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Found 7 results

  1. Just gone 7am on 4 February 2015 and South African Airways Flight SA257 from Johannesburg is about to touch down at the King Shaka International airport in Durban : At the controls are Captains Frik van Schalkwyk (left) and Matthew Smith (right) The hour long journey marked Frik's inaugural flight as Captain, following an extensive flying career with the airline, and here's the proud man after arrival : I'd like to thank Frik's wife Shirley (my cousin) for allowing me to post her photos of the momentous occasion - I only hope my model has done it justice. Here are the rest of my pics of Zvezda's A320 finished off with Draw decals (Set 44s-A3N-1), Skyline details (SKY14058), and Authentic Airliner windows (A320 family) ...and for those of you who are wondering about the secret of levitation, here are a couple of pics that haven't had the brass wire airbrushed out : Best Regards. mike
  2. Sea Fury in South Africa?

    A photo I acquired recently. It's Sea Fury VR951, Q/108(?) of 802 Sqn, HMS Vengeance. It was probably taken during the cruise off South Africa in 1948, alongside some other, familiar, photos that you see in the books. My question is - where was this taken? It is likely South Africa. The control tower/terminal/watch office complex is quite distinctive, but I've been unable to find a photo of anything remotely similar. Does anyone know where this was/is?
  3. The Henri Farman HF-27 was not built in any great numbers, but it saw service in a great many places, ranging from the Channel Coast to the Northwest Frontier, by way of the Aegean, Mesopotamia, Arabia, and Russia. Its first operational use was in German Southwest Africa, by South African airmen, and indeed, the fielding of a South African air contingent in that campaign, and the early production of the HF-27, were tightly entwined. Henry and Maurice Farman were pioneering pilots in the heady early days of heavier than air flight in Europe. In 1912, they combined their separate aviation ventures into a single company, with their elder brother Richard handling the business end of things. Within the fraternal firm, Henry and Maurice pursued their own lines of design, Henry's being marketed under the French spelling Henri (they were all sons of an English father and French mother resident in Paris). Henry in his designs favored rotary motors and a wing structure with an upper wing of much greater span than the lower. Maurice favored stationary motors, and a wing structure with an upper wing only slightly greater in span than the lower. Both employed the early 'propulsion' (pusher) configuration in their designs. When the Great War began, Farman aeroplanes equipped over half the front-line escadrille of the Aviation Militaire. The Henri Farman machines, however seemingly suitable in peacetime, did not stand up well to service in the field, proving too fragile for hurried operations off improvised fields, and delicate to fly in any sort of adverse conditions, owing to their maximum speed being only very little greater than their stalling speed. They were withdrawn as soon as doing so became practical, and when the French drew up a plan of standardization and expansion for their air service in October, 1914, Henri Farman designs had no place in it, though Maurice Farmans became a standard reconnaissance type, and were built in great quantity. Henry Farman set out to recoup with a fresh design. It employed steel tube for all major structural components, and employed a sturdy four wheel 'perambulator' undercarriage arrangement, with oleo shock absorbers on its rear legs. It used a Canton-Unne water-cooled radial motor, providing nearly double the horse-power of the rotary Gnome employed on his earlier products, and carried motor and fuel and crew in a simple nacelle very similar in appearance to nacelles of his brother Maurice's designs. The wings were of equal span, and the struts connecting them, of steel tube with wooden fairings, were quite long: the greatly increased gap between the wings made both wings more efficient in generating lift. Only the longeron arrangement and tail surfaces retained the familiar aspects of earlier Henri Farman machines. On occassion English documents refer to the type as an 'HF Voisin', and save for the great gap between the wings, from most angles it does indeed look very much like a Voisin. There can be little doubt Henry Farman was at least 'inspired' by the very successful Voisin III/V series, constructed with steel tube and employing the powerful Canton-Unne radial, with equal span wings and a four wheel undercarriage, in drawing up the HF-27. While Henry Farman was laying out the lines