Italeri sK 18 10,5 Field Gun Diorama Build in 1/72 Scale

Continuing on with my efforts to add figures and bases to my recent batch of vehicle builds, I wanted to depict the Italeri sK 18 Field Gun in a firing position. To add a little interest, there will also be some Soviet cavalry from Zvezda in the classic cavalry mission of operating in the enemy’s rear area and making a general nuisance of themselves.
There are two sprues in the Zvezda box, each containing one mounted figure. The Zvezda figures are crisply molded in hard plastic, and come with stands and a marker for wargame use. These are nice sets and there is a wide variety in the range.
I will be supplementing the Italeri artillery crew with another Zvezda set, this German Headquarters group. These are useful figures for many compositions. The Italeri field gun comes with five figures but the typical gun crew was seven, fortunately I was able to find some suitable additions from a 3D print file to make up the difference.
The contents of the Zvezda German Headquarters group box. Useful figures and a great value for the money!
I bought two boxes of the Soviet cavalry. The figures in the foreground are in stock poses with the molded-on reins replaced by thin strips of masking tape. The figure on the right has a replacement bedroll as there was no way to mold the undercut and it was obvious on this horse. The two figures in the rear are conversions mounted on First to Fight Polish Uhlan horses with replacement saddlebags. The figures are the same Zvezda cavalry again, with replacement arms and a head for variety.
Here are two of the Italeri artillerymen with basic colors applied and a gloss coat.
Here is the Soviet officer with basic colors, the paint has been sealed with a coat of Future, which is an acrylic. I have intentionally kept the colors on the lighter end of the spectrum to experiment with oil shading.
The figure was sprayed with a flat coat and then shadows were enhanced with thinned oils. I think the technique is encouraging and hope to improve with experience.
Trees will be used to provide a vertical element. These are made from the wire inside of lamp cord, which has many uses for modelers. Don’t throw away a broken lamp without salvaging the cord first!
Here is the final composition, with the Soviet cavalry charging the unsuspecting German artillery position from the woods. The base is of the same construction as the previous TKS tankette base, ground cover and foliage are from Woodland Scenics.

Tamiya Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-3 of Leutnant Walter Rupp in 1/72 Scale

Walter Rupp landed this aircraft at the RAF aerodrome at Manston, Kent after suffering combat damage on 17 October 1940.  Rupp became a PoW.  The Aircraft was assigned to 3./JG 53 “Pik As”, who were ordered to remove their unit insignia because they were out of favor with Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring at the time – the unit applied the red “bandage” marking in protest.

Martin B-26 Marauder Color Photographs Part VI – Pre-War Photos

First of the many! There was not a prototype Marauder, an exception to the rule. This is the first production B-26, 40-1361 outside the Martin factory at Middle River in Baltimore, Maryland. The first flight was on 25NOV40. Note the natural metal finish and pre-war USAAC tail markings. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
40-1361 again, this time with two other Martin designs in the background, a Maryland export bomber and U.S. Navy PBM Mariner flying boat. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
This profile view shows off the Marauder’s sleek lines. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
Marauders on the ramp outside the Glenn L. Martin factory, Baltimore Maryland. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
A look inside the Middle River factory with fitters busy at work. Modelers note the top-opening cockpit hatches and details of the wing and engine construction. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
An atmospheric nighttime view of the Martin factory floor. Unique among the major combatants during the Second World War, the U.S. enjoyed secure production and training areas free from enemy bombing. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
The early B-model Marauders carried twin .50-calibre machine guns in this tail position. This was changed in the B-26B-25-MA series and later. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
Another view of the “business end” of the tail position. Note the fold-down panel under the guns and lack of metal framing at the end of the transparency. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
Initial nose armament was a single hand-held .30-calibre. This was soon changed to a .50-calibre, and most Marauders were fitted with an additional four .50-calibres in cheek blisters plus an additional fixed gun in the nose all of which were fired by the pilot. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
A view of the nose position from below. The oval-shaped panel is a flat cut-out intended to give a distortion-free view for the Norton bomb sight. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
New production Marauders on the ramp at Middle River. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
41-17839 seen with a security guard after completion. She was later assigned to the 17th Bomb Group’s 95th Bomb Squadron and named “Air Corpse” by her crew. She crash-landed behind enemy lines following a mid-air collision over Sardinia, her crew was captured. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)

Blood Red Snow Audiobook Review

Blood Red Snow: The Memoirs of a German Soldier on the Eastern Front

By Günter Koschorrek

Read by Nigel Patterson

Unabridged Audiobook

Published by Tantor Audio, July 2018

Length:  9 hours 41 minutes

Language: English

Günter Koschorrek was a 19-year-old German Army machine gunner who was sent to Stalingrad in 1942.  Assigned to a dismounted Kavallerie brigade, his unit was able to escape encirclement.  Their escape was a close-run thing, their positions were over run by Soviet armor and they were saved only by crossing the frozen Don River on foot under fire.  Koschorrek was wounded and evacuated back to Germany.

