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Updated: 3 hours 27 min ago

A6M Reisen Zeke

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 09:39
Product Image Review Author:  Dick Montgomery Kagero Publishing

From the website - An Overview:
"The result of years of experimentation by the Imperial Japanese Navy, the Mitsubishi A6M Reisen is perhaps the best know Japanese World War II fighter type. The Zero, or "Zeke", in official Allied reporting, saw action in practically all battles waged by the Imperial Japanese Navy, from the attack on Pearl Harbor all the way through the defense of the Home Islands against the B-29s. During the first months of the war in the Pacific the Zero emerged as a world-class fighter, unrivaled in the air by anything the enemy could muster. However, with no worthy successor in sight, by 1943 the Zero was all but obsolete. Despite that, Japanese factories continue to build and deliver the type until the end of the war."

This publication is one of many in Kagaro's "Monographs" series of excellent books, each about a specific aircraft. Each publication in this series provides detailed historical information about the subject aircraft. A list of this information is extensive, including the origins of the aircraft's design, a technical description of the variants of the aircraft as it was modified, and a combat history of the aircraft. Each publication contains hundreds of photographs. Further, there are excellent full-color drawings as seen from either side, front, read, top and bottom. There is an extensive collection of line drawings from the same viewpoints as the color drawings. Further, there are line drawings of shows the surface detail of the fuselage, wings, and tail. Included in the list of line drawings are an excellent drawing of the instrument panel of an A6M2, the Nakajima NK1C 12 radial engine and a Sumitomo constant speed 3-blade propeller.

While there is not a "traditional" Table of Contents page, a short list of topics covered in this book will show that the coverage of the "Reisen" Zeke is extensive.

  • Expansion of the Imperial Japanese Navy carrier aviation post World War I
  • First Japanese carrier-based fighter aircraft
  • The road to "Reisen" - Nakajima carrier-based fighters
  • The road to "Reisen" - Failed projects
  • The road to "Reisen" - two-seat carrier fighters
  • The road to "Reisen" - Mitsubishi A5M Claude
  • Dawn of modernity
  • The legend is born
  • From design to pre-production machines
  • Dark clouds over Zero
  • Mitsubishi A6M2 Model 11
  • Entry into service and combat debut
  • Zero on floats
  • Mitsubishi A6M designation system
  • List of common names an abbreviations

These topics cover 79 pages. Included with the text related to each topic are black and white photographs. There is a brief list of archival sources and bibliography on page 80.

The remainder of the (20+) pages are filled with the superb line drawings and color profiles previously mentioned.

The content of this impressive publication is a treasure chest of data for the scale modeler as well as the aviation historian. The book is clearly written and is a very interesting "read".  The quality of the text, pictures and artwork is outstanding.

Conclusion:

Highly recommended!

The artwork is exceptional, and is especially useful to modelers, as is the amount of detail shown on the color profiles and line drawings. Thanks to Casemate/Kagero for providing this publication for review by IPMS/USA

Lockheed P-38J “Lightning”

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 09:28
Product Image Review Author:  Brian R. Baker Italeri

History:

The Lockheed P-38J was one of the finest twin engine fighters to be developed during World War II, and although it wasn't as effective in the European Theater, it excelled in the Pacific, where some of the highest scoring aces scored the majority of their victories on the type.  Although faced with developmental problems, it became a highly effective, well armed, and long ranged fighter with excellent overall performance.  It was especially effective against the Japanese, and one little known achievement was that Charles Lindbergh, who had been rejected by President Roosevelt for political reasons, went to the South Pacific to work with pilots extending the range through improved piloting techniques, actually scored a victory against a Japanese plane in a 475th FG P-38 .  He was the only American civilian to do so during World War II.

The P-38J was one of the late production models, featuring reliable long range performance and heavy armament.  In addition to four .50 cal. Machine guns and a 20 mm cannon, the P-38 could carry bombs or 'bazooka" type rocket launchers. In addition, a photo-reconnaissance version, designated F-5, was used, and several of the war surplus F-5G's were used in the National Air Races in the postwar period.  Others were used for high altitude photography.  They were withdrawn from military service shortly after the end of the war, although a few were exported to foreign countries.

References:

Since the P-38 was a well publicized fighter, there is plenty of material available showing photos, drawings, and other technical data on the airplane.  One of the better sources is the series of three softcover books published by Squadron Signal,  the P-38 Lightning In Action series.  Other coverage is available in Swanborough and Bowers'  United States Military Aircraft Since 1908 and the many other books dealing with American warplanes.  There are also numerous after-market decal sheets which provide additional choices as to markings and other details.

Instructions:

The 12 page instruction sheet provides a short one-paragraph history of the type in six languages, numerous legal warnings,  a very useful  sprue diagram,  12 exploded assembly drawings,  four color four-view drawings showing the colors and markings for the versions for which decals are provided, and a page at the back to write to the company in case parts are broken or missing. 

The assembly drawings are particularly good for this kind of kit, although there are several issues, such as the rear boarding ladder, and the 12 piece propellers, that are a little confusing. The four view drawings, however, include separate views of the cockpit nose area, showing the markings that are obscured by the engines.

Decals:

The decals provide markings for four P-38J  aircraft, including "Miss Ann", of the 7th FG, in an unusual light blue over black scheme,  at Little Snoring AB, England, March 1944;  a standard OD over neutral grey P-38J "Bambi" of the  55 FG, 338th FS, in England, January, 1944;  a P-38J in aluminum with "D-Day" invasion stripes, "Curly Six", of the 367th FG, 394th FS,  Clastres, France,. Oct, 1944; and  P-38J "T Rigor Mortis", 431st FS, 475th FG, New Guinea, 1944.  These provide for some very colorful color schemes, and the decals go easily without the need for trimming.  Major colors for each aircraft are shown on the instruction drawings,

The Kit:

The kit is a reissue of the earlier Academy kit,  #2209, and from looking at reviews of that kit, there is no difference between the kits.  A review of the Academy kit is accurate for the Italeri kit.  But this is OK, since the academy kit was basically as good a kit as we are going to get.  Molded in soft grey styrene,  the kit has very little flash, and although some of the parts are very small and have a tendency to escape into the carpeting, fit well together and require  very little filler overall. Although there is no pilot figure ,  all of the rest of the parts are there, and the kit almost snaps together.  One thing I noticed about this kit was that it is very robust, and when the wings, fuselages, and tail units are attached, the structure is very strong and there isn't any tendency for anything to break,  although when the instructions say to install the landing gear, struts, and wheels before installing the wheel wells in the twin fuselages, you might think about that,  as these parts are easy to break off, and I found that they can be installed after major assembly with very little trouble. 

I only had two problems assembling this kit.  First, I loaded the nose with weights, but apparently didn't get enough in, even though I filled up the empty spaces, and the airplane still sits tail down.  I should have added some weights to the engine compartments before I joined the sections, as you can't do this after the fuselage halves are joined.  Second, the propellers are molded in six pieces each, and the assembly is very touchy.  They could have easily been molded in one piece, and you have to be careful, as the props are handed, rotating in opposite directions to lessen the effect of torque and "P" factor for takeoffs and landings.  Anyone who has ever flown a tail wheel airplanes can tell you why this was a real advantage in operating this type of airplane.  The tricycle was also a significant safety factor, and this was more common on American warplanes than those of any other country during World War II.

Painting and Finishing:

Interior details, such as the cockpit and wheel wells, should be painted before assembly.  The cockpit is especially nicely done, and once completed, the clear plastic canopy can be attached,  Two canopies are provided, giving several choices for open or closed position,  These can be masked off, and the whole thing can then be painted and masked as required.  The props should be painted before any assembly.

I used Tamiya acrylic paints for this aircraft, and was basically satisfied, although I thought that their Olive Drab was a bit darker than it should have been.  The model looks OK, however.  I didn't do any weathering. 

Detailing:

The only detailing that is required is the addition of the elevator balances and the pitot tube and antenna up front.  Two short lengths of fine wire will serve as the low frequency radio antenna, which runs from the rear portion of the pilot's fuselage to the leading edges of the vertical stabilizers.  I used straightened out electrical wire and white glue, and these wires were about the only thing I added to the kit.

Conclusions and Recommendations:

This is probably one of the best P-38 kits available in 1/72 scale, and structurally, I think it is better than the others I've seen.  The only real drawbacks are the multi-piece propellers, which are extremely difficult to line up correctly.  You just about have to make up a jig to get it right. But the decals are good, and the choices you have using kit decals cover the basic color schemes used by late war P-38's. If you are planning to build more P-38's, this would be the one to get. Of course, if you opt for the Academy kit, you're getting basically the same thing. In either case, they are worth getting.  Highly recommended.

