IN THIS ISSUE WE ASK a series of sometimes-rhetorical, sometimes-literal questions, the first and most controversial being, "Does Israel have the world's best air force?" This is a pretty heady question, but then, it's a heady subject. The reason we asked is because there is probably no other air force in the world that has had to prove its prowess through the immediate defense of the homeland so often. This because all of their neighbors would love to push them into the sea and Israel is only about the size of New Jersey. So, it wouldn't take much of a push. To make matters worse, it is so narrow (9 miles in some areas), that almost all of it is within range of anything that shoots. So, it stands to reason that the Israeli air force would be critical to the country's survival. The way they handle their defense is a fascinating, timely subject and Peter Mersky takes us inside the Israel Air Force to show us what made it such a force to be reckoned with today.
The US Navy aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) has moved from the Arabian Sea to the Red Sea in case its air wing is called upon to strike Syria. The USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75) had arrived in the Arabian Sea to relieve the Nimitz, though both will remain in the area due to ongoing tensions. In addition to the other ships which make up the battle groups of both carriers, four Arleigh Burke-Class guided-missile destroyers are in the eastern Mediterranean Sea - the ships involved are the USS Barry (DDG 52), USS Gravely (DDG 107), USS Mahan (DDG 72) and USS Ramage (DDG 61). It is also likely there are submarines in the area with both the latter and destroyers available to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syria. President Barack Obama has called for a limited strike on Syria and requested a vote by Congress on this when it returns from recess on September 9. Obama was urging action in response to the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on August 21, which the US believes was carried out by the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces.
A DETACHMENT of two Mirage F1CR and one Mirage F1B combat aircraft from the French Air Force (Armée de l'Air - AdlA) deployed to the Russian Air Force's 3958th Aviation Base at Savasleyka, 250 miles (400km) east of Moscow, in late August. The aircraft were from Escadron de Reconnaissance (ER) 2/33 'Savoie' at Base Aérienne (BA) 118 Mont-de-Marsan, Aquitaine. The Mirages, together with 60 French airmen, arrived at Savasleyka on August 18 and returned home on the 23rd. Two Transall C-160RS and one C-130H-30 Hercules provided support. The Mirages participated in a four-day joint exercise flying over the Nizhny Novgorod and Tver regions. They undertook formation flights with four Russian Air Force MiG-29SMTs, simulating air-to-ground attacks and flying with mixed French-Russian crews in two-seat MiG-29UBM combat trainers.
The best small-scale kit of the Russian T-72 tank is currently made by Revell. It's an Ml export version, equivalent in most respects to the Russian T-72A but with some small differences. I'd previously converted this kit to a slightly earlier version of the T-72A, the model 1979. The model 1983 version features the addition of anti-radiation appliqué bolted over the turret roof. There are also some small panels of this material around the driver compartment. Just after starting this model a resin kit of the KMT-7 mine roller system was released by the Russian company Zedval. I'd seen some pictures of this particular variant fitted with this system whilst serving in Chechnya and found it an appealing subject. Overall the Revell kit is good, although there are some issues with the turret shape in particular. Russian tank turrets are actually quite complex in shape, but it's clear from studying photos that the Revell one isn't correct around the front or rear. One very useful feature of the kit is that it includes two styles of road-wheels, the earlier type with eight indents and the later style with six. This gives a lot of scope for conversion possibilities across the different T-72 variants. This particular version is often seen with the later style wheel so I used these for my model.
In 1934, the Douglas Company designer, Ed Heinemann began work on a new dive bomber for the U.S. Navy, which was to be based on aircraft carriers. After many twists and intermediate type designs, finally on 23 July 1 938, the first flight of the prototype of the Dauntless, the XBT-2 took place. The first production model was shipped on June 4, 1940, the SBD-1. Over the next four years, there were several models Dauntless (SBD-1, -2, -3, -4, -5 and -6), besides being used by the U.S. Navy, other countries, (Australia, Chile, France, Mexico, New Zealand and the UK), and the U.S. Army also used it, under the name of A-24 Banshee. At the beginning of hostilities against Japan, the Dauntless proved itself including in the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Battle of Midway and Guadalcanal. And specifically in Midway where they won great respect, being the principal architects of victory, because in four minutes they sank three of four Japanese aircraft carriers. The fourth aircraft carrier, was sunk a little later. In particular the model SBD-3 performed well at Midway and were the same aircraft that had participated in the Coral Sea a month earlier, well worn aircraft, and experienced in combat, these are aspects that must be reflected in the realisation of the model I had planned.