Profile picture of Tom Cleaver

@tcinla Tom Cleaver

  • 650 articles
  • 45,524 karma
  • 118 friends
  • active 17 hours, 27 minutes ago

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 me!) 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 and 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 love the4 fact that William Green, who wrote the first “serious aviation book” (All The World’s Aircraft 1954) that I got my father to buy for me was the first person to publish me. 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 back in 1979 for an article in Plane and Pilot, and been in everything in between over the past 47 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”, “Pacific Thunder: the Pacific War from Wake island to Leyte Gulf,” “Tidal Wave: From Leyte Gulf to Tokyo Bay,” “The Frozen Chosen: The First Marine Division and the Battle of Chosin Reservoir,” “Holding The Line: the Naval Air Campaign in Korea,” and “MiG Alley: The US Air Force in Korea – 1950-53” which will be released on November 26.

You can order all of them here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Thomas+McKelvey+Cleaver&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

Skyraider AEW 1 – Tamiya/ESCI kitbash

Done back in 2004: One of the lessons the U.S. Navy learned during the Second World War as a result of the Kamikaze campaign was that there was no such thing as too early a warning of an incoming attack. The further away from the fleet the ene[...]

California is locked down! Updated March 22

Our governor just announced a "stay inside" order for the entire state until April 19. You can go to groceries, pharmacies, banks and gas stations, and take a walk around the block - but you have to keep 6ft/2m separation. Also they expect 25 mi[...]

Thank goodness modeling is an activity best done alone inside – Updated March 13

Some thoughts on what's going on. A week ago tonight, my wife (who suffers from Parkinson's) fell down in our living room and couldn't get up. After the fire department took her to the ER, the X-ray showed she had a fractured pelvis and a broke[...]

Airfix 1/48 P-51D-5 Mustang

The 361st Fighter Group and “Lou IV”: The 361st Fighter Group, comprising the 374th, 375th and 376th Fighter Squadrons, came into existence on February 10, 1943 at Richmond Army Air Base, Virginia. The unit was formed with trained personnel fro[...]

Thank goodness for being a modeler!

I just realized that the face mask I bought for modeling last year is an N95, the only one that will give any protection to the coronavirus. Cost me $12. The cheapest one you can find on Amazon now is $25, and they're out of stock till March 13.[...]

Airfix 1/72 Blackburn Buccaneer S.2C

HISTORY As the Cold War deepened, the Soviet Navy underwent expansion. The most important aspect of that in the 1950s was the Sverdlov-class cruisers; classed as light cruisers, they were fast and well-armed. Like the German "pocket battleships[...]

Eduard 1/48 P-51D-5

“Frenesi” was named after a song popularized by the great Artie Shaw, pronounced "Free 'n Easy". Why would a fighter pilot name his airplane for a song? Click here - - and find out. The airplane was one the very first D-model Mustangs the 357th[...]

Last living Flying Tiger gone.

Having been privileged to know five of these guys - three pilots, two groundcrewmen - this is a sad day. They were an amazing and inspiring group. Quite a week for "lasts"

Last ace of “The Few” dies at age 101.

Just arrived – Mikro-Mir 1/48 DeHavilland DH88 Comet

Just arrived an hour ago from Ukraine. $65 delivered via eBay. I've long thought the DH88 Comet was one of the best-looking 1930s airplanes, and have wanted a 1/48 kit for a long time. Finally, Mikro-Mir delivers! Looking through what's in the[...]