Richard Marmo's


In view of the recent terrorist attack on America, this month's column will be understandably different.  Before I deal with responses to last month's rant and review a couple of new books, allow me to offer the following commentary that I wrote for use in the morning service of my church on September 15, 2001.  I believe that it speaks for every American.


On July 4, 1776, a small band of idealistic, God-fearing men set into motion events that would create the greatest Nation ever seen on the face of this earth.  Armed with an unswerving faith in God, the United States of America grew to become what it is today.  A magnificent refuge for the oppressed, champion of freedom and individual liberty.  In America, we're free to say, write and do what we want to a level that is impossible anywhere else in the world.

It hasn't always been easy.  Many, if not most, of the early colonists didn't support the American revolution…but it succeeded anyway because God was with us.  The War of 1812 brought foreign invaders to our shores and even the White House was torched…but we endured.

We fought among ourselves during our Civil War of 1861-1865…or War of the Rebellion if you're a son of the South.  The carnage was almost beyond belief with more than  50,000 casualties at Gettysburg alone.  Despite the bloodshed and hatred, the war was finally concluded and our Nation reunited.

It's been that way time and time again, thru the decades and centuries.  Indian wars in the American West, the Spanish-American War, World War I, a December 7, 1941 attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor, World War II, Korea, Viet Nam, Desert Storm.  Gallant Americans have fought, bled and died for causes, Nations and people around the world.  And we've done it selflessly for that glorious ideal called freedom.

Lately we've become complacent, content in our luxury and self-indulgence.  Our focus has been on pleasure of all kinds and even God has taken a back seat.  Money, expensive cars and ever larger homes have consumed us.  At least it used to be that way.

That changed for awhile, and possibly for good, at 8:45 A.M., September 11, 2001, when we suffered another sneak attack.  This one was perpetrated by radical Islamic terrorists who turned hijacked jetliners into flying bombs.  By the time it was over, the magnificent twin towers of the World Trade Center were gone, taking with them several thousand innocent American civilians.  Not content with that destruction, another jetliner seriously crippled the Pentagon and it was learned later that other attempts had been planned on the White House and Air Force One.  Finally, a fourth jetliner was forced into the ground by heroic passengers who sacrificed themselves to prevent it reaching it's target.

One of our Senators, in response to the attack, said that if the terrorists wanted to get America's attention, they got it…and they would rue the day they did.  That statement evokes memories of one made by Isoroku Yamamoto…the architect of the Pearl Harbor attack…who, after the attack, said "I fear that all we have done is to waken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."  The terrorists may soon find that they have done precisely the same thing.

In the aftermath of this surprise assault, differences and petty bickering have vanished.  Americans have united in a way that hasn't been seen since World War II…and they've also rediscovered God.

President George W. Bush is building an international coalition and preparing to lead what is, in effect, a protracted World War with the goal of exterminating terrorism from this world.

Can it be done?  It can, as long as we never forget that our strength comes from God and that our destiny is in His hands.  We will endure.  


Last month's rant about women model builders apparently struck a chord in many.  I've reproduced a cross-section of emails I received on the subject for your consideration.  You should find them rather interesting.

Dear Richard,

I am the wife of a model builder. My husband Dennis has been building plastic models as long as I've known him. We've always saved a corner of our living space for his toys, and without begrudging.

But mostly I wanted to comment on your opinion regarding female model builders. I never could get really interested in model building. I'm rather artistically challenged, and it's taken all of the 20 years I've been married to get even somewhat interested in all the history and details behind what my husband builds.

However, I totally agree with you about it being strange that "boys do models, girls do crafts". I'm a computer geek, a guru wannabe, and it always bugs me when my husband & I go into a computer store and they want to talk to him. Hey, he doesn't know a sound card from a modem, what do you want to talk to him for? If you want to sell parts and services, talk to me! There's a whole mindset behind what's acceptable for girls to do. I'm

all for chivalry, tea and crumpets, and all that, but why should girls be bored because it's not ladylike to build models or work on computers? It's pretty lonely out there for girls with interests outside the "norm".

Everybody gets uncomfortable if I talk to long with someone's husband, because he's a fellow geek. Hey, it's the first intelligent conversation I've had in weeks! The girls at the tea party sure won't be discussing hard drives and megabytes. And yes, it's built into the family structure. Anyway, I just wanted to say, that I'm glad to see a gentleman with some insight. Thanks for the article.

Ronnie Ugulano,

Many thanks for your thoughts and kind comments. 


