Fine Molds Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-4 Trop of Hans-Jochim Marseille in 1/72 Scale

Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-4 Trop of 3. / JG 27, Ain El Gazala Libya, June 1942, pilot Hans-Jochim Marseille, Fine Molds kit.

Berliner Hans-Jochim Marseille was widely known as one of the best marksmen in the Luftwaffe, and one who had perfected the art of deflection shooting.  His preferred tactic was to engage enemy aircraft while flying at a reduced speed to maximize maneuverability and concentrate his fire on the forward fuselage, where both the engine and pilot were located.  He was shot down himself on several occasions (including twice by Sous-Lieutenant James Denis, a Free French pilot with No. 73 Squadron RAF) and lost additional aircraft due to mechanical difficulties.  Marseille was a playboy and a major disciplinary problem for his commanders, but was highly effective in aerial combat.  He was officially credited with 158 victories.  On 30SEP42 Marseille was killed while bailing out after the Bf 109 G-2 he was flying developed engine trouble.

















Shooter Book Review


Shooter: The Autobiography of the Top-Ranked Marine Sniper

By Jack Coughlin and Casey Kuhlman with Donald A. Davis

Hardcover in dustjacket, 320 pages, photographs, indexed

Published by St. Martin’s Press, May 2005

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0312336853

ISBN-13: 978-0312336851

Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches

Shooter is the story of U.S. Marine Staff Sargent Jack Coughlin, told in his own words.   SSGT Coughlin is a sniper.  The book opens with an engagement in Mogadishu, Somalia against Somali militia.  Next are a few chapters focusing on training, exercises, and base life.  Then more training after 9/11 and deployment with the 1st Marine Division and the war in Iraq.

The bulk of the book focuses on Coughlin’s experiences in the three weeks it took his unit, the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment to reach Baghdad from their starting point in Kuwait.  He chaffed at his position within the Headquarters and Services Company and clashed with his Company Commander, but had the respect of his Battalion Commander.  While he was arguably one of the most experienced snipers within the Battalion, while assigned to the H&S Company his job was not sniping.  He was often able to get into the thick of the action with his own small support team however, and usually with the support (and even insistence) of the Battalion CO.

This is very much a “boots on the ground” narrative, with Coughlin describing details of each action, what he did, what he saw, and what he felt – both good and bad.  The Marines lived in their vehicles and endured heat, sandstorms, and MREs while under constant threat of attack by chemical weapons and the regular Iraqi Army, along with ambushes by irregular forces.

This was a very fast read for me as I enjoy this type of book.  It is full of Marine bravado and pulls no punches on the descriptions of combat and the specific tactics used to achieve each objective.  An engaging account, recommend.


Plastic Soldier StuG III Ausf. G Assault Gun Build in 1/72 Scale Part II

Modifications are shown on the Trumpeter StuG.  This is the one kit of the four with detailed running gear so I will leave off the Schürzen but this particular subject vehicle still had the support rail.  I fabricated this from Evergreen stock with supports made from Tequila bottle seal for strength.  The kit was missing the towing padeyes on the front of the hull.
The “fencing” around the engine deck was installed at the factory on many StuGs and varied in configuration, for wargamers this would make a natural holder for a six-sided dice.  I also constructed the sheet metal dust shield over the mufflers under the rear hull and drilled out the exhausts on all the kits, although this is barely visible here.
I like making Zimmerit!  Most StuGs appeared in the Alkett “waffle pattern” Zimmerit.  I can’t make that accurately, but this particular StuH 42 carried the troweled line pattern which I have made here with Mr. Surfacer 500 and a jeweler’s screwdriver.  The Mr. Surfacer is very forgiving, any errors can be erased with thinner and applied again.
Plastic Soldier represents the Notek driving light with a molded-on bump and ignores the travel lock for the gun.  Neither is particularly difficult to construct and makes a nice improvement.
I shaved off the molded-on towing cables and substituted extras from the spares box.  The Trumpeter kit had no cables at all.
Some StuGs had their armor supplemented by filling in recesses in the forward fighting compartment armor with concrete.  My concrete is made from Perfect Plastic Putty which is easy to work for applications such as this.
This StuG will have the Saukopf gun mantlet as well as the concrete armor.  Visible on the hull front is the mounting bar for a length of spare track which many crews carried there to supplement the armor.  Photographs show spare track was carried in several additional locations by some StuG crews.  I really wish kit manufacturers would provide several extra track sections to allow these variations to be more easily modeled.
This StuG has two towing cables which are already shackled to the padeyes at the rear of the hull.  This was often done to facilitate a quick recovery if the vehicle was damaged in combat.
This vehicle has the “winged” MG shield for the loader.  Plastic Soldier provides a part for this style and the flat foldable version, but both parts are rather thick.  The Trumpeter parts are very nicely done, but the kit contains only one of each so additional shields will have to be scratch built to equip all four models.
I have made the Schürzen from Evergreen sheet to replace the overly-thick kit parts.  These will be painted and installed separately near the end of construction.

Part III here:

Special Hobby Curtiss P-40E Warhawk 343rd Fighter Group Aleutian Tigers in 1/72 Scale

This is the excellent Special Hobby P-40E Warhawk kit with markings from DK Decals Aleutian Planes sheet 72030.  The aircraft is one of those assigned to the 11th Fighter Squadron 343rd Fighter Group seen at Adak, Alaska in the Summer of 1943.  I added some detail to the cockpit and installed the canvas dust covers in the wheelwells using masking tape but other than that did very little to the kit.  The P-40s in the Aleutians suffered an extreme amount of paint wear at the wing roots.  One problem with the camouflage is this particular aircraft did not have the Medium Green spots on the upper surface, an error on my part.





















More completed P-40s here:

Russian Federation Submarine Rescue Ship Kommuna

The oldest active-duty naval ship in the world today is the Russian Federation Submarine Rescue Ship Kommuna.  She has served under three governments – the Tsarist Imperial Russia, Soviet, and now the Russian Federation.

She was launched on 17 November 1913 at St. Petersburg and commissioned in July 1915 as the Volkhov.  She was renamed Kommuna in 1922 by the Soviets after the Russian Revolution.

Kommuna was intended to serve as a submarine tender as well as a salvage ship.  She raised two Russian submarines during the First World War.  Notably, she raised the British submarine HMS L55 in 1928, the remains of her 34 crew members were repatriated to England.

During the Great Patriotic War she was based at Leningrad, where she was damaged by Luftwaffe bombs.  She operated as a submarine tender and recovered a substantial number of sunken vessels, and even tanks and trucks which had broken through the ice on Lake Ladoga.

Kommuna was built with a catamaran hull form and a four-point anchoring system which allows her to fix her position above a desired point on the sea floor.  In October 1957 she raised the Quebec-class attack submarine M-256 which had sunk as a result of fire.

She has four distinctive doubled truss and girder arches which join her twin hulls and still allow clearance for salvaged vessels to be hoisted between them.  This has given her a unique appearance.

A nice overhead view giving a good indication of the general layout.  Her hulls are relatively narrow, and she displaces only 3,100 tons with a length of 315 feet (96 meters).  Crew compliment is 99 men.

There is a small conning station high atop the forward girder structure.  While this would provide an excellent view it must certainly be a challenge to change the watch in foul weather.

The Kommuna was modified to carry a Project 1837 AS-5 Deep Submergence Rescue Vessel (DSRV) along with remotely piloted vehicles, giving her the capacity to function as a rescue ship.

A profile view of the Russian Federation Submarine Rescue Ship Kommuna, 105 years of service and counting!

Fine Molds Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-4 Trop of Gustav Rödel in 1/72 Scale

Gustav Rödel was a veteran of the Condor Legion in Spain.  On the first day of the Second World War he was credited with a Polish PZL P.24.  He fought in the Battle of France, the Battle of Britain, and in Greece, filing claims in all three.  He briefly participated in Operation Barbarossa, filing a single claim against an SB bomber before 4./JG 27 was transferred to North Africa.  Rödel survived the war with a total of 98 victories, including 52 in the Mediterranean and 13 Viermots.

















Luftwaffe in Africa Book Review


Luftwaffe in Africa, 1941-1943

By Jean-Louis Roba

Paperback, 128 pages, heavily illustrated, index

Published by Casemate, November 2019

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1612007457

ISBN-13: 978-1-61200-7458

Product Dimensions: 7.0 x 0.5 x 10.0 inches

Germany was drawn into the war in North Africa by Mussolini’s ambitions.  Italy had little to gain by conquering the region; Germany even less so.  For the German Army and particularly the Luftwaffe North Africa did little more than provide an ever-increasing drain on assets which could have been better used in the Soviet Union.  Once the influx of American men and material began to be felt the Axis cause was beyond redemption.

This volume provides a good overview of the progression of the campaign in North Africa from the Luftwaffe perspective.  There were quite a large number of units committed over time but Germany was never able to achieve the concentration of force necessary to achieve her goals, attempts to supply the Africa Korps by air transport proving particularly costly.  Roba does a good job of tracking the constant redeployments, and describes the results of the major air actions as the campaign progressed.  Also included is the commitment of the Luftwaffe’s Fallschrimjäger.  The LRDG attacks of Luftwaffe airfields are mentioned as well but only briefly.  In the last third of the book there are several first-hand accounts from pilots which are interesting, although one from Arman Köhler’s diary appears to have been inadvertently omitted.

There are quite a number of photographs reproduced in this book, many of which were new to me.  They include some original color examples which are presented well and are generally well captioned.  There are also fifteen very nicely done color profiles, but these have only the briefest of descriptions.

Overall a nice presentation and a quick read.  A few first-hand accounts in the beginning of the book would have been welcome, but this book provides a good overview of the campaign.