Monday, February 28, 2011

Model Citizen

This is a Suparmarine Spitfire MKII. In my opinion, it's the most beautiful airplane ever built. Aesthetically speaking, the Spitfire has everything going for it-- gorgeous, sweeping lines, sophisticated British styling, those exquisite elliptical wings. This is the plane that won the Battle of Britain. Had she not come along, the world today may be very different indeed.

As my first attempt at building a model however...well, let's just say it could have been worse. My history with building plastic models is the age old story of desire meeting frustration. I seem to recall trying to assemble a Corvette Stingray when I was about 10, only to smash the thing when I cracked the window as I attempted to glue it into place.

I've come a long way in 30 years. My patience has been tempered by life's incessant and cruel winds. I've earned my old fart badge the hard way and I wear it with defiant ineptitude.

I was originally inspired to get back into model making by James May and his Toy Stories episode about Airfix. Me being me, and me being fed up with all things internet, this plunged me into a crash course in WWII aviation history. I'm happy to report the distraction has been most welcome.

Not only do I have a newfound appreciation for the skill and art of model making, but I have a profound interest in and affection for the men who flew these amazing machines. I've reached the non-scientific conclusion that these boys had balls of steel. I'll be posting more on that later.

In the meantime:

This is a Messerschmitt BF109G, mortal enemy of the Spitfire. It's not as purty as the Spitfire, but with its ragged gray camouflage, asymmetrical exhausts and air intake, and spirally spinnaker prop, it must have been an intimidating sight to behold.

Long story short: The Spitfire was the RAF's response to the superior Messerschmitt BF 109E. The 109G (the Gustav) was the Luftwaffe's response to the Spitfire. It had a more powerful, supercharged engine, but by the time it came into service in 1944, it was too late. Not only was Messerschmitt turning its attention to developing the first jet fighter, but the war itself was drawing to its inevitable conclusion.

Lucky for us in the 21st Century, we can built these little planes, admire the amazing technological achievements of both the good guys and the bad guys, and marvel at the sheer size of the balls it must have taken to actually fly them.


  1. Great to see you back. My three blogspot friends had all but disappeared of recent... That Spitfire is beautiful, keep that up. Sanding the putty reminds me of the process that I have to go through creating every single painting surface I make, I feel your pain.
    I watched the entire episode of the Toy Stories and it was wonderful. My favorite quote from it was, "I don't want to drive the tank, I might crash it... You can't crash it, you idiot, it's a TANK!"
    I have one suggestion about embedding the videos... The people at Blogspot are either idiots or dickheads about the size of videos they allow. If you notice, most youtube videos are about 640 pixels wide and get cropped from the right side when you post them on blogspot. You can adjust the size of width of the video in the embed code. If you change whatever the width (W) to the size of 400, it does seem to reduce the entire thing to a size that will fit into the blogspot format.

  2. By the way, I am now signed up for the free month of Netflix thanks to you and I'll be watching "Exit Through the Giftshop" tonight most likely... I am thanking you like a junky thanks his dealer.

  3. I was wondering what was up with the youtube embed situation. I seem to recall they didn't used to do that. I actually spent about 20 minutes last night faffing about with different templates and it didn't seem to help. It sucks you have to manually adjust the size. As it is, I choose the smallest possible screen size.

    All of the James May's Toy Stories are worth watching. The plasticine garden and Lego house ones are especially good. Actually except the erector set one, they are all very good.

    My only concern with sanding the putty is I don't want to sand off the rivets. We'll see how it turns out.

    Enjoy the Neflix and call me after you watch Exit!