included throughout. The designation of the Vigilante evolved throughout its lifetime, dependent on mission, from early YA3J to a final RA-5C

Dedication, Preface, Acknowledgments, Introduction, & Prologue-  All of these sections provide a nice run-up to the following chapters.  A reader will get important context for the book in this preamble material.

Chapter 1: The Bomb Goes to Sea-  The early USN need for the Vigilante was for large "device" delivery.  Many adaptions of existing aircraft were attempted for this mission.  The A3 (an early designation) incorporated many of these ideas.

Chapter 2: Concept and Construction-  Making the aircraft operational and effective was a challenge.  "Space suits," weapon drops, electronics, and simple things like barrel nuts all had something to add to these challenges.  The Vigilante has a striking profile, however, consider aircrew egress without a ladder!

 Chapter 3: Vigilante at Sea-  The Vigilante passed carrier qualifications with little trouble.  Early squadron development and training followed quickly.  If the evolution of designations is confusing, the sidebar on p. 53 translates the changes quite nicely.

 Chapter 4: "R" Is for Reconnaissance-  In late 1961, the new nuclear triad of heavy bombers, ICBMs, and ballistic missile submarines rendered the Vigilante's original purpose moot.  Fortunately, the conversion potential for a dedicated reconnaissance platform was recognized.  This was a natural change-over, that resulted the RA-5C having a much longer operational history.

 Chapter 5: Freshman Term-  With a complete conversion to a reconnaissance mission, squadrons newly equipped with the RA-5C entered into the air war environment of Vietnam.  Combat losses were significant, with many lessons learned.

Chapter 6: Hard Times: 1967-1968-  The air war intensified in Vietnam during this time and Vigilante combat losses doubled.  This was also the year of the disastrous Forrestal fire that resulted in significant loss of life and aircraft.

Chapter 7: Master's Degree: 1969-1972- The air war over Viet Nam changed, and so did the missions of the RA-5C.  NAS Albany became the new base for Vigilante squadrons.  Interesting nugget and NFO stories are highlighted.

Chapter 8: There Was Still a War On: 1969-1972-  More details on the missions flown in hot areas are interspersed with aspects of everyday operations. Other missions outside of Vietnam provide more perspective on what the Vigilante could do.

Chapter 9: Linebacker and Beyond: 1972-1973-  The last years of the Vietnam war are covered, with the intense bombing campaigns of Linebacker I and II.  More operational stories show lighter sides as well as the more serious ones.

Chapter 10: Seven Years-  The last operational phase of the Vigilante began with the cessation of Vietnam.  However, other hotspots in the Middle East kept RA-5Cs employed.  Furthermore, NAS Albany was closed and all squadrons were transferred to NAS Key West.  The final disposition of squadrons and aircraft describes the wrap-up to the Vigilante's history.

Epilogue-  Several paintings, including a Hank Caruso rendition, provide a memorial in this section.    Images of aircraft that followed in a reconnaissance role make a fitting epitaph for the Vigilante.

Remaining sections-  A biographies section, glossary, end notes, and index provide important addition information and utility to this book.  The glossary is particularly useful.

Overall Recommendation

I absolutely recommend this volume, from both the scale-model and historical perspectives.  I will also add that the scope of book, focusing a series of experiential anecdotes, gives a more "in the plane" sense than many historical aviation books.

Thanks again to Andrea at Specialty Press, you and your company's work helps keep history alive.  CDR Powell, you clearly put heart and soul into your book; that effort is very appreciated.  Thank you again to the stalwart Reviewer Corps for your hard work in making these review opportunities happen, Go Team!

The Empire Strikes South; Japan’s War Against Northern Australia, 1942-1945.

Sat, 07/25/2020 - 00:31
Product Image Review Author:  Brian R. Baker Avonmore Books


The book deals with the Japanese attacks on various bases and towns in Northern Australia during World War II.  After the Battle of the Coral Sea,  the Japanese had apparently decided not to try to invade Northern Australia, as they were having too hard a time in the islands to the north.  They did carry out a series of air attacks against Australian targets through 1944, using Navy and Army aircraft in substantial numbers.  The book details every attack, telling what aircraft and people were involved, the effect of the raids, and the losses and casualties.  The Allied side is also discussed in detail, showing the effect radar had on interception, and the limited success of the Allied Spitfires and P-40's against the Japanese Nell, Betty, and Helen bombers, and also against their Mavis and Emily flying boats.  In addition, the Japanese began to use reconnaissance aircraft to help the bombers and fighters navigate to their targets, and to photograph the results of the bombing. 

The Japanese raids originated in the islands to the north, former Dutch territory. After the first carrier raids, which ended after Coral Sea, all raids were land based.  One interesting fact was that the Japanese raids were usually not very effective, and most of their bombs landed outside the target areas.  Few aircraft and military targets were destroyed, and also, losses to Australian and American fighters were fairly low.  


Darwin, Initial Raids;  Reality of air Combat; North Australia Defenses; Darwin & Interior, 1 & 2;  Off Northern Territory Coast;  Western Australia; Queensland; Japanese Burials; Japanese Flight & Losses; Japanese Flights and Fatalities.

The book goes through the entire series of raids, telling what units were involved, aircraft types, and pilots and crews, and how many aircraft were lost, and the fate of the crews, when known.  The same information is provided for Australians and Americans, and the conclusion of the book deals with the ultimate fate of the Japanese who died over Australian territory or who were captured and made POW's. 

There is a lot of fascinating information in this book, and it is not like most accounts of military campaigns.  Strangely, one reason for the book, was to provide information for the families of Japanese crews who were killed in the attacks.  Quite a number of Japanese planes crashed on Australian soil, and most of these remains have been found and recovered.  Others crashed at sea, and although most of the crews have been identified, few have been located. At the end of the book, there is an itemized list of planes and crews lost, and their fates, if known.

The author mentions that the average Australian knows little about these actions, as they took place in very remote areas of Australia, although the further north you go, they become more familiar.   I found that when I spent time in Australia almost 60 years ago, lots of Australians seemed  to remember that the "Yanks" were pretty helpful in keeping the Aussies from having to learn the Japanese language, and when I would enter a pub in Queensland,  I found it difficult to pay for a beer after they heard my American accent. I found that the Australians liked Americans, and I liked them.  A great bunch of people.   

One other thing that would appeal to modelers is the series of color profiles and three-view drawings of the aircraft involved in the actions, showing colors and unit markings clearly.  So the book will appear to both historically minded readers and modelers.  What more could you ask for.  Highly recommended.

Thanks to Casemate Publications and Phil Peterson for the review copy.   

Kawanishi H8K1 Type 2, 11/12 Beaching Gear (Has)

Sat, 07/25/2020 - 00:04
Product Image Review Author:  Brian R. Baker Scale Aircraft Conversions


The Japanese Kawanishi H8K1 flying boat,  code named Emily by the Allies,  was one of the best long range flying boats in its class during World War II. It is surprising that only one kit of this plane in 1/72 scale has been issued, by Hasegawa.  This kit dates back to at least 1967, as I remember buying the kit then and wondering when I would have enough space to store and display the model once built.  As a result I never built it although I have two in my stash, and after seeing this replacement unit, I have decided to do it in the near future.

