Most of the modelers in my area, if they are interested in WW2 subjects, are focused on producing scores and scores of grey mottled aircraft. Others like RAF roundels on delicate and somewhat homely planes. Sure, as a kid, tried my hand at a Spitfire, a 109 and a 190. But there was no ‘draw’ to those models; They just happened to be stocked in abundance at the LHS.
However, by the end of my kid modeler career (the one where most of us “retire” for a while) I came across an article in the September 1989 FSM:
Yep, it was THAT picture that started the love of Corsairs. What sealed the deal and fully formed my interest in all things Corsair and Pacific War was this book:
Particularly the story of one Lt Klingman based out of Okinawa, who used the prop on his checkerboard Corsair to chop down a Japanese Nick. Why? Well, his guns were jammed….frozen actually. So of course that is what any sane person would you do when the guns freeze and there is a Nick in the cross-hairs.
That story made a permanent impression on me despite it being around the time I put plastic models on the shelf for the next 15+ years.
I stopped building but I kept reading books and playing flight sims while going to school. One of the many modeling myths is that video games “destroy the hobby”. However, I’d argue that my interest in the Pacific War was intensified by playing a few video games, especially Microprose’s 1942: The Pacific Air War.
I think I wore out that CD-ROM. I got to fly Wildcats, Hellcats and Corsairs in addition to Zeros, Georges and Franks. This certainly was not a “serious” sim but it sure was challenging to survive a tour; especially as a dive bomber pilot! Each plane had its unique flying characteristics and they were all challenging to land on those little carriers. I also learned very quickly to be patient and go for side attacks against formations of bombers. Rear attacks against Vals and Kates would get a plane shot up quickly.
I’d talk about the many movies about the Pacific War but I would ultimately end up discussing the trainwreck of Pearl Harbour and completely sour this blog entry. Lets just forget that movie ever happened.
I got back into the hobby in 2007 and soon went to my first scale model contest. While I was hunting for Corsairs to admire, I realized there was a unique beauty to Japanese WW2 aircraft. The best part? There are dozens of different airframes with 100s of different finishes. Some of the best research on these planes and the Pacific War in general is still being carried out today. I got started on my first Zero which ultimately became my first contest model….and today I have a half dozen colourful Japanese planes in my display case.
So I put it to you: A 109 is a 109 is a 109 no matter how many different German nick names you give it. I challenge you to put down the RLM paints! Break free from roundels and earth tones! There is more to your modeling life than perfect invasion stripes! Read Shattered Sword and get into the Pacific War.
And try your hand at something big, brutish and blue. You won’t regret it!
Keep in mind – this article was posted with tongue firmly in cheek. Let me know in the comments what you are thinking of building. I’d love to hear from you.