Saturday, 22 October 2016

Night-fighting 'porcupines'! Lt. Klaus Bretschneider´s Focke Wulf 190 Nachtjäger of 6./JG 300 - Airfix Fw 190 in 72nd scale

Another new-tool Airfix Fw 190 A in the markings of JG 300 ace Klaus Bretschneider with added FuG 217 aerials (from florists wire) and markings from EagleCals. I haven't tried any of the small scale Eduard 190s yet, but this new-tool from Airfix is probably just as competent and a much easier build.  Bretschneider  flew through the 'wilde Sau' (wild boar) night fighting period with 6. Staffel. JG 300 and his machine was 'Yellow 1 N',  a 'porcupine' as the pilots referred to them - a FuG 217 Neptun radar-equipped Fw 190 A-7.

Above;  'Yellow 1 N', seen at Rheine during early 1944.  Note Bretschneider's victory markings on the rudder and the absence of head armour in the cockpit. The photo above was one of the many photographic highlights of Vol I of the two volume history of JG 300 written by Jean-Yves Lorant and Richard Goyat - the authors kindly sent me a copy as thanks for my contribution to their work. (See my 'wilde Sau und Moskito-Jagd' article in Model Aircraft Monthly, June and July 2014, some details here ) The image depicts  II./ JG 300 mechanic Wilhelm Beissel seated on the horizontal stabiliser. Camouflage netting has been partially unfurled over the forward fuselage and the wings. The ground crew have carefully avoiding covering the antennae of the FuG 217 Neptun radar which are set obliquely across the upper wing surfaces and in the MG cowl cover. The JG website has the '1' in red and this is obviously not the case for 6.Staffel machine. A few questions though; is there a II.Gruppe bar present on the fuselage band - in yellow? Probably yes -as per the drawings on the Eduard site for their 'Dual combo' Fw 190 nightfighters posted below - although not visible in the photo because the yellow appears 'dark' on the type of film used. I should perhaps have added it, although EagleCals don't - and they were obviously working with the authors who located the original photo of this machine. Did Bretschneider's A-7 feature outer-wing MGs - almost certainly yes, but could the armament have been retained with the aerials in situ? I've also painted the tips of the antennae in red, although perhaps this is not correct.

Below; Fritz Krauze's NJG 10 FuG 217 equipped A-6/7. A well-known photo to help with the placement of the aerials

Above; close-up of the wild boar emblem from EagleCals as seen on this 6./JG 300 night fighter. Note the red letter 'N' for 'Nacht' (or Night) utilised by JG 300 during the wilde Sau period. M. Lorant wrote to say that as it happens he has recently spent some darkroom time on this same image  The original wartime print measured just 2,5 cms x 4 cms (!) and was slightly out of focus. M. Lorant has been able to 'clean up' the photo in good enough quality to be able to identify the Werknummer. Close examination of the digital version of the photo negative allows the viewer to discern the last five digits - 40300. For Bretschneider's A-7 this gives us a WNr. of 340300. The 'enhanced' image is reproduced here courtesy M. Lorant. Click on the image below to see a close-up.


Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Airfix Grumman Martlet in 72nd scale - Operation Torch (2) No 888 Squadron Fleet Air Arm

Below; a Grumman Martlet naval fighter of No 888 Squadron Fleet Air Arm taking off from the deck of HMS Formidable in the Mediterranean during 1942. 'FN 142' - the subject of the Airfix kit - may have been a 893 Sqd machine, also on Formidable. The Imperial War museum's 'Fleet air Arm archive is here 

Another neat Airfix new-tool. Buy one..and build it! The only slightly tricky area was joining the fuselage halves. The wing fold option was a little awkward with no real positive location points. I thought it would be interesting to feature one wing fold and leave the other deployed which was possible on the Martlet and quite often seen. From the earlier Wildcat which I built at the start of the year here, Airfix have provided parts to lengthen the forward fuselage and these fitted well but a little filler was needed - I don't think there was a visible seam line here on the real aircraft. One detail I've missed is the engine crank case which must be fixed with the `attachment' facing upwards and not down as it shows in the instructions. Otherwise, having stared at pics of the real thing, I think the windscreen is a little too long and the fuselage spine behind the cockpit a little too 'fat'..but not enough to detract from the appearance of the finished model. The windscreen also needs a rear view mirror - I fabricated mine by simply leaving the plastic sprue tab attached to the part..