The original kit parts are somewhat simplified, with a single strut and a couple of lumps coming out of it.  The SAC conversion kit replaces these with two small but very detailed struts. There is also a unit for the tailwheel, and another metal strut of unknown purpose.   Wheels from the kit are used in all cases. The problem with this unit is that there is no set of instructions, although it doesn't take a genius to figure out most of it.  

The unit is nicely cast, and very little trimming will be required. It appears strong enough to bear the weight of the model, which is considerable.  The detail in the kit is not up to Hasegawa's later standards, although when completed, the kit will result in an excellent model of a historically significant aircraft.  Only  167  were built, and at least one survived the war, which  was brought to the Navy's Patuxent River Test center where it was tested and then put out to storage. Fortunately, someone got the idea of shipping the plane back to Japan, where it has been restored and is currently on display. 

There are a few reference sources that cover the "Emily" in detail, including the R.J. Francillon book, Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, Profile Publications #233: Kawanishi 4 motor Flying Boats (H6K Mavis and H8K Emily), by M.C. Richards; and the 1975 December issue of Koko Fan, #68, which describes the H8K Emily if you can read Japanese.  Unfortunately, none of these publications has a detail photograph of the beaching gear strut so you're on your own as to exactly how the gear was attached and painted.

If you are going to build this little beauty, this beaching gear will add to the authenticity of your model.  Mine will certainly have it.  Highly recommended.

Thanks to SAC and Phil Peterson for the review sample.

The Marmo Method Modelbuilding Guide #7; Curtiss C-46a Commando Photo Gallery

Fri, 07/24/2020 - 23:35
Product Image Review Author:  Brian R. Baker Scale Publications

The Publication

This publication is a follow up from the author's Guide #6, Building the Williams Bros. Curtiss C-46A Commando in 1/72 Scale.  To get the complete information, it will be necessary to obtain a copy of both publications.

This publication gives a brief statement on the development of the C-46A, and the fact that the Williams Bros. kit is the only one available in 1/72 scale, that is, if you can find one.  The author has collected a large selection of period photos of the C-46A in production and in service with the U.S.A.A.A.F.  Although the photos are all in black and white, and there is no color information presented, the photos provide enough information for you to build any number of models of the C-46A.   These are only in USAAF markings.  There is no information on the C-46A in foreign or civilian service. There is no coverage of later models.

After the introduction, there are several pages of small photos, larger examples of which are published afterwards on single seats along with extended explanations.  There are a lot of detail photos showing the aircraft's interior, and quite a few shots of C-46A's in the factory under construction. The photos are of very high quality, and can be easily reproduced and printed on your computer.

If you are interested in the C-46A, this e-book is worth having.  Highly recommended.

The Paraguayan War 1864-70. The Triple Alliance at stake in La Plata. Campaign 342.

Fri, 07/24/2020 - 15:26
Product Image Review Author:  Luke R. Bucci PhD Osprey Publishing

Gabriele Esposito is an Italian student of military history with an interest in 1800s Latin America. Giuseppe Rava contributed three two-page and a smaller paintings in color of the pivotal battles of this war.


Osprey's Campaign 342 covers the war that involved the eastern countries of South America as they joustled their own revolutions with military actions against their neighbors, setting the stage for current countries and boundaries.  Like other Osprey Campaign books, this issue is 96 pages (not counting the front/back covers) -enough for a discussion on the war and its aftermath.


This book provides twelve maps of the theatre, individual battles and subsets of battles. Sixteen B&W and twelve color photographs, 28 B&W and 12 color illustrations, three Tables and a two-page Chronology compliment the text. Almost every page has some sort of visual to look at, giving a better feel for what is was like to have fought in this war.


Sections are devoted to: 1) Origins of the campaign; 2) Chronology; 3) Opposing commanders; 4) Opposing forces; 5) Opposing plans; 6) The Campaign (battles); 7) Aftermath; 8) Battlefields Today; 9) Bibliography & Further Reading; and 9) Index. Osprey Campaign books follow this organization.


This war was preceded, and coexisted, with other wars that plagued the four countries involved: Argentine, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. These wars were briefly examined as they set up the war that finally settled what we know today as South America (at least the southern half). Brazil was an Empire, recently departed from a waning Portuguese presence. Argentina was wracked by rapid exchanges of revolutions and governments. Uruguay and Paraguay were in danger of being swallowed by their larger neighbors, and became belligerent just to survive. This was a time of big egos in charge, poor intel, and greed. This was also a turning point in how wars were fought, coming when the American Civil War was winding down. As such, new weapons and technologies were used, changing battlefields forever.


The history of this area of the world was chaotic to say the least, and if one blinked, there might be a new government. Nevertheless, Paraguay, being completely landbound, was at a disadvantage and tried to take by force a seashore. Obviously it did not work, and what transpired is chilling for the loss of life, both in vicious battles and in disease and starvation. Many lessons on how not to conduct a battle, campaign or war abound. The Aftermath section put perspective into these travails by showing how these countries forged ahead as (usually) peaceful neighbors since then.


The settings for the major battles and campaigns are well done. One wonders about the mindsets of the people involved, especially of the families of the troops that never returned. I would have liked to have seen more about how normal people lived under those conditions, but this was a campaign book by design.



This war was large and occurred during a pivotal time of rapid change in warfare, and was important for geohistory, marking the end of colonial eras and a path to modernity. Historically, this war was very confused, but ably tied together by Gabriele Esposito. The results are worth reading about to understand what South America went through to get to its current status. Like other Osprey Campaign books, this is a relatively quick read but lasts long enough to satisfy.

Thanks to Osprey Publishing for the review copy and IPMSUSA staff for delivering the book and publishing the review.


Brick Street w/ European Tram Rails

Thu, 07/23/2020 - 14:50
Product Image Review Author:  Bill O'Malley Tiger Werke

Tiger Werke

Tiger Werke is a small company under new ownership that manufactures and distributes scale resin items. Their product line includes paved and cobblestone street sections, figure bases, building fronts, roadside shrines, fountains, and armor and aircraft bases. They also have storage and accessory sets for Allied, German, and British vehicles.


Resin Molding

This review is of Tiger Werke's 1/35 scale Brick Street w/ European Tram Rails, a resin base that depicts a street section with trolley tracks running diagonally across base. On each side of the street or what appear to be stone curbs and concrete sidewalks. In 1/35 scale the pavers vary from about 4" to 5" wide by 7" to 8" long, although they vary in size. The size of the pavers could also represent cobblestones or granite pavers. The bricks have a very nice shape and there are some recessed stones to create some depth in the street. The curb sections are about 30" long by 9" wide by 4" high in scale. The tracks are about 3'6"gauge in scale. There are some apparent connectors between the stone sections that could be trimmed off.


The kit includes one resin piece 8 5/8" x 5 7/8". The back of the resin piece has been sanded slightly so the base section lays flat. There's no significant warping of the piece.



To finish the base, I decided to model it as granite pavers and concrete sidewalks. I cut the base down on a table saw to display a model. The resin cut nice & smoothly. The base color is Mission Model Paint dark gray with medium gray highlights applied with a sponge. The sidewalks are modeled as concrete using Mission Models concrete color sponged with medium gray highlights.


The base is displayed with a 1/24 scale model T, which is quite a bit out of scale, but illustrates the nice character of the base.



