Scale model

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A scale model of the Tower of London. It can be found inside the tower.
A scale model of the Tower of London. It can be found inside the tower.
Model ships and castle
Model ships and castle

A scale model is a representation or copy of an object that is larger or smaller than the actual size of the object being represented. Very often the scale model is smaller than the original and used as a guide to making the object in full size. Scale models are built or collected for many reasons. Engineers build scale models to test the likely performance of a particular design at an early stage of development without incurring the full expense of a full-sized prototype. Architects build architectural models models to evaluate and sell the look of a new construction before it is built. Filmmakers use scale models to replace objects objects or sets that cannot be built in full size. Salesmen use scale models to promote new products such as heavy equipment and automobiles and other vehicles. Toymakers produce a wide variety of scale models for their customers enjoyment including: die-cast models, injection molded, model railroads, remote control vehicles, wargaming and fantasy collectibles, model ships and ships in bottles.


[edit] Types of scale models

Some modelers build and collect models made from a certain medium (wood, plastic, paper, etc). Others build and collect models based on the types of object being modeled.

[edit] Model aircraft

Main article: Model aircraft
Douglas DC-3-Model aircraft
Douglas DC-3-Model aircraft

Model aircraft are divided into two main groups: static and flying models. Static model aircraft Static models aircraft are commonly built using plastic but wood, metal and paper also make nice models. Models are sold painted and assembled, painted but not assembled (snap-fit) or unpainted and not assembled. The most popular types of aircraft to model are commercial airliners and military aircraft. Fewer manufactures exist today as in the 1970s, but many of the older kits are occasional available to purchase. Aircraft can be modeled at many scales. The most popular are 1:144, 1:72, 1:48 sometimes referred to a quarter scale because a quarter inch equals one foot. 1:32 and 1:24. Many foreign models are available at more metric scales such as 1:50. The highest quality models are made from injection-molded plastic. Models made from Vacuum formed plastic are generally for the more skilled builder. More inexpensive models are made from heavy paper or card stock. Die-Cast and Snap Fit models are also very popular.

Flying model aircraft

Main article: Radio-controlled aircraft

Flying models are usually what is meant by the term aeromodelling. Most flying model aircraft can be placed in one of three groups: free flight, control line and radio controled. Some flying models are realistic representation of full-sized aircraft, while others are built with no intention of looking like piloted aircraft. Flying models are often constructed like vintage full-sized aircraft. They can be built from scratch or from kits. Some kits take many hours to put together and some kits are almost ready to fly or ready to fly

[edit] Model buildings

Main article: Building model
Model building for an HO scale railroad
Model building for an HO scale railroad

Most hobbyist who build models of buildings do so as part of a diorama to enhance their other models such as a model railroad or model war machines. As a stand-alone hobby, building models are probably most popular among enthusiasts of construction toys such as Erector, Lego and K'nex. Famous landmarks such as the Empire State Building, Big Ben and the White House are common subjects. Standard scales have not emerged in this hobby. Model railroaders use railroad scales for their buildings: HO scale (1:87), N scale (1:160), and O scale (1:43). Lego builders use miniland scale (1:20) and minifig scale (1:48) and micro scale (1:192)[1] Generally, the larger the building, the smaller the scale. Model buildings are made from plastic, foam, balsa wood or paper. Card models are published in the form of a book, and some models are manufactured like 3-D puzzles. Professionally, building models are used by architects and salesmen.

Architectural Models
Main article: Architectural model
Architecture firms usually employ model makers to make models of projects to sell their designs to builders and investors. These models are traditionally hand-made, but it can also be a computer-generated image.
House Portrait Models
Main article: Model house
Typically found in 1:50 scale and also called Model House, Model Home or Display House. This type of model is usually found in stately homes or specially designed houses. Sometimes this kind of model is commissioned to mark a special date like an anniversary or the completion of the architecture, or these models might be used by salesmen selling homes in a new neighborhood.

[edit] Model buses and trucks

1:64 scale diecast trucks
1:64 scale diecast trucks

Typically found in 1:50 scale, most manufacturers of commercial vehicles and heavy equipment will commission scale models made of diecast metal as promotional items to be given to prospective customers. These are also popular children's toys and collectibles. The major manufacturers of these items are Conrad and NZG in Germany. Corgi also makes some 1:50 models, as well as Dutch maker Tekno.

