Most of these photographs were taken during the first weeks of Operation Barbarossa, which saw the Soviet Air Force sustain losses on an unimaginable scale. On the first day the VVS lost over 2,000 aircraft, and by the end of the year that figure exceeded 21,000.
Trumpeter Tupolev Tu-95 Bear in 1/72 Scale
The Tu-95 is a Soviet strategic bomber design which first flew in 1952 – over seventy years ago. It is broadly similar to the USAF’s Boeing B-52 Superfortress, the major difference being the Tu-95 is powered by four turboprops each driving two four-bladed contra-rotating props while the B-52 uses eight jet engines. Both designs emphasized range and endurance, the B-52 is faster but not dramatically so. The maritime patrol variant of the Bear is designated the Tu-142.
The Trumpeter kit needs a lot of work to make it presentable. The nacelles and wings have fit problems so look forward to hours of sanding. Many of the detailed areas are approximations and most modelers will want to enhance those and also put something more into the cockpit. Definitely shorten the landing gear legs. The model is huge when built up, length is 25.25 inches (64 cm). Size is a problem so it requires bench space and care when moving it during construction. You will knock things off your bench!
The Long Walk Audio Book Review
The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom
Authored by Slavomir Rawicz, Narrated by John Lee
Audiobook, 9 hours and 34 minutes
Published by Blackstone Audio, May 2007
Slavomir Rawicz was a Polish cavalry officer who fought against the German invasion in 1939. After Poland was partitioned he found himself in the Soviet zone of control near the Ukrainian border. He spoke Russian, which was the pretext used by the Soviets to arrest him on charges of spying. An elaborate show trial resulted in his being found guilty and he was sentenced to 25 years in a Siberian labor camp.
The journey to Siberia was made packed into cattle cars for the most part, the last several days on foot through the snow with lines of men chained behind trucks. Several died along the way. The camp was little better, but the men were permitted to build barracks which provided shelter. Their main endeavor was the production of skis for the Red Army, which earned them an increased ration of bread. The prospect of spending the next 25 years in the camp did not appeal to Rawicz. He enlisted the help of six other prisoners, and one night they slipped through the wire in a snowstorm.
They had each saved enough rations and basic supplies to last a week, and between them they had an axe and a knife. Their plan was simple – walk south. Together, this is what they did for almost a year, covering roughly 4,000 miles of inhospitable terrain. They passed through the Siberian steppe, the Gobi Desert, the foothills of the Himalayas, and eventually reached British controlled India and salvation.
This is an epic story of survival, well told and engaging. The author shares numerous fascinating details of their journey and what they did to survive, what they ate, the people they met and their customs, and the will to persist and keep going day after day. There is a movie adaptation called “The Way Back”, but after reading the synopsis and seeing the trailer for the film it is evident it does not follow the book except in the most general terms. I quite enjoyed this book, and can recommend it without hesitation.
Eduard Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 in 1/72 Scale
This is the Eduard kit in Soviet markings. This is the “Asia” scheme in use through the 1970s through early 1990s consisting of irregular patches of four or five browns and greens over sky blue undersides. The kit needs no aftermarket and was built out of the box.
More finished pictures here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2023/03/09/eduard-syrian-mikoyan-gurevich-mig-21-in-1-72-scale/
Eduard Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 Build in 1/72 Scale Part I
The Taking of K-129 Audio Book Review
The Taking of K-129: How the CIA Used Howard Hughes to Steal a Russian Sub in the Most Daring Covert Operation in History
By Josh Dean, Narrated by Neil Hellegers
Audiobook, 15 hours and 47 minutes
Published by Penguin Audio
A fact that is not widely known outside of naval circles is that during the Cold War the Soviet Union’s submarine force had a serious accident or loss approximately every other year, on average. Most of these incidents involved nuclear propulsion, nuclear weapons, or both. On 08MAR68 the Golf-II class ballistic missile submarine K-129 was lost with all hands approximately 600 nautical miles north of Midway Island in the Pacific. The K-129 was a diesel electric boat, but carried nuclear torpedoes and three SS-N-5 Serb ballistic missiles in her sail. Despite searching for two weeks, the Soviet Navy was unable to locate her.
On the other hand, the U.S. Navy operated several undersea hydrophone arrays which were able to triangulate the position of the K-129. The USS Halibut (SSGN-587) was dispatched to locate and photograph the wreck, which lay at a depth of 16,000 feet. Based upon Halibut’s pictures, the CIA launched an ambitious project to attempt to recover the wreck for intelligence purposes.
No object of comparable size had ever been brought up from so great a depth. Many new technologies would need to be developed, including a system to position the recovery ship above the wreck without the slightest deviation in position. In addition, the entire effort would have to be conducted in the greatest secrecy, if the Soviets learned of it the whole thing would be called off. A specialized, single-use ship would have to be designed and built. The ship would lower a recovery cradle and pull the K-129 back up into an interior hold where the crew would investigate the wreck and her weapons.
