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Updated: 2 hours 25 min ago

RGD-33 Soviet Grenade

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 16:05
Product Image Review Author:  Frank Landrus Hauler Brengun


Hauler/Brengun was founded in 1999 and produces scale plastic kits, resin kits and accessories, photo-etched details for kits and other accessories.

The Soviet RGD-33 (Ruchnaya Granata Djakonova obraztsa 33) Hand Grenade was designed by Russian engineer Mikhail G. Dyakonov in 1933 to replace the aging Model 1914 grenade.  Complicated to use and manufacture, the RG-42 was developed to replace it in 1942.  The RGD-33 consisted of three separate parts that were kept separate until ready for use:  the warhead, the handle, and the fuse.  They were only assembled and distributed prior to combat and even then, the fuse was kept in a separate pouch wrapped in wax paper.  The RGD-33 was not armed until the fuse was inserted, just before it was thrown.  There is a sliding thumb band on the handle with a red dot for armed and a white dot for safe.  Sliding this thumb band from white to red would arm the grenade.  A strong throw was required to activate the grenade.  Without the additional cross-hatched jacket, fragmentation was about 15 meters in radius.  Adding the cross-hatched jacket, fragmentation doubled to 30 meters in radius.  Total production was more than 50 million RGD-33 grenades.

The Parts

This set is in Hauler's standard re-sealable plastic pouch that includes a card header tagged with the part number.  You get ten grenades on two sprues.  There is a thin film of resin on the backside of the handles of the grenades that supports the individual grenades that will need to be cleaned.  The result of this film is that the handle is flat on that side.  I don't know an effective way to address this, but when displaying the grenade, you may want to keep this side down.  All ten grenades come with the additional cross-hatched jacket, so there is no option for the smooth grenade.  What you may want to add is a slot down this jacket opposite the latch that holds the jacket on.  This can be accomplished with a photo-etched very fine saw.  The latch is present (faintly) right next to a small hole on the cross-hatched jacket.  The RGD-33 had a pin sticking up from the shell that inserted into this hole, with the latch locking it on.  The top of the grenade does show a representation of the pivoting cover that secures the fuse. There are a few tiny pin holes apparent that may need attending to.  Be careful not to fill in the small hole just mentioned for the cross-hatched jacket.  There are no decals, although given the extremely small size they would be, they would have been difficult to apply.


I primed the grenades while they were still on their resin block with Tamiya TS-3 Dark Yellow.  I then used Vallejo Green Wash (73.205) until I was satisfied with the overall color.  Then it's off to your references.  I've seen the thumb slide painted the same color as everything else (green), left natural metal (I used Vallejo Pale Burnt Metal 77.704), and painted black (I used Vallejo German Grey, 70.995).  You can add in a tiny dot of white (I used Vallejo 70.820 Off-white) just to the right of the thumb switch to show it in safe mode.  To show it armed, a tiny red dot to the left of the thumb switch.  Some grenades had the steel retainer to secure the cross-hatched jacket in natural metal, others were green.  I used Tamiya's Panel Line Accent Color (Pink-Brown, then, Brown, then Dark Brown) for washes.

Overall Evaluation

These are small at 1/35 scale, given that the original was only 7.5" long.  These should look great with figures or any Soviet armor diorama.  I have just placed them on the deck of a 1/35 Soviet T-50 to give an idea of the size.  My thanks to Hauler-Brengun and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great set.

Highly Recommended!

Frank Landrus, IPMS# 35035

Essex Class Aircraft Carriers 1943-1991

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 15:38
Product Image Review Author:  Scott Hollingshead Pen and Sword Books Ltd

As a former carrier sailor, books on the history of these ships fascinate me, and both modelers and fans of the Essex-class carriers will enjoy this new release in the "Images of War" series from Pen and Sword in their Maritime line.  There are some great photographs of the ships and their aircraft, along with some of astronaut recoveries.  A total of 24 ships of the Essex-class were built and served well from World War II through Korea and Vietnam, with the last ship serving as a training carrier until 1991.

After a single page of Abbreviations and a Note on US Navy Ship Designations, the Introduction discusses the needs of the U.S. Navy following the attack on Pearl Harbor.  It was fortunate that by the time of the attack that the Essex design had been finalized and that five hulls had been laid down.  By the time of the Japanese surrender, 17 of these carriers had been commissioned and an additional seven would be completed after the war.  The names of the 24 ships commissioned as well as the builders and dates of the hull being laid down, the launching and commissioning are all provided as are the two ships that had their hulls laid down but were not launched.

 The nine chapters of the book are titles as follows, in order, US Navy Aircraft Carrier Development, 1919-1941; Essex Class Enter Service; Across the Pacific; Aboard the Essex Class; Through Kamikaze to Victory; The Post-War Era and Korea; Steam and Mirrors; Submarines, Spacecraft and Vietnam; and Postscript.  The book ends with Photo Credits and a Bibliography.  Also, on the cover is "Rare Photographs from Naval Archives", and I can attest to seeing many for the first time in this book.

Like any great book on aircraft carriers, the author begins with the history of Naval Aviation and Eugene Ely flying a Curtiss plane to take off from a ship in November 1910, and then land on another in January of the following year.  Photos of those events as well as the USS Langley (CV-1) and its later conversion to an aircraft transport (AV-3).  Good coverage of the Lexington (CV-2), Saratoga (CV-3), and the first purpose-built carrier, Ranger (CV-4), as well as the Yorktown (CV-5), Enterprise (CV-6), Wasp (CV-7), and Hornet (CV-8) are represented in words and photographs.  There is even a photo of some B-25 bombers tied down to the deck of the USS Hornet on their way to attack Tokyo.

While the Essex-class ships were to be similar to the Hornet, once the restrictions of the Washington Naval Treaty were dropped, the new class became 70 feet longer and 10 feet wider than the Yorktown-class ships.  The ships were initially designed to carry 91 aircraft (36 fighters, 37 dive bombers, and 18 torpedo bombers), as the war continued, the ships often exceeded 100 planes being carried.  A great mix of construction, underway, and aircraft photographs are included as well as items of interest like tow tractors in use on the flight deck and use of the hangar bay to hold troops during transports.  Of interest to modelers will be shots of the ships carrying different camouflage patterns used during the war and aircraft in different paint schemes. 

Photos of Korean War aircraft and the angled flight deck first appearing on the USS Antietam (CV-36) are included as well as a British Hawker Seahawk preparing to launch from this ship in 1953.  Refits performed on the ships during their careers are mentioned, and photos of the flight decks filled with varying aircraft for submarine hunting and during Vietnam show the capabilities of the ships as they aged.

As mentioned at the start of this review, the book will be appreciated by both modelers and fans of aircraft carriers, so I highly recommend it.  The interesting photographs aid in telling the story of a class of ships that served the US Navy for nearly 50 years.  The photographs will certainly fuel inspiration for those wanting to represent the largest class of aircraft carriers built.

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.

Peanuts Snoopy and Woodstock Bird Bath Ice Hockey Game

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 15:15
Product Image Review Author:  Dave Morrissette Atlantis Model Company

It's a model, it's a game it's two, two, two things in one! Atlantis Models has done all the heavy lifting getting the molds and license for this kit. Once built, you can play ice hockey. Inside the box, you will get multicolored sprues (yellow, black and white and one spring) all ready to assemble and play. This kit is well molded and has no flash. It is snap tite in that it all pushes together. There are stickers included for the hockey sticks, Snoopy's spot and the markings on the "ice'.

Assembly, start to finish, will take about 30 minutes. A good sprue cutter or razor saw will help remove the parts as the sprue gates are substantial. The pieces are heavy too, in order to tolerate the beating the game will take being played with constantly. I did deviate from the instructions in that I glued Snoopy and Woodstock together and clamped them well. A quick sanding and I repainted both. I hand painted the eyes, mouth and noses and gave them several good coats of clear.

The rest of the assembly was the bird bath hockey field and there was not much to it except following instructions. I did add glue on the gear box controlling Snoopy and also added 3 in 1 oil for lubrication. I also glued the pin holding the spring in place. The stickers went on without issues and I snapped everything together and added our two combatants.

This is a great project to get kids into modeling. It is a game but also a model. It is cartoon characters too. It is easy and quick but can be detailed if desired. It is great for a snowy day or weekend to build with the kids and when done, the instructions include the rules to play. Very highly recommended for the nostalgia but also to parents and grandparents who love this hobby.

My thanks to Atlantis Models for the opportunity to build this awesome kit. Now, back to practicing Snoopy's wrist shot.


Thu, 02/25/2021 - 12:37
Product Image Review Author:  Dave Morrissette Atlantis Model Company

A true blast from the past, Atlantis Models has reissued the Aurora Godzilla kit with glow in the dark parts. As a kid, I remember the "Frightening Lightening "versions. This issue comes in a square box with alternate glow parts for the head, hands, feet, spine, top of the tail and nameplate. The kit also includes the destroyed city base. Total parts are 32 in Godzilla green with 14 separate glow alternate parts.

