Uplink: 22. October 2000

By Norman E. Harms, PLS

Nothing can be more important to the scale model builder, military historian, research historian, movie/TV historical consultant, identification archivist, records administer or others who deal with the identification, classification, indexing of information and general ability of recalling for future use documentation to support these and other needs not necessarily enumerated, than a library of reference books dealing with that specific subject of concern. Although, we (Scale Specialties) primarily are concerned with matters of a military nature and cover a wide range of historical periods, the same principles apply to ALL areas of human endeavor where information is required to verify, supplement, explain and answer very, very, specific questions. Even restricting the subject matter to that described as "military content" the specific subjects, along with time periods, cover an enormous number of articles and full fledged books dealing with these subjects. Where does one find this information?

The answer is not an easy one and is dependent on the degree of sophistication and detail required. I believe you will find that no matter what might take your interest and fancy, it will be a recognized fact that after a small quantity of knowledge has been acquired, it will easily be recognized as well that more information will normally be required. Thus an information quest will be begun and tracked until the degree of satisfaction for this particular subject has been reached by that particular individual. Should a person stick with this field of endeavor long enough, the knowledge attained may well place him or her in the position of being "knowledgeable", an "expert" or an "authority" in the field. I would draw some very distinct differences between and for the definitions of these classification, however that leads us astray from the basic discussion, basically it would concern the degree, quality and quantity of such intelligence properties. In any case it will be found that individuals in any of these classifications are in possession of a large library of books dealing with these subjects and form the frame work of their knowledge.

Some presentations will be found in the form of magazine articles, especially those prepared for a scale modeling project and include full information concerning the building and final appearance of the specific piece in question. My own introduction to "models" as a reason for additional information, began with the introduction of the modern plastic age, a time when what the scale modeler of today accepts as the "common norm" was just beginning, it existed but in a limited quantity and quality aspect. Should your interests lay in some field not covered by the limited offerings of the time, an individual was forced to "build from scratch" his/her subject piece; research and prepare working drawings, handcraft the separate components, assemble and finish by way of correct (or perceived correct) colors and markings. Future projects could be found from others, readings, and the desire to satisfy curiosity prompted by the acquisition of more knowledge and repeating the above process or, as time passed, the presentation of a new plastic model whereby interest was redirected in that direction. Nevertheless, the whole process grew over time, with the availability of new material, the presentation of books, magazines and even motion pictures and television, which teased the brain's interest center. To some degree, I would have to say this has produced a more rounded "modeling character" in that more skills came to play and had to be perfected by the individual. Craftsmanship is still a question of practice, practice and more practice performing these aspects and tasks, definitely something built over time, and not relegated to the medium of construction.

Historical miniature wargaming is another case where interest creates a need for additional knowledge and as a consequence the planted seed continues to grow. The need will arise to secure information on "... what were the correct uniform colors, the unit's flags, its weapons, time periods of changes, organizational structure, battle tactics, supply system, political effects?" and on and on. The reverse is true for those interested in strictly history who are introduced to historical miniatures and the possibility of re-staging important battles of history. A challenge - can you accomplish more and better results than the cast of original characters? The outcomes have had some strange presentations.