Panzer Tier

Panzer Tier, literally 'Tank Animal', was a 2003 joint project between Tomy, Wave Corporation and Kow Yokoyama. It was basically the 3rd re-release of the rarer 1/24 series of Zoids (Zoids typically being 1/72nd scale) ...

"In 1988, Tomy launched a sub-line of the OJR (Original Japanese Release), featuring larger-scale Zoids. The 1:24 line featuring Zoids of similar size to existing ones, but scaled for larger pilots. Each kit came with a 3 inch tall action figure of the pilot. Like the regular Zoids line, the Zoids were divided into Helic and Zenebas factions. The 1:24 Zoids were not a success, and discontinued after a year"

" In 1990, Tomy re-released several of the 1:24 scale Zoids in a new line called 'Zelve'. The Zoids were re-coloured from the OJR versions, and came with detailed, fixed-pose pilot figures instead of the action figure ones of the OJR. Zelve featured it's own 'Battle Story' on the boxes, but was unrelated to the Zoids battle story. Like the 1/24th Zoids, Zelve was a failure and quickly discontinued"

In 2003 the 'Zenebas Empire' Zoids from the 1/24 line that had been designed by Kow were re-issued under the new name 'Panzer Tier'. The Panzer Tier series box art featured re-colorized versions of the Zevle art (which had originally been painted by Yoshiyuki Takani-san, an artist famed for illustrating hundreds of tanks, combat aircraft and fighting ships since the late 1960's for companies such as Tamiya and Nichimo and also known to have been one of Yokoyama-san's main artistic influences) and a new painting by Kow for the Dontress. They were also re-imagined as 1/20 scale kits when Wave and Kow decided to add larger pilot sculpts by Heel-san of 'Love Love Garden' fame. The series consisted of 5 designs ...

Gorem ... a giant battle-ape armed with a '40mm Hyper Gatling Cannon'. Pilot sits inside the head, other crew can ride on a platform on it's back. Although slower than the Deathpion, the Gorem had much more firepower and was able to match the Megatropos to some levels of success.

The Roadskipper (ostrich type) was originally introduced when the republic was driven into the central mountain range by the first Death Saurers. The Empire made small-scale Zoids for combat in these areas in response to their guerrilla warfare tactics - the Roadskipper, in particular, was rival to the high speed Battlerover, the two being of similar size, speed and overall capability.

Shotwalker ... a lightly armed and armored spider scout.

The Deathpion was the 'weapon of choice' of the Zenebas Empire's special forces. This zoid was very balanced in all areas, making it a formidable opponent, being well armed in terms of both weapons and equipment. It was well protected for a zoid of it's size.

The Dontress, a mantis type zoid armed with 'Hyper Sabres' and a 'Beam Gun'.

Lucky Star

The emblem of the 357th Armored Huntsman Regiment, 3rd company, 2nd platoon.

Bryan Krueger pointed out to me that the insignia is actually the Finnish air force's blue swastika (Hakaristi) with the gaps filled in (makes sense considering that the other Jerry marking was also Finnish in origin). Interestingly the Finnish Hakaristi predates the Nazi Hakenkreuz (Hook Cross), the symbol apparently being a popular good luck talisman for many pilots during the early years of aviation.

Finland became independent after the break-up of the Russian Empire. Blue and white had always been the Finns' national colours so they were chosen for the national flag and the air force's insignia. Count von Rosen of Sweden was very involved with the setting up of the first Finnish Air Force so his personal swastika emblem was used as a wing and fuselage marking in blue on a white disc. This was sometimes painted on the rudder.

"Von Rosen had painted his personal good luck charm on the Thulin Typ D aircraft. This charm – a blue swastika, the ancient symbol of good luck – was adopted as the insignia of the Finnish Air Force. The white circular background was created when the Finns tried to paint over the advertisement from the Thulin air academy. The swastika was officially taken into use after an order by Mannerheim on 18 March 1918. The FAF had to change the insignia after 1945, due to an Allied Control Commission decree, where the swastika had to be abandoned due to the association with the nazism."

