Roden Sd. Kfz. 233 Stummel in 1/72 Scale

This is the Roden Sd. Kfz. 233 Stummel.  Roden has released a series covering the major 8-Rad variants.  Detail is a little soft on the exterior and sparse on the interior.  They also suffer from an overly complex breakdown of the suspension components, which are completely hidden behind the wheels in any case.  Some of the accessories such as the spare helmets and jerry cans are noticeably underscale.  All of that can be managed however, and the kits look good built up  Overall a nice kit.  The suspension is over-engineered and assembly is fiddly but it built up nicely.  When I placed the figures it was surprising just how small the fighting compartment must have been.




Screaming Eagle: Memoirs of a B-17 Group Commander Book Review


Screaming Eagle: Memoirs of a B-17 Group Commander

By Major General Dale O. Smith

Hardcover in dustjacket, 241 pages, illustrated

Published by Algonquin Books, April 1990

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0912697997

ISBN-13: 978-0912697994

Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 9 inches

Dale Smith was a Major leading a squadron of B-25 Mitchell medium bombers on the east coast of the United States when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on 07DEC41.  In the rush to do something, his B-25s were ordered to Mitchell Field to guard New York against attack by the Vichy French fleet.  The focus soon shifted to patrolling the coast in an effort to protect shipping against German submarines, a task for which neither the USAAF or the US Navy was prepared.  Gradually, effective counters to the submarine threat were introduced, and Smith, now a Colonel, was transferred to England to lead a group of B-17s.

Colonel Smith assumed command of the 384th Bomb Group (Heavy), based at Grafton Underwood, England.  The 384th was a “hard luck” outfit, having suffered from more than its share of losses and poor morale.  Smith went about improving life for the men on the base and increasing their efficiency while in the air.  Trivial as it may seem at first, the quality of the food always comes up as factor in these stories.

Most of the book is about Smith’s experiences leading the 384th and his efforts to make them an efficient bomb group.  He describes the difficulties in forming and maneuvering large formations of bombers while maintaining the protective combat boxes.  He was able to secure a lot more leave and liberty than I would have thought possible for a Commanding Officer in a combat command, and describes his adventures on the ground, both official and personal.  One sad note is his divorce while deployed to England.

Overall, a good read and an interesting perspective on the air war in Europe.  Smith went on to become a Major General.

Eduard MiG-15 Royal Class Build in 1/72 Scale Part III

One of my favorite parts of a build is painting, and the MiG-15 wore a wide variety of schemes for quite a number of air forces over its operational career.  I wanted to portray one of my MiGs in Soviet markings.  Surprisingly I had to search a bit for one in camouflage versus a natural metal finish.  Here is one in a segmented scheme.
This one is a little further along, having had decals applied and fully glossed up awaiting a sludge wash to highlight her panel lines.  This one depicts a nightfighter scheme in North Korean markings.  The upper surfaces are done in the same colors but a different pattern, the undersurfaces are in varied tones of “scale black”.  This one was the most fun to paint.
Here are the undersurfaces of the Soviet MiG showing the effects of staining and washes to highlight the panel lines.  The small “bustoffable” parts are in place but have not yet been painted.  I replaced the cannon barrels with Albion metal tubing, the pitot tube was also replaced with metal as otherwise I have a habit of breaking such things off when handling the model.
The finished product.  This is an early MiG-15.  The markings are from the kit, and are for the aircraft of a Soviet pilot flying in North Korean markings.  The pilot was Anatoliy Gogolev, credited with three victories.  The finish here is Alclad Dark Aluminum, sealed with a mixture of Testors Gloss and Dull Coat.
Here is the MiG-15bis in Soviet markings from Hi Decals, which performed perfectly.  The pilot in this case was Nikolay Shkodin who was credited with five victories.
This is another MiG-15bis, this time in a nightfighter scheme.  These markings are from H-Model decals, no problems with these decals either.  Pilot was I. P. Galyshevsky, who claimed a B-29.
Last is the MiG-15UTI trainer.  These are the Eduard kit markings for an Egyptian Air Force machine in service in the 1970 – 1980s.  No particular significance other than I liked the camouflage.

