Takom Northern Alliance MAZ-537 Tank Transporter in 1/72 Scale

This is the Takom Russian Army Tank Transporter, specifically a MAZ-537G Tractor with a CHMZAP-5247G trailer. I have developed a fondness for tank transporters, this one is finished as serving with the Afghani Northern Alliance using Star Decals. Figures are from Paracel.

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Mil Mi-24 Hind Gunship Book Review

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Mil Mi-24 Hind Gunship

By Alexander Mladenov, illustrated by Ian Palmer

Osprey New Vanguard Series Book 171

Paperback, 48 pages, heavily illustrated

Published by Osprey Publishing September 2010

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1846039533

ISBN-13: 978-1846039539

Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.1 x 9.9 inches

U.S. helicopter tactics rely on two basic types of platforms – assault helicopters such as the AH-1 Cobra or AH-64 Apache suppress enemy defenses which allows troops to be inserted by transport helicopters such as the UH-1 Huey or UH-60 Blackhawk.  In the Mil MI-24 Hind design the Soviets combined both functions, resulting in a heavily armed (and armored) assault helicopter which could also transport eight infantrymen.

This volume is divided into two parts.  The first half of the book describes the design and development of the Hind.  The various models are described including several types of special-purpose modifications.  For each of these the author lists specific equipment installed to perform the missions required.  The second half of the book is devoted to the various operators of the MI-24.  The author provides an overview of operations of each nations Hinds.  These are specific enough to understand the employment of the helicopters but do not go into great detail or contain crew interviews.

Like all books in the Osprey Vanguard series this is not a lengthy all-encompassing history of the subject but there is enough there to familiarize the reader with the high points.  I felt the technical description was the right length – it covered all the variants and would have bogged down with additional detail.  The section on the service histories was brief.  There are certainly many interesting stories omitted here due to page length.  Overall, another nice volume from Osprey.

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Russian Federation Submarine Rescue Ship Kommuna

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The oldest active-duty naval ship in the world today is the Russian Federation Submarine Rescue Ship Kommuna.  She has served under three governments – the Tsarist Imperial Russia, Soviet, and now the Russian Federation.

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She was launched on 17 November 1913 at St. Petersburg and commissioned in July 1915 as the Volkhov.  She was renamed Kommuna in 1922 by the Soviets after the Russian Revolution.

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Kommuna was intended to serve as a submarine tender as well as a salvage ship.  She raised two Russian submarines during the First World War.  Notably, she raised the British submarine HMS L55 in 1928, the remains of her 34 crew members were repatriated to England.

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During the Great Patriotic War she was based at Leningrad, where she was damaged by Luftwaffe bombs.  She operated as a submarine tender and recovered a substantial number of sunken vessels, and even tanks and trucks which had broken through the ice on Lake Ladoga.

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Kommuna was built with a catamaran hull form and a four-point anchoring system which allows her to fix her position above a desired point on the sea floor.  In October 1957 she raised the Quebec-class attack submarine M-256 which had sunk as a result of fire.

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She has four distinctive doubled truss and girder arches which join her twin hulls and still allow clearance for salvaged vessels to be hoisted between them.  This has given her a unique appearance.

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A nice overhead view giving a good indication of the general layout.  Her hulls are relatively narrow, and she displaces only 3,100 tons with a length of 315 feet (96 meters).  Crew compliment is 99 men.

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There is a small conning station high atop the forward girder structure.  While this would provide an excellent view it must certainly be a challenge to change the watch in foul weather.

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The Kommuna was modified to carry a Project 1837 AS-5 Deep Submergence Rescue Vessel (DSRV) along with remotely piloted vehicles, giving her the capacity to function as a rescue ship.

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A profile view of the Russian Federation Submarine Rescue Ship Kommuna, 105 years of service and counting!

Spotlight On Yakovlev Yak-3 Book Review

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Spotlight On Yakovlev Yak-3

By Artur Juszczak

Hardcover, 44 pages, 42 color profiles

Published by MMP Books July 2017

Language: English

ISBN-10: 9788365281487

ISBN-13: 978-8365281487

ASIN: 8365281481

Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.4 x 11.7 inches

The Spotlight On series is published by Mushroom from Poland.  These are thin books, but on a large layout and printed on glossy paper.  The books consist of a single page giving a brief history of the subject’s design, then it is straight off to the profiles.  For each there is a short caption identifying the pilot, location, and date along with some information on the paint scheme & markings.  No additional information is provided, so if you’re looking for a pilot biography or anecdotes about the aircraft’s service history or combats you’ll need to research elsewhere.

