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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

Sabre Mk. 6, JG 71 Richtofen

I just ran across this model, which I built 12 years ago. I've rephotographed it for this article. When the North American Sabre flew in 1947, it attracted attention throughout the West’s aviation industry. In 1948, the Royal Canadian [...]

Modeling in 2022

In no particular order

Eduard 1/48 A6M3 Model 32 Zero

The Airplane: The A6M2 Model 21 Zero revealed it was slightly underpowered when it entered combat in 1941. Mitsubishi answered this problem with the A6M3, powered by an uprated Sakae 21 engine, which used a two-speed supercharger for [...]

Squadron Leader Johnny Johnsonthe last Dambuster

I noted in the author's foreword of my coming book on VIII Fighter Command that none of the people in the book, many of whom I had been privileged to know, were still alive. Obituary from The Telegraph: Squadron Leader Johnny Johnson, who [...]

Eduard 1/48 F4F-3S Wildcatfish

The Airplane: Before the war, the Imperial Japanese Navy wasn’t the only one concerned about the provision of air power in an island campaign across the Pacific. The U.S. Navy was also well aware that between the time the troops stormed [...]

Tamiya 1/48 P-47D-1 Thunderbolt

On September 22, 1943, John T. Godfrey, the youngest of three brothers born in Canada to English parents, then raised in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, achieved his dream of being a fighter pilot when he arrived at Debden. Having been arrested [...]

Review: Barret Tillman says "Devotion" delivers the goods

Knowledgeable reviewer Barrett Tillman says Devotion's the real deal. (link)

Review: Eduard 1/48 Spitfire Vb (late) EP120

With the arrival of the Fw 190 in August 1941 the Spitfire Vb was outclassed in everything but turning radius. As Al Deere said, “Turning doesn’t win battles!” In an effort to counter the Fw-190 threat at lower altitudes, where the [...]

Mid-air collision at Wings over Dallas show

I don't want to say anything definitively but that sure looks an awful lot like "Texas Raiders". The fact that one report says they were "booking rides" on the B-17 lends a bit of extra evidence toward that [...]

Special Hobby 1/48 Piper L-4 "Grasshopper"

The Airplane: In 1929 engineer Clarence Gilbert Taylor created a light tourism plane which was economical to operate. The first flight of the prototype took place in September 1930 and the aircraft was baptized “Taylor E2 [...]