Roden Sd. Kfz. 234/4 Pakwagon in 1/72 Scale

This is the Roden Sd. Kfz. 234/4 Pakwagon.  This kit does not share sprues with Roden’s other 234s, in fact the wheels are of a larger diameter on this one.  The gun did not want to fit into the fighting compartment so there was a little trimming and subsequent repair with Evergreen.  Jerry cans are from the spares box.  I had trouble fitting the gun and had to trim the shielding.




Little Ship, Big War: The Saga of DE 343 Book Review



Little Ship, Big War: The Saga of DE 343

By CDR Edward P. Stafford, USN (Ret)

Hardcover in dustjacket, illustrated, 313 pages

Published by William Morrow & Co, 1984

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0688032532

ISBN-13: 978-0688032531

Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.4 inches

The USS Abercrombie (DE 343) was a Butler class Destroyer Escort.  LT Edward Stafford was her First Lieutenant, which was the third senior officer after her Captain and Exec.  Stafford joined Abercrombie when she was fitting out at Orange, Texas, and served with her from her commissioning on 01MAY44 through the end of the Pacific War and her return to San Pedro after the war.

While only in service for the last sixteen months of the war, they were a very active sixteen months.  Abercrombie was part of Taffy Two’s screen during the Battle of Sumar on 25OCT44, and was control ship for the amphibious landings at Lingayen on 09JAN45.  From there she was a part of the effort to secure Kerama Retto as a prelude to the invasion of Okinawa, where she fought Kamikazes as part of the radar picket screen.

In between major operations was a constant stream of training and other duties.  Destroyer Escorts were a very useful type of ship and were in constant demand.  The adventures of sister ships in the same areas are related, such as the loss of the Samual B. Roberts (DE 413) at Samar and the Kamikaze attacks on Oberrender (DE 433) off Okinawa.  Stafford relies on the Ship’s Log, after action reports, correspondence with other crew members, and his own journal to provide details and dates for all of Abercrombie’s adventures.  The story is full of specifics, and the reader really gets a feel for just how busy life at sea really is.    At time this is a double edged sword, as the effort to supply a complete accounting turns into laundry lists of unnecessary details which interrupt the flow of the narrative.

A good read, all the more impressive when one considers that this story was repeated literally thousands of times as warships of all sizes were built then launched into war, crewed by men who usually had previously never even thought of going to sea.


Ki-27 “Nate” Build in 1/72 Scale, Mania and ICM Kits Part I

This is a short work in progress build of the Nakajima Ki-27 “Nate”.  I’ll be building two of the relatively new ICM kits alongside the venerable Mania Ki-27.  The Mania kit was advanced for its time, being released in 1970 (can you believe it?).  It is best known to modelers from a series of re-boxings under the Hasegawa label.  The ICM kit is a much more recent release, and benefits from the many mold-making advances of the intervening decades.  Interestingly, both companies chose the same aircraft for their box art, depicting the mount of Kenji Shimada, commander of the 1st Chutai of the 11th Sentai, from 1939.
First of the two ICM sprues.  There is ample detail in the cockpit and for the engine, although much of the engine detail will be hidden within the fuselage.
The second ICM sprue contains the wings, separate ailerons, and a choice of landing gear configurations.  Surface detail is recessed and quite petite.  Rivet lines are included but are so faint that they may disappear under paint.  Note the holes on the upper wing pieces, more on these later.
Parts for the Mania kit.  Parts breakdown is much more simplified compared to the ICM offering.  Surfaces feature both raised and recessed detail.  There is even the start of riveting on the underside of the wing, like the designers started the process but then reconsidered.  There is the option to represent the different styles of landing gear with this kit as well.
Here is a comparison shot of the fuselage halves, Mania on top, ICM on the bottom.  Overall length compares well, the biggest difference is the cockpit opening of the Mania kit is located further back.  The ICM fuselage matches the drawings in the Famous Aircraft of the World volume.  Comparing wingspan, I measured the Mania kit at 153 mm and the ICM at 156, compared to a specified span of 157 mm in scale.
The Mania cockpit is a bit Spartan so I fabricated a replacement from plastic stock.  I also removed the locating ridges from within the fuselage halves so the new cockpit could sit a little lower.
Here are the engines under a coat of Alclad Aluminum and a wash of acrylic black.  The oil coolers were picked out with brass.  I added push rods to the ICM engines but left off the exhaust manifolds.  ICM provides all the supporting and internal components all the way back to the firewall, but I left them all out of these builds because experience with their I-16 kits indicated that they would be hidden on the finished model and had a good chance of interfering with fit.
The ICM cockpit is built up on the center wing section and slides into the completed fuselage.  I useed Eduard PE belts which add a nice touch.  Interior color is a dark blue-gray, with the seat, stick, and rudder pedals picked out in aluminum.
The Mania kit assembles quickly with no surprises.  Fit is good, with some work being needed at the wing to fuselage joints on the underside.
The ICM kit also needed some fitting work on the underside wing boattail joints.  It is let down by a few overly-complex engineering decisions.  The horizontal tail is one piece which simplifies alignment, but it is designed to be covered by a tail piece which traps the tail skid in a slot.  This doesn’t fit well and leaves a seam, I ended up cutting off the tail skid to add at the end of the build.
The landing gear design is also unusual.  The bent shaft is molded onto the lower half of the leg structure, the shaft is meant to be inserted into the upper strut molded into the wing and emerge through the upper surface of the wing.  To the bottom of this piece the wheel and spats are attached.  None of this fits, and sink holes in the struts only add insult.  I prefer the Mania design which is molded as a single piece.  A little finesse is sacrificed but the gear is strong.

