In 1943, military engineers developed a demolition weapon with a capacity of destroying its target at an effective range of 80-yards. The 290mm spigot mortars were adapted to existing 6pdr armed Churchill Mk.IIIs and Mk.IVs. The conversion was undertaken by the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) workshops and the newly converted Churchill tanks with the 290mm mortar would be designated the Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers (AVRE). The first delivery of the AVRE's occurred in April 1944 allowing for two months of training for the crews before the invasion of Normandy. The 290mm calibre shell (or Petard), originally code-named 'Bomb, Demolition No.1' and later nicknamed The Flying Dustbin1, weighed approximately 401b and contained 251b of demolition charge. It was a cylindrical drum made of tinplate with an attached fin-like tailpiece containing cordite propellant. A total of 24 dustbins could be carried in the AVRE and a trained crew could fire 3 to 4 rounds per minute. The principle purpose of the petard was to destroy concrete walls. One Petard could remove 6 cubic feet from a heavily fortified and steel reinforced wall. Other modifications to the Churchill to bring it up to an AVRE included the removal of the co-driver's hinged hatches and replacement with a sliding hatch through which the petard was loaded. The turret was slightly traversed to the left of centre, allowing the mortar tube to be positioned in a vertical position over the hatch to allow the co-driver to load the shell. The AVRE was also fitted with mud deflectors running along the mud chutes to prevent stones and other debris from interfering with devices attached to the AVRE. Although several books and references suggest that Churchill Mk.llls converted to AVRE was a rare occurrence, I found plenty of wartime images of Churchill Mk.lll AVREs in Normandy. I counted 15 different Churchills sporting a Mk.lll type turret and mounting a 290mm spigot. With photographic evidence under my belt, I was keen to proceed with making the modification to the AFV Club Mk.III offering to a Mk.III AVRE.
To begin with we need to dispel a recurring myth. When they went into action on D-Day,the three British regiments operating DD tanks had been divided between two armoured brigades and had no connection with 79th Armoured Division; the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry and the 4th/7th Dragoon Guards formed part of the 8th Armoured Brigade which landed on Gold sector while the 13th/18th Hussars in 27th Armoured Brigade landed on Sword. Also, each DD regiment consisted of two squadrons of amphibious tanks (20 tanks each) while the remainder of the regiment, the Third Squadron and Regimental Headquarters, with 24 tanks between them, landed dry, not being equipped with DD tanks. Of course, regarded as specialised armour all of these regiments had been part of 79th Armoured Division while training in Britain but when they went into action they were seen as tanks with the ability to swim. Once that was done and they were ashore they became ordinary fighting tanks and as such formed part of a conventional armoured brigade. Even so, it is clear that the 79th Armoured Division found it hard to let them go and the divisional history often refers to the activities of the DD tanks when recounting events on 6 June 1944.
In early June of 1944, my original P-38J, CL-X, had been wrecked by a fellow pilot while I was on leave. I returned to see my pride and joy lying on its belly from a combat encounter. My bunkmate, who was at the controls of my Lightning, told me he had an engine shot out while tangling with the Luftwaffe and made it all the way back to base in England when he got cut off by a landing B-17. With wheels down, flaps out, and only one prop turning, he ran out of options, raised the gear, and bellied it in. Thankfully, with a war going on, there were many P-38s sitting around waiting to be assigned. I was issued a new P-38 and my ground crew got it ready to fly. Unfortunately, the day I was supposed to give it a test hop, everything was grounded so the ground crews could paint black and white stripes on our airplanes — invasion stripes. I would have to perform double duty on my next flight, a combat mission and test hop all rolled into one. On June 5, I was slotted to fly a night mission over the English Channel to cover the invasion beaches along the French coast. The P-38s were selected because they were extremely recognizable with twin engines and twin tails, and nothing else looked like them. Our instructions were simple: "If you see anything flying over the beaches, shoot it down — no questions asked. Destroy anything that is not a P-38 entering your assigned patrol area." We departed our base at Wormingford very late in the afternoon. The weather was terrible with low ceilings and heavy rain as we struck out for our patrol area. From 1,500 feet, I saw countless numbers of boats of all shapes and sizes all over the channel heading for France. What a sight! We orbited the beaches and I saw some sporadic gunfire, but nothing that would compare to the next day. We landed well after dark and trudged to our bunks for some rest.
