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!

Revell Heinkel He 177 Greif in 1/72 Scale

This is the Revell of Germany He 177A-5 Greif kit number 04616 in 1/72 scale.  The clear parts could be a little better molded but overall it is an excellent kit.  This one is armed with three Henschel Hs 293 glide bombs instead of the Fritz X weapons, but I believe Revell provides either option depending on the boxing.  Decals are from Eagle Strike Productions sheet 72041 and represent an aircraft from II./KG 40 based at Bordeaux, France in 1944.

Upper surface camouflage is the standard Luftwaffe bomber RLM 70 Black Green / RLM 71 Dark Green splinter pattern.  The under surface colors are open to some interpretation, sources are not in agreement as to which colors were used.  Here I have chosen RLM 77 Light Gray spots over an RLM 02 Gray Green base.  Other possibilities are RLM 76 Lichtblau over RLM 65 Hellblau, or some combinations of these.  It is hard to be certain using black and white photographs, it is also possible different combinations were used on different aircraft.

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Construction posts here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/10/16/revell-heinkel-he-177-greif-build-in-1-72-scale-part-i/

Previous kit build here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2019/02/28/revell-of-germany-he-177-greif-in-1-72-scale/

Revell Heinkel He 177 Greif Build in 1/72 Scale Part III

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The camouflage on this particular aircraft is unusual in that there was mottling on the undersurface. There is a lack of consensus as to what colors were used, here I have chosen RLM 77 Light Gray spots over an RLM 02 Gray Green base. Other representations utilize RLM 76 for the lighter shade and / or RLM 65 for the darker.
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Upper surfaces were the standard RLM 70 Black Green / RLM 71 Dark Green splinter pattern. I used plain old masking tape to duplicate the pattern shown in the Monogram Guide. A little tedious but the camo looks good when complete.
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Here are the paints used. The Mr. Color paints matched the paint chips in the Monogram Guide quite well, I mixed White with Mr. Color 306 to match the RLM 77 Light Gray chip. I sprayed slightly lightened mixes to fade the colors and break up the monotone colors.
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Anything which appeared weak or prone to breakage I have reinforced with bronze wire pins. The main wheel attachment points looked like they would not hold up well so they were strengthened before they had a chance to fail.
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The landing gear and exhausts are in place prior to the panel line wash. With the gear legs in place it is easy to see just how little of the wheel well interior is visible. If you wanted to represent the aircraft under maintenance the outer doors could be opened and wheelwell interiors built up.
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Upper surfaces are shown under a coat of Future (Klear) prior to the panel wash and weathering.
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The panel lines were highlighted with Tamiya wash. I decided to attach the smaller fragile parts at this point so they could be painted before the final flat coats. True to form, a few of these parts sacrificed themselves to the carpet monster and had to be replaced with homemade items. The teardrop-shaped mass balance on the left was shaped from sprue, the hinge on the right was made from plastic stock. It would be really nice if kits contained spares for these kinds of parts!
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This is what is visible through the nose glazing, not a whole lot. Color contrasts show through but not much more.
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Here is a view of the finished model. Decals are from Eagle Strike Productions sheet 72041 and represent an aircraft from II./KG 40 based at Bordeaux, France in 1944.

More completed photos here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/11/10/revell-heinkel-he-177-greif-in-1-72-scale/

Revell Heinkel He 177 Greif Build in 1/72 Scale Part II

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The He 177 didn’t have a lot of transparencies for an aircraft of its size and most of that was concentrated in the nose. I have gotten into the habit of cutting off the gun barrels rather than breaking them off later, or worse, knocking the entire gun back into the model after it has been closed up. I have made sun curtains from masking tape fixed to the inside with LiquiTape.
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The He 177 was roughly the same size as a B-17, the wingspan was 103 feet or 17.2” (43.6 cm) in scale. The fuselage seam needed only a little filler but overall fit is excellent.
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The seams around the clear parts were filled with Perfect Plastic Putty. This is the ideal filler for areas like this as any excess can be removed with a damp cotton swab, eliminating the need for sanding.
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The transparencies were shot with a light coat of the interior color, RLM 66. On this model the dark camouflage colors would likely suffice if I were to skip this step, but you’d have to be careful that the light primer coat was not visible.
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The entire model was given a thin coat of Mr. Surfacer 1000 to check for flaws. Any seams are re-filled and sanded at this point and checked again.

