February 2016

Where For Art Thou B-17?

AF1 B17

Certainly one of the most anticipated products for 2016 is the Air Force 1 1:72 scale Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. Decked out in the livery of “Bit ‘o Lace”, a “G” model that flew with the 709th Bomb Squadron, 447th Bombardment Group, then based at Rattlesden, Norfolk, in 1945, we first learned of this warplane well over a year ago, yet despite the lengthy wait, we haven’t so much as seen an image of the replica, much less heard of a firm ship date. Currently, “Bit ‘o Lace” is slated for a May touch down, although this will likely slip seeing as how it should be wheeled out of its design hangar in completed form right about now. We’re hoping they get it right, because there are literally loads of follow-on bombers they can replicate, and a host of other variants screaming out to be modeled, all at a price point designed to help move gaggles of product. Keep your fingers crossed we see this item soon, hopefully well before Father’s Day.

 

 
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Hobby Master Goes Hunting Over England

 

HA8701c

Several months ago, Hobby Master indicated they were prepared to produce a 1:48 scale Messserschmitt Bf 109 – they just didn’t know when, the model or which pilot to offer. Earlier today we learned that their inaugural release will be a Bf-109E Emil, an early war favorite that became one of the iconic symbols in the Battle of Britain. Just as importantly, the first mount belongs to none other than Hauptmann Hans von Hahn, who was attached to 1./Jagdgeschwader 3 “Udet”, then deployed to Grandvillers, France, in late 1940 (HA8701). Look for the first of many Bf 109s to take to the skies in June.

 
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US Air Force Unveils B-21 Bomber

B-21

According to Defense News, “The US Air Force secretary unveiled the first official rendering of the new Long Range Strike Bomber and revealed its official designation: the B-21.

In a speech at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium on Feb. 26, Secretary Deborah Lee James shared an artist’s concept design of the next-generation bomber, which will be built by Northrop Grumman. She also announced the plane’s long-awaited designation, calling it the B-21.

However, the Air Force still has not decided on a name for the new B-21, James said. She called on airmen to send in suggestions.

“So we have an image, we have a designation, but what we don’t yet have, we don’t yet have a name,” James said, “and this is where I’m challenging and I’m calling on every airman today … to give us your best suggestions for a name for the B-21, America’s newest bomber.”

It’s not clear why the USAF dispensed with the sequential alpha-numeric designation called into play with the B1 and ensuing B-2 bombers, which are still in service with the Air Force. Moreover, the B-21 looks very much like its predecessor, the B-2 Spirit, although specifications were not released concerning the aircraft’s overall size, payload capability, range, etc. Like the B-2, the B-21 features a tailless design, will demonstrate a small radar cross section footprint and likely be designed to operate from airfields deep within the United States rather than abroad.

 
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Operation Desert Storm: 25 Years and Counting

OIF

Ordinarily I’m pretty good about remembering historic dates. September 1st, 1939, marked the start of the Second World War in Europe. The beginning of World War I occurred in early August 1914, and, of course, the start of the War in the Pacific came about with the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. And yet it took a post on Facebook by the Tank Museum to remind me that its been twenty-five years since the start of the ground war to free Kuwait from Iraqi occupation. While the ground war would last only four days, it signified the rebirth of US nationalism and cemented our faith in the military establishment to see a conflict through despite the odds and turmoil it might cause. Anyway, thank you to all that served and continue to serve, and a particular heartfelt thanks to those that participated in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Your efforts will always be remembered.

 
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DeAgostini Opens the World up to the Land of the Rising Sun

DJASDF13

Originally designed squarely for the Japanese market, DeAgostini is now expanding its reaches by offering its recently released modern era Japanese military series to other global markets. The series contains both 1:72 scale ground vehicles as well as 1:250 scale aircraft, which covers just about every aspect of warfighting on today’s battlefield, from self-propelled mortars and howitzers to AWACs aircraft.

DAJSDF33

All of these new introductions have been listed in their respective section on our web site and we expect to take delivery in early March.

 
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New Line: Arsenal

ATW08

Over the past few years, Russia has made steady progress in the diecast military space, preferring to follow a partwork approach to gaining market share. Partworks typically involve making a large run of closely related products, which are oftentimes accompanied by a full-color magazine or booklet that describes each subject in detail. One of our distributors has been able to lay claim to inventory from the latest partwork manufacturer, Arsenal, which has set its sights on producing a wide array of 1:72 scale World War II era vehicles. While we won’t be able to offer any printed matter with this initial shipment, we are happy to report that many of the subject vehicles have not been made available by any other manufacturer that we know of, thus making them unique and highly collectible in their own right. The downside is that the label that appears on the etched base for each vehicle appears in Russian Cyrillic as opposed to English. Well, what did you expect, darling? These products are coming to us from Mother Russia!

