2020 Year in Review

“May you live in interesting times.” – ancient Chinese curse

Gingerbread
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!

Typhoon Wings of 2nd Tactical Air Force Book Review

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Typhoon Wings of 2nd Tactical Air Force 1943–45

Osprey Combat Aircraft Series 86

By Chris Thomas

Softcover, 96 pages, 40 color profiles

Published by Osprey Publishing, September 2010

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1846039738

ISBN-13: 978-1846039737

Dimensions:  7.3 x 0.3 x 9.9 inches

The Typhoon was designed as a fighter but was mainly used as a ground attack aircraft.  It enjoyed great success in that role, the Royal Air Force fielding twenty wings of the type at the time of the Normandy invasion.  The type had a troubled development history which only got sorted out with great difficulty, and even then with some compromise.

The first chapter deals with the technical and production issues which plagued the introduction of the Typhoon into service.  There were substantial issues with the type’s Napier engine from both the reliability and availability perspectives, the issue got so bad at one point that there were several hundred Typhoon fuselages in depots without engines, as these had been cannibalized to keep the operational squadrons going.  Another more famous issue was a series of structural failures which resulted in Typhoons disintegrating in flight.  The fault was eventually traced to elevator flutter which caused the tail assembly to fail.

The remaining chapters describe the exploits of the men and units which flew the Typhoon in combat.  This is standard fare for the Osprey aviation books but the anecdotes are impressive nonetheless.  There is also the expected color profile section which is a highlight of the series, in this volume there are a total of forty profiles, all in the Dark Green and Ocean Grey over Medium Sea Grey scheme.

Author Chris Thomas mentions three bits of information which I found particularly interesting from a modeling perspective.  First, Typhoon units carried underwing markings in 1943 which were similar to the Normandy “invasion stripes”.  Second, Typhoons were configured with either bombs or Rocket Projectiles, and these versions were usually concentrated together in squadrons of the same type.  And third, a note at the beginning of the Colour Plates description section designates the tailplane and propeller configurations by serial number.

This is a typical Osprey Combat Aircraft series volume and delivers all the goodies readers have come to expect.  I found the chapter on the design and production problems and their solutions particularly interesting.  Overall a nice package and a welcome addition to the series.

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B-17E Color Photographs Part II

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This is one of the first B-17Es assigned to the Eighth Air Force, 41-2578 “Butcher Shop”, seen at Bovington. Lead bomber of the first 8th AF B-17 bombing mission on 17 August 1942, she was flown by Paul Tibbits. She was the oldest Boeing B-17 in the 8th AF at the end of the war. Note the subdued national insignia on the fuselage.

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This Fortress was later named “Tugboat Annie” and fought in the Pacific assigned to the 19th Bomb Group. She was hit by flak over Rabaul on the night of 16JAN43, ditching off Buna. All of the crew survived and was rescued. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)

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Another view of 41-2599 with Mount Rainier in the background.

41-2600(3)
A fine study of 41-2600, “Esmerelda”. She served in the continental United States throughout the war.

41-9055MissNippon_41-2567_41-2543Snoozy_RudyArnold(1)
Three Fortresses in a V formation, the basic building block of the box formation used over Europe. These Forts are 41-9055 “Miss Nippon”, 41-2567, and 41-2543 “Snoozy”.

41-9131_41-9141_RudyArnold(1)
41-9131 wears the standard U.S. camouflage Olive Drab over Neutral Gray, but the nearer Fortress 41-9141 wears Royal Air Force colors and fin flash. The RAF was programmed to receive forty-five B-17Es but many, including this one, were delivered to the USAAC after completion. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)

41-9141
Another view of the same pair of Fortresses, but this time with less color shift in the negative.

Boeing B-17E
A rather tattered photograph of a B-17E at Wright Field. Note the wear to the paint on the propeller blades.

Panama_B17E
Mechanics service an engine on a B-17E in Panama. The B-17s assigned to protect the canal saw no combat, but carried a unique white mottling on their undersides and edges of the tail surfaces and wings.

B-17E Color Photographs Part I

Boeing B-17E
This is the first B-17E which was delivered to Wright Field on 03OCT41. It is wearing the Olive Drab over Neutral Gray camouflage scheme and the prescribed set of USAAC markings for the time. Her serial number, 41-2393 has not yet been applied to the vertical tail. The first 112 aircraft carried the Sperry remote turret in the belly position, which is just visible below the fuselage insignia in this photograph. This aircraft did not see combat, it was lost in Newfoundland on 09JAN42.

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This is B-17E 41-2397, seen just prior to the Battle of Midway in this screen grab from John Ford’s film. This Fortress is one of only nineteen B-17Es repainted in the Hawaiian Air Depot camouflage scheme. She survived combat and was written off at the end of October 1944.

