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Caesar’s Great Success. Sustaining the Roman Army on Campaign

Fri, 03/12/2021 - 00:08
Product Image Review Author:  Luke R. Bucci PhD Frontline Books

Thanks to Casemate Books (an imprint of Pen & Sword Books) & Casemate Publishers for the review copy!

Alexander Morrow received a PhD in European history from Georgetown University, and has taught history at Georgetown, Franklin & Marshall University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Alexander is a prolific writer of military history and fiction.

Agostino von Hassell graduated from Columbia Journalism School and has taught at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. He too is a prolific writer of military history, but also of food history.

Gregory Starace is a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Marines, 19 years on active duty. His service in Europe, Africa, Middle East, Eurasia and India has allowed him to visit numerous Roman ruins, battle sites and museums. Gregory has a BA in history from George Washington University and Master's degrees in National Intelligence and Security Affairs. Gregory is a long-time re-enactor, including Imperial Rome.

You get a 9 3/8 X 6 1/4-inch size hardback book with black binding and gold lettering on the spine, inside a full-color jacket. I am taking a wild guess here and saying that the three gentlemen in Roman soldier garb on the front cover are the three authors. I'll go further and say the partially hidden soldier is Agostino, and the soldier in front is Gregory, leaving the other background soldier to be Alexander.

My point is that this book is far from a droll recitation of numbering loaves and fishes. It is surprisingly fun to read and hard to put down. My compliments to the authors for taking an overlooked subject -- logistics - and making it a pleasure to read. And exhibiting the war-winning importance of feeding the troops, their entourages, and their pack animals. As the authors pointed out, what Caesar did that ensured his numerous victories (and rapid recoveries from his numerous defeats) was heretofore unheard of - develop logistics into war-winning military necessity. This book reteaches the basis upon which all military forces rely - food & supply.

Napoleon has been credited with the saying "An army marches on its stomach." This is still true today. Learn why this saying has rung true throughout the ages. This book starts with a list of recipes of what the Roman soldier on campaign actually ate (after each chapter). Made me hungry! I found out what Roman Mice were, which solves my garage pest problem (OK, the context is I keep my eggs in the garage frig). And being a doubly-certified Clinical Nutritionist, I can verify these were healthy meals, welcome and satisfying even today. Next up is a two-page Chronology of Caesar's life from birth to Et Tu Brute? Then the eight Chapters ensue. Each chapter has a saying from some famous or semi-famous person about war and logistics, mostly about food supply. The book is all text except for a few pages of photos of typical meals, some of which are included. Cardoons are something I have not tried and probably will not.

The Introduction lays the rationale for logistics and feeding an army being Caesar's greatest accomplishment - what Caesar did was never done before nor as well afterwards until modern times. The authors do a splendid job of making you, the reader, hungry for more verbal (and dietary) sustenance.

Eight chapters each cover a topic about eating and warring in Roman times. Chapter One went over Caesar's war career and how the armies were raised, composed and used. It also showed us the existing infrastructure, setting the stage for how Caesar used logistics. In Chapter 2, Food for Battle, we see how nourishment meant victory. We see what fed the Roman armies on campaign, down to what each soldier cooked daily. We find the origin of many recent and modern military foods and expressions. Hydration is more vital than calories for exercise and endurance, and the Romans neatly solved this concern with posca - watered-down, sour wine. Thus, water intake, hygiene, transport and preventing alcoholic binges were neatly solved all at once.

Chapter 3 is titled The Invention of Logistics. Here is where this book shines. How Caesar used every trick, wiles and guile he could to keep his armies hydrated, fed and happy were illustrated. Food staples were from Rome itself, but also from local areas, depending on the situations. Food supply was in constant flux, and we get into the transport realities. Most of the army was taking care of food and drink between battles. The locals were kept in the loop, and pillaging was not common. Some of Caesar's toughest campaigns were when his enemies had a scorched earth policy. And we find out why all roads lead to Rome is more than a saying - this unprecedented transport network was a huge war-winner. Concepts of logistics were borrowed, refined, honed and invented during Caesar's reign. Operational reach for Caesar was superior because of logistics. Where the military went, Romans followed, bringing trade infrastructure, roads, storage sites, and civilization that exist to this day. The fact that Caesar was so successful was due to his innovations and attention to logistics.

Chapter 4 details how supply lines were set up, maintained, defended and integrated into pacification. Again, the way Caesar set up his supply lines made sure his armies were fed regularly and well, relying on the Roman infrastructure as well as spreading it. 

Chapter 5 shows how Caesar fed his armies on the march and for battle, while protecting his supply lines. Animal fodder (pabulatio) was by far the largest quantitative supply need. Firewood for cooking and staying warm was also a major need. What the soldiers did daily on the march and setting up camps would impress any soldier or worker today. Caesar knew when to sacrifice security for speed as the situation demanded. And foraging becomes part of strategy - all principals still found on today's battlefield. Supply became a well-planned and orchestrated Mil Ops, not just a grab and snatch melee.

Chapter 6 covers Logistics and Strategy - when to wait in order to build up supplies and supply infrastructure for a campaign or when to sacrifice supply stability for speed of attack. Also, attacking the enemies' food supplies and crops was de rigueur. How the army dealt with trading, requisitioning, pillaging, plundering or short-term hardships was carefully and expertly balanced by Caesar, and accounted for his greatest achievements, as well as his failures.

Chapter 7 was a review of the WW2 Allied-Axis North African campaign supply issues, which mirrored Caesar's African campaigns closely, with POL (Petroleum, Oil, Lubrication) substituting for pabulatio (animal fodder). Point is that supply and logistics determined battlefield strategy and outcomes, then and now.

Chapter 8 explains the legacy of food left by Caesar and Rome. The origins of wine areas are fun to know. And even if the French will not admit it, they have a lot to thank Caesar for how and what they cook. Supply and logistics Romanized much of the Mediterranean and even into Britain and Germany. Advanced Roman agriculture was a boon to the locals.

Summary

At first glance, this book sounds ho-hum, even boring. Perish that thought! Imbibe and ingest many simple, practical and tasty insights into how to really win wars. This book is applicable to individuals as well as small fighting groups and up to large armies, and yes, even countries, continents and our entire world. How's that for feeding your hunger for military prowess!

And you can try the recipes at home. Although modern tastes would probably not like posca, the everlasting penchant for honey and vinegar drinks shows that diluted alcohol and acid is still in use. Check out cardoons too. Caesar's troops really did get adequate nutrition most of the time, unlike their adversaries, and he knew how to exploit those advantages.

This book is a quick read and entertaining too. It is a break from focus on battles and campaigns and equipment, and arguably more important. Just enough background history to fill in Caesar's campaigns without getting droll, and it puts you in the legionnaires' shoes toting 40 kilogram backpacks, behind the mule teams or wagons. The sayings and recipes (and mouth-watering photos of the meals) liven up the text and make you ready for chow.

Finally, I cannot pass up the opportunity to tell you how many Roman Mice I ate - et tu, Brute!

 

Figures:

Figure 1: Front cover of Caesar's Greatest Success. Sustaining the Roman Army on Campaign.

Figure 2: Back cover of Caesar's Greatest Success. Sustaining the Roman Army on Campaign.

Figure 3: Bucellatum (precursor to hard tack) - the main source of calories for Roman soldiers.

Figure 4: Sausages with Fried Cardoons & Endive Salad - cardoons are an edible thistle that resembles celery, and taste like artichokes, requiring preparation to remove the thorns and stringy fibers along with frying to soften. Sausages were made from just about anything handy.

Figure 5: Langoustines with Herb Sauce and Roman Mice - eggs were pickled in vinegar for storage, and when ready to eat were cut in half with peppercorns or cloves for eyes, and herbs for ears and tails. They livened up many a Roman soldier's meal. Seafood was depended on whenever possible and showed that a typical diet for Roman soldiers was satisfying and wholesome.

Dukel Hobbies Tanque Argentino Mediano (TAM)

Wed, 03/10/2021 - 23:28
Product Image Review Author:  Pablo Bauleo Dukel Hobbies

Review

The Tanque Argentino Mediano (TAM) is a 30-ton armored tracked combat vehicle with a 105 mm cannon based on the running gear and hull of the Marder Infantry Vehicle. It has been designed considering the constrains of roads, bridges and terrain of Argentina. It was designed as a joint effort of Thyssen-Henschel and TAMSE (an Argentinean company specially created to build the TAM). The hull has been adapted into a whole family of vehicles, including APC, mortar carrier and even a 155 mm SPG on an elongated hull.

