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Updated: 3 hours 46 min ago

Russian Medium Tank T-34/85

Thu, 02/04/2021 - 11:24
Product Image Review Author:  Patrick Brown Tamiya

Bottom Line Up Front: A surprising swing and a miss for Tamiya on this kit.  Technically this kit is very well done, but it's rather boring and uninspiring.  The kit is well engineered with many "modeler-friendly" features that make it a simple, quick build.  The kit is molded in dark green plastic with hull weights, link-and-length tracks, poly caps, braided copper wire for the tow cables.  Decals depict two vehicles from the Battle of Berlin in 1945.  This is a 'new tool" kit that does not use any parts from Tamiya's earlier T-34/76 kit with the die-cast hull. 


The T34/85 was a re-evaluation of the trusty T34/76 that had run into trouble against powerful German foes like the Tiger I and Panther. It had a larger, heavier-armored turret with 85mm gun, and was manufactured from January 1944. Soviet factories produced 25,000 T-34/85s by 1946, and it even served other militaries in the Warsaw Pact and was also exported to client states, taking part in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

Vital Statistics and Scores

Detail: 3 out of 5
The details on this kit are good, but like many of Tamiya's 1/48 scale armor kits much of the detail is somewhat simplified.   The surface detail and weld marks on the turret are good.  Overall, there really was not anything detail-wise that reached out and "wowed" me.

Beyond some interior detail on the hatches there is no interior detail.  Wire screens on the engine intake are molded plastic.  The tracks are nicely detailed for this scale.  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.

Tamiya was certainly going for simplicity at the expense of finessed detail with this kit. 

The tank commander figure is stiff and unconvincing.  This is a big hold in 1/48 scale armor kits.  As well as Tamiya has been doing with their 1/35 scale figure it would be nice to see them turn out some interesting figures in this smaller scale. 

Engineering: 4 out of 5
This kit goes together very easily and quickly built out of the box.  The suspension is simple, and the road wheels all fit in place straight and level.  It would be hard to have a more perfect fitting and aligned suspension on a scale model kit.

The seams for the turret parts are largely hidden in the prominent weld seams.  Some work will remain to be done to make the seams look like weld beads, but it is still a great example of 'modeler -friendly' engineering on Tamiya's part.  While we are speaking of seams, the exterior fuel tanks are designed so that the seams are completely hidden.  This put a smile on my face.

Tamiya has probably perfected the science of link-and-length tracks.  The instructions provide a perfect guide for the placement of the individual links and larger top and bottom track runs.  There are no maddening gaps or excessive sag in these tracks.  The only down-side to the tracks in this kit are the unfortunate ejector pin marks.  Luckily, T-34 tracks have flat inside faces which makes these marks very simple to sand off. 

There were also some ejector pin marks on the inside of the hatches which required some attention.

Fit: 5 out of 5
There really isn't much to say about the fit on this kit.  It went together like all other Tamiya armor kits, which is to say; perfectly.  No cleanup was required with the exception of a few seams on the wheels and gun barrel. 

Instructions: 5 out of 5
Tamiya gives you their standard, well thought out, well-illustrated, multi-lingual instruction sheet and a separate black and white sheet with painting and decal placement instructions.  It will be very difficult to get lost with these directions.

Markings: 1 out of 5
I'm sad to say Tamiya completely dropped the ball on this kit when it came to the markings.  The T-34/85 has been used by dozens of countries across the world from the deserts of the Middle East to the mountains of Korea, to the steppes of Manchuria and the best Tamiya can come up with is Soviet markings from Berlin in 1945 that have been done to death by almost every other model manufacturer?  Yawn.  I am simply amazed that they couldn't have provided something even slightly more interesting like North Korean or even Polish marking options.

Besides the uninspiring marking choices, the decals fall short in that they are so thick that it's almost impossible to get that "painted on" look no matter how much decal solvent you use. 

This kit was pleasant to build, but I'm sorry to say that overall, it didn't seem like Tamiya was trying very hard when they developed this kit.  Even the box art seemed a step below their normally high standards.  There really was not anything innovative or imaginative about the kit that made me want to go out and build another one, which is a shame because there is a lot of potential with this tank.  On a positive note, there is plenty of potential to either add aftermarket parts or alter some features to make it accurate for other variations of the T-34/85.  With just a little research, scratch building a few parts, and creating some stencils for markings I was able to alter this kit into a Czech manufactured Egyptian T-34/85 circa 1956.  It's just a pity that Tamiya didn't think of something interesting like that. 

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

C-130 Hercules landing gear (Zv)

Thu, 02/04/2021 - 11:00
Product Image Review Author:  David Horn Scale Aircraft Conversions

Scale Aircraft Conversions (SAC) manufactures white metal landing gear that is a direct replacement for the kit's plastic landing gear. This set includes nine parts, the four main gear struts, strut link and nose gear (3 parts). Each gear assembly can be installed near final assembly & painting of your model.

SAC gear does require some cleanup for the rare cases there are still seam lines. You many also sand and prime the struts to remove some of the rough texture that appears in some areas. Installing the new gear requires CA glue or non-traditional modeling adhesives. SAC recommends that the gear is for experienced modelers that are familiar to working with metal gear.

When you need strong landing gear that will not let your model down, SAC has you covered. I would like to thank Scale Aircraft Conversions for this review sample.

1/144 Propeller Planes Volume 1

Thu, 02/04/2021 - 10:21
Product Image Review Author:  James Kelley AMMO by Mig Jimenez

     1/144 is arguably the aircraft scale that has seen more growth in recent times, attracting a large number of followers, especially due to the high-quality detail currently achieved by the manufacturers. This scale has many advantages, but its main benefit is that it allows us to model the largest planes, which in larger scales are frequently too big to display or store at home once finished.

     Another great advantage is the simplicity and speed of assembly and painting of these models, which makes them very enjoyable and addictive. In addition, its small size facilitates the creation of small scenes and dioramas of manageable and practical sizes.
    In this book you will discover, thanks to the guidance of master modelers and through detailed step-by-step articles, all the keys to assemble, detail, paint and weather any 1/144th scale propeller aircraft, from large bombers or airliners to small fighter planes. In addition, the final chapter includes a detailed article that shows you the fundamental aspects of diorama construction to display your 1/144th scale aircraft in an appropriate setting.

     Known internationally for his armor modeling and finishing techniques, Miguel Jimenez has built a very successful company selling finishing and weathering products, kits, and several series of books. "1/144 Propeller Planes Vol. 1" is one such book, and I for one am thrilled to see it. And I'm excited that it's Volume 1, suggesting that there will be another forthcoming. The book itself is extremely high-quality in binding and finish. The pages are heavy stock and glossy. My sample, unfortunately, arrived with the lower left rear corner dinged up pretty badly.

     The first part of the book deals with large aircraft, such as bombers and airliners. The second half showcases single-prop fighters, and the last chapter takes the reader step by step through creating a diorama. The chapters/projects are:

  • B-29 Superfortress
  • L-1049G Super Constellation
  • He-219A-5 Uhu
  • Me 323D-1 Gigant
  • Nakajima A6M2-N Rufe
  • Spitfire Mk. XIV
  • Gloster Sea Gladiator Mk. 1
  • Me-109F-4 Tropical
  • P-51B Mustang
  • Outposts

     The descriptive, instructive text is in English and Spanish. Each chapter/project tells you what kit was used, and which aftermarket parts, if any, were added. I especially appreciate that each artist describes how much colors were diluted or lightened, by percentages, for their achieved weathering effects. The diorama chapter delves into how each component was scratch built, i.e., the palm trees, pier, beach, water, etc. I haven't built a diorama in at least 15 years, but this book has me thinking!

     Each project utilizes Ammo by Mig products exclusively, which can be expected. This is clearly a great marketing strategy, because I've had the book exactly one day and I've ordered $85.00 worth of Oilbrushers.

     The projects are finished with great artistry, and each one is a pleasure to read about. Great inspiration is to be had in this book. The contributing modelers are true artists, and their step-by-step instructions lay out how to recreate their results with clarity. I can't recommend this book highly enough, as it's techniques can be applied to any scale modeling project. The high-quality production of the book itself, coupled with the content, makes this a very valuable tool for any modelers' armamentarium.

     My thanks to Ammo of Mig Jimenez S.L. and IPMS/USA for the review sample.

