Mil Mi-24 Hind Gunship Book Review

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Mil Mi-24 Hind Gunship

By Alexander Mladenov, illustrated by Ian Palmer

Osprey New Vanguard Series Book 171

Paperback, 48 pages, heavily illustrated

Published by Osprey Publishing September 2010

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1846039533

ISBN-13: 978-1846039539

Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.1 x 9.9 inches

U.S. helicopter tactics rely on two basic types of platforms – assault helicopters such as the AH-1 Cobra or AH-64 Apache suppress enemy defenses which allows troops to be inserted by transport helicopters such as the UH-1 Huey or UH-60 Blackhawk.  In the Mil MI-24 Hind design the Soviets combined both functions, resulting in a heavily armed (and armored) assault helicopter which could also transport eight infantrymen.

This volume is divided into two parts.  The first half of the book describes the design and development of the Hind.  The various models are described including several types of special-purpose modifications.  For each of these the author lists specific equipment installed to perform the missions required.  The second half of the book is devoted to the various operators of the MI-24.  The author provides an overview of operations of each nations Hinds.  These are specific enough to understand the employment of the helicopters but do not go into great detail or contain crew interviews.

Like all books in the Osprey Vanguard series this is not a lengthy all-encompassing history of the subject but there is enough there to familiarize the reader with the high points.  I felt the technical description was the right length – it covered all the variants and would have bogged down with additional detail.  The section on the service histories was brief.  There are certainly many interesting stories omitted here due to page length.  Overall, another nice volume from Osprey.

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Converting the Airfix B-17G to a B-17E, Part I

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Like many of my modelling projects this one began with a decal sheet, specifically the “Fortress of the Skies Part 3: E Models” from Starfighter Decals.  Mark has included eight different Fortresses on this sheet, all of them interesting for their camouflage schemes and / or service record.  There are four different B-17Es in the Hawaiian Air Depot multi-colored scheme, two OD / NG, one RAF Temperate Sea scheme, and one HAD experimental scheme of overall Duco blue.  Having already built an Academy B-17E in the HAD scheme, that left four to choose from.  Choices like that are not one of my strengths so I chose two.  Starfighter Decals here:  https://www.starfighter-decals.com/

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I have built both an Academy B-17E and the new Airfix B-17G.  The Academy B-17E is the right version but needs several improvements to bring it up to speed, the Airfix B-17G is a really nice build but the wrong version.  I decided to try backdating the Airfix kit to an E model.  The Airfix kit comes with a Cheyenne tail turret, here is the tail position from an Academy B-17F test fit.  Not perfect, but something which I could work with.

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The Airfix B-17G represents a later production version with the staggered waist windows (why that wasn’t done right from the first E model is a mystery to me).  This window will have to be filled and a new one cut further aft.

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The earlier Forts had narrow prop blades.  When the broad props were introduced with the F model forts the cowlings were shortened 3” to allow the wider blades to feather properly.  In 1/72 scale the 3” cowling change works out to roughly 1 mm.  Comparing the Airfix cowling to drawings it was unclear if the kit had it right or not.  In the end I decided not to adjust the cowl depth.  However, replacing the props is a requirement.  Fortunately many of the Academy kits have both wide and narrow versions so I had enough.

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The nose glazing is almost completely changed, and the B-17E didn’t have the Bendix chin turret.  There will be some filling and cutting needed here.

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Construction began with the tail position.  I cut off the transparent upper portion, it was a bit too tall anyway and there is a nasty seam right through the middle of the aft-facing glazing.  After gluing the halves together I braced the piece with plastic card to increase the diameter slightly to match the Airfix fuselage.

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I then made an RTV mold and cast copies of the piece in resin.  I needed two new tails for this project, and having the mold will allow me to make any of the earlier Forts right up through the first runs of the B-17G series.

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I then set about moving the starboard waist gun position back.  Here I am working through the fuselage from the inside with my trusty UMM scriber / scraper.

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The forward opening was filled with sheet stock and superglue, then sanded smooth.  I built up rib detail on the inside and installed the slide rails for the new window panel.

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The bench in full modeling bliss.  Various sub-assemblies are in progress, most notably the cockpit / bomb bay modules.  Two rows of Quickboost resin engines are visible to the right.

Heinkel He 177 Greif (Griffin) Defensive Armament

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The He 177 was provided with a heavy defensive armament.  From this angle there are no less than three gun stations which could be brought to bear against an attacking aircraft.  Forward is the remote-controlled dorsal B1-Stand, followed by the manned B2-Stand in the middle position on the fuselage.  The H-Stand position with its extensive glazing in the tail position is readily apparent.