Building the kit, my first recommendation is to get a razor saw to cut the parts loose. The runner gates are thick and cutting them neatly helps the fit. I have built this kit as a finished non-glow kit, so I opted for the glowing parts this time. I assembled the parts using a lot of trial and error and clamps. With a little time and effort, the fit is decent especially for a model of this vintage, at least for the sub assemblies. The attachment of the arms and legs to the body is good on one arm but the rest leave gaps. I use Perfect Plastic Putty which you apply and wipe off with water and it closes the seams well. The head was given the same treatment as well as the feet and hands. I did not want to putty the glow parts as it will prevent the glow. After assembly, I grey primed the kit with a double action airbrush to feather it slightly on the glow parts. In the end, every time I go into the basement I am greeted by "Glowing Godzilla."

A second approach to the model is the take the time and fill all of the seams. I had done this previously and added some shots of this assembly option. To do this, you will need to do the above but sand all the seams smooth and add the texture back in with a half round file. To get the legs, hands, and head, I used Aves Apoxie Sculpt and ran a bead on all seams. I then sculpted in the seams to match the surrounding flesh. Time consuming but fun!

This is a great kit. It can be used to draw kids in, with quick assembly and brush painted. It can be made well, with time taken to make it nice or it can be made to glow in the dark. Awesome choices. Is it really Godzilla, sure, why not? This is a great weekend kit for families.

Recommended for fun! My thanks to Atlantis Models for the review kit and trip down memory lane.

The Weathering Magazine Issue 32: ACCESSORIES

Wed, 02/24/2021 - 11:56
Product Image Review Author:  Phillip Cavender AMMO by Mig Jimenez

The company website states:

"The latest issue of your favorite magazine concentrates on an important aspect of any build: accessories. The details and optional accessories that bring realism into your modelling projects, add narrative, or complete a diorama. These accessories present interesting painting and weathering opportunities. For example, few WWII German projects are complete without "German Jerry Cans", stowage and sandbags are a popular subject with armour modeler's, tank ammunition and ammo crates including the different metallic areas and textured woods. Mig Jimenez, explains the processes behind painting and weathering a large fabric gun mantlet: adding interest and texture to the material. Each technique and effect explained in this latest issue can be applied to a range of subjects: whether a beginner or experienced modeler this issue will leave you inspired for your next project"


One of many titles in their Weathering Magazine series, this latest issue adds to Ammo by Mig's extensive line of modeling paints, books, and supplies. Printed in typical soft cover magazine layout and size, it comes on glossy paper with colorful images on 68 pages. The magazine is divided into 8 sections with an accompanying forward written by the Chief Editor, Sergiusz Peczek.

German Jerry Cans Set WW2

The first article German Jerry Cans Set WW2 written by Kreangkrai Paojinda, uses accessories from Miniart's # 35588 kit to highlight his weathering techniques. The examples include accessory finishing techniques for heavily worn with rusty chipping, standard chipping, bare metal scratches, and winter white wash jerry cans effects using Ammo by Mig products. This section is presented on 7 pages with highly detailed crisp images. All covered in 25 easy to follow steps using Ammo by Mig primers, paints, washes, and varnishes. The author's writing style and photo captions make for an enjoyable read and an excellent How-To.

Sandbags & Stowage

Another well written article with beautiful images is presented on the next 6 pages written by Lukasz Kapelski. The writer gives us an in-depth how-to on finishing the accessories most modelers use, sandbags and stowage. Although he doesn't state which stowage and sandbag manufacturers he uses in this presentation, he does offer the names of various manufacturers for the reader. As in the previous article, Ammo by Mig products are utilized including making use of the new range of Shaders. Being inspired after reading this article, I can't wait to try out his techniques on a few of the sandbags I have in waiting.

Tank ammunition and ammo crates

By far the longest article is written by Sergiusz Peczek covering 11 pages. The author uses another Miniart kit, "Soviet Ammo Boxes with Shells kit # 35261, to give us an in-depth look at his techniques for finishing shells and ammo crates. As before Ammo by Mig products are used mostly; however, Allclad II Metal paints were used for the shells. What I found most interesting was the amount of coverage the author presents in getting the ammunition ready for painting. He describes in extensive detail his techniques using scrapers and various grits of sandpaper. Amazing photographic detail is incorporated giving the reader an up-close view. Not left out, the ammo wooden crates are given the same amount of coverage explaining in detail with clear images his techniques.

The Devil is in the Details

Next up is an article by Artur Miniszewski presented on 7 pages of his techniques for finishing small accessories such as oil and petrol cans, and beer crates. The author uses two of Miniart's kits, #35595 Oil and Petrols 1930-40s and #35574 Beer Bottles and Wooden Crates all in 1/35th scale.

Painting Weapons 

Next is another excellent article written by Paulo Carrelo. The article covers painting and detailing wooden stocks as well as techniques for finishing the metal barrels. Covering six pages, detailed crisp images are included along with captions allowing the modeler to follow along as the author paints weapons. He used both 1/35th and 1/16th scale weapons to showcase his skills in differing techniques. This article was of particular interest to me as I find painting weapon wooden stocks a challenge.

How to Paint a Mantlet Cover

Moving on we find an article written by the master himself, Mig Jimenez. Covering 8 pages Mig focuses on painting mantlets using only brushes after the initial priming of the base coat with an airbrush. Not only does the author use his line of acrylics, but he relies on Oilbrusher colors for convenience. What I found interesting and is helpful for the beginner is that Mig describes his use of different brushes, such as flat and round brushes, to blend and contrast areas of the mantlet.

G.I. Green

Artur Miniszewski writes another article on painting a Mantis Miniature's American driver figure in 1:35 scale. Painted in GI Green the reader can follow along as the writer initially airbrushes the base coat continuing with brushes. The author goes into excellent detail of his processes in painting the clothes, but he omits his face painting techniques.

Painting Furniture 

Next up is a short 4-page article on painting furniture by Chema Martinez. Using Miniart's Furniture Set # 35548 in 1/35th scale, Chema takes us on a journey into his wood painting techniques. Techniques he uses in painting the wooden surfaces of WWI airplanes. He also states for the purposes of writing this article, he used the Ammo by Mig's Wood Effects Set A. Mig-7801.  The author uses a photoetch template from RB Productions (RBT028 / RBT029) to achieve a wood grain effect applying A. Mig-0076 Brown Soil over a light brown base. On the tabletop the author uses a couple of wood grain decals supplied in the paint kit from Uschi van der Rosten, a German based aftermarket accessory manufacturer. Even though the article is presented on four pages, a huge amount of pertinent information was packed in. Another excellent article written by one of many contributors in this issue of Weathering Magazine.


All the authors presented their material in an easy-to-read format along with the addition of excellent photographs. Captions with the images were detailed. Not only was the magazine a joy to read, but it has inspired me to implement some of the techniques within. Being this was my first exposure to the series of weathering magazines by Mig Jimenez, it certainly won't be my last.

I highly recommend "The Weathering Magazine Issue 32: ACCESSORIES" for the basic to the advanced modeler as another excellent resource.

My thanks go out to Ammo by Mig Jimenez and IPMS/USA for allowing me to review this magazine.

Jagdpanzer IV, German Army and Waffen-SS Tank Destroyer

Wed, 02/24/2021 - 11:47
Product Image Review Author:  Tim Wilding Pen & Sword

This 64-page book is number 26 in Pen and Sword's Tank Craft series. It is printed in the larger A4 size on high gloss, thicker paper. The topic of this book is the Jagdpanzer IV Tank Destroyer as used on the Western Front in 1944 and 1945. It starts by talking about the developmental history of this tank destroyer, then about the many kinds of units that used this vehicle. There are ten pages of color camouflage and marking pages with two tank destroyers on each page. Following that section are thirteen more pages of 1/35 and 1/72 scale kits builds. The first three kit are Dragon Models, then a Tamiya and lastly a 1/72 Matchbox. There are lots of color photos of these models and explanations how to build them. The ten pages after that are all the different modeling products concerning the Jagdpanzer IV. Kits and aftermarket products are listed and photos of each. This is a great reference section for modelers. There are about two to three black and white photos on all the other pages that are nice references to kit builders too. There are organizational charts describing a few of the units that used these tank destroyers.

I would like to thank Casemate and IPMS for the opportunity to read and review this great book.

Panther Tanks, German Army Panzer Brigades 1944 to 1945

Wed, 02/24/2021 - 11:34
Product Image Review Author:  Tim Wilding Pen & Sword

This 64-page book is number 24 in Pen and Sword's Tank Craft series. It is printed in the larger A4 size on high gloss, thicker paper. The topic of this book is not the Panther tank, but the German Army (Heer) Panzer Brigades that used this tank in 1944 and 1945. There are three generations of Panzer Brigades and each is discussed in detail. There are nice organizational charts for each Brigade. There are ten pages of color camouflage and marking pages with two tanks on each page. Following that section are ten more pages of 1/35 scale kits builds. The first kit is a Dragon Panther Ausf A, then a Dragon Ersatz M10 Panther Ausf G and lastly another Dragon Models Panther Ausf G. There is lots of color photos of these models and explanations how the builds. The ten pages after that are all the different modelling products concerning the Panther tank. Kits and aftermarket products are listed and photos of each. This is a great reference section for modelers. There a about two to three black and white photos on all the other pages that are nice references to kit builders too.

