Burma Road 1943–44: Stilwell’s assault on Myitkyina Osprey Campaign 289 Book Review

Burma Road 1943–44: Stilwell’s assault on Myitkyina Osprey Campaign 289

By Jon Diamond, Illustrated by Peter Dennis

Series: Campaign Book 289

Paperback, 96 pages

Publisher: Osprey Publishing January 2016

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1472811259

ISBN-13: 978-1472811257

Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.3 x 9.9 inches

Another volume in Osprey’s well known and extremely successful Campaign Series, Burma Road 1943-44 follows the established format.  The book is broken up into sections first detailing the commanders, forces, and plans, then describing the campaign itself and the aftermath.  The book is well illustrated with maps and beautiful two page color paintings by artist Peter Dennis.  Color maps are a vital feature, and are used to illustrate opposing troop movements and the battles progressed.

During the Second World War China received a meager proportion of American aid when compared with other Allied nations.  Part of this was due to the divided political nature of the Chinese war effort, part of it was due to the entire Pacific Theater being viewed as a lesser priority.  A more practical reason was the fact that the Japanese controlled all the usable ports along the coast making supply from the sea impossible.  Efforts to form an air bridge were only possible over harshest terrain and were subject to aggressive Japanese fighter interception, and these efforts could only provide a small portion of the tonnage required.

This book tells the story of the campaign to open the Ledo road through Burma, vital for Western efforts to provide material aid to the Chinese fighting against the Imperial Japanese Army on the mainland.  The book mainly focuses on the American efforts, although there is some detail on the British and Chinese contributions to the campaign.  I was particularly interested in the Chinese-American armored unit formed on the M3 Stuart, and the use of American Nisei as signal intercept technicians.

Overall a good introduction to the subject and an interesting read.

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1/72 Scale Los Angeles Class Submarine Build, Part III

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One thing which is missing from most models of modern submarines is the flood vents on the bottom of the hull.  These are similar to the wheel wells on model aircraft in that they are difficult to see on the finished model.  Add to that the difficulties in referencing details on submarines and most kit manufacturers just skip them altogether.  Fortunately the prints we are using show the locations, here I have used masking tape to transfer the measurements to the vacuform hull components.
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The corners were drilled out and then the centers were opened up with a Dremel.  From there the holes can be expanded with an Exacto blade.  The plastic sheet we used to make the vacuform piece had not stretched much on the bottom surface and was still close to the original thickness of the sheet.  I expect it will be thinner on the sides.
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The holes are closed off with a sheet of plastic applied from the inside.  This prevents the see-through look and offers support for the 0.015″ strip louvers.  Any areas which need it can be built back up with superglue.
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Progress has also been made on the various diving planes. These are the masters before priming, made from Evergreen stock and superglue.  Since we will be building both a Flight I and a Flight III boat there will be differences in the planes needed for each model.  The masters will be copied in resin to provide all the finished pieces required.

Curtis SBC-4 Helldiver in 1/72 Scale

This is a kitbash of the 1/72 scale Heller and Matchbox kits of the Curtiss SBC-4 Helldiver, built with a Quickboost resin engine and Starfighter interior and decals.

The SBC-4 represents a Marine aircraft from VMO-151, they flew from May 1942 until July 1943 in defense of Samoa. They would obviously have had a very tough time against Japanese carrier groups in the SBC, so they hoped to catch the enemy off-guard:

“The War Plan to repel the expected Japanese attack was not particularly orthodox. We assumed the approach of the Japanese invasion force would be detected and shadowed by U.S. submarines. When the force was in range, not radius, of the SBC-4, we would launch all available aircraft and fly out to the attack. Obviously, on the return flight, the SBCs would run out of gas and ditch in the ocean. Then, the commanding General’s PBY-5A would land in the water and pick up the crews. I’m not sure if the plan would call for an open ocean take-off, but it certainly was not the sort of plan that inspired confidence in our survival.”

– Col. John B. Berteling, USMC, Ret., in SBC Helldiver in Action, Squadron Signal Publications.

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Interstate TDR US Navy Assault Drone

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The Interstate TDR was an unmanned “assault drone” developed for the U.S. Navy during World War II.  Like the parallel TDN drone, the TDR was designed to carry an aerial torpedo or a 2,000 pound bomb, the ordnance could either be dropped conventionally or carried directly to the target by the drone.  Here is an early TDR in flight carrying a torpedo.  Markings are standard for early 1942.
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Although it was equipped with a conventional cockpit for ferrying and testing, the drone was designed to be piloted by a remote operator flying in a TBM Avenger.  The operator controlled the drone using a television camera mounted in the nose.  The drone was gyro stabilized and carried a radar altimeter.  Effective range of the electronics was eight miles.
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The aircraft was constructed of non-strategic materials.  The airframe was made of steel tube by the Schwinn Bicycle Company.  The outer skin was formed plywood fabricated by Wurlitzer Musical Instrument Company.
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The production TDR-1 was powered by two Lycoming O-435 engines of 230 hp each giving a top speed of 140 mph.  450 hp Wright R-975 radial engines were also tested on the XTD3R-1 version shown here.  Three prototypes of this version were produced.
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The drones were deployed to the Pacific with Special Air Task Group One (STAG-1).  On 30JUL44 they were tested in the Solomon Islands under operational conditions against a beached Japanese freighter, the Yamazuki Maru at Cape Esperance, Guadalcanal.  Video of these tests can be seen here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwS669Ipgwc
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The Interstate TDRs saw operational use in the Bougainville area and Rabaul where they were used against Japanese shipping and ground targets.  Of the 50 drones used in combat, 31 hit their intended targets.  The Japanese assumed these were manned aircraft and American pilots were deliberately crashing into their targets.
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STAG-1 used TDRs in combat from 27SEP44 to 27OCT44. While somewhat successful, the drones were still experiencing technical difficulties and the decision was made to terminate the program in favor of more conventional aircraft.   A total of 189 were produced.
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One Interstate TDR has been restored and is on display at the National Naval Aviation Museum at Pensacola Florida.