Big Cat Early Turret

Turret for Pz VI Tiger I (H) and (P) initial « low » turret

OKB Grigorov 1/72, Ref. B72018

During 1939, Dr Porsche was tasked with the development of a 25 to 30 tons Schwere Panzer armed with the 7.5 cm Kw. K. L/24 gun; this requirement was later changed to the 8.8 cm Kw. K. L/56 mounted on a Krupp-designed turret.  The turret was built in a horse-shoe shape, in an asymmetric way (with the right side being 110 mm shorter than the left side), protected by a cast gun mantlet.  The first eight turrets featured a low profile and a flat roof with, in the middle, a raised section that allowed the gun to be depressed further.  Armour thickness was 80 mm for the turret and 25 mm for the turret roof. This turret is the subject of this OKB Grigorov release.

In 1941, Krupp was ready to complete six turrets that were meant for the Typ 100 armor hull (note that the designation ‘Typ 100’ evolved in time to ‘VK 30.01 (P)’ – OKB Grigorov reference 72080 -, then to ‘Pz. Kpfw. VI (Porsche)’, ‘Pz. Kpfw.Typ 100’, and finally ‘Pz.Kpfw. Leopard’).  However, it seems that only a single Porsche Typ 100 was ever completed with a wooden mockup of Krupp’s turret before the program was stopped with the introduction of the Typ 101 hull.  Similarly and just for the fun, the designation ‘Typ 101’ also changed over time: ‘VK 45.01 (P) Tiger’, ‘Pz.Kpfw. VI VK 45.01 (P)’, ‘Typ 101’ and finally ‘Pz Kpfw. VI P (Sd. Kfz.181)’ (see the bibliographical reference).

Nevertheless, in April 1942, the first Pz.Kpfw. VI VK 45.01 (P) was mated with the Krupp’s turret Nr. 1 equipped with a 8.8 cm KW.K. L/56 placed forward on the hull chassis.  A particularity of this first horse-shoe shaped turret was an opened cupola hatch lid lying flat on a short support while later turrets had the cupola lid held by a rest lock at an angle (as on the future turret of the Tiger I (H)).   In 1942, a Pz.Kpfw IV storage box (or Gepaeckkasten) was mounted on the rear of the  turret rear of the first vehicle.  This is not present in this OKB Grigorov reference but can easily be found in the spare parts box or other kits.  In May 1942, a new higher profile turret was introduced (from Nr 9 & 10) but wasn’t mated to the Pz.Kpfw. VI VK 45.01 (P) chassis until August 1942.  Those turrets were finally mated to the VK 45.01 (H), the future Tiger I (H) following the official end of the Pzkpfw VI P programme in November 1942.

Taking into account of all these information, the turret provided in this set is that of the initial series of eight Krupp turrets with low roof, a raised section in the middle and meant for the Pz.Kpfw. VI VK 45.01 (P) chassis.  I found no indication that these turrets were fitted on the VK 45.01 (H) or on the subsequent Henschel Tiger I hulls.  No indication either that these turrets were meant for the initial design of the VK 30.01 (P) hull, but who knows?  The Pz.Kpfw. VI VK 45.01 (P) chassis from the Dragon kit 7209 – SdKfz. 181 Pz. VI (P) will be a good choice for an adequate hull.

Anyway, this OKB Grigorov new release is made up of 11 resin parts and 9 metal parts, all of a high quality and showing a great deal of details, along with the fineness that OKB Grigorov have accustomed us with.

The two pictures below show the neat details of the cupola, the lid cupola and the two parts of the loader’s hatch.

As can be seen here, a nice metal barrel is also provided:

However, there are no instructions provided and this would be my only grippe with this offering as some location points of some of the smallest PE parts are difficult to guess.  In this I was helped with the instructions included in the OKB Grigorov German Heavy Tank VK. 3001 (P) – reference 72080 -.

