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  1. LVG C.VI German Service (KPM0402) 1:72 Kovozávody Prostějov Developed by the catchily titled Luft-Verkehrs-Gesellschaft (LVG) in 1917 as a two-seat artillery-spotting and reconnaissance aircraft, and having some relatively advanced features, including a send-only morse-code radio, and heated flight suits for the crew, as well as partial metal construction to add strength to the flying surfaces such as the elevator and tail fin. 1,100 of the type were made, and it reached the Western Front in time to serve as a close reconnaissance and observation aircraft, where they probably had to be regularly patched to cover bullet-holes. Unsurprisingly, the C.VI was a development of the C.V, being a little larger and more advanced, with the lower wing staggered 28cm behind the upper, and the fuselage was fully monocoque, compared to the partial monocoque fuselage of the earlier aircraft. Both aircraft had a chimney-style exhaust and a flat-panel radiator in the centre of the upper wing. The C.VI was equipped with a single LMG 08/15 7.92mm machine gun firing through the propeller on interrupter gear, with a Parabellum MG14 on a Scarff ring operated by the rear crew member. It could also carry up to 200lb of bombs, becoming an early example of armed reconnaissance. A straight 6-cylinder water-cooled Benz engine provided motive power, and that output a surprising 197hp through a two-blade wooden propeller, which gave it a maximum speed of 110mph, which seems painfully slow by today’s standards. They were advanced enough not to be scrapped the moment hostilities ceased in 1918, and some saw civilian service as mail-planes in Germany, while a few more were sold to neighbouring Poland, Finland, Czechoslovakia and a few went to the newly formed USSR, who had pulled out of WWI after their revolution, only to begin a conflict with Poland in the early 20s where they saw some action, with more airframes acquired by Poland. Switzerland also ran two airframes for almost the whole of the 20s. The Kit This is a rebox of a 2016 tooling by KP Models, and is boxed with new decals depicting aircraft in German service. The kit arrives in an end-opening box that has a painting of the subject on the front, and the decal option profiles on the rear, and inside is a resealable clear bag with a single sprue in tan coloured styrene, a small piece of printed clear acetate, decal sheet, and the instruction booklet that is printed in colour on a sheet of folded A4. Detail is good and the moulding crisp, with engraved panel lines where appropriate, restrained ribbing on the fabric-covered wings, plus well-detailed engine and machine guns, and cord wrappings on the interplane struts. Construction begins with the building and painting of sub-assemblies, starting with the curved instrument panel, moving onto the straight-six engine, which has all the cylinders moulded together and topped off by a detailed cylinder head part, and a base on which it mounts in the fuselage. Three ported intake manifolds are fixed to three cylinders each, and the exhaust with its moulded-in manifold is fitted to the starboard side, with a choice of tall or short exit pipe. This is then mounted on an oval bulkhead after the cockpit floor is detailed with a box to raise the pilot’s seat, which has a control column and rudder pedals applied to the floor in front. The Scarff ring is fitted with a pintle-mount, attaching the MG14 and its drum magazine to complete the assembly. The fuselage interior is painted natural wood to match the cockpit floor and engine mounts, adding a small part in the aft cockpit, the instrument panel in the front, and the nose machine gun in a slot in the starboard fuselage half, the back of the breech extending into the cockpit through the cut-out in the instrument panel. The fuselage is closed around the cockpit and engine assemblies, adding an optional vertical fairing around the engine, installing the Scarff ring on the rear cockpit cut-out, and a tail skid under the rear of the fuselage. The elevators slide into the rear of the fuselage, mounting the tail fin centrally over it. The upper wing is a single part, which has two Z-form cabane struts fitted at right-angles to the wing surface, and a curved reservoir structure underneath, ready for installation. The landing gear is built from a pair of V-shaped struts with an aerofoil axle linking them together, and single-part wheels on each end. These are glued under the fuselage, and the lower wings are attached to the sides on two pins, where you are advised not to use super glue, presumably because they may need adjustment to ensure the correct angle, as per the accompanying frontal profile. The two windscreens are cut from the acetate sheet and glued to the front of the cockpit cut-outs, then the upper wing is lowered onto the model, supported initially by the cabane struts, with four more individual struts per wing added from the sides, which of course ignores the rigging and painting. The prop gives you a choice of two blade-types, then the rigging diagram is shown on the following page, which should be read in conjunction with the box art and your own research. The final diagram shows the lozenge patterns that were painted on the upper surface of the wings, although decals for these are not included. They are available as an option however here, and are sold under the code KPEX026 if you want to make the task easier. Markings There are three decal options included on the sheet, which covers the National and personal markings for each option, while the rest of the camouflage should either be painted by the modeller, or as mentioned above, a decal set can be purchased to ease finishing the wings. From the box you can build one of the following: The decals are printed using a digital process and have good registration, sharpness, and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut loosely around the printed areas. This means that the carrier film on their decals can be coaxed away from the printed part of the decal after they have been applied, effectively rendering them carrier film free, making the completed decals much thinner and more realistic, and obviating the need to apply successive coats of clear varnish to hide the edges of the carrier film. It’s a great step further in realism from my point of view, and saves a good quantity of precious modelling time into the bargain. Conclusion Another interesting and unusual model from KP Models, back on the shelves after a long absence. The moulding is very crisp, and includes plenty of detail to endear it to us modellers. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  2. NA Mustang in RAF Service - Wingleader Photo Archive #22 Part One – Allison Engined Variants Wingleader Publications Originally developed to fulfil a British requirement for a new fighter aircraft, the unmistakeable North American P-51 Mustang famously went from drawing board to first flight in just 178 days. It went on to become one of the most famous and successful aircraft of the Second World War, thanks to its speed, agility, distinctive looks and long-range capabilities. It was originally powered by an Allison built engine, which was better suited to lower-level operations, as performance gradually dropped off above 12,000ft, and the first Marks of Mustang that came on charge with the RAF were tasked with jobs that played to their strengths, such as low-level reconnaissance and ground attack. These specialists stayed in the fray longer than many would imagine, and went through several sub-variants, as well as the usual piecemeal upgrades that comes from experience. Initially known as the A-36 Apache, the British gave it the name Mustang that stuck on both sides of the Atlantic, and the first British mark was the Mk.I, followed by the Mk.Ia that added 20mm cannons to the wings, then the Mk.II that benefitted from numerous upgrades including the blown Malcolm Hood that improved the pilot’s situational awareness, especially behind him, where the spine of the aircraft was an impediment to his rear view. The spine would eventually be addressed with later marks that also benefitted from the less altitude-dependent Merlin engine in front of the cockpit. The Book This twenty-second volume in the series covers the activities of the Allison-engined Mustangs in RAF service throughout WWII, starting in 1941 and extending long beyond the end of WWII to 1947 when the final airframe of its type was struck off charge. It begins with the Mk.Is that were shipped across the Atlantic to Liverpool and re-assembled at Speke wearing North American’s impression of early war RAF camouflage. It went through colour changes and numerous markings amendments due in part to some misunderstandings by the manufacturers, but also thanks to changes required by the Air Ministry in an effort to standardise everything, but as usual it standardised very little, as can be seen at times. Interleaved between the pages of photos are sheets devoted to particular examples of the type that have been