Reviewed Books - Vintage Airfix


Reviewed Books

Contents:
- An Eagle's Odyssey - By By Johannes Kaufmann, Foreword by Richard Overy, Translated by John Weal
- British Aircraft of the Second World War - By John Frayn Turner
- Chieftain - By Robert Jackson
- Crime on the Canals - By Anthony Poulton-Smith
- D-Day Dakotas - By Martin Bowman
- Early Railways - By Peter Chatham, Stephen Weston
- Fighters Under Construction in World War Two - By Graham Simons
- Flight Craft 16: The Hawker Hunter in British Service - By Martin Derry, Neil Robinson
- Flight Craft 18: British Military Test and Evaluation Aircraft - By Neil Robinson
- Flight Craft 7: V-Bombers - Valiant, Vulcan & Victor - By Martin Bowman, Dave Windle
- FOCKE-WULF Fw 190 - By Chris Goss
- FOCKE-WULF Fw 200 The Luftwaffe's Long Range Maritime Bomber - By Chris Goss
- FV430 Series - By Robert Griffin
- German Battleship Helgoland - By Aidan Dodson
- Hunters over Arabia - By Ray Deacon
- Knights of the Battle of Britain - By Chris Goss
- Large Scale Warship Models - By Dr Kerry Jang
- Lionel Morris and the Red Baron - By Jill Bush
- M2/M3 - By Robert Jackson
- M29 Weasel Tracked Cargo Carrier & Variants - By David Doyle
- M36/M36B-1 Tank Destroyer - By David Doyle
- M65 Atomic Cannon - By David Doyle
- M7 Priest - By David Doyle
- MESSERSCHMITT Bf 109 - By Chris Goss
- Painting Wargaming Figures: WWII in the Desert - By Andy Singleton
- Panther Tanks: Germany Army and Waffen-SS - By Dennis Oliver
- Race Across the Atlantic - By Colin Higgs, Bruce Vigar
- ShipCraft 25: German Destroyers - By Robert Brown
- T-54/55 - By Robert Jackson
- Take These Men - By Cyril Joly
- Tank Destroyer - By Dennis Oliver
- The Berlin Airlift - By John Grehan
- The English Electric Lightning - By Martin Bowman
- The First Helicopter Boys - By David Taylor
- The Great Eastern Railway in South Essex - By Charles Phillips
- The Handley Page Victor - By Roger Brooks
- The History of Toy Soldiers - By Luigi Toiati
- The Jeep - By Lance Cole
- The Reich Intruders - By Martin Bowman
- The Royal Navy Wasp - By Larry Jeram-Croft, Terry Martin
- The Vultee Vengeance in Battle - By Peter C Smith
- Tiger I and Tiger II Tanks, German Army and Waffen-SS, The Last Battles in the West, 1945 - By Dennis Oliver
- Uncommon Valour - By Granville Allen Mawer
- US Cold War Tanks and Armoured Fighting Vehicles - By Michael Green
- Wargames Terrain and Buildings: The Napoleonic Wars - By Tony Harwood

 


 

Result Pages:  1  Displaying 1 to 45 (of 45 Books)

An Eagle's Odyssey

By By Johannes Kaufmann, Foreword by Richard Overy, Translated by John Weal

An Eagle's OdysseyDescription:

‘I realised that this brief but abortive sortie was to be the final mission of my Luftwaffe flying career.’

Johannes Kaufmann’s career was an exciting one. He may have been an ordinary Luftwaffe pilot, but he served during an extraordinary time, with distinction. Serving for a decade through both peacetime and wartime, his memoir sheds light on the immense pressures of the job.

In this never-before-seen translation of a rare account of life in the Luftwaffe, Kaufmann takes the reader through his time in service, from his involvement in the annexation of the Rhineland, the attack on Poland, fighting against American heavy bombers in the Defence of the Reich campaign. He also covers his role in the battles of Arnhem, the Ardennes, and the D-Day landings, detailing the intricacies of military tactics, flying fighter planes and the challenges of war.

His graphic descriptions of being hopelessly lost in thick cloud above the Alps, and of following a line of telegraph poles half-buried in deep snow while searching for a place to land on the Stalingrad front are proof that the enemy was not the only danger he had to face during his long flying career.

Kaufmann saw out the war from the early beginnings of German expansion right through to surrender to the British in 1945. An Eagle’s Odyssey is a compelling and enlightening read, Kaufmann’s account offers a rarely heard perspective on one of the core experiences of the Second World War.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Not many memoirs get my full attention, I tend to get bored with them. But this… WOW… It’s a griping read, a true page-turner. A highly recommended read for anyone, not just the aviation or WWII enthusiast.

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British Aircraft of the Second World War

By John Frayn Turner

British Aircraft of the Second World WarDescription:

This unique book, now republished, was the first of its kind to be published on British aircraft of the Second World War. Aviation enthusiasts and aero-modellers can see British aircraft as they really were, through magnificently reproduced colour photographs. Each of the forty-nine types of aircraft is accompanied by a brief 'biography' together with tables of the most important marks and their specifications, engine, span, length, height, weight, crew number, maximum speed, service ceiling, normal range and armament. There is also a section on British aircraft in action, which includes accounts of outstanding exploits by the pilots of different types. John Frayn Turner, the well-known aviation author, has chosen the pictures and provided the text.

Vintage Airfix Review:

An absolute must for any aeronautic enthusiast or WWII historian. The amount of detail on a huge amount of aircraft of the era is outstanding and the way it's presented makes it the perfect base for further research on a specific aircraft.

All the images, both black and white and colour are of a superb quality. The section on British aircraft in action, including accounts of pilots exploits, is fascinating.

This is the kind of book that, as a boy, I would take with me everywhere and bore my parents with. I loved it.

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Chieftain

By Robert Jackson

ChieftainDescription:

The British Chieftain – designed in the late 1950s as the replacement for the Centurion – was perhaps the best main battle tank in service with Nato during the 1960s and 1970s. Its 120mm rifled main gun and advanced armour made it one of the most formidable tanks of its time, and Robert Jackson’s book is an authoritative introduction to it.

Although it was intended to fight Soviet armour on the plains of northern Germany, it was in the heat and sand of the Middle East that the Chieftain fought its major battles during the Iran–Iraq War of the 1980s, and it proved to be very effective during the Gulf War of 1991. Variants of the Chieftain were exported to Iran, Oman, India, Kenya and Nigeria, and its chassis was adapted to fulfil a variety of tasks, including armoured recovery and bridge-laying

As well as tracing the history of the Chieftain, Robert Jackson's work provides an excellent source of reference for the modeller, providing details of available kits and photographs of award-winning models, together with artworks showing the colour schemes applied to these tanks. Each section of the book is supported by a wealth of archive photographs.

Vintage Airfix Review:

So much history and detail in so little pages… Military modellers will love this book. If you’ve built a Chieftain kit before, you’ll love the extra knowledge you’re gain and will want to build another. If you haven’t built a Chieftain kit before, you’ll have ideas, examples and the information you’re need to build a superb model of a superb machine.

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Crime on the Canals

By Anthony Poulton-Smith

Crime on the CanalsDescription:

Throughout our islands' history we find tales of thieves, smugglers, thugs and murderers. Books have been written retelling tales of bandits, footpads, highwaymen, et al, attacking the lone traveller, the horseman, the coachman, shipping line, locomotive engineer, lorry or van driver and even pilot. Yet for almost two centuries the majority of goods travelled on Britain's famed canal network. This also attracted felons of all kinds and yet many of these tales had been ignored, until now.

Within these pages all manner of crimes are covered. From murders to muggings, parental problems to pilfering, arson, assault, smugglers, counterfeiters and even road rage (albeit canal-style). But it is not all morbidity and misery, humour also plays a significant part in these tales. Why would a hungry man steal the inedible? Follow the policeman on foot chasing down a thief on board the narrowboat. Discover what really lies beneath the waters of the canal. Learn about canal etiquette, the hardships, the kindness and the cruelty.

From an author whose fascination with etymology has produced many books on origins of place names, leading to an interest in the historical modes of travel across our islands, this book is the latest to follow old routes and those found along them.

Vintage Airfix Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed reading through this book, especially as some of the crimes occurred on parts of the canal system that I know. It really brought history to live for me.

The book is well written and organised chronologically. It has accounts from witnesses and trials and where applicable, the sentences given.

