Sunday, 20 December 2009

It's every schoolboy's dream - from the tiny rows of ammunition to the miniature cockpit canopy gracing this stunning model aircraft.

It is an exact replica of a P-51D Mustang which was America's primary long-range fighter plane during the Second World War. And it was made by a retired dentist who used some of his instruments to create it.

Built on a 1/16 scale, every part is fully functional, linked by an intricate series of minuscule chains, cables and hinges. The undercarriage retracts and the controls work, although the levers are so small they have to be operated with a pair of tweezers.

Young C Park, from Honolulu, took three years and 6,000 hours to complete the model. Cut away on the left side to show the internal workings, all the sections were machined from common aluminium roof flashing. The metal is annealed to the proper softness, making it easier to form and carve.

Mr Park, 77, used more than 50ft of aluminium, reforming and shaping it on a lathe until he was happy with the result. The metal was usually moulded over a wooden support, but for the large area of the skin behind the cockpit he used the ball of his foot to get the correct shape.

According to Mr Park, working with aluminium is not so different from dental work using gold. Both can be annealed, work-hardened, burnished and made malleable. He also used his dental tools to drill parts of the fuselage and make indentations in the surface of the wing.

The aircraft is 25in long, 10in high and has a wingspan of 27in. It is now on display at the Joe Martin Foundation Craftsmanship Museum in Vista, California. Kids seven and under searched for items related to video games, while older kids were heavy into music, with 34 percent of teens and 27 percent of tweens searching for music-related topics. The Miley Cyrus song "Party in the USA" was the most-searched for tune among kids, while "Boom Boom Pow" by the Black Eye Peas took the No. 2 spot.

Mr Park's fascination with fighter planes began as a teenager after he discovered a Second World War aircraft scrapyard and grew when he served as a young man in the Korean War in 1952. Of the Mustang, he says: 'It is the most beautiful of all the Second World War fighters.'

It served as a bomber escort and reconnaissance aircraft and by the end of the war had destroyed 4,950 enemy aircraft, more than any other type of US fighter in Europe.(