Book Review: The Royal Navy Wasp. An Operational & Retirement History

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The Royal Navy Wasp: An Operational & Retirement History

So, I have another book from those fantastic people over at Pen & Sword Books to have a look at, this time it’s a subject matter with wings that are rotary rather than my usual fixed wing interest.

This publication looks at the small but mighty Westland Wasp, this was the first helicopter in the world to be designed to be deployed at sea.

The book begins by looking at the conditions during the post war period that lead to the development of the Wasp as a solution. Anti-Submarine operations using aircraft were nothing new, in fact aircraft have been used since the first world war to attack submarines, albeit in a much less sophisticated manner. During WWII though things were advancing rapidly but still ships and aircraft alike needed to catch their prey on the surface to launch an attack.

Technology continued to advance and by the 50s aircraft were able to detect even submerged vessels. It was at this point the Navy decided the use of a small helicopter that could be launched from destroyers and frigates as a weapon carrier in anti-submarine warfare operations could be an effective tool.

From the outset the book includes anecdotes from pilots and crew. From the test pilots, to those that were to use the aircraft in operations and finally those that went on to operate the aircraft in a civilian role. These are taken not only directly from the crew members or official reports, but also from articles in publications such as Cockpit! or Flight Deck Magazines for example. I found many of these to be really fascinating and I loved being able to read these first-hand accounts of what the aircraft was like to operate and the tasks it was asked to carry out.

Moving on we take a brief look at the company that would eventually go on to secure the contract for providing this ship-based aircraft, The Westland Aircraft Works, and how it came to purchase Saunders Roe and with it their prototype project P531. This aircraft was subsequently developed into the land-based Scout and what was briefly named the Sea Scout, which was the basis of what became the Wasp

The development of the Wasp during the early years is looked at, covering everything from engine improvements to safety systems such as the flotation devices for a ditched helicopter. Weaponry and aircraft roles are looked at next including the development of new roles for the Wasp to be utilised in as a counter to emerging threats such as the advent of the Fast Patrol Boat for example.

As the book continues we hear about the initial deployment of the aircraft to the vessels it was to serve from and the trials that those early crews faced, both the flight team and the ships company. More articles from Flight Deck and Cockpit provide a great insight to what these early days of Wasp operation was like.

There are more anecdotal articles describing first-hand what it was like to work with the aircraft including a brief diary covering a year of operations by a Naval Air Engineering Mechanic on board the HMS Naiad during the early 80s. There are also accounts from three different vessels carrying Wasps that were deployed during the ‘Cod Wars’ of the 70s. This makes for interesting reading due to the unusual and sensitive nature of the situation.

Returning to the 80s we head into the Falklands conflict, looking at the aircrafts first real operations in a theatre of war. This section begins with the account of the flight on HMS Endurance which was the only Navy vessel in the area when hostilities began, and it is during this account that we hear about the encounter between the Argentine submarine Santa Fe and the Wasp that saw the first guided missile ever fired by the Royal Navy not only being fired but also meeting its target.

Falklands missions are also described from Flights aboard several other vessels including HMS Plymouth, HMS Yarmouth, the hospital ship HMS Hydra along with HMS Herald and HMS Hecla. Missions after the surrender are also looked at from other vessels.

There are then more personal accounts from crews that flew the aircraft during its service with the Navy, including the book authors own experiences with the aircraft.

Moving away from the Wasps service to the UK the book takes a look at their 2nd lease of life which was to be found abroad. Service was to be seen with New Zealand, The Netherlands, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil and South Africa with some aircraft remaining in service well into the 90s and beyond, impressive considering the type first flew in 1962.

Finally, the book looks at the few Wasps that are still active although not in military service. With the aircraft now in civilian hands the trials and tribulations they have faced since becoming civilian owned are covered, such as an impromptu search and rescue mission during a 2016 air show after another aircraft was forced to ditch into the sea.

