Very few people know where those intricately-made wooden model airplanes you see around come from. Sad to say, only few can really tell that these models come from a small town called Pampanga, a place Northwest of Manila, Philippines where the former Clark US Air Base was once located.
Clark Air Base was situated about 60 kilometers north of Manila and covered approximately 38 square kilometers. The base has been known to be one of the most modern and largest US base in history giving logistical and military support to the Asia Pacific region during WWII including the Vietnam war. It was an American stronghold from 1903 until 1991 when the base were forced to shut down due to social protests coupled by the devastating eruption of the Mt. Pinatubo. The base was later converted into a Special Economic Zone Force.
The wood carvers in Pampanga has been known to be the best in the Philippines (or perhaps one of the best in the world). For generations, they have carved images of saints and animals but the aviation activities at Clark Air Base gave birth to modern wood carving. The wood carvers took photos of fighter planes and out from the photos they took, highly detailed wooden air crafts. This industry rapidly grew making the Philippines the world's no. 1 producer and EXPORTER of wooden models.
If you take a closer look, you will not believe that these models have been made by hands - carved to perfection using Philippine Mahogany, a hardwood best for carving coupled by the "artistic" traits of the Filipino wood carvers. The attention to details is beyond comparison. All logos and prints you find in these models have been hand-painted and no decals or stickers or transfers are used. Though there is stiff competition today in the form of plastic, resin or die cast desktop plane models but most discerning collectors and buyers collectors will confirm that the look and feel of truly handmade model airplanes cannot simply be compared.
The life of these wooden models begin with the age-old process of hand wood carving followed by few more stages which will normally take 10 days to finish. The production stages are shown as follows:
Process Skilled Carvers use the traditional hand tools to carve and shape the model. This art requires skills and years of experience. The wood used is a processed kiln dried Philippine Mahogany (which is also abundantly found in the locality). No power tools are used and the carvers work from actual aircraft drawings that have been appropriately scaled.
Applying The Putty
Once the wooden model has been carved, several coats of putty are applied to cover the creases and carving marks. The putty creates a very smooth finish prior to painting. Varnish is later applied to provide a clear, durable and protective finish.
The Body Painting
Paint used is a high quality acrylic (same paint normally used in cars). Colour matching is a painstaking job and the outcome must be perfect before artwork is done. The paint can be applied by hand or airbrush. After the model has been painted, it is left to dry.
After painting the aircraft's body and wings, the artist intricately hand paints the finest details of the models. These include cockpits, doors, windows, fan blades, rotors, hydraulics, logos, hatches, etc.) The tail fins are perfectly painted that no detail is spared from the "microscopic" eyes of the artist.
I have attached links to video clippings which I would like you to see. If ever you do see one of the these wooden planes, take a closer look and vision the hours and the patience these skilled woodcarvers spent to finish just one model. It's something I can really be proud of.
Links to videos:
My main interest has moved from 1:600 Schabak Models to 1:500 Herpa Models and now to the many different manufacturers of 1:500 & 1:400 scale aircraft. The latest venture is to create a model airport but space is proving a problem and planning permission to remove my wife from her "office" so that I can have a second runway seems difficult to obtain.
I enclose a photo of my latest purchase on which I hope to travel on very soon. This aircraft was purchased on inflight sales.
Here is the only Buck Rogers Star Fighter I've ever had. I sold the nicer model on Ebay but it wasn't worth that much than I expected. I don't collect to make money though so this is more of a hobby and I enjoy doing it.
The Buck Rogers in the 25th Century ran from September 1979 to April 1981. I have to admit it that I was really glued on the TV show. As far as I can remember, I think I once had a Twiki toy given to me as a Christmas gift from my aunt who once lived in the US but again, the toy didn't last.
Most of the Buck Rogers action figures were made by Mego. The company covered a wide range of characters from Buck to Twiki (including Tiger Man). Mego also made play sets and ships. But this little die cast model was made by Corgi. There are 2 versions of this type: a smaller (which is this one) and a slightly bigger model.