Figure models and figure modelling is possibly the oldest facet of the hobby. Arguably aircraft Models hold the major percentage of sales yet figure models run all the way back in history to carved wooden miniatures and stone figures from Ancient Egypt, Rome, Greece and Babylon, carved figures have been found on every continent as well as chess pieces of various guises. In the last two hundred or so years the popularity of toy soldiers became ever more apparent with lead figures and tinplates. In the past five decades figures have become ever more sophisticated from those wonderfully nostalgic Aurora monster figures that later glowed in the dark and such items as the 1:12 scale historical figures that Airfix released. For most of us in the past forty or so years the pioneers of armour modelling, including the now extremely dated Monogram kits and Tamiya Military Miniature series, allowed us to add a human element to the iron beasts that we were building. Over the years there have been those of us that have made various scales, normally 1:72 upwards, and often we include a figure whether it be a pilot or tank commander to a ship's captain or a 1:6 scale figure of Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator stood next to a Harley Davidson. The materials that the figures have been cast in range from soft Polyurethane to plastic injection moulded figures and in more recent times white-metal, resin and vinyl.
I always felt that the Salmson 2A2 was an ugly bird! Some aircraft are so ugly they are beautiful, but I'm afraid the Salmson was not an aircraft that I would put in to this category. I think part of this is down to the short stubby undercarriage, which looks out of place supporting such a large fuselage. I would guess that I am not the only one with this opinion and certainly the Salmson has been relatively ignored up until recently, which considering the large number of aircraft built and the type's association with the US air service is a little surprising. I can only think of a short-run plastic kit by Pegasus, and the CMR resin kit (which I believe is still available), both of which are 1/72. And then, three years ago Gaspatch showed off test shots of a 1/48 kit at the UK Nationals. Wind forward to Scale ModelWorld 2013 and the kit finally arrived, only to be followed by the announcement of a 1/32 Salmson from Wingnut Wings, which arrived just over a month later. I purchased my Gaspatch kit at Telford and was lucky enough to be offered the Wingnut Wings kit for review shortly after. It seemed only fair to treat each kit equally and build them together. Both kits are equally impressive'in the box' and there are indeed many similarities between the two products. Both contain comprehensive decals sheets with options for five aircraft. Both contain a detailed and clear instruction booklet.
Aircraft like the KC-135E look superb in the larger (1:72) scale but they're just not practical. This is where Minicraft has seen a niche in the market with a whole range of subjects covered in the smaller-scale range. The newest of these is the KC-135E in USAF service. Where the WC-130 I built a while back (See Issue No.105) was an updated kit with new parts, this is prominently marked on the box as being an 'all-new tooling'. On opening it you will find five sprues of pale grey-coloured plastic with another of clear containing one part, the cockpit glazing. The parts count on the grey-coloured sprues works out to fifty-eight. The instructions are of the usual booklet style covering the ten assembly stages with the last two pages covering the two markings options provided. Once again the decal sheet is by Cartogaf, so the quality is assured. The two options for schemes in the kit are both for USAF aircraft, the first of which is a standard squadron aircraft from the Kansas Air National Guard circa 2004. The second is the subject of the box artwork for a New Jersey ANG aircraft also from 2004 but with the addition of large tiger graphics on the forward fuselage. If you have read my earlier review of the Minicraft WC-130 you will see that it proved to be hard work due to the use of old and new parts and at times quite frustrating. Let's see if this new kit will be any better. After a quick wash the first job was to clip the main parts from the sprues and check them for fit. My first impressions were that this was a distinct improvement on the previous build but that I would still be reaching for the filler fairly soon. The first step in the instructions is the nose gear bay and undercarriage.
While growing up as a young aviation enthusiast in the north west of England during the 1970s, the only Digby that I had ever heard of was "Digby-The Worlds Largest Dog' as seen in books, films and cartoons, but as I became more serious about aeroplanes I discovered that this name also applied to an airfield in Lincolnshire (with strong Canadian ties) plus a variant of the twin-engined Douglas B-18 Bolo, which had been acquired by the Royal Canadian Air Force during 1940 as a stop gap bomber and maritime patrol aircraft. The Douglas B-18 began as a 1934 request by the United States Army Air Corps for a bomber that could carry double the bomb load of the Martin B-10, which was just entering USAAC service. The Douglas Aircraft Company used its successful DC-2 airliner as the basis of this design, which was given the company designation DB-1 and it incorporated the wings of the DC-2 plus the tail of the DC-3 along with a new deeper fuselage containing a bomb bay capable of housing 4.400lb of bombs and gun positions in the nose, mid-upper and ventral positions. The DB-1 was in direct competition for a USAAC contract against the Boeing Model 299, which eventually became the B-17 Flying Fortress, and the cash strapped USAAC obviously had an eye on the coffers because the twin-engined Douglas bomber, which cost $58,500 was chosen against the four-engined Boeing -a hefty $99,620 in comparison. Another thing in Douglas's favour was the fact that their DB-1 design could go into production almost straight away because the Douglas transports which formed much of the structure were already in production in comparatively large numbers.
RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire has hosted B-2 Spirit and B-52H Stratofortress (colloquially known as the Buff) bombers in the past but not at the same time. In June five Air Force Global Strike Command bombers (three B-52Hs and two B-2s) were based at the sprawling airfield for a major training exercise. RAF Fairford is the only declared forward deployment base for US long-range bombers within the US European Command theatre. Three B-52H aircraft arrived on June 4. Aircrew were drawn from the 20th Bomb Squadron (BS) 'Buccaneers' and the 96th BS 'Red Devils', based at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana and the 69th BS 'Bomber Barons', based at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. Three days later two B-2 Spirits 82-1069 Spirit of Indiana and the 93-1088 Spirit of Louisiana (the last of 21 B-2 aircraft built) arrived from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri: home of the 509th Bomb Wing. Spirit aircrew were drawn from the 13th BS 'Grim Reapers' and 393rd BS 'Tigers'. The timing of the exercise might be considered significant given the continuing tension in the Middle East and Putin's intervention in Ukraine. The bomber deployment enabled the US to send a very powerful message to allies and potential adversaries of its preparedness and capability to forward deploy long-range bombers quickly and efficiently.
FOR A seemingly interminable time, the centenary of the start of the First World War has been heralded and now, almost suddenly, it is upon us. Around the UK and the rest of the world, the centenary will be marked by an incalculable number of organisations and groups, and, of course, individuals. My generation has never witnessed such a momentous event as the beginning of the First World War. I can just about recall the Argentine invasion of South Georgia and Prime Minister Thatcher's decision to recapture the Falklands. The mood was one of considerable tension, but there was also an element of great excitement and national pride - just as it was in August 1914. It is something of that tension and excitement 100 years ago that we have tried to portray in this edition of Britain at War Magazine. We have a Cabinet insider's account of the immense burden of responsibility that lay on the shoulders of ministers faced with the most important decision of their lives. There is also the remarkable story, told by a Foreign Office official, of the terrible mistake that was made when, in the anxious moments of the evening of 4 August 1914, the German Ambassador was handed a premature declaration of war. The young official, one of the most junior members of staff in the Foreign Office, was given the job of quickly retrieving the letter before its contents had been read!
In a workshop at Bembridge Harbour, on the Isle of Wight, the Britten-Norman Aircraft Preservation Society's (BNAPS) restoration team is making excellent progress with the restoration of the world's oldest surviving BN-2 Islander, the first production machine, G-AVCN. Work is on target to have the aeroplane ready to go on show by June 13 2015, the 50th anniversary of the first flight of the prototype Islander, G-ATCT, from Bembridge Airport. Work is currently underway to complete the doors and refit them, after which the windscreen panels will be re-installed. The flexible window mount mouldings are being sought for the side windows, which will then allow the windows to be refitted. The fuselage will then be sprayed with a white base coat, and three coats of Aurigny Airlines yellow, before being moved from the workshop into temporary storage to enable work on the wing to proceed. Reconstruction of the wing is due to be completed early in 2015. Meanwhile, work to prepare seats, upholstery, internal trim and detail fitting out of items will proceed in parallel ready for completion of the fuselage Other activities underway during the period will be preparation of fibreglass cowlings and fairings and assembly of the nose and main landing gear. The team has been very fortunate with the recent donation and purchase of wanted parts, with a previously elusive tail bumper and a throttle box cover arriving at the workshop.