Air Power and the Arab World 1909-1955 Volume 2: Arab Side Shows, 1914-1918

Thu, 02/04/2021 - 09:17
Product Image Review Author:  Frank Landrus Helion & Company

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

Helion's latest book in the Middle East @ War series is a square back soft cover including 88 gloss paper pages. The cover photograph is of a Standard Voisin flying past a crowd of spectators and a lancer of the Cairo Mounted Police at the Heliopolis Aviation Week in February 1910.  The color side profile by Tom Cooper is of one of three Short Type 82s operated by the British RNAS in Mesopotamia.  Originally planned to be operated on floats from the river Tigris, this was found to be impractical and all three were converted to standard landing gear.  The rear cover upper color side profile by Tom Cooper of an Italian Navy FBA Type H of the 286th Squadriglia that was based at Khums in Libya and is a copy of the side profile found on page 40vi.  Tom Cooper's color side profile on the lower rear cover is of a Donnet-Denhaut D.D.2 of the French Naval Aviation Service and is a copy of the side profile found on page 40v.  I counted three color pictures and 144 black and white photographs. There also 20 color side profiles, three black and white maps and one color map.

Dr. David C Nicolle follows up his first volume of Arab Air Power with more detail on the involvement of the major European powers.  The British, French, Italians, and Spaniards all wanted to expand their interests in the Middle East.  At the same time the Ottoman Empire, aligned with Germany, was struggling to keep its existing areas of control.  The other major consideration was the effect of religion on alliances.  The allies, primarily Christian, were doing battle in territories dominated by Muslims.  Add into the intrigue that the British had brought in Hindus and Buddhists from India to support the war and stir that mix with a stick.   This is not to mention the Axis alliance between Germany, Austro-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire.  Of course, a primary interest for the British was the protection on the Suez Canal, a prime target of the Turks.  Britain did have concerns about how its allies in Egypt would fight against the Ottoman Muslims, an issue that the Turks were counting on.  Britain at first did not place their Egyptian Muslim allies on the front lines, but eventually they had no choice.  As it turned out, the British were not disappointed, as their Muslim allies had no issue fighting the Turks.  The sections include:


  1. British Air Operations in the Arab World [Page 12]
  2. The Egyptian Military and Air Power [Page 40]

Color Profiles [Page 40iii]

  1. Events in the Italian Colonies [Page 51]
  2. The French in the Levant and North Africa
  3. Spanish Morocco During the Great War [Page 74]


I found an account on a British attack on the German airbase at Kifri quite interesting.  The RFC bombed the airfield with Martinsydes on September 16, 1917.  One pilot, Skinner, decided to come in low on a strafing run and took a bullet to his fuel tank.  Heading home, he landed in the Iraqi desert where he set fire to his bird.  Another Martinsyde provided air cover while a third Martinsyde landed to pick up the downed pilot.  Luck would have it that Skinner's rescue had its engine quit upon landing forcing the Skinner to hand crank the engine to start it up.  Upon firing up, Skinner had to jump on to the lower wing, tuck his legs behind the pilot's cockpit and hang on for dear life back to their home base.

The contemporary photographs support the text, and although the quality of some of the photographs due to the source material is not there, they certainly give you a good perspective of the events described.  The nice color profiles by Luca Canossa help make up for this concern.  Volumes 3 and 4 by Dr. David C Nicolle covering the Military Services from 1916-1918, have already been announced and I am anxiously looking forward to their release in 2021. If you own one the previous releases in the Middle East @ War series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.

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

Highly recommended!

Dutch Waffen-SS Legion & Brigade 1941-44

Wed, 02/03/2021 - 13:55
Product Image Review Author:  Marc K. Blackburn Osprey Publishing

Osprey's long running men at arms series has produced another volume, this time based on the Dutch Waffen SS. Osprey has a tried and true formula for this series - providing introductory information, battles and campaigns they took part in, and aftermath. These volumes are illustrated with contemporary black and white photographs and color plates of uniforms, flags, and rank insignia. As with most Osprey publications, the production quality is outstanding as are the color plates. The page count is low, which makes sense since the Dutch SS lasted as long as the occupation of Holland and the Second World War.

With the rise of Mussolini in Italy and Hitler in Germany, smaller fascist movements popped up in Western Europe, including Holland. Heinrich Himmler, the commander of the SS for most of the Nazi regime, had a vision of uniting the Nordic races of western Europe into the SS. Regardless how flawed his racial theories were, the Dutch were the first to be recruited for service into the armed wing of the SS - the Waffen SS. Rather than retaining any kind of national identity, they were subsumed into the Waffen SS as the Dutch Legion. While these books are not meant to do a deep dive into units and their campaigns, it would have been nice to see a couple of paragraphs on ideology and what attracted the Dutch into the SS.

Trained in the Balkans, the Legion, then Dutch brigade served entirely on the eastern front, with nearly all of their action in Army Group North. They fought in some of the most vicious battles on the eastern front in the last year of the war, from Estonia to Kurland. The brigade fought well and were loyal to the ideology of the SS and many members were left open to war crimes and losing their citizenship after the war. As with most books in this series, it gives a broad overview of the units highlighted. The SS represented the flaws of the Third Reich, but their crusade against Bolshevism and non-Germanic peoples, they were able to recruit like-minded people around the Third Reich.

With very few exceptions, Osprey publications are outstanding reference books. This is no exception. My thanks to IPMS and Osprey Publications for giving me the opportunity to review this book.

Mud Effects Solution Set

Wed, 02/03/2021 - 13:46
Product Image Review Author:  Phillip Cavender AMMO by Mig Jimenez


The company website states:

 "This set includes the base colors and products essential for imitating the accumulation and weathering effects produced by mud".

"With this set, you will be able to replicate different types of effects including dry mud, wet mud, and mud splashes. These sets are the perfect solution for casual modelers and those experienced enthusiasts looking for the most realistic painting options in one convenient box.

Each reference in the series contains the essential products you require to create the most common effects used in scale modelling. Among the versatile items included are Oilbrushers, Pigments, Washes, Filters, and the products necessary to obtain hyper realistic results on your models.  You will have all the necessary products in a single set, without having to worry about what product you should use to simulate each specific effect. We have provided you with the most accurate and easily applied products for each subject. These sets are the perfect solution for casual modelers and those experienced enthusiasts looking for the most realistic painting options in one convenient box".

What's in The Box:

Earth Colors

A. Mig-0079 Clay Brown Acrylic Paint 17ml

A.Mig-0085 NATO Brown Acrylic Paint 17ml

Five bottles of mud and wet effects

A.Mig-1701 Thick Soil 35ml

A.Mig-1705 Wet Mud 35ml

A.Mig-1750 Dry Earth Splashes 30ml

A.Mig-1754 Damp Earth Splashes 30ml

A.Mig-2015 Wet Effects 35ml

Three containers of pigments.

A.Mig-Sinai Dust Pigment 35ml

A.Mig-3026 Golan Earth Pigment 35ml

A.Mig-3029 Winter Soil Pigment 35ml


One A. Mig-3522 Medium Soil Oilbrusher in a 10ml clear tube. Oilbrushers were first released in 2017 as a replacement for the traditional oil paint squeeze tubes. These can be applied using the supplied fine brush attached to the cap. They are advertised as being spill proof.

Plus, a double-sided Quick Tips guide in full color with captions. A nice touch since a lot of manufacturers show only a few tips on the back of the box. The "Quick Tip" sheet consists of four sections; Acrylics, Oilbrusher, Pigments, and Splashes/Heavy Mud. Each section is then broken down into several steps printed in English and Spanish.

All of these items are contained in a 6" x 7" x 1.5" thin cardboard box with colorful graphics on all sides. The back of the box shows what's inside. A stainless-steel mixing ball is contained in the 17ml bottles of paint making mixing easier.

The Review:

Solutions or Smart Sets are intended to provide the modeler with everything he needs to reproduce the appearance of a vehicle in different surroundings such as this solution set does with mud effects. For this review I brought out a Tamiya Panther Ausf. A medium tank constructed for our club build a year ago. The tank was left clean without any weathering. Since this vehicle would not be used for a show, I decided to apply the products on different areas of the vehicles. Soft mud areas were applied using A. Mig 0079 Clay Brown and A. Mig 0085 Nato Brown using the airbrush. Figure 1 shows after a light coat of both were applied. A very realistic appearance can be achieved by varying the amount that is sprayed on.

Next the Medium Soil Oilbrusher was used around the rear upper hull to replicate dried mud. After application a moistened brush in mineral spirits was used to feather and blend the paint. A. Mig specifies their own brand, however I used Mona Lisa Odorless Mineral Spirits without any apparent issues. The tech quick tips sheet provides three easy steps to follow. This was my first time using the Oilbrushers previously reluctant to make the purchase since I had several tubes of oil paints on hand. However, I found the application was much easier than I had expected, not only with the thin brush, but clean up a breeze.

On to the three pigments supplied in the box. For the novice modeler, the tip sheet provides clear and concise instructions on their use. They can be used alone or mixed in varying amounts to achieve the desired appearance. After application I used mineral spirits to wet and bind the pigments to the surface. The instructions state a sponge or brush can be used to rub and remove the excess pigments when dry. Rather than remove the excess pigments, I decided to leave the applied pigments. Figure 2 shows the engine deck after the application of pigments.  

Next on the tip sheet is the application of splashes and heavy mud. All these are laid out into twelve steps to apply everything from dry mud splashes to damp earth, thick soil, and wet mud. Both containers of Dry Earth Splashes A. Mig 1750 Damp Earth A. Mig 1754 had large chunks of a clay looking appearance in the bottom which required vigorous shaking to mix. As stated on the tip sheet these can either be applied by flicking using a toothpick or blowing air across the brush. I found with the flicking method I was able to achieve the appearance I desired. Using a brush moistened with thinner I drew vertical strokes down to create dripping stains. See Figure 3.

Moving on to the next section on the tip sheet was the application of Heavy Mud Thick Soil A. Mig 1701 and Wet Mud A. Mig 1705. As with the Splashes these had an exorbitant number of clumps in the bottom. With vigorous hand shaking and finally resorting to my trusted Robart Paint Shaker I was able to get them mixed. These must be hand brushed on. Figure 4 shows an excellent appearance of light-colored heavy mud using the Heavy Mud Thick Soil 1701. By mixing various pigments one can achieve any desired look. See Figure 5 for an image showing the rear of my Panther covered in dark mud. Also, within this section on the tip sheet is A. Mig's product Wet Effects #2015. Upon use, this product produces an appearance of a water effect as if it had splashed onto the vehicle.


As advertised, this Solution Set provides all the necessary paints, pigments, and mud effects to reproduce any mud conditions all supplied in one box. The enclosed tip sheet provides clear and concise instructions along with images for reference. The products are easy to use and easy to clean up. Given that I have been pleased with Ammo by Mig products in the past, this solution set didn't disappoint me even with the issue of mixing. I highly recommend this Mud Effects Solution Set to any modeler of any skill level.

Thanks to Ammo by Mig Jimenez and IPMS/USA for allowing me to review this solution set.

Benz Patent-Motorwagen 1886 with Mrs. Benz & Sons

Wed, 02/03/2021 - 13:27
Product Image Review Author:  Bill O'Malley ICM

This kit is the second release in 2020 of the Benz Patent-Motorwagen 1886. This release includes three figures of Mrs. Benz and her two sons in addition to the Motorwagen vehicle. The vehicle was previously reviewed by IPMS so this review will focus on the three figures included in the second release.

Mrs. Benz is posed sitting on the Motorwagen with her hands on the tiller, and the two sons are alongside the vehicle, maybe pushing to get it started? The poses look realistic and natural, but the detail is a little soft for a 1/24 scale figure.

Instructions are provided on a single sheet with a diagram of the sprue and Revell & Tamiya paint colors listed on the front. The opposite side shows assembly diagrams and paint instructions for each of the figures. The parts are provided on one sprue with Mrs. Benz and both sons.

Shoe soles on the sons were cut away to get rid of the Doc Marten style boot look and make them appear more civilian. White glue was used to hold some parts temporarily for the photos. Fill was used in certain areas (the seam going down Mrs. Benz' dress, for example) during assembly of the figures. The sons need filler along the shoulders and coat lapels, as well as along the sides of their jackets. Mrs. Benz also needed filler when her head scarf is glued into position.

Mrs. Benz was painted by one of the members in my local model club who is an excellent figure painter and shows how nice the figures will be when painted. The figures look very nice with the vehicle and the poses are very natural. The fit of the parts is good, although some filler at the joints between parts is required. The figures are well done and a nice addition to the vehicle.

Thanks to ICM for producing these nice figures, and for providing the review sample to IPMS.

MaxxPro Dash with SPARK II Mine Roller

Wed, 02/03/2021 - 12:18
Product Image Review Author:  Bob LaBouy Panda Hobby

This is a reissue of the earlier MaxxPro kit issued two years ago, with the addition of Spark II mine roller parts.  The 'User Manual' is twenty pages containing a map of the kit's parts outlining 22 steps, a color four-view for one vehicle and no color suggestions or paint chart, though the four-view indicates that Gunze Sanyo Mr. Color were used in constructing the model.

This kit contains approximately 522 molded parts on 12 sprue trees, a sheet of 41 photo etched parts, four tires and a decal sheet.  An example is that there are 3 sprue trees each marked a "B" indicator and each is a separate group of individual items--confusing to say the least.

From the earliest 'details' I found the various drawings to be lacking several key ingredients.  When illustrating the assembly of the roller wheels, I was left guessing at almost every turn- and wound-up gluing most of the assembled parts and could not get the last two of the small wheels into the suggested place, simply leaving off the kit (when comparing the photos of the actual Spark roller plow assembly there appears to be several alternate wheel assemblies used).  I also noticed several errors in the instructions where I was able to find the shown part by matching the drawing to the instructions, rather than using the part number when that number was incorrect.  Remember as modelers we are assumed to be careful, meticulous and painstaking in our building efforts....at least that's what I think.

The Build

I have been reasonably impressed with most of the surface detail, including most of the raised details, rivets, etc.  I was far less impressed with lack of clear instructions.  Clearly some of detailed notes were written by a non-English speaking person (e.g., page 3 which calls for 'making fruo' seats).  The engine cover has an ever so small indentation which is very visible and requires careful sanding and priming.  Another example is on page 4, when assembling the dashboard for the vehicle as you'll see the very small locating stubs only match up for two of the holes while there are three stubs.  Speaking of 'stubs', there are a lot of these little critters--everywhere!  (see attached photo)

When it comes to the fit in general, this particular kit leaves a great deal to be desired and you need to understand that you'll have your work cut out for you from the initial assemblies.

In essence this kit is 'a kit within a kit' which requires a great deal of 'finishing'--sanding, trimming, fitting and cutting off the extraneous or unwanted.  While mentioning the numerous fit issues, as an example the steering wheel shaft (ref: page 6, lower detail drawing) does not fit in or through holes provided, it's too large.  Then there's the drive shaft and frame mounting points:  while the specific locations are 'locked in' specified in earlier located places, they require dry-fitting and plastic surgery to adjust their placement.  For some unknow reason, there are several additional drive shaft sections and wheels included on the sprue trees--without any known or intended locations?

A couple of examples may help me to explain.  I spent a considerable amount of time painting the interior details only to find as I was completing this task that these details were lost to the world due to the slatted windows.  The lowered stair assembly could not be assembled except in the lowered position.  The same situation was evident as it applied to the side doors.  As I did not intend to open these aspects, this detail was totally lost.  This same issue was evident as it applies to the under-hull area:  As previously noted, detailed painting throughout the suspension and undercarriage is lost as the v-hulled protection plate is installed.  All of the details and painting are lost.

The kit tires are yet another serious disappointment: the holes where wheels mount is out of round and poorly formed with serious clean-up required again.  How to correct the resulted fitting issues is still a puzzle in my mind.  When I attempted to dry fitting the wheels and tires, I ran into serious issues as well.  The wheel parts should not be put together before the tires are assembled as I learned the hard way--try as I might the tires can not be just pushed over the wheels.

The Spark II Mine Roller is yet another serious challenge, or at least it has been for me.  Note that this entire assembly is a very delicate assembly and requires some finesse in just handling and painting it (no small task for a ham-fisted like myself).  Researching the internet for photos of this critter quickly reveals there are numerous configurations for this 'mine plow' attachment.  However, it boils down to a serious 'Rube Goldberg' project and a kit all by itself.  Try as I might, I was never able to translate the often-incomplete instruction drawings into what saw in the box art depiction on pages 18-21.  In the final analysis, I did not attempt to attach the mine roller to the MaxxPro vehicle and just pushed both parts together for my photos.  The supposed locations do not match up with I believe to be the intended attachment points.


As a prelude, I used Vallejo Desert Sand Surface Primer #70.613 for most of the surface areas where I would be handling the model.  I used a sole color of Mission Models paint:  US Army Sand FS 30277  #MMP-086 for this entire project, which all of my reference photos appeared to be painted for the entire vehicle.  A few small details were painted using Black #MMP-047 and Dunkelgelb #MMP-019 for the various details.  I used the Crystal Smoke #A.Mig-095 to tint the windows.

