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sábado, 31 de maio de 2014

A Winter SD.KFZ 252

I have some Kits to recover that friends of mine give-me becouse of the scale i work. One of them was a conversion 1/72 ESCI Sd-Kfz.250/9 to a Sd- Kfz. 252 with a Sd.Anh - 32 trail, a part of a big diorama that i want keep for another project. So, i made one single apresentation using the down photo (Russia 1941) but with the half track in the french winter.   

The research give-me the Sd-Kfz.252 used since Poland Campaign so the history match. German had several ammunition carrier but from 1939-1942 was the main vehicle for the 75 mm shield. Armament was only a Mg. 34 but i don't saw any photos of them and the images were few and all in black and white. Some books had the Afrika Corps camuflage but all have on colour (dark gray or sand) making the task simple and easy.     

Kit was invery bad conditions and some parts were lost. I used pieces from other german tanks and also american and british vehicles like the Sherman and Matilda. The base was from an old matchbox kit (a Priest or a M-3 half track) and Roco Minitanks give me several acessories for the chassis and to Sd.Ah 32.  The problem was the glue in the bad esci tracks wich broke a few times the wheels and make me give up several times from the kit recovery. 
The option of presenting the model with lots of snow brings me the sollution to hide  some mistakes and i think it works very well. 

Again i went to the kitchen and bring several ingredients to make the snow. White glue, liquid paper fluid and dry pastel make the rest. Then hair spray to give resistance to the base. A stick from an ice cream and a print in old make me finish the apresentation base.
The model was old with oil: Raw Umber, Carvon Black and Burn Siena for the tracks. Two or four hours after i used white dry pastel an the ingredients in the wheels, most in bad parts to hide several problems of the recovery.
Final touch was with a brush n.º1 and  lots of white dry pastel in all the model. Done and in expositon box not to touch anymore.   

domingo, 25 de maio de 2014

SSBN Typhoon Class

Typhoon Classe SSBN (Akula name in Russia) it is an huge machine with 172 m long and 47 240 tons when submerged. Of course such submarine was to be one of my kits, and when Revell launch the 05073 i buy it for 20 Euros. It was my second submergible and after the "Redountable" it take-me abou 6 moths to do it. 

Revell 1/400 SSBN Typoon Class 05073

One of the problems in that time was the few Typhoon Classe SSBN photos. Lots in black and white so the colours, paiting, and the efects of oldiness, weathe and water as chalenge. For me, the representation more real was one of the old Revell kit 05066 and so i did it. Today it make sense more black and less gray, but is still a fine kit with no problems in the work. Maybe one day a make another diferent.


Straight from the box  an easy built. Only the "wings" give-me some problems but i fix them and make with paper a little box for who looks no to see the empty interior. Then i paint in dark gray and give him the oils with a mix of burn siena raw amber and mate black. It is funny, but in my research i see lots of Typhoon class submarine kits finished in that colours. It is possible that salt water and winter ice make them that way.    

Revell 1/400 SSBN Typoon Class 05066

domingo, 18 de maio de 2014

A landlocked country Navy:Paraguay

Paraguay is a landlocked country but have one navy of 1950 men with a Marine Corps of 800 soldiers (some sorces advance with a total of 3500 man) and plus 100 from air corps. The naval tradition from a nation with acess to Atlantic ocean by the large Paraguay- Parana rivers is came from 200 years of history with many fights and wars. The Corrientes Atack (1865), Riachuelo Battle (1865) or Chaco War (1932/1935) are only a few examples of actions were Paraguay Navy was envolved since the independence in 1811.   
Today the problems of a navy of old ships and lack of money to restore or buy new ones (although no problems of corrosion becouse water have no salt) is reduce the operation of less then 34 surface ships. Again, the spares of nations like USA, Taiwan and Brasil (Argentina is in a big economic crise) are making Paraguay Navy on the tracks, but the lack of powerfull and large units it is a problem dificult to resolved.

Lp-102 is one of two Light Patrol Vessel that came from USA. Is main guns are two 12,mm machine guns

Major units are the two Large Gun boats "Paraguay" and "Humaitá", build in Brescia, Italy in 1930 but out of service by engine and struture problems. The first is a depot ship and if will be money in future is possible that the engines are replaced and the vessel get back for active. Humaitá is a museum since1995 and even so the visits are restrited by lack of support in the couverture.
They are most powerfull river boats probably in the World, with 2/120mm guns, 3/76mm guns (2 in Humanitá) and 2/40mm guns (only 1 plus 2/20mm Oerlikons in Humanitá), more blindage and 86 sailors in  the crue, they can make 1,700 Nm in 16 Kts.      

In service the more large and capable vessels today are Patrol Ships: Cap. Cabral (P-01), Tte. Fariña (P-04) and Itaipu (P-06). All were give by Netherlands, Argentina and Brasil and all have main 40 mm Bofors main guns, 20 mm Oerlinkon (2 only in P-01), 12,7 mm machineguns (2 in P-01 and P-04, in P-06/4 along with 2 / 81mm mortars).
Tte. Fariña is 1 of 3 former class ships mineswepers "Bouchard", with P-03 "Capitán Mesa" scrapp in 1997, but "Nanawa" is still P-02 number and in some sources is under COMFG control (possible for repair or scrapp in the future).    

The main naval base at Asuncion, Porto Sajonia with one of the Italian build Gunboats on the left (on the rigth are one floating dry dock and one floating crane )
Other combat vessels are Patrol Boats, armed with 20 mm Oerlikon (P-06 Cap.Ortiz and Lt. Robles P-07) and 12 mm machine guns (first to and plus other 14 Patrol boats). Only P-08 Yhaguy and P-09 Tebicuary ( have 7,62 mm machine guns.
With the inclusion of Croq.15 Class LP-201"Tenente 1º Pelayo Pratt Gil", for the first time since 1999 a new ship is put on service and is a first hand made one, since the last were from a 1967-71 construction from Tawan Navy. This type is very good for river patrol and other nations have similar ships, were speed (45 Kts), the crue (only 20 man) and the importance of a made in Paraguay boat (with GPS, nightvision and light sonar). Four are in use and it is possible than others will follow.    

Non fighting ships are 5 Tugs (from USA and Paraguay) plus one buy in 2002/03 (Arsenal 2 A-2) and 3 landing craft use by the marines. At least more 8 small patrol boats Pira/Paraguay/Yamaha and the Precidential Yatch ( "3 of February", but with problem in engine) are in active service.   
River Transport "Tenente Herreros" in still in active list but was no engine and when in use is propulsion is made by Tug R-5, so in a combat mission is very difficuld to make something with this vessel. Other large ship "Guaraní", used for transport and training, and than today is inoperative but for now is not in scrapp process.
It is possible that some of the Working Ships (in 2003 were 2; Dan-1/ Arsenal 1and L-01 Teniente Cabrera), Drech/Survey (Lh-1 "Rogelio Lesme" and DC-2 "Oscar Carreras Saguier") and service craft/service equipment are in use (the list of 2005 in histamar and wikipedia of 2012 doesn't do any reference to them).

Tug R-4 "Triunfo"
Naval aviation have 6 airplanes and 2 helicopters and is based Silvio Pettirosi International Aeroport (SGAS) in Asuncion but also have facilities in Puerto Sajonia. Cessna 150 is a training aircraft but is today in a process of aquisition of spares, and the others (1 Cessna 210, 2 Cessna 310 and 1 Cessna 401) are for liason except the last one use for transport. Only the 2 HB-350 "Esquilo" may use weapons like rokets and machine guns so is the only fight air united of Paraguay Navy so is very depending from the small airforce of the nation (less than 1 000 man and 44 airplanes and 15 helicopters). Lucky that the country is not big and the air forces make the necessary missions.   

Training Aircraft Cessna 150
In conclusion,  the Navy of Paraguay is still for the river an important force with 3 or 4 large ships, 21 patrol boats and 3  landring crafts for a commando and battalion of marines (that have experience with operations with US Special Forces and Brazilian Armed Forces). But the main ships are near the centenarian age (thanks to fresh water and limited use) and the motors of some of them like the 2 Gun Boats and the Transport Ships make hard a re-build.
Budget problems to make local or buil in other countries (in 1995 Class 101 and 55 were build in Spain but the lack of funds make them go to Surinam), give only the possibility of delivered small boats, much of them donate from foreign nations.   
So, in the last years some of the capital ships are in reserve or in a re-build process, and like in the past with ARP Buqueron, the bad conditions and the price of scrapp (it was sold for 32.000 dollars),  make them go away. But other small ships like Tugs had the same problem. And with the Argentina crises, the less power economy of Brazil, Paraguay Navy had only the means that can build in the nation or USA and Tawain can give them, what in that side or the World or in case of another Chaco war could be a big problem.  

River Boat class Croq. 15, made from a design by Albert Nazarov. The first unit is call  "Tenente 1º Pelayo Pratt Gil", a hero from Chaco War (1932-1935)

Patrol Vessel ARP Nanawa (P-02)  

Capitán Hortiz and Teniente Robles are two Class Hou boats

Patrol Boat Itaipú

A fine picture of Paraguay Navy. From left to right Gun Boat Humaitá (today a Museum Ship since 1992 but is still the Flag Ship of the navy.) in Asuncion's Bay, Paraguay (today a depot ship pending a future return to active dutty from the replacement  from their steam propulsion with diesel engines), two patrol boats (Classe Hou "modificada" from Taiwan)  and P-01 Captain Cabral

