by: Is a secret [ ]
Modelling airliners is very much a speciality and a rarity in our hobby. Some modellers feel that building something you can see every day is boring. Others think that flying an airliner has even less “cool factor” than driving a bus. Still others are intimidated by the glossy white and natural metal colour schemes so necessary to airliners. For whatever reason, airliners are very much a niche market in the modelling world. This is a pity, because the often vibrant colours of airline liveries are quite eye-catching and the basic techniques needed to build them are well within the capabilities of any average modeller.
Aaron Skinner leads us through a very comprehensive guide to the techniques of building these attractive models.
As with all Kalmbach publications, this is a slick, glossy production with sharp graphics and a logical, well organised layout. Kalmbach's magazine publishing background is apparent in the admixture of photographs and text on each page.
The book begins with a short introduction into airliner modelling and the variety of subjects and aftermarket decal schemes available. After this, each chapter is devoted to different aspects of modelling airliners. Each section is equally applicable to any other kind of modelling since none of the techniques are unique to modelling airliners, but all the examples and photos are of course devoted to airline subjects.
The book is divided into 7 chapters:
This chapter covers the basic construction techniques necessary to build any model. Preparation, tools, glues, puttying, sanding, fitting nose weights, treatment of clear parts (or filling and sanding all those tiny windows), dealing with seams, drilling and pinning short-run kits and restoring details lost in the preceding steps. All of these techniques should be part of any modeller's basic toolkit.
This chapter covers painting techniques. Types of paint, their advantages and disadvantages, application options, preparation, masking, washes and especially the pitfalls and trials of painting gloss white and natural metal. Again, any of these techniques will be useful for any kind of modelling although gloss white will not have too many other applications.
3. Applying decals
This chapter covers the techniques of decalling. The only airliner-specific is in applying long cheatlines which run the full length of the fuselage. Tools, techniques and setting solutions are discussed. Cutting out continuous film aftermarket decals is also detailed.
In airliner modelling, conversions usually involve shortening or lengthening the fuselage of your model to portray a different version. Since many airliners were stretched over their lifetime, the opportunity exists to build these variants the kit manufacturers have not given us.
A one page table of common conversions lists the amounts to add or remove from the fuselage (and sometimes wings) of your model.
5. Detailing and Improving kits
This chapter discusses adding small details which are often omitted from mainstream plastic kits and nearly always from limited run kits. Such things as antennas, pitot probes, drain masts, navigation lights and wing fences will make your model stand out from the crowd. Some models, particularly older ones, have incomplete or missing wheel well detail. Ading this is a simple matter of cutting out the right shapes from plastic card, rod and strip. Scratchbuilding flaps and photo-etch parts are touched on, and then the chapter discusses making your own custom made resin parts using RTV rubber and casting resin. The chapter ends with a short tutorial on vacuum formed parts. A two page spread outlines the corrections needed by a selection of common airliner kits. Once again, these techniques are by no means limited to just airliners.
Contrary to popular belief, airliners do get dirty. This chapter shows how to use washes, pencil and powders to apply realistic dirt to your model to make it look like it's been used instead of a smooth glossy toy. Exhaust stains, brake dust, rain streaks and other common sources of dirt are discussed.
7. Airliner Gallery
Every Kalmbach book ends with a gallery of spectacular models sent in by readers of Finescale Modeler magazine. The reader is treated to 8 pages of colourful and well built airliners which only scratch the surface of the topic. This is just enough to tease and leave the reader wanting more.
This is a good primer on the basic techniques needed to build any airliner model. However, it is only basic. There is so much more to the topic which sadly does not fit into the format of Kalmbach's magazine sized books. I could wish that they would switch to a larger format, but that would of course mean a larger price point. As with everything, tradeoffs must be made.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.