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Updated: 3 hours 11 min ago

Vickers VC10 & Super VC10

Mon, 03/22/2021 - 00:46
Product Image Review Author:  Allan Murrell Pen & Sword

The VC-10 has always been one of my favorite civil aircraft since I was a kid and watching them take off from Heathrow Airport. So, I could not miss the chance to review this book.


  • Introduction
  • Design and Development
  • Engineering Excellence
  • Into the Air
  • RAF Service
  • Other Operators
  • VC10 Variants
  • VC10 & Super VC10 in colour
  • Modelling the VC10  

The book goes into great detail on the full history of the aircraft and its use and variants over its operational service life. I found this book fascinating and made me aware of a lot of facts I have never heard before. The writing style is clear and concise. The images are awesome and give a lot of useful views for modelers and anyone interested in this aircraft.

The design and development chapter was of particular interest to me and seeing the early designs was a great lead up to understanding the final selected design.

The profile pictures are a great addition. The chapter on modeling has already helped me with a kit I am working on and will assist me greatly in finishing an even better model for my collection. The Chapter on the RAF tanker conversion was also very well written and gave some good insight into this modification.

I recommend this book to everyone with an interest in the VC-10 or Civil Airliners.

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

Mission Models Paints New Color Releases

Sun, 03/21/2021 - 01:08
Product Image Review Author:  Will Kuhrt Mission Models

This review looks at four new releases from the Mission Models product line. They are MMP-139 RAL 7017 Dunkelbraun; MMP-140 RAL 7016 Anthrazitgrau; MMP-132 US Navy Flight Deck Blue 21; and MMP-169 Transparent Green. 

Mission Models paints are a non-solvent acrylic-based paint, which are 'airbrush ready' and produce a flat finish.   The product line consists of a wide array of colors, thinners, finishing coats & supplies. Since prior reviews have covered how to use Mission Models paints, I will forego repeating that.  

Some features I have come to really like about Mission Models paints are: bottle contains a "rattle ball" which ensures good paint mixture; some of the bottles have a flip cap which is great for counting/measuring drops of paint you add to your pan; the website contains a very good FAQ, which offers plenty of tips for using their products. 

Since these colors would be used mostly for military models (German armor, naval ships) I had to think how I should test them considering I had no naval ships or armor models in process.  

For testing, I created swatches that measure approximately 4.25" x 2".  I used a clean styrene sheet, which I first primed with Tamiya gray.   Air pressure was set at 20psi. Each swatch was sufficiently opaque and well-covered within three passes of the airbrush. Each pass was allowed to dry before the next one was applied.  

Since the transparent green is also 'airbrush ready', I spayed it onto a clear plastic spoon.   Only two passes were needed to produce a beautiful green finish.  The paint leveled very nicely!  When it was dry, I we very impressed with how even and translucent the paint was.  

From my experience with these colors from other paint lines--both acrylic and enamel--I found them to be spot-on.  

I highly recommend Mission Models paints to all model builders. I have used them for a few years and I have never been disappointed.  They continue to grow their product line & continually have new offerings, and there is a high degree of consistency with their paints. 

Thank you to IPMS for the opportunity, and thank you to Mission Models for the review samples. 

1955 Chevy Stake Truck

Sun, 03/21/2021 - 00:27
Product Image Review Author:  Keith Gervasi Atlantis Model Company


From the kit instructions: Combining passenger car styling with rugged, versatile and dependable truck performance, the Chevrolet Two-ton Stake Model represented the ultimate in commercial vehicle design. One of the most popular models in the famous "task Force" series of 1955, it was seen on the highways and byways across America, hauling loads of all descriptions with the greatest ease and efficiency. Whether it was a load of grain from the local feed store, lumber for the new house down the street, or a gang of kids headed for summer camp, the model 6409 was equal to the task.

It was normally powered by a 123-horsepower loadmaster engine, but could on request have the super powerful Jobmaster engine installed, which delivered 140 HP. Both of those engines were 6 cylinder. Other standard equipment included power brakes, a 12-volt ignition system, concealed safety steps, and a Sweep-Sight windshield. Many other advanced features were available as optional equipment.

Wheelbase of the truck was 154 inches, its gross weight was 18,000 lbs., and it had a total flat area of 85 square feet. Taken all together, the above features made the 1955 Chevrolet Stake Truck one of the finest commercial vehicles on the road, and truly justified its inclusion in the great "Task Force" line.

What's in the box

Opening the box you will find a bag of medium blue injected plastic parts, a small zip lock bag of clear parts, a small decal sheet and a two-page instruction fold out. The plastic has some flash (The initial release of this kit was 1955 so some flash should be expected) pin marks and some sink marks. The new clear pieces are thin and clear, and the decals are in register.


4 steps are needed to build this kit starting with the cab, which is built on the frame. This makes filling, sanding and painting a bit of a chore. Steps 1 & 2 are the cab, engine and bed-to-frame construction. The cab has a few fit issues, especially on the right side, and a bit of filler will need to be used. You now also must add the new clear pieces to the inside of the doors and rear of the cab. Once the cab is assembled you can add the windscreen. Step 3 is for the underside and everything fit pretty well here. Step 4 is the finishing of the bed, cargo and the stakes. The stakes have many pin marks which need a bit of filling. 


Testors Model Mater Artic Metallic Blue was used for the cab and bed. Model Master True Blue was used for the stakes. Alclad chrome was used on the wheels and a mix of Testors acrylic browns, tans and washes on the cargo. The decals are thin and settled down nicely without any help.


A fairly simple build, this kit first issued in 1955 has been released 6 times prior to this and it shows its age. However, with the new clear pieces added, it still builds up pretty nice and looks good in a few dioramas that I have seen it in. I recommend this kit to all modelers.

I would like to thank Atlantis Models for this kit and the Review Corps for letting me build it.

Casemate- Tanks of the Second World War

Fri, 03/19/2021 - 20:26
Product Image Review Author:  Michael Reeves Casemate Publishers

The title of this book might be a bit misleading but I am not complaining. The brunt of the book is definitely on tanks from WWII, but there are extensive chapters that focus on the evolution of the tank from WWI on through the development of Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) in the post-war age. The breakdown of the book's sections are as follows:

  • Genesis: The Armoured Vehicle over the Millennia- covers WWI and the beginning of tank development
  • The Inter-war Period- which breaks down, by country, tank development between the World Wars- looking at Great Britain, France, the US, Poland, Italy, the Soviet Union, Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Japan
  • Tanks in Action, the 1930s- again misleading as this large section covers Japan's war in Manchuria, the Spanish Civil War, and every major theater featuring armor in WWII
  • Prospect: The Long Road to the Main Battle Tank- this looks at post-war developments from the US, Soviet Union, Great Britain, France, and West Germany

The section on WWI tanks is minimal, listing only some of the representative tanks like the various British Mark tanks, the French FT-17, and the German A7V. Notable examples missing include the Whippet, Schneider, and St. Chamond tanks, but again, they are not the focus of the book, so this is not a ding on the content.

Like all of the charts throughout the book, the ones for the samples listed above give technical specifications such as armament, crew, frontal armor thickness, weight, engine horsepower, top speed, engine to weight ratio, range, and numbers built.

The Inter-war section spends time on how each of the featured countries in the book listed above capitalized on the successful designs from the Great War to modify or even design their own vehicles. We see the start here of the various classifications of tankettes, light, medium, and heavy tanks. There is a particularly interesting section on John Walter Christie and his famous designs that influenced Soviet designs into the following world war. There are truly some unique looking tanks in the section and some designs were failures, but I found this section to be quite fascinating in regards to the creativity of some of them.

Tanks in Action, the 1930s (and 40s) is the major section of the book-- taking us through Manchuria, the early stages of the Italian aims for Africa, the Spanish Civil War, Poland, France, the Balkans, North Africa, Barbarossa and the Eastern Front, Italy, Normandy, Germany and finally the war in the Pacific. We see the early designs based on the FT-17 as well as the early Panzer versions tested in Spain and used to effect in the early stages of the war. The photos throughout the entire book are excellent and show tanks in action, disabled, and wrecks in clear quality. There are plenty of ideas for various scenarios to inspire you for your models to display.

The last section focuses on post-war designs including the M26, M41, M46, 47, and 48, and the use of the T-34 by other countries as it was replaced with T-44s, T-54s and T-55s. The book ends with British Centurions, French AMX-30s, and German Leopard tanks. I would have liked to have seen some of the more modern designs like the Merkava, Chieftain, Challenger, and Abrams tanks, but again- they are not the focus of the book.


This is an ambitious project to be sure, covering all of the major tanks of the Second World War in one volume. The author has managed an excellent overview of not only WWII, but pre-war and post-war armor as well. The photos are excellent and new to me. One that stood out to me that I have included is a German crew in North Africa cleaning out the main gun barrel that is most definitely the inspiration for the box art of a Miniart German Tank Crew figure set I have in the stash. I enjoyed reading through the book and it has inspired some great vignette ideas that I am excited to start on.

My thanks to Casemate Publishing and IPMS-USA for this review sample.


The fighter/bomber Horten Ho 229

Fri, 03/19/2021 - 19:51
Product Image Review Author:  Scott Hollingshead Kagero Publishing

For all fans of the Horten brothers' all-wing jet of World War 2, Marek Rys and the folks of Kagero have put out a wonderful book of drawings that will be a must have for rivet and screw counters, and of interest to those who have an affinity for this plane.  Consisting of line drawings in 1/72, 1/48, and 1/32 scales, there are also four pages with color plates of the planes as well as two included foldout drawings in 1/48 and 1/32 scale.  As a modeler and fan of the Ho 229, I can highly recommend this new offering from Kagero in their Top Drawings line!

I have previously written that I have been a fan of the Horten Ho 229 since I first saw a built up 1/72 scale Pioneer 2 kit in a hobby shop located in Norfolk, Virginia, and immediately purchased one of the kits on their shelf (yes, it is still in my stash).  At the time (late 1980's), I had never heard of this plane, and as the F-117 and B-2 were just being introduced to the country, my interest was thoroughly piqued! With the addition of kits by Revell Germany, Dragon, and more recently Zoukei Mura, a reference like this will surely provide additional inspiration during a build!

For those not familiar with the Horten brothers or their work, Reimer and Walter Horten had a keen interest in flying wing aircraft.  Their work began with gliders of differing designs and moved into jet propulsion towards the end of the war.  While never reaching full production, copies of the planes built up were captured at the end of the war with three examples ending up in the United States.  Some authors have tried to connect the Ho 229 to the B-2, but while the Horten brothers were working in Germany, Jack Northrop had his own flying wing designs developing in the USA.  