I would like to thank Casemate and IPMS for the opportunity to read and review this great book.

Tank Craft – Challenger 2- British Main Battle Tank of the Gulf War

Tue, 02/23/2021 - 15:16
Product Image Review Author:  Allan Murrell Pen and Sword Books Ltd

This is the 23rd book in the Tank Craft series which details tanks and also covers model kits and accessories to build the tanks covered in the book. This book covers the British Main Battle tank of the Gulf War - Challenger 2.

I found this book a fountain of information and rare pictures of the tanks. The Profile pictures are a favorite and awesome source for modelling.

Of particular interest was the in action and variants chapters which gave me a lot of information that I had not seen before.

The chapters on the different model builds and kits are of great interest and will provide a good resource when modelling these two tanks. There is a lot of suggestions of kit improvements and helpful details of a few great full builds

 I was impressed at the amount of information and history found in the pages of this extremely enjoyable book. The pictures along are worth the cost of the book. I will find this book indispensable in my library of armor books.

I recommend this book to everyone with an interest in armor and modelling armor. I very much look forward to other releases in this book series and any by Rob Giffin.

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

SAC He 111Z-1 Zwilling Landing Gear

Tue, 02/23/2021 - 14:53
Product Image Review Author:  Pablo Bauleo Scale Aircraft Conversions

Scale Aircraft Conversions specializes in white metal replacement parts. Its line of replacement landing gear has been expanded to include a set for the ICM 1/48 He 111Z-1 Zwilling.


The set is including a total 20 parts covering the main landing gear struts, fork and tail wheel. I am not 100% sure, but most likely these parts can be used with any of the ICM (single fuselage) He 111.


These parts are drop-in replacements for the plastic parts. To complete the landing gear, there is an extra plastic part that needs to be used. That part (c-10 from the instructions) does not carry weight; hence it makes sense to not replace that plastic part with white metal.


Considering the size -and weight- of the He 111Z-1 Zwilling, investing on a sturdy landing gear is likely to be a good idea. In addition, when using white metal landing gear, you can always 'tweak' the landing gear strut for an improved alignment of the parts, which again in a large model airplane is an extra advantage.


You can see from the pictures the parts are very cleanly molded and formed, without any visible molding lines (typical of plastic parts). Not only that, but the tail wheel strut is molded as a single piece, while in the plastic form there are a few parts that go into that subassembly, so you have overall less work.


You can also see in the images that a few of the parts are a bit bent. That happened because there are plenty of parts in the blister. The white metal parts are very easy to bend back into position or tweak as needed to get that perfect wingtip-to-ground distance alignment on your finished model.


Recommended to modelers of all skill levels.


Spitfire Mk IX “High-Back”

Tue, 02/23/2021 - 14:47
Product Image Review Author:  Damon Blair Platz


Supermarine's Spitfire was one of the classic fighters of World War II. Produced in different Marks (the British name for versions), the Spitfire served from the beginning of the war until the end. The Mark IX was originally developed as a stop-gap measure in response to the German introduction of the Focke-Wulf FW-190, but later grew into it's own as a fighter aircraft.


Platz's Mark IX kit is nice, with finely engraved panel lines and no visible flash. There are 152 parts molded on 5 grey plastic sprues and one clear sprue, of which approximately 57 are used in various Mk IX versions and possibly other Spitfire versions as well. There are 2 Mark IX versions with 4 paint schemes that can be built using this kit.


The instructions are not set up in a step-by-step from start to finish. Rather, the instructions are set up to build subassemblies prior to assembly of the airframe, before putting the final touches onto the model. One word of caution here - if you wish to show external stores on the model, you will need to drill out the mounting holes, as all the mounting holes are intentionally flashed over.


There was one mismatch on my sample. That was on top of the fuselage aft of the top engine cowlings (see photo) and is very noticeable. It creates a "stepped" appearance when on the actual aircraft there is a smooth transition from the cowls to the fuselage.


When assembling the wings to the fuselage, the instructions show the two radiators (parts number B35, B46, B48, B50, and B51) and while they are not clear on this, I highly recommend assembling these radiators on the wing versus as separate units, to make parts alignment much easier.


Another feature that I liked about this kit is the cockpit - you can position the door and canopy in two different positions - closed up or open. The detailing inside the cockpit is great for a 1/72 scale aircraft, and with some fine work, can really be outstanding.



USAAF P-51 “North Africa”

Tue, 02/23/2021 - 14:41
Product Image Review Author:  Pablo Bauleo Academy Models

Accurate Miniatures P-51 has been released and re-boxed many times. This time Academy is re-releasing the Allison engine version of the P-51, with a nice decal set focused on the North Africa theater of operations with both RAF and USAAF service. I should point out that one of the marking options is for service over the European Theater of Operations.


The molds date back to the mid-90s. Despite the vintage of the molds, the plastic is molded perfectly, with very sharp recessed panel lines and no flash anywhere to be found.


I've assembled and detailed the cockpit as per instructions. Careful painting pays off, as the detail of the cockpit is among the best I've seen in injected plastic. A couple of things to mention are that the Instrument Panel is molded in clear. This is because the original Accurate Miniatures provided a decal for it. There is no decal for the instrument panel in this boxing. The one you see is from my spare parts. Same applies to the seatbelts, they are from my spares. The other thing to mention is that you can add the seat after the fuselage is assembled, which makes things a bit easier for handling of the model during painting and decaling.


I've departed from the instructions a little bit at this point. First, I glued the back and forward parts of each fuselage together. The join is along a panel line and the back fuselage has a molded in "lip" into which the front fuselage rest against while the glue sets.


After both full fuselages were assembled as a single part, I sandwiched the cockpit and all the radio racks behind the seat. Aligning all these parts takes a bit of effort. Make sure you dry fit everything before you glue them in place.


The next step was to glue the bottom wing to the fuselage assembly and then the top wings at the wing root first, assuring that there would be no gap at the wing root. After gluing the wing roots, I just gently clamped the wingtips and run liquid cement along the joins.


By doing it this way, the wings are symmetrical, but maybe not 100% straight from wing root to wingtip. I think there might be a small mold issue there. It is very hard to tell but the wings aren't completely straight, the bend downwards roughly halfway. If you really know where to look at, you can see the very small bend. Tail planes and underbelly air scoop assembly followed, without any issue. Fit is fantastic!


The only other spot where I had a little bit of trouble was the air intake on top of the nose. Assembled out of the box looks like it "droops" down a bit. I added a shim of plastic under the air scoop and filed and sanded to shape.


Landing gear is simple to assemble and sturdy. The tires are molded independently from the hubs, making painting a breeze. The wheel well is nicely detailed and you can assemble the inner landing doors open -as per instructions- but they should be assembled in the closed position. The P-51 had the main landing gear doors closed all the time -except during retraction- as to maximize air flow into the radiator. If the P-51 was parked and the hydraulics were to lose pressure then both the flaps and the landing gear doors would drop. However, the kit is molded with the flaps up, making then only correct to assemble it with the main landing gear doors closed (as I assembled mine).


Painting was done with enamels from the True North line. I departed a bit again from the instructions. The RAF P-51 from 225 Squadron were painted in theater and there are some arguments as to what colors were actually used. I choose to paint this model in Blue Azure, Dark Earth and Middlestone. You can decide which colors to use.


I applied a coat of gloss and after 24 hrs. of curing time I've decaled the model. The decals are quite thin and conform to the surface detail pretty well. They also tend to stick to the first place you put them on, so have plenty of water to 'float them' until they are on the right location. Also, the decals tend to fold on themselves. I was able to unfold the two of them that did that. I was very careful with the handling of the rest of the decals as to prevent them to fold on themselves again. After a clear coat, weathering was applied using pastel chalks.


This kit is a lot of fun; it has great fit and it looks great out of the box. The engineering of the kit is fantastic, as several parts are molded independently (wheel hubs, engine exhaust) which makes assembly and painting much easier. The part count is relatively low, making it be a refreshing build, while the level of detail is high enough as to making it be a rewarding project.


I highly recommend this kit to modelers of any level.


I would like to thank IPMS/USA, Academy and Model Rectifier Corporation for providing the review sample.


Aircraft Carrier Juan Carlos I of the Spanish Navy

Tue, 02/23/2021 - 14:33
Product Image Review Author:  Paul R. Brown HMH Publications

This is the first book of a potential new series from Duke Hawkins Books on aircraft carriers.  The volume grew out of its earlier book on the Harrier II/AV-8B, as while working on that book, several of their photographers were given the opportunity to visit the Juan Carlos I while she was at sea conducting operations and ended up with an extensive collection of photographs not just of the Spanish Navy's use of the EAV-8B Matador II (Harrier II Plus), but also of the ship itself and its other facets of its operations - helicopter and amphibious operations. 