Dukel Hobbies, from Buenos Aires, is a large retailer that caters to the hobbyist in Argentina. Recently they started dipping their toes into the manufacturing business, with the TAM (Tanque Argentino Mediano) in 1/35 scale and their upcoming Pucara aircraft in 1/48 scale. They also host a YouTube Channel with tutorials including a 4-part series as to how to build this kit and others (in Spanish only).

The kit is multimedia, with most parts casted in a yellow/cream colored resin, free of bubbles and with a very smooth finish. Most of the parts are shipped after carefully being removed from their casting blocks, making one of the most tedious and difficult tasks of a resin kit to be non-existing. In that sense, this kit is closer to an injection model kit than a limited run one, giving that there are no casting blocks to remove and the surface is so smooth and free of imperfections.

Some parts have been casted in grey resin, mainly the pioneer tools. Most of the small parts and details (like engine grills, etc.) are actually 3D Printed with a very high-quality printer as all parts are smooth and ready to be used in the model.

For tracks, you are provided with 5 resin lengths of track and a 3D-printed template. The idea is that you will dip the resin length in hot water to soften them and use the 3D template to get the resin to wrap around the running gear by using the 3D-printed template. Very clever design, easy to do and kind of fun!

The barrel for the main weapon is made out of turned metal and it includes a hollow end. It is made of 3 pieces, but it ships pre-assembled. You only need to prime and paint it. 

The kit includes a small water slide decal sheet, with markings for 4 vehicles, plus individual number/letters to create your own serial number. 

If you are interested to purchase your own copy, contact tam@dukelhobbies.com.ar. The transaction will be done on Ebay, with a PayPal guarantee. International shipping includes tracking so you can tell where you package is at all times. It took about one week to arrive from Argentina to the US.

I highly recommend this kit to any modeler, except the most novice. But considering that most of the casting blocks are removed already you can focus on assembly and painting of the kit like any other injection molded kit.

You can see the tutorials for this kit (and others) at https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=dukel+hobbies+tutoriales

I have no relationship with Dukel Hobbies. I personally purchased the kit and Dukel Hobbies kindly included the 3 figures for the crew in the box when shipping. I want to thank Dukel Hobbies for the figures and for the many messages exchanged with them. I also want to thank IPMS/USA for publishing this review.

Refueling pod KC-130J

Wed, 03/10/2021 - 22:21
Product Image Review Author:  Damon Blair Brengun

Used for air-to-air refueling, Lockheed's KC-130 and HC-130N, HC-130P series of aircraft came with two air-to-air inflight refuel (IFR for short) pods, one on each outer wing just outboard of the flaps. Later, the HC-130H, MC-130E and MC-130H aircraft were modified with these refuel pods. This conversion set replicates those later modified aircraft and the current KC-130J and HC-130J IFR pods.

This resin modification kit comes with 6 parts, three for each IFR pod, including a small phot-etched fret for the tail end of each pod. My sample came with the sprue runner broken off the nose of one pod, the break being at the sprue-to-pod joint, requiring some sanding and putty to smooth it out. 

The hardest part on this resin kit is the IFR pod tail to main body attachment. Careful sanding and squaring off will help immensely. I noticed that the tail section's diameter was slightly larger than the main body's diameter. Some putty and sanding took care of that.

On the aft end of the pod, there is a photo-etched "basket" that protects the IFR pod lights from being struck by the refuel hose. I would recommend attaching this part last, as that would make the IFR pod lights easier to paint.

Overall, I am quite satisfied with this resin conversion kit. With some work on a few panel lines, and a differently shaped "basket", the IFR pod would look exactly like the original Lockheed-built IFR pods.

I wish to thank Brengun for providing this wonderful sample.

Supermarine Spitfire V vol. 1

Mon, 03/08/2021 - 11:22
Product Image Review Author:  Frank Landrus MMP Books

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

 

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

 

Wojtek Matusiak author's the latest in Mushroom Model Publications' series of aircraft used in the Polish Air Force.  This volume represents Wojtek Matusiak's tenth book for MMPBooks. The front cover by Marek Rys features a 303 Squadron Spitfire Mk. Vb during Operation Spartan in early 1943.  The back cover by Marek Rys features another Spitfire Mk.Vb, also during Operation Spartan.  Both the front and rear cover feature special markings in the white bands on the forward fuselage that extended from spinner to cockpit that represented the Germans during this exercise.  This represents Volume one of a two volume series.  This first volume covers Polish Squadrons from 302 through 308, while the second volume will cover Squadrons 315 through 318.  Many of these photographs have never been published before.

 

I counted 231 black and white photos along with 14 color photographs that include detailed captions.  Robert Grudzien contributes 36 full color side views.  There are plenty of color scrap illustrations that highlight the detail of insignias. The great part of these color side views is they are backed up with period photos of the aircraft that is being portrayed. 

 

The Table of Contents focuses on the following sections:

 

Poles on Spitfire Vs

The 1st Polish Wing

The 2nd Polish Wing

The 3rd Polish Wing

No 302 Squadron 'City of Poznan' [Page 13, 27]

No. 303 Squadron Kosciuszko - City of Warsaw' [Page 59]

No. 306 Squadron 'City of Torun'[Page 72]

No. 308 Squadron 'City of Cracow'

Victories Credited to Polish Spitfire V Pilots [Table] [Page 91]

 

Wojtek Matusiak off on the beginnings of Polish pilots escaping to England to fight the Germans.  What I learned was that the Polish pilots were never part of the RAF, but considered a separate force.  The Polish Air Force still shared RAF equipment and operated in conjunction with the RAF.  The Polish Air Force started out with Hawker Hurricanes, but transitioned to the Supermarine Spifire along with the rest of the RAF.  Next up are histories of the three Polish Wings and Squadrons 302 through 308.  This is all amidst very well captioned photographs and illustrations.

 

What I really enjoyed in this book is the use of actual photographs to support the color profiles of each type.  MMP Books features this in many of their books which I think is a huge attraction.  This really brings these period photographs to life.  The examples as shown on pages 27, 59. and 72, are good examples of this.  In the case of the illustration on Page 59, you get a nice color profile of the subject aircraft, a color illustration of the badge under the windscreen, and two 'in action' black and white photographs of the color profile, W3765 of 302 Squadron.  All of the color profiles are dealt with in this way detailed and provide great insight into what is depicted.

 

Polish Wings 29 provides an interesting view into a lesser known chapter in aviation history. The text and captions are all in English thanks to the author who apparently moonlights on the side translating Polish and English. Wojtek Matusiak is an excellent writer and ably crafts the storyline with interesting morsels to prevent this from being simply a progression of facts. This book is essential if you're considering building any of these aircraft in scale.  Luckily, being a Supemarine Spitfire Mk V means there are no shortage of options in kits and accessories to build any of the aircraft represented.  There is even a 'quasi' advertisement on page 2 that provides specific decals for this monograph.  If you have any interest in Polish (or British) aircraft, this is a must-have book.  I am really looking forward to Volume 2 of this two-part set!

 

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

 

Highly recommended!

Duks in Royal Serbian Air Force

Mon, 03/08/2021 - 11:15
Product Image Review Author:  Frank Landrus Kagero Publishing

Based in Central Europe Kagero Publishing House is the biggest publisher and exporter of English-written publications about military history, release nearly 60 titles every year. Kagero was founded in 1995, and began by delivering military titles in Polish. Their success led Kagero to start releasing books in English in 1998. Authors from Poland, Canada, USA, Australia and Great Britain, who were invited to cooperation, gave a beginning to a new range of products, which have put them on a position of one of the most recognized publishers on the market. Kagero has released more than 550 publications. Kagero is managed by Damian Majsak and his wife Joanna.

 

This is Dragan Saler and Aleksandar Ognjevic second book for Kagero in the Famous Airplanes series.  Their first was 2019's R.E.P. Type F in Royal Serbian Air Force, the sole example to serve the Kingdom of Serbia.  Dragan Z. Saler is an aerospace engineer who lives and works in Pozarevac.  Dragan has authored several books in the fields of mechanical engineering, computer science, and aviation history, along with dozens of studies, electronic publications, and virtual exhibitions. Aleksandar M. Ognjevic lives and works in Belgrade.  He is a graduate economist who has authored several books, numerous articles, and television shows on the aviation history of Serbia and Yugoslavia. 

