IPMS LogoInternational Plastic Modelers' Society / USA

IPMS LogoInternational Plastic Modelers' Society / USA



Subscribe to IPMS/USA Reviews feed
Updated: 3 hours 36 min ago

T-34 mod. 1940 Idler wheel with rubber bandage

Mon, 02/22/2021 - 13:59
Product Image Review Author:  Tim Wilding OKB Grigorov

The company OKB-Grigorov from Bulgaria has released idlers wheels for early T-34 tank models. These replacement idlers have the rubber bandage (solid tires) pressed onto the outside rim. Later models were only all metal.

There are six two-piece resin wheels included in the bag. The front and back of each idler are molded on one resin plug. The resin is dark gray and feels more like plastic. It is easy to cut the wheels off the plugs and sands up great with little resin dust. They supply six wheels, but you only need two per tank, so you will have enough for thee kits. I did not see any air bubbles or other molding errors on any part. Super glue works fine to join the two halves together and pant held fine to the surface without any cleaning beforehand. The idlers have a small pin on the back that might need to be altered depending on what kit you will be mounting them to.

I would like to thank OKB-Grigorov and IPMS for the chance to review these wheels.

T-64 Early idler wheels

Mon, 02/22/2021 - 13:51
Product Image Review Author:  Tim Wilding OKB Grigorov

The company OKB-Grigorov from Bulgaria has released early idlers wheels for early T-64 tank models.

There are six two-piece resin wheels included in the bag. The front and back of each idler are molded on one resin plug. The resin is dark gray and feels more like plastic. It is easy to cut the wheels off the plugs because of the thin attachment points and sands up great with little resin dust. They supply six wheels, but you only need two per tank, so you will have enough for thee kits. I did not see any air bubbles, but a few has small resin lines on one of the spokes that need to be removed. Super glue works fine to join the two halves together and pant held fine to the surface without any cleaning beforehand. The idlers have a small pin on the back that might need to be altered depending on what kit you will be mounting them to.

I would like to thank OKB-Grigorov and IPMS for the chance to review these wheels.

B-52H Stratofortress

Mon, 02/22/2021 - 13:47
Product Image Review Author:  Tom Pope Italeri


In 2020, Italeri re-released their big 1/72nd scale B-52H Stratofortress as kit number 1442.  This kit is a re-box of the B-52H kit #1262 from 2006 with new decals representing three different aircraft from around the 1979 - 1981 time frame.  In 1980, Strategic Air Command (SAC) was still in charge of the nuclear bomber and ballistic missile forces, the B-52Hs had only been in service for 20 years and Boeing's AGM-86 Air Launched Cruise Missiles (ALCM) were into full rate production.  This new-old kit brings markings for three new versions of the B-52H for modeler's that can't get enough of this great old bird.

A sincere thank you to Italeri for re-issuing this kit in tribute to the mightiest and most recognized (most feared in many places) of military aircraft.

In the Box:

As you dive into the sturdy box, you will find a lot of plastic - this is a big kit.  When finished, this aircraft is going to be about 28" long with a 31" wingspan and will be around 7" tall.  The fuselage comes in quarters - left and right halves of front and back halves and each wing is in halves as are engine struts, engine pods, external fuel tanks, horizontal stabilizers, two external missile pylons and each of the 12 cruise missiles.  Landing gear can be built extended or retracted.  Sadly, gone are the days when there were separate flaps, spoilers and weapon bay doors that could be positioned opened/extended or closed.

The box also contains the 7 3/4" x 13" (folded) instruction brochure that opens into five segments printed front and back.   Most of the instructions are in black and white but the external painting guides for each version are in color.  The assembly instructions are the same as for previous versions of this kit - relatively simplistic - but this is a pretty simple kit albeit big.

With this kit, there is also a brilliant new, large decal sheet by Cartograph.  This 9" x 141/4" sheet includes the markings common to all B-52H's plus markings for three specific aircraft - versions A & B as they appeared in the 1981 Bombing Competition (Bomb Comp) at RAF Marham in Great Britain and a 3rd aircraft from Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota.

  • Version A - Tail Number (t/n) 60-0057, "Someplace Special" from KI Sawyer AFB, MI
  • Version B - t/n 61-0022, "Red River Raiders" from Grand Forks AFB, ND
  • Version C - t/n 61-0003 from Ellsworth AFB, SD


The first thing to do is to separate the wing and fuselage parts from the sprues and clean up other parts in preparation for major assemblies.  There are a few leftovers from the molding process on some of the parts (bottoms of the engine pods) and rough edges on the bigger parts.  Be careful and use sharp tools to separate parts from sprues so chunks aren't torn out while using side cutters (some of these sprues are huge and close to the part (e.g., on the wing halves)).  As with previous versions of this kit, some parts are going to need to be trimmed during assembly (some significantly, like the forward looking infrared and TV turrets) to get the best fit.

For parts where there are no alignment pins or sockets, the instructions simply point out where parts join one another but they provide no other guidance as to how the parts fit together.  For example, you have to pay attention to make sure engine nacelle cross sections match (top and bottom) with the rest of the pod.  Also, there are [slightly] raised ridges inside the fuselage halves to guide the installation of the cockpit and wheel wells but there is no direction on whether those parts install above the ridges or below.  The solution is to experiment until you get the best alignment and fit for the cockpit, wheel wells and fuselage halves, simultaneously.  When installing the wheel wells, the slot in the wells where the four landing gear trusses fit (4 x part #31) are directly in line with the socket on the corresponding fuselage for the part #31 alignment pin, otherwise the landing gear trusses will not stand straight.  When building the cockpit, there is a section of the left sidewall circuit breaker panel (part # 48) you can remove to expose the crew bunk.  The panel has an outline of the area to be cut out on the back side and it has the word "REMOVE" molded into it.  There is no reference to this in the instructions, but the bunk can't really be seen after assembly anyway.

If you have built one or more of these kits in the past as I have (B-52Gs and/or the 2006 "H" kit), you will remember the not-so-great fit between major sections and using a lot of putty to fill gaps.  The fit of those major sections, particularly the wings to the fuselage, seems to have improved with this kit.  I also used a couple tricks that might have helped with alignment, but the overall outcome was that I used almost no putty on this build.  When I joined the fuselage halves (step 3), I did not cement part #36 (wing mounting block/tabs) in place.  That allowed for the manipulation of both wings on part #36 tabs, simultaneously, until the best fit with the fuselage, on both sides, was found (see photos).  I could then glue the wings directly to the fuselage where they touched.  Make sure the cement on the wing halves is completely cured before trying to attach them to the fuselage because the wing has to be opened up slightly to fit over the part #31 tabs.  The engine struts and pods go together and attach to the wings without too much effort.

The cruise missile halves have pins and sockets on each end, and they are very slightly but noticeably out of alignment with each other.  The easiest solution is to remove the pins and clamp the missile halves together after cementing for proper fit.

The curvature at the top of the missile pylons is close, compared to the real thing but it is not an exact fit to the mating surface of the wing.  On a real B-52, there is a wing-to-pylon adapter (part of the wing) that is not represented in this kit.


The assembly instructions are the same as the previous version of Italeri's B-52H but with this version, there has been a bit of a mix up with painting instructions.  As stated above, this kit (#1442) is a re-issue of the 2006 kit (#1262) - same part count/same kit but for 3 different aircraft than previous kits (the difference is only in decals and exterior painting instructions).  The issue for this kit is that the "Suggested Colors" and associated reference letter call-outs are different but the call-out references within the assembly steps are the same as previous kits.  This results in most of the interior color call-outs during assembly referring to the wrong color.  Crew seats should be gray and have red head/helmet cushions, olive green seat and back cushions and the control columns and all four sets of crew instrument panels should be flat black.  In step 7, you would want the tires painted flat black vs. flat red as indicated.  The exterior color call-outs accurately reflect the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) external production colors of the day.