A small exception is that I chose to paint the MaxxPro wheels in the basic sand color rather than the black color shown in four view drawings.  This is the same color shown box top drawing and in numerous photos of these vehicles.


There is a small sheet of decals of which I only used one decal for the vehicle dash.  For the most part these decals are so uniformly small as the be barely visible even using my Optivisor.

Overall Evaluation

This kit was one of the more challenging in my modeling experience and while I would not recommend it as a 'beginning kit' as it was finished and joins in with the numerous military vehicles from the middle east combat.  This is another example of the ubiquitous heavily armored vehicle in common use throughout our Afghanistan and Iraqi campaigns.  It builds up as a very interesting and unique vehicle.

I really appreciate the opportunity to build this Panda kit and want to thank Panda Model company.

Refueling pod KC-130J

Tue, 02/02/2021 - 00:03
Product Image Review Author:  David Horn Brengun

Brengun produces a wide range of unique resin, photo-etch (PE)accessories and full kits in 1/32, 1/48, 1/72 and 1/144.  This conversion set was previously produced by Attack Squadron (Arma Hobby) and that product line was sold to Brengun which now offers the C-130 product line many are familiar with.

This resin set comes in a sturdy cardboard box containing a pair of refueling pods, similar to but much larger than the "Buddy Pods" carried by fighter & attack aircraft used by the Navy. The resin part is a single piece and is very solid and possibly on the heavy side. The pour blocks have small contact area and note that there is a remnant (was only on one pod) protruding from the tail end of the pod that will need to be removed. The panel lines are very crisp and easily identifiable even after a primer coat. There is not an instruction sheet so if you are unsure of placement, check references to aircraft photos available online. Most C-130 kits have partial holes where the Auxiliary fuel tank pylons are located, between the outboard engine and wing tip. See the photo I took of a USAF KC-130J for the location.

The refueling pods just need a little clean up removing them from the casting block and removing any flash or the small protrusion (if it is on your cast part). After cleaned up, I highly recommend painting and weathering the pod off the model (due to the weight of the pod) and installing your pod at final assembly.

*Looking at KC-130 reference photos, these pods will work on current KC-130H aircraft but older tankers have a slightly different pod. The only real difference I can see if the area around where the basket deploys from. 

This set will take a fairly plain C-130J and update it into a unique tanker mission Hercules. Brengun also offers a 1/72 scale flap set, sponson set and wheel set so I am anxiously waiting to see their next new product for the Hercules.

Thanks to Brengun for this very simple and nice set.

F-A-18E-F Super Hornet Tanker

Mon, 02/01/2021 - 23:21
Product Image Review Author:  David Horn Brengun

Brengun produces a wide range of unique resin, photoetch (PE) accessories and full kits in 1/32, 1/48, 1/72 and 1/144.  

This resin set comes in a small sturdy cardboard box containing four standard F/A-18 fuel tanks and a refueling "Buddy Pod". The buddy pod consists of a two-part pod, two different styles of ram air turbine (RAT) hubs, jettison tube, basket housing and photo etch RAT blades. Panel lines are very crisp but deep enough where primer will not fill the panel lines. The upper detail on the pod that would be hidden under the pylon is detailed just in case the pod is displayed separate from your model.

Assembly is very simple on the buddy pod but be careful with the RAP blades. I recommend installing the hub with blades at final assembly to prevent breaking off any of the blades. You may want to check your references to see what RAT hub to choose from. I am uncertain if this pod us used on the F/A-18E/F only but I am hopeful the buddy pod can be used on other platforms. There are a few good articles on the buddy pod, one in particular is in "tailspin topics".

This set will take a line F/A-18E or F and update it into a tanker version that can refuel other aircraft. Brengun's F/A-18 product line includes Weapons pylons, exhaust, wheels and general accessories in addition to this tanker upgrade.

Thanks to Brengun for this very nice set.

Tupolev TU-22 Blinder Supersonic Bomber, Attack, Maritime Patrol, & Electronic Countermeasures Aircraft

Mon, 02/01/2021 - 13:09
Product Image Review Author:  Phil Pignataro Pen & Sword

With both engines mounted astride the vertical stabilizer, the supersonic Tu-22 Blinder was unique among modern bombers. It entered Soviet Air Force service during the height of the Cold War in 1961 and was a contemporary of the USAF's B-58 Hustler. Though a direct comparison between the two aircraft is close to the "apples and oranges" conundrum, the Tu-22 was not as fast as the B-58 but was more versatile. In addition to its conventional and nuclear bombing capabilities, it could fly reconnaissance, anti-shipping, and radar and comm jamming (ECM) missions.

The book was first published in 2005 and this volume is a reprinted soft-cover version. Burdin and Dawes (who is also the translator) document the development, system design, operations, and combat experience of this bomber. Below are the Chapter headings which show the scope of the coverage.

Chapter 1      Development History of the Tu-22

Chapter 2      Design of the Tu-22

Chapter 3      Tu-22 Weapons

Chapter 4      Reconnaissance and ECM Variants of the Tu-22

Chapter 5      Introduction of the Tu-22

Chapter 6      Combat Applications of the Tu-22R

Chapter 7      Combat Applications of the Tu-22K

Chapter 8      Emergency Escape and Life-support Systems

Chapter 9      Incidents and Write-offs Involving Long-range Air Force Tu-22s   Between 1960 and 1989

Chapter 10    Training of Iraqi and Libyan Aircrews


Details of its construction, weapon systems, photo-reconnaissance and jamming equipment are included and cover all variant models. In many instances, the explanations are very detailed and read almost like a pilot's manual. The chapters on its use in Afghanistan were quite interesting. The Tu-22 was a complicated machine and very advanced for its time. Consequently, the bomber was a demanding aircraft to fly and its operational service was punctuated with numerous accidents. The chapter on "Incidents" is 36 pages long with information from official and unofficial reports, as well as from the crew members themselves. It makes for somber reading.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book about an aircraft I want to model. I found it particularly interesting since the aircraft was a follow-on to the "conventional" Tu-16 and laid the foundation for the more advanced Tu-22M3 and Tu-160. However, the book is aimed primarily at the historian, rather than the modeler.  All the photos are vintage Black & White and were provided by crew members who actually flew the aircraft. Although there are some close-ups of seats and landing gear, as well as a couple of instrument panel drawings, most pictures are of the entire aircraft. I would highly recommend this book to those interested the Tu-22 itself or Soviet aviation during the Cold War in general. My thanks go to Pen & Sword Books Ltd. for providing the book for review and to IPMS for the chance to review it.


Mon, 02/01/2021 - 12:47
Product Image Review Author:  Brian R. Baker Pen & Sword


This book covers the aeronautical activities of Americans in the military from the beginnings in the American War Between The States (Civil War) to the end of World War I.  Actually,  balloons were used by both Union and Confederate forces during that war, and there was some balloon activity up through the end of World War I.  After the Wright Brothers made their first flight in 1903,  experiments were conducted by Americans to develop military aircraft, although after the Wrights showed the Europeans how to build a practical and controllable airplane, more progress was made in Europe, so that by the time the United States became involved in the war,  the British, French, and Germans were far ahead of us in military aviation technology.  The U.S. had used a few airplanes in Mexico before our involvement in Europe,  but not with great success.

The book covers American technological progress during this time period, and describes American involvement in the European war in great detail, naming many of the people involved, including well known historical figures as Billy Mitchell,  Frank Luke, Eddie Rickenbacker,  Raoul Lufbery,  James Doolittle, and many others.  Accounts of U.S. involvement in some of the major battles are given in dramatic detail, and even the subsequent actions of the American pilots of the Kosciuszko Squadron in the war in which the Russian communists attempted to expand their empire  westward into Poland.

The book makes for some very interesting reading.  There are photos of many of the people involved, and some of the airplanes, although there are no color drawings which would be very useful for modelers.  At the end, the author provides accounts of many of the stories of Americans who were shot down and captured by enemy forces, mostly their own accounts, and shows how they survived imprisonment and how some managed to escape.


This is a very worthwhile history of this time period, one that has been largely ignored by historians up to this point.  It is worth getting.  Highly recommended.

Thanks to Pen and Sword and Phil Peterson for the review copy.




