Or to put it another way; Huh?
A couple of days ago I was reading the handful of modeling boards that constitute the beginning of cognizance for me on most mornings and I noticed a thematic trend, or maybe I didn't notice a trend at all and am simply making this up for the sake of a lead-in to today's somewhat deranged meandering. Which one doesn't matter. You have to start somewhere, right?
Here's the premise. It's one you're all familiar with because it comes around a couple of times a year, each and every year, but it always amazes me so by simple association it must surely amaze you as well. Well, maybe it does or maybe it doesn't, but the topic of the hour is Kits I Want Somebody to Produce For Me. It's a simple topic if taken at face value: Nobody makes a decent kit, or makes one in my chosen scale, or makes one at all, of the (fill in the blank here), which happens to be my very favorite airplane ever, one which I want more than anything else in the whole entire universe, and somebody ought to do that. Somebody really ought to.
Let's think about Somebody who ought to make that kit for just a minute, because the term encompasses quite a bit of territory, starting with the guys who produce a handful of kits out of resin, maybe in their garage, and running right up to the big-name manufacturers of polystyrene kits, with all sorts of permutations within those boundaries. Somebody ought to devine (that means figure out) the kit I want, design and produce it to Tamiya standards, and sell it at a price I can easily afford, but that won't happen if I'm the only one who wants it, so lets take a poll, or have a survey, or do something, doggone it, because I/we really really want that kit!
Here's how it works. Somebody starts a thread on one of those boards by asking which airplane the readership most wants to see produced in whatever medium may be under discussion, which in turn produces a veritable cascade of I Wants from Said Readership. Some of the I Wants will have considerable merit, some will be somewhat questionable, while a large percentage will fall into that rabbit hole that lives out there in They Don't Know How This Works In The Real World Land. Don't believe me? Try these on for size, then:
The B-36, in 1/48th or 1/32nd scale. Yes; that very thing actually shows up on lists from time to time. There's at least one kit out there in 1/144th, and there's Monogram's magnificent effort in 1/72nd, but that latter offering never sold well when it was new because of size and cost so bigger might not necessarily be better---maybe that one's not such a great idea after all...
American jet fighters of the 1950s, to include the Century Series. Almost any of those could be legitimate to some extent, because most of the available kits are old and getting older by the minute, or of extremely mediocre quality, but there's a catch. (There's always a catch!) There are folks out there who would like a state-of-the-art Lockheed F-90, or a Chance Vought F6U, but you can count those folks on the fingers of one hand (which means zero interest from the big name manufacturers) and besides, we can't even get a slat-wing F-86 in most of the available scales, much less a Pirate. Add to that general mayhem the rather obvious fact that the variant of our hypothetical 50s jet fighter that someone actually chooses to kit won't ever be the one people will go out and buy, even if that variant is the exact same one they put on their Gotta Have One lists. They'll ask for a C-model and get it, and then bemoan the fact that they didn't get an A-model too or instead of. Go figure, right?
'Tween the Wars and Great War biplanes of any sort are in there too, and I have to admit the prospect of that one definitely gets me excited, but the folks who manufacture kits of such things are few and far between and the kits are almost invariably poor sellers, Wingnut Wings notwithstanding.
One-offs of any era. Decent kits of airplanes like The Spirit of St Louis will sell, usually. So will the true oddballs, but they'll only sell to a small circle of enthusiasts and therein lies the rub!
People who make short-run kits out of resin, or by way of 3D printing, or vacuumforms, or with tissue paper and popsicle sticks, tend to do it as a labor of love, but at some point even the most altruistic of those folks would like to receive some degree of adequate financial compensation for their efforts, if only to cover their costs as opposed to producing their short-run kits at a continual loss. The big companies who produce kits out of injection-molded polystyrene have a completely different business model; the guy in the garage can break even and consider it a Good Thing because he loves what he's doing, but those big guys who have employees and overhead to deal with need to make a lot more money than that, an event that will never occur if they chose to invest in 1/32nd scale kits of the legendary (and entirely mythical) Humbly Pudge Heavyish Bomber.
There's the kicker then, which also happens to be The Point: You want one of whatever-it-is, you get a bunch of people on those modeling boards excited and wanting one too, and some manufacturer, large or small but almost inevitably either heavily dedicated to the hobby or just not very bright, takes the bait and produces one. Its retail cost, medium, and degree of sophistication reflect the slings and arrows of research, tooling, production and probably overhead, and that guy who started the whole thing in the first place decides not to buy one because it costs more than he wants it to, a price that, in the eye of the requestor, is often just barely more expensive than Free. Most of his friends don't buy one either, possibly because they never really wanted one in the first place. The eventual bottom line gets us to the inevitable part where the manufacturer thinks twice before ever going down that road again. Don't believe me? Look around!