As usual, the Cartograph decals are very clear, accurate, the right colors, sturdy and are generally easy to apply.  Many are very small but are so clear they can be read with a magnifier.  Because they are so clear, you can see that the instruction call out for external fuel tank cradle positions are swapped (decals # 45 and # 46 need to be swapped (#46 is the FWD cradle position mark and #45 is aft)).  The engine instrument cluster in the middle of the instrument panel decal should have 4 rows of 8 gauges but only has 4 rows of 7 gauges (but you can't see it anyway).  The horizontal stabilizer trim angle decals are also very clear and easy to line up on the neutral position.  An issue with the instructions is that there is no guidance for decal orientation, only for position on the external paint guide.  It took about 15 minutes of manipulating to get decal #40 (red, forward looking sensor window maintenance instructions) into the correct orientation/position (fortunately, these are sturdy decals).  The last item to note here is that B-52s have static pressure ports on both sides of the fuselage (decals #25 and #26) but only one set is provided.  The end result still looks good though.1 - decals 1


When all the hard work is done, you have a great looking B-52H to display.  The instructions and the box indicate the 'skill level' is for "adult modellers ages 14 and over" and I would certainly recommend this kit for modelers with more experience, but I'd also recommend this kit for less experienced modelers with the desire to build a replica of the best military aircraft ever produced.  It is a little pricey and will take some extra work to clean things up and make ends meet but it is worth the effort.

Thanks again to Italeri for re-releasing this kit, to Model Rectifier Corporation (MRC) for providing this sample for review and to IPMS USA for giving me the opportunity to review it. 

Douglas A-4 M/N/AR Skyhawk- Flying with Air Forces around the World

Mon, 02/22/2021 - 13:12
Product Image Review Author:  Dave Morrissette HMH Publications

The Duke Hawkins series of books from HMH Publications are photo essays of specific planes ranging from Tornadoes to Typhoons to this book, the A-4 M/N/AR Skyhawk. The books are lavishly illustrated, in this case with over 300 beautifully done photographs of all types and details of the Skyhawk. This particular book deals with the A-4 from views such as Top Aces, Argentina, Brazil and Argentina and includes a stop on the Brazilian Aircraft Carrier Sao Paulo. This book series goes from front to back and top to bottom covering the Skyhawk with detail pictures.

Although not defined by chapters, the breakdown of this book is as follows:

  • A-4 Skyhawk Types
  • Forward Fuselage
  • Air Intake
  • Wings
  • Cockpit
  • Fuselage
  • Front landing Gear
  • Speed Brakes
  • Main Landing Gear
  • Brazils AF-1
  • Vertical Tail
  • Horizontal Tail
  • Maintenance
  • Aft Fuselage- Engine, Arrestor Hook
  • Pylons
  • In Action

Each section has multiple pictures showing detail with well written text explaining the picture. For example, if we look at the cockpit section, there are eight full color pages with 20 photographs capturing the side walls, ejection seat, and a full 360 degree review of the cockpit. Each section of the plane is covered in the same exquisite detail with wonderful crisp photos.

I do want to mention the maintenance section- this shows panels removed all over the aircraft showing the inside of the aircraft which is a modeler's dream.

I cannot recommend this book enough if you are building this subject. The photos are spectacular, the text is informative, and the layout is great. From a modeling perspective, this is the book super detailers need. Highly recommended,

My thanks to HMH Publishing and Casemate Publishers for the opportunity to review this book. If you are fan of the scooter, this is for you!

German Luftwaffe Pilot and Operator with ejection seats for Panavia Tornado IDS/ECR

Mon, 02/22/2021 - 12:22
Product Image Review Author:  Dave Morrissette Aires Hobby Models

Aerobonus continues to release pilot figures to staff planes in 1/48th and 1/32nd scale with the pilots seated in the appropriate seats. This latest release features two German Luftwaffe pilots for the Revell 1/32nd scale IDS Tornado. The hand position is different on the two figures with one in pilot stance and the second in a different stance. Molding is superb with no bubbles or casting issues.

I started washing the parts and then cutting the seat/body, arms, and head free of the casting block. A little scraping and sanding and I assembled the parts. To smooth out the seams on the arms, I used perfect Plastic putty and wiped with water and let dry. I then primed with Alclad. I included a copy of the painting instructions which are very non-specific as far as colors, so I did some digging and found colors that match. The paints used were acrylics with washes and small amounts of dry brushing. I did not do much detailing on the seat as it is very well done. It does need some markings added and additional color, but I did not want to take away from the figure for the review.

This is another great set - well made, easy to assemble and getting right to painting. It is MUCH better than any injection molded pilot so if you want a Tornado in flight, you need this set. Recommended.

My thanks to Aires and Aerobonus for the chance to review this set.

USAAF WWII Pilot with seat for P-51B/C Mustang

Mon, 02/22/2021 - 11:56
Product Image Review Author:  Dave Morrissette Aires Hobby Models

Aerobonus is part of Aires and focuses on enhancement additions such as pilot figures for kits. This product provides a pilot figure seated, in 1/32nd scale for the Trumpeter/Revell P-51B/C Mustang. The set comes in four parts (head, hands, and set/body) all perfectly cast on a single block. Preparation was easy by using a razor saw to cut all the parts free (after a good washing). I then used the back of a #11 blade to scrape what few seams there were and glued everything together. I used perfect plastic putty on the arm seams and wiped with water and the seams were gone. I primed with Alclad gray primer.

Painting was done with acrylics using Scale 75 for the flesh and various sources for the rest. The seat was painted with ModelMaster paints. As you can see from the included paint guide, you need to look on the internet to get more specific but with all the references, it was not too difficult. A final flat coat and the project was done.

Highly recommended for anyone needing a pilot for their 1/32nd P-51B/C.

My thanks to Aires and Aerobonus for the review item and the chance to review it.

10.5cm leFH-18/4 auf Geschutzwagen Lr.s.[f][Becker]

Mon, 02/22/2021 - 11:45
Product Image Review Author:  Tim Wilding Panda Hobby

The 10.5 cm LeFH - 18/4 auf Geschutzwagen Lr.S.(f) was a German Army (Heer) self-propelled artillery piece from 1944. The German used captured French Lorraine 37L tractors to mount their 10.5cm howitzer on. Alkett made 24 and Becker made 12. All were lost in combat between D-Day, June 6, and the end of August 1944. This model is of the Becker produced conversion.

The kit contains four sprues packed in two bags along with two bags of metal tracks and a bag of pins for these tracks. A small photo-etches sheet with about 15 parts and a small decal sheet with six decals is also included. The booklet instruction sheet is 12 pages with 14 steps and a separate two-page color inset with the three painting/decals schemes. One of the sprues is marked as A, but in the instructions, it is shown as E. I used a piece of tape to cover the wrong letter up and wrote E on it. The box I got had damage and some parts were broken, but luckily, they were unused parts. The D sprue numbers do not follow any logical order. The numbers are spread out all over the sprue, so it takes a while to find parts.

Assembly starts with the four-piece lower hull and suspension. These pieces fit tightly, and there was a lot of little flash all around the hull frames. Parts A5 and A8, the road wheel mounts, are listed backwards. The three upper suspension springs are all one piece long but divided down the middle with the outer boogie mount. The roadwheels are sandwiched between these two pieces, so I could not leave them off until after painting. There were knock out plugs and lots of flash on these suspension parts that need to be removed or the parts will not fit together. Another instruction error shows the wrong part numbers on the spring suspension. It shows parts A3 joining to A4 and A6 joining to A7, but is should be A3 got to A7 and A4 goes to A6. The drive sprockets fit very loose and wobbly on their mounting pin.

The metal tracks some next. These are a white metal that have a lot of flash that will need to be filed off, or the track links will not fit together. I spent about four hours filing each connection point for over 200 track links. The instructions say to use 107 per side, but I used only 100 per side and got a nice sag. There is a jig included that will hold about 35 links so you can insert the pins. The jig has waves in it like it is for track sag, but this is totally unneeded. A flat jib would have worked better. After inserting the pins with a tweezer, I had to crimp these pins in more with a needle nose pliers. The tracks cannot be left off either until after painting since the gap between the upper suspension and fenders is just big enough for the tracks to fit before installing the fenders. The white metal tracks did blacken up nice in burnishing fluid. I think I would have rather have plastic link and length tracks like Tamiya uses.

