Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Workbench Miniatures - The Garden of Remembrance

Though I had spent an enormous amount of time studying images of this famous machine that I'd found on the Internet, I dreamed that one day I would get to see the real Panther and be able to examine it in far greater detail; little did I know that that opportunity would come far sooner than I had ever imagined... Every year, as a member of the Kempense Modelbouw Klub (KMK), I try and attend their Scale World show, which sometimes allows some of the visitors to travel to the Ardennes to see many of the sites and museums that litter that part of the world. In 2011 I was already booked to attend the show and so I thought I would chance my arm and ask if it was possible to deviate from their plans and take an additional road trip. To cut a long story short I managed to 'convince' some of my Belgian friends to travel to Houfallize to see 'my' Panther and so on the Saturday of the show weekend, Staf Snyers, Per Olav Lund, Attila Baranyai and myself, fought a number of tricky hangovers to travel south to the Ardennes to examine and photograph a Panther.

Workbench Miniatures - One Man's Junk

Over the many years that I've been a modelling enthusiast, my overriding interests have been military in nature. From aircraft to armoured vehicles, dioramas to miniature figurines, I've covered almost every base imaginable - and plenty more besides! Sure, I've dabbled in more 'civilian' areas, building racing cars, spaceships, motorcycles and trucks, but more often than not, these have been merely a passing fancy, an enjoyable detour from the path to being a better 'military' modeller. Well, that is until recently, when my interests started to change. The main attraction to being a 'military' modeller, was always the weathering that could be applied to the models. They no longer needed to be clean and tidy, toy-like objects. They could instead, be scaled-down representations of real machines, dirt covered and well-used. I loved the idea that I could represent the world around me in miniature and that fuelled my enthusiasm and determination to build more and more realistic models. Then something happened: I realised that I could also do this with non-military subjects! I could build machines seen in use around me, day in, day out and still be able to indulge in the weathering practices that I so enjoyed. I had, to all intents and purposes, found modelling nirvana!

AirArchive Book 3 - Aircraft of WWII (Part 1)

Although it was not the last military biplane to be designed and built in USA, Boeing's Stearman 'Kaydet' will be remembered as the last to go into production. It was remarkable too, as the first aircraft to meet the specifications of both US Army and US Navy - never before had the two services, with their strong rivalries, completely reconciled their differences in requirements. The 'Kaydet' was a biplane in the classic American style, with its radial engine (strange that it was never cowled -maybe for serviceability considerations), minimum upper dihedral and heavy stagger. Also characteristically American were the large cockpits with a high seat position, necessitating ample windscreens, long travel undercarriage and a beautifully smooth exterior and well finished. Developed from the NS-1 of 1934, the Lycoming powered PT-13 appeared two years later. Twenty-six machines were delivered to the Army, followed, in 1937, by 92 PT-13As, with slightly increased power and different instrumentation. Another increase in power distinguished the PT-13B, 255 of which were built in 1940 to meet the demands of an expanding training programme. Six PT-13As were re-engined to become -13Cs. The same 220 h.p. Lycoming engine was chosen for the PT-13D (Navy N2S-5), of which 1,768 were built, the majority going to the Navy.

AirArchive Book 2 - Aircraft of the 1920-1939 'Golden Age'

Arrival of two stubby biplanes at Duxford in July 2001 created a sensation at The Fighter Collection's annual Flying Legends airshow. From the time they were unpacked from a well-worn container and quickly assembled by a team of dedicated warbird enthusiasts out of Chino in California, they became unique stars in one of the best of that year's air shows. The single seat F3F-2 was one of four reproductions made over the latter years of the eighties by Herb Tischler's Texas Airplane Company while the two-seater was the original G-32A, fully restored as first made in 1936. Leader of the team was Steve Hinton who runs Fighter Rebuilders at that exciting haven of Chino. Watching Steve give each of the flying barrels a close inspection while they were given a complete spray wax and polish treatment by supporters became an object lesson for onlookers, more used to camouflage and matt metal. Not for a long time had the long inspection torch or the napkin trailing from a hip pocket been seen on a British flightline. Even the hardened fans of Duxford must have felt that America had taken over, at least for a short time.

AirArchive Book 1 - WWI German

During the first months of World War One, the introduction and development of aircraft armament had high priority. At the start of hostilities, Germany did not have a suitable lightweight machine gun for use in aircraft, but modified infantry weapons were soon in use from a variety of makeshift gun mountings.
It was appreciated that a machine gun firing forward in the direction of flight would be the best solution and this gave rise to the appearance of armed pusher air-craft. Another approach to the problem was the construction of twin-engined aircraft, since the observer/gunner in the nose of this type of machine did not have any airscrew avoidance problem. Various methods were tried by both sides and one of these used by the French, where a machine gun was free-fired through the area of the rotating airscrew, provided a practical, if somewhat dangerous solution.