Saturday, 30 November 2013

SR-71A Blackbird

The SR-71A is a reconnaissance aircraft designed and build by the 'Skunk works' team of Lockheed. This is the same part of the company responsible for developing aircraft like the F-117 and U2. The SR-71A is the successor of the A-12 spy plane. Both of the look almost identical accept the for fuselage length (the A-12 is shorter) and the SR-71 is flown by one person instead of two like the SR-71A. It's is well known the SR-71 is the fasted operational aircraft in the world (flying at more then 3 times the speed of sound) and could reach an extremely altitude. The fact that the friction with air heated up the airframe during flight up to 230 degrees Celsius causing the airframe to expand several inches is also well known. The aircraft was designed to operate at this temperature, when taking off at about 20 degrees it leaked fuel because the fuel tanks pipers would not fit properly together until the aircraft was heated up to it's operating temperature. A single aircraft with an extra pilot cockpit for training was also made.

Designing and building such an extreme aircraft posses many engineering and building challenges. In addition to overcoming these the 'Sunk Works' team also experimented with stealth. These days it is hard to believe that the aircraft was engineered without aid from powerful computers, 3D drawing software, was made without the aid of CAM equipment and navigated on the stars instead of GPS. It was literally designed on a drawing board. The aircraft is not just an advanced military jet but also a pinnacle of human engineering in general and American engineering especially. More on the aircraft, it's development, production and operational history can be read on Wikipedia and many other sources as well.

Dragon released a model of the SR71A last year. ARII (or micro ace as it is called now) also produced a model of the SR-71 which was (very) briefly rereleased when Dragon announced the release of it's own version. I stumbled across it when browsing on the Hobbylink Japan webstore and bought a few. The model looks very good, the only weak point are the total lack of a cockpit and wheelbay interior. I painted the cockpit glass brown on the inside to make it look like tinted glass. I didn't do anything to the wheelbays since you really have to pick up the aircraft and turn it around to see this. There is a little more space between the wing and the right engine compared to the leftside of the aircraft making it not completely symmetrical. The real SR-71 was painted in a very dark blue colour, I painted mine in drakgray, painted the main panel lines solid black and gave the rest of the aircraft a black wash. The aircraft comes with decals for three variants. The markings are in white, red and a bit of yellow colouring very nicely with the almost black aircraft. Because the aircraft is so dark I painted a gloss finish on mine. On to the pictures:

I can recommend this model of the SR-71 but unfortunately it is not available which is quite strange since it is an popular subject. I haven't seen Dragons offering but it will nodoubtly look very good as well.

Friday, 15 November 2013

A look at the first 2014 releases from Revell, Masterbox, Armourfast, Trumpeter & MiniArt

Revell

Traditionally Revell only re-releases older kits and variants of existing kits not available before. This year is no difference but there are many very interesting releases in the total of 28 new models to be released in the first 4 months of the year.
1/72 armor:

Kit no.03301, A T-90A, the welded turret version of the T-90:

Kit no. 03300, The LKW 5t mil gl, a 2 axel variant of kit no. 03179 a 7 ton cargo truck used by the Bundeswehr:

Kit no 03131, The LeClerk French main battle tank (for a review click here):


In 1/35 a set of Wiesel 2 vehicles (kit no. 03205) is released:


Other noticeable releases include a 1/144 space shuttle (kit no. 04544), a 1/144 space shuttle with boosters and launchtower (kit no. 04911), and a 1/144 Saturn V rocket (kit no. 04909):


Also interesting are the Dutch demo F-16 in 1/72 (kit no. 03980) and demo Apache in 1/48 (kit no: 04896):



Masterbox

Masterbox from Ukraine announced two new releases for January 2014 and they are:
These are models of the first versions of the first tanks ever produced. This is the first 1/72 release from Masterbox and more WWI releases are said to follow these. On the website several CAD drawings can be seen and the models look very good on there and seem to have about 50 parts. For several parts photo etched material seems to be used. Take a look on the distributors page to find out where they are for sale in your country. HLJ took pre orders but none of these are vacant any more. The price is about €15,00 which is quite attractive for a kit with photo-etch parts.

A look at the boxart:

This model of a very old tank seems to be produced with a newest technology in model manufacturing. A very interesting release of a vehicle that should not be missing in any tank collection. For the female variant the same can be said.


Armourfast

After a long time of no new releases Amourfast releases the Valentine Mk. II (kit no. 99030) British tank, a very welcome addition to there range. I personally hope they also release a Priest howitzer and (later version of the) Matilda as well. The box comes with two models and can be pre ordered from Amourfast for those who can't wait. The price is about €10,00.


Trumpeter

Trumpeter will release a 1/144 model of the Su-27 Flanker (kit no. 03909) early 2014. The only model previously available of this very good looking aircraft and aerodynamic perfection is the Dragon kit which is difficult to get and has a canopy and nose cone that differs quite in shape from the original. Trumpeters effort looks better and looks better on the photo's on trumpeters website. The price is about €15,00 at HLJ.com which is quite a lot for a 1/144 but it looks well worth it.

