Welcome to the August edition of our newsletter and greetings from Corpus Christi, Texas, where my colleagues and I are passing through on our way to San Marcos for the traditional summer IPMS USA Nats. We will be in Texas for two weeks, after the Nats we will move north to Dallas where our main goal is to study three P-40 Warhawks. We want to check some details and shapes and possibly scan some sections, so we’re bringing along our trusted chief designer Stan Archman and his amazing scanner, which already afforded us a few rather interesting situations at the beginning of our journey. And we haven't even scanned the tip of the spinner yet! We don’t really need much; basically, we have the bulk of the thing ready. We just want to make sure we don't have a design flaw and also see the plane in person to develop a proper personal feel for it, you understand.
In the morning we will view the USS Lexington and we’ll move on from there. And time is running out, so we won't waste any of it and go straight to the presentation of our new releases for August. For many of you this will be a bit of a bummer because we've actually been selling them for a few days now and many of you already have them. So, I’ll at least give you some background information that might interest you.
In the Limited Edition line, we have an item called “Wilder Cat”, in which you’ll find an FM-2 Wildcat kit, a modernized and powerful version of the Wildcat, built by the Eastern Aircraft Division factory, a branch of General Motors. Compared to Wildcats built by Grumman, it had a number of changes, mainly a more powerful engine, a nine-cylinder Wright R-1820-56/56W with a power rating of 1350 hp, which means a changes on the nose section, and at the rear, featured a higher vertical fin and rudder. There are also changes to the wing and other parts of the aircraft, and you’ll find mention of this in other sections further down in this newsletter. Ten marking options are offered, one of which is British. The FM-2 served in the Royal Navy as the Wildcat Mk.VI, and this version set it apart from others through its relatively extensive service outside of the Pacific, i.e. the Atlantic. This brings about an expansion of color variants, since in the Atlantic, Wildcats were not blue as in the Pacific. The FM-2 has also not been actively paid attention to by other manufacturers in 1/48th (with just one exception). On the other hand, I am concerned about the extent to which the technical and operational history of this interesting aircraft is known to modelers. For the most part, retailers do not seem to have an extensive knowledge of the type, frankly.
Some debate has been stimulated by the fact that this Limited Edition kit is not released as a Dual Combo boxing, but is a single kit with one set of plastic in the package. We decided on this version because we don't want to force customers to buy a relatively expensive kit with two sets of moldings. To the contrary, we have put the range of color versions available to ten aircraft; the decals are then designed in such a way that the stencil data and national markings cover two complete models. So if someone wants to build two FM-2 Wildcats, they can obtain the Overtrees components and basically create a Dual Combo boxing from the kit for very reasonable money. Deciding which way to go and how many Wildcats you realistically want, or even need, is up to you! In the future, the key to deciding whether a Limited Edition kit will be released as a Dual Combo or a classic single kit will be the technical make-up of the kit. If it contains two technically different sub variants of a given type, the kit will be a Dual Combo, as for example in Wunderschöne neue Maschinen, where there are a Bf 109 F-2 and an F-4, and there are two different sprues with fuselages and wings. The next WnM edition, dedicated to the Bf 109 G-2 and G-4, will also be a Dual Combo, although the sprues will be identical, there will again be technical differences, this time more or less only in the wing. In the end, all the Limited Edition kits covering the Bf 109F/G/K series will be Dual Comb kits, not only those covering a specific type, but also the kits whose concept runs more along the lines of a theme, such as the 1/72nd scale Africa, Barbarossa or Wilde Sau concepts. Frankly, in these cases there is a risk of even more extensive sets. Among the other Limited Editions being prepared, we have the Dual Combo kit of the L-39 Albatros, which will be presented in a renewed premiere at E-day with a new canopy, as well as another 1/48th scale Zero, this time the A6M5/5a Zero Model 52. There is also a difference in the wing here. The following Dual Combo will be the “Mezek”, which as most of you will know, is the S-199. Here, it is clear that there are different fuselages, and later, the P-51B/C, where it’s also about fuselages. Single kit Limited Edition kits will then continue to be all repackaged kits, which will apply to the Su-25K in the near future. It has always been that way with these items and it will continue that way. From our own production, the closest to becoming a reality is the Kurfürst, Bf 109 K-4, where there will be nine marking options, but technically all the machines will be the same. Well … not completely, but for taller rudders and tailwheel variations, we don’t need to include two sets of moldings. This is just a typical example of a kit, where Overtrees will solve the possible desire or need of the modeler to build more than one model.
The second August Limited Edition item, dubbed “Zipper”, a 1:48th scale F-104C from the Vietnam War, is also designed as a single kit. The plastic this time, unlike our previous Starfighters, come from Kinetic, and in addition to the standard photoetching and masks, it also includes resin parts, and offers up seven marking options that focus on the 479th and 8th TFW aircraft, operating in the Vietnam in the 1960s.