One the other hand, we're actually getting some of the things we thought we'd never see, like that new F-51H that, so there's always hope. I wouldn't hold my breath over the Humbly Pudge bomber, though...
Phantoms in the TXANG
San Antonio's 149th TFG has been in the fighter business for quite a while, and for a portion of that career, back during the late 1970s through the late 1980s, were flying the legendary Double Ugly, the mighty McDonnell Douglas F-4C Phantom II. I used to get out to their ramp from time to time and would like to share one of those adventures with you, from a shoot in November of 1979.
That's it for today's look at the immortal "Phantoom", although you can pretty much bet you'll be seeing more of the type in the months ahead. We're fond of the Phantom II around here, dontchaknow?
One Big Honkin' Flying Fortress
By now you've all noticed that certain folks show up repetitively on these pages. One such individual is Norman Camou, who has supported us with a seemingly endless supply of really neat YouTube links to aviation topics and, more recently, with photographs of some of his models. Here's yet another example of the latter:
Norm's B-17G is seriously cool, but that shot is also the only photograph of a completed model we've received here since I asked for such submissions last issue. No, wait; Frank Emmett did send me a couple of pictures of some model railroad buildings he's working on for a mutual friend of ours, but nobody else has, so I'd like to re-extend the invitation to you all. Remember that title: Replica in Scale? That "replica" part means models, ya'll! I happen to like what Norm's doing, and I tend to like what I'm doing as well but it's a far bigger world than that so how about it? Do you build? Do you build to a reasonable standard? Then you're our guy or gal! Photos should be in JPG format if possible and large enough to present well. You don't get paid for them, nor do you receive any sort of prize, but you probably will get your fifteen minutes of fame if we publish one of your photos. That e-mail addy, suitably gomed-up to mess with The Spam Brigade, is replicainscaleatyahoodotcom .
Willy in the Balkans
Or one of his creations, anyway. This one's a reproduction of a JG27 BF-109E-7 in use during the latter stages of Operation Marita, Mr Hitler's ultimately flawed excursion into the Balkans, and is from the much maligned 1/32nd scale Eduard kit:
On the other hand, the Eduard kit just isn't very good when taken as a serious replica of the E-series Bf109s. There are some dimensional issues that are difficult to address in addition to other flawed details, and there's actually no point in building one if you have the far better Dragon offering available to you BUT that's with a huge caveat. The kit is extremely buildable, and it looks pretty good once it's done, but like we said, it isn't accurate out of the box and getting it up to a higher level of fidelity to the real thing is a chore at best. It can be done, of course; just go over and visit the fine folks at BritModeller and look for examples of what some of their contributors have done with the kit if you don't believe me. The point is that a decent-looking, if somewhat inaccurate, model can be produced from the kit. Would I enter this model in a contest? No; I would not. Would I put this model in my 1/32nd scale Luftwaffe collection as an adequate representation of a late Emil? Yes I would, and in point of fact I have. It's all something about the eye of the beholder, if I'm not mistaken...
A Nifty Warhawk From Bobby
An issue of Replica just wouldn't be the same if we didn't offer a photo or two of the war in the Pacific from Bobby Rocker's extensive archives. Let's begin with a really nice P-40N:
Just How Low Is Low?
Yep; that's a rhetorical question, and one that makes no sense without a context. Let's consider the American 5th Air Force in the Southwest Pacific as context then, because Low had a whole lot of meaning for them, at least where their attack aircraft and medium bombers were concerned.
And Now For Another Havoc
Just one, but it's a SPECIAL one! Take a look and see if you don't agree!
Many thanks to Gerry Kersey, both for correcting some misinformation we had on this aircraft and for supplying the additional images. The help is greatly appreciated!
Links From Norm
Frequent contributor Norman Camou, a man who's becoming ever more prominent on these electronic pages, sends in all sorts of really neat aviation-related links, sometimes several a week. Here are a couple of them for your enjoyment:
First is a link to an A-4 story from the Naval Institute's on-line magazine that might be of interest to you:
And then THIS jewel, off of YouTube and an absolute must-see if you have any interest whatsoever in the Naval air war in the Pacific:
And finally, there's this:
A few minutes with any of these should prove well worth your time!
See You Later, Alligator!
Which is a relatively goofy way of saying we're done for this particular issue. We should be back once more before we're done with 2019, though so watch this space and be good to your neighbor!