Hammerhead Six Book Review


Hammerhead Six: How Green Berets Waged an Unconventional War Against the Taliban to Win in Afghanistan’s Deadly Pech Valley

By Ronald Fry with Tad Tuleja

Hardcover in dustjacket, 382 pages, photographs, notes, and index

Published by Hachette Books January 2016

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0-31634-143-6

ISBN-13: 978-0-31634-143-1

Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches

Afghanistan’s Pech Valley lies along the border with Pakistan, roughly between Kabul and Islamabad.  It is a major infiltration route for Taliban fighters.  In 2004 a twelve-man team of Green Berets set up operations at a site in the valley known as Camp Blessing, backed up by a platoon of Marines.

The Green Berets were led by Captain Ronald Fry, who authors this account.  Their call sign was Hammerhead Six.  They belonged to the Utah National Guard, and were their unit’s dive team, specially trained in underwater operations.  The Green Berets are also required to be conversant in foreign languages, for Hammerhead Six the team members were all trained in various Asian languages.  In the logic of the U.S. military, Afghanistan was the natural place to deploy them.

The mission and skill set of a Green Beret team is very different from the rest of the Special Operations community.  A Green Beret team lives among the indigenous community.  Their goal is to recruit and train local fighters as allies and to win the “hearts and minds” of the people in the area, thus denying the enemy a safe operating area and support.  They do this by working directly with local leaders, offering medical help to the population, and engaging in various infrastructure improvement projects.  They also “go native”, observing and respecting the local customs and traditions. In many ways Captain Fry became the local warlord of the area and quasi-governor, settling disputes and negotiating an unfamiliar culture with very different rules and expectations.  This book is part military history, part management and governance, and part anthropological study of the Afghani society.  It is also an engaging and educational read on several levels, I can recommend it with only one reservation.  I have at least a dozen recent military books from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which have the call sign of the unit or individual as the title, and there are easily a few dozen more.  In time it will be difficult to remember that “Hammerhead Six” is the good book about Green Berets in Afghanistan.


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Women in israel defense forces IDF military girls
US Navy Conning Officer
ww481g_GermanNavy_Corvette_Oldenburg (F263)
German Navy Corvette Oldenburg (F263)
US Army Airborne
ww484_WAVE_ Bernice Garrott_SNB-1_07JUL43
US Navy WAVE Bernice Garrott with SNB-1, 07JUL43
South Korean F-16 pilot
ATA Faith Bennett with Spitfire

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Brengun Yakovlev Yak-1 Build in 1/72 Scale Part II

The canopy is provided in three pieces, the middle section does not fit well in the open position and will need to be replaced with a vacuform piece if you want to pose it open. A few swipes of Perfect Plastic Putty cleaned up the canopy seams. Brengun also provides clear parts for the navigation lights and landing light. I “painted” the positions with a Sharpie, then fixed the clear parts in place with superglue and buffed them out. I lost both clear pieces meant for insertion in the rudder, but I felt fortunate to get all eight of the tiny exhausts in place.
The inlet at the root of the port wing is a separate piece and quite delicate. It required a bit of filler. The horizontal tail pieces do not fit at all. The instructions call for you to remove most of the locator tabs but even the stubs don’t fit into the slots. In addition, the fairing molded onto the fuselage halves is much thicker than the tail pieces. I cut off the tabs and butt-jointed the fins in place, then reduced the thicker fuselage fairings from the underside with an Xacto knife and sanded them smooth.
I primed with Mr. Surfacer 1000 to check the seams. At this point I also drilled holes in each wing for the gear down indicators.
The obligatory paint color shot so I can remember what I used later. The undersides are a mix, the upper surface camo colors are out of the jars. I make no claims to being a VVS color expert, but these colors appear to be in the proper ranges from what I have been able to find.
I glossed the model with Testors GlossCoat and applied the kit decals using Micro Set and Micro Sol. The decals went on without any drama.
Here is the underside with an acrylic wash to pick up the surface details. The PE panels worked out in the end but are still an odd way to do things, plus an unnecessary chance to screw up. I do like the PE parts for the landing gear covers and the wheel wells are nice and deep.
Here is the finished model with all the fiddlybits in place. I used Albion tube for the pitot tube. The tip of the pitot tube is Nitenol wire, as are the radio antennas. The gear down indicators are 0.0125” wire. The sliding canopy section was replaced with a Falcon vacuform.


The Brengun Yak-1 has some nice surface detail and builds up into a good-looking model.  The decals are great and lay down well.  However, this is not an easy kit to build.  There are several unusual engineering decisions which make assembly unnecessarily difficult, and many of the pieces are quite small.  There are flash and mold seams to deal with, but no sink marks on my example.  You will have to work to get this one together and it is a frustrating build.  If you want a high-backed Yak this is your kit, but be prepared for a fight.

Fine Molds Messerschmitt Bf 109F-4 of Josef Zwernemann in 1/72 Scale

This is Josef Zwernemann’s Bf 109F-4 assigned to 7. / JG52 at Beryslaw, Russia, 14SEP41.  Zimmermann claimed his first victory, a Spitfire, over France in July 1940, but he was to achieve the majority of his victories against the Soviets.  He was awarded the Oak Leaves to the Knight’s Cross when his score passed 100 in October 1942.  He was transferred to the West in Defense of the Reich in early 1944 where he flew the Focke Wulf Fw 190A-7 against American bomber streams.  On 08APR44 Zwernemann claimed a B-24 and a P-51, but was jumped by two more Mustangs and had to bail out.  He was shot and killed in his parachute as he descended.  In total he claimed 123 victories.










