Today we’re having a slightly different post in honor of Star Wars Day. This is the actual movie model of the Tantive IV, Princess Leia’s Rebel blockade runner from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. This is the first Star Wars ship to be seen in the films, famously fleeing from an Imperial Star Destroyer right after the opening text scrawl. You can make a strong case that the Star Wars film ships are the most viewed models ever built. An interesting bit of trivia is that this Tantive IV model is smaller than the Star Destroyer model used in filming, even though the Star Destroyer represents a much larger ship in the film.
Star Wars was innovative in that many of the models were weathered and “battle damaged”, unlike the squeaky clean ships of other franchises. Truly the work of some very talented builders. If you look closely you can identify some familiar shapes and patterns, the builders made extensive use of components from plastic kits.
Happy Star Wars Day, May the Fourth be with you!
This is Hasegawa’s 1/72 scale F-14A. It can be built up into an accurate representation of the original, but it suffers from fit problems. The mold is beginning to show it’s age, some flash is present and ejector pins are not seating flush. Although most of the pins are located on the inner surfaces, many are now prominent enough to interfere with fit and have to be removed. Fortunately Fine Molds has recently released a new-tool Tomcat, I’ll give that one a shot for all my future F-14 needs.
Hasegawa has a rather annoying business plan of leaving the armament off of their jets and selling the weapons separately. Their Weapons Set V has no Phoenix, but enough Sparrows & Sidewinders for a full load. Fortunately two Phoenix were generously provided by a fellow modeler (thanks Sjaak!) The kit does have a TARPS pod & drop tanks. I also used True Details ejection seats, Aires exhausts, and Eduard PE. Decals are a special job from Fightertown Decals, and depict Wichita 14, F-14A BuNo 159000 of VF-1, embarked on the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) in 1975.
The story of this build started with a phone call from Michael Smith, Director of the Museum at the Academy of Model Aeronautics headquartered in Muncie, Indiana. The museum was building a display honoring a long-time RC modeler and their PR Ambassador named Robert “Hoot” Gibson. In addition to flying radio control models, Gibson was an professional aviator and the museum wanted to include a selection of models of aircraft he had actually flown, and would I have time to paint a few of them? “Sure”, I said, “What have you got?”
Hoot Gibson is not an ordinary pilot. He is not even an extraordinary pilot. Hoot Gibson is the kind of pilot extraordinary pilots want to be when they grow up. He flew F-4 Phantoms from the USS Coral Sea, and F-14s from the USS Enterprise. He flew more than 300 types of aircraft as a Navy Test Pilot. He raced several types at Reno and won the Gold Unlimited Race in 2015. He was a commercial airline pilot, and holds records for homebuilt aircraft. And he has flown on the Space Shuttle five times, four times as Commander. The Museum needed two 1/18 scale F-14s repainted and marked as Hoot’s Tomcat and a wingman, and paint on a 1/48 scale model of the Space Shuttle Atlantis scratchbuilt by their staff. I was in.
I got to meet Gibson at the dedication for the display. He is soft-spoken, quiet and composed. He was taken by his F-14, could we possibly do another for him? No question. Michael delivered the third model to Hoot during a signing event at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. Hoot wasted no time assembling the components and the model sat on the signing table for the rest of the event.
Having repainted three Tomcats in 1/18 scale and a Shuttle in 1/48, I thought it was high time I built something in The One True Scale which I could keep for myself. Hoot returned to the Museum to recover his Shuttle flight suit and RC F-16 among other items. He was gracious enough to sign the display base for my model at that time. Hoot’s 1/18 scale model hangs over his desk in his home, mine in 1/72 scale has a place of honor in my display case.
This is Dragon’s LVT-(A)1 amphibious tank. This is an outstanding kit, it went together easily with no drama. There are several methods manufacturers use to produce tracks and I still struggle with them all. The one exception I have found are Dragon’s tracks. They look great, they fit, and they respond to model glues.
The kit gives you the option of PE shields for the machine gun stations. The plastic parts looked thin enough, so I skipped fiddling with the brass. The only thing I replaced on this kit were the grab bars and pad eyes. The kit ones looked great, but I figured they would be a pain to clean up, and I would likely break or lose several as the build progressed.
Imperial Roman Warships 27 BC–193 AD, New Vanguard 230
by Raffaelle D’Amato, illustrated by Giuseppe Rava
Series: New Vanguard Book 230
Paperback, 48 pages
Published by Osprey Publishing January 2016
Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.2 x 9.5 inches
Imagine taking any major navy and attempting to describe every type of warship they operated over a two hundred year time span, using terms specific to that navy and the various types of vessel. Now add in an overview of the campaigns in which they participated, with names of places and commanders which are likely new to the reader. Then take all that information and condense it into a format which only allows 48 pages for text and illustrations.
The result is a confusing jumble of unfamiliar terms. While it is apparent D’Amato has mastered the subject, the narrative is bewildering and ungrounded, the story just does not flow. I found myself confused by the over use of Roman terms and names, and never did gain a clear understanding of the specifics of the many types of vessels described, nor what drove their development. The advantages of one type over another is unclear, and the factors which determined their tactical employment and suitability is a mystery.
If you are well versed in Roman battles, geography, generals, and naval terms, then this may be a useful overview. If you are looking to gain an understanding of the Roman navy but are not already familiar with the topic, you will find this book confusing.