Supermodel Fortress

For me, every novel begins with the germ of an idea – a single thought which, if it's a good one, grows and ramifies. For my novel Burning Blue the germ was the idea of someone creating a really large-scale model of a B-17 Flying Fortress. At that point I had no conception of the huge, multi-layered war story and conspiracy thriller that would eventually grow from it; I just experienced a nerdy fascination with the idea of a monster model.

Knowing little about R/C modelling, I just made it up as I went along.


The elegant wing and tail of B-17 "Sally B" frame a visiting DC-3 at IWM Duxford. The "Sally B" was a vital source of inspiration in getting a feel for the character and presence of a B-17 when I was writing Burning Blue (photo © Jeremy Dronfield)

Having approached it in that spirit, I worried that I might have gone over the top. In the book, Martin's model is 1:10 scale, giving it a huge (or so I thought at the time) wingspan of about 10 feet. There wasn't YouTube in those days; I didn't even have an internet connection in 1995–6 (when I first began writing the early version of the novel).

And so, now I discover that Martin's 1:10 model, had it been real, would have been a mere minnow in the world of aviation modelling. A fellow in Austria has created a flying B-17 with an astonishing wingspan of nineteen feet. That's nearly twice the span of Martin's.

© Jeremy Dronfield 2017