Academy B-17E in the Hawaiian Air Depot Scheme in 1/72 Scale

Here is another Flying Fortress in the Hawaiian Air Depot camouflage, 41-2437.  This is one of two HAD scheme Fortresses seen in John Ford’s documentary film of the Battle of Midway.  The U. S. national markings were modified by ALNAV97 on 06MAY42 which directed that the red centers of the insignia should be painted over in white and that the tail stripes be removed.  In this case the rudder was painted over in black.  If you look closely at photographs taken of U. S. aircraft which were active during this period many of the white stars show signs of overpainting.

The kit is the Academy E model Fortress.  I didn’t spend a lot of time detailing the interior of this one as very little can be seen inside.  I did replace the engines with Quickboost resin which look much better.  I also enclosed the wheelwells and added some detail there.  The big change which is needed is the kit comes with a ball turret in the belly, and the Fortresses which fought at Midway were all still equipped with the Sperry remote turret at the time (not the Bendix turret as most references erroneously state, which is different).  For this model I used a Kora resin belly turret and scratchbuilt the sighting blister for it.





















French Char 2C Super-Heavy Tank Description and Kit Review

The Char 2C was the result of a specification issued in 1916 by the General Headquarters of the French Army for a heavy breakthrough tank.  The tank was to be heavily armored and able to cross trenches 12 meters (13 feet) wide.  In 1918 the French ordered the manufacture of 300 units to be ready in time for the 1919 Spring offensive, but with the Armistice in November 1918 all urgency was removed.  Only ten Char 2C were eventually completed, the last being delivered to the French Army in 1923.

To this day, the Char 2C is arguably the largest production tank ever to enter military service.  With a weight of 76 tons (69 metric tonnes) and a length of almost 34 feet (10.3 meters) it is a monster.  The front and turret were protected with 35 mm armor, with 21 mm plate on the sides.  Maximum speed was 15 kph.

Being represented as “land battleships”, the tanks were numbered and named after regions of France.  These were 90 Poitou, 91 Provence, 92 Picardie, 93 Alsace, 94 Bretagne, 95 Touraine, 96 Anjou, 97 Normandie, 98 Berry, and 99 Champagne.  In the fall of 1939 Normandie was up-armored in an effort to render her immune to German guns and re-named Lorraine.  She emerged with frontal armor 90 mm thick and a weight of 84 tons (76 metric tonnes).

The Char 2C design had immense propaganda value for the French in the years between the wars, but by 1939 it was obsolete.  Despite their limitations, the ten Char 2C were mobilized to form the 51st Bataillon de Chars de Combat to defend against the German invasion.  Six of the tanks were immobilized by a fire while being transported by rail.  With no way to move the tanks, they were destroyed by their own crews to prevent them from falling into German hands.  One tank, the Champaigne, was captured intact by the Germans and returned to Berlin as a war prize.  The Char 2C never actually saw combat.

The Char 2C was armed with a 75mm ARCH 1897 gun in a rotating turret and four 8 mm machine guns, one in a rotating turret at the rear of the vehicle, one mounted in the forward hull, and in each side sponson.  The crew was twelve men.
Transportation was always a problem, so special railroad trucks were designed to help move the vehicles.  The trucks each had three axles and bolted directly onto the hull, using the structure of the tank for support.
Propulsion was provided by two 210 hp Chenu engines driving DC generators, which in turn powered an electric motor for each track.  The engines were later replaced with 250 hp Maybach engines which gave the tank a maximum speed of 15 kph (9.5 mph) over level ground.
The propaganda value of the huge tanks was not lost upon the French, film and photographs often showed them on maneuvers or crushing obsolete fortifications.
A fine study of Champagne in a three tone camouflage.  The complexity of her running gear is obvious, the complexity of her engineering system is implied.
The up-armored Lorraine.  With a frontal and turret armor of 90 mm, she would have been a very difficult opponent for German gunners.
Champaigne was captured intact by the Germans and returned to the Reich as a war prize.  The Germans took several photographs for propaganda purposes.  The inscription painted on the side reads Erbeutet PzRgt 10, which translates as “Captured (by) Panzer Regiment 10”.  Depending on the film used this inscription is either very visible as shown here, or very subtle.
In 1/72 scale the Char 2C is available in resin form from Ostmodels in Tasmania.  The kit comes packaged in a recloseable plastic bag.  Smaller parts are contained in a second bag.  The kit was packed well in a sturdy cardboard box and bubble wrap, and survived the trip to the USA with no apparent damage.  A list of Osmodels kits in 1/72 and 1/76 scale can be seen at the Henk of Holland website here:
Kits can be ordered by contacting Mr. Anker. J. Fuglsang by email at
This data sheet is provided, but no instructions.  Like the SMK reviewed last week I do not see this as a major obstacle for experienced modelers.
If there was a steam powered tank design I would expect it to look something like this.  Here are the parts laid out with an exacto knife for scale.  The main hull casting is 145 mm long or almost 6 inches.  This will be a big one!  Being cast in resin the parts count is mercifully low.  Some parts clean up will be required but that is not difficult nor unexpected.