The Internet Craftsmanship Museum Presents:

Guillermo Rojas-Bazan

Added to museum 1/11/13

Joe Martin Foundation "Metalworking Craftsman of the Year" award winner for 2013

A family tradition in model making turns into a profession

Guillermo Rojas-Bazan has pursued aircraft model building as a life-long vocation. He started building models at a very young age. Throughout his still active career he has produced many highly detailed metal models that now grace museums and exclusive private collections around the world. (Click on photo to view a larger image.)

Introduction

Craig Libuse, January, 2013

Shortly after discovering and publicizing the work of aircraft modeler Young C. Park in 2002, several museum visitors asked if we had seen the work of Guillermo Rojas-Bazan. We had not, but when we went to his web site we were amazed at both the quality and the extent of his work. While Mr. Park was a dentist working in his spare time, Guillermo had produced over the years a very large body of aircraft model work for museums and private collectors. However, when I contacted him he said that he was currently working under contract to a high-end modeling firm and was not free to promote his own work. He wanted us to wait until he was once again working on his own. That is now the case, and we have taken this opportunity not only to add him and his work to this on-line museum, but Guillermo Rojas-Bazan has also just been selected as the seventeenth winner of the Joe Martin Foundation’s top award, The Metalworking Craftsman of the Year award for 2013. The award will be presented at the 2013 North American Model Engineering Society Expo in Wyandotte, MI April 20-21, 2013, which is open to the public. In the meantime, all our on-line museum visitors can examine and marvel at some of his work.

Though some of his earlier models were built in smaller scales, for many years he has built in 1/15 scale, and all parts are hand-made. The fuselage and wing structures duplicate the original in sheet aluminum and details inside the plane that sometimes cannot even be seen once the model is completed are all there. He also incorporates working features like folding wings, hinged access panels, retractable landing gear, control surfaces that are activated from the cockpit controls and even electrically powered propellers and working navigation lights per the client’s wishes. He uses hand tools almost exclusively. We are most impressed that he is able to produce so many models without compromise to the quality of his work, which just seems to get better and better as he demands more of himself and his already prodigious skills continue to be polished to perfection. He prefers to create reproductions of propeller aircraft from the period 1925 through 1945.

This 1/15 scale German Messershmitt Bf110C, posed in a realistic setting shows the extreme detail of Rojas-Bazan's aluminum models. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

To be able to make a career in model making is a rare feat, but it does have one down side. Like car modeler Gerald Wingrove, he has not been able to keep any of his own models, as they are what puts the bread on his family’s table. To see them in person you will have to visit a museum or private collection where they have found a home. For the next best thing, we present photos of his work here. You can see even more at his personal web site at www.rojasbazan.com. Guillermo will be bringing his partially constructed current project, a Japanese Mitsubishi A6M “Zero” fighter to the NAMES show, which may be as close as many of us will get to examine his work first-hand. Please join us in Michigan in April to see the award presentation, meet Guillermo Rojas-Bazan and see some of his work.

Guillermo Rojas-Bazan as a child and at work on a model in his studio. (Click on either photo to view a larger image.)

A Model Maker’s Story

Before Guillermo Rojas-Bazan was born, his father was already a well-known aircraft model maker in Buenos Aires, Argentina. As noted in newspaper stories at the time, his father built highly detailed tinplate models not for sale, but rather for the pleasure of his friends and family. Guillermo followed in his father’s footsteps and started building models from an early age. He assembled plastic kits, but at age eight he wanted to build a model of a Martin B-10 bomber for which no kit was offered. He created his own scratch-built model from cardboard. As he grew older, he continued scratch building models in wood and tinplate, finally graduating to sheet aluminum. He had obviously inherited his father’s skills.

Part of the impressive collection of models built by Guillermo for the Naval Air Institute in Argentina. (Click on photo to view larger image.)

In 1981, his hobby led him to a job working for the Argentine Air Force and the Instituto Aeronaval (Naval Air Institute) as an aviation illustrator, draftsman and builder of his unique sheet aluminum scale model aircraft for exhibition in museums, where they remain on display.

