Saturday, November 21, 2015

Plan or plan to fail

This month’s topic from the Sprue Cutter’s Union is:

“Do you plan and prepare for every step of your build’s process, or do you wing it as you go?”

My answer is a simple one...plan!

As I’ve gotten older, now in my late-forties, I increasingly find it important that I plan my builds with more diligence than I did in my younger years. I blame this on a poor memory or simply the aging process. Whatever it is, when I “fail to plan,” a phrase Jon used in his introduction to this month’s SCU topic, I usually forget something important.

For example, I forgot to add the control columns in an F-15B I built a couple of years ago. I forgot to remove the masks from the under-fuselage observation windows on my F4F Wildcat build earlier this year. I assembled a Rafale fighter without first considering how I would fill and smooth various seams after subsequent parts were attached. And I installed headlight guards upside down on an M117 Guardian.

I almost always begin a new project by studying photographs of the actual aircraft or vehicle (as well as particularly well built models), reading conversations about the model across the interwebz, and studying the unbuilt model. I’m looking for areas that I can improve and areas that might prove to be troublesome. I look at the aftermarket and photoetch parts that I will use and make notes about how they’ll be added to the kit. I mark up the kit instructions using a red pen, noting changes or additions I intend to make and refer to them throughout the course of the build. I also make notes to myself as I build the model, reminding myself to add this or that piece, to scribe a new panel line after fuselage assembly, etc.

This planning process is now very important to me. Planning reduces the chance that I’ll forgot something important and be left with a model that doesn’t get built or wastes my time. And the gods know that time is the one thing we never have enough of.

Remember the The Five P’s that I learned in the military…Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.


  1. You can't be serious - but I know you are - isn't that what the various instructions sheets are for? My planning merely involves buying whatever aftermarket items I think will enhance a kit - not all - and then incorporating them as the build progresses. Having worked in the military myself the instructions are no different to reading and following a manual. I employ the KISS principal - Keep It Simple Stupid.

    1. Sometimes, even with the instructions, you have those mental farts, and forget the most obvious piece.