discussed in the preceding pages, pointing out aspects and colour details specific to that individual airframe that will assist the modeller, as well as points of conjecture where appropriate. The photo pages are filled with large crisp pictures within the constraints of the quality of the original medium, a few of which are even in colour, which is a rare treat, and as usual there are interesting captions that are frequently accompanied by arrows or letters to help the blunt-eyed reader identify the subject in question, whether it is a particular exhaust on the side of the cockpit, or the length of the intake trunk over the nose that gives the early Mustang its distinctive look, mimicking the older P-40. Some of the photos are staged of course, probably for the benefit of press or for use in training material, but there are also a large number of candid shots, a precious few of which are in colour, and some nearer the end of the book are of weather-beaten aircraft that have seen much better days, but due to the low-level nature of their operations, there are perhaps fewer damaged returnees, other than a couple that had caught a fleeting blast from a flak gun in the tail and been able to limp home. One aircraft was photographed after crash-landing behind enemy lines, the pilot being captured and imprisoned, while the Germans pored over what was to them a new aircraft type that was worthy of inspection. The Allison Mustang was also involved in D-Day, wearing Invasion Stripes as the need arose, with interpretation and necessity causing some non-standard applications. This also applied to other identification stripes, roundels, codes and markings, the reasons for which are interesting, showing how the squadrons and even the pilots individualised their personal aircraft. Conclusion Yet another in a growing line of visually impressive books with plenty of reading material into the bargain that will have you coming back to it again and again, especially if you have more than one Mustang in your stash, which is highly likely thanks to the reputation it gained and how different its first incarnation was from the last. I look forward to each new volume of this series, and as expected, I’ve become a firm adherent to them, waiting impatiently until they are published. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  3. AGO C-IV Late (KPM0398) 1:72 Kovozávody Prostějov The C-IV was a two-seat German reconnaissance biplane from WWI that was introduced in 1916, but wasn’t well-received due to some negative characteristics, namely being unstable in flight. The initial orders were large from German and overseas customers, but these were scaled back appreciably in light of the early experiences of the flight crews. An attempt to solve the instability was made by installing a fin in front of the small comma-shaped rudder amongst other improvements, but despite this the orders weren’t reinstated, resulting on fewer than 100 being built overall. It was powered by a Benz straight-6 water-cooled engine that produced a respectable (for the day) 220 hp, and had a distinctive vertical exhaust that pushed the fumes over the heads of the crew and away into the slipstream at a relatively spritely 120mph maximum speed. The Kit This is the third boxing of a brand-new tooling from Kovozávody Prostějov, and like most of their 1:72 kits, it arrives in a small end-opening box with a painting of the type on the front, plus the decal options on the rear of the box in full colour. Inside are two sprues of grey styrene, a small sheet of clear acetate with the shape of the windscreens printed on it, a decal sheet and the instruction booklet, which is printed in colour on a sheet of folded A4. Detail is good, and includes plenty of raised and engraved features, plus a well-detailed engine and internal details moulded inside the fuselage. Construction begins with painting the instrument panel according to the first drawing, then creating the cockpit on its floor, adding the two seats on raised cylinders, the steering wheel (yes, it’s a wheel) and a pair of rudder pedals in front of the pilot, then applying the decal lap-belts on both seats. The engine is moulded as a single part, but is well detailed considering its size, and has the exhaust “horn” added overhead before it is trapped between the fuselage halves along with the cockpit, instrument panel and the tail skid. Inverted-V cabane struts are fitted each side of the engine, adding an MG08 machine gun to a pair of pegs on the port side strut. The rear gunner’s ring is installed over the opening and his Parabellum MG14 is fixed to the rear after adding a large magazine to the right side of the breech, with a single inverted-V strut and rectangular frame placed between the two circular cockpit openings. At the rear, the full-span elevators are placed on a recess in the deck, the part helpfully marked with the word “bottom” on the underside, unless someone was just feeling naughty? The comma-shaped rudder and fin are glued over the groove in the centre, and a pair of struts hold the fin vertical, with a mirror image pair under the elevators that do the same for them in the horizontal. The lower wings are full-span and fit in a recess under the fuselage, fixing Z-shaped vertical struts near each tip and a single strut around mid-span, taking care to line the holes up with those in the upper wings. The Z-struts are made from a V-strut with a straight strut glued to the flat front of it, and should be allowed to cure before installing it on the wing. The upper wings are two separate halves that butt-join together, and our usual advice of adding pins for strength applies here. A small tube is fixed under the starboard wing in the centre of an engraved radiator on the lower surface and you should add the two feeder hoses as you join the wings, which will doubtless be a delicate task. It would be a good idea to fit the two acetate foil windscreens before installing the upper wing for convenience’s sake, using a glue that won’t fog or melt the acetate to secure them. Under the wings, a pair of V-struts hold the aerofoil shrouded axle in position, fitting the two wheels on the ends, and adding a mechanism that looks to be some kind of latch or arrestor to the centre of the aerofoil. The last part is the two-bladed prop with moulded-in spinner that glues to the flat front of the fuselage. Markings There are two decal options on the sheet, both wearing the same camouflage scheme of brown and two shades of green over a light blue underside. From the box you can build one of the following: The decals appear to be printed using the same digital processes as Eduard are now using, and have good registration, sharpness, and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut loosely around the printed areas. I mention Eduard because from 2021, the carrier film on their decals can be coaxed away from the printed part of the decal after they have been applied, effectively rendering them carrier film free, making the completed decals much thinner and more realistic, and obviating the need to apply successive coats of clear varnish to hide the edges of the carrier film. It’s a great step further in realism from my point of view, and saves a good quantity of precious modelling time into the bargain. Conclusion It may not have been a particularly good aircraft, but the tapered wings give it a more modern look, and it’s a little bit different from the norm, which is an automatic tick in the appeal box from my point of view. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  4. F-6C Mustang Expert Set (70040) 1:72 Arma Hobby The P-51D was developed by the North American Aviation company as a fighter for Great Britain, but due to the poor performance of the engine that was initially fitted, it wasn’t all that good at higher altitudes. Fortunately they slotted a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine into the airframe and it brought out the best of its design, which included the energy efficient laminar flow wing that gave it the potential to escort Allied bombers all the way to Berlin with the addition of drop-tanks and a lean fuel mixture when not in combat. It was flown in this guise as the Mustang III in British service, and as the P-51B/C in US service, then as the P-51D with the bubble canopy and cut-down aft fuselage, with an additional fin-fillet added later to improve stability that had been reduced by the new shape and fuel tank location. The F-6C was developed from the B/C variants, most of which were built in the Dallas factory, with openings for two cameras in the fuselage, with one camera mounted obliquely in the side of the rear fuselage, firing to the left, and the other mounted underneath, just aft of the radiator flap. Apart from some other minor changes the aircraft was fully combat capable, so didn’t need an escort to carry out its assigned task, and some of its pilots became Aces flying recon. The Kit This is a retooling of Arma’s original 2021 release to depict the reconnaissance variant of the Mustang, and as it is the