In 1988, Guillermo moved to Spain where he produced replicas for a London gallery of aviation art, building models for serious collectors in Europe and the USA. While working on a commission in Israel starting in 1990 building a model for the Israeli Air Force, he met and married his wife Clarisa in 1993, who was employed as a social worker there. The couple moved to the United States in 1994 and Guillermo worked for 15 years building 1/15 scale models for a company that specialized in super-detailed collector models before recently returning to the marketplace on his own as a builder on commission.

A collection of Rojas-Bazan's 1/15 scale models on display. (Click on photo to view a larger image.)

Choice of scale and projects

He notes that building in the larger 1/15 scale takes much longer than working in the smaller 1/24 scale that he started out with many years before. This limits how many models he can build and also drives up their price, which limits his market. For example, the 1/15 scale B-17 model  with a wingspan of over 60” took four years to build! There are not many buyers willing to pay a craftsman’s salary for four years for one model. He plans in the future to work in both 1/15 and 1/24 scale, still keeping the incredible amount of detail and function even in the smaller models. However, this will allow him to build more models and satisfy more clients while still retaining their museum quality. The smaller models also offer the advantage of easier transport and display while still capturing the look and feel of the real aircraft.

To date he has built well over 200 detailed metal models. As an additional challenge on his latest model, he is also working on producing a DVD that will document his methods. This should be a great resource for model makers around the world.

Tools and favorite planes

When asked what kind of tools he uses, Guillmero noted,I do not use electric machines in the construction of my models. I do everything by hand. I know that many people don't believe me, but this is what I am going to explain and teach in my first commercial DVD tutorial that I hope to have ready this year. The only electric machine that I use is the compressor for my airbrush.

I do not also use molds or casting techniques to reproduce objects in series. Everything is made by hand. For example, for my B-17 I built the 10 machine-guns one by one totally by hand. (The same with the engine cylinders, actuators, etc.)

I do not have only one favorite model, I have several. Many of them are planes of the period between 1920 and 1939 before the WWII (golden age of aviation) like the Northrop Gamma, Boeing B-15, Boeing YB-17 (prototypes of the great B-17), Martin B-10, Vought Vindicator, Curtiss Hawk III, Junkers G-38, Junkers G-24, Heinkel He70, Fairey Battle, etc.  Many of these aircraft were not good machines or have not been very popular, but I like them aesthetically.

Comments by others on his models

In 1993, former USAF cinematographer and crewman Chuck Austin wrote, “When viewing the unique, sheet aluminum, scale aircraft replicas of aviation artist and craftsman Rojas Bazan, most aviation art collectors, pilots particularly, will say, ‘That’s not a model, it’s the real thing…only smaller!’” Mr. Austin ended up being a collector of and the USA agent for the sale of Rojas Bazan’s models for years. He also noted, “Like other examples of fine aviation art, Bazan’s aviation sculptures help to preserve the history, technology and art of legendary aircraft. He helps to keep memories alive.”

According to author Ann Cooper in an article for Private Pilot magazine in 1994, “One former WWII P-51 pilot and collector remarked, ‘It´s like looking at the real aircraft through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars. The details in this Rojas Bazan model are the best I’ve ever seen—the lighted and instrumented cockpit, guns and ammo belts in the wings, the fuselage, wing and tail panels, operating controls, navigation and landing lights, the prop, the details in the wheel wells. It’s exactly as I remember the aircraft I flew. This model is incredible.’

Ms. Cooper also noted, “One aircraft museum curator in Washington D.C. expressed the opinion of many when he said, ‘These models far exceed typical museum quality. Their actual sheet-aluminum construction is the perfect medium. You can’t fake the look of real aluminum any other way. Where was Guillermo when we were asked to make a model for President Bush?’”

“I am very impressed with the models in the photographs you sent,” a collector wrote. “I only hope the photographs are of your models and not the real thing.”

In his article about Guillermo´s work, Mike Knepper wrote in Cigar Aficionado magazine (September 1995): “These models are fine art, requiring the same level of skill necessary to create a museum-quality painting or sculpture. Some might scoff that they’re ‘just model airplanes,’ but that´s like saying Mozart’s strings quartets played ‘nice tunes.’ We’re talking the Mozart of modeling here.”

Guillermo now lives with his wife Clarisa and their son Roy in Royal Oak, Michigan, USA.

Current Project

Guillermo is currently building a 1/15 scale Japanese Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero fighter from WWII. It is taking a while, because he is making a DVD of the progress that will eventually be available to modelers. Below are a few photos. Full details of the plane will be presented here when it is complete.

1/15 scale A6M "Zero" in progress. Click on any photo above to view a larger image. (1/13)

Here are photos of the port side of the A6M2 cockpit with the seat removed to show the floor. Represented are all the details of the actual aircraft except the cockpit lights, which will be added later. Notice that the knobs even show the chipped paint and wear in some parts as well as the blue undercoat paint (aotake). The aim is to achieve the effect of a cockpit in use with some wear. (2/20/13)

The Starboard side of the cockpit. (3/12/13)

More cockpit and fuselage interior details have been added. (3/20/13)

The seat and seat belt have now been completed. (3/21/13)

Tail structure and skin is well underway as is the tailwheel. Guillermo tries to replicate the "waviness" of the aluminum when it is riveted on the real plane. Great care is also taken to reproduce the tiny stitching pattern on the fabric covered portions of the control surfaces. (11/26/13)

 

Craftsman of the Year Award Presentation

On April 20, 2013 Guillermo was presented with his award for 2013 Metalworking Craftsman of the Year by Foundation Director Craig Libuse. The award was presented at the 2013 North American Model Engineering Society Expo at the Yack Arena in Wyandotte, Michigan. Congratulations to Guillermo on becoming the 17th craftsman to win this award. Five previous award winners were at the show to offer their congratulations as well.

(Left Photo) Guillermo receives his award and check for $2000 from foundation director Craig Libuse. (Center Photo) Clarisa and Guillermo are flanked by five of the previous winners of the award at the NAMES Show. Left to right are Richard Carlstedt (2009), Bill Huxhold (1999), Jerry Kieffer (1997), Clarisa, Guillermo, Louis Chenot (2011) and Ron Colonna (2008). (Right Photo) Rich Carlstedt (left) looks on as Guillermo explains the model making process to visitors at the NAMES show. (Click on any photo to view a larger image.

Magazine Articles and Press Coverage

bullet

To view an article from 1993 by Chuck Austin on Rojas-Bazan CLICK HERE.

bullet

To view an article by Ann Cooper on on Rojas-Bazan from Private Pilot magazine (May, 1994) CLICK HERE.

bullet

View a YouTube video of some of Rojas-Bazan's past work at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfJLiIMgliY&list=UUXsr8uOVGuZ2l32ssJrwbkg&index=1

bullet

View a new YouTube video of progress on a 1/15 scale Japanese "Zero" fighter at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mf8HRobYY6w (3/29/13)

bullet

To view an article about Guillermo in The Home Shop Machinist magazine. (May, 2013) CLICK HERE.

horizontal rule

Here are some photos of Guillermo Rojas-Bazan's Aircraft Models.

(Click photo for larger image.)

Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress"—1/15 scale

The model B-17 is quite big even in 1/15 scale with a wingspan stretching over six feet! These high angle shots show the panel and rivet detail on the exterior. The sixth photo shows Mr. Rojas-Bazan next to the model to give a better idea of its large scale. This project took over 4 years to build, and the interior of the plane is complete down to oxygen and radio systems in miniature.

Low angle shots show the landing gear and the four big radial engines

The bombardier's canopy in the nose of the aircraft contains the accurate Norden bomb sight.

 

The beginning of the wing structure and the finished pair of aluminum wings.  The 103-foot, 10-inch wingspan of the real plane scales out to 6.92 feet at 1/15 scale.

 

Interior views show yellow tanks holding oxygen for the crew and a Thermos holder with paper cups.

The cockpit is complete down to the instrument faces. On the port side, one of the defensive machine guns can be seen.