In conclusion, I have found this book to be a very interesting read. I found the stories from operations to be very compelling and those centred around operations in the Falklands in particular were my favourite part of the book. Whilst it is true that this is an aviation history book more than anything else there are still some great reference images for modellers alongside the fantastic stories and I don’t think the level of detail the book goes into should be off-putting to anyone with an interest in military, naval or aviation subjects.

If you fancy picking up your own copy of this title then you can do so over at Pen & Swords Website, I would also recommend having a good look around on the site too as there are loads of great titles to be found.

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Book Review: Images of War. The Desert Air War 1940-1943

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This book looks at the conflict fought in the skies above the Mediterranean and North Africa during the period from which Mussolini declared war in June of 1940 until the Italian armistice of September 1943.

Over the course of the book the author looks at the types of aircraft used by their relative air forces during the conflict, from the CR.32 & Gloster Gladiator biplanes of the Regia Aeronautica and RAF respectively during the early months; to the Douglas Boston DB-7’s of the SAAF and the Ju-87 Stuka’s of the Luftwaffe.

The book looks at the roles each type of the wide range of aircraft involved played during the various stages of the conflict and the conditions they and their crews were operating in.

Whilst the vast array of photographs included may not provide many opportunities for the modeller to examine the details of each aircraft, they are sure to provide plenty of inspiration for potential builds and dioramas.

Overall, I found this book to be a good introduction to an area of the second world war that I had not really spent much time looking at before, with the text providing a good amount of historical detail whilst the selection of photographs covers a good variety of subject matter helping retain a high level of visual interest too.

As always my sincerest thanks go to Pen and Sword Books for the copy to review, you can get your copy over at their website!

Building again.. well kind of!

I know its been a long time since I posted a build update and that’s because it has been a long time since I sat at my bench to work on a build. Hopefully though you have enjoyed my recent book reviews, there will be a couple more reviews of other books coming soon too.

Good news is I have dug the SR-71 out of hiding and started to work on it again so we should see something on that fairly soon.

I hit an issue almost straight away when I noticed the raised detail around the cockpit had being removed during some previous sanding from the last time I worked on her so I was having to reinstate that with a scribe.

Unfortunately I slipped with the scribe due to the curve on fuselage at the front so I have a lovely squint line across it at the moment, no drama I thought, just fill sand and do that area again, only to find out my filler has cured in its tube, obviously the cap wasn’t done up tight enough.

So I am just waiting for fresh filler to be delivered then I will continue where I left off and we can get some pictures up soon. I have also invested in some Dymo tape to use as a guide when I need to scribe panel lines etc in future too!

Book review! Flight Craft 15: The Supermarine Spitfire. The Mk.V And It’s Variants.

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This edition of the Flight Craft series takes a look at what for many is one of the most iconic fighter aircraft, the Spitfire.

The book begins, as is typical with the series, with a concise history covering the development of the Spitfire. From its roots held within Supermarine’s Schneider Trophy winning aircraft, through the early types and then focuses in on the Mk.V that served as the basis for development into so many of the later variants.

The journey through design and development is accompanied by an array of fantastic photographs of development and service aircraft, with their details providing a valuable source of reference photographs.

The colour profiles included in this edition are spread throughout the latter parts of the book rather than being in one specific markings section as they were in the previous titles in the series. They cover a variety of types and operators and include some beautiful looking schemes which are sure to provide inspiration to the modeller.

The modelling specific section of the book takes a different approach to looking at the Spitfire in model form than I have seen in the other editions of Flight Craft by taking a more historical look at the Spitfire in its plastic guise. There are so many kits and editions available covering so many different variants across so many different scales it would be impossible to look at each kit individually without it becoming a work in its own right.

Even without going into the details for specific kits this section still provides plenty of information and details with regards to the various manufacturer’s offerings, whilst still focusing on the Mk.V, as well as pointing out the almost countless opportunities for detailing.

Finally, we are treated to Frank Reynolds write up of a build of the Airfix MK VB Trop. Which is accompanied by more great photographs of built kits and colour profiles.

