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An F 14, but not as you know it, Jim………

During the last few months of 2017, I’d enviously followed the posts that Marc Barris presented, describing the various scratch-built, vacform models he makes in 1/32 scale. Blessed with detailed plans of the full-size models and with much skill and ingenuity, Marc’s work is a lesson to us all, successfully revealing the individual processes for blokes like me who have little engineering skill, much enthusiasm and limited dexterity.
Despite my limitations, I decided to try to use some of Marc’s techniques to make a 1/32 scale model of a plane my brother, Robin, owned, loved, but eventually had to sell for financial reasons. He has also been going through the painful treatment process of surgery and recovery for cancerous liver ulcers and his long-term future is still unclear.
I learnt a lot from trying to get my model to imitate the perfection of Marc Barris’ peerless efforts. With a lot of heartache, blundering and no small amount of bad language, I finally managed to finish the model and deliver it to my brother in France where he lives with his wife.
Inevitably, I can see a multitude of things I might have done more skillfully with a better all-round outcome. When you’re faced with starting from scratch, you recognise how much effort the kit manufacturers put in to give you all the components into an easily-assembled package. Perhaps I’ll be a bit more understanding of manufacturers producing kits where the sprues have awkward flash and possibly poorly fitting joints.
I spent a lot of time annd effort trying to get the cabin and its fitments accurately depicted, along with a much modified 1/32 scale truck driver in the image of my brother as the pilot. Due to the structure of the plane’s passenger compartment, the bulk of this is almost invisible without a torch and a bit of dexterity. At least it kept me off the streets and it was a fascinating change from my usual diet of RAF and Luftwaffe aircraft of the 1940s.
Robin’s aircraft is quite a rarity. Only some 11 aircraft were ever actually built and I understand that only 2 of these are still flying, the one depicted here being one of them. G-OWYN was delivered back in the late 1950s, an all-wood, 4-seater tourer with tricycle undercarriage. There’s a company in the US called Sequoia which makes kits for a 2-seat version called the Falco, and there’s a number of these flying. My brother liked to think of his as the Ferrari of the skies, not painted red, but capable of cruising at a relatively high speed (around 160 knots or so) compared with many Cessna’s and the like.
The plane’s designer was Stelio Frati, a famous aircraft designer in Italy and my brother flew G-OWYN down to Milan to meet him. He succeeded in getting the designer to sign the plane, potentially making it even more unique, since I suspect Stelio Frati is no longer with us. Subsequently, he wrote an article about the trip for one of the light aircraft mags he reads (General Aviation December 2009), the title of which was “Signed by the artist -no point in owning a masterpiece if the artist hasn’t signed it”.
Extra thanks to Marc Barris whose skills should be considered by us lesser mortals a legendary. I hope all’s well with you, Marc.
Paul
Just added the last pic to justify my depiction of the bald-headed, sunglassed guy in the model cockpit. Not a huge amount of hair between us.
Paul

15 additional images. Click to enlarge.


21 responses to An F 14, but not as you know it, Jim………

  1. Paul, Great build…..Great results….Great honor. Well done!

  2. Terrific job. Modelers who scratchbuild entire planes are in a league of their own.

  3. Well done Paul, and a great article as well. Wish your brother well and a speedy recovery.

  4. Very interesting, Paul.

  5. I think you’ve achieved an outstanding result, sir….a fitting tribute indeed.

  6. Nicely done.

    The pilot figure with a bald spot must be a first 🙂

  7. A moving tribute to your brother. He must have grinned from ear to ear. That bold spot is the best!

    • Sadly, we both need some renovation in that area. I tried to prepare the figure as a close representation of my brother today. It turned out not too bad with features hidden behind the shades and the headphones, all cunningly concealed once the cabin roof was in place. I can report he’s very happy to add it to his catholic collection of different a/c. Thanks for your comment.

  8. Great looking Nibbio, Paul! The story is interesting, in spite of Robin’s need to sell her. Best wishes to him and your family. I went through cancer (kidney) back in 2009 and it is quite an ordeal.
    A scratchbuilt Nibbio – it seems the model AND the aircraft were both stratchbuilt, though there is only one model you have made. 11 aircraft isn’t a big production run.

    Well done, my friend!

  9. Excellent build, and great tribute!

  10. Hey Paul, this is FANTASTIC, well done mate, this is an amazing build, I know just how difficult this kind of building can be, you did yourself and your Brother proud with this amazing effort……..a winner for sure here at I Modeler, well, enough accolades, ……………..whats next?, I do have more plans in my stash if you need them.

  11. I think if I had been able to scratchbuild this model, you wouldn’t find me apologizing about my skills, and you shouldn’t either. This is really superb craftsmanship, with a great result. I’m sure your brother loves it.

    I had a flight in a Falco several years ago when a guy brought one out to Chino and was nice enough to fly photo plane for me. They’re very nice airplanes and definitely look “Italian” the first time you see one.

  12. You guys are all too kind since the photo evidence doesn’t reveal all the flaws that I see, which I guess is normal for all of us ultra-critical plastic fiends. Lovely to hear back from you Marc – I’d been a little concerned about your ability to find time/inclination to finish the PC 21 which I hope you do. I have several options in the stash, all factory produced, which I’ll make a start on when the relief at completing the Nibbio abates a bit. Best you all.
    Paul

    • Hey Paul,
      Been really busy, took the Family to Thailand for a holiday and been to the DRC again, I am at home as we speak busy doing some work on the PC 21, I will post an update in the next few days. I need to get finished as I have ordered 2 kits from Paul Fisher. So I am going to try a resin kit again.

      • Good to hear from you again Marc. My brother was amazed when I showed him the PC 21 in your last post on that build and I’m sure he’d be interested in the next one. I haven’t made up my mind on the next project, although I imagine my scratchbuilding talents (huh!!) will go a bit on the backburner rather than the afterburner. I’m toying with some the alternatives of WW1 biplanes or a couple of a/c from one of the most interesting Luftwaffe units I’ve come across – Erprobungsgruppe 210. Either one will be from one of the kits gathering dust on my shelves. All the best – Paul.

  13. This is a lovely article, Paul, and I really enjoyed it. Your writing and modeling skills are terrific and like Tom C said, if I could build scratch like his I’d be delighted. As you say, Marc is a real master (I just love the Pilatus build) but going by this result, you are on a great trajectory.

  14. Fine work of art. And special recognition of the setting and painting of the gray-haired-sun glassed guy in the “driver’s seat.”
    All great.

  15. Scratch building a model is what sets the men from apart from the boys……………. Doing something like this is something that far surpasses my skill set, and I’ll be the first to tell you that.

    I’ll bet your brother was very pleasantly surprised when he saw the model. It will always be cherished by him I’m sure, and you can’t put a price on the sentimental value that comes with it.

    I’m happy to hear that he is recovering, and I hope he continues on the path to better health. I always say take care of your family first…………..and everything else seems to fall into place naturally after that.

    Beautiful work on this one my friend. Well done, but the story behind the build is what makes it so special.

    Two thumbs up Sir !!!

  16. Thanks Louis. My brother and I are probably typical Brits in many ways – a bit backward in coming forward on the emotional level. I think he’s pretty chuffed about it and believe he’s put something about it on Facebook (not my bag) which perhaps sums it up. All the best to you and your lady, hoping you have some good news coming your way.
    Paul

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