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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 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 the 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.

My most recent book, "Clean Sweep: VIII Fighter Command Against the Luftwaffe 1942-45" will be published by Osprey on May 23.

My wife of 27 years finally escaped Parkinson's on February 20 and sailed west to the unknown land beyond the sunset where she once again paints seascapes with her friends, her cats.

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

Another save from the Garage of Doom

Plucked from the Garage of Doom before I spent much of yesterday fighting the (small, thank goodness) leaks in the garage revealed by the Big Winter Storm that hit us. Revell's F-86D Sabre kit(s) allow a modeler to do the early and late [...]

Review: Halberd Models 1/48 P-51C racer "Beguine"

The “Beguine” Racer: William Paul (“Bill”) Odom, flew for the Chinese National Aviation Corporation (CNAC) from 1944 to 1945, flying “The Hump.” He was determined to make a name for himself in postwar aviation. He did so in [...]

Review: Discovered in The Department of Lost: Aeroclub 1/48 Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2b

A model that survives from the pre-Jurassic days of 1996. Of all the awful airplanes the Royal Flying Corps went to war with, it is a tossup whether the F.E. series or the B.E. series can take the title of Worst of All. The two had [...]

Review: Another Rescue from the Department of Lost: Classic Airframes S.79 "Sparviero"

I built this model 20 years ago when it first came out. I am including the review I wrote then, since Eduard is re-releasing this kit in February 2024, with the Spccial Hobby plastic and Eduard resin detail parts, and an Eduard decal [...]

Back from the forgotten storage box: Monogram 1/48 Douglas C-47A Skytrain

The C-47 is the military development of the Douglas DC-3, the civil airliner that has been called “The Plane That Changed The World.” That is not hyperbole. The DC-3 was unlike any airplane that came before it. It gave airlines [...]

News you can use....

The latest email from Squadron shows the Magic Factory F4U-1A/F4U-2 Corsair kit available for $69.99 - that's competitive price-wise with the Tamiya Corsairs, with more detail offered. There was a point where @#$#@#@! Stevens International [...]

Review: Halberd 1/48 conversion (for Tamiya) XP-72 "Ultrabolt"

In July 1941, Republic Aviation submitted two new designs, the AP-18 and the AP-19. The AP-18 was an interceptor fighter powered by the Wright R-2160 Tornado engine. The AP-19 was powered by the Pratt & Whitney Wasp X (R-4360). Both [...]

Review: Halberd Models/Tamiya XP-47H conversion

Chrysler began development of a massive new liquid-cooled engine in early 1940, which became the Chrysler XIV-2220, offering 2,500hp. To simplify things, Chrysler decided to put two V-8s together inline, producing an inverted 16-cylinder [...]

Oh Noes! Robert Taylor RIP

Robert Taylor (1946-2024). It was announced today that Robert Taylor, considered the finest aviation artist, passed away in his home in England. The name Robert Taylor has been synonymous with aviation art over a quarter of a century. His [...]

Review: Eduard 1/48 Bf-109G-10 of Lt. Vladimir Sandtner

There were several attempts during the production run of the Bf-109G series to develop a “standard” model. The last of these was the Bf-109K-4, which appeared in the summer of 1944 powered by the 1,850 h.p. DB605D engine with a [...]