The Napoleonic Wars ravaged Europe for a decade and a half, from Bonaparte's accession to power in 1799 to his ultimate defeat at Waterloo in 1815. They stand out from other wars for their huge scale, the manner in which they were fought, and the centrality of a single protagonist. Napoleon established his reputation during the Revolutionary Wars, winning several engagements against the odds as an artillery officer, promotion to brigadier aged 24, and absolute power at 30. With most of Europe against him, he consolidated power at home, then tried to pick off adversaries one-by-one. After his bid to invade Britain - his most consistent foe - had to be called off in 1805, he unleashed his forces against Austria, Russia, and, a year later, Prussia. His earliest military victories were brilliant and, combined with strong-armed diplomacy, he had most of Europe under his sway by 1810. But tension over Poland led Napoleon to invade Russia in 1812. It was a gross error, and the disastrous campaign cost him half a million men. The battles were becoming bloodier, too. as Napoleon lost his tactical flair and his rivals wised up. Worn down by guerrillas ('small wars') in Spain, and never able to stop Britain funding his increasingly determined opponents, Napoleon found his authority and empire shrink around him. He held back the tide briefly, beating a larger army than his own at Dresden in August 1813, but he could not stop it, suffering a great defeat at Leipzig two months later. The Allies entered Paris in March 1814, and Napoleon was exiled to Elba, a Mediterranean island.
At dawn on June 25, 1950, the People's Army of communist North Korea crossed the 38th parallel and surged into the democratic Republic of Korea in what the United Nations termed "an unprovoked act of aggression." Ever since the United States and the Soviet Union split Korea in two after World War II, each side had postured, threatened reunification by force and engaged in border spats. This latest action seemed at first to be just one more incident in a five-year standoff marked by mutual threats and hostility. By June 30, having realized the true scope of the invasion, President Harry S. Truman had ordered General of the Army Douglas MacArthur—supreme commander for the Allied powers in occupied Japan—to commit ground troops to Korea. MacArthur immediately sought authorization to "move a U.S. regimental combat team to the reinforcement of the vital area discussed and to provide for a possible buildup to a two-division strength from the troops in Japan for an early counteroffensive." Truman approved, and MacArthur instructed Lt. Gen. Walton H. Walker, Eighth Army commander, to order the 24th Infantry Division—then stationed in Japan—to Korea with all possible speed. Walker, in turn, conveyed preliminary verbal instructions to division commander Maj. Gen. William F. Dean.
A couple of models I have been building recently got me thinking about some new trends in kit releases these days. For some manufacturers, the desire for extra detail in models has provided us with some beautifully detailed kits, but due to this they are broken down into some really tiny parts. An example is the 1:35 scale CV-33 Italian Tankette from Bronco, where just as one example, the four tiny spark plugs need to be removed from the sprue and fitted to the engine block! The detail is delightful, but those parts are really tiny. Okay, if you want a fully detailed model, and this one has all the engine and interior details to fit inside the hull which gives a lovely end result. At the opposite end of the scale, in 1:72 scale, there are a number of successful ranges of wargames models designed for easy construction, and usually with two complete models in the boxes. Ranges from Italeri, Pegasus, Armourfast and the Plastic Soldier Company all come to mind. In between comes the well-detailed model but one which does not have the complexity of others. For these, there are after-market accessory sets which are popular, to add the extra detailing if you want to. With commercial sales in mind, it must be ever more difficult for manufacturers to decide what is the best option to go for when planning a new kit. Every one of us will have varied views on these, but at the end of the day I find the variety that is available in the hobby these days is amazing.
IT WAS said that Europe sleepwalked into war in the summer of 1914. Whilst the great Powers had been arming throughout the early years of the twentieth century in expectation of a European conflict, when war was actually declared on 4 August it was still a shock. Even greater shocks were to follow as the people of the United Kingdom responded to the threat they faced and adjusted to the prospect of a prolonged world war. Very quickly a British Expeditionary Force was shipped to France to take part in the great offensive that would knock the Germans out of the war. Almost from the start the Allied plan began to fall apart. The overwhelming might of the most populous nation on the Continent compelled the British and French forces to withdraw. Then came the "miracle" of the Battle of the Marne. The Germans were held. They retreated to the line of the River Aisne and began to dig in. There they would remain for four more years. The British Empire stretched around the globe and from its colonies and dominions volunteers joined the colours to fight for the mother country. The colonial troops attacked the German territories of Togoland and South-West Africa and from India an expeditionary force captured the oilfields of the Persian Gulf.