The effort was dubbed Project Azorian, the ship was the Hughes Glomar Explorer. The project was a CIA effort from the beginning, Howard Hughes was never actively involved. What Hughes did provide was a plausible cover story – publicly the Glomar Explorer was a deep ocean mining ship, intended to snatch manganese nodules from the ocean floor. In the summer of 1974 the forward portion of K-129 was recovered. The cover story held until February of 1975 when the Los Angeles Times ran a story which effectively precluded any further efforts to exploit the wreck site.
This is a fascinating book, the first half of which explains the engineering and operational challenges of building a ship to pull off the recovery. The fact that the effort had to be done in secret just adds another layer of complexity. There are several almost comical anecdotes of the project coming close to being revealed due to petty government bureaucracies demanding specific licenses or taxes before giving their permission to proceed. There is a necessary digression into the U-2 and SR-71 programs which explains why the CIA and not the Navy were given overall control of the project. Overall, this is a fascinating account of a slide-rule cloak and dagger story, recommended.
Bell P-39 Airacobra Color Photographs Part III
Zinky Boys Book Review
Zinky Boys Book Review
Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices from the Afghanistan War
By Svetlana Alexievich
Softcover, 197 pages
Published by Norton, 1997
Dimensions: 6.0 x 0.6 x 9.0 inches
This is the second book from author Svetlana Alexievich which I have read, the first being the Unwomanly Face of War. Like her other work, this book is comprised of several individual narratives. This book is noteworthy because is exposed the experiences of individual Soviet soldiers sent to Afghanistan at a time when the official Party line was to minimize the scope of the Russian presence there. Alexievich was awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature for her works.
The title Zinky Boys is derived from the practice of sending casualties home in sealed Zinc coffins. Many of the anecdotes are those of wives or mothers whose men were returned to them this way. Other stories are of soldiers who were wounded, some who lost legs due to mines or IEDs. All the interviews are sad in some way, and there are portions which are gruesome.
There are a few themes which struck me as odd products of Soviet society in the 1980s. One is the shortage of consumer goods which we take for granted in the West, items such as tape recorders, cassette players, blue jeans, and make-up are mentioned in several accounts. Many of the soldiers bartered for these in Afghanistan to take back home when their tours were over. Rampant corruption often separated these treasured items from soldiers either through confiscation or as a means of bribing officials for transportation home. The practice of abuse from the soldiers near the end of their tours towards the new arrivals was widely practiced and goes far beyond anything we would describe as hazing in the West. Also, the lack of material support was appalling, especially in the area of medical supplies, some of which had been in storage since the Great Patriotic War.
In many ways this book is a commentary of Soviet society at the time. Unfortunately, there are also parallels to the previous American experience in Vietnam and the war in Afghanistan after. Those looking for a military history of the Soviet war in Afghanistan should look elsewhere, this book is a narrative collection of individual stories which exposed a secret the Soviet leadership would have preferred to have kept hidden. This is an important work, but a tragic story.
Rising Tide Book Review
Rising Tide: The Untold Story of The Russian Submarines That Fought the Cold War
By Gary E. Weir and Walter J. Boyne
Hardcover in dustjacket, 354 pages, photographs, appendices, notes, bibliography, and index
Published by Basic Books, October 2003
Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
The submarine service of any nation is generally cloaked in secrecy, and with good reason. The primary advantage of a submarine is stealth – leave port, pull the plug, and disappear. The submarine is then free to operate anywhere her speed and endurance can take her, and perform any task desired. But if a submarine is detected it is suddenly vulnerable.
Rising Tide pulls back the curtain on Soviet submarine operations during the Cold War. The authors base the book on interviews with several former Soviet submarine Captains. While not widely known outside of naval circles, the Soviet boats were notoriously unreliable and several of the anecdotes in the book deal with fires and accidents, a number of which resulted in loss of life and / or sinking of the submarine. There was a callousness towards the lives of the crews not seen in Western navies, and Soviet submarines employed technologies and design practices which would have not even been considered in other navies. Adding to the problems were substandard maintenance and training practices. These are illustrated by the deployment of several Foxtrot-class attack submarines during the Cuban Missile Crisis, none of which were completely operational after crossing the Atlantic. A second example is the loss of the Oscar II class submarine Kursk, which was attributed to an explosion of a practice torpedo. Subsequent investigation revealed the torpedo had not been properly maintained and that the crew had not actually fired a torpedo in years.
The book concludes with an analysis of Gorshkov’s History of the Soviet Navy and a brief comparison of American and Soviet submarines. Gorshkov’s writings are at times insightful, and at other times almost laughable. Overall, I found this book offered an interesting (though by necessity, incomplete) perspective on how the “other side” did things. Recommended.
Encore Yakovlev Yak-9 in 1/72 Scale
The box says Encore, but Scalemates indicates this kit was first issued by Dakoplast in 1997, then Encore, then Eastern Express, and finally Modelist. As Marc mentioned in comments to the build thread the sprues match the ICM kit. I enclosed the wheelwells, replaced the wheels, and substituted a vacuform canopy for the awful kit piece. The model represents a generic Yak-9T of the 3rd FAC operating in the Kursk area, summer 1943.
Construction posts here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2021/07/30/encore-yakovlev-yak-9-build-in-1-72-scale-part-i/