AER Moldova Russian Truck Conversion in 1/72 Scale Part II

Assembly of the major components for the PARM workshop truck is complete.  The bed is injected molded using a different material, perhaps to avoid shrinkage.  No idea what this stuff is.  It reacted well to lacquer paints and superglue so no worries.
As is becoming my standard, the model was shot with Mr. Surfacer 1000 to check for flaws and then coated with Alclad black primer.
The color coat is a light application of Mr. Color 511, Russian Green 4BO.  The thin coat allows the black undercoat to provide a forced shadow effect in the recesses and modulated the tone of the rest of the color coat.  This was followed immediately by a thin partial layer of the 4BO mixed with yellow to provide an additional lighter tone.  A monotone finish should not be monotone at all, if you look at any large object you will start to see many variations in the color.
Here are the gun truck components after receiving the same treatment.  The bed is attached at this point, but the gun and the cab will be fixed in place later.
The bench and gearshift are added to the interior and the model was then coated with Glosscoat to protect the color layers.  I painted the tires a scale black at this point.  Then it received a wash with thinned oil paint, Burnt Umber and Yellow.  I got a set of oils at Hobby Lobby, the cheapest assortment I could find.  For modeling use even the smallest set should last indefinitely.
The gun truck with some light tan drybrushed on the bed to simulate paint wearing off the wood.
The workshop truck components are test fit together after painting and washes.  Note the variation in the monotone finish which helps prevent the “toy-like” feel of using one color.
Windows were made from acetate and the components were all glued into place.  Then undersides of the models were washed with tan, and the lower sides airbrushed with the same to simulate dust.  Finally everything was sealed with Dullcoat.  The workshop truck received more dust than the gun truck.  Done!

More completed photographs here:

Eduard Mikoyan MiG-15 in 1/72 Scale

These markings are from the kit, and are for the aircraft of a Soviet pilot flying in North Korean markings.  The pilot was Anatoliy Gogolev of the 176th GIAP, 324 GIAD, who credited with three victories.  The Soviets started “secretly” flying for the North Koreans early in the Korean War, the first engagement between the USAF and their former allies happened on 01NOV50.

Build thread here:















Grumman F4F Wildcat Mishaps, Part 1

During testing the XF4F-2 prototype experienced an engine failure on 11APR38 and was damaged in the subsequent forced landing.  The rugged airframe was salvageable, and Grumman rebuilt it as the XF4F-3 with many improvements.
Another Wildcat on her back, this is an F4F-3 from VF-41 at NAS Glenview.  Note the small size of the national insignia on the fuselage.  The overall Light Gray scheme was authorized from 30DEC40 and superseded by the Blue Gray over Light Gray scheme on 20AUG41.  VF-41 was assigned to the USS Ranger (CV-4).
Ranger supported the Allied invasion of North Africa during Operation Torch on 08 – 09NOV42.  For that operation U.S. aircraft received a yellow surround to their national insignia, and British aircraft were painted in U.S. markings in the hopes that the Vichy French would not fire on American aircraft.  Those hopes proved to be in vain, VF-41 wildcats claimed 14 Vichy aircraft shot down for the loss of 7 of their own.
British carriers operated the Wildcat as the Martlet.  Here a Martlet has gone over the side of the HMS Searcher, a Bouge-class escort carrier provided to the Royal Navy under the Lend-Lease program.
Wildcats were also operated by U.S. Marines from land bases.  This is a well-known photograph of a damaged Marine Wildcat from VMF-221 taken on Midway Island shortly after the battle.  Less than a month before the battle ALNAV97 directed the red centers to the national insignia and the red and white tail stripes be painted out to avoid confusion with the Japanese Hinomaru marking.  Blue Gray paint was apparently unavailable to the Marines on Midway, many of their aircraft had the rudder stripes painted out with a darker blue.  The SB2U-3 Vindicators of VMSB-241 display the same improvisation, as can be seen here:   Note the bombed out hanger in the background.



Two shots of an FM-2 Wildcat missing the wire and slamming into the aircraft spotted forward aboard the USS Bismarck Sea (CVE-95).  Bismarck Sea was a Casablanca class escort carrier.  She was sunk off Iwo Jima on 21FEB45 by a pair of Japanese Kamikaze.
This Wildcat has gone over the side of the USS Charger (CVE-30) on 28MAR43 but has become entangled in the catwalk.  Charger served in the Atlantic, primarily as a training carrier.  The pilot can be seen climbing up the starboard side of the aircraft.  Note the stenciling on his seat cushion still in the cockpit.
This pilot has found himself in an even more precarious position and is being hoisted back aboard the old fashioned way.  Floater nets can be seen hanging behind the aircraft.
This Wildcat pilot is less fortunate still.  Going into the water directly ahead of the carrier adds the significant hazard of being run over by the ship.  The ocean immediately forward of the bow is not visible from the bridge, the OOD must guess where the aircraft crashed and turn immediately to avoid hitting the aircraft.

