North American P-51D Mustang. Tamiya 1:48 scale

Famous Mustang, the ‘Cadillac of the Sky’. This is the ‘Millie G, as flown by Major Edward Giller.

The beautiful P-51D Mustang, which appeared in May, 1944. Unlike the previous P-51B/C, the D version is fitted with a Plexiglas “bubble” canopy for all-around vision and was armed with six wing-mounted 0.50-inch (12.7-mm) machine guns.

Hard points below each wing allowed the P-51D to be fitted with 500-pound (230-kg) bombs or three-shot 4.5-inch (114-mm) rocket launchers, bolstering its capabilities as a close air support fighter. 

Jettisonable auxiliary drop tanks enabled the Mustang to achieve a continuous flight range up to 3,700 km, which allowed it to provide U.S. bombers effective protection against the German Me 109 and Fw 190 interceptors all the way to Germany.

This is a typical Tamiya kit, a blend of detail and simplicity, very easy to put together.

The pilot is Major Edward E.B. Giller of 343rd Fighter Squadron, 55th Fighter Group, part of Eighth Air Force stationed in England during WW2.

The P-38 and all four of his Mustangs were named “The Millie G”, for his wife, airline stewardess Mildred, and coded ‘CY-G’. He had three confirmed kills, including a Messerschmitt Me 262 jet over Munich on 9 April, 1945.

He was wounded when his cockpit was hit by flak over Munich on 16 April 1945 – he flew two hours to the UK with one arm. (Wikipedia).

The Ford Sedan (1942) car comes with the kit and it is a solid, heavy die-cast metal model.

P-51D Mustang became the principal fighter of the USAAF. Such lovely lines!
According to references, there is a glitch with the wheel wells but who cares!?

Hawker Hurricane Mk 1. Ready for Battle diorama. Airfix 1: 48 scale gift set.

The chaps on the wing are armourers loading the classic Colt-Browning machine guns, four to each wing.

This is the Airfix set starring a Mk. I Battle of Britain Hawker Hurricane in 1:48 scale. The aircraft is so well-known, I wont say anything about it save it was a very rugged aircraft and easy to repair and maintain in the field. The only extras I added myself were the hoses made from plastic tubing.

It was a very enjoyable project brim full of details and well worth the money! The dog’s name is Scamper, by the way!

A very busy scene! A problem fitting it all in!
I like the pilot running figure though not quite sure why he is running to the ‘Hurrie’ when a pilot is already clambering in! Perhaps he just wants to wish him good luck!
Refuelling hose and electric starter generator
Battle of Britain (1969) “France, May, 1940”
Love this scene, especially when the Me109s swoop in!

Zaporozhian Cossacks Ride to Dubno

They don’t make movies like this anymore! Imagine how much it would cost with all those extras!

This scene is from the 1962 film ‘Taras Bulba’ starring Yul Brynner and Tony Curtis.

I have put this clip here simply because it is one of my all-time favourites and I have watched it countless times. Whenever modelling is going a bit sluggish or I am just generally in need of inspiration, I put this on!

Actually there is a sort of a personal link, too. I remember seeing this film at the cinema here in Exeter with my Father, all in glorious technicolor as it was then. What sticks in my mind is a remark he made and which I have never forgotten. I can’t remember how old I was when we saw it together but I must have been just a toddler.

He said that Dubno was where his Father (my Grandfather) had been taken after his arrest by the Soviet NKVD. There was a big prison in that town in pre-war Poland and many political prisoners were kept there. It is now in Rivne region in north-western Ukraine.

Funny how a single remark like that stays with you and of course much later in life after I wrote his biography, it all became understandable to me as I learned the tragic circumstances of his Father’s arrest and disappearance never to be seen or heard of again, just like so many thousands of others under the Soviet regime.

The fantastic score is by Franz Waxman, the German composer of Jewish descent who had a prolific career as a composer in the movie industry.

The scene is rather ridiculous really if that is supposed to be the Ukrainian or Podillian steppe! It looks more like the Carpathians! Never mind, this is Hollywood after all. The film or at least this part was shot in Argentina and the ‘Cossacks’ are extras hired from the Argentinian Army!

