Sunday, 20 January 2008
Over the last couple of nights I have been assisting in the assembling (well pretty much making) a couple of Airfix kits received by our eldest on his 7th Birthday, which was last week
The models in question are part of the ‘Mini Kit’ series. 1-100 scale, pretty fiddly because of the size, but relatively few parts to assemble thus making them ideal as an introduction for a newbie modeller.
Also, unsurprisingly the kits were of a Spitfire Mk V (hurrah) and a Messerschmitt Bf109f (boo).
The 1969 film ‘The Battle of Britain’ has recently become the regularly requested film of choice by our eldest. So the choice of models was an easy one to make and he was delighted to receive them.
A Spitfire and a Bf109 (along with a Hurricane) were my first models too and it was nostalgic fun to be wielding the glue again.
Of course patience was a virtue ‘back then’, with all of the enamel painting of camouflage schemes to be done along with the fun of cutting up the decals, placing them in warm water and the sliding and careful positioning of them on the near completed model.
I think that this operation was my favourite bit.
The anxiety at the short period of time you had to position the Roundels before they stuck and the fear that they would tear or crumple.
And also the immense satisfaction when this, the most delicate of operations, was successfully completed.
The new ‘mini kits’ are pre-painted though and the models look superb, perhaps a little too superb. Your first model ‘Spit’ without a small green/brown smudged finger mark seems to lack a little soul.
I also noticed whilst assisting in the assembly of the ‘Mini Kit’ Bf109 that the swastika had been left off the tail fin.
This omission was also noted by my helper who exclaimed something along the lines of ‘why isn’t the baddie sign on this plane like it was in the real war?’
I made the assumption that these kits are produced for many markets and are then just popped into appropriate packing dependent on where they are being sold. Because of the (rather understandable) ban on Nazi symbols in Germany I imagine that no-one would have an authentic Hakenkreuz on their model Bf109
But it did make me think though. If swastikas are removed from models of period German equipment why isn’t the same rule applied to models of WWII Soviet or Japanese aircraft? I know that there is an argument about the power of particular symbols, what they evoke and represent, but were the Soviet or Japanese governments of the time any less reprehensible than their German peers?
Surely the point of a model is to produce (however inadequately) a replica of equipment used during a particular period of time. It’s an interest in technology and history, nothing more or less.
The knuckle dragging morons of the German NPD, if so minded, will probably be able to obtain enough original SS/SA Daggers and facsimile Reichskriegsflagges to fulfil their bizarre predilections and beliefs, irrespective of whatever current German law states.
They probably don’t need to buy thousands of model Bf109’s in order to obtain enough eighth of an inch tail fin swastikas to plaster central Berlin and promote their ‘Fourth Reich’.
And from the two models recently made in this household and the games ensuing there has only been one victorious aircraft so far.
You can guess how well the ‘Few’ have done when the numbers were even.
Play imitating life / history and why not?
PS – My heir apparent has long been informed that it was the German government of the time that was the problem, not the German people who are now our friends. A simplification I know but enough to make the point to a seven year old.