Part II here:

Dragon King Tiger (Henschel Turret) in 1/72 Scale

Here is the Dragon King Tiger, molded with Zimmerit and the Henschel turret.  I like the molded Zimmerit, but I also like applying it myself.  No problems, a great kit right out of the box.  Watch the alignment of the drive sprocket teeth, there is enough play to get them off a bit.  There is a small PE fret which has some very nice screens for four of the six grills on the engine deck.  Only four.  The front two are covered with a molded screen, who the heck thought that was a good idea?  One of the more peculiar design decisions I’ve encountered in awhile.















Lucky 666 The Impossible Mission Book Review


Lucky 666 The Impossible Mission

By Bob Drury and Tom Clavin

Hardcover in dustjacket, 354 pages, indexed

Published by Simon & Schuster October 2016

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1476774854

ISBN-13: 978-1476774855

Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches

If Jay Zeamer Jr. were growing up today he would likely have been diagnosed with ADHD and medicated.  Fortunately for all concerned, Jay grew up in Boothbay Harbor, Maine in the 1930’s.  There his spirit for exploration and knowledge manifested itself early.  He was constantly on the go, wandering far from his home to see what was around the next corner.  He was well known to the fishermen there being reliable enough to trust with odd jobs and errands.  At age ten he constructed his own small boat from scrap and extended his exploration efforts to the harbor and nearby inlets.  By aged fourteen he was an Eagle Scout, by sixteen a cadet at Indiana’s Culver Military Academy.  At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Jay was a B-26 Marauder co-pilot flying with the USAAC 22nd Bomb Group.

With the war now underway the 22nd deployed to Australia and began flying missions against the Japanese.  Zeamer aspired to be a command pilot with his own aircraft and crew, but could never master landing the “hot” B-26.  He was relegated to the co-pilot position, where he soon grew bored.  So bored that he fell asleep in the co-pilot’s seat during a bombing mission.  In the aftermath of that incident Zeamer applied for a transfer to the 43rd Bomb Group, a Boeing B-17E unit.

In the 43rd Zeamer begins to come into his own.  He checked out as a command pilot and was promoted as the Group’s Operations Officer.  While gaining a reputation for preparation and aggressiveness, he was also no stranger to breaking the rules.  He was well known for volunteering for missions, and had soon attracted a nucleus of a crew with similar attitudes to fly with him, including bombardier Joe Sarnoski, a friend from before the war.  They quickly gained a reputation for taking and successfully completing the risky missions which no one else wanted, often returning in a damaged aircraft.  When B-17E 41-2666 was transferred in from the 8th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron, Zeamer and crew claimed it as their assigned ship and began to “Zeamerize” it.  The camera mounts made it valuable, but the requirements of photographic work required a predictable, straight flight path at a fixed speed and altitude.  Zeamer’s crew replaced the engines and removed all the excess weight possible to increase the speed of “Old 666”, and proceeded to install additional .50 machine guns wherever possible to increase her defensive armament.  When they finished they had mounted seventeen .50 plus two spares, making 41-2666 the most heavily armed Flying Fortress of the Second World War.

On 16JUN43 “Zeamer’s Eager Beavers” flew into history.  They had volunteered for a photo reconnaissance mission to map Bougainville Island, vital for the planning of the upcoming Marine amphibious assault.  At the last minute command tacked on an additional target, the Japanese fighter strip on Buka.  Zeamer had initially refused the additional mission, but after arriving at Bougainville a half hour ahead of schedule elected to make the extra run anyway.  This alerted the Japanese defenses and “Old 666” was the focus of forty minutes of Japanese attacks, the longest continuous aerial battle in USAAF records.  Zeamer’s crew would emerge as the most decorated crew in USAAF history, with the Congressional Medal of Honor awarded to both Zeamer and Sarnoski, Distinguished Service Crosses for the other seven members, and five Purple Hearts among them.  Sarnoski’s award was posthumous, Zeamer almost lost his leg.  41-2666 returned with almost 200 bullet holes and five cannon strikes, but was repaired and continued to fly until the end of the war.  The photographs proved vital for the planning of the Bougainville assault.

