Air Force Legends #206 Earl Berlin Steve Ginter Publications ISBN 0-942612-95-7 Skyway Hobbies Price $29.95
Steve Ginter has been pumping out books about the more obscure Navy airplanes for several years now. Recently he apparently saw the light and started on a parallel series on Air Force airplanes. less Steve generally ignores the Mustangs, Phantoms, Tomcats and the like. Instead he tells us about some of the more obscure airplanes. How many other publishers have published books on the Douglas Skyshark? Or the Martin Mercator for example.
As modelers, Steve's books are usually the only generally available source for the subjects he has covered. The C-124 is a good example. Cargo birds (trash haulers!) have not generally been high on the list of "most wanted kits", thus not much reference space is devoted to them. This one covers the C-124 in excellent fashion.
For those familiar with the series, there are no surprises regarding format or layout. 153 pages of text photos and extracts from the relevant technical manuals. The last two pages are devoted to very brief looks at the two plastic kits done on this bird. The first is the Combat Models 1/72nd kit and the Welsh Models 1/144th model. More on the kit reviews later.
Earl Berlin does a good job of describing the circumstances that led to the Globemaster design, why the original smaller C-74 was not a success and the goes on to outline the service use of "Old Shaky". Here things get a bit difficult to keep track of. Usually, each of the using organizations is a chronological listing of various operations and exercises that the wing participated in. Frequently there is no explanation of the operation, just the listing. Interspersed with the dry history stuff are some interesting personal recollections and war stories. These are probably some of the best reading in the book.
The section that describes the bird is the real meat of the book. Generous use of relevant tech orders and Douglas materials tell you all you need to know to detail that yet to be released good kit. Station diagrams, General three views and dimensions, flap drawings, seats, all the instrument and control panels, it is all shown in considerable detail. There is even a drawing showing how the very interesting "orangepeel" cowling opens up. Now there would be a great detail on a model!
The photo selection is as good as the description section. As is the style of Ginter's series, only the front and back covers are color. The rest is black and white, but color notes are pretty standard on any of the photos that need it. That even includes the squadron insignia illustrations.
Obviously I like Steve's books. I think I have all of them and will continue to buy them as they expand. If I were allowed one negative comment it would be that Steve very much needs the services of a good editor. The layout and format have improved dramatically over the last few books, but the writing is still not crisp and concise. To be fair, the people who write these books do so because they have a passion for the subject. Unfortunately that does not always mean their writing skills are the equal of their knowledge of the subject.
This is rather common observation when dealing with this "specialty books" area. I should perhaps point out that I made the same comments about a much larger publisher here a few months ago.
The one thing I take serious exception to is the review of the Combat Models 1/72nd kit. The only negative comment about the kit is, "It is a vacuform kit, which because of its size is very difficult to build". They are correct. It is about impossible to build. The wood grain of the patterns shows prominently in most places, the parts are not symmetrical, it lacks any details and has no detail parts at all. I love C-124s and would pay twice the suggested $34.95 for a decent 1/72nd kit, but this one went right into the trash the day it arrived. Since then I have seen at least one of them built into a very impressive model, so it can be done. The one I saw, the guy that built it wouldn't even guess at the hours it took.
In summary, buy the book! Then start bugging whoever your favorite kit maker is for a good 1/72nd scale kit. Big? Sure! Impressive when finished? Boy wouldn't it be. Expensive? Probably, but worth it.