2021 Year in Review

2021 saw a return to some degree of normalcy, but as with any great disruption there have been some re-definitions of just what that means.  There was a return to live in-person shows which was sorely missed.  What has changed with the shows is now they are bigger and better attended, with more vendors, more model entries, and an overall increase in quality of the builds.  Fewer group activities have translated into additional modeling time for many people, and for socially introverted types this appears to have been a good thing.  It has certainly resulted in more and better models on display at the shows!

The display area of the 2021 Military Modeler’s Club of Louisville IPMS show.

I was able to go to three shows this year, Indianapolis, Louisville, and Cincinnati.  All three were held in new venues, and all three were very successful and saw half again as many entries above what was normal for the club, if not more.  Many inspiring and innovative builds, and fellow modelers are always happy to share new techniques and tips to try out.  The guys at Plastic Model Mojo have taken their show on the road, and I was able to sit down with them and catch up in person, in addition to listening to their podcasts while I model.   Plastic Model Mojo here:  https://www.plasticmodelmojo.com/

Mojovians Dave and Mike in front of an Fw 190 replica at the Cincinnati IPMS show at the Tri-State Warbird Museum.

For bibliophiles the news is still not good.  Publication dates on many new books have slipped.  The secondary and overstock markets have fared little better, with fewer selections and higher prices all around.  After two years the Half Price Books traveling blow-out sale is still nowhere on the horizon, and I’m starting to wonder if it will ever return.  Hopefully soon!

Blog Statistics and News

The Inch High Guy blog has completed year three!  A big thanks to all who visit on a regular basis, whether new or old.  I am happy to report that I again managed to make a post each day, although there were a couple of near misses.  The blog received 139,675 views and 55,483 visitors, up from 73,992 views and 26,731 visitors last year.  The most popular post again this year was “Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Interior Colors Part I” with 3,267 views: 

https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2019/09/11/b-17-flying-fortress-interior-colors-part-i/

Guess what? If you can see the ribbing on interior of a Fortress it should be Natural Aluminum, with only rare exceptions. Interior Green is for Warbirds!

Models Built in 2021

34 completions, 24 aircraft and 10 vehicles.  In addition I painted 42 figures, 14 horses, and constructed 8 diorama / vignette bases. Everything was built to 1/72 scale as is my preference.  The mosaic has a picture of each build, construction posts and additional finished pictures can be found by searching the blog.

Arma Hobby FM-2 Wildcat x 3

Azur Martin B-10

Trumpeter T-55

Takom MAZ-537 Tank Transporter

Airfix Spitfire Vc x 4

Vickers Mk. VI light tank resin print

Cunningham T1 light tank resin print x 2

Brengun Yak-1

Arma Hobby Yak-1b x 3

Hasegawa Yak-3

Dakoplast Yak-7 x 2

Valom Yak-7

Emher Yak-9

Hasegawa Fw 190D (old tool)

Hasegawa Fw 190D

Tamiya Fw 190D

Dragon Messerschmitt P.1011 x2

Dragon Julia

Revell Fw Fitzer

Revell Ho 229 (repaint)

First to Fight Polish TKS Tankette

ICM Sd.Kfz. 222

First to Fight Sd.Kfz. 247

Dragon Krupp Protze Kfz. 70

Italeri sK 18 10.5 cm Field Gun

What’s Ahead in 2022

This has been a year of exciting announcements for 1/72 scale modelers.  The new Focke Wulf Fw 190D series from ICB looks spectacular, and it even includes an accurate wheelwell for the first time in the scale.  The family will cover all the Dora subtypes.  Flyhawk released a new tool SBD Dauntless which will fix the dive brake issues with Hasegawa’s kit, and will hopefully continue to be available – something which can’t be said for several Hasegawa kits.  To top it off ICM and Special Hobby have both just announced a new-tool Ki-21 “Sally” for late 2022, a subject which has long been on the list of several modelers. The Sally was strangely missing from Hasegawa’s new-ish series of Japanese twins, modelers who had to have one searched for the MPM or 1976 Revell kits.

The big news for many modelers is that Arma is now shipping their P-51B/C kits.  The previous attempts from Academy and Hasegawa both suffered from fatal, difficult to correct shape issues.  Finally, for the first time, an accurate P-51B/C is on the way!  This kit should prove to be a license to print money for Arma, here’s hoping it is a windfall for them!  I have long agitated for this subject, so to put my money where my mouth is I have placed an order through my Local Hobby Store (support your LCS!) for one.  Case.  For starters.

