Eduard Grumman F6F Hellcat of LT Richard Stambook in 1/72 Scale

LT Richard Stambook flew various types of carrier aircraft during the war, transitioning from the SBD Dauntless to the F4F Wildcat, and eventually flying the F6F Hellcat with VF-27.  His best day was during the Battle of the Philippine Sea on 19JUN44 when he was credited with four – three A6M Zeros and a single D4Y Judy.  He scored his final victory, a Ki-45 Toryu “Nick” on 18OCT44. One week later the USS Princeton (CVL-27) was struck by a single bomb dropped by another D4Y Judy, the subsequent fires eventually leading to her loss.  Stambock survived the sinking and the war, an ace with eleven victories.

This model represents the F6F-3 Hellcat of LT Richard Stambook, VF-27, USS Princeton (CVL-23), October 1944.

Unsinkable Audio Book Review

Unsinkable: Five Men and the Indomitable Run of the USS Plunkett

Authored by James Sullivan, Narrated by Jacques Roy

Audiobook, 10 hours and 9 minutes

Published by Simon and Shuster Audio

Language: English

ASIN: B08BPJJ6QJ

USS Plunkett (DD-431) was a Gleaves-class destroyer which was commissioned five months before the Pearl Harbor attack brought America into the Second World War.  Assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, she participated in the Torch landings in North Africa, the Invasion of Sicily, and the Anzio landings.  Off Anzio she came under sustained attacks from German aircraft, and was eventually hit by a 550-pound bomb which killed 51 of her crew.  After repairs Stateside, she rejoined the Fleet in time for the Normandy landings, the shelling of Cherbourg, and the invasion of Southern France.  She was on her way to the Pacific when the war ended.

This book tells the story of Plunkett from the perspectives of five members of her crew.  There are basically three threads to each story – the home front before and during the war which gives the men’s civilian backgrounds as well as those of their families; the wartime experiences and shipboard operations; and finally the author’s visits with the men and their families many years later to gather information for the book.  I found all three perspectives interesting for different reasons, but jumping between the five men and three timelines strained the continuity of the story.

The book is at its strongest when describing the wartime exploits of the Plunkett.  Her story is one version of the naval war in the European theater.  I have read that she may have been the only Allied ship to have participated in all the major landings in Europe.  Destroyers were the workhorses of the Navy, and she certainly was in the thick of things.  There is a definite bifurcation in the book, events before the bomb hit off Anzio are covered in great detail, later landings are given only a cursory treatment to close out the story.  I would definitely like to hear the fine points of her participation in the D-Day landings, Cherbourg, and Southern France, but they are missing.

Still this is an interesting tale of ships and the sea, and there is much which will be familiar to Navy veterans.  Recommended for anyone interest in naval history.

Hasegawa Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless of LT Dick Best in 1/72 Scale

This aircraft is B-1 of VB-6 from the USS Enterprise (CV-6) during the Battle of Midway, 4 June 1942.  The crew was LT Richard H. Best and Chief Radioman James F. Murray.  This was one of only three SBDs which attacked Akagi, and Best scored the only hit which led to her eventual loss.  Best was also credited with a hit on Hiryu later in the day and was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions.

This is the Hasegawa SBD-3 kit, dive flaps were replaced with Quickboost resin, there’s really no way to get a decent appearance using the kit flaps.  The cockpit was also replaced with resin, canopy sections are from Falcon.  The bomb is from True Details.  The small window forward of the bomb is molded closed, it was opened up and given glass with Micro Krystal Klear.  The landing light is a small section punched from the inside of a candy bar wrapper, these are very reflective.  Decals are from Starfighter’s Midway sheet and performed quite well, as expected. The spinner is True Blue.  This a throwback to the Yellow Wing days, when Enterprise’s air group tail color was Blue.  Enterprise’s call sign was “Blue Base”.

Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates Audio Book Review

Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History

Authored by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yeager, Narrated by Brian Kilmeade

Audiobook, 4 hours and 52 minutes

Published by Penguin Audio, November 2015

Language: English

ISBN:  9780698411890

Muslim slave traders had long raided coastal areas along the Mediterranean, going as far back as 710.  Settlements were looted, and captives could be sold into slavery or ransomed for profit.  The Ottoman slave trade increased as shipbuilding skills improved, with the raiders venturing as far as Ireland.  Between 1580 and 1780 an estimated 1.25 Million Europeans had been taken by slavers, and many parts of the northern Mediterranean coast were abandoned.  By the end of the 18th century the most active raiders were from the states of Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers, and Morocco along the Barbary Coast.  Their tactics had evolved to privateering, seizing shipping and ransoming the ships and crews.  Those sailors who were not ransomed were enslaved.  Many European nations found it easier to pay tribute to the pirate states in exchange for safe passage than to oppose them militarily.

