Monday, March 31, 2014

Model Aircraft 04/2014

One of the modelling highlights of 2011 has to have been the release of the new 1/48 Revell kit of the Lockheed PV-1 Ventura kit, which offers accuracy, ease of construction and value for money in bucketfuls and deserves to sell extremely well indeed (I've got four and built three of them!).There are rumours that an earlier Ventura Mk II version of this tooling (as operated by 2 Group of the RAF) will follow and there are some clues to this on the sprues judging by the breakdown of parts and some of the unused items, which include the early fold-down navigator's seat and a bomb aimer's mattress and plotting table for the glazed nose position, however nothing for certain has been announced by Revell... yet. Before the introduction of this kit the only other way to build a model of the Ventura in this scale was the relatively expensive (but good) vacform kit from Koster, which offered alternative parts for an early Mk II or the later PV-1, or there was the closely related injection moulded kit from Fonderie Miniatures, which only offered the latter version. In 1/72 scale the best option is the series of Modelcraft kits, which covers most of the Ventura family, and these do result in a fairly decent model, however it does have its fair share of flaws such as an additional but superfluous entrance door on the right hand side of the fuselage and a totally incorrect flight deck, whilst the undercarriage is a little basic too.

Scale Aviation Modeller International 04/2014

The heritage of the P-51D Mustang is well known, so I won't go into all the finer details of how this aircraft came into existence, suffice it to say that a good airframe from North American Aviation was made into an even better one by mating the British Rolls Royce Merlin to it. This provided what can be said to be the finest fighter and long range escort aircraft of the Second World War, seeing action on all fronts. With the war's end came the need for the United States to dispose of large numbers of these aircraft. Many, like those surviving in Germany, were cut up for scrap usually by the local German population, an ignominious end for such fine aircraft. Those that survived and returned to the United States were either put to service by local Air National Guard Units, or were put up for sale to many fledgling Air Forces around the world. Many of these saw service with the free nations of Europe such as France, Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands. Others went to Commonwealth Countries such as Canada, Australia (who also built them under licence), New Zealand and South Africa. Some, through illegal sales and acquisitions, ended up with the Chel Ha'Avir in Israel. Many more ended up in South and Central American countries, including Bolivia, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic, the subject of this build.

Scale Military Modeller International 04/2014

The Jagdpanzer Hetzer was a German Tank Destroyer, based on a modified Czechoslovakian Panzer 38(t) chassis. These beasts were widely used by the Wehrmacht Infantry Divisions, and also served as a replacement for the Marder, seeing service in most theatres of World War II. The Sol Productions kit is an all resin affair, and retails at around $365.00 or £225.00, and upon opening the large box you find three large bags, each containing the various parts, a large etched fret, a turned aluminium gun barrel, a one-piece lower hull, a one-piece upper hull, a large bag containing the track links, a decal sheet and an instruction sheet with painting guide. All the parts were neatly cast in a cream/grey resin with hardly any flash, and thankfully small casting blocks, so clean-up was minimal. You also get a lovely cast figure - but only a 'half' for some reason, but sadly no interior. First off, all of the parts were washed in soapy water and then construction began with the lower hull and running gear. Straightaway problems arose, as there are no location points for the drive sprocket housings or the rear idler mounts, so I had to use some reference photographs for the correct positioning.

Radio Control Jet 04-05/2014

There's now a good choice of Viper Jets on the market both large and small. I have been looking for a new Viper to replace my old Cermark one; a Viper around the same size but lighter, as the Cermark Viper was very heavy and is now around six years old. The plan was to find the right version able to take a 22 lb turbine, with 2 m(ish) wingspan at a reasonable price and one that is easy to live with, i.e. quick to setup at the field and easy to transport and store. I am sure we all have the issue of hangar rash and the nightmare of getting our models out of the house and into the car! Then, at a local club meet, a member turned up with the new JetLegend Viper. Within a few days I'd had a chat with Jeff Sewell from Zedjets and put one on order! This Viper Jet is a break away from their normal method of finishing, as it's painted outside of the mould as standard. Vacuum moulding ensures lightness of the airframe and this translates nicely into flight characteristics - it has a great turn of speed but will float in nicely with full flap. As I mentioned earlier I wanted to use the turbine from my old Viper, a JetCat P80SE - it seemed perfect for this model. I ordered the kit with retracts, wheels and brakes. I also ordered the electronic retract, brake valve and cockpit from Jeff too. Alter a few weeks (seemed like years!) waiting like a child for Christmas, it arrived. Well packed in a large corrugated cardboard box, I checked for any shipping damage and found none.

