January 2010

Grumman E-2C Hawkeye, GAZ BTR-60P, Supermarine Seafire 1b.

Links to related pages on this Website: IndexFriend & AlliesThe Dark Side - AFVs and ShipsSeafire Pages

PoppyThis Month's significant WW2 Anniversaries:

The fierce Winter war between Finland & Russia continues; on 8 January, Finnish forces destroy the Soviet 44th Assault Division. On the same day, food rationing begins in Great Britain.

In the west, the Phoney War is in full swing; Allied forces face the German Army across the heavily re-inforced Maginot Line, but there is little overt action. However, at sea, frequent skirmishes continue. Royal Navy ships support the massed movement by sea of British Empire troops from around the world to Egypt and Europe, against a background of increasing U-boat threats. Combined RN and RAF efforts, including widespread minelaying, secure the English Channel as a relatively safe operating area, with several underwater targets destroyed; throughout the entire war, only one U-Boat will ever make a successful transit through the Straits of Dover.

Around the coasts of Britain, U-boats and aircraft prey on coastal shipping, fortunately with little effect as the difficulty of bombing moving ships becomes apparent. RAF Coastal Command begins regular fighter sweeps in coastal sea areas to protect shipping. On the 30th Jan, Coastal Command scores its first U-Boat kill, when a Sunderland assists 2 Royal Navy Escorts in the destruction of U-55 in the Western Approaches.

Lothians & Borders War Diary

8 January 1940 - 1st Lothians & Borders Yeomanry depart Southampton for France in the SS Lorina and SS City of Florence, disembarking at Le Havre on the 13th and moving to the Unit's assembly area at Montivilliers. A French cadet is attached to each Squadron to act as liaison.

16th-20th January - Regimental move to Arras by road & train. The names of the French villages through which they pass are all too familiar to the men and the first few weeks in France are generally unpleasant with a widespread epidemic of flu, a legacy of the arctic-like train journey from Le Havre. A combination of inexperience and makeshift garage arrangements lead to trouble with frozen engines, cracked cylinders and similar. The bitter cold continues and sanitary arrangements are difficult owing to the impossibility of digging. Rain brings the mud: digging is easier , but it is difficult to find a place free of buried barbed wire, rusted steel helmets, rifles and unexploded shells from the last war.

Grumman E-2C Hawkeye, VAW-123 "Screwtops", USS AMERICA, Red Sea, Operation Desert Storm January 1991.

Lee (Fujimi?) 1/72.

I bought this kit back in November, with rather low expectations of it. It came as a pre-Christmas offer from discount bookshop "The Works", for the grand sum of £4.99. Chinese company Lee are reputed to make poor copies of other manufacturers models and I fully expected to find some misshapen and badly moulded plastic within, but in the event, I was pleasantly surprised. I still suspect that the origin of this mould is the Fujimi kit, but the sprue layout is definitely different and what I actually got in my box was identical to the model in my Heller French Navy E-2C kit (except that Heller cost more than twice the price).

Lee E-2C Hawkeye kit 1/72

The kit goes together very easily, with fit that is at least the equal of older Airfix offerings; much better, for example than the Airfix Catalina that I enjoyed building so much last year. I was particularly surprised by the clear windscreen assembly. This is an awkwardly moulded 2-part section, that will definitely need some filler, but in comparison with the Hasegawa A-6 kit I built last summer, which had a similarly split canopy, the 2 halves are a much better match. I could see that it might challenge the less experienced modeller, but with care it does fit together as advertised!

E-2C Canopy

Detail is a mix of raised and engraved that looks pretty good to me. The raised detail is fairly simple (lots of straight lines), so if you wanted to re-scribe it, I dont think it would be too difficult. Admittedly, the decals supplied by Lee leave a little to be desired, for example the US "stars & bars" are badly out of proportion, but nothing that can't be resolved easily from the spare decal collection. The decals are also a somewhat confused mix, depicting an aircraft of VAW-123 from USS AMERICA, which places it in the 1980-1996 period. However, all of the easily available pictures of AMERICA's E-2Cs with the 602 side number have a different BU number and slightly different colour schemes.

