With this publication Kagero Publishing continues the line of SMI Library
series. These publications, although do not contain much for reading, are filled with big archive photographs of very good quality presenting interesting machines. In other words we can say this more an album than a „typical” book. Publisher have supplemented this issue with a sheet of premium decals. In fourth volume of SMI Library series author focuses on B-26 Marauders and A-26 Invaders which fought over Europe in World War Two.
Publication is bilingual: English and Polish. Text, except picture subtitles, is formatted in two columns, left in English and right in Polish. Its content can be partitioned into five parts. First is a historical background and description of B-26 and A-26 planes. It takes only eight pages supported with few photographs so we find there only very basic and general information. Second and third are the essence of this publications: the photographs. These two parts are focused on two theaters of operations: European (ETO) and Mediterranean (MTO), each of them depicted in a separate chapter. Next section of this album concentrates on Douglas A-26 Invaders.
Pictures, depending on their original size or perspective, are composed as one (really big and showing many details) or two on each page. Photos are carefully chosen in the aspect of quality or presented detail. We have posed photographs of airplanes crews in front of their machines presenting their „nose-arts”, many shots of in-flight formations from different angles (sometimes showing how close the formation was, sometimes showing explosions on the target below). There are also pictures presenting particular airplanes on airfields, construction and painting details or sustained damage, both taken on ground or uniquely in the moment of direct hit – you can see then torn-off wings or engines or planes flying belly-up going into deadly spin or bursting in flames. Whenever it is possible author identifies depicted plane providing its type, serial number, name, date and place of taking the photograph. This pictures may be a great source and inspiration for making interesting models showing battle-weary, intensively weathered and faded machines or many shades of natural aluminum skin so often seen on single airplane.
Last section are nine pages of colour profiles and enlargements of nose-arts of different B-26 Marauders. Author of these beautiful colour plates is Andrzej Sadło. We can find there profiles of following machines:
- B-26C-11 (s/n 41-34868), “Zero-4” of 437th BS/319th BG
- B-26B-15 (s/n 41-31608), “Our Baby” of 553rd BS/386th BG
- B-26B-45-MA (s/n 42-95752) “Wine, Woman & Song” of 442nd BS/320th BG
- B-26B-50-MA (s/n 42-95932) “Fifinella” of 575th BS/391st BG
- B-26B-55 (s/n 42-96165) “Big Hairy Bird” of 599th BS/397th BG
- B-26B-55-MA (s/n 42-96071) “Ish-Tak-Ha-Ba” of 587th BS/ 394th BG
- B-26C-25-MO (s/n 41-35358) “Sexy Betsy” of 555th BS/386th BG
- B-26F-1-MA (s/n 42-96255) “Miss Manookie” of 586th BS/394th BG
- B-26B-50-MA (s/n 42-95864) “Valkyrie” of 497th BS/344th BG
An addition of decal sheet is almost a standard in many Kagero publications and the SMI Library
series is not an exception. Sheet was printed by Cartograf and I can not say anything negative about it, maybe only that it's just one (sic!). Ok, but seriously we get one really big sheet in the size of 19x24,5cm, nearly in the format of the whole book. Decals are provided in three scales: 1/72, 1/48 and 1/32. As we talk about decals for a bomber particular transfers are really big (1/32 scale decals takes nearly a half of sheet) so publisher have managed to accommodate markings for two machines, which are:
- B-26B-50-MA (serial number: 42-95864) „Valkyrie”, coded 7I-B of 497th BS/344th BG
- B-26B-15-MA (serial number: 41-31608) „Our Baby”, coded AN-Q of 553rd BS/386th BG
Of course both these machines are depicted on colour plates at the end of book.
Decals contains original nose artworks with naked girls, code letters, serial numbers and other individual stencils which could be seen on original planes. Both machines are depicted on colour profiles and archive photographs inside book.
This is surely useful publication dedicated to both modelers and historian. Filled with a lot of interesting and inspiring archive photographs supported with nine beautiful colour plates drawn by a highly talented artist. Profiles are coloured in the style popular amongst many modelers, showing particular panel lines, fading and chipping of camouflage paint, fuel and grease leakages – this a ready to use template of how the model may look like. That's the modeler point of view. Another feature worth mentioning is that this publication creates the need of more knowledge and inspires for further investigation of historical background. I really enjoyed reviewing this album and I will surely reach for it in future.