Patrol Boat Tenente Fariña  (P-04)
River Patrol Boat "Capitán Cabral"

River Transport Tenente Herreros that since 2003 is used was a barge with tug R-5 becouse was no motor. The similar Light Forces Tender and Command ship "Boquerón" (PHNC 2071) was scrapp in 2004

Helibrás HB-350B Esquilo from Paraguay Armada. In the botom is the Coastal Transport Guaraní that was to a School Ship for the navy  before being seen in "Punta Remanso" were it was at 2008 

Marines of the Paraguay Navy. A Landing Craft is seen in the left side of image 

C-1 "Paraguay" is one of two large gunboats of ther navy (the other is C-2 Humaitá)

domingo, 11 de maio de 2014

Piasecki H-21 "The Flying Banana" in Vietnam War Action

When Vietnam War started the H-21 was the most capable helicopter of US Army. Main reason was the conflit experience that the french had in Algerian War with the type, not only carring troops but also armed with foward firing rockets, machineguns and bombs. The Flying Banana were better in transportation role and the Ch-34 was the main ground attack, one very good combination for French Army Aviation, but not so positive in Vietnam.
An American H-21 over Rice Paddies in Vietnam 

But also, was the official US evaluations that indicated the H-21 were more likely to survive multiple hits from AA that the H-34, becouse of the fuel tanks (but the lack of maneuverability and performance to ground atack was in fact a true problem). With no better machine,  the experience of arming Piasecki continue with remote guns on the noise and in the doors, and in December1961 they went to Vietnam with Army's 8th and 57th Transportation Companies in support of not very succed ARVN troops, proving that those experiences were wise.

H-21 crew pose with aircraft 034 in Vietnam 1963. A cal.50 in the door.

The first missions in Vietnam were not a problem becouse the Vietcong and NVA were suprised by the use that americans give the helicopter, so meany died or run. But fast they learn to shoot from trees against  H-21 when was in the ground with automatic guns and after they used AA heavy machine guns against vunerable parts like controls, motor and rotors. Guns in doors like 0.30, 0.50 and 7,62mm give protection and fire support but with  more powerfull armament soon they forced the US to use better helicopters and guns.
The Gunship concept was another important role for "The Flying Banana". With an M-60.
Armed with 0.30 and 0.50 fexible guns on the doors, the slow Ch-21 was important giving support to ARVN operations against the Vietcong. But the unprotected control cables and fuel lines proved vulnerable to automatic guns and heavy 12,7 mm AA machine guns. Another problem was the hot weather of South Vietnam in a helicopter design for could weather operations, wich give's to Piasecki poor performance (made for a crew of 20 men only carried 9 when in Vietnam). Dispite this events and also with the loss of an Ch-21 in July 1962 in Laotian - Vietnamese border with the death of 4 aviators, "the flying banana" were the workworse of the Army until 1964 when replaced by Uh-1 and Ch-47. 

The H-21C Cokpit

Most of the times importance of H-21 is not granted. When helicopters were used for transport and MEDEVAC, the french and americans made the operacional use of this machine to Assault and Gunship (also the S-58/ H-34 was used in the same missions), extendend de use of armed helicopters to give the troops close support and mobility that doesn't existed at that time. Other concepts like VERTREP or Howitzer Transportation was also tested operacionally in Vietnam and give a strategy vantage that a General like Giap never understand becouse he doesn't had it.

H-21 interior looking forward

It was the airmobile and the gunship concepts of first H-34 and H-21, with their problems and obstacles in Vietnam that bring to the conflit latter helicopters like Chinoock, Huey and Cobra. They made the biggining of what will be know as the "helicopter war" and prove that quick reaction teams "Eagle Flights" were very good to fly pursuit or block the enemy. Flexibility, units working together, shorter reaction time and the survivable concept of the helicopter was tested by this very first pioneers, specially the H-21 "flying banana", and proved to be right in this and other future wars like Afghanistan.  

Another 7,62 mm, this time in rear door
A H-21 with a 105 mm gun. This was one of the first helicopters capable of carring heavy cargo
Avery nice image of H-21 in South Vietnam 1963  carring troops
U.S. door gunner in a "Shawnee" Gunship looks for a suspect vietcong who run for a foxhole in Mekong River. Jan. 17, 1964 in Mekong Delta when Army provided support during a ARVN offensive
One of the first actions in Vietnam war of H-21 were give high mobility for ARVN troops
A U.S. crewman runs from a crashed  Ch-21 "Shawnee in December 11 of 1962 near the Village of Ca Mau in South Vietnam

Air mobility was first tested in a large scale on Vietnam by H-21

PFC Gleen W. Rehkamp with a 0.30 M1919 in a Ch-21 from 57th Transportation Company (a pioneer unit in the use of armed helicopters in Vietnam) in first January 1963 

PFC Gleen W. Rehkamp Door Gunner again in 15 April 1963