Part III here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/10/30/revell-heinkel-he-177-greif-build-in-1-72-scale-part-iii/

Revell Heinkel He 177 Greif Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

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This is the Revell of Germany He 177A-5 Greif kit which was issued in 2000. This is the second time which I have built this kit, the first one was finished in the camouflage scheme shown on the box art. This is a great kit and the real thing wore a wide variety of interesting paint schemes so there are many possibilities.
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The major pieces are nicely molded with recessed panel lines and crisp detail. The wheel well covers on the He 177 were normally closed when the aircraft was on the ground so they are molded as part of the lower wing here. This leaves only a small portion of the well visible which will be almost entirely filled with the landing gear legs. The result is no visible wheel well to speak of. Also, there is very little of the interior visible through the transparencies, only the nose compartment and tail gunner’s position will be visible.
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These are sprues with the smaller parts. The sprue on the lower left is mainly devoted to three Fritz-X glide bombs. There is some nice interior detail on the bomb bay for those who want to show it open.
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For this build I will be using this sprue of Henschel Hs 293 glide bombs instead of the Fritz-X. I believe these are spares left over from a Revell of Germany Ju 290 kit. The He 177 could carry either weapon for the anti-shipping mission.
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Construction begins with the interior, or maybe with the glide bombs for spite. RLM 65 is a dark gray and will wash out any interior detail if you’re not careful. To prevent this and highlight the detail I spray lighter mixes of gray from above to provide artificial contrast simulating lighting, figure painters call this “Zenithal Highlighting”. A useful technique which keeps the cockpit looking three-dimensional.
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The cockpit after a black wash and some drybrushing with silver. I had a photoetch set for this kit but didn’t use much of it in the end, the seatbelts being the most obvious parts. I make throttle levers from 1/700 scale ship railing, that way you get several levers at once instead of the individual levers from the PE fret which are much more frustrating to work with.
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Another view of the cockpit. Some of this will be visible through the transparency so it is important to build up what is there – especially if the part is a different color. I wouldn’t go for an all-out super detailing job here though as the effort would not be visible on the finished model.

Part II here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/10/23/revell-heinkel-he-177-greif-build-in-1-72-scale-part-ii/

Heinkel He 177 Greif (Griffin) Engines & Servicing Details

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An He 177A-3 of Flugzeugführerschule (B) 16 starting engines.  The cart in front of the aircraft is an electrical generator which was widely used on Luftwaffe airfields while starting engines or to replenish batteries within the aircraft.  The ground crewman on the left stands by with a fire extinguisher, a prudent precaution.
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The main powerplant of the early He 177, the Daimler-Benz DB 606.  This engine was built by combining two DB 601 twelve-cylinder engines.  The A-3 and later variants carried the similar DB 610 which used DB 605 engines and developed 2,860 hp (2,133 kW).
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Each bank was married to a common reduction gear to drive the propeller.  This has led to a semantic debate about whether the He 177 was a two-engine or four-engine design.  In any case engine fires plagued the Greif and the developmental He 274 and 277 designs were laid out as conventional four-engine designs with each engine in its own nacelle.
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Engine servicing on this 4./KG 100 machine would make for an interesting diorama!  The aircraft was designed to have this special crane fitted when a block and tackle was needed to service the engines.  Note the spinner on the hardstand in front of the aircraft and how uneven the spiral is painted.  The aircraft is W.Nr. 550043, coded 6N+HM.
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Another view showing the maintenance crew preparing to remove the propeller.  Each DB 610 engine weighed a hefty 3,300 pounds (1,500 kg).
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A different type of portable block and tackle commonly seen on Luftwaffe airfields.  The tarps covering the engines and cockpit glazing of this KG 50 Greif are noteworthy.  (World War Photos)
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It is rare to see the Fowler flaps deployed on an He 177, on this example they are fully extended and depressed for maintenance.  Crews are working on both engines and the wing access panels have been opened.  The cover for the B1-Stand remote turret is on the starboard wing.  These are KG 100 machines at München-Riem airfield.
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An He 177 is bombed up using a standard Luftwaffe hydraulic bomb cart.  Maximum bomb load was designed as 15,000 pounds (7,000 kilograms) although it is doubtful this was ever carried operationally.
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More bombs are brought to the belly of this KG 100 bomber as armorers work to fuse bombs under the aircraft.  (Bundesarchiv photo)
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A heavy load!  An SC 1800 bomb is wheeled under this He 177.  This bomb weighed in at 4,000 pounds, the Grief could carry one on the hardpoint under each wing.
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The hydraulic bomb jack strains under the massive weight as armorers connect the shackles.  Note the aircrew approaching from the front of the aircraft.