 

Kagero's Duks in Royal Serbian Air Force is the latest in their Famous Airplanes series. This edition is in their standard 8.375" x 11.75" format square-back softbound publication that is 72 pages (excluding covers).  This volume starts off with twenty pages of historical text with English on the left and Polish on the right of each page.  Two pages of 1/72 line drawings are up next followed by three pages of 1/48 line drawings.  The separate centerfold features 1/32 line drawings (15.375" by 22.875").  The next page features two black and white photographs of Duk test pilot Adam Haber-Wlynski.  The rest of the tome is the 3D visualization by Dragan Saler.

 

Dragan Saler and Aleksandar Ognjevic kick off this tome with an introduction and early history of the Duks factory.  The Russian engineer Julius Alexandrovich Meller (1865-1944) founded Duks (aka Dux) as a joint stock company in 1893 and specialized in bicycles.  They quickly expanded into automobiles, aircraft, and motorcycles and are still an aircraft and missile manufacturer in Russia today.  Meller partied with the Moscow elite and was a member of the Moscow Cycling Club and often participated in automobile racing.  Meller's interest gravitated towards aviation in 1909 when he began building airships and aircraft.   No doubt heavily influenced by the Wright Brothers' Paris flight demonstrations, Meller constructed a copy of the Wright Brothers Flyer A.  It never flew, due to the lack of an engine, but was displayed publically.   Meller's second aircraft out of the Duks factory was a 'license build' Henri Farman HF III (aka Henri Farman 1909 biplane). 

 

Russia held several competitions for an indigenous military aircraft which Duks participated in.  The subject of this monograph was essentially a combination of features from the Henri Farman HF III and the HF XX that took second place in the 1912 competition that resulted in military contracts.  It was this aircraft that the Serbian delegation ended up with since all Duks aircraft production was dedicated to the Russian military.  The authors include an excellent history of its short Serbian service life that includes several first person accounts and some of the political intrigue that accompanied this aircraft.  The Duks aircraft finally flew on December 10, 1912 and served primarily as a trainer due to the underpowered engine.  The Duks aircraft was destroyed by the Serbian Army in November 1915 during the Kosovo offensive to keep it from falling into enemy hands.  The Chapters include:

 

  • Introduction
  • The Early Period
  • Duks Produces Airplanes [Page 09]
  • Duks Biplane in Serbia
  • Duks Biplane - Technical Description [Page 20]
  • Bibliography
  • Specifications [Table]
  • 1/72 Scale Drawings
  • 1/48 Scale Drawings
  • 1/32 Scale Drawings (separate folded sheet)
  • Adam Haber-Wlynski
  • 3D Visualization [Page 34, 44, 66]

 

Model-wise you have a couple of choices:  Scratch build or scratch build.  This is where the detailed drawings and 3D illustrations come into play.  You may be able to scavenge a few parts from the very few pre-war Farman kits available in 1/72 and 1/48, but I would guess you would be better off just starting from the included drawings.

 

I was really pleased with this book, even though it is only on a single one of aircraft.  It's a really interesting story of early aviation and I really appreciated the first person references.  The 3D illustrations are first rate and provide plenty of rigging information for those attempting to build this in scale.

 

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

 

Highly recommended!

 

Frank Landrus, IPMS# 35035

Gladiator

Mon, 03/08/2021 - 10:24
Product Image Review Author:  Dick Montgomery ICM

Quote from "Gladiator", the movie, "Are you not entertained?"

ICM has released this Gladiator kit in 1/16th scale, and just a note that may be interest, ICM also offers a kit of "Roman Centurion) 1st Century, Kit # 16302 and also in 1/16th scale.

The kit includes 44 parts. There is no information to accompany this kit that indicates that this model is modeled after a particular historic figure. There is no mention of such a person and no historical or biographical information is provided. That being the case, you are free to paint the figure as you wish without a concern for precise accuracy.

If, on the other hand, you wish to model a more accurate figure then there are some references that could be useful.

  • Osprey Publications 156 is entitled Early Roman Warrior 753-321 B.C.
  • Osprey Publications 425 is entitled Roman Military Clothing (3) AD 400-640

As is standard practice for ICM, the box is a sturdy cardboard design. The box top fits over the carboard container, keeping it closed and presenting some excellent box art. All parts are contained in a single plastic bag.

There are three pieces of paper provided in the box. The first sheet is a photo of a ridiculously cute dog advising you of how you can request replacement parts if any are damaged. (In my experience I've never found a part damaged in an ICM kit.) The second sheet is a frameable illustration of a Gladiator. This image is also featured on the box top. Lastly, a "parts and color" guide is provided.

Printed front and back is a "parts and color guide", showing illustrations of the parts runners with part numbers printed next to each part. Using this guide makes it easy to quickly identify each part during the assembly phase. The color guide lists the suggested Revell and Tamiya colors that ICM recommends.  On the reverse side of this page are two drawings of the figure, fully assembled. The various parts are identified with black alphanumeric font. Color recommendations are identified with red font in small, red-outlined squares.

There is no "step by step assembly guide" provided. It is quite simple, however, to use this "parts and color guide" to determine an "order of assembly".

After studying the "parts and color guide" I decided to, quite literally, assemble the figure from the ground up.

Assembly Notes:

The base:

There is a locating notch on B2 (underside of base) and a matching locating pin on A (base riser). The mating surfaces for A and B2 are beveled. This reduces the appearance of a seam (Thanks ICM!) and also means that there is a right way/wrong way to mate these two parts. The top of the base, B1, rests "inside" A on a "ledge". Try to position B1 so that the gap between A and B1 is the same width around the circumference of B1. Doing so will enhance the appearance of the base.

Feet and legs:

I found an exceptionally light line of flash on the feet and removed it with a few "scrapes" using the back side of an Xacto Blade, number 11 to be precise. Remove the flash from the front surface of the shin guards. Be aware that what you might first think is a line of flash on the back of the calves is actually "kit detail" ICM has molded "leather tie-down straps" on the back of the calves. These straps hold the shin guards in place. Having said all that, there is a line of flash on the back side of the thighs that needs to be removed.

Shin Guards:
Each shin guard consists of a right/left half. A suggestion would be to assemble both shin guards, and while the glue holding them together is still pliable, place the shin guards into position so that the "wrap-around" feature of the shin guard can be positioned correctly. When the "wrap-around" appears to be correct, remove the shin guards, paint them, and set them aside for attachment at a later time. A further suggestion is to wait until the painting on the leggings and feet has been completed before gluing the shin guards onto the legs.

Left arm, wrist, and hand:

The arm will need some gentle sanding to remove the flash along the mold lines. The fingers can be attached to the hand. Attach the shield later. The shield handle is a separate piece and can be slipped into the palm of the hand after the hand/fingers have been glued together. Attach the arm to the torso. There is more about the shield below.

Right Arm, right hand, and sword- There is a seam molded into the arm on the inner surface, or that surface which would rest against the Gladiator's side if he were standing erect, and at rest. Leave that seam alone. It is not "flash" but is molded detail. There are two other "flash" seams that need to be removed, one on the "elbow" side of the arm and the other on the opposite, or forward side of the arm. Attach the arm to the torso.

The right hand consists of two parts, C1 and C2. Aligning the palm/thumb can be made easier by studying the illustrations provided by ICM. The thumb will be located on the "body" side of the attachment point. A suggestion would be to wait to attach the sword and fingers of the right hand until the later stages of assembly.

Waist - Front and Rear

There are three locating pins/holes to assist in correct alignment of these two parts, C10 and C11. Each leg has some helpful locating shapes located at the point where each leg will fit into the waist assembly. It is recommended to dry-fit each leg into the correct position just so one is confident that the leg is correctly positioned when gluing it into place.

Head - There is a little flash on both sides of the head, but the lines of flash are extremely small. I used the back side of an Xacto blade to remove the flash, taking under a minute.

