David Knights' Weblog

January 7, 2020

MXY-7 Model 11 Ohka

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 11:58 am
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I’ve been building the Brengun kit of the MXY-7 Model 11 Ohka.  It is finally finished and I got a few rushed cell phone shots of it last night.  The Ohka was one of Japan’s late war attempts to stem the inevitable tide of the US Pacific fleet.  The Ohka (cherry blossom) went from conception to production to deployment in less than a year.  we know that about 755 Model 11s were made.  It is unclear how many were actually used, though some number went down with the carriers Shinano and Unryu and a number were captured intact on Okinawa.  The Ohkas are known to have sunk 3 ships and severely damaged 3 more.  However, none were carriers or battleships and on the whole the effort and cost expended on these manned rocket powered bombs seems to have been a waste of resources as well as their pilot’s lives.

The Brengun kit is relatively new, having been issued in 2018.  In addition to the basic kit, Brengun makes, a separately sold vac canopy, a photo etch set and canopy masks.  I recommend getting the photo etch (though not all of it is usable) and the canopy masks. (always get the canopy masks)  While not perfect, it was a fun build and I like the way it came out.

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 18, 2019


Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 4:33 pm
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I listen to a lot of podcasts. (more news on that front soon).  One of the ones I really enjoy is We Have Ways a podcast by a historian and a comedian about WWII.  Was listening to it the other day and there was a discussion about Germany’s failed attempt to field a 4 engine strategic bomber.  One of them mentioned that the French had developed a 4 engine bomber that was really good that flew just around the time that France surrendered and that the Germans captured it and used it as a transport, but never sought to develop it.  It was faster than the B-17 (though more lightly armed) and had a bigger bomb load.  I’d never heard of such a thing.  A bit of Goggling, and here you are, the Bloch MB.162There is even a vacuum-form kit of it.

December 11, 2019

Latin American Aviation

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 3:30 pm
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I just happened to stumble across this website while looking for something on the internet.  Amazing what is out there that none of us know about.  Really interesting stuff.  Well worth some of your time.

December 10, 2019

Book review: The Bay of Pigs Cuba 1961 Osprey Elite #166

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 4:21 pm
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Book review: The Bay of Pigs Cuba 1961 Osprey Elite #166
By Alejandro de Quesada
Illustrated by Stephen Walsh
64 pgs
List Price $18.95

The Bay of Pigs operation is a fascinating piece of history, and one that doesn’t seem to make any sense to an individual today given a brief explanation of what occurred.  Telling someone today that in 1961 President Kennedy authorized the CIA to build a 2500 man army and land it on the shore of Cuba to overthrow the government of Cuba just sounds crazy.  It was crazy, but not as crazy as it sounds.

Castro’s revolution succeeded in overthrowing the Batista regime at the beginning of 1959.  However, Castro’s revolution wasn’t Castro’s alone.  The revolutionary forces which  overthrew Batista were an amalgamation of forces, only some of which were loyal to Castro and under his control.  However, once the Batista regime was gone. Castro immediately moved to consolidate power and that consolidation led Castor to turn on and purge many of his co-revolutionaries.  This resulted in an exodus from Cuba, not only of the Batista loyalists, but also many  middle class Cubans, some of whom who had been part of the original revolution.  Others took to the mountains and in 1959 and 1960, Castro’s government faced a revolutionary insurgency of its own.

A disproportionate number of those who left Cuba were officers in the military, particularly in the air force where huge numbers of pilots and skilled mechanics fled leaving the revolutionary air force (FAR) with few pilots and even fewer functioning aircraft.  A lack of spare parts for the mostly western sourced aircraft made the situation even worse.  Once Castro firmly declared himself a Marxist/Communist the United States, and the CIA in particular, became concerned with having a country that was quickly becoming allied with the Soviet Union so close to the United States. As a result the CIA hatched the Bay of Pigs plan. (Though the original plan didn’t actually call for a landing at the Bay of Pigs)  The many Cuban Exiles in Florida, many with military experience in either the Batista military or the 1959 revolution, provided a ready source of soldiers willing to go back to Cuba and overthrow Castro.  The insurgency inside Cuba along with the poor state of Cuba’s military, especially its air force led the CIA to conclude that a force, landed in Cuba could quickly be the spark for a second Cuban revolution.