Part I here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/08/19/heinkel-he-177-greif-griffon/

Heinkel He 177 Greif (Griffin) Landing Gear & Cockpit

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The Heinkel He 177 Greif was equipped with a rather unique set of landing gear.  There were four main wheels, each mounted separately on individual struts.  The hinge points were in the engine nacelles and each leg folded laterally up into the wing.
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There was a large circular cover for each wheel well under the wing.  These covers were normally closed, opening only when the landing gear was cycling.  The covers could be released by the ground crews for maintenance.  This is an He 177A-1 of KG1, VF+RP.  (World War Photos)
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This photograph of an He 177 being serviced reveals several interesting details.  The wheel well doors have been released by the ground crew and the engine covers have been removed.  The highly-polished spinner has been removed and is painted with a very even spiral.  Under the wing at the right of the photo is the rack for an Hs 293 or Fritz-X guided bomb.  The aircraft is from II./KG 40.  (Bundesarchiv Photo)
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This aircraft is up on a jack to allow servicing of the main wheels.  The tires were quite large, 1220 x 445 mm.  (Bundesarchiv Photo)
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Another machine from II./KG 40, this view gives an impression of the limited access to the engines, even with the panels removed.  Engine cooling problems were never fully overcome, and many He 177 were lost to engine fires.
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A nice view of the main gear from the rear showing many useful details for modelers.
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A captured aircraft with the wheel well doors and engine access panels open.
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The starboard gear retracting as seen from the cockpit of He 177V-4.  The gear was actuated hydraulically and the struts compressed as the gear retracted.
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A rare view of the flaps from the underside showing the interior structure.  The He 177 was equipped with Fowler type flaps which slid to the rear before deflecting downwards.
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A view from inside the cockpit.  Not the best photograph but it does show the general arrangement.  The pilot sat to the left.  As on many Luftwaffe bomber types, his control yoke was hinged at the top of the center column and could be flipped to the right to allow the Bombardier to fly the aircraft.
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A much clearer picture showing the pilot’s station.  Engine controls are on the console to the left.  The extensive glazing provided excellent all-around visibility, particularly down and to the front of the aircraft.
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A view of the rear bulkhead of the cockpit showing the radio equipment.  The He 177 carried a crew of six.  German design practice was to concentrate the crew together at the front of the aircraft to improve communication.

Part IV here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/09/09/heinkel-he-177-greif-griffin-engines-servicing-details/

Heinkel He 177 Greif (Griffin) Defensive Armament

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The He 177 was provided with a heavy defensive armament.  From this angle there are no less than three gun stations which could be brought to bear against an attacking aircraft.  Forward is the remote-controlled dorsal B1-Stand, followed by the manned B2-Stand in the middle position on the fuselage.  The H-Stand position with its extensive glazing in the tail position is readily apparent.
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This He 177A-3 of Flugzeugführerschule (B) 16 at Burg displays the nose armament.  The upper weapon in the A1-Stand is the relatively light MG 81 7.9mm gun, but beneath it in the A2-Stand is the much more potent MG 151 20mm cannon.  The back of the gondola housed a second MG 81.
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Here a mechanic is servicing the remotely-controlled dorsal turret in the B1-Stand which mounted twin MG 131 13 mm guns with 750 rounds each.  The gunner was positioned inside the round sighting dome behind the mechanic.
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The B2-Stand mounted a single MG 131 13 mm gun with 1,000 rounds.  This was obviously a manned position, this excellent color photograph shows several useful details for modelers.
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H-Stand was provided with a very potent 20 mm MG 151 cannon with 300 rounds to defend the rear of the aircraft.  The sight on this weapon is provided with a sun shield.
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The tail gun position was isolated from the rest of the aircraft, the gunner entered his position via a hinged hatch.  This photograph provides several details of his clothing and equipment.  (Bundesarchiv photo)
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The same gunner entering the aircraft.  Several details of the gun mount are shown in these pictures, note the “brushes” which provide a seal around the articulated portions of the gun mount.  (Bundesarchiv photo)
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The gunner is seated at his station, which is comparatively roomy.  This gun is provided with a ring and bead sight.  (Bundesarchiv photo)
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The Luftwaffe experimented with heavier gun armament for use against ground targets.  Here is the He177 V12 fitted with a 30 mm MK 101 cannon.  This weapon was tested but did not enter production.  The aircraft carried the codes GI+BL.
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Another test installation, this time with two 30 mm MK 101 cannon.  This installation was intended to be used against railroad locomotives.  This installation was trialed on He 177 V18, coded GA+QX.  (World War Photos)
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Increased firepower was planned for the He 177A-7 and subsequent versions.  Here is a Vierling (quadruple) manned turret mounting four 13 mm MG 131 machine guns.
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Another experimental installation was this HL 151 Z Hecklafette mounting two 20 mm MG 151 cannon.  This was a remotely-sighted turret with a vastly improved field of fire compared to the original manned position.