Model Airplane International 04/2014

Ever since the very early days of the P.l 127 prototype Airfix have produced kits of the Hawker-Siddeley Harrier in 1:72. Since the Hornby revamp we have had new toolings of the later GR.7/9 Harrier plus FRS.1 & F/A.2 Sea Harriers. Now it is the turn of the earlier versions, the GR.l and, the subject of this build, the GR.3 to get the new tool treatment. On opening the box you will find 97 parts in grey-coloured plastic with a further five on the clear sprue. All are well moulded with crisp surface detail, finely engraved panel lines and very little flash or ejector pin marks. The instructions are to Airfix's current standard, being easy to follow with relevant colour call-outs along the way. The last three pages cover paint and decals, two of which are in full colour while the third is purely for the large number of stencil decals. Speaking of which, the decals are excellent with sharp printing and good colour and density and are produced by Cartograf. The two schemes are for No. 1 Squadron, RAF from 1982 based in the Falklands and No.4 Squadron, RAF from 1980 based in Germany. As a lover of the Harrier in all its incarnations I just had to get stuck into this one, so let s see how it builds.

Military World 04/2015

It can be quite surreal to unpack after a private battle. In the comfort of your own home, with the wind no longer thrashing your cheeks into a heavy rouge, and tea is drunk from a porcelain mug rather than an enamel one, you begin to recollect over the weekends festivities. Like a proverbial trail of breadcrumbs, you begin to piece together what actually happened on that field of battle. As you trawl through packs and pockets, a positive Aladdin's cave of artifacts release little moments that were originally lost in a heavy fog of adrenaline.You find the unfired round that left you with the harrowing 'Dead Man's Click,' the wrapper of a chocolate bar devoured in a small lull in the fighting, and roughly, pencil-drawn maps of impromptu defences. Although aching, tired, and dreading the eventual arrival of Monday morning, you finish the weekend content. Of course, it is only at the end of a well-organised and well-attended event that this period of merry reflection can be attained.Thankfully, Operation Teaboy on February 8th and 9th was one of those instances.

Flypast Special Edition - Luftwaffe Eagles

After success in Norway and during the Blitzkrieg that ran through the Low Countries and France, Kampfgeschwader 4 s III Gruppe got ready for its greatest test yet. The day after France surrendered, June 22, 1940, the units Junkers Ju 88s settled in to Schiphol, Amsterdam. Gruppenkonimandeur, Major Erich Bloedorn, prepared his men for operations against Britain. In the weeks before the sustained assault began, Luftwaffe bombers mounted small-scale attacks to probe the defences and laid mines around the British coast in to interdict coastal shipping. With what Churchill described as the Battle of Britain about to begin, the bulk of the RAF s fighter defences were concentrated under 11 and 12 Groups in southern England and the Midlands. Significant elements were based in the north under 13 Group to protect east coast ports and naval bases on the Firth of Forth and in the Orkneys. North Yorkshire was the dividing line between 13 Group and its more southerly cohorts. Among 13 Groups units was 41 Squadron, based at Catterick in "Yorkshire and flying Spitfires under 32-year-old Sqn Ldr H R L 'Robin Hood, a former cadet from the RAF College, Cranwell. A little further south at Church Fenton, was the recendy-formed, Hurricane-equipped 249 Squadron, part of 12 Group and led by Sqn Ldr John Grandy - aged 28 and a future Chief of the Air Staff.

History of War 04/2014

Edward of Westminster was engaged in the Seventh Crusade in North Africa when news reached him of his father Henry Ill's death. Instantly proclaimed Edward I King of England, he set off on his journey home. However, with the country enjoying relative stability, and still suffering from the after-effects of an assassination attempt, he took a leisurely detour through Italy and France. En route, he had an audience with Pope Gregory X and even suppressed a rebellion in Gascony. The new King was crowned on 19 August 1274, upon which he set about restoring order after the shambolic and unpopular reign of his father. But no sooner had Edward acceded to the throne than trouble began brewing in Wales. A patchwork of principalities and lordships, Wales had been in flux for hundreds of years, with power ebbing and flowing between the Welsh and the English. In 1274, relations between Edward and the then-Prince of Wales, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, broke down. Llywelyn's younger brother Dafydd - in league with Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn of Powys - had plotted Llywelyn's demise. Although no assassination attempt took place, their plan was discovered and the pair defected to the English. With Edward harbouring his assailants, Llywelyn refused to pay homage to the King. Then, to make matters worse, Edward discovered that Llywelyn was planning to marry Eleanor, daughter of Simon de Montfort, the French nobleman who had led the rebellion against his father.

