FMA IA 58 Pucara Kinetic Gold 1/48

FMA IA-58A/D Pucara. Major Carlos Tomba

This was a fine quality model by Chinese manufacturer Kinetic only let down by extremely poor instructions, lack of comprehensive painting guidance, and no ordnance whatsoever!

Apart from that, the build itself was relatively straightforward. The real challenge was masking and painting the camouflage. I used the new stretchy masking putty by AK for the intricate pattern which only roughly conformed to the actual one depicted in the instructions.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Falklands conflict in 1982 so it was an appropriate project! 24 were deployed by Argentina to the islands but were destroyed by the British at Goose Green and Pebble Island before the start of major hostilities. Some captured Pucaras were returned to the UK and displayed in museums.

Here is what Kinetic says about the Pucara

… Argentine ground-attack and counter-insurgency (COIN) aircraft manufactured by the Fabrica Militar de Aviones. It is a low-wing twin-turboprop all-metal monoplane with retractable landing gear, capable of operating from unprepared strips when operationally required. The type saw action during the Falklands War and the Sri Lankan Civil War.

The Pucara (Quechua:Fortress) was designed for operations from short, rough airstrips. The retractable tricycle landing gear, with a single nosewheel and twin mainwheels retracting into the engine nacelles, is fitted with low pressure tyres to suit operations on rough ground, while the undercarriage legs are tall to give good ground clearance for underslung weapons loads.

Some of the pieces of lead I used for weight in the nose and engines as this is a notorious tail sitter!
Needed a LOT of weight!
Masking and pre-shading, although the latter wasn’t all that successful!
Had twin 20mm machine guns either side just below cockpit
Has a lovely sleek, shark-like profile. The sloping nose with large canopy gave excellent all-round visibility.

Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk. V. Airfix 1/72

Flown by Squadron Leader John Charles MacDonald, No. 102 Squadron, No 4 Group, Bomber Command. RAF Driffield, Yorkshire, March 1940.

This is a new release by Airfix and overall a fine model with fine recessed panel lines. There were a few glitches, e.g. holes were missing for attaching parts D52 and C31. I messed up the varnishing process and as a result ruined the kit decals, which had silvered badly anyway. Luckily, I had some roundels and code letters in the spares box which worked better. There was the option to make the all-black night fighter version but I preferred the more colourful standard dark earth and dark earth with black underside version.

At the start of WW2 and before the introduction of the heavy bombers, the RAF had to make do with the stop-gap bombers, the four twin-engined Hampden, Blenheim, Whitley and Wellington, and worst of the bunch, the Fairey Battle. These aircraft constituted the backbone of Bomber Command well into 1942.

The Whitley V was powered by the excellent Rolls Royce Merlin and could cruise at 165mph with a 8,000-lb bomb load over short distances.

‘A vital part of Bomber Command until the introduction of the four engine heavy bombers, the Whitley took part in the first RAF bombing raid on German territory, and also performed many leaflet dropping sorties in the early days of the war (see below). Always intended for night time operations the Whitley was a slow machine with docile handling characteristics but with a ceiling of just 15,000 ft with a full bomb load it was still vulnerable. After its retirement from front line bombing duties many served with the RAF’s Coastal Command or as a glider tug and transport machine.’ (Airfix).

According to Max Hastings: ‘ The Whitley looked for all the world like a rather pedantic, middle-aged pipe-smoker, with its jutting chin mounting a single Vickers K gun and its extraordinary tail-high attitude in flight. On its debut in 1937, Flight magazine wrote: ‘The Whitley is as kind to its crew as it is likely to be unkind to any enemy down below’. Yet in reality the essential weakness of all Bomber Command’s early wartime aircraft was their mass of inadequate ancillary equipment prone to technical failure and their utter lack of basic comfort for crews compelled to live in them for ten hours at a stretch. Each aircraft carried a crew of five: two pilots; a navigator; a wireless operator, who usually spent much of the trip with his1155 set in pieces in front of him, or struggling to coax more power out of the Whitley’s generators; and a rear gunner, who nursed his four Brownings in a power-operated turret mounted between the twin booms of the tail’. (Max Hastings, ‘Bomber Command’, 1979).

