Author Topic: Stealing the Stuka  (Read 25997 times)

Offline upnorth

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #30 on: September 16, 2012, 06:19:39 PM »
Very well written.  I'd be curious to see some images to support the story.

I am also tempted to do a He-130T for the Admiral Graf Zeppelin.

Seeing and He-130 would be cool.

I might opt for my sketchbook a bit on Monday and try to draw up a Yarara.

I don't know where Apophenia has gone off to, he was doing some great profiles, but I haven't seen evidence of him on the forums for a while now.
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Offline apophenia

  • Suffered two full days of rapid-fire hallucinations and yet had not a single usuable whif concept in the lot !?!
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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #31 on: September 19, 2012, 04:57:08 AM »
I don't know where Apophenia has gone off to, he was doing some great profiles, but I haven't seen evidence of him on the forums for a while now.

Cheers 'north. For yours truly, the RW has been generating some serious time suckage of late... Looking forward to seeing your Yarara drawing!
Under investigation by the Committee of State Sanctioned Modelling, Alternative History and Tractor Carburettor Production for decadent counterrevolutionary behaviour.

Offline upnorth

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #32 on: September 19, 2012, 10:16:02 PM »

Cheers 'north. For yours truly, the RW has been generating some serious time suckage of late... Looking forward to seeing your Yarara drawing!


Good to know you're still checking in. I understand completely how RW can get.

I decided to take a break from the writing and pick up the sketchbook. I've been telling you all about the Yarara for long enough, I figured it was time to give you a look at one:



501 was from the first batch of Uruguayan Yararas and was assigned to the defense of the western part of the country along the border with Argentina. It's home base was near Mercedes, the main city in the Soriano region.

Here, it represents a standard Uruguayan air force machine of the 1939-1940 period. Most Uruguayan Yararas had 20mm cannons installed and relatively few were seen with .50 calibre machine guns fitted; machine gun fitted machines were limited to gunnery training aircraft at first but then ceased to be seen at all on Uruguayan Yararas after mid 1942.

« Last Edit: September 20, 2012, 03:01:19 PM by upnorth »
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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #33 on: September 20, 2012, 01:02:50 AM »
 :)
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

Offline upnorth

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #34 on: September 20, 2012, 07:59:40 PM »
Honing the Blade

1939 came to an end with Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay formally joining Great Britain and the Commonwealth nations in war against Germany and the Axis; It was good news, but much work had to be done.

The Brazilian Yarara lines were at a point of exceding Argentine production figures in early 1940 and had recently allocated part of their floorspace to Garza production. The last FMA built Garza left La Pampa in late January of 1940 after which production of the type was fully put in Brazilian hands so that FMA could concentrate fully on further developing Yarara design.

The first improvement that the Yarara needed was in regards to the engine. The alterations that Hispano Argentina had made to the HS 12Y engine to give the Yarara the added power for torpedo runs were a stop gap measure at best. It was largely felt that the 12Y had gone as far as it could go and that an entirely new engine would be a better use of time and resources than another alteration. Hispano Argentina was largely on it’s own for designing such a new engine; Germany was sweeping across the Low Countries and into France. Clearly, whatever develoments might be made at the European locations of Hispano-Suiza would be specifically for European uses and Argentina would likely not benefit from them.

Accounts of the Yarara attack on the Graf Spee had found their way back to Britain. The crews of the British ships which had been persuing the German ship had been left very impressed by the speed and efficiency with which the Yararas had sunk the ship. By early February, a delegation of British and Commonwealth naval aviation officers arrived in Argentina for a formal briefing on the type and subsequent demonstrations of both flying characteristics and weapons abilities.

While very impressed with the aircraft, the delegation had similar misgivings about the engine as the three South American countries did; everyone agreed that the HS 12Y had done its job and had to be replaced soon.

A request was granted for five Yarara airframes to be transported to Britain for further evaluation, including feasability studies for navalising the airframe and adapting it for the Rolls Royce Merlin engine. With those airframes also went an advisory and support group from FMA to assist in the upkeep of the machines.