If you have even the slightest interest in reading accounts of true crimes you will love this little book and I’m sure there will be a crime in here that happened near you.

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D-Day Dakotas

By Martin Bowman

D-Day DakotasDescription:

On 18 December 1935 when the first flight of the Douglas DC-3 took place, few could have imagined that it would become one of the world’s most celebrated aircraft of all time, not just as a commercial airliner but also as the C-47 military transport. When production ceased in the summer of 1945, a total of 10,926 had been built.

This wonderfully versatile aircraft played a significant part in airborne operations around the world; but perhaps its most notable employment occurred during the June 1944 Normandy campaign. This important episode within the wider history of ‘D-Day' is enlivened here in classic fashion by Martin Bowman, in a narrative that features both extensive historical notes as well as deeply personal accounts of endurance and individual gallantry.

This amplified account of events as they unfolded in the skies above France on D-Day (5/6 and 6/7 June, 1944) reveals the invaluable contribution these workhorses of World War II made to the overall success in Normandy. It follows the author’s comprehensive five part work published by Pen & Sword (Air War D-Day) that included a multitude of personal military accounts from both Allied and German personnel who took part in Operation ‘Overlord’ and the Normandy campaign.

Vintage Airfix Review:

The Airfix Dakota kits, in its various incarnations, has always been a favourite. This beautiful aircraft has been a workhorse for many years and there are still some in civil service now and there’s always a Dakota at most air shows.

In WWII it really came into its own and Martin Bowman has superbly documented it’s role, in fantastic detail.

This book is highly recommended, and I would suggest getting this book and an Airfix kit together. Reading this book will bring a new dimension to your creativity and appreciation of one of the best aircrafts to ever be built.

 

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Early Railways

By Peter Chatham, Stephen Weston

Early RailwaysDescription:

Early Railways, A Guide for the Modeller will encourage and support the modelling of the earliest period of railway history, from the very beginnings of steam traction at the start of the nineteenth century, up to about 1880; a period which for British modellers has scarcely been covered in book form. Over these few decades the railways evolved from something which at the start was markedly different, into a scene that any present-day railwayman would recognise.

It is a time with much to commend it from a modellers point of view. The trains were much shorter and therefore easier to fit into the limited space most of us have available as, correspondingly, were the station layouts, especially at the beginning of the period. Modelled at 7mm to the foot scale a modern steam express would need at least 12 or 13 feet in length and a minimum curve radius of 6 feet, whereas an 1840 express of a loco and a dozen carriages might be no more than about 6 feet long and, behind the scenes at least, able to take curves of no more than 2 or 3 feet radius, as well as being able to instantly catch the eye of the viewer.

Vintage Airfix Review:

The historical detail in this book is fascinating and the detailed diagrams of the early engines and rolling stock will be very useful to a modeller of this era. The book is aimed at the '0' gauge modeller. I would suggest that this book is more aimed at the experienced modeller and, if you're a master scratch builder, it would be a must have reference.

On the whole a really great historical reference book of long forgotten trains with stunning examples of dioramas from top modellers.

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Fighters Under Construction in World War Two

By Graham Simons

Fighters Under Construction in World War TwoDescription:

A wide variety of military fighter aircraft were developed and utilized during the course of the Second World War. Development was dictated by the imperatives of war, and the Second World War saw fighter combat on a larger scale than any other conflict to date. This book profiles some of the most important fighter aircraft employed during the conflict, such as the iconic Spitfire, Hurricane, Typhoon, Bristol Beaufighter and De Havilland Mosquito, charting the developmental course of each craft in turn. The book works to illustrate the skill and initiative of the engineers who designed and created such aircraft, as well as the pilots who went on to fly them. This is a vivid account of the development and exploits of some of the most important fighter aircraft employed during one of the most pivotal periods of military and aviation history.

Vintage Airfix Review:

This book is a must for the World War 2 enthusiast. From the first chapter, which reveals the innovation used and in-depth information on the Spitfire production. To the DH Hornet, a long-range fighter destined for the war against Japan, but 'was too late to see war service'.

It has some fantastic, previously unseen pictures from the construction off the British fighters, engines and weaponry and details the struggles of constructing, the now, iconic machines when man power and resources where limited.

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Flight Craft 16: The Hawker Hunter in British Service

By Martin Derry, Neil Robinson

Flight Craft 16: The Hawker Hunter in British ServiceDescription:

The Hawker Hunter is one of Britain’s classic post-war jet aircraft. Initially introduced in 1954 as a swept-wing, transonic, single-seat day interceptor, it rapidly succeeded the first-generation jet fighters in RAF service such as the Gloster Meteor (see Flight Craft 13) and the de Havilland Venom. Powered by the then newly developed Rolls-Royce Avon turbojet, the Hunter’s performance transformed the RAF’s day fighter squadrons from the mid-1950s until the advent of the English Electric Lightning from the early 1960s (see Flight Craft 11).

Even then, as successively improved variants of the type were produced with increasingly more capable engines and expanded fuel capacity, the Hunter successfully transitioned into a strike/ground attack fighter-bomber and fighter reconnaissance platform. Two-seat variants were developed for training and other secondary roles with the RAF and the Royal Navy and a few remained in use until 2001, albeit with specialised MoD Test and Evaluation units – well over forty years after the type’s initial introduction. Hunters were also famously used by two RAF display teams, the ‘Black Arrows’, who looped a record-breaking twenty-two Hunters in formation, and later the ‘Blue Diamonds’ as well as the Royal Navy’s ‘Blue Herons’.

The Hunter saw combat service with the RAF in a range of conflicts including the Suez Crisis as well as various emergencies in the Middle East and Far East. The Hunter was also widely exported, serving with many foreign air forces, in which it also saw active service, which unfortunately lies outside the scope of this particular publication. Almost 2,000 Hunters were manufactured by Hawker Siddeley Aviation, as well as being produced under licence overseas and will remain one of the UK’s most iconic aircraft designs of all time.

Vintage Airfix Review:

For any enthusiast and/or modeller of the Hawker Hunter this book will be like catnip, you’ll find yourself drooling over every page. For it is ‘every’ page that has outstanding images of this classic post war aircraft.

As you would expect for a book in the Flight Craft series, there are some kit reviews and colour schemes and markings. There’s also a detailed section of the cockpit which will aid you in your kits cockpit detail.

A beautifully written book arranged in chronological order with a lot of helpful detail for the modeller.

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Flight Craft 18: British Military Test and Evaluation Aircraft

By Neil Robinson

Flight Craft 18: British Military Test and Evaluation AircraftDescription:

It could be argued that the heyday of British military aircraft flight testing began in the 1940s, and continued throughout the three decades that followed, during the so-called Cold War period, and as such, the authors have purposely chosen the first 30 years, The Golden Years, 1945 to 1975, from the end of World War Two until the mid-1970s, as this was arguably the most exciting period with many wonderful and new types rubbing shoulders with wartime and immediate post-war designs that were utilised for development purposes, making for an eclectic mix of shapes and colour schemes.

Alongside the technical aspects of military testing and development, are the many and varied colour schemes and markings carried by the aircraft themselves – not only by the brand-new experimental designs, but by existing production machines, suitably modified, to greater or lesser degrees, to develop the technical advances in systems and weaponry.

Scores of different aircraft types are covered in British Military Test & Evaluation Aircraft The Golden Years 1945 - 1975, with over 65 rarely seen contemporary photographs from private collections, and, differing slightly from previous Flight Craft book formats, over 50 pages of specially commissioned full colour profiles and plan views, visually chronicling the diverse range of colour schemes and markings applied to these fascinating aeroplanes.

Compiled by Neil Robinson and Martin Derry, who have authored several other Flight Craft books, with informative background text by well known aviation historian Malcolm V Lowe and superbly executed illustrations by Mark Rolfe. As with other books in the Flight Craft series, although published with aircraft modellers in mind, it is hoped that most aviation enthusiasts will find something of interest here too.

Vintage Airfix Review:

There are many modellers who like to take a production aircraft kit and modify it to a variant of that aircraft. For those modellers, this book really must be in your library.

It has many interesting, one-off, aircraft from 1945 to 1975, an era when aircraft development was at its height and, in same examples, its wackiest.

The colour illustrations of test aircraft alterations and livery are beautifully aimed at the modeller to help to get that perfect model. This along with the description and photos of what, where and why these aircraft were developed will add to your knowledge and understanding of the golden years of aircraft development.

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Flight Craft 7: V-Bombers - Valiant, Vulcan & Victor

By Martin Bowman, Dave Windle

Flight Craft 7: V-Bombers - Valiant, Vulcan & VictorDescription:

Britain's desire to stay at the leading edge in the design and development of modern jet powered aircraft was born in the later stages of the Second World War. The Royal Air Force sent requests to the leading aircraft manufactures for a variety of specifications, amongst which was one for a long-range heavy bomber. Three designs were accepted and eventually went into production – these became the V-Bomber Force.

The Vickers Valiant, Vulcan and Victor saw prolific and varied service during the course of their careers. This book contains fabulous colour profiles (created by Dave Windle) of all three types in different operational modes, configurations and colour schemes. Martin Bowman has written detailed descriptions and photographs to create the perfect enthusiasts reference. This enhanced and revised edition (the book was initially published in 2009) comes complete with model-making content as well as a host of brand new design features, making for a lively new addition to our esteemed Flight Craft series.

Vintage Airfix Review:

There are some great images, in this book, of these famous aircraft that can be used to aid and inspire all modellers. I particularly like the pictures of the Victor as a fuel tanker, refuelling a Lightning which will make for an easy but impressive diorama.

This book is an informative overview of the V-Bomber Force aircraft that will benefit all aircraft modellers research of these ground breaking aircraft of the Cold War.

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FOCKE-WULF Fw 190

By Chris Goss

FOCKE-WULF Fw 190Description:

The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 was widely regarded as the Luftwaffe’s finest fighter. It first saw service in France in August 1941, immediately proving itself at least the equal of the then latest Spitfire variant, the Mk.V.

There were a number of characteristics which contributed to the Fw 190’s success. The first of these was that it had been designed from the outset to be a weapons platform, rather than an aircraft to which weapons were added, as was the case with previous fighters. This meant that it could carry a wide range of armament in the form of various combinations of bomb racks, cannon pods and, later, unguided rockets.

It was also built to withstand heavy punishment, with the extensive use of electrically-powered equipment instead of the hydraulic systems which, used by most aircraft manufacturers of the time, were more susceptible to failure if damaged by gunfire. The relatively small diameters of electrical wires were much less likely to be hit by gunfire than larger hydraulic pipes.

Another element in the Fw 190’s construction which added to its durability was its wide-tracked, inwards-retracting landing gear, as opposed to the much narrower, outwards-retracting landing gear of the Messerschmitt Bf 109. This gave the Fw 190 much greater stability on the ground which resulted in far fewer ground accidents than experienced by the Bf 109.

The Fw 190’s BMW 801 D-2 radial engine also produced 1,677 horse power, giving the early Focke-Wulf 190 A-8 a top speed of more than 400 miles per hour – which was considerably faster than the early variant Spitfires.

It was the Spitfires with which the Fw 190 pilots frequently had to contend when in combat over the English Channel, and particularly during the Allied raid on Dieppe in August 1942, when more than 100 Focke-Wulfs (from Jagdgeschwaders JG 2 and JG 26) engaged Spitfires and Hawker Typhoons, claiming sixty-one Allied aircraft ‘kills’ against just twenty-five losses of their own.

The Fw 190’s weapons capability also saw it used as a fighter-bomber. The Fw 190 A-3/U3 Jabo was used with considerable effect against Allied shipping in the Channel and against the south-eastern coasts of England in 1942 in tip-and-runs raids. These fast, low-level attacks proved very difficult for the defending RAF squadrons to counter and only one Fw 190 was lost on these operations.

In this illuminating study of the early service of the Fw 190, Chris Goss has assembled a unique collection of photographs illustrating the wide use of this highly versatile aircraft.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Yet another superb addition to the Air War Archive series. Good, clear images ideal for the modeller and great historical and evolutionary detail.

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FOCKE-WULF Fw 200 The Luftwaffe's Long Range Maritime Bomber

By Chris Goss

FOCKE-WULF Fw 200 The Luftwaffe's Long Range Maritime BomberDescription:

Originally built as an airliner that could carry passengers across the Atlantic for Deutsche Lufthansa, the Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor developed into the Luftwaffe’s principal long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft. It was used in the North Sea and in the Atlantic, searching for Allied convoys and warships, passing on information to waiting U-boats.

The Fw 200 was also capable of carrying a bomb load of up to 2,000kg, and it was claimed that Condors sank more than 300,000 tons of Allied shipping. By September 1940, one unit, KG 40 based at Bordeaux-Mèrignac in Occupied France, had sunk over 90,000 tons of Allied shipping. For the next three years the C-series Condors were described by Winston Churchill as ‘the scourge of the Atlantic’, eventually being overcome by the introduction of long-range Coastal Command aircraft, escort carriers and the deployment of Catapult-Armed Merchantman vessels. 

The Fw 200 also used as a troop transport, capable of carrying thirty fully-armed soldiers. one Fw 200 was even converted into a luxury, two-cabin airliner for use as Hitler’s personal aeroplane.

In this selection of unrivalled images collected over many years, and now part of Frontline's new War in the Air series, the operations of this famous aircraft are portrayed and brought to life through the first-hand accounts of the pilots who flew them and those that fought against them.

Vintage Airfix Review:

With more images than pages you’ll find this archive invaluable for the preparation of a Focke-Wulf Fw 200 build.

For a Luftwaffe historian, or indeed any historian, the detailed research by the author makes this book a great addition to any library.

As with all the titles in the Air War Archive series it’s a joy to thumb through time and again.

I highly recommended series of books.

 

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FV430 Series

By Robert Griffin

FV430 SeriesDescription:

During the Second World War the British infantry found itself lacking suitable transport to cope with the fast moving German Blitzkrieg tactics. Various stop-gap measures were introduced with mixed success but, with the pots-war nuclear biological and chemical threat, it was imperative that a robust solution was found.

The FV300 and FV400 Cambridge carriers paved the way for the introduction of the AFV430 series in the 1960s at the height of the Cold War. Initially a basic armoured personnel carrier, the series grew to cover a multitude of roles; command, recovery, mortar, Swingfire and remote mine clearing to name but a selection. Over 50 years later variants are still in service.

This classic Images of War book not only describes in words and images the AFV430 series but traces the development of infantry carriers for the British Army.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Another well written and informative addition to the Images of War series. The images of the variants are in colour and clear and will be of great use to the modeller. The detailed history of development adds to the appreciation of this armoured vehicle.

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German Battleship Helgoland

By Aidan Dodson

German Battleship HelgolandDescription:

Alongside its incomparable archive of British warship plans, the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich also holds a selection of drawings from foreign sources. Among the gems of this collection are a number of German warships dating from the First World War era. These are official plans, acquired by the Naval Inter-Allied Commission of Control as part of the peace treaty, and very similar in style, detail and draughtsmanship to Royal Navy ‘as fitted’ general arrangements, including the use of coloured line and washes.

The very best of these, in terms of the completeness of coverage and the visual impact of the drawings, relates to the battleship SMS Helgoland, launched in 1909. The name-ship of the second class of dreadnoughts designed by the Germans, she was a big advance over the earlier Westfalen class, having 12in guns that matched those of her British opponents. She served in the High Seas Fleet throughout the war, fought at Jutland, and was ceded to Britain as part of the peace terms – which is probably why the plans are at Greenwich – and was broken up in 1924.

This book is the latest in a series based entirely on original draughts which depict famous warships in an unprecedented degree of detail. Using the latest scanning technology to make digital copies of the highest quality, it reproduces complete sets in full colour, with many close-ups and enlargements that make every aspect clear and comprehensible. Extensive captions point the reader to important features to be found in the plans, and an introduction covers the background to the design. The result is a novel form of anatomy that will be a revelation to any warship enthusiast.

Vintage Airfix Review:

This book has tonnes of detailed information to go with the beautifully detailed original plans. Recommended reference material for all modellers with an eye for detail.

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Hunters over Arabia

By Ray Deacon

Hunters over ArabiaDescription:

Based on official records held at the National Archives and other published sources, ‘Hunters over Arabia’ presents an in-depth account of the operations performed by the Hawker Hunter squadrons policing the desert wastelands and high mountain ranges of the Middle East. Copiously illustrated with colour and black and white photographs, a high percentage of operations performed by this versatile British ground attack and reconnaissance fighter are described in detail.