M4 Sherman / M4, M4A1, M4A4 Firefly

Mon, 02/01/2021 - 12:25
Product Image Review Author:  Tom Pope Kagero Publishing

One of Kagero's latest installments in their TOPDRAWING series is booklet # 98 which covers the M4 Sherman - namely the M4, M4A1 and M4A4 Firefly variants.  Like the other TOPDRAWING series booklets, #98 describes the differences in the external arrangements of the major variants, through text, line drawings (in the more common modeling scales) and a few color profiles.  These booklets are a great reference for scale modelers of any experience level.  I would like to thank Casemate Publishers for providing a copy for this review.

As described in the introduction on page 1, the M4 Sherman was the most popular American tank of World War II. There were over 49,000 M4 tanks produced in over a dozen variants between early 1942 and mid-1945.  As for the M4 variants covered in this booklet, the major different external features were:

  • The M4 had a welded hull (built-up from plate steel) and most sported the M3, 75mm gun.
  • M4A1 had a cast hull (indicated by rounded/smooth transitions from top to sides), larger driver's hatches and most had either the M3 gun or the M1 (76mm) gun.
  • M4A4 had a welded hull that was slightly longer than the M4 or M4A1 to accommodate a new engine and drive train upgrades.  Over 2000 M4A4s were converted to Fireflies (Type VC) for the British and a few others.  Fireflies were fitted with Great Britain's "17-pounder" - a powerful 76.2 mm (3 inch) anti-tank gun that could penetrate the front armor on even the heavy German Tigers from longer ranges.  Firefly was the nickname given to due to the bright muzzle flash produced by those rounds.

This booklet shows these plus other minor external differences, in line art and at various scales, which makes this a great reference for modelers to keep handy during their builds.  All figure captions throughout are in English and Polish.

  • Page 1 provides a short introduction of the Sherman family in English and Polish.
  • Page 2 (Drawing Sheet 1) shows line drawings of the M4 in 1/35th scale, showing the riveted lower hull (look between the bogies), M3 (75mm) gun and M34 gun mount (a.k.a. mantlet) (photo 1).
  • Page 3 (Drawing Sheet 2) shows line drawings of the M4 in 1/35th scale, showing the welded lower hull (no rivets/bolts) and the M3 gun in the M34A1 gun mount.
  • Page 4 (Drawing Sheet 3) show line drawings of the M4A1 (cast hull) in 1/35th scale, showing the M3 gun in the M34A1 mantlet (photo 2).
  • Page 5 (Drawing Sheet 4) shows line drawings of the M4A1 in 1/35th scale, showing the M3 gun in the M34 gun mount (the caption incorrectly reads "M34A1" mount).
  • Pages 6 and 7 (Drawing Sheets 5 & 6) show line drawings, in 1/35th scale, of some of the different details such as barrel, breech lock and yoke differences on the M3 gun, periscope covers and tow hooks (photo 3). 
  • Page 8 (Drawing Sheet 7) shows two sets of top, side, front and back views, in 1/48th scale of the M4 with M3 gun - one set with the bolted lower hull and M34 gun mount and the other set with the welded lower hull and M34A1 gun mount (photo 4).
  • Pages 9 through 12 show full color profiles of M4, M4A1 and the longer M4A4 with markings from various operational units that used them (photos 5, 6, 7 & 8).
  • Page 13 (Drawing Sheet 8) shows two sets of top, side, front and back views of the M4A1 with the M3 gun, in 1/48th scale - 1 set with the M34 gun mount and the M34A1 gun mount.
  • Page 14 (Drawing Sheet 9) shows two sets of top, side, front and back views of the M4 with the M3 gun in 1/72nd scale, one set with the bolted lower hull and M34 gun mount and the other set with the welded lower hull and M34A1 gun mount.
  • Page 15 (Drawing Sheet 10) shows two sets of top, side and front and back views of the M4A1 with the M3 gun in 1/72nd scale, one set with the M34 gun mount and the other set with the M34A1 gun mount (photo 9).
  • Page 16 (Drawing Sheet 11).  This page's caption indicates what is shown is an M4A4 Firefly in each 1/72nd, 1/48th and 1/35th scales.  This is not the case.  Firstly, the M4A4 had a welded hull that was longer than the M4A1 (smooth hull) shown.  Some basic M4s and M4 Composites (combined cast/welded hull) were converted to Fireflies (Type IC) but no examples or information were found of M4A1s being converted to Fireflies.  Secondly, while it looks like a 76mm gun with that bigger breech, it does not have the famous spherical muzzle brake the British 17-pounder needed to reduce the recoil of those higher power rounds.  The drawing does depict the later model turret modified for the Firefly role.
  • Pages 17 (Drawing Sheet 12) shows a profile view of the M4 in 1/24th scale with a bolted lower hull and M3 gun in the M34 mount.
  • Pages 18 (Drawing Sheets 13) shows a top view of the M4 in 1/24th scale with a welded lower hull and the M3 gun in an M34 mount (the caption incorrectly reads "M34A1" mount).
  • Pages 19 (Drawing Sheets 14) shows a profile view of the M4 in 1/24th scale with a welded lower hull and the M3 gun in an M34A1 mount (photo 10).
  • Pages 20 (Drawing Sheets 15) shows a top view of the M4 in 1/24th scale with a welded lower hull and the M3 gun and M34A1 mount.
  • Two M4 Hybrid (Cast hull front half and welded back half) Fireflies (Type IC) are depicted in color on the back cover (photo 11).
  • The line-drawing insert show a profile and a top view, respectively, of the M4 in 1/16th scale, with the M3 gun and M34 mount (photos 12 & 13).

This publication is a good quick reference for modelers of the M4, M4A1 and M4A4 "Firefly" variants of the Sherman family.  The accuracy and detail are outstanding, and I highly recommend this publication to anyone with an interest in WWII armor but particularly, modelers trying to capture all the finer external details on their M4 builds.  Perhaps future TOPDRAWING volumes will go into similar detail for some of the other M4 variants described on the first page such as the floating Sherman "DD" (Duplex Drive), Sherman Crab (with anti-mine trawl) or, the Sherman "Zippo" with a flamethrower mounted instead of the main gun. 

Once again, I would like to thank Kagero for the excellent reference product, Casemate Publishers for providing the review copy and IPMS/USA for allowing me the opportunity to review it.  A particularly big thanks also to Casemate Publishers for quickly providing a second review copy after it was discovered the first copy had included the incorrect 1/16th scale insert.

KittyHawk SH-60B SeaHawk

Mon, 02/01/2021 - 12:08
Product Image Review Author:  Allan Murrell Kitty Hawk

KittyHawk at long last produces a SeaHawk version of the BlackHawk kit that they produce. This is the SH-60B version with other SeaHawk variations also being released at the same time. The box is noticeably big and stuffed full of plastic sprues and includes most of the parts that are for the other variants, so you have a lot for you spares box remaining when the kit is completed.

In the box is;

  • 11 x light grey Sprues
  • 2 x clear Sprue
  • 2 x Decal sheet
  • 1 x Photo Etch detail set
  • 1x Instruction booklet

While you get 11 runners, you also get plenty of unused (spare) parts that are for the other variants of this helicopter. All the runners are extremely well molded with very little flash and fine detail. Although I did find three parts that were not fully molded and had to do filling and scratch building parts to complete these. The decals allow you to finish the aircraft in 6 extremely colorful versions.


First is the construction of the cockpit and interior compartment stage 1 to 5, which is superbly detailed and the Photo Etch helps improve the very impressive interior when complete. The decals are excellent and set perfectly. There are only seat belts provided for the front two seats so the rest you will have to make or buy aftermarket.

At Stage 1 these are the things you should note-

  • The slots for parts HD19 and HD 18 are not open and need to be opened up.
  • The Seat is called out as HE19 but the this should be HE20 as both the kits HE-19 parts are used on stage 2

At Stage 2 these are the things you should note-

  • The part PE1 should be PE2
  • The part PE2 should be PE3.

At Stage 3 these are the things you should note-

  • The holes for part HE8 need to be opened up.
  • The part HF27 in my kit was not formed correctly so needed some re-work.
  • Note that the illustration of part HF69 is wrong.

At Stage 4 no issues

At Stage 5 these are the things you should note.

  • There are no seat belts for the seat.
  • The parts E27 are shown in the wrong orientation see reference pictures.

Next is the construction of the engines stage 6 to 8, which provide for two very well detailed engines.

At Stage 6 these are the things you should note-

  • Part F69 should be F59.

At Stage 7 these are the things you should note-

  • The parts F56 are very small and hard to remove from sprue and clean up so be careful.

At Stage 8 these are the things you should note-

  • The parts HD33 are oriented incorrectly.
  • Part HD27 needs a hole to allow it to mount correctly to the pin on C46.
  • The parts HE9 and HE 10 are also switched.
  • When installing the engines into part C1 you need to remove the pins on the lower edge of part HE 57 to allow the parts to fit correctly.

