Book Review, Modeling Technique, Reading Material

Hangar no.1 – Special Jet Fighters

Every once in a while, you come across a book, a picture or some other reference, and you are impressed durably. Many of us fondly remember the sense of wonder we felt, as kids, when we first laid eyes on Sheperd Paine’s books, for instance. More recently, I was literally floored when I acquired Michael Rinaldi’s Tank Art series of books. As it turned out, these books had an immense impact on me as a modeler – and still very much do. Not only did they significantly contributed to the array of techniques I now use, but there was a sense of sharing at its core on what the hobby means, I dare say, in a more spiritual sense.

I’ve recently acquired such a book in the form of the very first offering of a new publisher, Joycraft Productions. The book, Hangar no.1, Special Jet Fighters, from modelers René Joyal and Jarek Rydzy Rydzyski, has been released in early December. Although I’m an armor guy first and foremost, jets are what got me into this hobby when I was a kid, and they always remained of immense interest to me. I even have a few flying things in my stash, with a firm resolve to build them someday. So this new book not only drew my interest out of curiosity to see what an acquaintance of mine might have created (Joyal is from Québec City, where I live, and we’ve met a few times), I also harbor a genuine interest and some humble pretentions for airplane scale modeling.

The book, as an object, is exquisite. A hard cover, full color, 144-pages A4 landscape format packed with excellent quality photographs and presenting six models, three from Joyal and three from Rydzyski. From a purely graphic design standpoint, the visual appeal is truly wonderful. Layout is clear, composition is well balanced and dynamic, and subject coverage flows naturally.

And man, those models.

Specifically, the subjects are, from Joyal:

and from Rydzyski:

In addition, there is a special 8-pages section devoted to Polish air photograph Slawek Hesja Krajniefwski presenting excellent and pretty stylish pictures of Polish F-16s (you may also know him for those awesome SU-22 pics going around on the Interwebs these days).

On the cover of the book, this statement: “Inspirational – Military Aircraft Scale Modeler“. I think this is right on point, as the book sits somewhere between a coffee table art-book and a full-fledged tutorial book, but is neither of those. The authors do describe their approach and share some techniques, but the perspective remains at high level, so to speak, and most of the talking and explaining is made through photographs. You get some views on constructions, painting and weathering, along with commentaries and observations from the authors, but there is no literal step-by-step per se. The authors do mention precisely what kit they started from and any aftermarket items they used.

I’m pretty sure advanced aircraft modelers will pick on much more info than I could possibly do with my somewhat limited knowledge of aircraft modeling, but I did learn a bunch of things. As far as I understand it, dry-fitting seems to be an immense key to success. You could say this applies to any sort of modeling, but it sounds like it really is critical to success for aircrafts.

The quality of the projects presented in the book will be obvious to anyone. Sure, there might be debate as to whether it is appropriate to use dry-brush here, gloss coat there, but it is objectively undisputable that Joyal and Rydzyski know their business through and through. Construction is sharp and irreproachably clean, painting is perfectly executed, and weathering is inspired and highly credible. The resulting models are frankly beyond reproach. I can attest of this even more because I’ve had the chance to see two models from Joyal in person, and perfection is indeed a fitting word here, in my very humble opinion.

Joyal also makes use of 3D printing on his CF-104 with an extremely convincing application for avionics, wheels and some pods beneath the fuselage. 3D printing is about to change the face of this hobby durably (I can see why, having acquired an Anycubic Photon S this year, and it is incidentally thanks to René for the most part).

In a deeper sense, the book has had some impact on me. I suppose this is because of the outstanding quality of the models, and I don’t say this just as a matter of compliment. I mean, sure, the models are truly great, but we do get a sense of achievement through hard work, patience, technical mastery and minutiae. The authors sometimes let us into their frustration and make it plain that the journey to get these sort of results isn’t all glittery (and they actually make it plain that the journey of their models came close to ending into a wall at times). I think this is revealing, and a matter to consider for ourselves, as modeler.

Just as Rinaldi’s books were an interesting conversation about the hobby, Joyal and Rydzyski’s book is a visual testament of what true modeling excellence is. Looking at their models, you tend to wonder where you stand on that path, and where you get enjoyment from the hobby. Some people like to complete a model in a weekend and be done with it. It’s perfectly ok. But some folks are much, much more serious about it, as this book amply demonstrates. It will not come as a surprise to learn that Joyal’s SU-24 took over 200 hours to complete, for example, and this is certainly some food for thought as to what we, as modelers, are ready to invest in the hobby. In my case, with three kids and a busy life, but very serious about the hobby, a book like this act as a milestone, witness of my own aspiration to excellence, but also to what it means in terms of dedication.

Joycraft Production’s first offering is a gem of a book. It is inspiring and somewhat daunting to us mere mortals. It’s a magnificent object that both the serious modeler and the collector will appreciate, and I look forward to more books from them.

Signals Info

Publisher: Joycraft Productions
Publication Date: December 2020
Author: René Joyal & Jarek Rydzu Rydzyski
ISBN: 978-1-7774093-0-2
Format: hard cover, full color, 144-pages A4 (landscape)

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Book Review, Reading Material, Reference

The Leopard 1 in Danish Service

For some reasons, I’ve been acquiring a massive quantity of new reference books during the pandemic. Among those, I was fortunate enough to secure a copy of the rather sizable new study on Danish Leopard 1s, The Leopard 1 in Danish Service, from Kim Hartvig Sørensen and published by, you guessed it, Trackpad Publishing. That book sold out surprisingly fast, but I am told it has now been reprinted. 

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Book Review, Reading Material, Reference

The Sherman Design and Development

This review was originally published on Track-Link in 2013.

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For many modelers, building solid references is often the most engaging part of a project. Learning about a particular vehicle or line of vehicles’ technical and operational history is for some a hobby in itself. While a frequent issue with this is not finding much on a given subject, in some cases the problem is that there is more out there than we can possibly hope to acquire, often leaving us wondering what to get.

In 2013, Ampersand Publishing released Son of Sherman vol 1, The Sherman Design and Development, A complete and illustrated description of the U.S. M4 Sherman tank series in the Second World War, which will be the subject of this review. There were rumors back them about a possible vol 2, The Sherman Modeler’s Guide, A complete and illustrated description of modeling the Second World War U.S. M4 Sherman tank.

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Book Review, Reading Material, Reference

Biber Leopard 1 Bridgelayer

This review was originally published on Track-Link in 2016.

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Trackpad publishing recently released a book on the Leopard 1-based Biber bridgelayer vehicle, by author Kenneth Ostergaard, which will be the subject of the present review. I believe this is the third book (ISBN 978-0-9928425-7-4) of the Model Foto Focus series from Trackpad. (I reviewed the first book of the series on Canadian Leopard 2s in Afghanistan here). Both books left me largely impressed for the quality of their pictures and the coverage of their subjects, and this new book is no different.

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Book Review, Reading Material, Reference

Leopard AS1 Leopard in Australian Service

This review was originally published on Track-Link in 2015.

Trackpad Publishing recently released “Leopard AS1 – Leopard in Australian Service” (ISBN 978-0-9928425-3-6) by Australian military historian and author Michael K. Cecil, who already visited the AS1 subject in the past in Battlegroup Leopard, among other publications. He also previously collaborated with Trackpad Publishing’s Michael Shackleton, for he wrote the better part of the chapter dealing with the Australian Leopard 1 in the later’s excellent third volume of the Leopard 1 Trilogy.

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Book Review, Reading Material, Reference

Vlieland Leopards – End of the Line

This review was originally published on Track-Link in 2014. Note that the book is now unfortunately out of print.

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An Art Book about Armor.

The subject of the present review is not your usual modelling book. It’s not about modelling techniques, nor about AFV technologies. Vlieland Leopards, from Dutch professional photographer Dirk Bruin, is a small picture book dealing with a pretty eerie subject: Leopard 1s used as hard targets for ground and air-to-ground practice shooting on Vlieland, an island from the Wadden island archipelago. The book is the second title to be published by Trackpad Publishing, the same guys who published Dutch Leopard 1, of which I did a review.

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Book Review, Reading Material, Reference

Dutch Leopard – Armoured Fist of the Royal Dutch Army

This review was originally published on Track-Link in 2014.

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Trackpad Publishing is a new publishing house and an associate of The Leopard Club, an online magazine devoted to modelling the Leopard 1 and 2. Dutch Leopard – Armoured Fist of the Royal Dutch Army, by author Willem Smit in collaboration with the Netherlands Institute of Military History (NIMH), is the first book to be published by Trackpad Publishing and will be the subject of the present review. It was originally published in Dutch language in 2008.

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Book Review

Tank Art Volume 4

The present review was initially published on modeling website Track-Link in 2015 and deals with the fourth volume of Rinaldi Studio Press Tank Art series, by author Michael Rinaldi. The first three volumes dealt with Axis, Allies, then Modern subject, in that order, and the fourth volume marks the return of the series to axis subjects.

(Note: all four Tank Art books have now been re-edited, but I haven’t seen them, so the reviews you see here are all based on 1st editions).

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