The rear spade is very wobbly to assemble. There are no locator marks and the mounting pins shown on the instructions are not on the parts. Also, the bracing plate is way to tighter which makes the mounting brackets flair out. The fighting compartment base is wobbly to line up and glue together. The internal bracing does not line up properly, but mostly will be hidden when done. The floor will need to be left loose to get the front wall inserted. There is also a gap all around the floor and side walls. Photo-etched parts 6 and 7 are the same but are shown on the instruction as mirror images of each other. Part 7 should have rivets on the outside, but I had to put them inside to get this part to mount correctly. Luckily most of this part is hidden later by the exhaust cover. Part B23 is the front engine panel and it is rounded on the top, but the area on the hull is squared off, so a gap is present. The upper fighting compartment walls fit together well but did not fit on to the hull. I realized that there are two pins on the hull that I needed to remove so the front of the compartment will sit flush. The instructions do not show this. There is huge knock out pin marks on the inside that will need to be filled and sanded. The pick head is marked wrong on the instructions, it is part D51, not D48.

The gun is assembled last. The barrel is in two pieces with a nasty seam down the middle. The elevation gear pin was only molded halfway, so my gun will not elevate correctly. The gun shields did not mount symmetrically, so one side is tilted outward. The gun assembly is just glued to the hull without any mounting guides or pins which makes for a sloppy fit. The tool holder will need the holes for the tools to be reamed out or the tools will not slide into them. I made a replacement antenna out of fine wire since the kit supplied on was broken.

I painted the kit with Tamiya German Grey lighted with JN Grey. The decals went down over a gloss coat, but they are thick and the edges around the carrier film is very jagged. I had to use about five applications of Walther's setting solution to get them to settle down and conform to the kit.

This was a very challenging kit to build with all the instruction errors and parts not fitting well. It reminded me of kits from in the 1980s. The metals tracks sound good when reading about this kit, but they added so much time to construction that, to me, they are not worth it but some will love them.

I would like to thank IPMS and Kitty Hawk/Panda for the chance to review this kit.

Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf. F Sd.Kfz 161

Mon, 02/22/2021 - 11:31
Product Image Review Author:  Patrick Brown Tamiya

Bottom Line Up Front: Even though Tamiya's "new tool" release of the venerable Panzerkampfwagen IV does not disappoint with nice detail, clever engineering, and three figures that are well rendered in unique and interesting poses.  Even though this kit uses the hull and suspension from the 1994 Panzer IV releases, the vast majority of the kit is brand new and up to modern standards.  This is not merely a reboxing of an old obsolete kit.


The Pz.Kpfw.IV began manufacture in 1936 with the Ausf. A, and went through a number of specifications before what was perhaps the definitive short barreled infantry support variant started production in 1941: the Ausf. F. It had reinforced armor and updated hull designs, as well as an L/24 75mm gun. About 460 rolled off of the production lines, mostly serving on the Eastern front but also in North Africa, Italy, and France.

Vital Statistics and Scores

Detail: 3.5 out of 5
The details on this kit are good, but there really wasn't anything that reached out and "wowed" me.  Don't get me wrong, there is a lot to like about the kit detail-wise, but there just wasn't anything that popped for me.

There's very nice interior detail on the hatches.  A sprue of clear parts would have been nice for the prominent vision blocks in the commander's cupola and the turret side hatches but what Tamiya provides still works. 

There is a simplified interior section for the short-barreled L/24 main gun which makes it possible to pose the loader's and gunner's side hatches open.  This is good.  In the past Tamiya has completely ignored the interiors of their AFVs so kudos to the project manager who pulled this off.  The coaxial and bow machine gun barrels need to be drilled out.

The tracks are the now standard Tamiya link-and-length tracks which are probably the most trouble-free track sets on the market today.  They always fit, and they always complete the track run with no gaps and the appropriate sag.  These links have the correct hollow guide horns.

It seems as if Tamiya was going for simplicity at the expense of finessed detail with this kit.  The tool clamps are molded on.  The detail is good, but the tools are so prominent on all Panzer IV variants that the option for a PE fret would have been nice here.  The same thing goes for the spare track links on the front glacis.  The brackets are molded on, making the spare tracks all one piece. 

The figures are the star of the show with this kit.  There is a loader and gunner posed sitting in the turret side hatches and a commander standing in his cupola.  The commander's pose is a bit stiff, but the loader and gunner are both very well done.  Their poses are natural and relaxed, and they have been engineered to fit in the turret perfectly. 

Engineering: 4 out of 5
It's because of kits like this that the name "Tamiya" has become synonymous with expert engineering.  When I judge armor at contests, the first thing I look at is the suspension.  Getting all those road wheels to align and sit on the ground is often the most challenging part of building a tank.  Mistakes here usually knock a kit out of contention for a first, second, or third place.  On this kit though, everything fell together like a dream with no effort on my part.  All eight road wheels went right on the suspension perfectly the first time and all touched the ground like they actually had a 25-ton armored vehicle sitting on them.

One engineering feature that I did not appreciate engineering-wise" was the tools.  The locator holes for the tools are enormous on this kit.  I assume Tamiya engineered them this way in an effort to make the kit more buildable, but in doing so they made it much more difficult to alter the configuration of the tool layout or to use aftermarket clamps.

Fit: 5+ out of 5 (I would give it a 6 if that were possible)
As far as fit goes, this kit is a dream.  Tamiya provides an extra structural part to ensure that the front glacis fits in the hull correctly.  There is a large trapezoidal locater pin on the turret that helps you line up the odd angular facets of the turret so that it goes together like a Lego set. Even the figures have large locater pins in the torso to ensure they will sit in the hatch posed naturally.  All these "dummy-proofing" features make this kit a very fast build.  I completed the construction phase in just a few hours.

The kit did require some cleanup.  The road wheels all had mold lines that needed to be sanded off, and there were knock-out pin marks in annoying areas like the interior of the hatches, engine louvers, and track links.


Instructions: 5 out of 5
Tamiya gives you their standard, well thought out, well-illustrated, multi-lingual instruction sheet and a glossy color trifold with painting suggestions.  It will be very difficult to get lost with these directions.

Markings: 2 out of 5
Maybe it's a harsh judgment, but I'm getting more and more disappointed with Tamiya's poor-quality decals and the unimaginative suggestions they give for color schemes.  This kit provides markings for the 7th and 19th Panzer Divisions, both in Russia in 1942.  With the Ausf. F having seen action all over Europe and Africa, it's a shame that they didn't go that little extra mile and provide for DAK markings, or maybe a whitewashed camouflage scheme.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, but waterslide decals seem to be Tamiya's Achilles heel.  I just don't get how they have such high standards everywhere else yet seem to give up when it comes to markings. The decals have great color and are always in perfect register, but they are so thick that it's almost impossible to get that "painted on" look with Tamiya decals.  A much better option is to go with one of the many available aftermarket decal sheets from companies like Kagero or Archer Fine Transfers, which is what I did for this build.

This kit is a light year jump ahead of Tamiya's older, but still solid Panzer IV kits and builds on their reputation for bold and expert engineering.  While it provides a relaxing, trouble-free build, it might not be the best platform for aftermarket sets, but the potential is still there. 

The standout feature of this kit is the crew figures.  I will be interested to see how they fit in Pz IV turrets from other kit makers.  Tamiya would do well to release these figures as a stand-alone set. 

Many thanks to Tamiya and IPMS USA for the pre-release review sample.

Etched Parts Set for Tamiya Panther Ausf D.

Mon, 02/22/2021 - 10:30
Product Image Review Author:  Patrick Brown Hauler Brengun

Bottom Line Up Front: This set brings Tamiya's 1/48 Panzer V ausf. D kit to the next level.  It's not for the faint of heart though.  Like many 1/48 scale PE sets, it contains several sub-assemblies that will make you squint and reach for the Optivisors and the finest set of tweezers you have.

