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Sopwith Cuckoo T1 MkII






If you build and fly just for the fun of it, using kits or plans, and have no intention of competing then documentation is probably unnecessary and that's fine. This group represents the vast majority of scale modellers. This is how I started. After a while I needed more stimulation and so I embarked on the competition circuit.
This is altogether a different story.




Why does one need good documentation?


There are 3 main reasons.

1. Information is needed to produce a realistic model to what ever degree is required.


2. If competing one needs irrefutable evidence to prove, in the static section of the competition, that your model is accurate and realistic in appearance.


3. To help the judges to sort out what points a model should be awarded and maximise your score. If documentation is poorly presented, inadequate, or just not there for any particular static judging section your model will be marked down or not be marked at all.

A friend of mine has a saying he often uses and it is very relevant to us. "To trust is good but to check is better"
Photographs are, most of the time, reliable but check anyway. Drawings and 3-views must be considered suspect until proven otherwise. Take nothing for granted.

I always assemble my documentation before making the model. If you want to be competitive there is no point doing it the other way round. If you have drawings enlarged check the drawings carefully for distortion. A 1mm error on the original can be magnified to a shed-load.


The investigation and gathering of information for any particular aircraft has it's own reward and satisfaction and is well worth while.

If you are not sure about this aspect of competition, I am sure that if you attend a comp' or meeting you will find the answers to your questions from the other competitors. We are a very friendly bunch despite the banter and sarcasm. You can also email me with an enquiry.

With today's technologies and the abundant amount of literature available there is little excuse for poor documents.

It is rarely the case that the minimum requirements within the rules are sufficient to get good marks for your model. The reverse is also the case, and too much can be very confusing for the judges and lead to misunderstandings and hence the model does not gain the correct marks.

Ensure that your documentation is clear and precise. No dross, irrelevant text, pictures and "post-it tags in books.

There are a few schools of thought about how to present documentation but this is how I, and many others, do it.
The documentation I want to present, or copies of it, are temporarily put on a board BEFORE BUILDING THE MODEL. The model is then built to the documentation. When the model is finished the original documentation is adhered to a cardboard sheet, that is easily viewed and handled, in the most logical pattern as is possible. i.e. Side, front and plan views etc following the score sheet items.
Each scoring category can be presented on one sheet so that the judges are only studying the relevant information for that section.

Static judging can be very frustrating for the judges if the correct documentation is not presented.

PLEASE READ THE RULES and ensure that you have at least the minimum requirements. Any less than this and you risk serious down marking.

Please don't blame the judges for short comings on your part. They have to abide by the rules too.


Documentation and Presentation Guide


Read the Rules and make sure you are aware of updates that go into the current rules each year. (Marked with a side bar) There is no point relying on the rules for previous years. Update your Declaration and Documents appropriately each year.

You will find the current version of the BMFA Scale Rule Book by using the following pathway: from the STC website at
Click on, “documents”, from the drop-down menu select, “BMFA Rule books”, then scroll down the list to open the current PDF version of the “BMFA Scale Rule Book”

A BMFA Members Handbook and a Scale Judges Handbook is also available. I would recommend you read both. The Judges Handbook gives a very informative perspective from the judge’s point of view. Again, it is downloadable from the BMFA STC website.

This guide is provided to help potential and newer competitors as well as old campaigners alike, to check documentation is complete, within the rules, and able to maximise the potential static score of the model.

We all have our preferences on how evidence is presented in the documentation. This is my view as a competitor and judge.

The minimum requirement within the rules will not maximize your score.

This guide applies to the classes that are static judged to rule 6.1.2 of the BMFA Scale Rule Book.  The criteria for other classes, Stand-off, Intermediate, Kit, Peanut, Pistachio, are less stringent and may differ but the suggestions that are offered here still apply. Check the rules.


A current Declaration must be included with the documentation. It is the responsibility of the competitor to provide this. The Declaration can be down loaded from the STC website.




























Declaration adhered to back of Three View prevents one forgetting it, unless you leave the whole lot at home. Present Declaration in a separate envelope if you wish. The hole at the bottom right is for a ribbon to tie all the sheets together. This is removed for judging.

BMFA Scale Rule states that models that are judged with a static element will not be static judged without a declaration.


Evidence of Scale Accuracy

This must be in the form of photographs or printed reproductions and drawings of the full-size aircraft which must be the same type and mark number as the actual subject aircraft being modelled. Both photographs and drawings are used for the static assessment.


  1. Photographs and Printed Reproductions.

Three or more photos, one of which must be the subject modelled. (Check class rules) It is unlikely that just three photos will be enough to score well.

Subject image on the photo must be a minimum of 150mm in the main three view photos. 150mm does not refer to the overall size of the photo.
If a good, square on, view of the subject is not available, present a photo of another of the same type and mark, detailing any differences, plus the best subject’s photo you have as evidence. Identify clearly on the photo if it is not the subject modelled and any differences noted between the two.

Main photos of each view should be a similar size to the scale drawing for comparison.
Photos should be clear with a minimum of shadow, background items and clutter as possible. The outline should be clear and not camouflaged.
Please avoid gloss photos. I h
ave found that photos printed on good quality letter paper, 100 to 120 g/m2 work very well and remain matt. Good for judging.


Rans S7 Courier

























The day I took these photos it was rainy misty day. Far from ideal photographically but photos are without harsh shadows. The photos appear better “in the flesh” than they do here. There are discrepancies between the scale drawing and the photos. Highlighted with red ink. (Rudder and fuselage spine)

American Liberty powered DH4 m2 ("Pony Express" in the air)

















































A square-on upper plan view photo I have not found, and so I have presented enough photos at various angles with the scale drawing to enable the judges to evaluate the model.



