This turret is certainly of great interest as it provides the opportunity to build the original models that were produced in very small numbers.  Great drawings and photos of various Pz.Kpfw. VI VK 45.01 (P) can be found in the following reference book:  Panzerkampfwagen VI P (Sd.Kfz.181). The history of the Porsche Typ 100 and 101 also known as the Leopard and Tiger (P). (Thomas L. Jentz and Hilary L. Doyle; Panzer Tracts).

Review & pictures by Jean-Paul Oudinet.

Desert Storm Birds with a Difference

Desert Raiders, Part.2

Paulus Victor 1/144, Ref. PV-002-144

This recent PaulusVictor release takes us back to 1991 and Operation Desert Storm and in particular to little-known anecdotes and facts about this conflict. 

Markings are provided for a F-15E Strike Eagle that managed to shoot down an Iraqi Hind helicopter with a laser-guided bomb.  Yes, you read that well, ‘shoot down’, not just ‘destroy on the ground’.  Apart from listing and pointing out details about F-15Es that should or should not be on your Strike Eagle for that particular time period, the instruction sheet includes a number of internet links that will give you a lot more info about this curious strike, and F-15s in general.  Book references are also added for good measure.  

The second subject of this Desert Raider Part.2 sheet is a F-16C that sported some rare and temporary artwork (since permanent artwork was not allowed) made with grease pencils.  This particular F-16C was thus called ‘Wild Child’ and flew 43 missions during Desert Storm.

As is usual with PaulusVictor, this product not only contains a lot of info about the selected two aircraft, but offers colour (with FS colour codes) 4-view illustrations for correct placement of the markings (that include a generous amount of stencils), advice on decaling and weathering and a 30th Operation Desert Storm Anniversary sticker that could come handy for a display base.

The decal sheet itself is small (remember, we talk ‘1/144’ here!) but as mentioned before contains everything needed to complete the two aircraft to a very high standard.  The markings are well printed, thin (important in this scale!) and react well with solvents.

This particular sheet is the second in (at time of writing) a series of three ‘Desert Raiders’ decal sheet, series that also includes markings for ‘sticking out of the lot’ A-10A and F-16C (Part.1) and F/A-18C and A-6E (Part.3) Desert Storm birds.

Another masterful stroke by PaulusVictor, superb product in a very professional and useful packaging, and originality on top.

Review and pictures by Domi Jadoul.

Too Innovative Soviet Armour

Soviet Medium Tank T-43 mod.1943

OKB Grigorov 1/72, Ref. 72095

Designed from 1942 as a successor to the KV-1 and T-34(/76), the T-43 introduced amongst other things better armour, a larger three-man turret and a torsion beam suspension.  Meant to be superior, in terms of mobility and protection, to the newly introduced 75mm KwK 40 gun-armed German tanks, the T-43, equipped with the 76,2mm main armament of its ancestors, simply lacked the punch needed to overcome its future opponents.  Its turret, however, was able to house a bigger 85mm gun and instead of causing confusion and delays by introducing a whole new tank design, the decision was taken to mate the larger turret onto the proven T-34 chassis, giving us the famed T-34/85.

This 1/72 kit proposed by OKB Grigorov comes into their typical small but robust cardboard box and features 125 parts of which 33 are photo-etched ones.  Many of those PE parts are tiny and could prove to be tricky to use for many modellers, but greatly improve the final look and ‘finesse’ of the model. 

Options include the initial 76,2 gun (turned metal) and the 85 (resin), each with its respective mantlet of course, as well as a hollow turret and separate cupola and turret hatches.  Tracks are provided as long resin sections that will need to be bent to match the idlers and drive sprockets, as well as for representing the sag of the upper portions.  The quality of the resin casting is excellent, with just a tad of flash to remove here or there.  An instruction sheet is provided. 

This looks like an excellent representation of this Soviet tank and should not prove to be too difficult to those modellers with a little bit of previous experience with resin kits (resin tracks in particular!).

Review & pictures by Domi Jadoul.

The MPA Strikes Again!

