Friday, June 6, 2014

Military Machines International 07/2014

The introduction of the American Jeep in World War Two saw it being adapted to perform a wide range of specialist roles over the intervening years. The heavily armed Special Air Service Jeeps that were used firstly in the North African deserts and latterly in North West Europe are well documented, but the specially adapted Jeeps developed for use by British Airborne Forces during the war are another interesting variant of the wartime Jeep and one that I will be taking a look at. The decision to provide the airborne forces with some form of motorized transport stemmed from their need to move rapidly once on the ground in order to seize and hold their objectives, which as you might expect were usually close to or behind enemy lines and usually involved the troops being air-dropped into the area either by parachute or by glider. Depending on the particular operational circumstances, this sometimes involved the use of artillery and other heavy equipment and the dropping of such equipment by parachute wasn't always feasible, even so the diminutive airborne scooters and simple folding push bikes were early attempts at providing the Airborne Forces with more mobility, but the advent of the Jeep provided a new opportunity to create a light, air-portable vehicle that could be sent into battle with the troops, however, there was a major stumbling block in the way - the size of the Jeep.

Model Military International 07/2014

The current family of MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles have proven to be highly effective at combating the mine and IED threat in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. They are now being produced in large numbers by many different countries. The main feature of the current designs is the V Shaped hull, which is designed to direct the blast from a mine detonation away from the occupants. This design is not a new one. In fact, it was originally developed over 40 years ago, not by one of the world's Super Powers but two small countries at the southern end of the African continent. Both Rhodesia and South Africa were facing insurgency conflicts where guerrilla-laid land mines were indiscriminately killing and wounding soldiers and civilians alike. These mine-protected designs were accomplished with minimal resources and finance. It took 30 years for the rest of the world to "discover" how well they worked. In this part we will be looking at
the early Rhodesian designs that utilised a medium sized chassis such as the Land Rover and Land Cruiser for patrol and civilian work. The 1950s and 60s saw great political upheaval on the African Continent. Many European countries began to shed or lose their colonial possessions, which changed the face of Africa. In 1963 Britain granted full independence to Northern Rhodesia, which became Zambia. Southern Rhodesia, indignant at not being granted independence, unilaterally declared independence from Britain on 11th November 1965. This act precipitated a prolonged guerrilla war which began initially as a low intensity 'Police Action' but due to the support to the nationalist movement from the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact allies as well as China the 'Bush War' intensified and by the 1970s threatened to escalate to a full scale conventional war that would engulf most of the region.

Flight Journal 06/2014

In early 1939, just months before WW II erupted in Europe, the Kriegsmarine formulated Plan Z, a construction program expected to be completed in 1948. It included ten battleships, three battlecruisers, and four carriers. The lead ship of the Flugzeugträger class was named Graf Zeppelin, a logical connection to Germany's dirigible pioneer. A sister ship to be named Peter Strasser (after the Great War Zeppelin commander) was scrapped during construction. Adolf Hitler pledged his support to the Kriegsmarine, with Graf Zeppelin's keel being laid by Deutsche Werke at Kiel in December 1936. She was launched two years later. Originally planned for 18,000 tons, her 361-foot length gained another 10,000 tons but she was originally rated at more than 33 knots. By the end of 1939, with Germany at war, she was 85% finished. All warships have long lead times, but especially aircraft carriers. Graf Zeppelin's progress was complicated by the fact that Reichstnarshal Hermann Goring owned nearly everything that flew in Nazi Germany. Therefore, her air group would belong to the Luftwaffe. Britain operated under the same policy until almost the last minute, as the Royal Air Force provided aircrews and planes to the Royal Navy. Britain's Fleet Air Arm, organic to the RN, only gained independence in May 1939. Realizing that it was starting far behind Britain and the U.S., in 1935 the Kriegsmarine sent a study group to Japan during the large carrier Akagi's modernization. From 1940 onward, the Imperial Navy kept a large delegation in Germany to offer advice and to report back on Graf Zeppelin's progress. We can only wonder what Japan's accomplished aviators and sailors thought of their ally's approach to the esoteric art of carrier aviation. Surely they recognized the practical limitations of the sled launch and compressed-air catapults.

