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.
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.
11 additional images. Click to enlarge.