Richard Marmo's


We've all wondered why more women don't build models.  And when we do find one that does, she's so rare that we all pay attention.  Well, recently an event occurred that shed a little light on the question.

I have a friend…a woman who shall remain nameless…who's currently living with her parents because of significant medical problems she's having to deal with.  She's interested in modelbuilding…cars and trucks in particular…but has minimal experience.  Well, I've given her several kits, along with supplies, which she's built and enjoyed immensely in the process.

But…you knew there had to be a but, didn't you…come to find out,  my friend's mother ain't all that happy about the situation.  Specifically, my friend isn't supposed to build models because it's not ladylike!!!  And that's when the light bulb went on.

Stop and think about it.  Society says that men and boys build models but women and girls do crafts.  And the attitude my friend's mother has -shared by most mothers-  is imprinted deeply on their daughters, who then grow up doing crafts…but not models.  Then they get married, have daughters and impress the same attitude on them.  Those daughters grow up doing crafts…but not models.  They, in turn, get married, have daughters and the cycle continues.  A precious few are stubborn enough…or defiant enough…to build models anyway, but their numbers aren't large enough to break the pattern, so the cycle continues.

The end result of the scenario I just described is the behavior that's surfaced from time to time in various discussion groups.  Girlfriends and/or wives/significant others driving grown men to the point that they have to sneak a new kit, book or even a bottle of paint into the house while no one's around, making hobby purchases with cash that they've stashed so there will be no record and having to justify the purchase of a new kit when they've already got 15 kits on the shelf that they haven't built yet.

Granted, there's a healthy number of women out there who not only don't complain about their sons, husbands or significant others' modelbuilding passion, they actively encourage it.  Well and good and God bless the ladies that belong to that group.  The problem is that things won't change until mothers are as supportive of their daughter's interest in model building as they are their interest in crafts.

Comments anyone?  Or have you already sent someone for the tar and feathers?


A recent book from SPECIALTY PRESS should get the attention of anyone with an interest in an aircraft that wasn't wanted by the Army Air Corps, was loved by it's pilots and may well have been the finest design of it's type ever built.  I'm talking about the North American A-36 Invader dive bomber.

If you've ever wondered what the real story of the A-36 was, this book is a must read.  Produced in 7 1/2" x 9 3/4" format, this hardcover book …Straight Down! by Peter C. Smith… is a superlative historical compilation.  Running to 256 pages, and carrying a price of $34.95, you need to read this publication before you build a model.  Besides assisting you in creating a realistic finish, it'll also spark more than a few ideas for unique dioramas/vignettes.

Now that I've raved all over the landscape, you're probably wondering exactly what it's about.  First, let me tell what it isn't…and that's the familiar modeler's reference book.

Instead, you get a compilation of official company history interwoven with quotes from various individuals…all combining to show how the A-36 survived considerable efforts to kill the design.  That these efforts failed is fortuitous because the book contains a flat statement that "without the A-36 there would have been no P-51D."

In the end, only 500 were produced with 300 seeing combat in the MTO and CBI.  As the book's title says, when used for true dive bombing, they dived straight down….90 degrees…and the way the pilots knew they were at the proper angle was because their seatbelts were the only thing keeping them from falling out of their seats.  Low altitude strafing after pullouts from their dives was done at really low altitude…sometimes as low as 20 feet.

The heart of the book is comprised of memories and comments of the men (more often, boys who grew up in a hurry) who flew and fought their way to a special kind of glory in the cockpit of the North American A-36 Invader.  There are 10 different appendices, including one page devoted to A-36 color schemes, and a detailed index.  And let's not forget photographs.  There's over 100 b&w shots, most showing the aircraft in operation.  If nothing else, they stand in eloquent testimony to the fact that many superb, highly detailed scale model aircraft are simply way too clean.  More than a few A-36s came home plastered with mud and sporting pieces of small tree limbs stuck in their gun barrels.  One reportedly showed up with a brick in it's belly scoop!

Whether you're a model builder or armchair historian, if you have any interest in the A-36, this book is an absolute necessity.  Go buy one. .   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.


Another pilot's book from SPECIALTY PRESS is a little 6" x 9" hardback called Bandits Over Baghdad:Personal Stories of Flying the F-117 Over Iraq by Warren E. Thompson.  This book, which contains 216 pages, 107 b&w photos, 30 color images and a reasonable price tag of $24.95, offers a fascinating insight…in the pilots own words…into what was probably the single most dangerous aspect of the Desert Storm air war.  It also lays to rest, once and for all, a common belief about which weapon struck the first blow.