Thanks to Italeri, MRC Academy and Phil Peterson for the review kit.

Douglas DC-3

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 01:14
Product Image Review Author:  Brian R. Baker Pen & Sword

The Book:

This book is the first I've seen to present a complete modeler's guide to what is probably the most famous transport aircraft ever built, the Douglas DC-3/C-47 series.  The author begins with a historical account of the development and service life of the plane, accompanied by profuse illustrations showing nearly all conceivable forms in which the aircraft appeared, and providing detailed accounts and reviews of nearly all of the plastic kits issued in the popular modeling scales.  Although the DC-3 is the stated subject, some coverage is given to the DC-1 and DC-2, the predecessors of  the DC-3, although no mention is given to kits of any but the DC-3.

 

Contents:

The book begins with an account of the air transport industry at the end of World War I,  and how the various types, following single engine mail carrying biplanes, evolved through the Fokker and Ford Trimotors, the Curtiss Condors, and some of the European types, to the Boeing 247, which appeared just before the Douglas airliners.

Chapters in the book include the Douglas DC-1 and DC-2, the DC-3 in Detail, the DC-2 and DC-3 at War,  the DC-3 in Post-War Years,  Contemporaries and Successors, Douglas DC-3 Variants, Fly-On Forever, A DC-3 Pilot's Story, the Douglas DC-3 in Profile, Modeling the DC-3, and Model Showcase.

Illustrations:

The book has many photos and drawings showing different examples of the DC-3 and other aircraft, which serve to illustrate the variations in form and color schemes used by DC-3's through their service careers.    The color profile drawings show some of the typical airline markings of the period, and exclude the military examples that will probably be depicted in a secondary volume. 

Features:

The book is intended as a modelers' guide, and all of the material included appears to be aimed at our club membership.  Beside the usual color and marking information, the author includes a detailed description of the available kits in the major scales, including the  1/144 scale Minicraft kit, the 1/72 scale kits by Airfix, Italeri, and ESCI, and the 1/48 scale Trumpeter kit.  Missing in action is the first DC-3 kit issued by Monogram , P9-98, in TWA markings and priced at 98 cents when first issued in the 1960's to 1/90 scale.  I built  this kit years ago, and still have some parts of the fuselage in my spares box.  For its day, it was a pretty good kit, although it was not to any consistent scale. Today, according to Burns' Guide, surviving examples  sell for between $50 and $80.

One really useful feature of this book is the detailed description of each of the major kits of the aircraft, as the author is an experienced modeler, and has built each of the models covered in the book.  He goes through each kit, explaining the pros and cons, showing how to overcome the problems and come up with a decent model of the various types.  In the back of the book, pictures are provided of all of the major details of the kits, which will be helpful in providing information for modelers wanting to include extra details in their efforts.

For modelers, one really excellent addition to the book is a page devoted to aftermarket  modeling accessories, including parts,  decals, and other items intended to add details and special markings to their models.  While modelers can usually improvise military markings, airline color schemes are much more difficult, and after market materials are really necessary, as there are very few decal sheets which provide airline markings.  There are some, but if I want a model of a Capital Airlines DC-3 that I helped load baggage on when I worked for Capital back in the fifties, I would need aftermarket decals.

The DC-3 was probably produced in greater numbers than any other transport aircraft in the history of aviation.   Before the war, it had become the dominant airliner throughout the world, and with the wartime production, thousands became available after the end of the war. Many were produced in the Soviet Union, and the type also became the major transport type for the Japanese Navy. All  of the Japanese  types were scrapped after the war, but many Russian Li-1P's or PS-84's, as the type was called, survived for many years, with a few still exhibited in museums today.

While the author mentions these types, there isn't a lot of information provided on them, probably because they were primarily military types. There is one photo provided of a Japanese "Tess" transport in the process of being shot down towards the end of the war, and another photo, identified as a Japanese DC-2 on page 7, which actually looks like a Showa produced DC-3, with all of the extra cockpit windows and no landing lights in the nose, as the DC-2's had. In addition, there is one photo provided of one of the amphibian floatplanes moored to a dock.  There is at least one of these still flying, and I am including a photo of  it in this review.

DC-3 Variations:

One problem with the DC-3 series is the fact that the plane began service as an airliner powered by a Wright R-1820  single row radial, and later production aircraft used the Pratt & Whitney double row radial producing slight higher power.  There were many variations in the production aircraft, depending upon which airline ordered it.  When the U.S. military began to obtain the type, some were acquired straight off the production lines, and others were impressed from airline fleets, and it seems that each type was somehow different, usually because of engine, door locations, or seating and/or cargo arrangements, and the way the military operated,  each variant had to have a different designation.  With the Army designating the type C-47 to C-47D, C-48 to C-48C, C-49 to C-49K, C-50 to C-50D, C-51, C-52 to C-52C, C-53 to C-53D, C-68,  C-84, and C-117,  and the Navy calling the type R4D-1, R4D-2, R4D-3, R4D-4, R4D-4R, and R4D-4Q, R4D-5, R4D-6,  R4D-7, and R4D-8, designations and configurations are definitely confusing even to those familiar with the system.  Then the postwar modifications, including those types equipped with various turbine engines, make exact identification of an airplane extremely difficult.  I have been photographing DC-3's of all types since about 1951, and have found that the registration number in the case of civil aircraft, and the USAF or USN serial number, with U.S. military aircraft, is essential for exact identification. Then there is a factory serial number that goes along with each aircraft, and this can usually be determined through FAA records (faa.registry) if the records haven't  been stricken from the records.  But then, many numbers have been changed or cancelled, thus adding more confusion to the issue.  And sometimes, maintenance personnel enter the wrong designations, making things even worse.

 

One of the most unusual DC-3's I ever photographed was at San Deigo in 1981.  The owner had taken off the wings and tail unit, and made a motor home out of the remainder. The main entrance was in the back of the rear fuselage.  If you ever have a DC-3 kit that is missing the wings,  this would be a good conversion. I don't know where the thing is now, but uit must gather siome interesting looks when on the road.

One problem with the book is that there is no section that provides a line drawing with the detail differences noted for each variant, but there are other sources for this information, so if you can hire a CIA team of investigators, you'll be able to find the information you want. There are a number of excellent color profiles I n the book  showing 23 different civilian DC-3's  and one DC-2,  and a number of photos throughout the book illustrating different variants.  I was surprised by the large number of DC-3 photos from official sources, museums and government agencies, and the lack of photos from private photo collectors, such as Bill Larkins, Peter Bowers, and Howard levy among others,  who photographed every DC-3 they saw from the middle nineteen thirties.  I would think that anyone writing a book of this type would contact the owners of these collections so as to illustrate many different variations of the aircraft. I know that my black and white photo file on DC-3's almost fills a single 3 x 5 file drawer, and I would have gladly contributed some of these for publication in the book.

Illustrations:

The back of the book contains photos of each of the models  covered in the book, except, of course, the Monogram 1/90 DC-3 airliner kit. Detailed photos are provided, which should be very helpful to anyone building any of these models

Recommendations:

There is an awful lot of information included in this book, and if you are a DC-3 addict, as I am, this book is certainly worth getting.  Watch for a second book dealing with military variants, as it will hopefully include anything left out of this publication.  Highly recommended.

 

About the Reviewer:

I have been a serious aircraft modeler since the nineteen fifties, and have had some experience with the DC-3.  I worked for Capital Airlines while in high school, and recall loading a lot of suitcases through the front and rear baggage doors of their 'threes.  My brother flew them for Capital and North Central, and I have photographed them for the past 70 years in both civilian and military colors.  It has always been one of my favorite airplanes, and I have several models of the plane in my display cases. The airplane has become a legend in our own time, and I'm glad that I have had a chance to fly in them.

My thanks to Casemate Publishers for the opportunity to review the book!

Artillery Warfare 1939-1945

Mon, 03/01/2021 - 09:16
Product Image Review Author:  Scott Hollingshead Pen & Sword

For history buffs and modelers interested in artillery warfare during WWII, the folks at Pen and Sword have come through with an offering that provides extensive coverage of all manners of artillery.  The different types of artillery, including the gun, howitzer, and mortar are covered in detail for all participants in the war as well as rockets that were used.  Over 400 photographs and illustrations are contained in the book so that nearly every page contains one or more photographs or black and white drawing, all of which are well produced.

