Airfix Supermarine Spitfire Mark Vc Batch Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

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This is the Airfix Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vc, kit number A02108 released in 2020. This is a new tool and very much in Airfix’s home court as it replaces their older tools and, well, it’s a Spitfire. I’ll be building a small batch of these, hopefully as a painless build before trying something more involved.
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I was really pleased to see that Xtradecal issued a decal sheet targeting this kit, and it one with several interesting options. The Airfix kit has two decal options provided, one in U.S. markings and one in South African. I think at least one of the kit options should have been in Royal Air Force markings as this would have provided examples of the most common national insignia for the Spitfire.
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On to the sprues! The kit is molded in the soft light blue plastic we now expect from Airfix. The panel line detail has come a long way and this kit features finely scribed recessed panel lines. I was pleasantly surprised to see just how nicely these were rendered. There are also optional upper wing parts for the clipped wing version, no cutting needed.
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On the smaller parts sprues Airfix has provided the builder with a number of options. Both the Rotol and DeHavilland three-bladed propellers are provided along with their associated spinners. The Vokes tropical filter as depicted on the box art is included, as are parts for the standard nose panel and filter. Exhausts come with or without the gun heater tubes. The modeler can also choose to show the landing gear up and the canopy either opened or closed.
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The cockpit is well-detailed and builds up as a tub to be inserted into the fuselage. You must do this before joining the fuselage halves but it fits nicely.
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Here are two tubs assembled and painted. Seat belts are not included, I have made mine from masking tape. The instrument panel is the kit decal which is fine given what can be seen.

Fine Molds Nakajima A6M2 Zero of CDR Taketora Ueda in 1/72 Scale

This aircraft is Tora (Tiger) – 110, the mount of the CO of the 261 Kokutai.  This aircraft features prominently in Thorpe’s classic Japanese Naval Air Force Camouflage and Markings of WWII, being pictured on the cover, a photograph (below), and a color profile.  Very attractive, but also problematic.  The photograph shows a Type 21, with a dark finish on the forward fuselage and a lighter finish aft.  Various people (all of whom know much more about this than me) have interpreted the difference in colors as two greens, discoloration due to primer, dirt or fading, or even as the aft fuselage being painted red matching the Hinomaru.  Thorpe’s cover artwork depicts a Type 22 with the wing stripes and upper wing Hinomaru moved inward.

For my build I chose the primer interpretation and mixed the green a little lighter for the aft fuselage and sections of the upper wings, but I keep thinking it would look good in red.  Fine Molds kit, all stripes are painted, tail codes are Hasegawa decals.

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Consolidated PBY Catalina Color Photographs Part 4

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A PBY-5A Catalina amphibian from VP-61 flies over the rugged Aleutian landscape in March 1943. Aerials for the surface search radar can be seen under the wings.

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Another photograph from the Aleutians shows this PBY moored to a buoy with others visible in the background. Flying boat squadrons could be based in sheltered bays and supported from seaplane tenders, many of which in the US Navy were converted from flush-deck destroyers.

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A pre-war photograph taken in 1939 shows a Catalina from Patrol Squadron 51 in the colorful yellow wings markings. Posed in front of the aircraft is the Governor of Puerto Rico, William P. Leahy.

PBY_44_Vice Admiral Patrick N.L. Bellinger, USN, Stands in Center of Large Group of French and American Naval Officers at NAS, Norfolk, Virginia
VADM Patrick Bellinger presides over a ceremony at NAS Norfolk. The PBY is finished in the Atlantic ASW scheme of Gull Gray over White. Note the asymmetric demarcation of the color separation on the fuselage.

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VP-94 transfers their PBY-5A’s to the Brazilian Navy in this ceremony held at Rio de Janeiro in October 1944. The aircraft in the background shows evidence of the US national insignia painted out under the wing.

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A PBY-5A framed by the twin tails of the aircraft which supplanted, but never entirely replaced the Catalina in service, The Martin PBM Mariner.