of his new aeroplane, half a world away South Africa's invasion of German Southwest Africa was collapsing in a muddle of half-measures, defeat, and rebellion. At the beginning of the Great War, English troops had been withdrawn from South Africa, leaving military affairs there to the Union Defense Force, a numerous but poorly organized body, whose largest component was a reserve known as the Active Citizens Force. It was the Royal Navy, not the South African government, which wanted German Southwest Africa invaded. The Navy wanted to prevent German cruisers loose on the high seas receiving any aid from several long-range wireless stations in the colony. Going to war against Germany on behalf of England was none too popular with the Boers of South Africa. Many harbored bitter memories of the recent war against England, in which Germany had lent the Boers appreciable support. Balanced against this was the desire for more land and greater influence which conquest of the neighboring German colony would bring. Nor would invading German Southwest Africa be an easy proposition, though it could prove quite profitable. Diamonds had recently been discovered there in commercial quantities, and the northern interior of the colony was a large expanse of dry grassland well suited to cattle-ranching. But the Atlantic coast of the colony, and its southern reaches down to the Orange River, consisted of extremely inhospitable desert. The German Schutztruppe defending the colony was far smaller than the Union Defence Force, even allowing for mobilization of men from the colony's ten thousand or so German residents, but it was highly professional, and well-adapted to desert operations. It was also almost exclusively white: German policy towards the native population had been murderous over the previous decade, and there could be no question of raising a local force of askari. South African forces were exclusively white as well, making this one of the few instances in colonial war of the period in which both sides fielded forces even predominantly European. (Schutztruppe camel detachment) General Botha, the South Arican leader, wanted to mount a three-pronged offensive. Its major component would be a force landed at Walvis Bay. This was a modest indentation on the north coast of the German colony, where a small enclave administered (but not garrisoned) by South Africa remained from an earlier English claim on the coastline. Next door, the Germans had established the port of Swakopmund, at the mouth of the Swakop River, and here one of the wireless stations was located. Gen. Botha envisioned this force striking inland to the colony's capital, Windheok, where another of the wireless stations was located. A second force would be landed at the port of Luderitz, not far north of the mouth of the Orange River on the southern coast. Luderitz was the site of the third wireless station. This force would advance into the interior along a railway line. A third force would be conveyed by sea to Port Nolloh on the South African coast just south of the mouth of the Orange River. It would march inland, cross the Orange River, which was the border between South Africa and German Southwest Africa, moving north with the initial objective of seizing the wells at Sandfontien, tho only reliable source of water for many miles north of the Orange River. This force was to be supported by a body of troops mustered locally. In the event, however, the Royal Navy was unable to provide enough transport for the scheme, and it was the northern force Gen. Botha had seen as the leading element of the invasion that had to be left go, with a naval bombardment of the Swakopmund facilities substituted. The troops from Capetown, commanded by Gen Lukin, began arriving on August 31 at Port Nolloth, while local troops were gathering at Upington, headquarters of the district commander, Col. Maritz. On September 14, Swakopmund was bombarded from the sea. The wireless there was wrecked. Simultaneously, Gen. Lukin's force seized the fords of the Orange River south of Sandfontein. (Fording the Orange River) Next day the Commandant of the Active Citizen Force component of the Union Defense Force, Gen. Beyers, resigned his commission. That evening, driving with a famous fighter of the Boer War, Koos de la Rey, Gen. Beyers encountered a police roadblock, part of a dragnet hunting a fugitive murderer. He did not stop, police opened fire, de la Rey was shot dead. Many Boers believed it deliberate assassination of a bitter opponent of English rule. On September 19, troops were landed without opposition at Luderitz, and Gen. Lukin advanced a small force to Sandfontein. The German Schutztruppe concentrated against Sandfontein, and