As we left things last time, virtually all the basic building was done and we had a model ready to cover and detail. On Darrin's original Dr.l model he went a little over the top with scale fittings and included quite a bit of metalwork that all conspired to push the weight up. Whilst nobody could deny the realism of the model here, he was a little more restrained with what went on and what didn't. The result is that this present model is over a pound lighter than his first attempt. As we all know, if you don't want a Fokker Triplane that has to fly at the scale speed of an F-16, keep it as light as you can. I think that Darrin has demonstrated most admirably that with careful selection of what detail you include, and how you go about producing it, saving weight doesn't have to mean sacrificing scale realism. I've seen full size replicas that look less like the real thing than Darrin's model does. The one place you won't need to save weight is at the front of the model. I've very seldom seen models of WW1 types that end up nose heavy, so extra weight here is no bad thing at all. By contrast, the metal mounted, sprung tailskid of Darrin's original model wasn't such a good idea and required quite a bit of dead weight adding to the front to counter it.
The Spitfire Mk IX is considered by many scale modellers as the definitive Spitfire, perhaps because its particular upgrades and modifications were forged in the heat of battle. The truth is that by mid-1942 the formidable Focke Wulf Fw 190 was gaining the upper hand in air superiority in the West, outclassing the Spitfire Mk.V. Something had to be done. The outcome was the Spitfire MK IX, employing the two-stage superchargers of the Spitfire Vb, plus a strengthened airframe specifically designed to benefit the introduction of the new Rolls Royce erlin 60 and 70 engines in a lengthened nose section. In fact, these airframe improvements proved so successful that they paved the way for the later Griffon engines variants. The Mk IX (Vickers Supermarine Type 361) proved to have a quantum leap in performance with its adoption of the Merlin 60, originally developed for the Wellington bomber, providing a top speed of 403 mph at 27/400 feet, and a climb to 30,000 feet in ten minutes. The RAF set up a High Altitude Right at RAF Northolt to capitalise on this impressive performance, especially to counter the threat of the four engine Junkers Ju86R, adapted from bomber to high altitude reconnaissance configuration used by the Luftwaffe.
From December 1943 until the end of the war anti-submarine patrols were flown from Gibraltar by Ventura GR Mk Vs. The first of these were flown by crews from 500 (County of Kent) Squadron but from July 1944 they were replaced by 22 Squadron SAAF.The South Africans had flown their Venturas up from South Africa to take over the protection of this sole access point to the Mediterranean Sea, which allowed 500 (County of Kent) Squadron to take its own Ventura GR MkVs to La Senia, near Oran in Algeria where they soon converted onto the Martin Baltimore. Other Ventura squadrons were based throughout the Mediterranean area in the maritime role and these were quite nomadic, moving up and down the North African coastline as the situation at sea dictated. Another British Ventura GR Mk V unit to serve in the Mediterranean was 13 Squadron RAF, which operated the type between October and December 1943, and the Aussies of 459 Squadron RAAF replaced their old Hudsons with the same Ventura variant during December 1943, making good use of them until July 1944. In both cases the Venturas were eventually replaced by the Baltimore.
The Leopard 1/2 is a Main Battle Tank developed by Krauss-Maffei in the early 1970s for the then West German Army. The tank first entered service in 1979 and succeeded the earlier Leopard 1 as the main battle tank of the German Army. Various versions have served in the armed forces of Germany and twelve other European countries, as well as several non-European nations. More than 3,480 Leopard 2s have been manufactured. The Leopard 2 first saw combat in Kosovo with the German Army and has also seen action in Afghanistan with the Danish and Canadian contributions to ISAF. There are two main development batches of the tank, the original models up to Leopard 2A4, which have vertically faced turret armour, and an improved batch, namely the Leopard 2A5 and newer 2A6 versions, which have angled arrow-shaped appliqué armour together with other improvements. All models feature digital fire control systems with laser rangefinders, fully stabilized main gun and coaxial machine gun and advanced night vision and sighting equipment.
In 1999 when Poland became a member of NATO, Polish Air Force transportation units were mainly equipped with the obsolete An-26 and An-28. In 2001 Poland purchased twelve CASA 295M aircraft, which in time replaced the well-worn An-26s, but Poland's subsequent participation in overseas missions clearly demonstrated a need for a heavier lift capability. After many years of discussion and negotiations, the Polish National Defence Ministry signed a contract for five second-hand USAF C-130E Hercules. Work commenced on the overhaul and modernization of the chosen machines, and in Powidz air base, near Poznan, preparation commenced on all the necessary infrastructure for the maintenance and upkeep of the new larger aircraft. On 29 March 2009 the first of five C-130s, tactical number 1501, landed at Powidz and was officially handed over to the Polish Air Force. The arrival of a new type of aircraft in the Polish Air Force is always a temptation to every Polish modeller collecting aircraft adorned with the white/red checkerboard national insignia. For the purpose of this build I used the old Italeri kit, which features raised panel lines and a modest amount of interior details, to say the least. Taking this into consideration I acquired Eduard's Big Ed photo-etched set, which consists of six etched detail sets and one set of masks for painting the wheels and all glazing around the fuselage.
America's battle experience in North Africa and Italy with the M3 and M5 Stuart demonstrated the need for greater firepower against the Germans. From its inception, the Chaffee broke new ground in the use of leading edge technologies such as vertical stabilisers, ba ancing speed, profile, armour protection and armament. The 75mm M6 main gun in the M24 was a tank-mounted version of the 75mm M5 gun that was fitted in the nose of the B-25H Mitchell bomber. Capable of great range, the M24 featured decent optics and a maximum rate of fire of around 20 rounds per minute, but at that rate the light gun tube would not last very long. The Bronco kit is a fine example of what can be achieved with plastic, with fine cast numbers standing out amongst the crisp raised detail. As always though, there is plenty for the mode er to improve upon even further, in this instance with the Lion Roar upgrade set, which compliments the Bronco kit perfectly.
Testing will soon begin on the next-generation Block 4 software expected to provide a capability boost to Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. On 16 January, the US Navy announced - via a posting on the federal government's procurement website - that the F-35's joint programme office intends to award multiple contracts to Lockheed Martin to develop Block 4 software, with the first contract expected to be awarded in October 2014. The contracts will include "assessments and evaluations" to ensure Block 4-equipped aircraft meet "future operational requirements", it says. When completed, Block 4 software will provide the F-35 with improved radar, and allow the aircraft to carry additional weapons used by both the US military and other F-35 customers. A document posted on the website of the US Embassy in Norway - a customer for the conventional take-off and landing F-35A - provides more details, however. This says that aircraft with the Block 4 software package will be able to carry joint stand-off cruise missiles -including Kongsberg's joint Strike Missile - and Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder Block 11 air-to-air missiles. Additionally, the iterative de-velopment will add an automated ground collision avoidance system, better protection from hacking and improvements to power management, to avoid issues that have been raised over the JSF's integrated power package since at least 2007. These culminated in a grounding of the F-35 fleet in 2011.