Hauler has one of the most extensive line of aftermarket photo etch for 1/48 scale armor.  Their sets add exquisite detail to the already excellent lines of quarter scale AFVs from the likes of Tamiya and Hobby Boss.

This set contains two PE brass frets with upwards of 70 parts covering engine intake mesh, tool brackets, exhaust mounts, etc.  The set comes in the standard Hauler clear plastic bag, stiff cardstock backing, instruction sheet and stapled header card.

I wouldn't call the set "over-engineered", but there are definitely some assemblies (like the main gun travel lock) that will make some modelers pause to question whether the added detail is worth the effort.  I assure you it will be.

I only have two small issues with this set: First, Hauler chose to leave out parts for the side skirts.  This is a major feature of the Panther and is a detail that screams for the improved look that PE parts would give.  Second, the set requires you to remove the molded-on straps for the pioneer tools.  This is not a small undertaking in 1/48 scale.  This isn't really Hauler's fault, but an aftermarket set of 1/48 German AFV tools will make your life much easier.

While I would not recommend this set for beginners, it is easily within the skill set of the average modeler.  It adds a whole new level of detail and "pop" to the kit and is well worth the price and effort.

Many thanks to Hauler and IPMS USA for the review sample.

TORNADO GR. 4 32nd Scale by Italeri

Fri, 02/19/2021 - 09:32
Product Image Review Author:  Jarrod Booth Italeri

From Italeri: The Tornado Gr.4 arose from a collaborative project between Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom for the production of a multi-role high-performance combat aircraft. The primary requirement, however, was to develop a 'state of the art' modern aircraft able to perform low-altitude penetrating strike missions. This need was met by the development of a twin-engine combat aircraft with a variable-sweep wing. The Tornado IDS (Interdictor / strike) was the first version to be released by the British Royal Air Force and designated GR.1. In 1996 the Tornado was upgraded to the Gr.4 standard which was characterized by improved operational capabilities, new avionics systems for navigation and the adoption of new 'on-board' technologies. These systems enabled the effective identification and tracking of targets, and also the weapons management of the newer generation of weapons such as Paveway IV bombs and Storm Shadow cruise missiles. The Tornado earned several nicknames like "The Fin" for its huge tail and "Tonka" because of its ruggedness.

The Italeri Tornado GR. 4 kit arrived in a large, strong box that is the same size as their other 1/32 scale aircraft kits like the Starfighter and Mirage. Plastic bags contained anything from one to three gray plastic runners. The clear parts were inside their own bag, as was the photo etch (PE) sheet. Two instruction manuals, one for building and one for painting and decals, and the decal sheet itself were included.

Each step in the 56 page instruction manual was uncluttered and laid out logically.

The painting/decal manual was presented in color and referenced "FS" and Italeri paint numbers. Four separate RAF marking schemes were offered. Each option spanned over two pages showing painting and decal placement for both sides, the top and bottom of the aircraft.   A nice inclusion was a 1:1 scale painting guide for the instrument panels and side console switches, knobs, and dials, as well as the pylons, tanks, and armament.

The decal sheet is beautifully printed by Cartograf. Everything appeared to be in register and the colors looked to be correct. The only exception I could see was the tail art in option four. The large Tornado silhouette was printed in a silver/gold color, whereas it should be a steel color looking at internet pictures of the actual aircraft. Nevertheless, this is the scheme I chose. The "Danger Mouse" option came in a close second as I enjoyed watching that cartoon as a kid.

There were varying amounts of ejector pin marks, flash and sink marks throughout the kit parts. There will no doubt be people grumbling over the panel line thickness, and while they were quite large, under paint I thought they looked acceptable. They also accepted a wash very nicely.

Construction started with the cockpit and Martin Baker Mk 10 ejection seats. The seats built up into genuinely nice representations and included adequate PE harnesses, but they missed the characteristic blue buckle halfway down the shoulder straps. The PE metal was quite thick, but it was malleable enough to be bent to its appropriate shape. No painting guide for the harness was included so I referenced the Aries GR1 cockpit review I just finished: (https://web.ipmsusa3.org/content/tornado-gr1-cockpit-set-rev-kit)

I appreciated the inclusion of some analogue instrument decals for the pilot's panel and most of the MDF screens for the front and rear cockpits, but I did not know why Italeri stopped short of adding the rest of the analogue instrument decals for the front and especially the rear cockpits. They are very visible and if the modeler does not add aftermarket dials there would just be blank spots painted black to represent the dials. Eduard has since released PE sets, but I used a set of Airscale 1/32 Modern Jet Instruments which worked nicely.

Apart from the lack of instrument decals, the cockpit appears quite complete and built up easily. There were additional electronics display equipment and panels provided for various aircraft or marks not used in this kit. I chose to use the Tornado Advanced Radar Display & Information System (TARDIS) in the rear cockpit, although I am not sure if it was actually in the real GR. 4 I was building. The cockpit was painted using the painting/decal guide and after a wash and some weathering, the cockpit looks great.

Italeri will release an IDS/ERC German Airforce version (Kit #2517) later in 2021. Here is a link: https://www.italeri.com/uploads/news/AY8p8Mc4VebT1GVJ5SVhR0wRFuvMlyG6nbu5dgSD.pdf. I am sure some of the different electronic equipment will be used in that kit, as well as new parts.

The nose wheel bay comprised separate panels for each side and roof. These were painted aircraft gray and the nice detail picked out with various colors. Unfortunately, the nose undercarriage (UC) leg had to be built with the bay, however, it is very strong. Ejector pin marks marred one side of the leg and large seam lines had to be removed from the leg and retraction struts.

The nose UC bay was glued to the forward, underside fuselage panel and fits very well. The cockpit tub and radar nose bulkhead slot between the two forward fuselage sides and the belly panel/nose UC bay slot in below to complete this assembly. Careful alignment of the belly and side panels ensured minimal seam clean up and panel line loss. I added the recommended 60 grams of weight behind the radar bulkhead which was more than sufficient. Don't forget to open several flashed over holes for the refueling probe.

The full-length engine intake trunks were a welcome inclusion. What I could not understand was the designer's decision on positioning the intake halves on the sprue and mold. The outside plastic surface was smooth with nice sharp joining edges and no ejector pin marks, whereas the visible, inside trunk surfaces were a little rough. They had three or four quite deep ejector pin marks each and the mating surfaces were slightly rounded! I wrapped elastic bands tightly around the intakes and glued along both inside and outside edges. I still ended up with pretty deep seam lines on the insides. I doubt Italeri will change their molds (very expensive!), so it is up to the modeler on how to address this.

The wings halves were conventional and glued together with no issues. Pylon articulation mounts were placed in their holes in the lower wing halves and a rod positioned over the axels. The axel tops were melted with a heated flat tip screwdriver to lock in the rod. I made sure everything was in its correct position and the pylon mounts operated correctly before committing to heat and glue. I left off the leading edge slats, spoilerons and trailing edge flaps until later. The pylon mounts allow the pylons to be added after painting and decaling - Nice!

Vinyl wing retraction gloves were provided on the same sprue as the "rubber" tires. These bonded very well using Tamiya Extra Thin Cement to their plastic mounts. The opening of the gloves reached the wing trailing edges in the extended position and can be cut along a center seam for wings retracted position. The flexible vinyl allows the wings to be moved back and forth with the gloves "fitting" the wings.

The modeler has a choice of single piece, vinyl "rubber", or two-part plastic tires that fit to separate plastic rims. It is no secret that most model builders do not care for vinyl tires. In this case I thought they looked superior with some side wall detail and deep, inscribed tread pattern, compared to the plastic ones with raised center sections representing tread (See the pictures). The plastic tires did have flat spots. There is a slight mold seam on the vinyl tires that was removed with light sanding. There are already resin replacements available.

The main undercarriage bays were complete with molded on wiring and plumbing that just needed careful painting and a wash to bring out the nice detail. Part of the unique, articulated main landing gear required assembly and adding to the bays as it formed part of the rear bay bulkhead. The landing gear legs included some quite deep ejector pin marks, some of which were in visible areas. The construction was strong, but I added extra support to the rear of the bulkhead joint.

