Monday, June 8

Review: Valiant Wings new Airframe Extra 1 - ‘D-Day to VE Day-The Air Battle Over Europe’.

Valiant Wings Publishing have commissioned a new series of books with some of the most talented guys in the biz – called Airframe Extra, and they promise it is a series with a difference. well we have seen this new book/ magazine and we thought we'd share our thoughts in our review…
Review: Airframe Extra No 1 - ‘D-Day to VE Day-The Air Battle Over Europe’. 
Valiant Wings Publishing

A4 Format softcover Portrait format
84 pages
English text
Profiles by Richard Caruana

An odd new publication passed over the desk this week. Usually we see Valiant Wings Publishing concentrating on one aircraft type per book, but this new 80 page book features a period of time as its focus. Guess the time in our review of Airframe Extra No 1 - ‘D-Day to VE Day-The Air Battle Over Europe’. 

At first when looking at this new book from Valiant Wings I just was not sure to make of it. I mean they are well known for their very good “all in one” books that look at a single type of aircraft and really examining it. This book features a theatre or war as its subject. The new series is called Airframe Extra, and number one in this series featured the war after the 6th of June 1944 - ‘D-Day to VE Day-The Air Battle Over Europe’. 
These books are physically in an A4 format in softcover in portrait format. Full colour photography inside includes models by Dani Zamarbide, Steve A. Evans and Libor Jekl and they also feature several colour profiles by Richard J Caruana and a timeline of the events that occurred in the timeframe featured by Richard A. Franks.

Let’s go into the pages..

The book opens up with a small historical narrative of the last eleven months of the war over Europe from June 1944 to May 1945by Richard A. Franks who is the editor of the series. The historical time clock goes for about sixteen pages and it includes a nice collection of black and white period images that highlight a few of the events and the highlights of the conflict are what is mentioned mostly month by month and day by day. 
Richard J Caruana is next up to the plate with what he does best. Excellent profile art of a great deal of types from all sides through this period. There are three banks of 5 pages of five aircraft a page (plus a last page with 5 extra profiles.) All interesting types and varied in colour from camoed to plain natural metal to squiggly lined to extremely colourful. Mustangs, Stirlings, Marauders, Liberators, Yaks, Messerschmitts, Focke-Wulfs, Halifaxes, Mossies and Beaufighters. Just about everyone’s favourite aircraft can be found here, and all of the profiles are well illustrated. 
We then go into some of the builds that were commissioned for this book especially by Valiant Wings. We see aircraft tin all three major scales (1/72nd, 1/48th and 1/32nd) from Dani Zamarbide, Steve A. Evans and Libor Jekl who are all great modellers and their kits which are no surprise to Valiant Wings readers are well presented here again.

We start off with the Skytrain. This C-47 from Libor Jekl is a well-worn battle scarred warrior that covers eight pages of the book with block text and some step by steps which modellers seem to like a lot. Just how to make the new Airfix kit into a faded and war weary aircraft is very well portrayed by Libor and his writing is well done here.
Next we look at the second build, again by Libor Jekl and again a 72nd scale Airfix kit. The Airfix 1/72nd Spitfire PR MK XIX. This PRU-blue spitfire is another nice example of Libor’s skilled hand and pretty convincing again in small scale.  The engine is opened up as is the cockpit as the pavla and other correction/ enhancement sets add quite a lot to this kit.
Steve Evans is next after some more aircraft profiles. His build of the attractive and uniquely coloured RLM 66 1/48th Bf 109G-10 Hasegawa kit is a five page build and mostly made u of step by step picture and text caption to match. It’s a clean build that looks very effective. 
Next we go straight into the next of Steve’s builds, an academy 48th scale F-5E Lightning. I really like the work Steve has put into making this challenging jack of all trades kit into a gapless and extremely well painted photo recon version of this beautiful fighter. 
Next we look at another twin engine by Steve. The 48th scale Hobbyboss Me 262B-1a/U1 twin seat night fighter kit that needed some help to make a B-1a so Steve fought his grumpy side (cause the kit did not provide what was said on the outside of the box) and still made for us yet another well-made and very well finished kit of this late war trainer. I really like the way Steve writes his articles.
These two fellows are good – but being a P-47 fan and also a fan of Dani Zamarbide’s work I was happy to see his 32nd scale Hasegawa P-47D “Ole Cock” in this book. I had seen a picture of this master work before, and the full description with lots of Step by step in here to explain almost everything should be a template for anyone building a Jug out of the 32nd scale Hasegawa kit. 
Several pages show how he makes the kit and the very lovely cockpit (a work of art in itself) with the pilot installed, to the closing it all up detail and some impressive paintwork. The masks Dani makes and even nose art is drawn by the modeller and then to top it all off he weathers this aircraft in a very time consuming but very impressive manner. Hat’s off to you “Ole Cock”
I really didn’t know what to make from this book. It was hard for me to place it in with what Valiant Wings has done before. To me it’s like a thin book or small special feature magazine. That type of feel. The 50 odd pages of model builds are the star of this book, while the great profiles add to it and the historical timeline educate you these are what model makers will buy this book for.

To me it is more of a small periodical rather than a book we might be used to from this publisher. It's kind of more like the focused magazines from AK or AMMO  that we see on the shelves recently for about the same price. It is a different approach by this publishing house and one that has yet to find its feet, but I think that it’s a great start to this series.

Adam Norenberg

Available in April directly from Valiant Wings Publishing ( Readers have an opportunity to subscribe to four issues, saving over £8.00.