Now Arma, if you’re listening, we could sure use an accurate Ki-43-II Hayabusa “Oscar” in 1/72 scale.

Arma’s P-51B/C

The second big release (for me) has a much more personal connection.  Takom has announced a U.S. Navy 16”/50 caliber triple turret in 1/72 scale, packaged as Turret One from USS Missouri (BB 63).  This kit has parts for the rangefinder which was later removed from the first turrets, but with a few modifications could represent any of the main battery turrets on the Iowa class battleships.  Now for the connection part – I served in the Navy, Missouri was my ship, Turret One was my turret.  1/72 scale Missouri’s in both the WWII and 1980’s configurations are on my bucket list, and this kit makes that project one step closer.  If the appropriate 5”/38 Mark 28 mount is ever kitted that would cinch the deal (the 1/72 scale 5”/38 Mark 38 mount included in Takom’s 1/700 Gearing class kit has an unarmored gun house, appropriate for destroyers but not battleships).

Takom’s 16″/50 turret

Lastly, we have purchased a wooded plot of land along the scenic White River, where we intend to build an energy efficient (net zero) home.  This is obviously a time-consuming project, and will inevitably impact time available for modeling and blogging.  In fact, the effects have already begun to be felt as I have been busy on the property cutting down the invasive Asian Bush Honeysuckle which is crowding out the native trees.  Hopefully there will still be opportunities for modeling, but the pace may slow a bit.  If I miss the daily posting on the blog in the coming months this will likely be the reason.

The mighty White River

May you each live long enough to build every model in your stash!

Italeri sK 18 10,5 Field Gun Diorama with Soviet Cavalry in 1/72 Scale

Another attempt at a diorama, this one depicting a German sK 18 field gun position about to be surprised by Soviet cavalry.  The gun crew figures are included with the gun, with the exception of the kneeling figures with the powder charges which are 3-D resin prints.  The German officer and radio operators are Zvezda, as are the Soviet cavalry.

Italeri sK 18 10,5 Field Gun Diorama Build in 1/72 Scale

Continuing on with my efforts to add figures and bases to my recent batch of vehicle builds, I wanted to depict the Italeri sK 18 Field Gun in a firing position. To add a little interest, there will also be some Soviet cavalry from Zvezda in the classic cavalry mission of operating in the enemy’s rear area and making a general nuisance of themselves.
There are two sprues in the Zvezda box, each containing one mounted figure. The Zvezda figures are crisply molded in hard plastic, and come with stands and a marker for wargame use. These are nice sets and there is a wide variety in the range.
I will be supplementing the Italeri artillery crew with another Zvezda set, this German Headquarters group. These are useful figures for many compositions. The Italeri field gun comes with five figures but the typical gun crew was seven, fortunately I was able to find some suitable additions from a 3D print file to make up the difference.
The contents of the Zvezda German Headquarters group box. Useful figures and a great value for the money!
I bought two boxes of the Soviet cavalry. The figures in the foreground are in stock poses with the molded-on reins replaced by thin strips of masking tape. The figure on the right has a replacement bedroll as there was no way to mold the undercut and it was obvious on this horse. The two figures in the rear are conversions mounted on First to Fight Polish Uhlan horses with replacement saddlebags. The figures are the same Zvezda cavalry again, with replacement arms and a head for variety.
Here are two of the Italeri artillerymen with basic colors applied and a gloss coat.
Here is the Soviet officer with basic colors, the paint has been sealed with a coat of Future, which is an acrylic. I have intentionally kept the colors on the lighter end of the spectrum to experiment with oil shading.
The figure was sprayed with a flat coat and then shadows were enhanced with thinned oils. I think the technique is encouraging and hope to improve with experience.
Trees will be used to provide a vertical element. These are made from the wire inside of lamp cord, which has many uses for modelers. Don’t throw away a broken lamp without salvaging the cord first!
Here is the final composition, with the Soviet cavalry charging the unsuspecting German artillery position from the woods. The base is of the same construction as the previous TKS tankette base, ground cover and foliage are from Woodland Scenics.

