Sunday, March 22, 2015
That Modular Thing Again, Hogs, A Ragged Hun, Tommy's Lightning, Two More From Biak, and a Voodoo or Two
So What's the Point?
It's been tough to get motivated lately, at least in terms of building something, which in turn made me think about why such things happen. For me it's a pretty easy equation since at the end of the day it all comes down to one of two things; laziness (the usual suspect) or general disinterest in Things Plastic at that particular point in time. It's a transitional situation at its worst and generally passes fairly quickly, but thinking about it got me considering other reasons why people don't finish models, which in turn reminded me of someone I used to know a very long time ago which, also in turn, brought me to the point of today's mindless ramble: The Perfectionist.
I used to know a guy a long time ago, back in the 60s, who was working on a 72nd-scale F-4 of some sort. (For the purpose of understanding this essay it's important for us to remember that, back in those days, there were only a handful of choices if you wanted to build a Phantom; the Airfix B-model that was later morphed into an E, the Revell B, and the Hasegawa J. Those kits were, and it's important to keep this in mind, the primordial 1/72nd scale F-4 models in our hobby. They were the first of the first, and they all were released before Monogram raised the bar beyond measure in 1967-68 with their 1/72nd scale P-51B and F8F-2.) He was, if memory serves, working off the Hasegawa kit, which was poor in the extreme and best described as a Tough Date, but it was available, kindof, and was therefore the starting place for a great many F-4J and F-4D models of the era.
There were a couple of different ways we approached the accuracy part of scale modeling way back then, in those primordial days before the existence of aftermarket. One way was to ignore the warts and just build the darned model, while the other way was to make an attempt at gathering accurate references so we could correct whatever kit we were working with and build something worthwhile. Most of the people I knew back them opted for an amalgam of the two philosophies, fixing what they could and ignoring the rest, but there was always that one guy who wanted his model to be a 100% nuts-on accurate replica of the Real Thing, to include every panel line, every piece of landing gear linkage, and so on and so forth. In short, That Guy raised his own personal bar so high that the F-4 could never, ever be finished, not by the hand of mortal man and certainly not in the allotted lifespan of any representative of homo sapiens.
It should be obvious from reading the above and taking the somewhat glaring leap of philosophical faith regarding That Guy's approach to scale modeling that the F-4 never was completed. The project may still exist for all I know, sitting in a box someplace because there's just too much work in it to throw it away, but it's an absolute certainty that the thing isn't done and never will be.
Let's jump forward to Right Now, a time and place where new kits can be every bit as inaccurate as the ones we fought with Way Back When but are far more frequently released and are of increasingly esoteric subjects---it would seem that every major aircraft type (except, of course for the FJ-3) has been, or is about to be, released as a kit by somebody or other. Since most of those kits aren't as good, accuracy-wise, as the kits Monogram was beginning to issue way back in 1968, there's a certain temptation to do a little correcting of the plastic, and that brings us to The Point, with apologies to Harry Nilsson.
Most days I'll spend at least a couple of minutes looking at the scale modeling boards I frequent, and at least once a week I'll see somebody's model on one of those sites that is so well done and intricately detailed as to make the casual observer think he or she is looking at The Real Thing rather than a scale representation of same. There are, and there's absolutely no doubt about it, some truly amazing modelers out there; people that are so incredibly good at what they're doing that you'd think scale perfection has actually been achieved. That's what you'd think, but at the end of the day the only way anyone is going to achieve 100% fidelity is to own a real airplane, or AFV, or whatever the object of that particular modeler's desire might be, and on top of that; to own one that's totally unrestored to boot. Scale modelers are, by inference and to an extent by definition, masters of illusion. Yes, the work that the masters of our hobby produce is amazing almost beyond belief, but at the end of it all there will still be places in the best of models where something was omitted, simplified, or glossed over in order to achieve the proper effect. The best we can do is pretty much the best we can do, regardless of how good we are. The guys who are really good at this whole scale modeling thing understand and appreciate that fact for the most part and, most importantly, they work with the skill-sets they've got. Yes, they aspire to do better on the next model; that's the nature of their approach to the hobby, but, unlike our friend That Guy from the beginning of this essay, they actually finish their projects and display them. They understand and accept limitations and deal with them. They finish things.
