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.
Sqn, 2nd Lothians and Borders Horse Yeomanry
The A15 Cruiser Tank Mk.IV Crusader first entered service in 1941 and played a key role in the North African campaigns. A fast but lightly armoured (and armed) cruiser tank, by 1943 it had been outgunned by the German Panzer IV and Tiger tanks in Tunisia, despite being modified to carry the more powerful British 6lb gun. Never the most reliable of tanks, it suffered from cooling and track problems throughout its career, as well as a tendency for its own gun blast to damage the fuel system if firing with the turret traversed to the rear.
As a result of the poor performance of both British tank types against the up-gunned and up-armoured German tanks and the losses sustained during the Kasserine and Thala battle, both units were very quickly re-equipped with US-made Sherman tanks for the final push on Tunis, then on into Sicily and Italy.
The Crusader Tank has always struck me as one of the more purposeful British tank designs. Angular and brutish, sadly it suffered from all of the faults typical of WW2 British tank design in terms of light armour, an ineffective gun and mechanical (un)reliability. There are 2 readily available small scale kits of the Crusader, with early and late models (the turret mantlet is different) possible from the Airfix kit, whilst Hasegawa covers only the later variant. Having built both, I can recommend either, but Hasegawa is definitely the better of the two.
Building is drama free, although the lack of side-skirts means that you need to pay close attention to the tracks. The holes in the rubber main wheels are particularly well reproduced, with the auxiliary fuel tank and well thought out turret attachment adding nice touches for the modeller.
As supplied, the decals are for the 17/21st Lancers, but the only unit-specific markings are the turret identity numbers; I have modified these to reflect a Lothians tank, based on the illustration on the cover of the Osprey book "Crusader and Covenanter Cruiser Tanks 1939-45" by David Fletcher with the blue colour befitting the unit's seniority in the line and the circle representing C Squadron.
More Tanks & AFVs on my Dark Side pages
Airfix HO/OO (1/76?).
Rather like the British policy of different roles for Cruiser and Infantry tanks, the Panzer IV was originally intended as a heavily armed support tank to be deployed in limited numbers alongside the lighter Panzer III. As the weight and power of tank guns increased, the IV chassis was seen to have greater development potential and became the main German tank. The Ausf F2 variant, carrying thicker armour and a new longer barrelled 75mm gun was supplied in limited numbers to Rommel's Afrika Korps in late 1942, participating in the Tunisian battles, where it proved superior to the British Crusader and Valentine tanks.
Despite the introduction of the advanced Panzer V (Tiger) and Panzer VI (Panther) tanks, the Panzer IV was more reliable and easier to build, so remained in production as the mainstay of German tank forces right up until the end of WW2; in 1943 the German army lost 2,352 Panzer IVs on the Eastern Front alone. After the war, the type saw active service with Finland, Bulgaria and Romania right up until the 1950s, with some seeing use as fixed border gun emplacements for much longer. Panzer IVs last saw combat during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, when Syrian Panzer IVs supplied via France were used to shell Israeli settlements from the Golan heights, until destroyed by Centurion tanks of the IDF. Link to website showing surviving Panzer IV tanks
The Airfix Panzer IV comes with a choice of short or long barrel and simple decals for two tanks deployed in North Africa. A comparatively simple model, it builds into a good looking representation of this important WW2 tank.
More Tanks & AFVs on my Dark Side pages
Angel Interceptor, Spectrum Cloudbase, 2070
Airfix 1/72 (?), built out the box.
The familiar Spectrum Angel Interceptor is based on the World Army Air Force "Viper" jets first introduced in 2065. Manufactured by several aircraft companies across the world, they are armed with air-to-air and air-to-ground rockets, as well as a main cannon (firing pre-selectable heat seeker or armour-piercing shells). Powered by twin, turbo-jet compressors feeding twin Rolls-Royce Spectra-Fan air ramjets, the Interceptor is 60 feet long, with a 35 foot wide wing-span, flight ceiling of 40,000 feet (height of Cloudbase) and a top speed of 3,000 MPH (yeah, right!).
The Angel Interceptors are currently flown by female pilots Destiny, Melody, Harmony, Rhapsody and Symphony (who, it is claimed, have proven best equipped to handle the g-forces and multi-tasking combat environment of the Angel). Nevertheless, Spectrum is an equal opportunities employer and the opportunity for suitably capable male candidates to apply to fly an Angel remains open at all times, since pilots are selected entirely on their combat flying ability; physical appearance does not play any part whatsoever in their selection (yeah, right).
With the sad death of creator Gerry Anderson in December 2012, this kit has jumped to the front of the build pile in tribute. Few British males of my age-group will not have heard of Gerry & Sylvia Anderson and their amazing Marionation puppet shows. Like, I'm sure, a great many others, the technology of Fireball XL-5, Stingray, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Joe 90, UFO and of course, Space 1999 played a very influential part in my childhood and is undoubtedly responsible in some part for my choosing a life-long career in engineering and the military. Even as an adult, my wife & young son regularly sent me VCR recordings of Space Precinct (along with the X-Files) whilst I was deployed to the Gulf in a warship - a kids programme it may have been, but it gained plenty of viewers in the wardroom!
The Airfix kit was first issued in 1968 at the height of the series' popularity, was re-issued for a while as a snap together kit in the 1980s and more recently in 2012 another issue has appeared with an excellent set of decals to match. It is undoubtedly a crude kit, although most of the gaps are Tippex-worthy rather than needing serious filler.
It matches the design of the programme's aircraft reasonably well, albeit that the scale of the kit is rather ambiguous. The screen original (there were 2 models used for filming, a large one and a small one) shows a very large cockpit for the Angel to sit inside; Airfix have made it rather more snug! Partly to address this I have used a small pilot from the spares box, and have added a cockpit panel cowl to hide the general lack of interior.
Paint is brushed Humbrol Satin enamel (3 thinned coats of 130 white and some detail in 174 crimson and 85 black), with panel lines outlined by pencil, then 2 coats of Klear floor polish to seal and give a shine.
Missile stations, missile stations.....geeee, Mr Tracey, F A B and S I G (Spectrum Is Green).
More What If Models on my What-If? pages
Image - Replica of the Hawker Hurricane flown
by Sqn Ldr Stanford Tuck in 1940