Trucks are also found as diecast models in 1:43 scale and injection molded kits (and children's toys) in 1:24 scale.

Recently some manufacturers have appeared in 1:64 scale like Code 3.

[edit] Model cars

1:24 scale diecast cars including "promo" models of Dodge Intrepid and Chevy Van
1:24 scale diecast cars including "promo" models of Dodge Intrepid and Chevy Van
Main article: Model car

Although the British scale for O gauge was first used for model cars comprised of rectilinear and circular parts, it was the origin of the European scale for cast or injection moulded model cars. MOROP's specification of 1:45 scale for European O will not alter the series of cars in 1:43 scale, as it has the widest distribution in the world.

In America, a series of cars was developed from at first cast metal and later styrene models ("promos") offered at new-car dealerships to drum up interest. The firm Monogram, and later Tamiya, first produced them in a scale derived from the Architect's scale: 1:24 scale, while the firms AMT, Jo-Han, and Revell chose the scale of 1:25. Monogram later switched to this scale after the firm was purchased by Revell. Some cars are also made in 1:32 scale, and rolling toys are often made on the scale 1:64 scale.

Model cars are also used in car design.

[edit] Model construction vehicles

A model construction vehicle (or engineering vehicle) is a scale model or Die-cast toy that represents a construction vehicle such as an excavator, crane, concrete pump, backhoe, etc.

Construction vehicle models are almost always made in 1:50 scale, particularly because the cranes at this scale are often three to four feet tall when extended and larger scales would be unsuited for display on a desk or table. These models are popular as children's toys in Germany. In the US they are commonly sold as promotional models for new construction equipment, commissioned by the manufacturer of the prototype real-world equipment. The major manufacturers in Germany are Conrad and NZG, with some competition from Chinese firms that have been entering the market.

[edit] Model railways

An N scale locomotive.
An N scale locomotive.
A propane fired 1:8 scale live steam train running on the Finnish Railway Museum's miniature track.
A propane fired 1:8 scale live steam train running on the Finnish Railway Museum's miniature track.

Model trains come in a variety of scales, from 1:8 on the large end and 1:220 on the small. Each scale has its own strengths and weaknesses, and fills a different niche in the hobby. The largest models are as much as 3 meters long, the smallest a few centimeters. The most popular size is HO scale (1:87) and second is N scale (1:160).

Model railways originally used the term "gauge", which refers to the distance between the rails, just as full-size railways do. Although railways were built to different gauges, 'standard gauge' means 4 ft 8.5inch between the inside surfaces of the rails.

Now it is more typical to refer to the scale of the model, and the term scale has replaced "gauge" in most usages. This is despite considerable confused between countries as to the definition of O scale and N scale.

The gauges for model railways were first measured in inches, but later they were standardized to metric units, even for companies which put models in traditional Architect's scale proportions on such metric tracks. A range of accepted gauges were accepted by model railroaders for each scale for convenience's sake.

Considerable confusion often arises when referring to "scale" and "gauge", especially as some misinformed individuals tend to use the words interchangeably. The word "scale" only ever refers to the proportional size of the model, the word "gauge" only ever applies to the measurement between the inside faces of the rails. To highlight this difference, consider the various gauges used in HO scale; A gauge of 16.5 mm is used to represent the "Standard Gauge" of 4' 8 1/2" (HO scale), a gauge of 12 mm is used to represent metre gauge (HOm) and the "Cape Gauge" of 3' 6" (HOn3-1/2) and a gauge of 9 mm is used to represent a prototype gauge of 2' or 680 mm. It is completely incorrect to refer to the mainstream scales as "HO gauge", "N gauge" or "Z gauge"

The most popular scale to go with a given gauge was often derived at by the following roundabout process. German artisans would take strips of metal of standard metric size to make things to blueprints whose dimensions were in inches: hence "4 mm to the foot" yields the 1:76.2 size of the "00 scale". This British scale is anomalously used on the standard H0 scale (16.5 mm gauge from 3.5 mm/foot scale) tracks, however, because early electric motors weren't available commercially in smaller sizes.

