Since the series began in the early 1970s, Squadron's "In Action" books have become a mainstay among modelling references. The very affordable soft cover titles offer everything many modellers require for a given project - a concise history of the subject, backed up by a good selection of black and white photos, scale plans and colour profiles and, importantly from a modelling perspective, diagrams illustrating the changes between different versions of an aircraft.
If it ain't broke...
While preparing for my next Dual-Build with Jean-Luc Formery, I was intrigued to see that Squadron had fairly recently released a new "In Action" on the F-80 Shooting Star, this time as part of a "Color Series". Having already got the original book ("In Action #40"), I couldn't resist the opportunity to see how much had changed.
When #213 arrived, the answer was clear and simple - "Everything!". Any suspicion that this would simply be the old book with new photos was dispelled instantly - this is an entirely new study; new text, new photos, new profiles and plans... you get the idea.
All that's the same is the book sticks to the classic softbound format, with 52 pages charting the careers of the F-80 and T-33 from the first prototype, through to the T2V-1 SeaStar and drone aircraft. The text by Larry Davis (also the author of the original title) makes for light reading and actually seems more tightly focused on modellers; along with the accompanying diagrams, it does a great job of clarifying the development changes to the airframe. In terms of content, the big difference is that the new book doesn't cover the F-94 - which I think is a good thing, because that warrants a volume of its own.
But what about the "Color Series" idea? Well, this is where the book is especially useful as a modelling reference. The F-80 is probably among the earliest aircraft where it's feasible to gather enough good quality original colour photos to provide the basis of the pictorial content in a book like this. Even so, there are still a number of black and white shots, but it's the colour photos that dominate and they really are useful, taking out so much of the previous guesswork in judging paint schemes and interior finishes. Most of the photos are "snapshots" of the aircraft at various stages of their long careers. As such, they are full of the incidental details that are so useful to us as modellers. The Korean War servicing scenes will be a huge inspiration for dioramas and vignettes.
Along with the colour photos, there's a nice selection of new profiles by Thomas A. Tullis, and new colour drawings of areas such as the cockpit.
Anyone who already has the original book may wonder if it's worth buying the Color Series volume too. I'd say yes, for sure. The two books are complimentary, and with a different selection of photos to pore over, inevitably modellers will want both - who says we aren't greedy?! Recommended.
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Highs: Clear concise text, with very useful original colour photos, plans, diagrams and profiles.Lows:Verdict: Squadron's colour "In Action" on the Shooting Star is very good, both in its own right and as a companion to the earlier book in the series.
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About Rowan Baylis (Merlin) FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM
I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...