After recuperating, he was briefly assigned to Italy on anti-partisan duties, then back to the Eastern Front.  This time he was part of a well-equipped and supported “fire brigade” unit tasked with countering Soviet penetrations in the front lines.  After each action, they were withdrawn to quarters in a local village.  This inevitably came to an end as the Soviet offensives gained momentum, eventually resulting in a general retreat back to Germany.

This is a very gritty tale of combat on the Eastern Front from the perspective of a common infantryman where the hardships were many.   Koschorrek was one of the very few from his original group to survive the war, and he himself was wounded six times.  He avoided being sent to the Soviet Gulags after the war by aggravating one of his wounds and being hospitalized.

The audiobook is read by Nigel Patterson, who has an English accent.  I found this a little odd at first for a German memoir but grew used to it as the book went on.  Patterson did quite well with the occasional German rank or phrase.  The translation is also very English, with German soldiers being referred to as “blokes” and that sort of thing.  An odd error is the Soviets are often described as being armed with “Kalashnikovs” instead of the expected PPSH-41s or Mosen-Nagants, perhaps another problem with the translation.

I listened to this book while travelling to the Cincinnati IPMS show, a good way to get some benefit from the dead time while driving.  The book was “loaned” from the local library to my cell phone, a very welcome option when needed.  This was an interesting book which I can recommend to anyone interested in the Second World War on the Eastern Front.

Women Warriors 144

US Army
US Navy
US Navy
CAPT Jamie LaRivee C-17 Pilot
US Navy War Correspondent
USAF F-16 pilot, 187th Fighter Wing
Betty Gillies, first WASP
Russian Border Guard with Dragunov
US Navy, working on SH-60 hoist
“Lumber Jills” of the Women’s Timber Corps

For more Women Warriors, click on the tag below:

First to Fight Polish TKS Tankette Diorama Build in 1/72 Scale

Several of the blogs and boards I follow are devoted to the painting of (and/or gaming with) “minis”.  The work of these figure painters is fantastic and inspiring, but makes me more aware of the limitations of my own modeling skills.  I need practice, so I decided to add bases and figures to my recent batch of completed vehicles.

I’ve seen modelers try various ways of building bases on You Tube videos. This one didn’t look difficult and I already had most of the materials in the garage. This is just foam insulation glued to a wooden base. Instead of cutting the foam, I used the “fat lardie” method and contoured the foam by stepping on it on a concrete floor – worked like a charm!
The edges are dressed up with strips of 1 inch (25 mm) wide balsa wood from the Local Hobby Store. All this is glued with carpenter’s clue, clamped, and left to dry overnight.
I added surface contours with lightweight spackling compound. An advantage of the lightweight spackle is it can be compressed when dry without fracturing.
The base color is a suitable shade of acrylic beige wall paint. Cheap, and a quart will be a lifetime supply for modeling purposes.
I have become interested in the use of mounted cavalry during WWII, and surprisingly there are a few choices of figures available in 1/72 scale. These are First to Fight Polish Uhlans mounted on Zvezda horses. Turns out the Polish and Russian cavalry tack is similar, so only a few modifications were needed. The poses of the figures were modified, and reins and bedrolls are made from masking tape.
Here are the figures under a coat of Mr. Surfacer 1000. The biggest improvement is the replacement of the molded-on reins, the tape reins are more dynamic and can be mated with the figures’ hands. The Mr. Surfacer and subsequent paint layers are generally sufficient to bond the reins, but a little dab of superglue doesn’t hurt either!
The mini-diorama depicts a TKS supporting the advance of a unit of Uhlan cavalry. The ground cover is a mix of Woodland Scenics products. I made indentations in the grass where the tracks of the TKS passed by rolling a coin, an example of where the ability of the lightweight spackling compound to compress came in handy. I’m definitely not quick about the figure painting and basing yet, but I do like the effect!