The Germans have a more developed terminology, which can explain this a bit better. Baugrösse (English: "building size") is the alphanumeric designation, which is used in place of a numeric scale ratio. It's used for scale, as in "O scale", "HO scale", or "Z scale". Maßstab (English: "measure") is the proportion, with a colon, as in the corresponding terms "1:43", "1:87.1", and "1:220". Spurweite (English: "track width") is the distance between the rails, or correspondingly "32mm", "16.5 mm", and "6.5 mm", and again gauge is used for this in English. One might add to these the old use of the term scale, of "7mm to the foot" and "3.5 mm to the foot" for the first two, while the last really isn't expressible in this manner. Early 1900s German mass-produced toys had a measured gauge from rail centre to rail centre of rolled tinplate rail, with much latitude between flange & rail.

There are three different standards for the "0" scale, each of which uses tracks of 32 mm for the standard gauge. The American version continues a dollhouse scale of 1:48. It is sometimes called "quarter-gauge", as in "one-quarter-inch to the foot". The British version continued the pattern of sub-contracting to Germans; so, at 7 mm to the foot, it works out to a scale of 1:43.5. Later, MOROP, the European authority of model railroad firms, declared that the "0" gauge (still 32 mm) must use the scale of 1:45. That is, in Europe the below-chassis dimensions have to be slightly towards 4 ft. 6 inches, to allow wheel/tyre/splasher clearance for smaller than realistic curved sections.

"Live steam" railways, that you actually ride on, are built in many scales, such as 1-1/2", 1", and 3/4" to the foot. Common gauges are 7-1/2" (Western US) and 7-1/4" (Eastern US & rest of the world), 5", 4-3/4". Smaller Live Steam gauges do exist, but as the scale gets smaller, the pulling power decreases. One of the smallest gauges on which a live steam engine can pull a passenger is the now almost defunct 2-1/2" gauge.

[edit] Model robots

Main article: Model robot

Japanese firms have marketed toys and models of what are often called mecha, nimble humanoid fighting robots. The robots which appear in animated shows are often depicted at a size between 15-20m in height, and so scales of 1:100 and 1:144 are common for these subjects, though other scales are commonly used for robots and related subjects of different size.

The most prolific manufacturer of mecha models is Bandai, whose Gundam kit lines were a strong influence in the genre in the 1980s. Even today, Gundam kits are the most numerous in the mecha modeling genre, usually with dozens of new releases every year. The features of modern Gundam kits, such as color molding and snap-fit construction, have become the standard expectations for other mecha model kits.

Due to the fantasy nature of most anime robots, and the necessary simplicity of cel-animated designs, mecha models lend themselves well to stylized work, improvisations, and simple scratchbuilds. One of Gundam's contributions to the genre was the use of a gritty wartime backstory as a part of the fantasy, and so it is almost equally fashionable to build the robots in a weathered, beaten style, as would often be expected for AFV kits as to build them in a more stylish, pristine manner.

[edit] Model rockets and spacecraft

Main article: Model rocket

Model rocket kits began as a development of model aircraft kits, yet the scale of 1:72[V.close to 4 mm.::1foot] never caught on. Scales 1:48 and 1:96 are used. There are some rockets of scales 1:128, 1:144, and 1:200, but Russian firms put their large rockets in 1:288. Heller is maintaining its idiosyncratic standard by offering some models in the scale of 1:125.

[edit] Model living creatures

Scale models of people and animals are found in a wide variety of venues, and may be either single-piece objects or kits which must be assembled, usually depending on the purpose of the model itself. For instance, models of people as well as both domestic and wild animals are often produced for display in model cities or railroads to provide a measure of detail or realism, and scaled relative to the trains, buildings, and other accessories of a certain line of models. If a line of trains or buildings does not feature models of living creatures, those who build the models will often buy these items separately from another line in the interest of featuring people or animals. In other cases, scale model lines will feature living creatures exclusively, often focusing on educational interests. Sometimes animal figurines will not adhere to a particular scale, but some companies endeavor to produce models that are as accurately scaled as possible. One of the foremost producers of such scale models is Safari, Ltd., known for such lines as the Carnegie Collection, a line of dinosaur replicas that adheres to a 1:40 scale, and the Vanishing Wild Collection, featuring mammal figures on a scale of 1:15. Another to specialize in this field is Tamiya, who produce dinosaurs in 1/35 scale.

