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Review Major "Blondie" Hasler from RP Models

Discussion in 'Reviews , Video Reviews and Open Book' started by Nap, Mar 19, 2016.

  1. Nap A Fixture

    Hi to one and all,

    War is never a good thing IMO but it pushes men to do extraordinary brave deeds , sometimes paying the price with their lives .

    Many operations were undertaken in WW2 , one of the most famous is Frankton.

    The story of Operation Frankton and the men

    At 7.17 pm on December 7, 1942, His Majesty’s Submarine Tuna surfaced off the coast of Occupied France near the mouth of the River Gironde. The Bay of Biscay was kind that night, the sea oily calm under starlight.

    “Beastly clear,” remarked her captain,
    Lt Dickie Raikes. “Looks all right for your launching. Do you want to start?”
    The tranquility of the scene emphasised the sub’s vulnerability. A flash of searchlight or gunfire and she would have to dive immediately. Major Herbert “Blondie” Hasler of the Royal Marines agreed that, yes, it was time to go. The deck was soon alive with commandos and sailors preparing to launch six canoes stored below. Cockles, they were called, two-man collapsible canvas boats, hopefully more robust than they looked.
    One snagged as it was being brought up. Hasler inspected the craft and pronounced her unseaworthy. Its crew, Marines William Ellery and Eric Fisher, would have to return to Britain on Tuna. Fisher wept with frustration, unaware that, in all probability, his life was being saved.
    Hasler, his blond moustache obscured by black face paint, suggested to Raikes that he should book a table for them both at the Savoy for April 1 the following year. “Thanks for everything you have done on our behalf,” he offered.
    “The very best of luck to you all,” replied Raikes.
    The five remaining canoes cast off and, so little and inconsequential in the ocean swell, were soon swallowed by the night. On they headed, towards the dark mass of the French coast, and a small place in history.
    The Cockleshell Heroes, as they would later be known (much to Hasler’s annoyance) were the harbingers of today’s Special Boat Service (SBS). The operation begun that night, codenamed Frankton, was a daring attack on merchant ships moored in the harbour of Bordeaux, some hundred miles upstream. To reach their targets, fast blockade runners used to carry German supplies to Japan and vice versa, the 10 commandos would have to paddle for nights on end, laying up under cover on isolated stretches of riverbank during the day. Their weapons were limpet mines, to be attached to the ships’ hulls before detonation.
    “Do you realise that your expectation of a long life is very remote?” recruits to Hasler’s unit were asked after answering an advertisement for “Volunteers for Hazardous Service”. No irony was intended. Of the 10 men who set out that night, only two survived – Hasler and his fellow crewman Cpl Bill Sparks. Two succumbed to hypothermia after capsizing and six were executed by the Germans.
    The episode was celebrated in the 1955 film The Cockleshell Heroes, yet there is no public memorial to the men who took part in the raid, and the submarine crew who risked all to deliver them.
    Much is known about Frankton but some details remain unclear. In his new book, Cockleshell Heroes – The Final Witness, Quentin Rees has unearthed fresh information about the fate of those captured.
    Survival was indeed a faint possibility. In October 1942, Hitler issued a secret order authorising the execution of captured commandos. Their “treacherous behaviour” had, he decided, deprived them of the right to be treated as legitimate prisoners of war. Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, Chief of Combined Operations, considered Hasler too valuable to be expended on what was likely to be a one-way mission. But Blondie, just 28, was having none of it. “If they go without me and don’t return, I shall never be able to face the others again,” he told a superior.
    There was more to fear than the Germans. The Gironde boasts a fierce tidal race, a wall of water sweeping periodically down the estuary. Shortly after the start of the operation, it claimed the first casualty, the canoe Coalfish, crewed by Sgt Samuel Wallace and Marine Robert Ewart. After capsizing, they swam ashore and gave themselves up to a German unit. Conger was next to capsize when a second tidal race hit the frail little flotilla seven hours into the operation. Her crew, Cpl George Sheard and Marine David Moffatt, were left clinging on to the sterns of Catfish, crewed by Hasler and Sparks, and Cuttlefish. Hasler spent a precious hour pulling the two men towards the shore, but the mission took precedence.
    “I’m sorry, but this is as close to the beach as we dare go,” he said softly. “You must swim for it.”
    Sheard, grey-faced from the cold, replied: “It’s all right sir, we understand. Thanks for bringing us so far.”
    The bodies of Sheard and Moffatt were later found washed ashore and buried in unmarked graves nearby.
    Third to disappear was Cuttlefish, crewed by Lt John MacKinnon and Marine James Conway. She is thought to have been abandoned after hitting an underwater obstacle. The two men made it to La Reole, in ostensibly neutral Vichy France, where MacKinnon was treated in hospital for a leg injury. News of the men’s presence leaked and they were seized by the Germans.
    “One can only imagine what Hasler felt as that first dawn approached,” reflects Maj Cavan. “Six boats were now two and a normal man might have yielded to despair, yet there was no question of abandoning the operation.”
    With only Crayfish, crewed by Cpl Albert Laver and Marine William Mills, for company, Hasler pressed on. Incessant nocturnal paddling against fast currents was followed by tense inactivity under camouflage during the day. The men hid in reed beds reached by crossing dangerously exposed stretches of mud.
    The exhausted party finally caught up with their quarry on the fourth night. Hasler and Sparks placed limpets 00001.jpg on three blockade runners and a U-boat support vessel, while Laver and Mills placed theirs on two. The resulting explosions caused all six ships to sink in shallow water.
    Of the six captured men, Wallace and Ewart were executed first. On December 11, following a brief, inept interrogation, they were taken to a sandpit on the outskirts of Bordeaux and shot. Laver, Mills, MacKinnon and Conway lived for a few months before they too were executed. The men did give up details of their training but they betrayed neither the presence of other commandos nor the identities of helpful French civilians. They are thought by Mr Rees to lie in a wood a few miles to the north-east of Bordeaux.
    Hasler preferred his men to be unattached, given their life expectancy, but inevitably relationships were formed. Robert “Bobby” Ewart celebrated his 21st birthday on HMS Tuna. A Glasgow lad, he had fallen for a 16-year-old girl from Southsea called Heather Powell. On Tuna he wrote a last letter to her.
    “Dear Heather, I trust it won’t be necessary to have this sent to you but since I don’t know the outcome of this little adventure, I thought I’d leave this note behind.
    “I couldn’t help but love you Heather, although you were so young. I will always love you, as I know you do me. That alone should let me through this, but one never knows the turns of fate. One thing I ask of you, Heather, is not to take it too hard. You have yet your life to live. Think of me as a good friend and keep your chin up. Some lucky fellow will find you who has more sense than I had and who can get you what you deserve.
    “You are young yet for this sort of thing but I had to do it, so please don’t worry and upset yourself about me. With your picture in front of me I feel confident that I shall pull through and get back to you some day. I won’t have you read more, Heather, but I will thank you for all you have done. I pray that God will spare me and save you from this misery, so hoping for a speedy reunion. I’ll say cheerio and God be with you. Thanking you and your mother from the bottom of my heart. God bless and keep you all. Yours for ever, Bob, chin up Sweetheart.”
    Ewart was informed of his execution hours before it took place. According to a German report, Sgt Wallace comforted and encouraged the young Marine as they were driven to the firing squad.
    Heather was never told the exact circumstances of her lover’s death, but it was clear from those who returned from Frankton that he would not come back. She contracted tuberculosis and, her heart broken, died just before her 17th birthday.
    Blondie Hasler would live on until 1987 and Bill Sparks until 2002. Hasler returned to Britain in April 1943 and was only a few days late for that appointment with Raikes at the Savoy. (Raikes then took him to Kettner’s in Soho because the food was better.)
    Thus Blondie was able to complete the diary entry – deliberately bald to preserve security – started all those months before in the half light aboard Tuna: “7th December – 2nd April 43. Away from UK on operation, Frankton.”