Douglas C-47 / R4D Skytrain / Dakota Color Photographs Part II

42-100646 displays one of the more extremely faded paint jobs. She was assigned to the 47th Troup Carrier Squadron and is seen in Germany just after the war.

A formation of C-47’s showing various degrees of wear. The vertical stabilizer appears to have faded more rapidly, likely the assembly was painted with a different Olive Drab paint formulation by a sub-contractor, similar to the B-17. The wing in the foreground shows details of the weathering.

The same formation as the photo above. The factory Olive Drab finish on some of the C-47’s has shifted to a variety of browns and buffs.

The C-47 was also utilized as a glider tug, seen here towing the Waco CG-4 Hadrian.

Paratroopers of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion prepare to board a C-47. The “Triple Nickles” were a segregated unit utilized as “smoke jumpers” in the Pacific Northwest. Their mission was to extinguish fires set by Japanese Fu-Go incendiary balloons, 9,300 of which were released during the winter of 1944-45.

Paratroopers don their parachutes. 43-48910 displays extensive fading and the remnants of the code “CK –“ on the fuselage aft of the cockpit.

Lieutenant Clifford Allen smiles for the camera. Each paratrooper carried 150 feet of rope to enable them to descend safely in the event their parachute became tangled in trees or the mountainous terrain.

Troop Carrier Command C-47’s bank over the Oregon back country.

A close up of the nose of C-47 42-92095 showing details of the Troop Carrier Command insignia and nose art. The number “442” has replaced at least two previous identifiers.

This is the nose of 43-48910, also seen in previous photographs. The “CK –“ code behind the cockpit is visible, as are the remains of other codes under the Troop Carrier Command insignia. These aircraft would make for interesting modeling subjects!

Revell Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a of Generalleutnant Adolf Galland in 1/72 Scale

In November 1941 Adolf Galland was appointed to lead the Luftwaffe’s fighter force as General der Jagdflieger.  As the war progressed Germany’s situation worsened, which put Galland at odds with Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring who used the pilots as scapegoats.  This came to a head in January 1945 when a number of ranking Luftwaffe pilots confronted Göring in what became known as the “Fighter Pilots’ Revolt”.  Göring blamed Galland, and relieved him of his command.  But now what to do with Galland, who was a hero in Germany?  Galland was directed to lead a small unit with the Messerschmitt Me 262, Jagdverband 44 (JV 44).  He used his connections to recruit several of the highest-scoring pilots in the Luftwaffe, and JV 44 quickly became known as the “squadron of experts”.

This Me 262 bears the double chevron of a Geschwaderkommodore.  It is believed Galland was flying this aircraft when he achieved his final victories, a pair of Martin B-26 Marauders on 26APR45.  Galland was wounded during the engagement but survived the war with 104 victories.









The Battleship USS Iowa Anatomy of the Ship Book Review


The Battleship USS Iowa Anatomy of The Ship

By Stefan Draminski

Hardcover, 352 pages, line drawings and 3-D renderings throughout

Published by Osprey Publishing, January 2020

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1472827295

ISBN-13: 978-1472827296

Dimensions: 10.2 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches

Most modelers and military history buffs are familiar with the Anatomy of the Ship series.  The majority of these books were published during the 1980’s and 1990’s, and are mainly devoted to detailed line drawings of the subject vessel and her fittings.  The publishing history is convoluted – they were published by Conway Maritime Press in Great Britain, along with both Phoenix and the U.S. Naval Institute in the United States.  After a long hiatus the series is again being produced with updated volumes on previous subjects along with new titles.

The current iterations have featured red covers up to this point.  Conway published an updated volume on the Yamato and Musashi, the next volume is published by Osprey and the subject is the battleship USS Iowa (BB-61).  The new series retains the line drawing format of the original, but adds a striking new element in the form of full-color computer rendered perspective views.  These are consistent with the style of Kagero’s Super Drawings in 3D series.  Most page spreads contain a mix of the standard line drawings and color perspective views, this proves quite effective in conveying the appearance of the specific detail.  The result is a book with two to three times the content of the original. One thing I feel is under appreciated about books such as this is that much of the equipment was standardized and was common to ships of other classes, so the drawings will be of interest even if researching an entirely different ship which utilizes the same items of equipment.

In the case of Iowa, the author has constructed nine individual computer models to present the ship during different periods.  The Iowa was frequently refitted, and her appearance changed after each shipyard availability, sometimes drastically.  The reader can follow these modifications chronologically with the turn of a page.  The renderings show many of the interior spaces of the ship, some as cut-aways, others as expanded layers.  I did my service aboard the Iowa’s sistership Missouri (BB-63) from 1985-89, so it was interesting for me to find many very familiar details.  Others were different, either due to era or the inevitable differences in construction between sisters.  There were a few strange omissions.  The main battery turrets and their interiors are covered well, but only the exteriors of the 5”/38 mounts are shown.  The interior of the bridge is absent, and only the basic layouts of Engineering spaces are represented.  Having said that, what is there is spectacular, and I’m sure I’ll be studying this book for hours.  I was a fan of the series before the addition of the color perspective renderings, given the amount and quality of the content these new books are bargains.  Highly recommended.



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US Navy
ww477e_Lithuanian SCAR-H DMR
ww477g_Ryazan Higher Airborne Command School
Russian Ryazan Higher Airborne Command School
Kurdish YPG
ATA pilot with Spitfire
Russian Navy
ATA with 3.7 inch AAA gun
US Air Force
Belgian F-16 pilot Karen Voudenbrouke
RAF WAAF pilots, Pauline Gower on right

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