Thursday, July 3, 2014

Tanks of the World

The birth of today's modern battle tank stemmed from the darkest days of World War One when the shell torn battlefields of France were literally bogged down in a stalemate situation, with opposing forces confined to miserable conditions in dank trenches and the occasional bout of needless slaughter taking place as commanders sought to gain an advantage over each other. This standoff needed something special to break the deadlock, something that could cross the battlefield, break through the miles and miles of deadly barbed wire and cross the trenches protecting the enemy and all while taking fire from the enemy. The search for something to break the deadlock was so great that a number of unorthodox weapons were tested during the war, but ultimately it would be one machine that would take to the battlefields of France that would eventually make a difference. 1916 saw a new vehicle taking to the battlefield for the first time, a steel monster the likes of which had never been seen before and that vehicle would become one of the most feared weapons in land warfare in the decades that followed. That weapon was the 'Tank' and few weapons, let alone military vehicles have captured the imagination of the general public like the tank since.

F-35 Lightning II

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter is already dominating investment in future airpower throughout the world, even before it has entered full-rate production. By mid-2013, the total US investment in the programme was close to $400 billion, with a requirement to procure 2,457 aircraft through 2037. The total life-cycle cost of the F-35 to the US Government is estimated to be in the range of $850 billion to $1.1 trillion, far greater than any other military aircraft in history. Internationa partners are looking at future force structures in which the F-35 will constitute much or a of their combat aircraft strength. Most of the air arms that will invest in F-35s have a broad range of combat experience and diverse operational needs, none of which cou d develop a fifth-generation fighter a one. The F-35 was intended from its inception to be an international programme, designed to enable the US armed services and a !y nations to carry out a range of tactical missions - primarily air-to-surface but a so air-to-air - in the face of high-performance threats, particularly surface-to-air missiles, that are likely to proliferate in the coming decades. The programme was a so aimed at addressing the continued viability of manned combat aircraft which has been threatened by rising procurement, operational and maintenance (O&M) costs.

Flypast 08/2014

Benjaminsen in HP858 found a Junkers Ju 52 off Bergen on the 18th. The tri-motor, belonging to Fliegerführer Norwegen, flying from Stavanger to Vaernes, was promptly shot down. Four days later, Finn Eriksrud and Pty Off Erling Johansen in HP860 despatched Ju 88D 'D7+BH' south of Stavanger; Uffz Magnus Mannel and his crew were killed. The CO WTO te on their return: ''It was a determined and well performed attack which led to a complete destruction of the German aircraft." On December 18 Eriksrud downed an Fw 58 near Bonilo for his third victory. His Mosquito, HP861, as hit by debris and Eriksrud was forced to ditch, he and his navigator being captured. Sub Lt Harald Jensen and Sub Lt "Iorkildsen in HP862 shot down another Ju 88D in mid-December - the first of his three victories. Wyller and Benjaminsen were successful again on December 16 during a fight with Fw 190As of 12/JG 5, shooting down Uffz Willi Surr h off Moide. Sadly this promising crew was killed near their homeland on February 23, 1944. Having shot down a Ju 88D of Westa 1 they fell victim to an Fw 190 of JG 5. Although 333 Squadron's 'B' Flight gained some successes against the Luftwaffe, its main role was anti-shipping strikes. From the spring of 1944, the unit was increasingly involved in dangerous tussles with surfaced U-boats, to which end the Mosquitos often carried depth charges.

Military Modelling Vol.44 No.8

This 120mm figure is among a number of figures sculpted by the very talented John Rosengrant and based on a selection of photos of grenadiers and panzer crew that were fighting on the Eastern Front, in Kharkov in the winter of 1943. The German army had a wide range of clothing at this time and along with sheepskin coats, winter parkas were the most commonly worn type in Kharkov, as can be seen in the accompanying reference photos on which John's figures are based. The Third Battle of Kharkov was a series of battles on the Eastern Front during World War Two, fought by German Army Group South against the Red Army, around the city of Kharkov between 19th February and 15th March 1943. The Germans knew this as the 'Donets Campaign', whereas the Soviets knew it as the 'Donbas' and 'Kharkov' operations. The German counter attack led to the destruction of around 52 Soviet divisions and the recapture of the cities of Kharkov and Belgorod. While the German Sixth Army was encircled in Stalingrad, the Red Army undertook a number of attacks against the rest of Army Group South. These reached a climax on 2nd January 1943 when the Soviets launched Operation Star and Operation Gallop, which between January and early February broke the German defences leading to the Soviet recapture of Kharkov, Belgorod, Kursk, Voroshilovgrad and Izium. However, the Russian victories caused the rest of the Soviet units involved to overstretch themselves.