Helmet - It is advisable to remove all of the parts with a razor saw and clean the gate residue from those parts. Using a razor saw significantly reduces the amount of gate residue that needs to be cleaned off the part. Study the Color Guide/Part Guide and you will see that D1 and D2 form the crown of the helmet, complete with the sculpture of a bird. Attach these two parts together. Part D12 is the "brow" of the helmet and slips into position with D1 and 2 properly, thanks to the beveled edge that ICM molded unto D12. D9 is the "brim" of the helmet. First, note that there is a small locating pin on the inside of the opening that the helmet crown will eventually cover. Use that locating pin to determine the "front" of D9, the helmet brim. Then dry-fit the crown sub-assembly so that the bird sculpture faces the same direction as that locating pin. Also note the two slight downward bends in the brim of the helmet, D9. Those downward facing bends should be toward the back of the helmet. An important bit of advice would be to not glue the face shield onto the helmet sub-assembly until much later in the assembly/painting process. The helmet with face shield attached cannot fit over the Gladiator's head. The face shield will need to be attached as, most likely, one of the final steps in the assembly process. The Gladiator's face and upper body should be painted and finished prior to attaching the helmet and face shield. It should be noted that there is no "chin strap" provided, although there are two points on the underside of the helmet brim that could be used as attachment points upon which a chin strap could be located. It would be an easy task to "scratch" a chin strap. With a home-made chin strap, it would be possible to leave the face shield off of the figure, thus exposing the face of the figure.

The Shield - There are two mold release marks on the inner surface of the shield that need to be removed. It is advisable to attach those parts that need to be glued to the rectangular shield at this time, with the notable exception of the handle. Of course, it is easier to paint the shield prior to attaching it and the handle to the Gladiator's hand.

There appears to be an option regarding the shield that the Gladiator will be carrying. It seems that there are two shields provided in the kit. There is a large, rectangular shield, part 10, but there is also a smaller circular shield, part 15. Part 15 does not appear on the "parts and color guide", however, the location guides on the inside surface of part 15 match the handle, part 16. As you can see in the accompanying images, I chose to attach the smaller shield.  Regarding the larger, rectangular shield, the illustrations provided in the kit show a set of "leaves" on the exterior of the shield. Even the paint guide suggests that these leaves be painted with a "flat yellow'. However, the leaves are not molded on the shield, nor were there parts representing the leaves included in the kit. I was not about to attempt to hand-paint them and, besides, I went with the smaller circular shield.

Wikipedia provides some interesting information about gladiators. "A gladiator training school was called a ludus. At its head was the owner and trainer of gladiators, called a lanista. Among types of gladiator were the Thracian, who carried a small round shield called a parma and a retiarius who carried a fishnet and a trident."

It appears that ICM is giving Lanistas the option to equip this Gladiator with a "parma".

Seams to be filled - Although there are some seams that are visible, they are not "severe" and are easily filled. I used liquid putty provided by a well-known Japanese company along the upper-most portion of shoulders between the base of the neck and the cloth covering on the right shoulder and leather shoulder strap on the left shoulder.  Also, putty was applied to the seams on each side of the torso, along the contact points where the legs meet the shorts the Gladiator is wearing, on the seams along the ankle protectors, and on both sides of the waist where front and rear waist parts meet up.

Fiddly bits - There are some small parts such as feathers, "leather straps", and the sword, that can be painted prior to being attached to the figure. It will be important to be careful when handling the model while attaching these small parts. In fact, it is advisable to make the base ready for the figure to be attached, and then permanently mount the figure on the base prior to attached these few remaining bits.

Basic assembly took about 2 hours, so the project can move toward the "painting" phase rather quickly. Total time invested on the project is just under 9 hours.

I am very satisfied with the quality of the kit. The "fit" was particularly good and the detail on the face (which is barely visible through the face shield) is very good. The detail on the armor, the shield and the headgear is outstanding. I found this project to be highly enjoyable throughout the project. So, to answer the question Maximus posed, "Yes, I am entertained!"

Well Done to ICM! Thanks to ICM for providing this review sample to IPMS/USA.

Ki-43 II Hayabusa Wheels (Oscar) 32nd Scale

Mon, 03/08/2021 - 08:30
Product Image Review Author:  Jim Stratton Brengun

Brengun, from the Czech Republic, has released a nice set of resin wheels to help dress up any 1/32nd scale Hayabusa Ki.-43 Oscar. The wheels are beautifully molded in a dark gray resin and are clean and defect free. The product packet includes two wheels with a nicely detailed spoked wheel, as well as two choices of wheel covers. One flat cover features four bolt heads. The second cover has a centerline seam and six bolt heads. There is also a clearly printed instruction sheet.

I built the old Hasegawa Ki-43 and found that when applying the wheels that the molded hole on the resin wheel fit nicely to the axle with only minor sanding. I chose to use the spoked version as I thought them more interesting. In fact, the Brengun wheels were the highlight of this build and much more detailed than the kit wheels.

Highly recommended for any 1/32 Ki-43 Oscar.

Brengun Ki-43 Wheels

Mon, 03/08/2021 - 00:24
Product Image Review Author:  Pablo Bauleo Brengun

Review

Brengun from Czech Republic specializes on aftermarket details; for the most part releasing drop-in resin or photoetch replacement parts. 

This set is intended to replace the kit wheels of the 1/48 Ki-43. Most likely the main recipient is likely to be the Hasegawa kit, but it could certainly work with the Arii or Fine Molds rendition of the airplane, with perhaps some minor modifications.

The parts are molded in grey resin, free of bubbles or imperfections and with great surface detail. The attachment points of the wheels to the casting blocks are miniscule and removal and clean up should be an easy task.

In addition to the resin parts, a small photoetch fret is included. Depending on which version of the Ki-43 Oscar you are modeling, some had open hubs with spokes and others had covered hubs. 

Highly recommended to modelers of all skills, except perhaps the most novice.

I would like to thank Brengun and IPMS/USA for the review sample.

Duke Hawkings – Sepecat Jaguar

Sun, 03/07/2021 - 10:18
Product Image Review Author:  Pablo Bauleo HMH Publications

I'll be honest. I've never heard of HMH Publications or Duke Hawkings before I had the opportunity of reviewing this book. After having had the chance of reviewing the book I am very glad to have been introduced to them. This book exudes quality.

The quality evident, both in the content that is covered (i.e level of detail) and the quality of the printing. The paper quality is super, with a satin finish. All pictures are in color, with proper exposure and very sharp focus, so all details are crisp.

The pictorial book is split in the following sections: Action, Cockpit, Fuselage, Weapons, Maintenance.  As you can imagine, the pictures have very descriptive and relevant captions, helping you understand what detail is being highlighted in each image. Not only are you getting all the walk-around images you need for your build, you are also learning details of the aircraft as you read along.                                                                                                             

The maintenance section is very useful if you are thinking of having any open panels in your model, as the images are very sharp for either color detail painting or even scratchbuilding a piece or two.

I've found fascinating the images of the Jaguar with the Indian Air Force in the naval strike configuration, with its Agave radar and different radome.

A nice touch is that the author describes how the book series came about: He is a modeler himself and was collecting reference material for his own personal, private book on the Jaguar when a friend talked him into publishing the book and set up a whole series. What a service this friend has done to the modelling community!

Highly recommended.

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

 

Track & Wheels – Solution Set

Sun, 03/07/2021 - 09:50
Product Image Review Author:  Allan Murrell AMMO by Mig Jimenez

"With these colours and effects, you will be able to simulate different types of dirt accumulations on the tracks and wheels of any vehicle, from dust accumulations to clumps of sticky mud, even rust and polished metal. Included in the package is a Quick Tip guide with step-by-step colour photographs showing how to apply all of the authentic effects mentioned above.

Each reference in the Super Pack series includes the essential products needed to accurately represent the most common weathering effects used in modelling. Among these products are Oilbrushers, pigments, and enamel washes, filters and Streaking Effects required to produce authentic finishes in your models. All the colours are provided in this all-in-one option, you do not need to worry about sourcing the different products necessary for each effect individually. A great idea and solution for every enthusiast recently initiated in modelling, and wise veteran seeking the correct and accurate colours required conveniently selected and provided in a single box."

The Box contains the following:

1x quick Tips one page sheet for using the provided contains

  • A.Mig-0033 Rubber & Tires Acrylic Paint 17ml
  • A.Mig-0035 Dark Tracks Acrylic Paint 17ml
  • A.Mig-0039 Light Rust Acrylic Paint 17ml
  • A.Mig-0040 Medium Rust Acrylic Paint 17ml
  • A.Mig-1704 Heavy Earth 35ml
  • A.Mig-1705 Wet Mud 35ml
  • A.Mig-1751 Dry Steppe Splashes 30ml
  • A.Mig-3003 North Africa Dust Pigment 35ml
  • A.Mig-3021Polished Metal Pigment 35ml
  • A.Mig-1002 Track Wash 35ml
  • A.Mig-3510 Rust Oilbrusher 10ml
  • A.Mig-3523 Dusty Earth Oilbrusher 10ml

I used some assembled individual track links and wheels from the parts box to trial each of the tips and products in included in the Solation set.