The canopy fitted reasonably well but still took some careful paring of the fuselage to get a better fit. The nose area was tricky too. Not a kit to be rushed!
Some slight weathering
Box art

‘Bomber Command launched its first attack of the war against a land target on the night of 19 March 1940, when twenty Hampdens from 5 Group and thirty Whitleys of 4 Group attacked the German Seaplane base of Hornum, on the island of Sylt, a few miles west of the German-Danish coast.

Seven of the Whitleys came from 10 Squadron at Dishforth in Yorkshire, led by their flamboyand squadron commander, Bill Staton. The crews were full of excitement and apprehension to be carrying a live bomb load at last. There had been so many months of dreary ‘nickellin’-dropping propaganda leaflets over Germany, an exercise which they heartily agreed with Arthur Harris had done no more than ‘provide the enemy with five years free supply of lavatory paper’ (Hastings, ‘Bomber Command’ 1979).

1/35 Nashorn 8.8cm Pak43/1 auf Geshtzwagen III/IV (Sd.Kfz.164). Tamiya kit.

In action somewhere on the eastern front during the winter of 1944.

This was a great kit by Tamiya and one I had my eye on ever since it was released a few years back. It has lots of possibilities for a diorama and I chose a winter scene to match the winter white camouflage depicted on the box art.

Starting work on the hull which had lots of fine rivet detail.

The Nashorn (‘Rhinoceros’) is equipped with 8.8cm Pak 43, a gun based on the successful anti-aircraft weapon and an awesome weapon it is too! For the chassis, it was decided to use the Panzer III/IV as time was short and a vehicle was needed urgently to counter the overpowering Soviet T-34 tank.

In October 1942, Hitler ordered the production of 100 examples by May 1943, in time to join the summer offensive at Kursk. In total, 439 Nashorns were built, ending in March 1945.

I painted the wheels and bottom of the hull before proceeding with the tracks. I left off the drive sprocket until attaching the tracks, which came as lengths of single piece rubber.
The gun mechanism was quite complicated with lots of fine details. I managed to break one half of a traversing wheel shown here by the gunner’s seat but was able to repair it with a scratch build!
I quickly airbrushed the usual deep yellow/red-brown/green camouflage knowing that most would be hidden by the winter whitewash. The unpainted tracks are visible behind the model.
The Nashorn had a five man crew. The driver would have sat in front of the gun compartment. The figures really make the model come alive and are wonderfully animated. The winter white battle fatigues were reversible with a standard coloured pattern on the inside. The gunner is looking through his gun sight while the commander observes with binoculars. Note the periscope behind the gunner. I painted the shells with a mixture of gold and brass. The discarded spent shells needed the tops hollowing out but easy enough with a pin vise.
Weathering the model was a lot of fun using various powders, pigments, washes and even oils. The external figures and dog came from the Tamiya briefing set. The German shepherd is a nice touch. Dogs were used for scouting and warning of the enemy at the front, just as they are today in the Ukraine conflict in the Donbass! Note the slight sag on the tracks to make them look more realistic. Achieved with a touch of the indispensable superglue!
Note the soldier carrying a Panzerfaust, a type of early RPG, which dates the scene late in the war.
Mmm Meine Uhr funktioniert nicht mehr-billiger Sowjetschrott! ‘Mty watch has stopped-cheap Soviet rubbish’!
‘Those fascists are in for a shock!’ A Soviet soldier is creeping up to lob a grenade. Actually he is a Soviet mountain soldier from the Zvezda set but the only one I could find in a suitable pose!
Beautiful box art. As with most Tamiya kits, you get a beautifully engineered, flaw free fitting, quality plastic model.

According to Tamiya:

‘The Nashorn quickly proved its value in live combat, causing havoc among Russian tanks in its maiden deployment, as part of the 560th which provided cover for the flanks of the 4th Panzer Army in the 1943 German assault on Kursk. It is also said that in action with the 525th in the Battle of Monte Cassino, January 1944, a Nashorn destroyed an M4 Sherman from a range of 2,800 metres’ (!).

