June 2016

Once More Unto the Breach with Wings of the Great War

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When Wings of the Great War rolled out a Mark IV Male tank last year, it was a matter of time before they selected its sister, the Mark IV Female, as its next caisson. The principal difference between the two tanks is that the Female is studded with five machine guns whereas the Male’s armament boasted three machine guns and two QF 6 pounder 6 cwt Hotchkiss cannons.

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Also rolling into No Man’s Land is an American Expeditionary Force Renault FT -17 light tank, the first vehicle to incorporate a rotating turret instead of a fixed gun in a sponson.

 
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Plaque Four out of Five Dentists Recommend

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Looking to extend the depth and breadth of their Star Trek range ahead of the debut of the feature film, Star Trek Beyond, as well as the upcoming TV series on CBS/CBS All Access, Eaglemoss announced plans to roll out a series of dedication plaques beginning this July and into the fall. The first three releases are based upon the USS Enterprise NCC-1701, NCC1701-D and NCC1701-E starship incarnations and handsomely created from metallic resin.

 

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Measuring approximately 8-1/2 inches by 6 inches, the plaques can be mounted to a wall or left in their original packaging.

 
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Product Spotlight: Unternehmen Rheinubung

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“Sink the Bismarck.”

– Prime Minister Winston Churchill, after learning of the demise of the battlecruiser, HMS Hood, May 1941

With so many product spotlights on some of the recently received aircraft, its refreshing to turn our focus to sea power now and again. One such exemplar of new warships available for sale is the DeAgostini 1:1250 scale replica of the Kriegsmarine’s DKM Bismarck.

The German battleship Bismarck is one of the most famous warships of the Second World War. The lead ship of her class, she was named after the 19th-century German chancellor Otto von Bismarck. Bismarck’s fame came from the Battle of the Denmark Strait in May 1941 (in which the battlecruiser HMS Hood, flagship and pride of the Royal Navy, was sunk), from Churchill’s subsequent order to “Sink the Bismarck”, and from the relentless pursuit by the Royal Navy that ended with her loss only three days later.

This formidable ship, the largest warship then commissioned, was intended primarily as a commerce raider, having a broad beam for stability in the rough seas of the North Atlantic and fuel stores as large as those of battleships intended for operations in the Pacific Ocean. Still, with eight 15 inch main guns in four turrets, substantial welded-armour protection and designed for a top speed of not less than 29 knots (she actually achieved 30.1 knots in trials in the calmer waters of the Baltic, an impressive speed when set against any comparable British battleship), Bismarck was capable of engaging any enemy battleship on reasonably equal terms. Her range of weaponry could easily decimate any convoy she encountered. The plan was for Bismarck to break through into the spacious waters of the North Atlantic, where she could refuel from German tankers and remain undetected by British and American aircraft, submarines and ships, while attacking the convoys.

 
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Product Spotlight” “MiG Mad Marine”

 

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“Ted and I flew together a lot,” Glenn recalls near the end of a chapter on Korea.”Ted flew about half his missions as my wingman. He was a fine pilot, and I liked to fly with him.”

– Major John “Old Magnet Ass” Glenn, recalling his days of flying with famed baseball player, Ted Williams, during the Korean Conflict

To round out this month’s product spotlight, we have this handsome North American F-86F Sabre jet, bearing the markings of “MiG Mad Marine”, the plan John Glenn flew over Korea during the 1950s era Korean Conflict (HA4312).

After WWII, Glenn was assigned to VMF-311, flying the new F9F Panther jet interceptor. He flew his Panther in 63 combat missions during the Korean War, gaining the dubious nickname “magnet ass” from his apparent ability to attract enemy flak. Twice he returned to base with over 250 flak holes in his aircraft. Glenn flew for a time with Ted Williams, a future hall of fame baseball player for the Boston Red Sox, as his wingman.

Glenn flew a second Korean combat tour on an inter-service exchange program with the United States Air Force. He logged 27 missions in the faster F-86F Sabre, and shot down three MiG-15s near the Yalu River in the final days before the cease fire.

On November 20th, 1951, squadron pilots received their new F-86 Sabre aircraft and went to face the Chinese, North Korean, and Soviet pilots in their MiG-15 aircraft. Major William T. Whisner Jr. got his fifth MiG kill on February 23rd, 1952, becoming an Ace.

When the 51st Group adopted a checkered design for its F-86 tail markings, it also received the designation “Checkertails”. The red squadron colors appeared in the design. Thus, the Assam Draggins of World War II became known as the “Checkertails” of the Korean War.

