Italeri sK 18 10,5 Field Gun Diorama with Soviet Cavalry in 1/72 Scale

Another attempt at a diorama, this one depicting a German sK 18 field gun position about to be surprised by Soviet cavalry.  The gun crew figures are included with the gun, with the exception of the kneeling figures with the powder charges which are 3-D resin prints.  The German officer and radio operators are Zvezda, as are the Soviet cavalry.

Spare Parts Book Review

Spare Parts: A Marine Reservist’s Journey from Campus to Combat in 38 Days

By Buzz Williams

Hardcover in dustjacket, 300 pages and photographs

Published by Gotham Books, March 2004

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1-592-40054-X

ISBN-13: ‎978-1-592-40054-6

Dimensions: ‎6.2 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches

Buzz Williams saw enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve as a way to achieve his two primary goals – serving in the Marines and going to college.  Inspired by his older brother, he wanted to go to boot camp.  Upon graduation, he drilled “one weekend per month, two weeks per year” and attended service schools on the LAV-25 Light Armored Vehicle.  His unit was activated as part of Desert Storm and participated in the liberation of Kuwait.  Afterwards, he remained in the Reserves and became a teacher, eventually leaving after realizing the constant shifting from civilian to military worlds was exasperating his PTSD from the war.

This is a very personal story, an autobiographical arc following his journey from civilian, to boot camp, Reservist, a combat deployment, Reservist, and ultimately a return to civilian life.  New Reservists go through the same boot camp alongside enlistees destined for active service.  A sizable portion of the book describes the boot camp experience in great detail, along with the eventual realization that everything in boot camp is planned and specifically designed to prepare the recruit for combat conditions.

I found the descriptions of the Reserve drills and training fascinating.  The transition from civilian to military mode can be jarring, and there is little time to preserve (or learn) the specialized military skills which may, at short notice, be required for the unit to perform well in combat.  Williams’ descriptions of dealing with his OCD and returning from Desert Storm are also interesting.

Spare Parts is well written, Williams is an excellent story teller and the book flows well.  His descriptions of his fellow Marines will be recognizable to veterans.  His insights into the Reserve program are interesting.  The Reserves are a vital part of the U.S. military, but one which is rarely described in detail.  This book is easy to read but hard to put down, I can recommend it without reservation.

Women Warriors 145

US Army
Kurdish YPG
Swedish Navy sailor guards the Royal Palace at Stockholm
US Navy
WRANS send off the aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney
US Army helicopter pilot
Mamaev Bezmenov, Soviet A-20 pilot

For more Women Warriors, click on the tag below:

Italeri sK 18 10,5 Field Gun Diorama Build in 1/72 Scale

Continuing on with my efforts to add figures and bases to my recent batch of vehicle builds, I wanted to depict the Italeri sK 18 Field Gun in a firing position. To add a little interest, there will also be some Soviet cavalry from Zvezda in the classic cavalry mission of operating in the enemy’s rear area and making a general nuisance of themselves.
There are two sprues in the Zvezda box, each containing one mounted figure. The Zvezda figures are crisply molded in hard plastic, and come with stands and a marker for wargame use. These are nice sets and there is a wide variety in the range.
I will be supplementing the Italeri artillery crew with another Zvezda set, this German Headquarters group. These are useful figures for many compositions. The Italeri field gun comes with five figures but the typical gun crew was seven, fortunately I was able to find some suitable additions from a 3D print file to make up the difference.
The contents of the Zvezda German Headquarters group box. Useful figures and a great value for the money!
I bought two boxes of the Soviet cavalry. The figures in the foreground are in stock poses with the molded-on reins replaced by thin strips of masking tape. The figure on the right has a replacement bedroll as there was no way to mold the undercut and it was obvious on this horse. The two figures in the rear are conversions mounted on First to Fight Polish Uhlan horses with replacement saddlebags. The figures are the same Zvezda cavalry again, with replacement arms and a head for variety.
Here are two of the Italeri artillerymen with basic colors applied and a gloss coat.
Here is the Soviet officer with basic colors, the paint has been sealed with a coat of Future, which is an acrylic. I have intentionally kept the colors on the lighter end of the spectrum to experiment with oil shading.
The figure was sprayed with a flat coat and then shadows were enhanced with thinned oils. I think the technique is encouraging and hope to improve with experience.
Trees will be used to provide a vertical element. These are made from the wire inside of lamp cord, which has many uses for modelers. Don’t throw away a broken lamp without salvaging the cord first!
Here is the final composition, with the Soviet cavalry charging the unsuspecting German artillery position from the woods. The base is of the same construction as the previous TKS tankette base, ground cover and foliage are from Woodland Scenics.

