David Knights' Weblog

December 5, 2016

Book review: Operation Archery, Commandos and the Vaagso Raid 1941

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 10:49 pm
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archery-coverBook review: Operation Archery, Commandos and the Vaagso Raid 1941
By Ken Ford
80 Pages
ISBN978-1-84908-372-0

Review by D.M. Knights

After the British were driven from continental Europe in 1940, Winston Churchill realized that the British Army would not be strong enough to return for years, yet he saw the need for attacks on the continent in order to maintain a credible threat to Germany and to give hope to the occupied countries.  Churchill had an obsessive focus on Norway ever sense the outbreak of WWII, with disastrous consequences in the Norwegian campaign of April-May 1940.  Now however, Norway made sense as an area where the hit and run raids contemplated by Churchill could be implemented.

The raid on Vaagso seems a bit weird at first blush as the target wasn’t a radar, gun emplacement or airfield, but rather the target were several fish oil plants.  While fish oil plants don’t seem particularly military, the fish oil was used to make vitamin supplements which U-boat crews needed due to the lack of sunlight exposure.  Also the fish oil was used to make glycerin, a vital component of explosives.

The town of South Vaagso on Vaagso Island had 4 or 5 fish oil plans.  The island was just off the mainland of Norway and was guarded by a small infantry detachment of the Wehrmacht 181st Inf. Div. as well as some naval troops.  There were also 6 ancient 10.5cm WWI era German guns on the Island of Maaloy which lay next to the town of South Vaagso and protected its harbor.

This book does an excellent job, in its 80 pages of telling the story of the preparation for the raid, the raid itself and its aftermath.  It is an exciting tale well worth devoting an hour or two reading the book.  In addition to a well told story the book is illustrated with maps which help make the story clear, as well as many photos most taken during the raid as the British sent along combat photographers so they could exploit the propaganda value of the raid.

I particularly enjoy small unit action stories.  This makes this particular book even more enjoyable.  If you enjoy the story, you can also read the old Bantam War Book, The Vaagso Raid by Jospeh H. Devins, Jr. which was first published back in 1968.  It makes a nice companion to the Osprey Operation Archery book.

December 3, 2016

I hope they save her

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 4:55 pm
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https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/dec/03/first-world-war-submarine-u-boat-hunter-ship-scrapyard-hms-president?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

December 2, 2016

Crazy California

Filed under: Politics — dknights @ 8:38 am
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A pretty place, but this is crazy for any number of reasons.

December 1, 2016

Gen. Mattis

Filed under: General — dknights @ 9:28 am
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I love this story.

November 30, 2016

Book review: RF-8 Crusader Units over Cuba and Vietnam

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 12:02 pm
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rf-8Book review: RF-8 Crusader Units over Cuba and Vietnam
Osprey Combat Aircraft #12
By Peter Mersky
98 pgs
ISBN 978 1 85532 782 5

I’ve been reading a lot of Osprey books this year for a number of reasons.  I have managed to collect a lot of them over the years and they are quick easy reads.  Also, I am determined to finish more books this year than Jim Bates and the Osprey books are an easy way to boost my book count.

The format of these books is pretty much all the same, a short history of the subject aircraft, 8 or so pages of color side views and some combat stories with quotes from the participants. So of the books are better, such as the Nick Millman volumes on the Ki-27 and Ki-44 aces, and others aren’t quite of the same caliber.  Sadly this volume falls into the latter category.

The book isn’t bad, per se.  It’s not that author has gotten anything factually incorrect, as far as I can tell.  I did learn some stuff too, such as the USMC RF-8 units never operated the RF-8G, only the RF-8A.  Also, part of the problem may simply be the subject itself, as recon flights don’t lend themselves as easily to the “There I was..” type of gripping combat stories. On the plus side, this volume seems to contain more than the normal number of photographs for an Osprey book, though quality of the reproduction of the photos leaves something to be desired.

Given that the RF-8s were operated by the Navy and Marines from the early 60s to the early 90s, the color side views, the centerfolds of the Osprey series don’t provide much variety, all of them being some variation of gull grey over white.  Only the colorful squadron markings provide any variety and the recon birds were less colorful than their fighter and attack brethren.

As with all Osprey books, this one is a quick read and most readers can knock it out in a sitting or two.  For modelers, it provides some level of reference, even if there isn’t much inspiration.  (As a side note, 72nd scale modelers have been waiting for an RF-8A or RF-8G for some time. Fisher Models has released a resin conversion in 32nd scale and an email from them confirmed that they planned to scale it down to both 48th and 72nd scale.)

If a modelers is looking for inspiration I highly recommend Blue Moon over Cuba detailing the RF-8 flights over Cuba during the missile crisis.  While this book makes an interesting companion to that book, I am not sure that it really adds much.  I was able to pick my copy RF-8 Crusader Units over Cuba and Vietnam used off of Amazon, so it only coast me about $5 including shipping.

November 26, 2016

Mc-72 from SBS

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 10:13 pm
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While race planes aren’t my thing, I may have to get this just because it is from SBS.

November 25, 2016

Chinese currency woes

Filed under: Politics — dknights @ 9:48 pm
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Story here.  The Chinese will lose more and more control over their currency the deeper they move into the international market.

November 23, 2016

Makes sense to me

Filed under: Technology — dknights @ 11:27 am
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Infantry units with silenced weapons.

November 20, 2016

How did the Royal Navy end up like this?

Filed under: Politics,Technology — dknights @ 9:34 pm
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How could the United Kingdom let this happen to their navy?

November 19, 2016

Sad news

Filed under: General — dknights @ 10:53 pm
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Who would do such a thing?

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