Sunday, September 30, 2012

The chicken or the egg?

Normal people buy a model and then they get the reference books and aftermarket accessories they need for it. But I'm not normal, and I'm guessing you're not either.

When I was at the IPMS Nats last month I took interest in the new book on the de Havilland Sea Vixen from Barraduda Studios proprietor Roy Sutherland. I was aware of the new Cyber Hobby Sea Vixen, but I have to be honest and say that it didn't really do much for me, despite being one of the most unique aircraft of the Sixties and Seventies, and possibly the three decades since.

I recently realized (and like an alcoholic: admitted) that I most enjoy buiding models with additional detail, so after looking through Roy's book and being impressed at the photographic coverage he provides of the airplane, my interest in the Sea Vixen was piqued. Unfortunately I didn't buy the book at that time (sorry Roy).

One month later I stumbled upon the book on eBay and wound up winning it for a bargain price, so here I am with a great book but no model. Now this isn't the only time I've put the chicken before the egg...or is it the egg before the chicken? I occasionally buy a book, decals, or photoetch before I have a kit for them. I don't think that's too crazy. I mean, there are certain aircraft or tanks that I know I'm going to build, so why not do things backwards from time to time, right? Please tell me that I'm not the only person who does this.

Fast-forward to yesterday and a quick trip to the LHS to buy the Airfix 1/72 Canberra B(8) that's been there for the last several years. Of course as fate would have it, someone's bought the kit since my last visit. Damn! But...there on the shelf is a Cyber Hobby Sea Vixen. Needless to say, it followed me home like a lost puppy and tonight I'll be taking advantage of Squadron's 20 percent off sale and ordering the Eduard photoetch set.

Did I mention I already have the Eduard photoetch for that Canberra I was looking for?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Reality and interpretation

I recently came across Rolf B. Basle’s build of a Ju-88C-6 on 72nd Scale Aircraft and found that his approach to modeling is similar to mine, and I thought it would be interesting to discuss it here on Scale Model Soup.

Many moons ago someone (I don’t remember who) told me this maxim, “Representation, not duplication.” What he was trying to say in that concise statement is that as modelers we generally don’t try to duplicate each and every detail in our models. We try to merely represent the actual aircraft or vehicle in miniature. This is important for several reasons.

First, there are technological limitations in the kits we build. For example, we’ll probably never see a canopy produced in actual scale thickness in anything below 1/32 scale.

Second, as I’ve come to learn each of us participates in the hobby with the talent and skills we are blessed with (or not blessed with, as the case may be). You may not have the skills to superdetail a cockpit in 1/72 like a Derek Brown or Ken Belisle, so you do the best you can with imperfect results.

Finally, as Rolf found in his Ju-88 project, there are likely limitations to the information available to us. Rarely do we have access to enough documentation to make definitive statements in the way a particular airplane was painted or configured at any specific point in time. Those of us who build modern subject matter have more information than others in the hobby, but those of you who spend your time in older genres know the inherent challenges of building a model that is 100 percent accurate.

Having entered and judged many contests over the years I’ve often been annoyed at the prospect of asking modelers to document their models in order to justify the paint scheme or explain the loadout he chose. Maybe you’ve heard me screaming, “It’s just a stupid model contest, not a doctoral thesis defense!”
That said, I think we can learn something from academics, who often have to make a more or less definitive statement and defend it with evidence or prove it with a series of logical arguments. That’s exactly what Rolf did. He reviewed the reference material he had, found some of it speculative, and drew his own conclusions based on (what seems to me) to be sound logic. The result is a model that is a solid representation of a Ju-88 of V/KG 40.

At the end of the day I hate to think that any of us is withholding a project because we don’t believe we have definitive information to proceed. I encourage you to use your head for something other than a hat rack (as my drill instructor told me in 1986). Don’t be afraid to study the documentation you have and draw your own conclusions.

And by the way, Rolf’s execution of the paint scheme on the Ju-88 is outstanding as well! What a great looking model!

(Thanks to Rolf for the use of his photograph.)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Something for the true Phantom phanatic

You're an aviation enthusiast, right? You claim to be a "Phantom phanatic?" Okay then, put your money where you mouth is and buy this F-4 engine cover I noticed on eBay this morning.

You have a day and half to bid as I write this. I'd love to buy it, but I don't have any good ideas on what to do with it. Maybe build a circular frame for it and display it on a wall? What do you think?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Old timey aeroplane films

I enjoy watching old aviation films, like this one about the first flight of the B-58 in 1956. They can be a bit campy, but it's fun to see these old aircraft as they were back in the day, not displayed as museum pieces or (god forbid) gate guards.

A few things struck me on watching this particular movie that I thought I'd share for shites and grins.

  • How far aviation had come in just the 11 years following the end of World War Two.
  • How frustrating it must have been for the pilot to not take off during the first run on the runway, knowing the airplane wants to fly and wanting to fly himself!
  • How odd to use a prototype aircraft (the YF-102) as a chase plane for the B-58. I wonder why they didn't use two F-94s.
  • I never realized until now how much the fuselage of the B-1 resembles that of the B-58.

Now where's my Italeri kit?


Monday, September 17, 2012

A quick trip to the Air Force Museum

I was in Ohio over the weekend for a wedding, and I had the opportunity to make a very quick trip to the Museum of the United States Air Force. I was stationed at Wright-Patterson AFB during my enlistment, so I've been there many times, but walking among the aircraft always re-ignites my passion for aviation and my enthusiasm for the hobby. As I told a couple of my friends, I found myself walking the hangers and thinking, "Wow, I really need to build a model of that. And of that. And that one, too." Retirement can't come too soon!