From December 1943 to March 1944, Commander of the 1st Platoon of the 1st Company, Lt. Albert Ernst, destroyed some 65 enemy tanks in the Vitebesk area of Belarus for which he was awarded the Knight’s Cross.

Overall, the Nashorn was a very effective weapon and if it had been introduced into mass production earlier in the war it might have had a decisive effect.

Soldaten der deutschen Wehrmacht machen eine Ruhepause während der Eröffnungsphase der Operation Barbarossa in der Westukraine im Juni 1941. Deutscher Pz.Kpf 38(t) Ausf. B, Slowakische Expeditionsgruppe. And Competition. Win a Prize!

A busy scene!

The title of this diorama means ‘German soldiers of the Wehrmacht are having a rest during the opening phase of Operation Barbarossa in Western Ukraine June 1941’. The tank is part of the Slovak Expeditionary Group.

The tank is by Hobby Boss. It is part of 1 Platoon, 3 Company Mobile Group, Slovakia 1941
Der Schweinehund hat mein Schwein gestohlen! This model is based on a real incident.
Das ist der Weg nach Kiew, Dummkopf! Both motorbikes are by Zvezda (Russia) and are BMW R-12s. Between 1935-1942, over 36,000 were manufactured for civilian and military use. It was the standard sidecar motorcycle for the German Army and used for supply of food, ammunition, reconnaissance, ambulance and many other purposes. They were also used for combat with an MG on the sidecar.
Ich bin erschöpft! Or roughly translated, ‘ I’m knackered!’
Oh nein, er liest dieses verdammte Buch nicht wieder! Not reading that damned book again! Actually, it’s a good read but what is it? The sitting soldier is armed with the famous MG 34, 800-900 rounds per minute! Machine gun of choice for the Axis at that time.

Now for the competition! The person who answers all the following questions correctly gets 50p plus a FREE biography of Adolf Hitler!!


  1. What book is the officer in the diorama reading? Choose from one of the following: a) Vom Kriege b) Der Untergang des Abendlandes c) Geschichte der Kriegskunst im Rahmen der politischen Geschichte.

2. Which of these European Great Powers had the most aircraft in August, 1914: a) Russia b) Germany c) France d) UK?

3. Which branch of the military is sometimes referred to as the ‘learned arm’?

4. In the First World War, air raid warning systems were extremely primitive. What kind of people did the British sometimes use to warn of the Zeppelin raids?

5. In 1914, which European Great Power had the largest aviation industry?

6. How many helicopters did the US lose during the Vietnam conflict? Choose one of the following: a) 5,000 b) 4,000 c) 3,000

7. Which group of foreign soldiers taken prisoner and serving in the Tsarist Army in the FWW attempted to save the Tsar and his family during the ensuing Civil War but failed?

8. How long could a German U-boat stay submerged in the FWW? Choose one of the following: 1) 3 hours 2) 8 hours 3) 5 hours 4) 2 hours

9. During the Vietnam war, what type of weapon did the Americans nickname the ‘Blooper’?

10. How many rats are in the above diorama?

Good luck!!

A day at Bovington Tank Museum and model show, September 2021.

