Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftrack Comparison Build in 1/72 Scale Part III

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The kits were each primed with Mr. Surfacer 1000 to check for flaws, then recesses and shadow areas received a coat of Alclad black primer.
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The Planet Resin model was painted Panzer Gray with a darker mix from below and a lighter mix from above.
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This is the Revell kit with the tracks and rubber parts of the road wheels picked out.
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The Trumpeter kit got bands of green and brown camouflage colors.
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Here are all three together under a glosscoat after decals have been applied.
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The FAMO looks a bit naked without some cargo. Black Dog makes a nice set for the FAMO, the section for the bed is a large chunk of resin representing a mixed cargo load and a loose canvas cover. I liked this set for the Planet kit as it will help make up for the reduced surface detail compared to the other two models.
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The Black Dog resin is seen here painted in basic colors and sealed under a gloss coat. This is a good exercise in detail painting.
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I detailed the some of the cargo with the usual washes and drybrushing, but decided to try a new technique (for me) on the canvas bits by using oils. Black oils were brushed into the recesses and white onto the ridges, then the two were gently blended into grays. This is actually pretty easy to control and relaxing to apply, and I was pleased with the depth and contrast at the end. Like anything new it will take more practice to perfect but the initial results are promising. The rope coil is rigging rope from the Syren Ship Model Company and is woven as rope, not thread.
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For cargo in the remaining two FAMO I ordered the German Fuel Drum and German Ammo Crate sets from Value Gear. I purchased three sets with my order, and VG sent along a fourth set as a bonus! These are nice sets, and a lot easier than casting them yourself.  Value Gear here:  http://valuegeardetails.com/UniversalStowage72.html
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Here are both sets painted up, enough to load my two FAMO with a bunch left over.
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This is the finished Planet Models FAMO with the Black Dog resin set. The simplified construction is rugged and goes together easily, but it is not as detailed as the injection molded kits. This is the best choice for wargamers if you can find it. The Black Dog resin set adds visual interest while making the kit’s limited surface detail less noticeable.
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Revell’s kit is the best compromise between detail and buildability. Mine carries Value Gear cargo in the bed and Black Dog tarps on the fenders. I made the canvas supports from metal rod, the molded pieces in the stowed position were just not as convincing.

 

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The Trumpeter kit is the most detailed but is vastly over-engineered, especially in the case of the tracks and suspension which requires constant attention to align. Much of the detail is only visible from the underside so the extra effort is wasted. However, if a modeler wanted to model a FAMO with the hood open or the vehicle on its side, this would be the place to start.

Vought OS2U Kingfisher Color Photographs Part I

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A beautiful photograph of a formation of OS2U Kingfishers assigned to the USS Mississippi (BB-41). Like most USN floatplane types of the period, the floats of Kingfisher could be easily replaced by conventional fixed landing gear for operations ashore. The aircraft are BuNo 1714, 1715, and 1716. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)

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Another aspect of one of Mississippi’s Kingfishers, showing off details of the Yellow Wings scheme. The blue tail indicates assignment to Battleship Division Three (BATDIV Three), the aircraft are from VO-3. The solid white nose indicating the lead aircraft of the second section. The Squadron’s insignia is visible on the fuselage just behind the pilot, “Oswald the Luck Rabbit” riding a bomb. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)

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Here is a rather worn looking Kingfisher in the Blue Gray over Light Gray scheme and the enhanced national markings authorized from 23DEC41 to 06MAY42. Modelers note the oil streaking on the cowling and the wear to the paint on the forward float strut. The side markings indicate an inshore patrol squadron.

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An officer walks between rows of Kingfishers in the wheeled configuration in early 1942. The white blocks on the vertical tails cover the Bureau Numbers of the aircraft, this is likely a security measure – either tape before the picture was taken or the actions of a censor afterwards. (NASM Hans Groenhoff collection)

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This Kingfisher is maneuvering alongside a battleship to be recovered. The side code 5-O-7 allows for identification of the aircraft’s squadron and ship assignment. The code identifies Squadron (5), Type (O for Observation, and aircraft number. Observation Squadron Five was assigned to BATDIV Five, aircraft 5-O-7, 5-O-8, and 5-O-9 were assigned to the USS Texas, BB-35. (LIFE magazine photograph)

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Another Texas Kingfisher comes alongside. Note the individual aircraft number repeated on the upper wing surface. This was common among Navy aircraft to aid in spotting aircraft. (LIFE magazine photograph)

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This Kingfisher carries the national insignia style in use from August 1943. The pilot and observer are watching the aircraft’s approach to a recovery sled, which was a canvas panel towed behind the ship. The Kingfisher had a hook protruding from under the main float which would engage the sled allowing the aircraft to be hauled into the proper position and winched back aboard.

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The fantail of the Baltimore-class heavy cruiser USS Quincy (CA-71) with two of her Kingfishers warming their engines on their catapults. Quincy spent most of the war in the Atlantic Fleet, including supporting the invasion of Southern France and embarking President Roosevelt for a summit.

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Sailors posed in a 40 mm gun director tub on the fantail of the USS Iowa (BB-61) with one of the ship’s Kingfishers on the catapult behind. The Iowa class battleships typically carried two Kingfishers on the catapults ready for launch.

