Hasegawa SBD-3 Dauntless in 1/72 Scale

This is the Hasegawa SBD-3 kit in 1/72 scale.  The dive flaps are molded as solid pieces attached to the wing sections.  There’s really no way to get a decent appearance using the kit flaps, so they were replaced with Quickboost resin.  The cockpit is also resin, canopy sections are from Falcon.

The aircraft modeled is B-1 of VB-6 from the USS Enterprise (CV-6) during the Battle of Midway, 4 June 1942.  The crew was Lieutenant Richard H. Best and Chief Radioman James F. Murray.  This was one of only three SBDs which attacked Akagi, and Best was credited with scoring the only direct hit which led to her eventual loss.  Best was also credited with a hit on Hiryu later in the day, one of only two pilots to have hit two Japanese carriers during the battle.  Best was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions that day.








Scaled Composites Model 351 Stratolaunch “Roc”

On Saturday, 13 April 2019 an aviation record was broken.  Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose held the record of the largest aircraft to have ever flown for a whopping 71 years.  That record was broken by Scaled Composites’ Model 351 Stratolaunch “Roc”.  With a wingspan of 385 feet (117 meters), its wings are 64 feet (19.5 meters) longer than those of the Spruce Goose. The Antonov An-225 still holds the record for the heaviest aircraft to ever fly.  Film of the flight here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBSJEYq9vBg
Stratolaunch was funded by Microsoft Billionaire Paul Allen to perform aerial launches of orbital rockets.  The aircraft was constructed by Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites.  It is intended to be the “first stage” of a launch vehicle and is designed to carry up to a 550,000 lb (250,000 kg) external payload between the twin fuselages.
A number of orbital insertion vehicles were in design to be carried by the Roc, but all of the designs have ceased development except the Pegasus II.  These are the missile-like objects pictured on the left in the graphic above.  Three can be carried at a time.  The manned Dream Chaser spaceplane is another proposed payload.
To reduce developmental time and costs, Stratolaunch incorporated several proven systems used on Boeing 747s.  The engines are the same Pratt & Whitney PW4056 turbofans, six in total.  These provide the Roc with a maximum speed of 530 mph (853 kph).
The Roc carries a crew of three, all in the starboard fuselage.  The flight deck of the port fuselage is occupied by flight test instruments and avionics.  The cockpit instrumentation is off the shelf, sharing many of the same systems as the 747.
The landing gear components are also from the 747.  Twelve main wheels and two nose wheels are housed in each fuselage, for a total of twenty eight wheels in all.  Empty weight is 500,000 pounds, payload is 550,000 pounds, maximum take-off weight is 1,300,000 pounds (226,800 kg, 250,000 kg, and 589,700 kg, respectively).
The test flight lasted two and a half hours and was successful in all respects.  The current goal is to achieve an operational capability by 2022 for launching Pegasus orbital insertion vehicles.

Academy M26 Dragon Wagon Tank Transporter in 1/72 Scale

Academy’s M26 Dragon Wagon tank transporter.  It’s a big vehicle and a big kit – five sprues containing over 200 parts.  I added some detail, but really you could go on and on and on adding to this one.  This would be a challenge to bring up to full contest standards – there are ejector pin marks seemingly everywhere.  Some are deep, and many are in very bad locations.

There are few gotcha’s to warn you about.  The wheels on the tractor will not align without shimming one set out on each side.  I discovered this after the glue had set on mine and had to saw them back off again.  There is a small capstan on the starboard side of the upper winch.  This is provided, but not called for in the instructions.  Likewise, there is a snatchblock provided, I located mine on the centerline of the sloped part forward of the trailer bed.  The items rigged to the beam davit are supposed to be suspended with chain, I cut all the weird bowed supports off and replaced them with railroad chain from the LHS to form a chainfall hoist.  And last, those darn ejector pin marks!  The bed is covered with them!  I filled them with Mr. Surfacer as best I could, and covered what I could with the accessories stored on the bed.  Thankfully there were quite a few of these bits to go around.