The forces of the U.S.S.R. invaded Finland in 1939. With the German invasion of Russia in 1941, Finland threw in her lot with Germany. The country was forced to sign a peace treaty with the U.S.S.R. in 1944 and to declare war on Germany. A swastika marking was obviously inappropriate, so a white, blue, white roundel was adopted.

The swastika (from Sanskrit svástika) is an equilateral cross with its arms bent at right angles, in either right-facing () form or its mirrored left-facing () form. Archaeological evidence of swastika-shaped ornaments dates from the Neolithic period and was first found in the Indus Valley Civilization of the Indian Subcontinent. It occurs today in the modern day culture of India, sometimes as a geometrical motif and sometimes as a religious symbol; it remains widely used in Eastern and Dharmic religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

In the Western world, the symbol experienced a resurgence following the archaeological work in the late 19th century of Heinrich Schliemann, who discovered the symbol in the site of ancient Troy and associated it with the ancient migrations of Proto-Indo-Europeans. He connected it with similar shapes found on ancient pots in Germany, and theorized that the swastika was a "significant religious symbol of our remote ancestors", linking Germanic, Greek and Indo-Iranian cultures. By the early 20th century, it was used worldwide and was regarded as a symbol of good luck and success as evident in the above 1920's American postcard. Despite this usage, the symbol has become stigmatized and to some extent taboo in the Western world because of its iconic co-option by Nazi Germany.

Supersonic Lynx, Farting Moose

The 'Wildcat' was one of the company insignia used by the 44th Armored Huntsman Regiment.

"This Jerry was painted for service in Northern Europe, summer 2885. 8 were sent to the 44th Armored Huntsman Regiment but one was lost and only 7 arrived. These went into battle immediately and, thanks to the heavy armor, even when hit didn't suffer any damage and managed their first kills on just the 2nd day after they were received. Unit emlem was the Wildcat and number was placed on the rear of the body instead of on the side as were the kill tallies."

The emblem is actually the 'Supersonic Lynx' of Finland's Lentolaivue 24 ...

Finland's premier fighter squadron during World War 2, Lentolaivue 24 (Flying Squadron 24) first saw action during the bloody Winter War of 1939-40, when the Soviet Red Army launched a surprise attack on the small Scandinavian country - the squadron enjoyed great success against numerically superior opposition. LLv 24 was once again in the thick of the action following the outbreak of the Continuation War in June 1941. Easily the air force's most successful fighter unit, LLv 24 claimed 877 kills, and its pilots won five direct and two indirect Mannerheim Crosses (Finland1s highest military award) out of a total of 19 presented to all Finnish soldiers. Most top aces also scored the bulk of their kills flying with this unit.

"No. 24 Squadron (Finnish: Lentolaivue 24 or LLv.24, from 3 May, 1942 Le. Lv.24), renamed No. 24 Fighter Squadron (Finnish: Hävittäjälentolaivue 24 or HLe.Lv.24 on 14 February 1944) was a fighter squadron of the Finnish Air Force during WWII. The squadron was part of Flying Regiment 2.
During the Winter War, all Fokker D.XXIs - Finland's only modern fighter - were concentrated into the No. 24 Sqn, making it the only frontline fighter force.
No. 24 Squadron was the most successful fighter squadron of the Finnish Air Force during World War II, claiming 877 aerial victories for a loss of 55 aircraft. The unit produced seven Mannerheim Cross winners, including Ilmari Juutilainen and Hans Wind, the two top-scoring aces.
After the re-organization of the Finnish Air Force after WWII, HLeLv 24 was renamed into HLeLv 31. Today it is part of the Karelian Wing, flying F-18 Hornets and still sporting the "Supersonic Lynx" as its emblem."

A picture of the only surviving Brewster Buffalo fighter aircraft. The Finnish Air Force Brewster model 239 fighter BW-372 crashed in a lake in Sekee, Karelia (now part of Russia) during WW2 and was found and recovered in 1998. The former US Navy plane is now in the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, US.