A comment about women and modelling. It may be true that crafts etc. are not seen as ladylike, but I think things are changing. Over here in Germany girls stick less and less

to old roles, lots of them are driving motorcycles, fast sports cars and get 'technical' jobs. I work in aerospace engeneering and know a couple of girls that like to get a kit together once in a time and who are exited about fast jet aircraft. And some even are very good looking...nice thing to walk with a girl and when jets come over, her heads is turning too...

So, I think times are changing, women are getting more 'technical' and it's also on the men's side to accept them on an equal level. In the end you will see that the personality is more important than the gender.

Cheers from Berlin, Germany


You make some excellent points that I agree with totally.


No tar and feathers. My girlfriend was cruising the channels and saw a program on the AVG on the local PBS channel. Knowing that I liked aircraft she decided to watch. Well she became interested in the AVG ( nice paint schemes!) and we started to talk about them. I mentioned that I had an unbuilt AVG Hawk 81-A2, and the Aeromaster decal sheet.

To cut this short, she is doing an AVG Tomahawk ( that greatly despised and I should be shot for thinking of building HobbyCraft Kit), and so am I. We are having a really good time doing it together. If my ex-wife had taken up modeling......oh well. Now I have to get her to take up the true religion...building Spitfires!

Bruce Archer

President ,Southern New Jersey Scale Modelers

A lot of modelers are going to see themselves in you.  It also makes you wonder how many fewer ex-wives of modelers there would be if they had shown even a modicum of interest in their mate's models.


I read your piece in Internet Modeler - at least the bit about women building (or not) kits.

Undoubtedly what you say is the case, not only for building kits but a host of other stuff too like mathematics, science, being a fire fighter, certain sports etc.

Personally, I don't care for "crafts" so my 4 year old daughter is interested in model kits. I thought I had something going for a bit by getting my 7 year old son to glue the kit together (Heller, Mirage IIID) and then she painted it: she likes painting but is too young to glue stuff. That worked for that kit but now he doesn't want her to paint his kits.

Solution: I have a stack of $1 kits and it took me all of 40 minutes to glue the Airfix Yak-3 (we only do 1/72nd scale:) ) and it's ready for painting!


If nothing else, you've proven that there's more than one way to encourage the feminine gender to participate in model building. 

President Bush has encouraged all of us to return to our everyday behavior, at least as much as possible.  Aside from the fact that it does no good to remain in limbo…or shock…, failure to resume our normal lifestyle will serve notice that the terrorists have won.  I refuse to allow them that victory, a refusal that I believe is echoed by all readers of this column.

In line with the above paragraph, let's get back to business.  While there isn't much to cover, for obvious reasons, there are a couple of new publications that airliner enthusiasts (that sounds strange at the moment) will want to add to their reference shelf.

Both are from SPECIALTY PRESS and are additions to their AirlinerTech Series.  They are, specifically, AirlinerTech Series, Volume 7, De Havilland Comet by Kev Darling and AirlinerTech Series, Volume 9, Boeing 377 Stratocruiser by Nicolas A. Veronico.  Both volumes utilize the new format established by WarbirdTech Series, Volume 30, Boeing C-17.  And the price has remained at the familiar $16.95 per copy.

I reviewed the C-17 in this space a couple of months ago.  Just in case you've forgotten… or worse, didn't read it in the first place…a brief recap of the new format is in order.   Each 8 1/2" x 11" volume has been expanded by four pages to 104 pages and you now get eight pages of color photos, along with some 160 b&w photos and line art.  The semi-stiff cover is heavier weight (50% thicker) with all of the pages now glossy stock, which makes the black and white photos just jump off the page at you.  Modelers will love it because fine details are far easier to see. Now that you've refreshed your memory on the expanded format, what's in each of these new volumes?

The volume covering the De Havilland Comet is particularly valuable, if for no other reason, because it lays claim to a special niche; the world's first commercial jet transport.  Introduction and Chapter 1 follow the rather faltering steps that began in the early part of WW-II and would eventually culminate in the D.H. Comet.  Along the way you'll find photos of shorter range piston-driven airliners, a side view and small photo of that humongous Brabazon airliner, along with 3-views of early designs for the Comet.  Believe, they bear no real relation to the final design, one being a very small canard concept and the other a medium size tailless design.  Not only was the tailless design unstable, a test aircraft (the DH108 Swallow) based on the D.H. Vampire was responsible for the death of Geoffrey De Havilland when the beast disintegrated in mid-air.  If you're wondering just how bad the tailless design was, it was described rather succinctly as "A killer with a nasty stall."  Needless to say, the Comet wound up with a conventional tail.

Subsequent chapters deal with the design flaw that, due to several fatal crashes of the Comet I, nearly ended the airliner's career before it began.  However, De Havilland … along with the airlines… persevered.  The problems were eventually identified and overcome. 

You'll find plenty of drawings from the maintenance manuals, excellent photos of the cockpit, cutaways and more.  The Comet's service with the airlines is thoroughly covered, as well as it's service with the military.  In fact, the Comet's final incarnation as the Nimrod M.R. 2 stretched the initial design to such an extreme that you had to pay close attention to recognize the Nimrod's ancestry.

Color photos show the Comet in a variety of liveries, give you an excellent shot of the D.H. Ghost jet engine and also offer a superb shot of the Comet's cockpit.  There's also several color shots of the Nimrod in it's various configurations.  Particularly interesting is a shot of a Nimrod M.R. 2 in it's 1982 camouflage of Hemp (?) and Light Grey.  I can't even begin to describe the Hemp color (sort of a kind of reddish-brownish-rustish, in a way but not exactly).  About the best advice I can give on that particular color is to buy the book, look on page 72 and make your own best guesstimate.

All in all, an excellent publication on an aircraft type that has, in some ways, been ignored.  Matter of fact, I believe the last publication that focused on the Comet was Profile 108…and that's been a long time.

Volume 9 on the Boeing 377 fills another void in airliner history.  If asked to name another major airliner design that was ignored even more than the D.H. Comet, I suppose it would be the Stratocruiser.  Sure, there have been occasional articles, but the B-377 has never gotten so much as it's own Profile.  It's military brother…the C-97 and KC-97…are a different story.  However, most people know nothing about the Stratocruiser…which is a shame when you consider that it was designed as a luxury airliner and adapted to cargo and air refueling work instead of the other way around.  This was the same path followed buy the Boeing 707/KC-135 and DC-10/KC-10.  Finally we have a book that corrects the oversight.

Rather than repeat myself needlessly, let me simply state that the interior of the book is essentially identical to Volume 7 on the Comet.  Not surprising if you keep in mind that this is an addition to an established series.  Having said that, there are still differences resulting from information/details pertinent to a specific aircraft type.  So what are you going to find inside on the B-377?

For starters…and appropriately…the focus is strictly on the Stratocruiser airliner and the Guppy series.  What few military mentions exist usually occur only in passing.  The only exception is just over a page of text and one b&w photo that describes acquisition and use of the 377, C-97 and KC-97 variants by the Israeli Air Force.

You'll find an excellent description of the development of first class air travel, numerous reproductions of Boeing maintenance manual pages, ads promoting the aircraft and many assembly line photos showing the aircraft in various stages.  Another chapter describes the powerplants and systems, including a fascinating tight photo of the folding vertical tail being raised to it's flight position.  Yes, folks, the entire vertical tail folded flat in order to provide clearance through relatively low hanger doors. 

Interiors were spacious, to say the least. Plenty of interior photos attest to that.  And it wasn't just the flight deck that was roomy.  There were dressing rooms for passengers, complete with outlets for electric razors.  Sleeping berths, a lounge on the lower deck, serve yourself buffet and leg room.  On long flights, passengers got a three course meal and a light buffet.  We'll never see the likes of that again!

Extensive descriptions of the various carrier's operations are described, along with second tier service that includes descriptions of the various incarnations of the Mini Guppy, Pregnant Guppy and Super Guppy.  Color photos give a good selection of the carriers that flew the B-377.  There's also a couple of very nice photos of both the Mini Guppy and Pregnant Guppy.  Also a good, clear color shot of the cockpit interior and a color publicity shot of the luxurious passenger cabin.  Inevitably, there were aircraft lost to accidents and mechanical failure.  One chapter discusses those losses and lists each one.  There were only 10 over a 9 year period.

Appendices include a one page list of major carrier fleets, six and a half pages containing thumbnail photos of every B-377 (except no photo for two) and pertinent details of their service and two pages of significant dates.

If you have more than a passing interest in airliners, these two books are going to be well

nigh irresistable.  So don't.  Go buy them both.  Support your local hobby shop or order the book directly from Specialty Press, 11605 Kost Dam Road, North Branch, MN 55056 or call them at 800-895-4585.  Keep in mind that there is a $4.50 shipping and handling charge per order.

Those of you in the United Kingdom can order from Airlife Publishing, 101 Longden Road, Shrewbury SY3 9EB, ENGLAND or call them at 01743 235651.

And that, folks, is it.  Til next month.

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