Authors Drury and Clavin provide a wealth of detail on Zeamer and Sarnoski’s back story leading up the their historic mission.  There is some interesting content on the previous combat flown by Zeamer leading up to the historic Bougainville mission.  There is still some controversy regarding both the aircraft and the specifics of the action that day.  As an example, sources vary as to the number of Japanese aircraft which intercepted Zeamer and crew, some say as many as twenty-one, some as few as eight.  Zeamer’s Medal of Honor citation credits them with downing five fighters, Japanese records indicate no losses from Buka, and none shown in the surviving (although incomplete) records from Bougainville.  Drury and Clavin explain this discrepancy as “the fog of war” and “a defeated enemy proved time and again to have lied about its military losses”, but without explaining exactly who the Japanese were trying to deceive by falsifying their own records.

Certainly a heroic mission with historical importance.  Flying Fortress 41-2666 is of interest to modelers because of this and also because of the modifications made by Zeamer and his crew.  The book is a good read and could be made into an outstanding movie with the right backing.  Are you listening, Sir Peter?



AER Moldova Russian Truck Conversion in 1/72 Scale Part I

Several years ago I happened across two relatively obscure kits in my Local Hobby Store (LHS).  Heaven knows why they were there.  They were bagged kits of Soviet trucks from the Great Patriotic War.  The PARM-1 (single rear axle) and PARM-2 (double rear axle) were field workshop conversions built upon the ZIS-5 truck chassis.  They were issued to aviation regiments and contained everything needed to make minor and mid-level repairs to aircraft, such as machine lathes, welding equipment, sheet metal fabrication breaks, etc.  AER was not a familiar manufacturer to me, but the moldings looked adequate even if a little basic.  They were in my scale so I couldn’t resist adding the kits to the stash.
Here are the sprues from the duel-axle kit, the parts needed for the extra axle are provided on the partial sprue on the upper left.  The workshop is on a separate sprue, suggesting multiple versions of the ZIS-5.  Most, if not all, military trucks are manufactured in multiple configurations with specialized equipment mounted to the frame.  It would be quite easy for a kit manufacturer to issue a dozen or more different vehicle kits using a common chassis.  The molds are currently being used by PST and there are several versions of this truck available.
Assembly is uncomplicated and straight-forward.  The modeler is instructed to cut the drive line and wheel axles from stock, I made mine from brass rod to increase strength.  Some may complain about this as the rods are not provided, but I almost always end up substituting metal rather than trying to clean up fragile moldings anyway so I see this as a good thing.
One of the trucks will be finished with the PARM workshop as AER intended, the other will be finished as an AAA gun truck.  Here I have scratchbuilt the bed for the gun truck from Evergreen and added grab handles for the gunners to ride along atop the ammo box.  The workshop has a door handle and hinges added because the door just looked too bare.
I bought the UM “Air Defense Station” kit consisting of four Maxim machine guns.  This was one of the armaments for the air defense trucks and has a uniquely “Soviet” feel to it.
The Maxim gun battery has a surprisingly high parts count for such a small model, the kit designers have attempted to replicate each component as an individual piece.  Unfortunately this approach results in a very fragile and finicky assembly.  Alignment and proper spacing proved impossible, and the fine injection molded bars kept breaking.  The sub assemblies did not fit together when joined.  After a couple of frustrating hours I admitted defeat and chucked the whole mess into the spares box.  If you have this kit do yourself a favor, put it in the spares box now and enjoy the two hours of your life you will thus have saved.  You’re welcome.
Fortunately the Zvezda 37mm 61-K gun was in the stash which was also a load for the ZIS-5 gun truck, so by dumb luck the build was saved from the shelf of doom.  I had hoped to build this kit on its own, but they are inexpensive and plentiful so that itch will be easy to scratch.
Here is the Zvezda gun built up, without the trailer parts of course.  It went together with no drama.  If you look closely you can see sink marks in the pointer’s foot rest, those were the only molding issues.  Easily corrected with rectangles of 0.005″ card.
A test fit of the gun truck components.  Nothing is glued down at this point, the cab must stay loose so the interior can be properly painted and windows installed.

Part II here:

LS Ki-15-II “Babs” of the 8th Sentai in 1/72 Scale

This is the LS Ki-15 “Babs” from the kit issued in the late 1970s.  Despite its age, the kit is still quite nice even by today’s standards.  I modeled this one in the markings of the 8th Sentai, 1st Chutai which was known as the “Octopus Eight” due to the stylized tail markings.  This aircraft was based at Nakhorn Sawan Airfield in Burma.  In February 1942 it returned from a reconnaissance sortie over Rangoon with over a hundred bullet holes, having been intercepted by Hurricanes of 28 Squadron RAF.  Both the pilot 1LT Takesada Nakatani and the observer 1LT Fujimori Akira were wounded.


















Construction post here: