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Updated: 11 hours 8 min ago

F-4B Phantom, Part 1- Wow!

Wed, 05/05/2021 - 00:29
Product Image Review Author:  Dave Morrissette Tamiya USA

When Tamiya announced they were entering the Phantom market in 1/48 scale, the Internet buzzed. And now the kit is out, a 1/48th scale F-4B Phantom. Let's start by taking a looking the box. For starters, there are 14 sprues of perfect Tamiya grey and clear plastic. There is also a set of instructions, a set of Tamiya Tech tips and a background information booklet about the plane. There are two large double-sided four-color pages with markings for the three planes and a drawing for stencil locations. Also included is a set of masks (not precut). Lastly, there are two decals sheets with markings for the weapons, planes and stencils.  


Markings are included for the following:

  • VF-51 "Screaming Eagles", CAG Plane, May 6, 1972, USS Coral Sea
  • VF-111 "Sundowners", Squadron Leaders Aircraft, NAS Miramar, August 1972
  • VF-161 "Chargers), CAG Plane, May 1972, USS Midway

Options included for the modeler to use are:

  • Open or closed canopy
  • Extended or stowed fuel probe.
  • Folded and extended wingtips
  • Extended or retracted boarding ladder
  • Raised or lowered flaperons
  • Pilot figures
  • AIM-7E Sparrows, AIM-9G/H Sidewinders 
  • Three drop tanks
  • Different types of antennae and cockpit consoles can be chosen depending on the marking option selected


A note about the engineering before we dive in - it is flawless. One of the things about Phantoms is angles. The outer wing panels, the exhausts and even the canopies all have specific angles. In most kits, this is left to the modeler to make sure they are correct - Tamiya fixed all of that. First, if you select canopy open or wings tips folded, they have molded a set of parts to make sure the angles are correct. All you need to do is select the correct parts. You want the wing tips extended - different set of parts but the angle is molded-in correctly. Also, the one-piece horizontal stabilizer right and left sides move in concert. No more misalignment issues with two separate sides. And as a preview, if you loved the way their Tomcat fit, this is even better.


One other note, this is the only the first of Tamiya Phantoms - many of the parts are modular. The tail for example has separate leading edges. The seat cushions for the ejections seats already have several options. Even the extra decals sheets list parts for a "J" version so that is good news.


Construction starts with the cockpit. I followed the color call-outs and painted as I went. There are some decals to add and they are clearly called out. Everything fit and assembly is straightforward. Note that there are some differences between options A/C (USS Coral Sea and USS Midway) and options B, the NAS Miramar plane. At this point, I went with the Sundowners, options B. The front gear bay was assembled and added to the cockpit. The instrument panel was built and added here as it gets trapped in the fuselage. I added a wash and light chipping, but I want a fairly pristine build this time. 


Before closing up the fuselage, you need to install rear engine parts. The fit is so good on the aft engine parts I did not need filling or sanding. With this done, the cockpit and engines were added and the fuselage closed up. The top of the fuselage is a separate part (also showing more versions to come) and fits well. 


The wings were next and start with a main spar. This also holds wheel well parts, and the visible engine sections for the air bleeds. About a dozen parts are added and then the spar to the bottom wing and the top wings added to close things up. Pre-painting the interior wheel wells white is also a good idea. The wings were added to the fuselage and they fit perfectly. No seam, nothing, they literally clicked into place, I ran a couple beads of glue into place and done. I attached the nose undersurface next without issue. 


While I was at it, I built the two flaperons for the wings. Another piece of innovation was here - the traditional droop and models have been making jigs and the like to get them correct. Tamiya has molded the tabs at the correct angle. You need to choose up or drooped, us the correct part and voila - dropped flaperons and the correct angle.


Lastly, the same thing applies to the outer wing panels. I want folded so I used parts B13 and B14. You want extended, use parts B11 and B12. All molded to the correct angle you need for your choice.


That is it for Part One. I am overwhelmed with the intelligence and engineering behind this kit. Also, the B Phantom has LOTS of cool markings. I will be back shortly with the finish.


My total gratitude to Tamiya for not only making and letting IPMS/USA review this kit but to their efforts in making it so much fun to build. 

The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 Volume One: Indian Military Intervention in East Pakistan

Tue, 05/04/2021 - 01:26
Product Image Review Author:  Dana Mathes Helion & Company

Reviewer's Comments:


Ravi Rikhye is an international affairs and military historian with a remarkable academic background.  He holds seven master's degrees and is currently working on his doctorate.  His career has also included the completion of more than thirty books.  For the first offering in the Helion and Company's new Asia@War book series, Rikhye has authored a two-part history of the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War.  This review looks at the first book about the Indian Military Intervention in East Pakistan (now known as Bangladesh).  The second work addresses the contemporaneous Showdown in the West (along the current Indo-Pakistani border).


Most historians have looked at this conflict as a short, two-week war between India and Pakistan in December 1971 that precipitated the independence of East Pakistan.  Rikhye takes a broader and longer look at this war and places it within the framework of post-colonial destabilization and superpower dynamics.  He argues that this war was basically inevitable, and that India's military victory was a foregone conclusion.


When the British granted India its independence in 1947, the former colony was partitioned into two Moslem regions (West and East Pakistan) and a Hindu region (India).  Tensions between the two-part Pakistani state and India simmered, leading to an inconclusive military confrontation in 1965.  Rikhye argues that West Pakistan's administration of the Eastern region prior to 1971 was both inept, unfair, and unsustainable.  This was not only because of the peculiar geographical construction of a two-part Pakistan but also due to the ethic bias the Western Pakistani Muslims had towards the Eastern Bangladeshis, who they regarded as inferior.  Consequently, the military deployment in Eastern Pakistan was weak and poorly resourced.  Rikhye says that the Pakistani army was exhausted and without reserves because it had been fighting a de-facto civil war with Bangladeshi rebels within East Pakistan for almost a year prior to the hostilities with India. He also shows that the Indians saw this situation and made extensive preparations to take advantage of it.  


Rikhye demonstrates that India formed a substantial para-military force from Bangladeshi refugees which proved to of great military advantage once the Indian invasion began.  The Indian military was much stronger than the Pakistani forces deployed in East Pakistan, and once the Indian government decided to pounce, they quickly defeated the Pakistani forces.  Rikhye argues that the Indian generals were originally ordered to occupy only a strip along the border of the two states, but one audacious Indian general took the initiative to proceed rapidly into Dacca, the East Pakistani capital, as the Pakistani army crumbled before it.  The ensuing comprehensive Indian military conquest led to the political independence of a new state, Bangladesh, one which posed little military threat to India.


Rikhye makes a considerable effort to show how this regional war was influenced by the larger international political dynamics.  Pakistan and India were both courted by the superpowers.  Both countries received weapons from the West as well as from the Soviets.  India was very wary of the Chinese in this era and synchronized their incursion into East Pakistan with weather conditions along the Sino-Indian border that were unfavorable for a Chinese invasion.  The movements of the US Navy were also monitored by the Indians, as the Pakistanis had vainly hoped for support from the United States.


Rikhye does not limit himself to the strategic and tactical aspects of the war.  He discusses the human aspects of the war as he tells of the massive refugee influx (60,000/day) from East Pakistan into India.  He is very blunt in his appraisals of the leadership decisions and personal behaviors of selected generals.  Unfortunately, he seems to dismiss the alleged 300,000 rapes perpetrated on the women of Bangladesh during this war by the Pakistani army and offers no defense for his position.  He also discredits the claims that as many as three million Bengalis were killed by the Pakistanis during the insurrection.  However, he does acknowledge the ferocity of the fighting and notes that the Hindu population of East Pakistan decreased from 30 percent to merely 10 percent in only two years.  To Rikhye's credit, he makes a special effort to tell the stories of individuals on both sides who were recognized for their extraordinary courage under fire.


The author gives a detailed account of the actual fighting in East Pakistan (air, ground, and naval), with separate chapters for each geographical sector.  His tables and maps, which depict the individual unit deployments, are very helpful.  Rikhye liberally provided pictures of the leaders, the equipment, and the action with over eighty photographs.  Both sides used military equipment supplied by the world powers, primarily from the British, Americans, and Russians.  He has included excellent color illustrations of the aircraft (MIG-21s, Hunter F.Mk 56s, F-86s, etc.), armored vehicles (PT-76s, M-24s, and T-55s), and uniforms.  His photographs and illustrations also capture some of the ad hoc field-applied camouflage schemes on some of the aircraft and armored vehicles. 

Rikhye does not go into much detail regarding the equipment configuration details many modelers would like to have, such as variants and modifications, but he provides enough reference material for the modeler to have a good starting point for a modeling project.  No discussion of model kits or accessories is incorporated in the book.  Neither are photographs of any completed models of the equipment or personnel involved in the fighting included.


Special thanks go to Casemate Publishers for donating this book for review.  Natalie Mathes provided the photographs accompanying this review article. Rikhye's Indo-Pakistan War of 1971: Indian Military Intervention in East Pakistan is an excellent, easily readable resource for those interested in this complex post-colonial conflict.  It provides valuable reference material for the modeler interested in modern armor, figures, or aircraft.  This work whets one's appetite for more accounts of these poorly understood regional wars in modern Asia.

Warriors of Light: Digital Su-27S & Su-27UB Decals

Mon, 05/03/2021 - 14:29
Product Image Review Author:  Ben Morton Foxbot

The Warriors of Light 1/72nd scale decal series from Foxbot is a collection of aircraft numbers for ten Su-27s with a complete data and stencil set for a single example. All of the Su-27's were assigned to the Ukrainian Air Force. Most Su-27s in Ukrainian service carried a digital, tri-color camouflage pattern on the upper surfaces and vertical stabilizers. The colored instructions are printed on thick paper with marking and stencil placement instructions. There is also a placement and color guide for the paint masks that are sold separately.

Color call-outs are provided with 'paint chip' facsimiles of the aircraft colors. The colors are referenced to RAL, FS or AKAN colors. Locating the AKAN paints may prove to be problematic as those are from a Russian company and not widely distributed in the U.S. The RAL is the European color matching system and FS (Federal Standard) is, of course, the U.S. color matching system. [Fun Fact: RAL stands for Reichs-Ausschuv fur Lieferbedinggen.]

The updated marking options (this decal set was available previously) are provided for aircraft of the Ukrainian Air Force from 2015-2019.

  • Su-27 "Blue 50" named "Vasyl Nikiforov", Mirhorod, 2015.
  • Su-27 "Blue 39" 831st Guards Tactical Aviation Brigade, Lt. Yurii Bulavka, RIAT, Fairford Air Base, 20 July 2019.
  • Su-27 "Blue 24", "Blue 33", "Blue 37", "Blue 56", "Blue 58".
  • Su-27UBM-1 "Blue 71", Zaporizhia airfield, October 2015.
  • Su-27UBM-1 "Blue 67", Blue 73"

The marking options are presented in profile whereas the stenciling guide has full, four view drawings with supplemental drawings for the air intakes, vertical stabilizers, and landing gear. The last guide is for the national insignia on the upper wings and the wing-walk areas.

The decals are printed in Ukraine by Decography and have very good registry and a minimal amount of thin, carrier film. The data blocks and warning stencils have outstanding definition with decipherable script and line spacing.

This decal set is only for the aircraft stencils and markings. I do have some digital camo decals 'on order' and hope to do a follow-on article using those in combination with these Foxbot markings. While we wait for that pending event, I have a reasonable facsimile to show these decals 'in their natural environment', namely on the wing of Trumpeters 1/72nd scale Su-27.

To keep things simple, I sprayed the upper wing/fuselage part with Tamiya primer and then clear coated that with ...well, a gloss clear coat. The wing-walk markings, national insignia, and some of the data stencils were applied to the wing. These water slide decals released from the backing paper with a minimal amount of immersion in water. The results are pluperfect. All of the decals went down well. They didn't crinkle, bunch up or tear when reposition, particularly the wing walk stenciling. Another plus is that the carrier film disappeared after applying a semi-gloss clear coat over the completed decal application. [Fun Fact: pluperfect is short for plusquamperfect. Short version definition is 'more than perfect'. This will be on the test.]

There is an interesting addition to the instruction sheet that states; Buying a decal series from "Warriors of Light", you are helping the Ukrainian Air Force, as part of the income from the sale of decals will be transferred to the volunteer organization "Wings of the Phoenix", which deals with the restoration of aircraft for the Ukrainian Air Force. (?)

According to Wikipedia, "Phoenix Wings" (not "Wings of the Phoenix"): is a citizen organization started by Yury Biryukov to financially aid the armed forces of Ukraine. That aid has included purchasing bullet proof vests, helmets, and other related support for the armed forces of Ukraine. And, it would seem, to the care and maintenance of the Ukrainian Air Force.

1/72nd scale digital camouflage, self-adhesive masks are available, separately, from Foxbot (item #72-003) FOXBOT FM72-003 Masks for Su-27 Ukrainian Air Forces, digital camouflage. (Kinda makes you wonder why Foxbot doesn't include them, as a set, with the decals.)

These decals are designed for 1/72nd scale Su-27 kits from Airfix, Hasegawa, Heller, ICM, Trumpeter and Zvezda, just about any 1/72nd scale kit available.

The decal series from Foxbot is really a must if you intend to model an Su-27. The digital camo scheme that adorns these aircraft is as striking as it is impressive. With the markings for "Blue 39" (and others) of the 831st Guards Tactical Aviation Brigade you will a have stunning addition to your display case. And a great representation of the Ukrainian Air Force's attempts at keeping those 'Russian commies' out of their country. :)

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

Support Your Local Hobby Shop

Messerschmitt Bf 109 A-F

Mon, 05/03/2021 - 12:43
Product Image Review Author:  Paul Mahoney Kagero Publishing

This is the 2nd volume in a revived series from Kagero. According to the editor the series was originally launched in 2001, but decal production issues caused the cessation of publication. They have now restarted this series, and so far, have issued 3 volumes ("Eastern Front" armor, "Japanese Fighters", and the subject of this review).

"Messerschmitt Bf 109 A-F" jumps right in with color profiles on the very first page. This is followed by 38 more pages of profiles, and a final page with a table of RLM colors produced by various model paint manufacturers. The back cover has an additional two profiles.

Side profiles are provided for Bf 109s starting with Spanish Civil War markings and culminating in schemes from the Eastern Front. The artwork is superb and well-sized. Most pages show left and right profiles of the same aircraft, followed by top/bottom views of the same aircraft on the next page. Brief captions identify each subject, sometimes with scrap views of squadron or personal insignias.

The decal sheet consists of German and Spanish Civil War national insignia in both 1/48 and 1/72 scales. Although I have not tried them yet, they appear to be similar in quality to those found in other Kagero publications. They seem a little thick on the sheet but have minimal excess carrier film and the colors seem nice and dense. It has been my experience that these work well using Microscale Set/Sol.

I have to say I am a big fan of the profiles presented here. The artwork is amazingly detailed, print quality is high and they are a nice, large size. I was excited to hear there would be decals included, but quite disappointed to discover they were only of national insignias. Obviously, most profile type of books do not include any decals, but given the interesting profiles within, and the series name including "decals", it was a letdown to find these were the only ones. Then again, if they included markings for every profile, it would essentially become a decal sheet production, not a book! It is always nice to have some extra markings in the decal stash (particularly the Spanish Civil War ones which are harder to find), but maybe in some future releases we will at least see some of the individual markings or squadron badges. I think this is a worthwhile addition to any Luftwaffe book collection, and whole-heartedly recommend it. Just do not get too excited about the decal portion of things!

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


Mon, 05/03/2021 - 12:29
Product Image Review Author:  Michael Reeves Hobby Boss History

Using the hull from a Sho't (itself a modified Centurion), the Puma CEV is a heavily armored combat engineering vehicle and armored personnel carrier used by the IDF since the 1990's. With a top speed of 45 km/h, the Puma can carry a crew of up to eight people. It has a variety of uses including mine clearing equipment (including the Carpet system) and bridging capabilities. It is armed with three 7.62mm FN MAG machine guns, smoke grenade launchers, and a 60mm mortar.

The Kit

Inside the durable cardboard box are seventeen olive green sprues, four brown sprues with individual track links, an upper and lower hull, two clear sprues, 24 vinyl tires, a PE fret, and a nicely detailed decal sheet. The kit only features one scheme that uses only two of the decals, so good references are a must to get the most out of the kit.

The Build

Construction begins with the twelve road wheels, idler, and sprocket wheels. There is a choice of road wheels to choose from, but I mixed them up since this was often the case in the IDF. After a brief respite with the rear hull armor plate and attachments, we go back to suspension arms, final drive housing, return rollers, and rear tow pintle assembly. Step 6 has a small mistake in the instructions with the labels C43 and D16 reversed...so take note there.

Step 7 has the tracks assembled next. This is where I really appreciate link and length tracks, which these are not. There is no jig included so one has to assemble the links together and get them attached- but alignment is tricky. If even one of your return rollers or road wheels is even slightly out of alignment, it can make fitting the tracks straight very difficult. Each side requires 103 links so I brought my links to school with me and cleaned them up in my free periods.

Parts for the track guards are next for steps 8-10 with attaching jerry cans, stowage boxes, smoke grenade launcher, IED jammers, and headlight assemblies included. PE for the straps for the jerry cans and headlight assemblies are present in these steps. They are then attached to the hull, but fit is a definite issue. I had to thin down the tabs on the guards before they would fit in the slots on the hull.

Assembly of the Rafael Overhead Weapon Station (OWS)- everything fits pretty well and looks great. Detailing the remaining three machine guns for the doghouse and hull continues assembly, and then steps 14-17 involve the multi-part assembly of the doghouse with it's octagonal shape and roof with hatches. The hull top deck is next with some filling required and the addition of hatches and exhausts, periscope glass, mortar, and other small bits. The doghouse assembly is then added to the deck and then to the lower hull. Crew steps and assorted brackets are next up.

We then move on to the excellent details of the side skirts and slat armor, done in styrene and protected by foam on the sprues in the box initially.  Step 24 adds the RPG shields slat armor, but there is an issue with trying to bring everything together- Part V14 is supposed to attach to V12 to complete the rear side of the three, but it has a curved end that doesn't meet up to V14. One piece is mislabeled as well- S6 should be S9.

Painting and Weathering

Here is the one issue I have with the kit-- there is an excellent decal sheet filled with markings, but the one scheme featured in the kit only uses two markings. Painting instructions call for Sinai Gray and give references for Mr. Hobby, Acrysion,. Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya, and Humbrol paints. I used AMMO by Mig IDF Sinai Grey 82. I have the excellent Desert Eagle book on the Puma for a reference and the decal sheet has a few different versions of the Combat Engineers bridge mark (looks like an M with horns) which should definitely be on the vehicle. These were also pretty well covered in sand so I used a mix of the AMMO IDF weathering pigments extensively.


There is a LOT of plastic in this box and it is really full of great detail. It really is a unique looking vehicle and the kit builds up nicely. The tracks will take some time and patience- but go together well. The markings sheet is the only let-down...but good references will allow you to use the excellent markings sheet to its fullest potential- it is a shame Hobby Boss couldn't have spent a bit more time offering more options, but the sheet itself more than makes up for it. My thanks to MRC and IPMS-US for the review sample.

French Battleships 1922-1956

Mon, 05/03/2021 - 01:10
Product Image Review Author:  Luke R. Bucci PhD Seaforth Publishing

Thanks to Casemate Publishing & IPMSUSA for the review copy!

Battleship lovers - break out your drool cups! Everything you always wanted to know about French WW2 battleships is here! This heavy book is the ultimate - last of the FMN battleships. You now have the sine qua non of French battleship books. You could stop reading this review right here because you have all you really need to know about this book, but your battleship addiction means you want more details. Let's chase that dragon!

The authors are the world authorities on French naval history and have been and still are publishing fact-filled, adventure-packed books on Marine Nationale Francais (FMN) topics. John Jordan is a prolific writer and has become an expert on the interwar naval period (that's between WW1 & WW2), after focusing on post-WW2 Soviet naval topics. He has been editor and a major contributor to Warship, the yearly update and history books from 2005 and counting. John has published books on the famous international naval treaties that weighed heavy on naval ship construction after WW1, the Soviet navy, and other French warship classes from the 19th-20th centuries, mostly by Seaforth Publishing. He speaks and writes fluent French and English.

Robert Dumas, Like John Jordan, is a former teacher who retired in 1999 and proceeded to publish Books in French about the French navy, and many articles for Warship. It was only a matter of time before Robert and John conspired on this book, and I look forward to new and updated English-language versions of other books from them.

This book was originally published in 2009, but since then a large amount of hitherto hidden or secret data behind the former Iron Curtain has been brought to light, and incorporated into this 2020 reprint, replete with new line drawings by both authors, and ably aided by many big names in European 20th century warship authors and some illustrators. Most of the line drawings were by both authors who added updated drawings for this edition.

What You Get

You get a thick, heavy softbound book with fold-ins on the inside of front and back covers with author information and listing similar books on the French navy. The dimensions are 111/4 high x 9 5/8 wide and almost 5/8 inches thick (288 x 245 x 16 mm). There are 224 pages, with small print - but an easy and fast read. Production quality is first-class on thick, semi-gloss stock. This book is built to last many spine-cracking openings. The covers are in color with a watercolor painting of the Strasbourg on the front cover and eight pages with 23 images of color profiles/plans of each battleship in different fits in the middle of the book. There are 16 maps, 66 Tables, 93 line drawings (most with extensive explanatory text), and 137 B&W photos (many are large and clarity is extremely good - a rarity). Most pages have more maps, line drawings, table or photo areas than text areas. This makes for an easy and fast read.

This book is everything you always wanted to know about 20th century French battleships, but were not afraid to ask - all the answers are here. Focus is on four ships - Dunkerque, Strasbourg, Richelieu and Jean Bart, and their rather short careers, along with a plethora of plans, designs, and what-ifs. The first thing you see is an impressive watercolor painting of the Strasbourg on the front cover, with a description of the contents on the back cover.

The book has the usual title and copyright pages, Table of Contents, Abbreviations (very important), Preface, and 14 more sections (Introduction, nine Chapters, Colour Plates, Conclusion, Sources and Index). Text presents the thinking of the French Navy, political issues, and foreign navy developments, crafting a fascinating behind-the-scenes look into how the French navy turned out like it did, or more to the point, what it did not turn out to be. The Introduction covers the French battleships starting at 1900 and through WW1 rather quickly, setting the stage for the ships in this book. This section includes plans for battleships before the international treaties (Washington and London), making for very interesting information of a virtually unknown topic.

Chapter 1 describes the changing plans for capital ships after the Washington Treaty of 1921 set limits for number, size and armament of battleships, ruining pre-treaty plans.

Chapter 2 describes design and characteristics of the post-treaty efforts to use the French allotment with new builds, which became two new battleships (sometimes referred to as battlecruisers), Dunkerque and Strasbourg. These ships incorporated radical new and advanced design elements, some of which were not as helpful as hoped. The main armament was all forward, in two quadruple turrets, a first for capital ships, but the main guns were only 13.5in caliber, behind the 15-16in main guns of other navies. However, they were built for a specific purpose - more as a fast cruiser/pocket battleship killer than to slug it out with other battleships. This is what the French navy needed and could afford. The drawings and amount of detail are simply awesome and incredible.

Chapter 3 is the career of each ship, first as new and celebrated capital ships, then as Allied heavy units working closely with the British, and then the details of why the French battleships ended up in North Africa and then were attacked by British battleships. The deficits and attributes of these ships were clearly shown during actual battle service. Because of treaties signed with the Germans, Dunkerque and Strasbourg did not fight back as vigorously as was feared, and both eventually ended their careers in 1942 in Toulon, France by scuttling to prevent them from falling into German/Italian hands.

Chapter 4 details the design and characteristics of updated French battleships Richelieu and Jean Bart after the London Treaty expired. Again, the line drawings, photos and tables and breathtaking, giving an intimate knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of these designs. These were truly battleships armed with increased antiaircraft weaponry and 15in main artillery to counteract potential German and Italian designs, and were mostly scaled-up versions of Dunkerque and Strasbourg, with the same radical all-forward main armament in quadruple turrets. Some of the flaws of the first two ships were rectified, and these two ships were considered the equal of other battleships of the times.

Chapter 5 is a history of the Richelieu from 1935-1943. Richelieu was not quite ready for combat in 1940 when France capitulated, and like Dunkerque and Strasbourg, Richelieu was sent far away from France (and German troops) to Dakar and attacked by British battleships and seriously damaged in 1940, where she languished for political reasons until being sent to America for refurbishment in 1943.

Chapter 6 details the history of Jean Bart from 1935-1943. Jean Bart was barely functional with only one main turret containing its guns when sent to North Africa in 1940, and could not be completed before American battleships and aircraft incapacitated her in the 1942 North African troop landings. In the meantime, plans were made to build additional battleships, the Clemenceau, Gascogne and Alsace, upgraded repeats of the Richelieus, except that Gascogne has her two main gun turrets positioned front and rear, and Alsace was lengthened and had three triple gun main turrets. Again, their design, characteristics and fates were presented in great detail - they were ready to build, but never laid down because docks were unavailable before the collapse of 1940 - another forgotten piece of history.

Chapter 8 shows what happened to the Richelieu as an Allied warship, refurbished in the United States and sent to sail and fight with the British East Indies fleet, her return to France after 52 months away, and her post war career and refurbishments, until her mothballing in 1956, and breaking up in 1968. Chapter 9 gives the fate of Jean Bart, finally arriving in France in 1945 and being finished as her intended battleship self in 1950 instead of as an aircraft carrier or scrapped. Because of new antiaircraft gun installations, she actually joined the fleet in 1955, the last commissioned battleship ever. She participated in the Suez Canal Crisis of 1956 and fired four 15in shells at Port Said, but saw no other actions. Next year, she was put out of service and finally scrapped in 1970.

The short Conclusion concentrated on the bottom-line serviceability, defects and other observations of these ships, along with their value, followed by Sources and the Index.

This book does not disappoint and excels in being a final authority on French battleships of WW2. This topic has only recently had the scrutiny and attention to detail as the other major navies of WW2 have enjoyed. I applaud the authors for a highly detailed description of how these ships came to be and how they were built, and how they worked and how they died. Although the excellent photos, illustrative line drawings with technical details and battle histories are what we have been waiting for, the insights into the financial and political climates and the infrastructure issues rounded out this book into a real history and not just a nice set of specs - topics seldom detailed in most books on battleships. The reader should develop feelings for these inauspicious ships after reading this book.



This book is long-awaited, and super-very-much-highly recommended as the ultimate authority on French battleships of WW2. The price of USD $35 is a bargain for the enormous amount of detailed information of every facet of the ships, from the ammunition, electrical wiring and the packing material of void spaces to their seldom discussed histories.

Modelers of these ships will wear this book out, and the little details of differences and different appearances give a large variety of ways to build and detail the increasing numbers of new kits for this Fearsome French Foursome, and for accurizing older kits of these ships. The plans and designs of the ships that never were are a gold mine for scratch builders. Anyone interested in naval architecture and engineering would also appreciate this book. The authors have breathed new life into French warship modeling, long a dearth for what was once considered the fourth largest navy in the world. Vive le France!

Thanks to the author for this eagerly awaited tome on French battleships, to Seaforth for publishing this history, to Casemate Publishers for getting this book to us, and to IPMSUSA for sending this book for review.

  • Figure 1: Front cover of French Battleships 1922-1956.
  • Figure 2: Rear cover of French Battleships 1922-1956.
  • Figure 3: Dunkerque Line Drawing.
  • Figure 4: Dunkerque Front Turrets. This unusual arrangement of main gun turrets (all forward) helped to shorten the ship and reduce overall tonnage, armor needed and building time, but increased dispersion and worsened damage from high seas to the bow.
  • Figure 5: Strasbourg Damage Control room. Strasbourg was slightly larger than Dunkerque, but shared to same updated damage control technology.
  • Figure 6: Line drawing of Dunkerque cross-section showing the path of a British 15in projectile that went directly through the armor belt in the Mer-el-Kebir action. Chapter 3 gives a balanced account of the horrific effects of the British to keep Dunkerque and Strasbourg away from France and Axis hands
  • Figure 7: Photograph of the serious damage sustained by Dunkerque after the naval shelling from the effects of a single Swordfish torpedo plane at Mers-el-Kebir. The serious damage was not from the torpedo itself, but from the depth charges stored on the stern of a tug assisting Dunkerque that was hit by the torpedo, and sank Next to Dunkerque. The depth charges were not made safe, and their explosions caused more damage than the 15in shell hits to Dunkerque. Nevertheless, Dunkerque eventually was repaired and escaped to France months later.
  • Figure 8: Strasbourg was luckier than Dunkerque at Mers-el-Kebir. She left her moorings quickly, exited the anchorage, missed several mines and fled to France, outrunning the Hood. Notice the light gray color of the WW1-era battleship Provence, which never left her berth and was permanently disabled by British 15in shells. Strasbourg and Dunkerque were painted in overall dark gray for their North Atlantic activities before staying at Mers-el-Kebir.
  • Figure 9: One of the 23 color plates in this book, this is the Strasbourg at Toulon in 1942 showing her final appearance when she was scuttled.
  • Figure 10: In November 1942, France scuttled its entire fleet idling away at the main base in Toulon so as not to fall into Axis control. This is the Strasbourg burning. Dunkerque was also scuttled at Toulon. Destruction of the French fleet was complete and seriously retarded French naval strength after WW2.
  • Figure 11: Line drawing of the Gascogne design in 1939. She was ready to be laid down but never started after France fell in May 1940. She reverted to traditional fore and aft main gun turrets after the disadvantages of keeping both turrets forward were realized.
  • Figure 12: Another one of the color plates showing Jean Bart docked at Casablanca in November 1942 painted yellow to match the color of granaries behind her in an effort to throw off American gunners. Painting a battleship yellow is auspicious, but would make for an interesting model diorama.
  • Figure 13: Jean Bart after the action at Casabanca showing the effects of a 1000 pound bomb dropped by Dauntless divebomber. This book importantly detailed action damage to battleships, which would have been utilized if new battleships would have been constructed.
  • Figure 14: Richelieu asea in 1944 painted in a unique, feathered Ms32 camouflage design. She was refurbished with American light antiarcraft guns and directors and sent with the British East Indies fleet.
  • Figure 15: The Last Battleship: Jean Bart at New York harbor in 1956 showing the ultimate fit of French battleships, bristling with antiaircraft gun turrets. She was put out of service shortly after this picture was taken.

Pacific Profiles Volume 3: Allied Medium Bombers, Douglas A-20 Series - Southwest Pacific 1942-1944

Sun, 05/02/2021 - 09:57
Product Image Review Author:  Bill Kluge Avonmore Books

This third volume of Claringbould's aircraft profiles, the first of Allied aircraft, highlights the Douglas A-20 Havoc (Boston to the Commonwealth forces). The A-20, and its stablemate the B-25, were the two-workhorse low level attack aircraft of the US Fifth Air Force in the Southwest Pacific.

At one time or another, the A-20 equipped three medium bomber groups in New Guinea - the 3rd, 312th and 417th (the 3rd often known by its pre-war moniker, the "3rd Attack Group"). Each of the three groups' four squadrons are identified here by their individual squadron emblem as well as the aircraft tactical markings applied in theatre. Each squadron chapter is illustrated with photographs documenting aircraft nose art, at least 4 and as many as 16 color aircraft profiles plus spot nose art enlargements, and a paragraph or two describing each aircraft profiled with its operational history (sometimes flown by several squadrons) and eventual fate. Other chapters describe in similar detail A-20s with the RAAF's No. 22 Squadron and miscellaneous A-20s (Training Command a/c, squadron hacks, etc .) There are a total of 100 aircraft profiles. The book's opening chapters briefly detail technical aspects of the theatre's A-20, the evolution of Squadron and Group markings, and the environment where these aircraft flew - and its effects on the appearance of these aircraft over time, all with accompanying photographs and color illustrations. There's even a final chapter of one particular A-20G, the Hell'N Pelican II, discovered by the author in the New Guinea jungle in 1976, salvaged by the RAAF in 1984 and eventually displayed in Queensland, Australia.

This book is an absolute gem for anyone interested in Pacific A-20 operations. It's chocked full of information and color aircraft illustrations, much more so than books several times this size. Raised in Port Moresby, Australian Michael Clairingbould is a world respected authority on aircraft and air forces that flew in the southwest Pacific, so each profile and aircraft history is well researched and documented. He is also an accomplished illustrator providing his own detailed and realistic digital images. Claringbould's books are fast becoming my first-choice references, and with his wealth of knowledge on the subject of SW Pacific aircraft I eagerly anticipate his future volumes in this series.

Thanks to Casemate Publishing and IPMS for the opportunity to review this excellent book.

Japanese Fighters w/Decal Sheet

Sun, 05/02/2021 - 09:46
Product Image Review Author:  James Kelley Kagero Publishing

Kagero Publishing is widely known in scale modeling circles as producers of reference books that often come with a bonus decal sheet. That all started in 2001, with their immediately successful "Camouflage & Decals" series. Apparently, they had technical issues surrounding the decal sheets so the series was, unfortunately, short-lived.

"Japanese Fighters" brings the series back to us. Consisting of 40 pages, this A4-sized book starts on page one describing the history of the series, and where the company hopes to go with it. Also on the same page is a chart of colors the Japanese used in WWII, complete with the correct Japanese names for them. All text is in English and Polish.

After the first page, the rest of the book consists of color profiles with a brief description or history of the specific plane. The profiles are lavish and gorgeous. Several artists contributed profiles to this book, and their work is truly amazing. The aircraft profiles in the book include:

  • Ki-43
  • Ki-44
  • Ki-61
  • Ki-84
  • Ki-100
  • Mitsubishi J2M3
  • Mitsubishi Ki-46
  • Kawanishi N1K2
  • A6M2
  • A6M5
  • A5M4

The decal sheet includes Hinomarus in both 1/72 & 1/48 scales, along with a sampling of cherry blossom kill markings. Most of them are plain, but a few have the white surround. All appear to be in perfect register. There are 26 Hinomarus in each scale.

This book is a great reference, and an even greater source of inspiration to the modeler. The artwork alone is worth the price of admission, plus you get a sheet of stickers! My thanks to Casemate Publishing & IPMS/USA for the review sample.

The Japanese Battleship Kongo 1944 - Top Drawings

Sun, 05/02/2021 - 09:35
Product Image Review Author:  Luke R. Bucci PhD Kagero Publishing

Kagero Publishing, from Poland, is one of the major military history publishing houses. Since 1998, when Kagero started publishing in English, over 600 titles have been produced at a pace of 60 per year or more. Topics focus on specific 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 3D Drawings and 2) Top Drawings, focusing on a single ship per book. The topic of this book review is one of the Top Drawings series, which are designed for modelers to have a reference for detailed appearances of individual ships. Top Drawings consist of color covers with black & white (B&W) line drawings of the ship, particular features, and equipment, especially armament. But the main attraction is the separate, large foldout in black and white of scale drawings - the ship's size determines the scale, but usually 1/200, 1/350 or other scales are shown.

The author, 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. Waldemar is lucky to turn his passion into a career, igniting passions of many modelers around the world.

Kagero Publishing's latest installments of its Top Drawings series - 110 - is the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) Kongo 1944 (at the time of her loss). The book is a softbound European A2 size with both English and Polish languages throughout. The outside covers are in color, but the rest of the book is B&W. The front cover has a bow view of Kongo pointed right at you, and the rear cover has five full hull views of Kongo (each side, top, bow, stern) in realistic color. There is a one-page short history and characteristics, followed by 22 pages of B&W line drawings detailed enough for scratch-builders, accurizers and modifiers for building the 1944 Kongo in any scale. The last page is an ad for the Volume 1 hardback book on Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. The Top Drawings show the overall appearance and then focuses on ship sections, superstructure levels, armament, fittings (ship's boats are extremely well-done) - the whole ship. B&W line drawings, especially the detailed close-ups, are actually easier to see thedetails than color 3D computer-generated images used in Kagero's excellent Super Drawings in 3D series of books. And yes, Waldemar is an author of the earlier  IJN Kongo 1944 in Super Drawings in 3D color book out since 2015 and available via Casemate Publishers.

You also get a large, A4 size foldout of the Kongo in her final sortie on November 1944, sunk by the USS Sealion submarine. Sheet A has full-hull starboard, top and port profile views in 1/350 scale. Sheet B has 9 views ship segments in unlisted scale, except for bow and stern views in 1/350 scale. One of the drawings is the hull frame sections.

IJN Kongo was the first of a four ship class of fast battleships built in England from 1911-1913. At the time, she and her sisters were among the most powerful battleships of the world, with faster speed, sufficient armor and 14-inch main guns, the largest afloat. They gave notice to the world that Japan was a seapower to be reckoned with. The Kongo was refitted extensively in 1929-1931 and 1935-1937, ending up with the tall pagoda-style bridge structure favored for Japanese battleships. She was heavily used in the beginning of the Pacific War of WW2, refitted again in 1943 and then a part of fleet actions in 1944, including Leyte Gulf, where she participated in sinking the USS Gambier Bay and destroyer escort Roberts. She returned to Brunei for refueling and on the trip back home to japan was spotted and sunk by torpedoes from USS Sealion with over 1000 dead.

Kongo is a popular ship for modelers and this Top Drawings book is welcome to help build the many kits of the Kongo. It is easily portable, has the foldout for large drawings, and is easy to see details.


Although this book is small it is intensely focused on modeler's needs for building this ship in any scale. As usual, the B&W drawings are clean, simple, detailed and accurate - one would need authentic blueprints to be this accurate. This book is a must-have for building any scale of IJN Kongo in her last fit, as well as IJN Haruna, and even the two earlier war losses IJN Hiei and Kirishima. Highly recommended for building the four Japanese fast battleships, and also for details of fittings used throughout the fleet.

Thanks to IPMSUSA for the privilege of reviewing this helpful book!

  • Figure 1: Front cover of The Russian ASW Guided Missile Cruiser Petropavlovsk.
  • Figure 2: Back cover of The Russian ASW Guided Missile Cruiser Petropavlovsk
  • Figure 3: A detailed line drawing of amidships structures.

Ju EF-126/Ju EF-127 German experimental fighter plane

Sun, 05/02/2021 - 00:02
Product Image Review Author:  Gino Dykstra Das Werk Scale Models

Toward the end of World War 2, the Germans were coming up with more and more desperate attempts to halt the U.S. and British aerial juggernaut that was daily pummeling their cities and the remnants of their industrial capacity.  Cheap, easily assembled point defense weapons became the order of the day, resulting in such oddities as the Me163 Komet rocket fighter and the He162 Salamander, both of which were as much a threat to their pilots as to any Allied airmen.  The Junkers EF-126 and its rocket-powered alternative, the EF-127, were supposed to be the logical descendants of the Komet, and although none were built by German industry, the Soviets made prototypes of both aircraft after the war. Apparently the sole unpowered version of the craft crashed on its maiden flight.  I couldn't find where powered versions were ever run.


Das Werk, a relative modeling newcomer, has come out with the first injection-molded 1/32nd scale versions of these odd aircraft, and as a first attempt it's a beaut.  The kit permits you to make any of three variants of the aircraft - single pulsejet, dual pulsejet or dual rocket.  Additional options include underwing unguided rockets, RATO units, launch dolly and manufacturing cradle.  It can also be assembled in the "factory" setting with detached wings if you are so inclined, so your first major task is going to be to decide which options to go for.


Assembly starts with the cockpit area, which is very nicely detailed with a lovely multipart ejection seat and a fair number of parts for such a simple interior.  Decals are also supplied for various warning plates, and they thoughtfully supply two complete sets of these for the fumble-fingered.  To simplify masking, the ejection seat can be assembled and painted outside the cockpit and added later.


The forward fuselage assembles independently of the rear, which gives you some time to select options as you proceed.  It's when I added the wings to the forward fuselage that I spotted a couple of oddities.   First off, the left wing sports a comically flimsy pitot tube, which is really best replaced with a piece of wire.  Mine didn't make it off the sprue.  The second, more noticeable things, is the control surfaces.  Apparently (according to this kit) the Germans discarded streamlining for utility at this point, as literally every single control surface on the model terminates with a flat rear surface rather than a typical taper.  I found this idea to be extremely unlikely, and sanded these a bit rounder to make it a bit less obvious.  None of the control surfaces are separate, by the way.


With the addition of the landing skid, either retracted or deployed, you're essentially done with the forward fuselage.  Now comes the fun part.


