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National Flight Tracker
The follow-up to 2005's "Alligator" is filled with lush arrangements and sees the band incorporating new instrumentation and expanded musical elements such as piano, trumpet, and more prominent background vocals.
With Boxer, the National have reached four albums into their increasingly lauded career, never hurrying the tempo, never over-reaching in volume or instrumental density. Instead, the quintet's balanced on a pin, emotionally austere, if not utterly downhearted, finding brilliantly dusky ways for Matt Berninger's lovelorn voice to mesh with a pair of unobtrusive guitars and, here, an occasional phalanx of piano, horns, and strings. The tunes roll off slowly, Berninger's lyrics hing the instruments with a sad brawn, rough-hewn as the drums and bass toy with angularity (try "Mistaken for Strangers," for one) but end up woven by that voice. Drummer Bryan Devendorf presses the songs forward repeatedly, as on "Start a War," where he gently thumps the time as the acoustic guitars frame and dot the melody, coalescing as the drums starkly chisel the melody. Nary a distortion pedal is harmed on Boxer, giving the National a magnetism so forlorn that you can't stop listening. --Andrew Bartlett
1:100 Macross VF-1L KWS "Valkyrie" - German Luftwaffe Norm '72/"Zitronenfalter"/JG71 paint scheme
Germany-based Valkyrie '27?85' from SVF-71/JG71 "Richthofen" passes Heligoland in low flight after shooting training out on the North Sea, back to its home near Wittmund.
With retro-camouflaged Valkyries popping up in official sourcebooks (like Su-27, U.S. Navy or Royal Navy derivates) and some national identity in mind, I wondered what a German Valkyrie would look like? Well, this here is the (quite flashy) result! The idea came when I recently got hands on the brand new WAVE Ma.K. 'Snake-Eye' kit - the box art shows the fighting suit with very special decorative markings: "tulip" wedges.
For those interested, here's an excursion about the story behind it:
The 'black tulip' markings have a real historic heritage from WWII. They had been the personal markings of German pilot ace Erich Hartmann on his Messerschmidt Bf-109 fighter machines. The characterstic markings were painted on the motor cowl, just behind the propeller spinner, which used to be black, too.
After the war (and 352 air combat victories!), when Germany began re-building its defensive forces under the pressure of the Cold War, Erich Hartmann returned from Russian imprisonment, joined German Luftwaffe's forces again and received in 1960 command over Germany's first jet fighter squadron, the JG 71 "Richthofen", which was initially equiped with CL-13 Mk. 6, Canadian-built F-86F-40 'Sabres'.
Consequently, besides the glamorous "Richthofen" name of the squadron, JG71's F-86 would sport the 'black tulip' trademark of their commander around their air intakes and on the fins, paired with bright red or yellow contrast fields. The tulips would, with the advent of the F-104G 'Starfighter' in the mid 60ies, disappear again, though.
But back to the little Valkyrie: The kit is actually a bastard. I did not have a single seater left in stock, so I bashed a VF-1D two-seater with the cockpit and wings of a single-seater Gerwalk kit. This caused little problem, since these kits have almost 100% matching 'interfaces'. The Gerwalk cockpit just differs slightly in proportions and lacks a landing gear compartment. The wings have no punches/adapters for weapons underneath, and the holes for the wings' sweeping mechanism are a bit larger than on the Fighter kits.
Beyond that, the Valkyrie was - as usual - built almost right out of the box, with typical minor details added to the exterior like some antennae, plus some interior things like a pilot figure and a HUD.
In oder to set this Valkyrie a bit apart from the anime versions, I gave it an "L" designation (for "Luftwaffe", the only plausible suffix I could find which was not occupied yet...). A scratch-built laser spot tracker (similar to the Pave Penny system) was mounted under the Valkyrie's front as part of a domestic KWS package ("Kampfwertsteigerung", a German term and abbreviation for military vehicle upgrades). This package also includes subtle details like passive radar sensors (fins, front, legs) and flare dispensers (legs), Small things, but they add some grit and differentiate it from standard anime models. The wings were left empty, in order not to compromise the wonderful lines and keep the kit's focus on its unique livery.
