Monday, February 18, 2013

Small-Scale Armour Modelling

Over the years I've gradually built up a good collection of modelling tools and equipment, and those I describe here are relevant to all types of scale modelling, not just small-scale armour. Some specialist tools can be expensive and these include things such as lathes, milling machines and others but so far I've managed without these. They can also take up quite a bit of space, often more than most people without a dedicated workshop or hobby room have and so for both these reasons I won't be covering them in this book. Resin casting materials could be considered advanced or specialist, but beginner casting sets are available at reasonable prices and they don't require much room to use. With these you can make multiple copies of simple homemade parts without the need for expensive casting equipment, and so this is something that I will be looking at in more detail later in the book.

Painting and Finishing Techniques

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.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Modelling The T-55 Main Battle Tank

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.

Modelling the SdKfz 251 Halftrack

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.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Modelling the Panther Tank

The Panther tank has often been referred to as the best tank of World War II. This claim has been made based on the tank's combination of mobility, firepower and armour. Development of this vehicle came as a direct result of requests from the troops for a tank that could deal with the heavy Soviet armour being encountered on the Eastern Front. Initially Daimler-Benz was awarded the contract for the manufacture of the Panther in March 1942. This decision was later overturned and the contract was awarded to MAN in May 1942. This was based partly on the fact that the Daimler-Benz tank required the design of a new turret that would delay its introduction. The MAN chassis, however, utilized a turret design that had already been developed by Rheinmetall, allowing it to enter production quicker. The Rheinmetall turret housed the 7.5cm KwK L/70 that would be with the Panther for its entire production run.

Modelling The Messerschmitt Bf 110

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.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Modelling the Messerschmitt Bf-109B/C/D/E

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.

Modelling the M3-M5 Stuart Light Tank

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.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Aviation Classic Issue 4

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).

Modelling the F4U Corsair

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.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Flying Scale Models 07/2011

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.

Modelling Scale Aircraft

Building scale model aircraft is an absorbing pastime that can encompass a broad range of interests and skills. A proficiently created scale model can vividly evoke a key moment in history, and be an attractive addition to a mantelpiece or display cabinet. Despite competition from hi-tech leisure pursuits and the spiralling cost of mainstream manufacturing, the hobby of scale aircraft modelling has reached a pinnacle of variety and quality. Thanks to new short-run plastic injection moulding technologies and the superiority of resin details, modellers in the 21st century can build impressive replicas of almost any military aircraft that has ever taken to the sky. With the emergence of the internet, scale modellers now have access to technical and historical resources that earlier generations could only dream of. It has also put them in real-time contact with other modellers and historians across the globe. For all of these reasons, there has never been a better time to build plastic models.