2020 Year in Review

“May you live in interesting times.” – ancient Chinese curse

Gingerbread
2020 in the form of a gingerbread house.

Oddly for a method of telling time, the positioning of our new year is arbitrary from a physical perspective and should have no actual bearing on earthly events, but here’s hoping for a better 2021 anyway!

I’ll look for the “win” here even if it is minor: We modelers are fortunate to have an inherently solitary hobby in these times.  Overall modeling appears to have picked up, Hornsby (parent company of Airfix) is reporting profits for the first time in years.  Modeling podcasts have come into their own and make bench time even more enjoyable.

The biggest void from a modeling perspective in my opinion is the cancellation of the shows.  I usually attend half a dozen per year and they are always a fine day out, with friends, new kits, and getting to see the work of hundreds of fellow modelers.  Also missing was the Half Price Books annual clearance sale where literally semi-truck loads of books are sold at ridiculously low prices at the state fairgrounds.

On a different note, perhaps the most interesting story of the year received very little attention – the U.S. government admitted that it was studying materials retrieved from vehicles of extraterrestrial origin.  Another commentary on the year 2020.

Blog Statistics and News

2020 was the second complete year for the Inch High Guy blog.  I am happy to report that I again managed to make a post each day, so 366 posts due to the leap year.  The blog received 73,992 views and 26,731 visitors, up from 27,174 views and 7,303 visitors last year.  The most popular post was “Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Interior Colors Part I” with 1,857 views, followed by “The B-17E and the Myth of the Bendix Ventral Turret” with 1,116 views.  Forts appear to be popular around here!

Link:  https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2019/09/11/b-17-flying-fortress-interior-colors-part-i/

Link: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2018/11/18/the-b-17e-and-the-myth-of-the-bendix-ventral-turret/

I am still struggling with the counter-intuitive Word Press editor, and that was only made worse with the introduction of the Word Press “Block Editor” in September.  This eliminated some useful functions while re-naming and moving others, with no apparent improvements on the user end.  On a more positive note, I did finally locate the tagging function and busied myself adding tags to all posts old and new.

I have linked several posts on ScaleMates, where the walk-around posts of museum aircraft have proved to be the most popular.  The Women Warriors posts have found a following with wargamers over on The Miniatures Page, among others.  I had intended for these pictures to tell their own stories, but there have been a few requests for captions.  Easier said than done with the modern-era photos as information ranges from obvious to impossible-to-determine, but there may be hope for the historical pictures.

Models Built in 2020

Forty-seven completions, twenty-nine aircraft and eighteen vehicles.  In addition I painted fifteen figures (plus one dog) and constructed three diorama bases. Everything was built to 1/72 scale as is my preference.  The mosaic has a picture of each build, if you want to see more finished pictures or the construction posts just follow the tags at the bottom of this post or enter the descriptions in the search bar in the upper right column.

Hasegawa Kawanishi Kyofu (Rex) x 2

Tamiya Kawanishi N1K1 Shiden (George)

Aoshima Kawanishi N1K1 Shiden (George)

MPM Kawanishi N1K1 Shiden (George)

Hasegawa Kawanishi Shiden Kai (George) x 2

Hasegawa Mitsubishi Raiden (Jack)

Fujimi Aichi B7A1 Ryusei (Grace)

LS Yokosuka K5Y Akatombo (Willow)

AZ Yokosuka K5Y Akatombo (Willow)

Special Hobby Curtiss P-40 Warhawk x 5

Tamiya Republic P-47D Thunderbolt

Airfix Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress conversion to B-17E x 2

RPM Hotchkiss H35 French Light Tank

RAF Bomber Supply Set x 2 (6 vehicles)

IBG Chevrolet C15A Personnel Lorry

Monogram Boeing F4B-4 x 2

Rare Bits Boeing F4B-1 Conversion

Monogram Curtiss F11C-2 Goshawk

Matchbox Boeing P-12E x 2

Czech Master Resin Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawk

Plastic Soldier StuG III Ausf. G Assault Gun x 3

Trumpeter StuG III Ausf. G Assault Gun

Revell Heinkel He 177A-5 Greif

Revell Junkers Ju 88P-1 Conversion

Hasegawa Heinkel He 111H-20

Italeri 15 cm Field Howitzer sFH 18

Trumpeter Sd.Ah.116 Tank Transporter

Zvezda Panzer IV Ausf. H

Planet Models Resin Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftrack

Revell Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftrack

Trumpeter Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftrack

Forward

Arma hobby has just announced a P-51 B/C Mustang in 1/72. The computer renders look good and show areas such as the wing leading edge and wheel well openings which have given other manufacturers problems appear to have been rendered properly. Here’s hoping! Every previous B/C in 1/72 scale has had some major shape issue so an accurate new tool kit has been at the top of many modeler’s wish lists for many years now. The early Mustangs, if done well, are sure to be a hit and a license to print money for Arma so here’s wishing for a successful release!