Hosted at Paradise Field in Lakeland, FL, Florida Jets is an annual "jet-together" that has been going on for 18 years. With more than 120 registered pilots this year, the event has grown dramatically, and along the way, it has become a showcase for manufacturers and suppliers in this unique segment of the RC hobby. It is run as a fly-in rather than a contest, so participants are pretty much free to fly as much as they'd like. There is no judging or scoring, just pure "jetting around" in the near-perfect Florida sky. For this year's event, which took place March 5-8, the light breeze was steady, but went right down the runway. This allowed some of the larger, heavier models to touch down at just above walking speed. The big news for 2014 was the outstanding, newly installed blacktop runway and relocation of the actual flying site to a more "user-friendlv" location. Previous jet participants had been vocal about the grass runway, so promoter Frank Tiano responded by installing a 60- by 700-foot strip of asphalt. Everyone was pleased and some commented that this improvement will likely trigger a huge increase in participation in the future. The flightline, vendor booths, suppliers, and food stands were far more accessible than in previous years and everyone noticed.
It is often stated that no one remembers who came second, but the same cannot be said of the Northrop YF-17 which was beaten to a significant USAF contract by the General Dynamics YF-16 in 1974/5. Since its initial design, sometime prior to that competition,the airframe has undergone several reincarnations, changing from an intended lightweight fighter to an advanced carrier-borne multi-role fighter/attack aircraft. In doing so the aircraft has increased, significantly, in both size and weight while its versatility and capability far outweigh anything envisaged by the original design team back in the 1960s. Northrop, which was responsible for the successful low-cost, low-maintenance F-5 Freedom Fighter jet, embarked on a company-funded project to further develop the F-5E in the mid-60s. Eventually,the design settled around the Northrop P-530 which had a stretched F-5 fuselage, a higher mounted thin-wing -offering a similar planform but much larger area than its predecessor - with enormous leading-edge root extensions (LERX) stretching from the wing to near the front of the windshield.Twn canted tail fins, extending beyond the wing wake, provided stability and better control.The LERX ensured better handling at a high angle-of-attack and the 'hooded'appearance of these extensions gave rise to the aircraft's nickname: Cobra.
Some years ago, I was hooked by a curious form of scale modelling which uses paper as the raw material. Paper modelling has distant roots: it was popular in the late 1800s and is still used today for static modelling purposes. The high level of scale fidelity and realism that an accurate design can reach (as well as the strength of the resulting model) seems incredible, in spite of the everyday nature of this medium. The more paper models I built, the more I enjoyed the experience. I explored all kind of subjects; cars, missiles, ships, buildings, science-fiction, trains, and (obviously!) aeroplanes. Surfing the net today you can find a lot of free downloads of paper models designed by more or less talented artists, and some of them are really intriguing. All you have to do is to print the files on common or photographic paper, cut the parts and start gluing them together with white glue. No paint, no sawdust, no smelly glues; just the kind of modelling you can do on the dinner table at teatime. Looking back, after a while I moved on to control line building and flying, and static paper modelling was forgotten. Years ran on. One day, while I was looking for something unusual to build, I came across a static model by Fabrizio Prudenziati, one of the most talented paper model designers in the world.
Support for retaining the A-10 Thunderbolt II in service with the US Air Force was given a boost on May 22, when the full US House, followed hours later by the Senate Armed Services Committee, both backed proposals to save the aircraft from retirement, at least for now. Both supported the $601 bn Defense Authorization Bill that will fund military spending for the next fiscal year, beginning on October 1. This includes legislation that would ban retirement of the A-10 for at least a year and fully-fund operation of the type through to the end of 2015, at least. Proposals to retire the 238-strong A-10 fleet, which the air force says would save $4.2bn over five years, had been announced on February 24 by US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Since then there has been an inevitable backlash against retirement of the elderly, but still highly-regarded, aircraft. However, there are still hurdles to overcome if the A-10 fleet is to be saved, as the full Senate must approve its version of the National Defense Authorisation Act and the President has to sign off the final version. The White House has already threatened to veto any version of the bill that exceeds the Pentagon's budget request.
A FM HAS learnt that the cadre of Typhoon-qualified pilots in the Austrian Air Force (ÖL -Östereichische Luftstreitkräfte) Eurofighter EF2000 squadron at Zeltweg Air Base, has been reduced from 18 to 12 since late April. The cuts are the result of austerity measures and further extensive budget reductions are proposed for 2014 and 2015. Officially confirming the move, an Austrian MoD spokesman said it was necessary because a forthcoming reduction in the allowance of jet-fuel assigned to the unit meant 1080 flight-hours per year (down from 1200) would not be enough to let all 18 pilots fly enough hours. A source inside the ÖL, who did not want to be named, toldAFM that two EF2000s have already been grounded and are being used for spare parts. Several options, including cutting the Austrian Eurofighter fleet of 15 Tranche-1 airframes to 12 or even nine aircraft, have been the subject of intense debate in Austria's parliament and press in recent weeks. If the number of fighters is reduced, it has been estimated that the savings gained will be minimal-about 19% of the cost of having a Typhoon fleet. In essence the saving will amount to little more than that spent on daily operating costs. Of the estimated €60-70,000 cost of each flying hour, in 2013 the Austrian government audit office reported that 81% results from fixed costs such as the In-Service-Support contract for logistical and spare parts support which has to be paid whether the jets fly or not.