Using a chronological format, the narrative focuses on the period during which the Hunter served in the Middle East, from 1960 to 1971. Further chapters are dedicated to the three Hunter variants most closely associated with the Middle East, the FGA.9, FR.10 and T.7, together with their respective allocation dates. A short background to Aden, its historical links to Britain, and RAF airfields administered by Middle East Command complete this factual account.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Fantastic colour and black and white images and beautifully written with great use of National Archive documentation. This book will thrill and inform all enthusiasts of the Hawker Hunter.

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Knights of the Battle of Britain

By Chris Goss

Knights of the Battle of BritainDescription:

The Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes (Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross), known simply as the Ritterkreuz (Knight’s Cross), was the highest German military award of the Second World War. Instituted on 1 September 1939, to coincide with the German invasion of Poland, it was awarded for leadership, valour or skill. As the war progressed, higher variants were instituted, namely the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords, and the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves Swords and Diamonds.

Similar in design, but larger, than the Eiserne Kreuz (Iron Cross), and worn around the neck as opposed to on the breast, the border and hanging loop on the Knight’s Cross were made of pure silver which was marked ‘800’. The award was made by a number of German manufacturers.

On 3 June 1940, the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuz mit Eichenlaub (Knights Cross with Oak Leaves) was instituted, by which time 124 Rittterkreuz had been awarded to all arms of the German military, of which forty-nine had been awarded to Luftwaffe personnel. The first recipient was Generalfeldmarschal Hermann Göring on 30 September 1939; the first Luftwaffe operational Luftwaffe aircrew member recipient, and the fifth overall, was Oberst Robert Fuchs, Kommodore of Kampfgeschwader 26. His award was made on 6 April 1940.

The first fighter pilot to receive the Ritterkreuz was Hauptmann Werner Mölders of III Gruppe/Jagdgeschwader 53 (III./JG 53) on 29 May 1940. Only three Luftwaffe officers would receive the Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub in 1940, and all of them were fighter pilots – Mölders on 21 September 1940 (he was then Geschwader Kommodore of JG 51), Major Adolf Galland (Kommodore of JG 26) on 24 September 1940, and Hauptmann Helmut Wick (Kommandeur of I Gruppe/JG 2) on 6 October 1940.

Throughout the summer of 1940, many more Luftwaffe members, be they serving on fighter, bomber, dive bomber or reconnaissance units, would receive the Ritterkreuz. Some of these awards were made posthumously, whilst others would learn of their awards whilst a prisoner of war in Britain or, later, in Canada.

In this book, the renowned aviation historian Chris Goss provides biographical details of all operational members of the Luftwaffe who received the Ritterkreuz during 1940 or were awarded it as a result of their actions in what became known as the Battle of Britain.

Vintage Airfix Review:

This is one of those books that you have on the shelf. Safe in the knowledge that it’s there when you need it and that it’ll have the information you need on a specific Luftwaffe aircrew member between April and December 1940 that were awarded the Knights Cross.

Chris Goss has once again brought together a high level of detail from a specific time in air war history and collated it into a very useful and informative book.

I must have book for any Battle of Britain historian.

 

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Large Scale Warship Models

By Dr Kerry Jang

Large Scale Warship ModelsDescription:

The majority of warship modellers work in smaller scales, most often based on plastic or resin kits. Many of these harbour ambitions to tackle something larger and more demanding, but are daunted by the challenge. The aim of this book is to persuade them that it not as difficult as it may seem, that they already possess the basic skills required, and that they can acquire any necessary new knowledge as they proceed.

The discussion focuses on the journey from conventional plastic kits to questions of deciding on a subject; choosing a kit, semi-kit or build from scratch; what conventional kit building skills transfer – and how these conventional skills such as painting techniques and an eye for detail can be brought to large scale model building so that scale fidelity is not sacrificed but enhanced. Novel requirements like research, obtaining plans and sourcing material or fittings are all covered.

The second part describes building methods, including the latest techniques like casting fittings in resin, and applies to both static and radio-controlled working models. All the colour photos were taken specifically to illustrate the points made in each chapter, so the book demonstrates as well as describes. It concludes with a gallery of superb models intended to inspire the would-be large scale warship modeller to take the plunge.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Informative, helpful, well written and beautifully presented.

If you haven’t built a large-scale warship, either from a kit or scratch built, but would like to, then you need this book. It’ll give you the knowledge you’ll need to get started.

If you’re an intermediate or advanced builder, there is much in here that will aid you also.

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Lionel Morris and the Red Baron

By Jill Bush

Lionel Morris and the Red BaronDescription:

Nineteen-year-old Lionel Morris left the infantry for the wood and wires of the Royal Flying Corps on the Western Front in 1916, joining one of the world’s first fighter units alongside the great ace Albert Ball. Learning on the job, in dangerously unpredictable machines, Morris came of age as a combat pilot on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, as the R.F.C. was winning a bloody struggle for admiralty of the air.

As summer faded to autumn, and the skies over Bapaume filled with increasing numbers of enemy aircraft, the tide turned. On 17 September 1916, Morris’s squadron was attacked by a lethally efficient German unit, including an unknown pilot called Manfred von Richthofen. As the shock waves spread from the empty hangars of No.11 Squadron all the way to the very top of the British Army, the circumstances surrounding Morris’s death marked a pivotal shift in the aerial war, and the birth of its greatest legend.

Told through previously unpublished archive material, the words of contemporaries and official records, Lionel Morris and the Red Baron traces a short but extraordinary life; and reveals how Morris’s role in history was rediscovered one hundred years after his death.

Vintage Airfix Review:

This is not just another 'Red Baron' book, it's practically a complete historical account of the Great War.

Mainly following Lionel Morris, a family member of the author, there are sections on others key players of the RFC and the Great War.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to anyone with any interest in WWI, RFC or early war machines.

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M2/M3

By Robert Jackson

M2/M3Description:

Among the most successful armoured vehicles produced by American industry – known as the Arsenal of Democracy – during the Second World War were the M2 and M3 half-tracks. They served on every battlefront and were as recognizable as other famous American wartime vehicles like the Sherman and the Jeep, and around 40,000 were produced between 1941 and 1945. They were easy to assemble, operate and maintain, and their versatility allowed them to fulfil a variety of purposes. This volume in Pen & Sword’s LandCraft series traces the design, development and manufacturing history of the M2/M3 and describes its operational role within the Allied armies.

A selection of archive photographs showing the M2/M3 in action gives a graphic impression of how adaptable these vehicles were and records the range of equipment they could carry. The book is an excellent source for the modeller, providing details of available kits, together with specially commissioned colour profiles demonstrating how the M2/M3 used by different units and armies appeared.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Hot on the heals of The Jeep is this, the second in the LandCraft series. It has everything you would expect, the informative development and design section, camouflage and markings and of course, the showcases. There is one showcase in particular of a 1/16 scale which is jaw dropping.

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M29 Weasel Tracked Cargo Carrier & Variants

By David Doyle

M29 Weasel Tracked Cargo Carrier & VariantsDescription:

Conceived as part of a Top Secret project to disrupt Nazi Germany's atomic bomb program, the hastily developed Studebaker Weasel went on to one of, if not THE most successful of the wartime all-terrain vehicles. Designed with light weight to facilitate both air-dropping and efficient, high-speed operation in the snow, the vehicles were soon found to have excellent performance in the mud. Always amphibious, the later models, the M29C, were equipped with flotation tanks on each end and dual rudders in the rear for even more efficient operation in the water. Weasels were used on numerous fronts during WWII, were once again deployed in Korea, by the French in Vietnam, and numerous outposts during the Cold War. These pages provide an overview of the development, and a detailed look at the deployment and the machines themselves, of these iconic, all-terrain vehicles.

Vintage Airfix Review:

A perfect reference book for an AFV modeler. As part of the Images of War series it has the expected images of the M29 and its variants in action. It also has some close-up, colour images of 2 particular variants showing invaluable detail at various angles.

The historical information on the development of the Weasel is fascinating but unfortunately a little repetitive.

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M36/M36B-1 Tank Destroyer

By David Doyle

M36/M36B-1 Tank DestroyerDescription:

Going into WWII, the prevailing strategy of the US command was that takns were not to be used to engage enemy tanks in combat. Rather, tanks were to be the armored spearhead to breach enemy positions. Enemy tanks were to be dealt with by specialized weapons, aptly named tank destroyers.

