Saturday, 11 March 2023

Painting exhausts on WWII fighters - Hawker Hurricane Mk1 R4118, Duxford

. Hurricane Mk 1 R4118 with a nice new set of shiny exhausts. This for a fellow modeller at our club who told me in no uncertain terms that exhausts should not be painted 'silver'. Quite obviously any modeller is going with a base coast of aluminium if trying to replicate these. Of course they won't stay pristine for long, but they quite clearly have a nice metallic sheen. Having struggled for a long time to come up with a decent exhaust painting method I think I'll go back to alu base with burnt umber oil washes and sooty effects. Official feed for Hawker Hurricane Mk1 R4118, the only Hurricane from the Battle of Britain still flying today. Now based at Duxford, Cambridgeshire UK. Click on the 'blue circle' to view pilot walkaround here.

Wednesday, 8 March 2023

Book Review - "Monty's Men: The British Army and the Liberation of Europe" by John Buckley


.. Buckley's previous work "British Armour in Normandy" was the sort of wonderful eye-opening re-appraisal of the British Army's performance post-D-Day that Max Hastings' 'pro-German' treatments had always warranted. It is thus easy to agree with Buckley in this new work that the reputation of the British Army has suffered through a " disturbing" and very unflattering comparison with the German Army. You see it all the time on the net and in the literature - there is a sort of 'fan-boy' admiration for the German Army and its 'flamboyant' commanders - despite the ideological motivations, despite the racial and criminal undertones, despite harsh 'internal' terror - which is ultimately based on a very narrow definition of what constitutes military 'effectiveness'. Buckley argues that this image of German 'superiority'- largely based on the 'Blitzkrieg' of the early war years - conceals and ignores many many shortcomings and deficiencies on the German side and almost toally ignores those areas in which the British were much stronger - artillery firepower, logistical competence etc etc. By repeatedly attempting to mount ad-hoc and unsupported operations post-1941 the German Army delivered some short-term success but lived under constant threat of potential near-disaster. As Buckley argues the British conduct of operations predicated on firepower and logistics were not inferior to the Germans; if anything these kinds of operational methods were more sophisticated, requiring as they did, greater integration of the various operational constituents to achieve the desired affect.

No doubt the Allied armies "citizen soldiers" may have seemed lke 'amateurs' compared to German veterans skilled since 1939 - but 'amateurishness' - or at least what some commentators see as such - was a part of the Allies' military culture. As one commentator put it, .." we were not fierce fighting men like the Germans, we were civilians in uniform. Our equipment was bloody awful, but we did our best and we got there in the end.." Unlike the Germans. Post- D-Day the Germans, worn down by six years of constant conflict and ground warfare, were scraping the bottom of barrel, sending Volksturm and Luftwaffe Field Divisions into battle. Manpower concerns were a prime Allied consideration - Britain had only limited resources and materiel and Monty made up for this by substituting firepower and a deliberate approach to operations. And after September 1944 the Germans were largely fighting on terrain which was best suited to defence - the Dutch-German frontier area is broken by canals , rivers and full of woods.

From the British perspective, morale and manpower were key issues affecting the British 'style' of waging war. Another was command and leadership style - leadership, morale and unit cohesion, rather than racial or political doctrine, were the central tenants in the production of fighting power. When the British recognised the potential fragility of the morale of the men deployed on the ground, Montgomery and other senior commanders sought to develop an operational method that developed fighting power that achieved objectives. The Germans from the First World War through the Second World War had little understanding of theses levels of war as Buckley makes clear and woefully underperformed in this respect. There is some truth that at the smallest unit level the Germans were better than the British, however, this was of little use if it could not be translated into operational or strategic effectiveness. Integration of firepower and movement was a much more 'mature' military philosophy, which ultimately saw Montgomery accepting German surrender on the Baltic less than one year after the landings in Normandy..

The prevailing view of the British army as "slow and unimaginative" after the D-day landings is not so much 'white-washed' as some might imagine, but carefully and logically 'explained'. Monty's 'system' -built around the rock of its artillery firepower - was very carefully set up to exploit weaknesses in German battle tactics and to stifle and blunt the German manoeuvre expertise. For those in thrall to 'breakouts' and American knockout punches, Buckley goes some way in setting the record straight by giving the reader an insight into the attritional battles that made Cobra possible - three times the German armour employed in the Ardennes was wiped out by Commonwealth forces during the supposed stalemate and frustration of Caen. As such Buckley's history moves us on from the now hackneyed view expounded by Hastings and D'Este that the British army was somehow less effective than the Germans or the Americans. Monty may have been a flawed, egocentric and difficult man, but he was a man who got results, even if he did not get full credit. Was he flawless? No. Was he great? Decidedly so.

Hasegawa 1:48 Marseille 3./JG 27 F-4/Trop


Another Hasegawa 48th Friedrich finished as perhaps the best known and documented machine of one of the best known Ritterkreuzträger of the Luftwaffe. H-J Marseille flew this 3./JG 27 F-4/Trop 'ge 14 +' WNr. 8693 during February 1942. An Erla-built machine that likely arrived in North Africa during January 1942. In fact Marseille was on home leave that month and may well have ferried it back on his return to the front. He flew it consistently during February 1942 and gained victories 37 through 52. 

 - standard F-4/ Trop
- no armour glass windscreen
- deeper 'G' style oil cooler
- flat plate head armour with no curved section
- both upper wing Balkenkreuze had flaked
- no white wingtips -upper or lower- and no whitewall tyres
- solid white spinner and oil tank section
- rudder repainted in a dark colour. Possibly red-brown primer (possibly red, possibly dark green)
- open-style 'figure '4' and standard factory-applied tropical scheme of sandgelb 79 over 78


Friday, 3 February 2023

AZ Model 1:72 Martin-Baker MB 5 - greatest prop fighter and worst-ever 72nd kit !


" .. The M.B.5 came online at the beginning of the jet era, and never had a chance to prove its worth. With a P-51 sleekness and contra-rotating props, it would have been a frightful opponent for the Luftwaffe. Test-flown just two months before the Gloster Meteor jets went into R.A.F. service, the Martin-Baker M.B.5 promised much, but Whittle's invention took away its glory..."

Some six years after AZ's kit of the MB 5 first appeared I thought I'd build it, inspired by the neat article on Martin-Baker aircraft in the latest issue of Aerojournal magazine (issue no. 91). Aside from this there is good reference info in Air International, Vol. 16/2 (February 1979) and 'Wings of Fame', Vol. 9, 1997 which covers the whole MB fighter range and has some useful shots.

On with the build! Aside from the rear cockpit bulkhead, the interior parts were an OK fit. The instrument panel features nice raised detail that would benefit from careful painting and dry brushing to lift out the detail. Then the fun began! The fuselage halves were of different sizes. I lined up the upper surfaces and was left with a depression ahead of the radiator on the lower surface. The nose intake is 'solid' so was drilled open. 

The poor fit extended to the butt-joined wing halves. I drilled and pinned them to the fuselage but just couldn't achieve a decent fit. In the end I broke them off and stuck them together with Gorilla glue and filled the gaps. After a mammoth filing and sanding session I achieved a (sort of) reasonable result. Obviously I obliterated all the nice surface detailing and had to re-scribe - not my favourite job!

 Another tricky area is the ventral oil cooler intake. It is made up of 3 parts; a top half, a bottom half, and a cruciform grid that fits between them. The instructions are pretty hopeless here. Instead of assembling separate to the fuselage, I assembled the parts individually in-situ, and this worked well. Some clean up required, but not that much..

To get the gear legs on at what looks like a plausible angle is a trial. Rather than take a bit out of the front edge of the main landing gear bays - having already painted the undersurfaces -  I ended up re-drilling a location hole for them a little further back in the bay. The model simply doesn't look right in this area and certainly won't if built as per the instructions. The prop blades/spinner feature a mountain of flash and I didn't enjoy the clean-up job as the plastic that AZ use is so hard. 

Needless to say the rather thick bubble canopy didn't fit at all. I cut it into two parts so I wasn't left with massive gaps but its impossible to fit it 'properly' as it is too wide for the fuselage! Nor did the decals work - I lost one of the codes as it rolled up on itself and then 'shattered' into tiny pieces. Irretrieveably. 

The kit is 'short-run limited technology' - and pretty poor! It goes together like the 1958 vintage Airfix DH 88 Comet (see elsewhere on this blog)  ie with great difficulty!  To sum up the kit gets a poor 2 out 10 from me and is easily a contender in the 'worst scale model kit ever' Top 10, a subject we dealt with in a previous blog post (see link below). I certainly wouldn't build another. Short run shouldn't mean unbuildable and inaccurate- it certainly doesn't with other kit producers (RS Models for example). Okay, I managed to finish it - always a positive point - but really, I'm not sure why I bothered. Even now I still think the overall shape is 'wrong'. 

Also on this blog;

Thursday, 26 January 2023

Wing Nut Wings Gotha G.1 (Grossflugzeug) bomber in 32nd scale by Rod Janes


no, I haven't built the WnW Gotha G.1 ....but I do know someone who has.  Mr Rod Janes of the Medway and East Kent Scale modellers clubs. His build of this kit was on show at our first club meet of 2023 held at the RAF Manston History Museum.  The Gotha G.1 (G= Grossflugzeug, or 'large aeroplane') was a large (natch!) and somewhat unconventional twin engine bomber type built in small numbers and may even have participated in a raid on Dover during 1916. It was one of the first Gothaer Waggonfabrik bombers and forerunner of the even larger Kampfflugzeug types the company became known for.  The 1914 German Army Type III spec for a Kampfflugzeug ('battle plane') called for a 200hp  three-seater able to maintain 120 km/h for six hours carrying 450 kg of bombs. The kit from the now defunct WnW has well over 300 parts and there's one currently on offer on ebay via 'Mainly Military' at only £199...

Here's Rod at our club meet showing off his large model. At some stage in the future all of Rod's one hundred plus WNW builds will be on display in the museum at Manston. Note the 'neat' transportation aid in the lower photo - the model is placed on household scouring sponges....

Thursday, 12 January 2023

first completion of 2023 - another Eduard Bf 109 G-6 Heinz Bartels 11./JG 27


now that the house-move and the latest book project are out of the way I can get back to building some models. If only the airbrush would work 'properly'..

Here's my first completion of 2023, another of the 'old' new-tool Eduard Bf 109s, this time in the markings of 11./JG 27 ace Bartels. IV./JG 27 were at Kalamaki, Greece in the autumn of 1943 and intervened over Kos and Leros during October as German forces pushed out the British from these Dodecanese islands following the Italian 'change-of-sides'..

A couple of the images of the finished model show the 72nd Academy G-6 in the 'same' scheme as well, although as Gary Hatcher put it, how can Luftwaffe modellers be satisfied knowing that their mottling is always so 'hit and miss'? I mean all of the known images of this machine show the port side - not one shows the starboard side AFAIK. Upper surface 'saw-tooth' finish was a feature of some Erla 1943 production, re-created here easily enough with a P-Mask mask. The underwing 'R6' MG 151 cannon gondola have been opened up to display the Eduard resin cannon..