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Seen in high-vis post-war markings, this PBY-6 served in the Search And Rescue role with the US Coast Guard.

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Sailors perform engine maintenance at NAS New Orleans. The Catalina is in the graded camouflage scheme and carries the national markings authorized in August 1943.

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A beautiful in-flight shot of a Royal Canadian Air Force Canso in flight in January 1942 in the Temperate Sea Scheme.

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A Catalina on the ramp displaying her waist gun and rather intricate radio antenna rig.

Stryker Combat Vehicles Book Review

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Stryker Combat Vehicles

By Gordon L. Rottman, illustrated by Hugh Johnson

Series: Osprey New Vanguard 121

Softcover, 48 pages, index, well-illustrated

Published by Osprey Publishing July 2006

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1-84176-930-4

ISBN-13: 978-1-84176-930-1

Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.1 x 9.8 inches

The Stryker family of armored vehicles is one of the most common types in U.S. inventory with more than 4,400 having been purchased.  The standard configuration is the armored personnel carrier which carries a crew of two and nine infantrymen.  Other versions include a reconnaissance version, a mobile gun system with an unmanned 105 mm gun turret, a mortar carrier, command vehicle, and various supporting functions such as engineering, ambulance, and forward observation.

While the U.S. Army has purchased the Stryker in large numbers, it still remains controversial.  It is only nominally deployable using the USAF C-130, as it is a tight fit and so near the maximum permissible weight that the crew and combat load must be transported separately – up-armored versions cannot be loaded at all.  The recoil of the mobile gun system commonly overturned the vehicle in tests and so has not been fielded.  It is not amphibious like the Marines’ LAV-25; there are no firing ports or vision blocks provided for the infantrymen like the Army’s Bradly IFV.  Perhaps most inexplicable is the cost – at $4.9 Million per vehicle the Army could purchase either four Bradlys or five LAV-25s for the same price, and both of the other vehicles were better armed and already in production.

This book is in the format familiar to readers of the Osprey New Vanguard Series.  The descriptions are brief but adequate, the artwork and photographs are superb.  It is an enjoyable and informative read.  I was not familiar with the Stryker and picked up this volume in an attempt to figure out why it was purchased in such great numbers when there were some obviously superior alternatives already in service.  Now that I am more familiar with the Stryker, I am even more mystified.

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Women Warriors 114

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Russia
ww453b_RAF_Pilot Flight Lieutenant Juliette Fleming (left) and Navigator Squadron Leader Nikki Thomas (right), with 31 Squadron from Royal Air Force Marham
RAF Pilot Flight Lieutenant Juliette Fleming (left) and Navigator Squadron Leader Nikki Thomas (right), with 31 Squadron Tornado from Royal Air Force Marham
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IDF
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New Zealand
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US Navy

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Kurdish YPG
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Israel Defense Forces IDF
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IDF
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ATA pilot Mary Guthrie with Spitfire
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Norway
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IDF
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Russian Paratrooper
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US Coast Guard SPARs
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IDF
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Russian Navy
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Australian Navy OOD
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WASPs with P-38 Lightning by Rickman
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Afghanistan Northern Alliance Diorama Build in 1/72 Scale

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I wanted to display my MAZ-537 tank transporter on a diorama base, so I chose to depict the arrival of a Northern Alliance T-55 to support Afghani militia. First I would need a crew for the vehicles. These were a little hard to find, but finally I located a nice set from Paracel Miniatures in Viet Nam. Paracel website here: http://www.paracelminiatures.com/12-mini-seri-172

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These are the sculpts. They are beautifully done and well-cast. They come with some stowage for the tank, but none of the photographs of Afghani tanks I found had much in the way of stowage so I’ll save those bits for a future project.

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I still needed a driver for the MAZ so I used the Paracel tank driver bust and built up a figure with parts from the spares box. He should look the part in the cab!

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I also needed a crowd of militiamen to welcome the armor to town so I found some figures to convert. The white and light blue figures are from Preisser sets. The one on the lower left is from a Zvezda Soviet Motorized Infantry set which also provided many of the weapons.

