As the grandson of an American World War II veteran who was born and raised in Japan, I have a rather complicated relationship with the Pacific War in World War II. From Nanjing to Bataan, there’s no denying the atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese military against both the peoples of fellow Asian nations as well as Allied prisoners of war, and yet I feel deep sympathy for the genuine suffering that the people of Japan experienced themselves — from the firebombing of my hometown Tokyo to burning Okinawan civilians alive as they hid in caves. The end of World War II could not come soon enough, and Japan’s surrender ensured that my GI grandfather did did not get shipped from Hawaii across the Pacific to participate in the invasion of the Japanese home islands.
To commemorate this important event 70 years ago today, Dan Siskind has built the American battleship USS Missouri, which was the venue in Tokyo Harbor for Japan’s surrender. At 26 feet long, Dan’s “Mighty Mo” is the largest LEGO warship ever made (four feet longer than Jumpei Mitsui’s Yamato).
This giant LEGO battleship dwarfs the room it’s currently housed in at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.
You can see more photos, including lots of work-in-progress shots, in Dan’s “USS Missouri Project” photoset on Flickr.
In the nick of time, a hero arose…and I’m not apologizing for the 1960s ear worm. Miro Dudas has given us what we never knew we needed: Snoopy in his warbird. The Sopwith Camel itself is fantastic, and the addition of Snoopy as pilot just tugs at nostalgia.
Dan Siskind has been designing a microscale USS Missouri, and he and his Brickmania crew have recently completed a full minifig-scale version that they’re hauling around the country to various events. I’m really looking forward to the micro-scale kit myself, but Eínon couldn’t wait, and built himself his own WW2-era “Mighty Mo.” It’s unusual to see ship models without a big block of bold red under the ship’s waterline. But the subtler dark blue with a range of gray hues suits the venerable and historic battleship — now a museum ship on display in Pearl Harbor, Hawai’i — rather nicely.
As fun as building something from your own imagination always is, recreating something from history can be particularly challenging. On top of creating a great-looking LEGO M4A2 Sherman tank from World War II at 1/18th scale, Tommy Styrvoky has added a mine flail, and then motorized the whole thing. Watch the video here to see it in action.
Tommy’s Sherman includes the following features, powered by LEGO Power Functions:
- Turret with full 360-degree traverse
- Elevating gun in turret
- Two-gear transmission with electronic braking
- Torsion bar suspension
- Elevating flail arms
- Spinning flail chains on drum
Julie Vandermeulen has recently completed a 1/38 scale model of HMCS Haida, the world’s last surviving Tribal class destroyer, which is currently a museum ship in Ontario. Its beautifully sculpted hull is an impressive 377 studs long and the model took 9 months to complete.
Between 1936 and the end of WW2 a grand total of 27 Tribal class ships were built for the Royal Australian Navy, Royal Canadian Navy and (British) Royal Navy. Many of these ships fought with distinction. In British service, in particular, they were used in a number of high-risk operations and consequently sustained heavy losses, with 12 out of 16 ships sunk. Most Canadian and Australian ships survived the war and continued to serve into the fifties and sixties. The model represents Haida as she appeared in the Korean War. Her sister ship, HMCS Iroquois, was even deployed in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Tribal class destroyers may not be as well-known as the larger and more glamorous cruisers and battleships that served during WW2, but they were true workhorses. I very much appreciate seeing one of these fine ships in LEGO.
Matt Bace spent about about 45 days creating this highly-detailed model of the World War II American battleship USS Missouri. Matt’s model is 1/200th scale, and comes in about 170 studs long (that’s about 4 and a half feet!). The real USS Missouri was commissioned in 1944, and served on and off of active duty until 1992. She served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Gulf War, making her one of America’s most historied battleships. Matt’s model is one of the best LEGO ships I’ve ever seen. The sculpting for the curved hull is notoriously difficult to achieve with LEGO, and the wood planking around the details of the superstructure is quite challenging. All in all, this is a stunning model excellently built.
This weekend, in the Netherlands celebrations are being held to commemorate the 70st anniversary of Operation Market Garden. This was a bold attempt by the Allies to capture bridges over a number of important rivers in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands and build a bridgehead across the river Rhine. This would bring their forces to the doorstep of Germany’s industrial heartland and, in the words of Field-Marshall Montgomery, would end the war in Europe before Christmas 1944. Airborne Troops were dropped far behind enemy lines to capture the bridges, while ground troops fought their way from Belgium through the Southern Netherlands to relieve them.
It was one of the largest airborne operations of the war, which inevitably involved large numbers of C-47 Skytrain transports, such as the one built by Kenneth Vaessen, still marked with the black-and-white stripes that were applied to aircraft that participated in the D-day landing a few months earlier. (Kenneth actually posted it a few weeks ago, but I decided to wait for this opportunity to write about it.)
Unfortunately, things didn’t work out as planned. The relief columns were held up and German resistance, in particular in Arnhem, was much stronger than anticipated. The allied advance was halted, thousands of Allied troops were killed, as well as thousands of German troops and numerous Dutch civilians. The war lasted eight more months, but much of the Southern Netherlands was liberated during the operation by soldiers from Canada, the UK, US and Poland.
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.
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.
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.
It’s not very often that I come across an aircraft that I know very little about, but
Nikos Andronikos (dodgeyhack) has managed to befuddle me, by building a Australian Beaufort bomber. I know the Beaufort as a British WW2 aircraft that served with the Royal Air Force. What I did not know, however, is that Beauforts also served with the Royal Australian Air Force and were actually license-built down under in significant numbers.
So, the subject of the model is interesting in my book. Beyond that, the model is very nicely done. I like how the wings are angled back, to give their leading edges the proper angle. The camouflage works, which is no mean feat using dark green, and it has goodies such as a retractable undercarriage and an opening weapons bay. To add the proverbial cherry on top of his cake, Nikos has also made a render of the model that shows how some of the major bits go together.
In the thirties, before WW2, many aircraft were biplanes, powered by propellers and built using wood and canvas seemingly held together with bits of string. Not long after the war, all-metal jet- and rocket-powered planes were flying near the speed of sound. These rapid developments did not happen without a lot of experimentation. Some of those experiments produced decidedly odd-looking aircraft. Lino Martins (Lino M) is mostly known for building slightly wacky cars, but he has now built one of those wacky experimental aircraft instead.
The aircraft in question is the Vought V-173, popularly known as the Flying Pancake. It was built to test the viability of building a fighter aircraft using a low-aspect wing. This was expected to deliver relatively low aerodynamic drag, but with good low-speed handling. The concept worked, but the fighter that it was to lead to, known as the XF5U-1 Flying Flapjack (I kid you not), was overtaken (literally) by more modern jet aircraft. The idea may not have been a success, but as far as I am concerned, Lino’s model is.