The book is divided into ten sections/chapters starting with a brief introduction on the ship and its missions, then providing more details on the different operations conducted from the ship and details of the ships' spaces both internal and external.  Each section is beautifully illustrated with full color photographs taken by very skilled photographers.  As in the Duke Hawkins aviation books, there is little stand-alone text in the book, but the captions are extensive and highly informative.

The Juan Carlos I is classified as a LHD (Landing Helicopter Deck) and can operate 8-12 EAV-8Bs along with several different types of helicopters and amphibious craft now in service with the Spanish Armed Forces.

The largest section is devoted to the ship's operation of the EAV-8B Matador II with many photographs of the aircraft on and around the ship with some air-to-air shots thrown in.  The photographs illustrate all phases of ship-board operations for the Matador II and I found it interesting that the Spanish Navy has adopted the same color-coded flight deck jersey color system as is used on United States Navy ships - yellow for aircraft handlers, red for ordinance personnel, purple for refueling, green for deck crew and blue for chocks and chains crew.  For modelers, there are several photographs showing variations in colors for radomes and other panels that will help break up the monotony of a straight grey jet.  There are also photographs of different loads on the aircraft pylons, such as external tanks, triple ejector racks and the Litening II pod.

The section on helicopter operations includes photographs of some of the variety of helicopters that can be operated from the ship, such as the AB 214 (Huey), Sea King, SH-60 Seahawk and Hughes 369 of the Spanish Navy, the Chinook and Cougar of the Spanish Army and there is even a photo of a USMC CV-22 Osprey onboard.

The Juan Carlos can also conduct amphibious operations by embarking landing craft such as LCM's or LCACs (Landing Craft Air Cushioned).  During the photographer's visit, the Juan Carlos had two LCM-1 landing craft embarked along with Spanish Navy Marines with their vehicles.  The Juan Carlos can carry 4 LCMs in its deck dock which can be partially flooded to allow the LCM's to exit and re-enter.  The section on amphibious operations includes photographs not only of the LCM's all loaded and heading out, but also of them unloaded and "beached" in the deck dock.  Also included are good photos of the Marines' vehicles and how they are secured for sea.

The section on the ship itself includes outstanding photographs of many details of the interior of the ship such the bridge, engine control room, sick bay, flight deck control, hanger deck and the crew briefing rooms.  There are also photographs of the ship's superstructure including the masts, antennae, radars, its self-defense guns and other details.

The final chapter of the book depicts operations from Rota, the shore base for the Spanish Navy's Matador IIs and helicopters.  There are photographs of aircraft and helicopters outside on the line ready for flight, but also quite a few photos of aircraft inside the maintenance hangers undergoing maintenance.

This is an outstanding book and I hope that HMH can continue the series. Highly recommended!

Thank you to HMH Publications and to Casemate Publishing for providing the review sample.


FCM 36 WWII French Light Tank

Tue, 02/23/2021 - 14:24
Product Image Review Author:  Gino Dykstra ICM

I'll be honest.  When I first saw pictures of this upcoming kit I assumed it was some kind of prototype. Every other French tank of the period that I'm familiar with - the Renaults, Hotchkisses, Somuas and Chars - all have a fairly consistent look to them, mainly because large castings were prevalent is each design, sometimes with a little bolting.  This one is so radically different that it really threw me.  But not only is this definitely a French design, but it is also NOT a prototype.  A surprising number of these were actually built and saw combat.


There's a fascinating story to this vehicle.  Designed by the same team that built the massive Char 2C tanks in the 1920s, this one was engineered to take advantage of the electro-welding capabilities of the Forges et Chantiers de la Mediterranee located on the wharf area of Toulon.  Although using a somewhat more expensive manufacturing technique than that used by the Renault and Hotchkiss light tanks, it was pursued because of the development potential inherent in the design.  In any case, 100 of these were made before FCM baulked at the price they'd quoted, arguing that they were losing money on the project.  Nonetheless, the initial order was delivered in February of 1939 and quickly incorporated into existing Army units.


A combined unit with these vehicles and some R35s were in position on May 1940 when the Wehrmacht established a bridgehead over the Meuse at Sedan.  The FCMs proved almost impervious to the Panzer III 37mm guns, but ironically, their own short 37mm had little effect on the German armor as well, which meant that the French and German units often hammered it out at ridiculously short ranges.  Ultimately, the FCM was the loser in this slug-fest, as the welded armor proved vulnerable to hits along the seams, especially on the turret.  Twenty-six of the 36 units deployed were destroyed in just a few hours.  In the end, the survivors were used mainly to cover the French Army retreat, most succumbing to the overwhelming weight of the German advance.


ICM's model of the FCM 36 is the first kit of this fascinating vehicle in 1/35th scale that I'm aware of, and displays ICM's usual attention to quality and detail.  It includes vinyl tracks and although I'm not a bit fan of these, I certainly understand their logic as the real tracks were composed of VERY small links, which would have made for a much costlier kit if they had attempted these in plastic.  On the other hand, they have provided tow chains made of individual styrene links which connect together to form short chains - something I've never seen before.  Go figure.


Work begins in typical fashion, with assembly of the lower main hull and suspension.  The running gear consists of mostly little wheels, which need to be paired before bringing the bogies together.  There are no alignment pins on these, so this is strictly eyeball work.  This general part of the assembly is a little more confusing than normal, not from any shortcoming in the directions, but simply because the structure itself is atypical.  Take your time and you should have no serious problem with this stage.


The tracks consist of two vinyl lengths per side, locking together with extremely small pins and sockets.  Frankly, I could never get the pins through the sockets, so simply bulldozed through this section with a hot knife, essentially welding it all together.  If placed properly, one of these welds will be hidden in the upper reaches of the suspension and the other underneath the hull.  Each track assembly proved to be a bit long, and if doing again I'd probably take off about 1/8th of an inch on each side, but little is seen on final assembly so you really don't have to bother with this.


Putting the upper hull onto the lower hull proved to be more of a challenge, however, as the upper hull molding was warped out on both sides, forcing me to glue the front and back areas first, and then gradually force down each portion onto the seam.  Even with patience this didn't completely work out, and I needed to do a little putty work to get everything smooth and even.  All of the mounting surfaces are essentially miter angles, so it doesn't offer a lot of surface to fit it all together.  Take your time.


The next stage was detailing out the hull, and here I found one of the few actual mistakes I've ever encountered on an ICM kit.  There are a set of tools that mount on the right side, and although the shovel was appropriate for the scale, the pick and sledge hammer seemed ridiculously underscale.  Checking online proved this to be the case, so these were both replaced by suitable material from the spares box.  I also made a substitute for the rolled tarp on the right side of the hull - not because there was anything inherently wrong with the kit part, but simply for a bit more detail. As a last touch, I used some cheap chain in my supply box rather than go through the fiddly process of creating chains link by link as in the kit.


In the turret area, I found the armament assembly to be a bit fiddly, especially as the mounting parts aren't supposed to sit flush up against the gun assembly.  If I were doing this again, I'd glue one of the mounts on the turret bottom and let it dry thoroughly before installing the rest of the assembly.  Also, care has to be taken with the extremely finely molded MG barrel, which broke on mine innumerable times.  However, once the two halves of the turret are put together, the rest is comparatively easy.  Important note, however - the part numbers for the open versus closed hatch hinges are reversed.  You might want to test fit your selected hinge to the turret first just to ensure you have the one you want.


Painting was entertaining, as the box art version is certainly distinctive.  It was an enjoyable exercise, and the decals (despite my initial concerns) turned out to fit beautifully with just a dab of Micro-Sol, even over the large details of the turret.  A tanker from the new ICM French Tanker set obviously was made for this tank, as it also fit quite well as a test subject. 


And that's about it.  The final result is a radically different - one might even say futuristic - looking French light tank.  This is a relatively easy build and makes for a distinctive addition to any WW2 French tank collection.  Wonderful!  Recommended with no reservations.


My thanks to ICM for their continued dedication to the hobby and to IPMS/USA for their faith is letting me work on this lovely little machine.  Be safe, and happy modeling!

F-14D Tomcat Detail Set

Tue, 02/23/2021 - 14:12
Product Image Review Author:  Paul R. Brown Eduard

This set is designed for Great Wall Hobby's recent F-14D Tomcat kit and will nicely spruce up your build.  The set includes complete photo-etch replacements for the instrument panels and cockpit side consoles for both cockpits, including the circuit breaker panels behind the Radar Intercept Officer's (RIO's) seat.  A nice touch is the inclusion of not only the rudder pedals for the pilot, but also the foot pedals for the RIO which while not connected to any flight controls are important as the location of the RIO's radio/ICS talk buttons.  In order to install the etch parts you will need to remove the molded-on details from all the panels and consoles before painting the cockpit and installing the etched parts.  Unfortunately, I received the set after I had painted and assembled the cockpit, so I have set them aside for the next one.


