In my very early teens, I asked for the Airfix 1:24 scale Spitfire Mk.l for Christmas. This was without a question the wonder kit of its day. It was released in 1970, followed by a 1:24 scale Messerschmitt Bf 109 E, a Ju 87 B Stuka and a Hawker Hurricane. A 1:24 scale Hawker Harrier joined this large-scale lineup too. These kits boasted accurate outlines and admirably restrained recessed surface detail. Instructions were comprehensive and the boxes were adorned with evocative artwork by the legendary Roy Cross. And of course, they were big! Yet in other ways, these kits were a product of their age. They were burdened with workable features, including retractable undercarriage and removable cowlings, which impinged somewhat on detail accuracy and scale. Detail was pretty basic too, especially in the Spitfire's engine bay and wheel wells. Even so, these kits loom large in the memories of those who built them in the 1970s or any of the subsequent decades in which they have been regularly re-released. During 2009, Airfix breathed new life into their 1:24 scale series with a very nice Mosquito - long rumoured and well received. This was a major improvement over the original releases, but still looked like a scaled-up model in some areas. The brand new 1:24 scale Hawker Typhoon Mk.lb stands apart from all those that have gone before it. This model radiates quality. Surface texture is positively daring with its rippled oilcan effect and the combination of raised and recessed rivets. Detail is dense, just as it was on the original aircraft. In fact, this kit conveys the rugged core of this aircraft so completely that there is very little to add.
To get a different perspective on Civil War battlefields—and get some great exercise while the weather is still good—many historic travelers participate in bicycle tours. Gettysburg's GettysBike Tours, for example, sets up customers with licensed battlefield guides (check out gettysbike.com). At some sites, such as Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, you can either bring along your own bike to use on monthly tours (the last one of the season at Chickamauga-Chattanooga is scheduled for October 18) or hop on a loaner bike at no charge—though reservations are required to borrow one (go to nps.gov/chch to find out more). Most short battlefield tours are leisurely and not too challenging in terms of terrain, with plenty of opportunities for breaks, as well as question-and-answer sessions with the guides. But there are also some options for serious cyclists, such as the Baltimore Bicycling Club's G vil War Century rides, scheduled for September 6: five scenic tours ranging from 25 to 103 miles, and incorporating visits to up to three battlefields (visit civilwarcentury.com for details).
For me, 1965 was the year of my high school graduation, my first job and the Vietnam War. My final grades wouldn't get me into any college, and having a low draft number, I considered joining the sendee. The local Air Force recruiter in Arlington, Virginia, told me that if I chose to join I would be part of the 18th anniversary commemoration of the Air Force: I would be one of 18 recruits who were 18 and would be sworn in on the 18th of the month. He assured me that I could find something in either art or photography. I said, "Let's do it ." For the swearing in, the 18 recruits went to Washington, D.C., and Secretary of the Air Force Eugene Zukert gave us our oath. He shook hands with us, offered congratulations and said, "If there's anything I can do for you, just ask." I shipped off to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas for basic training and then Shepard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas. I tested high in mechanical aptitude, and though I'd never owned a car or changed a spark plug, the Air Force decided I'd make a great aircraft mechanic. Not having been schooled yet in the "chain of command," I sat down and wrote Secretary Zukert to ask him if I could swap to another occupation. Needless to say, my letter raised the ire of my unit, but in the end I was assigned as a visual information specialist. As an illustrator and graphic designer, I illustrated every engine part, wiring diagram, electrical circuit and hydraulic gadget for every manual, training aid, slide show and Hip chart at Shepard.
As a Cold War U.S. Navy pilot, Jerry Mason chased Russian submarines, which fascinated him. Now retired to Victoria, British Columbia, Mason is translating the logbooks of German U-boats and posting the results at uboatarchive.net. U-boat radio operators strained to hear encoded Morse transmissions from headquarters, transcribing dits and dahs, then feeding their work into Enigma machines that rendered the content into German for entry into the boat's Kriegstagebuch ("war diary.") Entries can be terse to the point of obscurity, or show a skipper's facility with language. At first Mason relied on friends who knew German to handle the translations, but submarine jargon defied their skills. So he works on his own, counting on the fact that most skippers were "trying to say as little as possible," frequently recycling technical terms to fill out the pages. He has translated 200 logs, including the day book from U-96, made famous by the 1981 hit film Das Boot Transmissions sometimes show a human touch. Admiral Karl Dönitz, the subsurface fleet's commander, personally informed skippers of family events on open circuits—only boats' transmissions were secure—so good news like a baby's birth reached all of the tight-knit U-boat fraternity. On occasion skippers broke into verse.
Being a War and Peace 'virgin' it was a totally new experience for me; fascinating, fun, exhausting - and, of course, totally addictive. Indeed, having stayed on into the evening on most days trying to grab a few more snaps, I always felt a pang of sadness as I left the showground to wearily make my way back to my B&B in Hythe. The atmosphere was incredible... Billed as 'the greatest gathering of military vehicles on the planet' there's no doubt, in my mind at least, that this year's show must surely have lived up to that claim. However, in the various discussions that I got into with visitors, there was still a certain amount of hankering after its former venue at the Hop Farm in Beltring, where the War and Peace show had been held for the past 25 years. The inaugural War and Peace Revival (W&PR) was held at the Folkestone site last year and although the organisers have worked hard to overcome the issue of distance between attractions by laying on special transport courtesy of Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, there were still comments about just how spread out everything was. As I understand it, at Beltring the arena was more central, with everything radiating off it, which not only made flitting between one section and another far easier but also provided a 360 degree view of what was going on in the way of mock battles.
During the early post-war years, investigations into faster flying took many different directions. In September 1948, Britain's Air Council placed an order with Reid and Sigrist Ltd, based at Desford, Leicestershire, for a single aeroplane to examine the pros and cons of accommodating the pilot in a prone position. A prone-cockpit layout particularly for future fighter aircraft, had two particular advantages worth exploring. For some time it had been recognised that a prone pilot could endure greater G force during tight turns and was less likely to black out than in an upright attitude, vital as jet fighters became able to manoeuvre at ever faster speeds. Also, the prone arrangement could help reduce future interceptors' frontal area, thereby decreasing drag. Reid and Sigrist came up with a small two-seat twin-engined monoplane named the RS.4. The aircraft was converted from their earlier RS.3 Desford and christened the Bobsleigh, a reference to the second pilot's experimental position. Powered by two 130hp de Havilland Gipsy Major engines, the 34ft span aircraft (registered VZ728) first flew in its modified state on June 13, 1951. A conventional cockpit was retained and an extended, largely transparent nose added to accommodate the prone pilot.
Back when the Marvel universe first came to be, the Angel was on the job. Debuting in 1939 alongside Timely Comics' Human Torch in Marvel Comics No. 1, the Angel beat Captain America to the crime-fighting scene by a good two years. But it is the star-and-stripes-clad Captain America, not the Angel, whom people remember. The Angel, a.k.a. Tom Hallowav, didn't have powers to speak of, apart from a cape that allowed him to fly when he bothered to use it. Raised in prison by his warden father after his mother died, and trained in everything a growing boy needs to become a crime-fighter, Halloway became a detective. Then he strangely donned a snazzy red, yellow, and blue costume with wings emblazoned on his chest. Sporting an atypical (for a superhero) Errol Flvnn-like mustache, with no mask to hide his identity, the Angel turned up in numerous series and had a few significant WWII exploits. One of the Angel's most bizarre war adventures came in Human Torch No. 5 in the fall of 1941, when he teamed up with the Sub-Mariner to battle Nazi operatives disguised as zombies. The "Nazombies" were infiltrating Bermuda and striking fear into everyone's heart. But the two heroes uncovered the subterfuge— after the Angel temporarily became the Nazombies' captive—and sent the fake undead soldiers packing. The Angel crusaded for the Allied cause throughout the war, with the help of other heroes or solo, even falling prey to a Japanese brainwasher who nearly turned him into an Axis assassin. He appeared more than 100 times in multiple titles and was retroactively considered a member of the wartime All- Winners Squad.