D-Day RAF - The RAF's Part in The Great Invasion

I have been fascinated by the D-Day story since my father took me to see the film The Longest Day at the cinema when I was 11 years old. At that age I was at once enthralled and shocked by the events portrayed on the big screen and totally in awe of the courage and heroism of those who carried the fight to the enemy. Having subsequently served for 36 years as a fighter pilot in the Royal Air Force, my interest, perhaps not surprisingly, became orientated towards the RAF's involvement in the war and in the D-Day invasion. I have never lost sight, though, of the fact that where D-Day was concerned, the air element was only a part of an all-arms campaign of almost unbelievable scale that was undoubtedly one of the greatest military feats of all time. My 11 years flying with the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF), including my time as the officer commanding the flight, gave me the privileged opportunity to fly two actual D-Day veteran Spitfires, the
story of one of which is included in these pages. In 2004, for the 60th anniversary commemorations of D-Day, I was privileged to fly that Spitfire as part of the BBMF formation which conducted a number of flypasts over commemorative ceremonies in Normandy, including the main one on June 6, with no fewer than 17 heads of state and assorted members of European royalty, including our own Queen, watching on the ground. This was an occasion I will never forget and heightened my interest in the D-Day events of 1944. Since joining the BBMF in 1996 I have also had the privilege of meeting many wartime veterans, some of whom were involved in the operations surrounding D-Day, of hearing their stories first hand and in some cases getting to know them well.

Cold War

British secret agent James Bond has foiled. He sits silent, frozen with bitter defeat at the Casino Royale's baccarat table, having played sinister Soviet agent Le Chiffre The Number' and lost. He knew every trick of the game, took every precaution and weighed the odds carefully but in the end he ran out of money and out of luck. Now he knows he must fly back to Britain and lace M's forced sympathy and 'better luck next time', but he also knows that there won't be a next time. If s over. Then he's handed an envelope and a note from CIA operative Felix Leiter. The envelope is stuffed with cash and the note says: "Marshall Aid. Thirty-two million francs. With the compliments of the USA." Bond is back in the game. This scene from author Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, published in 1953, was a perfect metaphor for Britain's position at the end of the 1940s. Britain had been bankrupted by the Second World War but just when it seemed as though the nation would have to abandon what remained of its empire and cancel its defence projects, America stepped in with a blank cheque and catapulted Britain back into the fray and the top table of world politics. The Yanks needed a strong ally in Europe to help stave off the growing Soviet menace and Britain was happy to oblige. Despite handing over billions of dollars though, the one thing the US refused to do was hand over its atomic secrets - so Britain simply used American cash to fund its own nuclear programme, plus a host of other military developments including the world-beating V-force bombers, the powerful English Electric Lightning jet fighter and the Royal Navy's first nuclear submarine HMS Dreadnought.

Britain At War 04/2014

AS THIS issue of Britain at War Magazine closed for press, the BBC began airing a series of programmes entitled I Was There: The Great War Interviews. Representing a valuable source of first-hand testimony, these interviews were originally recorded in the early 1960s for The Great War television series but did not get shown at that time. In August 1963, the BBC resolved to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War with a major television project. The series was the first to feature veterans, many of whom were still relatively fit individuals in their late sixties or early seventies, speaking of their experiences. This landmark approach of archival footage intercut with interviews remained the "standard format" for years to come. To locate enough veterans to film, a public appeal for veterans was published in the national press. In due course, thousands of men and women responded to the adverts. The result was a massive bank of original interviews, shot on 16mm film, with former First World War airmen, seamen and soldiers of all ranks and nationalities, as well as civilians and munitions workers.

Air International 04/2014

The Sukhoi T-50 Perspektivny Aviatsionny Kompleks Frontovoy Aviatsii (PAK FA, Prospective Airborne Complex of Frontline Aviation) has been handed over for state trials (gosudarstvennye sovmestnye ispytaniya). T-50-2 was flown by Sergey Chernyshev to the 929th Flight-Test Centre of the Ministry of Defence at Akhtubinsk in the Astrakhan Oblast from Zhukovsky outside Moscow on February 21. The arrival of the T-50 at Akhtubinsk signals the aircraft has completed its preliminary trials (predvaritelnye ispytaniya) since the first prototype made its maiden flight in January 2010. It first flew on March 3, 2011 (see Second Sukhoi T-50 Flown, April 2011, p30) and has undertaken tests of the aircraft's systems, including the weapons bay door actuating mechanism and aerial refuelling, making the first dry contact with an llyushin II-78 tanker on August 3, 2012. During 2013 it was strengthened and adapted to undertake high g-load and angle of attack tests. It has no mission systems installed and so can be used only in the initial phase of the state trials for performance and flight-handling testing. It will be joined at the base by subsequent aircraft fitted with complete mission suites and armament.