Tamiya Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-1 of Eduard Koslowski in 1/72 Scale

This Bf 109 is finished in the early-war scheme of 02 / 71 / 65.  It was assigned to 9. / JG 53 and piloted by Eduard Koslowski, who achieved a total of twelve victories.  During the first months of the war the Germans experienced several “friendly fire” incidents.  As a result some Luftwaffe units began to apply oversized insignia to their aircraft, there are even some examples of aircraft wearing both large and small Balkenkreuz.  This appears to have begun in October but had ended sometime in December. This aircraft displays the oversized insignia on the upper wings.

The Capture of U-505

Some ships are unlucky.  U-505 was arguably the most unlucky submarine in the German Navy during the Second World War.  Her career didn’t begin that way though – her first patrol was short and uneventful, and her second was a success with four Allied merchantmen to her credit.  Her third patrol also appeared to be a success with three vessels sunk, but one of her victims was a Columbian sailing ship named Urious, the sinking of which resulted in Columbia declaring war on Germany.  On her fourth patrol she claimed her eighth victim, but her luck changed when she was caught on the surface by an RAF Hudson with an Australian crew and hit by a 250 pound bomb aft of the conning tower.  While she managed to return to Lorient, she was the most seriously damaged U-boat to survive and make port.

After repairs she was repeatedly deployed again, only to return in short order each time after being damaged, or as a result of sabotage by French workers.  She gained the reputation as a “dock queen” which could not deploy effectively.  On her tenth patrol she endured a severe depth charging from British destroyers.  Her Captain, Kapitänleutnant Peter Zschech broke under the strain and committed suicide in the control room, the only submarine Captain to do so during the war.

While not the best quality, this photograph shows the damage to U-505’s deck and conning tower caused by the bomb from an RAF Hudson during her fourth war patrol on 10NOV42. The Hudson was caught in the bomb blast and was lost, along with her crew. After two weeks of work, the U-505’s crew was able to make repairs and make her way back to their base at Lorient.
On the morning of 04 June 1944 the U-505’s luck ran out. She encountered an American anti-submarine group centered upon the escort carrier USS Guadalcanal (CVE-60) and was detected by sonar by USS Chatelain (DE-149). Chatelain immediately fired a salvo of Hedgehogs without effect, then circled back to drop depth charges. These were on target, damaging U-505 and causing an oil slick visible to aircraft circling overhead.
U-505 surfaced, her crew immediately abandoning ship. Her rudder was jammed causing her to circle and her engines had been left running. Chatelain engaged the U-boat with gunfire and fired a torpedo, which missed. USS Pillsbury (DE-133) launched a whaleboat in an attempt to place a boarding party aboard. The photograph shows Pillsbury’s whaleboat pursuing the abandoned U-505, which was still making 7 knots.
Pillsbury’s boarding party scrambled aboard the sinking U-505 and entered through the conning tower. Inside they found the U-boat was flooding rapidly, her crew having removed an 8-inch (20 cm) strainer cover to flood the boat. The Americans were able to locate and replace the strainer cover, but by that time the U-505 was well down by the stern.
Pillsbury came alongside and attempted to take the submarine under tow. However, the ships collided, holing Pillsbury in three compartments and causing flooding. In the meantime Chatelain and USS Jenks (DE-665) were busy rescuing the submarine’s crew. All 58 survived but one, signalman Gottfried Fischer was killed by gunfire.
A boarding party from USS Guadalcanal (CVE-60) then came aboard and attempted a tow. The photograph shows the towing line being passed from Guadalcanal to the U-505.
With the U-505 in tow the Guadalcanal was able to resume flight operations. Here an Avenger makes her approach.
The Commanding Officer of the Guadalcanal and Task Force Commander CAPT Danial Gallery is seen atop the U-505’s conning tower. Note the damage to the tower and wear to her paint. Her captors have painted the slogan “CAN DO JUNIOR” on the conning tower.
German U-boats stowed extra torpedoes outside of their pressure hulls under deck panels. One of U-505’s reloads was found to have been damaged by gunfire and was jettisoned.
U-505 with Guadalcanal in the background. This photograph shows the wear to her paint, a useful reference for modelers.
After three days the Guadalcanal was met by the fleet tug Abnaki (ATF-96), which towed the U-505 to Bermuda. Her capture was classified Top Secret, out of concern that the Germans might change their naval codes (which the Allies had already broken) if word of her capture leaked out. Her crew was kept in isolation from other prisoners until after the war, not even the Red Cross was notified. The U-505 is currently on display at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. Video of the capture is here: