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Bandai 1/48 Star Wars AT-ST

Bandai 1/48 Star Wars AT-ST Review


After seeing a few of these up in online builds, I wanted to grab one up. I received mine from Hobbylink Japan for around $15. While I cannot attest to how completely accurate it is-- from what I've looked through, it is a very nice quality kit.

First thing I snapped a shot of was the instruction manual-- notice the Disney logo front and center at the bottom ;)

Steps seem very clear and concise-- and all instructions are in Japanese...

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1/72 Special Hobby B-18 Bolo

1/72 Special Hobby B-18 Bolo



Of all of the American bombers of World War II, the B-18 is probably the least known. The story of the airliner turned bomber has languished in obscurity. The few articles that have been written about it have only emphasized its faults and maligned it as a budget bomber with few virtues. The economy minded Congress of the mid thirties chose to fund the twin engined B-18 over the more promising and much more expensive B-17 which the prototype had the misfortune of crashing during testing. When the Air Corps received their speedy and comfortable B-18's in 1937 they seemed cutting edge compared to the Martin B-10 which had been the innovative bomber of the early thirties.

The B-18 had been built using contemporary but dead end design specifications and it soon showed itself to be what it was, an airliner bomber. It had little latitude for future development and thus would not measure up to the B-17, B-24 or the twin engined B-25 and B-26 and its mass production delayed development and production of these more modern bombers that could have made a difference in the grim days following Pearl Harbor. But at the time of Pearl Harbor the B-18 was the most numerous American bomber to be based overseas and proved itself to be useful as a stopgap bomber and jack of all trades until the more modern bombers could become operational. As a stopgap bomber the B-18 left an important legacy. At a time when the B-17 and B-24 could not be spared, it was available in numbers and played a significant role in America's early anti-submarine operations, first off the American and later in the Caribbean.

The Kit:

The Special Hobby kit comes in a medium sized traditional top opening tray top box with a thin cardboard top and a heavier corrugated cardboard bottom. The box top offers some nice artwork. Inside the box one finds a large resealable bag with all of the main sprues, a smaller resealable bag with the clear parts, a small zip lock bag with some resin parts and a small resealable bag containing the decals and a photo etch fret. The main parts are molded in a medium gray plastic and feature recessed panel lines and some rivet and fastener detail. The panel lines are quite fine and not at all like the deep trenches found on some other recent releases in this scale. The surface is reasonably smooth but not polished and a few areas show where the molds were not as smooth as they could have been but these should not show under a coat of paint. There is a light amount of flash on some parts and a medium level of mold separation seams to clean up on some of the smaller parts. There are no alignment pins to be found. As with many limited run kits the sprue attachment point are quite heavy in some places and the mating surfaces would benefit from a light sanding to remove irregularities I found no sink marks or other surface defects on the air frame parts. The fabric surface detail is restrained. All flight control surfaces are molded in the neutral position and the only complaint I have with these are that the joint lines for the control surfaces are a bit shallow which would be an easy fix if this bothers you. There is only one ejector pin tower that may show in the interior but it should be easy to remove.

The interior is provided with a good level of detail, especially the cockpit as can be seen in the excerpt from the instructions shown below. The instrument panel is done sandwich style and a lot of the photo etch and resin parts end up here. Some of them will prove to be a challenge to those vision impaired and ham fisted.

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Zvezda Su-2 1/48 Review

Zvezda Su-2 1/48 Review


In 1936, Joseph Stalin released a requirement for a multipurpose combat aircraft. Codenamed Ivanov, the aircraft had to be capable of performing reconnaissance and then attacking the targets it located. P.O. Sukhoi was working in the Tupolev OKB at the time and designed the "Ivanov" aircraft under the tutelage of Andrei Tupolev. The resulting ANT-51 flew on 25 August 1937 with M.M. Gromov at the controls. Powered by an 820 hp Shvetsov M-62 air-cooled radial engine,the ANT-51 reached 250 mph at 15,420 ft. This was considered insufficient but since the basic design was sound, it was decided to re-test with a more powerful engine. Equipped with 1,000 hp Tumansky M-87 engine, the ANT-51 reached 290 mph at 18,370 ft and was accepted into production as BB-1 (Blizhniy Bombardirovschik; Russian: Ближний Бомбардировщик — Short-range Bomber). In 1940, the aircraft was renamed Su-2 and the unreliable M-87 engine was replaced with a Tumansky M-88. This lightened version with a M-88B engine reached 320 mph in testing.

