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Off Topic/Non-philatelic Disc. : Building scale-model planes and ships

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Bobstamp
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13 Nov 2019
11:47:44pm
Like many (most) boys in my generation, I built several plastic scale models in my teenage years, soon after I started collecting stamps. Here’s a photo of geeky me with some of my models and my “Big Blue” Scott stamp albums:

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Early last summer, my friend Mike Strachan showed me a model P-38 Lightning he was building; he was planning to detail it like the P-38 that shot down the transport that was carrying Admiral Yamamoto, who planned the Pearl Harbor raid. I was impressed with his skill — the model looked like it was ready to fly right off the table. That night I made plans to start building an Aifix Hampden bomber that was given to me by a fellow stamp club member several years ago. Since then, I’ve immersed myself in the effort to build a model at least approaching the realism that Mike has achieved. Here’s the Hampden at around week 10, almost ready for yet another coat of primer.

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I’ve swaddled the landing gears and wheels in masking tape and toilet tissue to to keep them from from getting primed again. The cardboard jig was borne of necessity after one of the landing gears broke while I was attaching the nose canopy. That was just one of many problems. It’s an old kit, so badly designed that I had to amputate the pilot’s legs above the knees so he could sit in his seat, and then re-attach his drastically shortened lower legs. (The Hampden’s fuselage was so narrow that there was no room for a co-pilot; if the pilot was disabled or killed, it was curtains for him, the two gunners, and the observer (navigator/bombardier). If you’d like to know more about the Hampden, see my article, Sgt. Joe Hicks and the Battle for Europe, published a few years ago in the journal of the Thunder Bay Museum Society.

I hope that this thread finds some fellow modellers whose interests include the pleasures and challenges of model building. At this point, I have more questions than answers about modelling, especially when it comes to painting and detailing.

Bob

P.S. I have no idea what happened to the models I built as a teenager. Probably no one, including myself, thought they were worth preserving! Maybe now I can build a model to match my adult expectations. I hope!
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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
14 Nov 2019
01:25:24am
re: Building scale-model planes and ships

I did much the same as you. I still have the model of the Cutty Sark that turned out to be the last Christmas present I got from my grandfather before he passed away. It is in need of some repair as I took it with me on several moves. Except for some model railroad models, all the other models I made, including many from Star Trek, my mother threw away when I left for college.

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BenFranklin1902
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Tom in Exton, PA
14 Nov 2019
08:51:17am
re: Building scale-model planes and ships

Welcome to the world of scale modeling! It's a dangerous place, you will get hooked for sure! My passion is scale automotive subjects. I enjoy the time I spend building, it's very much like meditation since it takes all your concentration. I can be tired and down, an hour spent working at my bench and I'm refreshed and ready to face the world once again!

Proceed at your own risk! Thumbs Up


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Bobstamp
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14 Nov 2019
06:13:10pm
re: Building scale-model planes and ships

Thank you for your response, Michael. Interesting coincidence -- my last "childhood model" was a large clipper ship that I requested as my high school graduation gift from my parents. Would you believe it was the Cutty Sark?I never did finish that model, or even get a good start on it. I was working at my first job in journalism and dealing with all sorts of "coming-of-age" situations, including a break-up with the girl I had hoped to marry.

One of my ship models also carried coincidence with it; it was the hospital ship U.S.S. Haven, sister ship to the U.S.S. Repose. Five years after high school graduation, when I was wounded in Vietnam, I was evacuated to Repose for emergency surgery. In the 1950s or 1960s, Revell produced a model of Repose, but I've never seen one for sale, and I'm not sure that I even want to build one since those models are very poorly designed, with little attention to detail. Still...

Bob

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Bobstamp
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14 Nov 2019
06:38:54pm
re: Building scale-model planes and ships

@Tom: You're right about the meditative aspect of model building. The same is true, for me, of "messing about with stamps" (and covers), of dingy sailing, and wood working. In all three hobbies, if you lose situational awareness you're going to screw something up:

• Philately: You'll buy a copy of a stamp you already have or you'll spill spaghetti sauce on a cover that isn't even from Italy.

• Dingy sailing: You'll Sail too close to the wind and get in irons, or assume that the strong wind that's speeding you along downwind is benign rather than potentially deadly. In the first case, you lose the race; in the second you take a bath!

So far, my inattention to detail while I'm working on my models has mainly slowed me down. I lost a small part when my stamp tongs (!) ejected it at about the speed of sound; I had to write to the model company to get a replacement part. I thought that a coat of spray paint was dry, but it wasn't: The aircraft wing it was on got a nice thumbnail mark in it, which necessitated sanding, re-priming, and repainting. Then there was the canopy I stepped on. And the control column that broke. And on it goes. But I'm really enjoying it! When things go well!

Bob


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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
14 Nov 2019
08:27:04pm
re: Building scale-model planes and ships

My model of the Cutty Sark was made by Revell. It also contains a floppy record about the history of the ship. I still have the record too.