Part III here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/09/02/heinkel-he-177-greif-griffin-landing-gear-cockpit/

Heinkel He 177 Greif (Griffon)

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Note the avionics probe under the starboard wing, DL + AQ is He 177A-02, the second pre-production aircraft.  It first flew on 05MAY41.  It was lost in a forced landing in May 1942 after both engines caught fire in flight.  The crew escaped but the aircraft was destroyed.
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A nice color photograph of an airfield in Russia showing a rather dense concentration of aircraft which carry a tightly mottled upper surface.  Conditions on the Eastern Front were often primitive.
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This is a photograph of two He 177A-1 at Zaporozhye-Süd in Russia during the winter of 42/43 which shows well the harsh conditions on the Eastern Front.  The aircraft belong to I./KG50, the nearest machine is finished in the standard 70 / 71 / 65 splinter scheme while the rear machine has a temporary coat of white distemper to better hide it in the snow.
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6N + SK was an He 177A-3 assigned to 2./KG 100 at Rheine, Germany.  Camouflage is 75 / 76 over black undersides.  (Bundesarchiv photo)
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This is He 177A-3 W.Nr. 2143 coded VD + XS of FFS(B) 16 at Burg-bei-Magdeburg, March 1944.  FFS(B) 16 was a training unit, this aircraft had a black distemper paint applied to the undersides and vertical tail which avoided the call letters on the fuselage sides.  (Bundesarchiv photo)
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Aircrew in a Kubelwagen arrive in front of H for Helga, an He 177A-3 of 2./KG 100.  The unit practice was to give the aircraft a female name corresponding with the aircraft code.
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In 1944 the focus of the Allied air forces was the destruction of the Luftwaffe in preparation for the landings at Normandy.  Heavy bombers attacked aircraft production and fuel supply targets while medium bombers and fighters went after Luftwaffe airfields.  Here is a dramatic photograph of He 177s of 10.(Erg)/KG 100 at Schwäbisch Hall after being strafed by USAAF Mustangs on 25APR44.
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An A-5 of an anti-shipping unit, KG 100 based at Toulouse-Blagnac, France in early 1944.  The He 177 could carry either the Hs 293 or the Fritz–X glide bombs.
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A fine example of a Mäandertarnung or “scribble” camouflage applied to this He 177A-5 of 5./KG 100 operating from Aalborg, Denmark in the fall of 1944.  The Mäandertarnung was often carried for over-water operations.
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An interesting undersurface camouflage has been applied to this Greif, a cloud pattern of RLM 76 or 77 over the darker RLM 65.
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He 177A-5 W.Nr. 550062 coded F8 + AP is an aircraft with an interesting history.  It was assigned to 6./KG 40 and was undergoing servicing at Toulouse-Blagnac in September 1944 when it was captured by the French Resistance, the first flyable He 177 to fall into Allied hands.  It was given a full set of French markings including rudder stripes as well as invasion stripes for good measure.  On the sides “Pris de Guerre” was written.
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W.Nr. 550062 was flown to Farnborough for evaluation where the British applied their own markings over the French.  The French rudder stripes were painted out – some profiles show the rudder color as red but this photograph shows a much better match with the yellow outline of the fuselage roundel.  The aircraft received a RAF fin tab as well as the call number TS439 and a “P” designating a prototype, or in this case, test aircraft.  Note the cloud camouflage pattern on the undersides and fuselage.  The British later passed this aircraft on to the Americans, so modelers have the option of depicting this aircraft in Luftwaffe, French, British, or American markings.

Part II here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/08/26/heinkel-he-177-greif-griffin-defensive-armament/

Revell of Germany Heinkel He 177 Greif in 1/72 Scale

The Heinkel He 177 was Germany’s attempt at fielding a heavy bomber during WWII.  It was powered by two DB 606 24 cylinder in-line engines, which were constructed by mating two DB 601 or DB 605 engines to a common gearbox.  These engines were recessed into the wing structure to reduce drag, a decision which lead to constant over-heating issues and fires.  By the time these and numerous other development and technical issues were resolved the deteriorating war situation forced Germany into the “fighter emergency”, where fuel and other all aviation resources were devoted to bolstering the Jagdwaffe.  Of the 1,135 He 177s produced, most ended the war grounded due to lack of fuel on various airfields throughout the Reich.

This is the Revell of Germany kit with the Eduard PE set.  It represents an He 177A-5 of 4./KG 100 operating the Fritz-X wire-guided missile in the anti-shipping role from Toulouse-Blagnac France in the Summer of 1944.  The kit is sharply molded with recessed panel lines and assembles without drama.  A nice kit of a large but rather lesser known type which carried several interesting camouflage schemes.  Recently Revell has reissued this kit, so if you missed it the first time you can still pick one up.

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Kit construction posts here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/10/16/revell-heinkel-he-177-greif-build-in-1-72-scale-part-i/