It is a great costume drama set in 16th century Ukraine or ‘Ukraina’, which back then referred to the Cossack territory on both sides of the Dnieper river. It was filmed with real live actors, the sort they don’t make anymore, and it is only very loosely based on the great book by Gogol which I urge everyone to read!

The story as far as the film goes is that the great Zaporozhian Cossack leader Taras Bulba (Yul Brynner) makes a pact with the Poles to join forces against the Turks and drive them from the steppe. After their victory, the Poles then turn on the Cossacks who are forced into hiding. Taras Bulba decides that one of his sons, Andrei (Tony Curtis), will be sent to an Orthodox seminary in Kiev to learn the ways of their mortal enemy, the Poles, who were referred to offensively as Lyakhy by the Cossacks in that period.

While in Kiev, Andrei falls in love with a Polish noblewoman Natalia and in the end, finds himself in Polish uniform fighting on the side of the Poles as the town of Dubno is besieged by the Cossacks. In that memorable final scene, Taras Bulba confronts Andrei and for his perfidy takes out his pistol and shoots his own son dead through his breastplate. That’s what you get for betraying Ukraine and the Motherland!

P-40K Warhawk ‘CBI Campaign’ 1:48 Hasegawa kit

The P40-K was the last variant of the famous Warhawk. I have always liked the look of the Warhawk and this model in particular for the colourful scheme. The Warhawk was the aircraft of ‘Flying Tigers fame, a volunteer group who flew in China against the Japanese. They carried the distinctive shark teeth pattern on their noses. I am sure you have all seen the movie ‘Flying Tigers’ starring John Wayne!

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Although the P-40 Warhawk has had something of a bad press, it was actually the third most produced fighter of the USAAF after the P-51 and P-47 with over 13,000 being built, all at the Curtiss-Wright Corporation’s main factory in Buffalo, New York state. It had its flaws but it would not have been produced in such large numbers or lasted so long had it not been a basically successful design.

P-40 Warhawk was the name the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) gave the plane, and after June 1941, the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) adopted the name for all models, making it the official name in the U.S. for all P-40s.

Since WW2, the conventional wisdom has been the P-40 was something of a mediocre indeed inferior fighter but it was, by far, the best and most capable fighter the United States had when WWII began.

The P-40 was designed as a pursuit and close air support aircraft and performed well at low to medium altitudes.

The P-40s lack of a two-speed supercharger made it inferior to Luftwaffe fighters such as the Me Bf 109 or the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 in high-altitude combat and it was rarely used in operations in North-West Europe.

However, between 1941 and 1944, the P-40 played a critical role with Allied Air Forces in three major theatres: North Africa, South-West Pacific and China. It also played a significant role in the Middle East, South-East Asia, Eastern Europe, Alaska and Italy.

The P-40s performance at high altitudes was not as important in those theatres, where it served as an air superiority fighter, bomber escort and fighter-bomber.

The P-40 was not a long-range, high-altitude escort fighter. In that role, it was totally outclassed by the P-51 Mustang which essentially won the European air war for the USA. But that was an entirely different mission and when WWII began, no one knew bombers would need escort fighters.The kill ratios attained by the P-40 against the Japanese and the Germans were very respectable. The P-40 was the backbone of the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC), the aerial warfare service component of the United States Army till 1941, and continued supporting operations till VJ Day. As far as air fighting is concerned, the Allies would have been in a far inferior situation without the P-40.

A nice view of the distinctive bulbous nose. On the ground, the steep nose would hinder the pilot’s view ahead so a ground crewman would sit on the wing to direct the pilot. P-40s were frequently lost on the ground due to the poor visibility and relatively narrow landing gear track.
This is an old kit in my collection and I recently restored it with a more weather beaten appearance. The trick with weathering is ‘less is more’. The three black streaks on the leading edge of wings are from the .50 cal machine guns, three on each wing.
Unfortunately,the large central drop tank is missing, must have lost it over China!
Box. ‘CBI’ means ‘China, Burma, India’.