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larsdog
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APS #220693 ATA#57179
14 Nov 2019
11:51:32pm
re: Building scale-model planes and ships

My favorite scale model was done in 1993-1994. My father was building an HO layout and had lots of real estate for scenery. I asked him to reserve a space of about 1' by 2' in the corner. I was living on a 5/8 acre ranchette in Dallas at the time and completely modeled my house, yard, pool, hot tub, external garage, including lights and wallpaper on the interior and horseshoe pits (which I had) in the back yard. The biggest challenge was modifying railcar parts to look like pool pumps and air conditioning compressors.

I remember recording the OJ trial on VHS every day and running headphones to my workspace for making the diorama every night. I made it perfect down to each individual tree.

It was 1 year after my first wife died and the modelling was therapeutic! I would never spend that long on a single model again, but it's what I needed at the time.

Lars

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
15 Nov 2019
12:45:54pm
re: Building scale-model planes and ships

i love these stories completely

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BenFranklin1902
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Tom in Exton, PA
18 Nov 2019
11:40:18am
re: Building scale-model planes and ships

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Hey Bob, here's the only ship model in my hoard.
It's an old SS United States kit, probably from the 1950s. The ship still exists and sits on the Philadelphia water front waiting restoration into a non seagoing structure.

I do belong to the SS United States organization to keep up on their efforts to find a potential use and benefactor to save this important ship.

I have a few covers, maiden voyage, postcards and a card that was mailed from the ship.

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Bobstamp
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19 Dec 2019
11:26:03pm
re: Building scale-model planes and ships

@BenFranklin1902:

So, I see the S.S. United States box, but did you build the model? Or is your hoard permanent and perhaps growing? My friend Mike, who got me interested in returning to model building, told me he has 90 models waiting to be built. Mike is in his late 80s. I don't think he's going to be building many more of those 90 models! Unless he builds models a lot faster than I do!

In my misspent youth, I didn't build a model ocean liner. I probably would have if I'd seen one for sale. The ocean had always intrigued me, but at age 19, having spent most of my youth in New Mexico, the closest I'd been to salt water was in the kitchen when my mom was boiling vegetables! Next best was building model ships and boats. In my teens, I built the nuclear submarine U.S.S. Nautilus; a Chris Craft cabin cruiser; H.M.S. Bounty); the guided missile cruiser U.S.S. Canberra, and the hospital ship U.S.S. Haven. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, Haven was the sister ship of U.S.S. Repose. When I was building my Haven model, I had no idea that within a few years I would become a Navy hospital corpsman, that I would be transferred to the Marine Corps, and that I would be wounded in Vietnam and become a surgical patient on Repose. (I learned recently that Revell produced a Repose model, but exhaustive searches haven’t turned up an available kit. And I understand that those old kits are somewhat less than "scale" models, and need a great deal of filing, sanding, and filling.

I caught the modelling bug In 1950, when I was seven years old. My family had seen the documentary movie Kon Tiki, about Thor Heyerdahl’s 1947 voyage on a balsa raft from Peru to French Polynesia; he hoped to show that indigenous South Americans could have populated islands in the South Pacific. No Kon Tiki kits were available, so I scratch-built one from small dowels and balsa wood, and used typing paper to make a sail. I wish I still had that model!

Another 1950 movie that caught my imagination was Rocketship X-M. I saw it with my dad at the Sky-Vue Drive-In theatre near my small village, Arenas Valley, New Mexico. I was enthralled, then. I watched it again recently — it’s not just a B- minus movie, it’s cheesier than limburger! But back then, I asked my dad to make me a model rocketship, which he did, using a large dowel and fins made from a tin can, and painting it white. It wasn’t a model so much as a toy which looked like it had been made from a dowel and pieces of tin. But aren’t models simply toys that resemble life-size things that aren’t supposed to free fall to earth? In any event, my toy/model rocket could fly, at least as high as I could throw it, and it landed just like Rocketship X-M, in a free-fall to earth. By the time I finished playing with it, it had a badly bruised nose cone.

Bob

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Oldmanemu
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20 Dec 2019
12:31:47am
re: Building scale-model planes and ships

Interesting that you mention the USS Canberra. I can remember when I was in primary school and we had an excursion to go aboard this ship when it visited Melbourne in 1967. I can still see one of its missiles coming up from the interior of the ship and then later disappearing back down again.

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StampCollector
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20 Dec 2019
09:39:56am

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re: Building scale-model planes and ships

Image Not FoundImage Not FoundImage Not FoundImage Not FoundImage Not FoundImage Not Foundsome of the models airplanes that my brother builds, they range from 3 to 4 ft in length.Image Not Found

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StampCollector
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20 Dec 2019
10:02:27am

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re: Building scale-model planes and ships

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BenFranklin1902
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Tom in Exton, PA
21 Dec 2019
07:46:34pm
re: Building scale-model planes and ships

Bob, no I haven’t built the USS United States. I’m just pleased to own it, kind of like stamp collecting! Most of the modelers I know have hundreds to thousands of kits we’ll never get to build.

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