This is a very nice base and diorama accessory. The street is nicely detailed and can be finished to represent brick or stone pavers. The texture of the stone has nice detail. The base lays flat, has no significant warping, and had no bubbles in the casting.


Thanks to Tiger Werke for providing the review sample and producing this nice resin base, as well as many other accessories in their product line.

Atlantis 1/115 P-3A Orion

Thu, 07/23/2020 - 14:39
Product Image Review Author:  Keith Gervasi Atlantis Model Company

History: The P-3 Orion was designed for use by the US Navy as a submarine hunter and replaced the Neptune. The P-3 was nearly twice as fast as the Neptune and its range increased by almost 60% over that of the P2V. The first Orion was delivered to the US Navy Squadron VP-8 in July 1962 and within six months this unit was fully equipped with P-3's. This kit is a reissue of the old Revell kit that was first released in 1965.

What's in the box: Upon opening the box you will find a lot of white plastic, 48 pieces, attached to parts of sprues. The detail is raised and there are many rivets, also there is a lot of flash, pin marks and some sink marks to boot. (Face it, some of us that are this old OR OLDER have some of these same issues!) The decal sheet is printed cleanly and in register and you get a 4 page fold out for instructions.

Construction: Before starting construction, I decided to sand, or at least attempt to sand off all the rivets....I got most but not all. 7 steps and you have a P-3 for your collection starting with the fuselage, horizontal stabilizers and tail stinger. The main problem here is the fit of the stinger as it leaves a gap that needed to be filled. I also added 6 size 5 fishing weights as this is tail heavy. Step 2,3 and 4 are the construction of the engines & propeller and the landing struts. I left the props off until after the aircraft was painted though. Steps 5 & 6 are the wing assembly and there is a lot of cleanup needed for the seams in the wings. Step 7 is the final assembly....landing gear, gear doors, underwing radar, and tail stand. No problems here except the gear doors need a lot of patience as the really is no location points for them. Since I used weight in the nose, I didn't bother with the stand.

Finishing: You are given two marking options in this kit:

A: VP-8, the first squadron operate the P-3.  VP-8 was based out of Patuxent, Maryland at that time.

B: VXN-8 of the U.S. Naval Oceanographic office.

I chose to do the VP-8 markings and the decals went down quite easily. Tamiya white and True Colors Light gull grey were used.

Conclusion: Another fun old kit re-boxed by Atlantis. Yes, it has a lot of flash and no, there is not much detail. SO WHAT! It was fun and this is the first time I have built one. (Never built it as a kid....didn't have gun turrets!) I recommend this kit to any modeler, young or old.

I would like to thank Atlantis Models for not just supplying it but for brining it back after all these years, (Looking forward to the 1/104 PBY-5A!!) and the review corps for letting me build it!

Images of War, The Phantom F-4

Thu, 07/23/2020 - 14:27
Product Image Review Author:  Doug Hamilton Pen & Sword

The McDonnell/Douglas F-4 Phantom is arguably one of the best all time fighter aircraft ever made. Developed for the US Navy as a long-range all-weather fighter aircraft the Phantom saw a large number of variants for the Navy, Air Force and a host of foreign users. This book tells that story in a concise, well written and interesting manner.

Written by British author Martin B. Bowman the book The Phantom F-4 is a soft bound volume that contains 144 pages in four chapters in addition to acknowledgement and introduction sections. There are 120 black and white photos throughout.  Brought to us here on this side of the Atlantic by Casemate Publishers the color cover, by Dominic Allen features two German Phantoms, two Marine birds and two in flight photos.

The book opens in typical fashion with acknowledgements by the author.  The next few pages contain the introduction to the Phantom. It's short and to the point and covers the development and  basic upgrading of airframes to develop the numerous variants produced over the Phantom's lifetime.

Chapter 1 goes into greater detail on the airframes flown by the US Navy and Marine Corps. It details the timeline and upgrades from the first naval production version, the B model and culminating is the much-improved S model. Changes to avionics, threat radars and on-board weapons are also discussed.

Chapter 2 contains information on US Air Force models and their development. The Air Force requirements were much different than Navy needs, as there was no need to operate from sea off carriers. Additional differences were incorporated into Air Force birds, such as one pilot station which freed the back seater to function as a Radar Intercept Officer (RIO), weapons officer and a valuable extra set of eyes when needed.

In Chapter 3 is all about the British versions of the Phantom. The first British aircraft were K version variants that were designated FG.Mk1 for the Royal Navy to replace the Sea Vixen.  Powerplants were changed from the American Pratt and Whitney J 79 engines to the British Rolls Royce-Spey replacement. Various versions followed ensuring the Phabulous Phantom would serve Britain well for many years,

The Chapter 4 focus is on other foreign users such as Israel, Germany, Greece, and South Korea among others just to name a few.

In summary, the Phantom has had an exceptionally long and distinguished career in many combat situation and theaters of operations. It has been flown by both the US Air Force Thunderbirds and US Navy Blue Angels proving it meddle many times over. This book covers a good deal of the Phantom's glorious history in interesting text with some amazing accompanying photos. Whether your interest in in Navy or Air Force birds or that of another operator  you will not be disappointed with the visual impact of the pictures included in this book. I was impressed with the details and operational environments that are represented in the many photos. I highly recommend this book to all lovers of the Phantom either modeler or anyone with a past involvement or ongoing love affair with the F-4!! And I must confess, I fall into the latter category!!

My thanks to our friends at Casemate Publishers and IPMS/USA for supplying this sample for review.

Lockheed P-38 E/F/G Lightning Photo Reference Guide

Mon, 07/20/2020 - 20:00
Product Image Review Author:  Michael Reeves Scale Publications

What's Inside

This is my first exposure to this series of photo reference guides and I kind of like the format. There is a brief one page Introduction and explanation of the format- and a reasoning of why this particular volume- which ties in to Tamiya's recent release of the P-38 F/G. From there we get right to the meat of the guide- the many photos.

Mr. Marmo gives a brief explanation of how to navigate the photo thumbnails and then you're set free. When you click on a thumbnail, you are brought to a whole page version of it, complete with a caption explaining what you're seeing and a credit reference for where the photo originated from.

Things begin, as do most aircraft kits, with the cockpit. The photos represent all of the listed variants and give you a close up of the details. I only wish there were some color photos, or at least references to paint directives as that would be useful information as you go to detail these areas. In many cases, some of the photo information is surmised based on the limited information available about the photo, but the author appears to be quite knowledgeable about the subject material so it doesn't get in the way of the usefulness of the photos.

I've included a series of them here, and can say that as valuable as these might be when you are trying to detail your P-38 model, many of the photos serve an even greater purpose in giving you some great ideas of how to display your model in a diorama if you so choose. There are plenty of fascinating settings included that have me thinking of how to possible display my kit when I get to building it.


This is a neat new format for a model reference book. I usually am one to go for a paper copy that I can pick up at my leisure, but this format is certainly very intuitive and useful, and it sure doesn't take up much bookshelf space. There are a select number of other guides available, and if you have ideas of other similar guides you might like to see, the author is open to suggestions. As this volume stands though, it's a useful addition to your reference material for whatever P-38 kit you might have in your stash and I highly recommend it. My thanks to Scale Publications and IPMS-USA for the sample PDF copy.