    Herbert George "Blondie" Hasler

    00000000001.JPG 0000000001.jpg
    A love of the sea began for Blondie Hasler at an early age and developed quickly into a life-long passion. Mixed with this was an inquiring inventive mind and an adventurous, free spirit unable to accept the status quo.

    Blondie’s sailing fame took off in 1932, the year he was commissioned into the Royal Marines, when he sailed a fourteen-foot dinghy single-handed from Plymouth to Portsmouth and back.

    His military prowess was also proven early in life when, as a result of serving in Norway in 1940, he was appointed an OBE, mentioned in dispatches and awarded the Croix de Guerre. In 1941 he considered taking the war to the enemy by stealth rather than by force and wrote a paper suggesting the use of canoes and underwater swimmers.

    His ideas were tested in 1942 at Bordeaux, after which he was known to his extreme embarrassment, as the Cockleshell Hero.
    0001.jpg 0000001.jpg

    He was recommended for the Victoria Cross , this was never approved, but received the DSO for the operation instead.

    In January 1944 he transferred to Ceylon to train ‘Special Forces’ against the Japanese in Burma and, by the war’s end, had dispatched 173 raids against the enemy. On his return Blondie was responsible for establishing the Royal Marines Special Boat Service as it is recognised today, before retiring with ill health.
    In 1946 Blondie owned the race-winning yacht Tre Sang but the next year his sailing changed to cruising in Petula, on board which he wrote the standard-bearer of yachtsman’s pilots; Harbour and Anchorage’s of the North Brittany Coast.
    His writing then branched into a play that was performed – with national reviews – in Dundee. Overriding all this was a desire to design and build the smallest yacht that could be sailed in safety and with the minimum of effort. To meet these twin ideas he produced the junk-rigged Jester and the servo pendulum self-steering gear. To publicise these ‘inventions’ he suggested a single-handed trans-Atlantic race that was held in 1960. Blondie came second but it was his performance that caught the sailing public’s eye; beginning a major revolution in ocean cruising and racing.

    His character also had it’s humorous side as seen in his search for the Loch Ness monster and some of his more outlandish adventures. Towards the end of his life he lived in great contentment in Scotland where organic farming and the reinvention of agriculture methods and implements took charge.

    He died peacefully in 1987........a true legend in the Royal Marines and a hero to all.

    Books are available here is a selection
    View attachment 236004 0A.jpg 000A.jpg

    These are also good to look at and great reference as well
    0000000a.jpg 000000000a.jpg 000000000a.jpg


    Continued in next post

  2. Viking Bob PlanetFigure Supporter

    A very detailed and precise review Nap.
    Not my era but an uncanny likeness to Blondie, sure to do well.
    Hugo Pereira and napoleonpeart like this.
  3. Nap A Fixture

    Lets see what we find in the box...

    Title: Major" Blondie" Hasler Commanding Officer of Operation Frankton

    Series: Battles and Commanders

    Reference: RPM-B12-0001

    Scale: 1/9th

    Material: Gray Resin

    No of parts: 7 plus insert with history of the Operation and subject matter

    Sculptor & Box Art: 3D Techniques from RP team members

    Casting: YS Masterpieces

    This release has been much anticipated with PF members contributing in prior threads regarding the subject as a result this bust has been produced , in addition to this there is also a 75mm and 1/35th version which also has his other member that was in the canoe Marine Bill Sparks ( I will do a separate review on these 2 scales later )

    So it was with a little bit of excitement I collected the heavy parcel sent from RP models .... inside I found the bust and the other scale releases .

    Grabbing the bust first I was immediately struck by the weight of it ...something big must be inside ... it was!!!!

    The box design has been reworked for this release and looks good with the top and sides having a 3D rendition on it of the man himself in the canoe section . Blondie 001.jpg

    Resin parts consist of the canoe front section , a paddle ion 2 halves ( hands are cast onto each one) the torso , 2 arms and the head .
    Blondie 010.jpg

    Blondie 002.jpg

    .......plus an insert ( mine had a little message on it!!) Blondie 009.jpg
    Canoe....slight sanding on the underneath and choose your base !!
    Paddles...a couple of casting remnants to remove from each paddle , also a small bit of resin from casting on the hand
    Arms...Small bit of resin and casting line from the right one , a bit from the shoulder on the left
    Torso...Plug from the underneath
    Head...Casting remnant at back of neck

    That's all....... nice and easy to do , no filler is needed , I would suggest you dry fit the paddle first and after everything else has been painted.

    On now to the pieces in this part I will look at the canoe and paddles

    The Canoe , this is a very impressive and large piece of resin and totally in scale hence the weight , it covers the front from the cockpit to just in front the compass , and has the sides as if it was at water level with crew in as in the operation itself

    Blondie 004.jpg Blondie 003.jpg
    Quite impressive I am sure you will agree !!!

    Surface is as the canoes themselves , waterproofed with the spray decking being held by jubilee clips to stop any water from entering the canoe itself , these clips are well reproduced , but be careful they could be broken off ,
    At the front we have a ships bow shape with the compass in it , very nice details again on the actual canoe there is the start of a tied length of rope wrapped round a cleat . Blondie 007.jpg

    The canoes were treated to a camo scheme on the operation so take some careful time on this rendition.

    Due to the size this needs to be painted and based up separately IMO and then you can concentrate on the bust itself . I will be looking at simulating water on the canoe when I get mine going on the bench and also have dome coming off the paddles as well.

    The Paddles , in 2 halves with the one of the hands sculpted onto each one , the paddles are as in the RM museum in shape , details are very good and when in place ( I will pin it after dry fitting) is a whopping 30 cm in length with the gloved hand having a nice surface as worn ( these gloves were blue as was the headwear)
    Blondie 028.jpg Blondie 030.jpg Blondie 029.jpg

    Continued in next post

  4. Bootneck Well-Known Member

    Hi Nap.
    Well that has whet my appetite for the resin. Have this on order from SK and will pick him up at the upcoming Sword & Lance show.
    Thanks for sharing the story.

