Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Military Illustrated Modeller Issue 006

Schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 654 were the first operational unit to be issued with the Jagdpanther in May 1944. Following training in France, the second and third companies went into action in Normandy in July. The combination of the Panther's proven chassis; good armour protection and the awesome 88mm 171 armament should have ensured that this new tank destroyer was an immediate success. The reality was very different with the overburdened steering gears and final drives failing with alarming regularity. The maintenance troops worked round the clock to keep their Jagdpanthers operational. In addition to mechanical issues, the Normandy bocage with its narrow lanes and impenetrable hedges severely restricted the effectiveness of the Jagdpanther. Combat reports suggest that targets were often observed but not engaged, as the crews were unable to turn their vehicles in the narrow French lanes.

Military Illustrated Modeller Issue 005

Hawker's Seahawk was the Royal Navy's first successful single seat jet fighter, replacing the unsatisfactory Supermarine Attacker. It showed itself to be a good ground attack aircraft and participated in the 1956 Suez Crisis. The only 1:72 scale HobbyBoss aircraft kits that I have had anything to do with up until now are those quick-build WWII single engine fighters. They are a bit 'hit and miss', quality wise, like the Mk.VB Spitfire with a canopy about 3mm wider than the fuselage and no gear doors. Some others were pretty good but still basic, usually lacking in cockpit and wheel well detail. I had read somewhere that this Seahawk kit was a quantum leap so when it turned up in my local I shelled out the readies. The price seemed very good if the quality was reasonable, but I was not expecting what I got. My favourite plastic manufacturer is MPM/Special Hobby. They have released several versions of the Seahawk in 1:72 scale, along with Airfix many years ago. The MPM effort is all plastic but can still be built up into a good model while the Special Hobby kit has an excellent resin/PE cockpit and a host of under-wing stores. No need to mention the Airfix kit here.

Military Illustrated Modeller Issue 004

The Panzer IV was the Second World War's most widely manufactured and deployed tank and served on practically every front, from the Atlantic coast to the outskirts of Moscow, from its deployment to the very end of the conflict. It went through many changes; hull, weaponry, fixtures and fittings all evolved to try to meet the requirements of manufacture and deployment. The hull and running gear also served in various configurations as the basis for many specialised vehicles such as the Wirbelwind, Ostwind and Möbelwagen anti-aircraft tanks, the Nashorn tank-destroyer, Hummel and Brummbär howitzers and the StuGIV assault gun and others. It's a fascinating design and there have been many kits made of the type. Arguably the best 1:35 kits on current release are the new-generation productions by Dragon which feature some amazingly refined mouldings and authentic surface detail. You can see the recent PzlV auf.D up-gunned in the next AFV issue of MiM and we will be building the new Wirbelwind for a feature.

Military In Scale 04/2011

Whenever the subject of my job comes up, I always seem to find myself explaining that not all models that I build are 'Airfix' kits; in much the same way that every pen is a 'Bic' and every vacuum a 'Hoover', most people know of plastic model kits only by the name 'Airfix'. Over the years I've followed their progress, their ups and downs and their recent rebirth with some interest and have been saddened and delighted by the twists and turns in their story, in equal measure. Thank goodness then that over the last couple of years, the story has had more ups than downs! This issue sees me building the latest kit to be released by this famous company. Airfix have made no secret of their desire to be 'the' company that everyone associates with the creation of Spitfire kits and so the release of a new model in 1/48 came as no surprise - indeed, it would perhaps have been more surprising if one hadn't appeared! How great then that the kit in question, a clipped-wing Mk.XII, is so nice and so much fun to build?!

Military In Scale 03/2011

By the time you read these words, Christmas will have arrived and departed and you would have received I hope, all the kits you wished for in your 'Letter to Santa'. However, that said, just before the festivities began, I received the one Christmas present that (almost) any Napoleonic fan could wish for, namely a parcel containing the latest Metal Modeles releases. Even taking into account the usual high standard of Bruno Leibovitz's products, I was more than overjoyed by his selection of subjects, with a mounted Carabinier officer along with a foot figure representing a trumpeter from the same regiment, and three other foot figures. As always with Metal Modeles, they are all cast in white metal that just require careful removal of mould lines and a little filler here and there to close any small gaps, I usually find that gap-fill-ing superglue will do the job.