A fraction of the models on display at the show. The standard was amazing and puts some of my dioramas to shame! Never mind, it was an inspiring experience and great tonic to be among the modelling fraternity.
To enter the museum, you first had to get past the Daleks on guard
Great LRDG Chevrolet and diorama
Sherman Firefly-the real one not a model! One of the many tanks on my to do wish list.
This is my good friend and companion Richard at the show who is also now a keen modeller. Not sure if he is texting his mistress or trying to find out how Exeter City are doing.
Wide variety of FWW models. Nice to see an often neglected area of modelling.
I was very impressed by some of the smaller scale models such as these 1/72. I started out modelling in 1/72 and seeing the amazing detail of these am tempted to go back to it!
Yours truly with a French Renault FT-17 which stars in my gas attack diorama!
Another favourite the French Somua from WW2
No visit to the museum is complete without seeing the Tiger
And the beautiful Panther also has to get a look in
To balance things up, I had to include a Soviet T-34, although this is a captured trophy tank or what the Germans called a ‘Beutepanzer’, at least that’s how it’s been depicted. The Germans used captured Soviet tanks and other AFVs to augment their own forces on the eastern front and to gain insight into Soviet technical skills.
Showing the crude welding around the hatches-useful for when I get round to building a model of one!
There was a gantry so I had a chance to take a rare view of the top of the tank
The wide tracks necessary for travelling in snow and mud
And another view you don’t often see, the rear, but very useful for modellers like me!
The tiny German Pzkpfw 1 light tank, hard to believe it was still in use at the start of WW2. However, experience of using this tank in the Spanish Civil War helped the Germans in the invasion of Poland, France and the Soviet Union. Later the chassis would be used for assault guns and tank destroyers (such as the Marder model I have displayed on this site).
Richard surveying some Allied armour models. The displays were very well done and there were also lots of stalls selling models. Modellers’ heaven!
Crossley Chevrolet armoured car which was used in India. A lot of the exhibits I had not seen before and I believe must have been recently acquired and restored.
Lanchester armoured car. I have a soft spot for old armoured cars.
This modeller had a passion for the Romanian Air Force and why not their aircraft are very colourful. I was particularly impressed by the big Trumpeter 1/32 scale Mig21 taking off
This was an amazing display. Believe it not, all these models are made from card from instructions freely downloaded off the internet!
As close as I will ever get to firing an RPG unless I join the Taliban!
Next to Apollo Saturn launcher. Branson and Bezos eat your hearts out!

A great day out and inevitably Richard and I ended up buying a few more model kits for our ever growing stashes! Thanks to Richard again for successfully and safely navigating us there and back.

Grumman Hellcat F6F-3 1/48 by Eduard. Pacific Theatre of Operations WW2.

The business end of the brute showing the aircraft’s wonderful lines. Hellcats were very robust and needed to be as they flew off carriers. They could take a lot of punishment and carried bombs, rockets and machine guns. It was a follow on from the Grumman Wildcat.

This is the second 1/48 scale Hellcat model I have made. The first, by Hasegawa, was very fine as you would expect from the Japanese manufacturer. It was only let down by the decals which were not opaque enough. Unfortunately, while attempting to airbrush over them, a slight mishap occurred-a load of model boxes from my stash fell on top of it and put paid to her glorious career!

This Hellcat is by Czech manufacturer Eduard. At first glance it seemed an excellent kit for a reasonable price. However, during construction, I found the fit was slightly out in the wings and fuselage and the instructions are a little unclear in places, especially with the incredibly complicated undercarriage structure. Nevertheless, I persevered only to find at the end the decals were incredibly thin and curled very easily. Still, I managed to get most of them on ok but I left off most of the tiny stencils which were barely visible. Overall, despite the great surface detail, Eduard kits in my opinion leave a lot to be desired, although you can’t really complain about the price of their cheaper ‘Weekend’ offerings.

This aircraft with the striking shark mouth markings was part of VF-27 on board the carrier USS Princeton (CV-23). The Hellcats wreaked havoc everywhere they operated in the Pacific. I have given mine quite a weather beaten appearance. Overall, they accounted for some 200 enemy aircraft.
This Hellcat has the uncommon ‘F11’ markings and with two kill markings in the form of small Japanese flags below the cockpit
More weathering underneath
I really like the three colour camouflage scheme of these American Pacific theatre aircraft. You can really go to town on the weathering too, although I tried not to get carried away! I think subtlety can be far more effective.
I tried to achieve a subtle feathering between the main colours with my airbrush and despite using a 0.3mm needle, it turned out not too badly, if I say so myself!
Box art
Fascinating documentary about the ‘brute’ by the American and British pilots who flew them.
For those of you with an engineering bent, how the Hellcat was built! I never imagined a film about a production line process could be that fascinating till I saw this! This film gives a glimpse in the power of American manufacturing during WW2 and just confirms how insane the Japanese were to take on the USA!