Written in both Polish and English, the book begins with a short introduction on the plane stating that two Ho 229 V3 aircraft and a single Ho IX V1 would end up in the United States.  After this, the 1/72 scale drawings begin and show the Ho IX V1, Ho 229 V2, Ho 229 V3, Ho 229 V6 (Gotha Go 229A), Ho 229 V7, and Ho 229 V7/FuG 240 Berlin.  These are followed by 1/32 scale drawings of the Ho 229 V3 wing cross sections and molded fuselage lines, while the final drawing is again in 1/72 scale and shows the surface materials on the top and bottom of the Ho 229 V3.  The four center pages have color plates showing a Ho 229A-0 in hypothetical markings for JG 300 along with a Ho 229 V3 in the natural colors of the materials used in construction (wood, plywood, duraluminum, and steel).  The 1/32 scale foldout drawing shows the Ho 2229 V2 and V3 while the 1/48 scale foldout shows those two variants as well as the Ho IX V1.

As I stated up front, this book is a great addition to the libraries of Horten fans and modelers alike!  The production quality is top notch, and the foldout drawings could easily be framed and displayed.  With no misses that I could identify, I highly recommend this publication!

I always like to wrap up by thanking the person in charge of the Review Corps, so hats off to Phil Peterson for his work, and to the folks behind the scenes like Bill O'Malley, who mails out the lion's share of the review items, and the folks who place our reviews on the IPMS web site.  In closing, a special thanks to the folks at Casemate for providing this book for review.

T-38 Talon, F-5B, RF-5A/E/S pitot tube and 20mm gun barrels

Fri, 03/19/2021 - 09:50
Product Image Review Author:  Paul R. Brown Master-Model

This set is designed for use with kits of the T-38 Talon, the F-5B Tiger I and the RF-5A/E/S.  The set consists of 3 brass parts - the nose pitot and two 20 mm gun barrels, however, as later versions of the RF-5 only have one gun installed, so you will need to check your references.  If you are modeling a T-38 or a F-5B, you will only be using the pitot tube as neither had guns installed.

The instructions are clear about what size drill bit you will need for each installation and clearly indicate how just how much of the pitot tube extends past the kit nose.  Take care when drilling your holes and check them as you go to ensure that the pitot tube in on the aircraft centerline and parallel to the ground and that the gun barrels are parallel to the aircraft centerline.

This is another nice detail set from Master Model and it will dress up your Talon or Tiger I jet.

Recommended.  Thank you to Master Model for the review sample.

F-5E Tiger II pitot tube and 20mm gun barrels

Fri, 03/19/2021 - 09:42
Product Image Review Author:  Paul R. Brown Master-Model

This set is designed for use with kits of the later models of the F-5E/F Tiger II with the so-called "shark" or flattened nose.  I used on old Italeri F-5F kit that had been a shelf queen for a few years.  The set consists of 5 brass parts - the nose pitot and a tube in which to mount it, two 20 mm gun barrels and a dummy fairing for those aircraft which only have one gun installed. 

While these parts will be some of the last ones you install, there is a little prep work that you need to do to install them.  First you need to determine if the jet you are modeling has both 20 mm guns install or just one.  You will need a close shot of the gun area to determine this as while the fairing is a bit larger in diameter and shorter than a normal 20 mm barrel, you will need just the right photograph to determine which is correct.  Once you have determined which arrangement is correct, you will need to drill a hole in the gun troughs for your choices.  The instructions say use a .6 mm bit for the 20 mm barrels and a .8 mm bit for the fairing.  I recommend using as long as a bit as you can in order to help you keep the hole for the part in the proper alignment with the nose. 

Next you will need to sand the kit nose to remove the mounting stub for the nose pitot tube.  Once smoothed out find the center both horizontally and vertically and then drill a .5 mm hole.  I Once the hole was drilled in inserted the mounting tube in the hole, but did not glue it, then inserted the pitot tube into the mounting tube and adjusted the orientation of the mounting tube until the pitot was parallel to the ground line of the aircraft and pointed along the aircraft centerline.  I then used a small drop of superglue to fix the mounting tube in place and removed the pitot tube.  I used more superglue to blend the mounting tube into the nose and sanded it out until it was blended into the nose, however, be careful not to plug the mounting tube up with superglue or sanding residue. 

After the nose have been sanded and smoothed out, I painted the kit as a Naval Fighter Weapons School ("Topgun") F-5F in the wraparound lizard scheme.  The markings came from an old Microscale Decal sheet for USN/USAF F-5 aircraft.  I painted the 20mm barrels with Testor's gunmetal and the pitot tube with Testor's aluminum. Once decaling had been completed and the final flat coat applied, I installed the gun barrels and the pitot tube with a little superglue.  Again, take care in installing the gun barrels to ensure that they are pointed parallel to the aircraft's centerline.

This set is a nice addition and as shown in the photos provides much more realistic representations of the pitot tube and the gun barrels.

Highly recommended.  Thank you to Master Model for the review sample.

1941 Packard Clipper (U.S. Army)

Fri, 03/19/2021 - 00:48
Product Image Review Author:  Steve Zajac Roden

Background from the website: "In 1941, Packard introduced a new model of car - the Packard Clipper. It was created by the talented designer Howard Darrin, who had previously collaborated with this company and significantly influenced the appearance of all Packards in the second half of the 1930s. The new car had a powerful 125 hp engine with a displacement of 4.7 liters, was wider than its predecessors, and had an extremely elegant design. By the end of the year, Packard had produced 16,000 such cars, but the US entry into World War II completely changed subsequent plans. The military high command issued extraordinary production orders for its requirements, and many purely civilian manufacturers, including Packard, were repurposed to produce military equipment. 

Packard won a special role in this big game - to produce one of the best engines of its time, the British Rolls Royce Merlin. After receiving all the documentation, it was named the Packard Merlin and was produced in the following years in extremely large quantities and installed in various types of aircraft, including one of the best fighters of its time, the P-51 Mustang. 

Most of the Packard Clippers were purchased by the military, and it was widely used during the war years as personal transportation for senior officers. At least two of the cars became very famous because they were used by military heroes of the time - General Dwight Eisenhower and General Douglas McArthur."

This is a finely detailed 35th scale US Army senior staff automobile that can be built into a faithful replica if you carefully cut and fit the parts.  It's not a civilian car though could be built as such with a few changes.  Maybe a civilian version will be in the works in time, possibly in 24th scale? The kit comes on 8 sprues including clear parts. You have the option of 1 of 3 cars: MacArthur's, Eisenhower's, and a museum car at the Ohio Classic Car Gallery.  The plastic is on the soft side and the sprue gates are large, so it's best to cut each part off the tree with the gate intact.  Then carefully cut each gate from the part.  I learned the hard way: the right side front windshield frame was damaged and broken when I attempted to cleanly cut the gate from the part with hobby pliers.  Thereafter, all parts were carefully cut.  It's recommended to try different steps dry fitting, as the 8 page instructions don't provide an sub- assembly order.  

I started with the 5 piece body, gluing the back halves first, the rear portion of each front fender next, and the front end last.  The dashboard and trunk (can be positioned as open) were added and the 4 doors were each assembled and glued in place.  You have the option of rear fender skirts, check pictures of the car you are building- Ike's car did not have the skirts, though they are very cool looking!  

The interior received an airbrush coat of Testors Model Master (MM) Acryl Armor Sand and the raised details on the dash were dry brushed with silver paint (note: no dials on dash).  The body exterior and hood were airbrushed with Testors (MM) Acryl Olive Drab. The front windshield has frosting, and Micro Mesh sanding and Novus polish failed to get this out completely.  As an alternative, one can easily make new windows from clear plastic sheet, though in the interest of this review, I went with the kit parts.  The instructions suggest the windows are inserted from the outside of the body, but going from the inside is easier.  I left off the door windows as I like the open interior look better.  

Though I paint brushed 2 coats of Future, the white star decals had a bit of silvering, possibly due to excessive decal carrier film. 

I built car #2- the museum car, and added the remainder of the exterior details, with a scratch built antennae from a pin, since the kit part was damaged during the sprue removal.  The interior pan came next and the front/rear seats and firewall were glued in.  The top half was airbrushed armor sand, while the exterior was painted in olive drab. 

I next glued the nicely detailed 21 piece engine, it was painted Alclad dark aluminum and Vallejo flat black per the instructions and set aside while the chassis frame was built up.  Take your time with it, and dry fit.  The 2 frames were glued together piece by piece starting with the front end with the stronger pieces (7C, 54C, 3C, 4C).  Make certain to have the exhaust piece (51C) in place, when adding the cross section (1C, 2C) to the frame. From there the remainder of the chassis is simple.  Next comes the front and rear suspension, again be sure to dry fit and consider which piece to glue first before starting.  The wheels and tires are one piece styrene, not rubber/vinyl tires; you simply glue front and back halves. Unfortunately, I lost the tread when sanding the halves.  After the wheels were glued to the wheel backs, I discovered that 1 of the rear tires was approx. 1/32" off the ground.  To correct, I held the chassis unit above a pot of simmering water (not boiling!) and gently twisted it until the tire was back on the ground.  The off-ground tire returned when I next glued the chassis to the interior pan, so be careful with the chassis and pan, test and retest prior to gluing!!  

The final assembly was simple, the chassis/interior fits easily into the body.  The completed car does look a bit high off the ground, I think it should sit lower.   If you take your time, this kit will provide you with a very nice 41 US Army Packard, a car that has rarely been kitted if at all in styrene.  

Thank you Roden for the sample and IPMS for the opportunity to review this kit.

Arado Ar234 B-2, B-2/N, C-3

Wed, 03/17/2021 - 09:47
Product Image Review Author:  Ben Morton Kagero Publishing

Kagero/Casemate Publishers has a Top Drawings series that showcases a single subject with high quality, blue print style line drawings and several colorful schemes of the specific subject.

The current catalog lists 110 titles, so there is a subject of interest for just about anyone. All of the titles from Top Drawings are geared for the fastidious amongst us who crave accurate representations on the subject of choice, be it aircraft, armor, or ship.

With aircraft titles the plans are in all the popular scales: 1/72, 1/48 and 1/32. The 1/72nd scale five view drawings are included within the frame work of the publication. The larger (1/48th and 1/32nd scale) drawings are presented on individual sheets that are inserted into the booklet and are removable. Kagero/Casemates website states that each title contains an additional item in the form of a decal sheet, paint mask, or gun barrel(s) as is appropriate for the specific title. Sadly, the item went wanting from my review copy.