The double-sided Quick Tips guide in full color with captions. Is a great touch, the "Quick Tip" sheet consists of two sections; One for Tracks and one for Wheels. Each section is then broken down into several steps printed in both English and Spanish.

 

The track tips and products were used to produce the finishes on the sheet. I was very impressed with the Dark Tracks Acrylic paint which applied very nicely and looked great. I will use this on all future tracks builds. The other materials all applied very well to the tracks and gave the finishes as shown with very little effort and give a great look to the Tracks. The mud and earth material were also great products that I look forward to using in a build soon.

 

For the wheels once again, the products are very easy to apply and give a very good effect as shown, I did have some trouble getting the rain mark type finish as shown but I am sure this is possible with more practice and use.

 

Summary

I would highly recommend this solution set and the products as individual purchases if you do not need the whole set. The Oilbrushers which I must admit I was very sceptical of when they were first announced. I for one have found them a awesome addition to my tool box and use them more and more to great affect. I love the AMMO weathering products and are my go to product.

Thanks go to Ammo by MIG Jimenez for providing this kit to review and IPMS USA for allowing me to review it for them.

Mercedes-Benz 600S

Sun, 03/07/2021 - 09:36
Product Image Review Author:  Chris Smith Italeri

The S class cars from Mercedes have always been the luxury flagships of the company's line and the 600S is the king among them. Although not particularly appealing, at least to my eye, these cars feature state of the art technology including self-driving capability and absolute luxury in every interior detail. Near as I can tell this model represents the 2000 model year but Mercedes have released a completely revised 600S for 2021. Oh, and don't be fooled by the mundane appearance, these cars have very respectable performance with powerplants ranging up to a twin turbo V-8. In an age taken over by SUVs, the Mercedes S series reputation as the luxury sedan standard will maintain a steady customer base for the foreseeable future.

Italeri brings us a rebox of the Protar kit molded in silver, black, clear and satin chromed parts. This being a curbside model, the underside details are sharply molded but minimal. As is their standard, the decal sheet is well printed and gives you the option of several European license plates to pick from. A couple of corrections were needed to finish the kit. The hood line needed scribing to extend it all the way to the windshield and the top of the door panel lines needed smoothing. If the taillights were installed as clear parts, there would be a dark line around the outside and top where the bumper and the rear quarter panel assemble with a gap. I will address that later. Highlights for me were the chrome plate that is a subdued satin finish that looks great on the front grill that is molded open. The seats have a nice texture that reproduces the plush soft leather in the real cars. The kit provides the parts to open up the sun roof if you choose.

I used Humbrol (Matt 62 and 74) tin paints on the interior as I thought the finish was perfect for leather. A slightly darkened wash helped pop those details out. The decals for the instrument panel and wood trim went in very easily and conformed with a little decal solvent. The rest was picked out with a brush. The exterior was done with Dupli color Radiant Silver Metallic followed by clear coat from the same brand. Make sure you prime the plastic before you apply the color coat as it will spider over bare plastic. These paints produce a surface that you can wet sand and polish to a smooth finish. The glass comes as a single piece and requires masking on the inside and out to recreate the black frame on the inside and the lower wiper shield under the windshield. Fitting the body over the chassis requires a bit of shoehorning but it fits in place without glue once it is positioned correctly. The taillight problem I mentioned before was solved by using Alclad Chrome followed by their black base on the inside in essence applying their process in reverse. The trademark red and clear tail light lens was then done by masking the strips and shooting Tamiya clear red over them. The rims come chromed with the aforementioned satin chrome finish.  My sample had rough spots in them so I sanded the imperfections out and painted them with Alclad RAF High Speed Silver. The rubber tires have some nasty attachment points but those are on the inside of the rims when installed.

So, you might have gathered that this type of vehicle doesn't do much for me and it made it a bit harder to get through this one. The kit is not bad. It could actually be built right from the box sans paint and look quite nice. I wish more manufacturers would go to this type of chrome plating as I think it just looks better and is easier to remove if the modeler so desires. The decals are what decals should be, thin, in register and conforming. The tri star hood emblem says it all, this is a Mercedes luxury sedan and like it or not, that is what the S series will always represent. Thank you so much to IPMS for providing the sample. I was glad to help keep the backlog in check. Special thanks to Italeri for providing the sample of this significant vehicle.

75 Years of the Israeli Air Force, Volume 1: The First Quarter Century (Middle East @ War 28)

Sun, 03/07/2021 - 09:24
Product Image Review Author:  Marc K. Blackburn Helion & Company

The Israeli Air Force has developed a reputation that is legendary and for good reason. Against overwhelming odds they created an air force that would dominate their adversaries.  In a two volume series, of which this is volume one, it covers the origins of the Israeli Air Force in 1948 to the end of the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Published by the Helion Company, number 28 in a series that covers the armed forces and conflicts of the Middle East, the book follows an established format. The text is chronological and packed with black and white photographs. The center of the book features color profiles of aircraft across the time line covered in the book as well as a small selection of color photographs. The photographs are well clear and well produced, something that I appreciate in publications such as this.

The book summarizes the history of the Israeli Air Force. It is a fascinating story, in particular in the beginning of improvisation and grit in the face of challenges. Faced with hostile neighbors and disinterested British colonial overlords, the Israelis were able to gather a mish-mosh of fighter aircraft from Czechoslovakia, and other sources. What they lacked in professionalism and doctrine, they made up for in courage and drive. The lack of resources continued well into the 1950s. With a mixture of French Jets and let overs from the opening days of the country, they were able to participate in the abortive 1956 Suez campaign, where the French and the British enlisted the help of Israel to keep Egypt from nationalizing the Suez Canal. While the Israelis played a key role, the western allies were castigated for a heavy handed attempt to turn back the clock and assert their role as former colonial powers.

In the aftermath of the Sinai campaign, there was a concerted effort to move beyond the haphazard nature of the air force and it was the run up to the 1967 six day war, that the air force was able to establish a relationship with France. This move would provide the backbone of the assault force that conducted one of the most successful preemptive strikes of all time on the eve of the six day war. The outright spectacular success these raids had on the air force was profound. Given the success of the surprise attack on the various airbases of their adversaries, it had a profound effect on how they wanted to achieve air superiority. While successful in 1967, it would be a challenge in 1973. With the Yom Kippur War, given how effective the surface to air missile curtain moved across the Suez Canal, it caused the Israelis had difficulty in containing the Arab threat.

When I was a kid, my favorite hobby shop carried a series of books and magazines that profiled various aspects of the Israeli Defense Forces. They were celebratory in tone. This volume in the Helion series is concise, objective, and a critical history of the IAF. If you are not familiar with the history of the IAF, this is a great way to familiarize yourself with a compelling and interesting story. Having read a fair amount about the IAF, I have not seen many of the photographs, so between those and the color profiles, it is a boon to any modeler. I heartily endorse this work. My thanks to IPMS and Helion & Company for giving me the opportunity to review this book.

The Chaco War, 1932-1935: Fighting in Green Hell (Latin America @ War, no. 20)

Sun, 03/07/2021 - 09:11
Product Image Review Author:  Marc K. Blackburn Helion & Company

From the perspective of the United States, the interwar period, the interval between the First and Second World Wars, our story was insular - the hedonism of the 1920s, the Great Depression, and the road to war. From the US perspective, it was a time of peace. Far to the south of us, there was a bloody struggle between Bolivia and Paraguay over a region known as Chaco. In the newest edition of Helion & Company's ongoing series on warfare in Latin America (number 20 in their series) it tackles the Chaco War. Like many publishing companies, Helion uses a formula of a concise narrative, photographs contemporary to the time period, color profiles of vehicles, planes and ships, and a small selection of uniforms. I believe that there is a separate volume in this same series that covers the air war. The Chaco War was the first aerial war over South America, so it is really not covered in this volume.

As with many conflicts, this started over a dispute regarding territory that both Paraguay and Bolivia claimed. The disputed territory known as Chaco, was a point of contention from the late nineteenth century until the time that war broke out. There were various attempts at a diplomatic settlement, but Bolivia aggressively occupied the disputed territory, which triggered Paraguayan war preparations. Compared to the titanic struggle that occurred a decade earlier in Western Europe, both sides mobilized a modest number of men with a very modest collection of artillery and, for Bolivia, tanks.

