Thank you to Bert Kinzey and Rock Roszak for bringing back a tremendous resource for the modeler, this time in digital format. Thank you to the IPMS Reviewer Corps for allowing me to test out this new and exciting method of researching colors and markings of my favorite jet of all time, the F-14 Tomcat. A very significant plus of this updated version is that the entire history of the Atlantic F-14 squadrons through Tomcat Sunset is now available in a single publication.
This review of an exciting new format of a familiar product will be in two parts; 1) content coverage, and 2) how effective and useful the digital e-book format is from a modeler's perspective. I certainly would expect the first question a reader would ask is, "Why do I want an e-book format?" I like reading through traditional books as much as anyone else, with the page-by-page discovery of storyline or new information. I also have tons of books in my library, mostly residing on stoic-looking bookshelves. This new publication format provides many advantages for the modeler. I cannot imagine that this publication will not be a stunning addition to any aviation enthusiast's digital library.
My initial reaction to the third Detail & Scale ebook is even more positive than my reaction to the two previous releases, Digital Volume 1, F3H Demon and Digital Volume 2, F9F Cougar. There are many digital versions of print publications available, ranging from simple scanned images of typed pages to true multimedia blends. This third digital volume from Detail & Scale is unquestionably positioned at the higher end of digital formats, with new material and excellent functionality. I ran numerous what-if research test runs developing information about squadron markings and found those test-runs to be fast, effective, and efficient.
In direct contrast to the previous two digital releases from Detail & Scale, this third volume focuses on colors and markings of a specific aircraft and area of deployment. Such an approach requires a large number of photographs, making a traditional reference book both large and expensive. The digital reference book equivalent allows greater amounts of high-resolution images to be used at a much lower publication price and a more manageable size. In other words, bench space doesn't get filled by a coffee table book. Furthermore, quicker searching and data collection are major bonuses.
The volume contains 481 digital pages and more than 720 high-quality photographs and images. The authors drew on a pool of 40-plus contributors, many of whom are established USN veterans with direct F-14 experience. The quality of the digital publication suggests that the digital delivery concept is the primary design parameter, retaining the cherished look and feel of the original Detail & Scale series and incorporating unparalleled search abilities.
Reading a novel in e-book format, e.g., iBook, Kindle, Nook and so on, is generally a nice experience, with the advantages of portability, downloadable purchases, and reading in low light. In a reference book, these advantages are surpassed by the ability to search, add notes, screen capture photos from the text for annotation, and fingertip rapid access to information on your workbench without compromising space.
Best of all, the stellar quality of the traditional Detail & Scale series is uncompromised in the new Digital Series. The new format builds on the excellence of the traditional format and includes many extra features. I evaluated this copy in the iBook/iPad format, but I would expect the Kindle version to be similar. At about $10.00, you can't beat the price!
The cover screen features the familiar and colorful Detail & Scale practice of showcasing the subject in color. The cover plane is the CAG aircraft from VF-31 hooking the wire aboard the USS Forrestal in 1989. On page v of the Front Matter section is an excellent description of how to use the iBook format on an iPad. Also in this section, the revival and rebirth of the Detail & Scale series is chronicled, a storyline modelers seldom hear. A brief introduction describing the research, development and scoping of the book gives the reader a great sense of what it take to produce a top-notch publication. Additional and supplemental reference materials related to this publication are available on the Detail & Scale website listed above.
My review arrived in the form of an emailed purchase code which was then entered into the iTunes Store download area. The volume was ready to read and resident on my iPad in a little bit longer download time than typical, but there are a lot of large images!
An excellent guide to iPad operations with this publication starts on page v. The Apple iOS signature taps, finger swipes, and finger pinch motions are easy to learn and are much the same as many touch tablet systems. The learning curve is a short bump to become proficient. You will soon learn to move quickly throughout the text.
Once you learn the finger motions, you will discover that the double-tap that pulls down the Table of Contents title bar is very helpful. On the left-hand side of the title bar are icons enabling you to return to the library (quit), find the table of contents (a chapter screen with sections), and locate a nice help screen for adding highlights and notes. On the right-hand side of the title bar is a screen brightness icon, but best of all, there is a search icon and a bookmark icon. I found both of these to be very helpful. These features really aren't conceptually different from marking up a traditional book but have significant advantages.
Taking screen shots or grabs can be very useful for specific planning. Pressing the sleep/wake button at the same time as the home button will capture the visible screen. This function is great for annotating and planning details. There are many free drawing apps that can import an image and let you enlarge, mark up, or otherwise edit. If you need to put some ideas together for detailing, you can digitally scribble on the photo!
An iPad has a very small footprint so it will take up minimal space on the bench. All of your reference material is in one place, ready to use. Several images of screen operations are included to supplement the many online tutorials that others have posted for iPad operations.
I am overwhelming positive about this publication. I found the Detail & Scale Colors & Markings Series Digital Volume 1 to be an exceptionally effective and efficient research tool. But as mentioned in previous reviews of digital materials, a problem I do have is that digital publications force me to abandon an old tradition of having authors and illustrators sign their books!
Colors & Markings Series Digital Volume 1 has my highest recommendation. I can't see how anyone can justify not having this publication if he or she has any interest in the F-14, whether for model building or for historical purposes. I am certain that the same functionality of the iPad exists for the Kindle platform. To my knowledge, this publication is not available in any formats other than the iBook or Kindle versions. The ability to examine the colors and marking of the F-14 within and beyond the printed page, the abundance of color images, links to external resources, search functions, ability to quickly bookmark, highlight and add notes, combined with the inexpensive cost, make the Detail & Scale Colors & Markings Series Digital Volume 1 an exceptional value. This exceptional eBook is for all who appreciate the F-14 Tomcat.
Thanks again to the wonderful folks at Detail & Scale! I am delight to see the Colors & Marking Series in digital form, and I'm sure I echo the thoughts of the modeling community in saying I hope to see many more of the Digital Series published. Thank you again to the stalwart Reviewer Corps for your hard work in making these review opportunities happen!