Gas attack rear area French sector Western Front 1918.

Boom!! A gas shell explodes. Gas, especially mustard,was used extensively in offensives towards the end of the war. It was increasingly included in the great preliminary bombardments prior to the offensives, often in shells that contained HE.
Just to the right of the soldier holding the machine gun in the foreground is a brown rat, one of several I have included in the diorama.
Note decapitated head of German Guardsman
With yellow filter
The face of war

This project has been a multi-national collaboration:

Figures and accessories by ICM (Ukraine)

Renault FT-17 and Hotchkiss machine gun by Meng (China)

Barbed wire by Fog Models Uk

Furniture by Miniart (Ukraine)

Rats and decapitated head by Jon Smith Modellbau (Germany)

Sandbags by Tamiya and Meng

Smoke effects by Eileen of St Thomas, Exeter, UK!

Chemical warfare in the First World War

Chemical and biological weapons have a long record of usage. Poisonous fumes were reportedly used by the Spartans in the Peloponnesian war (429 BC). The Mongols threw the corpses of plague victims into the besieged city of Khaffa in Crimea in 1346 and blankets infected with small pox were given by the British to hostile Indian tribes in Ohio in 1763.

Gas had been considered as a weapon before the outbreak of war in 1914, but there was a general consensus that it was wholly ‘uncivilized’ or ‘unsportsmanlike’. The use of gas had been expressly forbidden by the Hague Convention of 1907. Yet all that changed with trench warfare and chemical science, industry and military technology all combined to facilitate the first large-scale and systematic use of chemical weaponry.

The Germans were the first to employ gas as a weapon in the FWW, at Neuve-Chapelle in October 1914, and next in January 1915 near Bolimov, Poland, on the eastern front against the Tsarist Army.

The amount of gas launched (in shrapnel shells) was small and hardly noticed by the French while the xyilil bromide (tear gas) used against the Russians froze in the low temperature and so did little damage.

Nevertheless, the Germans persevered and in April 1915, they released the lethal chlorine gas, which did have a significant effect. It kills by destroying the respiratory organs in a few seconds and causes fluid to be produced in the lungs in which the victim literally drowns.

It was used to devastating effect in the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915.

During 1916 the combatants turned to the less lethal and odourless mustard gas, a blistering agent that could be fired by shell. It was a slow acting agent that causes internal and external bleeding and vomiting and frequently leads to death.

However, proponents of gas warfare concluded that lethality was neither necessary nor desirable. They reasoned that gas casualties who survived with considerable infirmity were a constant burden on enemy medical facilities and detrimental to enemy morale in the long run.

Gas was dispersed in two ways. It was released in vapour form by fixed canisters positioned in or near the front line, a technique that wholly relied on the wind blowing in the right direction and one that meant gas was effectively a short-range weapon. Artillery shells filled with an agent in liquid form that evaporated after a small explosive charge burst the shell open were widely used from 1916.

Gas was also put in HE rounds in small quantities for a ‘mixed’ effect. Artillery shells gave greater range and much better accuracy, but some problems remained.

Gas was not a truly effective weapon as it needed a long list of ideal conditions. It often failed dues to adverse weather, especially the strength and direction of the prevailing wind and the temperature. It was quite common for gas to be blown back into the attackers’ faces by contrary winds.

All sides quickly developed gas masks and these became more and more sophisticated. Early ones consisted of cotton pads soaked in bicarbonate of soda, to cover the mouth and nose, and separate goggles, but these gave way in all armies to the more familiar combined mask and respirator types. Filters were usually filled with charcoal or chemicals to neutralize the gas. Animals also needed protection from gas and the British Army began issuing horse respirators in 1916.