Expert set, it’s the top-of-the-line boxing. It arrives in a sturdy end-opening box with an attractive painting of the subject on the front, plus profiles of four of the decal options on the rear. Inside are two sprues in grey styrene, a single clear sprue, a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE), a sheet of pre-cut kabuki tape masking material (not pictured), a large decal sheet, and an A5 portrait instruction booklet with full colour profiles on the rear pages. Detail is stunning for the scale, and the finish of the exterior surface is a pristine satin texture with some areas left glossy, an example of which are the lenses of the underwing identification lights on the starboard wing. Construction begins with the cockpit, which will be familiar to anyone who has built a Mustang before. The stepped floor has the seat, armour and support frame added to the front section, with PE belts supplied for your use, and a choice of bucket seat or tubular-framed type for your use. The rear of the cockpit can either be filled with the original fuel tank with radio on a palette on top, or three other configurations for your consideration. Decals are included for some of the radio boxes, and the finished assembly should look good with sympathetic painting. The pilot has his control column added and two dial decals applied to the floor, with more decals for the highly detailed instrument panel that is fixed below the coaming and has the rudder pedals glued to the back as shown by a scrap diagram. The cockpit sides are also detailed with additional parts, a copious quantity of decals to portray the instruments, and some adaptations to the fuselage sides to cater to your chosen decal option. The radiator pathway is also made up, adding a PE grille to the front of the bath, and another to the oval intake before it is inserted into the starboard fuselage side. The port side is prepared to receive the cockpit and tail wheel, beginning with the instrument coaming, then the cockpit assembly and tail wheel, closing up the two halves to complete the task. The wings are next, beginning with the centre of the main gear bay and a section of the spar. This is inserted into the upper wing half, and a detailed diagram shows how the bay roof should be painted correctly, which is best done before closing up the wing halves and inserting the separate flap sections, which you are advised to paint before insertion, as they also have a decal around the halfway point. Unusually, both wing surfaces are full-width, in much the same way as the real thing, and after adding some internals, the wings and fuselage are joined with a choice of either a filleted tail, or the earlier unfilleted tail, which you get to choose by using different fin and elevator parts with moulded-in fairings. Some panel lines behind the cockpit should be filled depending on your earlier choices, and this might be easier done before adding the wings. The main gear consists of a strut with single wheel and a captive bay door attaching to the leg, which slots into a socket in the outer edge of the bay, with a pair of inner doors fitted to the centre-line. The airframe is ostensibly complete, but some small parts and assemblies are yet to be added, such as the radiator cooling flaps under the rear, pitot probe under the wing, a pair of bomb-shackles outboard of the main gear bays, and a pair of lips for the chin and main radiator intakes. The perforated grille on the lower nose is slotted into its aperture, a choice of two types of exhaust stacks, two types of antenna masts plus an optional D/F loop with fairing are fixed in place around the same time as the prop, which consists of four blades moulded as one, with a two-part spinner hiding a small washer that can be used to hold the prop in place and retain the option to spin it if you so wish. There are two styles of canopy supplied for your model, so choose the correct type for your decal option, both of which have the option to portray them open or closed. The older straight hood consists of the windscreen with a section of the fuselage moulded-in, the canopy and the two scalloped rear-view panes, with the optional parts provided to display the canopy opened to the sides, assisted by a couple of scrap diagrams nearby and a warning decal for the inner lip. The later Malcolm hood is the second option, with a blown canopy that gives the pilot more room to move his head for better situational awareness. This option firstly requires removal of some small bumps on the spine behind the canopy. There are parts supplied to portray the canopy rail, and these are shown correctly applied in scrap diagrams to assist you getting it right. The final choice is to hang paper fuel tanks, metal fuel tanks or bombs under the wings, all of which are made from two halves each and have stencil decals supplied from the sheet. Markings There are a generous six decal options in the box, two of which are a bonus for this boxing. From the box you can build one of the following: F-6C-10-NT Mustang 44-10889/R7-N, GR II.33 Savoie, French Air Force, April -May 1945 F-6C-1-NA Mustang 43-12400/ZM-O, Cpt E B Blackie Travis, 12th Tactical Reconnaissance Sqn., 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Group, Middle Wallop, England, Spring 1944 F-6C-5-NT Mustang, 42-103604/600 Lt. Col. E O McComas, 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Sqn., 23rd Fighter Group, Chengkung, China, Dec 1944 F-6C-1-NA Mustang, 43-12404/266, 26th Fighter Sqn., 51st Fighter Group, China, 1944-45 F-6C-5-NT Mustang, 42-103604/600, Maj. E O McComas, 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Sqn., 23rd Fighter Group, Chengkung, China, Oct 1944 F-6C-1-NA Mustang, 43-12330/263, 26th Fighter Sqn., 51st Fighter Group, China, 1944-45 Bonus Decals Decals are printed by Techmod, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion Another superbly well-detailed kit from Arma that makes this 1:48 modeller more than a little bit envious. Detail is excellent throughout, and the instructions are concise to help you with your build. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  5. Hello everyone … So for my first Eduard MiG-21 I will be building this. I wont be using the Marlin decals but plan on building a MiG-21R so will need the roundels and stencils. Here is the Eduard Reconnaissance pod. And the obligatory sprue shots. My goal is to do it in this scheme, I presume this was something adorning the Polish MiG-21’s in the later 1980’s or 1990’s. https://www.jetphotos.com/photo/8118541 Please feel free to ask questions, post comments or thoughts. I will be adding the Banner created by @Mig Eater Dennis
  6. The Blohm & Voss Bv.141 – Airframe Detail No.1 (Second Edition) ISBN: 9781912932191 Valiant Wings Publishing The Bv.141 was perhaps one of the weirdest looking aircraft of WWII that almost made it to production, with its asymmetric design, large wings, fuselage nacelle reminiscent of an Fw.189, and the fact that much of its development and history has been lost in the confusion that reigned at the fall of the third Reich. In 1937 the RLM (Luftwaffe High Command) issued a request for proposals for a single-engined reconnaissance aircraft with a three-man crew. The initial concept by Richard Vogt, chief designer for Blohm & Voss, was a conventional layout with the cockpit behind the engine. However, this provided a limited field of view, leading him to come up with possibly the most radical WWII aircraft design ever. The crew cabin was moved onto the starboard wing, resulting in an asymmetrical configuration which looked as if it would be unstable and uncontrollable even if it could get off the ground. However, the RLM saw the potential and authorised the construction of three prototypes. The first BV141A took to the air on 25th February 1938 and proved to be surprisingly easy to handle. Vogt redesigned the cockpit to improve the field of view before the second prototype was built. This machine was lost when it crash-landed following an undercarriage problem. Nevertheless, the RLM gave its approval for further aircraft to be built. Along the way the plane got a more powerful engine, an asymmetric tailplane that improved the rear gunner’s field of fire, and a change of designation to BV141B. Then the project was suddenly cancelled for purely logistical reasons, which probably had something to do with the more conventional Fw.189 and Focke Wulf’s influence in the RLM. The engine used in later models was the same one fitted to the Do217 and the Fw190, and the factory where these engines were built found itself unable to meet the demand after it was bombed by the RAF. Understandably, the RLM felt that the war effort would be better served by bombers and fighters rather than reconnaissance aircraft, and the Bv.141 was consigned to history without ever seeing active service. Its role was filled by the Fw-189, even though it did not meet the initial request for a single-engined machine. Records show that twenty aircraft were built before the plug was pulled, but none survived the war. This