USAAF and Chinese P-40 pilots performed well in the China, Burma, India theatre against such Japanese types as the Ki-43, Ki-44 ‘Tojo’ and the Zero. The P-40 remained in use in the CBI theatre until 1944 and was reportedly preferred over the P-51 Mustangs by some pilots flying in China. The American Volunteer Group (Flying Tigers) were integrated into the USAAF as the 23rd Fighter Group in June, 1942. The unit continued to fly newer model P-40s until the end of the war, achieving a high kill-to-loss ratio.

The British Commonwealth and Soviet Air Forces used the name Tomahawk for models equivalent to the original P-40, P-40B and P-40C, while the name Kittyhawk for models equivalent to the P-40D and all later variants.

Soviet-Finnish War diorama. Part 2. The ‘White Death’, ‘Белая Смерть’. Finnish Army Assault Gun BT-42.

Finnish commandos on skis with white camouflage uniforms moving through the forests. A Finnish BT-42 assault gun in support. Figures by MiniArt of Ukraine. The BT-42 was only initially deployed in February 1943 during the so-called ‘Continuation War’, what the Finns called their war against the Soviet Union after June 22, 1941 so strictly should not appear here.
Cutting through Soviet lines of communications through the dense birch-wood forests, the Finnish troops were invisible but everywhere and called the ‘White Death’ ‘Белая Смерть’ by the Soviets.
Rather proud of my Finnish Reindeer so I thought he deserved a closer look! You wouldn’t believe the variety of furs and patterns these animals possess and,no, in case you are wondering, I didn’t go to Lapland and nick him from Santa! During the campaign, temperatures could drop to 40-below-zero. Masses of Soviet soldiers simply froze to death.

Most adult Finnish males were hardy, physically fit, excellent skiers, hunters and woodsmen. They made natural soldiers and knew how to use the terrain of frozen bogs, swamps, lakes and forests to excellent effect.

The Finns used small units in so-called ‘motti’ tactics to harass the Red Army, sever its supply lines and cut it up into small pockets which they would then proceed to destroy.

In anticipation of a quick victory, the Soviets started the conflict wearing summer uniforms and to disastrous effect. The Germans were to repeat the same mistake when they invaded the Soviet Union in June, 1941.

The Winter War, as it is called in Finland, which lasted for 105 days, saw some of the most bloody and intense battles of the Second World War.

The basic cause of the conflict was the struggle for spheres of influence between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany after the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact of 23 August 1939.

Stalin was also anxious about the security of the ancient capital of Leningrad, formerly St Petersburg, second city of the USSR, a huge industrial centre and the country’s greatest seaport which lay only 20 miles from the Finnish border and in range of its guns.

After the Finnish government did not agree to territorial concessions, the Soviet Union invaded the country without declaration of war on 30th November 1939 and the conflict lasted until March 12, 1940 when the Finns signed a harsh peace in Moscow.

Although the Red Army emerged triumphant, it had incurred staggering losses and its reputation dealt incalculable harm.

The Soviet losses were 126, 000 killed and missing, 246,000 wounded and shell-shocked.

‘Loss of men did not worry Stalin either then or later: it never has worried the Russians. The real damage, as Stalin must have been aware, was the blow to the credibility of the Red Army as a military force. The German General Staff made a careful study of the Russian tactics in the Winter War and concluded its report with the verdict: ‘The Soviet “mass” is no match for an army and superior leadership.’ For once, Hitler was prepared to accept the views of the General Staff: it coincided with his belief that no Slav fighting force could stand up to the racially superior Germans. Nothing did more to convince him in 1941 that he was justified in gambling on defeating the Russians in a single campaign than their performance against the Finns.’ From Alan Bullock, Hitler and Stalin, Parallel Lives, p 721-22, 1998.

During the Soviet-German war, 1941-1945, the Finns fought on the side of the Axis. In Russian speaking sources the war is referred to as the Soviet-Finnish front of the Great Patriotic war while in Finnish historiography it is known as the ‘Continuation War’ the aim of which was the return of the territories lost during the Winter War and the seizure of extra Soviet territory up to the borders of the ‘Three Isthmuses’ i.e. Belomor, Karelian and Olonets.