 
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Product Spotlight: Messerschmitts Over England

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“As England, in spite of her hopeless military situation, still shows no sign of willingness to come to terms, I have decided to prepare, and if necessary to carry out, a landing operation against her. The aim of this operation is to eliminate the English Motherland as a base from which the war against Germany can be continued, and, if necessary, to occupy the country completely.”

– Fuhrer Directive No. 16, announcing Unternehmen Seelowe (Operation Sea Lion), the invasion of England, July 16th, 1940

Its been an eventful few days. Not only have we received some of the latest 1:72 scale jets from Hobby Master but so too their first ever 1:48 scale Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter, resplendant in an early war mottled grey camouflage scheme (HA8701).

Numerically the most abundant fighter produced by either side during WWII, the Messerschmitt Bf 109 formed the backbone of the Jagdwaffe on both the eastern and western fronts, as well as in the Mediterranean and North Africa. Of the eight distinct sub-types within the huge Bf 109 family, the most populous was the G-model, of which over 30,000 were built between 1941-45. Despite its production run, only a handful of genuine German Bf 109s have survived into the 1990s, and with the serious damaging of the RAFs G-2 at Duxford in October 1997, only the German-based MBB G-6 and Hans Ditte’s G-10 (both composites) are currently airworthy.

 

 
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Product Spotlight: (Tom) cat on a Hot Tin Roof

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“We sat at the end of the runway, our F-14’s GE-110 motors humming, awaiting our clearance to begin what would be the last F-14 Demonstration ever. The Air Boss’s voice crackled over the radio: “Tomcat Demo, you’re cleared to five miles and 15k feet. The air show box is yours.” At that very moment, I distinctly remember what my Commanding Officer told us before the show: “Fellas, make it memorable… just not too memorable!””

– Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) Lieutenant Commander Joe “Smokin” Ruzicka shortly before flying the last F-14 Demonstration flight, 2006

Our latest cache of military hardware includes this F-14 Tomcat, which bolted off the deck for its final time in 2006. The second in Hobby Master’s growing fleet of F-14 Fleet Defense Fighters, this beauty bears the insignia of VF-31 “Tomcatters”, and is painted in a stunning low-vis camouflage scheme intended to make it blend in with its nautical surroundings (HA5202).

The F-14 Tomcat program was initiated when it became obvious that the weight and maneuverability issues plaguing the U.S. Navy variant of the Tactical Fighter Experimental (TFX) (F-111B) would not be resolved to the Navy’s satisfaction. The Navy requirement was for a fleet air defense fighter (FADF) with the primary role of intercepting Soviet bombers before they could launch missiles against the carrier group. The Navy also wanted the aircraft to possess inherent air superiority characteristics. The Navy strenuously opposed the TFX, which incorporated the Air Force’s requirements for a low-level attack aircraft, fearing the compromises would cripple the aircraft, but were forced to participate in the program at direction of then Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara who wanted “joint” solutions to the service aircraft needs to reduce developmental costs. The prior example of the F-4 Phantom which was a Navy program later adopted by the USAF (under similar direction) was the order of the day. Vice Admiral Thomas Connolly, DCNO for Air Warfare took the developmental F-111A for a flight and discovered it was unable to go supersonic and had poor landing characteristics. He later testified to Congress about his concerns against the official Department of the Navy position and in May 1968, Congress killed funding for the F-111B allowing the Navy to pursue an answer tailored to their requirements.

The F-14 first flew on December 21st, 1970, just 22 months after Grumman was awarded the contract, and reached Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in 1973. While the Marine Corps was interested in the F-14 and went so far as to send pilots to VF-124 to train as instructors, they were never fully sold on the aircraft and pulled out when the stores management system for ground attack munitions was left undeveloped, leaving the aircraft incapable of dropping air-to-ground munitions (these were later developed in the 1990s).

 
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Product Spotlight: There’s a Prowler on the Grounds

 

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“Without question, the arrival of the EA-6B Prowler on the carrier deck established airborne electronic attack as an invaluable, ‘don’t leave home without it’ part of every Navy and Marine strike mission.”

– Rick Morgan, LCDR, USN (Ret.) and historian for the Prowler Association

They’re finally in. Hobby Master’s eagerly awaited inaugural EA-6B Prowler Electronic Warfare Aircraft (HA5001) is now vaulting from our deck and winging their way to everyone that ordered one.

The Northrop Grumman (formerly Grumman) EA-6B Prowler is a twin-engine, mid-wing electronic warfare aircraft derived from the A-6 Intruder airframe. The EA-6A was the initial electronic warfare version of the A-6 used by the United States Marine Corps in the 1960s. Development on the more advanced EA-6B began in 1966. An EA-6B aircrew consists of one pilot and three Electronic Countermeasures Officers, though it is not uncommon for only two ECMOs to be used on missions. It is capable of carrying and firing anti-radiation missiles (ARM), such as the AGM-88 HARM missile.

Prowler has been in service with the U.S. Armed Forces since 1971. It has carried out numerous missions for jamming enemy radar systems, and in gathering radio intelligence on those and other enemy air defense systems. From the 1998 retirement of the United States Air Force EF-111 Raven electronic warfare aircraft, the EA-6B was the only dedicated electronic warfare plane available for missions by the United States Navy, the United States Marine Corps, and the United States Air Force until the fielding of the Navy’s EA-18G Growler in 2009. The last Navy deployment was over in November 2014, with the full withdrawal from US Navy service in early 2015.

 
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Dragon Fires Up the Panzers for the Fourth of July!

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Good news if you’re an armored buff, Dragon Models aficionado or just love WWII-era tanks in general. Dragon has shipped us our opening order for its new 1:72 scale German Mid Production Sd. Kfz. 161 PzKpfw IV Ausf. H Medium Tank (DRR60654).

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The second version (DRR60453) is expected in early July, right on time, and just as handsome as the first. We expect both caissons to sell well, judging by sales of the previous late production Mark IV Ausf. H tanks.

 
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Hobby Master Makes a Forced Landing

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Looking to up their game in the face of rising competition, Hobby Master announced that they have rejiggered the landing gear for its expanding range of F-14 Tomcats so that they no longer show ribbing on either side of the undercarriage. The ribbing had originally been designed as a means of direct reinforcement to prevent potential collapse of the landing gear, but responding to collector concerns, a more refined version has been crafted that does away with the vertical ribs and makes the model look more realistic. Well done, Hobby Master!

 
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Product Spotlight: Corgi Paradrops on Crete

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“As a base for air warfare against Great Britain in the Eastern Mediterranean we must prepare to occupy the island of Crete (Operation Merkur). For the purpose of planning, it will be assumed that the whole Greek mainland including the Peloponnese is in the hands of the Axis Powers. Command of this operation is entrusted to Commander-in-Chief Air Force who will employ for the purpose, primarily, the airborne forces and the air forces stationed in the Mediterranean area.”

– Fuhrer Directive 28, announcing Unternehmen Merkur (Operation Mercury), Fuhrer Headquarters, April 25th, 1941

Corgi seems to be experiencing greater success of late getting some of their delayed products to market, which, among other things, includes this Junkers Ju-52 tri-motor tranpsort, Bearing the insignia of 4U+NH 2/Kampfgeschwader zur besonderen Verwendung 1, an air transport unit responsible for ferrying German Fallschirmjager during Unternehmen Merkur (Operation Mercury), the airborne seizure of the all-important Mediterranean island of Crete during mid 1941.

According to Wikipedia, The Battle of Crete (German: Luftlandeschlacht um Kreta, Greek: Μάχη της Κρήτης, also Unternehmen Merkur, Operation Mercury) was fought during World War II on the Greek island of Crete. It began on the morning of 20 May 1941, when Nazi Germany began an airborne invasion of Crete. Greek forces and other Allied forces, along with Cretan civilians, defended the island.[9] After one day of fighting, the Germans had suffered heavy casualties and the Allied troops were confident that they would defeat the invasion. The next day, through communication failures, Allied tactical hesitation and German offensive operations, Maleme airfield in western Crete fell, enabling the Germans to land reinforcements and overwhelm the defensive positions on the north of the island. Allied forces withdrew to the south coast. Over half were evacuated by the British Royal Navy; the remainder surrendered or joined the Cretan resistance.

The Battle of Crete was the first battle where Fallschirmjäger (German paratroops) were used en masse, the first mainly airborne invasion in military history, the first time the Allies made significant use of intelligence from the decrypted German messages from the Enigma machine, and the first time German troops encountered mass resistance from a civilian population.[10] Due to the heavy casualties suffered by the paratroopers, Adolf Hitler, the German leader, forbade further large-scale airborne operations. In contrast, the Allies were impressed by the potential of paratroopers and started to form both airborne-assault and airfield-defence regiments.

 
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