‘The Germans were the largest users (68,000 tons), then the French (36,000) and British (25,000). Although hundreds of thousands of soldiers were affected by gas during the war, those killed amounted to only about 3% of casualties. After-effects were, however, persistent, so that many veterans were troubled by breathing difficulties for the rest of their lives, had their lives shortened and were prone to common respiratory diseases. Gas aroused a peculiar horror among all combatants. It was not accidental that the first and universal measure of post-war arms control was the prohibition of the use of lethal gas, a ban which has remained generally effective since 1925’. (John Keegan, The First World War).

A personal account

During the second battle of Ypres on April 22 1915, the Germans used their secret weapon of chlorine gas:

‘The scene was more than sad; it was tragic. Everywhere were fugitives: Territorials, joyeux (‘happy ones’, French nickname for their African troops), tirailleurs, Zouaves, artillerymen-without weapons, haggard, greatcoats thrown away or wide open, running around like madmen, begging for water in loud cries, spitting blood, some even rolling on the ground making desperate efforts to breathe. I shall see for a long time, in particular, a staggering joyeux who with loud cries demanded water and noticing me, called, ‘ Colonel, those bastards have poisoned us!’ We soon gave that up. It was no longer soldiers who were escaping but poor souls who had suddenly become insane. All along the canal was the same scene: without noticing bullets or shells, a crowd of unfortunate sufferers on both banks had come to beg for water to relieve their horrible sufferings’.

Colonel Henri Mordacq, HQ, 45th Division. From ‘The Great War’. By Peter Hart.

Adolf Hitler

In mid-August 1918, the List regiment, in which Hitler served, was moved to Cambrai to help combat a British offensive. At the end of September the regiment was put under pressure from British assaults near Comines and it suffered badly. On the night of 13-14 October, Hitler himself fell victim to mustard gas and he and several comrades, retreating from their dug-out during a gas attack, were partially blinded and only found their way to safety by clinging to each other. For Hitler, the war was now over and it was in hospital at Pasewalk, recovering from his temporary blindness, that Hitler was to learn the shattering news of defeat and revolution, an experience that left him traumatised or hysterical, The gas attack and the damage to his lungs possibly accounts for his rasping and harsh voice.

Soviet WWII Shchuka (SHCH) Class Submarine.Советская подводная лодка “Щука”. Zvezda 1:44.

Looking very shark-like, the Shchuka is wonderfully streamlined. This is Shch-402 of the Northern Fleet 2nd Division 1937. The background is my own artistic creation! It is supposed to depict somewhere in the far frozen North of Russia or off the Norwegian coast where this submarine operated during WW2.

This is a very rare venture for me into the world of nautical modelling but when I saw this recent release by Zvezda, I knew straightaway I wanted to make it! Besides, it makes for a refreshing change from the usual aircraft and tanks and a chance to try out a different style of weathering. Overall, I was very impressed with the fine detail and quality of this offering by Zvezda.

According to Zvezda:’ The Shch-402 was part of the most numerous class of medium sized Soviet X-type submarines during WW2 called ‘Schuka’ (‘Pike’ the name of the fish in Russian). With a length of 57m, it featured improved underwater streaming and increased surface speed. Built in Leningrad, after crossing the White-Sea Baltic canal in 1937, it joined the submarine division of the Northern Fleet. During WW2 it participated in 16 raids, commanded by the captains N.G. Stolbov and A.M. Kautsky. In 1942 it was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Battle, and in 1943 the rank of Guards. Shch 402 disappeared without trace in a military campaign, presumably sunk in a minefield off the coast of Norway at the end of September 1944′.

However, according to one Russian source I came across on the net, it is believed she was sunk by one of their own Soviet aircraft!

The build was quite straightforward with very little in the way of interior detail apart from some bulkheads. However, there were quite a lot of tiny parts on the exterior which required a lot of concentration and patience to affix. I noticed that the submarine depicted on the box top has certain details lacking in the model such as hand rails and a railing around the forward gun. I decided to add these details myself using ultra fine photo-etch wire and thin elastic thread. The kit comes with a long piece of ‘string’ to make the rigging but its well out of scale and not much use so into the spares box it goes!

