The new Hawker Hurricane and more!
Welcome to the second edition of Die-cast Diaries, our regular insight into everything we have going on at Corgi. Our inaugural issue was launched as a number of our team were attending the Royal International Air Tattoo and included details of a very special model indeed – Eurofighter Typhoon AA36407. It is always nice to meet our collectors in person and judging by the number of people who dropped by to see the hand decorated sample of the camouflaged Typhoon FGR.4 we had on display at RIAT, this is one model that you have been hoping we would add to our catalogue.
Hand decorated sample of AA36407 on the wing of a Hurricane
Without doubt, RAF Eurofighter Typhoon ZK349 has been one of the aviation highlights of the 2015 Airshow season and looks absolutely stunning in its 1940s style camouflage finish. Decorated specifically to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, ZK349 has been thrilling spectators all summer, with its high energy display routine and undeniable good looks. We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to photograph our hand decorated sample model in front of the real aircraft at RIAT 2015 and as luck would have it, we were to be even more fortunate. This year's Typhoon display pilot, Flight Lieutenant Jonny Dowen, had just completed his display and returned to the hardstanding whilst we were in the vicinity. Corgi Development Manager Amber Harris was lucky enough to have the opportunity to meet Flt. Lt. Dowen and show him our latest Typhoon offering – I wonder if he will have one on his desk at Coningsby?
Flt. Lt. Jonny Dowen is introduced to the new Corgi Typhoon
It will come as no surprise to you that pre-order numbers for the new camouflaged Typhoon have been ‘healthy’, to say the least, as this is clearly one model that many people intend to add to their collections. With very few models still unallocated, please reserve your model to ensure that you do not miss out on this very special piece. The scheduled release date for this model is December 2015, so there is not too long to wait now!
New Corgi Hurricane Tooling for 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain
Early Hawker Hurricane Mk.I R4118 displaying at East Kirkby
One of the first models to be released in the 1/72nd scale Aviation Archive range was the classic Hawker Hurricane, and this model has long been a favourite with the die-cast aviation collector. With a large number of previous releases in the series, many collectors will have at least one example of this model in their collections – this really is one of the models that established the credentials of the Aviation Archive range.
Unfortunately, the success of this model has resulted in the tooling becoming a little worn and generally showing its age - hence the difficult decision taken to relegate the model from the main range. This obviously resulted in another quandary for the Corgi team – should they let the Hurricane disappear from the range altogether, or should they use current manufacturing processes to produce a much better model? Thankfully, the decision was taken to bring the Hawker Hurricane Mk.I up to current manufacturing standards and allow this classic WWII fighter to retain its place in the Aviation Archive range. This decision would surely been made easier in the knowledge that 2015 would see Britain marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and there simply had to be an example of the Hurricane in the range for this commemoration. Let’s take a closer look at the development of this new Hurricane model.
The New Hawker Hurricane Mk.I – Only the best will do!
Cutaway artwork of the classic Hawker Hurricane Mk.I
At the start of this project, the Corgi team were determined to produce the best example of the Hawker Hurricane that they possibly could and even though there was existing tooling in place, this would be a totally new model which was essentially started from scratch. With access to significantly improved development technology, the team started from the ground up with this model as it had to be a significant improvement on the original Hurricane model. As work on the original Hurricane tooling would have started way back in the late 1990s, a totally new research file would have to be opened for this new project, as new manufacturing technologies would require a greater level of detail to be incorporated.
Hawker Hurricane P2617 at the RAF Museum, Hendon
As one of the most important aircraft of WWII there is no shortage of information available on the Hurricane, but from a model production perspective it is critical that the accuracy of this information to be as robust as possible in the first place. Thankfully, as well as technical drawing and cutaway plans, there are also a number of restored Hawker Hurricanes in the UK at the present time which can be inspected for additional references, if and when required. With many UK museums now boasting an example of the Hurricane amongst their collections, we are also extremely fortunate to have more airworthy aircraft flying in Britain than we have seen for a great many years. The popularity of the Hawker Hurricane amongst aviation enthusiasts is without question and the Corgi design team were determined to produce a model to be proud of.
The New Corgi Hurricane – Making the great small
A collection of Hurricane Mk.I CAD screen images
Perhaps the most important stage of any new model project is having the ability to transfer all the reference material that you have managed to gather into a digital format. So much of the development work is now done on the computer that success at this stage really is the key to the entire project. Scanned data and technical drawings are loaded into a base model Computer-Aided Design (CAD) package, which will produce a three-dimensional data version of the information. Once the design engineers have access to these files, they have an extremely flexible tool which will allow them to assess, alter and perfect every aspect of the new model's design.
Black Beauty – the CAD files are highly flexible and allow individual components to be highlighted
Once the design team are happy with the digital model files, they will be sent to our manufacturing facilities in the Far East so that a product costing can be obtained. Even though much work has already been completed by this stage, the project may still be in danger of not proceeding any further if the costings do not come within budget. As soon as these figures have been agreed and the financial controllers at Corgi are happy, the model can begin to take shape, even though there is still much work to be done.
As you can see from the pictures above, the 3D CAD images on screen are extremely accurate representations of the subject aircraft and are of real interest to anyone connected with this hobby. These files are now used to create a 3D stereo mock up of the new model, which is where things really begin to take shape. Experienced collectors of the Aviation Archive range will know that not every new model in each Corgi catalogue is a new tooling, some are re-liveried examples of existing toolings. In these cases, the development team will already have access to a metal sample model which will be stripped and hand decorated to represent the latest incarnation of the model. This is obviously a much more cost effective procedure than going to the expense of producing resin samples, but in the case of a totally new tooling, the design team have no option and a resin model has to be commissioned.
A resin sample model of the new 1/72nd scale Hurricane
The resin Hurricane sample next to a grey painted ‘First Shots’ model
Once in receipt of the 3D resin stereo sample, the design team can check all aspects of the new model's construction, paying particular attention to the scale dimensions of the overall model and its component parts. As you can see from the image above, the resin sample is really accurate and even includes delicate panel line detail. The Hurricane project began many months ago and the resin sample has started to yellow, due to its age – this certainly does not detract from its important position in the new model production process and its inclusion in this feature.
From resin to metal – the Hurricane gets ready for take off!
The next phase of the development process is very much a Far Eastern affair, as the information gathered to this point is passed to the tool making engineers in China. They have to incorporate all the model components and surface detail into the huge steel tooling blocks, which will be used to make the new Hurricane model. These extremely heavy blocks of steel, which need a team of men and a block and tackle to lift them, look like nothing more than rusting metal cubes from the outside, but reveal beautifully milled and highly intricate metalwork once opened. Any die-cast collector will easily be able to confirm the identity of the model if given the opportunity to inspect the opened tooling block – these really are fascinating pieces of engineering expertise.
First Shots model from the new Hurricane tool, with the Vokes filter fitted
Back at Corgi HQ, the design team will be waiting with bated breath for the arrival of the first metal sample from their new tooling. It is highly likely that a large amount of work will still need to be done once this sample arrives, but the project cannot advance any further until the first metal shot has been produced from the new tooling block. Once they have the sample in their possession,the design team subject it to thorough inspection and a list of alterations and improvements will be compiled and sent back to the engineers in China.
Plan view of the new Hurricane, including the additional parts sprue
Even at this early stage, the new Hurricane is looking impressive
The interesting pictures included here show the first shots model from the new Hurricane Mk.I tooling and some of the improvement issues that faced the development team. One of the pre-production models is painted with a light coloured overspray, so that it is easier to see any defects in the model fit and the appearance of surface detail more clearly. This is a critical stage in the development process, as any defects, alterations and general fitting issues must be addressed at this stage and the engineers in China will more than likely have a number of alterations to make to the master tool.
Of great interest to the Corgi collector, one of the above images also shows the accessory parts sprue and the optional extras that have been included in the new Hurricane model. You can clearly see that there are two propeller options, with both the Hamilton Standard and Rotol units being modelled, alternate spinner options, a choice of aerials and a Vokes sand filter included. All these alternate parts have to be planned, individually modelled, tested and tooled at the same time as the main model, to allow the new model to have as many release options as possible for the Aviation Archive collector.
Once the team are happy with the quality of the metal tool, the next stage will be to decorate it in the livery selected for the initial release. Once the livery has been designed and approved, the flat decoration artwork is sent over to the factory for them to produce an actual decorated sample.
The decoration work for the first release will have been started as soon as the model files were released for tooling – indeed, it is usual that the team will have already researched several liveries for future use on their new model. While the model is still going through further development, the CAD model with the decoration scheme applied will be converted into a 3D render and used for catalogue and general marketing purposes, even though the team may still intend to make some modifications to it before the model is released – remember, we are still in the pre-production stage here! This allows the development and production of catalogues and other materials to proceed without delaying the development process of the actual model.
