David Knights' Weblog

August 26, 2016


Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 4:13 pm
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August is Blitzbau month over on the Unofficial Airfix Modeler’s Forum.(UAMF)

Go on over and take a look.

August 13, 2016

Sabre rattling?

Filed under: Politics — dknights @ 8:27 am
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Putin seems to be a little more active lately, which makes me wonder if therer aren’t some internal struggles going on, especially with the price of oil staying so low.  Latest here.

August 12, 2016

Russian bees?

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 8:31 pm
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Could this be(e) one of Putin’s sinister new weapons?

1st finish for the year

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 8:07 am
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Thanks in large part to Jeff Groves.  The SS-N-2 Styx



August 11, 2016

RCAF Northrop Delta

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 4:24 pm
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A great story on the first RCAF airmen killed in WWII and their Northrop Delta.  Read here.

August 10, 2016

This couldn’t possibly end badly 

Filed under: Politics — dknights @ 1:17 pm
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See here

Book Review: J2M Raiden and N1K1/2 Shinden/Shinden-Kai Aces

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 12:23 am
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Book Review: J2M Raiden and N1K1/2 Shinden/Shinden-Kai Aces
Osprey Aircraft of the Aces Series #129
By Yasuho Izawa with Tony Holmes
96 Pgs, 6 pgs of color profiles
ISBN 978 1 4728 1261 2

The volumes in the Osprey Aircraft of the Aces that cover WWII Japanese Army and Navy aces and their aircraft have been consistently some of the best books in the series.  That said, this latest title is probably the best of the series, and that is a real accomplishment.

The J2M Raiden was unusual for a naval fighter.  It wasn’t designed to operate off of a carrier.  Furthermore it wasn’t really designed as a fighter, rather it was designed as an interceptor.  The Japanese knew that eventually US Bombers would appear over Japan and that the current naval fighter, the famed Zero was not very good as a bomber killer.  The Raiden was designed from the start as an interceptor, with speed, hitting power and rate of climb emphasized over turn rate.  As with many of the later Japanese aircraft, the Raiden had teething troubles mainly due to its engine.   By the time that the J2M came into service, Japan was hard pressed and there was little that could be done to stem the tide of US bombers pounding Japan.

The N1K1/2 had an even stranger development, starting life as a floatplane.  While it wasn’t overly successful as a floatplane fighter, its designers realized that it could be adapted to be a cutting edge fighter.  The initial version the N1K2, was successful from the start, but it was plagued by landing gear failures due to its overly long landing gear, a remnant of its mid-wing design as a float plane.  The plane was quickly redesigned as a low wing monoplane, the N1K2-J “Shinden-Kai”. The N1K2-J was the most effective Japanese navy fighter of the last years of the war.  It could hold its own against the F6F and the F4U, its main fighter opponents.  In fact it was so good that the Japanese Navy’s elite unit, the 343rd Kokutai, used it as its aircraft of choice.

The authors due a very good job of explaining the development of these two aircraft and their subsequent use by the JNAF (Japanese Naval Air Force).  Many JNAF aces flew the J2M or the N1K2 at the end of their careers, but both aircraft were deployed so late and in such small numbers that only 5 pilots achieved 5 or more kills while flying the J2M or N1K2.  A number of other Japanese aces claimed their last kills in one of these two aircraft.

The book has many black and white photos of pilots who are the subjects of the stories in this book or their aircraft.  In addition there are 8 pages of color profiles that will serve as inspiration to the model builder.  The book is filled with descriptions of combat by J2M and N1K2 pilots, including several in which their opponents are identified making dogfight doubles easy to produce.

There are several good kits of the J2M and N1K2 in my preferred scale 72nd, so this book served to motivate me to take a lot of detail photos of the N1K2-J at the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola during a recent visit. I am sure I’ll end up re-reading this book while building a Shinden-Kai.  In short, buy this book.

August 2, 2016

The National Museum of Naval Aviation

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 7:38 pm
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Located in Pensacola, FL, it is without a doubt the finest aviation museum I’ve ever been to.  You should make every effort to go.  Photos to follow.

July 29, 2016

Book review: In the Skies of Nomonhan

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 5:03 pm
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Book review: In the Skies of Nomonhan
Japan Versus Russia, May-September 1939
By Dimitar Nedialkov
215 pgs. 8 pgs of color illustrations
ISBN:9 780859 791526

The clash between Mongolia and the Soviet Union on one side and Japan and Manchukuo on the other is a little covered precursory to the Second World War.  However, it was to have profound consequences for both major combatants.  Japanese senses were heightened to the Russian threat and thus the Japanese kept many aircraft and ground units in northern China to counter this possible threat.  The sting of the loss at Nomonhan (also called Khalkhin Gol) may have contributed to the Japanese reluctance to join Germany in the attack on the Soviet Union in 1941.  The Soviet Union got a chance to test massed tank combat and out of the battle rose the Soviet Union’s greatest general, Georgy Zhukov.

The war in the remote area of the China-Mongolia border was used as a testing ground by both major combatants, though the prize itself, 80 square kilometers of barren steppe was of no real value to either party.  The war was brought on by the Kwantung Army, the Japanese army in Manchuria that the central government in Tokyo had only limited control over.  This army pushed its units forward to try and define the border between Mongolia and Manchukuo as the Khalkhin River.

The book tells the story of the air war during the six month undeclared war between the parties. The Japanese started with both a qualitative and a quantitative superiority over their opponents.  This led to early dominance over the battlefield by the IJAF.  However, in a pattern that was to be repeated in WWII, the Soviets quickly built up a quantitative superiority that allowed them to wrest control of the air from the Japanese.  Even though the Japanese aircraft remained technologically superior over the course of the war, the weight of the Soviet forces was eventually too much for the IJAF to effectively counter.

The war had some effects that were not apparent until after WWII.  Not the least among these was the loss of more than 100 experienced Japanese pilots, at a time when the Japanese training system simply could not replace them.  Each one of these pilots killed was an experienced pilot that the allies didn’t have to face in the Pacific or in southern China during WWII.

The author is apparently a Bulgarian Air Force Colonel and PhD.  While you can tell from the text he relied more on Russian rather than Japanese sources, the overall presentation is even-handed.  The author points out that both sides wildly over-claimed during air combat for propaganda purposes.  The author generally acknowledges the combat superiority of the Ki-27 fighter and the Ki-15 recon aircraft over all of their Soviet counterparts, the I-15, I-16 and I-153.

The book contains many black and white photos, mostly from Soviet sources.  Most of the photos of Japanese aircraft as stock photos that most readers will have seen before.  The color side-view illustrations are nice and interesting, though 3-view illustrations would have been better.

The text is readable, but you can tell the author’s first language is not English as some of the sentences don’t flow naturally.  It isn’t enough to make the book difficult or unpleasant to read, but it is noticeable.  The book would have benefited from a better English language editor.

I found the book a quick, easy and pleasant read.  It is on a subject that I didn’t have much knowledge about.  I can recommend this book to both the casual reader and the enthusiast looking to gain deeper insight into this little known brush war.

July 27, 2016

Airliner photo

Filed under: Family,Modeling — dknights @ 8:54 am
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This photo comes from a previous trip to Jamaica.  The plane was photographed at the airport in Montego Bay Jamaica (MBJ).


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