Peter’s Exciting Dates with Models

One of the delicious ironies of retirement is the fact that my hobbies are more structured than my day is. It’s not that I’m complaining mind you, I worked directly with the public for most of my 40 years with the Canadian government, dealing with people during some of their worst times, as they faced crises both financial and of self confidence in many cases. Too often I had to face the unpalatable fact that I had done all that I possibly could for some deserving person. Although I developed the necessary ability to “leave my day” at the office, there were rare occasions when I just couldn’t get a situation out of my mind. While alcohol was always available as a crutch, I found it marginally more socially acceptable to immerse myself in plastic aircraft modelling.

It was my father who got me into building models. He built Airfix bagged ships while I admired his handiwork from the seat beside him at the kitchen table, and I decided to get into the hobby with joyous abandon. I enjoy it because it normally does not have any kind of time constraints, and you can adhere to whatever degree of interest you choose. In my case, I enjoy researching and building a scale replica of an historic aircraft, be it the Spitfire of a Canadian “ace” pilot or the De Havilland Otter that was delivered to the Royal Canadian Air Force about 2 weeks before Mum delivered me to the Montreuil family. (THIS aircraft made a crash landing near Orillia in the early 1970’s, for another personal connection.) I have had the pleasure of building and presenting models of the actual aircraft to the veterans who flew them, and it was a wonderful and richly rewarding experience.

De Havilland Otter 

Injection molded plastic models a) are made by injecting melting plastic into metal molds. Mold-making is an expensive and time-consuming business. In order to keep costs and time spent as low as possible, some of the “minor” parts are generally fairly crude. The molding process itself has certain limitations, with the result that certain parts such as propellers or exhausts appear too thick. As a result the finished model looks “off”. This might be a satisfactory state of affairs for the casual hobbyist, but there are some out there who want “better”.

This desire b) is filled by a number of smaller producers, the so called “aftermarket” or “cottage” industries.  They produce accessories c) in the major aircraft scales d) such as ejection seats, wheel/tire assemblies, extended wingtips and conversion sets which allow you to modify your subject to something very different than the manufacturer had originally intended.

One of these “aftermarket” companies will be the focus of the rest of today’s column. Barracuda Studios is a California based company started by Roy Sutherland. Roy built on his solid background in modelmaking which has included movie work with Industrial Light & Magic as well as more terrestrial efforts at, inter alia, 21st Century Toys and Cooper Details. His line of products covers all the major scales and not only enables you to correct deficiencies in the original kit, but also lets you add extra detail to really make your effort stand out on your shelf.

Whether you are building a 1/72nd scale Albatros D. V or a 1/24th scale Hawker Typhoon, Barracuda Studios produces parts you can use to refine and improve the finished product, your finished product. It’s all there on the Barracuda Studios website; decal sheets, ejection seats, wheel/tire assemblies, propellers, radio sets, jet exhausts, air and ground crew figures, even cameras. Each product has been carefully chosen, researched and produced. I highly recommend this product line to any serious plastic aircraft modeller, and to anyone who is lucky enough to have a serious plastic aircraft modeller in their life e).

I should add that Roy rescued a feral kitten. Cuda, as he named it, has settled in quite nicely at Barracuda Studios. If Roy’s place is anything like Chez Montreuil, Cuda is undoubtedly in charge of some vital aspect of the entire operation.

Roy also has a site called “Barracuda Studios Ready Room”. This is an excellent discussion board, which Roy keeps carefully moderated f). It’s a politics free zone, and I find it extremely interesting and informative. Now, not only is there discussion, but there are other activities, such as “group builds”. Some of these commemorate specific events, others high light certain aircraft types. Some are just general “builds”, which brings me to the one I have chosen to participate in, which is a “speed build”, any subject, ending February 14th.

I am sorely lacking in many of the proper camouflage paints needed to finish models accurately, so I had to choose my subject carefully. Thanks to the generosity of my late friend Peter Mossman, who bequeathed his plastic modelling supplies and some excellent books to me, I COULD build a U.S. Air Force aircraft. So I settled upon an A-1 Skyraider. A single engined, low wing monoplane, also known as the “Spad” or AD, this aircraft served with the U.S. Navy and Marines from the late 1940s until 1973. It was also exported to Britain, France and a number of other nations. My subject would be one of a number of U.S. Navy aircraft which were taken on strength by the U.S. Air Force and operated in Viet Nam. Beautiful South East Asia camouflage, heavy exhaust staining and oil drip marks on its flanks.

Will I finish it on time? Well, I will tell you this, Loyal Reader. It would take a much braver person than I to say to their beloved on Valentine’s Day “I’m sorry, but we can’t go out to dinner. I have to finish this model aircraft for the group build.”

Will it bother me if I don’t win anything for it? Actually, there is no prize, but I wouldn’t care. It’s my personal feeling that there is too much competition in Life. I think that a lot of the pleasure that we would otherwise enjoy gets sucked away by competition and fears of failure and the pressure of an artificially imposed deadline.

So you wonder why I am doing it, I know. I’m doing it because it allows me to focus on the subject, to research it. I also enjoy going on the “Ready Room” and looking at other’s work, reading about their problems and how they overcame them. It is a good reminder that sometimes it is OK to sit back and admit that you can’t overcome something, as sometimes, although not very often, occurs on this and other discussion boards. I find that very reassuring.

So be sure to advise any plastic aircraft modeller/modeler you may know about that great site. I think that Roy’s business motto is very a propos.”When good enough isn’t good enough”.

See you soon.

  1. a) There are several ways of producing plastic models. Other methods include vacuum forming and 3-D printing.
  2. b) For after all, as most of us in the plastic modelling community agree, no one “needs” a model aircraft. (I hope Betty doesn’t read this 😉 .)
  3. c) In a number of media, such as “white metal”, etched brass or resin. Many also produce decal sheets which allow you a choice of markings for your finished masterpiece.
  4. d) These being the relative size of the model in comparison to the actual aircraft and are generally considered to be 1/144th, 1/72nd, 1/48th, 1/32nd and 1/24th. [Can 1/35th be far behind?]
  5. e) Betty, this is for you, my dear.
  6. f) As the administrator of several Facebook groups, I can attest to just how difficult a task this is to accomplish.

2 Responses to “Peter’s Exciting Dates with Models”

  1. Peter Kashur Says:

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