Zvezda ISU-152 Tank Destroyer Build in 1/72 Scale

The ISU-152 was a tank destroyer version of the IS-2 heavy tank.  The two vehicles utilized the same lower hull and automotive components, but the ISU-152 carried a 152 mm gun in a large casement structure.
This is another press-fit model from Zvezda, the box claims “no glue required” but most modelers will use standard thin cement (MEK) just to be sure.  This kit shares the same lower hull and track molding as the IS-2 kit, but oddly the running gear and accessories do not share a common mold, being laid out differently in each boxing.
The tracks are designed to be press-fit in place, using mounting tabs trapped within the return rollers.  This works, but is fiddly to assemble.  It is easier to pin the tracks in place and then superglue the outer rollers over them.
The 12.7 mm machine gun is beautifully molded, I only wish Zvezda had found room on the sprue to include another!  There is a minor goof here, the press-fit tab on the sight arm doesn’t have a place to fit.  Easily rectified with a hobby knife and some glue.
I ballasted the hull with BBs embedded in casting resin.  The suspension is quite sturdy and had no problems taking the extra load.
Everything ready to paint.  The casement received a stippling of Mr. Surfacer 1000 to simulate the casting texture.  Grab handles were replaced with wire.
Primary painting and sealing are complete in this picture.  Tracks are painted Mr. Color Tire Black and washed with Tamiya brown panel line color.
The model was weathered with Tamiya black panel line color and various colors of oil paint.  The oils can be diluted with thinner to leave behind as much or as little color as you want, and built up in layers to achieve the desired effects.
Here are the ISU-152 and the IS-2 side by side.  The family resemblance is apparent.

Eduard Lavochkin La-7 in 1/72 Scale

Here is the Eduard Lavochkin La-7.  The Dual Combo and Limited Edition boxes contain colored PE and masks, the Limited Edition also has a PE fret for dropped flaps.  There is only a single sprue but it allows for building either the two- or three-gun versions.  I replaced the kit spinners with resin ones from SBS as the shape is more accurate.  Sidewall detail is faint and adding the PE does little to bulk it up.  I added additional depth with Evergreen.   I also added Evergreen to the wheelwells to simulate the ducting from the wing inlets visible there.  There is a gap into the well which needs filling or you can see in through the wing inlets.

The markings are for an La-7 of Major Sultan Amet-Khan HSU x 2, 9 GIAP, East Prussia, December 1944.  Amet-Khan was credited with 30 individual and 19 shared victories.  The metal panels behind the exhausts were painted Alclad Aluminum with Alclad Steel discoloration.  The metal cowl bands are kit decals.













USS Broadbill (AM-58) – A Veteran’s Photographs

Radioman Second Class Francis Cinque was assigned to the Auk-class minesweeper USS Broadbill (AM 58) during World War Two.  He participated in Operation Neptune, the naval component of the Allied landings at Normandy, the bombardment of the Port of Cherbourg, and Operation Dragoon, the invasion of Southern France.  I recently had the privilege of helping his grandson’s family identify some of the pictures from his album, and they agreed to allow me to share a few of them here.

This set was taken by RM2 Cinque from the USS Broadbill (AM-58).  They show useful details of the ship and interesting events surrounding her operations.

I have identified Mr. Cinque’s photographs to the best of my abilities, and added supplementary photographs where they are useful.  If anyone has any additional information or can correct any errors I may have made please add your information in the comments below and I’ll pass them along.


USS Broadbill (AM-58) History

Laid down 23 July 1941 by the Defoe Shipbuilding Co., Bay City, MI

Launched 21 May 1942

Commissioned USS Broadbill (AM 58), 13 October 1942

Decommissioned December 1945 at San Diego, CA

Recommissioned 19 March 1952

Decommissioned 25 January 1954 at Orange, TX

Reclassified as a Fleet Minesweeper (Steel Hull), MSF-58, 7 February 1955

Struck from the Navy Register 1 July 1972

Sold 1 December 1973

Acquired in 1974 by David A. Hahn of Orange for use as a yacht and renamed Anaconda



Displacement 890 tons standard, 1,250 full load

Length 221′ 2″, Beam 32′ 2″, Draft 10′ 9″ (Length 67.4 m, Beam 9.8 m, Draft 3.3 m)

Propulsion: Two 1,559 shp ALCO 539 diesel electric engines, Westinghouse single reduction gear, two shafts.  Speed 18.1 knots (33 km/h)

Complement: 105

Armament: One 3″/50 dual purpose gun mount, two single 40 mm gun mounts, eight 20 mm guns, two depth charge tracks, four depth charge projectors, one Hedgehog projector, capacity for up to eighty mines.


