Stuff that came to my house this week

While I wasn’t paying attention, this little nugget slipped into print:

As I’ve said, this is the “Aces” version of the longer-form version I initially wrote as an “outline,” which illustrates how backwards we authors can be. The book has lots of photos and some excellent profiles from Chris Davey – oriented horizontally, which allows them to be bigger, which is a nice change. (Plus, this is a two-Chris effort, so how can you go wrong?)

The book (which you can take a peek at on Amazon here) was just one nice thing that came in the mail this week. I’ve been thinking of building the Heinkel 176, the first all-rocket aircraft, and what should arrive but a book called “The First Jet Pilot,” the biography of Erich Warsitz, who flew the He 176 (and He 178, and a lot of other exotically-powered aircraft which could have easily resulted in his early demise). The book has some nice photos of the He 176, which was a rarity in my library and which stalled the He 176 project until now. The He 176 was a tiny aircraft – maybe twice as big as the BD-5, with the pilot sitting in an open cockpit. Think about that – a rocket-powered plane with an open cockpit. How many times was the phrase “Tighten you goggles, Erich!” used before each flight?

That was a nice surprise. Today, I received something I expected – my Roll Models order of the month. It included another Eduard P-51D Mustang set; the canopy rails I talked about in this post both managed to fling themselves off the model and into oblivion, so I need to pirate them from this set again. And, since I can’t just get one thing, I also bought three decal sheets (one of Xtracals’ Battle of Britain sheets, Lifelike’s P-47 sheet with 354th FG Thunderbolts and a sheet of seven P-61s from Kits World). Revell’s set of 1:72 RAF figures was in there, too; they look very much like Prieser figure sets, with lots of detail, although there are only about eight basic figures, and several are seated. That might be nice for a pre-flight diorama scene.

The big model in the bunch was Italeri’s RQ-4 Global Hawk drone. You don’t get any idea of how big these drones are until you see the kit; without a cockpit, photos are very deceptive. This thing is enormous – maybe as big in wingspan as a B-17 – and rather bulky in the fuselage (although skinny in the wings). Without a cockpit, it shouldn’t take too long to go from the sprues to the finishing process. If you like painting and weathering, the Global Hawk and the smaller Predator are perfect. I like cockpits, but I look forward to bringing something this huge to a model club meeting soon. Although it may not fit in my display case. Hmm…

They actually dared to print it…!

Last Friday, I came home to a nice surprise: a single advance copy of my new book (seen here, in all its Amazon-based glory). The cover art, by Mark Postlethwait, is pictured above in its full form; it’s cropped a little horzontally to fit the book cover. Mark did a great job – it really has an illusion of motion to it. That’s Grover Siems shooting a Bf 109G off of Deacon Hively’s tail, by the way.

I have one copy so far, so please don’t feel bad you haven’t received one, if you’re one of the people who helped me out – I’ll be sending yours shortly, when I get a few more from Osprey.

Here’s what I think about the book: I like it a lot more than when I turned in the photos and manuscript! The design is very good, and there are a few extra photos plugged in that address specific incidents mentioned in the text ( a couple of which are “via Roger Freeman,” which are interesting since Roger’s died a little while ago and I have certainly not spoken to him since then). Chris Davey’s profiles are really nice; I compared them to profiles of some of the same planes that appeared in “P-51 Mustang Aces of the Eighth Air Force” and these are far superior in accuracy of markings and weathering. It’s impressive how much better the artists have gotten in the 15 years or so since Osprey started doing books of this ilk; you can thank the readers and their constructive criticism for that.

A couple of observations about this book:

1. There are a lot of dogs in the photos – Kidd Hofer’s Alsatian Duke is most prominent (he’s even labeled in a shot of personnel gathered at Debden, right next to Don Blakeslee), but there are others – Ken Peterson’s dog, Johnny Godfrey’s dog… The book is crawling with dogs.

2. There is no photo of “Shangri-La” after Don Gentile pranged it, but there’s a photo of it immediately before that mission, thanks to Wade Meyers.

3. There are a lot of photos of people who are mentioned in the text – which I think is a very good thing. It helps to humanize the stories, and I used a lot of contemporary accounts this time around, so putting a face with the words helps make things more involving.

It comes out for real on Nov. 18. Now, I just have to get the next book okay’ed by someone who doesn’t mind paying for it to be printed…