Tornado IDS/ECR

Wed, 07/15/2020 - 01:26
Product Image Review Author:  Michael Novosad Aviation Collectibles

Background and History--thanks to Wikipedia

The Panavia Tornado is a family of twin engine, variable-sweep multirole combat aircraft, jointly developed and manufactured by Italy, the United Kingdom, and West Germany. There are three primary Tornado variants: the Tornado IDS (interdiction/strike) fighter-bomber, the suppression of enemy defenses, Tornado ECR (electronic/combat/reconnaissance) and the Tornado ADV (air defense variant) interceptor aircraft.

The Tornado was developed and built by Panavia Aircraft GmbH, a tri-national consortium consisting of British Aerospace (previously British Aircraft Corporation), MBB of West Germany, and Aeritalia of Italy. It first flew on 14 August 1974 and was introduced into service in 1979-1980. Due to its multi-role design, it was able to replace several different fleets of aircraft in the adopting air forces. The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) became the only export operator of the Tornado in addition to the three original partner nations. A tri-nation training and evaluation unit operating from RAF Cottesmore, the Tri-National Tornado Training Establishment, maintained a level of international co-operation beyond the production stage. 

The Tornado was operated by the Royal Air Force (RAF), Italian Air Force, and RSAF during the Gulf War of 1991, in which the Tornado conducted many low altitude penetrating strike missions. The Tornados of various services were also used in The Bosnian War, Kosovo War, Iraq War, in Libya during the Libyan Civil War, as well as smaller roles in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Syria. Including all variants, 992 aircraft were built.

Publication Format

The text is in Italian and English.  Almost all the pages include color images of Italian Air Force Tornados in flight or on the tarmac. There are two pages of color profiles of the standard camouflage scheme, desert camouflage and all grey Tornados.

Contents as Follows

  • Introduction--

The search for an aircraft to provide attack and reconnaissance for European air forces began in the mid-1960's. Several countries proceeded with the work independently, while others (Britain and France) formed a joint effort. Each effort took a different approach from variable sweep wings to supersonic VTOL (vertical/Short take-off and landing). Eventually several countries joined together in an effort to provide an aircraft that met the specified requirements.

  • Origin and Development-

This is the history of the development of the Tornado and the countries initially involved with their different requirements, culminating in the countries involved in the final design, construction of components, and assembly. Initial flights for the countries' prototypes are covered, included images of the very colorful prototype aircraft. Development and production was planned and as such nine prototype aircraft were planned: four British, three German and two Italian. The British first prototype flew on 8/14/74, the Italian first prototype flew on 12/5/75. Altogether until the summer of 1998, 989 Tornados would be built in all models and versions 

  • In Service with Italian Air Force-

This is a major part of this publication and includes several color images of Italian Tornados in flight and on the tarmac. Tornados are shown in the all grey and camouflage schemes. There are also images of very colorful special paint schemes as well as various underwing stores and weapons carried by Tornados in Italian service.

  • Tornado MLU- 

By 2002 the Italian Tornados were beginning to show their age and were entered into the IT MLU (Mid-Life Update). The upgrades are identified in this section which shows the ability of the original aircraft design to be periodically updated to meet new conditions and accept new technology and equipment. 

  • Tornado at War-

Several pages are dedicated to the various wars where Italian Tornados have participated. Color images are included.

  • Modelers' Notes-

Seven pages offer information on kits available from several manufactures in the various scales as well as colors and paint manufacturers appropriate to Italian Tornados. One page is dedicated to the pilot's instrument panel. Two pages contain color detail images that would be informative to the scale modeler.

  • Technical Data-

Here we have a single page of three schedules that address technical data, armament and sensors, and serial numbers. The armament and sensors data should prove informative for those who wish to model an Italian Tornado. 

  • Acknowledgements and Bibliography-

These are primarily Italian sources.


The many color images of Italian Tornados should be useful tools to the scale modeler wishing to build an Italian or other user Tornado,  The images are especially useful for details, weapons, and color schemes used.  If you are an enthusiast of modern aircraft this publication will be equally useful and enjoyable. A great addition to anyone's reference library.  

I wish to thank Casemate Publications and IMPS/USA for the opportunity to review this publication Recommended.

Russian Medium Tank T-55

Wed, 07/15/2020 - 00:03
Product Image Review Author:  Patrick Brown Tamiya USA

Bottom Line Up Front: Tamiya breaks new ground with the first large production injection T-55 in 1/48 scale.  Tamiya already has an impressive line of excellent 1/48 scale armor kits and this will likely prove to be one of their most popular offerings.  This kit delivers everything we have come to expect from Tamiya; excellent detail, brilliant engineering and interesting subjects.  


From the mid-1950s, the T-55 was the main tank of the Soviet Army, armies of the Warsaw Pact countries, and many others.  T-55s have been involved in many of the world's armed conflicts since the later part of the 20th century. The T-55's first appearance in the West around the period of the 1950s (then the beginning of the Cold War) spurred the United Kingdom to develop a new tank gun, the Royal Ordnance L7, and the United States to develop the M60 Patton.  The T-55 series remain in use by up to 50 other armies worldwide, some having received sophisticated retrofitting.

Vital Statistics and Scores

Detail: 4.5 out of 5
Tamiya has packed a lot of 1/35 scale level of detail into this 1/48 scale kit.  The DShK heavy machine gun is really a gem.  The grips are a little simplified, but easy to fix if desired.  The cast turret has a wonderful in-scale texture that really pops when painted and weathered.  Tamiya continues to up their game in the figure department with a tight little commander figure.  The figure detail is good and he is in a nice, natural pose.  The power supply lines to the infrared search lights are molded on to the turret, which is to be expected in this smaller scale.  This is also easily fixed if so desired.  Another very nice delicate detail is the brush guard over the bow headlight.

There are a few deletions that are unfortunate, but completely understandable given the smaller scale.  Most T-55s have U shaped tie-downs on the turret.  These are omitted in this kit.  Another missed details, which is common to many T-55 kits, is the fuel lines on the external fuel tanks.  

The only other very small issue was the lack of a radio antenna.  There is a mount for one but no antenna.  

Engineering: 5+ out of 5
We've come to take it for granted that Tamiya's engineering is second to none.  No surprises here.  Tamiya has taken one more step away from the conventional tub hull construction with this kit, providing a flat-pack slab hull that comes in 4 main parts.  Thankfully Tamiya seems to have completely abandoned the die-cast metal tub hull.  They still do provide two metal weights to give the completed model some heft and seem less toy-like.  The road wheels are comprised of two pieces and a poly cap.  

The link and length tracks have faint ejector pin marks which are very easy to clean up.  There are some other ejector marks and sprue gates in what I initially thought were inconvenient locations.  After cleaning the parts up, however I found that Tamiya planned ahead and has those parts positioned on the finished kit so that their placement effectively hides the marred spots.  Hats off to Mr. Tamiya's engineer staff!

Fit: 5+ out of 5
There were absolutely no fit issues with this kit.  Nada.  The clever engineering, combined with the perfect fit of each part and assembly made this kit an absolute joy.  It took me about two hours to complete all of the steps in the assembly portion, including the tracks, and I didn't rush.  The suspension and road wheels fit to such a tight tolerance that getting them all aligned straight (the great bugaboo with all tracked vehicle models) happened perfectly all on its own.  