Our series of 1:72nd scale ProfiPACK kits dedicated to the many countless versions of the Bf 109 F, G and K begins in August with the Bf 109 F-4. If you are left with the impression that we forgot about the Bf 109 F-2, don’t worry, we didn’t. September will tell. The first reviews of the new 109s have already appeared, mostly positive, which makes us happy. However, some criticisms also emerged from them. For example, the need to repair a small step between the vertical tail surface and its transition to the fuselage. There, after gluing the fuselage and fin assemblies together, which must be glued there before the fuselage is closed up, a small step is created. Please note that contrary to how this has been widely reported, this is in fact supposed to be there and is not a mistake. We modeled it rather painstakingly and carefully watched over the mold making to make sure it was there. On the real plane, there was a cover plate in this section, which passed into the keel in the form of just such a step. So please don’t fix it, no matter how tempting it is!
With respect to 1/72nd scale ProfiPACK kits, the MiG-21MF is back on sale in the fighter-bomber version. In the Weekend line, we have the A6M3 Zero Model 32, also known under the Allied code name Hamp. I have a personal connection to this kit because this time last year we had a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with one of the Hamps undergoing extensive restoration in Lafayette, Louisiana. At the time, we had no idea that it was an even more interesting machine than we thought, nor that this very machine would be included in the color options of one of our kits. The unexpected has become reality, and the Lafayette Hamp is actually, in two of its development guises, included in the new Weekend release, in addition to the very special insignia featuring the red Hinomaru in a white square. This is also why this Zero is interesting, and that’s why it was worth breaking tradition and adding five marking options to this Weekend release
As usual, there are dozens of accessory items available in the new item listing. I will mention only a few that I think would grab my attention, such as the F-35B 1/48th RAM Panel masks for the Italeri kit. We have recently started to deal more with these masks for surface areas and high-quality markings, because spraying them has become an increasingly popular modeling technique. Of course, classic canopy masks are also on the list. In the LööK line, I would like to point out the A-20G Havoc 1:32nd set for the HKM kit. In the SPACE line, we have, among other things, the Bf 110 G-4 and FM-2 sets for the Eduard kits, and the A-10C from Academy, all in 1:48th scale.
In the Brassin department, we have sets designed for our own August releases such as bronze landing gear legs, exhausts and aileron mass balance weights for the Bf 109F in 1:72nd. We have several sets for the 48th FM-2, and these include a cockpit, bronze landing gear legs, a wing fold and several smaller sets, and for the F-104C, an exhaust nozzle and speedbrakes. For the 1:48th scale Bf 109F we have a newly designed 3D printed cockpit, in this case with an older version of the seat, that was the same as that found in the Bf 109E. A number of the types mentioned are also covered in photoetching, but again, you can find much more on that by reading further on down through this newsletter.
It is clear to me that the most popular part of any of our monthly newsletters are the historical and technical articles. As I already indicated above, the Wildcat, in its FM-2 version, was a uniquely interesting aircraft, and we would like to coax modelers who have neglected this “Wilder Cat” to draw the same conclusion. For this reason, there are two articles this month focused on the topic of the FM-2. The first one was written for us by the renowned American author Thomas McKelvey Cleaver, who describes probably the most interesting, intensive and successful deployment of these aircraft. This was in the Battle of Samar Island, referred to by historians as “The US Navy’s Finest Hour”. Given that a large Japanese group led by Admiral Kurita aboard the gigantic battleship Yamato, with two other battleships, eight cruisers, and eleven destroyers in tow, was driven off the island by a few destroyers and escort carriers, this is probably not an overstatement. The second article was written by Richard Plos, and it is focused on the creation of the FM-2 and its technical differences compared to the preceding F4F-4 and, by extension, the FM-1. Miro Barič’s miniseries about the search for lost ships ends with the fourth volume in this edition. Here the topics crossed a bit. He also mentions, among other things, the Battle of Samar and the survey of wrecks connected to it. The series about the air battles over Ukraine by the same author continues with its seventeenth edition. In this case, unfortunately, the ending of the series is neither in the author’s nor our hands ... The section of historical articles is rounded out by Boxart Story, a series of short articles that describe the historically real events depicted on our boxarts. The Bf 109 F-4 and A6M3 Zero Type 32 topics were taken up by Jan Bobek and the third was added by Richard Plos. This is an article relevant to our reissue of the MiG-21MF, the box art of which depicts a future Vietnamese astronaut shooting down an American B-52. Or maybe not …
In closing, Wednesday marks the start of the IPMS USA National Convention, this year in San Marcos, Texas. As every year, we organize an Internet Afterparty to go with it, this year it started already on the weekend that has just passed. As you may have guessed, my colleagues and I are heading to San Marcos. I am finishing this introduction with sweat running down my face during this leg of the trip, and I will finish it off in Corpus Christi, a few hundred meters from the USS Lexington, which is moored here as a museum piece. Just note that writing an intro to the newsletter on the road is always hell, and if I have forgotten anything important, I am certain that you will find in the flowing pages!