Fighter Ops. Room

Briefing Notes 2008

Force Majeure!

It's not surprising that aircraft scale modellers have an interest in the history and development of aircraft. Over the years I’ve read many books and articles on WW2 aircraft covering their development, history and operational use. I’ve always found the most interesting and authoritative are those written by veterans or authors who have had the benefit of an aviation related background and training. 

Authors with for example commercial level, civil or military pilot training have a great advantage over the self taught, aviation enthusiast writer or researcher with no formal training. This early training provides a solid foundation of aviation knowledge upon which can be added specialist knowledge in various aspects of aviation history.  

Recently I was asked to have a look at an aviation article that illustrated just how easy it is for the untrained, enthusiast type to get it wrong. The article amongst other things, included a comment that a rather famous (beautiful wing shape!) WW2, single engine, aircraft had the ability to feather its propeller. Had the author had the benefit of an aircrew background and formal training, he would no doubt have found that suggestion very strange! The ability to feather a propeller is for obvious reasons, something associated with and really only of use to, a multi-engine aircraft. The article also reminded me of how easy it is to simply ‘cut and paste’ diagrams and tables without really understanding what they convey. 

Simply collecting old photos won’t and never will provide a solid foundation.

A Diagram for a new age


The above diagram illustrates how a gas turbine engine works by reference to the internal combustion engine 4 stroke cycle of Induction, Compression, Power and Exhaust. The cycle is known as the ‘Otto cycle’ after Dr Nicolaus Otto who in collaboration with Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach, was the first to demonstrate a functioning, four stroke engine.   

This simple diagram would be very familiar to any pilot who had undergone conversion training to fly a ‘jet’ powered aircraft. For over half a century it has been used to introduce pilots to the main components and function; intake, compressor, combustors (combustion chambers), turbines and exhaust; of a gas turbine engine. It is a little known fact that this diagrams first appearance as a training aid was not with the allies but the Luftwaffe in Nazi Germany. 

Junkers, the manufacturer of the Jumo 004 axial flow, gas turbine that powered Messerschmitt’s Me 262 jet fighter, produced this historic diagram linking the new and radically different gas turbine to the familiar and well understood internal combustion engine.  The Me 262 was the first ‘jet powered’ aircraft to enter service during WWII, heralding in the beginning of a new age in aviation. This new age required ground crew and pilots to quickly learn about this new propulsion system and what better way to do so than with a simple, easy to understand diagram. It would have been particularly useful to pilots who work on a ‘need to know’ basis and don’t require detailed knowledge. Obviously the diagram served as merely an introduction to the subject and more detailed training would follow. 

It is interesting to note that not a single book has identified the significance of this diagram. The reason is undoubtedly because none of the authors had an aviation background and formal training. They were basically ‘enthusiasts’, like the vast majority of the readers of such books.

Spitfires in scale

Well there’s been good news recently for Spitfire scale modellers with the release of a big 1:32nd scale Mk IX from Pacific Coast Models (PCM) and a Vc mark in 1:48 scale from Special Hobby. 

We already have three decal sets in 1:32nd scale available for use with the PCM kit. For the 1:48th scale Special Hobby kit, our Spitfires in the Antipodes decal series provides a range of  RAAF Spitfire subjects.  

If you are on the mailing list you would have received details on Part 2 of this series. How many parts are there in the series? The way it’s going it maybe be quite some time before we get to the end!


AI's DCM decal

DCM, what’s that? If you purchased our decal Desert Shark Attack! C014803 you would have an example of  Differential Colour Markings (DCM). This is the first decal to be produced that takes into account the varying degrees of weathering of an aircrafts paintwork. For example, the roundels on the underside of the wings is less exposed to the elements and therefore suffers less weathering and colour fading that the roundels on the upper surface. 

Due to concerns about how well this would be received by scale modellers, no mention was made of DCM and the difference in shade between upper and lower wing surfaces decal markings was made very subtle.  Now you know!

The festive season is upon us which in most parts of Australia means long, hot summer days spent with family and friends. May I take this opportunity to wish you and your family, wherever you are in the world,  a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.