In the Preface, Simon Forty mentions his late father-in-law Barry Hook, who was a gunner during the Second World War serving in France, North Africa, and Germany.  The importance of Allied artillery in the European offensive is mentioned, along with the book being based in photographs to show the equipment as well as the tactics employed.  The Abbreviations and Glossary section does a great job of thoroughly describing the types of artillery, ammunition nomenclature and types, and types of fire before providing the Glossary and Abbreviations themselves.

The Introduction begins with some discussion of world War I and the artillery ending with the limitations imposed on the German army by the Treaty of Versailles.  The seven chapters of the book, in order, are titled Field Artillery, Self-Propelled Artillery, Anti-Tank Artillery, Anti-Aircraft Artillery, Big Guns, Rockets, and Ammunition.  Chapter Six, Rockets, is seven pages in length, and the shortest, while Chapters One, Field Artillery, is the longest at 46 pages.  The Appendices cover Observation, Gun positions, Towing weapons, and Mountain warfare, and conclude with Photo Credits and suggestions for Further Reading. 

As mentioned at the start of this review, artillery fans of all types will enjoy this publication, so I can highly recommend it!  The wonderful photos of both Axis and Allies weapons will be appreciated by modelers and will be of interest to artillery aficionados. 

I always like to close 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, an incredibly special thanks to the folks at Casemate Publishing for providing this book for review.

DG-1000S Glider AKVY

Mon, 03/01/2021 - 09:06
Product Image Review Author:  David Wrinkle Brengun

As a glider pilot, I couldn't pass up a review of this kit from Brengun.  The DG-1000S is a two-seater built by DG Flugzeugbau and can be configured for either an 18-meter or 20-meter wingspan. (The Brengun kit represents the 18m wing setup.) DG no longer produces the 1000 but now builds an improved version, the DG1001.  For those of you who are adventurous with making painting masks or homemade decals, the USAF Academy uses the DG-1000 (TG-16A) to train its cadets to fly. So I guess technically speaking this aircraft is in the USAF inventory.

Well, no surprise the kit arrives in a typical European end opening box which consists of 33 parts molded in white plastic, three clear parts, plans and a decal sheet. You will use all but a couple parts in construction of the kit. My first reaction was that the DG-1000 looks like a typical "short-run" kit but by the end of the build I can safely say don't judge a book by its cover. Items of note, the wings are molded complete as is the horizontal stab. I probably should also point out that the sprue gates attach to the wings and stab bit awkwardly. Be careful removing these parts from the sprues as well as some delicate sanding is required to clean up those attachment points.  Otherwise, nothing was surprising about what I found in the box. 

Well, lets get started.  Being an aircraft kit, we start where with the cockpit. (note: Believe it or not, the FAA would really prefer the term flight deck.)  I would have to say that I had only a couple small issues with the kit and both presented themselves in this area of the kit. The cockpit actually goes together pretty easy however I found that the front seat instrument pedestal just didn't seem to be fully formed???    I found it a bit fiddly to get it together and then ended up using filler and scrap polystyrene to build it back up to its full size. Otherwise, the cockpit assembly, wheel well and rear bulkheads just needed a bit of sanding here, and some putty there to fit look right. Make sure you double & triple check the wheel well fit so that when the fuselage halves are brought together it is sitting in the correct position.  I should also note, that the fuse halves don't have alignment pins if that is your thing. I didn't mind their absence, but unfortunately the fuselage shifted a bit before the it set up and I was left with a bit more sanding that there should have been. (My bad, no fault on the kit.)

If you plan to build this with the gear down, the gear mechanism is made up of several small/tiny parts. Nothing to difficult just be careful and avoid flinging them at the carpet monster. The gear can be fully assembled and painted with wheel attached then added to the fuselage at the end of the build.  And that is exactly what I did.  So, I mentioned before, there were two fit issues with the kit. The second was with the canopy. Both front and rear glass were oversized and required some sanding and fiddling to fit properly. The canopy parts are very thick but surprisingly very clear, the robustness of the canopy parts made sanding and fitting them a bit easier than what it could have been a royal pain with delicate parts.

The horizontal stab was attached using a small brass pin to help provide a bit of strength. The kit relies on simple butt joint between the stab and top of the rudder. My guess that with a little rough handling the stab would be the first to break off.  The clear cover was added to the rear ballast box on the vertical fin before moving on to attaching the wings.

The wings as I mentioned before are molded in one piece. They only required a bit of sanding of the mold seam and a bit of touch up of some surface blemishes. The wing tip wheels are attached and its now is the time for the daunting task of attaching the wings to the fuse.   The wings use a pseudo butt joint and again, I felt a small brass pin or two was the way to go. The pocketed butt joint actually gets the wing dihedral alignment pretty close. In the end it turned out well up until I dropped the model and had to reattach the wing.

Last but not least with the obligatory primer and paint work. With the landing gear off the model the only masking required on the canopy and ballast box cover. With the painting and clear coat compete, attention was focused on the decals. I am happy to say that they were thin and behaved very well. Black panel liner was added to the airbrakes, ailerons, elevator and canopy prior to a final clearcoat. A little PVA glue was used to attach the gear and gear doors and this one is in the books as complete.

This build was my first full kit from Brengun and I was pleased with both the kit and the results.  Brengun also sells some extra details for the DG-1000 kit.  The first item is the BRL48146 Canopy mask ($5.75) and BRL48145 Photoetched set ($12.15).

If I chance upon another copy of the kit in the future, I would definitely invest in the photoetch set as it provides many missing details from the cockpit.

Final judgement, this is a great little kit. J  Highly recommended for someone who has least built a couple of kits prior to tackling this one.   I would really like to thank Brengun for providing this great kit to the IPMS USA review corps, and to the IPMS for allowing me to review it.

Avions De Combat De L’OTAN Depuis 1949 (Combat Aircraft of NATO since 1949)

Mon, 03/01/2021 - 08:58
Product Image Review Author:  Chris Smith Casemate Publishers

Ok, I know what you're thinking this book is written in French so why would I be interested? Let me assure you any aircraft modeler interested in NATO aircraft from 1949 to the present is going to find this tome a veritable cornucopia of modeling inspiration! Inside you will find an incredible selection of every type of aircraft used by NATO. The author takes you through 21 countries in alphabetical order starting with a brief narration in French but don't despair, what follows are an incredible number of profiles and photos of aircraft ranging from Vampires to Vipers or Thunderstreaks to Typhons. The section on the United States is the most extensive with a unit by unit accounting the types used and lots of illustrations with brief unit descriptions that are not hard to figure out. When I requested this book, I wasn't sure how I would decipher it with High School French I took over 30 years ago. As it turns out, you don't really need any French to figure this book out. What you do get is a book nice enough to leave on the coffee table that you will look at repeatedly for your next aircraft model project. Highly recommended.

Thank You to Casemate Publishers for providing the sample volume and to IPMS for graciously sharing it with me to share with you.

J 29 Tunnan Exhaust Nozzle

Mon, 03/01/2021 - 08:48
Product Image Review Author:  Frank Landrus Aires Hobby Models

Background

Aires began in 1995, making 2020 their 25th anniversary.  They are based out of the Czech Republic and include not only the Aires brand name, but QuickBoost, Aero Bonus, and Wheelliant.

Pilot Replicas' Saab J 29F Tunnan effort clearly surpasses that of any other Tunnan kits on the market. The first 1/48 Tunnan was Neomega's resin kit, which had not been improved upon by either the AZ kit with its distorted shapes, nor the Hobby Boss kit with its ~ 1/53 scale. Although the Neomega kit represents the exhaust marginally better and maybe has one advantage of an all resin cockpit, the Pilot Replicas' kit has it beat everywhere else, especially on fit and surface detail. Pilot Replicas released a seamless intake shortly thereafter.  Aires / Quickboost has stepped in and issued several resin sets for the Pilot Replicas kit, but what was still missing was a proper afterburner section.  One can easily see this in the comparison in the picture below that shows the 3 pieces from Aires versus the 2 pieces from Pilot Replicas.

Aires provides three parts on a single sprue in light grey resin.  The shortest part includes the turbojet turbine blades behind a representation of the afterburner.  The next part is the exhaust fairing with nice interior detail.  The last part contains the exhaust adjustable nozzle.  All three parts are keyed with tabs that make sure they are aligned properly.  When all three are assembled, the nozzle split should be vertical when installed.  The instructions show the proper assembly with tab alignment and also show placement within the rear fuselage.  The instructions also specify that the inside of both sides of the fuselage will need to be thinned to have the exhaust assembly fit properly.