"A Finnish Air Force Brewster BW-239 piloted by lieutenant Lauri Pekuri on a reconnaissance task behind enemy lines. Pekuri soon confronted enemy planes, four Hurricane fighters. In the ensuing dogfight he shot down one Hurricane, but was himself hit in the engine which started to burn. Trailing black smoke he turned west towards his home base. Pekuri soon realised he had to find a place to make an emergency landing. The only open spot in the forest-covered landscape was a lake, toward which he steered.
A roaring engine and a shadow above Pekuri's plane. One of the enemy Hurricanes zoomed past with surplus speed from its dive. The underside of the enemy plane suddenly fills the Brewster's sights. Pekuri fires a series against the Hurricane which folds and crashes in the forest. The Brewster pilot steers toward the lake for a belly landing. The plane flips on its back, becomes filled with water and sinks. Pekuri extricates himself from the wreckage, having reached the surface he kicks off his boots and swims to shore. Then he penetrates 15 miles on foot through the wilderness to the Finnish lines."

A more detailed account of Lauri Pekuri's miraculous escape can be read here.

Above is the 'Farting Moose' emblem of 2/Le. Lv.24, almost destroyed after being submerged in a Russian lake for more than half a century.

Mr Peanut goes to War

According to the Maschinen Krieger back-story the armored fighting suits created by the Mercenary scientists and engineers were referred to as 'Peanuts' because of their thick, impenetrable shells. Subsequently the unmanned Strahl hovertanks that were designed to hunt down and destroy the A.F.S.s came to be known as 'Nutcrackers' (though due to a misunderstanding or mistranslation the Japanese authors used the word 'Nutrocker', a term which has stuck ever since).

"Originally designated 'P.K.H.103/1a & 1b' by the S.D.R. forces that used them as a stopgap measure until the P.K A. became available, the design proved unexpectedly successful on the battlefield right from the beginning and was dedicated to hunting down AFS units, which both the Shutoral and Mercenary forces called 'peanuts'. It destroyed so many 'peanuts' that it came to be called a 'nutcracker' by both friend and foe alike. Soon this nickname was adopted as it's formal name combined with it's official designation ... Nutcracker P.K.H. 103."

I think Mr. Peanut would have made a very appropriate unit insignia for the Mercenary army especially as top hats and monocles are recurring motifs in WWII nose art.

"Mr. Peanut reigns supreme in the antiques community as the first advertising icon. Introduced in 1916, the debonair marketing image of Mr. Peanut derived from a crude drawing by a Virginia schoolboy. Prompted by a nation-wide logo contest sponsored by the Planters Company, schoolboy Antonio Gentile won $5 for his design submission of Mr. Peanut. Then, a professional illustrator enhanced the youngster’s drawing adding the monocle and top hat to create the company logo that is a class above the rest."

The picture below illustrates the evolution of Mr. Peanut from his origins as a foppish dandy to the debonair gentleman we know him as today ...

Despite not making the grade as a Ma.K unit insignia, Mr. Peanut's 1950's incarnation did make a guest appearance in the Ma.K Falke profile in an article titled "peanut painting" where Kow explains the benefits of painting two of the same figure at once ... 

Archelon - 'Ruler Turtle'

It's little wonder that the AFS Archelon decal sheet includes turtle markings as the suit was named after the largest of all sea turtles known to have existed ... the colossal ARCHELON ISCHYROS (Greek - 'Ruler Turtle'), specimens of which have been discovered measuring up to 4 meters long and nearly 5 meters wide!

Carnage Heart

Another of my interests is Kow's non-Ma.K work. As well as being a respected painter and model builder Yokyama-san has also contributed to the design of many computer games and even a few films. Among these lesser known projects were the Mecha that Kow created for the Playstation game 'Carnage Heart' and it's sequels. Some of these mechs could almost be seen as progressions of the designs he did for 'Robot Battle 7'. The blurb for the game reads ...

