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.
Now for the competition! The person who answers all the following questions correctly gets 50p plus a FREE biography of Adolf Hitler!!
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’?
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 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 warfarein 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.
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.
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!
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.
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).
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.
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 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.
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 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.
This is a 1:48 Hasegawa kit which I made many years ago. This small twin-engine ground attack aircraft has always been one of my favourites and deserves a place on any aircraft modeller’s bench. Besides, my Luftwaffe collection needs building up! I wanted to make it look more weather beaten and worn than it was when I originally made it. I am not 100% sure but I believe this is the B-2 version. The aircraft has the most unusual triangular shape, rather like a Toblerone bar! I believe the technical term is ‘trapezoidal’. This was to help deflect shells or bullets but it made for a very restricted space inside the aircraft and there was hardly room for the pilot’s instrument panel some of which was located outside the cockpit! Even the gunsight is mounted outside on the nose. The cockpit was encased in a heavily armoured ‘bathtub’ to protect from ground attack fire.
The aircraft was progressively upgraded to mount heavier ordnance including a cannon under the belly. Although it was not a very successful design with poor performance it was used to great effect as a tank buster on the eastern front.
Another one of my ventures into classic British post-war jets, this time the famous Blackburn Buccaneer which entered RN service in 1962 ‘to counter the significant threat of a massive Soviet naval expansion programme’ (Airfix).
This was quite a challenging kit as most jet models are and needed a bit of forethought before actual construction. There is an option for folded wings as it is a carrier aircraft but I decided to keep mine down as I like the lines of this aircraft so much. As you can see, I have also deployed the airbrake at the back of the aircraft although initially I had left it closed which required a bit of delicate surgery to remove it!
Just a note about the Buccaneer from James Hamilton-Paterson’s book ‘Empire of the Clouds’. Apparently, the Navy had been against the TSR.2 (the eventually aborted ‘Tactical Strike Reconnaissance’ aircraft ed. )because they had been promised a carrier-borne strike aircraft for their own use, the Blackburn Buccaneer, and they worried that the TSR.2 project would consume all available funds before the Buccaneer became airborne. The RAF wanted an aircraft which was to be supersonic, which the Buccaneer unfortunately was not, and after the Lightning anything else was considered a retrograde step. As he puts it, ‘Additional heat was supplied to this argument by the ancient inter-service rivalry in which the RAF and the Fleet Air Arm each pretended the other hardly existed, let alone was competent to fly an aeroplane’ (!).
In the end, Blackburn came up with a proposal for the P.150 supersonic version of the Buccaneer.
‘British thinking at the time was to use their new strike jet to destroy the Soviet ships with a combination of conventional and nuclear weapons. Capable of extremely high speeds at low level, the Buccaneer proved to be ideal even though the performance of the first Buccaneers to enter service was affected by a lack of power from their two de Havilland Gyron junior engines. Addressing most of the issues which prevented the early aircraft from realizing their full potential, the Buccaneer S.2 was a much improved platform, boasting a modified wing, increased fuel capacity and a pair of powerful Rolls Royce Spey engines. This new variant provided the Fleet Air Arm with a truly exceptional strike aircraft, which excelled in the low-level environment. As the Royal Navy retired their larger carriers in 1978, their much-loved Buccaneers were transferred to the care of the Royal Air Force (along with their pilots I might add), who were already admirers of the many qualities possessed by the aircraft and grateful for this increase in their inventory. At its peak strength in the early 1970s, the Buccaneer equipped no fewer than six Royal Air Force squadrons.’
Max speed: 667 mph
Armament: various combinations of unguided bombs, laser-guided bombs and the Red Beard tactical nuclear bombs. 4 Matra rocket pods, 2 x AIM-9 sidewinder or 2 x AS-37 Martel missiles, or 4 x Sea Eagle missiles.
I live in Exeter and this is about the most exciting thing to happen here since World War 2!! It certainly put the city on the map from all the publicity. Who knows, maybe they will find some more!? It was thought to be an SC 1,000 (Sprengbombe Cylindrisch 1000) or 1,000kg ‘Hermann bomb’ and was found on a waste site near the University campus. Exeter was badly damaged during the so-called Baedeker raids in April-May 1942. I live about a mile or so from the site and the boom was very loud but luckily no damage done to the house! When my parents first came to Exeter in the early 1950s, the whole of the city centre was practically in ruins. There used to be a common saying here that what the Luftwaffe started the City Council finished off when it redeveloped the city in the post-war period!