Beautiful new Brisfit 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.
Continuing what is turning out to be an exciting start to the new year, we are pleased to be in a position to bring you the latest development pictures from the new 1/48th scale Bristol F.2B Fighter, a new model which had enjoyed an extremely positive reception since its announcement back in January. We also take a closer look at how several of the latest Corgi model releases are either linked to other previous releases which are currently available, or ones which have been released in the recent past.
As we are now coming towards the end an extremely hectic range preview and Toy Fair exhibition attendance period, we also bring you details of where the Corgi team made their latest high profile event appearance and provide an overview of where you can hope to catch them over the coming weeks and months. Finally, we have something really special for collectors of our 1/50th scale Military Vehicle range and a series of images, the like of which have never previously been seen anywhere. We have much to get through, so let’s get stuck in straight away.
The Great War’s Mosquito
Computer rendered 3D image taken from the Bristol Fighter LIDAR scan and used to announce this exciting project at 2020 range launch
OK, we may be guilty of a little aviation poetic licence by using the above title, but in the eyes of many aviation enthusiasts, the Bristol Fighter, which was introduced during the First World War, was arguably the first aircraft which could claim to be a truly effective multi-role type, something the famous twin engined de Havilland Mosquito was later regarded as perhaps the finest exponent of. Able to operate as a fighter, armed reconnaissance, bomber and close support aircraft, the Bristol Fighter was undoubtedly one of the best fighting aeroplanes of the First World War and was ordered in such numbers that demand completely outstripped the available supplies of Rolls Royce Falcon engines, forcing several other powerplants to be used during the aircraft’s service life.
With the first 1/48th scale Great War aircraft models appearing in the Aviation Archive range back in 2007, these models quickly found favour with collectors all over the world and with each new tooling announcement, the WWI aviation range quickly became a major force in the hobby. One thing Corgi collectors have never been shy about is making their feelings known about which aircraft subject matter they would like to see joining the Aviation Archive range and as far as Great War aircraft types are concerned, there was one which has always been requested above any other, the Bristol Fighter. Benefitting from such overwhelming collector support, why has it taken almost 14 years for the model to be announced?
The answer to this question is actually quite simple and is centres around technology. Over the years, the diecast collectables industry has changed significantly, both in the way projects are designed and developed, in addition to how manufacturing and finishing techniques have advanced. Our design team are now able to attempt projects which simply could not be done just a few years ago and the Bristol Fighter falls squarely into this category – this is an extremely difficult model to work on and one which very much reflects these industry advancements. Having said that, the new Bristol Fighter project has still posed significant development challenges and will be a real tooling achievement for the team.
This next series of images are being revealed exclusively to Diecast Diaries readers and represent fascinating CAD screenshots produced from the files created during the development of this much anticipated new model
The new Bristol Fighter project has been fascinating from the start and began with the decision to obtain highly detailed scan data from an example which is preserved in a UK museum. Although we are going to jump ahead slightly for this latest update, we will produce a future article to look at how the scanning process takes place and how the resultant data files are used by the product designers. For this particular update, we are lucky enough to have an exclusive selection of CAD screenshot images produced from the Bristol Fighter data files which not only show just how impressive this new model is going to be, but also how much detail the designers have managed to incorporate.
A relatively large aeroplane in Great War aviation terms, the Bristol Fighter has a certain stature to it and these screenshot images include so much detail that enthusiasts can probably guess which aircraft we actually scanned in support of this project. Close inspection of the images also reveals much about how the designer intends for the model to be manufactured and constructed, not to mention the optional extras incorporated into the design – one thing is certain, they make for extremely impressive viewing.
For those who have waited so patiently for their 1/48th scale Bristol Fighter to take its place in the Aviation Archive range, we hope these development screenshots will be of real interest to you, whilst at the same time reassuring you that it is already well on its way towards eventual production. Let’s take a closer look at the details of the scheme selected for the triumphant first release of a model which is destined for ‘Classic Corgi’ status.
AA28801 – Bristol F2B Fighter D-8063, RAF No.139 Squadron ‘Royal Flight’, Major William Barker, Villaverla Aerodrome, Italy, September 1918
The outbreak of the Great War placed a moral burden on the shoulders of a young Edward, Prince of Wales, heir to the British throne. Desperate to do his duty and be seen alongside the thousands of troops heading for France, he was forbidden from joining his Grenadier Guards regiment at the front by Lord Kitchener, who was concerned about the potential damage his loss or capture would have on a nation at war. Nevertheless, over the course of the next four years, the Prince would regularly visit the trenches and was extremely popular amongst the fighting men of Britain.
An early supporter of the aeroplane, the Prince is thought to have made several flights as a passenger whilst in France, however, an incident which reputedly occurred in September 1918 is quite astonishing. Whilst visiting No.139 Squadron in Italy, the Prince was taken on several flights in Bristol F2B Fighter D-8063 by celebrated Canadian ace and friend William Barker and on one such flight, it was reported that the Prince was taken close to the front lines, where he fired the aircraft’s Lewis guns on enemy trenches. On hearing of this unofficial action, the King was said to be furious and chastised his son, telling him ‘never to be so foolish again’.
A final pair of fascinating CAD screenshot images which highlight why Aviation Archive collectors are getting a little bit excited at the prospect of their new 1/48th scale Bristol Fighter F.2B
Although the Bristol F2B Fighter would go on to be regarded as one of the finest fighting aeroplanes of the Great War, its combat introduction on the Western Front was inauspicious to say the least. Intended as a replacement for the much maligned Royal Aircraft Factory BE2c, the Bristol Fighter was rushed into service so it could take part in the Second Battle of Arras in April 1917 and demonstrate the advancement in Allied aircraft design. During its first operational sortie on 5th April, six aircraft from No. 48 Squadron RFC, led by famous VC winner William Leefe Robinson, were bounced by Albatros fighters of Jasta 11, led by Manfred von Richthofen.
During the ensuing melee, four of the new fighters, including the one flown by Robinson, were shot down, with another suffering serious damage – VC hero Robinson was initially posted as killed in action, but later discovered to have been taken prisoner. Despite this, once the many qualities of the Bristol Fighter had been appreciated, pilots quickly learned that this large aeroplane could be flown extremely aggressively and was more than capable of taking on the German fighters. With a fixed forward firing Vickers gun for the pilot and Scarff ring mounted Lewis guns for the observer, the Bristol fighter would enable crews to score victory numbers equivalent to those claimed by single seat fighters.
A magnificent new addition to the Aviation Archive range, the hugely popular Bristol Fighter is scheduled for a winter release and is has attracted significant pre-order activity – don’t miss out on this beauty.
Double ‘twin rotor’ trouble
An attractive formation. The recent release of Chinook HC.4 AA34215 means there are now two RAF Squadron Centenary Chinooks in the Aviation Archive range
As it is highly likely that many Diecast Diaries readers have the same collector gene ingrained in their very DNA, we all know that this fantastic hobby means different things to different people. Some collect just to know they have an example of their favourite models salted away, even though they are packed and stored in the loft for posterity, whilst others will only buy if a particular release fits with their collecting ‘theme’ and can take its place in their display cabinet. Whatever the particular criteria, collecting themes have always been extremely popular with Corgi fans and the release of the latest Royal Air Force Chinook gives us the opportunity to explore two interesting, if completely different model links.
Anyone who has attended a UK Airshow over the past couple of years will probably agree that one of the most impressive display acts on any programme is the mighty Boeing Chinook, an aircraft which possesses unbelievable agility for its size and actually appears to defy the very laws of gravity. The affection in which this aircraft is held has also ensured that its induction into the Corgi Aviation Archive ranks has been extremely successful, with every release finding favour with the collector and rarely staying in stock for more than a few weeks.
The latest RAF Chinook release is just crying out to be displayed next to the previous No.27 Squadron release, two of the three specially presented centenary Chinooks from the summer of 2016
The latest release from this tooling marks a particularly striking example of the RAF Chinook and one which was to benefit from special markings in April 2015, to commemorate the centenary of its parent unit, No.18(B) Squadron. Chinook HC.4 ZA712 turned out to be the first of three RAF Chinooks to benefit from special centenary markings and for just a few short weeks during 2016, all three of these beautifully presented aircraft could be seen in Britain’s skies at the same time. Indeed, all three would take part in a memorable official photo sortie, which yielded a series of stunning photographs and served as a fine tribute to the histories of these famous Squadrons.
This latest Chinook model AA34215 comes on the back of the 2018 release of another scale representation of an aircraft which formed part of this enigmatic centenary helicopter trio, Chinook HC.4 ZA683, this time coming in the markings of No. 27 Squadron and featuring a stylised representation of their famous unit badge. Referring back to their establishment in 1915 and the first aircraft they operated, the Martinsyde G.100 ‘Elephant’, anyone lucky enough to have one of these beautiful models in their collection will certainly be tempted by our latest Chinook offering, particularly as it offers the chance for a particularly eye-catching linked display. This model is now close to being sold out, however, it should still be possible to pick one up at your usual model store. It remains to be seen if the third centenary Chinook will receive the Corgi treatment in a future range and allow us all to complete our colourful Wokka trio.
Diecast RAF Squadron histories
Even though it is hardly possible for two aircraft types to look so different, both this Centenary Chinook and ‘special mission’ Bristol Blenheim flew in the colours of No.18 Squadron Royal Air Force
As if our latest Chinook release were not satisfied with one display link to a recent Aviation Archive model, it has another to an aircraft from a much earlier period of aviation history, but one which represented the same RAF squadron. Tracing its history back to 1915 and the early months of the Great War, the pilots of No.18(B) Squadron had run up a score of more than 200 enemy aircraft destroyed by the end of hostilities, only to be disbanded in 1919. Reforming in late 1931, the squadron would spend the inter-war years flying Hawker biplane bombers and thrilling the crowds at Hendon Air Pageants, before moving on to convert to the Bristol Blenheim just a matter of weeks before the start of the Second World War.
Sent to France as part of the BEF Air Component, the Blenhiems of No.18 Squadron were amongst the first RAF aircraft to see action against the Germans during WWII, however, the lightning pace of the German offensive saw the unit being forced to change airfields three times in three consecutive days and their eventual withdrawal back to Britain.
One of the more unusual missions undertaken by an 18 Squadron Blenheim during WWII took place on 19th August 1941, when Mk.IV R3843/WV-F was one of the bombers taking part in a full ‘Circus’ raid, but carrying a rather strange payload – a crated false leg. News that famous British fighter pilot Douglas Bader had lost one of his prosthetic limbs during the aerial combat which resulted in his capture in Northern France, had RAF top brass planning a mission to supply him with a replacement, with No.18 Squadron being presented with this significant responsibility. During a frantic dogfight, six Blenheim Mk.IVs supported by a large force of Spitfires approached the airfield at St Omer, where the special delivery was manhandled out of the Blenheim, allowing the bombers to make good their escape. Whilst all the Blenheims returned safely to base, the covering Spitfires were not so lucky and eight aircraft were to fall victim to the guns of Luftwaffe fighters.
With the recent release of Chinook HC.4 ZA683, do we display it with our Douglas Bader leg drop Blenheim, or with the previous centenary Chinook release?
Following the end of the Second World War, this historic flying unit would go on to post more than 55 years as a helicopter unit, famously operating the only Chinook helicopter to support operations in the South Atlantic during the Falklands Conflict. Boeing Chinook ZA718 ‘Bravo November’ was the only one of five such machines to survive the Argentine Super Etendard double Exocet missile attack on the Atlantic Conveyor container ship on which they were temporarily based – the ship was requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence in support of the conflict.
Although these two aircraft types could hardly be more different and represent eras of aviation which are over 70 years apart, they are inextricably linked via their squadron connection and certainly make for an unusual display pairing. There is one thing for certain, if someone where to ask why they are displayed together, you would have a rather interesting aviation story for them. Both of these RAF No.18 Squadron linked model releases are still currently available on both the Corgi webstore and in good model shops across the country.
Corgi Vanguards models out and about
Proving to be just as popular as their full sized counterparts, the Corgi Vanguards display at London’s recent Classic Car Show always commanded quite a crowd
In what has been an incredibly busy start to 2020 for the Hornby Hobbies events teams, they have already entertained our sales force and major retailers in our Margate showroom following range launch, before moving on to huge external trade shows in London, Birmingham and Nuremberg. Now breaking up into individual brands, the intrepid Corgi team headed for the Classic Car Show last weekend, with an interesting selection of Vanguards models and our attractive display stand with them. We are grateful to the team for supplying us with a selection of images from their recent working weekend.