Next is the construction of the Rota head.

At Stage 9 these are the things you should note-

  • Part F69 should be F59.

Next at stage 10 and 11 the upper engine bays and structure is assembled.

At Stage 10 these are the things you should note-

  • Part C44 is not identified.
  • You have to be careful assembling the parts C44 E5 and E1 to ensure it all lines up when assembled to the upper fuselage.

At Stage 11 these are the things you should note-

  • The parts C22 and C51 are not identified, these are used on the opposite side as parts C23 and C50 which was also not identified.
  • The above parts are a bad fit and need to be adjusted and filled.
  • The attachment holes need to be drilled for part H31.

At Stage 12 is the assembly of the Rota blades and this is easy.

Next is the construction of the fuselage stage 13 to 18.

At Stage 12 these are the things you should note-

  • There are additional holes that need drilling out, so you need to review the following stages to see what holes are needed.

At Stage 13 these are the things you should note-

  • If you are going to use the flare, then fit part HF24 not HF64.

At Stage 14 these are the things you should note-

  • The two fuselage halves close up well with just some minor filling.

At Stage 15 had no issues to note.

At Stage 16 these are the things you should note-

  • In my kit part HF38 was not molded correctly and I had to fill the gaps on both sides.
  • If you want the door part number in the open position you have to install the part HF54 slid forward.
  • Part HF-11 is one of those that needed the hole drilled at stage 12.

At Stage 17 these are the things you should note-

  • The part HF30 needs a lot of clean up on the inside to allow it to install correctly.
  • Part HF19 was not formed correctly and I had to scratch build a replacement.

At Stage 18 had no issues.

Next the tail and final fuselage assembly at stages 19, 20, 21 and 22.

Stage 19 had no issues.

Stage 20 had only one issue with my kit with another incorrectly molded Part # HF67.

Stage 22 had no issues.

Stage 23 is for stowing the folded blades which I did not select to do.

Stage 24 is the assembly of the weapons with no issue, I only assembled one of each as that is what I installed.

I decided to do the markings on page 14 for the HSL-42 Battle Cats. It was the one from the box art and I love the tiger strip design. The paint and finishing was easy and the decals were excellent to settle down perfectly as these were my real concern which in the end was not a concern at all. There were just a few minor decal size issues that were easily overcome.This was a great kit, with the only real issues of a few parts which were not formed properly, and some errors in the instructions.


This was a fantastic kit and really fun to build. This is a kit I highly recommend.

Thanks go to KittyHawk for providing this kit to review and IPMS USA for allowing me to review it.

The Lion from the North-The Swedish Army during the Thirty Years War Volume 1; 1618-1632

Mon, 02/01/2021 - 11:40
Review Author:  Frank Landrus Helion & Company Professor Michael Fredholm von Essen is an historian and former military analyst who has published extensively on the history, defence strategies, security policies, and energy sector developments of Eurasia. He currently is the Head of Research and Development at IRI, an independent research institute. Educated at Uppsala, Stockholm, and Lund Universities, Michael Fredholm von Essen has lectured, including during conferences and as visiting professor, at numerous institutions and universities around the world. He is the author of a large number of books, articles, and academic papers, including Muscovy's Soldiers: The Emergence of the Russian Army, 1462-1689 (Helion, 2018); Charles XI's War: The Scanian War between Sweden and Denmark, 1675-1679 (Helion, 2018); Transnational Organized Crime and Jihadist Terrorism: Russian-Speaking Networks in Western Europe (Routledge, 2017); Understanding Lone Actor Terrorism: Past Experience, Future Outlook, and Response Strategies (Routledge, 2016); Afghanistan Beyond the Fog of War: Persistent Failure of a Rentier State (NIAS, 2018); Eight Banners and Green Flag: The Army of the Manchu Empire and Qing China, 1600-1850 (Pike and Shot Society, 2009); and a large number of articles on early modern warfare in the Arquebusier, the journal of the Pike and Shot Society. Sergey Shamenkov is from the Ukraine and is a graduate of the Odessa Art School and the Lviv Academy of Arts. He is a frequent author of articles on uniforms and clothing worn during the Great Northern War, particularly those worn by Cossack troops. However, recently he published a fabulous article on Swedish officer dress of the Great Northern War which can be found at http://www.milhist.info/2015/02/19/shamenkov_8/#more-963 (warning- large file) in the prestigious History of Military Affairs in Russia. Sergey Shamenkov is also a well-known illustrator of uniforms during the period having created numerous book and article illustrations, and a dedicated reenactor. Helion's latest book in the Middle Eat @ War series is a square back soft cover includes 304 gloss paper pages. The cover color illustration is of a Captain, Norrland regiment, 1626, against a background of Rain-am-Lech, 1631. The rear cover features a color illustration of Gustavus Adolphus during the siege of Riga, 1621. I counted 120 black and white photographs. There are 32 pages of color plates that include 106 color illustrations, plus the two color illustrations on the covers. Additionally, there are 10 black and white maps and 15 tables. Volume 2 will address King Gustavus Adolphus' successor. Gustavus Adolphus was born in Castle Tre Kronor on December 19, 1594 to Duke Charles of the Vasa dynasty and Christina of Holstein-Gottorp. Duke Charles took the throne in 1604 as Charles IX but died in 1611 with his oldest son, Gustavus, as a sixteen year old. Gustavus was declared of age and became the King of Sweden on October 30, 1611. Gustavus Adolphus inherited three ongoing wars from his father. Under his leadership, Sweden transformed from a regional power to a great power in Europe during the Thirty Years' War. Considered to be the "father of modern warfare", Gustavus also oversaw significant innovations to the administrative structure of government. He was aided in this effort by a trusted friend, Count Axel Oxenstierna, the Lord High Chancellor of Sweden, who managed the home front while Gustavus was off leading the battles. Sustaining many injuries in battle, as he led from the front, Gustavus was finally killed in the Battle of Lutzen on November 6, 1632, in a cavalry charge. The Swedes had won a decisive battle, but had lost their King. Professor Michael Fredholm von Essen kicks this Volume 1 off with a Chronology, Introduction, and Prologue that sets the table by introducing the background and environment upon which Gustavus begins to make his mark. The following sub-chapters address the multitude of battles that lead up to his death. Along the way you are introduced to the new concepts either created or introduced by King Adolphus. Professor von Essen confronts many of the myths head on, either dispelling them, or confirming their truth. The chapters that follow the battles address how King Adolphus achieved his legacy. Sweden was a fairly small country with limited resources, so a primary concern was manpower. Chapter 2, Raising the Swedish Army, delves into this issue and how it was resolved. The remaining chapters address other critical innovations that transformed the Swedish army into a major European power. The sections include: Chronology Introduction Prologue 1 The Wars of Gustavus Adolphus Inherited Conflicts An Obsolete Army The Invasion of Livonia The Siege of Riga The Foreign Invasion Threat The Battle of Walhof The Invasion of Prussia and the Battles of Mewe and Hamerstein The Assault on Kasemark The Battle of Dirschau [Page 46] The Blockage and Siege of Danzig The Relief of Stralsund The End of the War in Prussia The Invasion of Pomerania The War in Northern Germany The Battle of Breitenfeld The Battle of Rain-am-Lech The Siege of Alte Feste [Page 79] The Battle of Lutzen 2 Raising the Swedish Army Available Manpower Nobles Conscripts Cavalrymen Naval Officers and Sailors Enlisted Troops Artillerymen Levies Perpetual Soldier's Holdings Gustavus Adolphus's Articles of War 3 Army Organization The Introduction of Higher Formations The Infantry Company The Infantry Squadron or Battalion The Establishment of Permanent Territorial Regiments of Foot The Field Regiments of the 1621-1622 War in Livonia The Defensive Posture of 1623-1624 The Organization of 1625-1626 The Wartime Organization of 1626-1632 The Infantry Brigade The Calvary Company The Life Guard Company and Household Regiment The King's Life Company of Horse and Life Regiment of Horse Colour Regiments Enlisted Units Logistics Color Plates [Page 136iv] 4 Weapons and Equipment Armaments Industry Officers Under-Officers Musketeers Rearmament Pikemen Infantry Armour Swinefeathers Harquebusiers Cuirassiers [Page 178] Light Horse Dragoons Artillerymen Engineers and Sappers Grenadiers Naval Personnel Rapiers [Page 194] Banners Regimental Music Skis 5 Uniforms, Dress and Appearance Military Fashion Uniforms Winter Clothes 6 Tactics and Strategy Tactical Doctrines Gustavus Adolphus's Theoretical Background The Availability of Existing Officers The Swedish Model Infantry Tactics Cavalry Tactics Artillery Tactics Gustavus Adolphus's Thoughts on Tactics, Strategy, and Grand Strategy 7 Intelligence Foreign Intelligence Military Intelligence Counterintelligence Cryptology and Cryptanalysis Principles of Swedish Intelligence The Postal Service 8 The Military Legacy of Gustavus Adolphus Appendix I: The Marching Order of the Swedish Army, September 1631 Appendix II: Order of Battle, Lutzen, 1632 Appendix III: Selected Regiments of Gustavus Adolphus Colour Plate Commentaries Further Reading Bibliography I found the section on Musketeers to be quite interesting. Early in his reign, King Adolphus replaced his infantry's 16-bore snaplock arquebus (musket) with a 10-bore matchlock musket. The 10-bore musket was a heavier barrel, capable of delivering more punch than the 16-bore barrel, easily penetrating personal armor of the day. The matchlock was not new technology compared to the snaplock (flintlock), but Sweden was able to manufacture both the 16-bore barrel and the matchlock to a greater standardization, and thus less expensively. King Adolphus' army, always facing resource issues, found that the matchlock's lower cost (fewer parts), meant they could supply more matchlocks than other more modern designs. The matchlock was also sturdier and much less prone to breaking compared to the snaplock, in addition to minimizing misfires. The more advanced flintlock styles still found their way in service, but in more specialized applications. The contemporary illustrations (drawings, paintings, and woodcuts) support the text, along with black and white photographs of museum, pieces (armour, weapons, etc.). The generous 32 pages of colour plates address the various clothing and flags are well done. All of the color illustrations are accompanied by a detailed commentary that follows the Appendices. I will be ordering Professor Michael Fredholm von Essen's Volume 2 on The Lion From the North that has already been released. Despite clocking in at 304 pages, this an excellent read and a valuable reference. I was able to read it over four evenings. If you own one the previous releases in the Century of the Soldier series, you know what you are getting. If, this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased. My thanks to Helion & Company, Casemate Publishing, and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book. Highly recommended! Frank Landrus, IPMS# 35035