book, by author Richard A Franks, with profiles and plans by Richard J Caruana and example model produced by Steve A Evans is perfect-bound as usual and consists of 66 pages within a card jacket, printed on glossy paper stock throughout. It is the Second Edition of course, and is three pages longer than the original edition, as a little more information has clearly been dug up in the interim. in the Airframe Detail series that concentrates more on the aircraft in question, with just a short section to the rear with an example build plus all the Bv.141 based aftermarket you can lay your hands on at time of writing, which covers only a page, as it’s not a mainstream subject with only 20 airframes having existed, and none of them seeing official service. Notes in the corner of the first page tells us that almost all known pictures, drawings and diagrams still extant of this aircraft have been included in the book, and this is evident from the sheer quantity, some of which are surprisingly good, and some necessarily small and grainy because, well, that's all we have, although someone is still bound to be looking. The book is broken down into sections as follows: Introduction 1. Technical Description Detailed coverage of the construction and equipment 2. Camouflage & Markings Colour side profiles, notes and photographs 3. Building a Bv.141 A quick build of the new 1:48 kit from Hobby Boss by Steve A Evans Appendices I Bv.141 Kit, Accessory, & Decal List II Bibiography Inside there are lots of photographs, many diagrams and a smattering of colour profiles, the pictures being in black and white due to that being the predominant film format of the day. The diagrams include some reference to the Fw.189, as some of their fittings were similar if not identical due to their shared intended task. The profiles show the few variants and crew nacelle designs, which varied immensely during development. The level of detail given within the pages is perfect for the modeller, and will be of use to anyone from novice to super-detailer, with some of the contemporary photos showing how the aircraft morphed during development, with a few photos showing them in repair and maintenance at the airfields where they were undergoing testing. Steve Evans' build of the excellent and solitary 1:48 Hobby Boss kit shows what can be done to the model, and results in a lovely example that anyone would be proud to have in their cabinet, with an incredibly detailed and subtle variation in the overall RLM02 scheme that it is wearing. From a modelling standpoint there is isn’t all that much of scope for building and painting of many different schemes, but some of the photos show well how the airframes weathered during testing. There’s also a little what-iffery you could engage in, and there the world is your salt-water bivalve mollusc Conclusion Another renewal of an excellent book from Valiant, and a left-field, interesting one personally, as I have a fondness for the weirdness that is the Bv.141, as well as a one of the HB kits in the stash with some Eduard goodies. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  7. F-4A-1 Recon Lightning Conversion Set (4398 for Tamiya) 1:48 CMK by Special Hobby The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was a fast aircraft, and when stripped of unnecessary weight and combat equipment it was faster still. Lockheed developed the F-4 as a reconnaissance airframe with a new nose to house the cameras where the guns had been, plus the necessary controls and avionics to perform the task. The F-4A was a P-38F conversion, with only 20 airframes made, and was later replaced by the F-5, which was based on the improved P-38G with several hundred of various updated versions made. The Set This set arrives in one of CMK’s yellow card boxes, with six grey resin parts on four casting blocks, four clear resin parts for the camera windows, a sheet of decals and even some masks for the camera windows. The two largest parts make up the new nose, which entails cutting a small section from the two fuselage nacelle parts, which are shown in green on the accompanying instructions. Before gluing the new nose in place, the window apertures should be de-flashed and the crystal-clear resin windows glued in place, then the nose cone added. Later in the build a small antenna is fitted to a pit on the upper nose behind the faired over gun troughs. Inside the cockpit is a new more rounded control yoke, and an instrument to fit inside the coaming. Another yoke is included on the casting block, but this is unused. Markings There were only 20 of the type made, with two on the decal sheet. F-4A-1-LO RAAF service with No.1 Sqn PRU RAAF at Coomalie Creek in the Northern Territory of Australia, where it stayed from February to December 1943 until it belly-landed at Batchelor, Northern Territory. The pilot escaped from the aircraft, but it was heavily damaged by fire, with the decision made to render it to parts by the repair unit. F-4A-1 Sn.41-2156 “Limping Lizzie” 8th Photo Recon Squadron, 6th PRG, 5th AF, Port Moresby, 1943. It was worn out and probably scrapped sometime in 1944. The decals are well-printed with good register, sharpness and colour density, and you will need to complete the decals with the kit supplied stencils, as this set includes only the national markings and individualisations. Conclusion An interesting set that will fill a gap in the market that will either be missed by Tamiya, or arrive sometime before the heat-death of the universe knowing their glacial release schedule. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  8. Hello everyone... Im looking for info concerning F8F-2P’s flying out of the Naval Air Technical Training Unit at Pensacola in 1952-53. Here is a profile of the plane. Here is the photo of the real plane. The plane marked P-17 is the actual plane I'm going to build. It is bureau # 121714. If that seams remotely familiar thats because it still flies in the U.K. Its at the Imperial war Museum as far as i can tell unless its moved ? I have been gifted the old Monogram Bearcat in 1/72nd. My goal is to build the plane marked P-17. I lnow i need to make a few mods to the kit. My question is this, does anyone have a clear view of the Bearcat’s belly camera ? I have good photo’s of the port side camera. Im also looking for good photo’s of the Trimetrogon camera in the belly pod. @Tailspin Turtle had some brief info in his blog on the -2P Bearcats. http://tailhooktopics.blogspot.com/2017/09/f8f-2p-propeller-hub.html?m=1 If you read this Tailspin i would greatly appreciate any info you have on these cameras and camera pods. Many thanks in advance for all that offer help in any way. Dennis
  9. Cessna L-19/O-1 Bird Dog (409) 1:48 Roden The Cessna Bird Dog was a military version of the Cessna 170, called the Model 305A by Cessna themselves. It was developed to a US Army requirement for a two seat observation and liaison aircraft, first flying at the end of 1949. The design featured a single engine high wing monoplane with a tail wheel configuration and long loiter time. This was the first all-metal fixed wing aircraft ordered by the US Army after aviation was split on the formation of the Air Force in 1947 under the orders of President Roosevelt. As well as the US Army, the aircraft would be operated by the US Marine Corps and the US Air Force, famously in the Forward Air Control (FAC) role in Vietnam. US Forces would lose almost 470 aircraft in the conflict in total, including some in special ops and some with native Vietnamese crew. The aircraft would also serve in many other militaries around the world including Australia, Canada, Japan, Spain, and South Vietnam to name a few. They were eventually replaced by the O-2 Skymaster, then the OV-10 Bronco, but over 3000 were built and some 300 are still on the US civil register today. The Kit This is a new tool from Roden, happily for the 1:48 modeller, and it's a long time since we've had a new tooling of the Bird Dog. It arrives in a smallish box, and inside are seven sprues of various sizes in grey styrene, plus a clear sprue, three lengths of wire, three decal sheets and the instruction booklet. First impressions are good, although the decal sheets are a little off, which we'll get into later. The details on the sprues is nice, there is a complete engine in the nose, cockpit, but no gear bay detail at all!!! You got it – there are no gear bays as the L-19 has fixed gear. Yes, I'm a bad man. The build begins with the Lycoming engine, which is constructed from a surprisingly large number of parts, and includes the piston banks, ancillary equipment, crank cases, intake box and manifold, plus the exhaust manifold, which links to a pair of mufflers and angled exit tubes. It is fitted to the firewall by four mounts, which has the instrument panel glued to the other side in anticipation of installation in the fuselage, work on which begins with the tubular-framed pilot's seat, the twin sticks, rudder pedals and aft bulkhead frame. The Bird Dog is a simple aircraft with not much inside, so once the side