The basic paint scheme is typical for German jets like the F-4F, F-104G or Alpha Jet in the 1960-80 era. AFAIK, it was officially called "Norm '72", but it had the inofficial nickname of "Zitronenfalter" ("Brimstone Butterfly"). It already looks retro due to the angular design, but proves highly effective at medium heights over typical German countryside or over coast line areas. Today it would be sold as "fractal", but the design's origins reach back into the pre-WWII time.
The authentic colors of the Norm '72 scheme are RAL 6014 ("Gelboliv", a dark, brownish olive drab tone; Humbrol's 108 or Revell's 46 come close), RAL 7012 ("Basaltgrau", similar to the Bristish Dark Sea Grey or FS36118) for above and RAL 7001 for the undersides ("Silbergrau", a unique light grey with a metallic hue).
For the small Valkyrie kit , though, I settled for different, lighter shades, because the original tones are pretty murky and they'd rather conceal the wicked camouflage pattern. The Gelboliv became the much lighter 1711 from Testors (simple Olive drab, FS34087), and for the dark Basaltgrau, Humbrol's 27 (Matt Sea Grey) was used. The obscure undersides' RAL 7001 was simulated with a 1:1 mix of Humbrol's 11 and 34 (Silver and Flat White).
While the choice of tones was basically O.K., the olive drab turned out to be way too light after application. The contrast with Humbrol's 27 was weak, so Humbrol 108 would be recommended for a more authentic look, even though weathering would bleach the real colors. But, heck, we are doing anime here! Therefore, I left it as it was.
When the basic camouflage was done, though, I found that something was missing to r
National Guard Soldiers and Airmen support National Boy Scout Jamboree
Sr. Airman Brian Morris (left) and Sr. Airman John D. Read of the Virginia National Guard’s 200th Weather Flight takes a reading from the Kestral Pocket Weather Tracker Aug. 2 at Fort A.P. Hill. Airmen from the flight are providing critical weather information to help maintain a safe environment for Scouts attending the National Jamboree. Read is a native of Richmond and Kestral is a native of Virginia Beach. Approximately 600 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from 15 states are working as part of Joint Task Force – National Scout Jamboree providing a variety of support including weather forecasting, military police assistance patrols and traffic control as well as working as merit badge counselors and providing musical entertainment for the Scouts at Fort A.P. Hill from July 26 to Aug. 3. The JTF is responsible for emergency services including medical support, air and ground medical evacuation and a 60-bed expeditionary hospital. Volunteer merit badge counselors from Department of the Defense agencies are staffing 26 of the 124 Merit Badge Midway stations at the Jamboree. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Department of Military Affairs)
national flight tracker
These five Cincinnati friends recorded two albums for Brassland before signing to Beggars Banquet. Their last effort, "Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers", was touted as one of the year's best by Rolling Stone and other magazines. On "Alligator", Matt Berninger's potent baritone still intones about matters fraught, funny, and sad; about record collections, missing persons, and medium-sized American hearts. "Startling and subtly affecting, The National creeps in like the killer in a bleak gothic novel. Strings tremble, hearts break, and each smoldering song brings a harrowing tale of new pities"--Magnet.
On their third recording, the National strikes a delicate balance between light and dark, fast and slow, American and British. While their sound is undeniably tinged with darkness, it isn't gloomy or depressing. This impression is mostly due to Matt Berninger's deep baritone, which brings to mind such sensitive, but manly Brit vocalists as Scott Walker and Stuart Staples of the Tindersticks. The National, however, are American. Formed in Brooklyn in 1999, the quintet hails from Cincinatti and doesn't sound much like a New York Band (Interpol, the Strokes, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, etc.). Instead, they could be Midwestern or even Canadian in the way they combine alt-country, chamber-pop, and post-punk angst, like Toronto's Royal City or Montreal's Arcade Fire. Often compared to Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, and Tom Waits, the National's music is actually faster-paced and has a lighter, almost jaunty touch. In other words: they rock. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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