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AER Moldova Russian Truck Conversion in 1/72 Scale Part I

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Several years ago I happened across two relatively obscure kits in my Local Hobby Store (LHS).  Heaven knows why they were there.  They were bagged kits of Soviet trucks from the Great Patriotic War.  The PARM-1 (single rear axle) and PARM-2 (double rear axle) were field workshop conversions built upon the ZIS-5 truck chassis.  They were issued to aviation regiments and contained everything needed to make minor and mid-level repairs to aircraft, such as machine lathes, welding equipment, sheet metal fabrication breaks, etc.  AER was not a familiar manufacturer to me, but the moldings looked adequate even if a little basic.  They were in my scale so I couldn’t resist adding the kits to the stash.
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Here are the sprues from the duel-axle kit, the parts needed for the extra axle are provided on the partial sprue on the upper left.  The workshop is on a separate sprue, suggesting multiple versions of the ZIS-5.  Most, if not all, military trucks are manufactured in multiple configurations with specialized equipment mounted to the frame.  It would be quite easy for a kit manufacturer to issue a dozen or more different vehicle kits using a common chassis.  The molds are currently being used by PST and there are several versions of this truck available.
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Assembly is uncomplicated and straight-forward.  The modeler is instructed to cut the drive line and wheel axles from stock, I made mine from brass rod to increase strength.  Some may complain about this as the rods are not provided, but I almost always end up substituting metal rather than trying to clean up fragile moldings anyway so I see this as a good thing.
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One of the trucks will be finished with the PARM workshop as AER intended, the other will be finished as an AAA gun truck.  Here I have scratchbuilt the bed for the gun truck from Evergreen and added grab handles for the gunners to ride along atop the ammo box.  The workshop has a door handle and hinges added because the door just looked too bare.
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I bought the UM “Air Defense Station” kit consisting of four Maxim machine guns.  This was one of the armaments for the air defense trucks and has a uniquely “Soviet” feel to it.
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The Maxim gun battery has a surprisingly high parts count for such a small model, the kit designers have attempted to replicate each component as an individual piece.  Unfortunately this approach results in a very fragile and finicky assembly.  Alignment and proper spacing proved impossible, and the fine injection molded bars kept breaking.  The sub assemblies did not fit together when joined.  After a couple of frustrating hours I admitted defeat and chucked the whole mess into the spares box.  If you have this kit do yourself a favor, put it in the spares box now and enjoy the two hours of your life you will thus have saved.  You’re welcome.
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Fortunately the Zvezda 37mm 61-K gun was in the stash which was also a load for the ZIS-5 gun truck, so by dumb luck the build was saved from the shelf of doom.  I had hoped to build this kit on its own, but they are inexpensive and plentiful so that itch will be easy to scratch.
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Here is the Zvezda gun built up, without the trailer parts of course.  It went together with no drama.  If you look closely you can see sink marks in the pointer’s foot rest, those were the only molding issues.  Easily corrected with rectangles of 0.005″ card.
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A test fit of the gun truck components.  Nothing is glued down at this point, the cab must stay loose so the interior can be properly painted and windows installed.

LS Ki-15-II “Babs” of the 8th Sentai in 1/72 Scale

This is the LS Ki-15 “Babs” from the kit issued in the late 1970s.  Despite its age, the kit is still quite nice even by today’s standards.  I modeled this one in the markings of the 8th Sentai, 1st Chutai which was known as the “Octopus Eight” due to the stylized tail markings.  This aircraft was based at Nakhorn Sawan Airfield in Burma.  In February 1942 it returned from a reconnaissance sortie over Rangoon with over a hundred bullet holes, having been intercepted by Hurricanes of 28 Squadron RAF.  Both the pilot 1LT Takesada Nakatani and the observer 1LT Fujimori Akira were wounded.

 

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Grumman F4F Wildcat in Color Part II

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A nice aerial shot of an F4F-3 of VMF-121 in the overall light gray scheme authorized on 30DEC40.
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More Marine F4F-3s, these carry the red cross markings for the Louisiana Wargames which were conducted from August to September of 1941.  The standard U.S. Army “C” ration, used throughout the Second World War and for many years afterward, was perfected using data gathered during the Louisiana Maneuvers.
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Grumman F4F-4 and Douglas Dauntless dive bombers aboard the USS Wasp (CV-7).  Wasp was sunk by three torpedoes from the Japanese submarine I-19 on 15SEP42.  Her wreck was located in January by the RV Petrel on the seafloor at a depth of 14,255 feet (4,345 meters).
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A formation of Wildcats in the Atlantic ASW Scheme I of Dark Gull Gray upper surfaces and Light Gull Gray sides over White undersurfaces.
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An FM-2 Wildcat recovers aboard the escort carrier USS Charger (CVE-30) while another is waved off overhead.  Note the natural wood of the flightdeck is showing through where the Deck Blue stain has been worn away.  Charger operated primarily as a training carrier throughout the war.
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Flight deck crewmen stand by to remove the chocks from a Royal Navy Martlet aboard HMS Formidable.
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This Wildcat is in the Blue Gray over Light Gray scheme with national insignia authorized from 06MAY42.  The partial codes on the fuselage sides have been amended by removing the squadron identifiers for security reasons.
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A fine study of a factory fresh Wildcat in the graded scheme.  This scheme is often mistakenly called the “three color scheme”, but in reality as many as five colors were used.
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The same aircraft as in the previous photograph with the landing gear lowered.  The pilot raised and lowered the main gear manually using a hand crank on the right side of the cockpit.  The struts were positioned with gears and chain which resembled bicycle chains inside the wheel well.
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The vastness of the Pacific.