Personally, I had a terrible conundrum figuring out which configuration to settle on.  Finally, it dawned on me that there was a way to use the maximum number of parts from the kit without having to make such a decision.  I elected instead to make TWO rear fuselages - one of the EF-126 with twin pulse jets, and other the EF-127 with twin rocket motors.  By not gluing them to the front fuselage, I could display the model with BOTH main variants.  The spare rear fuselage would sit on the manufacturing cradle, and the assembled version would sit on the launch dolly.  Literally the only change I had to make to the kit as molded was to move the radio loop up one frame to the forward fuselage.


Just as an FYI - if you choose to do the single pulse-jet version, the kit suggests using the simple ailerons.  I would recommend the twin-rudder version instead, as otherwise you have no rudder at all.  The V-1 design that the pulse jet mounts are modeled on included a rudder as part of the rear engine support.  However, this doesn't appear to be the situation as this kit is molded.  In any case, as the single-pulse jet version was rejected by the Germans early on as being underpowered, I didn't feel any regrets about not selecting this variant for my own build.


Both rear fuselages assembled with little trouble, although the pulse-jet version is fairly complex simply due to the engine mounts and twin rudders.  I also added the RATO units to this version, as logically the pulse jets would have to be gotten up to speed to be of any use at all.  The twin rocket version could also have used them, but they wouldn't have necessarily been required for operational launches.  Despite all the options, no spare parts are really provided (if you build what I built) except for an extra copy of the two-part rear wheel yolk, which is included for no apparent reason I can decipher.


Painting . . . well, the sky's the limit, as they say.  I chose to go with a fairly standard late-war scheme, but obviously there are infinite choices.  Das Werks offers a broad range of their own suggestions and good decals to go with them.  The decals lay pretty well, although I did have to negotiate with a couple of them over silvering.  I added a few bits and pieces after the decaling and . . . well, there you are.  An EF-126/EF-127 with all the "fixin's."  


Make no mistake about it - this is a fun kit to build.  It's relatively painless in assembly and the end result is really something different.  This should look pretty good next to my Komet, although I'm STLL having trouble deciding which rear fuselage to attach permanently.  Maybe neither, as they're both quite presentable.  I heartily recommend this kit for anyone who has a yen for something a bit off the beaten track.  We can only thank the stars that they never actually got this thing into operation!


My thanks to MBK Distribution and Das Werk for the fascinating kit, and to IPMS/USA for the chance to play with it.  Stay safe, everyone, and happy modeling!

Fiat Br. 20

Sat, 05/01/2021 - 20:39
Product Image Review Author:  Keith Gervasi Italeri History

The BR 20 "Cicogna" low wing medium bomber was developed by the Italian aircraft manufacturer Fiat during the 1930's. It entered service in 1936 and was characterized by its metal frame and retractable landing gear. Modern and fast for the period, it was deployed by the "Aviazione Legionaria" and had its baptism of fire in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. In September 1940, the "Corpo Aereo Italiano", consisting of the 13th and 43rd "Stormo da Bombardamento" were similarly equipped with the BR-20. The "Stormi" were stationed in Belgium and supported the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain. Despite operational comparisons with modern R.A.F. fighters that exposed the BR-20's limits, it was used for the duration of WW2 on various fronts by several Regia Aeronautica bomber squadrons.

The Kit

Opening the box you will find a bag with 3 sprue of grey plastic and 1 clear parts sprue, a decal sheet and a 10-page instruction foldout. The plastic is fairly free of flash and has just a few sink marks. The detail is raised, and it's covered in rivets so be aware of that. The clear parts are a mix of really clear or foggy. The gun turrets are a little foggy but the cockpit, nose pieces and windows are clear. The decal sheet is nice, and everything was in register. Hard to believe this kit was first released in 1972 but it was and for its age, still looks pretty good.


The first two steps involve the construction of the interior and fuselage. There is just a very basic interior in this kit including 3 figures & seats, 2 bulkheads, floor, flight controls and control panel. You also must assemble the top turret and belly gun and place them when assembling the fuselage halves. Everything fit well so far but care must be used when gluing the fuselage halves or you may lose some detail.

Step 3 is for the engines and wings and the only problem I had was the engines didn't fit in the nacelles correctly and I had to sand them down a little for them to fit.

Step 4 is where you attach the wings, canopy & nose to the fuselage. The wings fit well and there were no problems there. The clear nose pieces fit together well but there is a small issue when placing it on the fuselage. Test fitting and sanding got me a decent fit, but it still is off a bit. You also are called to place small exterior bits here, but I elected to wait until the end of the build to place these.

Step 5 is for the rudders and horizontal stabilizers, everything fit well, and I had no problems with these.

Step 6 is the final step and is where you place the landing gear and exhausts and also where I added the small exterior pieces. Pretty simple construction here and I found no fit problems here.


I used Tamiya paints to finish this, and the decals went on very easy and settled down with a little Micro-sol. You are given 5 marking options in this boxing.

  • A: Fiat BR 20M of 13 Stormo, 43 Gruppo, 3 Squadriglia, Belgium, fall of 1940.
  • B: Fiat BR 20M of 98 Gruppo, 242 Squadriglia, Belgium, fall of 1940.
  • C: Fiat BR 20 of Aviazione Legionaria, 35 Gruppo, 235 Sq. Bomb. Spain 1937.
  • D: Fiat BR 20 of 65 Squadriglia, 31 Gruppo, 18 Stormo, Italy 1937.
  • E: Fiat BR 20 of 235 Squadriglia, 60 Gruppo, 41 Stormo, Italy 1939. (My choice)

This may be an older kit, but it still builds up well and is a pretty simple build. Also, it is still the only 1/72 Br.20 around. I recommend this kit to all modelers except beginners.

I would like to thank Italeri & MRC for this kit, the review corps for letting me build it and all of you for reading this.

Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, The “Warthog” Ground Attack Aircraft

Sat, 05/01/2021 - 20:28
Product Image Review Author:  Chris Smith Pen & Sword

This book has personal significance to me. As a member of the 23Tactical Fighter Wing in the early 1980s, I got to see A-10s doing their thing including firing that incredible gun at the local gunnery range.

The A-10s path to service and continued operations has not been an easy one. After the experiences of WWII where the Ju87 Stuka, IL-2 Shturmovik and P-47 Thunderbolt proved the utility of true close air support (CAS) aircraft, it would seem the need for this type of aircraft was self-evident. However, in the post war world of fast high-flying jets, the Air Force saw no need for a low and slow CAS aircraft nor did they have an intertest in conducting the CAS mission. This ideology persisted even though the CAS experience in Vietnam demonstrated the need for such an aircraft. As the author explains, it was the US Army's testing of fixed wing aircraft that eventually forced the USAF to except the CAS mission. Even with the acceptance of that mission, the USAF was still resistant to the idea of a low and slow CAS aircraft. The book then details the development and flyoff between the A-10 and the Northrop A9-A. Obviously the A-10 prevailed and the book progresses through a few chapters on systems and weapons. With the fall of the Soviet Union, the battle for existence was reignited since the A-10 was supposed to be the destroyer of Russian armor rolling into Europe. Then came the numerous Middle Eastern conflicts most notably the 1991 Gulf War to remove the Iraqi Army from Kuwait. The A-10 became one of the most feared aircraft in that war and its tank killing abilities were proven beyond doubt. In spite of that success and the near constant rotation of A-10s units for overseas duty, there is still a push to put F-16 units into this role. Fast forward to the present and there's still no CAS platform as effective as the A-10. With the adoption of the A-10 as a forward air controller aircraft and the rebuilding of the fleet's wings, the A-10 will be around for a while longer.

This book is a historical text more than a modelers reference guide. There are numerous photographs and diagrams as well as live actions photos of ground crews at. work and aircraft in flight. One of the last chapters discusses a proposed fire-bombing version of the A-10. That might be of interest to the "what if", builders out there. While its clear the author is a fan of the A-10, this a balanced narration of the A-10s history. My only criticisms are a few of the illustrations appear to copies of a poor original and a photo of an F-15 that's identified as an A-10 on page 297. At this price point, if you're looking for A-10 detail references, there's probably better picks out there. However, if you are a Warthog fan like me who has an interest in the detailed history of the type, this title is worth the price of admission. Thank you to IPMS for sharing this sample with me and to Pen and Sword Publishers for providing it.

10.5cm StuH42 / 7.5cm StuG III Ausf G with Zimmeritt 2 in 1 Kit

Sat, 05/01/2021 - 11:40
Product Image Review Author:  Allan Murrell Das Werk Scale Models

This is a re-boxing of the very good Dragon kit with addition parts and new decals for five different markings. Included in the kit is a very nice instruction manual by Das Werk. The kit can be built in to one of two different versions - the 10.5cm StuH42 or the 7.5cm StuG III Ausf.G.


The kit contains

  • 13 sprues molded in light grey styrene
  • 1 Lower hull in light grey
  • 1 clear sprue
  • 1 Photo Etch sheets
  • 2 metal cables
  • 1 decal sheet
  • 1 instruction booklet.


The kit is includes a lot of unrequired parts as these are for the other StuG versions that Dragon does. The instruction booklet is great and very detailed to assist in the build. There were a couple of minor errors that I list below that I found during the build.

You should decide at this point which version you are going to build, I decided on the StuH of Abteilung 261 (third version shown at the back of the instructuons)


Step 1, 2 & 3 assembles the road wheels, drive wheel, lower hull and suspension. There were no issues found and it went together very well.


Step 5 Finishes the lower hull, I did find that the part B15 was slightly too long and needed a trim to fit correctly. Also, when assembling the subassembly from stage 3 ensure that the parts A5 and A6 line up correctly with the lower hull.


Step 6 is the assembly of the two side track covers with the tools etc. This was all very simple to complete. The only thing you need to be careful of is the stated length for the two tow cables as the sizes given are too long, I suggest routing them yourself and sizing the length that way. The other thing is to not that the PE part numbers MA5 and MA6 should be switched.


Step 7 is the commanders hatch, and this is easy with only one point to note and that is it states 6x part number J1 when in fact it is x7 needed.


Step 8 is adding details to the upper forward hull and there were no issues during this step.


Step 9 and 10 is more details of the upper forward hull assembly with no issues.


Step 11, 12 and 13 are details on the engine deck which once again had no issues.


Step 15, 16 and 17 is the interior and gun assembly. This was all very easy. The only point I had here was that the gun did not have a basket for the empty shell casing.


Step 18 assembled the upper hull sections.


Step 19 was the track assembly which I found very easy for a link and length type.