Decoration guide for the first Hurricane release
Particularly in the case of wartime aircraft, some of the colour references available are ‘open to interpretation’, and with the passage of time this only becomes more problematic. Once you have decided on the correct colour shade, the most pressing potential problem is having the production team in China using exactly the same paint colour and decal references that you have exhaustively researched in the UK.
As this work is proceeding apace, the factory will be busy working on producing a final model sample, which will include all painting, certificate and packaging work – this may involve a number of separate factories. Once a final sample is received at Corgi HQ, it is again thoroughly inspected and every aspect of the new model is assessed. This stage can be the most frustrating for the Corgi team, as sometimes quite small issues can delay the release of a new model, as the factory have to make changes to the tooling and possibly the presentation, before sending another sample model to the UK.
The First Shot model is hand decorated before the project advances any further
Once everybody is happy and the model is looking just like the Corgi team had envisaged all those months ago when they started the project, the model is released for production. Then all they have to do is hope that what they are happy with on a desk in Kent, is produced exactly the same at a factory half way around the world!
As we publish our latest edition of Die-cast Diaries, we are pleased to tell you that the first release of the brand new Hawker Hurricane Mk.I tooling has been released and is in the shops now. Timed beautifully to coincide with the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain commemorations, the new model is a real success for the Corgi team and really does propel the 1/72nd scale Hurricane to new levels of detail in die-cast metal. The first release has been produced in the following livery:
Hawker Hurricane Mk.I
V7434 / DZ-R
Pilot Officer Irving Smith
RAF No.151 Squadron
Hawker Hurricane AA27601
P.O Irving Smith was one of ‘The Few’, who enjoyed significant combat successes against the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain. He went on to serve as a night-fighter pilot, where he again managed to score victories against the enemy. As his service career progressed, he was possibly best known for his exceptional capabilities as a low level, precision bombing expert, flying the magnificent de Havilland Mosquito. He took part in the famous ‘Operation Jericho’, where low flying Mosquitos attacked the Gestapo jail at Amiens. Surviving the war, Smith died in February 2000, aged 82.
Have you already got your new Hawker Hurricane? You may like to submit your own pictures of the new Hurricane and possibly win yourself £100 in the process – at the foot of each product page on the Corgi website, you now have the ability to upload your model pictures in the new Customer Images section. It would be great to know what you think about the return of this classic aircraft to the Aviation Archive line-up.
What’s on the desk?
In this popular section of the Die-cast Diaries blog, we bring you images of samples that have just arrived on the desks of the Corgi development team and are therefore a step closer to being released. As we have been predominantly talking about aeroplanes this week, let’s retain the aviation theme with news of the latest Aviation Archive arrival.
AA37807 Pre-production sample model of the Goering Albatrod D.Va
AA37807 - Albatros D.Va as flown by Ltn. Hermann Goering. The 1/48th scale range of WWI fighter aircraft has long been a favourite of the Aviation Archive collector and this latest release is one of the very best. With a release date scheduled for later this year, the arrival of this pre-production sample shows that it is nicely on track.
OM46309 East Midland Transport Routemaster Bus
OM46309 – East Midland Routemaster bus. This latest edition to the Original Omnibus range has arrived at HQ as a final product sample and is therefore on the verge of being released. There really is something quite special about these classic buses!
VA11009 – Ford Escort Mk.3 RS1600i in Diamond White
VA11009 – Ford Escort Mk.3 RS1600i in Diamond White. Again arriving as a final product sample, this striking Mk.3 Escort was the subject of a televised restoration and will be high on the wants list of many Vanguards collectors.
OM46612 New Routemaster, 8 Bow Church, Remembrance Sunday 2014
OM46612 – New Routemaster, 8 Bow Church, Remembrance Sunday 2014. Although we featured this model in the previous edition of Die-cast Diaries, there have been quite a number of update requests from collectors over the past few weeks. The wait is almost over – again, the final product sample has been received and it will be in the shops very soon.
We hope that you have enjoyed this spotlight on how the new 1/72nd scale Hawker Hurricane model project developed, and if you have already added one to your collection please let us know what you think. As this feature continues to develop, we hope to bring you much more from the world of Corgi in the weeks to come.
Is there something that you would like to see covered in future editions? Discuss this week's blog on the new Die-Cast Diaries forum, or drop us a line through Facebook or Twitter using #CorgiDiecastDiaries.
Until the next edition of Die-cast Diaries, enjoy your collecting!
The Corgi Team
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