There are only two places on this kit where there are seams you will need to worry about.  One is on the bore evacuator.  The barrel is one piece, which is very nice, but the sleeve over the evacuator is two piece and while it fits like a dream, it still leaves seams on the top and bottom that need to be filled.  The other seams are on the rear fuel tanks.  This is one area on the kit that might cause some problems.  The holding straps for the two-piece tanks are molded in such a way that there are seams to fill which are very difficult to get to.  You will want a small file that can get into a 3mm space.

Instructions: 5 out of 5
Tamiya gives you their standard, well thought out, well-illustrated, multi-lingual instruction sheet.   They go the extra mile with a nice data sheet that gives you some historical background on the T-55 in four different languages.  There are 22 steps in the instructions but that's only because they break it down to assembling only four or five parts in each step.  It will be very difficult to get lost with these directions.

Markings: 2.5 out of 5
The decal sheet provided has markings for one unidentified vehicle which I can only assume is from a Soviet Army unit.  The markings they chose looked typically Soviet Cold War, but with how widely the T-55 has seen service the world over, I was a very disappointed by the limited selection.  Like I said above though, just wait a little while and we will see a flood of aftermarket options.

If this kit has a weak point it's the decals.  Waterslide decals seem to be Tamiya's Achilles heel, which leaves me scratching my head since they have such high standards everywhere else. The decals have great color and are always in perfect register, but they are thick, thick, thick!  Even if they nestle down over raised detail they obviously show as an adhesive mark from almost any angle.  It's very difficult to get that "painted on" look with Tamiya decals.  

This kit put a great big smile on my face.  For this guy who normally works in 1/35 scale, this was something new and fresh.  It's an interesting, good-looking subject and I can't wait to see all the aftermarket options that are sure to come.  I can't recommend it highly enough.

Many thanks to Tamiya and IPMS USA for the pre-release review sample.

Ammo by Mig Jimenez Shaders – Gray and Blue colors

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 12:59
Product Image Review Author:  Scott Hollingshead AMMO by Mig Jimenez

A recent arrival for the Review Corps were Shaders from Ammo by Mig Jimenez, which are a unique addition for modelers of just about anything.  For this review in particular, I was provided with five of the colors including Light Gray (0856), Navy Gray (0857), Light Blue (0860), Marine Blue (0861), and Night Blue (0862).  The full line consists of 20 different colors.  The Shaders are unique to begin with as they are packaged in 10ml bottles, so they are about half the size of a typical bottle of acrylic paint.  Shaders do not require shaking prior to use (they are about the consistency of ink), and they can be mixed to create different shades, and may be thinned with water if desired.


For this review I used only two drops of each of my five Shaders, and this was enough of the product to cover approximately 2 square inches.  I primed the inside of an upper scrap fuselage with Stynylrez White, Gray, Metal, and Blue-Gray, leaving a small strip of bare plastic between colors.  I used pieces of Post-it notes to mask over the Shaders with no issues of lifting.  These colors do need to be over sprayed with a clear coat once they are dry in order to seal them.


I mentioned these as being useful to modelers of just about anything, so here are some potential uses:

  • Panel lines on aircraft
  • Shadows on vehicles or buildings
  • Shading (adding tonal variations to paint)
  • Representing sheer fabrics on figures
  • Filters for any subject (with the advantage of being applied with an airbrush)

In watching some available YouTube videos, aircraft, armor, railroad buildings, figure, and Gundam kits are all mentioned.


Based on an early YouTube video on the Shaders as well as a new video added recently in English, here are some things to keep in mind when using this product.

  • Start with light shades (you can only make base colors darker with these).
  • Shaders are meant to be applied with an airbrush.
  • Only a few drops are needed to cover a large area.
  • Mig recommends having decals in place before using the Shaders.
  • Excess accumulation will result in a glossy appearance.
  • Shaders are meant to be applied over a flat finish.
  • If a mistake is made, these colors may be wiped off with water.
  • If adding more layers of Shaders, flat coat the underlying layer first.
  • Coat the Shaders with a gloss or semi-gloss coat prior to adding washes.
  • Your airbrush can be cleaned with water.


My plusses are the unique finishes that you can obtain with the Shaders whether adding shadows, panels of different tones, color differences along panel lines, or creating a new color on a piece of plastic.  The unique bottle design is intentional so that these are not confused with other acrylic paints as these are not intended to be used as base colors.  With a nice range of colors, you can achieve different effects, and you can easily mix even more colors yourself.  I have no minuses to mention with the Shaders.


In conclusion, I would highly recommend these paints to anyone wanting to add another option when creating shadows, panels with different tones, or any other effect mentioned.  Mig mentions that he created the Shaders to make modeling easier, and he hit the mark with this product.  Modelers with some experience with their airbrush should have no issues with using the Shaders.


I would like to thank the folks at Ammo by Mig Jimenez for being gracious enough to provide these Shaders 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.


Ammo by Mig Jimenez Shaders – Gray and Blue colors

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 12:57
Product Image Review Author:  Scott Hollingshead AMMO by Mig Jimenez

A recent arrival for the Review Corps were Shaders from Ammo by Mig Jimenez, which are a unique addition for modelers of just about anything.  For this review in particular, I was provided with five of the colors including Light Gray (0856), Navy Gray (0857), Light Blue (0860), Marine Blue (0861), and Night Blue (0862).  The full line consists of 20 different colors.  The Shaders are unique to begin with as they are packaged in 10ml bottles, so they are about half the size of a typical bottle of acrylic paint.  Shaders do not require shaking prior to use (they are about the consistency of ink), and they can be mixed to create different shades, and may be thinned with water if desired.


For this review I used only two drops of each of my five Shaders, and this was enough of the product to cover approximately 2 square inches.  I primed the inside of an upper scrap fuselage with Stynylrez White, Gray, Metal, and Blue-Gray, leaving a small strip of bare plastic between colors.  I used pieces of Post-it notes to mask over the Shaders with no issues of lifting.  These colors do need to be over sprayed with a clear coat once they are dry in order to seal them.


I mentioned these as being useful to modelers of just about anything, so here are some potential uses:

  • Panel lines on aircraft
  • Shadows on vehicles or buildings
  • Shading (adding tonal variations to paint)
  • Representing sheer fabrics on figures
  • Filters for any subject (with the advantage of being applied with an airbrush)

In watching some available YouTube videos, aircraft, armor, railroad buildings, figure, and Gundam kits are all mentioned.


Based on an early YouTube video on the Shaders as well as a new video added recently in English, here are some things to keep in mind when using this product.

  • Start with light shades (you can only make base colors darker with these).
  • Shaders are meant to be applied with an airbrush.
  • Only a few drops are needed to cover a large area.
  • Mig recommends having decals in place before using the Shaders.
  • Excess accumulation will result in a glossy appearance.
  • Shaders are meant to be applied over a flat finish.
  • If a mistake is made, these colors may be wiped off with water.
  • If adding more layers of Shaders, flat coat the underlying layer first.
  • Coat the Shaders with a gloss or semi-gloss coat prior to adding washes.
  • Your airbrush can be cleaned with water.