Before the American Revolution, American shipping was protected by Great Britain, and during the Revolution by French allies.  After independence from Britain the American were on their own, and paid tribute for safe passage like many European nations.  Still there were seizures, with American sailors enslaved or ransomed.  The Barbary leaders demanded ever-increasing tributes.  Jefferson had had enough, and responded that, “they shall have their payment in iron!”  Congress authorized the construction of warships, which were dispatched in several expeditions to blockade the Barbary ports.

This book details the diplomatic as well as military maneuvers of what were to become known as the Barbary Wars.  There were several interrelated efforts between 1801 and 1804, some better conducted than others, with a much more decisively resolved crisis in 1815.  As a result of standing up against the Barbary pirates, the new American nation gained in prestige with many historical firsts for the USN and USMC.  The audiobook suffers a bit from Kilmeade’s awkward cadence and odd pronunciation of “Gilbralta”.  This story is often overlooked, but was a vital precedent in American history which set the tone for the country going forward.  Recommended.

AZmodel Vought OS2U Kingfisher in 1/72 Scale

There is one color and two black-and-white photos of this particular Kingfisher.  It served in the Aleutians during 1943, and was carried aboard the Omaha-class light cruiser Detroit (CL-8).  The white stripes on the tail surfaces are Aleutian theater markings, and like many U.S. aircraft serving in the Aleutians, she carries non-standard national insignia.  Photos of the actual aircraft in this post:  https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2019/02/13/os2u-kingfishers-in-the-aleutians/

Construction posts here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/04/08/azmodel-vought-os2u-kingfisher-build-in-1-72-scale-part-i/

AZmodel Vought OS2U Kingfisher Build in 1/72 Scale Part II

The paintjob always begins with a surface primer and check for seems and other flaws. Any panel lines which have been sanded away and not properly restored can also be fixed at this point.
My particular Kingfisher carried an unusual set of markings, which were also quite faded so normal decals would not be accurate. I sent away for a custom-sized set of painting masks from Maketar which is my go-to product for painting insignia (Maketar here: https://shop.maketar.com/) The masked lines on the tail surfaces are for the Aleutian theater markings which were white stripes.
Photographs show the Insignia Blue was faded so a lighter mix of blue was sprayed on. In between each color, the seams of the masks were filled with Micro Mask to prevent any bleed through.
The camouflage was also faded and worn, in some areas the Blue Gray was worn away revealing the overall Light Gray finish underneath. I simulated this with a combination of tonal variations using the airbrush and sponge chipping until I was happy with the effect.
Many aircraft in the Aleutian Theater carried non-standard insignia, and this Kingfisher was a prime example. Early in the war the size of the national insignia was increased to reduce friendly-fire incidents. Subsequent directives added the bars and red surround, but on this Kingfisher the enlarged stars left insufficient room for the normal proportions so the size of the bars is smaller than specification. In addition, the insignia on the starboard upper and port lower wings should have been removed, but this was not done on this aircraft.
Here the panel lines have been given a wash and the major components are ready for assembly.
The finished model after a flat coat. I liked this subject for the weathered finish and unusual insignia. The kit needs a little TLC but builds up into a decent Kingfisher. If I build this kit again I will use a vacuform canopy set and side-step the problems I had with the kit parts. Overall though, I have always had a fondness for the Kingfisher and am glad to finally have one in my display case.

More finished pictures here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/04/26/azmodel-vought-os2u-kingfisher-in-1-72-scale/

A Visual Tour of Battleship USS New Jersey Book Review

A Visual Tour of Battleship USS New Jersey, The Design of Iowa-Class Battleships Vol. 1

By John M. Miano

Hardcover, 302 pages, appendices, bibliography

Self-Published, copyright 2021 by John M. Miano

Language: English

ISBN-10: ‎098998043X

ISBN-13: ‎978-0989980432

Dimensions: ‎11.0 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches

Author John Miano has rare, perhaps even unique, access to the USS New Jersey (BB-62) as a museum ship as well as the drawings and blueprints of her which are archived there.  He has used this access to enter and photograph a vast number of her interior spaces, many of which are not open to the public.  In fact, several of the spaces he has photographed were not routinely entered by the crew when the ship was active so there are some really unusual and out-of-the-way areas shown in this book.

The book is organized by deck and each chapter begins with a labeled line drawing identifying each space by name.  Then the author proceeds through the deck, photographing representative spaces.  Captions are extensive, detailing what is shown in the photographs along with any interesting history and technical descriptions of the equipment shown so the reader knows exactly what they are looking at.  These are supplemented with pictures taken when the ship was active which helps explain how the equipment was used operationally or shows a previous configuration.  The Main Battery turrets, Engine Room #2 and Fire Room #2 are handled as separate chapters.  The topside views will be of most interest to modelers, and many are viewed from unusual perspectives.

