Thursday, 22 July 2021

July 22th 1227: The Battle of Bornhöved

On July 22th the armies of Valdemar II and the Hanseatic League clashed at Bornhöved. The Hanze cities of Holstein, Mecklenburg, Hamburg, Lübeck and Ratzeburg where conquered by King Canute VI and Valdemar II. Not happy being under the rule of the Danish king the German vassals rebelled. Prior to 1227 several battle's took place and Adolf of Holstein managed to capture some Danish nobles. I read it even was Valdemar II himself but the Wikipedia page on the battle stopped mentioning this between the time I read about it and I am writing this. Either way the Hanseatic Legue where victories and secured their independence from the Danish crown and ended Danish claims in the east sea territories.
A picture of the battle is drawn shown here:

Form a modelling perspective this is a very interesting picture. It shows the flag of the Hanseatic legue, knights with great helmets some of which are crested and the battle takes place on grass. Valdemar Miniatures makes set VM076 "Danish Knight vs. Livonian Knight" but I thought it was very suitable as a depiction of the Battle of Bornhöved as well. The Danish knight is clearly royalty, Valdemar himself offcourse. His spear is broken on the shield of his opponent, in this case Hanseatic calvaly symbolizing the point at which the Danish military powers of the day where at their breaking point.

On to the pictures!

Great set, very well made figures and a lot of story in this small scene, highly recommended!

Thursday, 24 June 2021

Wolfhounds F-4E Phantom II 's at Soesterberg Airbase

Soesterberg Airbase

Soesterberg Airbase was the first airbase in The Netherlands. Founded in 1913 and closed in 2008 it served for 95 years. It had a single 3,5 km long and 45 meter wide hardend runway. The surroundings of the base are now a nature area, home of a glider club and the Nationaal Militair Museum (National Militairy Museum). So it's aviation and military history are still very well present.
A helicopter at one of the busstops on the road to the museum at Soesterberg
A pattern in the bridge towards the museum
The entrance towards the museum and flight park as is base is called these days

Although it was the first airfield it was not as significant compared to Deelen, Gilze-Rijen or Leeuwarden. Aircraft stationed at Soesterberg throughout it's long use include a myriad of aircraft used in WWI. Navigating was difficult in those days and The Netherlands was neutral. When aircraft landed on Dutch soil they where not returned to there owners but taken to Soesterberg for inspection. During the WWII Heinkel He-111s and Donier Do-217s where stationed at Soesterberg. The RAF did bomb the airfield a few times but never that much. At the end of the war it was heavily bombarded by the American Airforce. It was rebuild in 1951. The Dutch Airforce stationed many different aircraft and helicopter types on the base throughout the years:

  • Gloster Meteor
  • Hawker Hunter
  • F-86K Sabre
  • F-27 Troopship
  • Aérospatiale Alouette III
  • Eurocopter Cougar MK2
  • Chinook CH-47D
But this was not all that could be seen here!

USAF 32nd Tactical Fighter Squadron

Between 1954 and 1994 Soesterberg Airbase was also home to the US Airforce's 32nd Fighter Squadron. They flew with the following types of aircraft:
  • F-84 Sabre
  • F-100 Super Sabre
  • F-102A Delta Dagger
  • F-4E Phantom II
  • F-15A Eagle
In the American Airforce 'namespace' Soesterberg Airbase was known as 'Camp Amsterdam'. The squadron had 'Wolffhounds' as their nickname and got the title 'koninklijk' (royal) of the queen of The Netherlands. There emblem includes a crown and refers to this. The museum still houses many of their aircraft, the F-86 and F-102A are on permanent display outside, the F-15A has a place of honor in the museum and F-4E is kept in stowage and rolled out on special occasions.

The F-102, F-86 and F-15A on display at the museum.

Many of the officers and personnel lived in Soesterberg. 200 meters in front of the official exit of the base the first McDrive of The Netherlands which is still there today.
The exit of the base, which goes directly towards:
The first Mc Drive in The Netherlands.

The F-4E Phantom IIs at Soesterberg

Now to the focalpoint of this review, the F-4E's stationed at Soesterberg. One remains at the museum. This specific airframe was active above Vietnam before and managed to shoot down a MiG-21. Here some photo's of this aircraft, in the first two photo's the engines where removed in their entirety, on the third and forth photo the exhaustpipes are fitted:
And some cose ups:

The Italeri model

Italeri produces a model in 1/48th scale with decals for the 32nd Tactical Fighter Squadron. The Soesterberg F-4E is featured on the box art although the name of the base is misspelled as 'Stenberg'. The model was designed by ESCI in the early 1980's. Italeri made some improvements to the molds by adding cockpit detail and improved exhausts. Unfortunately the detail of the rear dashboard ended up on the side where the ejector pins hit the plastic. It has two very shallow dents on a not so important part but still a bit frustrating since the added detail is very good. The recessed panelline behind the cockpit is gone. I don't know why because it is there in the original mold and on the real F-4E as well. What remains are a few 'uneventies' these can be sanded away or a new panel line can be inscribed. The orginal parts can be seen very well in this film from 'Classic Plastic Review'. (which also reviews more recent kits) and this line is there as well.
The improved dashboards for the cockpit.
The exhausts which are improved I think.