    Hugo Pereira likes this.
  5. Nap A Fixture

    Now to the remaining pieces

    Firstly the Torso & Arms , Blondie is wearing the waterproofed suit again as in the RM museum , camo of course , the surface is really smooth and loose as the original , fit into the canoe cockpit is dead on , no filler needed , folds on the material are smoothly worked and well cast , the hood is worn off the head hanging at the back , the edging has stitching showing , the front has 2 ties to tighten the hood around the face , peeking out is the inflator tube for the life jacket worn underneath ( but not seen ) , around his neck we have a scarf nicely shaped "a la cravat" at the front .

    The neck and shoulder areas are all ready to receive the arms and head with ease , there are god seams where the arm meets the torso, all looking very natural.
    Blondie 015.jpg Blondie 014.jpg Blondie 011.jpg Blondie 012.jpg Blondie 013.jpg Blondie 016.jpg
    On each Arm we have the Royal marine shoulder flash under this the Combined Ops badge , again a good rendition of both on both the sleeves , painting will bring this out again.

    Blondie 023.jpg Blondie 024.jpg Blondie 027.jpg Blondie 025.jpg

    Now to the Head itself ....one word really ...amazing
    Blondie 020.jpg Blondie 017.jpg Blondie 018.jpg
    Blondie 019.jpg
    The details shown in the face is without doubt Blondie , so lifelike I kept expecting him to talk , the face shows such determination, with eyes looking ahead , wrinkles around his eyes are all there to enjoy when painting , ears are very good , well shaped , both hair and eyebrows have good texture with the distinctive moustache having hairs you can almost count the detail is that good , ...the cap has excellent surface as well and very well shaped , on the chin we have shaving stubble , not overdone but very effective
    Blondie 021.jpg Blondie 022.jpg
    Final thoughts

    This is a big model and will without doubt be the centre piece of any display , painting will be deceptively simple ...but it will be the details that really will show when doing the brush/airbrush work..the result ...an amazing piece of work depicting an amazing man .

    A great presentation and a lot of resin !!

    For more information on this and other RP products why not contact them at

    website: www.rpmodels.pt

    E mail: sales@rpmodels.pt

    FB: www.facebook.com/RPmodels

    Thanks to Hugo from 01aa.jpg for the review model and to you all for looking in

  6. Nap A Fixture

    Lets have some more pictures

    1aaaaa.jpg 1a.jpg
    1aaa.jpg 1aaaa.jpg

    Happy modelling folks

    Borek and Dan Morton like this.
  7. Nap A Fixture

    Some good You tube videos to look at



    Borek and Dan Morton like this.
  8. Viking Bob PlanetFigure Supporter

    Again fantastic Nap, you must have a 25hr Day
    napoleonpeart likes this.
  9. Dan Morton A Fixture

    Top notch review!

    All the best,
    napoleonpeart likes this.
  10. Wayneb A Fixture

    Wow,...that looks to be a super quality piece........Great review Nap.
    napoleonpeart likes this.
  11. Hugo Pereira A Fixture

    Hello my GOOD FRIEND Kevin

    I want to express my gratitute to you my GOOD FRIEND... What a review... You can see everthing... The photos that you put are very good and you put some books that I read to understand better who is Herbert 'Blondie' Hasler... For me its very important try to understand who is the character... This is so important, because when I talk with all team, they understand what the person was, and can try to model, without forgot all aspects...

    I recocnize this piece is very good... But, once again, I have to recognize that you and many friends help us, and made possible... If RPmodels are in the good way its THANK YOU to all of you... Im very lucky because Ive so many people believe in us... So many lucky...

    And just want to express my GRATITUTE to all of you because the 75mm Edition is almost Out Of Stock... Has matter a fact the Edition was Out of Stock because we hve the 300 pieces reserved, but in the last weekend, one shop cancel the reserve... If there arent this cancel, RPmodels didnt have 75mm pieces available... So, I think in a few days all pieces are gone... LOL...

    I feel very proud to have so many people that believe in us, and there are always there to help us...

    napoleonpeart and Bootneck like this.
  12. Hugo Pereira A Fixture

    Ah I forgot to ask one thing Kevin...

    When I have the chance to see Maj. Hasler painted by You?

    I want to invite all of you... When you have the Blondie painted, please send us photos for we can share in our media places...

    Thank you.
  13. Stephan PlanetFigure Supporter

    wow, thanks.
    napoleonpeart likes this.
  14. Bigmick Active Member

    Beautiful review as ever Kev, thank you yet again for taking the time to give us such in depth reviews, I will be ordering this week and I think another visit to RM museum is in order.
    napoleonpeart likes this.
  15. Steve Brodie PlanetFigure Supporter

    Finally got one !, they seem to be rarer than hens teeth nowadays. Had to get him from the States and Evilbays GSP is a con but what can you do

    Also have the 75mm version of them both, so maybe build and paint them at the same time.
    Bootneck likes this.

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