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Selected WW2 70th Anniversaries this month:
Between 2009 and 2015, I have set myself a general modelling theme based on selected 70th Anniversaries from WW2.
The Allied bombing campaign against occupied Europe intensifies, the USAAF by day and the RAF by night. In the Pacific, US forces continue their long slow island-hopping campaign to evict Japanese forces from the Pacific islands whilst in Burma, the Japanese mount a major push toward India but are finally halted in their tracks by Indian and African Commonwealth troops.
3 Feb 1944 - US forces now have full control of the Marshall Islands.
Feb - In Burma, the crucial Battle
of the Admin Box begins. Japanese
forces from the 28th Army mount a major counter attack against the
Allied advance into Arakan, targetting the HQ area of the 7th Indian
Infantry Division. In desperation, cut off but supplied by air drops
from RAF Dakota aircraft, the 7th hold firm and the Japanese advance
is halted. Three squadrons of newly arrived RAF Spitfires drive
Japanese fighters from the air, with 65 attackers shot down for the
loss of only 3 RAF fighters. After 2 weeks of desperate hand to hand
fighting, by 22 Feb the Japanese have over reached and run out of
supplies, most critically including food; units begin to withdraw
without command authorisation. The 26th Indian Division arrives to
relieve the 7th and on 26th February the Japanese withdrawal begins
in earnest. Casualties on both sides are desperately high - over
5,000 Japanese dead are left on the battlefield; Commonwealth
casualties are equally high. The road to India remains at risk, but
Allied confidence is rising as the mortality of the Japanese Army
becomes apparent. Major Charles Hoey of the 1st Battalion, The
Lincolnshire Regiment is posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, for
conspicuous valour during the fighting at the Ngakyedauk Pass.
Feb - Heavy Allied bombing destroys the Monastery at Monte Cassino.
Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer S.2B,
801 Sqn Fleet air Arm,
HMS VICTORIOUS, October 1965
FROG 1/72 with Modeldecal markings & Airwaves PE
The Buccaneer has seen a lot of attention from kit manufacturers over the years, with offerings from Airfix (NA.39 and S.2 in 1/72 plus S.2 in 1/48), Matchbox and FROG, as well as some excellent (but costly) Czech resin kits. Unfortunately none of them, except perhaps the Czechs, have got the Buccaneer's complex curves entirely right. Nevertheless there is a multitude of after market correction sets available from time to time for the enthusiast to correct some of the most obvious kit issues.
This is the FROG kit, first issued in 1972, which represents an early variant without the extended and bulged bomb bay fuel tank. I'm not sure that I've ever seen one of these built before and equally I don't think I have ever seen a Russian re-pop for sale either. As supplied the kit provides decals for an RAF machine with Martel anti-ship missiles and a South African aircraft.
Having built the 1/72 Airfix and Matchbox kits in the past, I have to say that I think I prefer this one. Its typical mid period FROG, with thick plastic and minimal cockpit detail, but restrained raised panel lines, very good fit and a reasonable shape. Unfortunately it lacks the distinctive slipper fuel tanks and its vertical tail surfaces seem rather compressed in shape when sat alongside the Airfix kits.
Perhaps its worst shortfall however is that it is entirely see-through, with no tail pipes, undercarriage bays or intakes/compressor faces. This fault (which it shares with the Airfix NA.39) is quite a serious deficiency that needs to be resolved. For the air brake interior structure I used Airwaves photo etch, plus a little plastic card and sprue (Frog's left and right side aren't identical). The weapons (Bullpups and 1000 lb bombs) come from the spares box and I simply cut down the extended Martel weapons pylons to the approximate shape of those on early aircraft.
Drinking straws provided an excellent jet pipe filler and for the intakes I simply inserted and glued rolls of paper (I missed a trick here as the Airwaves photo etch has compressor blades that could have been used to terminate the intake - I didn't do this, but will for my next build.