The set also includes the lap belts and should harnesses for both ejection seats along with details such as the lower ejection handle (the SJU-17 seat does not have a face curtain with upper ejection handles like the GRU-7 use in the F-14A) and leg restraints.  The leg restraints are very small and delicate, but I decided to leave them off as they will not be seen once the seats are installed and in reality, they should droop to the floor not stick stiffly out from the seat.  The set also includes a large yellow and black handle for the left side of the seat, but as I did not see it in any of the online photos of the seat, I left it off (to me it looks more like the canopy jettison handle that is located on the lower right side of each instrument panel, so I will probably use them for that purpose next time).


Finally, the set includes a replacement radar antenna with the associated transmitters/receivers.  The antenna itself is easily mounted by super gluing it onto part A49, but I strongly recommend that you not attach A49 to the antenna mount (part A50) until after you have mounted all 10 of the transmitters/receivers to the antenna.  The transmitters/receivers are very delicate and like many other small pieces of photo-etch seem to be determined to launch themselves into the unknown.  However, as there are no spares provided for these, you will need to keep track of them!  I tacked them onto a piece of folded over Tamiya tape stuck to a scrap of sheet styrene as I removed them from the fret.  If you take your time and use quick setting super glue to attach the transmitters/receivers, the result is impressive.  Since there were no painting instructions for the transmitters/receivers and they are hard to see, I left them unpainted.


This is a very nice set from Eduard and will add some great detail to F-14D but get it before you start so you can install the etched cockpit parts before closing up the fuselage.


Very highly recommended. 

F-14D Tomcat

Tue, 02/23/2021 - 14:04
Product Image Review Author:  Paul R. Brown Great Wall Hobby

In December of 2019, Great Wall Hobby released a newly tooled 1/72 scale F-14D Tomcat kit. Like many of the other Tomcat kits that have been released in recent years, the kit is engineered so that Great Wall could also release a F-14A Tomcat by just swapping out a few sprues.  However, the kit design is such that there are just a few parts on the F-14D trees that are not used.

Upon opening the rather large box, you will discover that there are a lot of parts in this kit spread out over 41 grey sprues and one clear sprue!  Many of these are smaller sprues such as those for the Phoenix, Sparrow and Sidewinder missiles.  The intake trunks are molded on their own sprues as is the lower fuselage. There are two decal sheets, one with the stencils and the other with markings for three F-14Ds of VF-2 "Bounty Hunters" from 1995 & 1997. 

At first, I struggled with the instructions as they are printed on both sides an in landscape format.  I ended up stapling them together along the left edge to turn them into a booklet.  There are also a comprehensive parts map, a double-sided page of corrections/changes, and 4 pages of color diagrams illustrating the markings for the three aircraft included on the decal sheet and showing the placement for the stencils that are included with the kit.  To make sure that I did not forget something, I photocopied the corrections/changes pages, cut them up and taped them over the appropriate steps in the regular directions.  I recommend you spend some time studying the instructions before starting as there are a number of options for the build - flaps & slats down or stowed, spoilers deployed or flush, speed brakes open or closed, nozzles opened or closed, radome open or closed and the positioning of the variable ramps in the intakes.  The earlier you decide how you want to your Tomcat to look the better.  I was pleased to see that the kit allows you to display the flaps and slats either extended or retracted.  The spoilers were a bit more of a puzzle as normally then are only open when the aircraft is powered up and the flight controls are moved.  I initially thought of displaying the aircraft on the catapult with the pilot doing his final control checks as then I could have spoilers on one side deployed and the other side retracted, but as the kit does not include any figures, and I wanted to display the radome open, I decided instead to depict a jet that is undergoing maintenance after a hydraulic failure, so everything, including the inflight refueling probe is deployed/extended.

The instructions direct you to start construction with the ejection seats and cockpit.  The kit provides two SJU-17 seats but be sure to mark which seat is for which cockpit as they are slightly different.  The instructions list color callouts for Mr. Color paints and MiG colors, but as I have a stash of Testor's Modelmaster paints, I used them as much as I could.  The seats are semigloss black with khaki cushions.  The kit does not provide any of the harnesses for the seats, so you will either need to make your own or pick up an aftermarket set.  I used the ones in Eduard's detail set for the kit (SS693). 

The cockpit is a modular design with separate parts for each of the side consoles, again allowing Great Wall to use the same tub for both the F-14D and the F-14A kits.  The molded-on details on the side consoles and instrument panels are very nicely done and will really pop with careful painting.  I elected to use the provided decals which settled down nicely with Micro Set and Micro Sol.  I felt the display screens were a little too bright, so I toned them down with a thin coat of black.    Great Wall would also have you mount the instrument panels and coamings at this stage, but I decided to wait until after the cockpit had been installed in the fuselage as there are a couple of other parts that have to be fitted around it and I felt it would be easier to do that later.  I held off installing the ejections seats until final assembly.

The next step is to install the cockpit into the forward fuselage sections along with the nose gear well and the radar assembly.  Knowing that I knock things off regularly, I decided to not install the radar mount and antenna at this stage (parts A49 & A50), a decision that later paid benefits when I got the Eduard detail set which includes an impressively detailed radar antenna.  I also added part A10 in front of the cockpit which then allowed me to install the two instrument panels and coamings.  Unfortunately, the instructions forget to tell you to install part Q6, a small rectangular piece in front of the windscreen until step 23, I recommend installing in step 5 as it is much easier to install when all you are working with just the front fuselage, instead of the entire airframe.  Fit of all the parts was very good and I only had to use a little filler on the seams, mostly on the seam around part A10. The instructions also advise you to install part Q9 at the tip of the radome at this point, but again, if you are clumsy like me, I would hold off till much later in the build - I broke it off at least three times before it finally disappeared, being replaced with stretched sprue during final assembly.

Step 5 also instructs you to install the windscreen at this stage, but I recommend waiting till much later in the build.  I used the windscreen to ensure that all the parts around it were -fitted correctly, but I did not glue it on at this stage. This is also the stage for a couple of choices - are you going to have the radome raised or closed and are you going to have the boarding ladder and crew steps stowed or deployed?  I decided to have everything opened up, so I left the radome off along with the steps and the ladder.

The next several steps deal with the assembly of the intakes and the moveable ramps used to control airflow in the Tomcat's intakes at high speed.  The instructions use the terms "open state" and "closed state" which is a bit confusing, particularly as the instructions and the addendum contradict each other.  However, unless you are going to model your Tomcat in flight, with the wings back and moving fast, the ramps should be in the stowed or raised position, they lower at high speed to restrict the airflow down the intakes and keep it subsonic when it hits the first stage compressor blades.  Section 7 addresses attaching the upper and lower fuselage sections and the appropriate boattail for the F-14D.  However, first you need to decide how you are going to arm your Tomcat.  If you are going to install the Phoenix fairings, you will need to drill out the mounting holes in the lower fuselage.  I decided to only install the front fairings, so I did not open the rear holes.

I was surprised to discover that the kit includes the glove vanes as these were not installed on the F-14D and will need to be faired over with putty.  The kit includes small pivoting stubs on which you will later install the wings, and these are installed in step 7 as well.  Surprisingly, there is nothing in the instructions telling you not to glue these parts (A6 and A7), so make sure you do not otherwise you will be stuck with the wings in whatever position you glued these parts in.  Like many recent kits, Great Wall has not included any gears or other parts to connect the two wings so that they sweep together, so if you build your kit with slick wings, you will need to eyeball the wings to make sure they are at the same sweep. This is not a problem if the slats and flaps are deployed as they pretty much only fit in one place due to the tight tolerances between the extended flaps and the fuselage sides.

I skipped step 8 for a while and installed the ventral fins and tailhook assembly right before I painted the kit.  Before starting step 9 you will need to take some time and address the ejector pin marks in the bottom of each intake trunk (parts A53 and A54).  Again, unless you are modeling an airborne speeding Tomcat the upper ramps need to be installed in the "open state" as show in the addendum.  One nice feature is that Great Wall has molded the aft intake trunks as single pieces, so you will not have to worry about eliminating a seam down the middle of them.  At this stage you will need to break out the white paint and paint the intakes white.  Some aircraft had parts of the forward section of the intakes painted grey, so check your references.  The VF-2 birds appear to have the intakes painted FS36375 back to about the front edge of parts A76, so I painted the bulk of the intakes flat white, taped off the white sections and sprayed FS 36375 on the front sections (top and bottom) before installing the ramps and their associated actuators (all of which are also painted white).

In step 10 you assemble the front fuselage, rear fuselage and intakes and your Tomcat starts to take shape.  Take your time and do a couple of dry runs to refine the fit and you should be able to avoid and seams.  I had a slight seam where the right front fuselage joins the aft fuselage, but this was remedied with a little putty and sanding.  Step 11 has you install the front engine bay doors and again dry fitting will help avoid any seams here.  In step 12, you are to install the vertical tails and the stabilators.  I left off the stabs until the end of the build to make painting and decaling easier.  