The authors lay out what amounts to a summary of the campaign from 1932-35. Even though Paraguay was largely unprepared, they made the first move in the fall of 1932 and went on the offensive, since they saw themselves as the aggrieved party. The Paraguayans pushed hard against several of the Bolivian fortified camps in the Chaco. Despite making good progress, by the end of 1932, the offensive had petered out. In the meantime, Bolivia had mobilized its armies and equipped them with modern weapons and unleashed a counter offensive in 1933. The initiative passed to the Bolivians. They made progress, but the high casualties led to intense criticism of the high command. The offensive came to an end, again, with some progress but not enough to end the war in their favor.

The remainder of the war, until 1934, could best be described as a see-saw with both sides conducting offensives and counter offensives. Eventually, the Paraguayans were able to gain the upper hand, but it came at a huge price. While precise numbers seem hard to come by, there were over 100,000 casualties, not to mention up to 70,000 civilians. Nevertheless, even though Bolivia had more resources to draw upon, Paraguay not only put up a fight, but made gains against an arrogant enemy. In the end, Paraguay was able to keep the land in Chaco that they had occupied prior to the war and Bolivia kept the rest. Perhaps a diplomatic solution would have made a difference.....

I am grateful to see that a publishing house has found a successful formula that sheds some light on a critical conflict. The format Helion has chosen suits these regional conflicts. The contemporary illustrations are evocative and well chosen. For modelers, there are some great diorama ideas here. Take a look! My thanks to IPMS and Osprey Publications for giving me the opportunity to review this book.

Aires Macchi Mc.205 Wheels & Paint Mask

Sat, 03/06/2021 - 00:45
Product Image Review Author:  Pablo Bauleo Aires Hobby Models

Review

Aires Models from Czech Republic specializes on aftermarket details; for the most part releasing drop-in resin replacement parts. 

This set is intended to replace the wheels of the 1/48 Hasegawa Macchi 205. The set includes tail wheel and tail wheel fork.  The parts are molded in grey resin, free of bubbles or imperfections and with great surface detail, down to the manufacturer of the tires molded with enough raised detail that will take dry-brushing fantastically!

The attachment points of the wheels to the casting blocks are miniscule and removal and clean up should be an easy task.

In addition to the resin parts, they include painting masks which are super-handy to have and use. The masks are pre-cut so it is as simple as peeling, placing and you are ready to airbrush.

I do believe that the wheels of the Macchi 205 were the same of the Macchi 202. I would encourage you to do your own research but, in a pinch, this set could help you finish your Mc.202 as well.

Highly recommended.

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

Mitsubishi A6M Zero

Fri, 03/05/2021 - 23:02
Product Image Review Author:  James Kelley Pen & Sword

The quality of Japanese aircraft came as an unpleasant surprise to the Allies at the outbreak of the Pacific War, and it was personified in one type, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. One of the finest aircraft of all time, the Mitsubishi A6M Reisen (Zero fighter) first flew on 1 April 1939. It soon showed itself to be clearly superior to any fighter the Allies could put into the air in the early stages of the Pacific campaign. Armed with two 20mm cannon and two 7.7mm machine-guns, it was highly maneuverable and structurally very strong, despite being lightweight.

Instead of being built in several separate units, the Zero was revolutionary in that it was constructed in two pieces. The engine, cockpit and forward fuselage combined with the wings to form one rigid unit; the second part comprised the rear fuselage and the tail. The two units were joined by a ring of 80 bolts. Although the Mitsubishi Zero had some serious drawbacks in combat, the greatest of which was its inability to absorb punishment because of its lack of self-sealing fuel tanks and armor plating, its greatest assets were its maneuverability and its long range.

In 1942 the Americans allocated the code-name Zeke to the A6M, but as time went by the name Zero came into general use. During the first months of the Pacific War, the Zeros carved out an impressive combat record. For example, in the battle for Java alone, which ended on 8 March 1942, they destroyed 550 Allied aircraft. As the war progressed, however, the Zero gradually came to be outclassed by American fighters such as the Grumman F6F Hellcat and Vought Corsair. In the latter months, many were fitted with bombs and expended in Kamikaze suicide attacks.

This book provides a perfect introduction to the design and combat career of a fighter that made history. Why was the Zero conceived? What was it like to fly in combat? How did it compare with Allied types? Who were the engineers and designers who brought it to fruition and the pilots who became aces while flying it? Here is a feast for the modeler, with a wealth of technical information, photographs and color profiles.

Chapters Include:

  • Introduction
  • Mitsubishi Zero: Design & Development
  • Combat Over China
  • Preparing for War
  • The Pacific Campaign: December 1941-January 1943
  • New Fighters, New Tactics
  • Pacific War: Final Phase: October 1944-August 1945
  • Mitsubishi Zero in Profile
  • Modeling the Mitsubishi Zero
  • Model Showcase

The book itself is interesting, in that the chapters are all relatively short, but cover the assigned topic adequately. Most pages are picture-heavy, a lot of which feature captured Japanese Zeroes. Some of the photos I'd seen before, but most are new to me. One, in fact, is a shot of a Zero launching from the carrier Akagi on December 7, 1941 to raid Pearl Harbor. Although of poor quality, it's one of very few surviving photos depicting this moment. All of the photos are useful modeling references, particularly for weathering and chipping. The color profile sections feature eight pages of colorful profiles.

The modeling chapter is probably my favorite, featuring Zero models all the way back to 1959's Airfix kit to the most current Tamiya releases. Most mainstream manufacturers in between are also discussed. Numerous kits are presented after being built by very competent modelers. I enjoyed reading about the various kits, and seeing the work of others. The Model Showcase chapter is a step-by-step build of the Trumpeter 1/24 including flaws and why the kit is good, but not great.

All in all, this book should be a useful reference for modelers and is definitely recommended. My thanks to Casemate Publishers and IPMS/USA for the review sample.

1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse

Thu, 03/04/2021 - 22:50
Product Image Review Author:  Chris Smith Round 2 Models

Named after an 18th century winning racehorse, the Mitsubishi Eclipse was a compact two door car with a design meant to appeal to younger buyers. When coupled with a four-cylinder engine capable of up to 210 hp, the car found success and its production ran from 1990 to 2014. During that time, over 900,000 units were produced and the power maxed out at 265hp. This history alone would justify the car's success, but in 2001 the first Fast and Furious movie was released. In it, Brian O'Conner (played by Paul Walker) drove a lime green modified 1995 Eclipse. That car and a few others in the subsequent movies because icons of the street car world. AMT first released this kit to capitalize on the success of the movies and now Round 2 Models has reissued the kit with a new decal sheet that allows the modeler to create variations on the original theme. Note that you will have to find some instrument decals for the dash as there are none in the kit.

The kit is molded in orange plastic and is the same as the original issue including the body kit panels and options for wheels, front seats and wings for the trunk. Castings are very clean with little flash. There is a chrome sprue that includes wheels, exhaust and backing for the headlights. The clear parts include separate windshield, rear window/side windows in one and clear lenses for the headlights. The rear taillight lens in done in clear red plastic and four nice rubber tires round out the kit.

Build-wise this kit presented two challenges. First, the chassis does not sit level out of the box. The front end is higher than the back. My solution was to install shims between part 47, 45 and 44. Then I cut the front struts from the spindles and re-attached them to the spindles allowing the front end to drop and level the chassis. The second issue involved the taillight lens that didn't conform to the recess on the back of the body. This problem was solved by thinning the back of the clear part and gluing the ends but not the middle. The rest of the build is straightforward. The bucket race seats have belts molded on and look good with careful masking. The engine compartment is sufficient with some paint. My only modifications to the body parts were opening the side vents on the front clip and reshaping the cross piece of the wing to an aerodynamic shape as opposed to the rectangular section it was molded with. 

The body color is a mix of decanted Tamiya pure white rattle can lacquer with a fine gold powder I borrowed from my daughter's nail art supplies. Decal application was easy, and they responded well to Solvaset. I cut the back windows from the rear window and fitted them individually. The mirrors are very delicate so you'll have to be careful before and after installation. 

In conclusion, this kit is still relevant and builds up into a nice model with the right amount of care. A cool flashback to a design that still holds up. Thank you to Round 2 models for bringing this kit and many others back for us to enjoy and to IPMS for sharing the sample with me.

Jet Fighters of the U. S. Navy and Marine Corps, Part 2: Mach 1 and Beyond -Digital Version

Thu, 03/04/2021 - 20:35
Product Image Review Author:  Bill O'Malley Detail & Scale, Inc.

