Tuesday, 3 October 2017

A small preview of the Riich model M109A6

Never available as a 1/72 plastic model before but now there is with the release of Riich Models M109A6 'Paladin' howitzer. The M109A2 version is also available. The M109 howitzer was used from 1963 on wards. The chassis is made from aluminum and shares a lot of parts with the M113 APC and M108 light howitser which is basically a M109 with a 105 MM gun while the M109 has a 155 mm gun. All M108's where rebuild as M109's after insufficient performance during the vietnam war. The firing range of the first models was 18 km and they had a crew of 6. It weight of the vehicle is with 27,5 tons quite low. Being in service for over half a century means a lot of updates and changes to systems. Currently the most modern version in service is the M109A6 with a crew of only 4 and a firing range of 22 km. An A7 version is being developed sharing parts with the M2/3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle and firing systems originally developed under other projects. The finishing of testing and starting of the production of the A7 version should start about now.

As said Riich model created a 1/72 model is the A2 (Kit No. 72001) and (Kit No. 72002) version. A model of the M922 Field Artillery Ammunition Support System (FAASV) is also planned (kit No. 72003). Revell will also release a G version this month. The pictures below are from the A6 version from Riich Model, click on the pictures for a lager version (Note that there are two of each sprue with the suspension and tracks, I just photo graphed two sides of the track sprue):

Riich Models have chosen a classical molding approach, so no slide molds and large parts with details on numerous surfaces but classical sprue's with a front and backside. There are about 100 parts on the hull and turret, suspension, wheels and tracks are 2 x 43 parts finally there are 8 photo etched parts. The detail is very good, tools are molded on the model which is not to every ones taste but I like it because as lose parts there are to fragile. The number of very small parts is limited but still they are there. At about € 21,00 it is more expensive then most other kits but what could be due to the photo etched parts. Riich Models certainly have created a gem of a kit with this release. Great to see the iconic M109 finally incarnate as 1/72 plastic model, after about 50 years it really was time. With a choice for both the A2 and A6 version you can build the most modern or most used version. One of the best features is the anti-skit relief on the front of the model and turret roof. this looks fantastic and is difficult to create yourself on this scale. The barrel is one piece except for the muzzle break faithfully reproducing the open structure of the muzzle break.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Workhorse of the US Navy

Entering service in 1978 the F/A-18 Hornet has been the workhorse of the US Navy ever since. Although never as populair as the F-14 A Tomcat and other aircraft the F/A-18 has become the main building block of the US Navy's air strength. It was originally designed as a fighter and attack craft to replace the A4 Skyhawk, A7 Corsair II and F-4 Phantom and supplement the F-14 Tomcat. In time it also replaced it's contemporaries such as the F-14 A Tomcat, A-6 Intruder and Prowler. An A,B,C,D,E,F and G version are made. The A, C and E versions are single seaters, the B, D and F versions are double seaters while the G or 'Growler version' is a specialized electronic warfare version. The E, F and G versions are not modernized A, B, C and D versions but new build aircraft with a 25% larger airframe, stealthy design and new engines. The Hornet is also used by Finland, Austria, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain, Switzerland, Canada and Australia.

A F/A-18 A Hornet

A F/A-18 B Hornet used by NASA

A F/A-18 C Hornet in an agressor scheme to signify the 'opposing forces' at the Naval Air School (NAS) (see more at airliners.net)

A F/A-18 D also in an 'agressor scheme' (see more at airliners.net)

A F/A-18 E

A F/A-18 F in a modern 'digital' scheme and crew in matching outfits (see more at airliners.net)

An EA-18 G

A F 18 C and E version flying together. The difference in can be clearly seen

The Revell model

Revell makes models of several Hornet variants in 1/144, 1/100, 1/72, 1/48 and 1/32 scale although not all of them are in the production program at the same time. as can be seen in the pictures above the F-18, no matter what precise variant can be painted in many colors. From gray all over, to a complex scheme with many colors. I build the C, D and G version in 1/144 (kit No. 04001, 04064 and 04909 respectively) in 1/144 scale the E version is also available (kit No. 03997). Like the real aircraft the C and D version are almost the same model with only a different cockpit while the EA-18G Growler is an entirely new and different model. All go together very easy and have about 40 parts bombs and pylons not included. Both models contain these however. I chose the build the both C and D version with a Harpoon anti-ship missile but bombs are also available. The Growler has it's own unique set of electronic jamming pods. The models are easy to build but the perfectionist wants to take extra care the air-intake parts of the C and D version blend in smooth with the rest of the fuselage. With G version the jet intakes have a different form and are constructed in such a way they always bled in. One decal option is provided per aircraft. I painted the 'scorpion tails' and desert camouflage on the G version since large decals are difficult to apply, especially on surfaces with a lot of engraved lines but a decal is provided. The photo's of the finished models are next. There is no option to but the wings in a folded position so I made a cut at the right position and placed the wingtips in a folded position on the C version:

This is a serie of very fine models. Be sure to watch the production numbers when buying an F-18 from Revell in 1/144 scale. The very old model (kit No. 04075) might also still be for same. although a genuine A version the model is a lot older then these and I have no idea how good it is.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Revell 03198 GTK BOXER GTFz A1 finished

GTK Boxer

The Boxer is one of the newest wheeled armored vehicles, originally developed by Great-Britten, Germany and France. The French left the project in 1999 (this really is a Eurofighter dejavu) and the Dutch joined in in 2001. The empty weight of the vehicle is 24 tons but can be loaded to a total weight of 36 tons. It has eight wheels and a powerful 720 hp engine in the front. The back is a separate module that can be taken off as one whole piece and replaced with an other one depending on the mission requirements. There are several modules such as an cargo module, infantry carrier (with remotely controlled machine gun), command center and ambulance. The vehicle is used by the German, Dutch and Lithuanian army. The Australian, Britsch and Romanian Army are seeing if it can be used in their armies.

A British test model in Union Jack colors

The Revell model

Photo's of the parts on the sprues can be seen here in an earlier review. The model went together without problems. The 'bar' above the exit on the rear does have a sinkhole that needs filling. I also see a large gap between the engine cover and the rest of the hull. I think I glued it on correctly but I can't see there is such a prominent gap between it and the rest of the hull near the middle so you might want to take extra care when fitting this part. I fitted mine after the whole model was painted. The mirrors for the driver are the most fragile part. The mirrors are placed at an angle 45 degrees from horizontal (or vertical) but in the wrong direction so these need to be bended 90 degrees. The plastic is relatively soft so it can be done with some care. On to the photo's:

this is a very nice model from Revell. Quite suitable as a first model.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Mk. I Female - The first iron lady

The Mk.I 'female' was almost the same tank as the Mk.I 'male' tank but equipped with four machine guns instead of 2 machine guns and 2 sixpounder guns. Masterbox makes a great model of this tank (kit No. 72002), almost identical to their Mk.I 'male' reviewed here. Almost everything thing written their about the real thing and the model is applicable at the female version as well. More on british tanks from WWI can be read here so on to the photo's.

The box art features a intriguing color scheme:

I painted my model as recommended on the box. On the back of the box there is a color drawing and the colors are also numbered, the numbers can be found in a table describing the color. The descriptions just don't match the colors on the drawing.

With the Mk.I, also the Masterbox model:

The model can be made easily, virtually any camouflage scheme can be applied and it has a few photo etched parts that are quite easy to apply. what is not to like?

Saturday, 6 May 2017

A samurai army

Zvezda always had several sets of samurai in there catalog. In the last years they released new sets of samurai figures in hard plastic made from several parts. These figures are of a stunning quality and sold in (very) small boxes with about 5 figures on foot or 2 when it is a set of mounted figures. The following sets are available: 6401 Ashigaru-Yari, 6402 Ashigaru-Arquebus, 6404 Samurai Archers, 6405 Samurai No Dati, 6406 Ninja, 6411 Samurai Commanders, 6414 Ashigaru Archers, 6415 Peasants with Ammo supply, 6416 Mounted Samurai Archers. Like the previous sets these are samurai from the Sengoku or 'warring states' period 1500/1600. The samurai had reached the top of the societal ladder. There armies increasingly included a large number of warriors of lower status or 'foot warriors' these are the Ashigaru. There armor was mass produced, an army could include no less then 100.000 Ashigaru. I made a 'symbolic' army with a command unit (6411), cavalry, foot warriors (6401), archers (6414), logistics support (6415). One of the commanders is the 'hero unit' or special forces. I found buying a set of ninja's gave a relative to large section of special forces. There is one thing to take in consideration when building these figures: They can be assembled without glue, in order to get a tight fit between the parts the pegs are slighty larger then the holes. The plastic can split when you assemble the figur, especially when yu use glue aswell because the glue softens the plastic before evaporating. I trimmed the pegs down and glued the figures. The pictures, the fact that every unit has an individual flag on it's back give the army a very busy look:

The army:

The ashigaru with bow, yari and logistic support forming the backbone of the army:

The command unit:

In red the hero/special forces (This figure is from the commander set):

The cavalry:

I think it is great Zvezda makes these sets of hard plastic figures. They are easy to assemble and have great detail because the whole figure doesn't have to be releasable by a mold at once. Releasing multiple, very cheap sets with very specific figures is a interesting concept too. It makes it easy to build large army with specific ratio's of units (relatively lot of infantry just to name an example) when you play to Zvezda wargame but doesn't leave you with a lot of unused figures. I especially like many different kinds of 'special units' such as ninja and peasant support, there equivalents from other armies are hard if not impossible to find. Every set comes with a tactical cards, flags, individual bases and an extra base for the whole unit. At just €3,50 the sets are very cheap. Building an army as I did is slightly more expensive then buying two sets (cavalry and infantry) of 'normal' figures. the fact that you have a proper command unit and a support unit make it worth while however. Zvezda makes these smaller sets also with Napoloanic, WII and modern soldiers. The WII range is by far the most elaborated.