This is where you run into a small problem.  The last part shows off the beautiful exhaust nozzle, but it also includes part of the rear fuselage skin.  You can't just sand the interior until the Aires resin outer skin fits the Pilot Replicas outer skin as it would leave the exhaust too far out.  You can also see from the photos below that the Aires resin outer skin does not match the profile of the Pilot Replicas outer skin.  This leaves you a choice of either removing plastic from the kit fuselage or removing it from the Aires part.  The other detail is that the sheet metal that surrounds the exhaust is vertical for half way and then is cut back by 12-degrees towards the front for the rest of the way.  This Pilot Replicas kit has this feature correct.  The Aires rendition does not appear to do so.

I've been thinking for some time a good way to resolve this issue, but I really don't see one yet.  Your choices are:

  1. Cut the fuselage ring off the Aires resin exhaust.  I have to admit I'm a bit daunted by this task in keeping the exhaust exterior round let alone cracking the resin exhaust. The Aires exhaust does protrude further on the bottom (1.06mm) than on the top (0.50mm) although I can't quite see where the 12-degree cutback is on the Aires part.  This is easily evident on the Pilot Replicas rear fuselage.  If you take this path, you will have to move the back of the assembly from where it is designed to rest in to the fuselage at least 1.00mm and test fitting will be required.
  2. Cut the Pilot Replicas kit rear fuselage exhaust ring off.  The first concern here is the Aires resin fuselage is wide enough (0.94mm) that you would have to undercut the fairing between the exhaust and the lower tail since the Aires ring is wider (0.94mm) that what sticks out from this fairing (0.38mm).  A second concern is getting rid of any seamline where the resin and plastic would meet since there is no panel line where they would fit together.  Again, this will take a substantial amount of sanding and test fitting.

Right now I believe the first option is the best one as opposed to risking the much more expensive Pilot Replicas kit.  I had high hopes for this resin set as it's something the Pilot Replicas kit really needs.  To use this set with either option above is going to take a lot of work.  Right now, though, I can't recommend this to anyone except very experienced modelers.

Thanks to Aires Hobby Models and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review this set.

 

Tiger I and Tiger II Tanks

Mon, 03/01/2021 - 08:32
Product Image Review Author:  Will Kuhrt Pen and Sword Books Ltd

About the Author

Dennis Oliver is the author of over twenty books on Second World War armored vehicles including Tiger I and II Tanks, German Army and Waffen-SS, Eastern Front 1944, Panther Tanks, German Army and Waffen-SS, Normandy Campaign 1944, Jagdpanther Tank Destroyer, German Army, Western Europe 1944-1945, and Tiger I and Tiger II Tanks, German Army and Waffen-SS, and The Last Battles in the West, 1945.

Table of Contents

Introduction
The Normandy Battlefield

Camouflage & Markings

Model Showcase

Technical Details and Modifications

Summary

This book is another installment of the Tank Craft series which currently holds 17 titles and covers German, American, and British tanks, Tiger I and Tiger II Tanks, and German Army and Waffen-SS, and Normandy Campaign 1944.

The single-page introduction provides a cursory overview of the Normandy campaign, Tiger tank battalions and the author's previous books. The chapter, "The Normandy Battlefield", is really fantastic. It has very detailed date records along with a map discussing the troop movements of the Americans, British and Germans. Another highly valuable inclusion is a diagram (one of several) showing the turret numbers and their corresponding battalions. I can see many uses for a diagram such as this--especially for diorama builders who want to make sure their turret numbers are accurate to the setting and time period of Normandy.

The chapter Camouflage and Markings is a homerun. There are ten pages of beautiful, very detailed color illustrations of 20 different Tiger I and II tanks. Not only is the color illustration provided, but so is a black and white photo of each tank. This is a fabulous resource indeed, and one that I will return to often as I work on German armor models.

The Model Showcase is just that. This really shows how this book---as are all of the Tank Craft books--is written with model builders in mind. The chapter is not merely photographs of models but rather it is a showcase of models, techniques, ideas, and modifications which the builders did to their subjects. The models used include Dragon, Meng, Takom, Hauler, and many others. Not only are models discussed but also many aftermarket items.

This is an awesome book!  It is written with the model builder in mind, and in my opinion, this is a really valuable resource for German armor builders. From the detailed timeline, the turret number family trees, and the excellent color illustrations, this book is a slam dunk!

If you would like to see what other tanks are covered in the Tank Craft series, visit the Casemate Publishers website! It is well worth it.

 Thank you to Casemate Publishers for providing a copy of this book for review.

Images of War - Hitler’s Panther Tank Battalions 1943-1945

Mon, 03/01/2021 - 08:06
Product Image Review Author:  Will Kuhrt Pen and Sword Books Ltd

About the Author

Ian Baxter is a much-published author and photographic collector whose books draw an increasing following. Among his many previous titles in the Images of War series are Hitler's Boy Soldiers, Nazi Concentration Camp Commandants, German Army on the Eastern Front - The Advance, Germany Army on the Eastern Front- The Retreat, The Crushing of Army Group (North) and the SS Waffen Division series including SS Leibstandarte Division, SS Totenkopf Division At War.  He lives in Chelmsford, Essex.

Table of Contents

Introduction
Chapter One: Eastern Front Battles, 1943
Chapter Two: Italian Warfare, 1943-44
Chapter Three: Eastern Front, 1944
Chapter Four: The Last Year of the War, 1944-45
Appendix I:  Panther Tank Specifications
Appendix II:  Panther Variants, 1943-45

Appendix III: Composition of a Typical Panzer Reconnaissance Grenadier Battalion, 1943-45

Summary

Hitler's Panther Tank Battalions 1943-1945 is another fine publication of the Images of War series to which over 30 titles belong.  As with all of the books of this series, it is packed with black and white photographs, well-researched technical documentation, and highly useful appendices.

As you can see from the table of contents, this book focuses largely on the Eastern Front and Italian campaigns. The introduction holds some very interesting information about how the tanks were put through their paces. One photograph shows a Panther sitting in a water tank to test it for leaks within the engine compartment. It never would have dawned on me that water intrusion would have been tested like this. 

Chapter One contains excellent information and photographic references on the Battle of Kursk--a favorite diorama subject of many armor modelers. The photographs are sure to inspire some great model building.  Each chapter could be turned into its own book--and indeed there are many. The perfect thing about this book and all of the "Images of War" books is that the chapters encapsulate just the right amount of information and utilize photographs to complete the story. 

This book has some very interesting depictions of tanks being loaded on to rail cars, Panthers in urban settings in Italy, daily life, and duties of battalion crew, and of course, battle scenes. The appendices are excellent. If you have ever been curious about how panzer battalions were composed or what makes the difference between an
Ausf. A and Ausf. D, this is your resource. 

This book is a 10 out of 10, and for the German armor builder--and of course for history lovers--this book would be a valuable asset to your collection!  Ian Baxter is a standout author, and I am always astonished at the many interesting photographs he discovers through his research.

Thank you to Casemate Publishers for providing a copy of this book for review.

 

The Italian Folgore Parachute Division – Operations in North Africa 1940-43

Sun, 02/28/2021 - 16:23
Product Image Review Author:  Pablo Bauleo Helion & Company

Casemate Publisher is distributing a book from Helion & Companion Publishers on "The Folgore Parachute Division, Operations in North Africa 1940-43". The author has done extensive research on the topic and each chapter is profusely referenced.

Each chapter describes a very clearly defined period of time of the Division and has the very logical breakdown, as follows:

 

  • Recruitment and Training
  • Malta
  • Major Operations prior to El Alamein
  • Operation "Lightfoot"
  • Tunisian Campaign, 1943
  • Conclusion: Folgore - An Assessment

 

It also includes two appendices covering the Order of Battle and a list of recipients of the Gold Medal for Military Valor.

The main highlights on the history of the division covers its training -similar but not a direct copy of the German paratrooper force-, how the division was created for the invasion of Malta, its tactical objectives in the Malta Operation and how it never got deployed into Malta due to the lighting fast invasion of Rommel into Egypt (Rommel requested extra troops and supplies for its advance into Egypt, which in turn meant the Malta operation was first delayed, then suspended). At that point, the Folgore Division was deployed to North Africa, as an 'elite' light infantry Division, given their higher-than-average training levels.