The S.2 variant of the Buccaneer introduced the larger and more powerful Rolls Royce Spey engine, finally allowing the Buccaneer to reach its true potential. Widely and affectionately known as the "Banana Jet" due to its initial title of "NA.39 Blackburn Advanced Naval Aircraft (BANA)", the S.2 Buccaneer transformed the capabilities of the RN's carrier force and was still in front-line operation with the RAF 25 years later.
Operating at very low level over sea or land, the Buccaneer was a superb strike aircraft, capable of carrying a wide range of Nuclear or conventional weapons over a remarkable range. Initial aircraft were finished in a white and extra dark sea grey finish that proved to be badly matched to an increasingly low-level strike role and was quickly replaced by overall dark grey. With an incredibly tough airframe, large fuel capacity and efficient engines, capacious internal rotating bomb bay and advance blown flaps to reduce the aircraft's landing speed, the Buccaneer was one of the most impressive, advanced and operationally successful post-WW2 products of the British aircraft industry.
The Buccaneer never saw action with the RN, but in its last days it was hurriedly deployed to the Gulf during the first Gulf War to overcome shortfalls in its Tornado successor's capability by provide laser designation for Paveway bomb attacks from medium level. This swan-song operation proved to many the widely held opinion that "the only good replacement for a Buccaneer is ...... a Buccaneer".
With the rest of my Buccaneer fleet (both are conversions of the Airfix kit)
Have a look at my "RN Jets" pages for details of my other Buccaneer models
Arado Ar 196A-3 Seenotrettungsgruppe 10
Tromsoe, Norway February 1944
Revell (Heller) 1/72 built out the box
Revell have recently re-issued this former Heller kit with markings for a Brest-based patrol aircraft operating in the Bay of Biscay in 1941, or a Norwegian-based aircraft from Tromso in 1943/44. To match my WW2 anniversary project I have gone for the latter in light of this year's 70th anniversary of the extensive operations against the Tirpitz in Tromsofjord (although I originally bought the kit just after last year's expedition to Brest!).
This is undoubtedly one of Heller's better kits, dating back to 1979 and IMHO much better than the Airfix kit. Although most of the panel lines are raised, the kit is finely moulded and fits together very well. Assembly of the engine is somewhat fiddly with rather vague fixing points and the kit suffers from rather more flash than I would have wanted, particularly on the otherwise commendably thin clear parts.
The large and visible cockpit is a little empty, with nothing more than seats, pedals, stick and instrument panels. You could go to town here, but I simply added some paper seatbelts, which seem to be enough for me. The only areas of poor fit on my example were the canopies, with the front windscreen section badly matched to the main canopy. Fortunately a little sanding of the rear section allowed me to open it up. There is also an apparently missing part at the rear of the fuselage that leaves a square hole once assembled - based on web photos of the real thing I filled this with plastic card.
The float assembly is well thought out and strong; I added some simple lycra/superglue rigging to complete it before attaching to the main fuselage. I also added the trailing cables either side of the cockpit (Heller moulded the grooves but not the cables), again using lycra knit-in thread.
Finally, I added two small bombs (from the spares box) to the underwing racks and dug out some appropriately sized swastikas from my decal / transfer collection. Paints are brush applied enamel, Humbrol 91 and 149, with Revell 49 underneath. Weathering is my usual light oily wash lowlights and panel lines, with an acrylic matt varnish topcoat to finish off.
The Arado 196 is widely acknowledged as one of the most successful floatplanes of WW2. First flown in 1936, it equipped major surface units of the Kreigsmarine as a catapult launched spotter and anti-submarine aircraft, whilst shore-based units used it for coastal patrols and to intercept large Allied maritime aircraft such as the Whitley. Ar 196s operated in all WW2 theatres, from the Mediterranean and North Africa through to the Arctic.
The aircraft represented was part of a Tromso-based patrol force, conducting reconnaissance for the Kreigsmarine surface raiders Scharnhorst and Tirpitz operating against Allied arctic convoys as well as patrolling the occupied Norwegian coastline.
Bundesarchiv Bild 101II-MW-1949-03, Kreuzer 'Admiral Hipper', Bordflugzeug
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Background Image: S.2B Buccaneer at the Fleet Air Arm Museum