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The Peter Buckingham Column Part 40





I spoke to our genial web host and Relish Models proprietor, Graham Endeacott, the other day to inform him that yet again, that the start of the Revell 1/32 Eurofighter was going to be delayed by domestic circumstances. In fact my modelling week has been virtually non-productive due to the fact that we have some Australian friends visiting us during their European tour holiday. I was under strict instructions: modelling smells that often emanate from our spare bedroom/modelling room are forbidden from two days before our friends arrived.



I pleaded my case to Graham, who, in a previous life, must have been one of those very strict prisoner of war camp commandants. "OK", he hissed, " You vill just write about anysing". Anything? "Ja, anysing viz a modelling flavour und vile you are at it, take zat tunnelling earth out of your trousers!". Your all heart I muttered.



OK, first things first. Getting back to the Revell 1/32 Eurofighter, I had mentioned either last week, or the week before, that I was going to build this model straight OOB - straight out of the box. I lied! Having seen the Eduard cockpit sets and the seat belt sets for this model, I weakened and bought some ready for the big (BIG) build. I have also just learned that Messrs Revell are bringing out a cockpit PE set and I hope to see what that includes very shortly. When I reviewed this kit on Graham's site a short while ago, I did mention that the cockpit detail did leave something to be desired, and when I saw the Eduard sets................ I desired.



The 33065 Self Adhesive EF2000 Single Seater Interior painted cockpit set certainly looks the business containing beautifully coloured side console instrument panels and inserts, foot pedals for the rudder controls, information screen panel surrounds and inserts and various other cockpit goodies. I will have to conduct surgery to some of the kit cockpit parts for the replacement goodies to fit but it should look absolutely stunning if done correctly.The fret measures just 7 x 5 cms and costs £11.80 - Hmmm!



The other set is 32664 EF2000 Single Seater Seat Belts set is not adhesive backed, but is coloured and the belts look very good indeed. Also included are the seat squab and seat back which also attract some surgery to the kit seat for the parts to fit. There are also ejection seat handles and a replacement panel on the reverse of the seat back together with some other smaller detailed parts. This fret is even smaller at 7 x 4 cms although they have somehow made the package nearly twice the size! Cost is also £11.80 - double Hmmm!



Let's hope I can do justice to the finished article. These aftermarket bits and pieces can sometimes double or more the cost of the original kit and the annoying thing I have found is that I am sometimes left with the fret(s) containing some ridiculously miniscule pieces of detail that really are too small to handle - for me anyway. However, what I liked about these sets, having viewed them on Eduard's website where you can also have a look at the instruction sheets to give you some idea of what's what, was that most of the parts were of a reasonable size for a sometimes clumsy oaf like me.



Talking to one of Medway Club's elder statesmen the other evening on matters scale, he was very dismissive of aftermarket products such as these. That's not modelling says he (talking about the good old days) modelling is making it all yourself out of bits of plastic, soldering wire of varying sizes and anything you can think of to make your model more interesting and more detailed. I quickly swallowed my cup of Ted's delicious 10p tea, made my excuses, and shrank sheepishly into the crowd. He had a point though.



When I used to build radio controlled aircraft back in the 70's, I concentrated mainly on large span (10-12 feet) gliders for flying in competitions, so they were functional - beautiful, but functional. I was building these models at what I would decribe as a 'cross over' period in radio modelling and aeromodelling generally - it was the beginning of multi function proportional control, the end of 'bang-bang' single channel non proportional control and the commencement of more durable construction materials and methods. Although most glider designers were still using balsa and light hard woods for construction, out were going balsa cement and doped tissue and in were coming cyanoacrylate and PVA adhesives together with fully water proofed, heat shrink, micro thin plastic 'Solarfilm' airframe covering. This was tacked onto the wing leading and trailing edges, for example, with a normal domestic iron, strecthed acoss the structure, and then, using a hot air gun (similar to a powerful hair drier) the plastic film was shrunk drum taut over the ribs and spars to form an air tight and waterproof skin surface. It was very efficient and easy to repair.



Like Telford isplastic modelling's big event, the flying model aircraft's big event was always 'The Nationals' which covered every aspect of aeromodelling - free flight, control line and radio. Held usually over a bank holiday weekend, and sometimes at RAF airfields (Hullavington springs to mind) it was a camping and model flying fiesta with a tented city of model aircraft enthusiasts and the atmosphere (provided the weather was playing ball) was fantastic. I therefore think that my interest in all scales of plastic modelling stems from that period when I was interested in all spects of flying models and the expertise that each class generated. Each class was broken down into sections too complicated for me to mention here, but one class that would be of interest to the reader is that of scale, and I will refer mainly to the radio controlled scale class hoping that my memory also plays ball!



I believe there were two classes - Class 1 and Class 2. Class 1 was the really serious stuff where the modeller had to present his model to the judges in the Scale compund with a fully documented and illustrated 'CV' of the aircraft modelled for static judging. This was followed by a flying programme later. If I remember correctly, Class 2 was somewhat more relaxed and was also known as 'Eyeball Scale', where the the model was viewed from a distance of a few feet - maybe six. If anyone knows the correct rules, please let me know.



In Class 1, the judges would pore over the model checking measurements and scale detail. Some of these models (even in the 70's) were large, with wingspans in the region of 6 to 8 feet with most engines in those days not more 10cc (0.60). Not only were the details to be 'scale' (1/4, 1/5, 1/6, 1/8 etc) but things like the dihedral angle and the wing and tailplane area had to be as near as 'dammit' correct. I say as near as 'dammit', because to get a smaller version of the original to fly with a degree of stability, sometimes the dihedral and flying surface areas had to be tweaked, but this was always checked and marked accordingly.



That was the static judging and static scores were allocated to each model. Then came the flying judging where the 'pilot' was given marks for taxying, take off, flying to a schedule of manoevres in a strict 'box' of air space for the seated judges line of sight, and ending with a (hopefully) perfect landing. Ideally, all manoevres had to be performed at a scale speed which is not an easy task in certain conditions. If a retractable undercarriage was emplyed, then the legs had to retract in the correct order and at scale retraction speed of course! Marks for the static and flying sequences were then added together and a National Champion was announced. The British Nationals was serious enough, but the standard of scale detail at the World Championships was unbelievable with countries from behind, the then, 'Iron Curtain', being particularly very good. The UK has had it's share of World Champions. I only attended one World Championship and that was fantastic and was held at Lakehurst, New Jersey, circa 1974. I only wish I had some photographs to show you.



As for scale radio controlled gliders, there was only one 'Meister' as far as I was concerned, and that was a gentleman by a supern engineer by the name of Roy Pitts. I was fortunate enough to know Roy, and over a very long period of time, he produced his masterclass project, a true scale Schleicher K13 - the one with the swept forward wings. Roy had managed to obtain some 1/4 scale factory plans and decided to build everything true scale. Everything was true scale, even down to the scale wall thickness of the tubing for the welded steel tube fuselage structure, and, wait for it, even scale split pins!



There were two piéces des resistances (hope my French is correct) - for me though. One were the small spring loaded inspection caps on the wing top surfaces, where one press with a 'biro' tip or needle released the cap and gentle pressure closing the cap produced a satisfying click lock. The second were the fully linkaged flying control surface wires to the cockpit. Moving the pilot's 'joy stick' moved the ailerons and elevators - moving the rudder pedals worked the rudder! Fantastic.



The airframe remained uncovered for some time because Roy could not find a scale like covering material. Photographs of the uncovered airframe were sent to the Schleicher factory and they could not believe it was a model! Interestingly, when a suitable covering eventually came on the market and applied to the fuselage there was an 'annoying' slight sag just aft of the cockpit. On close examination of a full sized example at Booker Airfield, near to where we lived, that 'slight sag' was there on the real thing! Scary stuff. The model flew beautifully from either a radio controlled tugged aero tow or from a slope soaring hill site.



Now, what started this scale rant of mine - I know, it was talking to one of Medway Club's elder statesman about the good old days of plastic scale modelling. I guess that every subject has a 'good old days'. Suffice to say that these days of Eduard add on goodies and the like will be the 'good old days' in a few years time. So, next time you are building say, a 1/72 model, try measuring the width of the panel lines and then multiply that measurement by 72, or the thickness of that air stairs handle on a small airliner model Frightening sometimes! What would those World Championship judges thought of those measurements back in the '70's.



Scale is very subjective. If it is a very reasonable representation of the real thing, then at today's plastic modelling scales it is 'job done' as far as I am concerned. To each their own!



More next week.