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A fine study of one of Texas’ Kingfishers. Considerable spray could be generated even in calm seas. The colorful markings were changed in May 1942, eliminating all red to avoid confusion with the Japanese Hinomaru.

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The observer leans out of his cockpit as a Kingfisher comes alongside for recovery. One of the observer’s duties was to climb out onto the wing and secure the crane hook to the aircraft so it could be hoisted aboard.

Zvezda Panzer IV Ausf. H in 1/72 Scale

This is the Zvezda Panzer IV Ausf. H in 1/72 scale, kit number 5017 released in 2018.  I replaced the hull Schürzen with sheet plastic and I added Zimmerit made with Mr. Surfacer 500.  A nice kit and loads of camo schemes to choose from.  Decals are from Kagero Top Colors 32 and depict a Panzer IV from the 116th Panzer Division in Normandy, August 1944.  I found the mixed camo patterns of the hull Schürzen and the rest of the vehicle interesting.

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Out of Nowhere: A History of the Military Sniper Book Review

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Out of Nowhere: A History of the Military Sniper

By Martin Pegler

Hardcover in dustjacket, 333 pages, well-illustrated, notes, and index

Published by Osprey Publishing, October 2004

Language: English

ISBN-13: 978-1841768540

ISBN-10: 1-84176-854-5

Dimensions: 7.9 x 1.3 x 10.3 inches

Ever since the first human hurled the first rock mankind has placed a premium on those who could aim a projectile accurately at the longest possible range.  Any group which could damage their enemies before their enemies could damage them enjoyed a significantly higher probability of not only defeating their opposition but also living to fight another day themselves.  The sling, the spear, and the bow were eventually replaced by the firearm in the 1500s, but early firearms were inaccurate, unreliable (especially in wet weather), and slow to reload.  The standard military tactic was to overcome the limitations of the single musket by gathering dozens or even hundreds of soldiers together and firing in volleys against similar masses of opposing soldiers, the volleys often being followed by a charge with the bayonet.

Not all muskets or musketeers were created the same, and some were much better at hitting their targets than others.  Shooting competitions were organized which helped disseminate both knowledge and technical advances.  It was soon realized that individual sharpshooters could be a useful augmentation to the massed fire of standard military formations and the concept of the specialized sniper was born.

This book traces the evolution of the military sniper from the first employments during the 1500s to today.  A major part of the history is devoted to the technological development of the rifle, and later the telescopic sight as improvements in accuracy extended the range of the rifle past the limitations of open sights.  The author describes the evolution of the equipment well, and many of the illustrations focus on the different weapons, optics, and ammunition.  The tactical employment of sniper teams and their tactics are detailed, as well as the counter-sniping role.  Throughout the author has related accounts of how snipers were used in various conflicts and utilized anecdotal descriptions from the actual combatants when available.

This is a good primer on the history of military sniping, being well-written and well organized.  It does not bog down in excessive technical descriptions of the weapons and optics involved, but highlights the evolution of the weapons in a logical manner.  The use of first-person accounts keeps the narrative interesting and keeps the reader looking forward to the next page.  An excellent book which I can recommend to anyone interested in the topic.

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Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftrack Comparison Build in 1/72 Scale Part II

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Here are the assembled chassis for each kit, Planet on the bottom, Revell in the middle, and Trumpeter on top. The Planet component is a single piece. The Revell assembly is sixteen pieces, Trumpeter’s forty-nine. Trumpeter’s is the most detailed of the three, but already you can see I’m having the beginnings of some alignment issues with the suspension.  The best plan is to correct these as they occur.

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Here the running gear is in place. This is an unflattering angle for the Planet model, even with some of the backing on the main suspension piece trimmed back. The Planet model is up to nineteen pieces at this stage, Revell is at an even fifty, while the Trumpeter kit is at eighty-eight. I suspect you’re detecting a theme by this point.

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The Planet tracks are rubber but attached with CA glue without issue. A trick when building multimedia kits is to make your own decisions when using the provided parts – some parts are easier to replace than to clean up, and photoetch parts do not represent three dimensional parts well. In this case some kit parts for the forward suspension were used as guides to fabricate replacements from metal rod.

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The Revell kit contains link and length track which is a good compromise. There is just enough track provided to make it all the way around the running gear, but no more. I’ll pull out my soapbox once again – on any tracked vehicle a little extra track would be most welcome, both as insurance against loss or error and for potential use as stowage on the vehicle. In the case of some tanks which used track as supplemental armor a lot of extra track would be welcome!

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The Trumpeter track is an exercise in frustration. Each link is individually molded with the rubber pad supplied as a separate piece. Seven sprue attachment points to clean up per link, forty-seven links needed per side. I have officially notified the Church of the miracle that was me getting all 188 of these pieces on the kit without losing any, I expect to be canonized soon as Saint Jeffrey, the patron Saint of not losing small model parts. You do get three extra links per side though in case you don’t light your candle in time.

