Off the Beaten Path: Master Military Modeler | VideoCliff Naylor | 7/22/2012
"It`s taught me patience and it also relaxes me a little bit, just as if somebody was writing or painting."
To master the hobby, he says you need discipline to follow directions. Being a bit of an artist helps to realistically paint a model, and problem solving skills come in handy when fitting and gluing hundreds of tiny pieces of plastic together.
Neff specializes in building tanks, American, British, Russian and German. Most of his models are 1/35th scale, and he does historical research on every kit he completes.
"This is called a Panzer One, this is typical of the tank that invaded Poland in 1939, in June, which started World War II. And this is what they call the King Tiger. This is approximately 70 tons and it`s about seven to eight times bigger and heavier than this one."
Neff says the German army perfected tank warfare during the second World War, and the King Tiger became the most feared armored weapon on the battlefield. The tank had an 88mm gun that could hit a target two and a half miles away. Only 1,200 of the elite assault vehicles were manufactured and Neff traveled all the way to Fort Knox, Kentucky, to see one of the five remaining King Tigers that survived the war.
If you travel out to his farm, you can see a couple of pieces of authentic American artillery.
"I`m standing next to a 155mm howitzer gun, which is the real thing and the model I`m holding is a model of it, which is 1/35th scale."
A 1944 American armored landing craft that`s been restored to running condition is the prized piece in Neff`s collection.
"This is the type of craft that would be used to land troops in the Pacific theater, like at Guadalcanal or Okinawa."
Someday Neff hopes to donate all his small scale models and authentic weapons of war to a veterans museum, to honor the men who used the armaments he skillfully duplicates.
A few years ago, Neff drove his landing craft from Williston to Minot traveling at 12 miles per hour so he could join in the North Dakota State Fair Parade.