Italeri sK 18 10,5 Field Gun Build in 1/72 Scale

This is the 2020 release of the WWII German 15 cm Field Howitzer sFH 18 / 10,5 cm Field Gun sK 18 kit number 7082. I have previously built this kit as a15cm howitzer in the towed configuration, so I will build this one as a 10,5 Field Gun in the firing position.
The carriage was common to both guns so the differences are accounted for on the two small sprues on the bottom right. A nice touch is the inclusion of five (of seven) crew figures. On my kit both parts B14 were missing even though the sprues were bagged. These are small parts which are trapped within the base plate mounted to the axel, and their absence is not obvious on the finished model.
Assembly was a bit fiddly, but the kit builds up well and looks the part when done. I did manage to lose the elevation locking pin thingy on right leg and replaced it with wire.
The model was primed and base coated with black to help accentuate shadows and recesses.
Panzer Gray was the basic color of German vehicles for the first years of the war, and many vehicles which survived were not repainted. I decided the Panzer Gray would give the gun a range of display potential.
The finished gun after weathering. The red and white range stakes add a little color to an otherwise drab finish.

Italeri 15 cm Field Howitzer sFH 18 / 10,5 cm Field Gun 10,5 cm sK 18 Build in 1/72 Scale

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This is a new tool offering from Italeri for 2020, the WWII German 15 cm Field Howitzer sFH 18 / 10,5 cm Field Gun 10,5 cm sK 18 kit number 7082. As the name implies, the kit contains parts to build either version. Also included are a set of five figures and four shells in each caliber, all of which are nicely sculpted and posed. This kit pushes many of the right buttons for me so I was eager to get started!
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The upper sprue contains detail parts for the carriage and limber, the two smaller sprues are for parts specific for the type of gun one chooses to build. All parts are finely detailed. There was no flash present on my example, and no ejector pin marks in visible locations so clean-up will be limited to mold attachment points and the occasional mold seam.
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More sprues, the upper one has the trails and the slide along with additional fiddly bits, the lower contains the figures. All the accessories and pioneer tools are molded separately which should make painting easier. The kit contains five figures, normal crew size for these guns was seven men so purists will need to source two additional figures. There are four shells provided for each gun. The shells are unpacked as opposed to boxed or in the wicker packing sleeves, and there are no propellant charges for the shells or their cases. Also missing are the four wicker mats which were issued with each gun and used for a variety of purposes by the crews.
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The carriage and limber build up quickly and go together without problems. These parts are common to either gun.
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This is the barrel assembly for the sFH 18 15 cm howitzer. It is at this point that the modeler must choose between the deployed configuration ready to fire or the transport configuration as the position of the gun on the slide is different for each.
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This page from the instructions illustrates the major differences between the two configurations. The upper gun is in the traveling configuration. The limber is obvious, the position of the gun is more subtle. When moving, the barrel assembly is detached from the recoil cylinder on top of the gun and the gun is moved back along the slide towards the limber. The spades at the end of the trails are also detached and secured to the middle of the trails. There are pins on the trails which engage the slide to keep the barrel from moving in elevation while being towed.
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Here is the model assembled in the towing configuration ready for primer. I have left off the accessories to make painting easier.
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Photographs of the sFH 18 being towed usually show covers over the sights, the breach, and the muzzle. Here I have begun making the canvas with masking tape. The seams will be smoothed with superglue and Mr. Surfacer.
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I decided to paint this one Panzer Gray, with a darker mix sprayed from below and a lighter mix sprayed from above to emphasize shadows and highlights. The spades cover several of the pioneer tools and aiming stakes so I have left them off for now.
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Everything is assembled and the model has been given a gloss coat for decals. The gloss coat also protects the finish while washes and weathering are applied. Always tempting to stop at this point in a build but it’s also fun to push a little further too.
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This is the finished product after weathering layers and a flat coat, some experimenting with different techniques on this one. The mud effects on the wheels were made with oil paint and Vallejo pigments, I have found this to be easy to control. I also used oils to blend the tones of the canvas covers and to make the splashes. I’ll be working this build and a few others into vignettes so you’ll be seeing more of this one in the near future.

Italeri Volkswagen Kübelwagen in 1/72 Scale

The Volkswagen Type 82 Kübelwagen (bucket car) was the German equivalent of the American Jeep, and was developed by Porsche from the famous VW Bug.  Over 50,000 examples were produced during the war.

