Book Review: Airkraft Modelling Guide #1 Fighters and Attack Aircraft of the Vietnam War

Airkraft Modelling Guide #1: Fighters & Attack Aircraft of the Vietnam War
Front Cover of Airkraft Modelling Guide #1: Fighters & Attack Aircraft of the Vietnam War

So as my last book review wasn’t really something especially for the modeller I thought that I would ensure that this next review definitely was!

For this review I am looking at the AirKraft Modelling Guide #1 which has been put together with HobbyZone and the paint manufacturer Hataka so of course their products feature heavily. This issue covers the fighters and attach aircraft of the Vietnam conflict and despite the paint manufacturers heavy presence, the builds covered offer solid advice and technique demonstrations along the way. The build articles themselves provide a very useful insight to the kits covered along with many of the aftermarket parts used too.

The Introduction offers great images along with historic information on Air combat over Vietnam
The Introduction offers great images along with historic information on Air combat over Vietnam

Whilst the title is retailed as a book I suppose it would be more accurate to describe it as a bookazine I suppose, but for the price of £10 its not too expensive for what you get with the book containing 96 pages of lovely full colour spreads. There’s also a great little introduction at the start of the book covering the history of the use of air power over Vietnam and how it was used changed the way wars were fought for decades to come. Some of the images in this section are understandably in black and white but this if anything only adds to their atmosphere.

It's not just American Aircraft that are covered, there are NVAF types covered
It’s not just American Aircraft that are covered, you will be glad to see there are North Vietnamese Air Force types covered too.

There are a decent number of builds covered by the book and whilst there are of course multiple Phantom builds, there is a decent variety of aircraft and kit manufacturers covered in several scales, besides its not like you can ever have too many Phantoms.

The Airfames/Kits covered by the book are:

  • Eduard’s 1:48 F-4J
  • Hasegawa’s 1:48 F-104C Starfighter
  • Eduards 1:48 F-4B
  • Meng’s 1:72 F-102A Delta Dagger (Case XX)
  • Rodens 1:48 JOV-1A Mowhawk
  • Kinetics F-5B Freedom Fighter
  • Monogram/Revell’s 1:48 F-8 Crusader
  • Academy’s 1:48 Mig-21MF Fishbed
  • Italeri’s 1:72 F-4C/D/J
  • Tamiya’s 1:72 A-6E Intruder (Experimental Camouflage)
  • Trumpeters 1:48 F-100C Super Saber
  • Italeri’s 1:72 Martin B-57B Canberra
  • HobbyBoss’s 1:48 MIG-17F Fresco C
  • Airfix’s 1:72 Cessna 0-1 Bird Dog
  • Eduard’s 1:48 A-4E/F Skyhawk
  • Trumpeter’s 1:48 A-37A Dragonfly
  • Fujimi’s 1:48 Grumman KA-6D Tanker
  • Revell’s 1:100 AH-1G Cobra
  • Airfix’s 1:48 English Electric Canberra MK.20 (RAAF)

Now I think you will agree that this is a pretty impressive list especially so you certainly get a lot of bang for your buck with this book.

The full colour images that accompany the builds and finishing techniques are superb
The full colour images that accompany the builds and finishing techniques are superb

Each one of the aircraft are covered by their own full colour build article, detailing the builders process from start to finish, including any aftermarket they have used, issues they have overcome, additional detailing they have scratched and the finishing techniques they have used.

Now I love the aircraft from this time period, the aircraft were all such a massive leap forward from those of the second world war and those SEA Camo schemes make them look all the more purposeful when compared to the grey schemes that many airframes sport these days, so every subject in this book is right up my street so to speak.

Personally I love this book and I look forward to looking over future issues of the series, you can get the title from SAMpublications over at http://www.sampublications.com/books/airkraft/airkraft-1-vietnam/prod_1145.html as well as other retailers.

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Book Review: Adventures of A Cold War Fast Jet Navigator

Cover of Adventures of A Cold War Fast Jet Navigator by Wing Commander David Herriot
Cover of Adventures of A Cold War Fast Jet Navigator by Wing Commander David Herriot

This book is a great tale of life in service during throughout a major part of the cold war. The author manages to take you along with him on his journey from early life in Glasgow to his deployments in service in the Royal Air Force, and along with all the hard work came many amusing incidents that really shows the great comradery between colleagues that seemed ever present no matter where the author found himself stationed.

Whilst operational stories are always interesting to aviation enthusiasts, the authors stories of how these crews let off steam and really did live the work hard, play hard lifestyle are not only often funny, but I thought it showed a real human side to the RAF during a time when almost everything they did in training and practice sorties was ultimately aimed at preparing for having to go beyond the Iron Curtain in one way or another.

For me I ended up finding it was these anecdotes of lighter moments that really made the book, not to detract from the rest of it mind you, but they really seemed to make the book go beyond merely an operational history for the author to make it feel almost feel like an old friend or relative was recounting stories from years past over a drink or two. If you have any kind of interest in the RAF, or those that serve then this is definitely worth a read.

As always thanks go to Pen and Sword books for the copy to review, you can find the book for sale on their site for which a link can be found in the links section of this sites menu.

Drone done

Completed D-21 Sitting on it’s trolley
Completed D-21 Sitting on it’s trolley
Completed D-21 Sitting on it’s trolley

It’s been a while since I have done a completion photoset! Well this isn’t really a true completion as it’s only part of the kit really but as I think it’s the first one this year (shocking I know!!) I am counting it. Having said that we are going to be in for a few completions very soon.