While the 3-inch weapon of the M10 was superior to that found on earlier US tank destroyers, it was still found to be inadequate against the ever-increasing weight of German armor. An even larger gun, the 90mm M3, was placed in a new, bigger open-topped turret on 100 new hulls purpose built for this, and by remanufacturing M10A1s, primarily from US-based training units. As the supply of these chassis was depleted, additional vehicles were created by converting Diesel-powered M10s, resulting in the M36B2. The M36B1 was built from the ground-up as a tank destroyer, using a hull based on that of the M4A3 but featuring a standard M36 turret. Examination of rare surviving vehicles indicate that the M36B1 hulls were manufactured expressly for this purpose, and were not merely M4A3 hulls that were converted.

While US antitank doctrine changed, rendering all the tank destroyers obsolete post-WWII, many of these vehicles were supplied to other nations, and in fact some survived as combat vehicles into the 21st century.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Another informative ‘Images of War’ book full of close up images of a beautifully restored example and striking images from WWII. Many of the WWII images would make great reference for a diorama. Although the WWII images are in black and white the close-up images are in colour.

As with all the books in this series, it’s well written and produced. I can’t recommend this series enough.

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M65 Atomic Cannon

By David Doyle

M65 Atomic CannonDescription:

Through historic photos, this volume traces the development, production and deployment of this iconic piece of military equipment from the drawing boards to the Cold War battlefields of Europe.

In 1949, the US Army wanted an artillery gun that could fire a nuclear warhead in the event that guided missiles and long-range bombers proved insufficient in delivering atomic weapons. The result was the M65, 280mm Atomic Cannon. On May 25, 1953, at 0830 hours, an M65 of A Battery, 867th Field Artillery Battalion, let loose with the only nuclear round the type would ever fire.

Six battalions of the M65 would eventually be deployed, most in Europe with one battalion sent to the Korean Peninsula. Though never used in combat, they served as a significant tactical nuclear deterrent in the early stages of the Cold War.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Yet another beautiful Images of War series book and a perfect accompaniment for Dragon Models M65 Atomic Annie Gun kit. As the series title suggests, this book is overflowing with images and with some great ideas for dioramas.

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M7 Priest

By David Doyle

M7 PriestDescription:

The M7 Howitzer Motor Carriage, dubbed the Priest, was the most successful and widely used example of American self-propelled artillery during WWII. Examples continued to be used by the U.S. Army during the Korean war, and beyond, even serving Allied countries into the 1970s. Coined the Priest due to its pulpit-like structure for the gun commander, this armored fighting vehicle would see action in North Africa, Italy, and the D-Day landings in Normandy and all the way to Germany.

Vintage Airfix Review:

This book is nicely laid out in a chronological order with an explanation of each image. Reading this book, you will gain a whole new appreciation for the M7 and its development.

As the M7 Priest is currently not very well covered by model manufacturers, this book will be a great aid the scratch build modeller wishing to build an early variant.

This is a superb reference book for armoured vehicle enthusiasts and historians. And a worthy addition to the Images of War series.

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MESSERSCHMITT Bf 109

By Chris Goss

MESSERSCHMITT Bf 109Description:

The most iconic German aircraft of the Second World War, the Messerschmitt Bf 109 was the Luftwaffe’s principal fighter from 1939 until 1942 when the superior Focke-Wulf Fw 190 came into greater prominence. The Bf 109 served in every theatre of the war, though in this book the author examines the Tip and Run era, D-Day and the Eastern Front.

In the later years of the war, the Bf 109 fought with some success in the defence of Germany against Allied bombers. The Bf 109 was the most produced fighter aircraft in history and more aerial kills were made with this fighter than any other aircraft. Indeed, A total of 105 Bf 109 pilots were each credited with the destruction of 100 or more enemy aircraft; thirteen of these men scored more than 200 kills, while two scored more than 300. The Bf 109 was flown by the three top-scoring fighter aces of the war: Erich Hartmann, the top-scoring fighter pilot of all time claiming 352 victories, Gerhard Barkhorn with 301 victories, and Günther Rall, who claimed 275 victories. All of them flew with JG 52, a unit which exclusively flew the Bf 109 and was credited with over 10,000 victories, chiefly on the Eastern Front.

The Bf 109 was also supplied to several of Germany's allies, including Finland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Slovakia.

In this selection of unrivalled images collected over many years, the operations of this famous aircraft in the latter part of the Second World War are portrayed and brought to life.

Vintage Airfix Review:

The 109 was an awesome aircraft and has a unique place in aviation warfare history. This beautiful book will be a great addition to any enthusiast, historian or modeller. The images are inspirational to the modeller and the in-depth history is fascinating. A great publication.

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Painting Wargaming Figures: WWII in the Desert

By Andy Singleton

Painting Wargaming Figures: WWII in the DesertDescription:

Andy Singleton has been modelling and painting most of his life and has been a professional commission figure painter for some years now. Here he shares his experience and tips of the trade with those collecting figures for the North African campaigns in WWII. The four main sections of the book cover British, Italian, German and US troops, as well as tips on assembly and painting camouflage uniforms. Each section is divided into three levels of complexity, ‘conscript’, ‘regular’ and ‘elite’, allowing the reader to build up an array of techniques as they gain confidence and experience. The emphasis is on achievable results and practical advice that is applicable to painting units or whole armies for wargaming purposes in a reasonable time frame, not on spectacular individual display pieces. Most of the figures featured in the numerous illustrations are sized either 28mm or 20mm but the techniques described are easily adaptable to smaller sizes and both plastic and metal figures are covered. Andy’s clear, step-by-step guidance takes the reader through the process from the initial preparation and assembly of the figure, to finishing and basing.

Vintage Airfix Review:

This is one for all figure modellers not just the wargamer. It’s nicely organised into 3 levels of details which can be used as a guide for any scale.

I would have liked to see a few close-up images for reference of the smaller detail. But that is the only down side to this very informative and easy to follow book.

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Panther Tanks: Germany Army and Waffen-SS

By Dennis Oliver

Panther Tanks: Germany Army and Waffen-SSDescription:

In late 1944 and 1945 the Panther tank played an important role in Germany’s desperate efforts to stem the Allied advance on the Western Front. The Panther, perhaps the best armoured vehicle produced by Germany during the Second World War, was a key element in the Wehrmacht’s defensive tactics, in rearguard actions and counter-attacks, and it took a prominent part in the last German offensive of the war, in the Ardennes during the Battle of the Bulge.

So it is an ideal subject for Dennis Oliver’s latest volume in the TankCraft series. He uses archive photos and extensively researched colour illustrations to examine the Panther tanks and units of the German army and Waffen-SS panzer battalions that struggled to resist the Allied onslaught.

A key section of his book displays available model kits and aftermarket products, complemented by a gallery of beautifully constructed and painted models in various scales. Technical details as well as modifications introduced during production and in the field are also examined providing everything the modeller needs to recreate an accurate representation of these historic tanks.

Vintage Airfix Review:

The Panther Tank has long been a favourite of scale modelers and, with this book in hand, you'll be wanting to build more.

The book has everything we've come to expect from the Tank Craft series, historical facts, camouflage reference, model showcases, and of course, well written and illustrated. All the great kits are covered here including the Airfix 1/76 scale kit (it had to really). Some of the larger scale kit in the showcase are superb.

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Race Across the Atlantic

By Colin Higgs, Bruce Vigar

Race Across the AtlanticDescription:

It was Tuesday, 15 June 1919 and for the residents of Clifden on Ireland’s west coast this was not to be a normal day. Just before 08.40 hours, descending out of the gloom, came a large, twin-engine aeroplane lining up for final approach. One or two on-lookers recognised the danger straight away for this was an area of soft bog, but their attempts to alert the pilot were in vain.

The aircraft began to sink and, with a squelch, came to a sudden stop, the tail rearing up in the air. Dazed and with fuel filling the cockpit the two-man crew scrambled out, grabbing what they could. After a flight lasting 16 hours and 28 minutes, Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Whitten-Brown had won the race to be the first to fly non-stop across the Atlantic.

It was a rough ending for a race that began in April 1913 when Lord Rothermere, aviation philanthropist and owner of the Daily Mail, offered a prize of £10,000, roughly equivalent to $1,000,000 in today’s money, to ‘the aviator who shall first cross the Atlantic in an aeroplane in flight from any point in the United States of America, Canada or Newfoundland to any point in Great Britain or Ireland in 72 continuous hours’.

Illustrated by many unique photographs this book tells the story of the race, delayed for almost six years by the First World War. Many aircraft would be entered but few would even get off the ground. The teams faced great difficulties in preparing for the challenge of crossing one of the most hostile stretches of ocean on Earth.

