You would be hard pressed to call Grumman's C-2 Greyhound anything other than "utilitarian", but this gull grey and white painted machine holds a special place in my heart as it has enabled me to experience the thrill and violence of catapult shots and arrested landings from the decks of US Navy carriers. I have been fortunate enough to experience two of each. A trap aboard the USS Kitty Hawk off the coast of New South Wales and a trap aboard the USS George Washington off the coast of Western Australia with the catapult shots from The Kitty Hawk off Guam in the Pacific Ocean and the George Washington in the Indian Ocean off Western Australia. So what is it like? Let me say that your first experience of both is an absolute surprise. No matter how much others tell you what to expect, you are still stunned at the absolute violence of it all. The second time around the violence is still there but knowing what to expect; you are well and truly prepared and can relish it.
The Sturminfanteriegeschutz 33b or StulG 33b is a fascinating vehicle. The heavy street fighting at Stalingrad in the autumn of 1942 resulted in the troops' urgent request to mount the 150mm slG.33 infantry howitzer in an enclosed armoured vehicle. Within a few weeks of receiving an order, Alkett had fitted the slG.33/1 to twelve repaired StuGIII chassis and built a very crude box superstructure to protect the crew. The twelve reached Stalingrad by the end of October. A month later, the second and final batch was issued, but by this time the city was cut off so they were used as part of the relief force. Of these, only seven vehicles survived the winter and were used throughout 1943. Production was not continued as the decision had been made to build a purpose-designed vehicle using the Panzer IV chassis. This new vehicle would eventually roll out as the 'StuPa' or often misnamed 'Brummbär'. Dragon first released a StulG 33b in the early 1990s. The model was considered good for its time and was recently re-issued by Dragon as an 'Orange Box' value kit. Now we have an all-new version with no parts taken from the 1990 release. Superficially, this new release can be viewed as three kits.
The Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton, has acquired a British Aerospace Harrier GR9A serial number ZD433. The aircraft will be on public display from 22 February to 21 May 2012 providing a rare opportunity to see a modern fighter aircraft in battle condition. This aircraft is the most recent acquisition to the Museum's collection and has been selected specifically because of its war weary condition, complete with numerous mission markings and dirt and dust from the deserts of Afghanistan. ZD433 was one of the last British Harriers in service in Afghanistan operating from Kandahar with 800 Naval Air Squadron and also jointly with the RAF. Most of the Harrier fleet returning for the last time from operations in Afghanistan were overhauled, repainted and repaired and sold to the USA, but somehow, ZD433 missed this treatment.
Green and yellow or green and brown? There have been few debates raging on modelling bulletin boards that generate more polarised views than these 11 th Panzer Division Panthers photographed in Bavaria in 1945. I have spent many hours agonising over the few remaining photographs, trying to decide which is correct. My conclusion, based on the minimal contrast between the light and dark areas on the tank is that it was green and brown. I can almost hear some of you groaning as you are reading this. Anyway, I shall tell you a little bit about the model. Dragon's 'Smart Kit' series started with this Panther back in 2006. The idea was that everything you needed to build an outstanding model should be in the box. An excellent model of the Panther can be built from this kit, but as ever, improvements can be made. Assembly begins with the lower hull. Here individual torsion bars are installed which can be adjusted to suit the builder's requirements. The design of each torsion bar varies depending on where it is installed, so careful noting of part numbers is essential.
When Wingnut Wings first announced their 1:32 scale Rumpier C.IV, it took most pundits by surprise. Despite the success of the aircraft in its reconnaissance, artillery spotting and light bombing roles, it had not been a popular subject with kit manufacturers. WNW has now given us the ultimate examples of this versatile aircraft with separate boxings of both "early" and "late" production machines. Inside the "early" edition, we find 13 sprues of plastic, one of which is clear to provide for the windscreen and camera lens. These are supplemented by a fret of photo-etched parts and a couple of decal sheets that allow you to choose between five interesting aircraft. A well-appointed interior is essential in a two-seater and the Rumpler is no exception. More than 30 parts make up this area, which includes camera and radio choices, Goerz bomb sight, associated bombs, and photo-etched safety belts. The separate interior framework will perfectly envelop these items and as shown in the dry-run, everything slots easily in place between the two fuselage halves.