Zinky Boys Book Review

Zinky Boys Book Review

Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices from the Afghanistan War

By Svetlana Alexievich

Softcover, 197 pages

Published by Norton, 1997

Language: English

ISBN-13: ‎ 978-0-393-33686-3

Dimensions: ‎ 6.0 x 0.6 x 9.0 inches

This is the second book from author Svetlana Alexievich which I have read, the first being the Unwomanly Face of War.  Like her other work, this book is comprised of several individual narratives.  This book is noteworthy because is exposed the experiences of individual Soviet soldiers sent to Afghanistan at a time when the official Party line was to minimize the scope of the Russian presence there.  Alexievich was awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature for her works.

The title Zinky Boys is derived from the practice of sending casualties home in sealed Zinc coffins.  Many of the anecdotes are those of wives or mothers whose men were returned to them this way.  Other stories are of soldiers who were wounded, some who lost legs due to mines or IEDs.  All the interviews are sad in some way, and there are portions which are gruesome.

There are a few themes which struck me as odd products of Soviet society in the 1980s.  One is the shortage of consumer goods which we take for granted in the West, items such as tape recorders, cassette players, blue jeans, and make-up are mentioned in several accounts.  Many of the soldiers bartered for these in Afghanistan to take back home when their tours were over.  Rampant corruption often separated these treasured items from soldiers either through confiscation or as a means of bribing officials for transportation home.  The practice of abuse from the soldiers near the end of their tours towards the new arrivals was widely practiced and goes far beyond anything we would describe as hazing in the West.  Also, the lack of material support was appalling, especially in the area of medical supplies, some of which had been in storage since the Great Patriotic War.

In many ways this book is a commentary of Soviet society at the time.  Unfortunately, there are also parallels to the previous American experience in Vietnam and the war in Afghanistan after.  Those looking for a military history of the Soviet war in Afghanistan should look elsewhere, this book is a narrative collection of individual stories which exposed a secret the Soviet leadership would have preferred to have kept hidden.  This is an important work, but a tragic story.

Women Warriors 154

U.S. Army
Czech Republic
U.S. Army AH-64 Apache
Resistance Fighter, Hungarian Uprising 1956 with PPsH
Royal Navy WRENS boat crew. (IWM)
ATS anti-aircraft gun crew (IWM)
US Air Force
Seen here -  Air Trooper (A Tpr) Lauren Morgan
British Air Trooper Lauren Morgan with AH-64 Apache Longbow
ww415_U.S. Army Captain Elizabeth McNamara_Iraq2011
U.S. Army Captain Elizabeth McNamara with AH-64 Apache, Iraq 2011
ww416_First Aid Nursing Yeomanry
First Aid Nursing Yeomanry dispatch riders
ATA Pilot Maureen Dunlop with Royal Navy Fairey Barracuda
Indian Pilots with MiG-21
Nancy Harkness Love in the cockpit in 1928, she would lead the WASPs in WWII

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Revell HMCS Snowberry Flower Class Corvette Build in 1/72 Scale Part VI

A ship needs some crew figures to give a sense of scale and a “busy” appearance. While I have been critical of the kit for its poor molding and crude parts (a well-earned assessment), I must give credit where credit is due and say that I was pleased with the figures Matchbox has provided. There were some sinkholes to fill, but overall they are good. I modified several poses with parts from the spares box and supplemented them with others from the old Airfix Bofers kit.
I painted up a total of eighteen figures. A ship of this size, fully manned at General Quarters (or is it “Action Stations” in the RCN?) could easily use twice that number but this is what I could scrounge up.
Two of the figures needed to be in place before the superstructure was mounted, the helm and lee helmsmen in the pilothouse. I gave them their stations with voice tubes and a ship’s wheel from the spares box. If you look at just the right angle they can be seen inside the finished model.
Here she is almost complete with the superstructure and mast in place. The splinter mats around the open conning station were made from Sculpey and baked in the oven.
The completed model, rigged and manned. The crew figures were also pinned in place to reduce breakage. The signal flags at the yardarm are “Bravo Zulu”, a naval signal meaning “well done”. Hopefully the Snowberry model does well in her wargaming role as well! While it would take considerable effort to turn this kit into a show winner, it does look good with a few upgrades, and any large-scale ship has an undeniable “shelf presence”.