My plusses are the unique finishes that you can obtain with the Shaders whether adding shadows, panels of different tones, color differences along panel lines, or creating a new color on a piece of plastic.  The unique bottle design is intentional so that these are not confused with other acrylic paints as these are not intended to be used as base colors.  With a nice range of colors, you can achieve different effects, and you can easily mix even more colors yourself.  I have no minuses to mention with the Shaders.


In conclusion, I would highly recommend these paints to anyone wanting to add another option when creating shadows, panels with different tones, or any other effect mentioned.  Mig mentions that he created the Shaders to make modeling easier, and he hit the mark with this product.  Modelers with some experience with their airbrush should have no issues with using the Shaders.


I would like to thank the folks at Ammo by Mig Jimenez for being gracious enough to provide these Shaders 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.


The Doolittle Raid, Images of Aviation

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 12:44
Product Image Review Author:  Bill O'Malley Pen & Sword


On 1 April 1942, less than four months after the world had been stunned by the attack upon Pearl Harbor, sixteen US aircraft took to the skies to exact retribution. Their objective was not merely to attack Japan, but to bomb its capital. The raid was more successful in its moral impact on shaking the Japanese sense of invulnerability than in its physical damage to the targets. The Doolittle Raid tells the story of the preparations for the raid, descriptions of each of the 16 crews and their outcome, and the aftermath of the raid.

The book is part of Pen & Sword's Images of Aviation Series and is profusely illustrated with quality B&W photos. The photos create vivid images of the men, aircraft, and ships involved in the raid. Each crew and member of the Raiders is described in text and photos to personalize the people involved. The text provides introductions to each phase of the operation, and captions clearly describe each of the photos.


Part I - Striking Back

  • Chapter 1 Introduction - Describes developing the original idea, planning the raid, and preparation of the aircraft
  • Chapter 2 Making it Happen - The selection of volunteers and their training for the raid.
  • Chapter 3 All at Sea - Extensive photos describe the fleet of ships and preparations on the aircraft carrier Hornet en route to the launch of the aircraft.

Part II - Target Japan

  • Saturday, 18 April 1942 - Describes final on-board preparations and launching of the 16 B-25s on the day of the raid.
  • Crews 1 thru 16 - Includes photos of each crew, a description of their mission, and their fate after the raid.

Part III - The Aftermath

  • Chapter 4 War Crimes - A brief description of the trial of Japanese officials charged with torture of some of the Raider crews.
  • Chapter 5 The Post-Raid Assessment - Describes how word of the raid came out afterward, assessment & impact of the raid, and various recognition and award ceremonies after the raid.
  • Chapter 6 Recreating History - 50 years after the raid, on April 18, 1992, two B-25s launched off the USS Ranger (CV-61) to mark the 50th anniversary of the Doolittle raid.
  • References and Notes


The Doolittle Raid provides an intimate connection to the men who volunteered and dedicated themselves to this important mission. The raid lifted the spirit of Americans who had previously only experienced defeat and struck a blow to the moral of the Japanese people. The book tells a compelling story of the heroic actions taking by the volunteer Raiders and how the raid started to turn the tide of the war in America's favor. The text is well written and an easy read. The numerous photos are clear and very descriptive of the men, planes, and ships taking part in the raid. Detailed statistics are included for the 16 aircraft in the raid.

This book is an excellent narrative and fascinating collection of photos on the remarkable actions of the Doolittle Raiders. Thanks to Pen & Sword for publishing this awesome book, and thanks to Casemate for providing a review sample to IPMS.

F6F-3 Hellcat "VF-27 USS Princeton"

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 09:58
Product Image Review Author:  Scott Hollingshead Platz

Platz Hobby produces a number of kits in 1/144 scale (currently 334 to be exact), and I was fortunate enough to receive this two-plane kit for review. In addition to the parts for two aircraft there are markings for three different planes included. Construction was quick, and the detail is very good for this scale. Modelers familiar with working with small parts should not have issues building this release, and I would highly recommend it.

There have been many releases of the F6F in its variants over the years, so I probably do not need to mention much more on the history of a plane that had over 10,000 copies released during WWII. The three goals of the Hellcat were that it had to be better than the planes it would face, that it could be built quickly in large numbers, and that it could be easily mastered by the pilots. Grumman answered the call with what was likely the definitive U.S. Navy carrier-borne fighter of the war.

This release from Platz contains a single light gray sprue along with two clear sprues for each plane. While an additional F6F-5 canopy is provided for each plane, the markings are for the dash 3 variant. Speaking of the markings, they are made by Cartograf and provide the famous "cat mouth" marking of VF-27 assigned to the USS Princeton in May, 1944 as well as a plane from VF-9 aboard the USS Essex in 1944, and a VF-4 plane in 1943 (no ship mentioned). The VF-27 and VF-9 planes are in the two-tone blue scheme with a white underside while the VF-4 plane is blue gray over light gray.

Construction is straight forward, and the only change I made was to add the cockpit seat and control panel prior to gluing the fuselage halves together. While there were what appear to be mold release buttons on the seats, and there is no decal for the control panel, they are very difficult to see once the canopy is in place and the frames are painted. I did have to play with the fit of the canopy a little and the fuel tank supports may need moved slightly to match up to the fuselage, but these are not daunting tasks. I also had to replace the rear antenna on both planes with a piece of wire as I managed to break them off during construction on one plane, and during painting of the second plane. I used a piece of Uschi 0.001 inch rigging material for the aerial on the VF-27 plane and a piece of black hair (used for extensions) for the VF-9 plane.

I used Stynylrez White primer for the underside as well as Black for the propeller, and Model Master Acryl for the Dark Blue and Intermediate Blue. For the VF-27 plane, I found that Hataka lacquer Insignia Red best matched the cat mouth red as you must paint the intake area yourself. I also used Model Master Lacquer Silver for the spinner on the VF-27 plane.

My hits for this release are the level of detail for the scale, the clean moldings and tight fits, and the great markings. While I would not call them misses, I would have liked a decal for the control panel, and the canopy fit was not difficult to overcome, but did not match the fits of the other parts in the kit. Absolutely no filler was required for either plane.

As mentioned up front, I would highly recommend this kit to modelers wanting to add a couple of F6F-3 planes to their 1/144 collection, especially one from VF-27 with a cat mouth. Modelers with experience in working with small parts should have no issues with building this kit and adding the decals.

I would like to thank the folks at Platz Hobby for providing this kit to the IPMS-USA Review Corps for assessment, and to Phil Peterson for leading the Review Corps, and allowing me to perform this review. I would also send out kudos to all of the folks behind the scenes at the Review Corps who help John with his efforts, and as always, my sincere appreciation goes out to all the folks who take the time to read my comments.

Fairey Swordfish, Mk. I, II, III, IV, Floatplane

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 08:57
Product Image Review Author:  Brian R. Baker Kagero Publishing History

The Fairey Swordfish was an aircraft that, although appearing to be obsolete at the outbreak of World War II, achieved a combat record far in excess of what anyone expected. A large biplane, the type was used as a torpedo bomber, reconnaissance aircraft, anti-submarine type, and trainer by Commonwealth air forces and navies. Later versions were equipped with floats for catapult launching from warships, and the type routinely operated from Royal Navy carriers. In 1943, the type was equipped with radar, and mounted rockets under the wings for use against enemy warships and submarines. As long as they operated in areas where few enemy fighters were present, they could be very effective.

The Book

The book provides a set of drawings for all of the major versions of the Swordfish, ranging from Mk. I through Mk. IV plus the floatplane versions. There is no text explaining the features, but the drawings tell the story. The drawings show both side views, front view, upper and lower views, and views with the wings folded. There is a lot of information here for the modeler, and the drawings are provided in two scales.

In addition, there are ten color side views of various Mk. I and Mk. II aircraft in various color schemes, representing the major marking varieties used on this aircraft during its combat career. Unfortunately, these are only side views, and the plan view camouflage patterns are not given, although this information is available in other publications.


A major problem with this publication is that the majority of the views of the aircraft are listed as being in 1/72 scale. The two extra sheets include 1/48 scale drawings. When I first looked through the book, it seemed that the views were large for that scale, and after measuring, I found that the scale was somewhat larger than 1/72, and when I placed a 1/72 scale Matchbox model of the Swordfish over the drawing, the model was somewhat smaller. This would only be a problem in determining the size of the interior details, and model scales tend to be quite consistent. Other than that, it is an excellent publication, and provides all the information you would need for doing a super-detailed Swordfish model in either 1/72 of 1/48 scale.

As far as dimensions go, here is some information: (Dimensions are approximate)


Aircraft 1/1 1/48 1/72 Span 45' 6" 11.25" (Book 12.75") 7.58" (Book 9.5") Length 35' 8" 9" (Book 10.5") 6.5" (Book 7.5")

So, in effect, the drawings in the book are slightly larger than stated scale. However, they are highly detailed, and would be very useful to someone wanting to model this aircraft in either of these scales.


Aside from the scale problem, this will be a very useful publication for any serious modeler. Recommended with reservations. Perhaps a second edition would solve this problem.

AFV Club Sd.Kfz.251/9 Ausf D (Early)

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 01:03
Product Image Review Author:  Michael Novosad AFV Club

Brief History from Wikipedia

The Sd.Kfz. 251 halftrack was a World War I German armored fighting vehicle designed by the Hanamag company, based on its earlier unarmored Sd. Kfz 11 vehicle. The Sd.Kfz. 251 was designed to transport the Panzergrenadier (German mechanized infantry) into battle. Sd.Kfz. 251s were the most widely produced German halftracks of the war, with at least 15,252 vehicles and variants produced by seven manufacturers. Some sources state that the Sd.Kfz. 251 was commonly referred to simply as "Hanomags" by both German and Allied soldiers after the manufacturer of the vehicle; this has been questioned, and may have been only a postwar label. German officers referred to them as SPW (Schutzenpanzerwagen, or armored infantry vehicle) in their daily orders and memoirs. 

Sd.Kfz. 251/9 - Schutzenpanzerwagen (7.5 cm KwK37). Equipped with a 75 mm L/24 low velocity gun, using the same pedestal gun mount employed on the Stug IIII. Nicknamed "Stummel" ("stump"). In 1944, a revised modular gun mount was introduced to facilitate production that also incorporated a coaxial MG42. This universal gun mount was also used to create the Sd.Kfz. 250/8 variant and the Sd.Kfz.234/3.

The Kit and What is in the Box

There are eight plastic bags containing ten plastic sprues in three different colors. a spun aluminum gun barrel, a small PE fret, and a pair of vinyl tracks. A small decal sheet is also provided.

Also included is a nominal 8" by 12" color box art picture suitable for framing or just tacking to the wall for color and front end detailing reference.

The Instructions

The instructions are provided in a 16-page, glossy paper booklet. The cover page includes small box art image and a brief history of the vehicle.  Page 2 has a color list noting six paint choices from four different manufacturers. The bottom of the page has illustration for four options of workable track available from AFV Club. 

Construction is detailed from page 3 through page 12 in 25 steps. Each step is shown in exploded views and several smaller views with part numbers noted, and paint colors sometimes noted. The parts list is shown on page 13 with instructions noted for obtaining replacement parts. The tiny gun barrel was included in the plastic bag with sprue "DD". 

The last three pages show in color four camouflage schemes for this vehicle. Reading the instructions and planning the painting sequence is important to complete the assembly.


Open top military vehicles often present some real challenges when it comes to painting and this kit is no exception. I painted the various subassemblies in a progressive manner for this build/review. 

Lower Hull-In the second part of Step 1 the two hull sides are fitted to the lower chassis.  Each hull side has three tabs that fit into slots in the chassis.  Either some of the slots were too small or the tabs too large.  I enlarged the holes slightly to accommodate the tabs and things began to fit in place, but it was still a bit tight. Same for the rear axle; the forward openings needed to be enlarged slightly before the axle would fit in place. Once the solvent was applied at the tabs, I used finger pressure to force the parts together and felt movement as the tabs slid into place. Any misfit here would reflect into future assembly.

Step 2 addresses the drive sprocket that consists of an inner and exterior sides. The parts have full circular teeth on each half that intermesh on the inside of the mating surfaces.  Here too we have another tight fit.  Using finger pressure I compressed the parts, applied the solvent all the way around, and applied more pressure until the parts compressed and the teeth on both side fit together.

In Step 9 several items are fitted to the angled wall on the left side. Raised lines are provided to locate the various items, however there are more outlines than equipment to be mounted. I used a microchisel to eliminate all the lines and just winged the locations when fixing the parts in place. When mounted the two interior side storage bins there were no raised locators to help in placement.

The lower hull crew compartment was primed and painted at this point in the assembly.

Upper Hull-The engine compartment doors, parts D8 and D9 did not fit the opening; one side was a bit too wide. I trimmed the sides and hinges for a better fit and shimmed the hood opening shelf at the door junction with .010" plastic strip to prevent the doors from setting too low in the opening. There was a bit of effort to get the parts to fit just right. In the end it was close but not perfect.

Hull Exterior-The exterior hull storage compartments are molded with one door closed and two open with separate doors that can be fitted open or closed.  However, the knuckles on the left side door (parts D34) piano hinges and those on the left side boxes are not alternating but are molded opposed.  Therefore, the doors will not fit in either an open or closed configuration as shown in the instructions. Parts D34 will however fit on the right side, while door parts D33 shown fitted on the right side will fit on the left side. In either case the doors will not close flush with the box sides unless the interior ledge on parts D10 and D11 is removed.

When it came time to fit the two long storage compartments on either side of the upper hull I found there were no positive locators to help with the fit. I temporarily taped the upper and lower hulls together, and using the side profiles show in the instructions as a guide I fitted the compartments in place as best I could and applied the solvent. Neither was a good fit and some filling would be required.

The upper hull crew compartment interior was primed and painted at this point in the assembly.

75 mm L/24 low velocity gun-The construction of the main armament was addressed in multiple steps in the instructions and was the most complicated work in the assembly.  I managed to lose two of the smaller parts during the work but forged ahead with the gun undaunted.

This subassembly was primed and painted at this point.

Hull Finishing Touches-Fitting the top hull to the bottom assembly was problematic. I hooked the front of the top portion to the bottom of the hull and cemented them together, leaving the rest of the assembly loose, hoping to fit everything together once the solvent had cured. At this point the ill-fitting joins were evident. The joins were fitted and glued progressively until the top and bottom were assembled.  Several significant gaps were apparent. These were filled with acrylic putty.