Step 20 was the final upper and lower hull join; this was a little more tricky than I expected and you have to be very careful bring the halves together.


Then on to painting and decals of which there are very few.


Overall I found this kit enjoyable and build into an impressive representation of the StuG/H a tank I have always liked a lot. This is very well detailed and builds into a great model!


Thanks go to Das Werk and MBK for providing this kit to review and IPMS USA for allowing me to review it for them.

Unusual C-47's

Sat, 05/01/2021 - 11:26
Product Image Review Author:  Brian R. Baker Iliad Design


Since the Douglas DC-3 and C-47 was produced in larger numbers than any other transport aircraft,  it stands to reason that the plane is well represented in the modeling world.  Although the plane has been produced in a number of scales, the majority of the kits are in 1/72 scale.  Starting with the old Airfix kit in the sixties, the more recent issues by Italeri and ESCI have featured recessed panel lines and some variations in form, and recently, Airfix is reported to have reissued their kit with more up-to-date features.  I have not seen the new Airfix kit, but have built both ESCI and Italeri kits, and they are both exceptionally good kits.

 The Douglas DC-1 prototype first appeared in 1933 to compete with Boeing's Model 247, and after the improved DC-2 was built,  the design was expanded, resulting,  after a bomber development,  the B-18,  in the military C-39.  Further development resulted in the DST Sleeper Transport and  DC-3  in 1936, and variants of this design were produced for airlines throughout the world, and towards the beginning of World War II,  there were more Douglas transports in airline service throughout the world than any other type.  In addition,  production licenses were sold to the Soviet Union and Japan,  and both of these countries produced substantial numbers during the war.

As one could expect,  the basic DC-3 design was produced in ion number of variations, varying in engine type (Wright R1820 and Pratt and Whitney R1830) , door locations, and interior arrangements.  The majority of DC-3/C-47's had cargo doors on the left side, while some individual airlines opted for doors on the right side due to their loading situations at their bases of operation.  When modeling this aircraft, be sure to check the door location, engine installation, and radio antennas, as there were differences. 


The decal sheet provides markings for four unusually marked  C-47's.  The first is an all-white RCAF Dakota Mk. III,  #659,  used by the United Nations in the Sinai about 1960. The planes were all white to avoid the shoot-downs that could occur in that unstable location.  The markings "United Nations" were in red,  and the anti-glare boots were black.

The second aircraft is a USAF C-47B,  45-0884, operated by Carco Air Service to carry equipment used in the nuclear testing in the Los Alamos, New Mexico, area. The aircraft is natural metal overall and has some black markings.  The third aircraft is actually a C-53,  which was an impressed DC-3 flown by Northeast Airlines crews early in the war.  The plane was used for survey and ferry flights in Canada, Iceland, and the UK.  It was standard AAF olive drab with neutral grey  undersides, with a large "Northeast Airlines" on the fuselage sides.  This plane has a slightly different tailcone, and also different engine  carburetor air intakes.  It has the early star and ball insignia abandoned in 1942. From the drawings, it appears to have only the passenger door and an extra window  on the rear fuselage on the left side.

The last aircraft is a postwar C-47, 43-48777,  used by the American Military Air  Attache in Wellington, NZ, in 1947.   It is overall olive drab with white lettering on the fuselage sides and yellow tail numbers. The plane carries different radio antennas, and has the postwar "star and bar" insignia adopted by the AAF in 1947.

Side profile and top views are provided for each aircraft, along with identification of detail differences for each aircraft.


I was unable to assemble a DC-3 to build one of these, but I am familiar with Iliad Decals,  and these decals appear to not need any close trimming.  All they require is a good clean surface and a coat of decal softener to allow them to adhere to the surface.  The instructions, one small sheet with excellent color drawings, show what modifications are required for each aircraft.

There are quite a few excellent references available on the DC-3.   The C-47 Skytrain in Action, No. 149,  by Larry Davis, is an excellent source.  Also,  an older book,  The DC-3, 50 Years of legendary Flight, by Peter M. Bowers, has much information.  A more recent publication,  Douglas DC-3, by Robert Jackson, serves as a modeler's guide to the DC-3, and I reviewed this book recently on this site. There is lots more information on the DC-3, and every modeler's collection should include at least several of the type.

If you are into DC-3/C-47 types,  this is a sheet that you should not miss out on.  It is reasonably priced,  and highest quality. 

Highly recommended.  Thanks to Bill O'Malley and Iliad Decals for the review sheet.        

Panavia Tornado in Combat

Sat, 05/01/2021 - 10:42
Product Image Review Author:  Michael Novosad Kagero Publishing

Background and History from Wikipedia

The Panavia Tornado is a family of twin-engine, variable-sweep wing multirole combat aircraft, jointly developed and manufactured by Italy, the United Kingdom and West Germany. There are three primary Tornado variants: the Tornado IDS (interdictor/strike) fighter-bomber, the suppression of enemy air 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 multirole 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 2011 Libyan civil war, as well as smaller roles in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Syria. Including all variants, 990[1] aircraft were built.



In this section the authors provide the history of the Tornado's development. Several images of prototype aircraft from the three countries involved in the aircraft development and manufacturers. Images from the various component factory assembly lines are included as well as an interesting picture of a Vulcan bomber with the RB 199 engine fitted in a ventral location on the bomber. This section includes a striking image of an RAF IDS with ALARM antiradiation missiles in a climb. Noteworthy is the staining of the underside of the aft fuselage section.

The Tornado IDS

            The Airframe-This is a very detailed description of the Tornado's airframe components and identifies some of the manufacturers involved in the various components. Several images of prototype and production aircraft are included.

            The Powerplant-The powerplants used are detailed here, along with description of components and features. The Tornado exhaust is equipped with thrust reversers which can be activated in less than one second. Fasten your seat belt!

            The Avionics-The authors provide information on the combat systems included with the avionics. The Tornado is beginning to look like a complicated and capable warplane.

            The Radars-The Ground Mapping Radar and Terrain Following Radar are detailed.

            The Navigation System-The navigation systems allowed the Tornado to attack identified targets at high speeds and low altitudes day or night.

            Weapons Delivery-The weapons aiming and delivery systems were designed to integrate with the navigation systems. The system allowed the navigator to program up to three different attack packages.

            Self-Defense Systems-Three main subsystems were provided for the Tornado's self-defense: radar warning receivers, chaff and flare decoys, and electronic counter measures.

            Armament-All NATO high-explosive and cluster bombs were compatible with the Tornado, and were carried on a fuselage rack, while the wing pylons were dedicated to fuel tanks and self-defense missiles.

            The above is just a brief synopsis of the more detailed text in the book.  Worthwhile reading.

Tornado at War

            Middle East-The Tornado's use in Desert Shield and Desert Storm is addressed in this section. Modifications and upgrades based on combat experience is covered. This is a comprehensive narrative for this combat theater.

            The Balkans-The use of Tornados flown by the RAF, the Luftwaffe and the Italian Air Force are addressed. This was the first combat operation for the Luftwaffe since World War II.

            Afghanistan-Although combat operation began in 2001 Luftwaffe Tornados were first involved in 2007, with RAF and Italian services not involved until 2008.

            Libya-RAF Tornados were the first to be employed in the operation "Odyssey Dawn" campaign. The RAF Tornados flew from their home base in Marham and were refueled in flight by VC.10 tankers.

            Operations Against the Islamic Republic-RAF Tornados were stationed on Cyprus in their efforts to attack Islamic State targets. Italian Tornados were also involved later and operated from bases in Kuwait. RAF Tornados also participated in attacks on a Syrian chemical weapons facility.     

            The End of the Tonka- RAF Tornados first entered service in 1979 and were retired after 40 years of service, being replaced by Typhoons and F-35's.

            Several pages of color profiles as well as plan and profile line drawings are included here.

Tornado SEAD & ECR

            The Tornado ECR-The ECR is a Tornado variant operated by Germany and Italy devoted to the suppression of enemy air defenses.

Luftwaffe Tornados Return from Counter IS Mission-Luftwaffe Tornados returned to their home base in Germany after competing 2,467 missions and 7,500 flying hours of reconnaissance missions against the Islamic State.

Conclusion.  My first reaction upon opening this book and scanning the contents was "WOW".  The pages are filled with full color images of Tornados with plenty of up close views that provide the modeler with great details and weathering effects that will provide valuable information when building any one of the Tornado kits currently available.

Additionally, the book includes a pullout 11" by 7 3/4" full color picture of the cover art that is really nice and suitable for framing.

My thanks to Casemate Publications and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review this publication.  Highly recommended.


Volvo F16 Globetrotter Canvas Truck with Elevator

Sat, 05/01/2021 - 10:12
Product Image Review Author:  Ben Morton Italeri

The Volvo F16 Globetrotter has been a commercial success since its 1988 introduction. The basic design has been re-configured into several different models ranging from a towing tractor (with a single axle, rear end), an XL version with a sleeper cab, and a reefer truck, among others.  The F16 Globetrotter has been replaced in the Volvo inventory with the upgraded  FH / FH XL series. (There is an XXL series but that may just be a shirt size. :)

As is the case with the real Volvo Motor Company, Italeri has also been manufacturing some excellent  truck models. They have available all of the aforementioned trucks in 1/24th scale. Just such a truck model is the subject of this missive, the Volvo F16 Globetrotter Canvas Truck. This canvas (or curtain) sided truck model includes an elevator, although in the U.S. it is often referred to as a lift gate. This type of vehicle is also referred to as a 'straight truck' owing to it having a single frame running the length of the truck. [ Fun Fact: Straight trucks are also known as box trucks, cube vans, or my favorite, a rolling toaster.]   

The model is molded in several colors of styrene. The black parts are mostly for the drive train (chassis, axles., etc.) with white being used for the exterior parts of the driver's cab.  Wheel hubs and several external support frames as well as some bits for the engine exhaust and are molded in silver plasticine. The light gray bits are designated for the interior of the drivers cab and the elevator assembly.  Dark gray plastic comes into play with the 'toaster' (cargo box) portion of the truck. Dark blue plastic is used for the sides and end pieces of the main body of the cargo section. (I suppose one could build this without much in the way of painting.) 

Lest I forget, there are seven black vinyl tires which have nice tread and raised sidewall details. The only finishing I did to those tires was to spray them with clear flat and apply a gray wash. Those wheels have molded on value stems, a great plus. There are a number of parts (complete set of wheel hubs and rims, cab mounted wind deflector. etc.) that are not meant for this variant of the Volvo F16 Globetrotter, all of which are noted in the assembly instructions. So, extra bits for the spares stash.... Italeri has also included a fret of clear parts for the windscreen and windows.