Note the carrier code isn't 0 (zero) or O (Latin alphabet) but Ø (Greek letter Phi) Phi is F;  F for  carrier HMS Formidable.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

new-tool Airfix Grumman Martlet - Operation 'Torch' build review (1)

summer's over here in ' the garden of England' after a good two months of fine and dry and at times very hot weather - time to get back to the bench. Easing myself back in gently with another new tool from Airfix in 72nd scale..

The Martlet is an excellent choice of subject by Airfix (market gap) and features nice decals and, like the F4F-4, a lovely degree of detail. I've seen some comments about the accuracy of the transparency of the Airfix Martlet/Wildcat, apparently some can't see past the the incorrect profile of the cockpit canopy (it flattens towards the rear rather than being parallel like the Hurricane's). But to be honest it doesn't bother me overly. There are two engine cowlings in the kit; the correct cowling and the fuselage extension that is required for the Mk.IV are on a new sprue.

There's at least one thread running on Britmodeller, plus the Airfix website that show the modified cowling. The initial release was a Martlet Mk.III/F4F-4 with the twin-row Pratt and Whitney engine, and a longer narrowing cowling. The new one is a Martlet Mk.IV with the wider single-row Cyclone engine, with a shorter more cylindrical cowling, and an adaptation piece lengthening the forward fuselage.

Fuselage parts prepped and ready to be closed up. In the images above I've slightly departed from the construction sequence for the undercarriage- which is very fiddly -  to make sure everything is lined up correctly. The wings are fairly straightforward - building this with one wing folded as could be seen with Martlets. Kit markings options for operation Torch..

If you suffer from AMS and want to dismember the rather 'disappointing' (their words, not mine) new Airfix Wildcat/Martlet then check out this link. Some superb references, artwork and modelling here!

Friday, 29 July 2016

to weather or not, that is the question ! F-4 Phantom on the cover of Model Aircraft Monthly

I don't do 'opinion' pieces. Much. Too frightened of upsetting my readers I guess. But I thought I'd 'kill two birds with one stone' in this post. Great looking F-4 on the cover of the current issue of Model Aircraft Monthly. Depending on your point of view that is hopelessly over-done shading and other 'arty' effects - or not. One from the 'Spanish School' of super modelling. And the 'new' Model Aircraft Monthly, apparently another triumph of style over substance! Never in the field of modelling journalism has so much white space been seen in so few pages! And then I've been wanting to post a response to a "Weathering Rant" on Jon B's 'Combat Workshop' blog..

Now, I'm not against 'weathering' at all- that would be silly! But I do not for one moment agree with those recent blog posts from a couple of US modellers stating that weathering is "an essential part" of modelling. Their assumption that 'weathered' vs. 'clean' model aircraft are somehow much more 'realistic' rather irked me.

Now don't get me wrong I don't mind a bit of weathering. I will even occasionally introduce some - hopefully- subtle airbrush effects help to blur the line between 'plastic toy replica' and 'scale model'. If I didn't I'd probably just be happy with a new die-cast. Although how one can be happy with paying a small fortune for a block of metal featuring huge trench lines and a 'toy' finish hand-painted by some Chinese slave worker who has never seen a real aeroplane in his/her life is beyond me - £250 for a metal 32nd scale Bf 109 ? way. I've always said to myself, the day a die-cast looks as good as one of my finished models is probably the day I put the stash on ebay. But that's another rant!

 Back to weathering. Lets face it, there are those extreme 'weatherers' out there who probably use every product going - Mig, AK you name it. Some so-called 'super modellers' have turned this into an entire aftermarket industry - presumably nice little earners they are too! While trying of course to persuade us that we need their products to make 'proper' models. That special effect you used to be able to create with oils, pastels, chalks and other media is now most of the time available straight out of a (very expensive) little bottle!

The other problem that I have with most extreme "weatherers" is that they tend to lose all notion of 'scale realism' and get totally carried away with creating a replica that -in their eyes- is closer to 'artwork'. Get on with applying those MiG powders, AK pastes and God knows what else and totally lose all notion of 'scale effect' - exhaust stains, chipping, rust, mostly invisible to the eye had the real thing been scaled down to 72, 48th, 32nd or whatever. So much more superior than the straight forward OOB guys. Now I don't really want to get into the 'psychology' of weathering. but it seems to me that merely 'assembling' and constructing a plastic 'toy model' for the extreme 'weatherer' is a slightly shameful thing. In my book the aim is to disguise the fact that they stick pre-formed pieces of plastic together - but then isn't that the 'purpose' of a good model. To try and hide the fact that it is a model. Especially as any Tom, Dick or Harry can do it. So you have to 'disguise' what you do by dressing it up as 'art'. The 'extreme weatherer' is rarely capable of building a scale model and replicating what can be seen in a photo, they need to be Michelangelo in their own Sistine Chapel. You can see why some modellers appear to get totally carried away more often than not, giving free reign to their artistic sensibilities.

Now of course I'm being slightly tongue-in-cheek there! I have little chance of ever producing anything as superb looking as this F-4 which probably looks 'wrong' as is it is a 72nd scale kit rather blown up. My forthcoming Corsair will definitely need some weathering to stand any chance of looking half 'realistic'. But in the end I shall probably just settle for a bit of an oil wash, some pre and post-shading, maybe some 'salt' weathering over the wings. Each to his own. But then of course it won't appear on the cover of a magazine...

Friday, 22 July 2016

Stunning new Tooby Airfix artwork and reactivating a couple of part-started builds, Revell Corsair, Airfix Fw 190, Academy Bf 109 G-14 in 72nd

nice day in the garden again ..and clearing some more part-started builds from the bench hopefully. I'm not that keen on reactivating part-started builds to be honest - I find that working up enthusiasm for them is hard work, but as it's a nice day and I'm on nights later on I'm just looking for something to fettle and tinker with in the sunshine...mind you if I can finish these this month, that will be a record five completions for the month! The Airfix Fw 190 I'm building as a night fighting 'Porcupine' of JG 300 - just adding some wire antennae having drilled out some holes on the wings and fuselage. The Academy G-14 to be finished as Hartmann's JG 53 Kommandeur machine should be a G-6...

Friday, 15 July 2016

Fantastic RIAT - Royal International Air Tattoo, RAF Fairford, England 6-10 July

See my 'Jet & Prop' blog for some coverage of this fantastic air show, featuring a variety of 2nd, 3rd, 4th and fifth generation fighter aircraft all on the same airfield - the past, present and future of air combat...links on the side panel

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Zvezda Junkers Ju 88 G-6 in 72nd scale (4)

Two completions inside a week. Well its been a few months since I was last able to get to a club meeting and since I knew I was going to be able to go to July's I was very keen to take along something new. This is my Zvezda Junkers Ju 88 G-6 night fighter in 72nd scale with the addition of resin Jumo engines, exhausts and spinners from AIMS. The engines feature finer detail and perfectly engraved supercharger intakes. I have built this model as a representation of Eduard Lindinger's machine -see below.

Below; seen here after an undercarriage malfunction on landing at Lueneberg in early 1945 this is 'C9+ET' flown by Ofw. Eduard Lindinger of NJG 5. This 9. Staffel machine is fitted with a 'shortened' 2cm SM installation and single MG 131. Note the cabin roof-mounted Naxos - and the re-located upward-firing SM installation. And I can see now that I've missed the 'old-style' solid fuselage Balkenkreuz. Wasn't expecting that on a late-war G-6!

Lindinger was awarded the Ritterkreuz for 300+ sorties in KG 1 but enjoyed a singular lack of success as a night fighter - he returned no night victories while in III./NJG 5. Lindinger died on 1 September 2004.

..and, below, on the club table for the July meet...