F3H Demon - Digital Volume 1
Thank you to Bert Kinzey and Rock Roszak for bringing back a tremendous resource for the modeler, and introducing a new digital format. Thank you to the IPMS Reviewer Corps for allowing me to test out this new and exciting way of researching the F3H Demon.
This review of an exciting new format of a familiar product will take two parts, 1) content coverage and 2) how effective and useful the digital e-book format is from a modeler’s perspective. I certainly would expect the first question a reader would ask is, "Why do I want an e-book format?" I like reading through traditional books as much as anyone else, with the page-by-page discovery of storyline or new information. I also have tons of books in my library, mostly residing on stoic-looking bookshelves. This new publication format provides many advantages for the modeler, with few disadvantages, as described below.
My initial reaction to the new Detail & Scale format I recently received for this review was very positive. There are many digital versions of print publications available, ranging from simple scanned images of typed pages to true multimedia blends. This first volume in the Digital Detail & Scale series is certainly positioned at the higher end of digital formats. The volume contains about 282 digital pages, more than 340 images or photographs, of which 30% are those modeler’s eye detail shots for which Detail & Scale is so well known. The book contains 50-plus art renderings of aircraft profiles, unit logos and cockpit details. The quality of the digital publication suggests that the digital delivery concept is the primary design parameter, while retaining the cherished look and feel of the original Detail & Scale series.
Reading a novel in e-book format, e.g., iBook, Kindle, Nook and so on, is generally a nice experience, with the advantages of portability, downloadable purchases, and reading in low light. In a reference book, these advantages are surpassed by the ability to search, add notes, screen capture photos from the text for annotation, and having finger-tip rapid access to information on your workbench without compromising space.
Best of all, the stellar quality of the traditional Detail & Scale series is uncompromised in the new Digital Series. The new format builds on the excellence of the traditional format and includes many extra features. I evaluated this copy in the iBook/iPad format, but I would expect the Kindle version to be very similar. At about $10.00, you can’t beat the price!
The cover screen is the wonderful, familiar and colorful Detail & Scale practice of showcasing the subject in color. The cover plane is an F3H-2M of VF-61 aboard the Saratoga. On page iv of the Front Matter section is an excellent description of how to use the iBook format on an iPad. Also in this section, the revival and rebirth of the Detail & Scale series is chronicled, a storyline modelers seldom hear. Additional and supplemental reference materials related to this publication are available on the Detail & Scale website listed above.
Chapter 1, Developmental History: The developmental history starts at the end of World War 2 and continues through entire deployment life of the F3H Demon. This chapter contains excellent descriptions and photographs of ancestor aircraft, including F4U radar-equipped Corsairs, the first Phantom, and the Banshee. The reader gets a specific appreciation for the challenges of the post-war naval aviation “jetscape.” Included are an adapted NATOPS Demon variant comparison chart, a production summary table, and excellent three-view drawings.
Chapter 2, Demon Variants: This chapter describes in great detail the Demon variant histories. Several photo galleries are present, with multiple set of pictures. The photo quality is excellent. Specifications of the variants are included in data tables. The problems and sometimes solutions found in each variant really highlight the difficulties in developing an effective carrier-based jet aircraft, often usually related to powerplants. This chapter describes and illustrates armament of the different versions.
Chapter 3, F3H Pilots' Report "Demon Daze": Aircrew stories always add an important dimension to my kit-building experience. This chapter greatly contributes to that enjoyment. Detail & Scale asked CAPT Len Kaine (USN, Ret., and a nominee for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize) to provide an aviator’s perspective on flying the Demon. CAPT Kaine included two other naval aviators in his narrative. The stories are a wonderful and enlightening read, filled with a good balance of cynicism, flying adventures, and mission pride.
Chapter 4, A Demon Restoration: The beautifully restored F3H-2M at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola is the focus of this chapter. The restoration history includes details of an outstanding restoration project with only minor necessary compromises to historical accuracy. I hope to visit the NNAM someday, but the superb start-to-finish photographs of the restoration will work for now!
Chapter 5, Demon Details: If you have a tendency to add details or otherwise tweak your Demon models, this chapter will give you all the information you need. Photographs, from nose-to-tail, inside-and-out, document all of the subtle features that we love to add. The 84 or so photo pages give you plenty to work with, and every photograph is thoroughly captioned with relevant information. Figures adapted from NAVWEPS manuals are included, showing cockpit instrumentation and armament arrangement.
Chapter 6, Squadrons, Deployments, and Markings: Each of the 8 Atlantic Fleet and 16 Pacific Fleet squadrons have a deployment and markings section. Two pages showing the tail markings of each squadron are hot-linked to the page for that squadron. For example, if you tap on the VF-31 label next to the tail artwork, you will be taken directly to the VF-31 section. Test and evaluation squadrons are also included in this section. The role of the Demon in testing and research programs is included rather than deployment information.
Chapter 7, The Modeler's Section: This section is a hallmark of Detail & Scale, and this volume does not disappoint. How many of you have picked up a Detail & Scale volume and flipped directly to the back to read the modeler’s section? I know I have. All of the current and historical model releases and some aftermarket part and decal sets are incisively evaluated from a modeling perspective, including the recent Hobby Boss kits in 1/48 scale. The first three pages of the section summarize overall problems and cautions in kits. I particularly like how problems are noted, but solutions are suggested. Only 1/72 and 1/48 scale kits have been released. I wish I had this volume before I bought the Hobby Boss F3H-2 in 1/48 scale, but now I will be able to revise my plans and build a much better version.
Chapter 8, More from Detail & Scale: These 2 pages may be characterized as trailers for upcoming digital volumes, and promote a great resource website hosted by Detail & Scale. If you plan to build the F9F Cougar, or the F2H Banshee, hold on for the next releases! I expect that these upcoming volumes will be just as good a resource as the first digital one. Make sure you have a bit of time on your hands when you visit the website; there is just as much research and sightseeing to be done there as anywhere else.
Summary: In terms of content, this is a spectacular publication. In addition to the tremendous wealth of information about the Demon, the volume is well written with an engaging style.
My review arrived in the form of an emailed purchase code which was then entered in the Apple Store download area. The volume was ready to read and resident on my iPad in less than 2 minutes.
An excellent guide to iPad operations with this publication starts on p. iv. The Apple iOS signature taps, finger-swipes, and finger pinch motions are easy to learn and are much the same as many touch tablet systems. The learning curve is a short bump to become proficient. You will soon learn to move quickly throughout text.
Once you learn the finger motions, you will discover that the double-tap that pulls down the Table of Contents title bar is very helpful. On the left-hand side of the title bar you can find icons to return to the library (quit), find the table of contents (a chapter screen with sections), and find a nice help screen for adding highlights and notes. On the right-hand side of the title bar you can find a screen brightness icon, but best of all, you will find a search icon and a bookmark icon. I found both of these to be very helpful. These features really aren’t conceptually different from marking up a traditional book, but have significant advantages.
- Highlighting can be done with different colors, perhaps for different topics of your interest
- Highlights can be easily changed or removed (ever try to erase those bright yellow stripes?)
- Bookmarks may be added, removed or edited
Taking screen shots or grabs can be very useful for specific planning. Pressing the sleep/wake button at the same time as the home button will capture the visible screen. This function is really great for annotating and planning details. There are many free drawing apps that can import an image and let you enlarge, mark up, or otherwise edit. If you need to put some ideas together for detailing, you can digitally scribble on the photo!
An iPad has a very small footprint so it will take up a minimal amount of room on the bench. You can keep all of your reference material in one place, ready to use. If you are an effective multi-tasker, which I am not, I would expect that you could also stream a video or such while you work on your Demon.
I am overwhelming positive about this publication, in the content and format areas. However, I encountered a couple of minor issues. The publication doesn’t rotate when the iPad is in landscape orientation. Photographs opened from the text do rotate. My other apps and iBooks flip over to landscape orientation, so I do not believe it is a hardware issue. This is really only a point of preference, but my iPad is a little bit difficult to use with my Otterbox stand in portrait orientation. Lastly, digital publications force me to abandon an old tradition of having the author and illustrators sign their book!
Several images of screen operations are included to supplement the many online tutorials that others have posted iPad operations. I found the digital component of Detail & Scale Digital Series 1 to be an effective and efficient research tool.
I highly recommend this publication for any modeler with an iPad or desire to get one. I assume that the same functionality exists for the Kindle platform. I do not believe this publication is available in any other formats than the iBook or Kindle versions. The ability to examine the F3H within and beyond the printed page, the abundance of color images, links to external resources, search functions, ability to quickly bookmark, highlight and add notes, combined with the inexpensive cost make the Detail & Scale Series Digital Volume 1 F3H Demon an exceptional value. This is a must-have for all who plan to build a Demon.
Thanks again to the wonderful folks at Detail & Scale! Welcome back, and I’m sure I echo the thoughts of the modeling community in saying I hope to see many more of the Digital Series published. Thank you again to the stalwart Reviewer Corps for your hard work in making these review opportunities happen!
This book is available via Amazon and Apple Itunes.