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Over the years the museum has had a great many models donated to it. We always try to put these artefacts on display in a well presented way. Some years ago the museum accepted a large number of model aircraft from the estate of one man, William (Bill) Buck. To house such an extensive collection was problematic. There simply wasn't enough cabinets or shelves to accomodate them all. So a new, ingenious solution had to be found. With the help of a local, on-site double glazing company a small model prototype was constructed. This consisted of a square outer case with glass sides and inside glass shelves that became smaller the higher the shelf. This proved to be a very good way of displaying and accomodating the model collection. A full scale version was made based on the original small prototype. The first two pictures show how this arrangement allows all of the models to be displayed and seen from all angles. The majority of the models in this cabinet are those made by Bill Buck.

 

Bill Buck William (Bill) Leonard Buck  

Bill was born in Hackney, East London on 27th October 1926, one of nine children, 7 sisters and 1 brother. He was always interested in aircraft as a boy, his father was an observer in the Royal Flying Corps in world war one. He visited Hendon air shows between the wars and had many memories of flying from that era including Imperial Airways at Croydon and seeing the Graf Zeppelin flying over London.

His family was evacuated to Biggleswade during world war two where he joined the local Air Training Corps. From there he volunteered for aircrew training at Duxford, now the Imperial War Museum airfield, but when it was decided near the end of the war to reduce the numbers in aircrew training he was transferred to the Army. After joining the Royal Artillery and training as a Battery Fitter he saw service in Burma at the end of the war and then in India, Greece, Palestine and Egypt before completing his service in 1948. After leaving the Army Bill became a vehicle mechanic, a job he did for the rest of his life for various companies.

Bill married Olive in 1952 and moved to Acton in West London where he started his collection of “Frog” plastic model aircraft. Despite having three children, Ian, Roger and Alison, along the way he carried on building his collection. Up to the late seventies he modeled almost anything in 1/72 scale but eventually he concentrated mostly on 1/48 American Eight Air Force and RAF subjects.

Bill was also an avid enthusiast of the American air scene in the Second World War and he amassed an enormous collection of books on this subject as well as making several trips to Duxford, where he was actively interested in the Sally B project, and other old American air bases. One of his ambitions in life was to visit the Confederate Air Force in America, this, unfortunately, he was unable to do.

After the family moved to East Grinstead in 1971 the shed in the garden built to house the collection was soon filled to overflowing so after being made redundant at 60 and the children leaving home, shelves were put up in a spare bedroom to house even more models.

This life’s work carried on almost to the end, Bill constructing models until he had to go into hospital for an illness from which he unfortunately did not recover from, passing away in July 1999.

Over the years very few people were able to experience the skills that Bill had put into his models, a few were seen in local shop windows as part of displays to commemorate Battle of Britain Day.

The models were too good to throw away, the family decided that the models should be given to somewhere that would appreciate them and to this end they have ended up at the Gatwick Aviation Museum.

The family would like to give thanks to Peter Vallance for accepting the models and displaying them in such an impressive way that we all know that Bill would have been extremely pleased with.

 
     

 

These pictures don't show all of the models that the museum has on display, to fully appreciate the range and diversity a visit is a must for all model aircraft enthusiasts.