Italeri Churchill Mk. III in 1/72 Scale

This is the Italeri Churchill Mk. III, which turns out is the re-boxed ESCI kit from 1988.  The kit has been updated with glue-able tracks, but still retains some ejector pin marks in bad locations.  Markings are from the kit decal sheet and represent a British Army Churchill serving with the King Force Detachment at El Alamein, November 1942.

Supermarine Spitfires of the 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group Color Photographs Part II

Here are more photographs of American Spitfire Mark XI from the 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group, 14th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron at Mount Farm, Oxfordshire, England in 1944. MB 946 has an impressive mission tally. The lighter hue of the PRU Blue on the fuselage where the upper portion of the invasion stripes have been removed is worth noting.
Ground crew are used as human sandbags to keep the tail down as the engine of this Spitfire is run up. The concrete disk visible in the foreground is an anchor used to tie down the wings of the aircraft.
A beautiful view of “My Darling Dorothy”, PA892. Wheel hubs were finished in either the PRU Blue or natural Aluminum, as seen here.
Another view of “My Darling Dorothy”. An unusual feature is that it appears the outline of the U.S. national insignia has been overpainted in PRU Blue instead of the prescribed Insignia Blue.
Diorama bait as the Spitfires are being refueled. Note the row of bicycles to the right.
“Marcella” warming her engine prior to take-off.
Another view of “Marcella” heading towards the runway. In the background is a Cletrac M2 towing tractor.
MB950 showing several touch-ups to her PRU Blue finish. Her wheel hubs are also PRU Blue, the white stripes are there to indicate if the tire has slipped on the wheel.

All photographs credit Imperial War Museum, Freeman collection, Robert Astrella photographer

Part I here:

Revell Sturmgeschütz IV of 394 StuG Brigade in 1/72 Scale

The Revell StuG IV is actually a re-boxing of the Matchbox kit from 1994.  It is a bit basic by today’s standards.  This translates to a reasonable parts count and easy assembly, but some clunky components and simplifications.  Some parts are easier to fix than others, my build features plastic card Schürzen but retains the kit’s simplified tracks.  The model is painted as a vehicle from 394 StuG Brigade in Normandy, June 1944.

Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare Audio Book Review

Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: The Mavericks Who Plotted Hitler’s Defeat

Authored and Narrated by Giles Milton

Audiobook, 12 hours and 38 minutes

Published by Macmillan Audio

Language: English


While “not fighting fairly” was frowned upon in the upper levels of the British military, those advocating commando and guerrilla operations found a powerful patron in Winston Churchill.  Churchill supported the expansion of sabotage and clandestine operations by removing bureaucratic obstacles and providing funding, and delighted in the demonstration of new weapons and successful operations.  He referred to the engineering and clandestine operations as his “Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare”.

This book explores two separate but related efforts.  One focus is the work of engineers and inventors who developed various weapons and devices.  One of the more well-known is what has become known as the Limpet Mine, which was originally produced in a garage workshop using kitchen pans, condoms, and candy.  Another is the spigot mortar, which was developed into the Hedgehog anti-submarine projector and used to devastating effect by both the Royal Navy and the USN.  The PIAT anti-tank weapon was another off-shoot of this.

The second effort is perhaps better known; the training and deployment of Commandos and sabotage operators.  Trained in various street fighting techniques by Sykes and Fairbane, several of their missions are legendary.  Covered in this book are well-known operations such as the destruction of the Norsk Hydro heavy water plant in Norway, which prevented Germany from pursuing atomic weapons.  Another is the Saint Nazaire Raid which destroyed the Normandie Drydocks.  Other less well-known operations are described as well, a few of which were new to me.

This is a very interesting and informative work.  It does not suffer from shifting from the workshop to the field, as each perspective builds on the considerations of the other.  The difficulties in producing a reliable time delay fuse which is able to function under a variety of conditions is something which is easy to take for granted, but proved to be quite a challenge in practice.  Overall this book offers several insights and is well worth the read.

Women Warriors 177

Kurdish YPJ fighter Asia Ramazan Antar
Kurdish YPJ
Italian UN peacekeeping liaison observes Lebanon’s southern border.
USAF CAPT Emily Thompson F-35 Pilot
LT Amanda Lee USN F/A-18E pilot
Women’s Army Corps, Randolph Field, Texas, 1944.
WAVE with TBM Avenger
Womens Royal Canadian Naval Service (WO-A057319)
US Navy Master at Arms
Danish Navy
Belgian Crown Princess Elisabeth
Ukrainian army with T-55
US Navy WAVE Ensign
IDF Canine Handler
IDF Merkava MBT
ATA with 3.7 AAA gun

To see more Women Warriors, click on the tags below:

Arma Hobby Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate “Frank” Batch Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

Arma Hobby continues to release kits at a quick pace. This is their kit #70051 Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate Expert Set, which has already been followed up with a second boxing. This is another excellent choice of subject from Arma, and was designed with input from noted researcher and modeler Jumpei Temma. Arma has already hinted at additional Japanese subjects for future releases, my money is on the Ki-43!
This is another subject which I’m enthusiastic about. The kit contains six marking options, and there are a few more lingering in the decal stash which I’m also anxious to build. Imperial Japanese Army Air Force tail markings were often stylized geometric representations of the Sentai number, rendered in a different color for each Chutai. Many of these lend themselves to masking, so even more marking options are possible. My problem is always choosing – will six Hayate be enough?
Arma continues to impress with the quality of their molding and engineering. The main components feature a satin finish and finely recessed panel lines. In the upper right-hand corner is something unique in my experience – the cockpit combing piece is optional depending on whether the modeler prefers the canopy to be open or closed.
A smaller secondary sprue contains two of the three options for underwing stores, and also the tailplanes. What makes this boxing the “Expert Set” is the inclusion of a small photoetch fret and a mask set. The mask is made from Kabuki tape this time, not the problematic vinyl like in the Mustang kits.
Arma uses rather large sprue gates, and some of them are located in bad spots. When I built their Mustang kits removing these became a problem as often the plastic deformed and tore as the sprue gates were being cut. Long ago all-around good guy and friend of the blog David Knights recommended “God Hand” sprue cutters to me. These are not cheap, but I figured it was finally time to get a pair and try them out.
The double-row radial engines consist of seven parts including the photo-etch wiring harness. The etch is rendered with relief, the joining bars are raised from the wiring on one side. If you’re building this kit, note that orienting the wiring harness as shown in the instructions will result in the relief detail facing to the rear where it cannot be seen. I flipped mine around so it would be visible. The PE harness is trapped between the gearbox and the first row of cylinders.
The seat is rather simply rendered, I expect the aftermarket will soon provide a replacement. In the meantime, the appearance of the seat can be greatly improved by simply drilling a few holes. The PE fret provides the seatbelts.
Test fitting revealed a minor problem. There are tabs molded into the fuselage sides, seen here directly above the oil cooler. These prevent the wing piece from seating properly, and are not shown on the instructions. Easy enough to snip off, just be aware that they are there.
With the tab snipped, everything fits together with a satisfying click!

Part II here:

Supermarine Spitfires of the 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group Color Photographs Part I

The USAAF 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group operated the Spitfire Mark XI from Mount Farm, Oxfordshire, England. The Mark XI was a Mark IX airframe with all armament and armor removed and extra fuel and cameras added, optimized for high-altitude flight. This is PA944 with invasion stripes under the fuselage. (All photographs credit Imperial War Museum, Freeman collection, Robert Astrella photographer)
Another view of PA944 showing the wear and weathering of her PRU Blue paint scheme. Note the serial on her fuselage repeated on the vertical tail. Here is an interview with the pilot of PA944, John Blyth. Well worth watching here:
Not all the Spitfires were finished in the PRU Blue. Here is MB946 in an overall natural metal finish with a Dark Red stripe under the exhausts and black rudder.
Not all the Spitfires were finished in the PRU Blue. Here is MB946 in an overall natural metal finish with a Dark Red stripe under the exhausts and black rudder.
A close-up of PA842 shows the same finish as MB946 above.
A fine study of MB950 in overall PRU Blue before her serials were repeated on the tail. PRU Blue is generally represented by modelers as approximately FS 35164 or FS 35189.
MB950 from another angle. The PRU Blue degraded quickly, and this aircraft shows several areas where the paint has been re-touched.
A later view of MB950, showing the Dark Red under the exhausts and Olive Drab rudder. By this time her serials have been applied to the tail. Note the prominent exhaust staining. The Spitfire Mk. XI on display at the NMUSAF is serialed as MB950, although her markings do not match either version in these photographs.
Here are two PR Mark V “War Weary” aircraft used as hacks, EN904 and AR404. Worn-out aircraft were declared War Weary when they had exceeded their airframe life and/or suffered damage which precluded them from being pushed to their original design limits safely.
Another view of AR404 which reveals several details useful for modelers and a surprise – an RAF roundel on her upper starboard wing. This emphasizes the value of multiple views of the same subject, one can only speculate which insignia are on the other wing surfaces.

Part II here:

Revell Sd. Kfz. 173 Jagdpanther of Abteilung 654 in 1/72 Scale

Schwere Panzerjäger-Abteilung 654 was the first unit which was equipped with the Jagdpanther, receiving the first two vehicles in March 1944.  In June it was deployed to Normandy, having only eight vehicles in total.  Their first combat action occurred on 30JUL44 near Saint Marting Du Bois.  Three 2. Kompanie Jagdpanthers engaged British Churchills of the 3rd Tank Battalion (Scots Guards), destroying eleven Churchills.  Another column of Churchills managed to flank the Jagdpanthers, disabling two and a battalion command tank.  The model represents a 2. Kompanie Jagdpanther from this engagement.

Construction here: