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Hello all, I'm relatively new to modelling and was wondering what reference books everyone uses when building aircraft models. I haven't yet used any reference books and im not sure where you can get them does anyone know any info on what makes a good reference book or where the best place to get them would be much appreciated thank you 

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The simple answer is model shops and book shops, especially the specialist ones advertised in the magazines.  Which are a fairly good source in themselves, if you strike lucky in the subjects covered (and the author covering them).  As a first step, buy one of the magazines and study the adverts.  Then turn up at the Telford show next month and bring a fat wallet.

 

Beyond that, the choice is immense and depends entirely upon your interests.

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Firstly it depends on your chosen  genre ?

 

Aircraft are probably the most published and there are many second book shops around as well as 'shops' on-line.

It has taken me years to collect aircraft books for my given area of interest. If its AFV, ships, soldiers  then the same applies.

I dont think there is any one book that will give you the answers to all your questions and problems that you may come across so expect to gather books from numerous sources and get to know your subject before you start building. Good Luck

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48 minutes ago, Mancunian airman said:

Firstly it depends on your chosen  genre ?

@VinsterYou state that aircraft are your main genre but does your modelling have a theme? I only model aircraft from my local area and over the years I found that the acheap source of information was second hand magazines. Most Aircraft museums etc seemed to have boxes of old magazines. Fairly quickly a reference library of Old Aviation News and various modelling magazines was built up. Unfortunately a down sizing house move 9 years again mean most were diseased off. Ironically a few years later we moved to a bigger house, we are now downsizing gain and I am rationalising my library.

 

My core reference books are now

  • The Action Stations Series
  • A number of the Putman books on Aircraft of the RAF 

 

Probably because of my age and reading the Airfix Magazine etc in the 9160's. There are four authors who for me are "go to"

Michael J F Bower 

Alan Hall

Bruce Robinson

Roger Freeman

 

However most of my research these days relies on the internet  there is a huge amount of info' out there. Just learn to use google properly. I note from your other posting that you are looking at building a B-36 - apart from getting the squadron numbers of UK based examples from Action Stations all my research for that model comes from the internet.

 

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Once you know which titles you actually want you might find that prices will vary wildly depending on where you search for them and whether you want to buy brand new or second hand.

 

In addition to books that they are selling on their own behalf Amazon acts as a clearing house for many smaller sellers for both new and second-hand books, Abe Books is another clearing house providing a similar options as is eBay.      Other individual companies (some of which can also be found trading on those  platforms mentioned already) include The Book Depository , Speedy Hen , The Works  , Books etc. , The Wordery , Books Discount , Wordery Specialist , The Aviation Bookshop to name but a few I have dealt with in the past year or so.

 

You will quite likely find that prices and/or shipping costs will vary wildly between sellers and that even where the same seller is advertising on more than one website in addition to their own there can be noticeable differences so it is worth taking the time to check what is available as no one firm has a monopoly on the best prices for everything.

 

If it is US subjects that you are looking for I have found that both Schiffer Military History and Specialty Press have both published many good heavily illustrated books on post-war US military aviation. 

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Bruce Robertson.  You could also add Dana Bell, Paul Lucas, Brian Derbyshire, Denes Bernard, Ray Sturtivant, Dan Hagedorn, Nick Millman…  I'm sure I and others can add a lot more names, but nowadays writers tend to be more specialised than before, and often the better for it.

 

When you are starting, collecting old magazines is a good cheap way to build up information, but after a while it does run into several problems.  One is storage, another is remembering just where is that article you know you have somewhere, another is that it is rather a scattershot approach that will generally miss your particular interest, but worst is that there is much more information available now than there was way back then, and many of the older magazines are filled with myth rather than historical fact.  Photos, of course, are always useful, if interpreted properly.  On the other hand, of course, it exposes you to a lot of history that may well be new and interesting to you.  Not to be dismissed casually.

 

Overall I think you would be better off deciding what you really want, and building up a select library.  The internet is great for answers to spot questions, and for providing rapid access to photos, but a good book will beat it hands-down for the sheer amount of information.  If it is the right book, of course.

 

 

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As a starting point i would recommend this book:

https://www.scalemates.com/books/aircraft-modelling-airframe-modelling-workbench-guide-1-libor-jekl--108353

It features various builds from biplanes to modern jets, so no matter what your particular interest is, you'll find something useful.

The book guides you through methods of rigging, painting, and weathering techniques, as well as an introduction to resin model kits.

I always have it around my workbench for good advice.

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2 hours ago, Paul821 said:

@VinsterYou state that aircraft are your main genre but does your modelling have a theme? I only model aircraft from my local area and over the years I found that the acheap source of information was second hand magazines. Most Aircraft museums etc seemed to have boxes of old magazines. Fairly quickly a reference library of Old Aviation News and various modelling magazines was built up. Unfortunately a down sizing house move 9 years again mean most were diseased off. Ironically a few years later we moved to a bigger house, we are now downsizing gain and I am rationalising my library.

 

My core reference books are now

  • The Action Stations Series
  • A number of the Putman books on Aircraft of the RAF 

 

Probably because of my age and reading the Airfix Magazine etc in the 9160's. There are four authors who for me are "go to"

Michael J F Bower 

Alan Hall

Bruce Robinson

Roger Freeman

 

However most of my research these days relies on the internet  there is a huge amount of info' out there. Just learn to use google properly. I note from your other posting that you are looking at building a B-36 - apart from getting the squadron numbers of UK based examples from Action Stations all my research for that model comes from the internet.

 

Thank you for the help, I use the internet however I wasn't sure whether reference books were a necessity as I see many modellers using them. Also sometimes it is a struggle to filter out the stuff you don't want on Google. Thank you though I have thought about magazines and regarding the B-36, the research should be ok as I will probably invest in a lot of sources for that. As to a genre I don't really have one as I find all aircraft interesting, at the moment I have a harrier US marines, A-37 USAF, Sterman Kaydet US Navy, P-26 US Army all built. I'd say it is mainly US aircraft that interest me however I have bought British, German and Israeli planes so im not really sure sorry.

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3 hours ago, Mancunian airman said:

Firstly it depends on your chosen  genre ?

 

Aircraft are probably the most published and there are many second book shops around as well as 'shops' on-line.

It has taken me years to collect aircraft books for my given area of interest. If its AFV, ships, soldiers  then the same applies.

I dont think there is any one book that will give you the answers to all your questions and problems that you may come across so expect to gather books from numerous sources and get to know your subject before you start building. Good Luck

Thank you, yes it's aircraft I enjoy building but I am also looking at an M113 to build. From now on I'll build up information I need before building any projects. My next project is the Airfix P-51 in 1/72 scale

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2 hours ago, Graham Boak said:

Bruce Robertson.  You could also add Dana Bell, Paul Lucas, Brian Derbyshire, Denes Bernard, Ray Sturtivant, Dan Hagedorn, Nick Millman…  I'm sure I and others can add a lot more names, but nowadays writers tend to be more specialised than before, and often the better for it.

 

When you are starting, collecting old magazines is a good cheap way to build up information, but after a while it does run into several problems.  One is storage, another is remembering just where is that article you know you have somewhere, another is that it is rather a scattershot approach that will generally miss your particular interest, but worst is that there is much more information available now than there was way back then, and many of the older magazines are filled with myth rather than historical fact.  Photos, of course, are always useful, if interpreted properly.  On the other hand, of course, it exposes you to a lot of history that may well be new and interesting to you.  Not to be dismissed casually.

 

Overall I think you would be better off deciding what you really want, and building up a select library.  The internet is great for answers to spot questions, and for providing rapid access to photos, but a good book will beat it hands-down for the sheer amount of information.  If it is the right book, of course.

 

 

Thank you, I think before my next big project I'm going to buy several books

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3 hours ago, Graham Boak said:

The simple answer is model shops and book shops, especially the specialist ones advertised in the magazines.  Which are a fairly good source in themselves, if you strike lucky in the subjects covered (and the author covering them).  As a first step, buy one of the magazines and study the adverts.  Then turn up at the Telford show next month and bring a fat wallet.

 

Beyond that, the choice is immense and depends entirely upon your interests.

Thank you, I wish I could go to Telford this year but unfortunately it is getting there. I'm definitely going next year and I'll pay a visit to my model shop before I do my next project and pick up a reference book. 

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2 hours ago, Roman Schilhart said:

 

2 hours ago, Roman Schilhart said:

As a starting point i would recommend this book:

https://www.scalemates.com/books/aircraft-modelling-airframe-modelling-workbench-guide-1-libor-jekl--108353

It features various builds from biplanes to modern jets, so no matter what your particular interest is, you'll find something useful.

The book guides you through methods of rigging, painting, and weathering techniques, as well as an introduction to resin model kits.

I always have it around my workbench for good advice.

Thank you, I need a good guide as I'm all new to it and YouTube is great for advice but sometimes you just need a more in depth approach.

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Thanks for individual replies.

 

I get many of my books from Abebooks 

 

https://www.abebooks.co.uk

 

for example if you enter "b-36 peacemaker" into key words you get a large number of results, Even if you don't buy books through this site you will get an idea of market value.

 

Also keep an eye out on the bargains section in Britmodeller as you often get posts when "The Works" are selling Haynes Manuals cheap.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 06/10/2019 at 16:45, Roman Schilhart said:

As a starting point i would recommend this book:

https://www.scalemates.com/books/aircraft-modelling-airframe-modelling-workbench-guide-1-libor-jekl--108353

It features various builds from biplanes to modern jets, so no matter what your particular interest is, you'll find something useful.

The book guides you through methods of rigging, painting, and weathering techniques, as well as an introduction to resin model kits.

I always have it around my workbench for good advice.

Weird thing is, on a very well known online retailer site the price for this book is over £3916  - yes, three thousand nine hundred and sixteen pounds sterling.

 

Hopefully a mistake but a bit of a shock while finishing breakfast!  Coffee everywhere.

 

Jonny

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A bit late to the party, but here's my take on the matter... from someone who now possesses several hundred books...

 

I would divide the books useful to a modeller, or let's say the ones I use to build a model, in roughly 3 cathegories:

1) Books that are useful to understand the main features and evolution of the subject. For example what makes a Spitfire Vb different from a Vc or a Vi.. The more detailed books of this kind will also give information on things like serial numbers and even individual histories of aircaft.

2) Books that show all the kind of detail that a modeller may want to know about. like what's the shape of that certain box in the cockpit, what's the colour of the wheel wells, how does that certain rod attach to the rest of the landing gear.

3) Books that focus on the camouflage and markings carried by a certain type or by several types of a certain air force in a certain timeframe, useful of course to understand camo schemes, colours and markings to be used on the desired subject.

And of course there are books that cross these divisions, with some covering all 3 aspects...

 

Cathegory 1 includes mostly the books that I would use before starting a build, mainly to understand which kit is the right variant for my subject and which if any modification will be required. The most famous series and, even with all their limitations, maybe still one of the best are the Squadron Signal In Action series. A concise history focusing on the evolution of a type, with drawings and pictures showing the main differences, a bit of operational history, a good number of pictures and a few colour profiles. Generally well done when it comes to US types, not often that accurate when it comes to other types.

Other similar books but with more content can be found in the MMP catalogue while similar (but IMHO less clear) information can be found in the Warpaint series, that also add scale drawings (not always accurate...) and a lot of colour profiles and drawings of camo schemes.  Not small at all but very useful to understand the evolution of a type are the Aerofax and the similar Red Star series, the latter covering Soviet/Russian types. These are not aimed at the modeller but the information is there and they also offer a good chunk of operational history, drawings and some profiles.

Two ranges that are also great are the Naval Fighters, covering US Navy postwar types, and the Air Force legends, covering USAF postwar types.. some of these books however focus more on markings. In any case they are all great books with a clear eye to the needs of modellers.

I would also add the Monografie Lotcnize to this list, very comprehensive books but IIIRC some are in Polish only.

Many of the books I mentioned above also have some picture or drawing of details and some also have profiles showing camo schemes and markings. In theory a number of these books can be used as single reference source when building a model, of course they don't pretend to cover all aspects but can sometime come close. And for certain lesser known types they are the only reference available

 

Cathegory 2 includes those books that I would have beside me when building the model, so that I can find the right bit of information every time I have to assemble or paint a certain detail or when I have to add extra details myself. Probably the earliest similar books were the British Aeroguides, that were later followed by a revised series by the same name. Similar books are the current Walkaround series by Squadron, the small but useful Kagero Topshots series, the OOP Verlinden Lock On series. Then there are some books that border on the incredible, like the various "Uncovering the ..." by Daco and the "Modern Guides" by Jake Melampy, that literally dissect any detail of a certain aircraft. Maybe less known but I would add the books from WWP to these as their coverage of detail is fantastic.

 

Somewhere in between 1 and 2 are two very interesting series, unfortunately OOP... the Minigraph by Aerofax and most importantely the Detail & Scale series. These offered a lot of details but also a good explanation of the evolution of the type. No operational history, just the technical evolution, showing where possible details for each variant. The D&S books even included a chapter dedicated to the review of existing kits, with advices on how to build each of the variants covered from the existing kits. D&S only covered US types but they are still one of my favourite series. If I had to build the abovementioned B-36 for example, I'd probably just use the B-36 book for everything apart from the markings

 

Cathegory 3 included the books I may use to understand what colour scheme and markings my subject wore. These books can vary a lot in scope and structure... some are collection of profiles, others only have pictures, others collect all specifications... The most historically interesting are those that cover the evolution of camouflage and markings for a certain Air Force and here the best known are those written by Dana Bell covering the USAF, by Thomas Doll and Duane Kasulka covering the US Navy, the Fighting Colours and Bombing Colours by Michael Bowyer (that however don't go in the detail of the previous ones), the various Monogram guides for USN colours. More recent are the Camouflage and Markings series issued by SAM (the two volumes on immediate postwar RAF fighters are great) and the Comabt Colours by the same publisher. Very different in formula but also great were the books by Richard Ward covering a number of British types squadron by squadron. There's plenty more but a complete list would be very long and boring...

 

As said above, there are also modelling guides dedicated to a certain subject that cover (or try to cover...) all aspects that can be of interest to a modeller, from the general history to the camo schemes passing through the type evolution and the coverage of internal and external details. The two best known names here are the SAM Publications Modeller Datafiles and the later books from Valiant Wings. These books also include a review of existing kits and a few builds, showing pros and cons of each kit. If it's only one book you can buy on a certain subject, these books are worth a look.

 

I've focused here mostly on British and US publications but there are many more out there... for example the Ali d'Italia series is often the best if not only option when it comes to Italian WW2 types (these books are bilingual Italian/English). Then there's the mass of books coming from countries like France and Japan...  Japanese modelling publications in particular can be absolutely amazing. Of these I would suggest the Aero Detail books as they have plenty of pictures and these don't need translation.. if I could read Japanese however I would consider the Model Art Specials among my top 3.. a lot of detail pictures, profiles, great builds... pity that I can only look at the pictures.

There's also a lot of publications coming from countries like Poland and Russia... some are bilingual, some are only in the publisher's language. Still, sometimes they are the best source even if the language is unknown to me

 

 

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I often have a look at the books that Hannants have available - their search engine is very useful.

 

This is a search for 'Hawker Typhoon'. Make sure you check the 'exact match' box.

Mark

 

https://www.hannants.co.uk/search/index.php?adv=1&product_category_id=&product_division_id=&manufacturer_id=&product_type_id=all_books&code=&scale_id=&keyword_search=Hawker+Typhoon&exact=1&setPerPage=25&sort=0&search_direction=asc&save_search_name=&save_search=

 

 

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7 hours ago, Jonny said:

Weird thing is, on a very well known online retailer site the price for this book is over £3916  - yes, three thousand nine hundred and sixteen pounds sterling.

 

Hopefully a mistake but a bit of a shock while finishing breakfast!  Coffee everywhere.

 

Jonny

Indeed, Amazon lists the book for 4.544,99 €!

Seems I have carelessly handled a very expensive book on the workbench between paints, glue and thinner for years ….

 

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Hello Vinster

 

How to build up a reference library the Bunker way.

 

First, look in second hand bookshops and charity shops and if you see a book that intrigues you, buy it. Also keep a look out for library sales where they dispose of books they no longer read at a cheap rate. Also second hand books are often found 'under the table' at model shows (but not the big Telford show) where they can be purchased very reasonably.

 

Secondly, if you're going to build a kit then buy a book on that kit. Recommendations have been made previously about specific book series and it's been good advice. If buying new or second hand books online, there are other choices rather than just Amazon. I use Abebooks.co.uk for second hand books and for newer ones I like Books, etc who ship post free.

 

Third, don't be afraid to hand out wanted book lists for Christmas or Birthday, along with where people can get them from. I.e a note like "Scruggs Wondaplane in WW2 by N E Body, on Amazon at £14.75" should get you what you want, stop you getting dubious socks or aftershave and save the present giver the job of wandering around shops thinking "What can I buy for Vinster?".

 

Lastly, join your local model club. At mine we have a table every month where people put magazines and books they no longer need and others can take these for free. Also it's a sad fact of life but older modellers are passing away and their relatives donate the books to a model club just to get the books out of the way.

 

So building a library takes time and there are no instant answers. I built my library up this way and at the ripe old age of 65, I now have several thousand.

 

Good hunting.

 

Nigel

 

 

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Some good advice from Nigel here ! And as many of the books and series that have been mentioned here are out of print, often browsing the second hand market is the only way to get that particular book you may need.

Second hand bookshops can be a gold mine for anyone interested in aviation books. Shops specialising in remaindered books are also worth checking as they sometime have some gems at very low prices... most of my Aerofax and Red Star books came from this kind of shops and none costed me more than a tenner...

Osprey books also seem to end up regularly on the shelves of these shops, they may not always be the most interesting for a modeller (apart from theis specific modelling series) but I like to grab them when I find them cheap. Crowood books also seem to end this way quite often

Flea markets and similar events can also lead to very interesting discoveries... a few weeks ago I spotted a couple of model kit catalogues on the stall of a local market an below there I discovered a pile of Squadron books for sale at € 2 each... I cleared the stall of all the ones I didn't already have. I may never build a C-130, but in case I now have a book on the subject.

Of course this kind of finds only happens once in a while or maybe once in a lifetime, but I often come home from the local flea market with a book or two and they are always very cheap.

Last but not least, that certain online auctions site can put you in touch with a good number of second hand books dealers. Most are also on Abebooks but a few are not.. and it's also possible to make some good purchase from modellers who are clearing their library.

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  • 3 months later...

Over the course of nearly four decades of modelling I have amassed a surprising amount of books. Reading the above comments made me look at my collection and I have realised how very lucky I am. I too have built up large quantities of magazines since a very early age, especially from the Alan Hall years, as well as quantities of 1980s and 90s Osprey 'picture books', various more recent Warpaint titles and much more. 

I guess the key is to keep at the back of your mind a general theme that interests you, then keep one eye always alert to possible sources of - ideally cheap - reference material. As others have said, look in charity shops, discount book shops, on market stalls, in museums, anywhere the written word may appear.

I am of the lucky generation that comfortably straddles both pre internet and the online age with ease. The internet is brilliant for a quick check for facts and figures, but nothing tops the thrill of finding a gem of a book or magazine unexpectedly though!

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On 10/6/2019 at 2:46 PM, Vinster said:

good reference book

To be honest, with the internet the way it is today, I would say that you don't need any books!!!!!  Years ago, the internet did not exist and we relied heavily on reference material, books, magazines etc, etc.  It can now all be found on YouTube and searching the internet and of course this modelling(others are available)site.  I have hundreds of books but found in the past few years I have not looked at many of them at all,  plenty of dust on them.  Currently building an Airfix Vulcan, I bought the Warpaint book, referenced builds on Britmodeller and YouTube and found that I didn't look at the Warpaint book(Plan came in handy), didn't need it.  I make a folder on my computer, lets say titled it Vulcan and searched the internet, everything I needed went into that folder, drawings, videos, pictures, you name it, its in there.  When the build is finished, I will delete it as I wont be making another Vulcan.  Did a similar search for a 1/24 Stalwart I built, I have about 4 -5 books on the Stalwart.  Never referred to any of them, relied entirely on the internet, various builds and the CD that came with the kit.