The Ural-4320 Is a general purpose off road 6x6 truck produced at the Ural Automotive Plant In Mlass, Russia for use In the Russian Army. Introduced In 1976, It Is still In production today. The wheel arrangement for the Urai-4320 was designed for transporting cargo, personnel and trailers on all types of roads and terrain. One of these versions Is the URAL 4320/ATZ-5, a tanker truck used In aerodromes for the supply of fuel to aircraft. The Hungarian brand, Balaton Modell, specializes In full resin models, vehicle kit conversions and postwar 1:72 aircraft. The finesse Is really very good, being resin models they reach a truly extraordinary level of detail. They have recently released this, their first complete resin model In 1:48. From the moment I opened the box, I was Impressed with the quality of the parts. Aside from the parts In resin, a sheet of decals provides markings for 3 versions, Russian, Hungarian and German, along with photoetch and a piece of film to make glaze the cab. I was Impressed by the wheels, they really are of excellent quality and give a purposeful look even In 1:48, they are huge! The build Is really simple but I follow certain steps prior to building a model In resin, one of them is to start with the separation of the moulding blocks from each piece and cataloging them so that they are easily Identified. I also clean the parts with hot water and a few drops of detergent to remove all dust and dirt that Is generated In handling resin. With the parts prepared and dried, I started with the chassis and cab, and the fit of parts Is very good making for an enjoyable build.
The majority of camouflage schemes for the Messerschmitt Bf 109 G comprise RLM 74 Grey Green and RLM 75 Grey Violet over RLM 76 Light Blue lower surfaces. Fortunately, there is plenty of variety in the application of the colours. Grey certainly does not have to be dull. I found a photo of Black 4, an Erla built Bf 1 09 G-10, that displayed a number of very interesting features. The camouflage colours were quite faded to the point that demarcation was indistinct in places. The fuselage and wing crosses were noticeably smaller than the standard too. The wing crosses were also located further outboard than usual, but larger crosses in the original positions appeared to be painted out with a fresh coat of RLM 74 Grey Green. A large patch of fresh dark grey also appeared on the mid-rear fuselage spine and side. The top of the elevators were painted in a very pale colour - most likely RLM 76 Light Blue. The canopy and windscreen framing was a very dark colour, probably RLM 66 Black Grey. The fin and rudder appeared to be finished with a mottled overspray of RLM 76 over a darker shade. And the cherry on this grey pie was the Blue-White-Blue fuselage band typical of late-war JG300 aircraft. This was a truly fascinating camouflage scheme. BarracudaCals has released two 1:32 scale decal sheets covering Erla built Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-10s; and Black 4 was amongst the schemes. Not only were the unique markings perfectly depicted, but the decal sheet also included the small-sized crosses. Now all I had to do was paint the model!
This year, Tamiya's big news was the unveiling of the new 1:35 First World War British Mk.IV 'Male' tank, the very first vehicle from this conflict to be kitted by Tamiya and quite a big leap for the company. When initially announced, the model caused some controversy in being motorised, something that some modellers seem to think will make the kit toy-like even though it's still a scale model, just with a small motor. We think it's rather cool and brings the model to life, and when the novelty of the motorisation has worn off, the kit will make a superb static display model with sharp detail and impeccable fit of parts. To accompany the Mk.IV, Tamiya lias created a set of five British WWl infantry figures, three with Lee-Enfield rifles, an officer with a Webley revolver and a machine gunner firing a Lewis gun. Also new from Tamiva is a 1:48 MIO HC Achilles tank destroyer with lTpdr gun in its open-topped turret, a newly tooled 1:700 USS Saratoga aircraft carrier and a revised edition of Italeri's German one-ton Sd.Kfz. 10 halftrack. The latter will come with some new parts to refine the base kit, open/ closed roof, new tools and three figures. The USS Saratoga CV-3 is depicted as she appeared at the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945 and boasts a respectable hull-length of nearly 400mm, or fifteen and three-quarter inches.