FAMO_16
All three kits with the suspensions complete. Trumpeter is definitely the most detailed, but also suffers from being quite fiddly to align. Mud will be my friend. Much of the detail at this point is in places unlikely to be seen by the casual viewer.  The Revell kit features good detail and goes together well.  The Planet Model resin kit lacks fine detail, but is robust and easy to assemble.

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The Planet model has grab bars represented by PE parts which are intended to be mounted without the benefit of recessed locating holes. Revell and Trumpeter mold on ridges to represent the bars. On all three kits I replaced the grab bars with metal rod set into drilled holes. This is an easy improvement which is more realistic and quite robust.

FAMO_17
The Planet model provides several details in PE but many of these do not look right as flat parts and so were replaced. Here I have used the instrument panel, floor pedals, and steering wheel. The position indicators on the fenders and shift levers are insect pins. The grips on the steering wheel were built up with Mr. Surfacer.

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The assembled Revell kit with only a few of the most fragile detail parts left off. On all three models the cabs and beds are not yet glued to the suspension to make painting easier.

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The level of detail is best on the Trumpeter kit, slightly better than Revell and noticeably better than Planet. Both the Revell and Trumpeter kit needed a swipe of filler at the back of the hood but otherwise there were no fit issues.

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A side-by-side view to compare details.

Tamiya Focke-Wulf Fw 190D-11 of Lt. Karl-Heinz Hofmann in 1/72 Scale

Red 4 is a Focke-Wulf D-11, piloted by Lt. Karl-Heinz Hofmann from the airfield protection flight of JV 44, based at München-Rein in April of 1945.  Most profiles show a White <58 marking under the Red 4, and the EagleCals sheet includes this marking.  After studying the photographs of Red 4 I decided to leave it off.  Photographs where the <58 can be seen also show the Balkenkreuz to be badly weathered, with streaks of black showing through the white bars.  Some of these pictures were taken after the aircraft had sat outside in the elements for several months.  My rational is that in April 1945 the paint would have been fresh and the underlying layers of paint would still be obscured.  The inscription reads “Der nächste Herr – dieselbe Dame!”, which means “The next man, the same woman!”.

This is a simple conversion from the standard Tamiya D-9 kit, the differences are a resin propelled and carburetor intake scoop along with modifications to the wing and fuselage armament.  Decals are from EagleCals sheet #14.

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New York City Vintage Photographs Part III

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A flight of Boeing Y1B-17 Flying Fortresses banks in to fly over Manhattan on 28 March 1937. The bombers were assigned to the 96th Bombardment Squadron, which had twelve Y1B-17s on strength. At the time these were the only heavy bombers in the USAAC inventory. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)

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The Royal Mail Ship Queen Elizabeth pulls into the pier with the skyscrapers of New York in the background. The Queen Elizabeth was a huge ship even by today’s standards – 1,031 feet in length and displacing 83,000 tons.

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Here is the RMS Queen Mary in her gray warpaint. She served as a troop transport during World War Two and was capable of carrying as many as 15,000 troops at a time. Because of her high speed she was thought to be immune to attacks by German U-boats and made the majority of her trans-Atlantic crossings unescorted. She is pictured returning U.S. servicemen home on 20JUN45. Currently Queen Mary is preserved as a museum in Long Beach, California. She is reputed to be haunted.

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The French battleship Richelieu on her way to the Brooklyn Naval Yard on 18FEB43 for repairs and modernization. While under Vichy control she was hit by the British battleship HMS Barnham and suffered an internal explosion in her number seven 15” (380 mm) gun in turret two. After her defection to the Free French she was outfitted for service in the Pacific.

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The Dornier Do-X makes an eye-level pass along New York’s skyline on 7 August 1931. The largest aircraft of her time, the Do-X was powered by twelve 524 horsepower Bristol Jupiter engines which can be clearly seen in this view.

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A Swedish Airlines DC-4 seen over Manhattan in 1946. It did not take long after World War Two for the international airline industry to establish regular routes between major cities around the world.

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Three U.S. Coast Guard Grumman JRF-2 Goose (Geese?) fly formation over New York on 10 April 1940. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)

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Another Coast Guard amphibian in pre-war livery, this time it is a Hall Aluminum PH-3. This photograph was taken on 21 February 1940. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)

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The USS Nautilus (SSN-571) enters New York harbor on 13 May 1956. The Nautilus was the world’s first nuclear powered submarine, and the first to travel to the North Pole under the ice sheet.

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The aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV-4) travels up the Hudson River in 1939.  Considered too slow for combat in the Pacific she operated in the Atlantic for the majority of the war.  She supported the landings in North Africa on 8 November 1942, where her fighters engaged Vichy French aircraft and her dive bombers hit the French Battleship Jean Bart.

Trumpeter Sd.Ah.116 Tank Transporter in 1/72 Scale

This is Trumpeter kit number 07249, the Sd.Ah.116 Tank Transporter.  This was normally seen with the Sd.Kfz. 8 or Sd.Kfz. 9 FAMO halftrack being used as the towing vehicle with various types of loads – lots of diorama potential with a little research.  I used this one to test various weathering techniques and was happy with the results, although there is much room left for improvement.  I have posed the trailer with a previous build of a StuG III which was one of the more common vehicles transported.

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