Pictorial Story of the 106 Mirage M5 B of the Belgian Air Force

In 2008, a small publication about the Belgian Mirage 5B is released by the MPA (Mirage 5 Pilot Association) ; it tells, in the French and Dutch languages, the beginnings of a long love story between the Belgian air force and the delta from Dassault: procurement, pilots formation in France, re-birth of the 8th Sqn, first flights over Belgium,..

The association eventually published, in 2018, a ‘Bible’ of almost 450 pages dedicated to ‘The Unique Story of the Mirage M5B in the Belgian Air Force’.  Contributions from many civilian and military sources made this publication a real ‘must’ for anyone interested in the Dassault delta-winged fighter.  And yet as big and comprehensive this Bible was, the MPA still had a few cards up their sleeve…

And thus, early this year, as we all try to cope with the Covid crisis, comes a very welcome surprise, another big volume (322 pages) filled with numerous, most never-published before, pictures of each of the 106 Mirage 5 of the Belgian air force.  Some pictures also show the Elkan variant sold to Chile.  Small English captions accompany the pictures and each aircraft also benefit from a superb colour profile drawn by Johan Wolfs. Both type of camouflage sported by the Belgian Mirages are illustrated, as are some bare metal birds.  A book of few words but a real treat for the eyes!

This third ‘must-have’ book for the fans of the Belgian delta can now be ordered from  Info about postage can be obtained there too.  Don’t delay your purchase too long as this is, as is usual with the MPA publications, a limited edition print.

Review by Michel Willot; pictures by MPA and Michel Willot.

Would-be Tank Hunters

Soviet self-propelled anti-tank gun SU-101/102, late configuration

OKB Grigorov 1/72, Ref. 72081

The Uralmash-1 was a self-propelled anti-tank weapon developed during the later part of World War II, with the chassis of the T-44 as a base and meant to replace the SU-100 that had just entered service in the Soviet army.  Two prototypes, with different armament were built in early 1945, one with the 100 mm D-10 tank gun (SU-101), the other with the 122 mm D-25S tank gun (SU-102). While mass production was initially recommended, the end of the war with Germany in May 1945 eventually caused the project to be cancelled.   

OKB Grigorov has released, not that long ago, the Uralmash-1 in its two configurations.  No less than 111 resin parts are offered, some very small and delicate, along with 87 photo-etched parts and a small instruction sheet. 

As can be seen, the hull is in two parts and as is usual with this Bulgarian artisan, the tracks are made of long flat sections, parts of which will need careful bending (under warm water for instance) to fit around the wheels.  This is certainly a tricky part of the build but, in my opinion, a better alternative than photo-etched tracks.  The other resin parts include the two type of guns, wheels, fuel tanks, etc, while the photo-etched parts, on three individual frets, represent the parts that would be too small or too thin to be made from resin.  Some of the PE parts do require folding. 

There are no decal sheet but that does not seem to be an issue here, the rare pictures available of the two vehicles do not show any markings.   

This really is a great-looking kit, certainly not recommended for a newcomer in the hobby but that an experienced modeller can turn into a little jewel.

Review by Daniel Clamot; pictures by Daniel Clamot & OKB Grigorov


Last Chance Warriors

Volkssturm. Berlin 1945

Zvezda 1/72, Ref. 6272

The Russian company that we know for their excellent aircraft and armour scale model kits have been also very busy releasing numerous board games and wargames for different markets. The wargaming community can thus take advantage of Zvezda’s wide range of 1/100 and 1/72 aircraft, helicopters, AFVs, softskins and figure sets to furnish their table top reconstitutions and campaigns.

The 1/72 figure sets range is increasing in size at a rapid rate, and the latest released set, ‘Volkssturm. Berlin 1945’ is a mini set of 5 figures (two of them being identical), primarily aimed at the Art of Tactic wargame, could and should interest the ‘static’ scale modeller in search of good quality figures to ‘furnish’ their latest small scale armour diorama.

The figures are molded in hard plastic, in this case each made up of two or three parts; they feature good details, the faces, hands and weapons being particularly well rendered. The included individual sandbags are a bit stiff but that’s not a very big issue. The set includes small bases, either for individual figures or the complete set, if anything handy for holding on to while painting the figures! This set is also interesting because four of the the figures are in ‘non-firing’ poses that make them particularly suitable for most dioramas (the fifth could easily be modified for that purpose).