41-2405_HansGroenhoff
Here is 41-2405 seen warming up her engines in the pre-dawn twilight on 25JUN42. This Fortress was assigned to various fields in the continental United States for the duration of the war. (NASM Archive, Hans Groenhoff collection)

41-2405_BombLoading_RudyArnold25JUN42
Another photograph of 41-2405, with armorers loading bombs.

41-2407(2)
41-2407 was one of two aircraft (along with 41-2399) named “Nemesis of Aeroembolism”. Armament was removed from these aircraft.  Each carried different nose art designs.  She was assigned to the Air Material Command at Wright Field.

41-2407_Nemesis_of_Aeroembolism
Another view of 41-2407. Aeroembolism is commonly known as decompression sickness, where changes in pressure can form bubbles in the blood.

41-2437_(3)_FordMidwayB17E
Here is another B-17E in the Hawaiian Air Depot scheme as captured by Ford on Midway Island immediately prior to the battle. This is 41-2437, her red and white tail strips having been painted over the month before. Visible under the fuselage is the Sperry remote turret and sighting dome. She survived her combat tour.

41-2509
A fine study of 41-2509 and one of the best B-17E color portraits. A crew member can be seen observing the photographer’s aircraft through the fuselage window in the radio compartment.

41-2509(3)
Another excellent photograph of 41-2509. Modelers should note the black wing walkway stripes and that the wear to the paint indicates that these have been ignored by the ground crew, along with the differences in the Olive Drab finish seen on the canvas control surfaces.

41-2567_RudyArnold
Details of the underside can be seen in this picture of 41-2567, including the large “U.S. ARMY” lettering carried under the wings. The Sperry ball turret was a vast improvement over the remote turret but was cramped, the gunner generally being the shortest member of the crew. (NASM, Rudy Arnold Collection)

USN McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II Book Review

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USN McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II

By Peter E. Davies, illustrated by Adam Tooby and Henry Morshead

Series: Osprey Air Vanguard Book 22

Paperback, 64 pages, heavily illustrated

Published by Osprey Publishing March 2016

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1472804953

ISBN-13: 978-1472804952

Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.1 x 9.9 inches

This is the first book in the Osprey Air Vanguard Series which I have read.  Like most Osprey books, it covers a lot of ground in a small number of pages, so it is best thought of as a primer or an introduction rather than a comprehensive history.  The story of the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom could easily (and does!) fill several volumes so it is wise that Osprey have focused on USN F-4s in this work while issuing a separate book on Phantoms operated by the USAF.  Having said that, this volume also covers Phantoms in US Marine, Royal Air Force, and Royal Navy service, so the USN in the title is a bit of a misnomer.

The first chapters are devoted to the developmental history and technical description of the Phantom.  This is well known among aviation enthusiasts but is useful for being concise – an example where the brevity of the format is a strength.  There is a description of all the major sub-types operated by the naval services, and then a history of the type in service.

Like most Osprey books, this one is profusely illustrated, mostly in color.  There are several pages of artwork including portraits of two aircraft and profiles of nine.  The profiles are reproduced to a much smaller format than either those in the Aircraft of the Aces or Combat Aircraft series and there is much less information presented in the captions.  One of the nicer presentations is one which I almost overlooked – the back cover is actually a gatefold which contains an annotated cut-away illustration of the Phantom.

Overall a nice package, the contents and quality of which would not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with this publisher.

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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.

He177A3_02
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.

He177A5_03_IFKG_50_Zaporoze
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.

He177_04_Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-668-7161-31A
6N + SK was an He 177A-3 assigned to 2./KG 100 at Rheine, Germany.  Camouflage is 75 / 76 over black undersides.  (Bundesarchiv photo)

Flugzeug Heinkel He 177
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)

He177_06
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.

He177_07
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.

He177_08
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.

He177A3_09_KG100-(6N+DN)
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.

He177A5_10
An interesting undersurface camouflage has been applied to this Greif, a cloud pattern of RLM 76 or 77 over the darker RLM 65.

He177A5_11
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.

He177A5_12
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.

Colorful Curtiss P-40 Warhawk Markings Part 1

P40_01_112SqnKittyhawk_SidiHeneish
The P-40 Warhawk is probably best known as the plane with the shark’s teeth, and the unit which started it all was the RAF’s 112 Squadron which first painted the famous marking on their Kittyhawk I’s in North Africa.  Here Lt A. R. Costello strikes a pose next to his aircraft at Sidi Heneish, Egypt.

