Eduard Mikoyan MiG-15bis Nightfighter in 1/72 Scale

This is another Mikoyan MiG-15bis, this time in a nightfighter scheme.  These decals are from H-Model decals, no problems with them.  Pilot was I. P. Galyshevsky of the 351 IAP, who claimed one B-29 during the Korean War.

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Messerschmitt Me 323 Gigant Cargo

Diorama bait!  For those modelers who want to bring something different to the show, few things fit the bill quite like an Me 323 Gigant loading or unloading cargo.  Big and unusual, this subject combines aircraft and vehicles into a display worth remembering.  Here are a few combinations to consider.

A nice color shot of a Marder II being unloaded in Tunisia.  The Marder II was built on a Panzer II chassis and mounted a PAK 40 7.5 cm gun.  Approximately 650 were built between June 1942 and June 1943, when production shifted to the Wespe self-propelled howitzer.  With a total cargo capacity of 23 tons, the Gigant could easily handle the Marder II’s 12 ton weight.
The Sd.Kfz. 2 Kettenrad makes for a small load in itself, but the Me 323 could carry a dozen at a time, or a few as part of a mixed load.  The Kettenrad could also be carried by the standard Junkers Ju 52 transport.  The officer trying his hand at backing this example into the Gigant seems to lack confidence.
Here is a load which barely fits.  This appears to be a workshop or command van built upon a MAN diesel truck, but I have been unable to identify the specific sub type.  Nonetheless, an interesting vehicle which illustrates the Gigant’s ability to carry an oversized load.
8.8 cm flak guns were often photographed being loaded, usually along with their prime movers.  This one is being man-handled, the log leading off out of frame to the left implies a vehicle of some kind is giving a push.
Luftwaffe troops seated aboard.   The Me 323 could carry up to 175 full equipped troops, seated on two levels within the fuselage.  Some troops were even accommodated within the wings.
A fully loaded Sd.Kfz. 3 Opel Maultier disembarking in Italy, towing what appears to be a 10.5 cm Feldhaubitze 18/40.  The Maultier (“Mule”) was a conversion of the standard Opel Blitz truck made by removing the rear axle and installing Panzer I type running gear.   The conversion weighed in at six tons, leaving the Gigant plenty of capacity to carry additional vehicles or supplies.  (Bundesarchiv photo)
A mock-up showing one example of just how much equipment could be crammed into a Gigant fuselage.  Here we see a Sd.Kfz. 10 light halftrack, a Horch 830 staff car, a motorcycle with side car, and a 5 cm PAK 38.
Looking aft into the interior showing details of the internal structure.  Note the fuel drums secured to the deck at the rear.
A variation of the theme, here two vehicles in tandem are being used to tow a loaded Gigant onto the runway in Tunisia.  For a modeler wanting to incorporate several vehicles into a display, many different combinations of cargo and towing vehicles could be used.
Wounded being evacuated in Italy, March 1943.  Casualty evacuation was a common mission for a returning Me 323, several photographs show ambulances waiting outside the Gigant’s huge cargo doors.
Unloading a standard Opel Blitz, the Me 323 could accommodate two of these trucks in a single load.  This photograph provides a good view of the ramps used.
Sd.Kfz 7 with 15cm sFH18 heavy field howitzer.  Guns and their prime movers were common loads for the Me 323.

More Me 323 photos here:

MAC Horch 108 Kfz. 70 in 1/72 Scale

This is the German Horch light truck, one of several versions released by MAC Distribution.  This kit came with a 20 mm flak gun mounted in the bed and the transport trailer for the gun as well.  I wanted the flak gun for another project, so I completed this model with side boards and filled the bed with cargo.  I really like the gun truck version too so I may have to build another at some point.  Nice little kit though, it went together without any drama.















Tank Sergeant Book Review



Tank Sergeant

by Ralph Zumbro

Hardcover in dustjacket, 196 pages with appendix, glossary, and index; illustrated

Publisher: Presidio Press November 1986

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0891412654

ISBN-13: 978-0891412656

Package Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches

Tank Sergeant is Ralph Zumbro’s personal account of tank warfare in Vietnam.  Specifically, Zumbro was a tank crewman and tank commander on M48A3 Pattons during 1967 and 1968, which includes the Tet offensive.  While not specifically optimized or intended for operations in a jungle environment, the tanks were nevertheless in high demand and the vehicles in Company A, 1st Battalion, 69th Armored were disbursed in small detachments across a wide area.  Surprisingly for an organization with the vast resources of the U.S. Army, there were never enough tanks in-country to go around and never enough time to maintain the tanks that were there.

The tanks were utilized for infantry support, convoy escort, and guarding fixed points such as bridges.  The main obstacles were the jungle and the terrain, the main threats were mines, RPGs, and getting boarded by infantry.  Combat was constant.  Keeping the tanks maintained was a struggle and they often operated with partial crews.  At one point in the narrative Zumbro’s M48 (which was fitted with a bulldozer blade) received a much-needed depot level overhaul.  The vehicle was barely operational and had accumulated almost three times the running hours recommended between servicings.

This is very much a personal story, and Zumbro goes into details of the day to day operations and challenges of keeping the tanks running.  The horse-trading and bureaucratic red tape required to procure parts will be familiar to former service members, Zumbro relates resorting to unauthorized nighttime requisitions to secure the needed items.  He also describes a platoon of tanks catching an NVA battalion in the open waiting to ambush a convoy.  The results were predicable, but the complete destruction of a large NVA formation in the weeks after Tet did not fit the desired Press narrative and therefore went unreported.

Overall a very interesting and informative read, especially given the unique perspective of a tanker in Vietnam.  Highly recommended!


Airfix Douglas C-47 Skytrain Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

I’ve always had a soft spot for the C-47, it’s one of those designs where they got it right.  They were flying long before I was born, and they’ll still be at it long after I’ve gone.  When Airfix released their new C-47 I couldn’t resist.
Airfix provides a nice interior, the real aircraft was not that busy inside and you won’t be able to see much of it anyway.  If you leave the crew access door open some of this would be visible.
The fuselage is basically empty – just like it should be.  The jump seats are optional and are molded as separate pieces.  The cargo doors and crew access door are also molded as separate pieces, posing the cargo doors open would reveal the fuselage interior pretty well for those wanting to do so.
I painted the interior Dull Dark Green (FS 34092).  Seatbelts are made from masking tape.  There is a decal for the instrument panel, but I doubt it will be visible once the fuselage is closed up.  I put mine in anyway because I had it, but I wouldn’t invest in an aftermarket panel.
I washed the interior with acrylic black and drybrushed the raised detail with silver.  The cargo bay floor is natural aluminum.  For those wanting something different, there is ample photographic evidence that many C-47 interiors were painted a color resembling RAF Sky.

Part II here:

Airfix Boeing B-17G Anxious Angel in 1/72 Scale

This is the recently completed Airfix B-17G, which represents a late production Fortress with the Cheyenne tail turret and staggered waist gun positions.  This is a nice kit right out of the box, I added a few aftermarket bits but you would still get a nice build without them.  I substituted resin wheels and Eduard turbochargers.  Master brass gun barrels are really little jewels, I was very impressed with these.  Decals are from Kits World and represent “Anxious Angel” of the 401st Bomb Squadron, 91st Bomb Group.

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Messerschmitt Me 323 Gigant Transport

One of the largest aircraft of the Second World War, the Messerschmitt Me 323 Gigant was a development of the Me 321 glider.  Six Gnome-Rhône 14N engines were fitted, giving the Gigant a maximum speed of 177 mph (285 km/h).  The French engines were selected as it was felt that using German engines would place an additional burden on the already strained German aircraft engine industry.  Note the support structure aft of the landing gear.
For a short time Messerschmitt toyed with the idea of fitting only four Gnome-Rhône engines, resulting in the Me 323C.  While in this configuration the Me 323C still had to be towed when loaded, but it could return under its own power when empty.  This design was only marginally superior to the standard Me 321 glider and was soon superseded by the Me 323D with six engines.
The Me 323D was a full-fledged transport.  Early versions were fitted with two bladed propellers, but most were completed with three bladed  Chauvière variable pitch units as seen here.  This is a fine color photograph of DT+IT “Himmelslaus” taken at Lvov on 15FEB43.
Another color view of “Himmelslaus” undergoing repairs at Lvov after a hard landing.  The port side landing gear covers have been removed revealing the red primer underneath. Note the extent of the yellow identification panel under the wing.
The Gigant towers over crewmen on the ground.  Wingspan was 181 feet (55.2 meters).  When unloaded the aircraft was a tail-sitter, the front wheels would lift off the ground.
It was common to see Me 323s propped up with the tail skid resting on a fuel barrel, but even with this prop the front wheels were in the air.  The exhaust staining under the wing is extensive.
With all six engines turning, the Gigant is towed into position.  Initially the crew was five – pilot, co-pilot, radio operator, and two flight engineers.  As the design progressed dedicated gunners were added.  (Bundesarchiv photo)
Reichsgebiet, Flugzeug Me 323 Gigant
In an effort to increase defensive firepower the Me 323E-1 version introduced two EDL 151/20 turrets to the upper wing.  These were manned by the two flight engineers, whose normal crew position was in the wings between the two inner engines.  (Bundesarchiv photo)
A useful view of the cockpit.  The roof of the cockpit could be elevated, which would give a clear view of the interior on a model.  (Bundesarchiv photo)
Flugzeug Me 323 Gigant
A fine view of a Gigant coming in for a landing, with several others parked in the background.  (Bundesarchiv photo)
A Gigant under fire from an RAF B-26 Marauder off Cap Corse, September 1943.  Even when flying in escorted formations, the huge Me 323 proved extremely vulnerable to interception.
In an effort to provide an escort capability, the Me323E-2 Waffenträger (weapons carrier) was developed.  These aircraft had the nose doors sealed and were therefore incapable of carrying cargo, but they were fitted with eleven MG 151/20 cannon and four MG 131 heavy machine guns.  Five of the 20 mm were carried in turrets, four over the wings and one in the nose, seen here.  It was long believed that only a single aircraft was converted, but records indicate that several were actually completed.  The Waffenträger was protected by 1.3 tons of armor and carried a crew of twenty-one.

Me 323 cargo loads here:

ESCI Sd. Kfz. 250/10 Halftrack in 1/72 Scale

This is the old ESCI Sd. Kfz. 250/10 Halftrack kit first released in 1975.  It came out in three versions, the 250/3 command vehicle, the 250/9 reconnaissance vehicle with the 20 mm turret, or the 250/10 infantry support vehicle with the 37 mm gun as modeled here.  The molding shows its age a bit but can still be built up into a nice model.  As a bonus it comes with some figures which are well molded and quite usable.  Still a decent kit which can still be found at model shows.