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This He 177A-3 of Flugzeugführerschule (B) 16 at Burg displays the nose armament.  The upper weapon in the A1-Stand is the relatively light MG 81 7.9mm gun, but beneath it in the A2-Stand is the much more potent MG 151 20mm cannon.  The back of the gondola housed a second MG 81.

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Here a mechanic is servicing the remotely-controlled dorsal turret in the B1-Stand which mounted twin MG 131 13 mm guns with 750 rounds each.  The gunner was positioned inside the round sighting dome behind the mechanic.

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The B2-Stand mounted a single MG 131 13 mm gun with 1,000 rounds.  This was obviously a manned position, this excellent color photograph shows several useful details for modelers.

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H-Stand was provided with a very potent 20 mm MG 151 cannon with 300 rounds to defend the rear of the aircraft.  The sight on this weapon is provided with a sun shield.

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The tail gun position was isolated from the rest of the aircraft, the gunner entered his position via a hinged hatch.  This photograph provides several details of his clothing and equipment.  (Bundesarchiv photo)

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The same gunner entering the aircraft.  Several details of the gun mount are shown in these pictures, note the “brushes” which provide a seal around the articulated portions of the gun mount.  (Bundesarchiv photo)

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The gunner is seated at his station, which is comparatively roomy.  This gun is provided with a ring and bead sight.  (Bundesarchiv photo)

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The Luftwaffe experimented with heavier gun armament for use against ground targets.  Here is the He177 V12 fitted with a 30 mm MK 101 cannon.  This weapon was tested but did not enter production.  The aircraft carried the codes GI+BL.

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Another test installation, this time with two 30 mm MK 101 cannon.  This installation was intended to be used against railroad locomotives.  This installation was trialed on He 177 V18, coded GA+QX.  (World War Photos)

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Increased firepower was planned for the He 177A-7 and subsequent versions.  Here is a Vierling (quadruple) manned turret mounting four 13 mm MG 131 machine guns.

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Another experimental installation was this HL 151 Z Hecklafette mounting two 20 mm MG 151 cannon.  This was a remotely-sighted turret with a vastly improved field of fire compared to the original manned position.

Eduard Focke Wulf Fw 190A-8 of II./JG 300 in 1/72 Scale

Focke Wulf Fw 190A-8 II./JG 300, Bayreuth-Bindlach Germany, Spring 1945.  Eduard kit.

Fw 190A-8 II./JG 300, Bayreuth-Bindlach Germany, Spring 1945.  Unknown pilot, but interesting markings.  The snake marking indicates this aircraft was assigned to JGr. 10, a unit tasked with developing weapons and tactics to combat American heavy bombers.  Later this aircraft was reassigned to JG 300 as evidenced by the Reichsverteidigung (Reich Defense) fuselage band.

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The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors Book Review

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The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy’s Finest Hour

By James D. Hornfischer

Hardcover in dustjacket, 427 pages, illustrated, indexed

Published by Bantam Books, February 2004

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0553802577

ISBN-13: 978-0553802573

Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches

The Battle of Samar is the United States Navy version of the Charge of the Light Brigade.  On the morning of 26OCT44 a small group of six U.S. escort carriers and their screening destroyers (call sign Taffy 3) was surprised to see an overwhelmingly superior force of Imperial Japanese Navy battleships and cruisers steaming over the horizon.  The destroyers nearest to the Japanese armada turned to the attack in order to allow time for the carriers to escape.  The destroyers Johnston and Hoel, along with the smaller destroyer escort Samuel B. Roberts were sunk, but they were able to save all the escort carriers except for the Gambier Bay.

Hornfischer tells the story from the perspective of the sailors who fought it, often in their own words.  Even though they each may have served on the same ship during the same action, the experiences of a gunner are very different than a boiler tender, and neither are the same as the Captain on the bridge.  This is very much a sailor’s story.  He also details the ordeal of the survivors who had to wait days for rescue – an often overlooked part of the story.

This is a very engaging book.  The Battle of Samar was just one action in the sprawling Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval battle in history.  It is a valiant fight against overwhelming odds and a study of how men react under pressure when – in the words of the Captain of the Samuel B. Roberts addressing his crew as they turned to attack the Japanese fleet, “… survival cannot be expected.”  An outstanding book, highly recommended.

 

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