Mike's Pick

But I need to know!

Among my several problems, and one in which in the modellers' world I suspect I'm not alone, is the recurring worrying about missing something which I know I should know, or which I shall need to know some day; as a counter to this I put an increasing strain on many of my bookshelves, a prime example being the one which has Project Cancelled and reaches, at least at the time of writing, to the succession of "Secret Project" volumes that began from Midland Counties and still continues from Crecy Publications.

Several of the more recent books in this sequence have appeared as Mike's Picks, so another won't surprise you. Reading and researching - usually on the backs of other people's efforts - is an integral part of my approach to the hobby. and this has become particularly noticeable with the growth of What If? subjects across my workbench, frequently as a result of the arrival of a fresh source of information. While some of this reads across to my modelling directly, the ability to do this varies with the size of the aircraft, and while 1:144th can come in to play for bombers - and I had great enjoyment with the canard Vickers Giant Bomber, as you may recall - I've limited the size of my models for some time, and I try not to start on anything bigger than a 1:72nd Canberra (if only there was a B.2/6/15).

There are some more possible subjects in Crecy's lateBritish bomber projects 1935-50st British Secret Projects 4 from Tony Buttler, for both of whom it bookends an invaluable sequence that I was astonished to find when I looked at the other end of its row started in this form at least under the Midland Counties imprint twenty years ago, with Keith Woodcock's memorable dust cover painting of the Fairey "Delta 3" in the markings of 5 Squadron. Some of us are still waiting for a kit of this big beast, but this book and its successors have given our niche group of dusty modellers a great deal if enjoyment and in some cases inspiration. The time that's elapsed since its launch has enabled much more information to emerge from hiding and enable author and publisher to produce substantial updates for the British subjects (other nationalities, to quote David Coulthard, are available).

Quite a variety of aircraft are treated in this volume; they're divided in to seven categories, each with their own chapter - unsurprisingly the heavy bombers get two with a separate one for early jet designs - with maritime aircraft and torpedo carriers of both shades of blue, and every so ofter a fighter or at least a fighter version makes a guest appearance often as a ground attacker. As we expect the book is copiously illustrated with photos of designs that made it in to flight and of mock-ups of some that didn't quite, and with line drawings of many that didn't even get that far. These are the types that fascinate me, and several of these are developed from serving aircraft. The illustration on the cover looked to me at first like a Vickers design, possiblly a Windsor variant, but it turned out to be the Avro 694 Stratospheric Bomber; once you know that its antecedents are obvious (144th conversion, please) and I was very pleased to see it wearing the markings of 57 Squadron. Thank you, Daniel Uhr.

I have found, and still find this series is invaluable; I may be one of a niche audience but I'm sure there are many others and probably several niches. For my exile to a desert island I would need them to be bound in to a single volume; if pressed I would settle for the British but I would miss the variety offered by the American and especially French industries. I am torn between a satisfaction that this series is now finished and that I have them and a regret that there are probably no more to look forward to, with the attendant astonishment. The good news is the arrival of Close Call, the first of two from Crecy by Vic Flintham on the history, in the Second World War at least, of the RAF and and ground attack; unsurprisingly I shall look forward to the second volume which should take us to VE Day.






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