Overall this is another great addition to the Flight Craft series, containing a wealth of information and great images to provide the modeller with both a source of reference and inspiration.

The Flight Craft series of books are available from Pen and Sword Books, to whom my thanks go out to for allowing me review this copy, pick up your copy here!

Book Review! Flight Craft 14: The Messerschmitt 109

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Flight Craft 14: Messerschmitt Bf109

This edition of the Flight Craft series looks at the iconic German fighter the Bf-109. As with other editions in the series the reader is treated to the history of how the aircraft was conceived and developed over its life time and its numerous revisions.

This is followed by the service history of the type, covering the major theatres the aircraft was used in and by which air-forces. The accompanying captioned images provide the scale modeller with plentiful reference images of the various types and a few of its adversaries too.

The camouflage and markings section has 16 fantastic large colour side profiles of various types of Bf109 from various countries, including one of a development aircraft, one from the Spanish civil war and even a captured type in RAF markings.

Finally the kit reviews come next and these cover offerings across a wide range of manufacturers, scales and types and again even covers a conversion kit. The reviews are all well written and accompanied by images of some beautifully built offerings which should provide plenty of inspiration for any scale modeller.

Overall this is another great title in the Flight Craft series and if anything was going to make you want to pick up a 109 kit from the local hobby store, or dig one out from your stash, it’s this book.

As always my thanks go out to Pen and Sword Books for the opportunity to review this title, why not head over to their site and treat yourself to a copy!

Book Review: Flight Craft 13 The Gloster Meteor In British Service

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This volume of the Flight Craft series takes a look at Britain’s first generation jet fighter, The Gloster Meteor.

Starting with the prototypes the book contains a wealth of reference photos all with concise captions whilst the accompanying text provides one with a detailed history of the aircrafts development through the years moving through each of the production variants, explaining the alterations made during each stage where possible and pointing out both the visual and non visual differences between them.

There is a treasure trove of images for scale modellers and the good news doesn’t stop there! The book covers the history and development of types used by the UK including Photo Reconnaissance, Night Fighters, Targets, Tugs and Royal Navy Meteors plus some of the more unusual configurations in the Miscellany section before moving on to the Camouflage and Markings section.

This section contains 22 pages of full colour art work that was specially commissioned for the book, there are the familiar side profile images along with some of the aircraft being shown from a second either topside or underside view, again a fantastic resource for the scale modeller.

The book then moves on to provide a list of Scale model kits that were available for the Meteor at the time of writing, all the major scales are covered and whilst some more recent re-boxing’s may not be covered it does provide a fantastic source of information about each kit listed including which variants can be built and are covered by the decal sheets included. There is even a brief list of Alley Cat Conversion Sets. Finally we are treated to a gallery of various Meteor Models that have been built by well known modellers.

I had no personal experience with the Flight Craft series prior to reading this volume and I find myself wondering how I have missed these in the past. This volume is a fantastic resource for any modeller wishing to build a British Meteor, or even for anyone with an interest in the aircraft type.

As always my thanks go to Pen and Sword Books for the copy to review, please head over to their site for your copy!

East Neuk Model Show 2018

East Neuk Model Show 2018
East Neuk Model Show 2018

Well today sees me venture across the water to the East Neuk Model Show in Cupar Fife. This is a super friendly and great little show with plenty of builds on display and the food n cakes are pretty awesome too!

Apologies

Just wanted to apologise for the lack of updates of late, going through a lot of home renovations at the moment so my entire bench, equipment and stash are currently in storage whilst this continues.

It looks like things are going to take longer than I had initially hoped so I’ll see if I can’t get hold of some books to review or similar soon!

Model Fairground


Just a quick post today as I have been meaning to share this since the show. One the the most unique displays at this years Scottish Nationals had to be the model Fairground and Carnival displays. The Fairground only had a couple of rides running when I managed to get a chance to record it but I believe all the large rides all ran.

Anyway, I thought it was great fun and looked awesome so I thought I would share.

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.