P40_02_112SqnKittyhawk_SidiHeneish
The sharkmouth fit the contours of the P-40 particularly well.  112 Squadron aircraft soon became favorites of photographers, and pictures were picked up by several magazines eager to provide coverage of the war.

P40_03_AVG01_ByRTSmith
The magazine coverage made it all the way to China, where pilots of the American Volunteer Group “Flying Tigers” decided shark’s teeth would look nice on their aircraft as well.  Their aircraft and exploits soon became legend and are still one of the most recognizable schemes to this day.  Each set of shark’s teeth was painted by hand and differed in details.  (Robert Smith photograph)

P40_04
The 343rd Fighter Group was activated on 03SEP42 at Elmendorf Field, Alaska.  It consisted of the 11th and 18th Fighter Squadrons on Curtiss P-40Es and the 54th Fighter Squadron on Lockheed P-38s.  A fourth squadron with P-40Es, the 344th, was added in October.  In command was Lt Col John Chennault, whose father of Flying Tigers fame inspired the Tiger nose art applied to the Group’s P-40s.  (LIFE Magazine photograph)

P40_05
A lesser known application is this yellow nosed P-40E.  Supposedly there were two aircraft painted in these nose markings at Malaybalay, Mindanao while flying in defense of the Philippines, but documentation is lacking.

P40_06
At least one of these aircraft was captured by the Japanese in airworthy condition.  It was given Japanese Hinomaru over the U.S. insignia, although the “U.S. ARMY” lettering is still just visible under the wings in this photograph.

P40_07
Another view as the Japanese examine their prize.  Several U.S. types were captured and restored to airworthy condition on Java and the Philippines, including many P-40s and three B-17s.

P40_08
A view of the starboard side of the nose from a Japanese magazine.  Most artist’s renderings depict the head as either being yellow, or yellow with red mottling.  The “bullet-riddled” description in the English caption is wishful thinking, there were several P-40s captured intact by the Japanese that were quite flyable.

P40_09_Kuter-P-40N-Kweilen
The shark’s mouth marking remained popular with P-40 units, particularly those flying in the Chinese Theater.  Here is a P-40N of the 74th Fighter Squadron being fitted with rocket tubes at Kweilen, China in 1943-44.

P40_10_Kunming-China-1944
Yet another variation seen in India, this P-40K of the 25th Fighter Squadron 51st Fighter Group is pictured at Assam Valley India in 1944.  A smaller mouth but larger fangs.

Luftwaffe in Africa Book Review

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Luftwaffe in Africa, 1941-1943

By Jean-Louis Roba

Paperback, 128 pages, heavily illustrated, index

Published by Casemate, November 2019

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1612007457

ISBN-13: 978-1-61200-7458

Product Dimensions: 7.0 x 0.5 x 10.0 inches

Germany was drawn into the war in North Africa by Mussolini’s ambitions.  Italy had little to gain by conquering the region; Germany even less so.  For the German Army and particularly the Luftwaffe North Africa did little more than provide an ever-increasing drain on assets which could have been better used in the Soviet Union.  Once the influx of American men and material began to be felt the Axis cause was beyond redemption.

This volume provides a good overview of the progression of the campaign in North Africa from the Luftwaffe perspective.  There were quite a large number of units committed over time but Germany was never able to achieve the concentration of force necessary to achieve her goals, attempts to supply the Africa Korps by air transport proving particularly costly.  Roba does a good job of tracking the constant redeployments, and describes the results of the major air actions as the campaign progressed.  Also included is the commitment of the Luftwaffe’s Fallschrimjäger.  The LRDG attacks of Luftwaffe airfields are mentioned as well but only briefly.  In the last third of the book there are several first-hand accounts from pilots which are interesting, although one from Arman Köhler’s diary appears to have been inadvertently omitted.

There are quite a number of photographs reproduced in this book, many of which were new to me.  They include some original color examples which are presented well and are generally well captioned.  There are also fifteen very nicely done color profiles, but these have only the briefest of descriptions.

Overall a nice presentation and a quick read.  A few first-hand accounts in the beginning of the book would have been welcome, but this book provides a good overview of the campaign.

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Airfix Standard Light Utility Vehicles in 1/72 Scale

These are Standard Light Utility Vehicles which are part of the Airfix WWII RAF Bomber Re-Supply Set.  One is included in each box, it is essentially a light truck and a quick build in 1/72 scale.  Many of the kit parts are molded on the clear sprue, but mine suffered from the dreaded Airfix flow lines so I cut the portions representing glass off and replaced the windshields with acetate.  There were also gaps at the sides where the cab joins the hood which I filled with Perfect Plastic Putty.  Other than that they build up nicely.

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