The evaluation of  the Yarara and Merlin III engine was very favorable indeed and gave the aircraft a boost in speed and performance that no further tinkering with the HS 12Y likely could have provided.

The prospects of making the aircraft suitable for operations from the Royal Navy’s new Illustrious Class carriers was rather more problematic. Due to the gull wing design, existing ways of folding the aircraft’s wings in line with the aircraft fuselage would create a good deal more redesign of the wing than would a vertically swinging hinge. However, the ceilings of the Illustrious Class hangar decks were quite low and risked damaging both the aircraft and ship structures if the aircraft wings were folded vertically.

Initially, FMA advisors were hesitant at a British suggestion to add a second hinge further out on each wing so the wing tips could be folded down to a safer height. However, upon seeing the Fairy Albacore design as the British idea for a suitable replacement for the Swordfish, the FMA representatives decided that whatever risks folding the wings twice might bring those risks could not be any greater than the notion of flying a biplane into battle in what had clearly become the age of monoplanes and set to work, alongside designers from Fairey, designing hinges into the wings and carrier launch and recovery equipment into the Yarara.

In June, just as France was falling, a fully navalised Yarara was concluding carrier trials on the newly commissioned HMS Illustrious. The Fairey Albacore was cancelled and the company ordered to set up production of the new navalised, Merlin powered Yarara variant.

Share and Share Alike

Sending the Graff Spee to the bottom and putting the Fleet Air Arm in posession of an aircraft of much better abilities and more fitting to a battle of the day than the Albcore ever could have been put Winston Churchill, then newly installed in the Prime Minister’s role, in the position of declaring that a great debt was owed to “Our far off friends”.

The first act of Britain’s reciprocity was to provide Hispano Argentina a license to produce versions of the Merlin III, and subsequent models of the engine. This not only solved the issue of the Yarara’s new powerplant, but also gave reasonable assurance that there was at least one location where Merlins could be made with a relatively low chance of facilities coming under attack.

Though the Argentine naval fleet was the eighth most powerful in the world at the time, one thing it lacked was an aircraft carrier. Prior to the Yarara’s carrier compatibility being established, not much thought had been given to the idea of a carrier in the Argentine navy. The fact that Fleet Air Arm crews were warming up quickly to the Fairey Seawolf, as the Yarara had been named in Royal Navy service, the idea of Argentina having one for itself had gained greater appeal among the Argentine admiralty; it would certainly allow the striking power of the Yarara to be brought upon more German ships.

Though the Argentines were more than capable of building their own ships, building an aircraft carrier would be a new and steep learning curve for their ship building industry; a learning curve they felt they didn’t have time for.

The HMS Victorious had been launched the previous year but was still awaiting commissioning as escort ships were seen to be a higher priority at the time by the British. Asking for the ship to be transferred to the Argentine navy along with the training for its crews was asking no small favour. Much careful consideration was put into the proposal for such a transfer.

The Bargain of the Atlantic

With the Battle of Britain underway, allied hands were full and any help that could be offered was welcome help indeed.

A delegation of Argentine military officials arrived in London in mid July to present their proposal for the transfer of the HMS Victorious. They were extremely surprised that the British were even open to the idea; they waited nervously to present their proposal.

The Argentine proposal primarily hinged upon the fact that work on the German carrier, Graf Zeppelin, had been suspended since May of that year and that transfering the Victorious to Argentina would ensure the presence of at least two modern allied carriers in the Atlantic before Germany was likely to complete work on theirs. It would also ensure a carrier presence in the south Atlantic.

Additionally, it would put more German ships in range of the Yarara and thus safeguard Atlantic shipping lanes that much more.

In return, Argentina offered willing pilots for the ongoing Battle of Britain as well as infantry and other army units to join the fight in North Africa; they presented official letters from the Brazilian and Uruguayan governments promising pilots and soldiers from those two nations as well.

