Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Good Things Come In Small Packages"... Number Three

Brian and "The Spirit of Atlantic City"...

Brian's interpretation!
This is my son's effort on his inspirational, brown Thunderbolt. At the time, the Monogram 1/48 scale Thunderbolt created a conversion kit that once was introduced by the Hawk company, I believe. You could choose whether to make the plane with a razorback fuselage or without the green house canopy and make the "D" version with the bubble canopy. Only a skilled modeler could, with patience and the right tools, make these "B" conversions without any seams showing. With detailing an aircraft, it was always fun to check out the real thing at an airshow, though these planes are the ultimate investment for those who own them and therefore, well protected, they show little signs of weathering or wear. Old photos and history books including aviation books for modelers were a great source. Sometimes, the research is the most interesting part of the process and like most children that age, Brian was always curious and inquisitive.

One those detailing tricks of the trade was to scape paint off with an x-acto knife or pocket knife on certain parts of the aircraft that were prone to wear and tear like the port side of the fuselage and wing where the pilot and his mechanic/flight engineer were always walking and climbing into the cockpit. Other spots that showed wear was the leading edges of any surface especially the wing. In the photo of Brian's P-47, you can plainly see the wing surfaces exposed. ( Brian got a little carried away with this wing, but you get the idea! ) Prop blades scraped on the leading edge also produced that well worn look.

Being a kid, Brian had a penchant for losing parts and pieces critical to the completion, so even though he wanted to be historically correct, having lost the razorback piece, Bri decided to make his "Spirit" a  "D" model. I am sure the pilot, Bud Mahurin, of Zemke's Wolfpack, with 21 kills, would have understood.

Sadly, for the photo opps, I couldn't spin the propeller on his "Spirit" because he applied too much of that Testors glue which clogged up the prop shaft and the engine. It did turn, but no amount of pressure through the airbrush would make it spin.

I'm sure Bud Mahurin and the rest of the "Wolfpack" would understand!

Copyright 2011/ Ben Bensen III

"Good Things Come In Small Packages"...Number Two

Just trying to "Keep It Real!"
Well, I searched all my files because I know I have seen this bottom pic somewhere in my Thunderbolt file. Seems I managed to make a mess of that file, but to all those aviation art freaks, you know which photo I speak of. The photo of the real "Bolt" is a "N" version and had five inch wing rockets attached.

Anyway, my son was only about ten or eleven when we built this silver "D" model, but I didn't photograph them till many years later. In the background, you see Brian's own "D" model, which he pretty much made himself. I thought he did a pretty good job on his especially after he witnessed my finished Thunderbolt. "The Turtle" was the first plane I introduced the airbrush and all it's capabilities to Brian. He got pretty good at airbrushing D-Day stripes on planes. He really seemed to enjoy that aspect of model making. He was perfectly willing to brush them on every plane he built including the German ones.

We were gonna make six versions of the WWII bird, Robert Johnson's, Hub Zemke's, Bud Mahurin's, Gabby Gabreski's, Glenn Eagleston's and a few other planes and pilots who's names escape me. We did purchase four more 1/48 scale models, investigated the many different paint schemes and appropriate decals to each aircraft, but, in time, I realized it might have been a little too ambitious for a twelve or thirteen year old kid and as the years went by, his enthusiasm diminished.

Of course, what's old again can easily become new. Those models, and a dozen others, are packed away carefully and stored in the attic... for just such an occasion.

Copyright 2011/Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Good Things Come In Small Packages! ( One in a Series! )

I love it when it almost looks "REAL."

A friend of mine, through the Air Force Art Group on Facebook, sent me and the rest of the gang there this wonderful site at: and I spent most of the afternoon there yesterday. Okay, it was raining and I wasn't gonna complete any of the yard work, but surely, I had many other indoor jobs to tackle that were more important than reliving my youth, for the umpteenth time. Still, I couldn't pull myself away from the miniature world of modeling. More specifically, modeling aircraft at scales of 1/72, 1/48, 1/32 and 1/25 of the original size. It is amazing how real and almost true to life some of these models and dioramas are... mini-sized!

This morning, while looking through my "morgue" for instructions on cleaning and maintaining my chainsaw, I ran across this misplaced photo of a P-47D, shown above, and remembered all the fun I had as a kid building models and how much fun I had building this plane with my son, Brian. Even though I knew that I would get distracted, once again, if I returned the photo to its rightful folder, I went into my Aircraft/WWII/Thunderbolt file and noticed all the other photos I took that day with my Nikon. 

"Wow, this is cool," I said to myself as I wandered and wondered about the whereabouts of a Monogram 1/48 scale P-51B model I also photographed with spinning propellers.

And so, I went digging and found all kinds of photos of planes that Brian and I assembled over a period of about five or six years. Some planes my son built with help from me and some, in later years, he built totally by himself. I suddenly decided it would be fun for me to share our model making story with some of those guys from the Air Force Art Group. I hope they don't mind...

So here we go, into the wild glue yonder of yesteryear!