The authors not only reveal tales of failures and technical difficulties, but of the intense frustration of waiting for the perfect weather-window. And even when finally airborne, Alcock and Brown’s flight almost ended in disaster on several occasions as weather conditions almost conspired to cast them down into the grey, cold waters of the Atlantic and almost certain death.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Reading this book is like reading a film script and right from the first page, you’ll be hooked. It starts with a run down of all the contenders and their fate. Then, due to the gripping writing, you’re there, with all the ups and downs of the events before the historic flight. Once you’re through all that, you’re in the cockpit with Alcock and Brown and every dump and dive of the flight across the Atlantic.

This book is highly recommended to take you on a trip, in your mind, across the Atlantic. It’s an exciting trip from the early days of aviation and a great feat that shouldn’t be forgotten. The final pages of this book prove that it hasn’t been.

 

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ShipCraft 25: German Destroyers

By Robert Brown

ShipCraft 25: German DestroyersDescription:

The ‘ShipCraft’ series provides in-depth information about building and modifying model kits of famous warship types. Lavishly illustrated, each book takes the modeller through a brief history of the subject class, highlighting differences between sister-ships and changes in their appearance over their careers. This includes paint schemes and camouflage, featuring colour profiles and highly detailed line drawings and scale plans. The modelling section reviews the strengths and weaknesses of available kits, lists commercial accessory sets for super-detailing of the ships, and provides hints on modifying and improving the basic kit. This is followed by an extensive photographic gallery of selected high-quality models in a variety of scales, and the book concludes with a section on research references – books, monographs, large-scale plans and relevant websites.

This volume covers the large and powerful German destroyers of the Second World War era. Always popular as modelling subjects, interest in them has been further increased recently by the release of a number of very fine large scale kits.

With its unparalleled level of visual information – paint schemes, models, line drawings and photographs – this book is simply the best reference for any modelmaker setting out to build one of these unusual ships.

Vintage Airfix Review:

This is the 25th in the ShipCraft series, and the first to grace my bookshelf. As it’s along the same lines as the other ‘Craft’ series (FlightCraft, LandCraft and TankCraft) I knew what to expect. There’ll be colour schemes, showcases, model reviews and informative design history… It doesn’t disappoint.

Although German Destroyers aren’t a popular subject for model manufactures, there are still some superb kits available. Pretty much all of them are reviewed in this book. The showcased dioramas are inspirational and extremely well built.

On a whole, German Destroyers is a well edited, beautifully presented book that’s calling out to all warship modellers to be added to their reference library.

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T-54/55

By Robert Jackson

T-54/55Description:

During the Cold War, the T-54/55 series of tanks represented the most serious threat to Nato land forces in Europe. Available in huge quantities, it formed the core of the Warsaw Pact armoured warfare doctrine, which envisaged massed tank attacks against the weakest point in Nato’s front-line defences.

Yet the T-54/55 could be stopped by smaller numbers of tanks which had the benefit of better technology and training, as was demonstrated during the Yom Kippur War of 1973 when Israeli tanks dealt out appalling punishment to T-55s of the Syrian army. Despite these limitations, the T-54/55 was one of the most successful tanks ever produced, and this volume in the TankCraft series by Robert Jackson is the ideal introduction to it.

As well as tracing the history of the T-54/55, his book is an excellent source of reference for the modeller, providing details of available kits and photographs of award-winning models, together with artworks showing the colour schemes applied to these tanks. Each section of the book is supported by a wealth of archive photographs.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Charting the main variants of the Russian T54 and T55 tanks, of which I was shocked to find out how many where built, this book is a great source of information for the AFV modeller.

The historical sections are in a chronological order, the main variants are explained and the example builds are of a very high standard.

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Take These Men

By Cyril Joly

Take These MenDescription:

Few accounts of the tank battles in the Western Desert during the Second World War have provided so vivid an evocation as Cyril Joly’s classic account Take These Men. In such inhospitable conditions, this was armoured warfare of a particularly difficult and dangerous kind.

From 1940 to 1943 battles raged back and forth as one side or the other gained the upper hand, only to lose it again. Often the obsolescent British armour was outnumbered by the Italians or outgunned by Rommel’s Afrika Korps, and frequently it suffered from the ineptitudes of higher command.

Cyril Joly’s first-hand narrative of these campaigns, highly praised when it was originally published in 1955, tells the story through the eyes of a young officer in the 7th Armoured Division, the famous Desert Rats. It describes in accurate, graphic detail the experience of tank warfare over seventy years ago, recalling the fortitude of the tank crews and their courage in the face of sometimes overwhelming odds.

Vintage Airfix Review:

A surprising account of desert warfare by a young officer. Although largely a work of fiction, It is a gripping read and highly recommended bringing events of the time to life in it own way.

Nicely broken into 6 parts marking events from 1940 to 1943. It’s a touching, and in places amusing account of tank warfare in a rough environment.

I must add however, the physical layout of the book is a little distracting with a huge border around the body of the text. You do get used to it over time plus, I don’t need to move my big thumbs out of the way!

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Tank Destroyer

By Dennis Oliver

Tank DestroyerDescription:

In this heavily illustrated volume in the TankCraft series Dennis Oliver focuses on the Achilles – the British variant of the American M10 – which was one of the most important Allied tank destroyers of the Second World War. It played a key role in the armoured battles fought on the Western Front, in particular in France, the Low Countries, Germany and Italy.

Built on an adapted Sherman chassis, with sloped armour, an open-topped turret and powerful 17-pounder gun, it was designed to counter the threat posed by the formidable panzers deployed by the German army towards the end of the conflict, in particular the Panther and Tiger tanks.

The book covers the design and operational history of the Achilles in close detail, using rare archive photographs and meticulously researched colour illustrations, as well as a detailed, authoritative text.

A key section displays available model kits and aftermarket products, complemented by a gallery of beautifully constructed and painted models in various scales. Technical details as well as modifications introduced during production and in the field are also examined providing everything the modeller needs to recreate an accurate representation of these historic armoured fighting vehicles.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Beautifully written and wonderfully illustrated, this has some very useful colour schemes and inspiration showcases for modellers.

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The Berlin Airlift

By John Grehan

The Berlin AirliftDescription:

The fate of the free world hung in the balance. Stalin’s Soviet Union sought to drive the Western democracies from Germany to continue the communist advance across Europe. The first step in Stalin’s scheme was to bring Berlin under Soviet control. Berlin was situated deep inside the Soviet-occupied region of the country, but the German capital had been divided into two halves, one of which was occupied by the Soviet Union, the other, in separate sectors, by Britain, France and the USA. Stalin decided to make the Allied hold on West Berlin untenable by shutting down all the overland routes used to keep the city supplied.

The choice faced by the Allies was a stark one – let Berlin fall, or risk war with the Soviets by breaking the Soviet stranglehold. In a remarkably visionary move, the Allies decided that they could keep Berlin supplied by flying over the Soviet blockade, thus avoiding armed conflict with the USSR.

On 26 June 1948, the Berlin Airlift began. Throughout the following thirteen months, more than 266,600 flights were undertaken by the men and aircraft from the US, France, Britain and across the Commonwealth, which delivered in excess of 2,223,000 tons of food, fuel and supplies in the greatest airlift in history.

The air-bridge eventually became so effective that more supplies were delivered to Berlin than had previously been shipped overland and Stalin saw that his bid to seize control of the German capital could never succeed. At one minute after midnight on 12 May 1949, the Soviet blockade was lifted, and the Soviet advance into Western Europe was brought to a shuddering halt.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Another superb title in the brilliant Images of Aviation series. Stuffed with great images of the time and perfectly detailed information, superbly illustrating one of the first major international crises of the Cold War. 

As an aviation enthusiast, this book fulfils my needs. There are images of most of my favourite aircraft and great stories to go along with them.

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The English Electric Lightning

By Martin Bowman

The English Electric LightningDescription:

The early 1950s were a boom time for British aviation. The lessons of six years of war had been learned and much of the research into jet engines, radar and aerodynamics had begun to reach fruition. In Britain, jet engine technology led the world, while wartime developments into swept wing design in Germany and their transonic research programme were used to give western design teams a quantum leap in aircraft technology.