The frame is the first thing to tackle as you build this kit. Specifically, you need to cut the two frame rails apart and reassemble them into one. Don't freak out!  Italeri has thoughtfully provided a detailed diagram of the sections of the frame that need to be removed. If that diagram does not work for you the parts are scored at the proper locations. You may wish to reinforce those joints. Italeri has provided some additional bits of styrene just for that purpose.  Having said all that you are gonna want to get this right, otherwise the frame rails may end up being different lengths and nobody wants that....  Case in point is some fit issues I had with a tread plate (# part 78Bb) in a latter step.

Italeri includes a nicely detailed engine and as this a cab-over-engine model that engine is going to be partially visible when you are finished. The drivers cab can be tilted forward to show off the engine compartment.  After adding various cross members and air tanks between the frame rails it is on to the front suspension. The front suspension is operable so be careful with the assembly and don't forget to break out a 'heated screwdriver' to 'melt ' some of the movable parts (tie rods and such) into place. Old school, baby!

Additional parts are used to construct the rear axle with detailed air brake assemblies, shocks, anti-sway bar and drive shaft. Because the frame was shortened, the drive shaft will also require some surgery to fit properly. That part, on my example, was faintly marked but marked, nevertheless. A diagram is included for those whose structural visualization skills may be in decline. [ Structural Visualization is the ability to think in three dimensions.] See!  Building scale models is an educational pursuit. :) After adding fuel tanks, wheel fenders, battery boxes and other accouterments and the chassis is complete. All of this stuff and the underside of the drivers' cab was sprayed with Tamiya NATO black.

Modern truck interiors are anything but spartan these days. Most of the conveniences (cup holders, display screens, communications devices, etc.) you can find in modern automobiles and pick-up trucks are also available in commercial truck cabs. This kit from Italeri is no exception. Many of those details are included with this kit. Seats (of course and at no extra charge), shift levers, accelerator/brake pedals, detailed steering wheel/column, seat height adjusters, etc. all as distinct parts.  But alas, no floor mats.  On the plus side there is texture (scuff pads) molded into the floor on the driver and passenger sides. 

Constructing the drivers cab exterior and interior may be a bit different from that which you are familiar from other manufacturers (AMT, Revell, etc.). Italeri presents the driver's office and cab exteriors as separate assemblies. The completed interior is assembled as is the exterior shell of the cab. The interior assembly is inserted into the completed cab...not unlike a Russian nesting doll. It does make painting those components way easier.

Additional details can be added to the interior and the level of detail is, of course, up to the individual. The only embellishment I did to the interior was some upholstery accents to the seating, side consoles, and stowed rest /sleeping pad at the rear of the cab. This was accomplished by cutting out various shapes of printed paper (look in the scrap booking isle) from a craft store. Or you could print your own from an 'enter-web' image.  The shapes were applied with white glue. Decals are provided for the driver's instrument console and the shiny part of the rear view mirrors.  All of the decals look great and went on with ease.

When constructing the cargo box (aka 'toaster') you have the option of whether or not to use the elevator (lift gate). But as you probably got this kit for the elevator maybe this may be a moot point? Although after tackling assembly of the parts for that elevator you may wish that you had selected another option. More on that later.

Italeri has thoughtfully provided tie-down ratchets along the exterior of the cargo box. The molded canvas sides of the cargo box were covered with Tamiya masking tape in an attempt to give the plastic t more of a canvas texture. That was sprayed with Pearl Blue from a rattle can. It sort of works at replicating the 'canvas look', Solartex or Monocote might be better options. 


Italeri, has you attach the completed cargo box to the frame with the proviso that you should first attach some reinforcement bits (provided by you) to the floor of the box so that it will fit properly. Seems that the width of the sub-frame on the cargo box is narrower than the width on the chassis frame. (?) That gap is about one millimeter either side so some Evergreen strips (or reasonable facsimile) will aid in fixing that issue.

During this step you will need to place the side guard rails (side impact bracing) on either side of the cargo box. The mounting braces and guards (parts # 88N, 89N, 90N, 91N) need modification. The amount of material that is suggested to be removed from those parts may be in error. If you remove the recommended amount from the mounting struts will be too short to be of any use. Best to use your own discretion when tackling this step.  You know, measure once, cut twice. Or something like that.


Constructing the elevator is next. This was a fiddly build for me and did give me pause as to whether or not this truck model really needed an elevator. The assembly illustration seemed overly crowded with parts and it took me a moment to get the idea of what, went, where. My solution was to attach all the non-moving parts first and then attach the movable bits (air pistons, etc.) one by one. It did all come together at the end.  The main attachment points between the elevator floor and the lifting apparatus snap into place, which helped immensely.

One aspect when using 'with the elevator option', it is suggested that you use the abbreviated rear top plate for the cargo box (part# 94L). If you use the more traditional piece (part # 222M) you may need to modify that part in order for the assembly to work satisfactorily. Note the image showing that modified part (cut outs for the lifting mechanism) and the elimination of the tie-down brackets. I chose to use the more traditional piece and did not have an issue. The cutouts on the rear plate for the lifting mechanism do look cooler.    

One thing that wasn't much help are the placement guide(s) for this completed assembly as well as the rear end crash bumpers.  The position on the truck frame for the mounting brackets for the elevator are shown as 'sort of in this area'. This is a good place for some real world images, but I couldn't find any with enough detail to be of much help. The instruction illustration could have been a bit more explicit on where to place those brackets, but I eventually placed them just forward of a molded detail on the frame rails. And the whole thing does look pretty cool in the end. 


The brackets for the rear crash bumpers also gave me some pause. I did wind up placing those brackets flush with the end of the rear frame. The 'outrigger' crash bumpers (parts # 89/90 L) attach to the bottom of the cargo box.

Despite some of the slight misgivings mentioned about this kit I found it delightful and comparatively easy to build. The method that Italeri uses with their cab interior/exterior construction was new to me and I think I prefer that approach. This was my first Italeri manufactured truck model and as such may have contributed to the fit issues I encountered but now that I know what I know  I'll have an easier time with the next one.  But maybe san elevator! :)

My thanks to Model Rectifier Corporation and IPMS/USA for the review copy.

P.S. There really is one glaring error with this kit that might put you off purchasing one and for which I feel duty bound to point out: Italeri only includes the back half of a small Michelin Man statue and not the entire thing. But in their defense, it was a neat easter egg.  All of which has sent me on a search for their kit that does have both halves of that iconic mascot. #wheresmymichelinman  

cab over engine

Dettingen 1743. Miracle on the Main

Sat, 05/01/2021 - 00:14
Product Image Review Author:  Luke R. Bucci PhD Osprey Publishing

Thanks to Osprey Publishing & IPMSUSA for the review copy!


Michael (Mike) McNally, a native Londoner, has authored ten books for Osprey - this is his latest. Mike has written about the battles of Aughrim, Boyne and the Irish Brigade in French service. He is working on German colonial campaigns during WWI, Irish military history and the Marlborough campaign.

Sean O'Brogain is a well-worked artist and illustrator for a wide variety of clients, including the National Museum of Ireland. He resides in Donegal, Ireland.


You get a 9.75 X 7.25 inch size paperback book that follows the usual pattern of Osprey Campaign books - well illustrated in color, chock full of images and maps, easy to digest, and thorough enough to understand the conflict. Mike McNally follows this pattern perfectly. There are the usual eight sections plus Bibliography and Index: 

1) Origins of the Campaign

2) Chronology

3) Opposing Commanders

4) Opposing Forces

5) Opposing Plans

6) The Campaign

7) Aftermath

8) The Battlefield Today


There are five 2-page color paintings of battle scenes, 14 maps, eight color paintings, 15 B&W paintings/portraits/prints, one B&W photo, eight color photos of uniforms reproduced by Gabriele Mendella, 13 color photos of weapons and other equipment and 13 color photos of battlefield areas as they look today.


Disclaimer: I am not an aficionado of pre-Napoleonic or Napoleonic European military history. I have no preconceive ideas about what this book should be. I am hungry for learning in general and military history is always an education about life in general.  That said, I had not heard about Dettingen 1743 before. Appears to be just another bayonet blood bath between guys wearing very pretty clothing. It is, BUT this battle meant something to each and every one of us even today. It set the stage for a better understanding of the American Revolutionary War (just a generation away from Dettingen), and for why Napoleon did what he did. It also has important lessons about following orders and snatching defeat from victory.


This book started with a description of the royal intrigues of who wanted to govern which country, and how intertwined the ruling families were. European power was in the hands of a few families, and they continuously squabbled amongst themselves for ever more titles and lands to rule. Rulers often died young and/or unexpectedly, leaving power vacuums with several descendants as claimants to thrones, making for bloody soap operas of egos. Wars settled these family spats, followed by diplomacy. 


Dettingen 1743 is remembered as just another British-French altercation, but was actually about the Holy Roman Empire (HRE) and Bavaria, using French troops, to help put their favorite family member to rule Austria. Both the British and French were deeply involved because of family ties, and also to push their national agendas at the expense of their long-time, hated adversaries.


In fact, the King of England (one of many of his titles), whose family was from Hanover (what is now part of Germany), was taking his usual summer vacation in Hanover and decided to dally in order to join up with his army and allies for the Big Show - mainly because he was jealous of his nephew, Frederick the Great, and his military accomplishments. Because he was King, he was automatically the CinC of the Allied Pragmatic Army (a coalition force). A king leading troops in battle was unusual by this time, and had important effects, both good and bad, for the winners of the eventual outcome of this battle.


Briefly, the Pragmatic Army was a coalition of British, Hanoverian and Austrian elements (foot soldiers, cavalry and artillery) fighting for Queen Maria Theresia to head Austria (another War of Succession, this time the Austrian Succession). Neighboring HRE and Bavaria were pushing for a different head of Austria in order to absorb it later, but their armies were so depleted they allied with the French of Louis XIV. The French had a 3:2 majority of total men, but a large advantage in hidden heavy artillery set up in a killing zone trap cunningly laid by their commander (Duc de Noallies).


