Selected WW2 70th Anniversaries this month:
Between 2009 and 2015, I have set myself a general modelling theme that marks selected 70th Anniversaries from WW2.
December 1942 - As Europe settles into its fourth Xmas at war, at last the news is no longer all bad for the Allies.
In North Africa, real victory seems close at last and the initial preparations to invade Sicily have begun, whilst on the Eastern Front, the Red Army has trapped the German advance in the bitter Russian winter snow. In the Pacific, Guadalcanal remains the scene of bitter and intense fighting, but the Japanese have also been halted.
There will be nearly 3 more years of war and many setbacks to come before Allied Victory is assured, but at long last, defeat no longer seems inevitable.
22 Dec - Operation Winter Storm has failed and the Germans begin a retreat from the Caucasus. In North Africa, the critical battle for "Longstop Hill" begins outside Tunis. Rommel's forces capture the hill and will manage to hold it until April 1943.
26 Dec - Heavy fighting continues on Guadalcanal.
31 Dec - The Battle of the Barents Sea, Cruisers, destroyers, minesweepers and armed trawlers of the Royal Navy defeat a large force of German heavy cruisers and destroyers, attempting to disrupt convoy JW 51B. All of the convoy's merchantmen reach their destination. Hitler decides henceforth to abandon the use of surface raiders in favor of U-boats, and dismisses the head of the Kreigsmarine in disgrace.
899 Sqn Fleet Air Arm, RNAS Yeovilton, 899 Sqn 50th Anniversary, December 1992
Sword 1/72, built out the box
The first generation Harrier was a complex aircraft to fly, particularly from ships. To enable suitable training, the RN acquired a small fleet of two seat T.4N Harrier trainers to be used by 899 Sqn at Yeovilton, where a dummy flight deck and launch ski-jump were established. In 1992, 899 Sqn celebrated its 50th Anniversary by decorating two harriers, an FRS.1 and a T.4N, in special markings.
Today in 2012, 20 years after that anniversary and 70 years since it was formed during WW2, 899 Squadron and all of Yeovilton's amazing Harriers are a fading memory and museum exhibits.
Sword released this marvellous little 1/72 kit earlier this year in two separate variants; an early AV.8/T.2 (in RAF and USMC markings) and this T.4 in a choice of RN or RAF markings. The kit comes in Sword's familiar soft blue-grey plastic and looks very similar in breakdown to the ESCI Harrier kit, which is a very good sign. Better still it comes with a very nice pre-coloured photo etch set and a single resin part, all for a remarkably reasonable price. Lightly engraved surface detail is very good and the overall shape and accuracy seem to have pleased even the most strident internet critics.
Naturally, as a short run kit, building it requires a little patience and skill, but for the most part I found the fit of parts to be very good. Two areas gave me some grief: firstly the intakes, whose inner wall parts would not fit happily around the compressor blades and required a little trimming (which may just have been my misunderstanding of the build sequence). There was also a nasty sprue attachment point just inside the outer lip that required some careful removal. Secondly, the fuselage did not fit together nicely. Fit at the the back and forward was really quite good, but less so along the middle, leaving a nasty gap on the underside and above the rear cockpit that needed some Tippex filler.
There were also a few minor niggles; the PE was very fiddly to apply (I really hate superglue!) and the attachment point of the nose-wheel leg was rather vague, leaving it a little lower than I would have preferred. There were also a few awkward ejector stubs, most noticeably in the wing halves, but these were easily trimmed and gave me no real problems. Decals are by Techmod, who always look good although I have had problems with them cracking before - however I am pleased to report that this was not a problem on this kit and they settled down very nicely with a little Klear to bed them in.
Other than that though, this kit really is very nice, definitely excellent value and thoroughly recommended to those with moderate building skills and a love of the Harrier!
More Harriers of all shapes and sizes on my Harriers pages
Oshkosh M977 HEMTT
US Army, Kosovo
Academy 1/72, built out the box.
The HEMTT provides the US Army with a 10 ton rough terrain load carrying capability. Variants of the truck have been used as missile launchers, armoured gun trucks (like something out of Mad Max) and one has even been fitted with a naval Vulcan Phalanx gun to intercept incoming mortar rounds.
I bought this kit mainly because it was going very cheap in Modelzone's summer sale and I had been impressed by Academy's other vehicle kits. It comes with a very creditable number of parts, all crisply moulded and is relatively easy to build, although I had some difficulty getting the load deck flat and the cabin aligned properly in the horizontal plane (I suspect the chassis was a little warped).
Nevertheless, it makes up into a good looking model of this large and versatile US Army vehicle.
More vehicles my Dark Side AFV pages
Image - FRADU BAe Hawks and Dassault Falcons in close formation