We would certainly advise all ‘braille scale’ WW2 and modern AFVs (in particular!) modellers to have a better look at Zvezda’s catalogue, it includes some very interesting sets (some counting as many as 25 figures) such as Romanian infantry, Soviet militia, Soviet Snipers,…

Review by Domi Jadoul; pictures by Zvezda and Domi Jadoul.

Museum News

Brussels Air Museum Magazine Issue 189

The ‘Friends of the Air & Space Museum’, or AELR is a Belgian non-profit organisation that, amongst other things, is dedicated to the restoration of the aircraft of the Brussels Museum; the Brussels Air Museum Magazine is their quarterly publication.

Each issue of the magazine is filled with information and updates about the current restoration projects, about flying machines designed or operated in Belgium and about aircraft and spacecraft in general.

This latest issue features the following subjects:

  • The restoration of the Museum’s LVG C.VI ;
  • Moon conquest ;
  • The SABCA-Avro 504N ;
  • The Junkers F.13 ;
  • The Stampe SV4C ;
  • And the latest news about the Museum and the association.

All over 32 pages, not counting the cover pages. The magazine is bilingual, French and Dutch.  The articles are very interesting, well-researched and often illustrated with never published before pictures, most coming from the Museum’s own library.

The magazine is published for the benefit of the AELR members; the yearly membership fee for Belgian residents varies between 10 euros for Juniors to 30 or 40 euros for adult members (depending on the level of support and advantages one wants to give and get) and is set at 35 euros for members living abroad. 

For those of you interested in becoming a member of this association, here is the contact e-mail:

Review & pictures by Daniel Clamot.

More British Heavy Armour

British Nuffield Assault Tank A.T.9

OKB Grigorov 1/72, Ref. 72095

OKB Grigorov are intent on providing us with the 18 Nuffield Mechanizations and Aero Limited proposals for a ‘heavy’cruiser tank to replace their own Cruiser Mk.IV back in the late 1930s.  This is the sixth variant thus kitted here in 1/72 by the prolific Bulgarian artisan, simply known as ‘A.T.9’.  For info, only one of those 18 variants, the A.T.16, would see, after further modifications, the light of day as the A39 Tortoise.

This A.T.9 kit is made up of 76 resin and a further 13 photo-etched parts, a simple but adequate instruction sheet contained in the usual sturdy cardboard box.  All barrels are resin, not turned metal.  The level of detailing is very good on the resin bits, some might regret the closed off hatches on the hull and turret.  Tracks are as usual supplied in long resin sections that will require careful bending around the wheels.  The PE parts are there to grace the mudguards and protect the headlights.

All in all, this is quite an interesting design, with at touch of ‘tank prehistory’ with the main armament projecting from the side of the hull and a turret with a smaller calibre weapon, and yet for that time period some futuristic touches such as the small MG mini-turret protecting the rear of the vehicle.

Apart from its historical significance (or lack of, depending on how you might see things!) as part of a family of design that lead to the very limited production of the heaviest British assault tank of WW2, this model would certainly feel at ease in any ‘what if’ or ‘fantasy’ diorama.

Review & pictures by Domi Jadoul

Kamazing Typhoon!

Russian Armored Vehicle Typhoon-K

Zvezda 1/35, Ref. 3701

‘Typhoon’ is a family of modern Russian mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) armoured vehicles developed from a common engine, suspension, protection and control systems.  Two, three and four axle vehicles are part of this family.  Over 100 companies are involved in the programme.

The Kamaz Typhoon-K that particularly interests us here is a large 6×6 APC designed for carrying up to 16 soldiers.  Introduced in 2015 in the Russian army, about 315 Typhoon-K are thought to be in service today with Russia’ special forces and military police, some of which were spotted in Syria as early as 2017.