The subject of this missive is the Arado 234, focusing on the B-2, B-2/N, and C-3 variants. Each of these versions of the Arado 234 are presented in beautifully detailed line drawings by Marek Rys.  After a concise, accurate history the drawings present the Arado 234 in splendid detail with several important facts about each type. One amongst many is that the Arado 234 had almost all rivets and panel lines spackled  and were not visible on serial aircraft.  The history and the commentary on the drawings are in both Polish and English in this soft cover, twenty page book..

There are two marking beautifully rendered schemes illustrated in this release. One set of colour plates is of an Arado 234 C-3 that was captured by US troops at Munchen-Riem airfield. The other colour plates are of an Arado 234 B-2 flown by Obslt, Robert Kowalewski from KG 76, during a mission aganist Ludendorff Bridge in Remegen in March 1945.

This TopDrawings title from Marek Rys is a boon to the series hobbyist who desires an accurate Arado 234. The multi-scale drawings are wonderfully rendered and provide an immense amount of detail in the form of correct panel lines and inspection plates as well as detailed, six-view drawings of the Walter HKW 109-600 A-1 R.A.T.O. Unit. 

These detailed drawings will be of immense aid to anyone wishing to build an accurate Arado 234.  It should be noted that this level of detail is often found wanting from other sources. Besides, the  pullout, scale drawings and colour plates are suitable for framing. 

My thanks to Kagero/Casemate Publishers and IPMS/USA for the review copy

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Air Power and the Arab World 1909-1955-Volume 3: Colonial Skies, 1918-1936

Wed, 03/17/2021 - 09:33
Product Image Review Author:  Frank Landrus Helion & Company

Dr. David C Nicolle is a British historian specializing in the military history of the Middle-Ages, with special interest in the Middle East and Arab countries. After working for BBC Arabic Service, he obtained his MA at SOAS, University of London, followed by a PhD at the University of Edinburgh. He then lectured in art history at Yarmouk University in Irbid, Jordan. Dr. Nicolle has published over 100 books about warfare ranging from Roman times to the 20th century, mostly as sole author. He also co-authored the 'Arab MiGs' series of books which covered the history of the Arab air forces at war with Israel from 1955 to 1973. Furthermore, he has appeared in several TV-documentaries, and has published numerous articles in specialized press. This is his fourth instalment for Helion's @War series with more planned in 2021.

The late Air Vice Marshal Gabr Ali Gabr PhD (EAF, ret.) served as the pilot of a De Havilland Vampire fighter jet during the Suez War, 1956. After concluding higher military education at the Air Warfare Institute in 1960, he served as an instructor in air tactics at the Air Warfare Institute in 1962-64. Between 1966-67, he was a staff officer during the June 1967 War and went on to be chief of the Operational Training Branch in 1968-73; he was also chief of the Operations Group during the October 1973 War with Israel. After serving as an instructor in the art of operations and as the chief air force chair at High War College from 1977 until 1982, he received his PhD at Nasser High Academy in 1989. He then moved into writing and has since published several books and dozens of studies and articles on the history of air warfare in Egypt and abroad.

Helion's latest book in the Middle East @ War series is a square back soft cover includes 96 gloss paper pages. The cover black and white photograph features three Westland Wapiti on No. 30 Squadron on patrol.  The color side profile by Luca Canossa is of a Potez 25TOE serving in Syria in 1932.  This aircraft, serial number 777, was part of thee Escadrille of the 39th Regiment.  You will note that the rear gun has been replaced with a 26cm aerial camera to work with Pere Poidebard supporting his archaeology work.  Luca Canossa also provides the color side profile of the Sopwith Snipe on the rear cover.  This aircraft served in Iraq in 1922 with No. 1 Squadron.  0I counted three color pictures and 140 black and white photographs. There also 21 color side profiles, three black and white maps and one color map.

Dr. David C Nicolle follows up the second volume of Air Power and the Arab World covering post World War I up to 1936.  This volume focuses on the colonial powers of Spain, France, Italy, and Britain and their hopes to establish control over North Africa and the Middle East.  A nice addition is the inclusion of Iran and Ethiopia and the early development of their Air Forces. The ending of World War I created a surplus of aircraft (and of course other weapons) and many found their way into the colonies in North Africa and the Middle East.  The Muslim population was not exactly overwhelmed with the magnanimous offers of being protected by the powers of Europe, but that would not explode until after World War II. Just the same, there were plenty of skirmishes and battles to be had.  Part one of this tome addresses North Africa and the attempts by Spain, France, and Italy to extend their influence in the region.  Part two addresses the British and French desires to control the Middle East.  An important issue for the British was to maintain their link to India, especially in Egypt with the Suez Canal. The French were more concerned with extending their pre-World War I influence in Lebanon and Syria.  The sections include:




Addendum to the Previous Volumes

Introduction: The Arab Lands in the Aftermath of the Great War

Part One: North Africa as an Area of Military Experimentation

The Arab Maghrib Under France and Spain

Spanish Air Operations in Northern Morocco [Page 10]

Aviation Units in the Spanish Protectorate [Table 1]

Spanish Air Units Supporting the Assault on Al Hoceima [Table 2]

French Air Operations in North Africa

French Military Aviation in Algeria and Tunisia [Table 3]

Aviation du Maroc [Table 4]

French Air Assets in Morocco, July 1927 [Table 5]

Italian Air Operations Continue in Libya, and Events in East Africa [Page 27]

Italian Air Resources Available on 15 November 1929 [Table 6]

Italian Air Strength in Cyrenaica, January 1926 [Table 7]

Italian Air Strength in Tripolitania, 1 January 1934 [Table 8]

Italian Air Strength in Cyrenaica, 1 January 1934 [Table 9]

Color Profiles [Page 40iv]

Part Two: Air Policing in the Middle East

The Arab Middle East under Britain and France [Page 47]

French Air Operations Over the Levant

British Air Operations in the Arab World

Neighbours: The Iranian and Ethiopian Air Forces

The Iranian Empire [Page 81]

The Ethiopian Empire



I was able to finish this book in three nights and really enjoyed it.  I may be just my perception but I found this a really easy read and hard to put down.  There are many first person accounts included that I am particularly fond of, but I found the section on the Ethiopian Air Force very compelling.  The creation of the Ethiopian Air Force in 1929 is described as well as its destruction when Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in 1935.  Interestingly, the only aircraft to survive the Italian invasion was a monoplane that was built in Ethiopia under the tutelage of Ludwig Weber. There were no skilled craftsmen available but Ludwig made do.  The Mendl/van Ness A-VII (aka M7) was powered by an air cooled Walter NZ seven cylinder engine. Ethiopia's capital was already at an elevation of 2,500 feet above sea level and one of the additions to the aircraft was high lift flaps.  This aircraft was captured as a war prize and transported back to Italy where it now resides at the Italian Air Force Museum.

The contemporary photographs support the text, and although the quality of some of the photographs due to the source material is not there, they certainly give you a good perspective of the events described.  The nice color profiles by Luca Canossa and Tom Cooper help make up for this concern.  Volume 4 by Dr. David C Nicolle covering the First Arab Air Forces has been announced for release in July 2021. If you own one the previous releases in the Middle East @ War series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.

My thanks to Helion & Company, Casemate Publishing, and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!

25PDR Field Gun & Quad

Mon, 03/15/2021 - 11:06
Product Image Review Author:  Phil Peterson Airfix

I built a lot of Airfix armor in my youth but never had this one before.  Airfix has rereleased this kit as part of their Vintage Classics series and the kit is unchanged from the original 1963 molds except for newer decals.

There are 71 parts molded in a dark green plastic but there are no clear parts.  There is very little flash which is nice but there are some seam lines that will need to be cleaned up, especially if you decide to use the crew.  More about them later.  The color scheme is shown on the back of the box and represents a vehicle of the 6th Armoured Division probably in Italy though it is not spelled out.

The interior is pretty basic but does include seats for 6, steering wheel and a driver.  The body goes together quickly, and the fit isn't too bad with just some minor putty needed on some seams.  The wheels can be built to roll if you are very careful, but I glued them for strength.

Next up is the Limber which is just a few parts and then you are on to the 25PDR.  Again, this is basic but does look the part except the barrel looks a little short to me and the later war muzzle brake is not included.

The gun and limber can be displayed either being towed by the Quad or in firing position and a crew of 5 is included for that option.  They do look a bit larger than 76th/72nd scale and are in fairly static poses but at least they are there.

The paint guide suggested a Dark Earth and Khaki Drab camouflage, but I went for a green and black camo because I just like the look better.  Since there are no clear parts I tried a couple options with Formula '560 and finally Testors Clear Parts Cement which did the job.

While not the most detailed kit it would work well as a wargame piece and could be used in Airfix's Battles.

If you want to accurize this kit there is a really nice article over on the Airfix Tribute Forum: https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/airfixtributeforum/airfix-25pdr-quad-upgrade-t21700.html

Thanks to Hornby America and IPMS/USA for the review kit.

U.S.S. Defiant NX-74205

Mon, 03/15/2021 - 09:55
Product Image Review Author:  Phil Peterson Polar Lights

If you are reading this review I am guessing you know what Deep Space Nine was and the Defiant but just in case, the Defiant was a prototype vessel designed for Star Fleet to battle the Borg.  If you need more detail there is plenty on the web. The Polar Lights kit continues their series of 1/1000th scale snap-together Star Trek universe ships.  The kit has 27 parts including 13 in clear plastic and their normal 3 part stand.  It also includes a plethora of decals to cover the panel colors so you don't have to paint much other than the base color.

Construction is quick with little to hinder smaller hands from getting the ship ready for combat faster than you can say "Today is a good day to die".  There are a couple of smaller clear pieces representing the Phasors (I think) which you have to pinch between other parts and these could be a little issue requiring adult help.  I did try snapping some of the parts together and the fit is pretty tight. Of course, I decided to glue mine and didn't use any filler on the final build though it would have been better hide some of the seams. I used clear blue and clear red for the engine parts and nose piece backing them with white to try and simulate a glow.  I don't think I was that successful but since I wasn't going to light it I made the attempt.  For those who do want to light it there is ample room inside to contain what you would need. Once it was together I used a generic rattle can grey for the body color as the color call outs are Light Grey, Medium Grey and Dark Grey.  I hand painted the few panels in the darker colors and then it was on to the decals.

