Daily archives: October 28, 2005

PKZ-2 Austro-Hungarian Helicopter in 1:72nd scale by Roden

The PKZ-2 was allegedly the world’s first flying helicopter, though it is unlike anything we would think of as a helicopter in the modern sense. The strange contraption was dreamt up as a replacement for hydrogen filled observation balloons. The three engines turned the counter rotating blades and the machine was attached to its launching base by tethers as fine control was difficult. The pilot/ observer sat in a bin mounted on top of the frame and was supposed to be able to bail out and parachute to safety if anything went wrong, though you have to wonder how that was possible with the blades whirling away beneath him. Crashes in testing and eventually the Armistice meant the PKZ-2 never saw service.

There’s not a lot to the model. All the parts are on one small sprue, apart from a faux wood base to mount the finished article on for display. There are a lot of fine and fiddly bits which are going to be tricky to put together and getting everything to line up is going to be fun. I’ve never made a First World War plane before so I don’t know how easy it’s going to be to replicate the cables, if it’s possible at all. I may also look for a few Austro-Hungarian figures to go with it, crowding round the helicopter with a nervous looking observer staring out of the basket.

More information on the PKZ-2 here.

Pictures of a 1:48th scale model of the same machine here.

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Obsessive Construction Disorder

They must hate me in the model shop. Almost every week I go in and browse, pick boxes up, put them down again, plan what I could build if I bought them. Only every third or fourth visit do I actually buy anything. It’s all business I guess.

Those monthly purchases build up and now I have a healthy number of unmade kits salted away around the house. I can wander into the living room and browse, pick boxes up etc.

One day I should start building them. I have to get a house with a “hobbies” room. This is not a hide it in the basement play room- I need more ventilation than that. The hobbies room can probably double as a library and drawing (as in pictures) room, but I’d still need a dark room and computer room. On top of all the usual spaces this is going to be a big house.

There are the online purchases as well. Roughly a quarter of the money I’ve earned on EBay has gone back out again to other vendors offering odd or out of production kits. I finally got my hands on a scale version of the Northrop flying wing bomber that was a catalyst for my model geekery renaissance. There are vacuum formed models of early Russian jets and fixer-uppers with minimal interior detail for you to embellish. There are also, for reasons I forget, busses of various vintages, a big box of soldiers and an even bigger one of crashed cars.

Further afield are the garage concerns. Kit manfacturers working in resin, white metal and vacuum form- and occasionally injection just like the big boys- of the odd, obscure and overlooked. Planes that never made it off the drawing board are finally seeing solidity- knocked up by industrious Eastern Europeans doing their bit to kickstart their economy.

British garage manufacturers, being British, tend to the more mundane. Nissen huts, bicycles, PSP plating (which was used to make and repair runways) and the cutest little Fordson tractor and its bomb trolleys. No airfield could run without the support staff and their unglamourous equipment. A plane all by itself in a field, without groundcrew, would look wrong. So I’ll have to have some of those then.

When I finally start building these models I can see them on a big airfield. There’ll be pilots milling around and mechanics working on engines whilst troops guard the perimeter. It’ll be quite large, so I guess I’ll need a room for it.

Originally published in Cycling On The Pavement

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