David Knights' Weblog

February 15, 2020

Book review: Gloster Gladiator Aces

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 12:00 pm
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Gloster Gladiator Aces
Osprey of the Aces #44
Author: Andrew Thomas
ISBN 1 84176 289 X
Publication year 2002
Pgs 96

The Gloster Gladiator was the last RAF biplane fighter put into service. It was also the last biplane fighter to see combat service with the RAF. While most people tend to think of the Gladiator as proceeding the Hurricane and Spitfire, it actually was developed and built almost contemporaneously with those other two, more famous aircraft. The Gladiator was a progressive development of Gloster’s Gauntlet biplane fighter and it was developed and ordered as an insurance policy in case the more radical Hurricane and Spitfire failed to live up to expectations. They didn’t, and as a result the Gladiator had a very limited front line service with RAF home fighter squadrons, with only a couple of squadrons seeing limited service in the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain. However, the Gladiator saw more extensive service in the Mediterranean, Greece, Egypt and east Africa. In addition, the Gladiator was used by the Greek, Chinese, Belgian, Norwegian and Finnish air forces. Most famously, the naval version, the Sea Gladiator saw limited but vital service on Malta, constituting its only air defense for several months after Italy’s entry into WWII

This book is in the classic Osprey format.  It starts with a history of the aircraft and then flows naturally into discussion of the use of the aircraft in a particular theater, highlighting the stories and combats of some of the pilots who became aces flying the aircraft.  in addition, in the center of the book there are 9 pages of color side view illustrations of some of the aircraft flown by the pilots whose stories are told in the book.

While the book is by no means comprehensive it is an excellent introduction to the Gladiator and its combat history. While a little expensive if purchased at full price ($18) the titles in this series can often be purchase at a discount if you shop around.  I recommend the book to anyone wanting a basic introduction to the Gladiator’s combat experiences in WWII.

January 6, 2020

Something odd

Filed under: General — dknights @ 5:07 pm
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I am currently reading The Gulag Archipelago Vol.1 by Solzhenitsyn.  I’d always wanted to read it and it is a compelling read.  But, I’ve been struck by something.  He was an officer in an artillery battery, who had been cited for bravery on at least one occasion, involved in fighting in the Baltic countries and East Prussia when he was arrested in early 1945.  I know from reading histories of combat on the eastern front in WWII that by 1945 the Russian army was desperate for soldiers.  There are many accounts of units being made up of old men, and woman in all the support roles right behind the front.  Wing Commander Robert Roland Stanford Tuck, in his autobiography, mentions that when he escaped captivity in 1945 and moved east thru the Soviet lines how horrific the Soviet losses were and the poor quality of the soldiers in the units were. Yet, even given this situation, the Soviets were still combing thru their combat units trying to weed out dissenters and “political criminals.” (Keep in mind, Solzhenitsyn’s crime was being obliquely critical of the Soviet government in letters to a fellow officer.  It wasn’t like he was organizing a counterrevolution)  This just struck me as bizarre.  Go read the book.  It is compelling.

December 2, 2019

Book review: German Guided Missiles of World War II

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 6:26 am
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German Guided Missiles of World War II
Fritz-X to Wasserfall and X-4
New Vanguard #276
By Steven J. Zaloga
Osprey Publishing (2019)
ISBN 978-1-4728-3179-8

Review by D.M. Knights

                                                                                                    The German “wonder weapons” of WWII are a particular area of interest for me.  I have built several models of some of these weapons. (V-1, V-2, C-2, Me-163)  I have a fair sized library of books on the subjects.  This latest book is by well-known military writer and historian Steven J. Zaloga.  Mr. Zaloga is most well known for his works regarding armored vehicles.

This book covers German guided bombs (Fritz-X and Hs 293) as well as several anti-aircraft missiles that the Germans developed as the war progressed. Given the slimness of the volume, it is only 48 pages; it doesn’t cover any of the subjects in detail.  Rather, it is a general overview of the subject, touching briefly on a particular weapon, giving a brief development history and, if applicable, its combat use.