A particular point was made of the demanding training regime that had been instituted for the armies of all three nations. Using the varied geography and climatic conditions available in Argentina, soldiers of all three countries were becoming very adaptable to fighting effectively in a range of environments. As a result, they would likely not have much trouble adapting to desert operations in the North African Campaign.

The proposal was thus concluded and a decision was awaited.




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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #35 on: September 21, 2012, 02:20:19 AM »
Ok, there's a twist I wasn't expecting...RN FAA 'Stukas' :)
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

Offline apophenia

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #36 on: September 27, 2012, 02:40:06 AM »
Nor I but I like it!  :)  What sort of cowling do you envision for the Seawolf 'north?
Under investigation by the Committee of State Sanctioned Modelling, Alternative History and Tractor Carburettor Production for decadent counterrevolutionary behaviour.

Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #37 on: September 27, 2012, 11:35:55 AM »
Nor I but I like it!  :)  What sort of cowling do you envision for the Seawolf 'north?


Something Fulmar-ish?



Chris
"What young man could possibly be bored
with a uniform to wear,
a fast aeroplane to fly,
and something to shoot at?"

Offline upnorth

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #38 on: September 27, 2012, 01:14:38 PM »
Glad you like it.

As for the cowling, I was mainly thinking a late Firefly nose might do the job. The Seawolf already had radiators in the wings, just as the Firefly did. Going that way would also give latitude to delete the boxy chin radiator from the early Firefly design as the wing radiators of the Seawolf could influence the Firefly design from the start so that type would have wing radiators through it's whole production run.

I had also thought about something like the Mosquito nacelle shape for the Seawolf nose, the mosquito being another plane with radiators tucked away in the wings.

Basically, I think any Merlin powered aircraft that had the radiator in a place where it wouldn't clutter up the nose lines could be a potential donor.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2012, 01:23:41 PM by upnorth »
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Offline apophenia

  • Suffered two full days of rapid-fire hallucinations and yet had not a single usuable whif concept in the lot !?!
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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #39 on: September 29, 2012, 12:48:25 PM »
The Mosquito cowling would look great. If I'm not mistook, the Mossie had a larger diameter spinner than the other types -- not sure if that's a good thing but it sure looks cool  ;D
Under investigation by the Committee of State Sanctioned Modelling, Alternative History and Tractor Carburettor Production for decadent counterrevolutionary behaviour.

Offline upnorth

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #40 on: September 29, 2012, 04:17:31 PM »
The Mosquito spinner was also blunter than the other two and I'm not sure that's the look I want. I'd like to keep the nose a bit sleek and sharp.

I think a big part of why I'm leaning to a late Firefly nose is pictures like this:


net photo

It has the big wing radiators and cannon fairings in place that the Yarara/Seawolf have, so it's not at all difficult for me to visualise that nose on an updated version. The four blade prop is also a logical progression.

Seeing the rockets on it also helps refine the vision as the Yarara/Seawolf design was categorised as an attack type first and formost.

Also, with Fairey being the ones building the Seawolf, there is the aforementioned latitude to have the Seawolf as an influence to the Firefly design which would come along later,
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Offline upnorth

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #41 on: October 04, 2012, 06:50:31 PM »
Operation Porpoise

Approval for the transfer of the HMS Victorious to the Argentine navy was granted shortly after the Argentine proposal was made. However, preparations had already been informally in place for the possibility of the ship being successfully transferred.

Almost from the moment the Graff Spee was sunk, the Argentine navy took an interest in the Yarara as an anti shipping platform; prior to that point, the navy had simply seen the aircraft as an air force machine.

In the weeks that followed the Graff Spee sinking, a formal arrangement was made for naval pilots to be familiarised and trained on the Yarara by the air force and the training was going very well. With the creation of the Seawolf derivative, blueprints of the new aircraft were provided to both Argentine and Brazilian production centres and fleets were odered for the Argentine, Brazilian and Uruguayan navies. All three nations had the navalised machine in squadron service by the time the transfer of the Victorious was approved.

The transfer of the ship and carrier training of Argentine and Uruguayan naval pilots and crews became collectively and officially known as “Operation Porpoise” in late August of 1940.

The ship, under heavy escort, began its voyage across the Atlantic to its new home port at Mar del Plata while it’s air wing was being assembled at the naval air station at La Plata. The ship was travelling with minimal crew and no aircraft and the carrier qualifed Argentine pilots had been sent home ahead of the ship in order to begin training other pilots on carrier operations. Through an agreement with the U.S. Navy, Argentine and Uruguayan navies were given access to the U.S.S Ranger for the final phases of carrier training and qualification.

In mid September, with the ship fully crewed and its air wing aboard, she was commissioned as ARA Tierra del Fuego. While officially sailing under the Argentine flag, it was crewed by a mixed group of sailors and officers of the three firmly allied South American nations.

Operation Porpoise came to a close in late September, with the Tierra del Fuego leaving port on her first fully operational cruise.

A Boatload of Yararas

Unlike the aircraft carriers of the U.S. and Britain, which had a variety of aircraft, the deck of the Tierra del Fuego was a distinctly unvaried place. With the exception of a very few aircraft, the air wing was composed of navalised Yarara variants in both fighter and attack roles.

“We were extremely lucky with the Yarara” stated a former Argentine navy pilot when speaking of the type. “It was a very flexible aircraft for the time it served. While the American and British navies had completely different aircraft for the fighter and attack roles, we were able to adapt the Yarara to both with only a few internal changes. The best part, from a servicing point of view, was that it created a tremendous amount of part commonality between the types as the base design was nearly identical between them. We maintaned a very high number of servicable airframes on our cruises because we carried so many parts that could be used on both types; this in turn gave the Yarara an enviable reputation for reliability.”

The primary difference between the two Yarara types was in the engine. While both were Merlin powered, the attack version did away with the supercharger.

Other differences could be seen in the somewhat heavier armor of the attack variant. While the fighter had some cockpit armor, the attack version had armor extenting forward or the firewall to protect the engine as well.

While both types retained the same two seat cockpit canopy, the fighter version replaced the back seat with an additional fuel cell so as to reserve wing pylons for weapons instead of drop tanks.

Both types had four Hispano HS.404 20mm cannons in the wings as standard equipment.

A Yarara by Any Other Name

In the spirit of inter service rivalry, the naval air services sought to have their own name for the aircraft rather than use the air force terminology for it.

“They initially wanted to call it  ‘Fragata’, the Spanish term for the frigate bird.” Recalls a former airframe technician. “Of course the frigate bird looks great in flight and it’s aggressive, but it’s also a thief! It gets its food from stealing! Did they really want to name our aicraft after a creature like that? It was nonsense to most of us.

They tried to get a few other names more sea related attached to the aircraft, but none of them stuck. Everyone directly involved with it simply called it the Yarara. Most of us had been trained on it by the air force and their name for it simply became embeded in our minds and why not? The name fit the machine very well; it was deadly, moved very smoothly and many people have a tremendous fear of snakes anyway.”

Guardians of the South

Through Autumn and winter of 1940, the Tierra del Fuego along with her escort group and air wing were studiously minding the Atlantic south of the Equator.

Whether by torpedo, cannons or increasingly common armor piercing rockets; no Axis ship was safe if it was within reach of the Yarara air wing. To this day the exact amount of German shipping at the bottom of the south Atlantic that can be credited to the Yararas is a matter of some conjecture; what is not debatable is the effectiveness with which the aircraft were used, particularly against smaller surface ships.

In conjunction with the HMS Illustrious and her Seawolf squadrons, both north and south Atlantic were becoming  increasingly grim places for German surface shipping as 1940 gave way to 1941.

« Last Edit: October 04, 2012, 06:55:20 PM by upnorth »
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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #42 on: October 04, 2012, 10:58:42 PM »
Good update.

Thanks.




Chris
"What young man could possibly be bored
with a uniform to wear,
a fast aeroplane to fly,
and something to shoot at?"

Offline upnorth

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #43 on: November 01, 2012, 06:59:04 PM »
The Reich’s Response

At the end of 1940, German shipping in the Atlantic had become highly regulated and primarily U-Boat based. Any civilian surface vessel approved for transiting the Atlantic had to prove it had a clear means of defending itself and was built robustly enough to survive some degree of attack until military ships could come to its aid. This meant that the smaller surface ships that proved such easy meat for the Sea Wolves and Yararas were very rare by the beginning of 1941.

January of 1941 also saw Hitler personally sign approval for resuming work on the Graf Zeppelin aircraft carrier and ordering prototypes of navalised variants of the He-130, Bf-109 and Bf-110.

Not surprisingly, the He-130 navalised prototype was the first to be presented. Technically it was barely a prototype as the naval gear was taken directly from the blueprints of it’s Japanese counterpart, the Yokosuka D4Y “Suisei”. The IJN had been successsfully employing the D4Y to terrorise the various countries and people that lived under the Japanese imperial bootheel at the time. Yokosuka had also developed improved versions of the aircraft since it had entered service and it was proving to be a very potent machine.

The Messerschmitt designs were of mixed value; while the Bf-110 did seem to hold some promise for a naval type, the Bf-109 was encountering a variety of problems. The Bf-110 received the go ahead for further development while the Bf-109T project was halted in favour of ordering a navalised variant prototype of Focke-Wulf’s yet to be introduced to service Fw-190 fighter.

In anticipation of the Graf Zeppelin’s completion, German naval fighter and bomber units were formed and their personnel send to Luftwaffe training units to learn the fundamentals of the types they’d be flying. Once trained, the were sent to Luftwaffe units in the Mediterranian ,the Baltic or the English Channel to develop their skills in overwater operations.

As the navalised He-130 and Bf-110 entered service, the naval units were split from their Luftwaffe host units and given their own bases of operation until the Graf Zeppelin could be completed.

Some questioned the logic of having two relatively large aircraft types, such as the He-130 and Bf-110 were, on the limited deck space of one carrier. The explanation for it was that the Bf-110 was ordered as a heavy fighter and interceptor to contend with larger aircraft such as the Short Sunderland which was often seen working alongside the Sea Wolf and Yarara attack formations and vectoring them towards surface ships while the Sunderland itself tended to U-Boats. The Sunderland was a notoriously hard target for aircraft to successfully attack and a specialized machine was considered a must.

Even from an early stage, the navalised He-130 and Bf-110 were proving effective in their intended rolls. The navy ripped into allied ports and harbours with the He-130 with the same ferocity and near impunity with which the Luftwaffe was using it to terrorise targets inland. It was fast, could take a considerable amount of damage and placed its weapons with a very high degree of accuracy.

In the navalised Bf-110, the Germans had an aircraft which could hit Sunderlands with a good deal more force using smaller numbers than the Luftwaffe could. Being separate from the Luftwaffe, the navy could set its own specifications for weapons and tactics; as such, they used the Bf-110’s high degree of flexibility in accepting a variety of guns to the full. Typically, navy Bf-110s were more heavily armed than their Luftwaffe counterparts and their crews had developed more successful tactics against Sunderlands.

For the first six months of their service, the navy Bf-110s excercised a level of control over the Sunderland which had not been predicted. A Sunderland could still hold its own and the Geman navy did take its share of losses against the flying boat; however, Sunderlands were returning home with a good deal more damage than they had before and required much more repair time before returning to service. Many Sunderlands that returned home simply couldn’t be put back in service and eneded up being canibalised for spare parts to keep the servicable ones going.

The battles between Sunderlands and German navy Bf-110s became something of legend in history books; a Bf-110 pilot recalls:

“Although we could hit the Sunderland with a force and in ways that the Luftwaffe couldn’t, we still never engaged one on the assumption that we would win; that aircraft was still “Porcupine” to us, there weren’t too many relaible angles we could approach one from where its gunners couldn’t hit us or it’s armour couldn’t withstand our fire. Our tactics were constantly under scrutiny and subject to radical change.

Probably the most radical change in our tactics against the flying boats came in late summer of 1941 when we started experimenting with off bore guns, which the Luftwaffe later adopted for their night fighter Bf-110 variants. To that point we had been limited to forward firing attacks; once we found that we could put a pair of upward firing guns into the rear cockpit space, it opened many doors for new tactics and increased our chances of survival.

The disadvantage of an aircraft like the Sunderland was in its size, that’s a lot of aircraft to shoot at and once we figured out a few good angles to come at it from where we could hit something with both the forward and off bore guns firing nearly simultaneously, we could made relativle short work of one of them with only a couple of aircraft if we found it alone.”

A former Sunderland crew member reclls a Bf-110 attack:

“Until the Germans gave the Bf-110 to their navy, we lived in the faith that a Sunderland could get us home. We could carry a lot of rounds for our gun positions and keep up a fight for a good amount of time.

That changed a lot when the Luftwaffe handed us over to the navy to deal with, we knew what to expect from the Luftwaffe, but the navy put us on a very new and steep learning curve. In early September of 1941, a Sunderland I was crewing was jumped by a pair of Bf-110s off the northwest coast of France.

They’d caught us alone. Our aircraft was a newly refitted Sunderland Mk.Ia which was a very hastily modified Mk.I which had the two fuselage gun positions faired over and replaced with a fully rotating turret. The Bf-110s typically attacked us from above at high angles and the turret was seen as a way to better cover those angles. It worked to a degree, but they still liked to come at us from above when they found us alone.

The pair of them used a tactic called the Condor. They got up over top of us and went into a near inverted flight attitude and hammered on us with their off bore guns. They usually targeted as close to the wing spars as they could. It was a double worry for us; not only was there the matter of the spar integrity, but that was also where or bomb racks and weapons were. If a fire started up there, we’d have to get the weapons jettisoned before they exploded from the heat.

The attack on our aircraft was typical; our dorsal gunner was dead almost before we knew we’d been jumped. With our dorsal gunner dead and our attackers outside the nose and tail fields of fire, it came down to our pilot to get us out of danger or to get us other gunners into a spot where they might have chance to get a good shot off.

The pilot gave the order to dump or bombs and other weapons in order to lighten the load and began a series of evasive moves. The Germans broke off their Condor attack and one of them set up to attack us from below and behind.

They came in at an angle just outside the tail gunner’s field of fire and let lose with all their guns. While their 4 20mm forward cannons chewed into our planing hull, their off bore guns killed our tail gunner and cut one of our horizontal stabilizers clean off at the root. I’d been manning the forward turret and never had a chance to defend the plane, the Germans had studiously avoided going anywhere near where I could have touched them.

The Germans regrouped and left us to our own devices. We were too low by that point to abandon the aircraft by parachute. The pilot was able to bring  the aircraft down on some calm water. Full of 20mm holes, the planing hull largely disintegrated upon touch down. We had put down not far from the French coast and were picked up by German naval ships and taken prisoner.”
« Last Edit: November 01, 2012, 07:01:49 PM by upnorth »
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Offline apophenia

  • Suffered two full days of rapid-fire hallucinations and yet had not a single usuable whif concept in the lot !?!
  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #44 on: November 02, 2012, 11:30:45 AM »
The great backstory continues 'north. Well done. Can we hope that the Sunderland turrets eventually get .50 cals to out-range those German MG-FFs?
Under investigation by the Committee of State Sanctioned Modelling, Alternative History and Tractor Carburettor Production for decadent counterrevolutionary behaviour.