Monday, February 18, 2013
Plastic model building has been around for many decades. Over time, it has evolved into an art of creating very detailed and accurate miniatures. With the advent of such accessories as photo-etched and resin parts, different types of markings and well-researched references, it has become a very involved hobby that can produce some stunning results. Inspired by a family friend, I was introduced to the hobby at an early age. I spent most of my time and money, together with my brother Tony, building practically every model that Aurora, Airfix and Revell released. Our efforts produced some rather crude results at first, most of which met their end at the hands of my pellet gun or some well-placed fireworks. The interest in the hobby never died, and we continued to improve our building and painting techniques, buying matt-finish paints, airbrushes and other new tools as we discovered them.
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Saturday, February 16, 2013
The Russian T-55 is one of the most prolific main battle tanks ever produced. A direct descendent of the infamous and prevalent Russian T-34, the T-55 was first introduced in the 'cold war' era of the 1950s. By the time production ended in the early 1980s, an estimated 50.000 examples had been built under license by Russian allies such as Poland, Czechoslovakia and China. Many versions and modifications were developed, both by the original Russian manufacturer and by licensed producers throughout the world. Many different camouflage and paint schemes have been displayed on the T-55 through the years, such as during the Balkan wars and the two Iraq wars, making the T-55 a consistently interesting modelling subject. Given the T-55's simplicity, reliability, and its powerful 100mm gun, it is not surprising that many T-55s are still in service today, as seen in the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Anyone with even a remote familiarity with the beginning of World War II has heard of blitzkrieg or "Lightning War." This concept, introduced to the world by Hitler's Germany, is defined by coordinated and concentrated attacks by both air and land forces. In specific reference to land forces, the blitzkrieg battle doctrine requires that infantry move along with tanks to exploit and secure breaches opened by the punch of the armored force. In order for this doctrine to be tested and employed, it was recognized that infantry transport needed to be advanced from horses to another mode capable of keeping pace with the new7 fast-moving armor. This need was filled by a new type of vehicle based on the Hanomag 3-ton chassis (SdKfz 11) and was developed into the Mittlerer Gepanzerter Mannschaftskraftwagen (medium armored transport vehicle) during the mid-thirties. The Sonderkraftfahrzeug (SdKfz) 251 or "Mittlerer Schutzenpanzer-wragen, (SPW)" as it became known, was one of the most numerous vehicles in the German arsenal during World War II.
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Friday, February 15, 2013
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The Messerschmitt Bf 110 was undoubtedly one of the most significant aircraft of World War II, yet it was branded a failure as early as the end of the Battle of Britain. In those summer months of 1940, Messerschmitt Bf 110s on long-range escort missions suffered heavy losses to Spitfires and Hurricanes. Eventually, Messerschmitt Bf 110s had to be escorted themselves by the more nimble Bf 109s. The Battle of Britain proved that the Messerschmitt Bf 110 was no match for an agile single-engine fighter in a dogfight. However, the fact that this shortcoming was not foreseen prior to the Battle of Britain was not the fault of the Bf 110. Luftwaffe tacticians should have anticipated the consequences of pitting the slower and less manoeuvrable Bf 110 against modern British fighters, especially after first-hand encounters in the previous months over the skies of France.
at 6:20 PM
Thursday, February 14, 2013
The Messerschmitt Bf 109 was built in greater numbers than any other fighter aircraft in history, with over 30,500 Bf 109s produced. Its service started with the Condor Legion in the Spanish Civil War during the 1930s and it was still in use in Czechoslovakia in the late 1950s under the guise of the Avia S.199. The Spanish postwar Bf 109 powered by the Rolls-Royce Merlin 45 engine, the Buchon HA-1112-M1L, did not retire until 1967. However, the Bf 109 is best known for its role with the Luftwaffe throughout World War II, most famously during the Battle of Britain. The Bf 109 was an all-metal, low-wing monoplane that signalled the beginning of a new era for fighter aircraft. Willy Messerschmitt's 'Augsburg Eagle' was arguably the best fighter in the world when it entered service in 1937. His design was flexible enough to cope with continual and often dramatic developments over the next seven years.