In the final view of the interior, you are looking back toward the tail. At the top can be seen the control cables. At the back of the catwalk behind the side gunner positions is a portable "relief station" (known as "the can") and to its right an auxiliary generator. The tail gunner had to climb through the remaining bulkheads to get to his station. A little out of focus on each side can be seen the long rows of machine gun cartridges feeding from the ammo boxes to the side guns.

Machine gun turrets also were mounted on the nose, belly, top and tail. The second photo shows the belly turret and the third photo shows the top turret before installation.

Additional crew seats for the navigator and radioman can be seen with one of the top panels removed. The tiny Norden bomb sight is not much larger than a US quarter, but it contains over 150 individual pieces.

When we say the interior is complete down the smallest detail, note the tiny headphones, connections and spare inverter—Some of the many details inside the plane.

North American B-25 "Mitchell"—1/15 scale

Another large 1/15 scale model, the B-25 build is less well documented than the B-17, but a spectacular model nonetheless. The characteristic twin tail can be seen in these high angle shots. Smaller than the giant B-17, the model's wingspan in 1/15 scale still reaches over 42".

Views of the nose show some of the model's incredible detail.

 

The top turret and side machine guns can be seen in these photos.

The model under construction...

Here we can see some of the cockpit instrument panel detail and the machine gun armament operated by the nose gunner. The top turret defends against attacks from above.

North American P-51 "Mustang"—1/15 scale

"Bald Eagle" is a P-51B model, easily identifiable by its cockpit windscreen that is faired into the fuselage.
The later model P-51D was powered by the Packard V-1650-7, a license-built version of the Rolls-Royce Merlin 60 series with a two-stage, two-speed supercharger and armed with six .50 caliber (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns.  The canopy was now a "bubble" type that gave the pilot better visibility. This much more powerful version had the performance needed to dominate the skies over Europe late in the war.
More views of the P-51D with one showing the engine cowling removed to expose the supercharged Merlin engine.
A model P-51 is photographed in a hanger scene. With wing panels removed, the strings of 50 Cal. rounds loaded into the wing can be seen.
"Big Beautiful Doll" was a well-known P-51 flown by fighter ace Lt. Col. John Landers in WWII. A restored version of the real plane was lost in an air show crash in 2011.
Details inside the cockpit and engine compartment can be seen in these two photos.

Chance Vought F4U "Corsair"—1/15 scale

The "gull wing" shape of the wings of the F4U Corsair is one of the more iconic in WWII aircraft design. Designed as a carrier-based fighter for the US Navy, the planes saw a lot of duty in the Pacific in WWII.

For carrier duty, the wings had to fold up so more planes could be stored on deck and in the hangar bay. This also added to the complication of the design. The Corsair was also flown by the US Marines from fixed island bases in the Pacific, and the "Black Sheep Squadron" led by "Pappy" Boyington made the plane even more famous.

These photos show some of the details of the supercharged Pratt & Whitney 14-cylinder radial engine.

Inside each wing are three 50 Cal. Browning machine guns. Panels hinge to expose the detail in the guns. The lids of the ammo cans actually become the top surface of the wing, making for faster re-loading.

These views show the flaps and the landing gear to advantage.

A Corsair under construction is shown in a couple of stages. The radial engine sits on a stand next to the plane in the first photo. Note the high level of cockpit detail in the second photo.

Douglas SBD-3 "Dauntless" Dive Bomber/Scout—1/15 scale

    The SBD ("Scout Bomber Douglas") was the U.S. Navy's main carrier-borne scout plane and dive bomber from mid-1940 through mid-1944. The SBD was also flown by the U.S. Marine Corps, both from land air bases and off aircraft carriers. The SBD is best remembered as the bomber that delivered the fatal blows to the Japanese carriers at the Battle of Midway in June 1942.
  These views show the detail in the pilot's instrument panel.
More cockpit views show also the gunner's position.
  The dive brakes are a dramatic feature of this plane, allowing it to dive almost straight down on its target without exceeding the rated speed of its airframe.
The first photo is early in the construction, while the second shows a finished plane before painting.
Underneath the wings are the hard points for bombs and a sample bomb in miniature.