As I mentioned before there are a lot of decals and they really were the only issue I had with the kit.  Several of them fold over the sides which helps hide the seams, but they seemed a bit brittle to me and I had several crack even though I used the MicroScale System.  I was able to get them basically back together but I do know there are a couple of paint masks that have been developed for this kit and would recommend one of them if you are going for a contest build.

That said when I got it done it really captures the look of this tough little ship and I recommend it to anyone who wants to add it to their 1/1000th scale collection of Trek models.

Thanks to Round 2 and IPMS/USA for the review kit.

Leibstandarte, 1943-1945, (Tome/Volume 2)

Mon, 03/15/2021 - 08:00
Product Image Review Author:  Marc K. Blackburn Heimdal

This is a big book! At 591 pages and weighing in at five pounds, in this corner we have volume two of Leibstandarte, the SS Division that was formed from Hitler's SS body guards. I have not seen the first volume, but the set is a re-release of a previously published book. One of the challenges of this book, is that it comes from a French publishing house, so the text, captions, etc. are all in French. I have a rudimentary reading knowledge of French, so I can get the gist of the text, but probably not full comprehension.

The book is stuffed with photographs of the Division from 1943 through 1945. Many of have been published, others have not. There are also operational maps, side bars on the changing organization of the division, and many photographs of the personalities involved in operations. One note on the photographs, while there are many, the publisher chose, it appears, to put a sepia tone around many of them, obscuring details. Many of the maps seem to be contemporary to the time period as well as maps made for the book. If you are not accustomed to reading these maps, they may or may not be helpful. In the rear of the book is an appendix that highlights contemporary documents and other ephemera.

In a book like this, the author uses the time honored technique of a chronological time line to tell the story of this division. Judging from what I could find, the first volume of the set concentrates on the founding of the SS body guard and its gradual growth as it participated in the campaigns in the west, and the reduction of Yugoslavia. On the eve of Barbarossa, Heinrich Himmler ordered the unit to be expanded into a division. I believe the first edition ends with its participation on the eastern front from the opening of the invasion of the USSR, through the end of 1942 and operations around Kharkov. The second edition begins with operations around Kharkov and continues from that point until the end of the war.

Volume 2 spends a good portion of its narrative on the eastern front, beginning with the campaign around Kharkov that has started in 1942 and continued into the New Year. After a vicious but victorious campaign the division was withdrawn from the front for refitting and reorganization before being tasked for the Kursk offensive in the summer of 1943. During the Kursk offensive, the division, part of the SS Panzer Corps was relatively successful in meeting their objectives, but as we know, the offensive stalled against strong Soviet defenses. Given their experience and elan, they were needed in other locations. When Mussolini's regime fell apart in 1943 the division was sent south to disarm Italian troops.

The division was then sent to the west and, once again, it fought against the western Allies in response to the Normandy landings and, of course, the Ardennes Offensive, otherwise known as the Battle of the Bulge. As a unit of the SS, units of the division were implicated in the Malmedy Massacre of American troops. As the war began to wind down, the division was sent east again and took part in attacks in Hungry. As the Reich fell apart, parts of the division took part in the battle of Berlin and others surrendered in Vienna.

I have an extensive library, including works in French and German. While my language skills are by no means excellent, I know enough to be dangerous. Even if you can't extract the information in the book completely, the photographs and graphics of worth the price of the book. .My thanks to IPMS and Heimdal Publishing for giving me the opportunity to review this book.

Rommel’s Mammoth DAK AEC Armored Command Vehicle

Mon, 03/15/2021 - 02:00
Product Image Review Author:  Chris Martin AFV Club


Following the release of the AEC Armoured Command Vehicle Dorchester ACV, AFV Club has "converted" the model to those captured by the German's in North Africa in 1941.  My guess is this is essentially the same kit, but with the addition of resin German radios and different decals.  This thought is supported by the fact that the sprue for the exterior tools also has British radios and weapons on it. 

The model is extremely well detailed, but requires an extra effort when handling due to scale thin parts that are easily broken.  The parts layout and build sequence is simple and straight forward.

Background  (Excerpted from the AFV Club description.)

Before the outbreak of WWII, the British Army was planning a wheeled armored vehicle to provide the armored troop commander and staff an appropriate command post.

Associated Equipment Company (AEC), best known for their London double deck buses, was awarded a contract in April 1941 to produce a Matador 4x4 artillery tractor and an armored command vehicle with a Matador 4x4 chassis.  By 1941, AEC devoted itself exclusively to military needs.  The armored command vehicle entered mass production in XXX 1941.  With armor up to 12 mm thick and a weight of 12.2 tons, the vehicle was able to accommodate 7 to 8 personnel.  Both High Power and Low Power versions were built.  The "Power" refers to the signal strength of the radio equipment.  A total of 415 were produced.  Due to the very comfortable ride and interior the troops nicknamed the vehicle Dorchester after the luxury hotel in London.

On the night of April 6, 1941 the command vehicles of the Western Desert Force became lost in the darkness.  Things got even worse when they bumped into a Recce Unit of the German Deutsches Afrika Korps (DAK).  As a result three of the AEC command vehicles, in good condition, became trophies of the commander of the DAK. Lieutenant General Erwin Rommel.  The vehicles were nicknamed "Mammut" (Mammoth) by the Germans because of their tall height.  Two of them were to be employed by Rommel as headquarter units.  They were modified with German diesel engines and named "Max" and "Mortiz" after characters in a German children's story.  The third vehicle went to 5 Leichte Division.  All three vehicles served with the DAK throughout the North Africa Campaign.  In May 1943 the vehicles were found deserted in Cap Bon, in the northeast corner of Tunisia.

What's in the Box

12 sprues of tan plastic (3 of them duplicates)

1 sprue of clear plastic 

1 bag with nine well detailed resin radios 

1 bag with rubber four tires 

1 sheet of photo-etch 

1 sheet of decals, with markings for all three vehicles 

1 color paper sheet with British tactical maps. 

1 sheet of a thick tissue paper to represent the extendable canvas tarp.

1 large instruction booklet, totaling 16 pages with 22 steps.

The Instructions

The instructions come in a fully illustrated 8.5x11 booklet.  The images are sharp and show the assembly as an exploded view from one side. The first two pages of the instruction booklet have a brief history of the AEC "Dorchester" and the three captured vehicles, in English and Taiwanese.  The second page also has a construction illustration key, method for applying decals, and a color list.  Colors are provided in a matrix for: Gunze Sangyo Hobby Color, Mr. Color and Mr. Color Spray; Humbrol, Revell, and Lifecolor (very handy if you don't happen to have Gunze Sangyo paints).  The multiple paint call-outs also makes it easy to use any of the online paint conversion tables to cross reference other manufacturers (such as Tamiya or Model Master).

Page three of the instructions has some well drawn sketches of Low Power and High Power command vehicles as well as a sketch of the interior identifying some of the interior components, and sketches of the vehicle in use by the Afrika Korps.

Page 14 is the parts map and order form for broken or missing parts.  Pages 15 and 16 are color five view (left side, right side, front, rear, and top) drawings of the three German vehicles for decal placement and painting.

Assembly sequence starts with the well detailed chassis (only the lower part of the engine is provided) (Steps 1 through 5).  Steps 6 through 12 cover the detailed interior and main body (more on this later).  The drivers station and vehicle front are covered in steps 13 through 16.  Step 17 brings the front and body together.  Steps 18 and 19 complete the drivers interior and exterior.  Steps 20 through 22 cover exterior detail.  Step 23 is construction of the roof, while step 24 is for the three types of jerry cans provided.  Finally step 25 (misprinted as 22) mates the roof with the body and includes some delicate exterior detail, such as mirrors, antennas, and the photo-etch (PE) stowage racks.

A quick scan of the instructions and two big issues jump out.  One is the lack of any color call-outs for the entire frame.  The only color is gleaned from the five view drawings in the back that show the frame the same "tan" color as the rest if the vehicle.  Not sure how accurate this is, as I can't imagine spending time to spray paint the underside of a vehicle, but I couldn't find any online images to counter it.  Online images from other builders show the frame as flat black.  I went with the main tan body color and only painted the exhaust pipe rust.  The other issue is attaching the completed frame to the completed body.  The wheels (and assumed frame to which they are attached) simply appear in the final step.  I discuss this more later in the text.

Things to consider before starting

This kit has excellent detail and many scale thin parts.  Translation, in later stages of the build, handle the vehicle as little as possible, and when handling it use extreme caution.  (I broke most every thin part in the kit at least once.)  Parts on sprues A and E have extremely fine attachment points so be careful that parts don't release themselves.   One general comment, there are LOTS of identical parts that are handed, so it is very important to remove only one part at a time to avoid using the wrong part.  The parts do fit well, are well-engineered, and with a little care and patience, will build into a great model.

All three doors can be modeled open or closed (even though they are only shown open), as can the armored windshield covers.  Although the extended canvas tarp is shown opened on the left side of the vehicle the left and right parts are interchangeable so the open tarp can be placed on the right side if that is one's preference.

One major drawback is that once the roof goes on in step 25 (22) the detail you worked so hard on in steps 7 through 19 all disappears.  Even with the three doors and windshield guards open.  To counter this I suggest attaching the PE roof luggage rack only to the sides.  Then one can, carefully, slide the roof off the rear to expose the comprehensive interior.


I start all my builds by scrubbing the sprues with an old toothbrush in warm water and dish soap (Dawn) to remove any residual mold release residue.  Another thing to watch is that many parts attach to edges, so make sure that corners remain clean and square when removing mold seams.

Frame and suspension

Construction begins with the frame and suspension.  The frame is made up of two side rails connected by one front and two middle cross members, the fuel tank, a thin rod and the lower engine compartment.  As with many frame build-ups of this type I found it easiest to cement all the cross pieces to one frame side rail then align and glue the opposite frame side rail onto them.

The insets in step 2 have you assemble the left and right rear suspension arms (right side parts A45, A20 and I20, left side parts A45, A19, and I 22) as a subassembly then attach that to the frame.  I found it easier to attach I20/I22 to the frame and then attach the A45-A20/A19 bell to them.  NOTE: Parts I20/I22 should angle up towards the rear so the end is about 3/16-inch above the frame.  This is important as later parts attach to the free ends.  It is not clear from the instructions, but the bolt head detail on parts A42 (Step 2) and A41 (Step 3) point out and the single pin inserts into the frame side rail. 

