F.A.Q.: Frequently Asked Questions about techniques used for constructing & painting aircraft

Published: November 29th, 2010     
Product Image
Front cover
Author: J.M.Villalba
Reviewed by: Bart Cusumano - IPMS# 31882
Company: Andrea Press
ISBN #: 978-84-96658-18-9
Other Publication Information: Softcover, 8.25” x 11.75", 159 pages, Full color
Price: $52.95
Product provided by: Casemate Publishing

(Editor's note: The reviewed publication, published in 2008, has been superseded by "Frequently Asked Questions about Techniques used for Painting Aircraft". Published in 2010 under the same ISBN Number 978-84-96658-18-9. Despite the slight change in title there is little or no difference according to Casemate.)

Continuing with the now familiar and highly respected F.A.Q series of how-to modeling books from Andrea Press, comes JM. Villalba's "Frequently Asked Questions about Techniques Used for Constructing & Painting Aircraft". The 159 page book comes to us in a perfect-bound soft cover, printed in full color (except for the chapter cover pages) in an 11 3/4" x 8 1/4" format.

I have had a copy of Villalba's "Aircraft Modeling Step by Step" on my bookshelf for a number of years now and have been impressed and influenced by his stunning work. This F.A.Q. once again showcases and explains Villalba's work and techniques, but to a much more detailed level. And that's what this book is about: details.

Where many authors just give cursory explanations of their techniques, Villalba goes into the nitty-gritty of what he does and his explanations are detailed and quite thorough. A plethora of sharp, high quality color photos accompany the text. The subject matter covers everything from discussing basic construction techniques to weathering. There is even a chapter on rigging aircraft and detailing radial engines - two very useful subjects that even an old-timer like me got some good information from.

Frankly, I'd need several pages to list everything covered in the book's table of contents! I really don't think he's left anything out in the process from beginning to end in the book's 39 chapters. Speaking of the end, the final chapter of the book presents a 14 page gallery of Villalba's excellent and inspiring work which includes everything from WWI aircraft to modern-era jets.

A few observations on the book:

  • Chapter 11 discusses how to remove, prepare and affix PE parts, but says nothing about folding or shaping the parts - something that should be there.
  • The tips on airbrushing (beginning with chapter 8) are quite informative and cover everything from masking to applying special affects like weathering. And finally, I know how to convert from bar to psi!
  • The technique for applying simulated wood surfaces (especially useful in modeling WW I aircraft) is clearly explained, seems easy to do and I believe will prove to be very useful.
  • Chapter 30 is called Graphics of Painting, which I felt was extremely useful. It features a completed model of an Me 109 (one page detailing the top, the other the bottom) with the use of numbered call-outs which point out various effects on the model and name the technique used to achieve it.
  • Something covered in this book which seems to never get much mention in other books is various techniques and uses for paint brushes. Seems elementary, but even I got some useful information in this area.
  • Advanced techniques for finishing and weathering abound and will prove most useful in building your arsenal of special finishing tricks.

I really enjoyed reading and absorbing this book. While I believe that the book is aimed at the more experienced modeler, I feel that it is also appropriate for the beginner. Its content is well presented and easy to follow and understand. The subject matter covers everything from the most basic points to the advanced and so makes for a complete volume.

My only negative on this book has to do with the cover. At a $52.95 (USD) suggested list price, I would have liked to have had a hard-cover or ring-bound book. This is especially true with a book like this one, where it will have constant referral and use. The covers will quickly become worn and dog-eared (like my sample copy). On the positive side, the pages stayed open to the page I was looking at and did not have the tendency to flip closed like many other perfect-bound soft covered books.

In the end, if you enjoy building and are serious about model aircraft, this book is for you. I too give it a 'highly recommended' for its detailed content and quality work.

Many thanks to Tara Lichterman at Casemate Publishing for supplying the sample copy and to IPMS for allowing me to do this review.

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