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Reviews Written by
Geoffrey Millar (Brunswick Australia)

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Darwin Spitfires: the Real Battle for Australia
Darwin Spitfires: the Real Battle for Australia
by Anthony Cooper
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Read, Interesting History, 27 Jun. 2011
The air defence of Darwin in 1942-1943 is not well known, even by Australians.

This new book is a comprehensive, well written and at times outspoken account of the efforts by three RAAF and RAF Spitfire squadrons to defend Darwin and northern Australia from Japanese air raids. While there have been several books which have covered this period, such as Jim Grant's excellent 'Spitfires Over Darwin', this new book has far more detail, even down to the individual pilot and sortie level.

At times the book is highly critical of RAAF training, leadership, tactics and equipment, but there is always evidence to back up the author's point of view. For example, Clive Caldwell's advocacy of the RAF's then current 'Big Wing' theory cops a fair bit of stick but the argument is well made.

The shortcomings of the Spitfire VC are well covered and as the other reviewer points out, you can sense the pilots' frustration when guns froze, fuel ran out or propellor mechanisms failed - the Spitfire VIII, a far better aircraft which did not suffer from these problems, arrived too late for the defence of Darwin.

The book could perhaps do with a few more photos and perhaps some colour profiles but these are readily available elsewhere. This a really good history and well worth reading.

There's one in every crowd (1975)
There's one in every crowd (1975)

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Laid Back Eric, 23 Jun. 2011
This is perhaps best listened to as a laid back roots album rather than an `Eric Clapton' record, particularly if you are expecting blistering guitar solos.

Heard in that context, it's a good album, with one of EC's best songs and solos in Better Make it Through Today. The Sky is Crying and Little Rachel are other highlights but I don't care for the reggae version of the traditional Swing Low Sweet Chariot. The musicians - the same as on 461 Ocean Boulevard - are in top form and co-wrote many of the songs with Eric.

Helped or otherwise by a rather dull and dry sound, this is low key by the standards of 461 Ocean Boulevard, its predecessor, and No Reason to Cry, which followed it, but it does grow on you.

Memento Mori (PC DVD)
Memento Mori (PC DVD)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, 22 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Memento Mori (PC DVD) (DVD-ROM)
This is a good, straightforward point and click adventure with two main characters, excellent graphics and an interesting story line involving monks and stolen artworks.

As these sorts of games go, it's reasonably easy and most of the tasks are relatively easy to work out; there are a very few 'huh'?! moments. The game has some violence and gore and a few seemingly gratuitous tragedies which aren't really necessary to the plot.

As a nice touch, there are different endings depending on how you answer questions and what one or other of the main characters says during the game. Whether you have the patience to play through the game a second or third time is another matter, as it's a very linear game in which most tasks can only be done after doing a particular thing, such as looking at a newspaper.

If you like the 'Secret Files' series, this is worth a go, particularly if it's on sale.

Special Hobby 1/48 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vc # 48051
Special Hobby 1/48 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vc # 48051
Offered by Ilys Webstore
Price: £47.02

4.0 out of 5 stars Very Nice Spitfire Kit, 21 Jun. 2011
The Spitfire Mark VC was built in slightly smaller numbers than the Spitfire VB, but has seldom been modelled. The VC had a different wing, slightly different cockpit and undercarriage and was used by the RAF, RAAF and SAAF in various theatres, including Malta.

This is the first 1/48 scale Spitfire VC kit since the Airfix model was released a few years ago. The Airfix kit had a mixture of old and new tool parts and was good value and easy to build, albeit without the Tamiya/Hasegawa level of finesse and detail.

The Special Hobby kit is is more expensive and harder to build than the Airfix, but has etched detail parts, very good detail and decal/camouflage options for three Malta Spitfires.

It fits between Airfix and Hasegawa/Tamiya for detail and fit, but it needs a bit of care and dry-fitting in assembly. For example, the excellent cockpit and instrument panel is just a little too wide to fit without trimming. The finished model looks accurate, which is the main aim when building anything.

