Fly Fiat G.50 Freccia of the 1540 Gruppo Autonarno in 1/72 Scale

This is the Fly Fiat G.50 Freccia (Arrow) kit in the markings of the 1540 Gruppo Autonarno while at Berat, Albania in 1941.

Construction posts here:

Damn Lucky Audio Book Review

Damn Lucky: One Man’s Courage During the Bloodiest Military Campaign in Aviation History

Authored by Kevin Maurer, Narrated by Holter Graham, interview with John Luckadoo

Audiobook, 8 hours and 20 minutes

Published by Macmillan Audio, April 2022

Language: English


John “Lucky” Luckadoo, like so many Americans, joined the military after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  He trained as a pilot, and after completing flight school was assigned to the 100th Bomb Group as a co-pilot of a B-17 Flying Fortress.  The Group deployed to England in June 1943, when the Eighth Air Force’s bombing campaign against Germany was just gaining strength.  A combat rotation was considered to be twenty-five missions, after completing those the crew would be rotated home.  Unfortunately, Allied fighters did not have the range to escort the bombers all the way to many targets and the Luftwaffe was still a formidable force.  Statistically, the odds were against the bomber crews surviving to reach the magic twenty-fifth mission.

Aside from the fighters and the flak, flying itself is a dangerous endeavor.  In formations there is always the risk of collision, and weather is always a factor.  One under-appreciated aspect is the environment at 25,000 feet is inherently hostile.  Without the proper protection hypothermia or hypoxia can be deadly, and the crews had to function in that environment for up to twelve hours at a time.  On one occasion Luckaloo’s B-17 suffered relatively minor damage to the nose section over a target.  Unfortunately, damage to the metal skin of the aircraft directed a stream of freezing air directly under the instrument panel.  He had no choice but to leave his feet on the rudder peddles while the airstream progressively froze his legs throughout the return flight.  He returned frostbitten, but Doctors were able to save his legs.

This book follows Luckaloo’s career in the USAAF, both with the 100th BG and after his rotation back Stateside as an instructor pilot.  As the war ended he was working up with a B-29 group for deployment to the Pacific.  This is a well-written first hand account of the bomber offensive during the decisive period of the air war.  Recommended.

Women Warriors 204

US Army pilot Paige Ziegler with CH-47 Chinook
WREN Mechanic
Detroit National League for Womens’ Service WWI
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

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

Fly Fiat G.50 Build in 1/72 Scale Part II

For once, the Mr. Surfacer 1000 revealed no surprises. There were a few panel lines to clean up but that was it.
The camouflage is one of those intricate patterns which the Italians were known for, consisting of Sand (Giallo Mimetico 4) with mottles of Brown (Marrone Mimetico 1) and Green (Verde Mimetico 2). Undersides are Light Gray (Grigio Mimetico). I thinned the paint with Leveling Thinner and the Mr. Color went on well.
Decals are from the kit, which provides markings for four aircraft.  There are options for Croat and Luftwaffe machines, and two in Italian colors.  I had a hard time deciding between the markings used here and the ones on the box art.
The ailerons have mass balances both above and below the wings, so care must be exercised when handling the model to avoid breaking these off. There is a pitot tube on each wingtip, I made these up from Albion tube. The navigation lights are positioned on the leading edge of the wings, I made these from stretched clear sprue and colored them with Micro Krystal Klear and food coloring.
There are no surprises with this kit, it builds up quickly and looks right when done. I really enjoyed this one and will have to get more so I can do some in Finnish markings.

More completed photos here:

Super Model Fiat G.55S Silurante in 1/72 Scale

The Silurante was a one-off effort to convert the excellent Centauro fighter into a torpedo-bomber.  The radiator was split into two units, one under each wing, to allow the torpedo to be carried under the fuselage.  The two machine guns in the cowling were removed to save weight, and the tailwheel was extended to allow clearance for the torpedo.  The modified airframe (MM.91086) was tested in this configuration in March 1945 and was found to be a success, but it was not put into production due to the deteriorating war situation.

I have depicted the model in Luftwaffe day fighter colors of RLM 74 / 75 / 76. This is one of the options which match the tones in photographs and the scheme would be effective for over-water operations in these colors.  The actual colors used by the ANR on the Silurante are unknown, and the aircraft is also depicted in a combination of Italian Dark Green over Sand. 

French Armor Color Photographs, Hugo Jaeger Collection Part II

These are color photographs taken by German photographer Hugo Jaeger.  They are currently held in the Life Magazine archives.  These were likely taken in May – June 1940.

A pair of knocked out AMR 35 reconnaissance tanks.
A Renault FT-17.  The design dated to the First World War but many were still in French service in reserve battalions.  The Germans later used captured examples in secondary roles in occupied countries.
Two more knocked out Renault FT-17s.
This Char B1 of the 37e Battalion was hit on 16MAY40 at Solre le Château.
A Hotchkiss H35.
Another view of the same Hotchkiss H35.
Two abandoned AMD Panhard 178 armored cars. These were used for reconnaissance.
French and German soldiers walk through Senlis, France, German military vehicles in the background.
Captured French troops.
German trucks cross a pontoon bridge at Senlis France, approximately 20 miles from Paris.

Hugo Jaeger color photographs part III here:

Born to Be Hanged Audio Book Review

Born to Be Hanged: The Epic Story of the Gentlemen Pirates Who Raided the South Seas, Rescued a Princess, and Stole a Fortune

Authored by Keith Thomson, Narrated by Feodor Chin

Audiobook, 9 hours and 41 minutes

Published by Little, Brown and Company, May 2022

Language: English


During the last half of the 17th century several European countries competed for dominance and riches in the New World, principal among these were the maritime countries of Spain, England, and France.  These countries established colonies and began to extract resources from the Americas, the most well known today being the shipments of Gold and Silver extracted by the Spanish.  The wealth contained in Spanish galleons and within Spanish settlements soon attracted the unwelcome attention of Privateers and Pirates seeking fortune and glory.  Thus began the Golden Age of Piracy.

This is the story of a group of 300 Englishmen who in 1680 embarked on an adventure to liberate Spanish Gold which spanned more than two years and both coasts of South America.  While the traditional stereotype of pirates involves seizing ships on the high seas, many of the objectives of this group involved trekking overland to attack Spanish settlements, often with the aid of native populations in the area.  One of the local Kings issued a Letter of Marque authorizing the group to act on his behalf and rescue his daughter, who was held in a Spanish fortress which conveniently was also used to mine and store Gold and Silver.

This a sprawling adventure.  The pirates captured settlements and ships.  They fought the Spanish, natives, and at times each other.  They survived adversity in the jungle and on the sea.  Their alliances were democratic, if things went against their fortunes they might hold a munity which would be considered more of a vote of no confidence today, the deposed leader either remaining with the company or parting ways along with his supporting faction.

Perhaps the most surprising element of this book is author Keith Thompson was able to draw on five surviving journals or books which were written by members of the group, along with official Spanish and English records.  A very literate group of buccaneers indeed!  Four members of the group were tried in England, where the legal distinction between a Pirate (operating independently) and a Privateer (operating on behalf of a government) could mean the difference between a hero’s welcome and a noose.  This is a very engaging book, enriched with details and observations from the pirates themselves.  Recommended.