There are 42 Yak-3s profiled in this volume, the vast majority in Soviet markings and AMT 11 / 12 / 7 camouflage, although there are several exceptions thrown in for good measure.  All the profiles are of either the port or starboard sides, no plan views are provided.  Eight of the profiles are of aircraft of the Normandie-Niemen Regiment so there is plenty here for the fans of this famous French unit.

This is a quality series, and there is lots of inspiration for modelers here (provided decals can be sourced of course).  I would have liked to have seen some additional background on the individual aircraft and their pilots, it is always more interesting and inspiring to know something of the history involved.  Several of these volumes have appeared on the secondary market, often at a significant discount.  They are well worth picking up, especially if they can be found at a bargain price!

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Soviet Destroyers of World War II Book Review

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Soviet Destroyers of World War II

By Alexander Hill, illustrated by Filipe Rodríguez

Series: Osprey New Vanguard Book 256

Paperback, 48 pages, heavily illustrated

Published by Osprey Publishing March 2018

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1472822560

ISBN-13: 978-1472822567

Dimensions: 7.3 x 0.1 x 9.7 inches

There are not many books on the subject of the Soviet Navy during the Great Patriotic War, the subject just receives an occasional mention as part of another narrative.  Osprey’s New Vanguard series is an excellent format to introduce the topic of Soviet Destroyers and provides a comprehensive overview of the different classes and their histories.  Technical specifications and the service record of each ship are included, along with many photographs and illustrations.

Destroyers were, and still are, a fundamental warship type which forms the backbone of any navy.  In the years preceding the war Soviet naval development lagged behind that of other nations, and this was readily apparent in their destroyer force.  The problems began with design and construction. Soviet destroyers were not good “sea boats”, and suffered reliability issues due to poor construction and materials.  Building or repairing the ship took far longer than it would have for other nations (particularly the U.S.) and the crew was generally tasked with helping the shipyard make repairs or alterations.  Armament was inferior, main guns were often old and lacked anti-aircraft capability, guns dedicated to the anti-aircraft role were of mixed calibers and many had low rates of fire.  The Soviet Navy lacked both radar and sonar at the beginning of the war, even after the Allies provided these sensors the sailors were not proficient in their operations.

Adding to these issues was the inexperience of the crews.  Stalin’s purges of the 1930s eliminated many seasoned Officers and experienced sailors from the ranks, crews of conscripts led by political appointees in outdated ships was not a recipe for success.  The Soviet Navy suffered greatly during the first few months of the war.  A great number of ships were lost to mines.  Many others were lost to air attack, which is not surprising given their outdated armament and lack of fire control.  Several vessels were engaged in friendly fire incidents or damaged due to a lack of basic seamanship, a reflection of the training of the crews.

This book is enlightening when one realizes that many of the problems encountered by the Soviet Navy then are still facing the Russian Federation Navy today.  The Russians still have great difficulty building, repairing, and maintaining their ships.  Reliability of their engineering plants and mechanical deficiencies of their hulls limit or even prohibit deployment of many of their warships.

This book is a quick read, but an informative overview of the development of destroyers in the Soviet Navy.  Hopefully we will see more books on the Soviet Navy from Osprey in the future.

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Tamiya Ilyushin IL-2 Sturmovik in 1/72 Scale

This is the Tamiya  Ilyushin IL-2 Sturmovik.  What an outstanding kit!  I have built the Tamiya Zeros, the IL-2 is every bit as finely engineered, the thing just falls together.  I was able to complete this build without using any putty.  The seams almost disappear, they only needed a little sanding.  This is nice as the surface detail is as fine as you’ll see.  The cockpit builds up as a separate assembly which can be inserted into the fuselage from below.  Detail is perfectly adequate for the closed canopy, and really would look fine with the canopy opened.  The cockpit was masked with Eduard masks – highly recommended.  The masks for the landing light on the wing are not mentioned in the directions, but they are included.  The model was built OOB, the only additions were tape belts and antenna wires.  Overall, a very enjoyable build, it just flew together.  This kit represents the state of the art.

The markings are from the kit and depict the aircraft of Guards Captain Ivan Pavlov, commander of the 6th Guards Attack Aviation Regiment, 3rd Air Army, 1st Baltic Front.  Pavlov was twice awarded Hero of the Soviet Union.  The inscription on the fuselage reads, “To our countryman, Hero of the Soviet Union, comrade Pavlov from Kustanay’s workers.”

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