though the post received some re-inforcement, it was overwhelmed on September 26 by German forces with a decisive advantage in artillery. (Schutztruppe field guns) Colonel Maritz at Upington had been surreptitiously in communication with the Germans for some time, and had given them details of the plans and forces at Sandfontien. He had refused orders to move to assist the beleagured force. He soon moved on to open rebellion, proclaiming the independence of South Africa early in October. There were soon some twelve thousand men under arms against English rule in the former Orange Free State, and in the Transvaal, where Gen. Beyers raised the standard of revolt. (Col. Maritz at his headquarters) Led personally by generals Botha and Smutz, loyal elements of the Union Defense Force turned to suppressing rebellion. Though after the first couple of weeks the outcome was not much in doubt, this task was not completed till early December, by which time Col Maritz and his last followers had sought refuge with the Germans, and Gen. Beyers had been shot off his horse and drowned in the Vaal River while fleeing from a loyalist column. Even as rebellion flared that October, the South African government decided the Union Defence Force required some aeroplanes, and soon. The decision at that point to see to this quickly as possible may well have owed something to the activities of two aeroplanes operating in support of the German Schutztruppe. These had, by mid-October, flown over South African troops encamped south of the Orange River, and assailed South African troops landed at Luderitz with field gun shells dropped as bombs, and leaflets urging them to join the rebellion against England . This sort of thing, widely reported, damaged prestige, made South Africa look second-rate, and in times of trouble, appearances can mean a great deal. (Roland 'Pfiel' biplane, one of the two German aeroplanes) There were a half-dozen Union Defense Force officers trained as pilots then serving with the Royal Flying Corps in France and England. The task of acquiring aeroplanes and equipment for them to employ in German Southwest Africa (under the grand title 'South African Air Corps') was allotted to the oldest among them, Lt. Gerard Percy Wallace. Born in 1885, he was the son of a Sussex clergyman and tutor. Only ten when his father died, he had followed the footsteps of his elder brother, a regular Army officer, to southern Africa. There he joined the Union Defense Force, and acquired the aeronautical bug. He was one of ten men who embarked on flight training at government expense at the Paterson Aviation School at Kimberly in August, 1913. At the time, this boasted two aeroplanes, copies of an early Farman design, though one soon crashed, killing an instructor. Wallace was one of seven who passed the course in December. He received a probationary commission as a lieutenant, and with five other graduates of the Paterson course travelled to England for further training and certification by the Royal Aero Club, which he received in early June, 1914. In November, with a probationary rank of captain, G. P. Wallace arrived in London. Told at the War Office all was in hand for his task, he discovered that in fact nothing was arranged, or even readily available. England and France were engaged in expansion of their air services, and everything in production was spoken for by one body or another. Pressing his inquiries, Capt. Wallace learned of the new type being worked on by Farmans at Paris, that would feature a steel structure most suitable for the desert conditions he and his fellows would be operating in. He met personally with Henry Farman, who was glad of an order for a dozen of the new machines before one had even been completed. In January, 1915, the first 'sample' HF-27 took to the air at Etamps, flown first by Henry Farman, and then by Capt. Wallace with Henry as a passenger. He found the machine quite satisfactory, and looked forward to delivery of the first examples at the end of February. February, however, ended without delivery of a single machine. The enterprising Capt. Wallace detailed an officer to the Farman factory to hurry on the business, and himself arranged for the acquisition of needed steel tube in England and its shipment to the Farman factory. In the middle of that harried month, he learned of the death of his older brother, killed at Nueve Chapelle. At the end of March, three HF-27s emerged from the Farman factory. On April 3rd, titanic packing crates containing their disassembled components were loaded onto the small merchant steamer SS Umvota. They were too large to go into the ship's holds, and had to be lashed down on deck. Two other aeroplanes, donated