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The M3 and M5 Stuart light tanks make an ideal subject for modelers interested in World War II tanks. The Stuart light tanks saw action in nearly every theater of the war - the deserts of North Africa in 1941, the jungles and islands of the Pacific Theater in 1941-45, the Eastern Front in 1941-45, and the campaigns in Northwest Europe in 1944-45. They served in nearly all of the Allied armies, and captured examples served in small numbers in the German and Japanese armies. As a result, there is a vast assortment of markings and subjects. Likewise, there is a wide range of kits of these tanks, with at least three basic families of kits in 1/35 scale, several more in resin, additional plastic kits in smaller scales and a multitude of aftermarket enhancements. When it first entered production in March 1941, the M3 light tank used a riveted, hexagonal turret. So far, this type has not been released in kit form. The second and more common type of M3, manufactured from April 1941, used a similar hexagonal turret, but of welded construction. This is represented in the Academy M3 "Money" kit. This version was the first to see combat with British units during Operation Crusader in North Africa in November 1941, and a month later by the US Provisional lank Group in the Philippines.
at 2:20 AM
Monday, February 4, 2013
Born in Scotland in 1862, David Henderson studied engineering at Glasgow University, and on qualifying joined the Army. He passed out at Sandhurst and was gazetted into the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, joining his regiment in Cape Town in August 1883. Although the main Zulu wars were over, there were several minor skirmishes and Henderson saw action during the following year. He was a popular and much-liked officer who entered all aspects of regimental life, including coaching the Argylls at rowing, earning them the nickname 'the Marine Highlanders'. Henderson was gifted artistically and organised amateur theatrical performances for which he even painted the scenery himself. Back in Britain in 1890, Henderson was promoted to Captain and attended a Staff College course at Camberley. In 1895, he married Henrietta Caroline, daughter of Henry Robert Dundas and grand-daughter of the First Baron Napier of Magdala (of Indian Mutiny fame).
The combat career of the F4U Corsair stretched longer than almost any other World War II fighter aircraft. The first of more than 12,000 Corsairs were produced in 1940, and the last of these bent-wing birds were still doing battle above Central America nearly 30 years later. The Vought Aircraft company had a strong association with the US Navy during the inter-war decades, but their focus in the 1930s was observation aircraft, trainers and seaplanes. In response to a US Navy specification issued in February 1938, Vought submitted two designs. With the second of these carrier-based fighter proposals, Vought adopted the simple strategy of building the smallest possible airframe around the most powerful available engine. At the same time, Pratt & Whitney was developing the supercharged R-2800 radial engine. Radial engines had recently lost favour to the sleeker inline configuration, but the US Navy preferred the ruggedness and simplicity of the radial arrangement. Vought therefore designed their new V-166B around the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 powerplant.
at 8:37 PM
Saturday, February 2, 2013
Designed as a pre-war racer, the Morane Saulnier Type N sacrificed nearly everything for speed, (just over 100 mph was blisteringly fast in 1913). Built for straight-line speed, stability and manoeuvrability characteristics suffered. The ‘N’ were a handful to fly, but was fast for its time. When war broke out the following year, aircraft were used for observation and proved invaluable in that role. Shortly thereafter, the need yo deny the enemy the benefits of aerial observation became important. The Germans soon introduced the Fokker Eindecker with its single synchronized machine gun firing straight ahead through the propeller. While lacking a synchronized gun of their own, the French began experimenting with armoured propellers designed to deflect bullets fired through the propeller arc. First tried on the parasol wing Morane Saulnier Type L, bullet deflectors were soon fitted to the propellers of the Type Ns, which had been pressed into service as fast scouts.
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