During the Covid lockdown I have not been as (un)fortunate as some, being classed a key (utilities) worker; although my working hours were reduced my modelling output hasn’t
exactly skyrocketed, unlike some of the other 580 crew. However, I have really missed all aspects of the Model Show scene, including being able to ‘fully inspect’ the latest releases, pick up the unexpected bargain, etc. Something else
unexpected has happened though, my modelling ‘accent’ has moved more towards reference material and in particular good books able to support my builds. So, although I have bought some kits from a selection of on-line traders to keep them
going (and I hadn’t realised that some of the show regulars whom I tend to frequent actually don’t have an on-line presence), I have actually spent far more on books over the past few months.
During this time I have purchased no less than three of the current 12 volumes of the Aircraft in Detail series by Duke Hawkins (which includes the Jaguar, Hercules, Mirages, F-16s and Viggen amongst its subjects), including the
most recent on the MiG-31 Foxhound. Good reference material on the ‘bigMiG’ is pretty sparse and it was actually one of the 580 crew who gave me the ‘heads up’ on its imminent release; Dave Draycott (call sign Diddy) is a bit
of an itinerant in reality as, in addition to being an excellent modeller, he has travelled the globe indulging in his other passion, aircraft photography. Diddy has become a ‘contributor of significance’ to this series, being ‘namechecked’
in several of the more recent volumes.
In truth this series appears to have 'come in under the modelling radar' as I have not seen any reviews in the modelling press.
This may be because unlike some other established publications, which include build reviews, kit and decal listings, etc, they are not actually ‘targeted’ at the modeller. Their content is devoted solely to the aircraft in question at full-scale.
As a result it is arguable that this makes the books much better as a ‘pure’ source of reference.
For Aircraft in Detail 012,
MiG-31 Foxhound Flying with the Russian Air Force, the publishers managed to find a ‘backseater’, who has been operational on the aircraft for almost 20 years. Consequently, this volume is without parallel in terms of its content
with some 300 high quality colour photographs spread across 116 pages supported by concise and informative captions. The book is split into sections with a series of photographs dedicated to each, including the Forward Fuselage (18 photographs), Air
Intake (14 photographs), Wings (13 photographs), Cockpit (40 photographs), Landing Gear (31 photographs), etc. But it doesn’t end there. There are also sections on the massive Soloviev D-30F-6 engines, which weigh 2.4 tonnes each and generate
34,200lbs of thrust in afterburner both in, and out of, the airframe as well as the ordnance and their mounting pylons. And for the modeller who really wants to ‘go to town’ there is also an Under Maintenance section with a series of photographs
showing open inspection panels and the contents of the prominent spine exposed. The one thing absent, particularly as most models are displayed on the ground, is photographs of the aircraft 'buttoned up' with its covers, etc in place, but
that is a minor gripe.
I found the book utterly entrancing, the quality, the variety and the source, of the photographs meaning you just cannot
help but keep picking it up to have a ‘flick through’. So entrancing in fact that when I saw the recent 320 part Trumpeter kit advertised for a discounted price I just had to buy it. The book complements beautifully the number of kits,
which seems to have blossomed recently, with that from Trumpeter in 1/72 competing with the older moulds from Zvezda and ICM and those from both AvantGarde and Hobby Boss in 1/48, where there were previously none. The aftermarket has followed suit and
there is a host of enhancements also available to accuratise, update and decorate, from both established players such as Eduard, ResKit and Aires and newer entrants such as A-Squared, Katran and New Ware.
Based on the volumes I have acquired I can thoroughly recommend the whole series for both the enthusiast and modeller and at a little more than £20 each you certainly get a lot of quality material on which
to base your studies.