The Trumpeter BTR-50PK APC represents a vehicle that saw very widespread use amongst the Soviet Bloc and allied nations, and indeed it is still in use. The BTR-50 was first introduced in 1954, and the PK version, which had an armoured roof, came in 1958, following experiences in urban combat where the open top proved a liability. The hull shape went through several production versions, with the earliest bow noticeably shorter and stubby, angled at 45 degrees, later becoming longer and more pointed, at 35 degrees. At the same time, the whole upper hull was raised by 130mm, leaving the mesh areas of the rear deck sunk below the level of the surrounding plates, and requiring a slight cut-out on the left hull side. This change improved the buoyancy and performance in water - the BTR-50 is fully amphibious and powered by hydro-jets from the rear. The majority of photos show this later type of hull, and the earlier type may have been phased out quite quickly, or given to satellite nations. The Trumpeter model represents the rarer early type, and is a close copy of the vehicle preserved at Lesany in the Czech Republic. To modify it to the later type would represent a major rebuild. A first look at the model in the box reveals the one-piece upper hull, with tremendous detail and every sign that the kit is really state-of-the-art. The parts that are associated with the BTR-50 are really excellent, and show how much Trumpeter has improved the quality of their moulding since the earlier releases in their range. However, it turns out that the lower hull is simply a re-hash of their PT-76 kit, released in 2007, and the parts associated with this are crude by comparison. This would include the wheels, suspension arms, idler and tracks. It is a shame that these parts were not improved in line with the upper hull, because although perfectly usable, the older parts seem to belong to an older generation of models.
The kit was a 1:48 Siemens Schuckert D.III and was fairly crude, with thick plastic, soft detail and a fair amount of flash -tell-tale signs of a short-run production model. The disparity in moulding quality between that kit and the subject of this article, the same manufacturer's recently released 1:72 Bf 110E is truly amazing. Packaged in the ProfiPACK' range, the box is crammed with sprues — eight of them, in fact. Although the parts count is high, many of them are options or applicable only to other boxings; clearly, Eduard have maximized their investment in the toolings. Amongst the options offered in this kit are the Dackelbauch conformai fuel tank and a second extended fuselage with the life-raft storage in the tail, as well as various fuel tank and weapons. Also supplied is a beautifully colour-printed photo-etched (PE) fret, a set of masks for the glazing and wheels and a sharply printed decal sheet providing four marking choices. Surface detail on the plastic parts is extremely refined. Panel lines are sharp but not excessively deep, and there's some restrained rivet detail in places. The Bf 110's cockpit is perhaps the most extensive I've seen in a 1:72 injection moulded kit. There's some nice relief detail on the floor which benefits from a wash and some light drvbrushing, and individual ammo drums are supplied for the MG 15 machine gun, itself very finely rendered. The radio array is worth a special mention.
NORTHROP GRUMMAN announced on April 3 that it has completed a series of flight tests demonstrating the first production Smart Node Pod (SNP) for the US Air Force. SNP is an aircraft-mounted airborne communications system that allows real-time information to be exchanged among many disparate military and commercial radios and different datalinks, extends the network to the forward edge of the battlefield and relays full-motion video. Northrop Grumman conducted five flights to certify performance characteristics in February in Virginia Beach, Virginia. During the flights, the SNP demonstrated the ability to transmit full-motion video, imagery, voice and digital messages between warfighters both in the air and on the ground via various waveforms and datalinks and its interoperability with the proprietary and open source forward tactical handheld devices. The company is under contract to produce SNP systems for the US Air Force, with deliveries scheduled across mid-summer of this year. Two different pod designs - a single-pod and a multipod architecture - are in production. "This proven, reliable technology gives an extremely capable but lightweight communications, situational awareness, and command and control capability that can be readily mounted on many different military aircraft and controlled by the deployed commander," said Jeannie Hilger, vice president, Network Communication Systems, Northrop Grumman Information Systems.
AS WAS ITS CUSTOM, on the evening of 5 June 1944, the BBC's French-language service broadcast personal messages after the news. This evening, there was an unusually large number - 325 -and it took an hour to get through them. One message - "I will bring the eglantine" -was particularly significant. It was the order to the Resistance throughout northern France to implement Operation Vert, the scheme for rail sabotage. As the broadcast continued, other announcements activated Operation Tortue, the destruction of bridges and highways; Operation Bleu, the disruption of the electricity supply system; and Operation Violet, the cutting of telephone and telegraph links. Before midnight, teams of the French Forces of the Interior (FFI) were moving into action. In the area of the Normandy beachheads, FFI intelligence chief Guillaume Mercader, a renowned cyclist who had come close to winning the Tour de France, pedalled at breakneck speed along coastal roads carrying orders from team to team. In Caen, stationmaster Albert Auge and his men set about disabling the locomotives in the city's marshalling yards. Further west, teams commanded by café owner André Farine cut the telephone cables leading out of Cherbourg. Meanwhile, other teams led by grocer Yves Gresslin dynamited the railway lines linking Cherbourg, Saint-Lô and Paris. In Brittany, teams of the Deuxième Régiment des Chasseurs Parachutistes (RCP) - the Free French equivalent of the SAS -parachuted down to join some 3,500 Resistance activists. By morning, they'd carved a swathe of destruction through eastern Brittany, wrecking railway bridges and tracks, demolishing electricity pylons, and establishing roadblocks covered by machine-gun and bazooka teams. They took every step to stop the 150,000 German troops in Brittany from reinforcing the beachhead quickly.
