Wednesday, July 15

Valiant Wings Publishing’s new Workbench Guide book read n’ reviewed…

A new book on how to model aircraft? Well we already have one or two on the market – so how can this new book from Valiant Wings Publishing, penned by the talented Libor Jekl make a name for itself? We found a few small scale changes – starting with the subject manner in 72nd scale... See what we thought in our review.
Airframe Workbench Guide No 1- Aircraft Modelling- A Detailed Guide to Building & Finishing 1/72 Scale Aircraft
From Valiant Wings Publishing
Ring bound square format.
120 pages in English text
by Libor Jekl
available direct from Valiant Wings Publishing

Valiant Wings Publishing have launched a new range of small ring bound practical publications for scale modellers called “Workbench Guides.” To my eyes this is a fair departure in format from what we are used to by Valiant wings, but not in subjects and in quality. I thought this would be an interesting book to look as it deals with modelling in 1/72nd scale but the lessons could be applied to any aircraft modelling. Let’s see if I am right in my “first look”.

The series looks to be brainchild of the talented modeller who already contributes to Valiant Wings Mr Libor Jekl. I am always impressed at his models that he has in the “Airframe and Miniature” books which usually show of the subject model in scale. But this time Libor has stepped up to the plate with his own work.

Physically this book is a square book halfway between A4 and A5 and it has ring binding which is great for a small (or cramped) workbench. This relatively small size and the ability to bend the book in half enable you to keep it close at hand or in front of you as you are modelling (it may even keep you off the computer) so you can model and read the instructions on the go. In a world of large formatted picture modelling books this one goes back to the roots of something like you might have had way back when.

The writing is in English and the text usually matches what is on the page. Often we break into a step by step (SBS) guide which I favour the most. The pictures are right next to the captions which better describe the method. The nine chapters are broken up into pages with different coloured tabs so you can find your section a little easier. Maybe these could have the chapter name in writing to better improve ease of finding information?
This book doesn’t cover the very basics of using an airbrush, or priming, constructing or painting your models. IT goes a bit deeper and maybe you could say at times it is a bit non-sequeter. I suppose the answer to that it is a supplemental guide book for modellers already flush with the basics. The book focusses on both improving the skills of what I would think is an intermediate modeller and someone who is open to trying every technique they come across to try to improve. A good way to be I think.

The models are all in 72nd scale and though this scale is the only one featured you could well take this into larger (or smaller) scales with your own models. I am glad for once someone is featuring the most numerically popular scale. Not a 72nd scale modeller myself I still found a lot of translatable merit for my large scale obsession in here.

I thought I would walk you through the contents of the nine chapters that are inside – they focus on:

Rigging techniques. This chapter is a bit of an odd one to begin on, but one that people often find hard to pull off. Libor uses regular thread, EZ line and stretched sprue to replicate the wires and shows the drilling through the wings and the methods of cleaning up and finishing the wing to give you a convincing surface and tautness with both biplanes and the wiring on monoplanes. There is also a little bonus at the end of this chapter showing tips on painting the integrated exhaust collector ring found on biplanes like the one in this example in the book and how to easily create lots of stretched sprue.
Rescribing is a thing which I think is pretty painful to do – but Libor suggests here that it need not be. He taught me the benefits of a few simple tools like the UMM scribing tool and the razor saw to achieve a better scribe line. A few tips on finishing of the scribing process will help most people as well. This is a really helpful chapter. 
Building a resin kit is something avoided by many modellers, especially in such a small scale! Libor shows he has game in this one, a roundup of all the methods he uses to make his resin model look nothing like it’s source material. He shared his tips and tools to make your kit come together, just like a “normal” kit and he does a good job at it. A little brief but to the point, this chapter is helpful at setting some resin wrongs right.
Creating rivet detail is another thing that rips my eyeballs out from my skull (slight exaggeration) but seriously I find not to be any fun. Libor shows in this chapter how to recreate both sunken and raised rivets so I was pretty interested on how he recreates such detail in such a small scale. I have to say his work is pretty outstanding in this field. He makes sunken rivets look easy with a “Rosie” tool and dymo tape and then uses the handy new HGW raised rivets to make his Hellcat look a little busier. Both of these kits are monochrome but he does a good job riveting to bring these kits alive with a lot of shading and painting tips thrown on top of the original subject material.
Camouflage paint weathering is a little more fun for most people, as here we look at an AH-1 Cobra in Vietnam era olive drab. This uniform coloured copter is painted with Mr Color and then faded, shaded weathered and washed with AK and MIG materials. It brings out a lot of life and the steps are a great little tutorial. 
White distemper is an interesting scheme, and here we see Libor’s work on a Bf -110 on the Russian front looking very worn. Chipping and scratching is such an important skillset that is finding its way to aircraft modelling and here we see just how to do it, and quite convincing for such a small scale as well.
Fabric, wood and stripes are three handy skills bunched together in this chapter that illustrates the building of a few gliders – perfect foils for showing off wood, striped bodies and cloth surfaces so lucky for us he seems to be pretty good at glider modelling as well. Painting wood as well as using wood decals are discussed as is masking for making stripes and the recreation of dope on wood and cloth with more masking he recreates stretched fabric surfaces pretty handily.
Natural metal finish – with the help of a P-38 lightning in all metal Libor shows how he makes plastic turn into aluminium. He shows Mr Metallic, Alclad 2 and Model master paints and explains both their uses and how re masks and paints the plastic to prime and polish it into something looking like metal in such a small scale. 
Kwik building-organise your builds - the trade secrets are out in this part of the book. Libor shares some of his tips to get a “Kwik” build over and done with in record time. Some interesting parts in here suitable for EVERY modeller. 
This little book is a lot more than it looks. A little like the author’s own works – they might be in small scale but there is so much packed in there. No mistaking who wrote this book then! Great for middle to advanced modellers this book hopefully continues into a larger series of more subjects in different scales.

Adam Norenberg

Airframe Workbench Guide No 1-A Aircraft Modelling-A Detailed Guide to Building & Finishing 1/72 Scale Aircraft by Libor Jekl is available direct from Valiant Wings Publishing (