There are several VW Kübelwagen produced in 1/72 scale.  The venerable Hasegawa kit is too small and the Academy kit is noticeably too short in the nose.  This is the Italeri offering, which is the better of the three.  I have not built the S-Model version so I can’t offer an opinion on that one.  Another very useful model for providing a relatable point of reference of size for other less common subjects.

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1/72 Scale AMT/ Ertl X/YB-35 Build, Part I

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AMT / Ertl’s Northrop X/YB-35. Italeri has re-popped this kit, but I had one of the older ones lurking in my stash. The empty gun turrets always bugged me, arming them will be the most visible change. Given how big the kit is, there are relatively few pieces. Don’t be fooled by the huge box, everything could easily fit into a Hasegawa box for a twin prop bomber kit if one sprue were laid out differently.  Looking at pictures of the prototypes, you notice lots of open bits which are molded closed off.  One of the first things I wanted to improve was to open the inlets on the leading edge of the wings.  Simply hollowing out the kit part doubles the depth. I will extend these back some more, but this will require opening up the center wing section as well.
B35Build2[1]
And here is where all that cooling air comes out – three vents on the top center of each wing. There is a positionable door yet to fabricate over each, representing the “cowl flaps”.
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Another item to open are the wing-tip slots. The section cut out of the top portion of each wing will be built up and remounted, the bottom sections were flipped and faired back in to form the inner channel.
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Here’s a shot inside the outer wing panel. The AMT plastic is quite soft, the big assemblies are very squishy. No way they would stand up to sanding and handling if left alone. I beefed up the outer wing panels with Plastistruct and epoxied in an “I-beam” made from scrap oak. That should do it!
B35Build5[1]
Here’s the nose wheel well, the kit part is in the foreground. I have deepened the well and added ribbing. The strut attachment point is extended to the proper length using brass tube epoxied to the underside of the cockpit floor. The well actually extends to the bottom corner of the picture, the two doors covering the section where the wheel itself is stowed were closed except when the gear cycled. I have not found any good pictures of these wheel wells, but if typical they would be full of plumbing and equipment. Debating on how much to do in the wells, at least some basic plumbing where it is most visible.
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This is the cockpit, it looks like it would be right at home in a sci-fi kit. I have added fiddlybits based upon what could be seen in pictures, and guessed at the rest. No open canopies here, the crew entered through a belly hatch. The idea will be to create a busy feel for what can be seen through the transparencies. I have not added to the after stations, they will not be very visible.
B35Build7[1]
This shows the oak strip bracing added in order to strengthen the lower center wing section. AMT provides very little in the way of internal bracing – there are only two inserts for where the outer wing panels join, and those only come in contact with one surface. Here I have constructed a box beam out of scrap oak strip, and epoxied an additional strip further back. The wheel wells are used to anchor these, and it feels like this will work.
B35Build8[1]
The wing inlets were extended with 0.08” x 0.25” (2 x 6 mm) Evergreen strip, and the dividers extended with card. I am attempting to force some perspective here to give a deeper feel. To prevent the open look I’ll shoot some flat black into the center sections before I close them up. The upper inlet has internal bracing added, this is visible in some pictures of the prototypes. There are better pictures of the bracing on the YB-49’s, but the pattern may be different.

Part II here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2019/05/31/1-72-scale-amt-ertl-x-yb-35-build-part-ii/

Mistel 1 Composite in 1/72 Scale

The Mistel (German for mistletoe) was a series of composite aircraft developed by Germany during the Second World War.  They were composed of an unmanned Junkers Ju 88 bomber aircraft fitted with a two-ton shaped charge explosive warhead which was to be guided to the target area by an attached fighter, usually a Messerschmitt Bf-109 or Focke-Wulf Fw 190.  When within a few miles of the target, the pilot would separate the fighter, leaving the bomber component to fly on autopilot to impact the objective.  The lower components were intended to be drawn from “timed out” or “war weary” bombers which were utilized past their useful combat lives, but as Germany focused on increasing fighter production and operations more newer bomber airframes became available.  The Mistel can be thought of as one of the first attempts at developing a cruise missile.

This is one of my first efforts at modeling a Mistel, with an aircraft combination photographed at Burg in 1944 as my subject.  The upper component is the excellent Fine Molds Messerschmitt Bf 109F, the lower component an AMT Ju 88.  Subsequently Revell of Germany and Hasegawa released superior Ju 88 kits which are both more accurate and better detailed, the Revell kit being the better of the two in my estimation, and cheaper as well.

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