Step 2 is the first place not having a step for attaching the completed frame to the completed body requires forethought.  Rather than guessing where parts C10 attach to the cross members, I attached them to the underside of the body in step 6.  When you look at the body underside it's not hard to find which holes these parts go in (only one set has the correct spacing for the pins on C10.

In step 3 parts A23 and A24 have a slight angle on the bottom of the bottom "plate," glue the part parallel to the frame rail.  I'm not sure what the leaf spring insets are trying to show as the leaf spring center is identical on both sides.  The four leaf springs (I17, 18, 23, and 24) have sink marks and mold seams that are difficult to clean up because of the spring layers.  It is not clear from the instruction drawing, but parts E26 and I45 go on top of the frame rails and form a "box" on the frame front.

WARNING: The front leaf springs (I17 and I18) are "handed" AND "ended".  I found that by building most of the front axle from Step 4 I could use it to determine the front and back of the leaf springs.  The U-bolts on the axle don't align with their bottom portions on the leaf spring if incorrect.  (This might be what the inset drawings are trying to show.  Maybe(?))

Part I44 is an exhaust bracket.  It is scale thin and I broke it several times.  Where I to do this build again I would wait and attach it directly to the exhaust pipe after that is painted/finished and then glue it to the frame.

In step 4 the rear drive shaft (I33) is angled.  To get the correct alignment I first installed the transfer assembly (I3/I4, et. al.), then, while holding I33 lose between them, cemented the rear axle/ differential (I10 etc.).  Once the glue setup on the center and rear differentials, I rotated part I33 until the angle aligned then touched the attachments with liquid cement to hold it in place.

The inset shows part A1.  These are bolt heads molded onto the "A" sprue that must be "scrapped off" to be attached.  (Not an easy task. I lost two before getting a third to stay on my knife blade long enough to place it in a drop of cement already on part I10.)  Because the instructions show only a left side view the attachment points for parts I53, I5 and I7 are really vague.

The attachment point of the air brake cylinders (parts I52/A25/A51 and I51/A25/A52) to the front axle is really vague.  Upon careful examination there are small pins on parts I51/I52 that fit into equally tiny holes in part A25.  The whole brake cylinder assembly angles above the axle (pointing down in the instruction view).  For the front differential and drive shaft, I found it easier to glue the upper differential (I25/I29) together first and attach it to the other half on the front axle, let the glue dry, then insert the drive shaft (I32) between the front differential and transfer case.  The exhaust pipe is just odd.  The engine end angles into the frame instead of into the hole in the lower engine, and the exhaust end points inward instead of outward.  I painted and weathered it with rust tones and left it off until after the frame was painted.  I then installed it with the exhaust end pointing out and down.

Parts I41 and I 42 have clips on the bottom of the flat arms that attach to parts I20/I22, from Step 2, respectively.  Since I20/I22 were installed in Step 2 if you didn't get the correct angle then it is really difficult to adjust them so that I41/I42 clip on them and still align level with the inner brake disc.

Part E16's placement is also difficult to work out.  And it isn't helped by the fact that the inset is with the frame right-side up.  It fits between and attaches to Parts I38/I39 from Step 3.  The free end of Parts E42 and E43 actually do remain loose.

I left the rubber tires off until after painting.  If you choose to do this, only push fit the wheel caps (A46 [front] and A40 [rear]) so the wheel assembly can be removed later and the tires pressed on.

That completes the chassis.

One other item of note, in Step 4 if you don't cement the inner wheel bearings (Parts A38/A39) to their respective axle ends the direction of the front wheels can be changed from just straight.  I found a build online that went even further and drilled out the holes in part I5, and replaced the attachment point on the axle to make the front axle steerable.  The only disadvantage to a fully steerable front end is that the steering linkage (Parts I40/I53/I54) cannot be attached to the axle.

The Command Center Interior and Drivers' Compartment

The body interior and drivers' compartment are extremely well detailed.  AFV Club includes excellent resin radios and field phone for use in the body.  The down side is it will all pretty much disappear if the roof is permanently attached (more on that later).

In Step 6 it shows x4 batteries, but there are only 2 parts F12.  Parts F13 are the other two battery tops.  The drawing of the PE battery holder suggests that the end of the bottom pieces (G9 and G11) extend past the edge of the frame.  I found the braces were too short and could only be extend beyond the frame on one side.  I chose the side facing out and the front.

Parts D19/D21 in Step 6 and E35/D18 in Step 7 are covers for the entry stairs.  If you are going to use the completed vehicle in a diorama then leave these off until the end so they can be glued in an open position.  (Note:  To show either D18/D19 open one will have to shave off the hinges so the cover sits flat against the front wall.)  Step 6 is also where I cemented Parts C10 to the bottom of the body.  These parts fit between the rails.  It is easy to determine where they go as only one set of holes line up with the pins on C10.

In Step 7 the upper connection arrow for part C21 is incorrect.  The part should be angled with the tabs on the lower left interlocked so the slot on the upper left fits over the internal wall brace.  The same applies for part C22 on the left-hand side in Step 10.

At this stage I deviated from the instructions attaching the small interior details, except clear part H9, including the roof braces (parts C19).  The actual position of these is vague.  It took me a couple of tries before I settled on the small (tiny) angles attach to the interior wall, while the brace itself attached to the center of the wall braces.  The break in angle of the brace must be flush with the top of the wall.  Too short and the braces don't reach the roof. Too high and the roof doesn't sit flush to the side walls.  I then attached the right side wall to the floor.  I also attached both parts of the rear wall (C6 and D7 (shown in Step 12).  I built the cabinet as shown, but left it loose to paint separately.  I also constructed the seat bottoms (parts K3/K6/K8, Step 9) and attached them to the floor.  I then painted and weather the interior of the right side wall, and floor.  I painted and weathered the right-hand cabinets before attaching them to the right-hand wall.

Take extra care when attaching the side walls and rear to make sure everything is plumb and square.  One way to ensure this is to start gluing the side wall to the floor at the door.  The steps in the floor fit between the jams on the side wall.  This will also ensure that the rear of the side wall doesn't extend too far past the rear of the floor and interfere with the rear wall.

Steps 8 and 10 show the side wall ahead of the doors (extending past the floor front) as being painted silver, maybe to represent natural metal.  I was unable to find any reference photos that indicated these walls were natural metal.  Most online builds show these walls painted the same Dark Sea Gray as the rest of the wall, but I chose to paint them the same Khaki Green as the drivers' compartment.

Having painted and weathered the interior walls and floor I attached the table, swivel chair seats, and radios as shown in the instructions.  The resin radios are incredibly detailed and careful painting really makes the details pop.  One minor drawback is with such exquisite radios it would have been nice to have a head set and microphone to go with them.  I scratch built a set of headphones and wired them to one of the radios.  I also wired the field phone handset to the phone box.  I had difficulty painting the resin radios as paint didn't want to stick even after multiple soapy warm water scrubs and primer.

In Step 10 I added the rear flap C22, small handles (E37 and E41), and roof braces (C19) to the left-side wall before painting and weathering.  See above for notes on attaching the roof braces (C19).  I attached the wall mounted seat after painting and weathering the interior wall.  As I did above I built the left-side cabinets and painted and weathered them separately.  I also painted and weathered the pull-out shelf (L14) separately from the cabinets and installed it before attaching the whole set to the floor and left-side wall.  Use the same approach as described above for the right wall to attach the left wall.

The drivers' compartment is built-up over three steps (13 thru 15).  Part B7 had a large ring of flash around it, so be careful when removing it from the sprue.  Step 14 shows an option of hand brake levers (B16 or B17).  But there are location slots for both levers in the floor (part E1).  An online search found only one image of the chassis and it showed two levers.  Also, most of the online builds used both levers, so I also went with both.  Make sure both levers are angled forward or else they interfere with the driver's seat.  Part B16 is also "kinked" to the right when installed properly.  I waited to install the black steering wheel (part B4) and red brown seat cushion (part B2) until after painting the khaki green interior color.  In step 15 the drivers' side of the wall is called out as being painted silver.  I went with the khaki green like on the side walls.  After painting both sides of the wall I installed the pre-painted smaller parts.

The engine compartment goes together easily.  The only item of note is the inset to remove the hinges if you're building Max or Mortiz. 

Completing the Body and Front Armor

The back drivers' compartment wall sits ON TOP of the floor.  Make sure the hinges for the stair covers are aligned.  Follow Step 18 and 19 and attach the front armor plate (part E2) BEFORE adding the windshield boxes.  I didn't and the plate bowed and required filling. 

Again I painted all the parts khaki green instead of the called out silver.

The levers for the armored windshield covers (parts E34/E45 and E44/E49) are extremely thin, fragile, and finicky.  I had luck by gluing the levers (E34/E45 and E49/E44) together first, then slid the front (Parts E34 and E49) through the slot in the front plate, and then glued the lever handle (parts E44 and E45) to the side walls.  While the glue was still soft I held the armor covers (E10 and E11) in place and adjusted the lever assemblies until they fit into the slots on the armor covers.   As an aside I built both sides with the covers up, but they can be built with both closed, or as shown in the instructions with one open and one closed.

In Step 19 it is easier to pre-paint the framing on clear parts H1 and H2 before installing the wipers and wiper motors (which should also be pre-painted).

Exterior Detail

CAUTIONARY NOTE:  Use extreme care when handling the model from this point on!!

Steps 20 through 22 add details to the exterior.  Parts D15 and D17 are interchangeable so the awning can be built extended on either the left (as instructed) or right side.  The lower awning brackets and pins (Parts C24 and C20) are minute at best, and, as a result, extremely fragile.  I wasn't as careful as I should have been and smashed/lost all the lower awning brackets (C24).

CAUTIONARY NOTE:  I recommend NOT attaching the awing frame until after painting the vehicle!!

One can construct the awning frame in step 20. But DO NOT ATTACH until after painting the vehicle.  The frame parts are scale thin, and require excessive caution when handling, (I broke all of them at least once, and had the ends break-off of parts C12).  PE part G5 can be difficult to install and have the correct angle on the awning brace (part C12).  There are tiny pins on both ends of the awning brace (part C12).  Using great care one can twist C12 into place between the brackets (C24) so the pins fit into the holes in C24 and the part will move freely.  Next I bent part G5 into an open U-shape.  Then, with part C12 locked into the brackets (C24) and held at the correct angle/location I superglued one side of the U to the very small pin on one side of C12.  I then squeezed the U closed so that the hole in the unglued side fit over the pin on C12.  I then applied superglue this side.

