July 2016

Films in Focus: Hacksaw Ridge, Dunkirk, Anthropoid, Allied and Ghost Army

Seventy years after the conflict ended, there still seems to be no shortage of WWII-inspired films based on true events. Scheduled to open in theaters on November 4th is Hacksaw Ridge, which follows the exploits of Desmond Doss, the first conscientious objector to ever earn the Congressional Medal of Honor. According to Variety, “The film, directed by Mel Gibson, is set during the bloody Battle of Okinawa when Doss saved 75 men without carrying a weapon on the battlefield. Doss, a Seventh-day Adventist who didn’t believe in killing, even in times of war, was the only American soldier in WWII to fight on the frontlines without a weapon.

Set to open in July 2017 is Dunkirk, a Christopher Nolan film, which examines the hasty evacuation of Allied forces from the continent of Europe in May 1940, following their rout by the Wehrmacht as they marched towards the sea. Set on location in Dunkirk, France, principal photography commenced on May 23rd, 2016; in the months following, production will proceed in Urk, Netherlands, Swanage and Weymouth in Dorset, United Kingdom and Los Angeles, United States. In the course of shooting, Dunkirk operates under the codename “Bodega Bay”. The film is being shot on a combination of IMAX 65mm and 65mm large format film stock. Nolan reconditioned actual warships for the shoot, including the French Navy destroyer Maillé-Brézé, and reportedly spent US$5 million of the budget on a vintage aircraft so as to attach it with IMAX cameras before crashing it on-screen.

And then there’s Anthropoid, which is based on the true story of two Czechoslovak soldiers who sent to assassinate the head of the SS in 1942. SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich was the Reich’s number three and main architect of the Final Solution.

Allied is a Robert Zememckis film set in 1942, starring Max (Brad Pitt), a French-Canadian spy, who falls in love and marries a French agent Marianne (Marion Cotillard), after a mission in Casablanca. Max is notified that Marianne is likely a Nazi spy and begins to investigate her.  Allied is set to debut on November 23rd.

Further down-the-road is Warmer Brothers’ Ghost Army, which is based on Rick Beyer and Elizabeth Sayles’ non-fiction book The Ghost Army Of World War II: How One Top-Secret Unit Deceived The Enemy with Inflatable Tanks, Sound Effects, And Other Audacious Fakery. Produced by award-winning actor, Bradley Cooper, and likely featuring him in it as well, the film isn’t slated to open until late 2017. According to Entertainment, “The story follows the true events of a top-secret group of artists and designers—”Cecil B. DeMille warriors,” as they were called—recruited to fool the Nazis during World War II. Using diversions such as inflatable tanks, phony radio traffic, and dummy soldiers, the troops managed to save thousands of Allied lives by tricking the enemy into thinking their flimsy ghost army was the real thing.”

A similarly conceived film tackling the subject of the Ghost Army was released a few years ago and is available on both Netflix and Amazon Prime, so it will be interesting to see how a new version, coming hot-on-the-heels of the first movie, can offer new insight on the master deception.

 

 
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Product Spotlight: Marching in Red Square

AS72044a

 

“Order of the Supreme Command in Chief, Armed Forces of the USSR and concurrent People’s Commissar of State for National Defense: To mark the victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War, I order a parade of troops of the Army, Navy and the Moscow Garrison, the Victory Parade, on June 24, 1945, at Moscow’s Red Square. Marching on parade shall be the combined regiments of all the fronts, a People’s Commissariat of National Defense combined regiment, the Soviet Navy, military academies and schools, and troops of the Moscow Garrison and Military District. My deputy, Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov will be the parade inspector. Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky will command the Victory Parade itself. I entrust to Col. Pavel Artemyev, the preparations of the parade organization, due to his concurrent capacities as the Commanding General of the Moscow Military District and Commanding Officer in charge of the Moscow City Garrison.” 

– Marshal of the Soviet Union, Joseph V. Stalin, Supreme Commander-in-Chief, Armed Forces of the USSR And concurrent People’s Commissar of National Defense of the USSR, Order #370, June 22, 1945

Ever since they were announced, we’ve been eagerly awaiting the latest Modelcollect diecast military vehicles, which includes, among other things, a pair of Russian BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles. The product shown here (AS72044) is a vehicle that took part in the annual Moscow Victory Day Parade held on May 9th, 1990, the final year before the Soviet Union dissolved into a Commonwealth of Independent States.

The Moscow Victory Parade of 1945 (Russian: Парад Победы, tr. Parad Pobedy) was a victory parade held by the Soviet army (with a small squad from the Polish army) after the defeat of Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War. This, the longest and largest military parade ever held on Red Square in the Soviet capital of Moscow, involved 40,000 Red Army soldiers and 1,850 military vehicles and other military hardware. The parade transpired just over two hours on a rainy June 24th, 1945, over a month after May 9, the day of Germany’s surrender to Soviet commanders.

 
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Corgi Commemorates the 75th Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor Attack in Style

AA36110d

Corgi plans to commemorate the upcoming 75th Anniversary of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in grandiose style with specially crafted packaging designed to evoke the spirit of each combatant. According to the Corgi Diecast Diaries, “[Corgi is] proud to announce the launch of the July – December 2016 Corgi model range. Amongst this fantastic array of die-cast delights, collectors will have noticed a trio of models that have been produced to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the infamous Japanese raid against Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, which saw America enter the Second World War. All three of the models to be produced mark aircraft that were in service at the time of the attack and will surely be popular additions to the Aviation Archive range as this Anniversary approaches. Die-cast Diaries is pleased to be bringing you the news that all three of these models will benefit from specially produced commemorative box artwork, which will certainly further enhance these beautiful models and give them a distinctive appearance. We are still working on some of the details relating to the Curtiss P-40B release, so for this edition, we will concentrate on the Zero and Catalina, with the P-40 to follow.

AA33108b

As one of the most advanced and capable aircraft in the early years of the Second World War, the Mitsubishi Zero proved to be the ideal carrier-based fighter aircraft to support Japanese naval actions in the Pacific region. Possessing exceptional levels of speed and manoeuvrability, the Zero was capable of operating over long distances and during early combat operations, Zero pilots were to enjoy spectacular successes over their adversaries. Posting an almost unbelievable kill ratio of 12:1, the diminutive Mitsubishi Zero proved to be the ultimate dogfighter during the early months of WWII, but this dominance was to be short lived, as America entered the war and pilots learned how best to tackle Japan’s best fighter.”

 
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Product Spotlight: Defending the Motherland

 

HA5301

“Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you.”

– First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Nikita Kruschev, commenting on Capitalism

While Hobby Master has been content to replicate some of the most iconic western jets of the modern era, their record at offering adversarial aircraft has been a bit spotty. Until now. Their first ever Mikoyan Gurevich MiG 23 Flogger has now been released, one that represents a warbird from the 787th IAP, then deployed to Eberswalde, Finow AB, Brandenburg, East Germany, during the 1970s (HA5301). Like their F-14 Tomcat, their inaugural MiG features variable geometry wings, thereby enabling the collector to display their aircraft in multiple configurations.

HA5301a

Painted in a light grey exterior and bearing all the hallmark detail we’ve come to expect from Hobby Master, their first ever MiG will no doubt kick off other variants and schemes in the months to come, and will likely usher in a bevy of other adversarial aircraft in the coming year.

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 (NATO reporting name: Flogger) is a variable-geometry fighter aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich design bureau in the Soviet Union. It is considered to belong to the Soviet third-generation jet fighter category, along with similarly aged Soviet fighters such as the MiG-25 “Foxbat”. It was the first attempt by the Soviet Union to design look-down/shoot-down radar and one of the first to be armed with beyond visual range missiles, and the first MiG production fighter aircraft to have intakes at the sides of the fuselage. Production started in 1970 and reached large numbers with over 5,000 aircraft built. Today the MiG-23 remains in limited service with various export customers.

 
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Israel Spars with Syria Over the Golan Heights

Yasir

Over the years, the Golan Heights has been the scene of some of the most vicious tank battles and aerial duels the world has ever seen, pitting the Israel Defense Forces against those of Syria. Over the weekend, the region was once again embroiled in a battle of sorts, as the IDF attempted to down a Syrian-launched drone flying over the contested area. According to Defense News, “An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from Syria managed Sunday to penetrate Israeli airspace and evade two Patriot anti-air interceptors and possibly an F-16-launched air-to-air missile, sources here said.

An Israeli military spokesman insisted Israel Air Force air defenders detected the UAV prior to its violation of Israeli airspace on Sunday afternoon in the area of the Golan Heights. According to a July 17 statement, the Air Force continued to track the target in Israeli skies, yet failed to down the intruder, despite three intercept attempts.

“The aircraft was detected prior to entering the nation’s territory and was fully tracked by the Israel Air Force,” noted a July 17 statement. “From the initial investigation, it was found that three intercept attempts took place as per procedure. No hit of the target was identified.”

The drone, likely a Yasir purchased from Iran, is a small, low-cost, long-endurance Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) built by Iran Aviation Industries Organization (IAIO) and unveiled on 28 September 2013. It is capable of flying at an altitude of 15,000 ft, has an endurance of 8 hours, and an operational radius of 200 km It is an unlicensed copy of the American ScanEagle drone. No doubt used against ISIS forces over disputed regions of Syria, its deployment above the Golan marks the first time it was deployed over the bitterly contested region.

Davids Sling

Its not clear if the Israelis fired their newly-developed David’s Sling SAN system at the drone. Also called Magic WandDavid’s Sling is an Israel Defense Forces military system being jointly developed by the Israeli defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the American defense contractor Raytheon, designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, medium- to long-range rockets and cruise missiles, fired at ranges from 40 km (24.85 miles) to 300 km (186.41 miles). David’s Sling is meant to replace the MIM-23 Hawk and MIM-104 Patriot in the Israeli arsenal. It is designed to intercept the newest generation of tactical ballistic missiles, such as Iskander, using an on-board dual CCD/IR seekers to distinguish between decoys and the actual warhead of the missile, in addition to tracking by Elta EL/M-2084 Active electronically scanned array multi-mode radar. The multi-stage interceptor consists of a solid-fuel, rocket motor booster, followed by an asymmetrical kill vehicle with advanced steering for super-maneuverability during the kill-stage. A three-pulse motor provides additional acceleration and maneuverability during the terminal phase. David’s Sling was planned to be deployed in 2015, but budget shortfalls for infrastructure for deployable missile batteries will delay its operational date.

David’s Sling is meant to bolster the second tier of Israel’s theater missile defense system. The two-stage radar and electro-optic guided system has a 70–300 kilometer range, three times that of Iron Dome. The system can be deployed against aircraft and missiles, with plans to convert the system to intercept cruise missiles in the future.

The name David’s Sling comes from the biblical story of David and Goliath. It will form one level of Israel’s future multi-tiered missile defense system that Israel is developing, which will also include Arrow 2, Arrow 3, Iron Dome and Iron Beam from as early as 2018.

 
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Bombing: Above and Beyond The Tethers of Earth

Russian Bomber

If we are to believe Popular Mechanics, the Russians are currently working on developing and eventually deploying a nuclear strategic bomber designed to hit any target within one to two hours of of release.

“Russian state media is reporting that the country’s Defense Ministry is developing a nuclear-armed bomber than could launch attacks from space. A prototype aircraft is under development and will be ready for trials by 2020.

According to RIA Novosti, the engine has already been tested and is expected to make its public debut in September at the International Military Technology Forum. The report quotes a Lieutenant Colonel Solodovnikov, who states the plane will take off and patrol the skies like a regular bomber. Once given the command, the bomber would ascend into space and could hit any target on Earth with nuclear warheads within one or two hours.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense has denied reports a space bomber is in development, saying it was “out of the question” but not outside its technical level of expertise. The Ministry says that remarks about a hypothetical spacecraft were misinterpreted by the state-run press. While a denial is a denial, the exact date for the engine’s public debut is curious. It could be that the engine is real, and that a space bomber was a hypothetical use. Or, the bomber and engine are real. Or not. We’ll find out in September.

Either way, little is known about the actual design of the spacecraft. According to Solodovnikov, it would weigh “between 20 and 25 metric tons.” That is not much for a plane—in fact, it’s roughly the mass of the F/A-18E Super Hornet. And yet somehow, a plane that light is supposed to carry at least one nuclear weapon, fly like a regular aircraft, power itself into space, and then return to base, all on its own.

The engine is a mystery, too. Afterburning turbofan engines used on fighter planes need oxygen to operate, something that isn’t feasible in space. Scramjets aren’t powerful enough, and ramjets wouldn’t be fuel-efficient enough to use in regular atmospheric flight. The Russian spaceplane could use some combination of these, but carrying two types of engines and two types of fuel would easily bust the 25-metric-ton weight ceiling being floated. The report also implies that a single engine will power the aircraft.

One possibility could be a hybrid jet engine/rocket like the United Kingdom’s SABRE. The SABRE compresses and pre-cools air, enabling it to work like a regular turbojet at higher altitudes where the air is thinner. Once high enough, it operates much like a regular rocket engine, burning onboard liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. This allows a space plane with SABRE-like engines to get by on a single engine type. It would still need to carry two types of fuel, though.

