Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftrack Base Construction in 1/72 Scale

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I never know what to call these – bases, dioramas, or vignettes. The modeling definitions differ from what is described in the dictionary, and IPMS has imposed rather arbitrary criteria of their own for show categories which has resulted in some humorous anecdotes. Personally I think basing a model adds a lot to the presentation but I am usually so eager to start the next build that I skip the base entirely and move on. This time I decided to resist that impulse. Here is the start – a 4.5” x 12” (11.4 x 30.5 cm) section of Oak trim from the hardware store with some strips glued in the corner to vary the terrain.

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I also picked up some spackle to shape the groundwork. This type really is lighter than you would expect, likely microballoons are part of the mix.

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The spackle is spread over the base and smoothed. After letting it set up a bit I made tire tracks by rolling some spare wheels over the road area and then added track marks by pressing the model into the mix. I also made sure to press the model into the groundwork where it will be located in the final scene. The dirt color was mixed from several old bottles of acrylic paints – at last I found a use for them. There is a crack in the spackle despite what the label says, fortunately in a place which will be covered by weeds.

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These trees are made by twisting the wire in lamp cord. This was my first time trying this method, I found it an enjoyable exercise. I printed pictures of bare trees so I could be reminded of what I was trying to achieve. The solder on the trunk of the tree to the right didn’t work well, the copper wire dissipated the heat too quickly. In the end I used CA to bond the wires which did work.

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Here are the trees after two coats of Mr. Surfacer 500, a coat of RLM 02, and wash of Tamiya black wash. I applied all that with a brush, I think it would go better with an airbrush next time. These trees are roughly 4” (10 cm) in height, more or less.

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I made a few smaller trees as well, these are roughly 1.5” (3 cm) or so. The “foliage” is from Woodland Scenics, commonly used by model railroaders. I have accumulated quite a variety of their products over the years, fueled by a combination of clearance sales and my over-active ambitions.

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Here is a corner landscaped with various Woodland Scenics turfs and bushes. The brighter green grass tufts are another model railroad product from Bachman, these are the 6 mm size tufts.

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The vertical element of this base is provided by one of the larger trees. When trees grow in isolation they tend to spread out their branches like this one, in groups they grow higher but more narrowly

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Preiser figures are really nice but hard to find, I’ve had this set for awhile and have been looking for a good excuse to use it. There are twelve figures in this set and an abundance of head and equipment options so it will not be difficult to make each figure unique.

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An assortment of figures pinned to sprues and primed for painting. These are a mix of Preiser, Caesar, CMK, and modified artillerymen from the Italeri howitzer kit. Figures are difficult to paint well in 1/72 scale so I have been haunting wargaming blogs and boards looking to pick up some tips. No substitute for practice though!

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The finished scene incorporates vehicles and figures onto the base. I prefer figures in casual poses, it is much more common to be attending to basic maintenance or daily routine activities than charging into combat. I have made a base for each of my three recently completed FAMOs, each with trees of different heights and various numbers of figures to give the IPMS judges some fun deciding if they are dioramas or vignettes!

Vought OS2U Kingfisher Color Photographs Part II

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A training Kingfisher being refueled at NAS Corpus Christy while the pilot waits to board. The uppersurfaces of this Kingfisher have been camouflaged in Blue Gray but the float is Aluminum. Also unusual is the absence of fuselage insignia.  A pair of Consolidated P2Ys are on the water in the background.

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Ground crew wait beside a Kingfisher in the pre-war Yellow Wings scheme which was Aluminum Dope overall with Orange Yellow upper wing surfaces. They wear immersion suits to protect them from hypothermia.

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Another OS2U in the Yellow Wings scheme. Note that the aircraft number 32 is repeated on the cowling and on the fuselage. It is hard to imagine much of a conversation over the roar of the engine.

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Even in the middle of the war, many Kingfishers assigned to training duties had their upper wing surfaces painted Orange Yellow to make them more visible in case of emergency. This could be vital in the event of an aircraft downed at sea, as the fuselage and float color seen here demonstrate the effectiveness of the Blue Gray camouflage.

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A section of Kingfishers warm up their engines in preparation for a training sortie. Diorama builders should note the various designs of boarding ladders in these photographs.