Steps 13 through 15 deal with assembly and installation of the landing gear and the landing gear doors, which are best accomplished after painting and decaling are completed, so I set aside the assembled fuselage and skipped ahead to work on the wings.  As I mentioned above, Great Wall has designed the kit so that you can have the flaps and slats either deployed or retracted. If you are building everything retracted, you will need to go to step 16 and remove the actuators from the slats so that they can be mounted flush with the leading edge of the wing.  I had decided to depict them deployed so I went to step 18, and since the internal portions of the flaps and slats are flat red, I left them off the wings for painting.  Similarly, the insides of the spoilers are also flat red, so they were left off to be painted separately. I found that if I inserted a thin wooden stirring stick into the wings, I had a nice handle for painting and decaling the main wing sections.

Great Wall would have you install the wings next, but it is much easier to paint them separate from the fuselage, so I left them off for now.  You also will need to install the air bladders that inflate to close the gaps between the wings and the fuselage before painting.  Great Wall provides separate pieces depicting the bladders either inflated or deflated.  As the bladders are only inflated when the engines are running, I used parts T5 and T6 for the deflated bladders and parts T3 and T4 for corresponding trailing edges of the over-wing fairings.  While the fit of all these parts was generally excellent, I did have to do a little sanding to blending in the joins on the stiffeners on the over-wing fairings and the edges of the left bladder so that it was flush with the side of the fuselage. 

Now that the major subassemblies have been completed, the next step was to prepare the main canopy for painting.  Due to the complex shape of the Tomcat's canopy, there was a small mold seam down the center of the main canopy.  I sanded the seam with progressively finer grades of sandpaper, then polished it with toothpaste and finished with dipping it in Future.  Once the Future had cured for a couple of days, I hand painted the interior side of the center panel of the windscreen Tamiya green to get the green tint seen in many photographs, then I masked both canopies with Eduard's masking set and attached them to the kit with white glue.

The kit gives your decals for three F-14D's of Fighter Squadron 2 "The Bounty Hunters", two in TPS and one in a retro gull grey over white.  Having just completed a F-14A in the grey over white scheme, I elected for one of the TPS birds.  First, I painted the interiors of the upper and lower speed brakes Tamiya flat white followed by Tamiya Flat red.  Once this was dry, I tacked the speed brakes in the closed position with silly putty and gave the model a base coat of flat black.  Next, I painted the undersides Modelmaster FS36375, taking care to not cover up the black base coat completely as TPS Tomcats do get filthy.  I then used snakes of silly putty to mask the demarcation line for the upper fuselage color of FS36320 and tape along the hard edges such as under the wing gloves, again taking care to ensure that coverage was spotty with the black base coat peeking through.  VF-2 only applied the third TPS color FS35237 (I used Vallejo AV71114) on the upper nose from the aft edge of the main canopy forward, coming to a point at the tip of the radome.  As it looks like the canopies might have been painted separate from the fuselage, I used tape to ensure that there was a sharp demarcation line around the rear canopy and silly putty snakes from there to the tip of the radome.  I painted the grey sections of the wings at the same time as the fuselage (FS36375 lower surfaces and FS36320 upper surfaces).  When this was dry, I taped off the areas that would remain grey and painted the retracting sections/interiors flat white followed by flat red.  I finished the wings by masking off the leading edge and painting it steel.  I also taped off the landing gear wells and painted them white at this stage and I painted the air bladders dark gull grey (FS 36231).

Once the paint had dried for several days, I applied a couple of coats of Future to prepare the surface for decaling.  The kit decals are well printed, and I had no problem getting them to snuggle down with a little Micro Set and Micro Sol.  My only issue with the decals is that while Great Wall provides a lot of stencils for the forward fuselage and upper surfaces, there are almost no decals at all for the lower surfaces or aft fuselage sides.  After the decals had dried, I washed off the excess setting solution and applied another coat of Future to seal them.

While the decals were drying, I backtracked to step 13 to assemble the landing gear.  Unfortunately, I think Great Wall has broken the gear into too many pieces and I found this step very frustrating.  Both main gear legs are split into two pieces and there are a couple of additional pieces that need to be added along with the large retraction arms and an aft retraction jack behind the main strut.  The location of this rear jack is unclear in the directions, so I inadvertently installed it incorrectly and had to pry it off and re-install it when I mounted the gear onto the kit as there is a hole in the gear bay aft of the main strut that one end of the jack mounts into.  I painted all the main gear parts semi-gloss white and set them aside to dry.  Great Wall also provides two options for the nose gear strut, kneeled and un-kneeled.  As the Tomcat is only kneeled right before it is connected to the catapult shuttle on the carrier, I chose the un-kneeled parts.  Again, there are several parts that need to be added, preferably before painting the gear white.  I left a couple off to make it easier to paint the silver oleo section on the strut but had to repaint many of them after assembly as the tolerances are so tight that I ended up scratching off some of the paint in order to get the parts to fit together.  Once the sealer coat on the decals had dried, I installed the gear.  Be sure to install the nose gear and the retraction strut A80 before you install part A42 as it will not fit around A42 once it is installed (I broke part A80 and had to repair it with stretched sprue). While installing the main gear I discovered my error regarding the rear retraction jack. In addition, the location of the main retraction arm can only be determined when the main gear is installed.  All in all, I found the assembly rather complicated and I recommend using superglue for added strength and stability.

With the gear on and the paint sealed, I applied a wash using Tamiya's dark grey wash.  I have found that this gives a nice dirty look when applied over a flat paint as the grit in the paint gives the wash something to grab onto.  I recommend applying the wash before you attach the gear doors or glove pylons as they are hard to work around as you wipe off the wash.  I re-created the grimy worn area on the inner portions of the wings by sliding the wings onto the provided pegs then sweeping the wings all the way back and applying Tamiya tape along the wing to over-wing fairing joint.  I then placed a sharp pencil on the inside edge of the tape and swung the wing forward.  This gave me a sample of the arc of the wing sweep.  I then penciled in several similar arcs and rubbed the side of the pencil randomly over this area and finished it off using an old school eraser to blend it all in.  I then repeated the process on the underside of the wing and extended the arc onto the grey areas of the flaps. 

I let everything dry for a couple of days, then attached the gear doors and wing glove pylons (I installed the Phoenix fairings before painting to ensure they matched the underside color).  While these were drying, I assembled and painted the engine exhausts and the nozzles.  The kit provides both fully open and fully closed nozzles and as Tomcats are often seen with one open and one closed, you have several options.  I elected to have them both fully open, so I had to tape off and paint the black areas between petals that are so prominent when the nozzles are open.  I used Testor's metallic black for the black areas and even though it involved a lot of small pieces of tape.  I am pleased with how they turned out.  Before attaching the nozzles, I sealed the airframe with clear flat. Once this had dried, I popped off the rear canopy, removed the masking from both canopies and starting final assembly.  I discovered that the wings slide on and off nicely, but the fit is snug enough not to require any glue, which will make transport of the model much easier.

As I had decided to display the nose open with the radar antenna showing, I purchased Eduard's detail set for the Great Wall kit (SS693) which includes a replacement radar antenna and 10 tiny transmitters/receivers.  Take your time assembling this unit and it will pay off as it really looks impressive on the kit.

One of the reasons I decided to depict an aircraft undergoing maintenance is that I was disappointed in the limited selection of weapons provided by Great Wall as the kit only includes air-to-air missiles (2 AIM-9L/M, 6 AIM-7M and 6 AIM-54) and their associated pylons.  While the instructions and the sprues say that the AIM-54s are AIM-54C's, I think they are AIM-54A's instead as the missiles have the raised proximity fuze aerials.  There are no air-to-ground weapons at all (other than the Lantirn adapter for Station 8b) and although there is a rumor that Great Wall Hobby will be releasing its own weapons set to address this, I have not been able to find one.  I dug into my stash and "borrowed" a couple of bomb rack adapters from an old Hasegawa weapons set and installed them on the forward Phoenix racks to give my Tomcat an air-to-ground capability.  I also replace the AIM-9 pylons with the later version seen towards the end of the Tomcat's career.

Overall, other than the fight I had with the landing gear and the lack of a bit more variety in weapons load options, I really enjoyed this build and it is certainly impressive when completed.

Highly recommended!  Thank you to Great Wall Hobby for the review kit and to IPMS-USA for letting me review it.

F-14D Tomcat Masking Set

Tue, 02/23/2021 - 13:56
Product Image Review Author:  Paul R. Brown Eduard

This set is designed for Great Wall Hobby's recent F-14D Tomcat kit.  As has become standard for these sets, the set provides masks not only for the canopy and the windscreen, but also for the tires or wheel hubs.