A space bomber sounds scary, sure, but until something actually flies, it’s just vaporware. Russia has promised a number of high-profile defense projects, including the PAK-FA fighter, PAK-DA stealth bomber, Storm-class aircraft carriers, and others. Only the PAK-FA has seen any notable progress, and the project has had its share of engineering issues.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been spending lavishly on his military, at a time when western-imposed sanctions have had a dramatic impact on the Russian economy. While such a project is indeed feasible and in line with comparable Western projects designed with a similar purpose in mind, it remains to be seen if such a system can be fielded within these time constraints and offer enough potency to justify and/or warrant its exorbitant costs.

 
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Product Spotlight: Hobby Master Hoists the Jolly Roger

HA5203

“Obsolete weapons do not deter.”

– British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

We’re starting to find ourselves knee-deep in Grumman F-14 Tomcats, so anytime a truly important release catches the third arresting wire on our flight deck, we have to sit up and take notice. This month, we are expecting the latest in the Hobby Master stable of F-14s – an “A” variant that was attached to VF-84 “Jolly Rogers,” then embarked upon the USS Nimitz (CVN-68), during 1977 (HA5203).

HA5203a

Strike Fighter Squadron 103 (the Jolly Rogers) is a Strike Fighter Squadron flying the F/A-18F Super Hornet and is based at NAS Oceana.

In March 1993, VF-84 deployed on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the only F-14 squadron in a reconfigured airwing that included Marine F/A-18, CH-53 and UH-1 squadrons. VF-84 flew critical TARPS reconnaissance missions during Operation Deny Flight, providing information about Bosnian Serb positions around Sarajevo. The squadron also flew in support of Operation Southern Watch, enforcing the no-fly zone over southern Iraq.

VF-84 returned to NAS Oceana in September 1993. It was to be the squadron’s last Mediterranean deployment.

Due to the downsizing of the Navy after the Cold War, the Navy disestablished several squadrons, and VF-84 was one of them. The squadron spent its last eighteen months of existence participating in several joint service operations, honing its skills in air-to-air combat, strike and TARPS. The squadron also made another memorable appearance in another motion picture, Executive Decision. VF-84 was disestablished on October 1, 1995, but VF-103 Sluggers adopted the name and insignia of the Jolly Rogers. From its transition to the F-14 until its disestablishment, VF-84 had been a part of CVW-8.

 
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Product Spotlight: Eaglemoss Boldly Goes Back in Time

EMST0072

 

“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

– Science Officer Spock

While many Trekkies spend the vast portion of their time searching for the latest Star Trek starships in the canon, its refreshing to see some oldies but goodies warp in to make a return appearance. In this particular case, we just received a shipment of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-A, one of the earliest starships to be introduced into Star Trek lore (ST0072).

The USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-A) was a 23rd century Federation Constitution-class starship operated by Starfleet. This starship was the second Federation ship to bear the name Enterprise.

Externally, the Enterprise-A was virtually identical to the refit USS Enterprise, destroyed several months prior to the launch. The bridge was in its customary location on Deck 1. At least three different models were used during the ship’s service.

The bridge was located on Deck 1, at the very top of the saucer section. The large viewscreen could project different views from cameras scattered on the saucer section of the ship. The Enterprise could also show tactical views and alerts on the screen along with hails. There were two turbo lifts.

The torpedo bay was on Deck 13. It was much more automated than on the previous Enterprise, and the torpedo room itself was smaller and enclosed.

No “unauthorized” hand phaser could be fired aboard the ship at a level above stun without an alarm sounding.

 

 
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Das Boot Gets a Reboot

das-boot

According to the Independent, “[the] Classic German drama Das Boot – the unrelentingly claustrophobic epic from Wolfgang Petersen – is to get a follow-up in the form of a television miniseries.

If you haven’t watched the film since its release in 1981, perhaps it’s time for a refresh because Variety is reporting the series will pick up directly where it left off.

Written by Tony Saint and Johannes W. Betz, the series – produced by Bavaria Films for $28 million – will be comprised of eight episodes.

An adaptation of Lothar-Günther Buchheim’s novel The Boat, the WWII-set drama told the fictional story of men serving aboard a U-boat and was told largely through the viewpoint of German forces – a trait that will be continued in the series.”

Look for Das Boot 2 to surface some time in 2018.

 
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Putting the Camo in Camouflage

 

(c) Brian North Lee; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

As part of their 100-year tribute to the tank, The Tank Museum has published an article discussing the earliest origins of camouflage as it was used on tanks. David Fletcher, a world reknowned writer on military affairs, discusses how the Royal Engineers came up with ways to help hide advancing tanks from enemy anti-tank fire during testing trials and the subsequent attempts to standardize the schemes once the vehicles reached the battlefields of France and Belgium. For more information, you can read the full text of the article here: Tank100

 

 

 
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