BT-42 Assault Gun

Kit packaging

During the WWII, the Finnish Army utilized captured Soviet tanks as their significant armament. Among these was the BT-42 assault gun which the Finnish Army created by pairing the hull from a captured Russian BT-7 Model 1937 light tank with a British 114 mm howitzer and a redesigned BT-7’s large boxy turret. 18 units were produced from 1943 to 1944 and they were deployed to the Svir River region to attack the Russian bastion. In June 1944 during the Battle of Vyborg, BT-42s saw fierce combat against advancing Russian forces. From Tamiya website.

Model based on actual example Parola Museum, Finland
This particular version of the BT-42 was used from the end of the Continuation War until 1951.
Moving up to the front in depths of winter
In August 1945, the national marking were changed to the White and Blue roundels seen here on the turret. I chose this version simply because I like the colour of the markings!
A captured Soviet Gaz lorry is bringing up the rear

Soviet-Finnish War Diorama. Storming the Mannerheim Line.

T-26 in action again with a T-26 OT flame-thrower version behind
Barbed-wire entanglements were no defence against Soviet armour! The impregnable so-called Mannerheim line, 88 miles of fortifications on the Karelian Isthmus, was largely a myth of Soviet propaganda.
I added a few wires to the flame-throwing tube and drilled out the end so it could be shown in action.
The OT -26 or Flame thrower tank was based on the T-26 chassis. The Russians also called them ‘chemical tanks’
Химический танк ХТ-26 (ОТ-26) Now I know where the inspiration for the Daleks came from!

Soviet T-26 Light Tank. Т-26 — Советский лёгкий танк. Zvezda 1:35 scale

Along with the BT tank, the T-26 formed the basis of the Soviet tank park before the start of WW2 and during its initial period. The T-26 was popular at one time but the weak armour and its low speed made it easy prey for the enemy, and quite often there was no radio in the tank. By 1938, it was virtually obsolete.

Forwards, for the Motherland! T-26 in winter camouflage in action in Finland in 1940. I think my artwork is getting better!
I found a few discrepancies in the instructions, par for the course with these early Zvezda kits. Still, it’s cheap and cheerful and a fairly accurate depiction. Unbelievably, the machine gun part was missing so I had to fashion one from a piece of plastic rod which I found in the spares box. How could they make a mistake like that especially considering it’s a Russian tank! Unforgivable!
The tracks and running gear went together surprisingly well. The whitewash and snow effects helped hide some nasty ejector pin marks on the bogies!
The T-26 is a very small tank but I think it looks kind of cute! It weighed between 8-11 tons and had a 45 mm gun. It was comparable at least to a German Pz Kpfw II.
As the model was so light, I added some pieces of lead inside the hull to give it a more realistic feel of weight and also to keep the bottom tracks to lie flat.

The T-26 was the most numerous tank of the Red and Finnish Armies by the start of the Great Patriotic War in 1941 and also of the Spanish Republic during the Spanish civil war. During the 1930s and 1940s, it was second in terms of numbers after the T-34. It was constructed on the basis of the British Vickers Mark ME or ‘6-ton tank’ and was taken into service in the USSR in 1931 (source: Russian Wikipedia).

Captured T-26s. The caption reads: “Captured Russian tanks stand where the Finns halted them on January 7, 1940. The Red Army’s 44th Division enriched Finland’s arsenal with 43 tanks and 46 field guns-too cumbersome for use in the forest”. From Battles for Scandinavia by John R. Elting. Time Life Books 1981. The Finns used the captured T-26 themselves and even until after the war.

In all, 281 T-26s were sent to Spain from 1936-1938. It was also used against the Japanese at Khalkin-Gol, and in the Soviet campaign against Poland in 1939.

Many were captured by the Germans during Barbarossa and used as ‘trophy’ tanks and called the Panzerkampfwagen 737.

Other users were:

Finland, as mentioned. 126 tanks, several dozen of which were only decommissioned in 1961!

Turkey-64 single turret and 2 two-turret versions.

Afghanistan- 2 of the first two-turret version.

Romania- captured 30 T-26s although only one is known to have been used.

Chinese (nationalist)- 82 T-26B model.

Slovakia-2 tanks one of which was displayed at the Exhibition of captured weapons in Bratislava.

Hungary- one model 1938 T-26.

T-26s in Chinese Nationalist Army
Captured Finnish T-26
Spanish Republican T-26 on streets of Madrid