Tamiya P-47D Razorback in 1/72 Scale

This is Tamiya’s P-47D Razorback.  If you want a kit with no surprises, this is a good one to pick.  Everything fits and everything looks right.  I built this one OOB, I just added tape seatbelts and Nitenol antenna wires.  The markings are for the P-47D of Major Bill Dunham, CO of the 460th Fighter Squadron, 35th Fighter Group, Leyte, Philippines, December 1944.  Microscale decals were used for the markings, the black ID stripes were painted on.  This is an older sheet, patterned from Don Greer’s artwork on the cover of the first Squadron P-47 In Action book.  More recent research indicates several subtle differences in the paint and markings. Kill markings were overlaid with flags from the Eduard Hellcat decal sheet as these were much sharper.


Soviet SMK Heavy Tank Description and Kit Review

In 1937 the Soviets issued a specification to replace the T-35 five turreted heavy tank then in service with the Red Army.  The specification called for an armor thickness of 60 mm, and multiple turrets were in vogue with Soviet tank designers at the time.  The first drafts of the SMK design were equipped with three turrets, but this was reduced to two when it was calculated that a three turret design could not be sufficiently armored.

The SMK was armed with 76.2 mm L-11 and 45 mm M1932 guns in superimposed turrets, along with two 7.62 mm and one 12.7 mm machine guns.  Armor was 60 mm on the front, turrets, and sides, 55 mm on the upper surfaces.  A 850 hp gasoline engine could drive the SMK at a maximum speed of 22 mph (35 kph).  Overall weight was 60 tons, crew was seven.

The specification also produced two competing designs, the T-100 which was similar in layout having two superimposed turrets, and the more conventional KV-1 with a single turret.  The SMK prototype and two examples each of the T-100 and KV-1 designs were formed into a heavy company of the 91st Tank Battalion for combat trials.  The battalion saw action against the Finns near Summa on 17 – 19 December 1939.  During the operation one of the KV-1 prototypes was evacuated after a Finnish round disabled its gun and the SMK prototype ran over a mine and was immobilized.  Because of its size it eventually had to be abandoned.  The Finns made attempts to tow the SMK from the area but also lacked anything heavy enough to move the 60 ton vehicle.  When the Soviets secured the area in March 1940 they were finally able to recover the SMK, using six T-28 tanks.  The SMK was transported back to the Soviet Union by rail, stripped of useable equipment and eventually scrapped.  The KV-1 entered production as the Red Army’s new heavy tank.

The general layout of the SMK is seen in this view.  The 76 mm gun is in the upper turret, the 45 mm in the lower.
The extra turret required a long chassis, 8.75 meters or almost 29 feet.  Weight was 55,000 kg or 60 tons.  Eventually it was realized that the additional turret was rarely beneficial and the added weight could be better used on a single-turret tank with heavier armor.
Internal layout of the SMK was conventional, save for the second turret.  Ammunition capacity was generous with 150 rounds for the 76.2 mm and 300 rounds or 45 mm.  Almost 4,000 rounds were carried for the machine guns.
Here the immobilized SMK is being inspected by the Finns.  Recovery and field repair of disabled tanks is a problem, when the tank is unusually heavy it can become especially difficult.  Minor mechanical issues, easily fixed in a depot, often result in the loss of the tank if it cannot be successfully recovered.
In 1/72 scale the SMK 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.  I do not see this as an obstacle for experienced modelers, the type is generally similar to the KV-1 and conforms to expectations for what should go where.
Here are the parts laid out with an exacto knife for scale.  The main hull casting is 120 mm long or almost 5 inches.  This will be a big one!  Some parts clean up will be required but that is not difficult nor unexpected.  I am looking forward to building this one, expect a construction report soon!