"In the near future, a giant corporation will have taken over one of Jupiter's moons, with the intention of mining minerals from the moon for profit. However, the World Government wants to use the minerals to benefit humanity. A war always breaks out when greed and altruism collide, and this is where you step in. You aren't a soldier, you're an engineer and computer programmer, and you are going to run the war. You'll have to Construct Overkill Engines (OKEs) which are unmanned mechs from available parts or invest money in research and design. Once the basic design for your OKEs is complete, program their AI. Every aspect of combat must be accounted for: when to dodge, how to attack, what evasive maneuvers to take. Then let the OKEs act according to their programs. In the war of CARNAGE HEART, brains, not brawn, will win the day."

The following article was written by Jeffrey Fleming for 'Games Collector's Melancholy' ...

"Carnage Heart was designed by Masaki Iizuka with mecha designs by artist and kit modeler Kow Yokoyama. It was firmly rooted in the ‘realistic robots’ tradition of Japanese sci-fi and featured mechs fighting corporate battles across the moons of Jupiter. Packaged with two dense manuals and a separate tutorial disc, Carnage Heart was not a game that one could just pick up and start playing.You begin by designing your combat units called Over Kill Engines, choosing their body type, engine size, armaments, and other accessories. This part is fairly generic and familiar to anyone who has spent time with Armored Core. Once a design is settled on, you also have to put it into mass production which involves managing factory assembly lines while making sure income levels stay in the black. There are also opportunities to do business with various trans-national corporations, buying technology, funding research, and engaging in a bit of industrial espionage.

So far, all of this sounds interesting but not radically different from many other strategy/economic sim games. What really makes Carnage Heart distinctive is that you have no direct control over your Over Kill Engines when they enter combat. Instead, during the design phase you must preprogram the combat behavior of your Over Kill Engine. This is done by laying out modules of set commands on a grid and linking them together in a flow chart of “IF... THEN...” statements. A simple example would be IF enemy detected within 100 meters THEN fire main weapon.

Of course, success in the game requires much more subtle strategies. There is a wide variety of modules to work with, including the ability for OKEs to communicate with each other, enabling complex, coordinated attacks. Once you become familiar with Carnage Heart’s programming language much of the pleasure of the game comes from working out clever OKE programs. It is a remarkable and creative experience to able to “play” the game while sitting at a table with pencil and paper, writing new programs to try out.
First published for Japan in 1995, Carnage Heart was brought to the U.S. in 1997 by Sony Computer Entertainment in an ambitious attempt to push the boundaries of console video games. Unfortunately, the game’s indirect and rigorously intellectual style of play was a hard sell to an audience more accustomed to fast action and glossy visuals. Spare, complex, and difficult, Carnage Heart was like a cup of hot, black coffee that few had the taste for.
Although Carnage Heart quickly vanished without a trace in America, the game enjoyed an extended life in Japan. In 1997 Artdink brought out a revised version of Carnage Heart called Carnage Heart EZ (Easy Zapping). A full sequel followed in 1998 titled Zeus Carnage Heart Second for both Playstation and Windows. In 1999, Artdink brought out Zeus II Carnage Heart and sponsored national Carnage Heart competitions in Japan to promote the game. The series lay dormant for several years until Carnage Heart Portable for the Sony PSP was recently published in Japan by Genki in the fall of 2006.
Resources for English speaking Carnage Heart enthusiasts are scarce. In the spring of ‘97 Sony began publishing its Playstation Underground CD magazine. Included in Volume 1, Issue 1 was a Carnage Heart demo along with a set of OKE designs from Artdink that could be downloaded on to a memory card. Issues of Playstation Underground show up from time to time for auction but generally do not sell for much.
Sometimes the most interesting games in a collection are not necessarily the most expensive ones. Carnage Heart can be found with relative ease for around $20, making it a painless acquisition for those wanting to add some depth to their collection."

Gameplay videos for Carnage Heart and Zeus 2.

Desert Viper

Two units with similar snake motifs receive special mention on the Hornisse and PKA H1 camo cards ...