E-2C Hawkeye

Overall, this is not one for the modeller who is obsessive about accuracy, but it is a cheap and relatively easy build, notwithstanding the slightly tricky cockpit transparencies, that should please most casual modellers. Although the finished model isn't too bad, I did throw it together rather quickly, but forearmed with knowledge of the difficult areas, I fuly intend to take a bit more care over my Heller French Navy example in the not too distant future!

E-2C Hawkeye

E-2C Hawkeye

More USN Aircraft on the Friends & Allies pages

GAZ BTR-60P Armoured Personnel Carrier, Soviet Naval Infantry (Marines),

Red Banner Northern Military Fleet, Pechenga (Norwegian/Finnish Border), 1970s

ICM 1/72.

This was a quick diversion from aircraft; an afternoon stop off at the Frome Model centre for something else (which was out of stock), resulted in this purchase instead. ICM is a Ukrainian company whose Soviet-era vehicle kits are superbly moulded with minute detail. They are also very reasonably priced.


If I had any criticisms, it would be that some of the detail is too fine for the rather brittle plastic (some parts I couldn't get off the sprue without breaking them, never mind tidying them up afterward), and that the instruction diagrams arent always that easy to interpet. That said, they build up into very nice models. This one comes with a nicely detailed interior to match its open roof. Decals provide a mix of Red Army and Soviet Marines, but also include Finnish and East German markings that I suspect are intended for different versions. Naturally, I chose to do mine as a Naval version, attaching the Soviet Navy ensigns on front and sides. The decals applied easily and generally settled down well, however I did have had some difficulties with the side numbers which broke apart as I attached them.



More AFV Models on The Dark Side pages

Supermarine Seafire 1b, HMS Kipanga, Port Reitz Air Station, Mombassa, Kenya, 1943.

Italeri 1/72, with Aeromaster Decals.

This is my second build using the excellent Aeromaster Fleet Air Arm transfer set. The kit is the Italeri Spitfire Vb with a very simple conversion into a Seafire wearing the markings of Lt Cdr Duncan Hamilton's "personal mount" (not sure how he got away with that one!), based at Port Reitz in Kenya (now Moi International Airport, Mombassa), during 1943.

Seafire 1b  Lt Cdr Duncan Hamilton, Port Reitz Kenya, 1943

This is not really a kit that I would recommend, because the fit is truly dreadful. I built one of these as a Seafire a few years back and don't remember having quite as many problems, but with this one the wings don't match the fuselage, the cockpit has no attachment points, the fuselage is in 4 parts that don't match and the separate wing tips are a different profile to the wings. There is nothing there that can't be fixed with filler and care, but it is really quite a disappointment for a modern kit, and I think the problem lies in the very thin plastic mouldings, which become easily deformed.

Seafire 1b  Lt Cdr Duncan Hamilton, Port Reitz Kenya, 1943

Fortunately I only paid a couple of pounds for it! It came without any canopy, so the one you see here came from an old Airfix Spitfire.

I have added a simple hook & fairing to the underside (which happily covers the gap where the wings don't fit the fuselage). The paint is Xtracolour Oxford Blue enamel. This is a reasonably nice paint for brushing, but doesn't seem to react well to white spirit thinners; the entire port wing had to be taken back to the plastic and re-done, because the second thinned coat reacted with the first and shrivelled up into a cracked surface.

Seafire 1b  Lt Cdr Duncan Hamilton, Port Reitz Kenya, 1943

Not bad for a very quick build!

Seafire 1b  Lt Cdr Duncan Hamilton, Port Reitz Kenya, 1943

More Seafires on the Seafires pages

Links to related pages on this Website: IndexFriend & AlliesThe Dark Side - AFVs and ShipsSeafire Pages