There are three parts to the windscreen mask, one for each side and the central panel.  The main canopy has 4 parts for each section, two for each side.  The instructions advise you to cover the rest of the canopy area with liquid masking, but I prefer to cut small strips out of the unused parts of the masking sheet and use these strips to mask off the rest of the canopy.


After masking the canopy, but before tacking it in place over the cockpit, I hand painted the center panel of the windscreen Tamiya clear green to get the green tint seen in some photos of this panel.  I then tacked both sections of the canopy onto the model for painting and painted the canopy frames with flat black as this is the interior color of the Tomcat canopy.  When this had dried, I then painted the model in the Navy TPS colors.  According to Great Wall's instructions on the VF-2 aircraft both canopy sections were painted FS 35237, so after the first two greys were painted, I taped off the canopy and the top of the nose and painted this area with Vallejo AV71114.


After painting and decaling were complete, I removed the masks from the canopy sections and discovered a perfectly painted canopy.


For the wheel masks, I first painted the tires NATO Black, then applied the masks leaving the hubs open.  I then used a circular template held against the tape to paint the hubs white.  I have found that this combination helps to minimize overspray on the black wheels.


This is a great set and is so much easier to use and results in cleaner finish than my old method of Scotch tape!


Very highly recommended. 

C-130 Props and Engine Nacelles

Tue, 02/23/2021 - 13:47
Product Image Review Author:  Damon Blair Brengun

The Lockheed C-130A through H model aircraft are powered by a series of Allison T-56 engines driving a set of Hamilton-Standard 4-bladed props. The 4-bladed Hamilton-Standard props were original equipment on the C-130B through the C-130H models, and the props were later retrofitted to C-130A aircraft. Each C-130B through C-130H engine is housed in a nacelle that is slightly longer than the nacelles on the C-130A aircraft. The difference can be seen in a side-by-side comparison of the Italeri kit nacelles (designed for the C-130A) and this aftermarket kit.


This aftermarket kit comes with a total of 36 pieces to replace the kit parts. Each propeller has 5 individual parts - 4 prop blades and the spinner. Each nacelle comes as two pieces, the main nacelle and the front intake/prop base. My sample came as a crisp set of resin parts. All the panel lines and the details match the actual nacelle and brought back quite a few memories of working around the prop and nacelle during my 20-year career in the Air Force as a C-130 Crew Chief. I have a photo of the #1 engine and prop on my aircraft as a reference.


The nacelle is fairly easy to assemble - the hardest part I found was gluing the oil cooler flap into position, which is the squarish, U-shaped part on the bottom of the nacelle. I may have trimmed too much from the forward end of this flap, but there is a small gap when the flap is full open. This flap can be glued either full open or full closed (or any position in between), and the instructions show the flap being full open. The "aerial" the instructions refer to is actually a drain mast, and is used to drain both fuel from the engine on shutdown and any hydraulic fluid/oils that leak inside the nacelle. I cut the nacelle face just short of the joint line, opening up the intake for a more realistic appearance. The two main nacelle parts mate perfectly along a panel line.


Each propeller blade can be positioned individually, but on the real prop the blades are geared together so that they all will have the same blade angle from reverse to full feather. On the real aircraft, on the ground with engines shut down, the normal blade position is "flat". For this detail set, however, unless you are depicting an emergency shutdown, in flight display, or maintenance being done to the engine, the propeller blade tips will be at a 90-degree angle to the airflow. You can refer to the finished photos for what the normal blade position is.


Painting the nacelles and props is fairly straightforward - the nacelles are painted to match the aircraft they're installed on. and the spinners and de-ice boots (the big black area near the prop blade base) are a flat to semi-gloss black (depending on how long since the last prop overhaul). The propeller blades are aluminum, and I used Testors Model Master Metallizer Buffing Aluminum to paint the main blades. On my aircraft (and USAF European 1 and grey painted aircraft), the prop tips are painted black. To me, a stripe width of 2mm looks right. Oftentimes, there is a mark or an insignia on a single prop blade to designate which blade has to be positioned towards the ground when the aircraft isn't flying. You can see this marking that I had on the bottom blade in the picture of the actual prop and nacelle-it is a star with lines coming out of it (it's actually the Lockheed logo). I also put a spot of flat white in the hole at the middle of the spinner - this replicates the prop dome that can be seen in the spinner.


The inboard nacelles require that 2.25 mm be removed from the kit's nacelle joint. This brings the propeller arcs in line with each other, as it is on the actual aircraft.


The only thing that I believe would improve this kit is a decal set with common propeller markings along with nacelle service markings. They are quite noticeable on the prop spinners and deicers, as they are angle markings and "No Step" painted on them with white paint.


I wish to thank Brengun for providing a sample of this fantastic detail set.

Cross & Cockade International Winter 2020 Volume 51/4

Tue, 02/23/2021 - 11:51
Product Image Review Author:  Frank Landrus Cross & Cockade International

Cross & Cockade International is a non-profit UK based group known as the First World War Aviation Historical Society that publishes their journal four times a year. They also provide a free newsletter (sign up on their website) and occasionally publish WWI themed books like the Sopwith Dolphin monograph I reviewed earlier for IPMS USA. This Journal is the sister of the US Journal, Over The Front.

The Winter 2020 journal of Cross & Cockade International features a nice sharp black and white photograph of Sopwith Camels of 70 Squadron in a Bickendorf shed in1918.  The inside and outside rear cover continues with additional black and white pics of 70 Squadron at Bickendorf.  This issue includes the fourth in a series of British flying sites in France, Belgium, and Germany from 1914 to 1920. This is a separately page numbered center section that consists of eight pages, four period black and white photographs, and fifteen black and white maps. Also included is a separate folded color 1/100,000 map consisting of eight pages when folded up.  This color map represents the flying sites in Lens while St. Qentin is on the reverse side.

The late Stewart K. Taylor kicks off this issue with a biography of Canadian Lt. Kenneth Borman Watson of C Flight, 70 Squadron.  Stewart K. Taylor covers this born gambler from birth to his death at the age of 63.  The article also covers many of the other pilots of 70 Squadron and includes many first person accounts.  Extending 25 glossy pages, I counted 66 black and white period photographs (including the covers), including the ones on display on page 51.242.  Here, Lt. Kenneth Borman Watson is shown putting on an aerial flying display at Bickendorf in early 1919.  You will also spot a Sopwith Snipe nosed over in early 1919.  Watson had a chance to fly the Snipe before he left Bickendorf, but he considered it too heavy compared to his Camel experience.

Steve Mills follows up with a four page article on The World's First Military Drone Aircraft: A Hidden History.  This article includes five line drawings and five black and white photographs, including one featuring a rather famous beauty.  Its first flight was in front some forty senior officers, the remote controlled drone took off, soaring into the air.  However, like some of my early radio controlled flights, the aircraft looped and dove at the gathered crowd, tearing into the ground.  Despite this, development continued.

David Mechin continues last issue's biography of Renee Fonck with Part Two.  Covering 13 pages, David Mechin covers Renee Fonck from March 1928 to his death in 1953.  The next 13 pages cover Fonck's ultimate downfall in France.  Renee Fonck's interaction with Vichy France and the French resistance put him under arrest by the Germans, and after the liberation of Paris, by the restored French Republic.  I counted 18 black and white photographs, including the one on Page 51.252 showing Rene Fonck standing with the pilot of a Dewoitine D.520 in 1940.  Paul R. Hare contributes a two page article on the short career of FE8 7624.  Flown by Thomas George Mapplebeck, he caught a bullet in a fuel pipe downing him behind enemy lines.  He would spend the next two years as a prisoner of war.  Eight black and white photographs are included, featuring the FE8 in both RAF and German markings.

Colin A. Owers covers the history of Wright Aircraft in the United States Navy over the next fourteen pages.   Starting with the Wright B-1 (AH-4) and closing with the Wright twin tractor Model K floatplane.  I counted 21 black and white pictures that cover the acquisition and service of these aircraft.  First person accounts on these aircraft really add to this feature as attempts to improve performance were battled.  Roger Green transcribes a notepad by the famous Lt. A.P.F. Rhys Davids.  This two pager includes five photographs as Rhys Davids describes "A Perfect Day" that was later crossed out to read "The Day of Days.

Logbook is an occasional feature compiled by Mick Davis.  This time it covers Training Unit Markings at the South Eastern Area Flying Instructors School (SEAFIS).   In only two pages it includes nine well captioned photographs.  Fabric is another occasional feature by Mick Davis that includes correspondence from readers.  This quarter, additional information on the crew of a DFW C.V is addressed, along with a group of enterprising young fellows that are building a full-size replica of the Handley Page O/400.

Joe Moran converts a Revell D.VII to a post war two-seater in Modeling with four black and white photographs.  Fellow modeler Bob Gladding improves the Novek 1/72 Grigorovich M-5.  Joe Moran also provides and update on new on-topic releases.  The Bookshelf section is a review of WWI aviation specific books and magazines with this issue totaling eighteen.  Under Obituaries, Canadian Stewart Kenneth Taylor, an avid historian for Cross and Cockade, passed on September 29, 2020.  Stewart had made a focus on preserving the history of Canadian WWI aviators and was friends with many of the greats, including Collishaw and MacLaren.


