Jump to content

Classic model kits (Cold War)


flyinghorse
 Share

Recommended Posts

I've been building model kits for 14 years now, and almost all of the kits I've built were of military topics. As time went on, I started buying kits off of Ebay. I still have a blast finding old kits from as early as the 1960's. Built nice one's like 1966's Hasegawa's 1/72 MiG-21 (A personal favorite), Esci's M1 abrams and T-62, also in 1/72, just to name a few. I know now that such kits from the era are not 100% accurate, but it kind of makes me wonder if intelligence agencies ever used plastic models as reference military equipment. Makes me remember a story of how Soviet embassy staff purchased tons of Revell kits in the early 1960's for their intel gathering agencies because of how good the models were! Interesting tid-bit but man that's one heck of a story. There's something charming about building vintage kits and I always enjoy building them whenever there's a nice deal on Ebay.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know if you're aware that 1/72 models actually started out as a type of military intelligence training tool? Known as "recognition models," they were used to teach soldiers and airmen how to identify different types and distinguish them from one another.  Originally wood (often hand carved) rather than plastic, they weren't fully detailed, just the basic shapes and usually painted solid black. The 1/72 scale was standardized because it made most single or multi-engine types large enough to illustrate distinguishing features but small enough to be easily replicated.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, flyinghorse said:

Makes me remember a story of how Soviet embassy staff purchased tons of Revell kits in the early 1960's for their intel gathering agencies because of how good the models were!

According to a biography of Admiral Hyman Rickover, the father of the nuclear navy in the U.S., he went sort of ballistic when Revell came out with their kit of the USS Nautilus in the late 50s.  I have built that kit, and it is not the most accurate kit around of the Nautilus.  Most of the kits that came out in the early days, 50s and 60s, leave a lot to be desired as to accuracy, and we are talking some of the basic shapes, not the interiors.  I can remember once seeing an Aurora kit of the XF-107 that had some of the flying surfaces way out of wack compared to the real aircraft.  Revell's P-51D in 72nd from the early 60s, hardly a current aircraft at the time, had some major shape problems, but as a five year old it didn't matter to me.  Things were worse for Soviet aircraft.  Aurora had a kit of a "MiG 19" that had a nose section that looked like it came from an F-86D and a tail with a raised empennage.  It was molded in something like emerald green plastic!

Later,

Dave

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The only problem I have found is that in the rush to get a new kit out they often based models on the prototype or pre production models.  The ESCI 1/48 Tornado seems to have a best guess for the main wheels.  The Matchbox 1/72 A10 has the 20mm gun used in testing before the 30mm was fitted.  The ESCI and Monogram 1/48 F-16s have the early A model horizontal stabilisers that were gone within a couple of years.  These were mainly all 70s or 80s but I am sure it happened on earlier kits too

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The early stabilizers are the least of the Monogram F-16 problems: the kit is a hybrid between a proper F-16 and the slightly smaller YF-16 demonstrators, resulting in something that is not accurate for either.

Monogram later botched again with their 1/72 F-16XL, when they used early drawings for the kit resulting in a model quite different from the real thing.

Earlier they were the first to issue a 1/72 Tomcat kit, basing this on the wooden mockup, again coming up with something different from a real Tomcat. This kit however seem to have sold pretty well and was produced gor many years, it may have been a disappointment for Tomcat enthusiasts but was sure much loved by the company financial managers

Edited by Giorgio N
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the same thing is still happening with F-35 and Osprey kits which don’t really show operational aircraft

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Airfix's first Eurofighter was based on the prototype but, in their defence, it had decals for the prototype ! Same with the MRCA which is, as far as I know, still the only way of getting twin store carriers for a Tornado. 

 

In fairness to the manufacturers a lot of respected published reference works (Jane's, Observers books) were using a best guess for some if the Warsaw Pact stuff, often based on not much more than blurry photos. Even for Western equipment a lot of the quality reference material was classified. 

Edited by stuartp
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This has been going on a long time.

 

Airfix's first Buccaneer kit was the Blackburn NA39, based on an early prototype. Their Fiat G91 was also an early model with the pointed nose not the later PR nose.  The Hawker P1127 and then the early pointy nose Harrier and pointy nose Jaguar.  Frog had an English Electric P1B model. 

 

 I had several Revell kits of US fighters which were also early models. Natural to want to be first with the new stuff.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, e8n2 said:

According to a biography of Admiral Hyman Rickover, the father of the nuclear navy in the U.S., he went sort of ballistic when Revell came out with their kit of the USS Nautilus in the late 50s.  I have built that kit, and it is not the most accurate kit around of the Nautilus.  Most of the kits that came out in the early days, 50s and 60s, leave a lot to be desired as to accuracy, and we are talking some of the basic shapes, not the interiors.  I can remember once seeing an Aurora kit of the XF-107 that had some of the flying surfaces way out of wack compared to the real aircraft.  Revell's P-51D in 72nd from the early 60s, hardly a current aircraft at the time, had some major shape problems, but as a five year old it didn't matter to me.  Things were worse for Soviet aircraft.  Aurora had a kit of a "MiG 19" that had a nose section that looked like it came from an F-86D and a tail with a raised empennage.  It was molded in something like emerald green plastic!

Later,

Dave

I can imagine things were quite difficult, if not impossible, when gathering reference and photos for Soviet machines back in the day. Hasegawa's MiG-21 in 1/72 first came out in 1966, the same year an Iraqi pilot defected via a Mossad operation and brought over a MiG-21F-13 to Israel. Hasegawa probably had the most accurate kit of a MiG-21 at that time (from what I found in research.), but of course this kit was likely made from referencing grainy and blurry photos from Russian military parades. Still a neat topic regarding how manufacturers might have gotten enough info on what at one point was considered classified.

Edited by flyinghorse
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, CT7567 said:

I don't know if you're aware that 1/72 models actually started out as a type of military intelligence training tool? Known as "recognition models," they were used to teach soldiers and airmen how to identify different types and distinguish them from one another.  Originally wood (often hand carved) rather than plastic, they weren't fully detailed, just the basic shapes and usually painted solid black. The 1/72 scale was standardized because it made most single or multi-engine types large enough to illustrate distinguishing features but small enough to be easily replicated.

Oh yes I'm very familiar with that :D U.S. Technical Air Intelligence would at times have to scour the jungles of the South Pacific just to piece together visual information regarding Japanese types of aircraft! The early days of the Pacific war was hard on U.S. intel, but as I researched later, Time magazine photos from the late war period showed that 1/72 scale models of Axis aircraft were quite accurate, Not Cold War related, but since you mentioned military training tools,  a very interesting topic that satisfies one curiosity for me. :) 

Edited by flyinghorse
Link to comment
Share on other sites

For me classic kits are a nostalgia thing, I remember new tools of the 70's especially from Airfix with their 'working features'! until quite recently the most modern kit I had built was the Airfix 1/72 TSR2 MS which was a challenging build to say the least! before that, probably something 90's from Hasegawa, but old classics do have a charm of their own, and completing one with a good result is really rewarding!

I'm really amazed at the complexity and detail of modern kits, and even more so by those who complain about them??

 

 

Miko

Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 hours ago, AWFK10 said:

The Matchbox Westland Lynx represents one of the prototypes and the original Airfix F-111 was a preproduction aircraft. Their Viggen is based on a prototype, too. 

The Matchbox Viggen wasn't the prototype. They did the production attack version an later modified it to the two seat trainer.

Airfix did the prototype an so was the Frog/Hasegawa kit. I think that many prototypes and development planes has been kitted to be first with a new model.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

28 minutes ago, e8n2 said:

I decided to look for the Aurora "Mig 19" and found this shot on Box Art Den:

 

https://boxartden.com/collections/gallery/index.php/Model-Kit-Repository/Aurora/Aurora-Mig19-960

 

Later,

Dave

Box Art Den is the best place to see how old box art looked like. I wonder what possessed Aurora to make this kit! Its looks good and pretty interesting still, but it looks nothing like the actual MiG-19! 😮

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was thrilled to pieces to get the thing when I was a whole lot younger.  I would guess it was pure conjecture on their part.  Revell also had a kit of the Yak-25 Flashlight that came out a few years later.  It looked a lot more like the real thing.  I don't know why, but the Flashlight and the Tu-16 Badger have always been my two most favorite Soviet era aircraft, and I have 72nd scale kits of both in the stash.

Later,

Dave

 

P.S.  I also have the KP/AZ kit of the MiG-19 as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There was a minor industry in Germany producing drawings of so-called Soviet aircraft.  The fake MiG.19 was a product of this.  Remember that outside of small intelligence circles, if then, we simply did not know any better.  The amount of information on Soviet types, and indeed on some Western types, was highly limited even within informed circles, and certainly not available to the great unwashed public.  The same was to continue later with the Mig.23, stealth aircraft of all sides (Mig.37 Ferret anyone?) and as late as the Su.27 we were restricted to the Tsukuda kit, approximate at best, until one Soviet pilot decided to play games with a Norwegian P-3.

 

Not that we are being told everything today.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 hours ago, Graham Boak said:

 The same was to continue later with the Mig.23, stealth aircraft of all sides (Mig.37 Ferret anyone?)

That whole MiG-37 Ferret garbage was pure fantasy on the part of Italeri/Testors and they knew it from the get go.  Several years after the F-117A became public knowledge, Newsweek magazine mentioned in a side piece that the "F-19" kit "eerily similar" to the real thing.  I replied to them that they were full of it.  They never printed my reply.

Later,

Dave

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The early days of plastic modelling are a bit of a drug to me. It took a while for the manufacturers to get their eye in, and a few eyebrow raising early releases still make me smile today. How about this Hawk Javelin?

 

IMG-9918.jpg

 

There's more in this thread that I started shortly after arriving at Britmodeller.

 

 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you discount the weapon load and colour scheme, it is the Javelin prototype.  Ii was common for companies to produce models of prototypes and then be caught out by changes made before production, which certainly lasted until the Eurofighter if not later.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/11/2021 at 5:42 AM, e8n2 said:

I decided to look for the Aurora "Mig 19" and found this shot on Box Art Den:

 

https://boxartden.com/collections/gallery/index.php/Model-Kit-Repository/Aurora/Aurora-Mig19-960

 

Later,

Dave

 

I wonder if the CIA wanted their money back from the spy who provided the blueprints for this?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/10/2021 at 6:42 AM, Giorgio N said:

The early stabilizers are the least of the Monogram F-16 problems: the kit is a hybrid between a proper F-16 and the slightly smaller YF-16 demonstrators, resulting in something that is not accurate for either.

For years I have wondered why a profile pic of the first prototype seemed to show a bigger canopy. Is the real answer the canopy stayed the same, the rest of the airframe grew? I am only talking about the fuselage frames around the canopy, not the nose or intake.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

17 hours ago, TonyW said:

The early days of plastic modelling are a bit of a drug to me. It took a while for the manufacturers to get their eye in, and a few eyebrow raising early releases still make me smile today. How about this Hawk Javelin?

 

IMG-9918.jpg

 

There's more in this thread that I started shortly after arriving at Britmodeller.

 

 

Beautiful model! Yes, classic models have a place with hobbyists. I love building them despite their faults.

 

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

16 hours ago, Robin-42 said:

For years I have wondered why a profile pic of the first prototype seemed to show a bigger canopy. Is the real answer the canopy stayed the same, the rest of the airframe grew? I am only talking about the fuselage frames around the canopy, not the nose or intake.

 

I have somewhere a diagram comparing the YF and production F-16s. showing the differences. I can't remember the canopy area exactly but I'll try and find in which book I have it to check. I remember that the wing in the YF was 10% smaller in area, the fuselage was shorter and whole LERX and nose areas pointier. It may well be that the canopy remained the same while the fuselage around it grew wider

Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 minutes ago, Giorgio N said:

 

I have somewhere a diagram comparing the YF and production F-16s. showing the differences. I can't remember the canopy area exactly but I'll try and find in which book I have it to check. I remember that the wing in the YF was 10% smaller in area, the fuselage was shorter and whole LERX and nose areas pointier. It may well be that the canopy remained the same while the fuselage around it grew wider

Oh dear, just built the Hasegawa 1976 f-16 as an A and sure enough compares as slightly smaller than an actual f-16c…oops :( 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...