Military Machines International 08/2014

As Editor of Military Machines International I sometimes have to make some really tough decisions, and a few months ago I had to make one of the hardest decisions in my long tenure as Editor of MMI. As I sit here today writing this Editorial piece it is the 6th June, a date that for millions has gone down in history as marking the D-Day Landings back in 1944, the largest amphibious and airborne assault of all time, and as we all know, 2014 marks the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings, which we of course marked with our 100-Page D-Day Special last month. I would have dearly loved to be in Normandy soaking up the atmosphere of this very special commemoration, in fact up until a few months ago I was pretty much set on going, but my duty to produce the magazine had to come first because sadly print deadlines don't move for anyone and the deadline for this issue fell right in the middle of these celebrations, which when combined with a second 100-Page Tank Special I am also working on, meant I couldn't spare the time to go. It was a tough decision to make and I considered various contingencies to try and justify a visit to Normandy, but in the end the work load was suchthat I couldn't attend without risking MMI not getting out this month, and despite a belief that magazines can be printed late it is in fact a simple case of us having an allocated slot at the printers and if we miss that slot we miss that month! In the fourteen years I've been Editor of MMI that's never happened, despite computer malfunctions, illness, and severe weather, and I wasn't about to break that run, however, as an alternative we dispatched Simon Thomson, one of a fantastic team of contributors here at MMI and Simon was at the event to represent MMI and spread the word about the worlds' first monthly, all-colour military magazine.

Combat Aircraft Monthly 08/2014

Sukhoi's T-50 fighter program suffered a setback when the fifth flying prototype. Bort '055 Blue', suffered heavy damage at the M. M. Gromov Flight Research Institute airfield at Zhukovsky near Moscow on June 10. According to Sukhoi. smoke was seen above the starboard air intake on landing, before a local fire broke out. This was quickly extinguished and the manufacturer has said that the aircraft will be repaired. Sukhoi also states that the incident will not affect the timing of the T-50 test program. However, conflicting reports suggest that the prototype was actually damaged beyond repair. In one account, the T-50 was flying a demonstration for an Indian delegation before losing contact with the ground. After an engine failure warning, the pilot shut down the appropriate starboard engine, but. without communication, was forced to waggle his wings in a pass over the runway to alert the emergency services. After landing on one engine, he turned on to the nearest taxi way, and shut down the port engine. At this point the pilot noticed smoke pouring from the starboard engine, and a pool of fuel beneath the aircraft. He managed to escape unhurt. T-50-5 first flew at at Komsomolsk-on-Amur on October 27. 2013 and was delivered to Zhukovsky in November 2013. Dedicated to testing the mission avionics suite and initial weapons separation trials, it features numerous modifications to the airframe (including the moving leading-edge design) and on-board equipment. It was the first to be fitted with side-looking radar antennas and has a differently configured electro-optical suite.

Model Military International 08/2014

With the defeat of France in June 1940, production of tanks and other armoured vehicles for the French army stopped. Some vehicles were produced for use by the Germans, but in the main, French factories were used largely for maintenance and conversion of French vehicles for the German Wehrmacht. Emulating what Germany had done after the First World War, French engineers worked on technical improvements by hiding them in seemingly innocent approved projects as disparate as a trolleybus, a desert tractor for use in Africa and a tracked snow blower intended for use in Norway by the Kriegsmarine. With the liberation of much of France, including Paris, by August 1944, the French government wanted to return to its pre-war importance and felt that only by contributing to the industrial war effort directly could France regain her position as an important world power. The French wanted to re-start tank production, but ran into the problem of obsolescence - virtually all pre-war French tanks were obsolete and not suitable for use against later German designs. Looking for an area to exploit, the French decided that a heavy tank project would be the most useful with their limited capabilities, since the Allies had little that compared with the late war German tanks like the Panther and Tiger II. It was also important to keep the tank designers busy to maintain the capability to design tanks, since engineers would leave if there was no new design work.

Airfix Model World 08/2014

Now an annual fixture on the circuit, IPMS Barnet and Harrow's show at the RAF Museum, North London, continues to attract visitors in large numbers; nearly 2,000 passed through the doors this year, which is most encouraging. And there was plenty to look at, with 50 clubs and Special Interest Groups displaying stunning models, under the wings of and alongside the museum's real exhibits. As with its sister facility at Cosford, Hendon provides an atmospheric venue in which to hold a show and the variety was as eclectic as ever, with science-fiction and Gerry Anderson fans well catered for, as well as sea-going vessels and armour also bring prominent. Around 50 traders offered plenty to lighten one's bank balance - the number of show-goers who departed with bulging bags indicated a reasonably successful day in stash-enlargement exercises. Unlike a show held in one hall, Hendon is spread around so some fitness might not be a bad idea if one is to see everything; there are three halls across a corner of what was, at one time, one of London's foremost RAF airfields. The runways are long gone, now covered in housing, but this part of the former station still retains two original hangers plus a newer hall in which the Battle of Britain exhibits are housed, and its only when getting reasonably close to a real one does one realise just how big even early aircraft were, the Short Sunderland being a case point. So, that latest build project can be enhanced with up-close-and-personal references, from 'stringbag' biplanes almost up to the present day, then a visit to a friendly trader to get the extras one needs, and some equally friendly advice from any of the modellers...all of whom are always willing to chat about their, and your, project. If one hasn't been to this show before, mark it in the diary for next year.