Revell Sd. Kfz. 7/1 in 1/72 Scale

This is the Revell Sd. Kfz. 7/1, a really nice kit.  I bought this for the excellent Flakfierling, but the kit was so nice I decided to build the whole thing.  I drilled out the holes on the lowered side panels, 1,260 in all if I remember correctly.  The suspension is simplified.  The road wheels are molded in groups – the back two rows are one piece of seven wheels, the next is one piece of four, and three individual wheels are the outer row.  This is a good way to do it, easy to assemble, simple alignment, and no detail is lost.  The tracks are also outstanding.  They are molded in one piece, the instructions call for them to be softened in hot water.  They seemed flexible enough so I just wrapped them around the wheels and glued them with Testors liquid glue as I went.  No problems.  As a bonus the kit comes with three complete tracks.  I wish that was a standard practice, spare track links would come in quite handy on many armor kits.  While we’re on the subject of wishes, how about a box with just the Flakvierling and the 37mm Flak?

 

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The Vanishing Paperclips Book Review

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The Vanishing Paperclips: America’s Aerospace Secret, A Personal Account

By Hans H. Amtmann

Hardcover in dustjacket, 128 pages, heavily illustrated, index

Published by Monogram Aviation Publications, May 1988

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0914144359

ISBN-13: 978-0914144359

Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.8 x 12.2 inches

At the end of the Second World War Germany had reached a remarkable degree of scientific and technological advancement.  German research was years ahead of the rest of the world in several areas, including aerodynamics, jet propulsion, rocketry, and submarine technology, to name a few.  Fortunately, the tides of war turned against the Third Reich before Germany’s scientific achievements could be turned into a strategic battlefield advantage.

It was obvious to American and British planners that incorporating German technology would give the Allies an advantage in the war against Japan (which was still on-going), as well as an edge over their Soviet counterparts who were emerging as adversaries in the post-war world.  Operation Lusty under Colonel Harold E. Wilson was tasked with collecting German aircraft and weapons systems along with associated documentation and research, and transferring them to the United States.  A parallel effort, still largely unknown to this day, was Project Overcast under which 350 of Germany’s top rocketry, aviation, and submarine scientists were transferred to continue their work for the U.S. Navy or War Departments.  These transfers began immediately after the war and included Werner von Braun and  Alexander Lippisch.  Project Overcast was superseded by Operation Paperclip.  Altogether more than 1,600 German scientists and engineers were taken to America.  A similar effort by the Soviets, Operation Osoaviakhim, transferred over 2,200 German scientists and their families to the Soviet Union.

Hans H. Amtmann was a German aeronautical engineer.  He worked for Junkers and Heinkel before the war, but spent most of his career as head of preliminary design at Blohm & Voss.  There he worked on a number of projects including the asymmetrical Bv 141 reconnaissance aircraft and the huge Bv 222 and Bv 238 six engined flying boats. After Germany’s defeat he worked as a teacher until being recruited under Operation Paperclip and moving to the U.S. in October 1946.  His family joined him in 1948, and he became a legal U.S. citizen in 1949.  He worked on several projects for the U.S. government at Wright Field, and later worked for Convair on the P6Y flying boat and F2Y Sea Dart projects.

Amtmann’s autobiographical account follows his childhood and career as an aeronautical engineer.  Being a Monogram Publication, the book is well illustrated with numerous high-quality photographs of the aircraft Amtmann helped design.  His accounts of effects of the Allied bombing campaign on German cities from an essentially civilian perspective are illuminating, as are his descriptions of daily life in the British Occupation Zone immediately after the war.  He details the inner workings of the Paperclip operation from recruitment to working in the government labs at Wright Field.  During this period the German scientists were under escort and their movements were restricted, later they were offered U.S. citizenship and allowed to continue their work in the aviation industry.

The Vanish Paperclips pulls back the curtain on an interesting chapter of the aftermath of WWII, one which provides several insights into issues we as a society are still dealing with today.  The photographs are well chosen and reproduced, and add considerably to the narrative.  I would have liked to have seen more detail on the technical aspects of the designs.  Amtmann was the preliminary design head and certainly could offer many details of the problems encountered and how they were overcome.  A good read from a unique perspective.

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