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Need help with an academic study

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Hi guys, I need your help for a project I am working on for one of my Masters classes. I am taking a class called User Based Design and for my project, I am looking at how model builders research for their models in order to create a new tool to research a subject. I am in step one, so I need to understand the steps people take while researching a subject. Thanks for your help.

Think back to your last model you finished. What steps did you go through to research it? Please include types of sources used as well as the subject of your project.

Edited by Orion Field
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Google? just kidding, although it is a big source.

Current project is an Italeri F-4S in Heater-Ferris camo.

- I did a google image search and got several pictures and a couple of profiles and some images of cockpits and ejection seats.

- I used the box and instruction sheet for the kit (it's an old Italeri kit with the painting instructions on the bottom of the box.)

- I posted here and on the IPMS USA website a couple of questions about the scheme and my doubts about the logic and received answers that explained why the images were correct and my doubts unfounded.

- I used my personal knowledge gathered from 8 years of working on Phantoms in the USMC and HIANG.

Another project I have going on is a 1/720 USS Arizona.

- Google lots of images

- Several books, I can get the titles if you want them. The new Squadron book is great, got it at GraniteCon.

- Pictures of the great big model at the Arizona Museum at Pearl Harbor.

- Pictures of the relics they have there.

- Lots picked up from discussions on "Steel Navy".

Edited by Grey Ghost 531
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1/72 Hasegawa F-14D VF-2 (25th anniversary scheme)

- Originally wanted to make common scheme with a F-14A VF-2 scheme so I looked for appropriate boxings.

-Upon buying the kit I read a few accounts from DoD about enforcing the No-Fly Zones in Iraq.

-Searched the DoD's photo databases.

- Searched other online photo collections.

-I contacted an expert in the field about the appropriateness of a TARPS loadout.

- Used the box art (which is a photo) and the instructions.

Edited by -Neu-
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I work with user experience designers in the software industry, so I'll provide a more theoretical answer to your question.

I think most people (consumers, modelers) don't know how to effectively search the Internet. Although Google provides a simple and easy-to-use gateway into all of the information that's out there, a lot of people still rely on forums like this to ask questions that can often be answered with a quick search in Google.

As you know, there are dozens of sites like this one with their own, separate mine of information. But again, people don't know (or are too lazy) to search them.

I believe a great resource to have is one that allows people to search across various sites on certain predefined keywords such as subject, scale, manufacturer, etc. Imagine going to a site that had four fields:





You could then search sites for information about "loadouts" for the Tamiya 1/48 scale F-16C. That would be cool. Of course as they say, you can lead a horse to water....

P.S. The one frustrating aspect of searching about information on specific kits is wading through all the e-commerce sites. Sometimes I want reviews for the Tamiya F-16C not the best price on one!

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Before the web I'd buy books and magazines but now it's primarily Google searches. I also hit PrimePortal, Airliners.net, DoD or the military branch sites and some Russian sites for walkarounds. Sometimes you can find some good pics on Photobucket or flickr. I do my own screencaps for sci-fi subjects like Star Wars. Stuff in the public library is almost always outdated or too general.

I'll look for out-of-print stuff on P2P sites if there's something I really can't get any other way.

Edited by datahiker
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Hmm, what kind of new tool are you thinking about.

A cool idea might be some form of work plan.

Is that the sort of thing they are on about with you?

Edited by Wayne S
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I am going to scratch build a 1/32 scale HP Heyford.

To start with I asked, on four on-line model aviation forums if anyone had an info leads. This brought in info that articles had appeared in English modelling magazines. Further requests brought in a xerox copy of the entire article plus some other copies of info that the person had in his own library. You see, some of us enjoy having large libraries of aviation history, books, magazines, etc. Private libraries are most often the best sources of info for modelers, especially when searching for off-beat aircraft.

Next I found that an English flying model magazine had recently published an article on a Heyford flying model. so I contacted them and bought both the magazine and the plans they offered.

Next I found that the Academy of Model Aeronautics in the USA had purchased John Pond's stock of model airplane plans (flying models) and I purchased a copy of the plans from them.

