Archive for April, 2009

30
Apr
09

The Vauban Fortifications of France

During the 77-year life of Louis XIV, France was at peace for only 17 years – less than one year in four. The rest of the time was taken up in warfare against most of the other states of Europe, as the ‘Sun King’ pushed forward his frontiers and tested the extent to which he could exploit France’s central position, her modern bureaucracy, and her large and industrious population. To help him in these wars, Louis XIV was able to call upon a highly gifted group of field commanders such as Turenne, Conde, and Luxembourg. Between them, they did much to advance the general European ‘Art of War’, including some brilliant mobile operations which helped to set the military agenda for the whole of the 18th century, and even beyond. However the military predominance of France among the states of Europe ultimately owed more to the equally gifted group of administrators, most notably Colbert and Louvois, who worked at the centre to organize the state’s infrastructure for war, in both financial and logistical terms. It was they who provided the money from a modernized tax structure, and then made sure it was properly spent on all the regiments, ships, guns, stockpiles of powder, and rations – and also the fortresses – that a great power would insatiably require when it set out to occupy and defend what it saw as its geographically ‘natural’ frontiers.

30
Apr
09

Modelling Postwar Tanks

This remarkable tank has been almost entirely forgotten by manufacturers. The British company Accurate Armour is one of the few to have produced an S-Tank model. The kit in question is made of resin, or rather what today is defined as ‘multimedia’ — a mixture of resin, lead and etched brass. The quality of the kit is superb with a great deal of good moulded detail. The cost of the kit reflects this quality and range of materials used. However, despite these positive points, there are drawbacks. First, there are no decals or transfers included. Second, although the assembly sequence is explained well, the instructions lack any painting outline. Finally, some resin parts have bubbles (very few) or a little mould displacement. Although the assembly does not take very long, it is complicated and consequently this type of kit is not recommended for beginners. For example, the model m question arrived with the area of the driver’s roof concave. To put this right, it needed the help of hot air from a hair drier applied to the area; with a little pressure the fault was easily corrected.

30
Apr
09

Modelling Panzer Crewman Of The Heer

A wonderfully detailed and beautifully finished armour model can easily be let down if accompanied by a poorly painted figure. All too often, armour modellers spend enormous energy and time bringing their AFVs to life with realistic weathering, expensive accessories and a scenic base, then spend very little time painting the figures that go with it. In many cases, figures become an afterthought- This is a shame, because while not every viewer will know-exactly what your model is supposed to look like in real life, everyone knows what a human being is supposed to be. Inevitably, some viewers’ opinion of the accuracy of the armour model will depend on the overall realistic appearance of the figure. The addition of scale figures helps provide depth, weight and realism to a model. A well-painted figure can even distract the viewer from a mediocre model. But to this end, painting and working with figures continues to be most armour modellers’ worst nightmare, even though building and painting scale armour is far more demanding and time-consuming.

30
Apr
09

Modelling The Panzer IV in 1/72 Scale

I became interested in small-scale armour at a time when the Esci range of kits was still readily available. Not only was this range extensive, the kits were also well detailed and affordable. My local model shop had far more choice in this scale than 1/76. Ever since then I decided to stick with just the one scale and not mix them together. I suppose in that sense I’m a bit of a purist! Many of the aftermarket detailing sets are also to be found in 1/72 scale. Although 1 enjoy scratch-building my own details, I will use aftermarket items when appropriate. Photo-etched sets are available for many 1/72-scale kits, yet in contrast are very uncommon for 1/76 scale. However, there are many excellent 1/76-scale kits to be found in both resin and injection-moulded media. It also appears to be the scale of choice for many of the smaller model companies, with an impressive number of kits available from the likes of Cromwell Models, Milicast and others. Attempting to include these in a book of this size would be an impossible task, so the decision to focus solely on one scale was also a practical one.

30
Apr
09

Modelling The Churchill Tank

The purpose of this book is to present techniques and methodologies for building scale replicas of the Churchill Infantry Tank. With such a diverse and extensive subject to cover in a modelling book, the challenge was in the selection of variants that best represent the most common types of Churchill. Moreover, it was equally as important to choose projects that would enable the reader to use the methodologies presented herein as a ‘stepping-stone’ to modelling, with some adjustments and modifications, the many other variants and types of Churchill tanks. This book presents the reader with several Churchill variants using the plastic Tamiya kit as the skeletal basis of the projects with several after-market conversion kits and accessories and also demonstrates scratch-building techniques. In each chapter, the construction will be described in detail. Explanations will be provided on various paint applications with hints and tips on making models look more realistic using several weathering techniques. It will also offer methods to personalize a model with accessories and figures with suggestions on ways of creating an atmospheric setting to accommodate the model.

30
Apr
09

North American P- 51 Mustang

The USAAF very nearly didn’t get the P-51 Mustang at all, had it not been for the Royal Air Force requirement for an alternative to the P-40. The aircraft was subsequently hugely improved bvy the addition of a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, again stipulated by the RAF Finally, in this form it became highly effective as a long-range escort fighter, capable of seeing Allied bombers all the way to Germany. The RAF initially took delivery of the Mustang I powered bv the Allison engine. This aircraft was found to be quicker than the contemporary Spitfire Mark V, although it was never reallyv regarded as an interceptor fighter – the Spitfire and Messerschmitt Bf 109 were both more manoeuvrable at higher altitudes for example. The Mustang’s primary role was as a low-level tactical fighter and the type was first stationed at RAF Burtonwood in October 1941. The remarkable similarity in size between the Allison and Merlin engine meant that only minor redesign of the forward fuselage was needed to test if the different engine would bring worthwhile improvements. The first Merlin-powered Mustang was flown on 13 October 1942 and the transformation was astonishing. Soon the P-51B entered service with the USAAF’s Eighth Air Force, based in England. With drop tanks, the fighters could escort the bombers deep into Germain. The first victory came when Lt Charles F. Gumin of the 355th Fighter Squadron shot down a Messerschmitt Bf 110 over Bremen.

30
Apr
09

WW2 Soft-Skinned Military Vehicles

The artillery and other branches of the armed forces required a tractor-type vehicle in order to tow heavy equipment to and from the battlefield. This vehicle needed to be fast and capable of operating in a variety of terrain. In 1932, contracts were signed with six different German companies to develop more vehicles of this kind; they were to be varied in size and classified according to weight. One such contract was signed with Hansa-Lloid-Goliath AG of Bremen to build a 3-ton tractor. The first prototype of this series, designated HLKl 2, was built in 1934, and the improved versions HLKI 3 and 4 came out two years later. In 1937 the HLKI 5 was built. Like its predecessors, it had a 6-cylinder, Borgward L-3500L engine. The final version, the HLKI 6, was built in 1939, and was equipped with a Maybach HL-38 Motor — later replaced by the HL-42. Officially called Leichte Zugkraftwagen 3t (SdKfz 11) typ k1 6, this vehicle was kept in production until 1944, by which time a total of 8,800 had been built. There were six versions, each for different tasks; primarily they were used as artillery tractors, towing 105mm guns; they also served as rocket launcher platforms and for transporting munitions. In yet another role they were also used to tow the 75 and 88mm antitank guns.