The Su-2 was of mixed construction. The fuselage was semi-monocoque with wood spars and plywood skin. The wings were of duralumin and steel construction with fabric-covered rod-actuated control surfaces. The pilot and the gunner were protected with 9 mm (0.35 in) of armor. The landing gear was retractable, including the tail wheel.

Although 910 Su-2s were built by the time production was discontinued in 1942, the aircraft was obsolete and underarmed by the start of the Great Patriotic War. In combat the Su-2 ground attack aircraft squadrons suffered heavy losses against the Germans, with some 222 aircraft destroyed. From 1942, the Su-2 was withdrawn from the front line and replaced by Ilyushin Il-2, Petlyakov Pe-2 and Tupolev Tu-2 bombers. The Su-2 was relegated to a training and reconnaissance role. However, due to a critical shortage of aircraft in early World War II, some Su-2 were used as emergency fighters.

Although looking vaguely similar to the Grumman Avenger it flew nearly four years before the Avenger and was a smaller aircraft with an 8' shorter wingspan, 6' shorter in length and having an empty weight over 3,000 pounds lighter than the Avenger.

The kit

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ICM C-45F Beechcraft Twin Beech 1/48

ICM C-45F Beechcraft Twin Beech 1/48



The Beechcraft Model 18 (or "Twin Beech", as it is also known) is a six to 11-seat, twin-engined, low-wing, light aircraft manufactured by the Beech Aircraft Corporation of Wichita, Kansas. Continuously produced from 1937 to November 1969, (over 32 years, the world record at the time), over 9,000 were produced, making it one of the world's most widely used light aircraft. Sold worldwide as a civilian executive, utility, cargo aircraft, and passenger airliner on tailwheels, nosewheels, skis or floats, it was also used as a military aircraft.

During and after World War II, over 4,500 Beech 18s saw military service -- as light transport, light bomber (for China), aircrew trainer (for bombing, navigation and gunnery), photo-reconnaisance, and "mother ship" for target drones -- including United States Army Air Forces C-45 Expeditor, AT-7 Navigator, AT-11 Kansan; and United States Navy UC-45J Navigator, SNB-1 Kansan, and others. In World War II, over 90% of USAAF bombardiers and navigators trained in these aircraft.

Prior to Pearl Harbor, the Beech 18 was outsold by the Lockheed 12 by two-to-one. However, war priorities forced Lockheed to concentrate on its heavier aircraft, and Beechcraft received a major boost through wartime contracts.

Production got an early boost when Nationalist China paid the company $750,000 for six M18R light bombers, but by the time of the U.S. entry into World War II, only 39 Model 18s had been sold, of which 29 were for civilian customers. Work began in earnest on a variant specifically for training military pilots, bombardiers, and navigators. The effort resulted in the Army AT-7 and Navy SNB. Further development led to the AT-11 and SNB-2 navigation trainers and the C-45 military transport. The United States Air Force Strategic Air Command had Beechcraft Model 18 (AT-11 Kansans, C-45 Expeditors, F-2 Expeditors (the "F" standing for "Fotorecon"), and UC-45 Expeditors) from 1946 until 1951. From 1951 to 1955, the USAF had many of its aircraft remanufactured with new fuselages, wing center sections, and undercarriages to take advantage of the improvements to the civil models since the end of World War II. Eventually, 900 aircraft were remanufactured to be similar to the then-current Model D18S and given new designations, constructor's numbers and Air Force serial numbers. The USN had many of its surviving aircraft remanufactured, as well, these being redesignated as SNB-5s and SNB-5Ps. The C-45 flew in U.S. Air Force service until 1963, the USN retired its last SNB in 1972, while the U.S. Army flew its C-45s through 1976. In later years, the military called these aircraft "bug smashers" in reference to their extensive use supplying mandatory flight hours for desk-bound aviators in the Pentagon.

The Kit

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Trumpeter Ju87A Stuka 1/32

 Trumpeter Ju87A Stuka 1/32


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