The Dutch Fennek in 1/35 (kit no. 05533) looks cool also:


Miniart

Mentioned before in this post the release of 5 1/16th scale figures of medieval men at arms. Pictures of the archer are shown on the news section of MiniArt's website. This figure is released in an action pose!
  • Kit No. 16021 XV Century knight
  • Kit No. 16023 Crossbow man XV Century
  • Kit No. 16025 Medieval footsoldier
  • Kit No. 16027 Medieval archer
  • Kit No. 16031 Medieval handgunner

Saturday, 26 October 2013

sWS ( MACO kit no. 7207 ) & PaK 44/2 ( Ace kit no. 72521 )

Today a german duo from the second half of WWII. A model of the sWS which is an abbriviation of 'schwere Wehrmacht Schlepper' (Heavy Army Tractor) with a PaK 44/2 with PaK being an abbreviation of Panzer abwehr Kanonne (Anti-tank gun). The model of the sWS is produced by MACO (Kit No. 7207) and the PaK 44/2 by (kit no. 72521).

The sWS
The sWS is the late version of this prime mover which differs from the early version having an armored cab and all steel outer road wheels for the tracks instead of rubber rimmed wheels. It was developed by Büssing-NAG to replace the Sd.Kfz. 6 and 11. This vehicle was to be more powerful, though, about as powerful as the Sd.Kfz.7 if my sources are correct. It has several typical late war features which distinguishes this vehicle from those developed before the start of WWII. These feature are: very wide tracks to deal with muddy and sandy roads on the east front (just as the Tiger I, King Tiger and Panther tracks) and it has a simple shapes allowing easy and fast production. (The vehicle is build-up out of straight shapes rather then over two axes bended steel plate as seen on the Sd.Kfz. series) The later vehicles where fitted with an armored cab. Next to cargo versions, versions with anti-aircraft guns and mortars where build also. After the war an improved version was kept in production by the Czech company Tatra.

The PaK 44/2
On the eastern front the Germans encountered the Soviet 122mm guns which proved to be a formidable weapon, no wonder the German high command issued orders for a similar weapon. A gun was developed with a calibre of 128mm. This was a calibre already in use for the heaviest German anti aircraft or FLaK guns. The gun was already finished before a suitable carriage was availible. One of the German designs had a weight of about 11 tons which made it impractical as a field gun. About 50 barrels where mounted on carriages of captured Soviet ML-20 and French GPF-T field guns. The gun also served as the standard weapon of the Jagdtiger was the heaviest anti-tank gun used by the Germans during world war II.

The MACO sWS model
The sWS from Maco is a very nicely detailed model. The tools, steering wheel, steering pipes and with indicator rods are among the finest plastic parts I've seen. The fender features an bended edge normally seen with photo etched parts only. Needless to say this makes the model not suitable for beginners. Not everything is perfect though. The cabin of the sWS has a backplate for as far I know and this part is missing allowing you to see the inside of the cab. (not necessarily a a bad thing) The pioneering tools attached to the topside of the fenders have to be placed a bit more to the fender edges because the motor hood sits in the way. There are some sinkmarks here and there. Most can't be seen after completing the vehicle but the one in the bumper can, a very little putty can solve this problem, sanding the bumper down a little is also an acceptable option. There are some stamp marks too which mostly can not be seen accept those on the back of the chairs. These marks are difficult to remove because they are in a recessed area. Finally the border between the rubber tire and wheel is not very clear on the inner roadwheels of the tracks, the front wheels are very good. The list of 'downsides' seems to be long but most of them solve them selves. So this is not a perfect one but certainly a good model. MACO is a small manufacturer so the kit is slightly more expensive then it's Revell counterparts. MACO makes a lot of variants of this good looking machine:

  • Kit No. 7201 Cargo sWS with unarored cab
  • Kit No. 7204 Fully armored sWS with 15 cm panzerwerfer 42
  • Kit No. 7206 Unarmored sWS with Flak 43
  • Kit No. 7207 Cargo sWS with armored cab
  • Kit No. 7211 sWS with armored cab and Flak 43
  • Kit No. 7212 sWS with armored cab and Flak vierling
Be sure to check out Florin David's Unarmored sWS with FlaK 43 too!

The Ace PaK 44/2 model
Ace is a small company from the Ukrane. There kits suffer from heavy flash but most of them can be made in to very fine models with basic modelling skills. The instructions are a bit complicated since there are no part numbers on the sprue. You can find a layout of the sprue in the instructions with numbers. This is a complicated way of working. With the PaK44/2 these downsides are all there. In addition the instructions are not mentioning that you have to add 2 handlebars on each side of the trailer legs. This particular kit also suffered from sinkmarks in the parts so you need filler. The trailer legs have some big sinkmarks in them as well. The problem here is that the sinkmarks are in very recessed areas. I filled the holes with filler but couldn't remove the excess putty. I ended up making my own trailer legs from plastic card. I didn't recreated the rivet detail because I didn't had the right tools (thank goodness ;) )


An original and rebuild trailer leg. My advice: Don't putty away the sinkmarks in the trailerlegs. They will be obscured by other parts.

I can't recommend this model to beginners or modellers that are not willing to spend time cleaning up and puttying parts. This model is of a lesser quality then the other Ace releases I've build but with the proper attention it can be build into quite a nice representation of a heavy hitter as well. Not a model for beginners!

On to the photo's, click on them for a larger version:
The sWS:

The PaK 44/2:

The sWS and PaK44/2

The Pak and sWS compared with their contemporary counterparts: 3,7 cm PaK 36; 7,5 cm PaK 40, 8,8 cm PaK 43 Scheunentor and Sd.Kfz.7:

The sWS looks very good too with the PaK 43, also an ACE model (kit no. 72215) and is a better quality kit then the PaK 44.