Vickers Light Tank Mark VIB in 1/72 Scale

These are 3D resin prints of two versions of the Vickers Mk VIb light tanks from files on Thingiverse.  Markings are from Star Decals sheet 72-A 1065 and represent ANZAC vehicles from the 2nd New Zealand Cavalry Regiment serving in North Africa in 1941/42.  They have had some minor details added but are relatively quick to finish, consisting of only two parts.

Construction post here:

The Great Halifax Explosion Audio Book Review

The Great Halifax Explosion: A World War I Story of Treachery, Tragedy, and Extraordinary Heroism

By John U. Bacon, Narrated by Johnny Heller

Audiobook, 10 hours and 38 minutes

Published by Harper Audio, November 2017

Language: English

ASIN: B0742MBJ82

Prior to the detonation of the first atomic bomb, the largest man-made explosion ever recorded happened in Halifax, Nova Scotia on December 6th, 1917.  It occurred when two ships, the French freighter SS Mont-Blanc, and the Norwegian relief ship SS Imo, collided in the harbor.  The collision occurred in daylight and good visibility (as is surprisingly often the case in ship collisions) and at low speed.  It caused little damage to either vessel, but started a small fire on Mont-Blanc.  The problem was her cargo – picric acid, TNT, and barrels of benzol on her deck, were all highly explosive.

When the fire reached the hold of the Mont-Blanc her cargo detonated with the force of almost three kilotons of TNT.  The ship disintegrated, part of her anchor was thrown three miles away, her deck gun four.  Every building within 1.6 miles of the ship was destroyed by the pressure wave or the ensuing wall of water, the bottom of the harbor was briefly exposed.  An estimated 1,600 people were killed instantly with more subsequently dying of their injuries.  Many of the survivors were watching the ship burn from their homes and were injured as the blast shattered the windows in front of them.

This is a very well-researched book.  The author not only describes the events leading up to the explosion and the rescue efforts in great detail, he gives a great deal of information on the history of Halifax and the relationship between Canada and the United States.  He describes the daily lives of several protagonists before and after the explosion, and follows one Haligonian, Joseph Barss, who fought in the trenches of France and was recovering from wounds in Halifax at the time of the explosion.

Despite the magnitude of the blast, it is not well known today.  It is a tragedy of the recent past, and an inspiring story of surrounding communities from Canada and the United States rallying to the aid of their neighbors.  Highly recommended.

Women Warriors 196

Indian Troops with Carl Gustaf MK-III
IDF Tanker
Norway Jagertroppen
USAF F-16 Pilot Heather “Lucky” Penney
USAF CAPT Judy Coyle, 728th Airlift Sqdn C-17
USAF CAPT Zoe Kotnik F-16 Pilot
WASPs with USAAF A-25
Privates Neta Farrell and Genevieve Evers USMCR loading depth charge. (USMC photo)
Kurdish YPJ
US Navy technicians maintaining radar aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71)
Brazilian Air Force
US Marine Corps
USMC Sea Cobra Pilot
WAFS 1943

For more Women Warriors, click on the tag below:

Airfix Sherman Firefly Vc Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

This is the 2020 Airfix boxing of the Sherman Firefly. The Firefly mounted the impressive 76.2 mm 17-pounder gun, which required moving the radios to a box at the back end of the turret among other modifications.
These are the three main sprues for the kit. There are parts included for two options to model the running gear here, the simplified single piece construction is likely a nod to the wargaming market. The tracks can also be modeled as a more traditional assembly using the parts on the top sprue. The difference in general appearance is actually slight, the biggest issue is the single piece option has the rubber block style track (due to mold release limitations) while the multi-piece option has the metal chevron style track. I think this is a good move, the single piece tracks are often preferable in 1/72 scale.
Frame “D” deserves special mention. With only a few exceptions, this sprue is devoted to “optional” pieces. This sprue allows the modeler to represent tanks with extra stowage and track used as additional armor. This is a most welcome addition as the lack of these components severely limits the individual vehicles which can be modeled out of the box with the majority of kits in 1/72 scale. I hope other manufacturers will follow Airfix’ lead and include similar sprues in their kits. Well done Airfix!
This is the hull built up with both track options for comparison. The single-piece option looks quite good if you want to model the rubber block tracks, the main compromise here is the guide teeth being molded as a single ridge across the span of the track. The subjects I selected for my builds used the metal chevron tracks so that’s what I used. I have filled the hull with a layer of BBs and epoxy to give the model a bit of “heft”.
There is a “gotcha” in step 43 of the instructions, and in the box art as well for that matter. Sherman Fireflys eliminated the hull machine gun (and gunner) in favor of increased ammunition storage, the gun opening was covered by armor plate. Airfix includes the armor, but shows the machine gun being mounted. They show the correct plated opening in step 44 and subsequent steps. A trap for the unwary.
The basic assembly goes together quickly and without any issues. There were some sink marks on the front part of the transmission cover which were filled with Perfect Plastic Putty. It would have been nice to have an option for an open commander’s hatch (and maybe a figure) but the hatch is molded closed.
AFVs beg to be “customized”, and one vehicle which caught my eye featured the Cullen hedgerow cutter. It also used spare track as armor, but was unusual in that the track teeth were pointed outward, the reverse of what was usually seen. I also added headlight guards made from flattened solder, and lifting eyes on the turret made from beading wire. The co-axial machine gun was replaced by brass tube. At the rear of the radio box is a scratchbuilt stowage box which was seen on several Fireflys.

Plastic Soldier M3 Stuart Honey in 1/72 Scale

These are builds of the Plastic Soldier M3 Stuart, representing ANZAC vehicles in North Africa.  The Plastic Soldier kits come three to a box and are intended for the wargame market.  The box contains no decals, so the markings here are from Star Decals sheet 72-A 1065.  The kits are simplified and quick to assemble, I added a few details such as headlights, grab handles, and tarps.  The .30 caliber guns on top of the turrets are from the Academy deuce and a half kits.

Construction posts here:

North American B-25 Mitchell Color Photographs Part IX – Early Mitchells

A fine study of a North American B-25A in flight. Forty B-25As were delivered to the USAAC beginning in February 1941. These were the first “combat ready” Mitchells, incorporating self-sealing fuel tanks and armor protection for the crew. All photos are from the NASM Rudy Arnold collection.
This B-25A carries the “Thunderbird” markings of the 34th Bomb Squadron, 17th Bomb Group and early war national insignia. The B-25A is easily identifiable by the unique tail gun position and lack of dorsal turret.
While none of the B-25As deployed overseas, they did fly anti-submarine patrol missions from the continental United States. Here a 2nd Bomb Group Mitchell refuels from an Autocar tanker prior to a patrol mission.
Here crew members simulate a scramble for the photographer while B-25A 40-2200 warms up in the background.
Crewmen board a Mitchell from the 2nd Bomb Group. A retractable skid under the tail prevented a tail strike during take-off or landing. Modelers note the possible solution to the “tail sitting” problem in the form of the boarding ladder.
The Norton bomb sight was considered to be highly classified and was to be covered or dismounted when the aircraft was on the ground. Combat experience soon showed that the nose mounted .30 caliber machine gun was inadequate and it was quickly upgraded to a .50 caliber.
The tail gun position of the B-25A was unique in the Mitchell family. The rear portion was a clamshell arrangement, and opened to allow the gun to traverse.
Mitchells in the coastal patrol role overfly a small freighter. The two nearest the camera are B-25Bs, the furthest is a B-25A.
Armorers loading 250 pound bombs. Later in the war bombs were seen in the Army standard Olive Drab, but in the early days they were often Light Gray or Yellow as seen here.
The B-25B introduced a Bendix power turret in the dorsal position, and a retractable Bendix remote turret in the belly. It was felt that these turrets offered adequate rear protection so the tail gun was deleted.
A close-up of the Bendix ventral turret. This turret was unframed, consisting of sections of clear Perspex which were glued together. Also note the slots for the guns are unsealed, certainly a problem at altitude.

B-25 Color Photographs Part I here:

Special Hobby Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa 隼 “Oscar” of Sou Okabe in 1/72 Scale

Last is the final production variant Ki-43-III pictured after the surrender in August 1945 at Nanking, China.  The assigned pilot was Sou Okabe of the 1 Chutai / 48 Sentai.  JAAF unit insignia were often stylized representations of the Sentai numbers, as seen here.  This is an example of a solid factory-applied scheme.  I painted the model using the colors called out in Aero Detail 29.  Special Hobby kit & decals.

Brotherhood of Heroes Audio Book Review

Brotherhood of Heroes: The Marines at Peleliu, 1944

By Bill Sloan, Narrated by Patrick Lawlor

Audiobook, 11 hours and 48 minutes

Published by Tantor Audio

Language: English


Peleliu is a small island in the Palau Archipelago in the Pacific.  In WWII it was home to a Japanese garrison and a small airfield.  On 15SEP44 it was invaded by the first Marine Division in order to prevent the Japanese from using it as a base which might interfere with the planned invasion of the Philippines the next month.

The Battle of Peleliu remains controversial to this day because of the high casualty rate among the Marines and the negligible strategic value of the island.  The Japanese had shifted their strategy of contesting the beachhead and now were to concentrate on defense in depth from fortified positions.  Also gone were the massed Banzai charges which had proven to be ineffective and wasteful of manpower.  The American commander, Major General William H. Rupertus, anticipated a three-day operation.  The island would not finally be secured for more than two months.  Rupertus would be criticized for insisting that Peleliu be a “Marine operation” and resisting calling in the Army’s 81st Infantry Division, which was held in reserve.

This book draws on official histories for the overall operational picture, and published accounts for the anecdotes of Marines to give personal perspectives.  In particular, “With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa” by Eugene Sledge and “Battleground Pacific: A Marine Rifleman’s Combat Odyssey in K/3/5” by Sterling Mace are quoted heavily.  Both were members of the same company. Sledge’s book is also one of three primary sources for the HBO miniseries “The Pacific”, so many readers will be familiar with much of this material.  With the reliance on these few sources, one gets the impression that K/3/5 was the only company which fought on Peleliu.

This is not a bad account of the fight for Peleliu.  However, it is heavily reliant on the works of Sledge and Mace, which are well-known and have themselves been previously incorporated into several other retellings already.  I didn’t see anything new here.  If you want to read just one book on Peleliu, pick up Sledge’s “With the Old Breed” and read his perspectives directly in his own words.