IF YOU WERE 20 YEARS OLD IN JUNE 1944, you are 90 years old today, and you probably don't need to be reminded of that. But that's how old many of Canada's younger D-Day veterans are as commemorations begin for those who participated in the largest seaborne invasion of all time—D-Day. Seventy years have passed since the Allied assault on Hitler's Fortress Europe and many of the men and women who were part of that incredible era are now gone. Many have left us with excellent books and memoirs detailing what they and others endured on Juno Beach and further inland at places like Buron, Carpiquet, Verrières Ridge, Falaise and St. Lambert-sur-Dives. The majority however returned to quieter lives by holding down a job in an office or factory, raising families, volunteering and spending time with grandchildren while perhaps trying to forget what they saw. Anyone who has spent time with a war veteran, especially from that era, knows it is easier to get them to talk about the good times or the lighter moments of being a soldier, sailor or airman. Those of us who were born after the war can experience something far more profound when a veteran goes beyond the easier memories. The experience can begin when you notice that the veteran's eyes are fixed on something so incredibly deep that it doesn't feel right to ask about it. You get the sense that there's a wall there, and that you are not part of that group of men or women (war veterans) who can go beyond it; all you can really do is wait for the story to emerge, if it does.
The one fact that most MV enthusiasts will know about the Lightweight Land Rover - whether or not they are fans of that particular marque - is that despite the lightweight' moniker and in terms of unladen weight, it is actually heavier than the 88in Series IIA from which it was derived. However, and here is the whole point of the Lightweight, it can conveniently shed some 550 lb (250kg) of excess weight - doors, tailgate, bumpers etc - and slim down to a mere 2660 lb (1206kg). For, in the world of the air-portable vehicle, weight is king. Air-portable military vehicles were nothing new in the sixties. During the latter stages of WW2, Jeeps and even lightweight tanks had been deployed by glider, and in the late-fifties/ early sixties the British Army had evaluated various potentially air-portable types such as the Steyr Haflinger and Austin's Mini Moke. Indeed, from 1960 the Royal Marines employed 65 stripped-down Citroën 2CV pickup trucks which were stationed on the helicopter carriers HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark anö airlifted ashore slung under Westland Whirlwind HAS7s. Nevertheless, what the Royal Marines and the Army really needed was a sturdy utility vehicle, preferably with some commonality with existing types. Therefore, in 1964 an official specification was issued calling for a lightweight version of the short-wheelbase Land Rover. Among other things, it called for a maximum overall width of 60in (1500mm) so that two vehicles could be accommodated side-by-side within the fuselage of an Armstrong Whitworth Argosy, the standard heavy-lift aircraft of the time, and an unladen weight of no more than 2500 lb (1134kg) so that it could be airlifted by a Westland Wessex HC2 helicopter.
After weeks of speculation, US and UK officials confirmed on April 16 that the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II is to visit the UK this summer. The historic event will see three aircraft, one RAF and two US Marine Corps examples fly across the Atlantic Ocean. A single F-35B will make its international debut at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT), RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, on July 11-13. The following week a single F-35B will display on the trade days at the Farnborough International Airshow from July 14-18 and public days (19-20). Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond said: "The US and the UK have worked closely together on the F-35 project from the beginning. We are the only country that is a Level 1 partner in the project, which is sustaining tens of thousands of jobs in the UK. This fifth-generation stealth combat aircraft will be a major boost to British combat air power and it is entirely fitting that the F-35's first stop outside the United States will be in the UK - its second home." The MoD has three F-35Bs, all currently based in the US at Eglin AFB, Florida, undertaking training with Royal Navy and Royal Air Force pilots. Orders for further aircraft will be placed over the next few years. First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sir George Zambellas, said: "July will be a real milestone in the rebirth of the UK's carrier strike capability. Alongside the naming of HMS Queen Elizabeth by Her Majesty the Queen on July 4, we can now also look forward to seeing the F-35B - the Lightning II - flying on the international stage for the first time."