My initial concerns about construction and alignment issues assembling the rear fuselage with left and right sides, a top and a belly panel were quickly laid to rest. With the forward and rear bulkheads glued to the belly, the side panels were tacked in place with small drops of superglue to the belly and bulkheads which resulted in a great fit. Most of the parts came together along panel lines and an application of Tamiya Extra Thin Cement blended the seams beautifully. The completed rear fuselage assembly was very well thought out and sturdy.

I glued the intakes to the rear bulkhead first and then waited to glue the front of them to the main undercarriage bay roof until the side panels were attached. This ensured there were no gaps where the intake trunk met the fuselage side (see picture for explanation). It was here that I decided to show the auxiliary air intake doors open and attached them in their position. Each door came with four deep ejector pin marks on the inside that would be seen. I filled each with super glue. These doors were typically open during ground operations with the engines running, but I liked the option and used it to help hide the seams in the intake trunks.

Before adding the rear fuselage top and the wings, I assembled the two engines. They are reasonably detailed with assorted accessory boxes, wiring and plumbing included. A nice compressor fan at the front of the engine and an adequate turbine fan and afterburner ring were added before the two engine halves were glued together. A stand was included to display one engine outside the aircraft. The stand builds easily and quickly, but much time was spent cleaning up ejector pin marks and mold lines. A few plastic and PE parts were added to the outside of the displayed engine. I painted the engine using online references.

Deployed or stowed reverse thrust bucket doors and hardware were provided. I wanted to show both options, so deployed them on the displayed engine on the stand and stowed on the engine mounted in the aircraft. The reverse thruster parts included PE representing outside panels, covers and air deflectors. All PE parts fit well in their slots after bending them into shape.

Hefty wing mounting brackets were glued to the inside of the rear fuselage upper panel and the top of the intake trunks. The wings were trapped between two axel halves using supplied screws when the upper fuselage panel was mated with the rest of the rear fuselage assemble. Make sure the pylon articulation rods attach to the pins on the upper brackets. A cog system moves both wings simultaneously and the rod and pin set up keeps the pylons facing forward as the wings move forward or backwards. Of course, none of this really mattered as I was building the model with the flaps and slats down which stopped the wings retracting backwards.

As I mentioned the trailing edge flaps and leading edge slats could be assembled extended or retracted. This is something most 1/32 scale Tornado modelers have wanted for a long time! For those who would prefer everything up, I confirmed the flaps and slats would fit precisely in their up position. The flaps, a double slotted fowler flap design, were assembled in the down position from two parts. The seam was a little raised which required sanding and filling, as well as ejector pin marks underneath. The flaps also showed sink marks along the entire underside. Both flaps and slats were attached to the wing via flap track fairings and screw jacks. The screw jacks were quite fragile and required small mold lines to be removed, but they looked good.

The huge tail (The Fin) and tail planes were built quickly. Do not forget to open slots in the tail or the PE grates in the vents. I forgot the slots, however, there were slightly distorted areas on the outside surfaces that showed me where to open the slots. The rudder and tail planes are movable. The tail planes are designed with up and down travel limits. They are quite sturdy when installed. I left the tail planes off until after painting and before installing the engine. The tail was glued with no gaps.

While building the tail, I should have added the tiny PE vortex generators, but I left them until the end. That was a mistake as the fit was tight and with paint in the slots, they did not fit!

With the nose and rear fuselage sections completed, both were mated. I ended up with gaps in the belly seam and one intake that met the nose section. Some trimming of internal tabs helped minimize seam joints and when glued together they looked like the panel lines around them.

The engine intakes were supplied in four parts and built easier than they looked. I added the two side panels first followed by the bottom and top panels. I painted the inside of each part including the distinctive black edges before assembly and touched up joints later. There was no mention in the instructions on painting these black edges.

Italeri's design of how the fuselage parts came together meant that if you were careful there was little need for sanding and seam clean up. Most of the parts met at panel lines, or joints that were hidden by other parts.  The only exception was under the nose where the seam runs through inspection panels. The plastic in this kit, like other Italeri kits I have built, responded very well to Tamiya Extra Thin Cement producing a nice little seam of melted plastic that was easy to clean up. I used very little filler (super glue) to fill gaps.

The clear parts, including the canopy and windscreen were clear with no mold lines or flaws, except for the top of the canopy that showed some small scratches. These were removed with fine polishing and I dipped all the clear parts in Future/Pledge Floor Wax.

Italeri thoughtfully included a boarding ladder. Like the engine stand, the ladder contained many ejector pin marks and large mold seams that required lengthy and careful work to remove. A PE platform was added to the top of the ladder. The result was a fantastic addition to this extensive model.

A suite of weapons and tanks were included: four GBU-12 bombs that hang under two of the fuselage pylons; two BOZ-107 Chaff/flare pods (one mounted on the outer, right wing pylon); two Sky Shadow electronic countermeasures pods (one mounted on the outer, left wing pylon); two AIM-9L Sidewinder missiles (each mounted on dedicated pylons attached to the inboard pylons) and two 2250 litre RAF "Hindenburg" fuel tanks (mounted on the inboard pylons).

Painting the Tornado was done with Tamiya Medium Sea Grey. Using online references and picture of the actual aircraft, I varied the tones of certain panels. As the aircraft I chose to build displayed a retirement scheme it appeared somewhat cleaner that other operational aircraft. However, close up pictures show it was still quite dirty around panel lines and access hatches.

Both windscreen and canopy featured internal and external framing, as well as the detonation cord running the length of the canopy. All this was masked and painted. Six rear vision mirrors were painted and glued in their respective places for the two crew. Separate rails were glued to the inside of the lower canopy sides.

With everything painted, I turned my attention to the decal sheet. It was divided into sections for each weapon, pylons, general stencils, and aircraft versions. I cut out the appropriate section as I decaled each item. The decals were quite strong, thin, and laid down nicely. They responded well to Micro-Sol solution which helped them bed down into panel lines, rivets, etc..

On the last page of the painting and decal manual, a half scale profile showed the layout of the walkway lines. They were supplied on the decal sheet as numerous long striped lines. I enlarged the diagram to full size and used a compass with two needle points to measure and cut each walkway line. The process of measuring, cutting to length and applying the decal walkways looks ominous, but enlarging the diagram took any guess work or math out applying them. I had all the walkways on the aircraft within a few hours.

The final, yet lengthy part of this build was attaching all the bits and pieces that hung under the wings and fuselage, the "glass" parts, antennas and pitot tubes, wheels, landing gear doors, flaps, slats, spoilerons, speed brakes and their hydraulic jacks. Everything fit very nicely.

The two radar dishes were mounted to the nose bulkhead and the nose cone glued in the open position. The canopy was posed open using the canopy support rod. I did not glue the canopy on so it could be closed or opened at will. The fit of the windscreen and canopy were superb.

To complete this fantastic model, I placed the boarding ladder next to the cockpit ready for the next mission and the number two engine on its trestle.

I would highly recommend the Italeri 1/32 scale Tornado GR4 to most modelers. It was not an overly difficult kit to build, but the photo-etch, amount of parts and size of the aircraft added to the complexity. Italeri has to be commended for the thought that went into designing this model and how most of the parts fit together with minimal fuss! I just wished I had applied the vortex generators when I assembled the tail!!

I would like to thank Italeri and MRC, as well as the IPMS/USA, very much for the opportunity to be one of the first in the US to build and review this wonderful model.

ICM 1/35 BM-13-16 on W.O.T. 8 Chassis

Thu, 02/18/2021 - 11:25
Product Image Review Author:  Michael Reeves ICM


The BM-13-16 was the most numerous example of rocket artillery in the Red Army's arsenal during WWII. The system included 8 rail guides holding 16 RS-132 rockets. It was a formidable weapon that struck terror in the hearts of anyone on the receiving end. The system was often installed on the chassis of trucks delivered to the USSR under Lend-Lease. In this ICM release, the chassis belongs to the British Fordson W.O.T. 8 4x4.

The Kit

Inside the durable cardboard box are twelve dark green styrene runners, one clear runner, one PE fret, and five vinyl tires. There are no decals included in the kit, which is a shame as it would have been nice to at least have some for the instrument panel dials. There is only one scheme offered in the kit for a Russia 1942 Olive Green sample.

The Build

The first 11 steps involve construction of the chassis frame. The assembly consists of a total of 24 pieces and the fit is really quite good. Everything aligns well and the directions are clear. I did have one broken part and it wasn't fixable due to the very thin piece, so I left it as it was since it wouldn't be seen.

Steps 12-19 involves the construction of the engine and consists of 16 pieces. It looks to be a pretty good representation of the water-cooled Ford V8, but will be completely hidden anyway, so you don't have to feel obliged to detail it up. The engine, leaf springs, and exhausts are then added to the lower frame. Steps 25-31 complete the assembly of the parts to the lower frame and the wheels are then added. The vinyl tires have some ugly seams that you can either clean up or muddy. One thing to note here was part number K14- a V shaped piece that attaches to the rear axle was snapped in half, but the piece was not anywhere to be found, so I glued what was left in place.

Steps 39-41 involve the front fender and it is attached to the frame along with the radiator and engine air filter. The radiator hoses are then installed. The instructions have you install the sides of the driver's compartment, levers and pedals, panel, and seat assemblies next. You then move on to the cab front, windows, and such.

If I had it to do over, I would divert from the directions. They would have you add the cab sides, then install it to the frame. From there, more interior details like the steering wheel assembly and front edge. The doors and their windows follow, then the cab rear, and then the roof. Lining all of this up was a nightmare and if I had it to do over again, I might assemble the whole cab together first and then put it onto the frame.

Steps 75-83 involve building the fuel tank and spare wheel sections and attaching them to the back side of the cab.

Steps 84-107 center on the rocket rail assembly and look to be intricate- but if you go slowly and carefully it all fits quite nicely. Each of the eight rails involve six parts and then slide onto three long rods. Lining the rails up is made easy thanks to some jigs that align them evenly. It isn't mentioned in the directions and so I thought it was part of the assembly- but luckily I figured it out before I glued them to the assembly. The frame that attaches to the rail assembly is made up of nine parts and they are tricky to line up but not too stressful. The rails are then held to the frame with U-joins. You can choose to add all 16 rockets or have some being installed by the included crew. One thing that is not mentioned is whether to use the long or short hydraulic arm that raises the rails. I used the short one which kept everything flat, but also made it all too high to use the loading crew included in the kit. If you want to use the figures loading the rockets, I urge you to use the long piece (K22) instead of K11.

Step 108-116 involves the rear fender assembly that attaches to the frame behind the cab. The rocket rail assembly is then installed to this. More U-joins hold it to the frame, but I chose to glue everything tight. Headlights, side mirrors, hand grabs, and rocket flash guards for the windshield complete assembly, along with some crank apparatus for raising and lowering the rocket rails. 129 steps in total to recreate this rather nice representation of the Lend-Lease based Katyusha.


In the end, this was a bit of a challenging kit-- not for the weak of heart or beginner. As an intermediate builder, I faced some issues with the cab assembly and attaching it to the chassis. However, taking care and time to dry fit everything and carefully align things before gluing made for what needed to be done. It builds up into a nice looking piece and a unique curious addition to my Soviet WWII collection. My thanks to ICM and IPMS-USA for the review sample.


Allied Armour 1939-1945 British and American Tanks at War

Thu, 02/18/2021 - 11:07
Product Image Review Author:  Michael Reeves Casemate Publishers

There are numerous accounts of the various armoured campaigns that defined the major fronts of WWII from the perspectives of all sides involved. Some are exhaustive accounts filled with places, dates, and names that can be excruciating at times to read with the extensive details. Books by Anthony Tucker-Jones usually are a bit easier to decipher and can be enjoyable without getting too much into the minutiae. This book is a good example of this- to the point of being a bit watered down perhaps. The book looks at the entirety of the war from the Allied view-- with the book covering American, British and Commonwealth, and French armor forces and that is no small feat.

The book begins with a brief synopsis of the period following WWI where most were trying to figure out where armor would fit into the future of military tactics and dogma. Some, like the Germans, embraced this time and designed a whole discipline known as blitzkrieg to further the goals of redefining how combat would be carried out. Others saw armor as a temporary thing and began the battles of the following world war trying to play catch-up. This is evident in the first chapter which saw well trained German forces led by Rommel and Guderian attacking ill-prepared British and French forces, leading up to the evacuation at Dunkirk and time to lick wounds and devise new strategies.

The next couple of chapters focus on North Africa and the early successes of Allied forces against the inferior Italian armor. The entry of Rommel's better trained German forces soon turned the tide and again proved to be detrimental. The text doesn't go into great depths of detail or any accounts from the soldiers, but the reader gets a sense of how better armor and tactics win the day. The entry of America and its formidable manufacturing might quickly turn things around- with M3 light Stuarts, M3 Lees and Grants, and the M4 Sherman. Things reversed in North Africa, and the Allied forces quickly went on the offensive in the Mediterranean front at Sicily towards Rome. Patton and Montgomery were the new leaders that shaped the way the Allies would face off and start to defeat the Germans and Italians.

The book breaks off and spends a few chapters discussing the Pacific front- and engagements in the jungle and in island hopping against the Japanese. The IJA forces had initial successes when Allies denied armor operations were even possible in jungle environs and Japanese tanks were facing just artillery and universal carriers for the most part. China received Stuarts, Shermans, and Hellcats however- and these trickling into Burma soon made a difference.

The book then jumps back to the ETO and the D-Day landings, and locations like Villers-Bocage and Caen would be etched into armoured history due to the actions there. The battles in the hedgerow country would create opportunities for new designs like the Rhino and other modifications used to adapt to defensive fortifications the Germans had erected. Landings in the French Riviera and Patton's victory at Lorraine continue here. There would be setbacks- like Market Garden and the Bulge- but in the end the Allies drew to Germany and the eventual end of German's aspirations of a new Reich.

The appendices are full of great information. Appendix A breaks down the Allied Armour Divisions throughout the war. Appendix B gives brief descriptions of British and Commonwealth Tanks and AFVs and Appendix C does the same for American Tanks and AFVs.


The book offers some excellent easy-to-read information for those with a growing interest in learning about armoured operations during WWII. Armor experts and those who have been building armor for some time won't find a great deal of new information here. The photos are a mix of ones that have been seen in other books and some new to me- which I have included a sample of. They will certainly lend inspiration for diorama ideas and the book offers good reading for the long winter nights we have been having as of late. My thanks to Casemate Publishers and IPMS-USA for this review sample.

The Second World War Illustrated, The Second Year

Thu, 02/18/2021 - 10:45
Product Image Review Author:  Tim Wilding Pen & Sword

The second year of World War II was one of almost unrelieved disaster on the Allied side. The German side was doing very well, except their Italian partners. This 280-page illustrated book tells the story of the war from September 1940 to September 1941. This is the second volume in what I assume with be six book series. Here is the table of contents:

Chapter One: Mussolini invades Egypt

Chapter Two: Mussolini targets Greece

Chapter Three: Hitler targets Yugoslavia, Greece and Egypt

Chapter Four: Hitler suffers annoying setbacks

Chapter Five: Hitler targets Britain's cities

Chapter Six: Hitler targets Soviet Russia

Chapter Seven: Hitler targets' Britain's Atlantic supplies

Chapter Eight: The Axis target Malta

Chapter Nine: Churchill sets Europe ablaze

Chapter Ten: Churchill joins hands with Stalin - Iran

Each chapter is between 30 and 50 pages and has a short introduction followed by a lot of photos. The captions for the photos are very detailed and helps tell the story of what is happening in the chapter. All the photos in these chapters are in black and white, but there is a 32-page color section in the middle of the book. These photos cover the whole second year. I did notice that many photos seem to be computer enhanced. Faces are more visible, and some darker areas seem to be lightened up. There are maps included to help illustrate what is happening in each of these theaters of operations. There are many photos of the commanders with a brief bio on them. Modelers will find many photos that would make good dioramas. The color section has nice photos of German aircraft in North Africa. I have been reading World War II history since the 1970s and many of these photos I have never seen before.

I would like to thank Casemate Publishers and IPMS for this book to review.

Brengun A-4 Skyhawk RATO rockets for multiple A-4 kits

Thu, 02/18/2021 - 10:07
Product Image Review Author:  Pablo Bauleo Brengun

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

This set is intended to enhance the 1/48 Skyhawk A-4 C/E/F/M. This set can be used with any of the 1/48 Skyhawk kits, like the Hasegawa, ESCI/AMT/Italeri, Hobbycraft, HobbyBoss, or Monogram. If I am missing any other maker in the list, it is an honest mistake on my end.

Please note that the instructions list the variant of the airplane to be in 1/72. That is clearly a mistake, this set is molded in 1/48 scale.

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

I do not think the RATO rockets saw widespread use in the Skyhawk fleet, so you might want to do some research as to which version, or even down to tail number you are modeling.

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

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

Aires Spitfire Mk.IX wheels (4 spoke)

Thu, 02/18/2021 - 08:58
Product Image Review Author:  Pablo Bauleo Aires Hobby Models

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

This set is intended to replace the wheels of the 1/48 Eduard Spitfire Mk. IX.  The parts are molded in grey resin, free of bubbles or imperfections and with great surface detail, down to the manufacturer of the tires molded with enough raised detail that will take dry-brushing fantastically!

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

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

Highly recommended.

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

Rome’s Northern Enemies- Painting Wargaming Figures

Thu, 02/18/2021 - 00:23
Product Image Review Author:  Dave Morrissette Pen & Sword

This volume on painting war gaming figures focuses on Rome's Northern Enemies- the British, Celts, Germans and Dacians and one of the first things that struck me was how applicable this would be to all war gaming figures. The book is a complete tutorial from soup to nuts on building, modifying, basing and painting figures. A quick look at the Table of Contents shows what I mean:

  • Chapter 1- Tips and Tools
  • Chapter 2- Weapons and Armour of Iran Age Europe
  • Chapter 3-Shield Designs
  • Chapter 4-Garment Designs
  • Chapter 5- Body Designs
  • Chapter 6- The Horse at War
  • Chapter 7- Basing
  • Appendix A- Manufacturers List

So we start with tools and finish with bases- a complete tutorial. Looking at the book overall, it is beautifully photographed and there are many great instructions with step-by-step photos showing how to achieve excellent results. From a modelers point, this is wonderful showing the progression of painting with photos.

Let's take a deeper look at several of the instructions in the book. First, there is an entire section labeled "Body Designs" which is body painting or tattooing the barbarians did to signify familial heritage, express religious beliefs or other symbolic purposes. Mr. Singleton walks you through the process indicating not only what paint he uses but what type and size of brush. The step-by-step process goes from base coating to shading to finishing the skin as a base coat. He then details adding the body paint and tattoos using four different examples with a range of colors and designs. All are well illustrated, and the accompanying text can answer any remaining questions. In the end, four tattooed barbarians are completed. 

A separate chapter follows the same methods for painting horses. There are three methods for painting a brown, grey and black horse each with fully illustrated pictures. Each finished horse is well shown also. Lastly, there is a section for all the components all horses need- how to paint leather for straps and the like, how to add strapping and lastly, how to build and add a chariot to your horses. 

Each chapter from figure preparation to adding a base is included with the same methodology and detail. This is an excellent resource for figure painters in general and especially those that like war gaming figures.

Highly recommended to both seasoned and novice figure painters. There are many good recommendations and tricks to help painters of all levels.  

My thanks to Pen and Sword and Casemate Publishers for the opportunity to review this book.

Modern USMC Air Power

Thu, 02/18/2021 - 00:06
Product Image Review Author:  Dave Morrissette Harpia Publishing

Harpia Publishing has been producing very high quality aircraft books for a while. These books are lavishly illustrated and have covered subjects from subjects covering Iraqi MiGs to Chinese aircraft to specific planes like EMB Tucano. The latest volume is Modern USMC Air Power written by Joe Copalman. This is 256 pages of soft cover wonderfulness. The first thing that hits you is that the pictures in the book are amazing pictures all in perfect focus, great flying shots and lots and lots of them. Wow! 

I have included a picture of the table of contents. As you can see, there is a brief history and then it moves into the training aircraft, helicopters and all kinds of planes. The table of contents is below:

  • Introduction
  • Acknowledgments
  • Abbreviations
  • Chapter 1: History of Marine Corps Aviation
  • Chapter 2: Organization and Structure of marine Aviation
  • Chapter 3: USMC Training Syllabus
  • Chapter 4: HMH: Marine Heavy Helicopter
  • Chapter 5: HMLA: Marine Helicopter Light Attack
  • Chapter 6: HMM to VMM: The Evolution of Marine Medium Lift
  • Chapter 7: VMA: Marine Attack
  • Chapter 8: VMAQ: Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare
  • Chapter 9: VMFA: Marine Fighter Attack
  • Chapter 10: VMFT: Marine Fighter Training
  • Chapter 11: VMGR: Marine Aerial Refueler Transport
  • Chapter 12: VMR and H&HS: Marine Operational Support Airlift
  • Chapter 13: VMU: Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
  • Chapter 14: HMX and VMX: Marine Helicopter and Marine Operational Test and Evaluation
  • Chapter 15: The Future
  • Appendix: Patches of USMC Flying Units
  • Bibliography
  • Index

As you can see it is very thorough. 

A note about this review- when doing a book, I usually included 6-8 photos. The photos are so wonderful and crisp, I included 15 with the covers. Let's dive in and look at the book specifically. The history section up front is small as this book focuses on modern USMC but it does touch upon the overall history of Marine aviation from start to current. A note too, one thing I found immensely helpful was the Abbreviation section. Like most military books, there are a LOT of abbreviations and it was good to have a place to go to and find out things like VMM means Marine Medium Tilt Rotor and that JPADDS means Joint Precision Air Delivery System. I love information!

The next few chapters cover the layout of the air groups and designations, and the home bases and what type of aircraft is assigned to it. And then we jump into planes starting with trainers. This covers all trainers from propeller driven to jets to helicopters. 

We then move to the helicopter sections which are broken up into three sections based on the use and mission of that helicopter. Each section is lavishly illustrated with action shots in Afghanistan and other places and shows everything from refueling to CH-53E lifting and moving HUMVEE's, interior shots of the cockpit, attacking the enemy and many more up to the Osprey. All of the pictures have text included which details particular things about the aircraft involved, interviews with the people using them and also details of missions and deployments. The coverage is thorough, and pictures are crisp and wonderful.

The next several chapters get into the attacking portion of the marine inventory covering Harriers, EA-6B ProwlersF-35's, and F-18 Hornets - lots of Hornets. These are covered in the same way as the helicopters with actions shots, details and interesting color schemes. There is a large focus on these planes in Afghanistan also and their roles. Suffice it to say, it is interesting reading. The chapters end with many of the units transitioning to the F-35 and there are plenty of pictures and text covering that transition.

The next sections of the book cover fighter training, aerial refueling and transport and support airlift. These are covered with the same pictures and text again. Lastly, UAVs, Test and Evaluation and the future are covered, and I found this part fascinating. The marine corps has been using drones for 30 or more years and the book covers the iterations, types and uses of everything from portable small drones that are easily deployed to active areas. The book even covers the smaller handheld drone almost like you would see at Hobbytown. Cool stuff. There is also a section on "the Executive Flight Detachment" which is the helicopter that serves the president. And to finish the book is a section of the patches for every Marine Corps air wing.

This is a magnificent book and should be in the collection of everyone even slightly interested in current marine Corps aviation. It is well written, extremely informative and as I have said, it is the best set of pictures I have seen in a book, ever! Highly recommended.

