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!

Dive Bomber & Ground Attack Units of the Luftwaffe Vol 1 Book Review

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Dive Bomber & Ground Attack Units of the Luftwaffe, A Reference Source, Volume 1

By Henry L. de Zeng IV and Douglas G. Stankey

Hardcover in dustjacket, 208 pages, profusely illustrated

Published by Crecy Publishing November 2009

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1906537089

ISBN-13: 978-1906537081

Dimensions: 9.0 x 0.8 x 12.0 inches

This book is billed as a reference source, and it is exactly as it claims.  It is not intended to be a design history or a typical unit diary, although there are elements of both present.  It is organized in the same format as the authors’ previous works on Luftwaffe Bomber Units.

The first chapters are devoted to the development of the dive bomber and ground attack concepts in the German Luftwaffe.  This was promoted by Ernst Udet using two Curtiss F-11C-2 Hawks which were brought to Germany from America, and interest in the dive-bombing concept resulted in the design of the Ju 87 Stuka.  Jabo tactics and bomb loads used against various types of targets during the Second World War are then described.  Factory drawings and detail photographs are presented to familiarize the reader with two of the more important types, the Junkers Ju 87 and Henschel Hs 129.

The remainder of the book consists of individual unit histories.  These are broken down by period or major action, and catalog the activities and losses of the unit.  Specifics of targets and losses are given along with dates.  Sources, both published and unpublished, are given at the end of each chapter.  These sections are well illustrated and captioned.  Unit badges are presented as color artwork, these and other markings are frequently the subjects of the photographs.  There are also short biographies of notable figures presented with their units.

Most of the units in Volume 1 were equipped with the Stuka, although there are a few units which utilized the Henschel Hs 123 biplanes and twin engined Hs 129.  While not a casual read, there is a wealth of information here for the researcher, and it is well worth picking up by the Luftwaffe enthusiast for the photographs and unit badges.

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Monogram Curtiss F11C-2 Goshawk in 1/72 Scale

This is the Monogram kit from 1968.  Even though it is over fifty years old the kit still compares well to recent releases, featuring some very nice surface detail and clever engineering which ensures correct alignment and easy construction.  I dressed this one up with a resin cockpit from Starfighter Decals, and also used their sheet 72-107 for the markings.  The aircraft is BuNo 9363 assigned to VF-1B “Tophatters” aboard the USS Saratoga (CV-3) in 1933.

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Monogram Curtiss F11C-2 Goshawk Build in 1/72 Scale

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The Monogram Curtiss F11C-2 Goshawk is certainly one of those kits which has earned the description of “classic”.  It was first released in 1968 and is still a good kit even by the standards of today.  I built one of these in my misspent youth and even have a few surviving parts in my spares bin to prove it, so for me this has the double benefit of being a nostalgia build and a good tool.

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The kit features a low parts count but some really clever engineering.  The center struts and the landing gear legs are molded as part of the fuselage which ensures both strength and proper alignment.  Sadly this innovation was not widely copied in the decades which followed, an opportunity missed by multiple manufacturers to produce biplane kits which were easier and less frustrating to build.

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The underside of the top wing reveals a problem which must be addressed – there are a dozen ejector pin marks which require filling on this piece alone.  This is not a deal-breaker but it does result in the loss of some of the fine surface texture which represents the fabric covering.  Here I have filled the offending depressions with Mr. Surfacer 500.

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Starfighter has giving these old kits some welcome aftermarket support in the form of resin accessories and decals.  Here is the Starfighter cockpit set installed in the fuselage.  The kit is from the era when a pilot figure was all the interior you were expected to need so this set is most welcome.

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A shot of paint and the interior is ready to go.  The lack of a cockpit interior is really the only thing which the kit lacks compared to a more recent tooling.

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The lower wing is a single piece which incorporates the center section of the lower fuselage.  This results in a strong foundation and eliminates another potential alignment problem.  I sanded off the molded-in braces for the drop tank on the belly.  The seam at the lower wing was filled with Perfect Plastic Putty.

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Here is a view in the middle of the masking marathon.  Often even the simplest schemes require several colors.

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These are the decals I’ll be using, Starfighter sheet 72-107.  This set contains markings for two F11C-2 and four BFC-2.  The main difference between the two is the shape of the upper fuselage behind the cockpit.  Starfighter makes the resin conversion piece required to make the BFC-2, but for this build I stuck with the fighter version.  Starfighter Decals here:  https://www.starfighter-decals.com/

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Here are the markings on the model.  The decals went on without any drama and are a nice improvement over the kit decals.

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The kit wheels feature a nice distinct groove which separates the wheel from the tire.  This is a prefect piece to demonstrate the benefits of using capillary action to paint wheels.  Just thin the tire color and let the thinner draw the paint around the groove.  Once the color separation has been established, fill in the tire with a thicker mix of paint and even out the appearance.  The paint will flow where you need it.

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Rigging was done with 0.004” Nitenol wire glued in place with Micro Liquitape.  This view shows off the detail on the kit engine which is a fine piece, I washed it with Tamiya Panel Line Wash to bring out the detail.

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Even though this kit is over fifty years old it goes together well and is an easy build by biplane standards.