Soldier Dogs Audiobook Review

Soldier Dogs: The Untold Story of America’s Canine Heroes

By Maria Goodavage, Narrated by Nicole Vilencia

Audiobook, 8 hours 6 minutes

Published by Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Language: English


Soldier Dogs describes the lives and experiences of Military Working Dogs and their handlers in the U.S. Armed Forces.  It details the dogs’ acquisition process, screening, training, medical care, deployments with their handlers, and eventual retirement.  This is augmented by interviews and anecdotes from those involved in the training and combat deployments which adds a human (and canine) perspective and keeps the narrative interesting.

The dogs receive specialized training and are categorized based upon their abilities.  Many of these take advantage of the dogs’ exceptional sense of smell, such as explosives detection, tracking, and narcotics.  There are also patrol dogs which would be the equivalent of “guard” or “attack” dogs.  Dual-purpose dogs combine the two.  The two most common MWD breeds are Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds, although many other breeds are used as well.  Altogether, there are approximately 13,000 dogs serving with U.S. forces.

There were several details which surprised me in this book.  The majority of the dogs are purchased from European breeders, who also give them their names.  The dogs are usually not purebreds for health reasons.  After passing their screenings they receive an alphanumeric tattoo in their left ear which becomes the equivalent of their last name.  The dogs are considered “equipment”, and are assigned to different handlers for each deployment.  They are generally not housebroken because they live in the field with their handlers or in kennels on bases.

I enjoyed this book.  The dogs bond with their handlers, and often become the unofficial mascot of the units the dog teams are attached to.  For the soldiers they are considered comrades, sharing the same food and foxholes as the other members of the unit.  Recommended for both military history buffs and dog enthusiasts.

Women Warriors 158

AC-130 Airman Mary Howe, 4th Special Operations Squadron
RCAF Pilot
CAPT Mariya Dlina HSU, Soviet Pe-2 Pilot
Soviet Il-2 Pilot Anna Timofeeva Egorova
WAAF hauling bombs at RAF Mindenhall
US Army
Tally Case, South Carolina ANG F-16 pilot
ww436_Women's Reserve Ambulance Corps, June 1916
Women’s Reserve Ambulance Corps, June 1916
Women Urgently Wanted for the WAAC
Women Urgently Wanted for the WAAC
WAVE exits a 5″/38 Gun Mount aboard the Battleship USS Missouri (BB-63)
Swedish soldier in Afghanistan
WASPs with AT-6 Texan

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Special Hobby Seversky P-35 Build Part II

Assembly was straight-forward and the parts mated well. I did have a problem mating the fuselage halves though, the sides shifted after I had clamped them and I had to go back the next day and split the seam to re-align the parts. A bit touchy but it worked out okay in the end. Entirely a self-inflicted error.
Fit of the canopy sections was not up to the standard of the rest of the kit. Gaps were filled with Perfect Plastic Putty. Masking was done the old-fashioned way.
This one will be in a natural metal finish, in this case applied with Mr. Surfacer 1000, Alclad black primer, and Alclad Candy Apple Base. Shiny!
The kit decals performed well without any drama. The markings are for the pilot who would become the first USAAC ace, 1Lt. Boyd “Buzz” Wagner, 17th PG, Nichols Field, Philippines, Spring 1941.
The finished article. Not a bad kit overall, but my mishap with the fuselage alignment and the fit of the clear parts dampened my enthusiasm a little. In the end I don’t think it’s quite up to contest standards and I was happy to see it done. Not entirely the fault of the kit but mainly due to a series of my own unforced errors.

More completed pictures here:

Fine Molds Messerschmitt Bf 109F-4 of Anton Hackl in 1/72 Scale

Anton Hackl flew throughout the war, his final tally was 192 confirmed victories.  He was one of the seeming rare Experten who was able to successfully transition from the East to the West, claiming 105 victories against the Soviets and another 93 against the Western Allies.  He claimed 34 four-engined bombers, making him the Jagdwaffe’s most successful pilot against the “heavies”.  He was himself shot down eight times and wounded four. The model depicts Anton Hackl’s Bf 109F-4 of 5. / JG77, flying from Oktoberfeld, Crimea, during JUN42. 