Tracks-First I washed the vinyl tracks in warm water with a drop of Dawn detergent using an old toothbrush to scrub all the nooks and crannies. The tracks were rinsed in clear water and set aside to dry overnight.

The tracks are handed: the right side has a round tab and the left a square tab.  Both tabs were left is place until after the painting was complete to avoid mixing them. The 251 tracks have 56 links on the right side while the left has 55 links.  This information was Found in Panzer Tracts No 15-2.

The tracks were then painted with a mix of Tamiya acrylics and allowed to dry for 24 hours before gluing the ends together. Quick-setting super glue was used to form the loop. Plastic solvent had no effect on the tracks. Each loop fit around the road wheels and sprockets with no issues, however I had to glue the tracks to the tops and bottoms of the road wheels for a more realistic appearance. 

Now the major problem: with the tracks in place and the model placed on a flat surface, I found the two front wheels suspended about a quarter inch above the surface. Not sure how to address that problem at this stage in the work.


As the kit has three different colors of plastic parts and some PE parts I primed the model with a single color to unify the base plastic.  I decanted Tamiya grey primer and thinned it with Mr. Color Leveling thinner.  This was applied with an airbrush and the primer was allowed to cure for 24 hours before continuing.

The open crew compartment interior had been painted previously and was masked before the exterior was painted.


There are decal markings for five vehicles, counting the box art.  I chose "442" as the subject for this build.  This vehicle has "442" on the sides and rear, and that was it for markings.  Simple.   The model was given a few coats of clear gloss as a base for the decals and pin wash. The decals loosened from the backing sheet within a few minutes after being dipped in warm water.  Each of the side numbers are attached to the center number by a narrow band of carrier film, so care is required when sliding the decal off the backer onto the model's surface.  The numbers did align with little effort. MicroSet and MicroSol were used to fix the decals in place.  When dry the carrier film is virtually invisible.

The model was finished with a coat of Model Master clear flat acryl. Done!


The most significant challenge was the assembly of the top of the vehicle was the lower hull subassembly. I could not determine where the subassemblies went wrong, but the fit was certainly off. Shimming with plastic strips, filling with putty, and sanding proved to be the answer to eliminating most of the gaps.  More work than should have been required. 

Another of the annoying aspects of this kit was the raised ejector pin stubs that are often located on opposing mounting surfaces of some parts.  This is especially true of the smaller parts.  This is a problem that is certainly not insurmountable but requires time and effort to address. The instructions are not always clear for the placement of some parts, and therefore some study and care is required to get everything to fit. Several parts have no positive locators and require effort to determine the correct placement. 

I found a few parts with flash, but nothing of consequence.  Some of the parts are too thick, such as the open storage boxes in the exposed crew compartment. There are some ill-fitting parts, but again those were easily corrected.

This model has potential and will require attention and patience to complete.

I wish to thank AFV Club and IPMS USA for the opportunity to build and review this kit. 

: Atlantis White-Fruehauf gas truck

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 00:27
Product Image Review Author:  Rod Lees Atlantis Model Company

IPMS/USA appreciates the continued support of Atlantis Models for supporting the IPMS USA reviewer corps with another step back in time for us old guys!

Atlantis Models continues their release schedule of one more kit I did not remember being on the shelves in my younger years.  This Tractor/Trailer is advertised as a multiple use model, for both civilian and Military use.  Included in the box are bright green injection molded parts, and a decal sheet for "Dino the Dinosaur", company mascot for the Sinclair oil company. 

I found this particularly intriguing, as one of my favorite gasoline companies when I was living in Rapid City, South Dakota was Sinclair oil company with it's trademark Dino the dinosaur.  If you are familiar with the "Dinosaur park" on one of the hilltops overlooking "Bacon Park" in Rapid city, you know their largest concrete statue of the many dinosaurs memorialized from the "badlands" fossils found to the East of Rapid City is a large Brontosaur, or "Dino". 

Yes, I'm easily amused.  And used to have a large inflatable "Dino" as well.  Who would not envy such a cool toy? 


On to the kit...  The parts are extremely well detailed, accurate in fit, and produce one model.  The fuel tanker trailer is removable, and has opening doors on the side to access the fuel valves and distribution manifold.  Fuel lines are prevalent on the underside of the trailer, and the lower chassis includes forward extended trailer roller braces for assisting connection to the fifth wheel in real life, and an eight tire rolling truck with brake accumulators and leaf spring details. 

The tank fits perfectly onto the lower trailer chassis, with a ladder leading to the six upper tank maintenance covers.  The ladder for the back of the tank is a mandatory accessory for tank inspection and filling. Detail on the tail of the trailer includes brake lights and turn signal lights. 

.  The Tractor is a cab-over, and if you construct it correctly during assembly, it will hinge forward to allow access to a detailed engine, transmission, battery, and basic chassis with dual rear wheels under the fifth wheel plate.  A steering wheel, bench seats, and a couple of instrument recessions are included, although (common at the time) no clear parts are included.  Two rear view mirrors and one set of horns (which I drilled out with a #11 blade) for the cab roof are also provided


After painting the model overall with flat black spray automotive primer, I filled in a few sink marks on the fuel tank sides, and then carefully (and lightly) sprayed several light coats of yellow gloss paint over the entire model.  I had masked off the cab interior, and ended up touching up the black paint inside.  Wheels off for this part!


Let's spend a moment on the wheels and tires.  There are 14 of these boogers, and if you dislike repetitive repair as much as I do, you will be crawling the walls with these.  The wheels were single part items, with detailed wheel faces for the outer wheel and tire assemblies.  I had painted them overall yellow, and realized afterwards I should have masked the tires first, because gloss paint over flat primer without misting it on will result in (1) paint film shrinkage and (2) cracks in the gloss color coat.  Several of the tires therefore had radial cracks in the flat black applied over the tires, requiring minute but difficult touch up.   This is just an "old man who knows better by experience" afterthought for y'all for future efforts.   I had used a circle cutter for the first time to make yellow masking tape discs to mask off the wheels, and that part actually worked pretty well.  

After the vehicle chassis had dried a few days, I pressed the wheels on the axles.  In retrospect I'd HIGHLY recommend you test fit first to ensure they will press over the axle boss... I almost destroyed the trailer with the amount of pressure I applied, and this was not necessary. 

Using some clear plastic from a vacform blister container from Eduard (save these for "free" clear sheets!) ensured I had glass in the rear and side cab locations.  I left the door panel glass "rolled down" (you younger guys don't know what I am talking about, huh?) and tried to "force form" a windshield.  No go... but it's mostly there. 

You may want to do this yourself with a vacform and rudimentary balsa armature.  But maybe not.  I don't see any aftermarket showing up over this anytime soon.

I did not apply the decals, as I'm still searching for detail pictures showing this truck being used on a flight line with large aircraft.  In the interim, I have a 1/48 tanker to use for a visiting B-36 to be refueled.  My experience with Atlantis decals is they work great... but I don't need a Sinclair decal on my AGE fuel truck. 


Well done Atlantis, and please continue to bring out the older kits.   I'm preordering when possible... and the prices are particularly welcome, especially in cases such as the T-56 Turboprop... It's great fun to enjoy the hobby again with some good-'ol old time modeling.