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  Sources, both published and unpublished, are given at the end of each chapter.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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Czech Master Resin Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawk Build in 1/72 Scale

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This is the Czech Master Resin 1/72 Scale Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawk, their kit number CMR72-239 released in 2014.  CMR also released another boxing of this kit with different markings.  The kit is well-packaged in a sturdy top-opening cardboard box with the resin castings inside plastic bags.
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Here are the contents, the major parts are single castings with a bag of detail parts provided to build up the kit.  Some modelers approach resin kits with some trepidation, but they are really not that far removed from injection molded kits.  The biggest differences I find are the clean up of the castings and the need for superglue as the primary adhesive.  Advantages can be found in the ability to cast details at all angles to the mold, such as tread patterns on tires.
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The main fuselage piece is a single casting, CMR has made the cockpit open from below with the center of the lower wing forming the floor.  This allows thinner fuselage sides at the cockpit.  Here you see I have damaged the cockpit sill while removing molding flash.  This is a minor setback which is easy to repair.
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This shows the cockpit being built up with a few details added from plastic strip.  I have begun repairing my damage to the cockpit sill by gluing a bit of casting flash to the inside and filling the hole with superglue.  This can be sanded and the filling repeated until the repair is smooth.
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More shaping and the cockpit has been sprayed with Alclad Aluminum.  I made an instrument panel from a photographic reproduction.
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Major assembly is complete.  One advantage of this design is the wings mated directly to the fuselage so all alignment issues can be handled at this point.  The fit of the parts left something to be desired so joints were filled with Mr. Surfacer 500 and sanded smooth.
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The cowl ring is a very thin casting and I was very worried about shattering the piece throughout the build.  I very gently removed it from the casting block with a razor saw and sanded it smooth.  I would really liked to have seen CMR provide two of these as it would be very difficult to salvage the build if this piece were ruined.
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Here is the main assembly under primer.  I have learned the hard way that problems such as flow lines or pinholes can be invisible on the model but show up clearly after painting.
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Painting is underway under all that masking.
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The Sparrowhawk was designed as a “trapeze fighter”, to be carried by the airships Akron and Macon.  Their primary means of recovery was to hook onto the underside of the airship and be hoisted into an internal hanger.  The resin supports for the hook were very fragile and didn’t quite fit correctly, so I constructed replacements using plastic strip.
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The interplane struts proved difficult to fit and didn’t line up exactly.  I was able to coax them into place one attachment point at a time but the paint suffered a bit during the process and will need some additional touch up to be completely presentable.  The F9C is an interesting type, I am happy to have one in my display case!

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.

Airfix Curtiss Hawk 81 in 1/72 Scale

This is an American Volunteer Group “Flying Tigers” Hawk 81, with the markings of Robert Neale of the First Pursuit Squadron.   Neale was the AVG’s leading scorer, credited with 13 victories.  There are many subtle differences in the markings carried by AVG aircraft.  The tigers were decals provided by Disney but the other markings were unique, and often were changed and repainted on the same airframe.  Pay close attention to your references, and check each decal. These markings are a mixture of the Airfix kit sheet and an aftermarket sheet from Kits World.  The Kits World sheet is quite small for the money and the tigers can’t be used because they are oversized.  The Airfix Chinese roundels are much too light, but have the correct mouth style for Neale’s aircraft (but not Older’s 68 as illustrated).  Between the two sheets you can piece together proper markings for a few different AVG aircraft.

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American Volunteer Group Flying Tigers Color Photographs Part 1

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One of the most visually stunning aviation photographs to come out of the Second World War, this beautiful shot of American Volunteer Group Curtiss Hawk 81s on patrol over China.  Photograph by AVG pilot Robert T. Smith on 28MAY42.
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Smith features prominently in the color photos of the AVG.  Here he is inspecting wreckage in the AVG scrapyard at Kyedaw, Burma before the group actually has begun operations against the Japanese, with #74 and #81 behind him.  Both aircraft had been bellied in, but were later repaired.  Note the side numbers repeated on the noses of the aircraft, this was an early practice.  The small nose numbers would be painted over about the time the group’s famous shark mouths were applied, but some aircraft displayed both markings.
Robert T. Smith standing next to P-40 Tomahawk #91 - Nov. 23, 19
Smith again, this time in front of #91, serial P-8150.  Note that the aircraft in the background still lacks a shark mouth. Kyedaw airfield, Burma, 23NOV41.
Robert T. Smith in the cockpit of P-40 Tomahawk #77 - Nov. 23, 1
Smith in the cockpit of his assigned aircraft, #77.  The Third Group “Hell’s Angels” design is still in outline form here, soon to receive a red fill.  Another larger angel is faintly visible in chalk behind the first.
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A close-up of Smith showing details of the Flying Tiger design which was produced by the Walt Disney company.  The artwork came in decal form, arriving in March 1942.  It was sealed to the sides of the aircraft with clear varnish which has darkened the underlying paint color.  There are several details of interest to modelers here.  Note that the camouflage colors are continued under the cockpit side glazing.
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Pilot Erik Shilling poses for the camera in front of Robert Little’s #33.  All the AVG shark mouths were unique, it is interesting to compare the variations in the artwork on different aircraft.
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Same picture composition but with another pilot using Little’s #33 as a backdrop.  It is tempting to claim that a photograph depicts certain pilots posing with their assigned aircraft, but these two photographs show the inherent problem of making such assumptions.  In many units it was common practice for pilots to be assigned to different aircraft as the missions required, with individual names and mission tallies applied only for publicity photographs.
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A nice in-flight shot of John Petach in #47, serial P-8127.  Note the dark area above the eye where the small number 47 has been painted out.
AVG Third Pursuit Squadron in flight - May 28, 1942
A formation of Third Pursuit Tigers on the prowl, with Chuck Older’s #68 nearest to the camera.
Refuel P-40 Tomahawk #68 at Yunnan-yi, China - May 28, 1942
Chinese mechanics service the aircraft while a group of pilots talk in front of Older’s #68, P-8109.  Location is Yunnan-yi on 28MAY42.