As with most tanks a lot of the initial work with this kit is taken up in building the running gear, and the great thing about this M48 is that the level of detail that Dragon has put in is just fantastic. Each road wheel takes four parts to complete giving a realistic 'deep' look, and although there is a lot of sanding required on each tyre section to remove the raised mould lines, it is kind of a necessity as the running gear is very exposed on the finished tank. The suspension too is composed of many individual parts to give a detailed finish but fortunately everything locates perfectly so alignment of the wheels is spot-on. The only negative I can offer here is the obvious omission of the searchlight and dust cover, which should really be standard issue on the M48A3. The DS tracks are really easy to fit, and they stick together with plastic cement yet are flexible enough to paint off the tank and fit back on again easily. There really are no pitfalls to report on with this M48, the instructions are clear, the fit of the parts excellent and even/thing is correctly labelled, which is not always the case with Dragon! You can really see the engineering work that the manufacturer has put into the production of this model, even the finely reproduced five-part turret rack slips together easily.
The G4M was conceived as a long range, land-based medium bomber for the Japanese Imperial Navy. Combat radius was the most important requirement since the Japanese fleet was severely weakened by Western Treaties and bombers would have to operate far from land. To achieve fuel efficiency, a very streamlined design was adopted and the airframe structure was built to be as light as possible. Armour protection and self defence guns were kept to a minimum. In order to gain as much range as possible, the G4M was designed to store fuel in the wing cell structure rather than having self-contained fuel tanks in the wings. Again to save weight, these fuel cells did not have self-sealing bladders. The design results were noteworthy as the G4M could achieve a speed of 230kt (420km/hr) and had a range of over 3,700 miles (5,900km). However the bomb load was modest in the range of only 1,8001b (800kg). In comparison to the similar sized He 111 the G4M carried less than half the bomb load more than twice as far with a similar top speed.
The first military aviation in Switzerland took the form of balloon transport pioneered by Swiss balloonist Eduard Spelterini; however, by 1914 there was still little official support for an air corps. The outbreak of World War I changed opinions drastically and cavalry officer Theodor Real was charged with forming a flying corps. He commandeered three civilian aircraft at Bern airfield and set about training nine pilots at a makeshift airfield close to Wankdorf Stadium, later moving to a permanent home at Dübendorf. Switzerland remained neutral and isolated during the conflict and the air corps confined its activities to training and exercises, reconnaissance and patrol. It was only with the worsening international situation in the 1930s that an effective air force was established at great cost, with more up-to-date aircraft such as the Messerschmitt Bf 109, the Macchi MC.202 and the Morane-Sauliner D.3800 fighters, which were ordered from Germany, Italy and France respectively, although the Moranes were licence-built in Switzerland. Thus the Swiss Air Force as an autonomous military service was created in October 1936.
Gloster's incredible-looking Javelin was perhaps one of the most distinctive shapes to take to the skies during the immediate post-war years. Remembered by many as the 'Flying Flat Iron', the unmistakable shape of the Javelin has been a favourite with modellers, if not model kit manufacturers. Until Airfix released their new 1:48 kit, the Javelin had seen scant attention from the modelling world with only a handful of kits in 1:72 from Frog, Hawk and Heller and in 1:48 from Dynavector and Airwaves (both vac-forms) to whet the appetite, it is therefore a delight to be able to assess a new kit of this famous aircraft and one that is most likely to be the final word on this subject in miniature - the brand-new Air fix kit in 1:48. Let's take a look, shall we? The Javelin was the RAF's first purpose-built interceptor aircraft, major aerodynamic features of the type include its adoption of the then-new delta wing and a large tailplane. Both the aircraft's fuel and guns were housed in the delta wing, while the engines and crew were contained within the fuselage, two of each being deemed necessary for this new aircraft's proposed role. The delta wing and tailplane combination were incorporated by Gloster as a means of ensuring effective manoeuvrability at high speed and for the aircraft to maintain controllability at low landing speeds. In one instance during testing, when both elevators had been torn off by elevator flutter, the Javelin remained controllable in part due to the aerodynamic qualities of the large tailplane used.