It's one of the best museums of ANY kind that I've visited. The staff has done a wonderful job of combining static displays of aircraft with hundreds of smaller displays that put the aircraft within their historical context and bring the human element into the picture. It truly is a remarkable museum by any standard. Most of you have probably been to the museum as well, so I won't bore you with any kind of review of the museum, but I will share a few random thoughts that I noted while there.

The B-18 Bolo is displayed on six-feet tall pedestals, so you get a clear view up into the bomb bay. I was struck at how small the bomb bay is. That's a lot of airplane for a relatively small bomb load! Maybe I'll get that Special Hobby kit after all!

Coolest 50s era jet...the B-58 Hustler. That plane to me epitomizes the design aesthetic of the day, and my Italeri kit is now begging to be built.

Most impressive plane...the B-36 Peacemaker. I've loved that plane since I saw the classic movie Strategic Air Command! But where would I put the Monogram kit (if I had one)?

With the announcement of the Kinetic F-102, I took special interest in the F-102 Delta Dagger on display. The model should be most impressive if the racks for the Genies can be assembled extended.

Most sentimental aircraft for me...the UH-1P Huey. When I was in AFJROTC in Florida, the 56th TTW flew one of their two UH-1Ps to our little airport every year to give the cadets orientation flights. It's very likely that I flew in the very helicopter displayed in the museum.

You don't get to see a MiG-29 every day, so I was struck at how small the plane is. The Soviets may have modeled it after the F-15, but it's tiny in comparison.

Most impressive restoration...The Martin MB-2, completely scratchbuilt from Martin drawings.

Most beautiful plane in a 1930s kind of way...the Caproni CA.36. It's odd to see a foreign-made aircraft in an American museum, but the Italians sure know a thing or two about design, whether it's airplanes or cars.

I could write all day about the museum, but I thought I'd just share those few nuggets. If you find yourself in a modeling slump, invest $500 in an overnight trip to Dayton and visit the museum. In the meantime, if you're not a Friend of the museum, consider doing so. (Their magazine is really nice.)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I need an apprentice

You may have heard about Dragon's surprise announcement of their upcoming T-28 tank. If you're an armor modeler you have to be intrigued by the tank's unique nature, just as you were years ago with Dragon's Maus or more recently with Meng's VsKfz.617 Minesweeper. Some models just beg to be built no matter what your primary interest is.
But just as my excitement peaked on studying the T-28 box art, a pessimistic little voice inside my head said, "Ummmm, maybe not." What happened? I noticed all of those road wheels and track links! By my estimates there are approximately 650 road wheels and 4,300 track links.
Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit, but I think there are just over 100 road wheels and too many track links than I care to count. No matter how you factor it, that's a lot of tedious cutting and sanding and gluing. Our hobby is all about tedium, but is there a point where you say it's just too much work?
That's why I need an apprentice. I need a young, enthusiastic young man you wants to learn the art of modeling by working at my side for ten years, or until he preps all those road wheels and track links for me. Hell, even Michelangelo had an apprentice, (Daniele da Volterra) and was an apprentice himself (to Domenico Ghirlandaio).
Who will be the first to apply?

Friday, September 7, 2012

A few dozen MiGs

With Eduard's new 1/72 MiG-15 just a month or so away from its release, I received an exciting email this morning from Radek Vavřina of R.V. Aircraft, the same guy that brought us the very nice series of MiG-23s in 1/72nd scale. Among his list of September releases are two new sheets of decals for the MiG-15. Radek provides some very interesting options, including an unusual all-black airplane, for a total of almost 36 aircraft!

Here's the complete list of September releases:

RVD 48012  MiG-21MF decal set 1/48 complete
RVD 48013  MiG-23 Stencils  1/48
RVD 48015  MiG-21MF decal set 1/48 vol. I
RVD 48016  MiG-21MF decal set 1/48 vol.II
RVD 72014  MiG-21MF decal set 1/72 (42 aircraft)
RVD 72017  MiG-15bis decal set Soviet aces in Korea  1/72
RVD 72018  MiG-15 decal set MIX  1/72

Look for pictures of Eduard's MiG-15 on their Facebook page (and maybe on their web site by the time you read this).

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Does size matter?

I'm a man of contrasts, just ask my girlfriend. She's been trying to put a label on me for the last five months. Epic fail. That's why I'm particularly amused at the contrast between my current work-in-progress (WIP) and the newest acquisition to my stash.

You may recall my interest a few weeks ago in learning how to rig bi-planes, and thus my tiny little 1/72 Nieuport 17 has progressed nicely. I've painted it, applied the Future, and decaled it. So far so good, more or less.

You can see the little guy (next to a quarter) there on the white card on top of my new Trumpeter 1/32 F-105D. The model arrived yesterday thanks to a sweet deal on ARC. Only $85, shipping included! I've always a thing for the F-105, and I have ten or so in the stash from 1/144 to 1/72 to 1/48. In fact I think one of the earliest models I built was the early (very early) Monogram F-105 from the 1970s. I'll have more to share about a chance crossing of F-105 history and one of my models in the future, but for now I'm enjoying the size difference between these two models. And that's just the forward fuselage of the F-105, less the tail assembly!

While I'm mentioning the Nieuport 17, I should point out something I learned tonight about Eduard's decals. Despite my adoration of Solvaset, they had practically no effect on Eduard's decals. So if you've got any of their kits in your stash, be forewarned.

Oh, and yes that is a Debbie Gibson card at the back of my workbench. I had a crush on her as a teenager and saw her in concert a few years ago for New Years. So what?