The English Electric Lightning emerged at this time. This supersonic fighter aircraft of the Cold War era is perhaps best remembered for its amazing take-off performance, its exceptional rate of climb and its immense speed. Here, Martin Bowman takes us on a photographic journey, illustrating the various landmarks of the Lightning's impressive operational history.

Vintage Airfix Review:

When I first saw this book, it sparked a memory of the first time I heard the sound of the Lightning and, it would appear, it isn’t just me. In the first few pages, the unique sound of the Lightning is mentioned.

This book, from the Images of War series, has all that you would expect. Great images and details of variants and missions.

From a modeller’s perspective, I would love to have seen some colour images in here. But as an aircraft enthusiast it’s a great addition to my library and memory.

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The First Helicopter Boys

By David Taylor

The First Helicopter BoysDescription:

The Indonesian Confrontation that raged from 1963 to 1966 stemmed from Indonesia’s opposition to the creation of Malaysia. Fighting in the challenging jungle terrain of Borneo and in the countryside straddling the Malaysia/Indonesia border, where there were few roads, posed significant logistical challenges to both sides. That the conflict was ultimately a victory for the Commonwealth forces was in due in no small part to the fact that they enjoyed the advantage of vastly superior helicopter resources and better trained crews – many of which were provided by British units.

During the Confrontation, many of these vital helicopter assets were flown by pilots and crews who had gained their knowledge and experience first-hand during the Malayan Emergency, one of the Cold War’s first flash-points which had begun in 1948.

Without doubt, the Malayan Emergency marked the formative years of the RAF’s and Royal Navy’s helicopter operations – the very early days in fact, when equipment and knowledge were much more basic. It was a time when operational procedures were still under development, even though the helicopters were already being flown on front line service.

Told in the main through their own words, by the RAF and Royal Navy air and ground crews involved, this is the story of how these ‘guinea pigs’ undertook many of Britain’s first rotary wing combat operations and, therefore, cemented their rightful place in the history of the helicopter.

Vintage Airfix Review:

A fascinating insight into the early days of helicopter development and its use in the challenging terrain of Malaysia/Indonesia. Through the words of personnel from the time and David’s superb writing, you get a real sense of the issues the early machines had, and the resourcefulness used in a Jungle situation.

I’m not sure some of the ways these machines were maintained in the Jungle would be allowed today. As an example, changing a wheel while the pilot maintains a steady hover!

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The Great Eastern Railway in South Essex

By Charles Phillips

The Great Eastern Railway in South EssexDescription:

The Great Eastern Railway In South Essex: A Definitive History is the history of the Great Eastern’s lines from Shenfield to Southend, Wickford to Southminster and Woodham Ferrers to Maldon including their ancestor. It is the only comprehensive history of all three lines and was researched using both previously published and unpublished material. The history covers not only the history of the lines in question but also a sample of services from the opening of them to the present day, the motive power that was and is used on them and a topographical description of them. The book is intended to appeal to wide audience: in particular those with an interest in the local history of the area served by the lines, those interested in the history of Essex and railway enthusiasts interested in the railways of the eastern counties in general and the Great Eastern Railway in particular.

Vintage Airfix Review:

For anyone thinking off, or already have, models/dioramas of the Great Eastern lines in Essex. This book is right up your street. Full of interesting historical facts, useful images and a great read.

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The Handley Page Victor

By Roger Brooks

The Handley Page VictorDescription:

Some aircraft inspire passion, others nostalgia, but others, often the unsung heroes, are more of a connoisseur's choice. The Handley Page Victor easily falls into this last category.

In this follow-up to The Handley Page Victor: The History and Development of a Classic Jet, Volumes I and II, Roger Brooks extends his earlier historical narratives, this time offering an action-packed and riveting memoir of a career spanning forty years.

The book charts changes as they occurred in the aeronautical industry from the 1950's onwards and, as such, it should appeal to both individuals who were caught up in events at the time as well as students of the era. In addition to the aircraft itself, Roger worked extensively with tankers, refuelling the Victor as it took part in a variety of operations in the fraught Cold War era. He brings all aspects of his career to life across these pages, offering the kind of details that can only be gained by first-hand experience.

Vintage Airfix Review:

This book is a great read and a unique insight into a great aircraft with some personal stories from the time.

Some of the detailed information that Roger discloses can be a little to technical but for the enthusiast it is a book that you will not be able to put down.

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The History of Toy Soldiers

By Luigi Toiati

The History of Toy SoldiersDescription:

Humans have made and collected toy soldiers from time immemorial. They amuse and comfort us, awaken our curiosity, turn aggressiveness into creativity. In The History of Toy Soldiers,Luigi Toiati, himself an avid collector and manufacturer of toy soldiers, conveys and shares the pleasure of collecting and playing with them. Far from a dry encyclopaedia, it leads the reader through the fascinating evolution of the toy soldier from ancient times to the early twenty-first century. The author, as a sociologist with an interest in semiotics (the study of signs), offers truly original insights into why different types of toy soldiers were born in a given period and country, or why in a given size and material. The author's writing is packed with factual detail about the different types of toy (and model) soldiers and their manufacturers, but also with anecdotes, nostalgia, wit and his enduring passion for the subject. Hundreds of beautiful colour photographs, many depicting the author's own collection, complete this delightful book.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Wow, this book is so full of memories. If you read this book from the beginning, you’ll be taken on a ride through time from the earliest to the present-day toy soldiers. However, I found the best way to read this book is just open it and start reading… anywhere. It’s addictive, informative, fascinating and fun.

It also includes scale figures from Airfix, which is a bonus for an Airfix enthusiast.

The book is superbly produced to a very high standard and very well written. If you have any interest in this subject, you really need this book. I would even stick my neck out and say it’s the ONLY book you’ll need.

 

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The Jeep

By Lance Cole

The JeepDescription:

The Second World War Jeep was one of the most famous and influential military vehicles of all time, and over 600,000 were produced. It served with all the Allied forces during the war on every front and it has been the inspiration behind the design of light, versatile, rugged military and civilian vehicles ever since. In this, the first volume in Pen & Sword’s LandCraft series, Lance Cole traces the design, development and manufacturing history of the Jeep and describes its operational role within the Allied armies.

A selection of archive photographs showing the Jeep in service in European and Pacific campaigns gives a graphic impression of how adaptable the Jeep was and records the variety of equipment it could carry. The book is an excellent source for the modeller, providing details of available kits, together with specially commissioned colour profiles recording how the Jeeps used by different units and armies appeared.

Lance Cole's introduction to the Jeep is necessary reading and reference for enthusiasts and modellers.

Vintage Airfix Review:

This is the first in the new LandCraft series and what a great start it is. The Jeep is a very versatile vehicle which, in turn, makes it a great subject for modellers. This book has some superb 1/35 scale showcases. Along with this is everything you need to know about the development of this ground-breaking vehicle.

A must have reference book for modellers.

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The Reich Intruders

By Martin Bowman

The Reich IntrudersDescription:

This is the story of 2 Group RAF during World War II. Much of it is told by the men who flew the Blenheim, Boston, Mitchell and Mosquito aircraft that carried out many daring daylight and night-time raids on vitally important targets in Nazi occupied Europe and Germany. These were not the famous thousand bomber raids that hit the wartime headlines, but low-level, fast-moving surprise raids flown by small formations of fleet-footed and skilfully piloted twin-engine light bombers. Their targets were usually difficult to locate and heavily defended because of their strategic importance to the Nazis. 2 Group also played a vital part in the invasion of Europe both before and after D-Day. Often they would fly at wave-top height across the English Channel or North Sea to avoid detection and then hedge-hop deep into enemy territory to deliver their precision attack. Enemy fighters and anti-aircraft fire were a constant risk. This is a remarkable story of skill and bravery by a little known branch of the RAF.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Covering the light bombers of 2 Group in WWII, this book from air war historian Martin Bowman brings a high level of detail and first-hand accounts of the twin engine, low level bombers such as the Blenheim, Boston, Mitchell and Mosquito that have been largely forgotten.

After reading this you’ll look at these bombers with a whole new respect. The stories of low-level raids from the crews leave you in awe.

It’s a very interesting, authoritative, and in places, sobering read.