Models of living creatures requiring assembly are not as common as single-piece units, but certainly not unheard of. One of the most prolific kinds of kits requiring assembly that feature living creatures are models of human and animal skeletons. Like their single-piece counterparts, such kits are often touted as being educational activities. Skeleton kits often have unique features such as glow-in-the-dark pieces or attachable internal organs. Again, dinosaurs are a popular subject for such models.

[edit] Model ships and naval wargaming

Pendon Museum's model of Madderport
Pendon Museum's model of Madderport
Main article: Ship model

In the first half of the twentieth century, navies used hand-made models of warships for identification and instruction in a variety of scales. That of 1:500 was called "teacher scale." Besides models made in 1:1200 and 1:2400 scales, there were also ones made to 1:2000 and 1:5000. Some, made in Britain, were labelled "1 inch to 110 feet," which would be 1:1320 scale, but aren't necessarily accurate.

Just before the Second World War, the American naval historian (and science fiction author) Fletcher Pratt published a book on naval wargaming as could be done by civilians using ship models cut off at the waterline to be moved on the floors of basketball courts and similar locales. The scale he used was non-standard (reported as 1:666), and may have been influenced by toy ships then available, but as the hobby progressed, and other rule sets came into use, it was progressively supplemented by the series 1:600, 1:1200, and 1:2400. In Britain, 1:3000 became popular and these models also have come into use in the USA. These had the advantage of approximating the nautical mile as 120 inches, 60 inches, and 30 inches, respectively. As the knot is based on this mile and a 60-minute hour, this was quite handy.

After the war, firms emerged to produce models from the same white metal used to make toy soldiers. One British firm offered a tremendously wide line of merchant ships and dockyard equipment in the scale 1:1200. In the US, at least one manufacturer, of the wartime 1:1200 recognition models, Comet, made them available for the civilian market postwar, which also drove the change to this scale. In addition, continental European manufacturers and European ship book publishers had adopted the 1:1250 drawing scale because of its similar convenience in size for both models and comparison drawings in books.

A prestige scale for boats, comparable to that of 1:32 for fighter planes, is 1:72, producing huge models, but there are very few kits marketed in this scale. For the smaller ships, plank-on-frame or other wood construction kits are offered in the traditional shipyard scales of 1:96, 1:108, or 1:192 (half of 1:96). In injection-molded plastic kits, Airfix makes full-hull models in the scale which the Royal Navy has used to compare the relative sizes of ships: 1:600. Revell makes some kits to half the scale of the US Army standard: 1:570. Some American and foreign firms have made models in a proportion from the Engineer's scale: "one-sixtieth-of-an-inch-to-the-foot", or 1:720.

But the continental Europeans have an on-going project of getting rid of all conversions and measurements which they consider non-standard. As they saw how four Japanese model-making firms (Tamiya, Hasegawa, Aoshima, and Fujimi) formed a cartel to apportion out the project of putting out waterline kits of the whole fleet of Japanese warships of the Second World War on the market in a proportion that no firm from any other country did - 1:700, the Europeans are attempting to have the scale of 1:400 standardized for full-hull model ships, even though some Japanese firms have produced larger ships in the luxury scale of 1:350. On the other hand, the rise of the resin kit industry in the 1990s led to the introduction of companies around the world producing kits in the 1:350 and 1:700 scales to match pre-existing injection molded kits, creating in limited production a large variety of kitsof subjects which traditional injection-molding makers have not invested resources to produce, due to the expense of creating a large injection mold. In scales more conducive to wargaming, continental Europeans have long marketed waterline kits in the scales 1:1250 and more recently 1:2500 to supplement the British and American lines. The Chinese are joining them. Such trends toward standardization has not affected the Japanese firm Nichimo, which still produces fit-in-the-box sizes from old molds, and 1:450 size models.

[edit] Model tanks and wargaming

American Civil War miniature battle at the HMGS "Cold Wars" convention in Lancaster, PA
American Civil War miniature battle at the HMGS "Cold Wars" convention in Lancaster, PA
Main article: Miniature wargaming

Just before the twentieth century, the British historian (and science fiction author and forgotten mainstream novelist) H. G. Wells published a book, Little Wars, on how to play at battles in miniature. His books use 54 mm lead figures, particularly those manufactured by Britains. His fighting system employed spring-loaded model guns which shot matchsticks.

This use of physical mechanisms was echoed in the later games of Fred Jane, whose rules required throwing darts at ship silhouettes; his collection of data on the world's fleets was later published and became renowned. Dice have largely replaced this toy mayhem for consumers.

For over a century, toy soldiers were made of white metal, a lead-based alloy, often in architect's scale-based ratios in the English-speaking countries, and called tin soldiers. After the Second World War, such toys were on the market for children but now made of a safe plastic softer than styrene. American children called these "army men". Many sets were made in the new scale of 1:40. A few styrene model kits of land equipment were offered in this and in 1:48 and 1:32 scales. However, these were swept away by the number of kits in the scale of 1:35.

Those who continued to develop miniature wargaming preferred smaller scale models, the soldiers still made of soft plastic. Airfix particularly wanted people to buy 1:76 scale soldiers and tanks to go with "00" gauge train equipment. Roco offered 1:87 scale styrene military vehicles to go with "H0" gauge model houses. However, although there isn't any 1:72 scale model railroad, more toy soldiers are now offered in this scale because it is the same as the popular aircraft scale. The number of fighting vehicles in this scale is also increasing, although the number of auxiliary vehicles available is far fewer than in 1:87 scale.

A more recent development, especially in wargaming of land battles is 15 mm white metal miniatures, often referred to as 1:100, though this is not a correct conversion of scale. 15 mm scale actually is very close to railroad TT scale or 1:120. The use of 15 mm scale metals has grown quickly since the early 1990s as they allow a more affordable option over 28 mm if large battles are to be refought, or a large number of vehicles represented. The rapid rise in the detail and quality of castings at 15 mm scale has also helped to fuel their uptake by the wargaming community.

Armies use smaller scales still. The US Army specifies models of the scale 1:285 for its sand table wargaming. There are metal ground vehicles and helicopters in this scale, which is a near-rationalization of a notion of "one-quarter-inch-to-six-feet". The continental powers of NATO have developed the similar scale of 1:300, even though metric standardizers really don't like any divisors other than factors of 10, 5, and 2, so maps are not commonly offered in Europe in scales with a "3" in the denominator.

Consumer wargaming has since expanded into fantasy realms, employing scales large enough to be painted in imaginative detail - so called "heroic" 28 mm figures, (roughly 1:64, or S scale). Firms which produce these do so in so small production lots that they are necessarily made of white metal. One successful company in this field is British firm Games Workshop, which offers plastic war machines and soldier for its Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer Fantasy. Following the cinematic release of The Lord of the Rings, a third miniature-based gaming line was created.

[edit] History of the scales

[edit] Before the plastic model kit industry

Hobbyists' scale models derive from those used by the firms which made the full-sized products. Originally, a "scale" was a physical measuring instrument, a notion which survives as concerns weight. First among scales are the rulers that are triangular in cross-section and called architect's scales or engineer's scales. The terminology used was of this manner: "scale size to full size", or the reverse. An architect's scale was used to make the first affordable models: doll houses and their furniture. Its popular scales for these miniatures were "one inch to the foot" and "one-half inch to the foot"; there is also "three-quarters inch to the foot".

The proportion of the model to the prototype was originally called "size", as in "full-sized" or "half-sized", as used on a blueprint for making something that would fit on a workbench.

Shipyards were the first to use the scales to make models of things larger than a house. The scales they used were expressed in a different manner: "one-foot-to-the-inch" through "six-feet-to-the-inch" were common. During the Second World War, battleship models were made "eight-foot-to-the-inch", in the later phrasing, "one-eighth-inch to the foot"; you will find these models used for training workers in maritime museums. The model ship would be referred to as "one-ninety-sixth size", or "1/96th", but rarely, as there were few scales commonly used; it couldn't possibly be "1/98th scale", for example.

There were also rotary instruments in which one would line up marks on two dials to be able to translate measurements from units on the prototype to units on the model. After the production of kits to make plastic models became an industry, there were developed rulers marked in the model units and which are called scales.

[edit] Comparing scales

Phrases used are those of "larger" and "smaller" scales. The scale of 1/8"-to-the-foot is a larger scale than 1/16"-to-the-foot, even though the denominator is smaller. So a larger model is made to a larger scale. You can remember this in that a full-size, or full-scale, model is larger than a half-size model.