Due to the nature of their training, they were highly trained in defensive operations and counter attacks, which were used prior to El Alamain and very intensively on the Southern Front of El Alamain, to the point that when they got the order to retreat, their lines had barely been breached, despite the incredibly high casualty rate.

During the retreat from El Alamein -mostly on foot- they had to abandon most of their equipment and virtually the Division ceased to exist. Roughly only 1 in 3 Folgore soldiers were able to escape capture, injury or both.

In 1943 the Folgore survivors were formed into a Batallion of 600 men and deployed for defensive warfare in Tunisia, were once again they bitterly fought against larger number of troops that were better equipped than them. The last 40 survivors finally surrender after the Battle of Takrouna, where the Folgore troops successfully rescued troops surrounded by New Zealand soldiers, before finding themselves surrounded by enemy forces and running out of ammunition.

The book ends with an analysis of the overall performance of the Folgore troops. In each battle they fought, they were able to hold their ground inflicting disproportionate casualties to the enemy forces. The main challenge they faced was that their deployment was never guided by the offensive nature of paratrooper operations, but rather by the defensive needs of a mislead Commando Supremo.

I highly recommend this book to any history aficionado. It is very well researched, includes hundreds of source references and it is written in a very easy to read style.

I would like to thank Casemate Publisher, Helion & Company and IPMS/USA for the review sample.

Boeing B-17: The Fifteen Ton Flying Fortress

Sun, 02/28/2021 - 16:15
Product Image Review Author:  Floyd S. Werner Jr. Pen & Sword

I did not know what to expect when I started reading this book.  I thought everything that could be written about the B-17 had been written.  I was wrong. 

This paperback book is written in an easy-to-read style.  It does get technical at points, but it is easily understandable.  The 256 pages are 9.25 x 6 of high-quality paper.  It does contain almost 480 photos: many I've never seen before.  So, with the preliminary information, let's see what is inside of the book.

Developmental history starts well before the B-17, or Model 299, went to the drawing board.  The stories that accompany the development are gold.  The problems, drawbacks, and trials of developing an aircraft that was operating in the stratosphere at extremely low temperatures are each talked about.  And the ways they were overcome or ignored.

The next chapter covers the B-17B/C.  Not only are the growing problems that occurred in testing, but the British experience in actual combat missions are discussed.  The British experience helped to shape the future of the B-17. 

The B-17D/E is the next chapter and goes into the US Army combat debut.  One thing that I really enjoyed is the one offs that were developed.  Combat experience and the lessons learned.  Maintenance experiences are discussed. 

The B-17F was the bomber that the USAAF went to war with.  It was not as well suited for combat as nostalgia-based version of the story.  Things like the fuel tanks catching fire from combat causing the loss of the bomber.  All the production batch changes are shown.  Also, the numbering system and differences between the three production lines is shown in an easy way to follow.  The Technical Orders are also highlighted so you can see how the airplane developed from experience.  One great story in this section was the rescue of a B-17 from an ice cap by a PBY Catalina.  It is really an amazing heroic story.  Engine issues plagued the B-17 from the very beginning, and it wasn't until the F model that they got it under control.

This section also addressed things like the YB-40 and the Reed Project modification or the six-gun lower chin turret.  I had not seen this mod before.  Did you know that the B-17 used glide bombs in combat?  I did not.  I knew they flew tests but not that they were used operationally with mixed results.  How about a rocket bomb?  Its talked about with pictures.  Then there is Aphrodite.  The beginning of drone use.  Another British aircraft is a Radio Countermeasures aircraft.  There is something in here for everybody.  There are more variants than I mentioned here but they are not just discussed they are shown in photos. 

The B-17G is the last version of the venerable bomber.  Most of the bugs had been worked out by now.  Production block changes are listed.  The development of the G resulted in numerous variants that were called other designations, such as H, and PB for the Navy and Coast Guard. This chapter even covers the Turboprop test aircraft.  If you want to see something strange look at the Rolls Royce Dart four engined turboprop. 

Like any airplane the B-17 could not fly without the help of the maintenance crews.  A chapter is dedicated to them and their sacrifice.  Working long hours under some austere conditions the maintenance crews are the unsung heroes of the air war. 

The next chapter compares and contrasts the B-17 with other four engined bombers like the B-24, Pe-8 and Lancaster.  And the armament and bomb loads are discussed.

The final chapter is the pilot's checklist.  This is accompanied with some useful modeling photos.

I thoroughly enjoyed this entire book.  I learned a lot about the Flying Fortress.  This book addresses many of the myths and mystique surrounding the B-17.   If there was a development of the B-17 I think it is in here.  For those that love this bomber this is a must have reference. 

Highly recommended

Thanks to Casemate Publishing and IPMS/USA for the review copy.  You can obtain yours by contacting them at www.casemate.com .

German 3.7cm Pak 35/36 auf Pz.Kpfw 35R[f]

Sun, 02/28/2021 - 01:30
Product Image Review Author:  Dan Brown Hobby Boss

The R35 was a small, light infantry tank that was originally designed by Renault for the French Army.  After the fall of Paris, many of these tanks were captured and pressed into service by the German forces.  These were used as either second line tanks or they were modified for other rolls.  The particular vehicle covered by this new kit from Hobby Boss covers a vehicle that has been modified to carry the 3.7cm Pak 35/36. 

The kit comes packaged in a small box with a colorful print of the vehicle on the box top.  In the box are 6 sprues of light tan plastic, a PE sheet, two sprues of tracks, a small decal sheet, and separate parts for the hull.  The parts are well detailed and well molded. There were no flash issues noted.  The instructions are pretty typical for Hobby Boss, there are some color callouts, and the instructions are pretty clear.  I had no issues with incorrect part callouts or any printing issues.  One thing to note here is that this kit does contain a nearly complete interior.  This is a nice addition as the interior will be visible through the turret ring.

The first two steps in the build are completely dedicated to building the engine.  The detail here is pretty impressive.  The parts all fit well, and I had no major issues.  The only things that could be added for further detail is wires to the engine and belts for the fans.  The first issue that I encountered was in step 2, Parts C38/39 need to be pushed through the sides of B24.  Unfortunately, Part B24 is very fragile and has large sprue gates on it.  This meant that when I pushed the C parts through B24 the whole assembly disintegrated.  

In step 3, I left the parts for the doors off until after final painting, I intended to leave the kit as open as possible to showcase the interior.  In step 4 the main radiator for the engine is assembled.  I had no issues with the fit here, but this is the first instance of the one issue that I had with the instructions. There are no paint callouts for the majority of the parts for the interior.  You will need to find reference pictures for the interior of this vehicle.  I chose to paint the radiator Model Master Non-buffing Steel and will call out the rest of my paint choices as needed.

Up next is the rest of the interior, this is covered in steps 5 and 7.  In the start of step 5 the lower parts of the hull are assembled.  At this point I also added the back plate from step 3, Part A4.  The fit of this part to the rest of this hull is a little rough, I needed to use a fair amount of filler to hide some seams here.  For the interior color I used a custom mix, 1 part Tamiya XF-1 and 3 parts XF-54.  All of the control levers for the driver were painted XF-69 NATO Black.  I also painted the seat XF-69 with the PE frames the custom light grey mix.  I had no major fit issues with the rest of the parts in step 5, but I did leave the return rollers off until final assembly. 

In step 7, I had no issues with the interior parts and I painted most of them the custom light grey mix.  Moving on to step 8, I assembled the final drive before installing it to ease painting.  This did make the installation of the engine a little rough.  I had to trim the edge of the connector to allow everything to slot in.  I painted the final drive Model Master Non-buffing Steel.  Skipping ahead to step 11, I painted the interior the same custom light grey mix and the other details were painted XF-69 NATO Black.  The detail here is decent but the dials for the driver have almost no detail.  If you can source some dry transfers for these gauges I would recommend it as they are highly visible if you leave the hatches open.  After installing the hull roof in step 12, the interior is complete.  For such a small kit there is a surprising amount of detail crammed into the tiny hull.

Returning to step 10, I started to add some the exterior details.  The fenders were easy to install and the only issue that I had was with the PE added in this step. The locations for the tiny PE parts are a little vague.  There are no bending guides and the exact locations aren't shown in the instructions.  I left the doors off until final assembly as I intended to leave them open.  In step 12, there is a PE part shown that is not called out in the instructions.  Part PE3 is the PE plate for the manufacture and it is shown but not mentioned.  I left most of the rest of the parts here off until after painting.  

Up next is the suspension, and here is the only major issue that I have with the kit.  The kit includes some very nice suspension units that do a good job of representing the suspension on the real vehicle.  Each assembly is a complex build of up to 13 parts, including PE parts.  These assemblies are very fiddly and the PE is a little tough to work with.  The PE is a little thick and there are no marks on the PE to assist in bending.  There are also no bending molds included in the kit.  As I wanted to ensure that painting was easy, I installed the PE on half of the D18, D27 and B9 parts while they were still on the sprue.  Unfortunately, this meant that the holes in the PE didn't match the holes on the other parts very well during assembly. 

I ended up trimming the location pins from the parts that weren't already attached to the PE parts to ease assembly.  The rest of the parts were also very fiddly and it pays to use a slow setting glue here to allow yourself to get everything lined up.  Once the assemblies were complete it was time to install them and the return rollers.  After how fiddly the suspension assemblies were, I was pleasantly surprised with how level they were, for the most part the wheels met the ground with no issues.  The last comment on the suspension is for the idler wheels, there are two options in step 6 for the idler wheel.  The kit does have separate parts for these options but the instructions show the same parts being used.

Next up was painting.  There is only one option provided in the kit, overall German Grey with some very basic unit decals.  I used Tamiya XF-63 German Grey for the overall paint color.  The track parts were painted XF-69 NATO Black.  There are only 4 decals used in the instructions, 2 crosses and two tank names.  All performed very well over a light coat of PFG with no silvering.

Finally, it was time for the tracks.  Step 9 covers the build and installation of the tracks.  The kit has some very nice link and length tracks, the detail and molding on the links was very nice.  Typically, I tend to prefer using individual, movable links for most armor kits but I was pleasantly surprised by the link and length tracks here.  They were easy to work with and played well with Model Mater cement.  I did end up removing two links per side to improve the fit.  

Last up is the final assembly.  I added details like the lights, tools, the exhaust and the 3.7cm Pak.  I had no issues with the tools or lights, all of the parts fit well.  I did have some minor issues with the assembly of the exhaust.  There is a PE heat shield for the exhaust and this had no easy way to complete the folds.  There are no fold lines and no molding block.  I had only two minor issues with the assembly of the 3.7cm Pak.  First the location of J3/J29 is pretty vague, it looks like it is installed on the lower right of the breech but the instructions don't actually show this.  Lastly, Parts J7 are very fragile and easy to break.  I lost one during assembly and as a result my gun shield leans slightly to the right.  

This is a great little kit with an emphasis on little.  It was designed originally for a two-man crew and Hobby Boss has managed to pack a ton of detail into a tiny footprint.  I didn't love the design of the main suspension units but other than that the kit was a lot of fun.  Highly recommend for anyone with a little experience and an interest in odd WWII armor.  It is also a nice introduction to kits with interiors.  My thanks to MRC and IPMS for giving me the opportunity to review this kit.

Brengun Bf-109 G-10 (Mark I kit)

Sun, 02/28/2021 - 00:03
Product Image Review Author:  Ben Morton Brengun

Brengun has issued another delightful photoetched accessory set for small scale aircraft modelers. This particular set is designed for use with Mark One's offering of the German Bf-109, specifically the Bf-109G-10 model. [ Note : There is a detail set for the K model of the 109, as well.]

Typically these small scale (1/144th) aircraft kits come with two complete models in the box and Mark One is no exception, nor are the offerings from either Armory or Sweet. Brengun provides detail bits for two kits. Those bits include photoetched pieces for the:

  • cockpit tub
  • two part seat
  • rudder footrests / stirrups
  • seat belts (four pieces)
  • instrument panel
  • trim wheel
  • control column
  • throttle controls
  • side console details
  • floor details
  • resin center console (alas, w/o cup holder :))

Additional items are provided for the:

  • pilot's armored head guard
  • pilot's headrest   
  • cockpit surround detail
  • under wing radiators (replaces kit parts)
  • landing gear doors (replaces kit parts)
  • wheel well detail
  • oleo compression struts
  • various antenna
  • drop tank detail
  • mass balances for the flaps

While this accessory set is designed for use with the Mark One kit, I didn't have one of those in the stash.  I did have the offering from Sweet. I would note that most of the photoetched bits fit onto the Sweet kit without much in the way of fuss. In fact, the cockpit tub fits smoothly into the Sweet fuselage.

There are a number of photoetched bits that you may wish to leave on the fret. For myself, those include the scissor struts on the landing gear and the mass balances for the flaps, among others. Just like armor after market PE sets, just because its included doesn't mean you have to use it. Either way these after market bits from Brengun go on easier than you might expect even when you consider the small size of some of them. (Pilots headrest being a case in point.)

As I was adapting this set to an 'un-authorized' kit (not the recommended Mark One model) I did encounter a few fit issues. Namely the pilots armored headrest and the instrument panel. Neither of those required major adaptation but it is something to bear in mind should you elect to use another manufacturer's (Sweet/ Armory) kit. Whichever kit you choose to apply them to, these in-scale details provided by Brengun should significantly enhance your small scale Bf-109 project.

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

Support Your Local Hobby Shop!  

Wings of Iraq-Volume 1: The Iraqi Air Force, 1931-1970

Sat, 02/27/2021 - 11:04
Product Image Review Author:  Floyd S. Werner Jr. Helion & Company

This is my first exposure to the Middle East at War series.  This paperback book contains the history of the Iraqi Air Force from its inception up to the Arab/Israeli Wars of the 1970s.  It contains over 130 photos, maps, 21 color profiles, and various other illustrations.

The book starts out by providing the history of Iraq, even before the genesis of the air force.  This historical background is appreciated since the history of the region has an effect on the formation of the military, especially the air force.  The start of air power in the region was shown by the British during WWI And immediately afterwards.  Training of Iraqi pilots began in 1930 by the British and with that the beginning of the Iraqi Air Force took hold.

The book follows variety of British aircraft that were deployed and the history of their deployment.  It is interesting to me that the same warring factions are in existence today and still fighting.  The use of the Iraqi Air Force throughout the Second World War are addressed with its mix of British, American and German aircraft.  Some aircraft highlighted in photographs are the Gladiators and Bf-110Es of the Air Force.

Following the war, the growth of the Air Force was slow but the really cool Sea Fury was illustrated during this timeframe.  The Palestine Crisis saw limited use of the RIrAF.  Also discussed is the intelligence coup of the defector in his MiG-21. 

Enter the Jet Age and also the helicopter.  The Westland Dragonfly, Vampires and Hunters are a part of this era in the development.  There are plenty of photos of various variants of the Hunters shown.  This was an instrumental aircraft in the RIrAF.  The transition to the Russian sphere of influence is illustrated by the inclusion of MiGs and Tupolev bombers.  The book ends after the  

There is a whole section of color profiles that will add some unique colors to your models as well.  Of course, my favorite is the Hawker Sear Fury FB Mk.11.  The other aircraft that is interesting is the Hunter K. Mk59 with two Israeli kill markings applied, not something seen everyday. 

 

As a modeler this book is a good history lesson of the county and how the RIrAF played an instrumental part in development.  The unique paint schemes are an interesting option for modelers.  The profiles are first rate and will prove inspirational.  The overall book is very good.  I will be adding more to my library.  This volume will provide information and inspiration to the modeler.

Highly recommended

Thanks to Casemate and IPMS/USA for the review copy.  You can obtain yours by contacting them at www.casematepublishers.com.

Les Suisses au Service de la France 1715-1820

Sat, 02/27/2021 - 10:53
Product Image Review Author:  Gino Dykstra Heimdal

I didn't really know this, but the Swiss have a long and distinguished history of serving as mercenaries in other country's armies, especially France, from as far back as the Late Middle Ages all the way through the Age of Napoleon and beyond.  The last vestige of this type of Swiss service remains in the Swiss guards at the Vatican today.  In some ways, these mercenaries were the harbingers of today's professional soldiers - men dedicated to a life of arms rather than the temporary civilian levies standard up until that time. 

 

This book by Heimdal studies the history and uniforms of a century of service to the French, starting with the Louis XV and ending with the incredibly colorful period of the Napoleonic Wars.  The book is entirely in French, which may prevent one from enjoying the short historical preambles interspersed through the volume, but that's scarcely where the interest in this book lies anyway.  What drags you in is the voluminous color panels of uniform after uniform in all their visual riot.  This is a true feast for the figure modeler, and if you can't find one idea after another leaping at you out of the pages, you're just not trying hard.

 

It's all there, with front and back views of most uniforms, pictures of the fascinating battle flags, equipment details - anything a fan of this era would want to see.  Most of these panels have clearly been created on computer, but that doesn't lessen the quality or visual impact.  There are literally hundreds of illustrations in this book - infantry, officers, drummers, musicians, sappers, artillery, cavalry . . . and includes such relatively esoteric units as the Diesbach Regiment, Salis Regiment, various immigrant regiments, the Helvetica Legion, the Neuchatel Battalion (sometimes referred to as "The Canaries" for their yellow jackets) and others. 

 

I have yet to be disappointed by any of Heimdal's books on uniforms, and I'm not disappointed with this one either.  There are so many terrific modeling ideas seeping out of the book that I scarcely know where to begin.  This series of books stand as the single best resource for this period that I've ever run across in my half-century of modeling.  They are, to put it simply, modeling gold.  They would be a bargain at twice the price.

 

As you may have noted, I am totally sold on these books, and you will be too, if you have any interest in the wonderfully colorful period of the Napoleonic Wars.  I can recommend this book and any others in this series without any reservations whatsoever.  Buy one - you won't be disappointed.

 

My thanks to Heimdal publishing for releasing these terrific books, and to IPMS/USA for letting me feast my eyes on this one.  Happy modeling, everyone, and stay safe!

Les Italiens de L’Emperur: Les Armées de la Péninsule Italienne 1800-1815

Sat, 02/27/2021 - 10:34
Product Image Review Author:  Gino Dykstra Heimdal

I'll be the first to admit it - I'm getting hooked on these Heimdal uniform books.  Any dedicated figure modeler is well aware of the fact that the period roughly 1790 - 1815 constitutes the highlight of colorful uniforms worn by any belligerents in any war, before or since.  The development of coal tar dyes led to the creation of a bewildering range of bright colors, almost immediately employed by all the major military powers of the time, as they regarded the quality of their military attire to be a direct reflection of the power and majesty of their particular countries.

 

Napoleanic uniforms in particular reflected this obsession, with an almost unbelievable range of military costumes.  For figure modelers, the fact that almost all of them were based in large part on standard French military garb means that one can, if one chooses, create a incredible array of accurate toy soldiers with uniforms spanning the rainbow.

 

 Heimdal's book, "Les Itailiens de L'Empereur" (Italians of the Emperor) is another offering in their range covering this important time in military history.  Although the books are written in French, it scarcely dents the appeal.  This volume, for instance, is a literal feast of eye candy from cover to cover, with hundreds of color plates demonstrating the staggering range of uniforms worn by this French ally.  Most are clearly computer-generated, and sacrifice a little frivolity for sheer density of material.  Many pages carry six or more such plates.  The book is further enhanced by a number of plates painted by Eugene Leliepvre, who should be familiar to anyone who has ever purchased a Historex kit.  There are also historical paintings interspersed throughout, showing these uniforms as seen through contemporary eyes.  Details of the uniforms are shown as well, leaving no confusion for the ardent figure modeler. 

 

To be blunt about it, there is no better series of books for the dedicated Napoleanphile modeler to be found anywhere.  None.  This is the single most comprehensive, thorough and complete study of this period in uniform history that I have encountered in over 50 years of figure modeling.  Your reference money simply can't be better spent.  Like any book in this series, I can recommend this one to any uniform enthusiast without the slightest reservation.

 

My thanks to Heimdal publishing for releasing these impressive books, and to IPMS/USA for a chance to review them and refresh my high school French at the same time.  Happy modeling everyone, and stay safe!

 

Spitfire Mk.Ia Decals

Sat, 02/27/2021 - 10:19
Product Image Review Author:  Floyd S. Werner Jr. Eagle Editions Ltd.

Eagle Editions has produced some of the most accurate decals on the market.  Normally known for their Luftwaffe subjects, they have quite a collection of other aircraft as well, including the Spitfire.  With new 1/48th subjects from Airfix, Eduard, and Tamiya these decals are perfectly timed. 

 

There are decals for three aircraft that represent the evolution of the Temperate Land Scheme and the under-surface colors.  One aircraft has the black and white belly, the next has the sky color and the following one has the Sky-Blue belly. The first one is flown by P/O Al Deere with the Kiwi emblem in front of the cockpit.  The next is flown by Sgt. Bernard Jennings from No.19 Squadron and is typical of the Battle of Britain period.  The final option has an American flavor, with a red spinner, flown by an American, P/O Hugh Reilley, flying with No.66 Sqdn.in the Battle of Britain.  He was shot down and killed by Werner Molders.

 

The decals come in a Ziplock baggie with the instructions and the decals.  The decals are printed by Cartograf so you know they are perfect.  The colors are in perfect register and have good color saturation.  They look perfectly printed as is expected.  There are two sheets in this release.  The first one has all the markings for the individual aircraft.  The second smaller sheet has some additional roundels and longer fin flashes. 

 

The instructions are printed on 11 x 17 sheet folded in half and then folded to fit the baggie.  Color profiles are provided for all three aircraft.  There is a written description of the markings and painting.  One page has the stencil locations.  The back cover is the plan view of all the aircraft. 

 

Another great decal sheet from Eagle Editions.  Whether it is Luftwaffe or their adversaries you can count on the sheet being well researched.  With Cartograf you know they are the best in the world and respond well with any setting solutions.  There is not much you could do to improve this sheet.  An exceptional value.  Great job Eagle Editions.

 

Highly recommended

 

Thanks to Eagle Editions and IPMS/USA for the review copy.  You can obtain yours directly from Eagle Edition at www.eagle-editions.com .  Let them know we sent you.

FW-190A Decals

Sat, 02/27/2021 - 10:05
Product Image Review Author:  Floyd S. Werner Jr. Eagle Editions Ltd.

Eagle Editions has become synonymous with quality research in their parts and decals.  This sheet is no exception.  With the release of the Eduard and Hasegawa early model 190s there is a need to add some marking options.  Packaged in a resealable ziplock baggie are two decal sheets for four aircraft and the instructions.

 

The decals themselves are printed by Cartograf, so you know they are the highest quality in the world.  They are in perfect register, thin and look great.  The first sheet is the big sheet with all the aircraft individual markings and enough stencils for one aircraft.  The smaller sheet includes enough markings for all four aircraft upper wing crosses. 

 

The instructions are printed on 11 x 27 sheet printed in full color and folded in half and then half again.  There are four aircraft included, one A-2 and three A-3s.  All the aircraft are painted in RLM 74/75/76.  It is the unit and individual markings that make the difference.  One aircraft is from JG-26, another from JG-5 and two from JG-2.  My favorite is the eagle head one from JG-2.  The aircraft profiles are beautifully rendered, which will help and motivate the modeler.  Besides the profile views, Eagle Editions has a written description of each aircraft and points out the differences and the references used to develop the decals.  One page shows the stencil location. 

 

In addition to the instructions, there is a separate 8.5 x 11 single sided reference page that has photos used to develop the decals for two of the aircraft, including the eagle headed one.   

 

Overall, this is an exceptional offering.  World class decal printing accompanied with the same level of research makes this an exceptional value.  I absolutely love the instructions and the decals.  Having the reference photos available is a nice touch.  If you want the most accurate Luftwaffe decals you will be hard pressed to do better than Eagle Editions.  Get this sheet and go to town.

 

Highly recommended

 

Thanks to Eagle Editions and IPMS/USA for the review copy.  You can obtain yours directly from Eagle Edition at www.eagle-editions.com .  Let them know we sent you.

Atlantis PBY-5A Catalina

Fri, 02/26/2021 - 23:25
Product Image Review Author:  Blaine Singleton Atlantis Model Company

History

Atlantis Models has released a PBY-5A Catalina in 1/104 scale.  This was originally a classic Monogram kit, which debuted in 1955. On the older model there was some issues reported with parts alignment, I found none of that with this kit.

In the Box

  • Instructions:

There is a one-page instruction sheet. Illustrations for the parts and their construction sequence were very clear. 

  • Sprues: 2 molded in blue plastic 
  • Clear plastic: 1 sprue
  • Decal Sheet: 1  

Building the Model

Cockpit

The cockpit has only the upper half of a pilot and copilot no other detail for it.

Because there was no detailing in the cockpit and the waist gunner positions (they too had upper body figures only) I decided to paint those areas black and did not install the figures.