windows, door handles and a map bag are fitted, and the interior painted you're almost ready to glue the fuselage together after adding a decal to the instrument panel. A few holes will be needed in the fuselage beforehand, and Roden have you adding the elevators and landing gear at this stage before the fuselage is closed up. I can't think of a good reason not to, but it still feels weird. The elevators have a mounting point for two dipoles at the front, which accept the included lengths of wire, although I would check your references to assess the correct width before proceeding, and if thinner wire is more appropriate, use the kit wire as a template. As the fuselage is mated, a number of cross-braces and the rear bench seat are suspended across the cockpit, and the engine assembly is inserted against ledges on the interior, then the front and rear windscreens and the separate elevators and rudder are glued in place at an angle of your choosing. The wings are next, and the first task is to add the six small roof lights that help to make this a better observation aircraft. The panels are all individual, and there is a little sinking in the centre of some of the narrower ones, which may respond well to being sanded flat and polished back to transparency. The upper wing is full width, with two lower halves that trap the separate ailerons, with wingtip lights and a landing light recessed into the leading edge of the port wing. The flaps can be posed up or down by swapping out the actuators, after which the wing is offered up (down?) to the fuselage and glued in place along with the prominent bracing struts that fit into pits in the fuselage and wing surfaces. The cowling is provided in sections, and these fit to the front fairing, so that if you wish you can show off the work you did on the engine by leaving some panels open. The twin bladed prop fits into the hole in the front of the cowling, and then it's just a case of adding the four lifting lugs on the centre wing, a bunch of antennae and sensors on the spine, plus the last big aerial wire on the roof of the cockpit with a small styrene base that traps it in place. The Bird Dog sometimes did a little target marking using small diameter rockets that carried white phosphorous to create plumes of smoke for the attacking aircraft to home in on, a set of which are included in the kit. These are built up in pairs on a small launch rail, with cross-braces supporting the two rockets, and two pairs mounted under each wing, totalling eight in all. Markings There are three markings options out of the box, one each for the US Army and Air Force, plus a nice colourful one from the Canadian Army. The painting and decaling instructions are all done in grey scale, and it appears that the Air Force option has had its main colour marked incorrectly. The main colour is shown as A on the page, which is "Natural Steel" on the table at the front of the booklet, but having checked my references and a bunch of online photos of that serial numbered aircraft, it should instead by a light grey, which makes me wonder whether someone got their As mixed up with their Ms when they were adding the legend. You know now anyway! L-19/O-1E Bird Dog (56-2661) US Army Air Service, Alaska 1966 L-19/O-1E Bird Dog (57-6273) Forward Air Controller (FAC) at Lai Khe supporting the 3rd BDE, 1st ID, 1966-67 L-19/O-1E Bird Dog (119732) of No.10 Tactical Air Group Mobile Command, Canadian Armed Forces, early 1970s The large decal sheet contains the majority of the US decals, with the smaller one holding the Canadian option. The third small sheet is an instrument panel decal, but is slightly out of register. Overall the decals have huge expanses of carrier film that extend over multiple decals, so you would be well advised to cut each one from the sheet close to the printed area. My review sample had received a few light scrapes in transit too, which caused the black printing to shell off the paper in numerous places, which has ruined a few of the larger decals. There are "spare" Canadian and USAF markings on the main sheet, which may have been reprinted due to the offset on the Canadian roundels, and the change in gap direction of the stencil of the A in USAF. My sheet had some issues with the carrier film, which I have brought to their attention along with the colour profiles, but do check your kit, just in case. Conclusion With the exception of the issues with the decals on my copy of the kit, it's a great improvement on the ancient kit that I had in the stash until recently, which I have since given away to a friend. The detail is good, and once the discounters have gotten hold of it, the price is reasonable. I'll be using aftermarket decals for mine when I eventually build it, as there are some really interesting options out there, with many nations flying the Bird Dog. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  10. Mig-25RB 1:48 ICM In an attempt to fulfil the perceived need for a supersonic interceptor that could take off, climb to height and attack an incoming bomber stream, which at the time was the most efficient method for delivering the newly invented nuclear warheads, The Mig-25 Foxbat was created. It managed the job to a certain extent, but as it never truly achieved its goals, it was left to its successor the Mig-31 Foxhound before the task was handled competently, by which time the role of ICBMs was about to make the primary role redundant. The Mig-25's inadequacies were hidden from the West however, until the famous defection of a Soviet pilot to an airfield in Japan revealed that the Foxbat wasn't as high-tech and all-conquering as we had been led to believe, having many steel parts instead of the high-tech alloys that the investigators were expecting. The prototype flew in 1964, and was constructed primarily of stainless steel, and reached service at the turn of the decade, although it had been seen before that, both in reconnaissance photos of the West, as well as at some parades. The West assumed that the large wing was to aid manoeuvrability, when in fact it was a necessity due to the aircraft's enormous weight, which made it a fast aircraft, but changing direction was a chore due to all that momentum wanting to carry on in the direction it was travelling. It was also lacking in the avionics department, especially in one crucial aspect. It had no capability for targeting aircraft that were lower than itself, which coincided with the change in tactics to low level attack by the Western Allies, so a lack of look-down/shoot-down capability was a serious deficiency. Nevertheless, several hundred were made, with the last one rolling off the production line in 1984 with a number of export orders into the bargain. The RB was the earlier reconnaissance variant of the RBT, both being based upon the original R, with cameras ELectronic INTelligence (ELINT) gathering equipment, but incrementally improved, as well as given the capability to carry bombs with addition of the Peleng automatic bombing system, which themselves went through some growing pains during implementation before they reached the Peleng 2, which was deemed more satisfactory all round. Although it suffered from some serious deficiencies, it held a number of speed and altitude records, and was theoretically capable of Mach 3, so could give an SR-71 a run for its money, probably at the expense of significant damage to its engines however. Attempts to improve the Foxbat were unsuccessful, and the Foxhound was its eventual replacement, and delivered everything that was expected of its forebear, staying in service until it is replaced by the Pak-Fa at some point in the near future. The Kit This is the second edition of the Mig-25, the first being its younger sibling the RBT, so this is a minor retooling of the original moulds, the review of which you can see url=http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/235016497-mikoyan-mig-25rbt-foxbat-148]here[/url]. The new box is the usual box-within-a-box style that ICM favours, with new artwork of the RB from a low angle that gives a good sense of its size. Inside are nine sprues of grey styrene, three of which are new, and one has been changed from the original boxing, plus a clear sprue, two sheets of decals and a colour printed instruction booklet with painting guide to the rear. The clear parts are bagged separately from the rest of the sprues, and both are secured with resealable tape in case you prefer to keep your kits in the bags. The decals are inserted between the pages of the instructions, and have a waxy cover sheet lightly adhering to each sheet. As already mentioned, the changes have been made to one of the existing sprues, to give the correct "hump" fairing under the nose, and adding a new sprue with the shorter intake toppers, the bow-shaped para-brake fairing between the engines, and the relocated nose from the original RBT boxing, so that the RB nose fairings are in the correct place, as are those for the RBT, which should hopefully ship with the revised sprue for new batches of the RBT. Several parts will remain unused for this boxing, and these are helpfully marked with a transparent red overprinting on the sprue guide, which includes the huge centreline tank, the intake tops, the bullet-shaped para-brake housing, and a couple of small fairings. Construction follows pretty much the same pattern as the RBT kit, and from experience the interior builds up nicely, although I'm still not sure why a clear set of instrument dials is supplied to fit behind the panel. The intakes build up identically too, as do the wheel bays, all of which fits inside the lower fuselage "floor". With the bulkheads and assemblies in place the sides of the fuselage are added, the nicely detailed exhausts constructed, slid inside and covered by the upper fuselage, to which the new shorter intake tops are glued, completing the earlier style intakes. The tails are fitted along with the rear side fuselage section, which gives them good strength, and a choice of either the RBT-style pointed fairing, or the new earlier bow-shaped fairing for the para-brake between the engines is glued into its recess. The short wings are constructed next, with a cover on the outer pylon, and the new super-skinny pylon for a 500kg bomb on the inner. The almost completed airframe is given a choice of bumps on the nose, again depending on the version you are modelling. The reconnaissance camera pack fills the rear of the void with some clear lenses, and you are advised to put 25g of nose weight in to keep the nose wheel on the deck. It is added to the fuselage, the well-detailed gear bays are given similarly well-done doors, and the two-part (balloon-like) main wheels are slid onto the axles, as are the twin nose wheels. The canopy, pitot probe and another probe to the right of the canopy are the final fittings unless you are adding some bombs. The full complement of bombs for the RB was eventually tallied up to around 4 tonnes, which meant a stash of eight 500kg bombs could be carries, two under each of the wings, and four under the fuselage in packs of two, for which you will need to drill some 1mm holes in the places notes on the instructions. Markings At first glance it looks like there are only two decal options, but there are in fact four, but as they are all grey it gets a little confusing until you focus. From the box you can build one of the following: Mig-25RB 154th Independent Ait Detachment, Cairo-West (ARE), May 1974 – marked blue 57 with no national markings. Mig-25RB, Soviet Air Force, late 70s – Marked Blue 55 with Soviet red star. Mig-25RB, 63rd Independent Air Detachment, United Arab Republic, 1971-72 – UAR flag on the tail, with roundels on the wing. Mig-25RB (late production), Iraqi Air Force, 1980 – Iraqi flag on the tail, triangular "roundel" on wings and fuselage. The decals are printed with ICM's logo and have good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. The stencils are printed on a separate sheet, are legible and their locations are called out via a page in the instructions so as not to clutter the profiles with too many arrows. The centres of the UAR roundels are spot on in the centre, which is always a risk when designing decals, as any offset is easily spotted. Conclusion It might seem a fairly minor re-tooling to the uninitiated, but it has been eagerly anticipated, and the new parts show that ICM have been diligent in researching the differences, as well as changing out the early nose fairing for future releases of the RBT kit too. Detail is excellent, the panel lines are restrained, and construction follows a logical process. Just take care with the location of the internal assemblies to make sure that they are correctly placed, and the outer skin should fit well. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  11. I couldn't decide what kit from my stash to build next, I wanted a nice straight forward kit to work on alongside my other build. So going with my son's choice I'm about to start Airfix Supermarine Spitfire PRXIX. The box includes 4 sprues (and a clear sprue), all are clean with nice detailing and panel lines. I decided to do a little research on the aircraft, and discovered that one April 1St 1954 PS888 flew the last sortie of an RAF Spitfire. When the aircraft landed the ground crew inscribed the left engine cowling with the inscription 'The Last!' I am tempted to add this little tribute to my build.
  12. Mikoyan Mig-25RBT Foxbat 1:48 ICM In Cold War Soviet Union, just as in the West, there was a perceived need for a supersonic interceptor that could take off, climb to height and attack an incoming bomber stream, which at the time was the most efficient method for delivering the newly invented nuclear warheads. The Mig-25 Foxbat was conceived to fit this bill, which it did to a certain extent, but as it never truly achieved its goals, it was left until its successor the Mig-31 Foxhound before the job was done properly. This fact was hidden from the West however, until the famous defection of a Soviet pilot to an airfield in Japan revealed that the Foxbat wasn't as high-tech and all-conquering as we had been led to believe. The prototype flew in 1964, and was constructed primarily of stainless steel, and reached service at the turn of the decade, although it had been seen before that, both in reconnaissance photos of the West, as well as at some parades. The West assumed that the large wing was to aid manoeuvrability, when in fact it was a necessity due to the aircraft's enormous weight, which made it a fast aircraft, but changing direction was a chore due to all that momentum wanting to carry on in the direction it was travelling. It was also lacking in the avionics department, especially in one crucial aspect. It had no capability for targeting aircraft that were lower than itself, which coincided with the change in tactics to low level attack by the Western Allies, so a lack of look-down/shoot-down capability was a serious deficiency. Nevertheless, several hundred were made, with the last one rolling off the production line in 1984 with a number of export orders into the bargain. Although it suffered from some deficiencies, it held a number of speed and altitude records, and was theoretically capable of Mach 3, so could give an SR-71 a run for its money, probably at the expense of significant damage to its engines however. Attempts to improve the Foxbat were unsuccessful, and the Foxhound was its eventual replacement, and delivered everything that was expected of its forebear, staying in service until it is replaced by the Pak-Fa at some point in the near future. The Kit After a paucity of accurate kits in this scale for some time, which in fairness the old Revell kit was based on some blurry photos and inaccurate data, we have only one modern kit of the type, which has issues of its own. There seems to be a rush to market from a few manufacturers currently, and ICM have managed to be first in the race, with this 100% new tooling coming just in time for the new year. Let's find out what's in the box. If you have any of ICM's recent offerings you'll know that their boxes are an oddity, having a top-opening cover, under which is another card box with its own integral lid that flips up to reveal the contents. The boxtop has an atmospheric picture of a Foxbat taking off at night, but it's the plastic we're interested in, right? There are seven sprues in mid grey styrene, one in clear, plus two sheets of decals. The instruction booklet has a glossy colour cover with matt colour interior pages, and ICM have also moved on with their drawings, which are shaded and have colour call-outs in red. Right from the outset the detail is apparent, and the fuselage is broken down to facilitate other variants – this is the reconnaissance bird afterall, so who won't want an interceptor, or even the hauntingly ugly twin-seat trainer? I SOOOO want one of those! If you think that construction is going to start with the cockpit, you'd be kind-of right, but not in the way you think. Cockpit parts in the shape of one of the side consoles are added to the inside of the cockpit section first, followed by the rear bulkhead and then the nose gear bay, with gear leg included but easily left off 'til later. Rudder pedals are then added to a short cockpit floor; the base of the seat with its stirrups and ejection actuator handle; control column and the instrument panel are joined before being added to the side console in the short fuselage section. The back and headbox of the seat are then installed, the opposite side console made up, and then fitted to the fuselage, which is then joined together. A large M-shaped former is added at the rear to hold the intakes, which are built from three sections and are then fitted to the former. I told you it was weird, didn't I? At the rear of the intakes a pair of conical intake trunks are glued in place with the front engine face, leaving you with a rather odd looking assembly. This is set to one side for a while as you add the main gear bays to the lower fuselage, which all bears more than a passing resemblance to its replacement. The nose (minus radome at this stage) is then joined with the lower fuselage, the main gear legs added, and a capital B shaped bulkhead fitted to the rear to hold the exhausts in place. Fuselage sides are then fitted to the bulkheads, with the rear missing, as it is attached to the two big fins that are made up next with separate rudders and lower strakes. The exhausts are next, with the afterburner flame-holders attached to the rear fan section, which is shaped like a figure-8 and linked to obtain the correct exhaust spacing. The trunking is then added in four parts, with detail within, and with careful alignment, you should be able to get away with a hidden seam. Another figure-8 part, the base of the exhaust rings links the rear of the tubes together, and two further layers give it depth and detail, with the inner petals added in sections to complete the assembly. This is painted titanium gold, but if you check your references, some parts are sometimes painted green, so keep your options open. The fronts are slid into the rear bulkhead on the fuselage, and the top fuselage panel is added along with the twin fins and the tops of the intake nacelles. It finally looks like an aircraft, but a wingless one at this stage. The pen-nib fairing between the fins is added from two parts, and it's then time to give her wings. Unlike the various new Mig-31 kits, the wings on the Mig-25 are separate from the top fuselage, and their tabs fit in traditional slots once they have their control surfaces, strakes and stubby pylons added. The elevators fit into holes in the sides of the fuselage too, in much the same way as the full-size parts. The nose is split vertically, and the instructions advise you to add 25g of weight to avoid building a tail-sitter, and before fitting you must add the reconnaissance pack insert under the nose, which has a number of clear lens to add to the facets. This then joins with the fuselage, which has a retaining lip moulded-in, but always remember to check fit before you apply the glue. The gear bay covers are fitted along with the wheels, which are well detailed and the mains are split vertically around their circumference, while the dual nose wheels are single parts. Due to its prodigious thirst, the Foxbat was often seen carrying a huge belly tank, which is supplied in the kit as a two-part assembly, split horizontally. The final act sees the windscreen added along with the coaming, and a choice of either open or closed canopy parts. Stick the two-part pitot in the nose and you're done. The recon bird often didn't carry weapons, so that's your lot! Markings The majority of Foxbats wore overall grey schemes, with only their markings to differentiate. They did wear an awful lot of stencils however, and this is what fills the smaller decal sheet. These are detailed on a separate page in the instructions, and there are a LOT of arrows showing you where to put the decals, with the text in red on the page to assist you. There are four decal options in the box, and you can build one of the following from included sheet: Mig-25RBT, Soviet Air Force, late 1980s – Red 72. Mig-25RBT, 47th GRAP, Russian Air Force, May 2001 – Red 46. Mig-25RBT, Iraqi Air Force, late 80s. Mig-25RBT, Libyan Air Force, 2000s – Black 499. The decals are printed in house, although the backing paper looks very similar to that used by recent Eduard sheets. The printing is to a good standard, is in register, has good colour density and sharpness, with a thin glossy carrier film over each one. Conclusion This looks to be a great addition to my growing interest in Soviet Cold War Warriors, and I will be putting it together just as soon as I can to sit next to my Foxhound on the shelf. Detail is good, construction is logical if a little unusual, and I'm looking forward to getting it built. Now – about my 2-seater? Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  13. This was something of a themed build, begun in 2014 in acknowledgement of the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings. One of their early kits, representing the half-fabulous initial high-altitude variant. A few were issued to FAG.123 at Guyancourt, with the thankless task of providing adequate photoreconnaissance cover of the Normandy area in the weeks following the invasion. Significantly increasing an aircraft's wingspan and area (and this was little more than two plugs inserted between the existing G-5 wings and fuselage) rarely works well, and this was no exception. The aircraft was only present for a brief time, being ostentatiously left outdoors in the hope that the Allies would take care of it. 'Oh Heinrich, you make me shudder' one Luftwaffe airman is said to have remarked. I am unsure about the historicity of some of the details, but the camera setup of the G-5, with a tall fin of the final variants, and a longer tailwheel (not needing so much AoA on takeoff), along with the removal of all guns bar the engine cannon seemed consistent enough, along with the overall RLM76 scheme. I hope you like it. http:// http:// http:// http:// http:// http:// http:// http://
  14. Well here is something that you don't see everyday! My name is Rich Faulkner and I am a pastor, private pilot and volunteer with the Peterson Air & Space Museum. For the past couple of years I have been assisting on the build of a 1:10 Lockheed F-4-1-LO -- the very plane flown by 1Lt. Edward J. Peterson for whom Peterson, AFB is named for. Here's a little background history: 1st Lt. Peterson was the Operations Officer for the 14th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron and a native of Colorado. On August 8, 1942 he crashed while attempting to take off from the airfield when the left engine of his twin engine F-4-1-LO (s/n 41-2202 -- a reconnaissance variant of the P-38 Lightning) failed. A base fire department crew rescued Lt. Peterson from the burning wreckage. Unfortunately, Lt. Peterson sustained significant burns and died at a local hospital that afternoon, thereby becoming the first Coloradan killed in a flying accident at the airfield. Consequently, on 13 December 1942, officials changed the name of the Colorado Springs Army Air Base to Peterson Army Air Base in honour of the fallen airman. We're a couple years into the build of the scale model of the F-4 he lost his life in and are nearing the end of the project. The plane itself is a MONSTER at 1:10 scale and will feature "working" aerial cameras -- in this case a pair of Fairchild K-17's (one of which to have an embedded CCD camera). The model is to hang in the entry to the museum wing housing the exhibit honouring Lt. Peterson with a camera that will capture guests as they pass by. This is my first project posted on Britmodeller and will be a challenge as it is 100% scratch-built and being built by a guy who already has a plate that floweth over! Forgive me if I don't post on a daily basis -- I will be pressing forward as best I can and will be pleased to field any questions. Enjoy! PR - "Pastor Rich"
  15. Hello all, I'm just finishing a Meteor and inspired partly by John's (canberrakid) luscious B1, have decided I want to acquire a PR variant of the Canberra as a future build. Question is, what kit options currently available do people think are worthwhile? I'm thinking both in terms of kits themselves, and any AM options that are currently in circulation. Any advice would be greatly appreciated Tony
  16. Aviation Week has a couple of articles on the classified RQ-180 program: http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/awx_12_06_2013_p0-643783.xml&p=1 http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/awx_12_06_2013_p0-643786.xml The RQ-180 is an unmanned aerial system (UAS), designed for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, and is the likely successor to the RQ-170 Sentinel. Cheers, Bill
  17. Light Tank M-24 Chaffee (British Army) 1:35 Bronco Models In association with The Chaffee was developed to replace the ageing an relatively unsuccessful Stuart light tank, and every care was taken to keep the weight down, resulting in an incredible 20 ton tank with a relatively large 75mm gun, good manoeuvrability and off-road performance. It played a small part in the end of WWII after entering service in 1944, but very few tanks were delivered in time for the end of hostilities. Post-war it served in Korea and Vietnam, and was generally well liked by its crews. The armour package was light, but heavily sloped to give it extra effective thickness, and the 75mm gun punched way above the 37mm unit in the Stuart, and although it couldn't penetrate the thicker armour of the heavier tanks it might encounter, it could at least give them pause for thought if the need for engagement arose. Although it was received too late into British service to participate in WWII, it was used used in Korea, where it was a capable reconnaissance tank and its accurate and powerful main gun could be used to good effect in close quarters. The Kit The kit shares most of its parts with the earlier release, which has already garnered an excellent reputation, and on inspection this kit looks to keep that reputation intact. The first thing that struck me when I opened the box was that for a small tank, there was a lot of plastic in the box! There are 18 main sprues, plus 14 "strip sprues" of track-links, a clear sprue, two sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a number of separate parts, the lower hull "tub", and a length of string. A small sheet of decals and Bronco's usual glossy instruction manual complete the package, and once out of the bags, there isn't much room to re-pack the box. Wide use of slide-moulding has been used to enhance the kit, and the little raised "bridge" sprues are all over the main sprues, giving us hollow barrels, and more complex shapes than would otherwise be possible with traditional injection moulding. The part count is impressive too, with the sprues densely packed, as is the main PE sheet, which even has individual casting numbers to be applied to the final drive bell-housings. Construction begins with the lower hull, which is very nicely moulded, with plenty of detail present even before you start installing the suspension parts. A full set of torsion bars are included, and their covers hide them away from sight, but they can be set up to function the same way as the real thing, although I would be wary of stress fractures in the bars if you test the suspension too often! The exposed dampers and swing arms are installed next, and if you are careful with the glue, you will end up with suspension that actually works. The dampers are made from a hollow outer and inner slider, with separate bolts to attach to the brackets on the hull. The return rollers are next, and drive sprockets are built up from a central hub that has been slide-moulded with detail on every face, to which the sprockets themselves are added, hub back, and then onto the final drive housing. Again, with care, the sprocket can be left mobile. My example has some minor damage to one of the inner hubs, possibly where it was cut from the sprue, but nothing that cannot be fixed with a little piece of styrene sheet and careful sanding. The idler wheels are similarly constructed from layers, and attach using a free-floating pin to the hull mount. The various sub-assemblies that attach to the upper hull are then built, and set aside for later installation, including some nice PE grilles for the engine deck, alternative styrene or PE light protection cages, and the driver's flip-down windscreen. The top hull is broken into sections to eke out as many versions from the same basic parts as possible, with the front section being the largest, and including the finely detailed turret ring, bow mounted machine gun and the spare roadwheel mounted on the glacis plate. The rear is built up from quite a number of panels, and care should be taken here to ensure the deck is square and symmetrical once done. The two hatches on the front deck can be posed open or closed, and have rotating mounts for clear periscopes included. More PE mesh and detail parts are added during the next few steps before the final deck panels are added along with the rear bulkhead. The tracks are provided as individual links (my favourite) on unusual sprues that are minimalist and have no outer ring that we have come to expect from modern toolings. The parts are instead laid out in a "ladder" with a small length of sprue connecting them together. Not only does this save styrene, but it also makes cutting them from the sprue an easier task. Each link has three sprue gates, and cleanup should be pretty simple, just needing a sanding stick to return the rolled edges to their correct shape. The links are also a click-fit rather than the traditional glue-and-wrap style "Magic Tracks" favoured by the likes of Dragon. You simply click the tracks together, and a pair of pins and sockets retain the parts, while remaining workable. It should make painting and installation easier, although some touch-ups might be needed where the tracks are at sharper angels to eachother, exposing sections that may have been covered when the painting stage was done. The fenders are built up off the hull and added once complete, but I would be tempted to attach the base first and add the ancillary parts in situ to ensure everything lines up correctly. Some PE detail parts are added here too, as well as stowage boxes and spare track-links, which have PE retention clips for a bit of added realism. The main gun is a curious piece of styrene engineering, as it has a delicate slide-moulded spring that has to be seen, as it is quite impressive. This is sealed within the recoil block along with the flange of the barrel, and guide part. This gives the gun recoil, which although it is a bit of a gimmick does beg the question "why not use a more durable metal spring?". The barrel itself is slide moulded and has a hollow end, so a quick scrape with a convex curved blade should be enough to prepare it, although I understand that an aftermarket turned metal barrel is already available. The turret itself is built up from a number of parts around the bottom ring, and the gun is integrated, receiving lots of extra parts to detail the breech and loading mechanism. The gunner's seat is also included, oplus a couple of jump-seats around the turret edge for the commander and loader. The coaxial machine gun slips through the mantlet part, then the main gun is then mounted, which should result in it being able to elevate as well as recoil. It's quite a blast from the past having moving parts on a kit of this type, but hats off to the engineers, who probably enjoyed the process. The mantlet is then joined to the front of the turret, and that in turn is glued to the lower part. A radio set is included to give the turret more detail, and the top of the turret is then detailed before being added to the lower part later in the build process, with the commander's cupola plus the turret mounted AA gun being built up in the interim. The big .50cal weapon has a slide-moulded cooling jacket into which the barrel drops, and a PE handling grip is included to improve the detail further. The turret bustle stowage bin is made up from slabs, with plenty of PE detail added including some chains and locking clips. The various parts are then added to the upper turret before it is all mated with the lower. Personally, I would mate the turret halves earlier to save knocking off all the additions during handling. A bonus offering of a milk churn, ammo boxes and jerry cans are included on the sprues, but some extra stowage in the form of a kit bag, four go-bags and a tarpaulin roll aren't documented. A figure is also included in a relaxed pose with tea mug in hand, just the chap on the boxtop. Finally, the string is used to provide the towing cable, although no mention of the part numbers for the towing eyes is made on the instructions, but after a concerted search I found them on the two spruea marked Ga, part 37. The weave of the string provided is however incorrect for a braided cable, being an interweaved plaited type, so a suitable replacement would be in order if you're looking for accuracy. RB Models make a range of different width real braided wires that look very good once installed, mainly because they're real braided cable. There are five decal choices included on the small sheet, and you should choose early because some structural differences are noted during the build between some of them. From the box you can build one of the following: HQ Troop, 5th Royal Tank Regiment, 22nd Armoured Brigade of the 7th Armoured Division, Germany 1945 "Kelly's Aye" C Squadron, Reconnaissance Regiment, 5th Infantry Division, British Army, 1946 "Chieftain" Newly delivered tank for trials purposes, England, Winter 1944 3rd Royal Tank Regiment, 22nd Armoured Brigade, 7th Armoured Division, 1944-45 "Annie" 1st Royal Tank Regument, 22nd Armoured Brigade, 7th Armoured Division, 1945 "Trigger Happy" The first three options are overall Olive Drab, while the reminder are printed in a scheme reminiscent of Dark Bronze Green, but the colour call-out tells us this is also Olive Drab. If you're in any doubt over which is right, you can see some rather good information at the MAFVA site here . Decals are of course quite limited in scope, but they are crisp, seem to have good colour density and a reasonably thin carrier film. Conclusion It's a great kit, and can be built from the box into a stunning replica of this small light tank. Detail is excellent, and the turret interior is very nice, as is the fine detail that is to be found pretty much all over the kit. The working suspension, tracks and barrel recoil are perhaps a little gimmicky, but they do have an appeal, and can always be set in place with a little liquid glue at some later point. That feature would be especially useful if you were posing the tank on a diorama, giving you the opportunity to show the suspension in action, compressing over bumps. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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