  • Editorial by Mick Davis
  • Luck Be A Lady Tonight by Stewart K. Taylor [Page 51.2]
  • The World's First Military Drone Aircraft: A Hidden History by Steve Mills [Page 51.2]
  • The Rene Fonck: Allied Ace of Aces, Part 2 by David Mechin [Page 51.2]
  • The Gazetteer of British Flying Sites in France, Belgium, and Germany 1914 - 1920 Part 4: ALQ-AUL  by Peter Dye, Roger Austin, and Mick Davis [Centerfold Map]
  • One Pusher Down: The Short Career of FE8 7624 - by Paul R. Hare [Page 51.2]
  • Wright Aircraft in the United States Navy - by Colin A. Owers [Page 51.2]
  • A Perfect Day The Day of Days- by Rhys Davids / transcribed by Roger Green [Page 51.2]
  • Log Book: Training Unit Markings: South Eastern Area Flying Instructors School compiled by Mick Davis
  • Fabric by Mick Davis
  • Modeling: New Releases and Kit Reviews compiled by Joe Moran
  • Bookshelf - Edited by Paul R. Hare
  • Obituaries : Stewart Kenneth Taylor 1931-2020


This is another excellent issue from Cross & Cockade and I continue to be impressed with the quality of the articles, both from a research perspective and readability. The period pictures, maps, and drawings in this journal come off looking great thanks to their printing on the journal's glossy paper. If you are into early / WWI aviation; this journal is an incredible source of information that will have you on the edge of your seat for the next issue. My thanks to Cross & Cockade International and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great issue.

Highly recommended!

German Medium Tank Panzerkampfwagen III from Ausf. H to Ausf. N

Tue, 02/23/2021 - 11:38
Product Image Review Author:  Tim Wilding Kagero Publishing

This is book number 1 in Kagero Publishing's "In Combat" series. This book is the larger A4 or European size with high gloss paper and is 80 pages long that has 12 chapters. The pages are laid out with English on the left side of the page and Polish on the right. The first chapter is about the development of the base Panzer III, then it jumps to Ausf. (model/version) H. Each chapter deals with a different Ausf number up to Ausf N. The detailed about each model is very extensive and a few charts are included that show production numbers. There are two to three photos per page showing the Panzer III version being written about. Some of the photos seem to be computer enhanced to bring out details.

The eight middle pages are full color paint schemes of 16 vehicles. There are also two on the back cover. Six pages of technical line drawings are next. Tucked into these pages is a masking sheet with 1/35 scale stencils for tank number 421 and some Balkenkreuz (German vehicle crosses). This tank is one on page 40 and was used in the Battle of Kursk. The stencil is very well done and have sharp, crisp edges around the numbers. I am going to try it on a Panzer IV I am building now. There are loads of reference photos along with these color plates that will greatly help any modeler product a nice Panzer III.

I would like to thank Casemate Publishing and IPMS for the chance to read and review this nicely detailed book.

AC-40-137A Soviet Firetruck

Mon, 02/22/2021 - 14:28
Product Image Review Author:  Ben Morton ICM

There is an old proverb, or maybe it's an English idiom, that states:" give credit where credit is due."

It is thought that Samuel Adams might have been the first to coin the phrase. Giving credit where due applies to the Ukrainian company, ICM Holding.  Having persevered a 'commie invasion' of Eastern Ukraine, packing up their entire manufacturing facility and moving it to the Western Ukraine they also seem to get the most from a particular model kit's mold, in this instance the Soviet Military truck ZiL-131.

The original ICM kit of the ZiL-131 was released in 2014 and has been re-released and re-packaged with additional parts for an emergency and recovery vehicle, figures (both soldiers and drivers) and the subject of this review, the AC-40-137A Soviet Firetruck. True to form ICM holding has released several different sets of figures (clean-up crews from the Chernobyl disaster) to go along with this Soviet Firetruck. Not a company to miss an opportunity, they will soon have available a version of this kit with civilian fire fighters.

The kit consists of two hundred ninety five parts which include black vinyl tires, clear bits for windscreens and headlamps as well as a small decal sheet containing markings for four separate vehicles. Most, if not all, of those clear bits can be added after assembly and painting. Just leave the roof of the crew compartment off until the very end. All of the clear parts fell into place without the slightest difficulty.

The decal sheet provides the script applied to each vehicle, the distinctive white panels (upon which that script goes) common to the type will have to be painted separately. The assembly instructions do reference those white panels. There is photographic evidence that not all Soviet fire trucks have them. Otherwise, it'll be a masking, you will go.

The instruction booklet is well illustrated and has color call outs throughout referencing either Revell or Tamiya paints. Those instructions also clearly note several parts (probably associated with other variants of the basic chassis) that will go unused.

As with most truck models, construction begins with the chassis and its familiar parts. ICM Holding kit includes all the necessary bits for what builds up into a very detailed and complete chassis and drive train. Air tanks, power takeoffs, fuel tanks, running boards, axles with individual leaf springs, detailed suspension parts, drive shafts as well as an elaborate engine are all included. 

There are some mold parting lines and fit issues (particularly with the engine and the power take off for the water pump) but nothing consequential. Some of the ejector pin marks (cab interior, especially) will be visible and you may wish to fill those before finishing up assembly, but most are hidden during construction. One area that you might find problematic is the connection of the power take-off shaft to the water pump. The universal joint on the shaft is way too large to fit through the access hole provided.  One fix is too just make that hole larger. The other is too clip off the shaft part (#F32) and slip that part through the hole.  All this for no additional charge. The detail-oriented may wish to add the plumbing and wiring (engine, brake lines, etc.) but that is all that is missing from 'what's in the box'.

When you get to Step 57 (of 146) you can begin with the compartment for the driver and fire fighters. Individual parts are provided for the brake and accelerator pedals as are the different shift levers. Interior side panels are separate pieces that have individual door handles and roll up window cranks. (Try explaining roll up windows to your grandchildren.) Other bits, for various accoutrement on the crew cab roof and requisite external features (clearance lamps, siren, etc.) are enclosed with the kit.  

The body of the vehicle is next with bits for the side panels, rear panel details and the water pump. That pump area may seem a bit spartan to some and might benefit from some additional detail, to busy up the area, from your spares box. The lovely, engraved lines on the side panels of the body of the truck represent the storage bins. A crafty person could open those up but if you do you will definitely need to add any and all detail that would be behind those doors. 

After adding some details (steps, lights, pump outlet, etc.) to the body of the fire truck it's on to assembling four hose canisters and a three-piece extension ladder as well as a single length ladder for the upper deck.  Do exercise some caution when assembling the hose canisters (part #'s F18, F19, F20, F21, F26, F27, F28, F29). I did not and had some assembly problems later. In addition to those items there are a number of smaller parts (firefighting equipment, side mirrors, windshield wipers, forward facing water nozzle, etc.) that get added to finish up the build.

Having finished with the building part, it's on to the painting part. It would seem that all Soviet fire trucks are painted overall red. One popular answer to why Russian fire trucks are red goes something like this: "Because they have eight wheels and four people on them, and four plus eight makes twelve, and there are twelve inches in a foot, and one foot is a ruler, and Queen Elizabeth was a ruler, and Queen Elizabeth was also a ship, and the ship sailed the seas, and there were fish in the seas, and fish have fins, and the Finns fought the Russians, and the Russians are red, and fire trucks are always "Russian" around, so that's why fire trucks are red!"  No extra charge for that either....

The markings provided are for four fire trucks that were assigned, in the early 2000's, to Sergiev Posad and Moscow (Russia) Vinnytsia and one from Kiev (Ukraine). You could showcase the Kiev vehicle next to an advertisement for a chicken restaurant and see if anyone gets the joke. I chose a different scheme offering a gently used, single owner vehicle assigned to the Duchy of Grand Fenwick.  The markings that I did use went on beautifully.

The AC-40- 137A Soviet fire truck from ICM Holding is a cracking kit. The model goes together well without major fit issues although some of the smaller bits may present a challenge for the novice builder. As noted earlier, the only assembly issues I had were of my own making.

For those who have built multi-wheeled vehicles, one of the banes of those kits is getting all the road wheels/tires to sit properly. There is almost always at least one wheel/tire that is just a bit off. This Soviet firetruck kit from ICM Holding is the first I've modeled where all six road wheels/tires make proper contact with the 'pavement'.  Kudos to ICM!

The level of molded detail is first rate and is what has become expected from ICM Holding. This model has ample opportunities (side storage bins, rear water pump area, crew cab, etc.) for the detailer to go to town. ICM Holding already has some nice crew sets (example: https://icm.com.ua/en/figure/soviet-firemen-1980s/ ) to make that task that much easier.

My thanks to ICM Holding and IPMS/USA for the review model.