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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

I have seen the Trumpeter 1/32 TBD-1 Devastator - Good News

Was up at the LHS this afternoon and they had one of the new Trumpeter 1/32 TBD-1 Devastator kits. Yes! Thirty years of "coming soon" has arrived! It's no longer vaporware. It's real. So how is it? It's like this: 20 years ago [...]

Review: Halberd Models 1/48 Curtiss SC-1 Seahawk

The Curtiss SC-1 Seahawk, was the largest, fastest, most heavily-armed single-engine scouting-observation seaplane ever used by the U.S. Navy, with a top speed of 313mph and armament of two .50 caliber machine guns in the wings. It was [...]

Arriving On My Front Porch This Morning

Nice way to start the day. Step outside to check the weather forecast against personal experience (we definitely now have Spring after the longest winter I remember in 50 years here in L.A.) and I almost tripped over the box sitting on [...]

RIP Norris Graserwhat a shock!

Just heard that Norris Graser died of a heart attack this past Sunday. Man! That is such a shock! I was emailing with him 2 weeks earlier; he asked me for some ideas of "P-47s not previously done to death" from my research for [...]

Review: Dora Wings 1/48 Vultee P-66 Vanguard

The Vultee Vanguard was the result of a concept conceived in the late 1930s by the Vultee Aircraft Division of the Aviation Manufacturing Corporation, of developing four aircraft designed for different roles from a set of common wings and [...]

Vintage Models

Monogram F-102A in California ANG scheme. Encore kit of the vintage kit. Monogram P-51D in IDF Suez War markings Monogram B-24J Monogram B-25J - "Betty's Dream" Monogram F-80C Monogram Kingfisher (with a lot of resin aftermarket [...]

Review: ICM 1/48 Polikarpov I-16 type 24

Nikolai Polikarpov was perhaps the leading Russian aircraft designer in the early days of the Soviet aircraft industry. In 1918, he was put in charge of preparing manufacture of the DH-4 at the GAZ-1 facility where at least 63 were [...]

An interesting "unplanned result"or how to keep the dust off the models

I've had to get some air purifiers recently, to deal with the increased dust around my house and keep control of the COPD (thank you very much #$%##@! cigarettes). Anyway, I've just run across an "unplanned result" to that which [...]


Reno Air Racing Association announced on Thursday that this year's event will be the last. The Tahoe Reno Airport Authority is ending their support for the show and no longer allowing it to be held at Reno-Stead field. 40+ years ago when [...]

Trumpeter 1/48 Wyvern S. Mk. 4

The Aircraft: The Second World War saw the development in naval aviation of a single-seat strike fighter concept that performed both fighter-bomber and torpedo-strike. In the U.S. Navy, this ed to the Douglas Skyraider, one of the most [...]