by the Admiralty, were aboard the vessel, along with Capt. Wallace and two other pilots, when it departed Portsmouth, setting sailing towards German Southwest Africa and Walvis Bay. Walvis Bay was now securely in South African hands. With the rebellion suppressed, and adequate transport available, Gen. Botha had landed two infantry brigades and a cavalry regiment in Walvis Bay on Christmas Day. Shortly after New Years Swakopmund had been seized. Botha himself arrived in Walvis Bay early in February, 1915, with still more troops: two cavalry brigades, several infantry battalions, and sufficient artillery to establish two field batteries and a heavy battery. (South African cavalry advancing in the interior) As this massive force began advancing inland up the Swakop River, the German defenders had little choice but to disengage in the south of the colony, lest they be surrounded and pinned in desert themselves. But the troops from Luderitz and the Orange River fords were close on their heels. By the end of April, the Schutztruppe was concentrated in the north before Gen. Botha's advance on the colony's capital at Windheok, and the several South African forces were all close enough to one another for effective tactical co-ordination. The German defenders had no prospect of defeating their numerous opponents now, but the South African columns, whose difficulties with supply of forage and water for their horses hampered their manouverability, had little prospect as yet of trapping their agile opponents. (Swakopmund viewed from the sea) In the night of April 30, the SS Umvota and its cargo arrived at Walvis Bay. Once that cargo was brought ashore and examined, it became clear that heavy seas encountered on the voyage had badly damaged major components of two of the Farmans. The pair of B.E.2c machines donated by the Admiralty were easier to handle and assemble, but performed very poorly in the hot air, and in any case were badly damaged in accidents within a week of their test flights. They were left unrepaired, as completing assembly of the first Farman was the highest priority. This was achieved by the last week of May, with the aeroplane being flown successfully on several occasions. On May 25, the first assembled HF-27 was flown by Lt. van der Spuy from Walvis Bay to Karibib, a town north of the Swakop River. By this time, the colony's capital Windheok was in South African hands, and the German Schutztruppe was retiring northwards, with South African forces following. Gen. Botha desired a reconnaissance to be flown over Omaruru, some thirty-five miles further on to the north, to determine if the Germans were making a stand there. Winds of 60 miles an hour blowing above 3,000 feet on the 26th made a flight to Omaruru impossible; that same day, the last German aeroplane still in working order crashed when attempting to take off from Kalkfeld to reconnoiter the rail line north of Windhoek. On the 27th, Lt. van der Spuy finally was able to fly north to Omaruru, returning to report the Germans were abandoning the town. Assembly of a second HF-27 was completed at Walvis Bay, and this was flown up to Karibib on June 12. Two more crated Farmans had arrived on the 7th, and night shifts were put on in a successful effort to assemble these quickly; both were ready for service by June 18. South African columns were advancing north, and between June 18 and June 20 the four serviceable Farmans, and attendant ground crew, concentrated at Omaruru, where the Germans had maintained an aerodrome. One of the Farmans, No. 6, was damaged past field repair when it clipped a tree coming in to land on the new field. South African columns on the 20th began moving north over a wide front, with a flying column under Gen. Myberg hooking wide to the east to get behind the retreating Germans, while a force under Gen. Lukin advanced up the rail line from Windheok towards Kalkfeld. Reconnaissances flown from Omaruru over several days revealed strong German forces initially in Kalkfeld were retreating north. Capt. Wallace was instructed to prepare a bombing attack on Kalkfeld on June 24, using field gun shells as bombs. He flew over the place for a final look beforehand, and discovered a column of South African cavalry already there, who identified themselves by laying out white cloth strips in a large 'V' as he circled overhead. To keep up with the rapidly advancing columns, Capt. Wallace ordered his men and machines on to Kalkfeld that very day. Flying in to Kalkfeld on the 25th, van der Spuy found himself landing with a tail-wind, and ran his aeroplane into a tree at the far edge of the field, resulting in great damage to the machine. The unit was soon on the move again, to Otjitasu, another