Modeling in a Vacuum

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by Jan R. Bussie

As a young boy I was fascinated by the WW2 war news coming out of Europe. The bravery of the bombers and fast fighters pilots made them my heroes both then and now. In an effort to emulate these men I would fly my balsa glider in my backyard and pretend to be a dashing British pilot flying the silvery Spitfire fighter that dominated the skies over London and the English Channel. My favorite targets were the “Buzz Bombs”, Bf-109s, and the slow Stuka dive-bombers. I would often try to scratch-build a model of an airplane, but I did not possess the materials, skill or knowledge to do so.

The first years of my life were spent living in a remote lake community in northern Indiana called Koontz Lake. The lake and surrounding area covered tens of thousands of acres, and was thinly populated by no more than 250 hearty souls year round. During my many hunting and fishing outings I can remember going for days on end without seeing any one other than my immediate family.

Even after the war our solitude was destined to remain unbroken for many years due lack of newspapers, telephones, or reliable transportation. Our most important link to the outside world was via short wave radio…and later on for me, ‘Model Airplane News’ magazine.


Early to mid 1950’s Model Airplane News Magazines


Every summer I would travel to LaGrange, Indiana to visit my Grandmother for two weeks. During one such visit Continue reading “Modeling in a Vacuum”

The HO Scale Model Railroading Revolution of the 1940s

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By Alan Bussie Google+ profile

Few realize that changes near the end of 1930 in model railroading would preview the creation of the modern hobby industry in the 1950s.  It may seem obvious now, but it was impossible to predict in 1938.  My thanks goes to the editors and contributors of early Model Railroading and other early train modeling magazines.  This article could not be written without their historical records.


Late 1940s assembled wood/metal HO craftsman kit

In the 1950s, “Consumerism” revolutionized the United States economy and social life. Two main items pushed the consumerist movement: discretionary income and free time. There had always been leisure time, but the activities that filled it varied. In the 1800s families might play instruments and sing after dinner. In the 1930s, they could gather around the radio for the latest drama series or news. But the changes in consumer buying power would revolutionize the USA in the mid 20th century.

In the 1930s “model building” as a hobby did not even make the top 10 list of boy’s activities. Hobbies were nothing new to America in the 1940s, but they were not mainstream. As early as the turn of the century, many dedicated modelers built flying or static airplanes, ship, train, automotive or other subjects. Basic kits existed, but the majority of these models were built from scratch, which demanded a high talent level developed from years of experience. That changed in the early 1950s. The phenomenon of Continue reading “The HO Scale Model Railroading Revolution of the 1940s”