Finished photographs here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/02/01/revell-hmcs-snowberry-flower-class-corvette-in-1-72-scale/

Hasegawa Focke-Wulf 190A-8 of Oberleutnant Otto Kittel in 1/72 Scale

Otto Kittel spent the war flying against the Soviets on the Eastern Front.  He claimed his first two victories during the first days of Barbarossa, a pair of SB-2 bombers.  He achieved his 100th victory in September 1943, and was awarded the Knight’s Cross a month later.  He was presented with the Oak Leaves in May 1944, credited with his 200th victory in August, and received the Swords in November.  On 14 February 1945 (some sources say the 16th) he was intercepting a flight of Il-2’s when his Fw 190A-8 was hit by return fire and crashed.  Kittel was the fourth-highest scoring fighter pilot in history, and has the dubious honor of being the highest-scoring fighter pilot to be killed in combat.  He was credited with 267 victories, all in the East, including 94 Il-2 Sturmoviks.

The model represents Kittel’s Fw 190A-8 assigned to 3./JG 54 at Riga-Skulte Latvia, June 1944.

North American P-51B Mustang “Ding Hao!” of James H. Howard

James H. Howard was a Naval Aviator, a Flying Tiger, and the only fighter pilot to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in the European Theater of Operations during WWII. His most famous exploit is best described by his Medal of Honor citation below:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy near Oschersleben, Germany, on 11 January 1944. On that day Col. Howard was the leader of a group of P-51 aircraft providing support for a heavy bomber formation on a long-range mission deep in enemy territory. As Col. Howard’s group met the bombers in the target area the bomber force was attacked by numerous enemy fighters. Col. Howard, with his group, at once engaged the enemy and himself destroyed a German ME. 110. As a result of this attack Col. Howard lost contact with his group, and at once returned to the level of the bomber formation. He then saw that the bombers were being heavily attacked by enemy airplanes and that no other friendly fighters were at hand. While Col. Howard could have waited to attempt to assemble his group before engaging the enemy, he chose instead to attack single-handed a formation of more than 30 German airplanes. With utter disregard for his own safety he immediately pressed home determined attacks for some 30 minutes, during which time he destroyed 3 enemy airplanes and probably destroyed and damaged others. Toward the end of this engagement 3 of his guns went out of action and his fuel supply was becoming dangerously low. Despite these handicaps and the almost insuperable odds against him, Col. Howard continued his aggressive action in an attempt to protect the bombers from the numerous fighters. His skill, courage, and intrepidity on this occasion set an example of heroism which will be an inspiration to the U.S. Armed Forces.

As a U.S. Navy Ensign Howard flew the Grumman F3F-2 with VF-6, operating from the USS Enterprise (CV-6). Howard flew the third aircraft in the fourth section, coded 6-F-12. The aircraft was painted in the standard overall Aluminum dope with yellow upper wing surfaces. Enterprise aircraft carried blue tails. Fourth section carried black stripes on the upper wing, and as the sections’ third aircraft the lower half of the cowl would also be black.
Howard was recruited from VF-6 to go to China and became the Assistant Squadron Leader of the Second Pursuit Squadron “Hell’s Angels” with the American Volunteer Group, the Flying Tigers. He was credited with six victories with the AVG. His Curtiss Hawk 81 carried the number 57 on the aft fuselage. Howard is on the right in this photograph. He was one of two Flying Tigers who would go on to earn the Medal of Honor, the other being USMC Major Gregory “Pappy” Boyington.
While the deployment of the P-51B was intended to be kept secret at the time, the USAAF was eager to capitalize on the propaganda value of Howard’s January 11th exploits. Here is a posed color photo which reveals several interesting details of the markings of 43-6315. Note the repainted area under the “Ding Hao!” lettering, the white tail stripe, as well as the color of the main spar visible in the wheel bay.
Another press photo shows Howard and Staff Sergeant Marcus Hanson examining the kill markings. Ding Hao is a Chinese phrase for “very best”. Howard was the commander of the 356th Fighter Squadron, 354th Fighter Group. When asked why he single-handedly defended the B-17s against 30 German fighters, he said, “I seen my duty and I done it!”
An interesting photograph in many respects. On the 11JAN44 mission 43-6315 was fitted with the early framed canopy, this picture shows the details well. Fuselage stenciling is clearly seen, as are the details of the victory markings.
His is a later photo of Howard in the cockpit of 43-6315 to compare with the previous picture. The framed canopy has been replaced with the bulged Malcom Hood. The victory markings have been re-painted, this is most easily seen by comparing the fourth Japanese flag in each picture. There is also chipping seen on the first flags in each row. Howard’s name and that of the crew chief, S/SGT Trice have been added ahead of the windscreen. The censor has removed the aircraft type details from the data block.
An overall view of Ding Hao! With the Malcolm Hood. Already a popular modeling subject, Howard’s P-51B is featured on the box art for the new Arma Hobby P-51B kit and is one of six aircraft included on the decal sheet. Parts are provided to model the aircraft fitted with either canopy option.
Another color photo which shows the Malcolm Hood to advantage, the improvements to head room and visibility are apparent. There is chipping to the Ding Hao! Lettering, and broom symbols representing five fighter sweeps have been added above the exhausts.