thirty or so miles north by west, where the two Farmans still serviceable landed on June 28. On the 29th, reconnaissance was mingled with bombing, each aeroplane carrying eight field gun shells to be dropped on the Germans retreating up the rail-line towards Otavi. They took off from Otjitasu but landed at Brankpan, a salt flat Capt. Wallace described as 'a magnificent natural aerodrome' which he had reconnoitered by motor car the previous day. From Brankpan on the 30th a Farman was dispatched to try and locate the flying column of Gen. Myberg, which for some while had been out of touch with Gen. Botha's headquarters. On the return leg of the flight, the motor stopped, and the aeroplane was forced to land. A party sent out by truck found the machine, intact and with crew unharmed. A spare engine recently brought up from Walvis Bay was trucked out and fitted in the field. The other Farman took off on the 30th to bomb Germans near Oltavi, and the next day Gen. Lukin's column caught up to them there, and though outnumbered, hustled the Germans out of their positions into a hurried retirement to Khohab. Later that day, they were bombed by the sole remaining serviceable Farman, which this time carried two 112 lb bombs. This was pretty nearly the last hostile act of the campaign. On July 3, the German Governor sent an emmissary to Gen. Botha proposing hostilities cease, with German forces to accept internee status and retain their equipment. This Botha rejected, and as part of his demonstration he meant to continue the fight, one of the Farmans flew a reconnaissance over Khohab on 5 July. On the sixth, Gen Botha imparted his terms to the Governor's emmissary. They were generous as regards personnel, but required all weapons and equipment be surrendered, and he agreed to extend an armistice while the terms were considered. This prevented the two repaired Farmans, finally serviceable again, from being flown up from Kalkfeld to join their fellows at Brankpan. The Germans surrendered on Gen. Botha's terms on July 9th. Capt. Wallace's report on the campaign was most favorable to the HF-27, and its Canton-Unne motor. He felt the aeroplane's great weight (a ton and a half or more) moderated the effects of turbulent air over the desert, and considered its steel framing essential for operating in desert conditions. He noted the only structural element of the Farman which was wood, the struts connecting the longerons, warped badly in the heat, so that replacements had had to be continually made by carpenters in the field to keep the machines braced true. He praised the reliability of the motor, noting there had been only one instance where engine failure had forced a landing. One item of interest, touching on a 'craft' consideration largely forgotten since, was his note that, after no more than a few weeks of operation under desert sun, the fabric of the first two machines assembled had deteriorated to the point that in another fortnight they would have required complete re-covering. Further service of the HF-27 in English hands confirmed Capt. Wallace's view. The Royal Naval Air Service acquired some seventy or so of the type. Several were sent down to German East Africa, where they assisted in the reduction of the German cruiser SMS Konigsberg in July, 1915. These machines were later shipped north to Mesopotamia, where they reinforced an RNAS detatchment assisting in air-lifting supplies into the beseiged garrison at Kut-al-aram in April, 1916, finally being transfered to 30 Sqdn, Royal Flying Corps. The RNAS employed the HF-27 in the Aegean, starting in July, 1915, first in support of the effort at Gallipoli. These were generally fitted with a machine-gun, mounted on a tube frame, to which the observer in the rear seat stood to fire over the pilot's head; the gun was usually a Lewis, but one photograph shows a Vickers so mounted. Their duties ran from ranging fire for ship's guns to bombing. The redoubtable Cmdr. C. R. Samson in December of 1915 flew his HF-27 from Imbros to Constantinople carrying a five hundred pound bomb, which he aimed at a barracks in the city. A more usual load ran to a pair of 112 lb bombs, or one such, and half a dozen or so smaller missiles. Later in 1916, some HF-27s were relegated to training duties, putting the polish on newly fledged pilots just arrived in the theater. R.N.A.S. HF-27s operated on the Channel Coast as well, from Couderkirk, during 1915. They flew anti-submarine patrols, carrying two 65 lb bombs. Pilots on two occasions reported sighting and attacking a U-boat, one claiming his target had been 'blown in half', though this was never confirmed. When a force of three Zeppelins was returning from a raid on the night of June 6/7, 1915, Flt. Sub-Lt. J. S. Mills in an HF-27 sighted one of the dirigibles, followed it back to its base, and bombed and destroyed it in its shed at Evere. This was the same night Flt. Sub-Lt. Warneford bombed and destroyed a Zeppelin in the air; shortly after he was awarded the Victoria Cross for this, he died crashing an HF-27. The Royal Flying Corps acquired a batch of some twenty HF-27s during 1916. 