 
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Wings of the Great War Keeps ‘Em Flying

WW11201

Thus far, Wings of the Great War have created a steady diet of World War I era aircraft plus a smattering of tanks to keep the ground pounders happy. We learned yesterday that three more planes are “in the wings”, so-to-speak, including a Halberstadt CL.II Escort Fighter/Ground Attack Aircraft (#WW11201), a Fokker D.VII fighter flown by the legendary Ernst Udet (#11401) and a third Albatros D.Va fighter (#WW14003).

WW10206

To help them cross no man’s land, the German Army is fielding a captured Mark IV male tank, festooned with the Imperial Cross (#WW10206). Interestingly, it was captured Mark IV tanks that became the most numerous tank in the German Army, which were turned against their British makers after being abandoned in battle for mechanical reasons.

WW11401

All of the new introductions have been added to our online catalog and we expect to take delivery some time in April.

 
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New Line: Bronco Models

 

BOM48BK004

Best known for their range of unassembled plastic models, Bronco Models is sticking their toe in the diecast pool by releasing their first ever fully assembled warbird. Their first offering is a 1:48 scale P-40C Kittyhawk, decked out in the livery of the American Volunteer Group, which was operating in eastern China prior to the US entry in WWII. According to sources, the replica will be composed of both diecast metal and plastic parts, although the display stand will be made of rigid plastic.

Image processed by CodeCarvings Piczard ### FREE Community Edition ### on 2015-10-29 16:46:21Z | |

No word as yet if the aircraft will feature movable parts and retractable landing gear, despite being scheduled for a March release. We hope to get clearer information about this proposed model and the extent to which they are committed to the pre-assembled market.

 
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Will Century Wings Think Outside the Mach 3 Box?

NF_12A_Whitebird

Century Wings seems to have fallen into a pattern in recent years, releasing a pair of F-14 Tomcats for every SR-71 they make. We were kind of hoping that this time around they consider expanding their horizons, so-to-speak, and go the strategy a bit further, perhaps releasing any of the variants that were contemplated by Lockheed some fifty years ago. For starters, there’s the D-21, which was an American reconnaissance drone with maximum speed in excess of Mach 3. The D-21 was initially designed to be launched from the back of a M-21 carrier aircraft, a variant of the Lockheed A-12 aircraft. Development began in October 1962. Originally known by the Lockheed designation Q-12, the drone was intended for reconnaissance deep in enemy airspace.

D21

The D-21 was designed to carry a single high-resolution photographic camera over a preprogrammed path, then release the camera module into the air for retrieval, after which the drone would self-destruct. Following a fatal accident when launched from an M-21, the D-21 was modified to be launched from a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress. Several test flights were made, followed by four unsuccessful operational D-21 flights over the People’s Republic of China, and the program was canceled in 1971.

A12

Then there’s the Lockheed A-12, a reconnaissance aircraft built for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) by Lockheed‘s Skunk Works, based on the designs of Clarence “Kelly” Johnson. The aircraft was designated A-12, the 12th in a series of internal design efforts with the A referring to “Archangel”, the internal code name of the aircraft. It competed in the CIA’s Oxcart program against the Convair Kingfish proposal in 1959, and won for a variety of reasons.

The A-12’s specifications were slightly better than those of the Kingfish, and its projected cost was significantly less. Convair’s design had a smaller radar cross-section, however, and CIA’s representatives initially favored it for that reason. The companies’ respective track records proved decisive. Convair’s work on the B-58 had been plagued with delays and cost overruns, whereas Lockheed had produced the U-2 on time and under budget. In addition, it had experience running a “black” project.

Lockheed_YF-12

And, finally there’s the YF-12, a prototype interceptor aircraft evaluated by the United States Air Force. The YF-12 was a twin-seat version of the secret single-seat Lockheed A-12 reconnaissance aircraft, which led to the U.S. Air Force’s Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird twin-seat reconnaissance variant. The YF-12 set and held speed and altitude world records of over 2,000 mph and over 80,000 ft (later surpassed by the SR-71), and is the world’s largest manned interceptor to date.

 
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On a X-Wing and a Prayer

XWing Fighter

Some war museums are proud to lay claim to the only existing example of a Tiger tank or Arado AR-234 bomber, but the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum has the dubious honor of being able to display its very own Star Wars X-Wing fighter. Seen in a number of feature films, the replica Incom T-65 X-Wing comes complete with a scale version of an X-Wing pilot and its droid, and shows some telltale scarring and residual effects you would come to expect from battling amidst the stars.

For more information, head on over to their web site, Wings Over the Rockies, where you can learn how the museum obtained the replica and all of the hard work that went into its restoration.

On a separate note, we can only hope that Disney is watching and listening and will hopefully create a Star Wars museum within its proposed Star Wars-themed park, complete with a cornucopia of Star Wars-related ships and vehicles. Now wouldn’t that be cool?

 
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