A useful view of a sister ship, the USS Tide (AM 125).  This photograph gives a good impression of the layout and overall configuration of these ships.  While small, they were relatively well armed and quite capable of performing anti-submarine duties as well as acting as general escorts, in addition to their primary roles as minesweepers / minelayers.  (National Archives)
A view of the fantail of the Auk class minesweeper USS Broadbill (AM-58) as she sweeps for magnetic mines.  The davits are for handling the sweeping gear for moored mines.  The canvas covered objects are single 20 mm Oerlikon mounts, the Auk class carried eight of these in all.  Depth charge racks are mounted outboard of each davit. (Francis Cinque photograph)
Another  similar view of Broadbill’s fantail.  The large rectangular objects and floats are part of her “Otter” or “O Gear”.  These would be streamed from the stern to cut the cables of moored mines.  After the cables were cut the mines would rise to the surface where they could be destroyed by gunfire.  (Francis Cinque photograph)
C-47 Skytrain transports tow Waco gliders over an Auk class minesweeper off Southern France.  They likely carry the 550th Glider Infantry Battalion on their way to assault the town of Le Muy on 15AUG44 as part of Operation Dragoon. (Francis Cinque photograph)
C-47 Skytrains towing Waco gliders, showing details and the towing configuration.
A well-worn Liberty ship off-loading cargo to the LCTs and barges moored alongside, several trucks are visible on the barges.  Liberty ships displaced 14,250 tons and were the most produced ship design in history, with 2,710 being completed. (Francis Cinque photograph)
The Auk class minesweeper USS Broadbill (AM-58) laying a smokescreen. (Francis Cinque photograph)
Gun crew man the 3″/50 gun on the fo’c’sle of the Auk class minesweeper USS Broadbill (AM-58).  The 3″/50 caliber gun was carried by a wide variety of U.S. and Allied vessels.  It could fire a 24 pound projectile to a maximum range of 14,600 yards. (Francis Cinque photograph)
Two Auk class minesweepers moored in a French port, the bow of a third is visible in the lower left of the photograph. (Francis Cinque photograph)
The French light cruiser Gloire moored to a buoy with an unidentified French destroyer moored alongside.  Photograph likely taken off the Southern coast of France during Operation Dragoon, 15AUG44 – 14SEP44. (Francis Cinque photograph)
A nice color photograph of Gloire showing her disruptive camouflage to good advantage.
A 200 pound Mark IX depth charge is launched over the side of the minesweeper USS Broadbill (AM 58).  A 40 mm Bofers gun is in the foreground. (Francis Cinque photograph)
Hedgehog anti-submarine projectiles in flight after being fired from the minesweeper USS Broadbill (AM 58).  Hedgehog was a spigot mortar which launched a circular pattern of twenty-four 65 pound projectiles ahead of the attacking ship.  A contact fuse detonated the projectile upon contact with an enemy submarine. (Francis Cinque photograph)
Hedgehog projectiles enter the water ahead of the minesweeper USS Broadbill (AM 58). (Francis Cinque photograph)
Depth charges exploding astern of the minesweeper USS Broadbill (AM 58). (Francis Cinque photograph)
USS Broadbill (AM 58) at anchor with USS YMS-43 moored alongside.
A nest of Auk class minesweepers in port at Nice, France.  From left to right they are USS Chickadee (AM 59), USS Pheasant (AM 61), USS Broadbill (AM 58), and USS Nuthatch (AM 60).

1/72 Scale Zvezda IS-2 Soviet Heavy Tank

The IS-2 is the Russian answer to the German King Tiger, but gets little recognition in the West.  Big and heavily armored, its 122 mm gun made it a match for any German panzer on the battlefield.  This is billed as a snap-together kit, but serious modelers universally use a little glue anyway just to be safe.  Don’t dismiss it because of the snap-together design, it is nicely detailed and the fit is spot on.  Test fit with caution though, the parts are designed to bind together and may be a little hard to separate when fully seated.  Build thread here: inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2019/11/22/zvezda-is-2-soviet-heavy-tank-build-in-1-72-scale/















Those Navy Guys and Their PBYs Book Review



Those Navy Guys and Their PBYs: The Aleutian Solution

By Elmer Freeman

Paperback, 267 pages, illustrated

Published by Kedging Publishing Company July 1992

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0963246305

ISBN-13: 978-0963246301

Dimensions: 10.1 x 7.5 x 0.8 inches

This is a first-hand account written by an member of a PBY (Patrol Bomber, Consolidated) squadron operating in the Aleutian Islands during the first part of the Second World War.  Freeman starts out on the beaching crew hauling flying boats up the ramp with VP-41, but is advanced to aircrew and eventually a Plane Captain with VP-42 when they deploy.  Winter operations with the PBY in the Aleutians were considered impossible before the war but were something which had to be done when the war started, although with considerable difficulty and risk.

Freeman describes in detail the various procedures and duties involved in PBY operations, and the specific challenges posed by the Aleutian weather.  I found the specifics fascinating.  Installing the beaching gear (wheels) on a flying boat so it could be hauled out of the water up a ramp was a choreographed operation.  Life aboard a seaplane tender was no vacation, Aviation Machinists Mates stood engineering watches alongside the ships’ crew when underway.  When moored to a buoy, the aircrew posted watches aboard their aircraft, which were equipped with bunks and a small galley.  At times the aircrew preferred to live aboard their aircraft rather than ashore in tents during the Alaskan winter.  Freeman describes all the operations of a PBY squadron fighting against both the Japanese and the weather.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It is a hidden gem, offering insight into a little known theater of the war and aircraft operations which are not as well covered as the carrier or bomber types.  There are numerous photographs, all produced on a full page.  Freeman’s writing style is relatable and easily accessible, he strikes a good balance between providing detail and keeping the narrative flowing.  My only suggestions for improvement are this book should be in hardback, and the paper could be a higher quality to display the photographs better.  A good read, highly recommended.

As an aside, I picked up this book at the Half Price Books sale for $2.00.  I love a deal!  On the back cover is a retail sticker from “Skagway Alaska”.  I have to wonder how the book moved from Skagway to the Lower 48, eventually to wind up in my collection.  Each book has its own story.


Zvezda IS-2 Soviet Heavy Tank Build in 1/72 Scale

This is Zvezda’s IS-2 heavy tank.  It is intended to be a snap together kit, many of the parts are engineered to press-fit together which has resulted in a few unusual design decisions.  The snug fit is reassuring, but most modelers will choose to ensure a good assembly with thin cement.
Parts layout is what one would generally expect.  The lower hull is a one-piece slide mold affair which is becoming more and more common these days.  Tracks are one piece of soft plastic, be careful as they are handed and will not fit quite right on the wrong side.  The rectangular part in the lower left corner is a concession to the press-fit engineering, it is an intermediate piece which joins the upper and lower hull.
The tracks have these mounting tabs which are designed to be trapped between the hull and the return rollers.  The end tab is split so two tabs are to be trapped using the center roller.  A bit difficult to arrange everything with only two hands but it can be done.
There is a little slack in the tracks after assembly.  Unfortunately the slack is all on the underside, not on the return rollers where it should be.
The turret is split in half along the weld seam.  I thought the joint needed cleaning up so I sanded it smooth and made a new weld seam from stretched sprue.  There is a row of nicely molded grab bars which were unfortunately right in the way, so I removed them and replaced them with wire.  The turret received a stippling of Mr. Surfacer 1000 to simulate the casting texture.
I tried to introduce the characteristic track sag using toothpicks and superglue.  I got some sag but a lot more would have been welcome.
Everything assembled awaiting paint.  I left off the outer wheels until after painting to better get at the tracks.
Here is the model under a coat of Mr. Color Russian 4BO.  It has also received a coat of Testors Glosscoat prior to decals and weathering.
The model was weathered with oils and Tamiya panel line color.  The mud on the running gear was built up with oil paint and Vallejo pigments.  The white I.D. bands are hand painted, I thought that would be easier than using the kit decals and would look more “field applied”.  When I got all the weathering where I wanted it I sealed the model with Testors Dullcoat.

Hasegawa He 111Z Zwilling in 1/72 Scale

The Heinkel He 111Z was developed when the Luftwaffe suddenly realized they had neglected to design a tug big enough for their Me 321 glider.  The solution was to stick two He 111 bombers together with an extra engine in between.  Hasegawa’s kit contains two of their fine He 111s, substituting a new center section for one of the standard wing sprues.

I added the Eduard PhotoEtch interior set, if you open up the transparencies you can see inside this one so it is worth the time to dress it up.  The Eduard canopy masks are a must for this kit, I’d hate to build it without the masks!

Overall, not a bad kit, although it has a few tricky areas.  The nose transparency is molded in five sections, the three main ones are difficult to line up exactly.  Test fitting and patience when building up the central core components and the nacelles really pays off.  The model does look the part when completed, and the Eduard PE really dresses it up.