The reason I'm saying this is a simple one. Remember that part where I said that I read the boards most days and that I often see amazing work displayed on said boards? Well, there's a corollary there, because just as often I'll read a post from someone who's bemoaning their lack of skills and blaming that perceived lack of ability for not attempting to build whatever kit it is that they want to build but won't, all because they don't think they're good enough. Those folks won't stretch out beyond their present skill sets because they don't want to mess something up, and they blame it on that supposed lack of skills which honestly won't ever improve if they don't stretch out a bit and try something that's a little more difficult than they think they can accomplish. I'm privileged to run with a group of scale modelers that possess far greater ability at our hobby than I have ever had or ever will have, and I have yet to hear one of them ever say that they'd absolutely nailed a model and that it was perfect. What I have heard them say is how they could have done better on this thing or that thing, and how they learned from a mistake, and how the next model will be better because of it.
That Guy never finished his Phantom, and he never will. I've finished most of what I've started throughout my scale modeling career, and for the most part I'm happy with what I've done because I enjoyed whatever the kit was and, more importantly, I've learned from the experience. Real Good is possible and achievable, as is Excellent. Perfect, generally speaking, is not, so there's no point in putting off the building of something because you don't think you're good enough to do it. You will have learned from the experience even if you gome things up, and your next model will be better as a result of your efforts, so lighten up and enjoy our hobby.
I rest my case.
An Easier Way to Do It
Our regular readers are probably all sick to death of hearing me say how easy it is to build any given aircraft model in a series of modular components, but that's the truth of the matter, in my world at least. Here's yet another example of How That Works for your edification:
With any luck this project will be completed by the next issue so you can see how it turned out. In the meantime, why don't you consider this assembly philosophy for yourself? Not all kits lend themselves to it, but most modern ones do, and it will simplify your scale modeling life beyond measure. After all, you'll never know if you can use the technique or not if you don't try it!
That Bent-Wing Bird
Every once in a while we manage to come up with just enough photography of a particular topic to make us wish there was more, in order to allow a more complete photo essay to be prepared for your viewing. The trouble with that sort of thing takes us back to the essay we began this issue with---if we wait until we've got what we want there's a fair chance we'll never show you what we've got! With that said, here are a few images of Chance Vought's immortal Corsair sent to us many months ago by way of the Tailhook Association. They're somewhat of a hodge-podge, but are well worth your time! Let's take a look:
Still a Pretty Girl
Some airplanes look great in camouflage, and some don't. At the beginning of the Vietnam War North American Aviation's F-100D Super Sabre, aka the "Hun", was TAC's workhorse, the USAF's first true supersonic fighter, and PACAF's all-around cowboy, an aircraft assigned to a myriad of Pacific air bases and performing virtually every task the command required of a single-seat aircraft.
By mid-War, the F-100 had largely been relegated to the role of mud-moving, as exemplified by 56-3191, an F-100D-75-NA who's peacetime silver had long-since given way to a coat of wartime camouflage.
They Aren't All Public Domain
World War II Photographs, that is. A great many shots from that conflict were in fact taken by our government in the operational areas, but many others were taken by the people flying and working on the aircraft. These images are, we believe, two of those that were taken by an average GI with a camera. They're from Bobby Rocker's collection, and we hope you'll enjoy them.
And While We're At It...
Our contributors often send photography to us in multiples, as is the case in this instance. We were obviously excited to receive the two shots of Tommy McGuire's "Pudgy", but were equally excited by the other two images that accompanied them. Let's take a look!
If you're a fan of The Silver Air Force, then you're by default a fan of the McDonnell (not McDonnell Douglas!) F-101 Voodoo family of tactical aircraft. A couple of weeks ago we were having one of those electronic conversations with Mark Nankivil and the subject of F-101s came up. I asked if he might have a few images to share and he said Yes, after which the in-box became the object of affection for a veritable flood of Voodoo images. We're sharing a few of those, but only a few, with you today. Stand by, though; there are most assuredly more to come!
And that's it for this issue. March has proven to be an extraordinarily busy month for us and we've barely had time to accomplish much of anything in the way of aviation. With any luck we'll make it all up to you next time.
Meanwhile, be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon.