An intentionally unloved motoring classic advances
Welcome to this latest edition of Corgi Diecast Diaries and your regular look at all the news, updates and stories from the fascinating world of Corgi die-cast model collecting.
We have another edition packed full of Corgi exclusives for your enjoyment in this 70th edition of our blog, beginning with a development update from one of the several new Vanguards model tooling projects which grace the current 2020 range, the classic Volkswagen ‘Split screen’ Camper Van. With exclusive images of not one, but the first two pre-production sample models to come from this beautiful new tooling, our main focus is actually going to be on one which has to be described as being a less than pristine example.
In addition to this, we make our own diecast tribute to the heroes of the Battle of Britain, by bringing you the latest pre-release images from a model which whilst marking one of the less familiar RAF fighter types which took part in the battle, is nonetheless a fine tribute to ‘The Few’ of Fighter Command. We stay with Aviation Archive as we mark the final release in our RAF Tornado service withdrawal model tribute, by featuring the signed sample model of 16 Squadron’s stunning 75th Anniversary jet, an aircraft which they lovingly referred to as ‘The Black Pig’. We end by bringing you a selection of pre-production sample images of a model which is a 1/50th scale representation of a famous Soviet tank design which impressed the Germans so much that they decided to use it themselves.
Stop Press – we have just been told to hold some space at the end of the blog, for the inclusion of a photo exclusive we will not want to miss. We wonder what that might be?
With this latest selection of diecast goodness awaiting your inspection, it really is about time we made a start.
Perfecting motoring imperfections
Exclusive studio shot featuring the first pre-production sample model of the ‘Rat-Look’ finished new split screen Volkswagen Camper Van
Our Vanguards range of 1/43rd scale model automobiles has been delighting collectors for over 24 years now and can boast many a classic vehicle type within its ranks. Although everyone will undoubtedly have their own particular favourites, surely few would argue that a recent new tooling addition to the range has to qualify for the status of motoring icon. The distinctive Volkswagen Camper Van was a development of the famous VW Beetle automobile and even though on first look it appears to be a much larger vehicle, it utilises the same basic chassis, engine and transmission of the earlier Beetle. At a time when Europe was in need of a cost effective light transport vehicle to get business moving, it would form the basis of a successful series of vehicles which could be produced as a microbus, pickup, transporter, van, general utility and recreational vehicle – quite an important machine really.
A significant new tooling addition to the Vanguards range, this beautiful new model has been developed as both the original Volkswagen Type 2 Split screen (T1), which was in production from 1950 until 1967 and the later Volkswagen Type 2 Bay window (T2) version, which was in production from 1967 until 1979. Just to add a little context to these descriptions, the original Beetle was referred to as the Type 1 Volkswagen Beetle. A design which became extremely well known during its lengthy production run, the Campervan has been enjoying a significant renaissance over recent years and is now seen very much as something of an aspirational purchase and one of the ‘coolest’ vehicles you could possibly be seen in. For that reason, many of these vehicles are now receiving some long overdue tlc and are changing hands for handsome sums of money.
A significant new tooling addition to the Vanguards range, the Split screen and Bay window Campervans incorporate plenty of options for appealing future releases
A very civilised, if not completely ‘trendy’ way to travel, this is an exclusive first look at the pre-production sample model of the new Devon Caravanette VA14500
The new Volkswagen Type 2 Camper Van proudly took its place in the 2020 Vanguards range even though it was still very early in the model’s development and as a consequence, had to rely on profile artwork to illustrate the individual model releases. One model in particular, appeared to be something of an unusual choice for a newly tooled model release, as it attempted to present the model in a less than pristine condition, our ‘Rat-look’ Camper. The catalogue description which accompanies VA14501 VW Type 2 1500 Camper ‘Rat-Look’ Mango Green & Seagull Grey reads:
The Rat-Rod or Rat-Look scene is a huge and growing part of classic car culture and air-cooled VWs have been central to its creation and popularity. RAT is an acronym for 'Recycled Automotive Transport', a perhaps ironic salute to the prevailing western culture, but RAT-Look vehicles are not what they appear. Mechanically they are often far better than they were when new. More powerful engines, better brakes and custom suspension are hidden under an exterior which has been carefully and expensively prepared to look like it's been abandoned in the sun for decades.
The finish is often preserved by a matt clear coat varnish, which stops the vehicle rusting and preserves that 'patina'. The origin of the 'look' came from 1950s hot rodders in the USA being much more interested in go than show, spending every penny on the mechanics of their ride and not worrying about the appearance because money and time could be better spent elsewhere. That produced a look which started to be emulated and became cool. As a new generation started to modify cars with unit construction and single-width styling there was more room for expression in paint and less in terms of the visible engines and axles which defined the 1960s Hot Rod movement. On these new generation modified cars stance became all important, as the look of the car could be radically altered without changing too much sheet metal.
Making a concept Vanguards reality. This profile artwork was produced to support the release of the ‘Rat-Look’ VW Camper van and allowed a visual representation of this interesting new model to be included in the 2020 catalogue and on the Corgi website. The images which follow illustrate how this artwork has been interpreted at the manufacturing facility and show how the first pre-production sample model looks wearing this finish. These images were all taken on the Development Manager’s desk, following receipt of this early sample model and we think it looks rather impressive
Presenting the Development Manager with a particularly ‘dirty’ challenge, the ‘Rat-Look’ camper has a unique finish which is actually quite difficult to achieve in a large production run scale model. The subject of weathering or distressing scale diecast models is a dangerous one to get into, particularly as different people have different opinions on how much or how little an effect is acceptable. To make things worse on this particular project, the vehicle which served as our inspiration has been intentionally finished in a pseudo weathered finish, to give the impression of neglect, when in actual fact, the finish would have cost many thousands of pounds to achieve. So in essence, the finish we were hoping to achieve was a weathered representation of a manufactured weathered finish – we do like to work our people hard.
Looking at these exclusive pictures of the first pre-production example of the ‘Rat-Look’ camper, we are not only seeing the first metal models produced from this attractive new tooling, but we can also see how this unusual finish has been represented at this stage. Remembering that this model is still subject to change, we have a single image taken by our photographer David in his studio and a further selection taken on the Development Manager’s desk. We were all mightily impressed with this fantastic first attempt and are already confident that this really unique new model will be a stunning addition to any Vanguards model collection – we would be interested to hear what you think of the finish.
This appealing new model is currently scheduled for release very early next year and we look forward to bringing you further development updates as the ‘Rat-Look’ VW Camper advances towards production.
Just a few Gladiators for the ‘Few’
Our diecast collectable tribute to the brave airmen who fought the Battle of Britain 80 years ago this month, this magnificent Gloster Gladiator is now in the final stages of production and will be released in the next few weeks
Eighty years ago this weekend, the air battles in the skies above Britain had entered a final and decisive phase. Fighter Command, which had been teetering on the brink of defeat in the previous few days, had redoubled its efforts and following the Luftwaffe’s change of tactics in attacking London and other UK cities, their airfields were now safe from being targeted. Now, every available pilot and fighter aircraft could be hurled at the enemy, in the knowledge that it was now unlikely that their home airfields would come under concerted attack whilst they were in the air. Ever increasing numbers of RAF fighters would be sent en masse to challenge the Luftwaffe, who were now feeling the unrelenting strain of combat.
Over the coming few days, the Luftwaffe launched their heaviest raid against London and would be left counting the cost. With Fighter Command seemingly becoming stronger and more competent every day, at least 56 Luftwaffe aircraft would be lost during this raid, confirming to German military officials that they did not have superiority of the air and the balance of the battle had swung firmly in favour of the British. By 17th September, the once very real threat of seaborne invasion had passed, as Hitler indefinitely postponed Operation Sealion and turned his offensive intentions eastwards, leaving Britain to endure a night blitz which would last for months.
The debt of gratitude owed by an entire nation to a relatively small number of fighter pilots and air gunners was immeasurable and whilst the war would rage on for almost a further five years, these brave airmen bought Britain and the free world time to continue the fight. It also showed Hitler that he wasn’t always going to have things his own way and he had better get used to the taste of defeat.
As for the ‘Few’ themselves, whilst the majority of pilots came from the ranks of the RAF, Fleet Air Arm and Army Cooperation squadrons, airmen from many nations would climb into the cockpits of British Spitfires, Hurricanes, Defiants and Gladiators during the battle. Making a significant contribution to eventual victory, pilots from Poland, New Zealand, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Australia, Belgium, South Africa, France, Ireland, USA, Southern Rhodesia, Jamaica and Barbados joined their British comrades in facing the overwhelming onslaught of Luftwaffe aerial might during the summer of 1940 – heroes one and all.
Although we intentionally chose not to overload the 2020 Aviation Archive range with Battle of Britain subject matter, we did include our beautiful Dunkirk Spitfire, which took part in actions immediately prior to the battle, in addition to a model of an aircraft type which is not usually associated with Battle of Britain combat operations, the Gloster Gladiator. The Gladiator was a true aviation thoroughbred, the absolute pinnacle of biplane fighter technology and the first RAF fighter to feature a fully enclosed cockpit. Unfortunately, despite its many exceptional qualities, the aviation world had been moving in a different direction and in the same month that the Gladiator entered RAF service, a diminutive monoplane fighter known as the Messerschmitt Bf 109 was being introduced by the Germans.
Knowing that our latest Gloster Gladiator release would be marking our own scale diecast tribute to the ‘Few’ in this 80th Anniversary year of the Battle of Britain, the development team have been desperate to make sure that it was a faithful representation of the actual wartime aircraft we were recreating and as a consequence, is running a little later than we had originally anticipated. Thankfully, we have recently been in receipt of the final ‘Signed Sample’ model of the Gladiator and thanks to our photographer David, we are in a position to share images of this model with you now.
All five of the Gladiator images shown here feature the final ‘Signed Sample’ example of the model, sent by the manufacturing plant, just prior to production. We wanted this model to be a fitting tribute to the brave men who risked everything to ensure the Luftwaffe did not gain air superiority in the skies above Britain during the summer of 1940 and we really hope we have managed to do that
AA36212 Gloster Gladiator Mk.II N2308 HP-B, RAF No.247 Squadron, Roborough, Battle of Britain, August 1940
A truly innovative aeroplane, the Gloster Gladiator is often described as the pinnacle of biplane fighter design and was the pride of the Royal Air Force when the first examples were delivered to No.72 Squadron at Tangmere in February 1937. Unfortunately, aviation history dictated that the undoubted qualities possessed by the Gladiator were largely forgotten, particularly as both the Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire had both made their first flights by the time of its squadron introduction and indeed the first RAF Hurricanes were delivered later in 1937. During the Battle of France, two squadrons of Gladiators were sent to support the British Expeditionary Force, but suffered badly at the hands of the Luftwaffe, as the age of the fast, monoplane fighter had already arrived.
Mainly withdrawn to secondary roles, one RAF squadron did famously use the Gladiator during the Battle of Britain, as they were sent to operate from Roborough airfield, to protect the naval dockyards at Devonport. Wearing the standard Royal Air Force day camouflage scheme of the period, No.247 (China-British) Squadron flew many standing patrols over their assigned area, but did not see actual combat with the Luftwaffe during the battle. On Christmas Eve 1940, the squadron finally traded their Gladiators for new Hawker Hurricane fighters.
Although the Gladiator is a less well known fighter type from the Battle of Britain, we thought that be selecting this aircraft for our 80th Anniversary release, we would not only be drawing attention to its use during the battle, but also the fact that pilots flying aircraft other than Spitfires and Hurricanes made up the ranks of the ‘Few’ to whom we all owe so much
With the Gloster Gladiators of RAF No.247 Squadron providing fighter cover for the Devonport dockyards during the Battle of Britain, the unit enabled Fighter Command to deploy its Spitfires and Hurricanes where they were needed most, challenging the Luftwaffe in a desperate struggle for aerial supremacy over southern England. The closest the RAF Gladiators came to actual combat during the battle came on 25th September 1940, when a force of 24 Dornier bombers escorted by 12 Messerschmitt Bf 110 heavy fighters flew across the English Channel, heading for Plymouth. Four of 247 Squadron’s Gladiators were sent to intercept the formation, however, Hurricanes from No.601 Squadron Exeter were first on the scene and broke up the raiders formation. The Gladiators did give chase to several of the enemy aircraft, however, they did not have the speed to catch them and returned to base reporting no contact.
In 1990, the world famous Shuttleworth Collection marked the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Britain by repainting their unique, airworthy Gloster Gladiator in a distinctive camouflage scheme and operating it on the UK Airshow circuit in this configuration for the next six years. The markings chosen for this tribute were previously worn by Gloster Gladiator Mk.II N2308 HP-B, one of the few Gladiators which flew with No.247 Squadron during the Battle of Britain.
This beautiful new model marks a relatively obscure aspect of Battle of Britain aviation history and how Fighter Command would have used every available aircraft in the defence of their country, should that need have arisen. As it is, Gloster Gladiator AA36212 now has its production slot and should be available in just a few short weeks’ time.
Panzer nemesis on the Eastern Front
Under new management. Produced by our talented photographer David, this appealing composite image features the pre-production sample model of our 1/50th scale captured Soviet T-34 in German markings. The Germans had huge respect for their adversary and had no problem with pressing captured and repaired tanks into operational service
With the mighty German Tiger I tank arguably qualifying as the most famous tank in the history of warfare, you might think that no other WWII tank stood a chance against this beast and were therefore inferior. Although the Tiger was undoubtedly an excellent machine, tank design is quite a complicated subject and things are not quite as clear cut as they may at first seem. Tanks are required to fulfil a variety of combat roles, from fast reconnaissance tanks, to the battlefield behemoths which outgun everything they target and everything in between. This begs the question, ‘Is there such a thing as the Perfect Tank?’ If there was such a vehicle on the battlefields of WWII, then one design which certainly must be up for consideration is the Soviet T-34.
The Germans first encountered the T-34 medium tank during Operation Barbarossa and its appearance on the battlefield came as an unwelcome surprise. With its combination of mobility, firepower and armour protection, the T-34 was superior to anything the Wehrmacht had available at that time and was actually described by one German general who was reporting back to his superiors as ‘The finest tank in the world’. It would have a profound impact on the future of tank design and led directly to the speedy development of a German tank intended to counter the effectiveness of the T-34, the Sd.Kfz. 171 Panzerkampfwagen V Panther, a tank which in itself was considered one of the finest tanks ever produced.
As the T-34 was held in such high regard by the Germans, it will come as no surprise to hear that captured examples of the tank were happily pressed into service with their new owners, using parts salvaged from other destroyed or abandoned tanks to make operational vehicles. Clearly, the issue here was making sure other German units were aware that the former enemy tank was now operating under new management, so they were usually overpainted using German paint stocks and the prominent placement of new national insignia. Our Military Legends range for 2020 featured an example of one of these captured T-34 tanks in German service and we are happy to share this exclusive series of images, which show the decorated pre-production sample model.
CC51606 ‘Beutepanzer’ (Trophy Tank), Captured Soviet T34/76 Model 1943, Turret No.222, Panzerjager Abteilung 128, 23rd Panzer Division, Eastern Front, Ukraine, 1943
Although these images may look a little ‘rough and ready’, this is exactly how pre-production sample models are intended to be used during the development process. Playing such an important role, these models are scrutinised by the researcher responsible for the project, who then compiles a report detailing areas which need to be addressed before the model can be released for production
As German armed forces rolled across Europe during the early months of the Second World War, they had already displayed their willingness to deploy captured tanks as part of their powerful panzer force. Initially fielding large numbers of Panzer 35(t) and 38(t) tanks acquired following the occupation of Czechoslovakia, victories over Holland, Belgium and France brought a further supply of captured armour, with those not destroyed or classed as unserviceable pressed into service for their new owners. Operation Barbarossa and the strike East brought new pressures on the available panzer forces, especially when they came across a new Soviet tank design, the T-34.
Extremely mobile, with good armour protection and a capable main gun, the T-34 was more than a match for anything the Germans had in service at that time, however mechanical problems and poor battlefield organisation reduced the effectiveness of this excellent machine. The Germans were so impressed with the T-34 that they tried to get their hands on as many serviceable examples as they could and even considered starting general production of the tank at factories which had been captured by advancing Wehrmacht troops. The machine modelled here went on to see service against its former owners with the 23rd Panzer Division in 1943 and is finished in a field applied disruptive camouflage scheme intended to help the tank blend into the surrounding countryside where combat was taking place.
Although the operation of captured enemy tanks proved a welcome addition to the ranks of depleted Wehrmacht Panzer units, their use did come with a number of specific and potentially disastrous difficulties. Even if adequate supplies of fuel, lubricants, spare parts and ammunition could be secured, crews operating captured enemy tanks were in real danger of being fired upon by both sides during any combat engagement and were therefore mainly used in supporting role behind the main advance. The importance of applying oversized and highly visible national insignia helped to avoid the possibility of coming under fire by friendly units, but also made the tank an even more tempting target for enemy units frustrated by its capture. Significantly, during the melee of combat, the unmistakable profile of a Soviet T-34 could cause a twitchy German tank commander to fire upon the approaching machine, whether he noticed the Balkenkreuz painted on the turret or not.
Usually, Diecast Diaries readers will only see pre-production sample model images from the environment of David’s photo studio, but we thought it would be interesting to show the captured T-34 ‘on the table’ as it were, in the home of the researcher and performing the role for which it was intended
The Soviet T-34 has to be considered one of the most important tanks of the Second World War and for the Russian people, came to symbolise their defiance in the face of Nazi aggression and determination to fight for total victory. During its impressive wartime production run, the T-34 would double the thickness of its armour, double the penetrating power of its gun and halve its initial production costs. At their peak production, Soviet manufacturing plants were producing around 1,200 of these excellent tanks every month, significantly more than were being produced by their German invaders.
This high quality range of 1/50th scale military vehicles features some of the most famous fighting vehicles of the 20th century and will be able to boast the inclusion of a Wehrmacht operated T-34 in the very near future. The sight of these sample images show that this unusual release is advancing nicely towards release.
And the ‘Black Pig’ makes four
Tornado heaven – has Britain’s famous post war strike jet ever looked better than this?
With the recent release of the third and final model in our RAF Tornado GR4 disbandment tribute series, collectors will have been delighted to have been able to finally emulate the official RAF photoshoot which featured the three specially painted Tornado jets, even if it is a scale diecast representation of the event. The ‘Goldstars’ Tornado ZD716 joined the earlier retro camouflaged ZG752 and IX(B) Squadron ‘Green Bat’ to make up our Tornado disbandment trio, but with the passing of this incredibly capable aircraft still difficult to come to terms with for many aviation enthusiasts, we are not done with Corgi Tornados just yet.
The July edition of Diecast Diaries headlined with the exclusive announcement of a new ‘ex-catalogue’ release which was intended to add a fourth, rather distinctive Tornado model to the current Aviation Archive range, this time one intended as a tribute to the impressive service career of this magnificent aircraft. Marking one of the most distinctive Tornados to ever see Royal Air Force service, GR.1 ZA591 was specially presented to mark the 75th Anniversary of No.16 Squadron and represented the squadron at several events during the summer of 1990. A particularly attractive model, we are pleased to bring you exclusive pictures of the recently received ‘Signed Sample’ model and doesn’t it look fantastic - perhaps the description ‘Tonkatastic’ would be more appropriate! Perhaps one of the best looking post war jet models we have ever released, this magnificent model is a fine way to mark the first service variant of an aircraft which retired from RAF service in March last year.
These ‘Signed Sample’ model images of the stunning ‘Black Pig’ show that Aviation Archive hasn’t finished with the Tonka just yet and that our recently released disbandment trio are about to be joined by a rather attractive stablemate
With many RAF squadrons able to trace their establishment back to the early air operations of the Great War, the 1990s saw quite a number of them commemorating their 75th anniversaries. As was customary on these occasions, several squadrons would send one of their aircraft into the paint shop to be adorned with special anniversary artwork, much to the delight of aviation enthusiasts across Europe. These aircraft would spend the next few months attending official RAF events, open days and Airshows, where they would become some of the most popular and most photographed aircraft in the world.
Without doubt, one of the most spectacular of the RAF squadron 75th anniversary schemes was the smart all-over black paint finish applied to Panavia Tornado GR.1 ZA591, an aircraft which would represent No.16 Squadron throughout their 75th anniversary year, and in some style. The aircraft itself went on to attract a couple of unofficial titles following its repaint, both of which were christened by RAF personnel. To most, she was simply referred to as ‘The Black Pig’, but following the participation of RAF Tornados in the Gulf War, where the black painted American F-117 Stealth Fighter played such a prominent role, she was also colloquially referred to as the ‘Stealth GR.1’. However you referred to her, No.16 Squadron’s ZA591 was certainly one of the best looking Tornados to ever to see Royal Air Force service.
This final tribute to the disbandment of the RAF Tornado force is a black beauty and despite only being announced in July, should be available on the Corgi website and in all good model shops over the next few weeks.
‘Scalding hot’ off the Corgi Aviation Archive press
A breaking news feature which is definitely deserving of the billing, just look at all this magnificent detail on our new 1/48th scale Bristol F2B Fighter tooling
We end this latest edition of our blog with some information which really is hot off the press and something we are being allowed to share thanks to our ever supportive Development Manager. Having opened the sizeable box which arrived on his desk this morning, he informed us to leave a little space at the end of the blog, as he had something very special to send us – he wasn’t kidding.
With our latest 1/48th scale WWI aircraft models receiving rave reviews from collectors and the sell-out Rudolf Berthold Fokker D.VII arriving with those collectors who pre-ordered (and in model stores) at this very moment, what could be more exciting than to see images of the next new tooling addition to grace this popular range? We are delighted to be able to show readers the latest pictures of the first metal test shots from our new 1/48th scale Bristol F2B Fighter tooling, the next important stage in the development of this stunning new model. As usual, we are keen to stress that this model is still very much in the development stage and is subject to significant change before we allow it to proceed to production. If you look closely at these images, you can clearly see that the model is missing its main wheel axel and has yet to be rigged, but it also shows just how big this impressive model actually is.
Aviation Archive collectors have made no secret of their wish to see the Bristol Fighter joining the 1/48th scale WWI aviation range and here it is! We really do hope that by incorporating all the latest design and manufacturing techniques, you all think it has been worth the wait. It is still important to stress that this is the first test shot model and is subject to change, but it doesn’t half look good!
Being significantly larger than any previous aircraft modelled in our WWI aviation range, the Bristol F2B Fighter has been a challenging project for the Corgi team to undertake, however, these images show that what they have achieved so far is extremely encouraging. The new model will be one of the most detailed releases in the entire Aviation Archive range and a real boost for the WWI aviation range. As well as being allowed to share these exclusive pictures with Diecast Diaries readers, we have also been reliably informed that it will not be too long before we can bring you images of the first fully finished pre-production sample of a Bristol Fighter – now isn’t that something to really look forward to?
More exclusives to come
We end this latest edition with something of a blog tease, allowing everyone a little insight into what we have coming up in the next couple of editions. With diecast model collecting exclusivity all the way, we have exciting updates from the world of James Bond and a man who chooses to drive his car in a very unusual manner, plus a first look at a pair of massive Royal Navy ships, Corgi style. We also hope to bring you full details of another ‘ex-catalogue’ release which will only be available in very small numbers and will be of huge interest to Aviation Archive fans. We have much to tell you about in forthcoming editions of Diecast Diaries and look forward to seeing you all back here in four weeks’ time for more model exclusives.
That’s it for this latest edition of Diecast Diaries, however, you can be sure we will be back with more updates and exclusive Corgi content in four weeks’ time. In the meantime, we are always interested to hear from our readers, especially if you would like to suggest a subject for future inclusion in our blog. Better still, if you would like to send us pictures of your own model collection, or details of a Corgi model release which is special to you, you may even find yourself featuring in a future edition of Diecast Diaries. As always, we would be grateful if you would address all correspondence to our usual firstname.lastname@example.org email address.
If you can’t wait for the next edition of our blog, there is always plenty of Corgi model related news, views and conversation taking place on our official Facebook and Twitter social media pages, which welcome your contributions. We look forward to reading about all the latest Corgi collecting discussions and pictures of your favourite models over the coming few weeks.
Finally, we would like to thank all our readers for their continued support. We look forward to bringing you much more Corgi related news, features and updates in future editions of our blog. The next edition of Diecast Diaries is scheduled to be published on Friday 9th October.
The Corgi Die-cast Diaries Team
© Hornby Hobbies Ltd. All rights reserved.