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WWII recognition aids?


AlexB
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An old friend is having a clear out and found a couple of wooden models he was given as a child.

 

51104773168_17b1258500_c.jpg

 

He recalls that they were made by a gentleman by the name of Charlie Barber who was a BR WR signal man at Kings Sutton near Banbury in the 1950 and 60s.

They were passed to my friend when he was a child, probably around 1960, and they were already old by then.

He says Charlie showed him the plans he'd used and there were more aircraft, but he can't remember where they ended up.

 

As you can see they're rather battered and dusty now, having been unloved in a barn for at least 25 of the last 60 years.

 

They look to be about 1/72 scale, and I gather this was the scale used during WWII to produce recognition aids.

 

 

Can anyone shed any light on whether these would indeed have been the kind of thing used during the war?

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I'm not sure if they would be 'official' recognition aids, as such - more likely just models that someone has made at the time.  They are a real find though.. :) 

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Yes, 1/72 scale models like these were produced as recognition aids. They tend to be painted overall black, but with national insignia. Many were made either from scratch or from kits by enthusiastic members of the Observer Corps, using plans which were published in a series of books called "Aircraft of the Fighting Powers". The home-built ones were built to varying standards but others were made commercially. We've got an almost identical model of a Wellington in the Manx Aviation & Military Museum and looking closely at the one in your picture it's so similar in construction, even down to the design of the props and spinners, that I think they are both made from the wooden kits which were available during wartime.

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Formal issue recognition models were usually black.  But many service environments would have used service personnel's hobby models for the purpose as well as decor.  Plenty visible in various period photos.

But "solid model aircraft" was a big hobby before and through the war, plenty of drawings and also kits, though apart from Skybirds these were profile shaped planks to be carved to suit.  Most of the kits were a softwood (deal? pine?) rather than balsa, also depending at which period in the war as balsa was used for other purposes.

I have a couple of the old kits (incomplete) at least one of which says for sale only to forces personnel - partly as a way to fill off duty hours as well as for use for recognition.

As a guide to how popular solid models were, the 1/72 scale modelling  Skybirds League supposedly had tens of thousands of members, many times the size of today's IPMS!  Each new kit was allegedly issued in batches of 10,000 kits, something modern kit manufacturers might die for; even if less than the glory days of plastic kits!

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Thanks for the responses.

I was under the impression they were built from scratch, and not kits as such, but looking more closely they likely were indeed kits of some kind.

The Wellington is rather heavier than I thought it would be, and while the little FW190 appears to be "deal" I wouldn't be surprised if the Wellington was of hardwood, or perhaps pitch pine.

My friend is looking for the missing parts of the Wellington, and hopefully in the drier air of my house the wood of the FW190 will shrink a little allowing me to ease the wings back on. 

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Hi Alex, the kits were mostly wood; shaped flat planks that you would then carve and sand to the proper 3d form.  Some came with plastic props, wheels and glazing, like the B-17 kit I have.  There were also whitemetal, pressed tin and even plaster/pottery aftermarket available.

 

You are probably right about the FW190, a couple of the wrecks I have show signs of distress from poor storage and/or damp and/or central heating.

 

At one time I had the only known Frog Penguin wooden Dakota kit known in captivity, though I moved it on to the chap who wrote the book about the Penguins.  All i had was the box, instruction sheet and most of the shaped planks, the decals, clear and detail plastic parts had long since disappeared. 

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I love the simplicity of them.
We've become so obsessed with fine details (he types with a pair of 1/72 quickboost resin seats on the desk!) 

I think I aught to wind back to those simpler times, there's something truly delightful about these models.

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Yes Alex , they were all over matt black in 1/72nd . The last camp I was on before demob  was RAF Dyce and one of the storemen was quietly

selling them off for 5 bob each , I bought a Dakota . From a modelshop in Aberdeen I got the paints , transfers and those sheets of tiny alphabets

in blue and finishedit in the silver colour scheme with white top of RAF Transport Command , a scheme we used to see often back then .

When I was packing for demob I couldn`t get it in my kitbag and had to give it away , ( sob ! ) .

                                                                                                                                                         Don .

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