Step 20 also shows the interior side of the open door painted a Radome/Flat white mix.  This struck me as odd as it would make the doors stand out against the dark green camouflage to come.  I painted the door interiors the same dark sea gray as the command center interior.  The PE door handles (parts G16 and G17) are different lengths.  The outside handles (G17) are the longer ones.

Step 22 shows the right side and rear doors being attached closed.  This is fine if you don't mind never seeing all the work you put into building/painting, and weathering the command center interior.  I recommend gluing them open or, as I did, attach them with a couple of dots Elmer's white glue, just enough that they stay on, but can still be removed to show off the inside.

Part D29 (Step 22) is another extremely thin and fragile part (mine broke just clipping it from the sprue), so handle with care.


The roof hatches can be modeled open or closed.  Again, closed is fine if you don't mind not seeing the interior.  I left mine loose.  Although not shown in the instructions there are three clear windows that will fit into the inner roof hatch openings (L9, L10, and K2).  These may just be left over from the Dorchester kit, but I didn't use them.

Final Assembly

Step 24 builds the jerry cans.  Although it shows each side and filler as options there are actually only parts to build two of each model with two of each filler.

Step 25 (22) is the final assembly.  As noted at the start of this review.  This is the step where the frame suddenly appears under the body.  It was straight forward to attach the two back cross members to parts C10 that were previously attached to the floor.  What was more difficult was determining how (or if) the front of the frame attached to the body.  The best I worked out was the engine side mounts (parts I49/I50) attach to the bottom of the drivers' compartment just behind the front wheel well.

Once more, as I stated at the start of this review, I glued the PE luggage rails (G18/G19) to the sides only.  This way one can remove the roof by C...A...R...E...F...U...L...L...Y sliding the roof of the back of the body.  Use extreme care, remembering that there are thin roof supports attached to the interior braces.

At this point it is best to paint the exterior camouflage then attach the awning and "canvas" (tissue paper) tarp awning.  Though not shown in the instructions, there is a selection of tools (along with a selection of British firearms and radios) on sprue (outline) E.   I painted them and slid them under the PE braces on the rear wall as shown on the rear color views.

Painting and Finish

The camouflage on all three vehicle uses the same three color scheme RLM71 Dark Green, FS26440 Gray, and a 2-to-1 mix of Radome and flat white.  These are applied in broad angled swaths with hard edges.  "Max" has the hood and front armor plate painted RLM79 Sandy Brown, with hard edged "squiggles" in RLM71 Dark Green.  I used an online paint conversion chart to find which of the paints I owned matched with the paints called out.  I am terrible at mixing colors so opted for straight FS33613 Radome Tan (MMP-070) from Mission Models as a replacement for the Radome/flat white mix.  At least to my eyes the straight Mission Models paint appeared slightly lighter than the straight Mr. Color paint.

(Note:  I thin all acrylic paints 50/50 with Tamiya Acrylic Thinner.  I mix the paint in the color cup with a round toothpick stuck in the end to prevent the paint mix from pouring out.  I fill and empty a disposable pipette until mixed.  Then attach the color cup on my Aztec 401 airbrush, Black  tip (0.40 High flow acrylic), set at 20 lbs. pressure.)

Primer and Base Coat:  All the interior walls, floor, cabinets, fixtures and drivers compartment bits-and-pieces were primed with Krylon ColorMaxx Gray Primer.

The frame and body exterior were primed with Krylon ColorMaxx Flat Black Paint+Primer.  Both of these products spray on "fire-hose thick" but dry down to a tight coat that shows all the detail (and any flaws).  Let the primer coats dry and de-gas at least overnight (though a full 24-hours is better).

Interior, Tools, and other Details:  After priming with Krylon Gray Primer the interior wooden parts (floor (Part C1), and assembled left and right hand cabinets) were painted Tamiya Dark Yellow from a spray can (TS-3).  After drying I applied an uneven, light coating of Burnt Umber oil paint.  Allow this to dry for 15 to minutes then wipe off in the direction of the wood grain.  You don't want to wipe it off completely, just enough to make streaks to simulate wood grain.  Allow the oil paints to dry for a couple of days between applications.  I repeat the same coat-streaking wipe-dry process with Burnt Sienna and finally Yellow Ochre oil paints.  I used this same technique on the table and pull-out shelf, but these were base coated with Model Master Acryl Wood (no. 4673).

After the last oil coat I let the model dry for about a week, you want the oils well set before moving to the next step, which is:  Apply a coat of hairspray as a chipping medium and allow it to dry (about five to ten minutes).  Any brand will do, I use TRESemme' Extra Hold.  Over the hairspray I apply the main interior color, Tamiya Dark Sea Grey (XF-54) using my airbrush.  Give this coat about 15 to 20-minutes to dry (so it is dry-to-the-touch).  Once dry, use an old stiff bristle paint brush dipped in water to gently scrub the floor and cabinets.  The water will activate the hairspray so as you scrub the grey paint will begin to loosen creating chips.  Be careful not to scrub to hard or use too much water as this may remove too much paint.  I made heavier wear in areas that would get heavier use, such as around the swivel chairs and edges of cabinet doors.  The images show views of the painted and weathered command compartment.

When spraying the floor and cabinets mix enough grey to spray the interior of the side walls and the back of the driver's compartment wall.  The other interior components swivel seats, radios, lamp, table, etc., were painted per the instruction call-outs.  I substituted the following colors for those listed in the instructions:  Tamiya XF-2 Flat White, XF-49 Khaki, XF-61 Dark Green, XF-63 German Grey, XF-64 Red Brown, XF-85 Rubber Black, Lifecolor LC11 Bright Green, and Model Master Acryl Brass (no. 4872) and Wood (no. 4673).  For the interior parts that are silver I used Model Master Acryl Steel (no. 4979) as my jar is a medium silver color.  For the radio silver I wanted a brighter color so I used Mission Models Aluminum (MMM-003).

The driver's compartment and inside of the hood were airbrushed Mr. Color H80/C54 Khaki Green.

Camouflage Coats:  After the primer coat and masking the front windows, the roof, lower sides, hood front, and upper right front were sprayed with Mission Models Radome, allowing some of what's underneath to show through along the edges and in recesses.  Let this dry for a good 24-hours.  (Note:  Best to work from light to dark colors.)

I then masked the Radome color on the sides and rear for the gray.  (The color call out is for FS26440, but FS36440 [flat gull gray] is essentially the same color [and much easier to find].)  I used Model Master enamel flat gull gray (No. 1730) thinned with Testors airbrush thinner, and sprayed at 20-psi.  This coat is then left to dry for 24-hours.

Leaving the Radome areas masked I mask off the flat gull gray areas.  I also mask the Radome on the front and roof.  After masking I applied Tamiya XF-61 Dark Green, and let this coat dry for 24-hours.  After drying I masked the front and sprayed Model Master Enamel Leather for the sandy Brown color.  I then removed all the masks and made any touch-ups that were needed.

Once dry I applied a coat of Model Master Gloss Clear Lacquer from a spray can in preparation for decaling.

Decals:  I used the Red and Blue MicroSol/MicroSet products to apply the decals without any problems.  Once dry, I gave the entire vehicle a good coat of Model Master Gloss Flat Lacquer to seal the decals and prepare the surfaces for weathering.

Finishing Up:  

I haven't weathered the exterior yet, but do plan to do so at some point.

After having completed painting and the majority of handling the model I would suggest that now would be a safe time to attach the canopy frame and tarp.  Use extra care as the parts are scale thin and easily broken.  I broke all the frame parts at least once and a couple broke just removing them from the sprue.


This is only my second AFV Club build.  I find that the model is well detailed, but the scale thin parts take extra effort in handling, both when removing them from the sprue and after attachment to the model.  

As stated earlier my biggest complaint is the lack of a step for attaching the frame to the body.  In attempting the attachment in Step 25 (22) the front wheel wells interfered with my efforts to get the frame in.  Once I got parts I49/I50 past the interference there wasn't a way to glue them on, so the front of my frame is loose, but held in place because the brackets (parts I49/I50) won't drop out.

My second complaint isn't as major as the previous one.  By showing only views from the left front side in each step the attachment of parts to the back or right side of an assembly or part is vague in some steps.  Not a big deal, but it makes for some creative placement.

I recommend this kit for intermediate modelers.  Anyone with other AFV Club builds under-their-belt should not have any troubles this kit.  The scale thin parts require care when removing them from the sprue and especially once attached to the model.   All things considered, the build went relatively smoothly and the result is worth the effort.  The completed model is certainly an interesting project.

I would like to thank AFV Club for providing this kit for review, and to IPMS USA for giving me the opportunity to build it.

Panzer III - German Army Light Tank: Operation Barbarossa 1941

Mon, 03/15/2021 - 00:49
Product Image Review Author:  Frank Landrus Pen & Sword

The origin of Pen and Sword Books is closely linked with its sister company, the Barnsley Chronicle; one of the UK's oldest provincial newspapers - established in 1858 - and one of the few weeklies still in private ownership.  The first books published by the company were in response to public demand following a series of articles published in the newspaper. Dark Peak Aircraft Wrecks told the story of crash sites in the Dark Peak area of the Peak District National Park, and a further weekly feature on the history of two Kitchener battalions, known as the Barnsley Pals, aroused a thirst for more information. Following on from the success of Dark Peak Wrecks and Barnsley Pals books, a number of local history paperbacks were produced along with a series of battlefield guide books. Battleground Europe proved immediately successful and as more and more titles were produced the company made the decision to launch a book publishing arm of the group.  The company acquired the Leo Cooper military history imprint and "Pen and Sword" was born. Leo Cooper, the husband of the famous novelist Jilly, had established a strong reputation for publishing military history titles and had some famous books in his list. With the Leo Cooper imprint and its backlist, Pen and Sword became established as one of the UK's leading military history publishers.  With over 350 books published every year, Pen and Sword has established itself as a specialist book publisher.

Dennis Oliver has authored twenty books in the Tank Craft series for Pen & Sword as well as more than nine additional titles, all Second World War armored vehicles.