Germany produced a great number of designs that were stranger than fiction. A handful of these even made it into production. The Messerschmitt Me 163 was a rocket powered interceptor that actually saw nearly a year of operational service before the end of the Second World War. Designed by aerodynamics pioneer Alexander Lippisch and based around the Walter rocket motor, the Me 163 was a stocky little aircraft with swept wings and no horizontal tail planes. The Walter HWK 509 rocket motor weighed only 100 kg but generated 1,700 kg of thrust, resulting in staggering climb performance and a high top speed. The downside was that the C-Stoff and T-Stoff rocket fuel combination was highly explosive and corrosive, and the range of the little interceptor was short. Even so, the Messerschmitt Me 163 B entered Luftwaffe service with a dedicated rocket unit, JG 400, in May 1944, three years after the first flight of the prototype. Despite its inherent risks and limited endurance, the Me 163 was thrilling to fly thanks to its high speed, remarkable rate of climb and positive controls. Between 9 and 16 aerial victories were claimed for the loss of 10 Komets, but the aircraft's short range and rocket fuel shortages limited its impact on the outcome of the war.
WELCOME TO this, the first issue of 2014. For some time now organisations around the world have been busy preparing for August 2014, and the count-down to the First World War centenary commemorations is certainly well under way How, though, should we remember that epoch-defining conflict - as a victory for freedom and democracy, or as a tragic and unnecessary waste of human life? Some people today might argue that the war was a terrible mistake. When we read of the appalling conditions the men had to endure and the often suicidal tactics employed by all sides it could be argued that it is scarcely credible that anyone could believe that the war was justifiable. Others might adopt a different stance. At the time, the war with Germany was seen by many as essential, even vital, to Britain's future and to stability in Europe. This was not only in August 1914 when thousands flocked to the recruiting stations thinking that the war would quickly be won, it was a belief that continued to be held by many throughout the conflict.
Work is continuing on the UK Ministry of Defence's (MoD) Tactical Maritime Unmanned Air System (TMUAS). The project was launched in August when AgustaWestland was awarded a £2.3 million contract for a Rotary-Wing Unmanned Air System (RWUAS) Concept Capability Demonstrator (CCD) programme. TMUAS will be a system of systems to operate from a Type 26 Global Combat Ship with a rotary-wing option to be defined by 2015. The RWUAS CCD will be used to develop operational concepts, the impact of training and support for TMUAS, its integration with ship safety management and embarked aviation assets including the AgustaWestland Wildcat and Merlin helicopters. The air vehicle selected by AgustaWestland as its CCD is the PZL-Swidnik Solo, the rotorcraft unmanned air system/optionally piloted helicopter (RUAS/OPH) variant of the SW-4, which will be used for shipboard launch and recovery demonstrations from a Royal Navy Type 23 frigate during 2014. The Solo RUAS/OPH is European Aviation Safety Agency certified and will be flown in a manned configuration with a safety pilot during the CCD phase when required.
AS AFM goes to press news is coming through that South Korea is to extend its air defence identification zone (ADIZ) following China's similar move in mid-November (see Headlines). At the heart of these manoeuvrings is a group of islands, called Diaoyu by China and Senkaku by Japan, over which territorial claims have been disputed by both sides since the 14th century. The modern-day argument was re-ignited in the early 1970s when oil reserves were found near the islands, and ownership was passed from the US to Japan after the 1971 Okinawa Reversion Agreement, modifying the treaty signed after the Second World War. China's imposition of its ADIZ, overlapping that of Japan, has been seen by Western nations as a passive-aggressive move, although Chinese authorities insist it is complying with international law. South Korea's decision to also extend its ADIZ - giving notice that the new regulations will be in effect from December 15 - means it now overlaps with the new Chinese zone and the existing Japanese one, creating a multi-dimensional complex of identification requirements and implications for air policing. It took the action claiming that China's new ADIZ is "unacceptable", as the zone also includes airspace over South Korean territory that is disputed by China, this time a submerged rock called Ieodo on which an ocean research station platform has been built.