Being self-published, the paper quality could be improved, and there are some captions which would benefit from the attentions of an editor.  However, these are minor points given the extensive coverage and amount of technical detail in the captions.

As a young Ensign I cross-decked to the New Jersey for a month in October 1985, and served aboard USS Missouri (BB-63) until 1989.  There are many photographs of areas I knew well, even accounting for the inevitable differences between sister ships.  Many other photographs are of spaces I never entered, being outside of my responsibilities.  Several are spaces which were only entered for inspection purposes while the ships were in service, but show some interesting detail of the ship’s construction or armor layout.  A must-have book for the battleship enthusiast, recommended.

AZmodel Vought OS2U Kingfisher Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

The newest Kingfisher on the shelf is this 2019 offering from AZmodel from the Czech Republic. The Kingfisher was the most common shipboard observation aircraft fielded by the U.S. Navy during the Second World War and has been well-represented in 1/72 scale.
The main sprue displays both raised and engraved surface detail. Fabric areas are perhaps a little exaggerated but look the part under a coat of paint. Beaching gear is included which is a welcome addition.
Parts are included to model the Kingfisher on either floats or wheels, which is appropriate as the actual aircraft could be converted easily as the need arose. A choice of single or twin guns is given for the observer’s position, and there is a set of bomb racks and 100-pound bombs for underwing stores.
Basic cockpit detail is provided. The mounts for the observer’s machine gun need to be trimmed back for the gun to fit properly.
Here the interior has been painted and weathered up a bit. I used the kit engine and added ignition wires. I was not clear on the position of the forward portion of the observer’s “shelf” and mounted mine too far forward.
Major assembly is complete in this photo. By this time I had realized my mistake with the cockpit part. I made adjustments to the kit with an exacto knife and made adjustments to my attitude with some modeling fluid from a little brown bottle. The seams were also smoothed out with some Perfect Plastic Putty.
More filling work was needed on the underside. The cockpit parts had spread the fuselage which left a gap on the underside. This was filled with superglue, and more PPP was needed along the wingroots.
Fit of the clear parts was not great, and I didn’t help matters by trying a new technique I had read about online and using Gorilla glue. The advantage to using Gorilla glue is that it does not fog and excess can be wiped away with a wet swab. The problem I encountered is the setting time is long and the bond is initially quite weak, which resulted in the canopy shifting slightly overnight. My next Kingfisher will feature vacuformed canopy sections. Here the canopy is in the process of being masked with little rectangles of masking tape.
The floats got some extra detail. Circular access ports were added to the top, there is no way they could have been molded on due to the mold release angle. Test fitting revealed there would be a gap at the rear support so this was built up with plastic card. The front of the float has an open cleat, while the underside has the hook for the towing sled and catapult attachment point added. The rudder linkage was added to the rear support, and the wing floats got wire handholds.
The beaching gear was missing several small details, but these were easily added with Evergreen and wire. The propeller hub looked odd, but then I noticed that it was just missing the counterweight assemblies and that was soon fixed.

Part II here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/04/22/azmodel-vought-os2u-kingfisher-build-in-1-72-scale-part-ii/

Royal Canadian Navy Coastal Forces Colour Photographs

During the Second World War the British Commonwealth operated a large number of small combatants of several types. These vessels were quite versatile, common fittings allowing for rapid changes in armament to adapt them to various roles. Here is Q050, an RCN Fairmile B on patrol off Newfoundland in 1944.
Taken from the same series, Q094 passes a small iceberg. The boats typically operated in groups of six, and could augment or replace larger escorts or patrol ships in coastal waters.
Armament could vary considerably over time and be configured to fit various roles. This is the bow 20mm Oerlikon cannon aboard Q094. The Oerlikon was a reliable and hard-hitting weapon and was used in a variety of mounts.
A closeup of the conning station showing details of interest to modelers. The rating is operating a signal lamp. Note the side light with the darkened trough.
A fine study of MTB-460, a Canadian G Type torpedo boat of the 29th Motor Torped Boat Flotilla. She participated in the D-Day landings on 06JUN44, but was mined and sunk with the loss of ten crew on 01JUL44.
A bows-on shot of MTB-460 at speed. Her main mast is offset to the starboard side, an unusual feature.
A large group of Fairmile D Motor Torpedo Boats seen moored at Great Yarmouth in 1945. The group includes the Canadian 65th MTB Flotilla. The gun mounted forward is a 6-pounder (57mm) with a Molins autoloader, a heavy and potent weapon for a small craft.
A detail view of the previous photograph which allows a comparison of the equipment fit and stowage variations between individual vessels. A close study reveals no two are quite the same.