My thanks to Harpia for producing the book and Casemate Publishers for the opportunity to review it. Go get one now!

Porsche- Classic German Sports Car

Mon, 02/15/2021 - 23:41
Product Image Review Author:  Dave Morrissette Pen & Sword

Pen and Sword's Car Craft Series focuses on some of the more exotic cars and covers both their history and the variants. This volume covers the iconic Porsche 911. My personal first experience with the 911 came when my roommate bought a used 911 and we tooled around in it (plus I got to drive it). Even used, it was a thrill with the acceleration of a rocket and the brakes to stop a freight train. When this book came up for review, I had to jump at it. The book is soft cover and is lavishly illustrated with pictures and drawings. One thing that makes this series of special interest to modelers is that it has two specific modeling sections.  This is shown in the table of contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Origins: Icon of Driving and Design
  3. Design by Detail
  4. Variations on a Theme
  5. Motor Sports Legend
  6. Porsche 911 in Profile
  7. Model Showcase
  8. Modeling the Porsche 911

There are tons of beautiful color photos covering the racing and street versions of the car.

The book starts with the initial design of the 911 in the early 1960's and covers such iconic things as the shape of the car and especially the duck bill tail. Explanations of the design decisions abound covering things like the rear spoiler (to reduce lift), cooling of the rear engine and its ten different trial engines, and many more development stories which are fascinating. 

There are chapters covering the variations like the Targa and Turbos, and this chapter also covers the many design changes that have occurred over the last 50 years. The Motor Sports Legend chapter covers the racing versions of all types. Specific drivers are listed and highlights such as the 911 winning both the 1969 LeMans and Daytona 24 hour races, and following the next year with the 1000km Nurburgring race. Many more are listed. Profiles of many years worth of 911's are included in the next chapter with text delineating the differences between versions.

And there is the two modeling chapters. This starts with a showcase of finished models. The Showcase starts with Amalgam Models 1/18 911 BP World Record. This is a prefinished model for collectors with perfect detail from a digital scan. These are true works of art. Next is Tamiya with their kits and the first up is the 924 RSR Turbo in 1/12 scale done as a diorama. This is followed by notes on Schuco prefinished models, more Tamiya build notes and even Revell. All lavishly illustrated with great pictures.

Whether you are a history buff, modeler, or just a fan of one of the finest driving machines ever invented, this book is one you will want in your collection. Highly recommended. 

My thanks to Pen & Sword, Casemate Publishers, and IPMS for the chance to review this great book.

Wings of the Black Cross: Special Number Three: Messerschmitt Bf-109

Sun, 02/14/2021 - 00:53
Product Image Review Author:  Brian R. Baker Eagle Editions Ltd.


The author presents a brief history of the development and operational career of the Messerschmitt Bf-109 series, but the main emphasis of this book is the explanation of the development of colors and markings used for these aircraft. Granted, this topic has been addressed before in many publications, and the Bf-109 has probably had more written about it than any other combat aircraft from the World War II Era.

Beginning with a brief description of the origins of the aircraft, a brief account of the development and service career is presented. Following this is a short section entitled "Camouflage, Markings, and Heraldry", which explains how the Luftwaffe fighter groups were organized, and the color coding that was used to identify sub-groups within units.  The author also explains the development of the specific colors used for overall camouflage schemes, as well as individual unit variations used for different climatic conditions.

Starting with the introduction of the Bf-109A in the Spanish Civil War, the progress in camouflage and markings is described, using period photos of exceptional quality to show how these changed as combat conditions changed.  Every so often, the photos are supplemented by excellent color side profile drawings of some of the aircraft shown in the photos.  Incidentally, none of the photos is credited to a particular source, and this is understandable since most of the photos were obviously taken by members of the units whose aircraft were being photographed. When possible, some of the people in the photos are identified, but often they are not.  There are some closeup views of the markings being discussed, and these often appear in the color drawings. None of the photos is credited to any particular source.  It would be interesting to know who took the photos, as most of them appear to have been taken by Germans.

The emphasis of the book appears to be the early career of the Bf-109, as coverage of the Emil model ends about halfway through the book, where the vast majority of Bf-109's were later models, and there are only four photos of Bf-109K's at the end of the book. There is only one photo of a two seat Bf-109G-12 transition trainer, and no color drawing.

Although this book was intended for use by modelers, it really serves as a general textbook covering Bf-109 camouflage and markings.  There is very little coverage of anything besides side elevations, and the reader is left to guess or seek other sources for camouflage patterns on the wings and tail units.  Of course, the bibliography at the back list 27 books and other publications that also cover the same basic subject, and many of the ones listed have wing camouflage pattern information. 

For the modeler, the book will be most useful when information is needed for aircraft used in the Spanish Civil War, but with other sources supplementing the basic information provided in this book, historically accurate models of most of the Messerschmitts used during World War II can be made.

This can be a very useful source of information on the Bf-109.  


Thanks to Eagle Editions and Phil Peterson for the review copy. 

Jaguar E-Type, British Motoring Masterpiece

Thu, 02/11/2021 - 00:37
Product Image Review Author:  Ben Morton Pen & Sword

The Jaguar E-Type, British Motoring Masterpiece is the latest volume from automotive writer Lance Cole. Other books in his series of classic automobiles include the Bugati, Porsche 911, and the soon to be released Citroen DS.

While all three of those cars are iconic, the Jaguar E-Type still holds sway as the premier automotive design from the 1960's. An argument can be made that that design may still be the metric by which newer cars are measured.

The 11.5" x 8.5" soft cover volume from Pen and Sword books contains sixty-four pages with a myriad of photographs, drawings and profiles of the Jaguar E-type. Author Cole has divided his book on the Jaguar E-Type into:

  • Origins
  • Design and Detail
  • Development
  • Profiles
  • Model Showcase

Cole begins by delving into the origins of the E-Type (XKE in America) from the initial design studies to styling cues borrowed from Jaguar's SS100 through their racing D-Type. Additional verbiage is devoted to the body design and structure of the E-Type and contributions made by the E-Type designer, Malcolm Sayer. [ Fun Fact: Malcolm Sayer was trained as an engineer and not an automobile designer.]

Space is also made in this chapter for information on the engine, drive train, suspension, and dynamics. There is also a developmental time line of the E-Type from 1961 introduction to the 1971 V12 5.3  litre engined cars.

A later section of the book includes a number of color three-view profiles on the E-Type from the initial S-1 E-Type as well as the Low Drag model, Lightweight E-Type, Fastback FHC-type design,

5343 cc 24 value V12 model and the 2+2 coupe.

The modeling section presents a large overview of the various pre-assembled models of the Jaguar E-Type that are available.  An exquisite model from Amalgam Collection of the 1/8th scale Jaguar roadster is a mere $13,000.00, in four interest free payments.  Amalgam Collection does offer a 1/18th scale jaguar E-Type for a paltry $800.00. At those terms you might as well get their coupe as well.  Other offerings in various scales are presented from Auto Art, Cult Models (resin and photo-etched), White Box, Paragon, Century Dragon and a 1/43rd scale model from Matrix. The later three manufacturers all produce die-cast models.

While there isn't a section on scale model kits available, it is interesting to note the variety of companies that are in the business of making collectible pre-assembled models. Many of which are beautiful, hand crafted works of art.  

There are lovely and detailed images throughout this book of the E-Type in all its iterations. Closeup images of the engine, drive train, interior, headlamps, and doors will be a bonus to anyone thinking of modeling this iconic car.  [Revell is soon to release a newly tooled XKE in 1/24th scale that will be joining Heller and Airfix kits that are available now.]

The Jaguar E-Type by Lance Cole is a well written and researched look at one of the worlds' most beautiful cars. The photographs, profiles and historical images of this car will be of immeasurable help should you decide to build a scale model of the 'Jag' for your collection.  Or you can always go the route of the 1/8th scale masterpiece from Amalgam Collection. Don't forget to order the custom display case....

My thanks to Pen and Sword Publications and IPMS/USA for the review copy

Support Your Local Hobby Shop!