Now I have enough material to get started building.

Yes, I can do a lot more research on other forums and on-line sites but I am just making a model airplane for the fun of it, I am not writing a dissertation or a professional paper.

The internet has proven to be one of the best sources of research information I have ever seen. This is truly the information age. Back in the BC era (before computers) I remember all the trips I made to various libraries in a 50 mile radius when I was working on my Ph.D. The amount of running around was phenomenal. Today I can access www.bookfinder.com and purchase many of the books that I need for the dissertation. Also, in Connecticut we have an inter-library loan system where I can search the book indexes of Connecticut public and university libraries on line and order loan of the books I need. The books will then be delivered to my town's library where I can pick them up. However, I would still need to visit some of the libraries as I cannot access their reserved books except in the actual building. But I can locate them on-line which is a tremendous time saver.

Good luck with your Masters work,


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Okay, I can talk about my current model project involving research.

The model I am doing is a Tamiya 1/48 Brewster Buffalo. It is intended to be a rather quick project as I need to have it done by this coming Friday. Information is kind of sketchy on it, but thankfully I have sources for the plane already.

Subject: RAF Buffalo as used in Singapore

Print Research: Private library for all my Buffalo stuff as I've collected some over the years since this subject is a strange one. The two primary print ones I am using are the Squadron F2A Buffalo in Action book and Scale Aviaition Modeler International Volume 11, issue 6 as it has a profile article on the Buffalo. Tamiya's instruction sheet is pretty good from what I see as far as color callouts, but one has to use other sources to try and backup what they say as they can be wrong sometimes. Plus, with Tamiya paint mixing formulas, it is nice to find a pre-mixed shade as well. So, it takes a little bit of checking online for other stuff.

Online research: Googling images for "Tamiya Buffalo" netted me some pictures of Brewster builtups, although many were Navy ones and only one was an RAF bird. Looking at buildups of Airfix Buffalos provided some other ideas as well as the RAF option is primary to the Airfix kit. Googling "Buffalo cockpit" didn't yield much at all. Picture-wise, there are plenty of black and white photos out there, but no color ones that I've seen. No RAF Buffalos exist anymore that I know of. All we have are a couple Finnish birds, one pre-war Navy colored one (I think) and a Dutch Buffalo. I didn't look for black and white Buffalo pics online as my print references had plenty. But, I did find ONE picture of an RAF pilot in the cockpit of a Buffalo and it showed he was wearing an RAF style harness, not a US one (which determined how to detail the seat, an important early step for cockpit building).

I also look up build articles to see how other modelers tackled some spots where my own information is sketchy (in the case of the Buffalo, is it a zinc chromate interior or aluminum, RAF birds were apparently zinc chromate color based, although the specific shade used by Brewster likely will never be known 100% since the preserved planes in museums today never used it). This becomes my third tier research. How important it is to me depends on the popularity of the subject. If it is a subject A LOT of modelers know, such as say an F-14 Tomcat, I will gather in as much data as I can from all sides to find consensus. If it is something like a Buffalo, I'll make some educated guesses and put my faith in something because in many cases, the definitive word just isn't there. But at the same time, if I have a hard time getting research on some of this, I know OTHER modelers have the same problem. As such, things will not be as clear cut and the chances of encountering a rivet counting "expert" on the Buffalo subject tend to be statistically lower than an F-14 subject.

Pictures vs Profiles: In my case, I find that pictures tend to trump profiles, but there are instances where you HAVE to use profiles sometimes and this is in regards to some colors used. As such, I have to put my faith into the research that whomever did the profiles did the hard work to back up what he is painting. As such, with profiles, I try to go with more recent ones whenever possible, unless I can find one where I know the researcher looked at a primary source many years ago compared to a recent one where photo interpretation is being used (such as color analysis of a black and white photo).

So, that is ONE example of a current project. I can cite a couple others if you want, but they would be more SF or space based as opposed to aircraft. The research process is somewhat similar though in how I approach it.

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