The Modeller’s Aviation Database

A scale model is “[…] only as good as the effort that went into the research of it.“ Dan Santich

“Most of us learn our hobbies by practical experience and don’t actively seek to become a better modeller – you simply learn how to deal with your mistakes! You become better by applying a series of processes during each stage of model-making that allows you to ensure a set standard. These standards are determined by your experience and we all find ourselves developing a personal style. However, once the basic aspects of model-making have been mastered, it is easy to find yourself very quickly in a rut. At this point, most modellers find themselves wanting more, often fuelled by what you see at model shows and in magazines, as you think ‘I wish I could do that…’.

Learning the processes that allow you to step up the quality of your modelling has always been difficult. Our hobby is very personal and hands-on, so it does not lend itself to easy forms of promoting higher skills. Many of you will be members of a local model club, and for those of you who are not, I urge you to join one. Talking with other modellers is a great way of learning new techniques.” Foreword by Richard A. Franks, Advanced Aviation Modelling

“As humankind learned that it really could live out the dream – of soaring with the eagles – the very terms of everyday life changed, as well as the course of history. The reality of flight brought far away places closer. It made the mountains not so high and the seas not so wide. It put freedom in the minds of some and struck terror in the hearts of others. Aviation transformed the modes of travel, as well as the tactics of warfare. And among his achievement man learned to fly both higher and faster than the eagles. He has his dream – his wings – now, and he uses them to fly to the far reaches of the earth. […]

As you recreate, in miniature, [the superb flying machines] allow your imagination to take you to the places where their reputations were made – over continents or seas, in a particular sky. Allow your senses to become alive to the elements; feel the salt spray as the great flying boats prepare for flight. Experience the then still fresh excitement of combat as aviation finds its role in World War I. Put yourself into the cockpit of an early carrier-based dive-bomber as it begins to dive on enemy ships. Be in command of one of the giant fortress, a B-17 bomber, high above enemy territory as it deliver its payload.” Introduction by Joe B. Hicks, Making Vintage Aircraft in Wood

Scale Aircraft Modelling History

“Solid modeling became an industry in World War II with the federally sponsored program to mass produce 1/72nd scale recognition models in high school shops. Postwar, scratch built solid soon gave way to preformed plastic. While this appeared to doom the requirement for hobbyist skill, it proved only the beginning – for kit bashers as well as scratchbuilders.” Scratch Built! A Celebration of the Static Scale Airplane Modeller’s Craft

“In the distant past, [modellers] were happy to spend their evenings building highly-detailed, authentic plastic models by Aurora, Hawk, Monogram, Revell, Airfix, and Frog. Most were built straight from the box with kit-provided decal. It didn’t matter that the decals were relatively thick and frequently inaccurate. Most of the models left unpainted (after all, they were molded in authentic colors), and what detail painting we did was done with a camel-hair brush. Airbrushes were only a distant dream, along with Fed Standard colors, high quality decals, super-detailing parts, and so much more.

Over the years things changed. Markings engraved directly into the model’s surface (so you know where to put the decal) vanished. General accuracy improved and fine detail began to appear. Cockpit interiors began to approximate the real thing, even to a point of an occasional bucket seat that was truly accurate. Gear wells, though most were years away from any sort of interior detailing, were at least properly-shaped cavities in the wings. Painting a black silhouette nest to the gear strut was finally a thing of the past.

By the late sixties, model building was beginning to attain the form with which we’re all familiar. Airbrushes were becoming fairly widespread and the Dremel Moto-Tool (now known as the Dremel MultiPro) was a common sight on most modeling benches. The International Plastic Modeleres’ Society (IPMS) had been conceived and firmly established in England, followed in short order by the IPMS/USA branch. One other thing was beginning to develop that would have a profound and permanent effect on model building as we know it: the birth of the aftermarket.

The aftermarket, simply put, is a group of product designed to be purchased after you buy the initial product. They’re intended as means of enhancing, improving, accurizing, detailing, etc., a particular product (in our case, a particular kit). It seemed to be a modeler’s natural reflex to want to put a model in variants, markings, and/or color schemes other than the ones provided by the manufacturer. […]

Seemingly never satisfied, model builders began turning to exotic materials in a never-ending, quest for more and better details. This meant stainless-steel tubing for guns with realistic bores, hypodermic needles for guns with beveled blast tubes, and so on. John Andrews, for example, went so far as to split grains of salt in order to represent knobs on the instrument panel of the Hawk 1/48th U-2 kit. […]

The rest, as they say, is history. Today we’re swamped with a plethora of resin accessories, conversions, detail sets, cockpit interiors, diorama components, complete kits, and more. For all practical purposes, you name it and someone, somewhere probably makes it in whatever scale you’re looking for. The trick is to find it since there are many hundreds of resin product manufactures.” How to Build and Modify Resin Model Aircraft Kits