Discoveries in the land o’ compulsive research…


So I brought two wrapped presents within the cost and content guidelines to my local (www.svsm.com) IPMS chapter, the Silicon Valley Scale Modelers, for the Christmas Gift Exchange. When all the shouting and after-game trading were done, I went home with a Tamiya 1994 Ford Mustang GT Convertible able and the Minicraft boxing of the Hasegawa 1/72 Grumman F11F-1 Tiger. Nice. My son Benjamin encouraged me on the Mustang, and I might not have chosen a curb-side Mustang kit, but one car and one airplane was just about right. I also had a challenge- at the end of the exchange someone proposed a “90 day wonder” contest for the kits acquired that day, at the March meeting. 90 days to build ’em, or not. Put up or shut up. Sounded good to me.

Seems to me that there are at least two kinds of model builders- those who dig the thing and want something the right shape, but aren’t as much into into making replicas of a particular, real, item at a particular point in time, and those who want to make a replica of a particular example of the general item, perhaps down to an exact date and time of day. Very often the obsessive particularist will get the whole story on the item they are modeling- where the real one was made, how it got where it went to, who used it and what happened to them. Photographs and memoirs are poured over to identify fiddly bits which might be one way or might be another. People building replicas of things they or their friends owned, used or served on or with are usually in this camp, but not always.

Whereas, the item-but-not-a-specific-replica modeler might immerse themselves in the whys and wherefores and the whole story (Dearborn and San Jose both build Mustangs in the 1960s, and each used their own series of-/family of- colors for body primers…) but instead of building the image of <whatever> at 10:30am, the second Monday in July, 1971, they build the one they want, (a metallic purple Mustang with a green interior) or something generally representative, “this is yellow because I found a can of yellow paint under the sink…”

As a gross (!) generalization, ship and airplane modelers tend to build replicas of specific, real, prototypes (as do many model railroaders, from whom we get the adjective, “Prototypical”), captured at a specific place and time. Many ship modelers can tell you not only how the specific ship in the class they modeled differs from others, but also which re-fits the model is between or after (This is how the Cutty Sark appeared on her fifth voyage, returning from Asia, after rounding Cape Horn… this is how the Tyrrell P-34 six wheeler appeared at Monaco in 1976… this is how the 617 squadron Lancasters appeared in March, 1944… etc.)

Car, military figure and vehicle fans and flying model airplane builders tend to build precise and accurate models in terms of shape but are somewhat more expressive in how they present them- custom paint jobs, their own version of camouflage schemes, a vehicle from the years x-y but painted and marked as if it were from another era. A model hot rod will faithfully replicate a Ford flat head with Holly carburetors and aftermarket heads, and the firewall of the model will be enhanced to look just like the real thing, with a pearlescent blue lacquer finash that represents the builder’s idea of the perfect color… or a flying A-10A Warthog (used in both US-Iraq wars) will fly in a green and tan over light-blue scheme somewhat akin to USAAF and RAF western desert markings from 1942, or a BMW coupe will be converted into a pickup-style two seater, like an El Camino or a Subaru Brat.

Both approaches are scholarly, both require the same craft and skill, but the points are different. Kinda like fiction and non-fiction writing: The products are different even though each can look like the other and both are more similar than different.

So in this case, I came down firmly in both camps. My F11F-1 (long nose) was build in the form the Blue Angels flew them, and my Mustang was build using the colors the factory used for body and interior, but I put saddle brown front and back seats and center console into an otherwise black interior, and used the rest-of-world side-marker lights behind the front wheels AND amber colored turn signals in back, instead of red.

I reproduced the color of the baked epoxy primer on the underside of the Mustang, but I also painted the brake calipers a bright blue to match the more-oir-less correct factory-ish metalis blue I panted on the body.

By contrast, the Tiger wound up with blue wheels and main gear legs. and blue landing gear doors, inside and out, but white in the gear wells because that’s my best reading of the available photos, and a new source, my third F11F book and (sixth reference for this project) agrees. Unfortunately, it also shows that that Martin Baker Mk 5 rocket ejection seat I put together seems never to have been deployed foir any F11… All that lovely detailing and  aren’t applicable. I’m not sure if I’m going to leave it or make another seat for it.

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3 responses to “Discoveries in the land o’ compulsive research…

  1. Pingback: car » Blog Archive » Discoveries in the land o’ compulsive research…

  2. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Ember.

  3. Thank you, Ember. having it be nice even though the point is not, er, obvious, seems close to good manners.

    Looking at what I wrote, I think I was bemused with myself for three things:

    Getting the most enjoyment from painting the underside and fiddly bits of the Mustang model, as oppposed to the shiny blue sheetmetal, and the black and ‘saddle’ interior.

    Reversing my initial conclusion on the painting of Blue Angel’s F11F-1 landing gear wells.

    Putting in a fair effort to find out what a Martin-Baker Mark 5 ejection seat looked like and building one, then finding no evidence they were ever actually used in F11F-1s, even if intended and approved for them

    *Compulsive* research… :^)

    Cheers!
    Bill

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