 

I do buy books, but more for nostalgia than anything else...……..nostalgia can be an expensive hobby.  Latest kit I bought, Airfix Hunter F4 and the aerocraft T7 conversion...…...Already builds are appearing on the internet of this conversion being built and all details put into a folder on my computer, pending my build of this kit...….. I shall be buying no books on this aircraft, the internet is awash with reference details of history of the Hunter and this site is also slowly starting to buzz around this kit.  

 

You only have to put a question on this site about anything your not sure of(anything) and you will eventually end up with about 2 pages of response and advice.  You cannot go wrong.  Plenty of reference out in the World Wide web.  By all means buy a book, but, only as fellow members have warned, stick to a theme, focus on an era, try not to get distracted(I have, many times)ideally stick to a scale

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4 hours ago, rayprit said:

To be honest, with the internet the way it is today, I would say that you don't need any books!!!!!  Years ago, the internet did not exist and we relied heavily on reference material, books, magazines etc, etc.  It can now all be found on YouTube and searching the internet and of course this modelling(others are available)site.  I have hundreds of books but found in the past few years I have not looked at many of them at all,  plenty of dust on them.  Currently building an Airfix Vulcan, I bought the Warpaint book, referenced builds on Britmodeller and YouTube and found that I didn't look at the Warpaint book(Plan came in handy), didn't need it.  I make a folder on my computer, lets say titled it Vulcan and searched the internet, everything I needed went into that folder, drawings, videos, pictures, you name it, its in there.  When the build is finished, I will delete it as I wont be making another Vulcan.  Did a similar search for a 1/24 Stalwart I built, I have about 4 -5 books on the Stalwart.  Never referred to any of them, relied entirely on the internet, various builds and the CD that came with the kit.

 

I do buy books, but more for nostalgia than anything else...……..nostalgia can be an expensive hobby.  Latest kit I bought, Airfix Hunter F4 and the aerocraft T7 conversion...…...Already builds are appearing on the internet of this conversion being built and all details put into a folder on my computer, pending my build of this kit...….. I shall be buying no books on this aircraft, the internet is awash with reference details of history of the Hunter and this site is also slowly starting to buzz around this kit.  

 

You only have to put a question on this site about anything your not sure of(anything) and you will eventually end up with about 2 pages of response and advice.  You cannot go wrong.  Plenty of reference out in the World Wide web.  By all means buy a book, but, only as fellow members have warned, stick to a theme, focus on an era, try not to get distracted(I have, many times)ideally stick to a scale

The internet is certainly an increasingly important source of information, but there is something special about the memories linked to traditional paper based material.

I have several aviation books going back to when I was young, with old home address written in them (as you do, when you are 10!), pages folded down at the corners where I found some nugget of information and scribbled comments in the margins (I felt so naughty doing that!). Of course, when I am no longer around I doubt any of that will mean anything to future modellers, but it's certainly the stuff of life. Such cherished memories...

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2 hours ago, Timbo88 said:

special about the memories linked to traditional paper based material

That's called nostalgia, its expensive...…...last bit of nostalgia I bought was about £60 and called Cold War Shield Volume Three by the late  Roger Lindsay...…...have the complete set, I don't need them, but, everything about them relates to my involvement with the forces and its nostalgia, the one thing I would never do, is write in margins or underline any text, my books are not Ian Allen loco/BRS spotter books, if I need to make notes, I use "post it" notes and write on them instead all my books have transparent covers on them, having worked in a library, I know how to make book covers.  By all means, buy as many books as you want, but relevant to you - nostalgia

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Each to their own. My eclectic library means a lot to me and those hand written margin notes - in pencil by the way - have aided me in my hobby over the years.

I hadn't realised Roger Lindsay had passed away. His Cold War Shield series is marvelous, although I only got as far as volume one.

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Vinster

what they guys all said above is good collective advice. You will work out what you need and like doing as you find your own way. 
one piece of advice I would give you is that you will never get all the information you need or want before starting a build. There is always something extra hiding from you. That’s the way it is so, I’d say enjoy modelling and don’t get stuck as I sometimes do in putting off modelling a kit because there must be more information to get out there somewhere

 

If on a tight budget the Warpaint series is a decent modest cost starter and second hand copies can be found for sale on line cheap at times

 

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