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Tom Cleaver
878 articles

Last one: Bill Bosworth's 1/32 scratchbuilt Bell YFM-1 Airacuda

October 10, 2013 · in Aviation · · 20 · 4.1K

"I'm not worthy!"

Erik Shilling, who actually flew this contraption in 1940, told me it had to be towed to the takeoff point on the runway to avoid overheating, and because it was all-electric, if you lost the generator (as he did once) you lost all control of the airplane. When it happened to him, he was on final approach at Andrews Field and actually managed to get it on the runway in one piece. But he was Erik Shilling, commonly designated by his fellow AVG pilots as "our best pilot."

Lots of photos here of the model in progress.

"I'm not worthy!" 🙂

Reader reactions:
7  Awesome

9 additional images. Click to enlarge.

20 responses

  1. Every one of these is "modeling" in it's purest form...

  2. I know one should rise to the challenge but this man's work makes me want to just hang it up.

  3. that is absolutely stunning...what a master

  4. OMG ! I mean OMG ! Just OUTSTANDING ! In a class of it's own !

  5. Those in-progress shots... There are probably other modellers out there with that talent and attention to detail but without a special kind of perseverance this kind of project will never cross the finish line!



  6. The fact that I think the 'Cuda is one of the NEATEST airplanes ever built may predjudice me, but that is one hellacious model. They all are.

  7. Does Mr. Bosworth still build...? His work is stunning.

  8. Well, I just cleared off my workbench models into the trash can, I'm going back to building sock puppets and scratchbuilt wood cloths pins. I can't get over the planes finish, it's the best bare metal finish I've ever viewed. Just exceptional work!

    • It's always good to have stuff like this around as "inspiration." I know my work well enough to know the only thing I will do as well as he does these are my books. Having them around as inspiration for modeling keeps me aiming for "progress."

  9. Brilliant in every sense of the work!

    Best regards, Vlad.

  10. Now that,s what you call a real modler.

  11. Tom,

    I have never met Bill but I sure do know about him and his work. On models and with AM. I have seen some of his other work in the book "The Master Scratch Builders" by John Alcorn. Bill gives much praise to George Lee and John Alcorn by dragging him ",,,,,,away from the world of FROG and Airfix and into a world of real challenge." He certainly has equated him self with their knowledge, skill, and reputation. He complimented both of them for their willingness to share their secrets. Even though I don't know him I will bet he is the same as them in his willingness to share and develop new talented scratch modelers. I would urge everyone to look into this book and see not only his work but the work of other masters. His work is absolutely phenomenal. I had not seen the Rainbow before this post. It is beautifully done and represents an airplane that was extraordinary. His skills and his models are amazing. I am in awe of what he does.

    Take note, young Master Mears, you are eminently qualified to move into this realm.

    • I had the good fortune to meet Bill at the 1998 IPMS Nats. It was like we had already known each other for years. While he ran AM, he was highly supportive of my work at Modeling Madness. He's truly one of those people for whom you tell yourself you must be a far better person than you ever thought you were, that he'd choose to be a friend. A true privilege.

      You're right about him being helpful to others and never having any "secrets." I had the additional privilege of being a member of Golden Gate IPMS in the 1970s, which met over in Berkeley down the street from Ace Hardware. Among the members was George Lee. You'd bring something to show, and afterwards he would go over the model with you in detail. It was critique, but it was never critical, and every word of it was to give you information that would let you do your next model better.

      And then, in 1973, he invited his friend John to come to the meeting. John brought three 1/32 solid wood models (I remember one was a Bf-109E, can't remember the other two), and everyone thought they were plastic models. Detailed cockpits and wheel wells, superb surface detail, like no wooden model I had ever seen and I grew up on wooden models. Then he started bringing bits and pieces of the scratchbuilt 1/32 A-20C he was doing - landing gear with fully-spring oleos, traversing gun mounts., etc. That was the first of the great John Alcorn Projects. I remember seeing his 1/24 DeHavilland D.H.9A at the '98 Nats. I hadn't seen him in a good 20 years, and it was like the last time we had talked was the day before. He's still doing stuff up in Seattle.

      • Your right about George. I asked a simple question (I thought) about how he did a certain thing on one of his models. He explained everything in detail and drew pictures on a napkin. Every thing I asked about was divulged to me in great detail. A friend of mine has one of George's 1/72 creations which had been broken. He asked if I would repair it for him. I felt like I had been allowed to repair the Holy Grail. The model was outstanding but the thing that really got to me was the plastic box he constructed to hold the model. It alone was a masterpiece. I have built models as a kid from "Air Trails" magazine plans and today I wonder how I ever did it. We are so spoiled with the quality of kits today. Like you, I feel honored to have met some of these folks before they passed on. I will stick to the kits. At my age I don't think there would be enough time to complete a scratch built.

  12. Bill's work is an inspiration. No, I'm not taking up stamp collecting or sock knitting but I am going to dwell somewhat on what a true master can achieve & try to learn from it. The ingenuity & skills Bill demonstrates are remarkable & show just what can be done from scratch. All the better in fact as he has chosen such a unique range of aircraft to build.

  13. Incredible...just incredible!

  14. A hell of a model builder, and a real class act when i met him in Orlando. I loved his online build tutorials.

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