I built a factory diorama for my T-47 Sheridan walking tank a few weeks ago. Of course, as the style of the build is alternate WWII, the workers in the factory are all female. As it’s Labor Day here in the US, it seemed like the perfect day to post this diorama, and celebrate the achievements of the American worker.
Proving that a LEGO model doesn’t have to be a spaceship in order to be totally swooshable, Dutch builder Red Spacecat has created the AV-24B Seahawk, an imaginary modern military VTOL gunship inspired by the AV-8B Harrier II jump-jet and AH-64 Apache helicopter.
As well as featuring the usual elegant lines and stud-free surfaces of his other builds, this one is also fully configurable and comes with all manner of interchangeable armaments, making for one fun toy!
And the attention to detail with stickering practically borders on the obsessive! It’s enough to make the model airplane builder in me salivate…
(FLAVIO) has been building a series of characters/vehicles using the old hockey big-fig helmets. He calls them Wiffys, and this is the first I’ve spotted. It certainly won’t be the last, though, as these are adorable. The Metal Slug vibe reads perfectly for this one, and I especially like the “tiptoe” pose.
The Vertibird is one of the more recognizable pieces of industrial design from the Fallout universe (and practically the only aircraft in the games). Justin Stebbins (Saber-Scorpion) has done a great job of capturing the shape of the original. While a trans blue cockpit may not match the appearance in the game, it matches the shape well, and still feels right.
A few months ago Kenneth Vaessen unveiled his 1/36 scale model of a Russian Tu-22M3. The reason why I didn’t blog it back then is that his pictures were taken against a fairly dark background. However, he has now posted this newly edited version.
The Tu-22M3, named the Backfire-C by NATO, is a supersonic bomber developed in Soviet times. The Russian military went through rough times after the collapse of the Soviet Union and its Backfires are getting long in the tooth, but they are still impressive-looking machines. Kenneth has done a fine job recreating the sleek look. His model is 1.17 m long (almost 4 ft), is beautifully shaped and has many working features such as working variable geometry wings, a retractable undercarriage, opening cockpit canopies and an internal weapons bay. There don’t seem to be all that many LEGO builders willing to tackle scale models of military aircraft, certainly not compared to, say, Star Wars models or mecha, so it is always a great pleasure to welcome a new member to the flock, certainly one who produces models this good.
Ever wondered what a steampunk SWAT team bust would look like? Well, I think it might look a little something like this charmingly titled diorama by Logan (captaininfinity), “The Grand Arrest of Professor Filius Bertram.” It’s not every day we get a cool steampunk diorama that includes an airship, a tank, and a legged vehicle, all of which come together with the help of copious quantities of earth-toned elements.
Today marks the 100th anniversary of Germany’s declaration of war against France, drawing two of Europe’s largest nations into what would later be known as World War I. The “Great War” introduced numerous new and deadly military technologies, from fighter planes to tanks.
Talented Polish builder Ciamosław Ciamek (PigletCiamek) has built a triptych of highly detailed dioramas depicting three phases of World War I.
The first diorama, titled “Enthusiasm,” shows French citizens volunteering as the patriotic population admires the soldiers marching off to the front in 1914.
The second scene, titled “Awe”, illustrates the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917, in which hundreds of thousands of men died.
Finally, Ciamek’s third diorama, titled “Glory”, shows the moment when German fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen (the “Red Baron”) was shot down in his famous red tri-plane in 1918.
During WW2, the Grumman Corporation was the main builder of fighter aircraft for the United States Navy. At the start of the war, they built the classic F4F Wildcat. This was only the second US Navy fighter with then novel features such as a fully enclosed cockpit and a retractable undercarriage, but it was outperformed by the Japanese Navy’s A6M Zero. To counter this threat, the Wildcat was followed by the larger and more powerful F6F Hellcat.