Zvezda’s kit comes in a usual sturdy brown cardboard box and a full-colour attractive sleeve containing a lot of plastic, 372 separate parts moulded in grey and clear plastic and black rubber. Also included is some plastic mesh, silver stickers (for the mirrors), a decal sheet, a full-colour painting/decaling guide and a black & white building instruction booklet.

This is a large model, 22,7cm long when completed.  Allowed ‘out of the box’ options include open or closed rear hatch/door, open or closed roof hatches and open or closed cab doors, and three sets of markings for either a vehicle of the Russian Federation armed forces group in Syria (2017), one very similar belonging to the Far Eastern Military District (2018) and a slightly more colourful vehicle of the Russian special forces brigade, also in the Far East (2017).  

The chassis looks at first glance a little complicated to build, but with a bit of care and patience, it can surely offer a lot to those wanting more dynamic poses for their dioramas.   

With all those hatches and doors that can be left open, it’s good to see Zvezda have included a lot of parts to furnish the cab and rear cabin.  Templates are also given to cut the mesh so that it can cover up the various air intakes and exhaust grilles on the top of the hull.

The rubber tyres are very neat but, in my eyes, remain the weakest point of this pretty amazing kit: Weighting them down will be difficult to achieve.    

Review by Domi Jadoul; pictures by Zvezda & Domi Jadoul.

Sleek New Airbus

Airbus A320neo Civil Airliner

Zvezda 1/144, Ref. 7037

The Airbus A319/320/321neo are part of a ‘second generation’ family of airliners built upon the successful ‘A319/A320/A321’ family designed during the latter part of the past century.  The more modern design first flew in 2014 and entered service with Lufthansa in early 2016 and, with over 7,000 aircraft ordered by more than 100 airlines, is so far the fastest-selling commercial aircraft ever designed.  The most important change from the earlier generation A320s is the provision of newer, larger, more powerful and more economical engines, and to less-attentive eyes, the addition of prominent ‘sharlets’ at the tip of the wings, also meant to improve the economics of the design.  Of course, the sharlets are being retrofitted to earlier models and this means we are back to the larger engines of the new gen aircraft as main distinguishing feature!  For your info, ‘neo’ stands for ‘new engine option’; the older design is now referred to as ‘ceo’, for ‘current engine option’.

Zvezda have over the past few years forever changed the way we look at those 1/144 airliners.  Theirs are truly superb scale replicas and they keep getting better and better!  This new release is the ‘basic’ variant of the new Airbus family, the A320neo. 

136 parts moulded in medium grey plastic, featuring restrained engraving throughout, 13 incredibly thin and transparent clear parts, well defined and printed decals and clear instructions, all for a very considerate price, we have by the looks of it yet another masterpiece from the Russian manufacturer.

Sure, some may prefer their airliners ‘windowless’, but if one does not fancy using the provided window strips, nor filling in the many holes with putty, the super thin plastic around the side windows will be perfect for the use of Clearfix (or any similar product).

But above all, consider the other features and options of this kit: landing gear in or out (a sturdy display stand is included!), leading edge slats in or out, flaps in or out, detailed cockpit and entry ‘hall’ (with separate main entry/exit door), superbly designed CFM engines, each with two separate compressor fans and separate intake lip (easing the painting of this item!); only the use of slide-molds could have done a better job as the engine inlets are still made of of two parts that may require a bit of putty to see joints eliminated (although said inlets are separate from the external ‘skin’ of the engine cowls and will therefore still be easy to turn into ‘seamless’ suckers!).

The decals provided by this boxing are for a single rather sleek-looking SAS A320neo, and includes silver-printed billboard-style titles for the front fuselage, the ‘coroguard’ wing panels and countless of ‘stencils’, the placement of which is shown in the accompanying full-colour ‘livery’. 

The main instruction sheet is ‘only’ black & white-printed.  Zvezda and Tamiya-equivalent colour references are given in the instructions.   

This looks like a cracking kit.  No doubt other liveries will be released in time by Zvezda, but aftermarket decal manufacturers are already hard at work and many options are already available from several sources.

Review by Domi Jadoul; pictures by Zvezda & Domi Jadoul.

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