In more local news Ms. Inch High put a Creality LD-002R 3-D resin printer under the Christmas tree this year. These are very useful if you know what you’re doing, which I don’t at this point. Hopefully I will soon though, and I look forward to printing something useful. It is an amazing technology to have sitting on the bench. For all the talk of “Death of the Hobby” in some circles, I have yet to see any hint of it from here.

I have enjoyed putting this together, and have enjoyed hearing from other modelers and discovering other blogs.  A big thank you to all who have visited here, commented, followed, and especially those who have posted links.  

May you all live long enough to build every model in your stash!

Academy Boeing B-17E “Pacific Theater” Kit Marking Options

Academy has re-released their venerable Boeing B-17E, this time in a USAAF B-17E “Pacific Theater” boxing. The molds appear to be holding up well, and represent a B-17E with the Sperry manned ball turret in the belly.  What is new is the decal sheet, printed by Cartograph.  This includes an instrument panel and seatbelts for the interior, stenciling, and markings for eight 500lb bombs – although the bomb markings are not called out in the instructions.  Markings for four different aircraft are included.

AcademyB17EBoxAcademyB17EDecals

Jane[1]
First is 41-2440 “Calamity Jane”. This Fortress was initially assigned to the 19th Bombardment squadron operating from Australia.  For this portion of her service she was fitted with the Sperry remote ventral turret and did not carry nose art.  In November of 1942 she was transferred to the 5th BG operating from Guadalcanal, and about this time she was refitted with a Sperry manned ball turret and received her nose art.  She got her name because she was damaged by Navy aircraft taking off from Nandi, and was repaired using parts salvaged from another Fortress damaged in the “calamity”.  She survived her combat service and returned to the States in March of 1944.  Here is a photo of the original Calamity Jane nose art.  The work of a talented artist.
calamity-jane[1]
A later version of the nose art. This time Jane has been provided with a shirt, likely for her return Stateside.  This is the version of the artwork included in Academy’s decals.

412458_YankeDiddler
Next is 41-2458 “Yankee Diddl’er”. This Fortress had a long service history, first serving with the 19BG from Java and Australia, then with the 43BG.  In November of 1943 she was converted to an armed transport and served in that capacity until she was scrapped in January of 1945.  Like Calamity Jane, she was originally fitted with the Sperry remote belly turret which was later replaced with the manned ball turret.  Modelers should note that the remote turret installation included six scanning windows around the sighting blister which are not represented by the Academy kit and will have to be added, even if modeling a ship refitted with the ball turret.  “Wouldn’t it root ya” is Australian slang and was considered quite risque, but much photographed.  Academy’s decals do not recognize flesh tones, in both cases the skin on the pin-up art is rendered as white.

http://ww2db.com/
This photograph of 41-2458 taking off from Seven Mile Drome reveals a rather serious and glaring omission from Academy’s markings – the large “U.S. ARMY” lettering under the wing is not included. This was applied under the wings of all Fortresses produced until April of 1942, when the practice was dropped to make production more efficient.  Modelers who want to make an accurate replica may find the necessary markings included in Starfighter Decals USMC/USAAF at Midway sheet.

419227_YankeeDoodleJr
41-9227 Was named “Yankee Doodle Jr.” She was produced with the Sperry ball turret as original equipment and left the Boeing factory in May of 1942 after the practice of applying the “U.S. ARMY” lettering under the wings had stopped.  Therefore, this is the only aircraft with accurate markings and configuration of the four in this boxing.  Yankee Doodle Jr.  crashed on take off from Espiritu Santo in December 1942.

TachikawaB17E
The last marking option is a Fortress captured by the Japanese at Java and flown to Japan for evaluation. The Japanese were able to assemble two B-17E from the wreckage.  The decals for this one include six very nice Hinomaru and the Tachikawa “eagle” tail insignia.  Modelers will need to do some work on this one as she carried the Sperry remote belly turret, sighting blister, and scanning windows.  An excellent article by Robert Mikesh on the Fortresses captured by Japan can be found here:  http://www.historynet.com/japans-fleet-flying-forts.htm

So all in all a mixed bag. This is a Cartograph sheet and so there are no technical errors in the quality or resolution of the production.  The bomb markings are a nice touch and are often omitted so they are a very welcome even without mention in the instructions.  On the negative side the lack of the U.S. ARMY markings for under the wings is a very disappointing omission, as is the lack of flesh tones on both pin-ups.  If accuracy is a concern, modelers will need to go to the aftermarket for decals if they want to build either Calamity Jane or Yankee Diddl’er, and will need to fabricate a Sperry remote turret installation for the captured Japanese Fortress.