David Knights' Weblog

December 14, 2019

Breaking me

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 10:18 pm
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Clearly the modell companies have gotten together and decided they need to break my finances.  Latest example. Great Wall Hobby is releasing an Su-35.  I must have it.

December 12, 2019

You’d have to have a heart of stone not to laugh

Filed under: Politics,Technology — dknights @ 4:22 pm
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Russia’s only aircraft carrier, which was previously damages when a crane punched through its deck while in drydock (and the drydock sank) is now on fire.  This may be the most cursed ship since the Ellen Austin.

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 5, 2019

Its not just NASA

Filed under: Technology — dknights @ 2:51 pm
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The Russians also have problems with waste and deadlines with their space program.  This confirms that while governments still have a significant role to play in space exploration, the development of commercial space programs is a good development. (post in memory of Mike Nofsinger)

December 2, 2019


Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 8:28 am
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KP has announced a new mold MiG-19 Farmer-C.  I am very excited for this.  This is a huge hole in Soviet aircraft.

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.

November 18, 2019

Hypersonics. Not ready for prime time?

Filed under: Technology — dknights @ 10:03 pm
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Model-blogger Jeff “Inch High” Groves points to this article which has a very sober take on the “hypersonic craze”.  Well worth reading.

November 14, 2019


Filed under: Modeling,Technology — dknights @ 4:46 pm
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I can’t explain why, but I have a soft spot for the BMD series of air transportable military vehicles.  Same goes for the ASU series of assault guns.  Now it looks like Russia has developed a follow on vehicle to the BMD series. Story here.  However, given Russia’s financial problems I have my doubts they’ll be deployed in large numbers anytime soon.

November 12, 2019

I’ll believe it when I see it

Filed under: Technology — dknights @ 2:36 am
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The Russians talk a good game when talking about upcoming weapons systems and new technologies.  The latest is this.  But given that their Floating Drydocks are sinking and their only carrier has a hole punched in its flight deck and may never be repaired, I am a little skeptical.

November 11, 2019

Undersea spying

Filed under: Politics,Technology — dknights @ 9:16 am
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Are the Russians tapping into undersea cables?  Is this ship involved?  I’d bet the answer to both questions is yes.

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