It isn’t a bad book.  The photos and illustrations are first rate.  While not intended as a comprehensive study of these weapons, it does an adequate job of covering the weapons systems.  My biggest complaint is in regard to value for the money.  A normal

Osprey volume is 96 pages.  This one is 48 pages.  That makes the book rather pricey for something that takes less than an hour to read, even if you aren’t a speed reader.

If you are new to the subject and looking for a basic primer, this is a good volume, as long as you aren’t bothered by the price.  If you are looking for something more in depth, or are a value shopper, then you’ll want to pass on this one, or wait until you can pick this one up on sale at Amazon or your local hobby shop.

October 24, 2019

Ouch

Filed under: Politics — dknights @ 1:42 pm
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Now this may be the classiest take down ever.  Someone call the burn unit.  This only raises my estimation of Gen. Mattis.

September 5, 2019

Book review: The Bulgarian Air Force in World War II

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 12:12 am
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The Bulgarian Air Force in World War II

Author: Eduardo M. Gil Martinez

ISBN:978-83-65437-55-6

108 pgs

The stories of the air forces of the Axis minor allies are some of the more interesting stories of WWII.  I have a particular fascination with the Romanian air force.  One of the smallest axis allied air forces was that of Bulgaria.  The book tells the story of the Bulgarian air force before during and immediate aftermath of WWII.

The book is a good book with plenty of information for the modeler interested in doing a Bulgarian aircraft.  Where it suffers is that English is not the author’s first language and the translation from Spanish to English on the subject of Bulgarian aircraft makes for some awkward sentences.  There are some really nice photos that go well with the text and numerous color illustrations that make me want to build several of these aircraft.  The Eduard B.534 is a particularly good model for a Bulgarian aircraft.

I do recommend this book, even with the limitations imposed by some awkward translation issues.

July 30, 2019

Movie review: Master and Commander (2003)

Filed under: General — dknights @ 6:53 am
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While I had seen bits and pieces of this film from time to time, a recent modeling session and the purchase of the DVD finally led me to see the whole film.  It was worth it.  I am a fan of Crowe and I have heard a lot of good things about the books in the series that this movie was based on.  The movie was excellent.  It was well paced and really gave a feel for life in the age of sail.  The action scenes are compelling, well-paced and well shot.  The films was a small success at the box office when released, but not enough of one that the hoped-for sequels were made.  This is a shame.  It seems that all we get out of Hollywood is superhero movies these days, when movies like this would be much more compelling IMHO.  The movie did win two minor Oscars.  Four and a Half out of Five stars.  See it.

 

May 29, 2019

Heinlein

Filed under: General — dknights @ 12:19 pm
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A nice appreciation of the work of Heinlein, with special emphasis on one of my favorite books, Starship Troopers.

December 17, 2018

Movie review: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005)

Filed under: General — dknights @ 10:19 pm
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I never saw this film when it came out, which is a bit of a surprise.  It should have been right up my alley.  Sci Fi, check. British comedy, check. Zooey Deschanel, super check. Martin Freeman, check.  Yet I didn’t ever see it until I recently found out it was on Netflix.  So, I took the time to watch it.   Surprisingly, it was just so-so.  I am sure that part of the problem was that the book was very hard to adapt into a movie,, given its odd nature. All the actors did a good job, but nothing stood out as great.  I didn’t regret the time I spent with the movie, but by the same token, I wouldn’t have wanted have paid to see it in a theater.  5 out of 10 stars.

November 21, 2018

A Revolutionary War reading list

Filed under: General — dknights @ 4:22 pm
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An interesting compilation of books to read on the Revolutionary War.

October 16, 2018

Order this

Filed under: Family,General — dknights @ 3:05 pm
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You should order this.  It will be good for your mind and soul.

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