Combat Aircraft Monthly 07/2014

THE US NAVY has announced that Sikorsky Aircraft has been selected as the winner of the VXX Presidential Helicopter Replacement program. The May 7 news means that, under the terms of a $1.24-billion Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) contract. Sikorsky will build, modify, test and deliver six FAA-certifîed S-92A helicopters and two simulators to the US Marine Corps. The 'competition' had actually become a one-horse race after Northrop Grumman/ AgustaWestland and Bell/Boeing decided not to take part. The EMD contract runs until 2020. Ultimately the program includes 21 operational aircraft that will be delivered by 2023. Sikorsky submitted its VXX proposal for an existing, in-production helicopter platform to the US Navy in August 2013. but became the only bidder for the project when several competitors decided not to pursue it. Sikorsky has delivered more than 200 S-92s, developed as a medium-lift, commercial helicopter, since 2004. Ten nations currently utilize the aircraft for their head of state missions. Also used by the offshore oil and gas industry, and for civil search and rescue, the S-92's main cabin is 20ft (6.1m) long, 6.5ft (1.9m) wide and 6ft (1.8m) high. Two of the six aircraft covered by the EMD contract will be designated as Engineering Development Models (EDM), and will be delivered in 2018. Those aircraft will support flight performance and mission communication system capabilities testing carried out by the US Navy as well as certification testing by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Finescale Modeler 07/2014

In 1943, to counter the growing threat from Royal Air Force night bombing, the Luftwaffe launched a campaign using single-seat fighters. Vectored toward oncoming bombers by controllers, the pilots attacked using illumination from ground-based searchlights and fires. Dubbed "Wilde Sau" (wild boar), the program led to the creation of Jagdgeschwader 300 equipped with Bf 109s and Fw 190s borrowed from day-fighter units. Brian Geiger used Hasegawas 1/32 scale Bf 109G-6 to build a JG 300 aircraft flown by ace Arnold Döring. A layer of Tamiya fine white surface primer provided a foundation for the Testors Model Master, Floquil, and Humbrol enamels Brian used on his Messerschmitt. He used a double-action airbrush powered by a Central Pneumatic compressor. "Its nothing special, but I really appreciate the fact it has a small tank so the motor doesn't run constantly," Brian says. "My stress level goes down a lot without all of the racket." The pre-shaded most panel lines and a few stained areas with thin black paint. "There's no need to be exact while pre-shading,"he says. "Much of the effect will disappear, but enough remains to break up the large areas." On the black areas, he post-shaded panels dark gray.

Airfix Model World 07/2014

First conceived in 1943 as a short-range, fast and heavily-armed interceptor, the Kyushu Shinden (Magnificent Lightning) suffered from development delays that meant just two prototypes were built. Very unusually for the time, the Shinden had a canard pusher configuration, partly because the original idea was to fit a turbojet engine once one became available. Two prototypes were eventually completed by April 1945 but problems with the engineering, equipment and staff shortages had already delayed the programme. The first prototype finally flew in August 1945 and completed approximately 45 minutes of test flights before World War Two ended. Flight data showed that the design was promising but there were issues with torque generated by the radial engine, which pulled the aircraft to the right. These were in the process of being resolved when the war finished. The National Air and Space Museum, in Washington DC, owns the only surviving Shinden. The kit comprised one clear and five light grey runners plus a sheet of decals. Reading the 'Old Man' blog from Telford 2013 on the Zoukei-Mura website provided interesting background for this build, as it explained the idea behind the kits. The concept is that the modeller constructs the internal framework and then adds the outer skin to partially mimic the way the real aircraft would have been built.