Tamiya Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-3 of Leutnant Walter Rupp in 1/72 Scale

Walter Rupp landed this aircraft at the RAF aerodrome at Manston, Kent after suffering combat damage on 17 October 1940.  Rupp became a PoW.  The Aircraft was assigned to 3./JG 53 “Pik As”, who were ordered to remove their unit insignia because they were out of favor with Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring at the time – the unit applied the red “bandage” marking in protest.

Martin B-26 Marauder Color Photographs Part VII – Pre-War Photos

First of the many! There was not a prototype Marauder, an exception to the rule. This is the first production B-26, 40-1361 outside the Martin factory at Middle River in Baltimore, Maryland. The first flight was on 25NOV40. Note the natural metal finish and pre-war USAAC tail markings. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
40-1361 again, this time with two other Martin designs in the background, a Maryland export bomber and U.S. Navy PBM Mariner flying boat. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
This profile view shows off the Marauder’s sleek lines. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
Marauders on the ramp outside the Glenn L. Martin factory, Baltimore Maryland. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
A look inside the Middle River factory with fitters busy at work. Modelers note the top-opening cockpit hatches and details of the wing and engine construction. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
An atmospheric nighttime view of the Martin factory floor. Unique among the major combatants during the Second World War, the U.S. enjoyed secure production and training areas free from enemy bombing. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
The early B-model Marauders carried twin .50-calibre machine guns in this tail position. This was changed in the B-26B-25-MA series and later. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
Another view of the “business end” of the tail position. Note the fold-down panel under the guns and lack of metal framing at the end of the transparency. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
Initial nose armament was a single hand-held .30-calibre. This was soon changed to a .50-calibre, and most Marauders were fitted with an additional four .50-calibres in cheek blisters plus an additional fixed gun in the nose all of which were fired by the pilot. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
A view of the nose position from below. The oval-shaped panel is a flat cut-out intended to give a distortion-free view for the Norton bomb sight. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
New production Marauders on the ramp at Middle River. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
41-17839 seen with a security guard after completion. She was later assigned to the 17th Bomb Group’s 95th Bomb Squadron and named “Air Corpse” by her crew. She crash-landed behind enemy lines following a mid-air collision over Sardinia, her crew was captured. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)

Part VIII here:

Blood Red Snow Audiobook Review

Blood Red Snow: The Memoirs of a German Soldier on the Eastern Front

By Günter Koschorrek

Read by Nigel Patterson

Unabridged Audiobook

Published by Tantor Audio, July 2018

Length:  9 hours 41 minutes

Language: English

Günter Koschorrek was a 19-year-old German Army machine gunner who was sent to Stalingrad in 1942.  Assigned to a dismounted Kavallerie brigade, his unit was able to escape encirclement.  Their escape was a close-run thing, their positions were over run by Soviet armor and they were saved only by crossing the frozen Don River on foot under fire.  Koschorrek was wounded and evacuated back to Germany.

After recuperating, he was briefly assigned to Italy on anti-partisan duties, then back to the Eastern Front.  This time he was part of a well-equipped and supported “fire brigade” unit tasked with countering Soviet penetrations in the front lines.  After each action, they were withdrawn to quarters in a local village.  This inevitably came to an end as the Soviet offensives gained momentum, eventually resulting in a general retreat back to Germany.

This is a very gritty tale of combat on the Eastern Front from the perspective of a common infantryman where the hardships were many.   Koschorrek was one of the very few from his original group to survive the war, and he himself was wounded six times.  He avoided being sent to the Soviet Gulags after the war by aggravating one of his wounds and being hospitalized.

The audiobook is read by Nigel Patterson, who has an English accent.  I found this a little odd at first for a German memoir but grew used to it as the book went on.  Patterson did quite well with the occasional German rank or phrase.  The translation is also very English, with German soldiers being referred to as “blokes” and that sort of thing.  An odd error is the Soviets are often described as being armed with “Kalashnikovs” instead of the expected PPSH-41s or Mosen-Nagants, perhaps another problem with the translation.

I listened to this book while travelling to the Cincinnati IPMS show, a good way to get some benefit from the dead time while driving.  The book was “loaned” from the local library to my cell phone, a very welcome option when needed.  This was an interesting book which I can recommend to anyone interested in the Second World War on the Eastern Front.