[edit] Origins of the plastic model kit

For aircraft recognition in the Second World War, the RAF selected making models to the scale of "one-sixth inch to the foot" (which was two British lines, a legal division of length which didn't make it to America, besides being a standard shipyard scale). Although some consumer models were sold pre-war in Britain to this scale, the airmens' models were pressed out of ground-up old rubber tires. This is of course the still-popular "one-seventy-second size".

It wasn't predestined to succeed; there were competitors. The US Navy, in contrast, had metal models made to the proportion 1:432, which is "nine-feet-to-the-quarter-inch". At this scale, a model six feet away looked as the prototype would at about half a statute mile; and at seven feet, at about half a nautical mile.

After the war, firms that moulded models from polystyrene entered the consumer marketplace, the American firm Revell notably offering a model of the Royal Coach around the time of the 1953 coronation. In the early years, firms offered models of aircraft and ships in "fit-the-box" size. A box that would make an impressive gift was specified, and a mould was crafted to make a model that wouldn't ludicrously slide around inside. Modellers could not compare models, nor switch parts from one kit to another. It was the British firm Airfix that brought the idea of the constant scale to the marketplace, and they picked the RAF's scale.

In the 1960s, the company Monogram offered an aircraft actually labeled as ¼" scale, which may have been a common contraction in factories. They meant "one-quarter-inch to the foot", or "one-forty-eighth size". Shortly thereafter, hobbyists lost the ability to distinguish the two, and now the proportion is referred to as scale.

[edit] Terminology

The terms and the means of writing them down have changed, and for model kits they are now standardized for the European Union. In English-speaking countries, such terms as "1/72" were used, but the format with a colon as "1:72" is often preferred. The slash format is usually avoided with decimal fractions: "1/76.2" is usually not used; it's "1:76.2" instead. That hybrid OO gauge can also be expressed by explicitly using a mixed system of units as "4 mm:1 ft" or "1 mm:3 in", but the dimensionless form makes comparison with other scales easier.

[edit] Rational choice of scales

Freedom Plaza is a scale model depicting the layout of the Federal Triangle and part of the National Mall, Washington, DC; the diagonal slash across the layout depicts Pennsylvania Avenue
Freedom Plaza is a scale model depicting the layout of the Federal Triangle and part of the National Mall, Washington, DC; the diagonal slash across the layout depicts Pennsylvania Avenue
A 1:5000 model of the entire Singapore City is found in the URA Gallery Museum
A 1:5000 model of the entire Singapore City is found in the URA Gallery Museum

The nominal height of a man is simple in the inch-based system: six feet. Many traditional scales are derived so that a figure of such a height against the model can be readily imagined as a simple relation to an inch. Although the metric system has specified a limited series of scales for blueprints and maps, when it comes to models, there may be a problem with these scales for a readily imagined person of 180 centimetres. Model railways have the additional difficulty of having to present the rail gauge as a simple number, the height of a person being secondary. Trade authorities in metric countries are attempting to specify scales that are simple mulitiples of 2 and 5, but neither tracks nor people seem to fit. In such cases, rationalization may actually be invoked for competitive advantage, to prevent interoperability with products from another manufacturing country.

On the other hand, wargaming scales have traditionally been traced to metric system, where the number of millimetres relate to the relative height of the human figure based on 180 cm standard man. Therefore 25 mm scale (popular in historical and fantasy wargaming) refers to 1:72 scale, whilst the 15 mm scale (nowadays the most popular scale in ancient, medieval and Renaissance wargaming) refers to 1:120 scale (Many manufacturers refer to 15 mm as 1:100 scale). Likewise, 50 mm scale is the same as 1:35 military model scale, and 5 mm equals 1:350 naval scale.

[edit] Miniatures in Contemporary Art

Miniatures and model kits are also evidenced in contemporary art whereby artists use both scratch built miniaturisations or commercially manufactured model kits to construct a dialogue between object and viewer. The role of the artist in this type of miniature is not necessarily to re-create an historical event or achieve naturalist realism, but rather to use scale as a mode of articulation in generating conceptual or theoretical exploration. Political, conceptual, and architectural examples are provided by noted artists such as Jake and Dinos Chapman (otherwise known as the Chapman Brothers), Ricky Swallow, John Timberlake, and Shaun Wilson.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

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