The tiny parts under the deck of the conning tower
As this is a full hull model, it wouldn’t really be possible to set it in a seascape. Besides, I have her with the periscopes in the raised position which a sub on the surface would be unlikely to do! However, see below for my ‘artistic’ effects!

There are four attractive schemes for this sub and I have to be honest I was rather torn between all of them! The Black Sea boat with green hull looked very appealing but in the end I opted for the red hull instead.

The version below is for the 2nd Division Northern Fleet 1940
Top: Shch-209-3rd Division, Ist Submarine Brigade Black Sea Fleet, 1936. Below: Shch-209-3rd Division, 1st Submarine Brigade, Black Sea Fleet, 1940

In its naval aspects, Stalin’s Five-year plans during the 1920s and 1930s laid the foundations for a modern shipbuilding industry and also envisioned a new navy, to be created as rapidly as the expanding industrial base would permit:

‘By far the greatest attention was given to submarines. As late as 1933 League of Nations sources credited the Red Navy with no more than 16 submarines. This number may have been too small. It is certain that thereafter the undersea fleet increased in numbers very rapidly, to the point where the Red Navy with an estimated 175 submarines in 1940 was regarded as numerically the strongest in the world.

As to quality of construction, the Soviet Union could make no such impressive claims to progress. The first new submarines were coastal-defence craft of about 215 tons, with very limited cruising radius and offensive capability. Further, they failed to give good service within these limitations. The next group of boats, built from 1934 to 1940 and intended for somewhat wider activities, were of the Shch class-about 500 tons with six 21-inch torpedo tubes and 13 knots surface speed. There was also a larger (800 to 1000-ton) class which resembled British submarines of the same size, in addition to World War 1 vintage boats ranging from 350 to 650 tons and a few of miscellaneous types. The latter included a small number of 1,200 boats of the Pravda class, and some of the 650-ton Nelim class, laid down in 1937′.

From: ‘A History of Russian and Soviet sea power’ by Donald W. Mitchell 1974.

During the war, the Soviet subs sustained very heavy losses, especially to mines.

The naval campaign was very closely related to the one on land and the Soviets conducted a very active war of attrition both in the Baltic and Black seas (the Pacific region was relatively quiescent due to the treaty with Japan).

A bit of computer magic!

The lovely box art which first caught my eye


Fokker E.III Eindecker. Airfix 1:72

The first half of 1916 had led to the development of the Fokker Eindecker (‘monoplane’) and during the second half of 1916, it became the dominant factor in aerial warfare. This was the time of the ‘Fokker Scourge’ as the propagandists on both sides called it.

Although this is a tiny model (just 5 1/2 inches across), it represents one of the most famous and influential aircraft of all time, the Fokker Eindecker (‘monoplane’) of the First World War.

Only my second venture into First World War aircraft in about thirty years of modelling and if you know anything about rigging model aircraft, you’ll understand why! It is a very fiddly and time-consuming operation but I believe worth the effort. I used a stretchy clear nylon thread (which looks like metal) and fine wire attached with superglue to represent the bracing wires. The major attraction in my opinion of the Great War aircraft are all the wonderful and exotic colour schemes, especially on the German side, the most famous of course being the all-red scheme of Baron von Richthofen’s Fokker Tri-plane.

This is a new tooling by Airfix and I have to say they have done a very good job. Everything fit well and despite its fragility, the model is quite sturdy when everything is glued in place.

Flown by the famous ace Ernst Udet, Kampfeinsitzerkommando, Habsheim, France, March 1916. The pilot figure appears to be wearing a standard blue uniform. The choice of flying clothing was conditioned by time of year and the altitude at which the pilot expected to fly. In winter or at height the cold is intense, and privately purchased fur lined clothing was warmer.
The period of the ‘Fokker Scourge’ lasted six months during the winter of 1915/1916 when an inferior pre-war, underpowered aircraft, the Fokker Monoplane, dominated the skies over the Western Front solely because it was armed with the most famous of German ‘secret weapons’-a machine gun (7.92mm LMG 08/15 ‘Spandau’) synchronised to fire between the blades of a revolving (wooden) propeller. However, the interrupter gear gave perpetual trouble and instances of pilots shooting away their own airscrews were very frequent. Remember also pilots didn’t wear parachutes in those times!