The author does a good job of explaining this background and how it led Assault Brigade 2506 (which is what the exiles troops called themselves) to be landed at the Bay of Pigs on April 17th.  The author tells the story of the planning and training of the unit as well as the failed attempt to wipe out the remaining aircraft of the Cuban air force prior to the invasion.  The failure to successfully accomplish this is cited in many histories as the main reason the invasion failed.  However, given that by the time of the invasion many of the counter-revolutionary insurgences had been suppressed and that Castro had consolidated support among the peasant classes, there is doubt that even if the exiles had had compete air superiority, whether they would have been able to succeed.

The story is well and clearly told.  The description of the actual landings and parachute drops are vivid.  One does get the impression that the author has sympathy for the exiles and thus tends to highlight the heroics of the Assault Brigade members in their combats with the Cuban army, while simultaneously downplaying the effectiveness of Castro’s troops.  That said, this is still a clear and factual account of the Bay of Pigs operations and its aftermath.  I recommend it to anyone interested in the subject.


December 6, 2019

First US licensed female pilot

Filed under: General — dknights @ 10:57 am
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Harriet Quimby, 1911.  Also the first female pilot to fly across the English Channel.

December 5, 2019

77th Hiko Sentai

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 4:12 pm
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It is amazing what you can stumble on when wandering the internet.  The early days of WWII in South East Asia is an area of particular interest.  As such the activities of the 77th Hiko Sentai and their Ki-27 Nates are right in my wheelhouse.  Thus, I was pretty happy when I stumbled on this.

December 3, 2019

Blog thoughts

Filed under: General,Modeling — dknights @ 5:58 pm
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I’ve been emailing with Jeff “Inch High” Groves on the one year anniversary of the start of his blog.  If you don’t go there every day you are missing a lot.  We’ve been discussing what works and doesn’t work, what gets views and reactions and what doesn’t, etc.  That caused me to do a little looking at the numbers, etc for this blog to see if I can discern any pattern regarding engagement.  Sadly, I can report that I’ve gained little insight from looking at the statistics.  This blog has been going for over 11 years.  The stats don’t really reveal any pattern.  It does look like book and movie reviews are fairly popular posts.  Surprisingly, for a blog on modeling, modeling posts, with actual modeling and photos and such,, don’t seem to draw any more engagement than your average post.

I do note that more posts in a day does seem to draw more traffic, which is natural.  Also, if I go a day or two with out a post traffic falls off quickly and seems to take time to recover.  I’ve started to go back through all the old posts, starting at the beginning to see if there is anything I was doing that maybe I should bring back.  THe one positive thing I’ e noted is that very few of the links in old posts are broken.  (As I am reading the old posts, when I find a broken link I am trying to note it and update the post.)

So, let me know what you like and don’t like.  Let me know what you want to see more of and what you want to see less of.

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.

December 1, 2019

Movie review: The Winter War (1989)

Filed under: General,Modeling — dknights @ 11:05 pm
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Welcome to Terry’s movie vault.  Dr. Terry Hill has the most extensive collection of war films and war documentaries (including many foreign films) I’ve ever seen.  From time to time Terry lends me some of the better films.  This film, The Winter War (Talvisota in Finnish) is a Finnish film about the 1939-1940 winter war between Finland and the Soviet Union.  As you would expect, the film is in Finnish, with English subtitles.

The film revolves around two brothers, who are part of a reserve unit called up in anticipation of the coming war.  There are several subplots revolving around members of the unit.  In structure it is very reminiscent of US war films of the 50s and 60s. As far as the acting goes, it is hard to judge the quality of acting in many foreign films. It is amazing how cultural acting is and how it varies from country to country.

Now, for us modelers, the main area of interest in any war film is the combat sequences.  The ones in this movie are pretty good.  It is amazing how much the Winter War resembled WWI with massed hordes of Russians charging entrenched Finnish positions.  There are several T-26 style tanks that appear in the film and hordes of Soviet troops in full battle dress. (I’d love to hear Mike Baskette’s commentary on this)

The film is 2 hours and 5 minutes in length.  It drags a bit in spots, but overall it is a very good film.  Well worth watching. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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