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A beautiful study of a Kingfisher with beaching gear, which are detachable wheels which allowed an OS2U on floats to be hauled up a ramp onto shore. This aircraft wore camouflage but carried Orange Yellow upper wing surfaces, as can also be seen displayed on the aircraft in the background.

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A section of three taxiing for a water take-off. The weight of these aircraft is carried by the center float, the stabilizing floats on the wings are all clear of the water.

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The graded camouflage scheme was introduced in January 1943 and consisted of Sea Blue upper surfaces, Intermediate Blue sides, and White undersurfaces.

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A beautiful shot of two Kingfishers in early war markings preparing for patrol. This picture gives an excellent view of the beaching gear and bomb shackles under each wing.

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A Kingfisher heads down to the water from a Marston mat ramp in the Aleutians. The red outline to the national insignia was only authorized for a short time during the summer of 1943. This aircraft, like many in the Aleutians, carried non-standard insignia as the markings on the upper starboard wing were directed to have been removed several months earlier. The white stripes on the tail surfaces are theater markings.

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Instrument panel and cockpit details of a museum aircraft. Note the size and color of the pilot’s lap belt.

Planet Model Resin Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftrack in 1/72 Scale

This is Planet Model’s kit number MV 024, a multimedia kit released in 2002.  Detail parts are provided on a small photoetch sheet and tracks are rubber.  There is a low parts count as the chassis frame and running gear are simplified which is readily apparent when viewing the underside but not obvious from normal viewing angles.  I used most of the Black Dog resin set on this one and tried my hand at blending with oils on the canvas parts.

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Under a Blood Red Sun Book Review

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Under a Blood Red Sun: The Remarkable Story of PT Boats in the Philippines and the Rescue of General MacArthur

By John J. Domagalski

Hardcover in dustjacket, 304 pages, appendices, notes, bibliography, and index

Published by Casemate, October 2016

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1612004075

ISBN-13: 978-1-61200-407-5

Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.1 inches

At the beginning of World War Two the U.S. Navy had three Motor Torpedo Boat Squadrons (MTBRON) deployed in the Pacific.  MTBRON One was assigned to Pearl Harbor, MTBRON Two was assigned to the Panama Canal Zone, and MTBRON Three was assigned to the Philippines.  Lieutenant John D. Bulkeley was the Commanding Officer of Squadron 3’s six Elco 77’ torpedo boats.  The Japanese attacked the Philippines on 08DEC41 local time, destroying much of the U.S. airpower.  U.S. and Philippine forces never recovered from the initial Japanese strikes and fought on the back foot for the next six months until the end of organized resistance.

Under a Blood Red Sun is the story of Bulkeley’s MBTRON 3, told against the backdrop of the overall battle of the Philippines.  In many ways the story of the PT boats parallels the stories of the aviation groups at the beginning of the Pacific War – lack of support, lack of supplies, worn out or defective equipment, and always fighting a delaying action against superior enemy forces.  In many ways mechanical issues and uncharted coral reefs were more formidable opponents than the Japanese, more boats were sidelined for operational issues than battle damage.  The determination and ingenuity required to repeatedly overcome these mechanical issues and put the boats back into service is every bit as interesting as the combat actions.

The best-known PT Boat exploit of the campaign was the evacuation of General MacArthur and his staff from Corregidor to Mindanao in March 1942.  From there the General’s party was to fly out of Del Monte on B-17s for Australia.  After the evacuation Bulkeley’s remaining boats were to continue the fight against the Japanese, a mission which was to proceed until attrition and lack of replacement parts had rendered the squadron ineffective.  At that point the surviving personnel joined other commands until forced to surrender, a lucky few making their way out of the Philippines to Australia or continuing on as guerillas.

Bulkeley was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross for his actions during the campaign.  A fictionalized account of MTBRON Three’s actions was dramatized in John Ford’s 1945 Hollywood film “They Were Expendable”.  Under a Blood Red Sun is a more factual assessment of the PT boat’s actions, where unreliable torpedoes, contaminated fuel supplies, and accidental groundings are as great a foe as the Japanese.  I found this book enlightening and an enjoyable read, and have no hesitation in recommending it to others.

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2020 Year in Review

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

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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!