Never Call Me a Hero: A Legendary American Dive-Bomber Pilot Remembers the Battle of Midway Book Review


Never Call Me a Hero: A Legendary American Dive-Bomber Pilot Remembers the Battle of Midway

by  N. Jack “Dusty” Kleiss with Timothy and Laura Orr

Hardcover in dustjacket, 336 pages, illustrated

Published by William Morrow May 2017

Language: English

ISBN-10: 9780062692054

ISBN-13: 978-0062692054

Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches


The history of war is filled with epic battles, with tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of men sometimes fighting for days.  The outcomes often decide the fates of nations and alter the course of history.  Surprisingly, the difference between victory or defeat often hinges on a single decision of a leader or the actions of a few men during a crucial moment.  “Dusty” Kleiss was one such man who was in exactly the right place at exactly the right time with exactly the right skills to win an improbable victory for his nation.

LTJG Kleiss was an SBD Dauntless dive bomber pilot with Scouting Six flying from the USS Enterprise (CV-6).  During the pivotal battle of Midway on 4  June 1942 approximately three hundred US aircraft from three aircraft carriers and Midway Island attacked the four Japanese carriers, dropping hundreds of bombs and torpedoes.  Many crews were lost.  In spite of all that effort and sacrifice, only thirteen bombs actually hit the Japanese carriers, all of them dropped by Dauntless pilots from the Yorktown and the Enterprise.  “Dusty” Kleiss hit two of the carriers, first Kaga and then Hiryu in a later strike.  On the 6th he also hit the damaged heavy cruiser Mikuma.  All three Japanese ships were sunk.  Another Enterprise SBD pilot, LT Dick Best of VB-6, scored hits on the carriers Akagi and Hiryu.  Between them, Kleiss and Best were responsible for 30% of the hits on the Japanese carriers during the Battle of Midway.

Never Call Me a Hero is Kleiss’ story.  While the Battle of Midway is the obvious focal point of the book, it also examines his early life and education, along with service in the surface fleet before flight school.  He also details Enterprise’s participation in the raids against Japanese held islands prior to Midway which are every bit as interesting as the pivotal battle itself.  A major subplot throughout is Kleiss’ courtship of Eunice “Jean” Mochon, whom he was to marry while on leave after Midway.  An interesting insight into the times.

Highly recommended.




“Hello, my name is Jeff, and I’m a bibliophile.”  “{Hi Jeff!}”

Friend of the blog and all around good guy David Knights often says that he is a librarian who also builds models.  I can relate.  From my perspective, research, collecting books, and building models are all just extensions of the same hobby.  They all flow together and you can’t have one without the others.  If you’ve browsed around this blog at all (and it’s all David’s fault, he encouraged this) you will see it’s all about modeling, history, and books.  And modeling research, historical books, and historical modeling museum references … and so on.

Well today we’ll be going off on a tangent, just a bit.  Friday posts are usually modeling works in progress.  This one will be about book-related works in progress.  For the last couple of weeks the project has been constructing bookcases.  Ten new bookcases, to be exact.  Surprisingly, not my idea either.  She Who Must Be Obeyed (SWMBO) made the observation that I had acquired books in excess of my shelving capacity, and books shouldn’t be stacked on the floor, and we should get new flooring.  To put the bookcases on, of course.  See how that works?

This is not the first time I have built bookcases.  The first bookcases were built when we were expecting.  I had purchased a few bookcases from the department store, ready to assemble, made of pressed wood fiber and laminated paper.  Adequate, but not very robust.  In a rare fit of foresight I observed that bookcases resemble ladders, kids like to climb, and the mass of a falling bookcase full of books greatly exceeds the mass of a small (formerly climbing) child.  So I set out to construct a means of protecting both books and offspring.  The design proved to be sturdy, stable, and relatively easy to produce.

The final product is a bookcase with three fixed and five positionable shelves.  Dimensions are 8′ 3/4″ height, 33″ width, and 12 3/4″ depth.  I will apologize for not also stating dimensions in the much more sensible SI units.  The English system is still used here in the US, so all our lumber is sold in feet and inches.  All of the dimensions for the pieces I cut were determined by what could be made efficiently from the lumber available.