31 Sqdn, formed for service in India, received some of these, and employed them, along with B.E.2cs, on campaigns against various Pathan tribes during 1917. One 31 Sqdn HF-27 was modified to swap the crew's places, putting the observer in the front seat and giving him an efficient machine-gun mounting, but generally the HF-27s in India caried only bombs. Several of 31 Sqdn's HF-27s were detached for service in Aden late in 1917, where they would remain in action till the end of hostilities; one was brought down by Turkish fire. 31 Sqdn passed on a further portion of its HF-27s to 114 Sqdn, when that unit formed at Lahore in November, 1917. With the close of the campaign in German Southwest Africa, the South African Air Corps was disbanded, and its pilots returned to England. There they became the nucleus for a new unit, 26 Squadron RFC, commanded by Maj. Wallace. This was shipped to German East Africa, to join in the campaign there against the German colonial forces led by Gen. von Lettow-Vorbeck. Arriving in December, 1915, 26 Sqdn fielded a mixed equipment, consisting of B.E.2c machines, and the six original Henri Farman HF-27s. In the course of operations in German East Africa, one Farman, the same one which had clipped a tree coming in to land at Omaruru, broke apart in flight, killing its pilot. The surviving Farmans were retired in January, 1917. Maj. G. P. Wallace received the Distiguished Service order in 1916. That same year his younger brother, who had obtained a commission in the Indian Army, was killed in Mesopotamia. The Russian air service acquired a number of HF-27s, though it is not known just when, or how many were purchased from Farman direct. Fifty were built on license by the Dux factory, and more than a dozen were still in front-line service in June of 1917. These were armed, mostly in manner similar to the way the RNAS armed its machines in the Aegean, though some featured a 'swapped seats' arrangement similar to that of the 31 Sqdn 'gunbus'. A variety of machine-gun types were employed.. It is claimed the crew of an HF-27 piloted by A. K. Tumansky succeeded in shooting down a German aeroplane. This model is scratch-built, in 1/72 scale. It represents one of the original Henri Farman HF-27s operated in German Southwest Africa. It is based on photographs appearing in the memoir of Keneth van der Spuy, who had a long career in the South African Air Force, literally from its beginning (he was the first of the trainees to receive Royal Aero Club certification as a pilot). Here are several pictures taken with flash and/or magnification, to show some details.... The finish is conjectural. Henri Farman employed bleached linen, and early rotary types generally used a varnish incorporating linseed oil, which stood up better to the mix of oil and exhaust fumes thrown off by such motors. This had a distinct yellow cast. It seems reasonable to suppose the same finish was employed on this new type, as it would have been on hand in quantity. Photographs of early examples show nacelle and fabric in very similar grey tones. This could indicate employment of a paint on metal or wood panels matched more or less to the color of the fabric. This became a very general French finish later, but early examples of it can be seen in photographs from 1915. Still, it is possible the nacelle is grey-blue (also a common practice, especially in Maurice Farman machines), and that it is only by chance this shows, in orthochrome photographs, a similar grey tone to the fabric. It is also possible the fabric and nacelle have both been given a coat of off-white paint (the apparent practice of the Voisin firm, and sometimes employed by the Caudron brothers, another large manufacturer of the time). I have seen one illustration of a South African HF-27 depicted as lacking any national markings whatever, and suspect this was in fact the case. English practice regarding such was in flux at the time, and Farman certainly would not have applied either roundel or Union Flag at the factory. In the campaign there was no need for nationality markings, since the aeroplanes were radically different in appearance from the familiar German pair, and in any case, by the time the South African aeroplanes were in operations, they were the only things flying. I want particularly to thank