Republic XF-12 Rainbow Color Photographs

The Republic Rainbow was designed to fulfill a 1943 requirement for a reconnaissance aircraft able to reach an altitude of 40,000 feet (12,000 meters), a speed of 400 mph (640 kph), and a range of 4,000 miles (7,400 km). All these criteria were exceeded. The design used four Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major 28-cylinder engines, each developing 3,250 horsepower. The prototype made its maiden flight on 04FEB46. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)
The Rainbow’s design emphasis was on minimizing drag, and the result is considered by many to be one the most beautiful aircraft of the time. Cooling air and turbocharger exhaust was discharged through the back of each engine nacelle, the resulting thrust was calculated to produce the equivalent of an extra 250 horsepower per engine. Pictured is an unmarked Rainbow prototype along with a P-47 Thunderbolt and RC-3 Seabee for comparison.
The Rainbow lacked cowl flaps, which would have increased drag. When additional engine cooling was needed the entire cowling moved to open a slot to increase airflow. Another novel feature seen in this photograph is the pressurized cockpit visible behind the clear aerodynamic nosecone, which was unpressurized.
Two aircraft were built, serials 44-91002 and 44-91003. The fuselage contained a fully-equipped photo lab so that photographs could be developed on the return leg of a reconnaissance flight. The second prototype performed a mapping demonstration dubbed Operation Bird’s Eye, which mapped a swath of the continental United States from coast to coast in less than seven hours. The finished photo mosaic was 325 feet (99 meters) long. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)
The Rainbow came too late to serve in the Second World War. Despite its impressive performance, jet-powered designs held greater promise and the USAAF decided to make due with modifications of existing types until the jets entered service. The second prototype was lost after an engine explosion on 07NOV48, while the first was retired in June 1952 and expended as a target.
No Rainbows survive today. For those wishing to add a Rainbow to their model collection, Anigrand produces a resin kit in 1/72 scale. While a little pricy, it is a large model. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)

Pavla Curtiss AT-9 Jeep in 1/72 Scale

This is the Curtiss AT-9 Fledgling trainer, better known as the “Jeep” assigned to Mather Field near Sacramento, California in May 1942.  The model is built from the Pavla kit which is a limited run offering.  It requires some extra effort to assemble but the subject is unusual and has a pleasing shape.

Construction posts here:

Geniuses at War Audio Book Review

Geniuses at War: Bletchley Park, Colossus, and the Dawn of the Digital Age

By David A. Price, Narrated by John Lee

Audiobook, 5 hours and 44 minutes

Published by Random House Audio

Language: English


During the Second World War Germany used two major types of encryption for their messages.  Enigma was used by the German military, each service had their own particular variations of the Enigma coding machine and operating procedures.  It used a series of ten wheels to encode a message, each letter of the original could be represented by a different letter each time it occurred, resulting in millions of potential variations.  Lorenz was an encryption used at the highest level of Nazi diplomatic and military communications.  As complex as Enigma was, Lorenz was dozens of orders of magnitude more sophisticated.

British codebreaking efforts centered around an estate called Bletchley Park.  Poland had broken the early version of the Enigma machine and shared the secrets with the British who continued the work as the machines were changed throughout the war.  To deal with the ever-increasing complexity and volume of message traffic Bletchley Park eventually grew to employ 8,700 people, many of them WRENs and ATS women.  The codebreakers worked in separate buildings, each building was assigned a specific problem and work proceeded in shifts twenty-four hours per day.

Alan Turing is today considered to be one of the fathers of modern computing, his “Turing Test” is still one method used to assess the sophistication of Artificial Intelligence.  Turing invented an analog device dubbed “the Bombe” which was able to replicate the functions of the Enigma machine and reverse-engineer new cyphers, given time and the occasional lucky break.  To crack Lorenz, Bletchely’s director hired a telephone engineer named Tommy Flowers.  Given a team and a deadline to be done before June, 1944, Flowers designed a binary computing device built around hundreds of vacuum tubes named Colossus – the world’s first digital computer.  He then went about producing improved models to speed up the work and allow more messages to be read.

After decades of state-imposed secrecy the stories of the codebreakers are finally being told.  Such was the desire for secrecy that the Colossus machines were disassembled after the war, their records burned, and operators sworn to silence.  One has to wonder what would have been the result if Colossus had been preserved, further improved, and mass produced – thereby beginning the Computer Age in 1946.  This is an intriguing story, recommended.

Women Warriors 157

U.S. Army
Czech Republic
Aerial Gunner Airman 1st class Natasha Libby 66th Rescue Squadron HH-60 Pave Hawk (130620-F-AQ406-114)
Sergeant Joan Mortimer, Flight Officer Elspeth Henderson, and Sergeant Helen Turner, Fighter Command Headquarters, Uxbridge, 01SEP40. Awarded Military Medal (IWM)
Finnish aircraft spotter Lotta Eillen Kiuru, Lahdenpohja, 11July42 (SA-Kuva)
US Navy sailor of VAW-125 works on the nosewheel of an E-2 Hawkeye.
US Air Force
USAF exchange pilot Capt. Michelle Ruehl boarding a US Navy F/A-18 Hornet
Russian Police
ATF Pilots with Hurricane
Kurdish YPG
South Korea
WASP Pilot Nancy Nesbit in an AT-6 Texan

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