"Gear for Private Oswald Lenpge, of the 12th Armored Hunting Soldier Regiment 5th Company. This was used to defeat 2 AFS during the North American combat. It shows the snake that was the personal symbol of this private. (This later became the symbol of the platoon) It was learned that this private had committed a crime prior to enlisting but this went unnoticed in the activities of the regiment. Since it would have resulted in a military discharge and arrest, the private was desperate. At night, the private sprayed paint across the majority of the canopy, 2 places in the front and one place on each side, leaving a narrow transparent slit. Afterwards, the G model and G-night combat model were modified to this and he was kept active as well as promoted."

"Gear for the 114th Combat Air Force (JG 114) that was spread across North Africa in the subterranean lakes. The basic color was a sandy yellow~desert pink with green gray Splinter camouflage to combine the sandy region spotted with oasis. These units were typically equipped with a ventilation system that filtered sand."

Clearly both insignia are an homage to the mysterious 'Desert Viper' of 6/StG 2. Camouflage was obviously of secondary importance when this extraordinary paint job - producing undoubtedly the most colorful of all desert Stukas - was undertaken. Such a snake motif adorned at least two different aircraft, but whether they were both flown by the same pilot - Lt. Hubert Polz - or were a short-lived staffel (or even Kette) decoration is unknown.

"Hubert Polz's snake-marked Ju 87 is arguably the ultimate example of World War II German nose-art. Despite all the popularity this Ju 87R-2/trop is somewhat mysterious. It is even not sure if this very Stuka was his personal mount.
Probably during a certain period of time around July 1942 the entire flight of 6/StG 2 bore the snake emblem. It is still not established with any degree of certainty if the snake was white-and-red or white-and-sand. Analyzing surviving photos it is less likely that the snake was formed out of white outlines only"

The Cat and The Moon

This emblem seems to have originated on the famous U-48 but then later it was also used on many other U-boats as officers from U-48 moved on to new commissions. U-564 also carried the famous 'three black cat' motif of Teddy Suhren who, along with Prien and Kretschmer, was one of the top U-Boat commanders during the battle of the Atlantic.

"U-48 or Unterseeboot 48 was a German Type VIIB submarine of the Kriegsmarine during World War II. U-48 was the most successful U-boat commissioned into the Kriegsmarine during the World War II. During her two years of active service, U-48 sank 55 ships for 321,000 tons, and damaged two more at 12,000 tons on twelve war patrols conducted during the opening stages of the Second Battle of the Atlantic. She was a Type VIIB submarine with five torpedo tubes and an 88 mm deck gun. She was very fast and agile, thanks to her dual rudders, and could patrol for approximately a month at a time, giving her a range comfortably across the North Atlantic."

A Dog's Life

Bonzo the dog was a fictional character (a chubby little white pup with sparse spots, a stubby tail and big blue eyes) created by British artist George E. Studdy in the early 1920's.

"Bonzo became the inspiration for much commercial merchandise, such as cuddly and mechanical toys, ashtrayspincushions, trinket boxes, car mascots, jigsaw puzzles, books, calendars, candies, and a profusion of postcards.
Bonzo, wearing a set of headphones, became associated with the "Crosley Pup", an affordable mass-produced AM radio introduced by Powel Crosley Jr. in the United States in 1925. Years later, both Bonzo commercial items and Crosley Pup radios became valuable as collectibles. A paper mâché Crosley Bonzo is on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C."

So what's the Ma.k connection you ask? I'm getting to it ...
Just as they had borrowed America's Mickey Mouse, the Luftwaffe also chose to adorn their aircraft with Britain's Bonzo the Dog who became the staffel insignia for I./JG 2.

So finally we come full circle ... Bonzo (as he was depicted by I./JG2) was included on the 1/6 Nitto Melusine decal sheet as the insignia for the 7th Armour Hunting Soldier Battalion, 1st company, 3rd Platoon.  

"7th Armored Hunting Soldier (Army) Battalion 1st Company 3rd Platoon "Fighting Dog" Unit. The unit was unprepared for the New Zealand combat and suffered many casualties but for 8 months after the end of the war, they continued occupying this same territory. The diagram shows the camouflage from winter to early summer."

... Bonzo appeared again on the decal sheets of both Modelkasten Melusine releases.