Tamiya Focke-Wulf 190A-2 of Oberleutnant Egon Mayer in 1/72 Scale

Egon Mayer fought entirely in the West.  He was credited with his first victory, an MS 406, during the Battle of France.  His JG 2 “Richthofen” fought in the Battle of Britain and remained on the Channel Front.  Mayer scored steadily against the RAF, and was awarded the Knight’s Cross in August 1941 after his 21st victory.

As the American presence grew, Mayer was promoted to Hauptman and commanded III./JG 2 as Gruppenkommandeur.  He identified the nose armament of the American heavies as a defensive weak point, and developed the head-on attack which became the preferred Luftwaffe interception tactic.  On 23NOV42 he was credited with two B-17’s and a B-24 using these tactics.

On 01JUL43 Meyer was appointed Geschwaderkommodore of JG 2.  He continued to lead his pilots on interceptions of American heavy bomber raids and was able to score consistently.  On 02MAR44 he was leading an attack on a B-17 formation when he was shot down and killed by an escorting P-47.  His final tally reached a total of 102, and included 51 Spitfires and 26 heavy bombers.

The model represents the Fw 190A-2 of Oberleutnant Egon Mayer of 7./ JG 2, at  Theville France, June 1942.

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress in Foreign Service Book Review

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress in Foreign Service

By Jan Forsgren, illustrated by Artur Juszczak

Series:  MMP White Series

Softcover in dustjacket, 112 pages, photographs, 18 color profiles

Published by MMPBooks, July 2019

Language: English

ISBN-13: ‎ 978-8365958-21-1

Dimensions: ‎ 8.2 x 0.4 x 11.7 inches

Much has been written about the B-17 Flying Fortress.  The stories of B-17s in USAAF and RAF service fill many bookcases, and readers could be forgiven for thinking these were the only users of the B-17.  The U.S. Navy also flew the Fortress as the PB-1 in the Seach and Rescue and Airborne Early Warning roles, but this is not as well known.  The focus of this book is even more obscure, the use of the B-17 by other nations.

The book is arranged alphabetically by nations which operated B-17s; Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Portugal, Switzerland, Taiwan, USSR, and Yugoslavia.  Some of these countries captured their examples like Japan and Germany – both Axis nations evaluated the Fortress and Germany even used theirs operationally for special missions with KG 200.  The Soviets, denied American bombers through Lend-Lease, flew interred examples and repaired any they found as they pushed West into Europe.  The stories of B-17s in Israeli and Taiwanese service are worthy of spy novels.

Each chapter contains numerous photographs and catalogs what is known about each aircraft by serial number.  Artur Juszczak has rendered eighteen full color profiles which illustrate the colors and markings applied by the different nations.

This book is a boon to modelers looking to model a Fortress with a little something different.  There were numerous anecdotes and photographs which were new to me, and if additional details were available, several of the chapters could be made into very interesting books in their own right.  Highly recommended for modelers and enthusiasts looking for something new on the B-17 Flying Fortress.

Women Warriors 153

USAF Minnesota AFR LT Alicia Makoutz C-130 Pilot
U.S. Navy Sailor in Damage Control Gear
USAF Capt. Victoria Snow, HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter pilot assigned to the 33rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron (180313-F-OH871-1009)
Turkish UH-60 Pilot
Soviet Snipers WWII
WAAF radar operator Denise Miley, May 1945 (IWM)
ATS AAA Range Finder Operator (IWM)
ww409e_Great Britain
United Kingdom
Danish F-16 pilot Line Bonde
Kurdish YPG
South Carolina ANG F-16
Royal Norwegian Navy sailors train with Thompson SMG
Romania, sign on the building reads “Honor is Your Motto”
Russian Paratrooper with Druganov sniper rifle
ATS Major Kay Summersby, General Eisenhower’s driver and assistant
Nancy Love and Betty Gillies, founders of the WASPs

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