We Killed Yamamoto

Mon, 02/01/2021 - 11:39
Product Image Review Author:  George Cully Osprey Publishing

The planning, execution and consequences of Operation Vengeance - the interception, shoot-down and death of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy and the architect of Japan's surprise attack upon the U.S. Fleet at Pearl Harbor - have generated a sizable literature.  This Osprey title, the 53rd in its Raid Series, is a succinct but comprehensive summary of that material.


Author Si Sheppard begins with a look at U.S. efforts to read Japanese secure message traffic - codes and cyphers - that began to slowly gather momentum soon after World War I, only to be abruptly halted in 1929 by Henry Stimson, President Hoover's new Secretary of State, on the grounds that, as Stimson had famously said, "Gentlemen do not read one another's mail."  Fortunately, an outbreak of realism soon followed, and in the 1930s both the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army made important breakthroughs in intercepting and reading encrypted Japanese military and diplomatic messages.  Unfortunately, their efforts were separate and insufficiently shared, both because of the sensitivity of the subject and, to a sad extent, because of inter-service rivalry.


The shock of Pearl Harbor overcame some of that rivalry, at least as to communications intelligence, and Sheppard deftly outlines its critical contributions to the U.S. Navy's successes in 1942.  Checked at Coral Sea and painfully punished at Midway, the Japanese focused their attention upon the Solomon Islands and what soon became the Battle for Guadalcanal.  It was a close-run thing.  The key was to establish and hold an airfield from which to defend the island and its surrounding sea approaches.  U.S. Marines were able to seize an unfinished Japanese airstrip on Guadalcanal in early August.  Quickly completed and named Henderson Field, it soon hosted a motley force of USMC F4Fs and Navy SBDs and TBFs, along with a handful of AAF Airacobras.  They were joined by two AAF P-38 squadrons in November.  Further Japanese efforts to reinforce and supply its island forces were effectively thwarted, and by year's end the tide had fully turned.  Japan began to quietly withdraw the starving remnants of its forces from the island; the last elements departed in early February 1943.


Even as the Japanese presence faded away, the U.S. moved to turn Guadalcanal into an American bastion.  Henderson Field became a base for bombers and transports.  Two additional fields were opened to host the fighters: USMC airmen and their F4Fs went to Fighter 1, while Fighter 2 supported a mix of USMC and AAF units, including the P-38s of the 339th Fighter Squadron, commanded by then-Captain John Mitchell.  On January 5, he scored his fourth aerial victory--his first while flying a P-38; before the end of the month he had scored twice more to become the newly established 13th Air Force's first ace.


The Japanese recognized that they must retake the initiative, and quickly, if they were to counteract the Allies' growing strength in men and materiel in the Solomons.  Given the stakes involved, Admiral Yamamoto saw it necessary to take personal charge, and in early April he and his staff moved south from his secure base at Truk in the Caroline Islands to Rabaul, about 660 miles north of Guadalcanal.  The response that his staff devised, called Operation I-Go, was complicated, under resourced and hampered by distance and difficult climactic conditions. Unsurprisingly, the results were less than spectacular.  In an effort to encourage his airmen, Yamamoto decided to conduct a personal inspection of the frontline bases just south of Bougainville on April 18.  His administrative assistant dispatched an encrypted message detailing the Admiral's itinerary down to the minute.  What he could not know was that, in addition to its addressees, the message was read by US Navy codebreakers.


Sheppard does an excellent job of describing the actions that followed.  Although the Navy was in charge, it was clear to all concerned that the AAF's P-38s were the only fighters on Guadalcanal with sufficient range to intercept the Admiral's airplane - and even then only if larger external fuel tanks could be borrowed in time from 5th Air Force.  They were.  Major Mitchell was given carte blanche to plan the route and to choose the shooters and their escorts.  He acted.  The team largely depended upon dead reckoning to be at a precise point in time and space over 400 miles from Fighter 2.  They arrived.  Their chance for victory required that Admiral Yamamoto's schedule should be strictly followed.  It was.  Their success demanded superb piloting skills and good marksmanship.  They performed.


To my mind, where Sheppard's text is most rewarding is the objectivity displayed in his analysis of the mission and its aftermath.  The claim for credit regarding the shoot-down became a very controversial topic in the postwar years.  Sheppard doesn't say outright who deserves credit and who doesn't, although he clearly states who is the most credible claimant.  He recounts three of the shooters' descriptions, notes their divergences and then points out a critical fact: none of them were formally debriefed after the mission.  In fact, they subsequently made claims for three Betty bombers and three Zero fighters, and it was only in the 1990s that we learned from a surviving Japanese escort pilot that there were only two bombers shot down that day.  None of the escorts were even hit, let alone lost.  But, in fairness, things seen in the heat of battle might be real.  Or not.  And if you weren't there...


So, this book is being reviewed for a scale modelling organization, and that brings up an important point.  How useful is this book to a modeler?  There are two answers to that.  If you've opened a kit box and you're in need of guidance, then look elsewhere.  There are no drawings or color profiles here.  The photos are very good, but very small.  Instead, I would say that this book offers great value as a motivational tool.  Why, after all, do we build scale models of military aircraft?  Yes, an airplane can approach the beauty of a sculpture in its shape and form.  But an airplane is a machine, and machines are created and used by humans. When we build, do we not honor the courage and skill of the humans who flew these machines, even perhaps without regard to the cause for which they flew?


Thanks to Osprey Publishing for providing a review copy of the book.        


Mon, 02/01/2021 - 11:32
Product Image Review Author:  Ben Morton Brengun

There seems to be a budding trend in the scale modeling world toward the 'one true scale' of 1/144th models and dioramas.  Any number of manufactures have been, for years, been producing some wonderful, small scale armor and aircraft kits. One thing that may have been missing is the ability of the  modelers to place their latest small scale creations into context. Diorama or vignette builders have been somewhat at a disadvantage with the lack of 1/144th scaled vehicles with which to enhance the presentation of their small scale projects.  

We are at a disadvantage no longer.  Brengun, along with some other manufacturers, have been  producing some lovely 1/144th scale for some few days now. Brengun has extensive offerings from which to choose: US / German  staff cars, US jeep, Russian BTR's, GAZ-69, and now a 1/144th scale German Kubelwagen. 