Pen and Sword Books' 27th entry in this Tank Craft series is a square back soft cover includes 64 gloss paper pages.  The cover features Sungjun Jang's 1/35 Panzer III Ausf H submersible tank (more photos are found on page 36) on top.  The color side profile of the Panzer III Ausf G (also found on Page 19) is on the bottom.  The three black and white photographs in the center are of Panzer IIIs in the early stage of Operation Barbarossa, a Panzer III Ausf J, and a submersible Panzer III preparing to enter a stream.  The rear cover (top to bottom) features a black and white photograph of a Panzer III Ausf J in late 1941; A Dragon 1/35 Panzer III Ausf H fitted with E.T. Model photoetch; a color photograph of a Panzer III Ausf H fording a river in a training exercise; and a color side profile of a Panzer III Ausf H (also found on page 26).  I counted 98 color pictures and 59 black and white photographs. There are also 24 color illustrations, primarily side profiles, and plenty of supporting scrap views to highlight markings.

The Tank Craft series is targeted at armor builders providing period development and service photographs along with color side profiles of selected tanks in the monograph.  This monograph focuses on the German Panzer III during Operation Barbarossa of 1941.  Dennis Oliver kicks it off with a brief overview of the Panzer III that was the backbone of the German tank divisions early in World War II.  Each Panzer unit is addressed utilizing Panzer IIIs is described from its unit formation to the end of 1941.  The color profiles are well captioned and many of them accompany an actual photograph of the profile subject.  Other profiles include additional color scrap illustrations detailing the Panzer III markings.  Six excellent models, all in color, show off what can be done with the current models available.  A short description of all current Panzer III models and detail accessories follows next.  The final chapter addresses each version of the Panzer II and includes detail photographs of the changes of all the major variants.  The sections include:


The Eastern Front 1941

Eastern Europe Map - Late 1939

Timeline: 21-June-1941 to 2-December-1941

German Panzer Units in the East, June 1941

The Panzer III Units

Panzer-Regiment, 1941


2.Panzer-Division [Page 14]












            Panzer-Regiment 203

            Panzer-Abteilung (F1) 100

Panzer-Abteilung (F1) 101

Panzer-Abteilung zbV 40

Camouflage & Markings [Page 24]

Model Showcase

        Tamiya 1/35 Pzkpfw III Ausf G by Mike Tipping

Tamiya 1/35 Pzkpfw III Ausf J by Masahiro Doi

Tamiya 1/48 Pzkpfw III Ausf J by Masahiro Doi

Dragon 1/35 Pzkpfw III Ausf H Tauchpanzer by Sungjun Jang [Page 38]

Dragon 1/35 Pzkpfw III Ausf F by Sungjun Jang

Bronco 1/35 Pzkpfw III Ausf A by Sungjun Jang

Modelling Products


Tamiya Inc.

Dragon Models Ltd

Brach Model


Attack Hobby Kits

First To Fight

Milicast Models

Voyager Model


RB Model

Eduard Model Accessories

E.T. Model

Panzer Art

Black Dog

Aftermarket Tracks [Page 48]

Technical Details and Modifications

Pzkpfw III Ausf A

Pzkpfw III Ausf B

Pzkpfw III Ausf C

Pzkpfw III Ausf D

Pzkpfw III Ausf E

Pzkpfw III Ausf F

Pzkpfw III Ausf G [Page 61]

The Umbewaffnung Programme

Pzkpfw III Ausf H

Pzkpfw III Ausf J

Tauchpanzer III

Product Contact List


I am currently finishing up a Miniart Panzer III Ausf B and have started up a second Ausf B.  Although this variant is not a focus of this tome. I found it quite interesting to see the detail in photographs and the description of changes as the Panzer III evolved to its final form (see Page 61 for an example).  

Dennis Oliver has done many volumes in the Pen & Sword's Tank Craft series and has more of these monographs on the way.  I was able to read this easily over three nights.  The modeler is well served as there is a good ratio of action and detail photographs of the Panzer III.  If you are looking to build any of the Panzer IIIs, especially the late models, this is a handy reference book.  My thanks to Pen & Sword Books Ltd., Casemate Publishing, and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!

Pacific Profiles Vol.1 Japanese Army Fighters New Guinea & the Solomons 1942-1944

Sun, 03/14/2021 - 23:41
Product Image Review Author:  Hub Plott Avonmore Books

The author spent his early years in the 1960s in New Guinea becoming fascinated with the many WWII aircraft wreck in the area. The book documents as accurately as possible the colors and markings of the various units in and around the Solomons and New Guinea in 1942-44. The book is broken down into 16 chapters along with an introduction, postscript, sources and acknowledgements, and index of names.

Each Sentai covered has its own chapter. Those discussed are the 1st Hiko Sentai, 11th Hiko Sentai, 13th Sentai, 24th Hiko Sentai, 33rd Hiko Sentai, 59th Hiko Sentai, 63rd Hiko Sentai, 68th Hiko Sentai, 77th Hiko Sentai, 78th Hiko Sentai and the 248th Hiko Sentai followed by a chapter on captured and restored aircraft during the war.

Each chapter has a brief history of the unit and aircraft used followed by a section describing the markings and colors used by the unit. The book is profusely illustrated with color profiles of each unit covered offering lots of inspiration and choices for the modeler, even captured test aircraft. Along with the many B&W photos are a few rare wartime and shortly post war color photos.

The book is well written and easy and enjoyable to read. The author is very knowledgeable on the subject and able to convey that knowledge to his readers. I can strongly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the IJAAF, the war in the South Pacific and aviation history and as previously stated the modeler will find lots of inspiration and colorful schemes to build!

  My thanks to Casemate for the review copy and my thanks to IPMS/USA for the review opportunity

Japan Air Self Defense Force T-1A Trainer

Sun, 03/14/2021 - 16:12
Product Image Review Author:  Damon Blair Platz

The Fuji T-1A was the first Japanese-designed aircraft produced after World War II. Designed by Fuji Heavy Industries and powered by a Bristol Siddeley Orpheus turbojet engine, the prototype took to the air for the first time on January 1, 1958. 46 T-1As were built before the T-1B superseded it on the assembly line. They served as training aircraft until they were retired, with the final flight occurring on March 3, 2006.

This finely molded kit comes with 62 parts on three sprues, and two clear parts on a separate sprue. All the panel lines are engraved, and the fit is excellent. The kit comes with a photoetched (PE) painted fret for detailing the cockpit and the landing gear. While the instructions are in Japanese with only a descriptive paragraph in English, they are easy to follow.

Assembly began with the cockpit. There are numerous PE parts for detailing the interior. There are various places where the plastic parts have to be modified by removing details. The hardest one for me was removing the pedals from the cockpit tub, due to limited space. The ejection seats (Parts #B35) have 7 PE parts each. My recommendation for the order of assembly of these is #22, #19, #3, #18, #17, #25.

I installed several fishing weights into the nose to keep the model from sitting on its tail. There is some space on either side of the intake trunk in the nose, and some space on either side of the cockpit tub. The total weight I added comes to about 5 grams.

Numerous PE parts replace pieces of the landing gear and landing gear doors. I noted that the nose landing gear, part #B23, becomes extremely fragile at the piston above the wheel after having the scissors cut off. I reinforced that part of my nose landing gear with superglue.

There is one mistake on the instructions. In Step 4, where it shows the center divider for the main landing gear wheel wells, they call for Part #B6. In actuality, the part is #B9 on the sprue. The speed brake is replaced with a PE part that is a bit complex to assemble.

There is an option to have external tanks installed. Care needs to be taken to ensure the correct tank is glued to the correct wing, as the tanks are "handed", and the sway braces fit to the outboard of the tanks. One other minor problem is the canopy extension ram, which the instructions do not clearly show where the ram fits on the canopy. I glued mine too far open, but that mistake allows you to see the cockpit much more clearly.

Decals are extensive on this model and offer a total of four options. All of the red and orange that is seen on my model in the pictures are decals. I worked from the nose to the tail and then the wings while decaling the model, going from the big decals to the finer detail decals. While there are dozens of small markings on the model, quite a few of them are grouped into single decals for application. The decals laid down snugly and responded well to decal setting solution. I spent a total of about 8 hours on the decals, spread out over the space of three days.

I spent a total of approximately 20 hours on this model. Both the PE parts and the decals took the majority of time.

My sincere thanks go out to Platz for providing my review sample.

Gloster Gladiator Mk. 1 with British Pilots in Tropical Uniform

Sun, 03/14/2021 - 14:59
Product Image Review Author:  Gino Dykstra ICM

Gloster's elegant Gladiator biplane was a staple of the British Air Force through the 1930's and soldiered on through some of the tougher early campaigns of the Second World War in such places as Egypt, Libya and the Maltese Islands. Battling against often superior and newer opponents, it nonetheless distinguished itself before itself being replaced by newer, faster, and more heavily armed aircraft. It also made its presence known in a number of foreign services including Finland, Greece and the Netherlands.

ICM has released a number of variants of the Gladiator, including both Mk. I and Mk. II versions as well as the Sea Gladiator with arresting hook. All of these have proven to be thoroughly enjoyable builds and really do a fine job of representing this noble little aircraft in 1/32nd scale. This combo set features the Mk. I only and does not include parts for either the Mk. II or Sea Gladiator.

There are only a couple of real caveats on the assembly process. First, be aware of the fragility of the mail landing gear. The inner hubcap attaches to the gear only one way, and if you inadvertently twist it (as I did) you'll sheer it right off. The simplest way to ensure a good fit is to attach the inner wheel hub to the landing gear during assembly and add the outer wheel and cover separately.

The other has nothing to do with the kit itself, and that's the rigging. This model, like a lot of biplanes, has its fair share of rigging. This is a real bugaboo for a number of modelers, and there are probably as many solutions to this as modelers. I took the coward's way and drilled through the wings so that I could tighten up the lines as easily as possible. Others may try to install turnbuckles and rig it in that fashion. Any way you look at it, this is the most time-consuming portion of the build and demands some patience. Done properly, though, it will make this kit really stand out in your collection.

In this double packaging you also get ICM's excellent pilots in tropical uniform. This set of three figures is a miniature vignette in and of themselves, as two pilots clarify some point of dispute with a ground officer. All three feature definite British facial features and the poses are natural and well done. Although the figures feature minimal equipment (as is appropriate) there are still some areas of caution, as the life vests and oxygen masks require a bit of care in proper assembly. The hoses for the masks definitely need a little gentle bending to make them look more natural.

If there is any disappointment for me with this combo release is that ICM has been quite conservative in their approach. They chose not to include either the Mk. II or Sea Gladiator parts (although these are really quite small changes) and didn't even upgrade the decals. Although the decals in the kit are really very good and lay exceptionally well, I would have liked to have seen more options. Revell and some other manufacturers were always quite clever by providing options in their combo kits that were unavailable any other way. The only real advantage in buying this set is a reduction in overall price. Otherwise, it offers nothing that can't be had buying these items separately. I've seen this in other ICM combo kits and I feel they're really missing out on an opportunity here.