Scale Drawings

Accurate published or certified three (minimum) view scale drawings with a statement of publisher /draftsman or appropriate validation from the manufacturer, for example, or the Scale Technical Committee if not obvious.

Minimum 250mm wingspan or fuselage length, whichever is longer. (150mm for indoor and free flight)

Five view scale drawing would be better, both sides, front, plan top and plan underside. The underside view is not judged as a main view but may assist for markings.

Try to avoid a spit 50/50 plan view of top and bottom if possible. This can be confusing.
Present the original scale drawing as well as a dissected one from your scale drawing for each view.
Differences between three view and photos of the subject modelled should be identified for the judge’s attention in red on the scale drawing.



























A scale drawing validation service is available from the Scale Technical Committee. Go to

This service provides a system that enables a scale model builder to establish the accuracy of a three-view scale drawing. The drawing, once it meets the required accuracy, is given a stamp that enables the drawing to be used in competitions that have a static element.

The drawing submitted may be of one’s own design or a modified existing drawing that is not considered accurate enough.
To make use of this service one needs to submit the three-view drawing with sufficient evidence to enable the validator to establish its accuracy in each view. This is usually in the form of photographs or reproductions from published literature plus any relevant information that will help. Send only that which is relevant. For example, no post-it marked books or magazines. The process may take some time and more than one submission is usual before the drawing will be validated.


A three-view drawing for a scale project, a Parnall Elf mark II, was required. Published drawings for a mark I are available but not the mark II. These mark I drawings had to be modified to suit. Having made many adjustments, The documents and photos were sent to the STC for validation. After a while they were returned with the errors marked in red.


There are quite a lot of errors, most minor, but all needed to be dealt with. The second draft will be amended and sent back for approval or not as the case may be. Persevere until you have an accurate validated drawing to build from and submit for static judging.



























Proof of colour.
Photos, certified colour chips, published colour drawings, published description and certified written descriptions are acceptable.

Colour photos can be notoriously variable. If this is the case with your documentation, select the best colour match of the subject modelled and label the photo, Use for Colour.

Proof of markings.
Photos of both sides, front, top and underside. A rear view may be helpful.


Proof of texture.
Close up photos of each surface type. E.g., Metal, wood, fabric etc.



Photos provided should prove this.

For indoor r/c and all free flight models the Texture and Realism are one criteria owing to the smaller scales. (K factors are added together)



















Scale detail.
Provide close up photos of subject details as evidence of work done.

Craftmanship and Complexity.
Comparison to the subject modelled may be more subjective as opposed to evidence for other criteria.


Fit a static propeller.
More points are lost without a scale propeller, particularly in the smaller scale classes, than any other omission.
It substantially reduces your score in all three views and all the other criteria.
For FF rubber powered classes the flying propeller / noseblock assembly must be presented for static judging. (See class rules)












Presentation of Documents.

Present each criteria on a separate board (not flexible), size A4 to A2, Please no bigger, as the judges have to hold the boards in front of themselves to evaluate the model and still be able to see the model. There is no point having a barrier between judge and model and this makes for awkward evaluation.

One for each judge may be convenient for BMFA competitions, and obligatory for International FAI sanctioned competitions.


A neutral medium grey may be considered a better background colour than white. (Less glare)


Avoid plastic coverings and sleeves as well as gloss photos. Reflected light and shiny surfaces, makes for awkward judging. Please make documentation sheets removable from the sleeves for static judging.


Make the job easy for the judges and keep them in a positive frame of mind about your model, declaration, documentation and craftsmanship. They are only human.

Without sufficient evidence you will not be awarded your potential marks no matter how good the model is.

Think of it as going into a court of law with irrefutable evidence to substantiate your case.


An alternative presentation and suggestions from Charlie Newman

Firstly, do not be scared of documentation. It can be as much fun doing the documentation as building the model and can be just as satisfying when you get that last piece of the puzzle that has eluded you for some time.


Secondly, I cannot stress highly enough how important the presentation is.  The static judges have possibly travelled some distance at their own expense, to spend the whole day sat on a hard chair, maybe in a gloomy, cold hall, with 25 entries to judge. The feelings that are generated by good easy to follow docs and the cobbled together “postit note” special, could not be put down in print sometimes. Put yourselves in their position and do not make it a chore to judge your entry.


Thirdly, when entering a new model, don’t just ask for the judge’s comments on it, ask for their views on the documentations too.


Fourth, most important, do the documentation BEFORE the model. You can always embellish them later but if you ensure that you have got the baseline requirements covered, only then start cutting wood. I have had along bucket list for years, which I quietly work on over time. When a new book comes out or a magazine publishes that final bit in the jigsaw and the subject can go ‘live’.


Finally, spend some time putting your documentation together. There is no definitive way of doing this. It comes down to the individual.

I prefer to use a booklet format, the pages being coloured board to compliment the model, comb bound so that they may be folded right back on themselves and I prepare one set per judge, two sets for domestic events and three sets for internationals.


To illustrate my points, below are a two photos of document sets. One for the common SE5a, the other for the much more obscure RWD13.
Note how the comb binding permits the pages to be folded back on themselves, allowing them to stand up on the judge’s lap. The SE5a set includes an additional item that was added after completion – colour swatches. This was done after a poor score for colour when the model was painted with paint out of the same cans as the full-size!”




































Please note. Nothing glossy or reflective going on here.


Evah uoy daer eht tnerruc selur tey?

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