Military In Scale 02/2011

We were into November again and it was time to pack the van and make our annual trip to the International Centre at Telford for IPMS UK's annual Scale Modelworld model show and the all-important competition. The show just seems to get bigger and this year we see that the centre is in the process of being extended with the addition of another hall and I understand that Scale Modelworld will be spreading into the new hall in 2011. Again this year, the show fell on Remembrance Sunday and on Sunday morning at 11 o'clock a bugle echoed around the International Centre and the halls fell still and quiet for the two minutes silence. The only sound was the hum of the heating fans. It was a very moving moment during a busy weekend. Saturday was amazingly busy. Queues of traffic on the approaches to the venue built up early and the International Centre car parks were full before the doors opened to the public. Reduced parking because of the building work didn't help the situation. Traders reported good business on Saturday and although quieter than Saturday as usual, Sunday was very busy too. It is very encouraging to see that our hobby is still attracting lots of interest, especially considering the economic climate.

Military In Scale 01/2011

Dragon provides all of the details necessary for a modeller to build an accurate 1/350 scale model of the USS Independence CVL-22, all in one box. Modellers will not need to seek out extra details or replace parts to build an authentic representation. The list of accessories included with the model is extensive: There are six realistic vehicles (two 1/4-ton 4x4 trucks and four tractor tugs), eighteen authentically posed figures (eight ground crewmen and ten aviators), a full set of photo-etched metal parts, and eighteen aircraft (in three different aircraft types). The slide-mould technology enables a one-piece hull and flight deck with delicate details for such a size of aircraft carrier (model length 542 mm) and user-friendly construction through the reduction of large assemblies. The modeller will have a mightily impressive display when Dragon's generous array of accessories is displayed upon it!! This is a truly one-stop solution for a famous and important aircraft carrier that you won't want to miss!

Military In Scale 12/2010

Times flies as once again, a thought that flicked through our minds more than once as we packed our cars and made our way to Folkestone for Euro Militaire. Held during the third weekend of September, the organisers always seem to be able to pick better weather than most summer air shows, having a lovely sunny weekend once again. This year was the 25th Anniversary of the event and though I felt that the 25th occasion was rather muted in terms of celebration, the show itself was a great success. The outdoor displays were still present but no sign of the German tanks and other full size AFVs this time. Inside the halls, the usual traders were there and appeared to be doing well. It was especially busy on Saturday morning around all of the trade stands, large numbers of boxes being seen loaded into plenty of cars at the end of the afternoon.

Military In Scale 10/2010

Hello everyone - welcome to the October issue of MIS. As mentioned last month, it really is amazing to see how quickly 2010 is passing by; it must be my age, but the years just seem to flash by with the blink of an eye. I'll be buying Christmas presents next! Anyway, time based musings aside, what do we have for you this month? If there's a theme to this issue it is one of size; we have five build features this month and all of them feature large, impressive vehicles, packed full of detail. Murat Ozgul gets us started this time around with his rendition of the awesome Tamiya JSU-152. A beautiful kit to begin with, Murat's 'step-by-step' feature will show you how to get the best from the contents of the kit using an arsenal of cutting-edge finishing techniques and materials. I then get a go in the hot seat as I finally complete a 1/35 tracked vehicle, my first in well over twelve months! Dragon's Nashorn is another fine kit and one that offers plenty of scope when it comes to the painting and weathering of the parts supplied. Though not the easiest kit to build (the instructions are more of a hindrance than a help!), perseverance will reward you with a very fine model of this vehicle and one that will easily form the centrepiece of any collection.

Model Military International 04/2013

The development and use of armoured cars by German forces had their beginnings at the start of World War I in 1914. In keeping with the Schlieffen Plan for the attack on France on the Western Front, the bulk of the German forces were to invade Belgium and then move into France. The Belgian Army, a fraction of the size of the German forces, nonetheless put up stiff resistance, delaying the German advance. During the German siege of Antwerp in 1914, the Belgians mounted a series of attacks and raids on the besieging troops, using light armoured cars to disrupt local areas in the German positions, conduct reconnaissance and capture prisoners for interrogation. The primary vehicle used was the Minerva armoured car, a chassis of the Belgian Minerva automobile fitted with an open riveted armoured body made of 4mm plate and mounting an 8mm Hotchkiss light machine gun in an armoured shield. Most of the cars also carried riflemen for protection and as marksmen.

Model Military International 03/2013

The M24 light tank was one of the finest tank designs to come out of the WWII period. And yet, such was the speed of technological advances and changes in tactics that in just a few years this excellent light tank had been bypassed by even more advanced designs, just as the late war F7F Tigercat and F8F Bearcat arrived too late for WWII and were obsolete just a very few years later. The impetus for designing a new light tank during the war came from the realisation that the pre-war designs had reached the end of their developmental lives. The M3 and M5/M5A1 light tanks had been a central part of American armoured tactics from the 1930s. The light tanks were considered part of a combined offensive, serving as breakthrough manoeuvring forces and supporting attacks by the heavier tanks to follow the initial assaults. However, events in North Africa soon proved that the US light tanks (and indeed the light tanks of all countries) were unable to withstand enemy anti-tank fire, and their 37mm main guns were also ineffective against most enemy combat vehicles. Light tank losses increased and crew losses were even worse, as damaged tanks could be rebuilt, but wounded or killed crews had to be replaced.