Doug, of the South African Air Force forum, who provided me several pictures from the the memoirs of Gen. van der Spuy, which made it possible to build complete this model as a South African machine, and do so with reasonable accuracy as regards the motor mounting. If you need to know anything about the SAAF, try here: http://www.saairforce.co.za/forum/index.php The account given here of the activities of the 'South African Air Corps', and of Capt. Wallace in procuring aeroplanes for it, is based on his report of same, a copy of which was sent me a gentleman who signs himself 'Nieuport11' on the Great War Forum, and I greatly appreciate his doing so. The Great War forum is largely a 'remembrance' site, but people there are extremely knowledgeable and willing to help: http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php Earlier stages of the build can be traced starting here: http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/234989782-henri-farman-hf-27-steel-farman-scratch-build-in-172/
  4. Just finished this for the Lesser Built Air-Forces Group Build. It's the old 1/48 Heller Mirage III B/C kit modified with the Spinners (now Scaleworx) resin conversion set. Drop tanks were from Wingman but modified with tailfins from the Italeri Nesher kit. Probe and inflight refuelling tip were from Master Models. More photos can be found in the Group build gallery here and the WIP can be found here And for my civvie friends, here's the mandatory "with something else" pic (SAAF Mirage III CZ, also from 2 Squadron) : Hope you like it. mike
  5. This stuff has been in my loft for more years than I care to remember, so thanks to the LBAFGB, I can put my fears behind me and have a go at building a SAAF Cheetah. Here are the building blocks : (For those of you who may be interested, Spinners is now sold under the name of Scaleworx Resin Models : https://www.facebook.com/scaleworx?pnref=lhc ) See you all in January mike
  6. Aermacchi MB 326K Impala 1:48 Italeri The MB326 was designed to fulfil a need of the Italian Air Force for a combined jet trainer/fighter that would be cheap, easy to maintain and could use the Armstrong Siddley Viper engine, which was cheap & efficient, but designed for a short service life. In reality, it was sufficiently powerful and reliable to be used in other applications, and as improvements came along in its design, the thrust output grew substantially. The aircraft was of a similar configuration to the British Jet Provost, although the nose was narrower due to the in-line tow-seat cockpit. This shape continued for the single-seat Variant, which was the first single-seat variant that went on to sell well in Africa and the Middle East. Like the Provost's weapon-armed Strikemaster, the Impala, as it was known in South African service was a ground-attack aircraft, with the majority of their stock built in South Africa. The two-seat 326Ms were known as the Impala I, while the single-seater, the subject of this kit was known as the Impala II. They were very successful in their role, being able to cope with poor runways and carry sufficient munitions on the six hard-points to make their point, while flying fast and low to avoid anti-aircraft batteries and missiles. The Kit This is a re-release of an existing tooling, originally released by ESCI in the early 80s. That said, it benefits from nicely restrained panel lines and crisp details that bely its age. The box is typical top-opening Italeri fare, and the sprues are all together in one bag, with the clear parts bagged inside the main bag. There are three sprues of medium grey styrene, mainly because the long sprue that contains the main airframe components has been cut down to fit inside the smaller box. A small modular type clear parts sprue contain the two-part canopy and a few small parts, and the box contents is completed by the large instruction booklet and the rather busy decal sheet. The build commences with the cockpit, which is a typical product of its age, and has only minimal structural detail to which decals for the instrument panel and side consoles are applied. The instrument panel has some relief detail, which is limited to the different levels of the panel itself, so the decals are a must unless you fancy scratching the instrumentation. The pilot's ejector seat is a simple affair only vaguely resembling the Martin Baker Mk.4 that should be present. One from the spares or aftermarket would make an immediate improvement here, as the head-box is massive and totally unrepresentative, giving it a top-heavy look. The rear bulkhead as a little detail moulded in, but a large box has a sink mark where the thick styrene has shrunk during cooling. This can easily be repaired with a