The injector pinmarks on the missiles, wheel bays & doors, some landing gear parts and side walls of the cockpit are still all there. The missiles have raised detail which I removed since the real missiles and fins look pretty flat. Apart from the missiles and cockpit parts where appropriate all the detail is recessed which will please many. On the rear of the fluselage insides there are two plastic bumps to prevent the ejector pin mark from pressing through the plastic. You may want to remove these before gluing the halves together because the might prevent the exhaust from fitting well. It is probably not needed to dot his but early in the build it is easy to do so I did. The decals are very complete, not just the main markings but also all warning signs are present, for the missiles as well. Decals for 4 green/ocker machines are included for the US stationed at Soesterberg The Netherlands, an Israeli, Japanese and Australian aircraft. Some parts for the Japanese version are different and also included in the kit. A few decals are incorrect in the instructions. From this review I got an improvement, thanks to the IPMS USA and Italeri! I had difficulty getting the brown and yellow stripes around the sidewinders because curvature of the missile is to extreme for the decal to follow. The AIM-7s have a larger diamenter and a lot of decals here are larger because the include other warning signs rather than just a stripe. That an great advantage because it gives a lot of surface to adhere to the parts. The decal film is extremely thin but very strong.

The cockpit tub is attached to the top of the wheel bay and the whole thing is made to be inserted in the hull all at once. The cockpit tub seemed to be placed to much forward when I build it however so building it in this fashion is results in a large cavity behind the navigator. Also the opening in the bottom of the hull is to small to fit it is as shown on the instructions. You need to remove the lower parts from the dashbords (I had to do this anyway to make room for the figures) and install them first. The cockpit tub can be slided in via the main hull. Finally from the nose wheel bay a piece needs to be cut off because the cockpit now sits more to the back then originally planned. After building my model I saw this video build of the J variant which shares identical cockpit parts but here they fitted perfectly so I think I made a mistake somewhere.

Finally some photo's. The photo's taken outside are taken on the actual Soesterberg Airbase.

At the actual base:

I don't make a lot of 1/48 kits so I don't know how well it is price/quality-wise. Italeri's prices on the website are a bit too high for my taste but most shops sell the models up to 20% cheaper. I bought mine for about €33. I just don't have any idea how this kit compares to the similarily priced Academy kit but not too favorably I guess since the Academy kit is from 2012. Academy only has variants with the short nose (C/D/J/N). The Hasegawa kit sells for € 20 - € 25 in Japan but for much more in Europe. Just reminds me that Italy has the euro and can't devalue it's currency, while competitor Hasegawa doesn't have that setback. I really wonder what the price of this kit would be if it Italy had a market price for it's currency. A few other newer kits are also available but at double the price of the Italeri one. I had fun making this model and was happy it wasn't to complicated with too many parts since I didn't want to make it over too long a time period. I tend to say not a kit for beginners because of the fit issues with the cockpit but after seeing someone else making the kit without these problems I doubt if I made it correct.

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Italeri M1A1 Abrams with crew (kit No. 6571)

The Abrams tank has been featured so often on this blog that I created a special tag for it so no need to commend on the tank and it's history here. Now Italeri first released their 1/35 Abrams model in 2003. It was the M1A2 version and an A1 version with resin interior followed the next year. This model has been released in 2019 without the interior but with MiniArt's US Army tank crew set (kit No. 37005). Apart from the crew the Italeri provides a very complete package with mesh for the bottom of the bustle rack, clear acetate film for the visors and decals for 4 variants. Templates to cut the film and acetate to size have been provided in the instructions. The model goes together very well, just be sure to align bottom and sides of the hull correctly. There are very few sinkholes, I filled them up to find out they would be hidden from sight anyway. This even goes for most of the ejector pin marks on the inner track pads. Apart from this it is quite a perfect model. Many of the bolt heads are hexagonal for example! It should be mentioned only link & Length tracks are included and not rubber ones. This is adversised on the website but that is not the case.

I build and painted mine as per box art although the auxiliary power generator should be omitted. The instructions are correct on this. Although 'Donatello' is a US Army tank I painted my crewmen as being US marines. They have a single color khaki brown uniform and I wanted to have to keep them in the 'reddish brow earth tone' color theme. I used the decals for 'Donatello' although I should have gone for the D version which is a USMC version that also has the auxiliary generator on the back. So I could have made the model 100% accurate but I liked the turtle decal.
Since there are no build issues or improvements to be made to either the tank or figures let take a look at the pictures:

A comparison with the Leopard A4 below:

Highly recommended for all modern armor fans. The box is jam packed with highly detailed parts and the figures are first class! the link & length tracks might be a bit difficult to assemble.