The YF-23 Black Widow was Northrop’s entry into the USAF Advanced Tactical Fighter competition, which was eventually won by the F-22 Raptor. Dragon kitted the YF-23, the blended wing and fuselage configuration makes for a very simple model as everything is molded together as a large single top and large single bottom piece with very few other parts to add – mainly the landing gear and cockpit. I decided to build mine as if it were from an operational unit. Two Bobs excellent F-22 sheet provided replacement markings plus two to spare if I ever build a Raptor. Markings are of the 325th TFW at Tyndall AFB in Florida, a possible appearance if the YF-23 had entered production instead of (or in addition to) the F-22. One of the two YF-23s completed is currently at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton.
I find armored cars to be fascinating. The Soviets fielded a wide range of designs during the Great Patriotic War, none of which could be considered to be particularly successful. They did have their places as screening or reconnaissance vehicles, but generally they were too lightly armed and armored for the resources they used. The BA-9 is an example of this, being armed with a 7.62 mm and 12.7 mm machine gun, it carried a crew of four and had a maximum speed of 35 mph (55 km/h). UM has produced a nice little kit of this uncommon vehicle. It has their vinyl tires again which I find problematic and is a little over-engineered, but it can be built up into an interesting model.
Bounty Hunter 4/3
By Jason Delgado with Chris Martin
Hardcover in dustjacket, 352 pages
Published by St. Martin’s Press October 2017
Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
Each Marine Battalion has a Scout Sniper Platoon which reports to the battalion’s Intelligence Officer. The platoon consists of approximately twenty Marines who form two man teams. Becoming a sniper is considered to be stepping up to an elite formation, volunteers are selected from with the battalion. If a Marine is selected for the sniper platoon, he is taught the fine art of long-range marksmanship and concealment by the more senior members of the platoon and is transformed into a Professionally Instructed Gunman, or PIG. The best PIGs are selected to attend the USMC Scout Sniper Basic Course, if they graduate they become HOGs – Hunters Of Gunmen.
Bounty Hunter 4/3 is Jason Delgado’s story. He begins as a street kid growing up in the Bronx who joined the Marines. He describes his progression from Boot Camp to an infantry battalion, and from there his selection into the sniper platoon. His training within the platoon during a deployment to Okinawa prepared him for a slot at the Scout Sniper Basic Course, which he passed. This narrative is the first third of the book.
Operation Desert Storm saw the Marines employ snipers in support of the thrust into Baghdad and the destruction of the Iraqi Army. Delgado and the other snipers provided support and overwatch to their battalion during the assault through Iraq. This was a conventional mechanized assault against an organized army.
Delgado’s second deployment to Iraq was to a small city on the Iraqi/Syrian border named Husaybah. By this time the conflict in Iraq has devolved into an insurgency, with Jihadis infiltrating in from Syria. This deployment is in marked contrast to Operation Desert Storm, a static occupation with guerrillas amongst the civilian population and all the complexities and rules of engagement which go along with that.
The final portion of the book concerns Delgado’s return to the United States and duty at Marine Special Operations Training Group, where he was a sniper instructor. The Marines had kept their Force Recon out of the overall Special Operation Command, preferring to keep them under direct Marine control. MARSOC was founded in 2005, dipping a Marine toe into SOC. Delgado was ideally positioned the help train and equip that force.
This is a very “hands on” and personalized account of sniper’s role in Iraq in both conventional and counter-insurgency roles. It was interesting to hear the descriptions of sniper training and employment. I was surprised at the physical requirements of the Scout Sniper Basic Course, and that they had their own version of Hell Week and subsequent 60% attrition rate. The similarities and differences between the two deployments are a good indication of the changes in the conflict in Iraq itself – fighting an army is not the same as fighting an insurgency. This is good insight into one Marine’s journey through life and war, a recommended read.
Photographs taken at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.
Finished! This turned into a “just one more thing” build and seemed to drag on, but the first seven completions for 2020 are done and I’m generally happy with how they turned out. The big pictures on the computer highlighted a few tweaks and touch ups which are needed but they’re mostly complete. Here’s the list of modifications and details added, some kits required more of these than others:
- Cockpits replaced and/or detailed.
- Instrument panels, side consoles, and seatbelts printed on photographic paper.
- Engines replaced and/or wired.
- Wheelwells removed, deepened, and detailed.
- Landing gear covers replaced with card stock.
- Landing lights made from CD case plastic.
- Gear down indicators made from bronze rod.
- Vacuform or plunge molded canopies.
- Pitot tubes made with metal tube and insect pins.
- Beading wire brake lines.
- Wheels replaced.
- Turned brass cannon barrels from Master.
- Various openings and trestle ports drilled out.
- Trim tab actuators replaced with wire.
- Radio aerials made from Uschi elastic line.
So, overall a fun build but one which took longer than anticipated. I think the next batch will be something a little more current, hopefully one which doesn’t need as many modifications!
Here is Hasegawa’s Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter. I think of these as being “modern”, but they’re already retired. Hard to believe. I’m old. This is a relatively simple kit. The plastic is harder than usual, must be to absorb radar energy better. It’s also much bigger than I expected, I kept checking to make sure it was the proper scale. Quite a lot can be seen even with the canopy closed due to the large flat panels. I used the Eduard mask set which saved time with the sawtooth frames. The fuselage seams needed filled on the underside, as do the wing joints. The clear sprue contains a solid nose weight. This was barely enough to keep the nose down, the model will sit on its tail if positioned that way. I’d add just a bit more weight just to be sure if building another.