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The Royal Navy Wasp

By Larry Jeram-Croft, Terry Martin

The Royal Navy WaspDescription:

This book tells the story of the first helicopter in the world designed from the outset to be deployed at sea, in Destroyers and Frigates. It is primarily based on the words of those who operated it. Designed from the outset to cope with the restricted space of a warship both for stowage and flight operations it proved an immediate success. Its original role was to act as a weapon carrier to launch torpedoes and depth charges on submarine contacts out of range of the parent ship’s weapons range. Soon, it also took on a second primary role of air to surface attack using wire guided missiles. The flexibility of the machine was such that it was able to conduct a plethora of secondary roles from visual search to collecting the all-important ship’s mail. Wherever the Royal Navy was deployed on operations a Wasp was there. The book has accounts of operations around the world particularly during the Cold War of the Seventies and the Falklands War where amongst other things it had the honour of being the first RN platform ever, to fire a guided missile at a surface target.

However the story doesn’t end there. Although the aircraft went out of service in the Royal Navy in 1988, it continued to operate with other navies around the world. To this day there are still several airworthy examples flying. The second part of the book gives accounts of these machines and brings the story of the Wasp completely up to date.

Vintage Airfix Review:

The WASP is a fascinating helicopter with an interesting background and in this book, you gain a new respect for it and the people involved in its development and the pilots who flew it over the years.

It's a well-presented book with some great images, some of which are close ups of components that will be useful for the advanced modeler.

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The Vultee Vengeance in Battle

By Peter C Smith

The Vultee Vengeance in BattleDescription:

This book describes the extraordinary combat career of the American-built Vultee Vengeance dive-bomber in both the Royal Air Force and Indian Air Force service during the Burma Campaigns of 1942-45. This single-engine, all-metal aircraft was ordered by the Ministry of Supply during the darkest days of World War II when the lethal German combination of Junkers Ju.87 Stuka and Panzer tank forces had conquered most of Europe in a campaign that lasted a mere few weeks and the invasion of Britain was considered imminent.

The RAF had invented the dive-bomber concept in 1917 but had consistently rejected it in the inter-war period with the obsession of heavy bombing predominating official thinking almost exclusively. By the time the Vengeance arrived a still-reluctant RAF was seeking a precision bomber to prevent a repeat of the Japanese Naval attacks in the Indian Ocean and six squadrons were set up to counter this threat. With the Japanese on the borders of Burma and India, these aircraft, no longer required for the original role, proved by far and away the most accurate bomber aircraft operated by the British up to that time.

The Allied Armies on the ground, including Orde Wingate’s Chindits, clamoured for their continued use and considered them essential, but in vain, and by 1945 all had been replaced. Their achievements have been ignored, falsified or scorned ever since but here, from eyewitness accounts and official records, is their full and true story.

Vintage Airfix Review:

A fascinating look at a largely overlooked aircraft of the second world war. Full of comprehensive data of squadrons including the crews and the aircrafts themselves. Peter Smiths level of research and the dedication it must have taken to write this book is very apparent as you read through it.

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Tiger I and Tiger II Tanks, German Army and Waffen-SS, The Last Battles in the West, 1945

By Dennis Oliver

Tiger I and Tiger II Tanks, German Army and Waffen-SS, The Last Battles in the West, 1945Description:

Tiger tanks were among the most-feared fighting vehicles of the Second World War and they gained almost legendary status, yet they never fulfilled their potential because they were not produced in sufficient numbers and the tide the war had turned against the German army by the time they were introduced. Often they were deployed in difficult circumstances and in defensive battles, struggling against the odds. Nowhere was this more true than in western Europe during the Allied advance across France and into Germany, and it is the Tigers of this phase of the war that Dennis Oliver portrays in his third volume on the Tiger in the TankCraft series.

He uses archive photos and extensively researched colour illustrations to examine the Tiger tanks and units of the German Army and Waffen-SS heavy panzer battalions that struggled to resist the onslaught of Allied armour and air attacks during the last days of the conflict.

A key section of his book displays available model kits and aftermarket products, complemented by a gallery of beautifully constructed and painted models in various scales. Technical details as well as modifications introduced during production and in the field are also examined providing everything the modeller needs to recreate an accurate representation of these historic tanks.

Vintage Airfix Review:

A great reference for enthusiasts and modellers of the Tiger Tank. The historical part of this book covers the final few months on the Western Front, while the modelling sections cover most of the rest.

There is, off cause, a mention of the infamous Airfix Tiger kit even though it is not on the same plain as some of the other kits on offer. The reviews are well written and honest.

This book packs a lot of information from a relatively short time in history.

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Uncommon Valour

By Granville Allen Mawer

Uncommon ValourDescription:

What is the nature of courage, how and when should it be recognized, and how has our appreciation of it changed? These are among the questions Granville Allen Mawer seeks to answer in this absorbing study of the history of the Victoria Cross, the highest award in the British honours system for gallantry in the presence of the enemy. His is the first analytical account of the institution of the Victoria Cross, and it is a fascinating study of the ethics of rewarding bravery. It explores in dispassionate detail the thinking behind the creation of the award, the reasons why individual awards were given and how, over the last 160 years, the system has developed and changed.

Using vivid and carefully selected examples, he compares individual actions that led to a Victoria Cross and considers the circumstances in which they took place and the reasons given for making the award. So many factors were involved – the character of the individual concerned, the severity of the danger he faced, the situation of the British forces, whether his conduct was seen and recorded, and the interpretation of the criteria for making an award at the time.

This unconventional treatment of the Victoria Cross may be controversial, but it should stimulate a deeper understanding of the history of the medal and of the heroism of those to whom it has been awarded.

Vintage Airfix Review:

It might be “controversial” to some and I don’t think those people would appreciate this book. But for anyone with a passing interest in military history, or even curious as to the deeds that have been done to be put forward for the VC, will enjoy this book. I did.

There are many quoted citations from the early days of the award, through WWI and WWII. At the end of the book is a full list of recipients up to 2018.

It's a fascinating and thought provoking work.

 

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US Cold War Tanks and Armoured Fighting Vehicles

By Michael Green

US Cold War Tanks and Armoured Fighting VehiclesDescription:

To counter the Soviet threat and that of their client States during the Cold War years 1949-1991, the American military deployed an impressive range of main battle tanks (MBTs) and armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs).

The Patton series of medium MBTs (including the M46, M47 and M48) supplemented by the M103s Heavy Tank initially formed the core of the US tank fleet. In 1960 the M60 MBT with its British designed 105mm gun entered service and, in turn, was replaced by the M1 Abrams in 1980.

In support were armoured reconnaissance vehicles, progressively the M41 bull dog (1951); the M114 (1961), the M551 Sheridan (1967) and M3 Bradley Cavalry Fighting Vehicle (1981).

The armoured personnel carrier (APC) range included the ubiquitous M113 and its replacement the M2 Bradley, cousin of the M3.

Expert author Michael Green covers all these vehicles and their variants in this informative and superbly illustrated Images of War series work.

Vintage Airfix Review:

As with all the Images of War series, this one is well written, beautifully presented and there are lots of great images which makes it a must have reference book for scale modellers of Cold War machinery.

The information that Michael Green gives us is short and sweet on each Tank and AFV but it’s enough, I thought. If I was concentrating on a specific model, I would definitely use this book along with other, more detailed, reference books.

 

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Wargames Terrain and Buildings: The Napoleonic Wars

By Tony Harwood

Wargames Terrain and Buildings: The Napoleonic WarsDescription:

Any miniature wargame is greatly enhanced by realistic and evocative scenery and buildings, but commercial ready-made pieces can be expensive. Building your own can be a cost-effective and very rewarding alternative, another hobby in itself, but it can be hard to know where to start. Wargames Terrain and Buildings is a series of books aimed at giving wargamers the skills, techniques and guidance they need to create their own stunning and practical model buildings.

In this volume, master modeller Tony Hardwood shares his years of experience and presents the reader with a wide range of projects for the Napoleonic era. With the aid of step-by-step photographs, he guides the reader through building and finishing each of these models, which are organized in three sections of increasing complexity and encompass a range of scales and different materials. Nine projects are included but the techniques and skills demonstrated along the way, along with valuable advice on tools, construction materials and paints, can be adapted and applied to a much wider range of structures to grace your battlefields.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Having been purely a kit modeller for many years, scratch building has always been a dark art to me. I mean, making something so detailed out of cupboard, glue and pixies dust must be some kind of witchcraft... right!

Well, I am pleased to say that I now understand the art, the techniques, the skill needed and the joy of the build. This is all down to this little masterpiece. Although it’s aimed at building the terrain and buildings for wargamers, all the techniques learnt can be transferred to a unique diorama.

All in all, a superb book that will end up being well used, thank you Tony.

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