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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

WNW 1/32 Junkers J.I

I had finally concluded no one would ever do this airplane in a mainstream injection-molded kit, but then WNW came along and made it one of their first releases. There is a problem with the ailerons having a gap at the inboard end. The [...]

WNW 1/32 Pfalz D.XII

Another great WNW kit. I've said it before and will say it again: you can't go wrong with one of these kits. Rigging on this is relatively easy for the "rigging challenged." As is the case with the rest of the series, you can [...]

WNW 1/32 D.H.9A “Ninak”

I always wanted a model of this airplane, especially after seeing John Alcorn's incredible 1/24 scratchbuilt Ninak in person. A big brutal British 2-seater. The model also commemorates the beginnings of Marine Corps aviation. The [...]

WNW 1/32 Pfalz D.IIIa

Probably my favorite of the WNW kits. Pfalz airplanes were always considered a "best second choice" but they sure looked nice. WNW did an "aftermarket" decal sheet for this Pfalz D.IIIa flown by Rudolf "Iron [...]

WNW 1/32 Roland D.VI

I never thought I would see this airplane in a mainstream injection-molded kit, but all things do come to them as waits. As with all other WNW kits, following the instructions leads to a great model. It's really impossible to laud them [...]

WNW 1/32 S.E.5a

One of WNW's first kits. Comparing it with later ones you can see there's a definite learning curve, but don't worry, the kit is really worthwhile. I used the True Details conversion to make James McCudden's S.E.5a, with Pheon Decals [...]

WNW 1/32 R.E.8 "'Arry Tate"

Have I mentioned I looooooove WNW kits (thank you Sir Peter and Richard Alexander for letting me review them). I don't know why, but I have always thought the R.E.8 looked neat since i ran across Wylam's drawings in Model Airplane News way [...]

Cybermodeler 1/350 USS Laffey (DD-459)

One of the great Cybermodeler (Dragon) smart kits. An easy build that looks really great when completed - I only wish the instructions were as easy to follow as the kit is to build once the instructions have been puzzled out. Laffey was [...]

Trumpeter 1/350 USS San Francisco (CA-38)

When I was an 18 year old sailor, I stood on the ruined bridge of USS San Francisco there in the park in the city whose name she bore, thinking to myself what might I have done had I been there that terrible night off Guadalcanal. USS San [...]

Trumpeter 1/350 HMS Hood

So, what do you do when you haven't built a ship model since you were in Junior High School (back in the early Triassic)? Why, go out and get one of the most complicated kits ever, get all the photoetch possible, and dive right in! This [...]