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The robes and scarves common to the region made converting the figures a little easier. These were made using masking tape, secured and blended with superglue and Mr. Surfacer. Beards are Squadron Green Putty. The crouching figure on the left was a late addition, another from the Zvezda Soviet Motorized Infantry set.

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Here are the Paracel figures painted up and blended with oils. Figure painting is a skill I am still working to develop.

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This is the painted militia. Additional weapons are 3D prints, after some experimentation I realized that I was running into the same issue as injection kit designers – accurately scaled weapons are too small to print properly. After adding about 1/3 to the thickness they printed well. Weapon slings are lead foil.

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For the diorama’s vertical element I printed out an Afghan house intended for 28mm wargaming. This was scaled to 1/56, so I reduced it and angled it on the printing bed so only the front would be produced. It is called “Arabic Style Modular Village” and is on Thingiverse here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2379715

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Here is the base with the structure in the corner. The base is a 16 inch (40,6 cm) long strip of Oak trim, textured with wall repair compound. Rocks are kitty litter (clean), and everything was given a coat of tan acrylic paint.

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Here is part of the “cheering throng”, gathered to welcome their armor support.

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The finished diorama with the Tacom MAZ-537 transporter and Trumpeter T-55.

Hasegawa Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero of Takeo Okumura in 1/72 Scale

The fifth leading Imperial Japanese Navy ace was Takeo Okumura with 54 victories.  The model represents WI-108, an A6M3 Type 22 assigned to the 201 Kokutai at Buin in September 1943.  The only profile I was able to locate of this aircraft was in Osprey Aces 22, IJN Aces 1937-45, which was depicted in a badly chipped paint job.  Most photographs of operational Zeros show little or no chipping, so mine is rendered similarly. Okumura was credited with four Chinese aircraft prior to the start of the Pacific War.  He was assigned to the aircraft carrier Ryujo during the Guadalcanal Campaign and was transferred to the Tainan Air Group at Rabaul.  When operating from Buin in September 1943, he was credited with nine victories and one shared over five sorties, a record for the Pacific War.  He was lost at the end of the month attacking a convoy off Cape Cretin, New Guinea.

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Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando Color Photographs Part IV

All photographs from the NASM Hans Groenhoff collection.

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A fine photograph of a C-46A in natural metal, with OD / NG camouflaged aircraft in the background. The national insignia became standardized with the insignia blue border in August 1943, the transition from OD / NG to natural metal occurring late in the same year.

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A C-46A in flight wearing the red bordered national insignia which was authorized briefly during the summer of 1943.

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A beautiful “glamor shot” of a NMF finish C-46A leading another in camo.

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A standard International farm tractor in service as an aircraft tug, perhaps he should secure the boarding ladder before attempting to move the aircraft?

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A line-up of C46D’s and P-40N’s outside of the Curtiss factory for a presentation ceremony to highlight production for the Press. This appears to coincide with the transition from Olive Drab to natural metal finish as evidenced by the P-40’s.

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An interesting perspective of a C-46D. Wheel hubs were left in natural metal, even on camouflaged aircraft.

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A line-up of C-46E’s. Note the barred national insignia is carried on the underside of the starboard wing, a quick way of determining if the image has been reversed. Also, the insignia is painted perpendicular to the fuselage, not parallel to the leading edge of the wing.

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The C-46E differed from other Commandoes by having “stepped” cockpit glazing which makes them resemble the Douglas C-47 Dakota. Other differences are the three-bladed props and fuller wingtip contours.

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A fine study of a C-46E from the nose. The “double bubble” fuselage shape was a Curtiss innovation and is still in use on airliner designs today.

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Seventeen C-46E’s were produced, but they never left the continental United States and were declared surplus at the end of the war. All were purchased by Slick Airways which provided cargo services for the oil industry. Slick purchased the brand-new aircraft for the princely sum of $14,530 apiece.