One 4′ x 8′ sheet 3/4″ Oak laminate plywood

One 4′ x 8′ sheet 1/4″ Oak laminate plywood

Two 1″ x 6″ x 8′ Oak boards

One 1″ x 4″ x 8′ Oak board

Twenty shelf pins

Wood glue, nails, filler, finishes of your choosing

Note: This will leave you two shelves short.  Depending on how many cases are being built at once there are several options to efficiently buy the remaining material needed to complete the job.

First, a general view of the garage, set up as a wood shop.  A good table saw is a must.  A router is also handy.  The first step is to rip the 3/4″ plywood into two 12″ wide strips for the vertical sides, a 12″ strip for the top and bottom fixed shelves, and another 10 1/2″ wide strip for the other shelves.
These are the sides being worked.  The grooves are for setting the central fixed shelf.  This shelf helps stabilize the width of the case and makes everything more solid.  The grooves are inset 1/4″ and are 36″ from the base.  Holes are drilled for shelf pins for the movable shelves.  You can drill as many of these as you want to accommodate the various heights of books in your collection and to allow the shelves to be adjusted.
The bottom shelf will be supported by the small blocks of plywood scrap.  These are 4 3/4″ in height.  The backs of each side board have been grooved to accept the 1/4″ laminated backing board.  There is also a section routered out at the bottoms to fit around the baseboard.
A general view of some of the components cut down and ready to go.  Many of the 1″ x 6″ boards have been cut into 1 1/4″ wide strips to serve as trim and backing on the front of the cases and on shelves.  The actual dimensions of the original boards are 3/4″ x 5 1/2″ , not the nominal  1″ x 6″.  The difference is lost to finishing at the mill.  Each 3/4″ x 5 1/2″ board will yield four 1 1/4″ strips.
The major components of the case frame which determine the width of the case are ready to assemble.  The piece in the center is plywood scrap 4 3/4″ wide and 31 1/2″ long, it sets the width at the bottom and helps support the lowest shelf.  The fixed shelf in the middle is 32″ wide and 10 1/2″ deep.  It has a section of 1 1/4″ wide trim strip on the front and the back  31 1/2″ in length.  The top strip is 3 1/2″ wide and 32″ long and is inset into 1/4″ deep grooves on each side.
This is an end view of the fixed shelf, the movable shelves are similar in construction.  The trim strips on either side add a considerable amount of strength and keep the shelf from bending under the weight of the books.  Each strip is notched 1/4″ deep.  The front strip is rounded off with the router.  There are five positionable shelves and three fixed shelves in each bookcase, for a total of eight.  Depending on ceiling height the tops may not be usable in every room.
Each of the three center pieces is clamped in place and checked for width.  The width must be 33″ at each point for the movable shelves to fit properly.  When everything has been trimmed the components are glued and nailed in place.  The square on the side is used to help locate the alignment for nailing the center shelf.
The top strip is set 1/4″ lower to allow clearance for the backing plywood.  This strip is important for the stability of the bookcase.  Screws are drilled through this piece into the wall studs, this anchors the case and prevents it from toppling over.  Note the row of completed cases against the wall in the background.
The bottom and top shelf are added in this view.  The top shelf is 33″ wide, the bottom is 31 1/2″.  Both of these start at 12″ in depth, but the bottom shelf has another 1/4″ removed to allow for the backing.  All the other shelves are 11 1/2″ deep with the trim boards added.
The 1/4″ Oak laminate backing has been added.  The case is aligned with the edges of the work table to ensure that it is square.  The backing is glued and nailed in place with small wire brads.  Once the back is in place the case becomes very rigid.
Here the case has been flipped and the front trim is being added.  The lower piece is 5 1/2″ wide, the other pieces are 1 1/4″.  The side pieces have been pre-routered along most of their length, if you wait to do this until after they are added to the case the center shelf will interfere with the router guide.
With the top and bottom trim pieces routered the case can be sanded and finished.  The trim pieces overlap the ends of the movable shelves which prevents them from being pulled out.