little filler however, and as a blank canvas, any additional detail can be added by the modeller. The wings and fuselage are both assembled in short order, with plenty of flashed over mounting holes to be drilled out for weapons and tanks if you plan on fitting them. The exhaust is provided as a stub attached to a small bulkhead and has a representation of the rear engine face moulded in, although that is probably quite a bit too far aft. The elevators fit into a pair of slots wither side of the tail, and should be level – any anhedral was removed long before the K was envisaged. The wingtip fuel tanks are built from their separate halves and install on two large pegs. The undersides of the intakes are added to the lower wing, and the trunking disappears, so best put a little darkening paint in there to fool the casual viewer. Interestingly the nose has a cut-out with a basic interior, so the cover can be posed open or closed. This is a product of a different age, and this kind of feature doesn't appeal as much as it did in the 80s, and detail is quite unrealistic. The rear cockpit is cowled over with a single part, which should be fitted carefully to minimise clean-up, and the canopy can be posed open or closed. The parts are clear and thin, but my copy had some marks on the outer surface despite being separately bagged. A quick polish and dip in Klear/Future should resolve that issue though, as they're fine and unobtrusive. The kit is finished off by adding the wheels and gear legs to the gear bays. Here again, there are inconsistencies, as the main gear bays and air-brake bay have some very nicely moulded in detail. A little detail added to the walls and they would be good to go. The nose gear bay is completely blank however, and could do with some work to bring it up to the standard of the other bays. The air-brake can be posed open or closed by the addition of a retraction jack, and it would be a shame to close it up and hiding the detail. The weapons fit includes a pair of cheek mounted 30mm cannons with Sabrina-like fairings around them, a pair of wing-mounted pods containing 12.7mm Brownings, a pair of rocket pods and two small cigar-shaped reconnaissance pods. Extra fuel is carried in two streamlined tanks on the wing pylons with small finlets on the rear. There are some small sink-marks on the tips of these tanks, due to the alignment socket on the inside of the nose. This will need a small application of filler to smooth out. The detail on the wing-mounted gun pods is excellent for the vintage, as are the conical noses of the rocket pods. The weapons/fuel tank pylons all have surface detail moulded in, and the decal sheet includes stencils to busy them up. The decal sheet is a busy one, containing six choices of aircraft flown by South Africa, Brazil, Italy and Dubai. From the box you can build one of the following: 4th Squadron SAAF, Waterkloof AB, South Africa 1970 – green & brown over grey 85th Combat Flight School SAAF, Hoedspruit AB, South Africa, 1990 - green & brown over grey Escuadron "Pacau", 1o/4o GAV Forca Aerea Brasileira, Natal 2006 - green & brown over grey Reparto Sperimentale di Volo, Aeronautica Militaire Italiana, Pratica Di Mare 1990 – dark green, mid green & brown over grey Reparto Sperimentale di Volo, Aeronautica Militaire Italiana, Pratica Di Mare 1979 – dark green, mid green & brown over grey United Arab Emirates Police Air Wing, Dubai 1977 - dark green, mid green & brown over grey Decals are of course printed by Cartograf, and are crisply printed, with good colour density and register. There is an absolutely tiny discrepancy in the register of the red, but that is only really noticeable under magnification on the UAE roundel and flag, which is an identification scheme that really tests the register of decals anyway. Conclusion In its day this must have been quite an impressive kit, and there are some aspects of it that impress even today. There are some lowlights too, but nothing that can't be fixed or a blind eye turned. The quality of the engraving on the external surfaces is up to modern standards, which is always a good start with any kit. There are some nice decal choices, and although the camo patterns sound very similar, the actual layout of the colours is different from country to country, so there is in fact plenty of variety. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  7. I made this one a few years ago for the dad of my then girlfriend. I almost got it right, only having forgotten to add the car engine they kept on the engine deck as an auxiliary power unit.. I had very little reference.. And some idea as to how much work went into the detailing..
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