By design these kits are simplicity itself with parts that are in light gray resin, photo-etched accessory bits and clear acetate for windscreens. This kit, along with the others available from Brengun, also include decals. Another nice feature of these 1/144th scale construction kits from Brengun is the inclusion of  two complete models. 

Assembly of the Kubelwagen is simple. The most difficult aspect of assembly is removing the parts from the casting sprues. After attaching the wheels/tires and the photo-etched windscreen frame, license plates, steering wheel and shovel the kit is assembled...all that's left to do is choose a paint scheme. 

The assembly instructions include a facsimile of the parts and three simple steps to assemble the Kubelwagen . One thing that isn't mentioned on the instructions involves the clear acetate for the windscreens. Not a huge problem because the average modeler will figure it out without too much fuss. Another area of note are the decals. Don't get me wrong, the decals are nicely printed and go on well They are printed on a small sheet of backing paper and the decal carrier film covers the entire sheet. Just carefully cut around the decals to remove that excess film and the problem will be solved.

This 1/144th scale Kubelwagen from Brengun is a lovely kit that will enhance anyone's next diorama or vignette. There is more than enough detail provided in this kit that it will and does hold it's own as a stand alone model. Can a 1/144th scale Schwimmwagen be far behind...?

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

Support Your Local Hobby Shop!


Mon, 02/01/2021 - 11:23
Product Image Review Author:  Brian R. Baker ICM



The Polikarpov U-2, later redesignated PO-2 in honor of the designer, Polikarpov, was originally designed as a light training and general purpose biplane, making its first flight in 1928.  Its construction was typical of the period, with mainly wooden construction and fabric covering.  It was produced in very large numbers, starting in the late twenties and production lasted until the early fifties in the Soviet Union and later in other countries.  It was used as a primary trainer, communications aircraft, light transport, reconnaissance type, and even as a crop duster.  Over 30,000 were built, and a number are still flying in Europe and North America.  I wrote a review of this kit last year, and since a new issue has emerged, I'm doing it again. It is a slight different model than the earlier one, and I like biplanes. 



Even though vast numbers of this aircraft were produced, there isn't a lot of reference material readily available on the type.  A book from Kagero entitled Polikarpov PO-2,  published recently in Poland, provides very detailed photos of an aircraft in the Polish Aviation Museum, but no example of colors and markings of other examples of the type.  Some material is available on line, as Wings Pallette has some interesting color schemes.



The instructions for this kit, #72244, are quite similar to the previous issues, although color drawings are provided for four military examples used by the Soviet Air Force during World War II.  The aircraft are illustrated in color, but there is not much information provided as to the specific models, although this kit represents the two seat trainer version and a light transport variant, for which wing mounted cargo pods are provided for two examples. 


The instruction sheets themselves consist of a series of drawings showing the stages of construction.  From the experience of building three of these kits, I would advise following the series of steps they suggest, as this will make basic assembly much easier.  The instructions are very similar to previous ones, and are worth saving for reference.  There is, however, very little historical information provided, on the general type and for the specific example for which decals are provided.  There is a useful sprue diagram, which identifies the many tiny parts that should only be removed as they are used, as they are usually determined to escape if they can.



A very small decal sheet is provided, which is adequate for the four examples for which drawings are provided.  The decals do not require trimming, and go on easily.  They are a plus with this kit.


The Kit:

The kit includes more than 65 parts molded in grey styrene, along with 6 clear plastic parts.  Other than paint, the only thing you will need is wire for rigging, as this plane does use a lot of this.  There is a small amount of flash that needs to be removed, and some parts, notably the wings and tail surfaces, seem to be very thin, but they are probably accurate.  The only thing I can think of for improvement is that the struts could have been molded so that the feeders were at the ends of the struts rather than in the middle.  These require some pretty fancy trimming, but this is not impossible.



Assembly is very straightforward and logical.  The cockpit interior is nicely done, and the seats attach to the floorboard, which is part of the lower wing assembly.  The seats themselves are a bit fiddly, consisting of 6 pieces for each seat, and I ended up using superglue rather than regular plastic cement.  Once the fuselage halves were joined,  I filled the cockpit openings with  foam rubber so that I didn't have to mask  them off. The basic assembly seemed to me to be better than most biplane kits, and all of the struts fitted perfectly into their respective receptacles.


Painting and Finishing:


I would certainly suggest painting the airframe and detail parts, especially the engine, before assembly, as there is some very intricate material here.  I did the ski equipped light transport version, which was white above with light blue undersides.  Some of the color information in the drawings is a little confusing, but it isn't too hard to figure it out, especially if you check on-line sources. 


Detailing and Rigging:

Once the plane is basically assembled, some of the small detail parts need to be added. This includes  parts of the control system which are mounted on the fuselage,  two venturi tubes, and the engine, which consists of  10 parts, not including the propeller and the faceplate they say to use for the ski equipped version.  This unit does not show up in any photos I've seen of the airplane, so I did not include it on my model.


Once the parts were all in place, the final step is the wire rigging.  The instructions are clear as to where the wires go, and it is fortunate that only the rudder cables are parallel, with the others being single wires.  I used straightened silver colored electronic wire for rigging, and the whole process only took about an hour and a half.   When handling this kit, you have to be pretty careful, although if you use superglue on the wing struts, you should have no serious problems there.


Conclusions and Recommendations:

This kit is a very good one, and even with moderate skills, it is certainly buildable, and even without the rigging, it will look good on the shelf. I prefer rigging, however, as the wires are certainly a necessary part of the aircraft.  Don't avoid this one because it is a biplane.  It is a very important part of aviation history, and certainly deserves to be in any collection of 1/72 scale aircraft. I have six built already, three ICM and three KP kits, and I definitely prefer the ICM kit.  Highly recommended.


Thanks to ICM and IPMS Phil Peterson for the review sample.

F-20A/B/N Tigershark landing gear (FMK)

Mon, 02/01/2021 - 11:18
Product Image Review Author:  David Horn Scale Aircraft Conversions

Scale Aircraft Conversions (SAC) manufactures white metal landing gear that is a direct replacement for the kits plastic landing gear. The metal landing gear offer greater strength over the kit parts as well as having most of the mold lines removed. At times the metal will be bent out of shape but that is easily corrected by bending it back to the correct shape.


This set includes twelve parts, the two main gear struts, retract & bracing arms, two versions of nose struts, one compressed strut and one extended. All the replacement parts are exact copies of the kit parts which really helped on my kit since the nose strut was either broken off or missing (short shot in molding). You can see in the kit v.s. SAC parts the missing section on Freedoms part (extended strut).


SAC gear does require some cleanup for the rare cases there are still seam lines. You many also sand and prime the struts to remove some of the rough texture that appears in some areas. Installing the new gear requires CA glue or non-traditional modeling adhesives. SAC recommends that the gear is for experienced modelers that are familiar to working with metal gear.


When you need strong landing gear that will not let your model down, SAC has you covered. I would like to thank Scale Aircraft Conversions for this review sample.

AN/ALE 39/47 Countermeasures Dispensers

Mon, 02/01/2021 - 11:14
Product Image Review Author:  David Horn Brengun

The AN/ALE-39 & 47 Counter Measure Dispenser System (CMDS) carries a variety of flares, chaff and radar jamming expendables. Typically, these dispensers are carried on modern helicopters, transport aircraft and fighter aircraft. The AN/AAR-47 Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS) can be set automatically to initiate flare launch.


Brungen produces a wide range of unique resin and photo-etch accessories in 1/32, 1/48, 1/72 as well as 1/144.

This item covers a unique subject that will assist outfitting a wide variety of aircraft. There are resin chaff/flare dispensers produced for a specific subject complete with their entire mounting per subject. This accessory will allow the modeler to add it to kits where fidelity is poor or completely missing as well as add it on aircraft kits that a version specific resin update is not available.


Packaged thin film bag with cardboard backing, there is one set containing ten identical dispensers with photo etch bezels. There is a very slight texture that can be seen in the photos but that will vanish after any sanding or after paint is applied. The holes for the flare/chaff are shallow but deep enough to hold paint so those features stand out. There is a single sheet instruction indicating the hole size to cut that will accept the resin dispenser.


Adding these to an existing model or scratch building pylons or custom mounts, these dispensers will be a lifesaver. As standard practice, check your references on what color to paint the openings. For comparison, you can see on the Hasegawa F/A-18G which being a newly released kit have nicely detailed dispensers. For older kits or ones that the dispensers do not exist, or have the wrong quantity, this set is a must. This set specifies modern USN or USMC aircraft but check your references to see if it will match other aircraft in different branches of the military. Special thanks to Brungen for this very nice set.