The original Fokker E1, 80hp monoplane underwent several changes. With clipped wings and a 100-hp Oberursel it was known as the EII; redesigned with 31′ 2 3/4″ wings this became the most famous Eindekker of all, the Fokker E.III.

The yellowish area just aft of the engine represents leaking oil! The usual Fokker method of attack was in a dive; it is uncertain whether the famous ‘Immelmann turn’ (see below), in which the pilot pulls up into the first half of a loop to gain height then stall turns to face his adversary again, was Immelmann’s own invention or that of the Bristol Scout pilot Gordon Bell.
The ‘Immelmann Turn’

The introduction of this new weapon naturally led to counter tactics on the part of the Allies. These were the beginnings of the ‘dogfighting’ techniques and its protagonists, the ‘aces’. Meanwhile the less glamourous but basically more important tasks of spotting for the artillery and reconnaissance were developing rapidly, as were the embryonic bombing forces of the belligerent powers.

Internal construction. 1. Oberursel U 1 100hp rotary engine. 2. Wooden prop. 3. Forward fuel tank. 4. Undercarriage ‘Bungee’ rubber cord suspension bar. 5. Prime pump. 8. Built-up ribs 16. Welded steel tube fuselage structure. 17. Doped linen covering.18. Rear fuel tank.

Until January 1916 air warfare was a very personal matter, not only in the dropping of messages over the lines but in some of the quirky and colourful incidents: Guynemer, the famous French ace, one Sunday morning after shooting down a German over Compiègne , where he lived, spotted his father coming out of church, landed beside the road and asked Papa to ‘please find my Boche’!

The lovely box art
Painting guide on rear
Classic account really gives you an idea of what it was like to fly and fight in the Great War

Hawker Hurricane Mk.I Tropical. Airfix 1:48.

The ‘Hurrie’ ready for take off from Sidi Barani, Egypt, 1941.

The Hurricane was getting towards obsolescence by the start of WW2, but this tough, partly fabric covered aircraft played a crucial role in the early part of the war and went with the BEF to France in early 1940. We all remember the scene of them getting shot up at the start of the movie ‘Battle of Britain‘, shown elsewhere on my site.

Quite a bit of work went into the construction of this kit although most of it you can’t see as it’s inside the fuselage! Airfix have taken to adding a lot of interior details to their models of late, no bad thing in my opinion.

There were one or two oddities with this kit, one of which was having to cut out a sizeable piece of plastic under the nose.

I used my modelling saw to hack out the indicated piece
The removed piece. Why didn’t they just mould it that way!?
Some of the interior frames. There was an option to expose the breeches of the Browning machine guns, which is a nice touch, but having already done that on a previous Mk.I Hurricane, I elected to leave them covered. The paint scheme was going to be tricky enough!
Masking off the wings before spraying the aluminium leading edge
And underneath…
The Hurricane always looks like she means the business from head on. Overshadowed by the Supermarine Spitfire of course but still a lovely looking kite in my opinion and the vital work horse of the Battle of Britain. They were more numerous than the Spitfires, and being slower, were mainly tasked with attacking the Luftwaffe bombers.
Despite its fiddly nature, this scheme was irresistible. Flown by Sergeant Pilot F.H.Dean, No. 274 Squadron.
A fair bit of weathering-the trick is knowing when to stop!
I read this short memoir by Roald Dahl during lockdown, which partly inspired me to make this model. As I recall, he joined the RAF in Kenya and trained in a Tiger Moth, then progressed to a Gladiator in Iraq and finally flew combat missions in the Western Desert and Greece. He crashed in Libya and for a time lost his sight. After recovering, he was sent on the futile mission to Greece where he took part in dog fights. He was forced to give up the service from a black out he suffered during an aerial duel if I remember correctly, probably as a result of his crash in the desert. It’s a great story.
In Greece
Later sent to Palestine