Sydag has now built the ultimate Grumman prop fighter: the F8F Bearcat. For this Grumman fitted the Hellcat’s R2800 Double Wasp engine to a much lighter and smaller airframe. The result was a bit of a hot rod, with far superior performance. The aircraft also incorporated a bubble canopy, greatly improving the pilot’s view to the rear. Bearcats entered service too late to see combat in WW2 and, with the advent of jet aircraft, they were transferred to the US Navy Reserve, where they received the orange fuselage stripe visible on Sydag’s model. The aircraft were retired from US service in the fifties, but their performance made them an attractive choice for air racing and Rare Bear, a much-modified Bearcat, still holds several world records for propeller-powered aircraft. I obviously like the aircraft, but I like how it is presented even more, with part of a hangar as the backdrop and surrounded by maintenance equipment and aircraft parts, including a spare engine. The classic hot rod (the kind with wheels) is the proverbial cherry on top.
Despite my stated fascination with Stalingrad, it does occasionally feel unfortunate that I find myself building what amounts to Stalin’s war machine. I took a break over the weekend to build some military models with slightly less moral ambiguity, inspired by the Republican forces who fought a losing battle against Fascism in the Spanish Civil War.
In 1936, Fascist elements within the Spanish military launched a coup d’etat against the democratically elected Second Spanish Republic. Supported by Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy, Generalissimo Franco’s “Nationalist” forces quickly gained the upper hand, and Spain soon became a field experiment for the weapons and tactics that would be used shortly afterward in World War II. For example, the German and Italian air forces destroyed the town of Guernica, an atrocity memorialized in the famous painting by Pablo Picasso. Everyday people from across the world flocked to join the Republican cause, including thousands of American and British volunteers, who formed part of the “International Brigades.” George Orwell fought alongside Republican forces (which inspired Homage to Catalonia), and Ernest Hemingway was embedded with Republican troops as a journalist (which inspired For Whom the Bell Tolls).
The base of support for the Second Spanish Republic’s secular, egalitarian platform rested among socialists and trade union members, including many communists (back before communism as an ideology was the exclusive province of authoritarian regimes). As a result, only Stalin’s USSR rushed to the aid of the Republicans, sending arms and armor such as the Soviet BT-5 tank and BA-6 armored car that I’ve built here from LEGO.
My BT-5 is based on my own BT-7, as I mentioned yesterday, but the BA-6 proved a bit of a challenge. The angular hood and rear hull both required some half-stud offset and SNOT (Studs Not on Top) construction, including the two middle axles, built onto the chassis with jumper plates. The turret turns, the gun elevates, and both side doors open.
Its plight ignored by all but Mexico and the Soviet Union, the Second Spanish Republic fell to Franco and his Fascist forces in 1939, on the eve of World War II. Franco remained ostensibly neutral during the war, and then became a key NATO ally during the Cold War. He ruled as an authoritarian dictator until his death in 1975. An estimated half a million people died during the Spanish Civil War, and mass executions continued long after the end of the civil war.
As I wrote in my post yesterday about Stalingrad, using LEGO to recreate historical people, places, and even equipment connects me to history in a tangible and meaningful way. My hope is that I’ve piqued your interest as well.
The Battle of Stalingrad continue to fascinate me. Stalingrad became a symbolic battle of the wills between two totalitarian dictators that manifested itself in devastating real-world consequences for over a million men and women who died on the front lines. For me, building LEGO models inspired by such a brutal battle isn’t about cool things that go “Boom!” Using LEGO to build vehicles, minifigs, and dioramas of historical events puts me in touch with aspects of history that I wouldn’t normally explore — I’m reading Antony Beevor’s excellent Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943 alongside my building process.
Back on the 71st anniversary of the end of the battle in February, I posted a small diorama titled Victory in Stalingrad, but didn’t post any of the actual vehicles or minifigs, since I was building toward a much larger diorama for BrickCon this October. I finally managed to take some pictures yesterday.
Not much has changed since February on my KV-1s Heavy Tank (“KV-1s” is the model of the tank, a faster and lighter variant with a lower turret), but I’ve removed the extra plate between the turret and the hull and added some ammunition crates on the rear deck.
The KV-2 Heavy Artillery Tank was based on the KV-1 chassis, so a LEGO KV-2 to follow my KV-1 was inevitable. The monstrous turret enabled me to build quite a bit more functionality into the KV-2, including a fully elevating gun, as well as hatches on the top and rear that both open.