Special Hobby has also released this kit as an RAAF Spitfire with nice 'nose art' options.

Recommended for modellers with some experience.

Chronicles Of Mystery: The Tree Of Life (PC DVD)
Chronicles Of Mystery: The Tree Of Life (PC DVD)
Price: £2.19

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars OK but has a few bugs, 2 Jun. 2011
I pretty much agree with other reviewers, this game looks good, has a reasonable story and isn't too easy or hard. Tasks and puzzles are the usual inventory/conversation based system, with the occasional slider or similar puzzle to test player patience. The user interface is easy to use and the hotspot tab is a welcome feature.

Characters are well drawn, although their movement can be a bit stilted and the voice acting isn't up to other recent games like Gray Matter, for example.

However, there seems to be some bugs if you use Windows 7, even with its compatibility mode: the conversations always stop before the're over. While you have the subtitles, it's irritating to listen to only half of what people say.

There isn't a patch as far as I can tell, so be warned.

Otherwise, if you liked games like the Art of Murder series, you should like this, especially as it is often on sale.

Gray Matter (PC DVD)
Gray Matter (PC DVD)

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Worthwhile Gaming Investment, 21 April 2011
This review is from: Gray Matter (PC DVD) (DVD-ROM)
I really like adventure games and was looking forward to playing this one. I'm half way through it and am pleased to report that it's building into a really good game.

I'd suggest putting `Gabriel Knight' out of your mind and treating this game as a new offering rather than Part 4 of that series. The story builds slowly but it draws you in and is a cut above some other adventure games in terms of creativity.

As noted by other reviewers, background graphics are beautiful and detailed, but character movement can be awkward and stilted. The comic book links and expositions seem a bit cheap and out of character with the rest of the game.

The constant egg timer and cut screens when moving around get rather irritating, however, voice acting is very good, far better than, for example, the `Secret Files' or `Art of Murder' series. The main characters are particularly well voiced.

There is an innovative scoring system: when you save a game, it tells you how far, in percent terms, you are through the chapter. There are a couple of points at which you have 96% and think `what else is there to do'?

The hot spot feature is welcome and the inventory/combine items system is easy to use once you get the hang of it. It's also pleasing to report that most of the items and combinations are sensible, rather than `combine rubber glove and pincers to make a fishing line' etc. The magic tricks are a nice touch, albeit pretty easy to figure out.

Overall, and bearing in mind the modest damage, this is well worth a purchase for adventure fans.

NB. If you check the 'Wikipedia' entry, it seems that the game has had an interesting and lengthy development history which may have something to do with the way it has turned out.

Airfix - Supermarine Spitfire F22/24 1:48 Scale
Airfix - Supermarine Spitfire F22/24 1:48 Scale

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Airfix Does it Again, 6 April 2011
This was one of the first of Airfix' `new tool' Spitfire kits, which generally offer good value and accuracy without the price tag, detail and finesse of products from Tamiya or Hasegawa.

From memory this is the only mainstream kit of the Mk 22/24 Spitfire, and it's absolutely beautiful. There's a Revell kit also but I think it may be the same kit as this.

Detail and moulding quality are second to none: panel lines are recessed, there is a nice cockpit and when completed, the model looks right, which for some reason eludes some other kit-makers' Spitfires.

The Mk 22/24 was a fairly brutal looking machine compared with the earlier marks, with its different wing, larger rudder, Griffon engine, five bladed propeller and `bubble' canopy, but it was still a thing of beauty.

There are two colour scheme options and the decals are of good quality although there are after-market decals as well if you wish.

For some reason, this kit comes in a huge box which may mislead purchasers as to the size of the finished model.

Highly recommended and will make a nice addition to any Spitfire collection.

Italeri 1/72 C-47 Skytrain # 127
Italeri 1/72 C-47 Skytrain # 127
Offered by Lextrix
Price: £14.99

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, 21 Mar. 2011
There are several options for a 1/72 scale C-47, of which this Italeri kit is the only one readily available. The same kit is also available in Airfix (the newer release, not the awful 1960s issue) and Revell boxings with different decals. The Airfix issue has white plastic instead of dark brown or green.

There's also a `limited edition' Italeri AC-47 gunship available, which is the same kit with an additional sprue to hold the required extra bits, plus Vietnam era decals.

The kit is relatively old, but has reasonable engine and cockpit detail and looks right when completed. Detail is engraved and a little on the heavy side, but a coat of paint will tone down the effect.

There are options for different cargo doors, various aerials, engine air intakes and different window configurations, so the kit can also serve as a basis for a civil DC-3. Aftermarket decals, resin and photo etched parts are readily available.

Assembly is straightforward but some filler will be needed at the wing roots and tailplane area. The supplied decals are for RAF or USAAF D-Day aircraft, however, they're not very accurate and you will get a nicer looking and more accurate model if you go for an after market decal sheet.

Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 18, 2011 2:45 PM BST

C-47 Skytrain Model Kit
C-47 Skytrain Model Kit

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good kit, if a little dated., 18 Mar. 2011
This review is from: C-47 Skytrain Model Kit (Toy)
For many years this was the only 1/48 scale C-47 available. In terms of plastic for the money, this is excellent value and makes a great addition to your collection if you have the shelf space.

It has relatively few parts for a large model, but there are many after market resin or etched parts if you want to add more detail. You can get replacement engines, landing gear, wheels, flaps and interior detail for reasonable prices.

The basic product is well engineered, with a solid wing spar and internal bulkheads to add strength. Panel lines are raised, in keeping with the age of the mould, but if you look at real C-47s or DC-3s, this looks right anyway.

The model will need some filler, but if you take your time the final product looks good. Decals are for two aicraft involved in the Berlin Airlift and well printed, but there are after market options if you wish.

Trumpeter has recently released a 1/48 C-47, but it's almost three times the price of this one so you would think carefully before forking out the readies.

DC-2 for FS 2004 and FSX (PC CD)
DC-2 for FS 2004 and FSX (PC CD)
Offered by PNA247
Price: £23.80

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 15 Mar. 2011
While every aviation enthusiast or flight simulator player would know about the DC-3/C-47, not everyone knows about its predecessor the DC-2, which provided the foundation for commercial aviation as we know it.

By the time the superior DC-3 was introduced, many airlines had bought and profitably operated the DC-2: passengers loved the room, safety, comfort and relative speed and quiet compared with Ford Trimotors, Stinson biplanes and Junkers 52s.

The major differences between the two designs were that the DC-3 had a wider and longer fuselage (for 50% more passengers), more powerful engines and a larger tail and rudder. However, the core of the design was pretty much the same.

This is an excellent package, with beautiful looking aircraft, a huge number of liveries and colour schemes and the FSX models look remarkably like the real thing. Two panels - with modern or original instruments - are supplied and look very similar to the panels on the DC-3.

Engine sounds are particularly satisfying, with the Wright radials putting out a satisfying growl and rumble in the external view. Start-up is suitably smoky. Initial impressions are that `flying' the aircraft is pretty much like flying the DC-3 although the take off run is shorter and the rudder seems less effective. If you crash or forget to put the gear down when landing, you end up with bent propellers, a nice touch.

Installation is easy, with an option to tweak the package for either FSX Acceleration or FSX Service Pack 2. It's also possible to install the package in FS2004. Frame rates are about 10-15% less than you get with the default MS DC-3, so you will need a decent PC to run this (or any other FSX add-on, for that matter).

Basic documentation is provided in a printed manual and more detailed flying information is in a PDF document after installation.

There are very few airworthy DC-2s left and proceeds from the sale of this reasonably priced product will go towards their preservation.

Highly recommended.

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