Monogram Nostalgia

I am waiting for three photo-etch sets from Czechoslovakia (Eduard) to build my three small helicopters and why I am waiting I decided to build an old friend from long ago that has been sitting in my pile for quite some time, a Monogram 1/4″ scale P-38.

I built at least two of these growing up in various boxing and although this kit doesn’t hold a candle to today’s fit and detail it was an amazing marvel of styrene kit engineering in its day.  We can thank the Monogram marketing and engineering team of days gone by for propelling us into the modern modelling age.   Their release of 1/48 scale replicas changed the way modelers built kits from a toy like to trying to create a detailed facsimile of the real airplane.  It was a good day to be in the hobby with lawn mowing money and a tube of Testors glue in hand!

For those of you who don’t remember the kit was engineered to be built in any one of 5 variants; some requiring extra parts and some requiring cutting pieces off and gluing on others.  I remember I modified one to build the P-38M, which started my interest in all black nightfighters (see previous posts).  Included also are a droopsnoot and photo recon version.

The instructions were as detailed as the kits.  No multiple languages and clear step by step directions.  I learned all of the parts of aircraft and ships reading Revell and Monogram instructions.

The kit is a wonder of teeny raised rivets.  Not a chance I’d be able to sand and fill seams on this kit without destroying mass quantities of them.  So in the spirit of nostalgia I am building this by slapping it together just like I used to.  The only difference in liquid rather than tube glue in most of the applications.

The other joy to discover moving into the build was the cockpit floor was missing.  I’m almost positive I bought this off eBay many moons ago and I’m not sure where it could have gone or if it was ever there.  But in years gone by I needed to do a lot of scratch building to provide the detail (no resin or etch parts to buy) so I whipped out my 0.10 and 0.20 styrene sheets and made my own floor.  Not too detailed but enough to hold the simple seat and control wheel in place.  And you know, I probably used some of the same styrene sheets I have been carrying with me for 45+ years.

The kit is approaching painting, probably this weekend.  It has been a simple and fun build.  In fact, I have a pile of old 1/4″ scale Monogram kits in the pile, and a few old Revell and Hawk kits there too that are gaining my attention.  Kind of nice having a build that you can just put together without the stress of Advanced Modelling Syndrome.  It was that unfettered building style that hooked most of us to the hobby.

Model on!

3 thoughts on “Monogram Nostalgia

  1. Great article.
    As a kid in the ’70s, Monogram was my favorite brand. The planes, and more so the armor series, were my favorites. I really liked kit instructions back then. As you say, clear and concise with detailed photos and text descriptions. I still have the instructions from one of the old 1/32 StuG kits, as a matter of fact.
    I recently built the old Me262 kit, but the recent boxing by Revell. When I lost a part, I bought another on EBay, but it was the old ’70s era boxing… the white box type similar to your P-38 photo above.
    One thing I found interesting, was that the mold quality on the ’70s kit was much better that that of the more recent Revell offering. No doubt due to the former being molded at a time that the molds were newer.

  2. Thanks for a reply. I have a bunch of the old 1/4″ scale navy planes with all of the working stuff from the 60s to build. But it was fun watching the transition from those to the real scale stuff in the early 70s.

    There was the Fw-190, the P-38, the Kingfisher, the Mosquito, B-25/26, and another favorite, the P-47 kits.

    And then, once we get to the 80’s the art had really progressed. I built all of the century series kits a year back or so from the F-100 to the F-110 and although not a shake and bake they were nice kits to build.

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