 

Junkers G24—1/15 scale

Rojas-Bazan at work on the Junkers fuselage in his model studio.
The wing structure starts to take shape.
The interior is fully detailed, including the washroom sink and toilet.

Passenger seats include padding and seatbelts.

The seats are seen in place in the passenger compartment. Note even the overhead cargo net is included. This will all be covered up by the planes exterior sheeting when the model is completed, so photos are the best way to document the completeness of the project.
The first photo of the instrument panel explains the function of each of the instruments. The second photo shows also the control yokes.
The in-line 6-cylinderJunkers L2 engine before and after painting.
The L2 engine installed on the firewall. These photos look like they were shot in a real hangar at night.
These daytime and nighttime scenes look like the real thing. With a model this detailed, it is easy to fool the eye. Note the electrically powered spinning propellers in the second photo—one of the optional features of Rojas-Bazan's models.
Rojas-Bazan with the finished model in his studio. This photo gives a better idea of the size of the 1/15 scale model.

Vought OS2U "Kingfisher" Scout Float Plane—1/15 scale

Seat and cockpit components take shape.
The fuselage is made just like the real plane.

Inside the cockpit is fully detailed too.

Individual radio components called out and the finished installation.
The unfinished float in the first photo shows some of the interior struture. In the second photo it is ready to mount to the plane.
Fuselage and float in various stages of construction.
The control surfaces are covered with fabric like the real plane.
The finished but not yet painted model.
  The finished, painted model is mounted on a catapult as it would have been mounted on US battleships during WW II.
The detailed Pratt & Whitney engine.

Focke Wulf Fw 190A and Fw 190D  "Würger" (Shrike)—1/12 scale

Two photos of the "A" model of the Fw 190 under construction.
  The fuselage of a "D" model Fw 190 takes shape.
The finished Fw 190D is seen in a hangar setting.

Messerschmitt Bf 110 "Zerstörer" (Destroyer)—1/15 scale

The basic fuselage structure takes shape in aluminum.

The finished, painted canopy...not an easy part to make.

The cockpit is fully detailed.
Gunner's position. Note how the canopy both pivots and slides.
The finished Bf 110C is photographed in a realistic field setting.

More model aircraft

Guillermo Rojas-Bazan has made too many aircraft models to show all in the detail above, but here are some more photos to show the extent of his modeling expertise.

    German Messerschmitt Bf 109E—1/15 scale
German Messerschmitt Bf 109G—1/15 scale
German Junkers Ju87—1/15 scale (unfinished)
German Messerschmitt Me 262—One of Germany's first jet fighters late in WWII. Built in 1/15 scale.
North American F86F "Sabre" from the Korean War era built in approximately 1/12 scale. This is one several jet planes modeled by Rojas-Bazan. Others include the Douglas A-4, Hawker Siddeley Harrier, Dessault Mirage III and Dessault-Breguet Super Etendard in scales from 1/10 to 1/48.
British Supermarine "Spitfire"—1/15 scale
British Hawker "Tempest"—1/15 scale
Biplanes and helicopters built in 1/40 scale for museum display.

 

horizontal rule

New Submissions Welcomed

If you have additional information on a project or builder shown on this site that your would like to contribute, please e-mail craig@CraftsmanshipMuseum.com. We also welcome new contributions. Please see our page at www.CraftsmanshipMuseum.com/newsubmit.htm for a submission form and guidelines for submitting descriptive copy and photos for a new project.

horizontal rule

This section is sponsored by

Makers of precision miniature machine tools and accessories. Sherline tools are made in the USA.

www.sherline.com

Sherline is proud to confirm that Young C. Park used Sherline tools in the production of his aircraft models.

 

To learn how your company or organization can sponsor a section in the Craftsmanship Museum, please contact craig@CraftsmanshipMuseum.com.

RETURN TO MUSEUM HOME PAGE

Copyright 2013, The Joe Martin Foundation for Exceptional Craftsmanship. All rights reserved.
 No part of this web site, including the text, photos or illustrations, may be reproduced or transmitted in any other form or by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording or otherwise) for commercial use without the prior written permission of The Joe Martin Foundation. Reproduction or reuse for educational and non-commercial use is permitted.