This is a review of the digital version of the Details & Scale's Jet Fighters of the U. S. Navy and Marine Corps book which has been released concurrently with the hard copy that is reviewed here. The digital version of the Jet Fighters book is available in both Apple's iBook and Amazon's Kindle formats. The digital edition has a few more pages and photographs than the hard copy. I have a MacBook Pro computer, so I decided to try the iBook on my computer. Most people use the iBook app on an iPad, but it works just as well on a MacBook laptop. iBooks can be viewed on Apple iPhones also, although the image is much smaller and difficult to view without zooming in on the page.

iBooks Format

A link on Detail & Scale's website goes to the Apple iBook store where the book can be purchased. The volume downloads and is ready to read shortly in iBooks on my MacBook Pro (or iPad, or phone, or Kindle device).

An excellent guide to using iBooks is on the Apple Website. The Apple IOS signature taps, finger swipes, and finger pinch motions are easy to learn and are much the same as many touch tablet systems. It's easy to pick up iBook navigation and you'll quickly be moving around the text and photos.

Moving the cursor to the top of the screen brings up a menu with options to bring up the table of contents, toggle page thumbnails at the bottom of the screen, bring up a search window, or add bookmarks. The search function is particularly helpful finding a word or phrase anywhere in the book. Text can be selected by holding down the Shift key and dragging through the text. After selecting text, Right Click on the selection to bring up options for highlighting, copying, adding to Notes, and emailing the selection.

Pressing Shift-Command-5 brings up the standard Apple capture dialog box with capture, save, and email options. This function is great saving screen captures for future modeling reference. I used the capture function to copy the pages for this review.

I found Jet Fighters to be easy to read and navigate on my Mac. While clumsier than an iPad, a PowerBook is certainly a viable option for iBooks. If you have multiple devices the book can be viewed on all.

Book Content

Detail & Scale provides the following description of the book:

"Jet Fighters of the U. S. Navy and Marine Corps is a two-book series that describes the entire history of American Naval jet fighters, from the very beginning when many thought that the onset of military jets would mean the end of naval carrier-based aviation, to today when the fifth-generation stealth jet F-35B/C Lightning II has begun its service with both the Navy and Marine Corps.  Also covered by the books is the history of how American aircraft carriers evolved from the ESSEX class ships that won World War II with propeller-driven aircraft to the mighty supercarriers of today.

In the first book, Jet Fighters of the U. S. Navy and Marine Corps, Part 1:  The First Ten Years, author Bert Kinzey described the first- and second-generation jet fighters that came on the scene at the end of or shortly after World War II.  These jet fighters made their first flights between 1945 and 1954, and the book covers fifteen aircraft arranged according to the chronological order of the date of their first flight. 

This concluding volume, Jet Fighters of the U. S. Navy and Marine Corps, Part 2:  Mach 1 and Beyond, resumes where Part 1 left off and continues to the present day.  The evolution of the United States Navy's aircraft carriers is again picked up and covers continued modifications to the ESSEX and MIDWAY class carriers and to the initial super carriers of the FORRESTAL CLASS.  The follow-on super carriers of the KITTY HAWK, NIMITZ, and FORD classes are discussed to highlight the continued evolution required to handle the ever increasingly sophisticated jet aircraft that have achieved operational status.

Together, Jet Fighters of the U. S. Navy and Marine Corps, Part 1 and Part 2, cover every jet fighter that has been designed, built, and at least reached the flying prototype stage since the FH-1 Phantom first took to the air in 1945.  The remarkable history of these aircraft, the problems faced, the solutions developed, and the successes achieved provide incredibly interesting reading for the aviation enthusiast".

Table of Contents

  • Copyright & Contributors

An important reminder that the contents of the book may not be reproduced or transmitted without the consent of Detail & Scale. When text is copied, iBooks includes aa appropriate credit to the book when the text is pasted into another document.

  • About the Author

During his eight years as an officer in the U.S. Army, Bert Kinzey commanded a Hawk guided missile battery just south of the DMZ in Korea. Later he originated, wrote, and taught classes on the air threat, military air power, and air defense suppression at Fort Bliss. After retiring from active duty, Kinzey took a civilian position as a subject matter expert on the air threat and world airpower with the Department of Defense. Bert started Detail & Scale, a part-time business to produce a new series of books on military aircraft. The Detail & Scale Series of publications was the first to focus on the many details of military aircraft to include cockpits, weapon systems, radars and avionics systems, differences between variants, airframe design, and much more.

  • About the Illustrator

The illustrator, Colonel Richard S. "Rock" Roszak, commissioned into the United States Air Force where he earned his navigator wings and accumulated over 2,000 flying hours, mostly in B-52D/F/G and C-135 aircraft, over a 27-year active duty career. An avid modeler in his younger years, he has been a digital artist for over twenty years and has illustrated several books in partnership with his friend, Bert Kinzey. In 2017, Rock's role at Detail & Scale expanded when he authored one book and co-authored another.

  • Foreword

Detail & Scale published Jet Fighters of the U. S. Navy and Marine Corps, Part 1: The First Ten Years. That book covered each of the jet fighters that were designed for use by the U. S. Navy and Marine Corps from January 1945 through December 1954. This volume, Jet Fighters of the U. S. Navy and Marine Corps, Part 2: Mach 1 and Beyond, picks up where Part 1 left off and continues to the present day. An early chapter describes modernizations and upgrades to the Essex, Midway, and Forrestal class carriers necessary to accommodate larger aircraft.

  • Introduction

This chapter provides a brief, but informative description of the history and development of jet fighters designed for the Navy and Marines from 1955 to present day.

  • Aircraft Carrier Development

A description of the continuing modernizations to existing aircraft carrier Essex and Midway classes as well as the new Forrestal class of supercarriers to accommodate the newer, larger, heavier, and more capable jet fighters.

Aircraft Descriptions

The next section provides detailed descriptions of the jet fighters in 13 chapters that vary from 3 to 23 pages in length. Each chapter includes text describing development, capabilities, and characteristics of each of the aircraft. Color photographs and profiles clearly illustrate each of the aircraft. Aircraft chapters include:

  • Vought F-8 Crusader
  • Grumman F11F-1F Super Tiger
  • Douglas F5D Skylancer
  • McDonnell F-4 Phantom II
  • Vought XF8U-3 Crusader III
  • General Dynamics F-111B
  • Grumman F-14 Tomcat
  • Northrop F-5E, F-5F, & F-5N Tiger II
  • Israeli Aircraft Industries F-21A Kfir
  • General Dynamics F-16N, F-16A, & F-16B Fighting Falcon
  • McDonnell Douglas F/A-18A, F/A-18B, F/A-18C, & F/A-18D Hornet
  • McDonnell Douglas/Boeing F/A-18E & F/A-18F Super Hornet
  • Lockheed Martin F-35B & F-35C Lightning II
  • Also Available from Detail & Scale

I found the digital version of Jet Fighters Vol 2 to be easy to use and a convenient way to browse through the book. Jumping around to different sections using the pull-down table of contents makes navigation quicker than flipping through pages. The photos are gorgeous on the Mac screen and easy to zoom in. Being able to search for key words or terms is very handy. If you feel comfortable with an iPad or computer, the D&S digital books are a great way to save resources awhile still having the books available.

The content of Jet Fighters is very thorough and easy to read with lots of great information. These publications are great resources for modelers.

Thanks to Detail & Scale for continuing to publish these awesome books in both hard copy and digital formats

The Battle of Znaim. Napoleon, the Hapsburgs and the End of the War of 1809.

Thu, 03/04/2021 - 13:40
Product Image Review Author:  Luke R. Bucci PhD Greenhill Books

Thanks to Casemate Publishing & IPMSUSA for the review copy!

John H. Gill is currently a Professor at the National Defense University, and an Associate Professor at the Near East-South Asia Center for Strategic Studies in Washington, D.C. Jack is a retired Colonel with over 27 years of service, including the Liaison Officer to the Pakistani Army, and has worked on South Asia affairs such as the Kargill Crisis in 1999, Military Advisor to Ambassador James Dobbins, and US Envoy to Afghan Opposition forces. He has held positions with the US Joint Staff, US Pacific Command and more. Pertinent to this book, Jack is an acknowledged military historian and expert on the Napoleonic Era.

What You Get

A 9.25 X 6 inch hardcover book 1.7 inches thick with 12/15.2 font written in British English (not American English). The front jacket cover depicts a painting of the Battle of Znaim, and the rear cover, a painting of another portion of the battle. There are 12 pages of 61 color and B&W illustrations of the characters, uniforms, and battle scenes with a few photos of modern-day buildings still standing in the center of the book. There are five charts and 22 maps of the troop positions and battles interspersed throughout the text. You get seven Chapters and an Intermezzo (other theatres of war for perspective). An Epilogue, Notes, and an extensive number of Appendices, and finally, the Bibliography, Index and Gazetteer (listing what places were on which maps, in case you were wondering).

If you are a fan of the Napoleonic Era, or wanted to learn more, this book is for you.

This book is a massive undertaking, and an extremely in-depth treatise centered on the Battle of Znaim, a small Austrian village on the Thaya River, a tributary of the Danube, strategically located for defense of Vienna, the Austrian capital. Just as interesting as the end-game (for the time being) Battle of Znaim are the precursor battles, especially the Battle of Wagram, which is described as apocalyptic. Not kidding.

I did not read the entire book due to time constraints, but one day I will. Scanned it, stopping here and there to read pages. The prose is lively, not dull or dreary, which makes this book a page-turner. Yes, that is right! You the reader gets the inside story on what these decision makers were thinking, with plenty of context to understand their reasons, and their personal foibles, which so often influenced the course of war. The unknown nature of these battles keeps you riveted during the chapters on the conduct of these battles. Thus, the oddity of Znaim becomes alluring.

The battles were bloody, and always in doubt until some defining moment. You learn about how politics incited these battles, and how negotiations were in the best interest of everyone at the end of battles. But there is a happy ending to this story. Napoleon meets his soon-to-be wife, Marie Louise, which helped to keep the peace but also started a dynasty (at least for the moment).

The place of these messy and bloody battles in history is important and sets the stage for encounters most of us are more familiar with, such as the invasion of Russia, and eventually, Waterloo. But these particular battles brought an end to the long-time rule of the Habsburgs, forever changing the politics and maps of Europe, even to this day. You'll know why after reading this book.

Summary

This book is not a trifle - it is engrossing and sucks you into its vortex of addictive "need to read it" in one sitting. You feel like royalty getting inside the heads of the protagonists/antagonists, but the soldiers and lower officers are not forgotten. Very highly recommended for Napoleon buffs, strategic thinkers, mixers of politics with military actions, and the sheer scope.

Figures:

Figure 1: Front cover of The Battle of Znaim.

Figure 2: Rear cover of The Battle of Znaim.

Figure 3: Napoleon at Eggmuhl, a precursor battle before Znaim.

Figure 4: Napoleon meets Maria Louise, his future wife, after the Armistice.

SMS Torpedo Boat A-III

Thu, 03/04/2021 - 13:25
Product Image Review Author:  Frank Landrus Kagero Publishing

Kagero's SMS Torpedoboot A-III is one of the latest in their Super Drawings in 3D series. This edition is in their standard 8.25" x 11.75" format softbound publication that is 60 pages (including covers).  This volume starts off with two pages of historical text followed by 61 pages of color 3D illustrations.  There is also a Centerfold full of line drawings (B2; ~26.8" x 19.0") that starts with profiles at 1/100th scale and goes up to 1/25th scale for the details.  I counted 106 color 3D illustrations, 42 line drawings, and two tables.  There are no current nor period photographs.

Designed for use for operations off Belgium's Flanders coast, these torpedo boasts neared the size of a small destroyer.  Built in three series, A-I (25 built), A-II (30 built), A-III (37 built), a total of 92 were built with each variant larger than the previous.   The A-III had orders for 60 planned, but in the end, 19 to 23 were not completed and scrapped (sources differ).  Built by four different shipyards, the A-III ships varied in size and outlines, especially between the Vulcan-Werke AG and the F. Schichau.  This is quite evident on pages 6 and 7 where the differences are easily observed.  The A-III class were essentially single stack, oil fired geared turbine steam engines driving two shafts.  Armament was generally two 8.8cm guns and a 45cm torpedo tube, although the torpedo tube was only installed on A-56 through A-80.  You can also see that some ships, A-56 in particular, carried a Maxim machine gun.  The Chapters include:

  • Introduction [Page 4)
  • Tactical and Technical Data [Table]
  • A-56 through A-113 Build Notes [Table]
  • A-56 3D Color Illustrations [Page 9, 31, 40]
  • Scale Drawings [Centerfold, ~26.8" x 19.0"]
    • 1/100 Scale 45cm Torpedo Tube, Port, and Starboard Views
    • 1/200 Scale Port, Starboard, Top, Bow, and Stern Views
    • 1/50 Scale Dinghy, Binnacle Ship's Compass, 60cm search and signal spotlights, 8.8cm SK L/30 Gun Views
    • 1/25 Scale Maschinegewehr 08 Gun Views

Model-wise you have a couple of choices.  Mirage Hobby has released three kits in 1/350, all of A-III torpedoboots, two of which served in the Polish Navy.  This includes ex A-80 as ORP "Podhalanin", A-86 in German service, and ex A-59 as ORP "Slazak".  I have one of these kits and they appear good in the box.  Although they were all built by Vulcan-Werke AG, in Stettin, A-59 has different dimensions than A-80 and A-86.  This may not be a huge issue, and certainly not as large a difference as some ships of the A-III class built at different shipyards.

I consider the Kagero Super Drawings in 3D an essential reference for model building.  You get angles you can't really see in other references and they are in full color.  This being the eightieth volume, they have managed to cover quite a few ships.  If you have any of their previous books in the Super Drawings in 3D series, you know how great a value this book is.  Highly Recommended! 

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

Highly recommended!

YAMAHA Ténéré 660cc Paris Dakar 1986

Wed, 03/03/2021 - 00:21
Product Image Review Author:  Gregory Hansel Italeri

Introduction:

The Yamaha XT 660 was an enduro style bike that featured the most powerful single piston engine of its time back in the 80s. The kit was initially released in the 1980s and was developed by Protar from Italy.  Protar had a series of 1/9 bikes as well as a series of Formula One cars in 1/12 and 1/20.

Construction:  

The kit comes on five sprues and has rubber tires, vinyl hoses, springs and a LOT of screws. The only chrome is the wheels and those need to be painted black anyway.  The molds are from the 1980s and it shows a bit with large sprue gates and some tool marks here and there, but it's surprisingly clean and crisp.  The overall level of detail is good and the model looks great in the box.

The Engine construction is unique. Instead of the normal halves, the cylinder head is made up of 15 individual plates, it looks great when they are assembled. In a nod to the slight roughness of the parts, the instructions tell you to clean up the surface of the crankcase before mounting the cylinder head on it.  I found the fit there to be good after just a few swiped with a sanding stick.  The rest of the engine goes together well and looks good when complete. 

The instructions show the frame being assembled around the engine, but I was able to put the frame halves together first, clean up the seams, and wiggle the engine into place afterwards.  This made painting the frame much easier.  At this point I moved ahead in the instructions and assembled the rear suspension and front forks.  The reason is I was avoiding the chain until I could get the nerve up to tackle it.  

The Chain is unique, especially for being designed in the 80s.  It's built up of four layers of individual links.  The design is quite clever, you sandwich the four strips and melt the pins to lock everything together, then clip it all free of the sprue.  I did not do the best job with it so my chain is a little stiff, but it's workable and looks great!

The place where I had the most difficulty was step 13, mounting the swing arm.  I had to line up the frame, engine and swing arm for one long screw.  This is where I had some fit issues, things were difficult to line up and I had to apply some careful pressure to get the holes all lined up.  But it all worked out fine in the end, even if it was a bit of a nail biter.

The only other difficulty I had was the exhaust.  It all went together well and the seams were easy to sand out.  But when I went to mount it, it did not fit perfectly at the engine.  

The decals were in a word, AMAZING!  They worked perfectly for me and only needed a little Solvaset to snuggle down and conform.  No silvering at all! The body parts went together very well and mounted to the frame with no issues and really brought the model to life.

The exhaust mounted positively and needed no modification or fitting, on some kits this area can be an issue.  Installing the rear swing arm and wheel required a bit of care to get lined up and installed.  The challenge was not putting too much pressure anywhere while fitting the assembled swing arm.  The model is a bit delicate at this stage. The rest of the build was simply adding parts, no real issues.

Summary:

This kit went together well considering its vintage and makes an impressive display piece due to its large scale. I have built other bikes in this series and look forward to the next release. I want to give a big thanks to MRC and Italeri for providing the kit and I.P.M.S for letting me build it!