What ensued is not what was predicted by either side. The French were set up for a smashing victory at small cost, and would probably have bagged the King of England, causing a major shift in today's world politics. As usual, division of forces, not following orders for the sake of personal glory-seeking, and the usual fog of war ended up giving the British-led Pragmatic Army a major victory when total defeat was staring them in the face. You'll have to read the book for details (where the Devil always resides), but know that each side claimed victory, and did accomplish their major strategic goals. Perhaps Dettingen has been semi-forgotten to history because it did not end, but only further complicated the War of Austrian Succession, leading to yet more definitive battles. And as usual, the local inhabitants had their almost ripe harvests trampled into oblivion, leading to years of starvation and ruin. Some things never change.



This relatively short, easy-to-read and easy-to-look-at booklet gave everything needed to better understand this battle and its implications afterwards. The illustrations, artwork of key battle moments, numerous maps and present-day photos gives the reader a clear view and understanding of how the battle proceeded to its historical conclusion. Mike also welcomely interjected his interpretation and analysis of events, cutting through the propaganda perpetrated after the battle and persisting to this day.


In short, this easy read is highly recommended to learn about an oft-ignored battle that had everything going for it - intrigue, high stakes, royalty, stupidity, common man heroes, and how fickle war can be.



Figure 1: Front cover of Dettingen 1743. Miracle on the Main. Campaign 352.

Figure 2: Back cover of Dettingen 1743. Miracle on the Main. Campaign 352.

Figure 3: Modern reproductions of French Uniforms

Figure 4: Austrian bayonet charge routed the Gardes Francais (Ducks of the Main)

Figure 5: French cavalry attack covering the French retreat at point blank musket range - where the phrase "don't shoot till you see the whites of their eyes' originated (actually "Dinna fire till ye can see the whites of their e'en)

Model Aircraft Extra No.7 – Building the P-47 Thunderbolt

Fri, 04/30/2021 - 23:37
Product Image Review Author:  Paul Mahoney MA Publications, Ltd.

This is the 7th volume in a newish series from MA Publications, the British publisher of Scale Aviation Modeller International, Model Aircraft, and Scale Military Modeller. Each of the issues of this series includes multiple build articles, centered on one particular aircraft type.  In this case, the P-47 is covered in 1/72, 1/48, 1/32 and 1/24 scales.  The booklet starts out with a six-page history of the P-47, including some good photos of operational aircraft.  This is followed by 16 build articles.


Each of the articles reads very much like the build reviews one can find in magazines by the same publisher.  A good variety of scales and markings are presented, and the kits used are from Revell, Monogram, Hasegawa, Tamiya, Academy, Trumpeter and Kinetic.  Some interesting marking choices are shown, including German, Brazilian and Soviet (in addition to USAAF).    Although these are like articles found in magazines, in my opinion many of these were a little too short or just lacking in enough detail.  For instance, I was happy to see an article on a P-47 in USSR markings, but disappointed to find no information about any modifications or additions made to the model (like where did that ADF loop behind the cockpit come from?).   The models were all built to high standards, and there are descriptions of paints/decals used, but I found myself wanting to know more about the build process.  Production quality is quite high, and everything inside was very nice to look through.  It just left me wanting more substance.


There are 6 previous volumes in this series, and at least one more available for pre-order.   I like the concept behind these but do hope they will flesh out the articles a bit more.  I cannot see this being a stand-alone reference for those building any of the subject kits, but it may well provide good inspiration.


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

75 Years of the Israeli Air Force, Volume 2: The Last Half Century, 1973-2023

Fri, 04/30/2021 - 11:00
Product Image Review Author:  Marc K. Blackburn Helion & Company

This is the second volume of two published by Hellion covering the history of the Israeli Air Force from its founding to the present. As with other Hellion volumes, it follows an established format. Using a chronological format, the narrative begins where the last volume left off. The text begins with the end of the Yom Kippur War and ends in 2023 with a little bit of forecasting into the immediate future. The book is heavily illustrated with black and white photos. As with previous volumes, it has a series of color profiles of aircraft and a slim selection of color photographs. They also have an extensive bibliography and foot notes for those of you who would like to continue reading on the topic.

The narrative begins at the end of the Yom Kippur War. In the aftermath of the war, the United States became the Israeli Air Force's (IAF) chief supplier of aircraft with the F-15 and F-16 as well as stand-off weapons being added to the Israeli arsenal. While arms sales were subject to the vagaries of American politics, the addition of new American aircraft gave the IAF capabilities that allowed them to strike an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981. By far the most action the IAF saw was in Lebanon. Between the Civil War between the Muslim majority and Christian minority as well as the issues related to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), the IAF remained busy. While not facing the issues of planning air superiority campaigns of 1967 and 1973, the IAF was able to dominate the skies over the battlefield, supporting the army and keeping the  Syrian Air Force at bay.

In the 1990s, the IAF continued to evolve. The issue of cost of aircraft and professionalization figured mightily. I appreciate the fact that the author pays attention to the issues of procurement, modernization, and the professionalization of the IAF. While there is no argument that the IAF was the best in the Middle East, they were a small country with a limited budget and had to make procurement decisions. The Americans provided older F-15s and F-16s and the Israelis made enhancements, adding updated avionics and other upgrades that not only extended their lifespans, but capabilities as well. A mention is made of the patience that they displayed in not intervening in the Gulf War, even with Scud missiles falling on Israeli cities.

The narrative does bring the story to the present. There is mention of the Israeli nuclear capabilities, but not much is made of it since there is limited public information. Similarly, the author does pay some attention to the modest Israeli space program, a welcome addition to any work on the IAF. The movement toward asymmetric warfare, primarily against Hezbollah, the IAF once again showed their expertise in ground support of the Israeli Army. Unfortunately, as skilled as the IAF is, the cost of maintaining modern jets is prohibitive. In recent years, the number of aircraft in service has shrank.

When read in conjunction with the first volume, this is a concise summary of the Israeli Air Force. Volume 2 does a good job of mixing campaign history, procurement issues, and changes in policy. While I appreciate the higher costs of printing when you use color, it would have been nice to have more color. That being said, this is a great addition to the series.

My thanks to IPMS and Casemate Publishing for giving me the opportunity to review this book.

Supermarine Spitfire V - Volume 2

Fri, 04/30/2021 - 10:52
Review Author:  Frank Landrus MMP Books

MMP was founded in 1996 by Roger Wallsgrove, to publish "Mushroom Model Magazine". This quarterly modelling magazine was developed from "Mushroom Monthly", a club newsletter which ran from 1985 to 1995, achieving a world-wide reputation for quality articles, fearless and honest reviews, and a great sense of humor. From 1997 the magazine was produced in collaboration with Robert Peczkowski and Artur Juszczak (Stratus), which meant a big leap in print quality and design. MMP expanded into book publication in 1999, and since then we have built up a list of books on aircraft and aviation, naval, military vehicles, and military history.

Wojtek Matusiak lives in Warsaw, Poland. Wojtek Matusiak is a leading World War 2 Polish Air Force and Spitfire researcher, having published numerous articles and dozens of books on the subjects, as well as readily assisting other authors. He has maintained an enthusiastic interest in the history and development of the Spitfire, as well as of Poland's military aviation, throughout his life.

Wojtek Matusiak author's the latest in Mushroom Model Publications' series of aircraft used in the Polish Air Force. This volume represents Wojtek Matusiak's eleventh book for MMPBooks. The front cover by Marek Rys features a 317 Squadron Spitfire Mk. Vb during Operation Starkey in September 1943. This was a practice run in preparation for D-Day. Note how the Spitfire carries black and white stripes, but on the outer wing. The back cover by Marek Rys features another Spitfire Mk.Vb, also during Operation Starkey. This represents Volume two of a two volume series. The first volume covered Polish Squadrons from 302 through 308, while this second volume covers Squadrons 315 through 318, as well as Poles that served in other non-Polish Squadrons. Many of these photographs have never been published before.

I counted 235 black and white photos along with 6 color photographs that include detailed captions. Robert Grudzien contributes 38 full color side views, plus several color scrap views that highlight badges or other unique features. There are plenty of color scrap illustrations that highlight the detail of insignias. The great part of these color side views is they are backed up with period photos of the aircraft that is being portrayed.

The Table of Contents focuses on the following sections:

  • No. 315 Squadron 'Deblin' [Page 10]
  • No. 316 Squadron 'City of Warsaw' [Page 28]
  • No. 317 Squadron 'City of Wilno'
  • Non-Polish Squadrons of Fighter Command [Page 62]
  • Non-Operational Units
  • Fighter Units in the Mediterranean 1943 [Page 72]
  • No. 318 Squadron 'City of Gdansk' [Page 78]
  • Other Units in the Mediterranean
  • Polish Spitfire V Losses [Table]

Wojtek Matusiak starts off where Volume One left off by diving straight into Squadron No. 315. You can see by the contents above that this also includes through Squadron No. 318 along with other units where Poland flew Spitfire Mk Vs with the RAF units. Each of these Squadron histories address operations while they were using the Spitfire V. This includes Squadron rotations and airbases. Wojtek Matusiak also addresses other parts of Fighter Command that Polish pilots served. The photographs are accompanied with detailed captions and in most cases color side profiles of individual Spitfire Vs. I find this a major attraction in many of MMP's books where not only sharp, clear photographs are presented but the illustrators include the color profiles that show the color differences between the aircraft.

What I really enjoyed in this book is the use of actual photographs to support the color profiles of each type. MMP Books features this in many of their books which I think is a huge attraction. This really brings these period photographs to life. One example is illustrated on Page 10 where the discussion engages the type of film used. There you can find excellent examples of the differences between panchromatic and orthochromatic photographs. Reviewing four different photographs of the squadron mascot, a dwarf. The pictures clearly show the difficulties in interpreting colors from black and white photographs.

Polish Wings 30 provides an interesting view into a lesser known chapter in aviation history. The text and captions are all in English thanks to the author who apparently moonlights on the side translating Polish and English. Wojtek Matusiak is an excellent writer and ably crafts the storyline with interesting morsels to prevent this from being simply a progression of facts. This book is essential if you're considering building any of these aircraft in scale. Luckily, being a Supemarine Spitfire Mk V means there are no shortage of options in kits and accessories to build any of the aircraft represented. There is even a 'quasi' advertisement on page 2 that provides specific decals for this monograph. If you have any interest in Polish (or British) aircraft, this is a must-have book.

My thanks to Casemate, Mushroom Model Publications, and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!