I have read many books on a variety of model-building topics. When it
comes to flying models, there are very few books I have read that were worth
the paper they were printed on. Many of the so-called "how-to" books
are filled with contrived or useless examples. Others are too general
to help you learn more than a brief overview of a small selection of the
variety of model types.
That may sound a little harsh, but really I think the problem is that most
authors have a great deal of knowledge in some areas but then try to cover
all areas which ends up being too little information about a wide variety of
topics. Personally, I would rather read a book that focuses on an area
where the author has a good deal of knowledge so I can learn something.
One thing I have learned by wasting too much money is that any book having
the word "Secrets" in the title, should substitute, "For Beginners."
This applies to videos as well. The so-called "secrets" tend to be
common knowledge to those with any experience. It is a marketing
buzzword that is meaningless.
For a while I was purchasing books documenting a single type aircraft.
Between the kit, the book(s) and aftermarket accessories, I was building
some very expensive plastic models. I have pretty much steered away
from that because it is just not worth it to me. If the kit is not
quite accurate that is fine with me for my personal collection. A $30
kit can quickly go over $100 if you really want to deck it out and buy
references to ensure accuracy.
Getting on to what I recommend:
enjoy reading about the history of model aircraft, but again, the offerings
have been scarce. Recently I have been reading Norm Rosenstock's book,
Tales of an Ancient Modeler. Norm is currently the AMA historian
and has many years of experience. Norm's book is filled with anecdotes
dating back before WWII of the modeling scene and people involved in the New
York area. I recommend this book for those who would like to know more
about our roots.
Radio Control Modeler Magazine has a nice selection of books in their
Anthology. I am referring specifically to the books they sell with
the RCM brand on them
— not necessarily the third party books they
If you are thinking about purchasing an R/C Helicopter, then Ray
Hostetler's book, Ray's Authoritative Helicopter Manual is excellent
and highly recommended.
If you are designing your own flying models, then you may want to pick up
Theory of Wing Sections by Ira H. Abbott and Albert E. Von Doenhoff.
This book covers aerodynamics and has a lot of charts and graphs. It
also lists many sets of airfoil ordinates which is why I own a copy.
The technical stuff is mostly over my head.
Another book that might be good, but I can not say for sure because I do not
understand a thing in it either, is Model Aircraft Aerodynamics by
Alasdair Sutherland contacted me and informed me that he has authored a book
titled Basic Aeronautics for Modelers published by Traplet
Publications. Although I have not seen the book and can not recommend
it one way or the other, Alasdair states that the aerodynamics are presented
in a much simpler form than usually found in these types of books.
That would make it nice for me because I do not really understand a lot of
the dynamics and would like ways to find the answers I need to have without
spending months deciphering equations.
If you build plastic models, particularly armor or any model that you would
weather, then there are two authors I very highly recommend.
Sheperd Paine. Sheperd's books are beautiful to look at even if
you never intend to build a model or a diorama ever. Buy everything he
has written. If you can only buy one of his books, then get How to
— 2nd Edition.
If you've never seen his work, prepare to be blown away! Anything you
ever wanted to know about painting techniques, dioramas, building armor,
figure painting, etc. is covered in great detail. If after reading one
of his books, you still can not pull of a decent weathering job, then, well,
I will leave you to draw your own conclusions.
The other author I recommend is Francois Verlinden. His books
are also a sight to behold. Unfortunately, the text and guidance tend
to be kind of terse. However, if you have some experience as a
builder, you will be able to pick up on how he accomplished certain tasks
even when he does not explain it in detail.
A really good book for beginners is Plastic Aircraft Models by Roscoe
Creed. The book covers the basics in great detail and teaches a solid
foundation to building plastic models.
If you are into scale modeling, then there are a lot of reference volumes
available. They tend to vary in detail depending on how obscure the
type is and how many are still in existence.
The following are worth the money if you really want to deck out your scale
model. One caveat, however. Be sure to actually look through the
book before purchasing it to see if it contains the detail you need.
- Elite series by Osprey Military.
- German Aircraft Interiors 1935-1945 by Kenneth A. Merrick.
- In Detail series by Wings and Wheels Publications.
- In Detail and Scale series by Bert Kinzey are excellent
- Lock On series by Verlinden.
- Men-At-Arms series by Osprey Military.
- New Vanguard series by Osprey Military.
- Walk Around series by Squadron/Signal Publications.
- Warbird Tech series by Specialty Press tend to have more technical
information and drawings than close-up photos, but are worth taking a look at.
I am sure there are many more reference volumes available than I have listed
here. These are simply the ones I have purchased and am happy with.
If you are interested in purchasing an
airbrush, then you might want to pick
up one of Badger's books. Be sure to get one that teaches you
how to airbrush, not just artist techniques.
A book I really like is called The
Magnificent Book of Kites by Maxwell Eden. If you have an
interest in building your own kites or in tuning kites you purchase, then
this book has a lot of theory and detail in easily understood language with
lots of diagrams. It also contains plans, information about
construction materials and more.
Lastly, although it is not good reading, a really handy book to have around
is Standard Mathematical Tables by CRC Press. When it comes
time to find areas of shapes such as ellipses, triangles, conversion tables,
or other stuff that you forgot right after class, you can look it up here.
By the way, most of these books can be purchased through
amazon.com. The Ospry Military series were purchased at on-base
clothing and book stores while I was in the Army. I am sure they are
available through other sources as well.