That being said, these are still two terrific sets, and they look GREAT together. The Gladiator, as well as being the only current model in this scale, is exceptionally well detailed and very much looks the part. The figures feature ICM's typical attention to detail and the sculpting overall is first rate. You really can't go wrong with this set, and it makes a quick vignette right out of the box. Highly recommended.

My thanks to ICM, as always, for making models I've only dreamed of for years, and to IPMS/USA for a chance to play with them. Lovely! And as always, stay safe, everyone, and happy modeling!

F-86F-30 “Sabre”

Sun, 03/14/2021 - 08:51
Product Image Review Author:  Ben Morton Hobby Boss

Hobby Boss has released another large, 1/18th scale aircraft for your modeling enjoyment.  Along with their 1/18th Me262, FW 190, Harrier and Huey we now have the F-86 F-30 'Sabre' to grace our ceilings. (About the only place to display this behemoth.)

Some of you may be having flashbacks but these kits seem to resemble those that were once available from Merit International and before that 21st Century Toys. The markings in this kit are similar to those offered by Merit International, so I'm going with the inference that this Sabre kit may once have been marketed by someone else.

The kit does contain one hundred ninety plus parts on thirteen light gray plastic sprues plus fuselage There is, amongst that number, a small sprue of clear bits for the windshield/canopy and landing lights. Hobby Boss has thoughtfully included a counter weight for the non-tail dragging version of the Sabre and a 'cloth-like' material for the seat belts with plastic bits the buckles and such. There is a soft vinyl, multi-part pilot figure included that actually fits in the cockpit. There are color call-outs referenced in the assembly instructions for Mr. Hobby, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya and Humbrol paints. Alas, those color call outs are limited to the cockpit area. You'll need to check references for the color of the gun bays, wheel wells, etc., although some shade of chromatic green is a safe bet. There are some additional color references on the separate marking & painting guide. 

Construction begins with the forward gear well and cockpit. The supplied nose weight is attached to this assembly and both fit snugly into the forward section of the fuselage. It may be prudent to add some more weight to the nose to avoid the dreaded tail sitting stance common to tricycle landing models. A nicely detailed instrument panel is provided with decals for the instrument faces. The instrument bezels are supplied as a separate part which will definitely aid in painting. A throttle control lever and control column are provided as are sidewall details, these all being separate parts. Purist may wish to embellish this area as any additional details added here (or anywhere for that matter) will differently been seen and appreciated.  

The next few assembly steps are for the jet engine intake and exhaust trunks. Those trunks are molded in halves which are split horizontally. You will have a nasty seam to deal with but FOD covers for those trunks are thoughtfully provided with the model. So maybe not the entire seam will need to be dealt with and in the case of the exhaust pipe not at all as the FOD cover is flush with end of the exhaust trunk.


Fuselage detail is next with partial fifty-caliber guns and flexible vinyl ammo belts for both gun bays. The access doors for the gun bays and ammo bins have some nice molded detail and are pose-able. Dive brake detail is provided with a separate part and an actuator piston for the interior of those doors. The actuator piston 'folds' into a depression on the interior of the dive brake and the entire door can be positioned either opened or closed on the finished model. These doors (gear, ammo bay, dive brakes) all have ejector pin depressions that you may wish to remove with some light sanding. There is a small dimple just to the rear of the dive brake opening and main landing gear doors that facilitates opening the closed doors. Should you not wish to have workable features on your F- 86 some filling and sanding may be involved to remove that dimple (see image).

Some lovely canopy details (compass antenna, etc.) are molded into the part immediately behind the pilot. The canopy does slide open and closed. The Sabre was equipped with Bolton fusible conductors that were embedded into the canopy glazing. These devices were there to aid in the destruction of the canopy upon ejection and are missing from the kit. Another item that some may find wanting is the absence of degree markings that were used by the pilot to judge dive angle.  Some fix may seem necessary (printing your own decal) but in Hobby Boss's defense most other kit manufactures don't include these items either.  The clear parts seem to be modeled in clear polyvinyl. While this is a safer material than clear plastic it doesn't lend itself to a crystal, clear canopy. Some polishing compound (Novus ?) might remedy that situation and provide you with a clearer canopy. But the polyvinyl canopy does lend credence to my theory on the origin story of this kit.

The nose gear and rudder are next up in the assembly sequence, as are the control surfaces (flaps, rudder, stabilizers, etc.). The landing gear struts on this kit are somewhat simplified in design and lack a certain degree of molded detail. They are, after all, designed to be functional. Consequently, you may wish to add some bolt heads, brake lines and linkage to the landing gear struts if you wish to have a more realistic looking Sabre. Adding that detail shouldn't present much of a problem as the scale of this kit (1/18th) is going to assist in making that happen.  The tires are molded in a soft black vinyl, and while tread-less, do look the part. The tires get in-fixed between cool looking inner and outer hubs.

All of the large assemblies (fuselage and wings) are held together with small screws. Plastic bits are provided to plug the screw holes. However, you will need to supple your own screwdriver. Individual flaps and ailerons get sandwiched between the wing halves along with the main landing gear struts via more screws. The two wing assemblies are tied together and that entire unit gets attached to the fuselage with some more screws. (Don't fret, you should be out of screws by now.) Horizontal stabilizers, with their movable control surfaces, are added next which pretty much completes the construction part, except for the under-wing stores.

This 'Sabre' kit from Hobby Boss includes your choice of external tanks or Sidewinder missiles on launch rails. While the missiles are supposed to plug into the same holes as the external tanks you may want to set these aside for a Korean War aircraft. For one thing, the Sabre's of the Korean War didn't have the Sidewinder and second, the use of Sidewinder wasn't a tradeoff against the drop tanks. The Sidewinder missile rails were actually mounted inboard of the external fuel tanks. It should be noted that the anti-sway braces for the drop tank pylons are not provided but as it is intended that you can switch the drop tanks out for the missiles, anti-sway braces would just get in the way. Should you build this kit as a display model then the addition of a fuel vent and some guide vanes on the fins of the fuel tanks might be a consideration as those items were not included with items in the box.

The only remaining assembly step is to add the pitot tube and then it is on to painting this beast.  Should be inclined to use Alclad paints for the natural metal finish you may want to get a quart size jar of paint. ;)  Hobby Boss only provides one marking option and that is for an F-86F-30 flown by Major James Jabar during the Korean War. Major Jabar was the first American jet ace, so maybe not so disappointing to only have one marking option after all. Those decals include a number of stencils that adorned the F-86.

The kit supplied markings are very thin and take almost no time at all to soak off their backing paper. This characteristic tends to make the decals a bit on the fragile side and can contribute to them breaking apart. The only problem areas for me involved placing the wing walk stripping (#'s 35/47) and the turbine warning strip (#'s 59,60,61) around the fuselage. . It is worth noting that the marking & painting guide does illustrate the upper wing star and bars (#65) upside down. While most US wing markings on F-86's Sabres were positioned perpendicular to the center line of the aircraft, I chose to place mine canted and parallel with the center line of the wing. You are, after all, the Bruno Mars of where you place your star and bars.  

The distinctive, yellow recognition markings on Korean War Sabre's will need to be applied by hand but decals are provided for the black accent banding common to those markings. Sadly, Hobby Boss does not include any detailed measurements or position details for those yellow bands, so best guess or a handy reference may be in order. The problematic one will be the fuselage band as the wing and tail marking kind of follow panel lines. I suppose one could scale up some existing decals and print your own...? I elected to go with a hybrid scheme using the kit supplied markings and lots of artistic license. Remember, this model did begin life as a scale model toy and I for one am delighted that Hobby Boss has brought it back into the light, so to speak.

Don't overlook the pilot figure. It is molded in a soft, black vinyl and has articulated leg and arm joints. While the pilot figure may seem a bit toy-like the crafty modeler could add some putty here and there, do a bit of in-house sculpting and come away with a more than passable pilot figure for this enormous aircraft model. The figure does have a nicely molded head with a separate oxygen mask.

This is a large model and it could be assembled 'without the use of tweezers'. (Inside joke!)  It is also a beautiful model that will impress just from its sheer size. Should you decide to go to town detailing this beastie you will have a real show stopper on your hands. Elected to go with a hybrid scheme from the kit supplied markings. I was somewhat surprised by the cost of the kit. While the cost is three figures (I thought it would be more expensive), you get a lot of plastic for your money and an excellent opportunity to turn an easy to assemble kit into an award-winning F-86 model.

Besides, if you elect to leave the operating features in place you can drop the flaps, take off, retract the gear and 'fly' this F-86 around the house shooting down every MiG you can find, just don't forget the jet engine and machine gun sound effects....    

My appreciation to HobbyBoss and IPMS/USA for the review copy.

WWII French Tank Crew

Sat, 03/13/2021 - 23:48
Product Image Review Author:  Gino Dykstra ICM

ICM continues to please with their latest figure offering - three French tank crewmen showing off their pride and joy to a couple of typically bedazzled kids. Not surprisingly, the sculpting is first-rate, with distinctive character to every face. As the figures don't come with a lot of equipment, assembly is very straight-forward with no real glitches. A wee bit of putty here and there is definitely called for, especially around the officer's coat tails.

Although the box art shows them gathering around ICM's new FCM-36 French tank, the seated tanker can fit into almost any French tank. The standing figures, of course, are appropriate for just about any vignette you can think of.

One of things I particularly like about this set is that despite its title, all of these figures can be used in either a World War II OR World War I scenario, perhaps with the exception of the steel-jawed standing tanker in a sweater (and I'm not even really sure about that one). The seated tanker, for instance, wears the crested version of the tanker's helmet that was seen in the later stages of the First World War, and the rest of his uniform is equally ambiguous. The standing French officer is wearing a standard uniform that can be changed to either conflict simply by changing the base color. The kids, of course, are timeless. This opens up all sorts of interesting possibilities that go far beyond what the box art suggests. Personally, I intend to utilize them for both eras.

All in all, a very . . . human . . . set of figures with a lot of potential. Once again, ICM offers us something a bit "different" and with wide-open possibilities. I can't recommend them enough for any fan of French armor of EITHER war. Outstanding.

My thanks to ICM for offering us some more fun, and to IPMS/USA for a chance to play with these little gems. Be safe, everyone, and happy modeling!