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@tcinla Tom Cleaver

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According to my mother, the first word I said was “airplane” (“oh-pane”) at around 11 months of age when a P-38 flew over the park we were in. I’ve had a love affair with airplanes and the people who are involved with airplanes ever since, which has become my career as an aviation historian and author.

I built my first model, a Strombecker all-wood P-80 (that dates it!) at age 6, after watching my father build other wood models for me. I quickly graduated to plastic models when I found Mr. Twist’s Fix-It Shop on South Gaylord Street in Denver, with its corner shelves full of wondrous kit boxes. I built my first biplane (a Hawk Models Nieuport 17 – still available from Testors) before I was old enough to know that “biplanes are hard.” With time out in the 1960s after graduating from high school for the Navy and college and “The Sixties” I returned to the hobby in 1970 hand haven’t left since.

I became a screenwriter in Hollywood in the 1980s, after first getting published as an aviation author in the 1970s in Air Enthusiast Quarterly. I’ve flown the back seat of an F-4E Phantom for an article on the Wild Weasels in Air Force Magazine, and had 20 minutes stick time in Jim Nissen’s 1918 Curtiss JN-4D Jenny for an article in Plane and Pilot, and been in everything in between over the past 45 years. When I worked in politics in Sacramento during the 1970s, I was a member of a club that flew Stearman N747JR (we called ourselves in as “Boeing 747 Junior”) and got around 100 hours in that fun machine.

I’m one of the original members here of iModeler, and consider it the best model club on the planet.

Author of “Fabled Fifteen: The Pacific War Odyssey of Carrier Air Group 15”, which you can order here:

You can order “The Bridgebusters: The True Story of the Catch-22 Bomb Wing” here:

You can buy “The Frozen Chosen” here:

You can buy “Pacific Thunder” here:

You can buy “Tidal Wave: From Leyte Gulf to Tokyo Bay” here:

You can buy “Holding The Line: The Naval Air Campaign in Korea” here:

1/48 Airfix Spitfire FR XIV “Race 80”

Supermarine Spitfire FR XIVe TZ138 was delivered at Aldermaston on February 23, 1945 and sent to Rolls Royce at Hucknall for modification for cold weather testing. Prepared in June 1945 by No. 47 Maintenance Unit at Sealand, it was shipped to C[...]

Roden 1/48 Gladiator I

By the early 1930s, it was apparent to any aircraft designer that the day of the biplane was over: the inherent drag of the layout could not be overcome by any increase in performance, and the layout prevented the airplane from carrying a truly [...]

Farewell, Captain America…

The new Eduard P-51D

As it turns out, there is more to the P-51D than many modelers have previously thought. There are minor but important differences between each sub-type, from whether they have a dorsal fin or not, to whether or not they have fabric-covered or me[...]

Airfix Meteor NF 11 conversion

Following the conclusion of the Second World War, the RAF’s night and all-weather fighter squadrons were equipped with the latest versions of the excellent Mosquito night fighter, which had demonstrated its ability to deal effectively with pisto[...]

Just arrived on my front porch

Just arrived. Tore into it like a ravening wolf. A more detailed review will be up at M2 next week. But right off, the surface detail is amazing, more petite even than the recent Fw-190 and Tempest, if such is possible. For those who say "yeah,[...]

Eduard 1/48 Fw-190D-11 off the Shelf of Doom

After building the Fw-190D-13 half of this Profipack Double Kit, I set it aside for what must be around 5 years (before the move to the present address). These Dora-9 kits are a lot better than the early Antons. With luck the Dora will be also u[...]

50 years ago

I wasn't a kid when Apollo landed on the moon. I was 25 years old. When I was a kid, I used to spend summers in Albuquerque with my aunt and uncle David and Marge Carrick (they weren't "blood" aunt and uncle, my parents didn't have siblings, bu[...]

Airfix 1/48 Spitfire F XIVe

It's a strange but interesting fact that the only "built for that specific powerplant" Spitfire to achieve a large production run was the Mk.I; while there were several other Marks specifically designed to make maximum benefit of the additional [...]

Rockin’ ‘n’ rollin’ in the City of Lost Angles

Well, my black kitties are keeping all well here in the City of Lost Angles, where 2 hours ago we had a 7.1 “aftershock” to a 6.4 earthquake yesterday that is now being called a “pre-shock.” (on the logarithmic Richter scale, tonight's was about[...]