Canopy Clear parts

Included Cockpit, forward gunners' area and two waist blisters.

Fuselage

The fuselage has no panel lines, the only details are raised rivet heads throughout. On older model reviews (original model release) the fuselage locator pins would not line up. This new model does not have this problem. When the fuselage was joined the real difficulty for me was sanding the seam along the spine and preserving best to my abilities the rivet heads.

The nose gear was molded into the right side of the fuselage and has no detail. I was afraid that when I put the fuselage together that I would break off the nose wheel, I broke it off shortly after I put it together. I waited until I was done with the model then glued it back in place.

The fuselage has a built-in spike to the rear of the model, this is in place so the model would not be a tail sitter. I removed the spike and loaded up the front of the fuselage with enough weight to make it sit on the main and nose landing gear. 

Wings

The wing went together without any problem, it was molded in an entire span with the parts being top and bottom. Like the fuselage, the only detail on the wings were raised rivets, no wing panels.

The wing tips were floats that are on the real airplane, they swung down to keep the main wing from leaning to one side of the other and impacting water. I chose to have the wing tips deployed in the down position. 

Engines

The engines and cowling were molded together so when it was time to add them to the wing there were no issues. I painted the engine areas black to hide the lack of detail.

Landing Gear

The gear consisted of struts off the side of the fuselage, these were the main landing gear and fit with positive locating holes in the fuselage. The nose gear was dealt with after the model was built.

Painting

I painted the underside of the model with Mission Models MMP 01 white. The upper surface was sprayed with Mission Models MMP 61 medium blue. The de-ice boots were painted with Mission Models MMP 47 black.

The torpedoes were painted with AK real metals metallics Aluminum for the body and Brass for the tips.

Decals

There was one small sheet of decals, star and bars (two sizes) and stencil lettering and the number 8.The decals went on easily, and after the decals were applied I sprayed two coats of Mission Models Clear Gloss thinned with 70 percent of Mission thinner CP30, to blend the edges of the decals.

The model had molded outlines of decals in the plastic where the individual decals should be placed, this was new for me to deal with. I can see up close where a couple of the decals were a hair off from the molded lines but for the most part, they looked good.

Weathering

Tamiya Black panel liner was used for the leading edges of flight controls. Other stains on the wing and fuselage were applied with Abteilung oils. Once the weathering was complete, I sprayed the model with a matt coat.

Summary

This model was an easy build. There was not too much in the way of parts to be cleaned or that did not fit. The lack of detail on the kit was a bummer, but I got over it because I knew it was an issue before I built it. I knew this was a very basic model and prepared myself for some issues building it that never really materialized. Now that the model is completed and painted, I like the way it turned out. With some love and care this model could be a nice little addition to any collection.

Thank you to Atlantis Models and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review this model.

1/35 PANDA M1 IP Abrams MBT

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 16:46
Product Image Review Author:  Will Kuhrt Panda Hobby

M1 IP Abrams MBT

The M1 IP (Improved Performance) Abrams was produced briefly in 1984 and was a transitional tank to the M1A1. Some of the upgrades included a new "long" turret with thicker frontal armor--upgraded from 650mm to line-of-sight thickness of 880mm. 894 M1 IP tanks were manufactured for the US.

First Impression

This PANDA kit was released in 2018 and is a re-issue with new parts from the original kit which came out in 2017.  The box contains one clear sprue, PE, one waterslide decal sheet, brass wire, upper & lower hull pieces, and seven sprues (four of them dedicated to the tracks). The parts are molded in dark yellow plastic. The detail is fair. This kit has a large amount of injector pins and injector pin remnants attached to parts. Some parts had a moderate amount of flash which required cleanup.

The PE was problematic. It is covered with a protective plastic sheet on both sides of the sheet. I expected these to be static cling material and was surprised that they had been applied with some kind of adhesive. Granted, this stickiness could be due to age. When I removed the protective sheet, a stubborn residue remained. I attempted to remove it with hot water and detergent, lacquer & thinner, mineral spirits, acetone...and nothing worked. The sticky residue was attracting dust and dirt. Finally, I soaked the sheet in some apple cider vinegar and the reside came off somewhat, but not fully. 

A double-sided full color painting guide is provided and shows two versions: 3rd Battalion, 32nd Armor, 1st Cavalry, National Training Center and 4th Battalion, 8th Cavalry, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Army Division.

The eleven-page instruction guide is generally easy to follow, but there are several assembly steps which entirely missing and must be interpreted by the drawings. A few parts are also misidentified.

The kit contains individual track links. Although they are technically not 100% technically correct, they piece together quite well and look really nice when completed.

Assembly

The idler arms are keyed into static position on the lower hull. A nice aspect of the wheels is that they are constructed from exterior and interior wheels and separate tread rings. This allows you to paint all the treads black first. I actually forgot to take advantage of this, and it increased my work somewhat. But you should paint these black first, then paint the wheels and then fully assembly them.

The upper hull has a moderate amount of engraved detail. Several PE pieces are added, and they fit well. Two small hatch covers, the driver's periscope and other small pieces are added.

Construction of the turret is largely problem free. The barrel is assembled from two halves and with minor sanding looks nice. A Hoffman Device is to be attached to the fume extractor. Warning:   by the time you reach the painting & decal stage, you will discover that two decals are supposed to be placed on the right and left sides of the fume extractor. Since I build the sample according to the instruction, the Hoffman device was in place...but I couldn't get the decals to slide underneath its brackets. So, to avoid this pitfall, either leave the Hoffman device off OR wait until the very end to attach it.

There are two sets of turret side stowage racks. One set is on sprue E and the other on sprue B. According to the instructions, you are to use the ones from sprue E, but there are too small.  Use the ones from sprue B...they fit!  But they are fragile, and the attachment points are not well defined. Use caution when cutting the rails from the sprue. The bustle rack rails & the turret side rails are riddled with injector pins.  It took some effort to carefully remove and clean them up.

The fit of the coaxial gun is a bit loose and I had to reglue it several times. The bustle rack is fragile. The PE fits very well but mounting the bustle rack to the rear of the turret is tricky. There are no clear attachment points so test fitting and positioning is a must.

The turret ring has two snap tabs, and the intent is to press the turret down into the opening on the upper hull. But the opening has no slots (in other words you don't insert the turret and twist it into position). For me, too much pressure was being required and I feared that something would break, so I scraped plastic off of the opening to increase its diameter a little bit. This solved the problem.

The guns are not very impressive. To begin with, if you look at the photo of the parts trees in the upper left-hand corner, you will see that the main gun is molded in such a way that the barrel is actually bent. This was nearly impossible to correct. For me, none of the gun parts fit very well, and I would be tempted to omit them all together.  The main gun has an ammo can attached and this piece is supposed to be dressed up with a piece of PE. If you look at the photo, you will see how the plastic ammo can piece is too big and does not fit with the PE. The solution is to sand down all of the raised detail of the plastic piece. The instructions do not mention this.

The tracks come together nicely. You begin by joining two pieces with the middle coupling and the adding the outer and inner collars. It took me three hours to put them all together.

The instructions seem to imply that you should glue the side armor skirts together first and then attach the entire thing to the side of the tank. In my opinion you will have a better outcome if you attach the front piece first and proceed one by one until you reach the last piece by the drive sprocket wheel.

One of the last details (if you pick to model the Canadian Army Trophy version) is to create a disk out of styrene plastic for the decal. The disk is 26mm in diameter. I used one of my circle templates to draw the circle and then I cut it out roughly and then finalized the circle. I primed this piece, painted it green, and then applied the decal.

Painting and Finishing

Prior to painting, I primed all of the parts with Tamiya gray primer. Throughout construction, I painted parts in a base coat of green using Mission Models Dark Russian Green Faded.  I shaded it with lighter coats of this color mixed with one part light gray. I used several Vallejo washes on all surfaces and a few dry pigments.

Summary

I consider this an average kit. In my opinion, the large amount of injector pins which need to be removed, the stubborn residue on the PE left behind by the protective film and the poor fit of the turret are significant detractions.   Although I was able to figure out the missing assembly steps by interpreting the diagrams, less experienced model builders could potentially be very confused. The individual track links are easy to build, fit well, and make the model look pretty nice. The PE detail is good and fits pretty well in most cases.  

Thank you to IPMS for the opportunity, thank you to PANDA Hobby for the review sample, and thank you to Bill and Phil for your continual service.