Taking its maiden flight from BAE Systems' factory airfield at Warton, Lancashire, on December 2 was the first Tranche 3 Eurofighter Typhoon, single-seater ZK355, which will be delivered to the RAF. Tranche 3 aircraft incorporate various modifications to enable advanced new capability enhancements to be added in the future. These include E-scan radar, conformal fuel tanks and a high-speed data network. The upgraded aircraft will become a multirole fighter, capable of shifting between air-to-air and air-to-ground attacks without having to stop to reconfigure its weapons. Visibility will be enhanced with the new E-scan radar, which uses more than 1,000 transponders and enables pilots to steer the monitoring beam at the speed of light. Extra electrical power and cooling is also incorporated to cater for the new radar. A €9bn Tranche 3A contract for 112 aircraft for the four European partner nations (Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK) was signed in 2009. The RAF will receive 40 of the Tranche 3 Typhoons. Meanwhile the 400th Eurofighter Typhoon was delivered during a ceremony on December 4 at Cassidian's Military Air Systems Centre in Manching, Southern Germany. The jet, 31+06, was handed over to the German Air Force, becoming its 112th Typhoon.
Boeing and SAAB have signed a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) to develop and manufacture an all-new jet training aircraft to compete for the US Air Force's T-38 Talon replacement requirement, dubbed T-X. Although a formal request for proposals (RFP) has still not been issued, manufacturers are already vying for the lucrative 350-aircraft project. Under the new agreement, formally announced on December 6, Boeing would act as the prime contractor, with Saab as primary partner to cover 'design, development, production, support, sales and marketing', according to the press release. Boeing Military Aircraft President Chris Chadwick commented: 'Boeing and Saab form the foundation for what will be the strongest, most cost-effective industry team. Our comprehensive Family of Systems approach provides a new, purpose-built T-X aircraft supported by innovative training and logistics support to offer total-life-cycle cost benefits to the US Air Force and taxpayers.' Saab President and CEO Hâkan Buskhe said: 'We will invest in development of this completely new aircraft design over the coming years'. Saab says that this agreement has been in planning for a considerable amount of time, and that money is already being spent on the project.
IN THIS EDITION of the Aeroplane Collectors' Archive, we take a look at some of the most iconic fighter aircraft from the Cold War era. Of course, the era that is now known as the Cold War stretched over a period of decades during which great advances were made in the design and manufacture of military aircraft. When the Cold War began, the world had barely entered the jet age. By the time that it ended, our skies were occupied by complex, digitally-controlled masterpieces of computerized technology that can hardly be compared to the simple fighting machines of the 1950s. In Britain, the dark days of the Cold War saw the Royal Air Force still adjusting to peacetime conditions, after the long, grim years of World War Two. Only seven years had passed since the critical summer of 1940, when Spitfires and Hurricanes had battled the Luftwaffe in the skies over Southern England. In terms of equipment and capability, little had changed in those seven years. The RAF's fighters had soldiered on, sometimes modified, sometimes redesigned quite considerably, but little different to those that had fought in the Battle of Britain. But by 1947 the jet age had dawned and the Gloster Meteor was now coming into service, and the days of the piston-engine, propeller-driven fighter were coming to and end.
While the Marmon-Herrington Mk IVF reconnaissance car owes little or nothing to the company whose name it bears, there is a kind of twisted logic behind the misnomer. In 1938 the South African government promoted the development of an indigenous armoured car with an order for two experimental types. This was increased to 22 when war broke out in September 1939 and, since South Africa had no automotive industry to speak of, the vehicle relied upon imported components and was based upon a Ford 3-ton truck chassis. It initially emerged as a front-engined 4x2 known as the Mk I Reconnaissance Car SA. Only 113 were manufactured before the Mk II version arrived featuring four-wheel drive using components imported from Marmon-Herrington of Indianapolis. Fewer than 1000 of these were manufactured in 1940/1 before the improved Mk III arrived with a shorter wheelbase but with the same front-engine configuration. The Mk III, of which 2630 were built, served in several theatres, particularly in North Africa as did the Mk II, but these early marks were both lightly armed and armoured; something more capable was needed.