The London Classic Car Show is marketed as London’s biggest and best event of its kind and is a must attend event for discerning classic car owners, experts and enthusiasts. This latest event marked the 6th anniversary of the show and was significant in that it was the first to be held at a prestigious new venue for this annual early season show. The previous five shows were all held at London’s ExCel Exhibition and International Convention Centre, but for this and hopefully subsequent years, this spectacular collection of motoring icons gathered at the Olympia Exhibition Centre, a fine venue to showcase some of the country’s most desirable classic cars.
This next selection of images show the Corgi stand on set-up day and feature some of the model displays on show in our distinctive presentation plinths
The classic car displays at the show were not confined to full size vehicles, as the Corgi team had an equally tantalising selection of 1/43rd scale motoring collectables which were simply crying out for closer inspection. With standard releases, hand decorated samples and new tooling prototype models gracing our display cabinets, Vanguards enthusiasts at the show had the opportunity to see a unique display of models, as many were making their public debuts. As the new models are all now finally returning to head office following their early season show commitments, we will hopefully have the opportunity to feature the new tooling prototype models in the next edition of our blog, as we provide the latest update on what promises to be an important year for the Vanguards range.
The Corgi events team are going to be quite active throughout the coming year and are already beginning to fill up their diary with future show commitments. Already confirmed are the Practical Classics Classic Car and Restoration Show at the NEC at the end of March and the International Mini Meet in June, before we get airborne with the Airshows at Cosford in June and the Royal International Air Tattoo in July. If you are planning to attend any of the events mentioned, please do seek out the Corgi display and come and meet the team – we are always keen to hear the views of our loyal collectors.
Armourfest in scale
We end this latest edition of our blog with a spectacular selection of images courtesy of our hard-working and extremely talented company photographer David – strap yourself in for a bit of a model collecting treat.
As Corgi collectors inspected the contents of the 2019 model range following its announcement in January 2019, they will have noticed with some surprise that the 1/50th scale Military Vehicle range was making a welcome return, after a production hiatus of more than ten years. These models were making their range debuts since the Corgi brand had come under the protection of Hornby Hobbies ownership and as such, their resurrection would see these tooling blocks accessed for the first time in a long time. This did pose the development team a number of challenges and the return of these models didn’t come without a bit of head scratching and a significant amount of hard work, however, they persevered and can claim to have played their part in something very special indeed.
Although the release of individual models may have experienced some frustrating production delays, all eight of the originally announced models are now available on the Corgi website and at good model stores and collectors fortunate enough to have any of them amongst their own collections will probably agree that they have come back better than ever. Determined that they were going to make these models to the highest possible current production and finish standards, what the Corgi team’s efforts have resulted in is something they should be really proud of, a range of diecast military models which are a real credit to the brand. Indeed, as it has been so long since these models have been produced, it is almost like having a completely new range of 1/50th scale military models, with an eight tooling initial investment to boast.
With the final models in this re-launch series only arriving in our warehouse during the last few weeks of 2019, the first opportunity to display all these models together only came with the end of this year’s series of shows and exhibitions to mark the launch of the 2020 model range. As the events teams all reported back to HQ recently and the model displays came with them, our photographer saw his opportunity to have something of a scale Armourfest and Diecast Diaries readers are the lucky beneficiaries of his foresight.
Finally back from being displayed at preview events and toy shows around Europe, this was our first opportunity to gather all the original eight new Military Legends together for one awesome group photograph. We also split them into their respective national groups, just for your viewing pleasure
For this latest photographic blog exclusive, David initially arranged the models in their respective national associations, with three British, three German and two American subjects grouped together. Next, he really made the magic happen and gathered all eight models together for an enigmatic collectors photoshoot which really does look magnificent and shows how effective the Corgi team have been in returning these models to market. If you have been waiting to see what these models were going to turn out like, wait no more, the Military Legends range is back with an emphatic BANG!
All eight of the original Military Legends models are currently available on the Corgi webstore and in all good model shops and they will be joined by a further four appealing new releases during 2020. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of a new era for these Corgi 1/50th scale military models and the development team are hoping that a successful re-launch will result in the announcement of new tooling projects in the not too distant future. When that happens, you can be sure that Diecast Diaries will bring our readers all the relevant details.
We are afraid that’s all we have for you in this latest edition of Diecast Diaries, but you can be sure we will be back as usual 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 27th March.
The Corgi Die-cast Diaries Team
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