I present to you the Lockheed D-21B High Speed Unmanned Reconnaissance Drone as launched from the underwing of B-52’s during the cold war.

You can’t really see any of the trolley she is sitting in the photos but to be honest I was more interested in making the most of the fleeting sunshine to try and make the natural metal finish look as good as I could.

Drone moves to paint

Main assembly on the D-21 completed
Main assembly on the D-21 completed
First coat on the D-21 using AK Extreme Metal
First coat on the D-21 using AK Extreme Metal

Well there wasn’t much construction to the drone itself as you can imagine, so I have put down my first coat of paint on her. For the paint on this I am going to be using AK Xtreme metals and the first one down is the White Aluminum. I will be picking panels out individually in alternative shades to try and get a convincing natural metal finish on this. We will see how it actually ends up looking though!

Nose job

Fitting the nose to the SR-71 Blackbird
Installation of the nose on the SR-71 Blackbird
Main assembly of the SR-71 is complete with only the intake cones and the vertical stabilisers remaining
Main assembly of the SR-71 is complete with only the intake cones and the vertical stabilisers remaining

Well with the addition of the nose and engine nacelles the main phase of construction is pretty much complete. I will fit the Intake cones once I have managed to sand the inside of the cowlings as there was a liberal application of Mr. Dissolved Putty on their internal seams.

The join between the nose and the fuselage isn’t the best and it will be interesting trying to blend the join without damaging the raised detail. I might actually leave the vertical stabilisers off until after paint and decals are applied purely to ease access.

I have to say, considering the kits issues I am having a lot of fun with this one, they are coming to me as interesting problems to be solved rather than headaches. It’s a pleasant change to have so much mojo!

D-21, The Speedster Drone


Whilst the fuselage is all clamped up I thought I would tackle the Lockheed D-21 drone included in the kit.

For those that don’t know the D-21 was an unmanned drone that was originally designed to be launched from the back of the M-21, a variant of the original Lockheed A-12 photo reconnaissance aircraft from which the SR-71 was derived. The D-21 was developed as a response to policies bought in by Eisenhower after the downing of Gary Powers. The original D-21/M-21 combination was designed so as the drone would be launched at Mach 3, complete a pre-programmed overflight of Russia or China then eject its recon package for retrieval before the drone was to self destruct, however this combination was short lived after an accident during launch of a drone lead to the loss of a crew member.

After this the drone program was modified to the D-21B which was to be launched from under the wing of a B-52. It is this D-21B that is actually included in the kit and whilst its inclusion with an SR-71 is slightly erroneous this they are know to be displayed together in museums and the two aircraft are linked.

The model looks fairly simple and is victim to some more of old Revell’s superb sprue gates as the photos show. Still it will make an interesting addition to the shelf and will look nice along side the completed SR-71, there is also the inclusion of the drones trolley to display it upon which is a nice touch.

Two big pieces of plastic get stuck together


Ok first of all sorry for the blurry photo, but here’s the cockpit installed into the fuselage and two of the largest pieces of 1/72 scale plastic I have ever seen have been fitted together.

The fit between the two halves is not great, there are some fairly big gaps in the seam but fortunately the seam is on the underside so even after I take remedial action it won’t easily be seen anyway. It appears that Mr. Dissolved Putty is going to be my friend on this one.

Blackbirds office


Well the cockpits for the SR-71 provided no issues at all and look pretty decent even if I do say so myself. There was a nice amount of raised detail to pick out so I didn’t feel the need for any aftermarket. Time to get it installed!

Classic Revell


Whilst there is a lot to be said for classic Revell kits, for example the shape accuracy on the Blackbird kit is pretty impressive considering the year of manufacture, however it is easy to see why they have picked up a bit of a reputation on their old kits too.

As you can see in the images above there’s the questionable practice of stamping licensing etc information on the outside of the kit parts (lower nose has the licencing info shown in the photo, there is also a copyright stamp on the lower flaps on one side). Then there are things like this strange “blob” on the canopy frame, the blob is actually there to provide an ejector pin location on the other side of it, however you have to question the need for the blob to actually infringe into the canopy frame itself.

These faults are easy worked around and I have no issue in doing so, but they could have also been easily avoided so it makes me wonder what someone was thinking when at the design stage?

Revell 1/72 SR-71 Blackbird


Well it’s time to get another new build on the go I think! So I picked out the venerable old Revell SR-71 in 1/72 scale from the stash, I am not sure why I chose this one from the stash, I know its not the best kit due to its age, but I am sure with a little effort we can over come many of the issues.

I did briefly consider sanding down the raised panel lines etc and giving it a re-scribe, but to be frank it’s not something I have done before and the thought of doing this on an aircraft this size was somewhat daunting (despite the scale the aircraft is a decent size, in fact its larger than many of the 1:48 kits on my shelves!).

I will be finishing it as Rapid Rabbit, after all it would be rude not to when the decals for her are included in this boxing. It does mean however that the aircraft will be being painted the traditional all black scheme rather than one of the more exotic natural titanium finishes, but I may pick up the Academy kit or something to do that with in the future.

Enough with the talk! Here are the box and sprue shots, I will take some photos of the more obvious issues that can be seen on initial inspection of the contents, wish me look as I am going in!