Model Military International 02/2013

Like a number of smaller European countries in the 1930s, Hungary possessed an armaments industry capable of building many types of armoured vehicles, but lacked the engineering and technical experience to develop its own designs. So, in the mid-1930s, Hungary began inquiries for foreign armour designs they could acquire and build under license. Several countries had various models of tanks and armoured cars available, and much of Europe was rearming. In England, Hungarian expatriate Nicholas Straussler, who was working for the Alvis firm, designed an armoured car that became the 39M Csaba in Hungarian service. But the Hungarians needed tanks, and they negotiated from two countries the licenses to build vehicles already existing. Both the primary types were modified by Hungary in production and taken beyond the original specifications.

Model Military International 01/2013

Modellers of a certain age will probably associate Morris with small cars from the inter-war years until the 1970s including the Morris Oxford, Morris Minor, Morris Mini and even the infamous Morris Marina. However, Morris Motors' parent company, The Nuffield Organisation, also boasted an essential role during the Second World War building Spitfires at an enormous new purpose-built plant at Castle Bromwich, as well as designing and building armoured cars and tanks. Even at the outbreak of war in 1939, it was clear that British tanks were too lightly armed and armoured to deal with the new generation of armour deployed by Germany. By 1943, Allied armies advancing through Italy encountered stubborn obstacles on the Siegfried Line, and there were no answers available in the current British arsenal. This led to a Joint Memorandum for a heavy assault tank with sufficient armour and firepower to clear such obstacles and break through heavily fortified lines.

Aviation Classic Issue 08

During World War One Germany used Zeppelin airships and later Gotha aircraft to drop bombs on targets in Britain. These attacks included the serious bombing of coastal towns and London itself. War had been brought to civilians who were far removed from the battlefields. It was the Gotha raids on London that spurred the government of the clay to improve aerial defences of the capital and to retaliate in some manner. Work was quickly completed on suitable long-range bombers but before the newly-formed Royal Air Force could take the war to the heart of Germany the Armistice was signed and peace returned. In the years of peace during the 1920s there was no urgent requirement for new long-range bombers, but light bombers were introduced to quell any skirmishes that arose in the British Empire, these were mainly in the Middle East and on the Indian frontier.

Aviation Classics Issue 07

When the prototype Vulcan VX770 first appeared at Farnborough in 1952, it rightly stole the show! A four-engined Delta-winged jet bomber, it represented a massive leap in technology over its famous Lancaster predecessor which had been a war-winning aircraft only seven years earlier - the Vulcan could fly more than twice as fast, more than twice as high and more than twice as far. Considering that it soldiered on in operational service into the 1980s, the fact that it was conceived in 1947 shows how advanced its design was for the time. Specification B35/46 was issued in January of that year, and called for a high-performance, long-range, jet-powered bomber capable of carrying and delivering a nuclear weapon. Roy Chadwick's early design work was submitted just four months later, though sadly this great British designer never lived to see the Vulcan fly. Once into RAF service the type certainly made its mark, with, for such a large aircraft, performance and manoeuvrability that can still take your breath away to this day.

Aviation Classics Issue 06

The Battle of Britain came as no surprise to those in command. Following the declaration of war on 3 September 1939, it was just a matter of time before Nazi-Germany made a bid for further territorial gains. Despite assurances given to Britain in the years leading up to war, Adolf Hitler had a plan for a great Germany that ruled Europe. That he wanted Britain to be his partner rather than his enemy is a matter of record, but the terms suggested could never be palatable to Britain or any other western European nation. While the government of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain debated the reality of another World War, Germany was rearming. However, some politicians and industrialists were firmly convinced that a major war was a matter of a few years away. Those who were of this opinion got on with gearing up for combat.

Aviation Classics Issue 05

It was a balmy autumnal morning at RAF Swinderby in Lincolnshire on 17 October 1984. That was the date of my passing out parade from basic recruit training in the Royal Air Force, and while we were promised the customary flypast, you weren't told what aircraft it would be carried out by. I was hoping for something 'tasty'. After the reviewing officer had arrived and taken up his position on the dais, we were ordered to present arms for the General Salute. As I positioned my rifle and its shiny bayonet right in front of me, I heard a great roar and caught sight of two Lightnings flashing overhead - what a welcome into the RAF! And so it would seem to be that, while I never served on a Lightning unit, all the times that I came into contact with the superb jet fighter would be memorable.