If you're looking for a book that describes the development of the F-117 from the get-go, shows multiple 3-views, ultra-close-up photos suitable for superdetailing and more, this ain't it.  On the other hand, if you want to find out what it was like to fly the aircraft, both in training missions over Nevada and combat over Baghdad, you won't be able to put it down.

As for what weapon hit Baghdad first, Tomahawk Cruise Missile or F-117 Nighthawk, first blood was drawn by Major Greg Feest in an F-117 of the 415th Squadron.  A direct quote from Major Bouley, that appears on page 63 of the book, states "To set the records straight, the Tomahawks did not make the first hits in Iraq.  Official records that I have had the opportunity to read, state that the first wave of Cruise Missiles struck Baghdad at 3:05 A.M.  Two of our F-117s bombed radar sites outside of the city at 2:51 A.M.  At 3 A.M. sharp, we had eight jets hit downtown Baghdad.  Precisely one hour later, a second wave of F-117s (ten aircraft) hit more targets in the same vicinity as the first wave."

So, F-117s beat the Tomahawks by five minutes into Baghdad and a humongous 14 minutes as far as the first bomb is concerned.

Probably the most astounding thing about the F-117 operations during Desert Storm is that every mission was flown…from take-off to landing…in total darkness and radio silence.  In the process, they penetrated the single most hostile AAA (anti-aircraft artillery) ever seen, delivered their bombs with absolute precision and made it back to base unharmed.  Not a single F-117 received so much as a scratch during the course of the 43 day war.

While there are no photos of the aircraft during missions (sorta like trying to photograph a black cat in a coal bin), there are plenty of shots of the aircraft during training operations, in shelters being bombed up before a mission and after returning.  Most of these are b&w.  However, the color shots are interesting in their own right.  While the majority of the color images concentrate on squadron insignia, there's a few that'll catch your eye.  One rather dramatic shot was taken from inside a destroyed Iraqi Hardened Aircraft Shelter (HAS), the rubble and twisted steel reinforcing rods graphically illustrating the power of the GBU-27 bomb.  Another shows an Iraqi HAS from the outside with an immense hole in it's roof and the ends blown out.  Detailists will love the color shot of two laser-guided bombs being loaded and inspected.  Of the four F-117 photos that appear in color, the most noteworthy is one that shows a weathered F-117.  If you're looking for a way to make your F-117 different from everyone else's, this one would do it.

You also get one page of F-117 specs, two pages of pilot names and "bandit" numbers, along with a page of acronyms and abbreviations.

Ordering information is the same as for the A-36 book.


Do you classify your modelbuilding skills as somewhere between 'experienced' and 'expert'?  Then check out a 176 page, 8 1/2" x 11" spiral bound catalog from PRECISION SCALE MODEL ENGINEERING (  Self-described as 'the most comprehensive single source listing of scale modeling tools and supplies available anywhere', I'm inclined to believe them.

This is not one of your free-for-the-asking catalogs.  It'll cost you $12 and is well worth the money.  However, that's not as bad as it sounds.  The catalog comes with a refund coupon that gets you a $12 credit on your first order.  Assuming you actually order something, the catalog really does wind up being free.

Claiming over 13,500 products, reviewing this thing is mainly a question of deciding what to talk about and what to skip.  Since I obviously can't talk about everything listed, let's just kinda hit the high points.

The first thing you see on opening the cover is an extensive line of Fordom tools.  From there we move to page after page after page of bits, tips, points, buffing wheels, abrasive tips, cotton polishers, vanadium steel cutters and burs, bristle brushes, mandrels, arbors, stone cutters, etc. (whew!).  And don't think they're strictly for Fordom, either.  They'll work equally well with your Dremel. 

You'll also find all kinds of saws, miter boxes, scroll saw blades, professional modeler's power tools.  Pliers, tweezers, cutters, knives.  Components for benchtop jeweler's lathes, foam cutters, vinyl mold material, casting resin and on and on and on.

Miniature threaded hardware, ultra small tubing, bare wire, plastic tubing, strips, triangles, domes, elipses.  Lighting supplies, chrome steel balls, thrust washers, pullys, gears, even flags.

In a nutshell, if you do any kind of conversion work…or scratchbuild…and you don't have one of these catalogs on your bench, you need to correct the oversight.  Now.


NEWS FLASH!  In a recent letter to Bo Roberts, the Director of the Ukranian model company ICM stated that during 2002 and 2003 they would be releasing a series of P-40 kits in 1/48th scale.  The specific variants listed are: P-40D, P-40E, P-40K, P-40M and P-40N.  There will also be several sub-types of the P-40K and P-40N. 


And that…with a deadline looming over me like the Damocles Sword…is it for this month.  See you in October.

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