British motoring icon to become a future Vanguards classic
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.
With the entire Corgi development and marketing team now working from home, gathering information for inclusion in our latest blog has certainly been a little more challenging than usual, however, we still have a feature packed edition for your enjoyment. Even as this introduction is being written, we are still awaiting many of the images needed to illustrate the various features we have planned, with our hard working photographer David, going to herculean lengths to ensure we have our usual selection of exclusives to enthral Corgi fans. With our offices closed and members of the team scattered right across the fair county of Kent, sample models are being delivered to our Development Manager and passed to others once they have been finished with, obviously whilst observing the necessary distancing rules initiated by the Government at this time. Unfortunately, David and his new home photographic studio are at the end of this model sample relay race.
So what do we have for you in this 65th edition? We begin by looking at the early development stages of one of the new Vanguards tooling projects announced with the launch of the 2020 model range, a long overdue addition to the range and one which will result in a scale diecast representation of a true British motoring classic joining the range, the Ford Escort Mk.4. We will also be featuring the development of classic German fighter aircraft from the two world wars (in model style of course), before paying our first blog visit to the Original Omnibus range in 2020. We end by showcasing the first of our ‘Which is the most cherished Corgi model in your collection and why?’ reader supplied feature, which begins with a rather unexpected suggestion. Despite the ongoing lockdown, we have a feature packed edition awaiting your inspection.
From affordable run-around to RS object of desire
Shown for the very first time, this beautiful artwork file is awaiting the release of the first model from the new Ford Escort Mk.4 tooling
When discussing the subject of motoring icons, it can often seem strange how some of the vehicle types which are most familiar to the general public are ones few of us could ever hope to own for ourselves. Manufacturer names such as Rolls Royce, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini will undoubtedly appear highly on any list of classic motor vehicles seen on Britain’s roads, despite the fact that most respondents will probably have only been lucky enough to see one on a handful of occasions, let alone actually have the opportunity to drive one. Interestingly, this situation changes dramatically when looking at it from the perspective of the diecast model collector, where certainly as far as the UK collector is concerned, one car manufacturer’s name is most definitely the model king – FORD.
Throughout the 24 year history of the Vanguards range, model releases which feature cars wearing the famous badge of the Ford Motor Company are always amongst the most popular in any model range and in many cases, result in the complete sell out of a production run only days after its release. For that reason, seasoned Vanguards collectors will have no doubt been delighted to discover that the 2020 range included no fewer than FOUR new model tooling projects, one of which was going to be the long overdue and much requested Ford Escort Mk.4, a variant of this famous family car series which can arguably claim to be the most popular.
The Ford Escort series was first unleashed on the motoring world back in January 1968 and over the course of the next 33 years, around 4.1 million vehicles in six different incarnations were produced for the British and European motoring public. On several occasions during that time period, the Escort had the distinction of being Britain’s best selling car, a fact which is a clear indicator as to why the Escort has made such a popular transition to the scale diecast model collector market. With few, if any, accurate 1:43rd scale model representations of the Escort Mk.4 available today, it is no wonder that this latest addition to the Vanguards range has proved to be so popular – let’s take a look at how the project is progressing.
It all started with a scan
Using a suitable vehicle as our scan subject, this LIDAR scan provided the Corgi design team with the ideal starting point for this exciting new Vanguards project
With the Ford Escort Mk.4 being such a popular British car, it will come as no surprise to DCD readers that this new tooling project was actually initiated some time ago. The production of a new scale diecast model tooling is both a costly and labour intensive process and even though new projects can be started, it does not always mean they follow the same, smooth development course. As Corgi is just one of the famous hobby brands which come under the banner of the Hornby Hobbies Group, changes in personnel, ideas and priorities, not to mention available investment funds, can sometimes dictate that the gestation period of certain projects takes longer than might be expected and the new Vanguards Escort Mk.4 falls squarely into this category.
Project Escort Mk.4 began over five years ago, with our motoring expert Mark Pinnigar producing a comprehensive tooling options document, one which included all the variant differences and release permutations possible from the proposed new tooling. Once this had been accepted by the Corgi development team and the new model given the go ahead, he next had to source a suitable vehicle to serve as our scan subject, speak to the owner and arrange for a convenient scan date. The owner of a beautiful Escort (Mk.4) XR3i was contacted via an owners forum and arrangements made for the car to be the subject of a LIDAR scan.
This next trio of images show how the detailed LIDAR scan is used as the basis of the new tooling project and the clear similarities it shares with the computer rendered 3D images used to announce the project. It features the highly desirable RS Turbo version of this distinctive hot hatch
The owner of the vehicle was based in London and he kindly agreed to drive it to the Hornby offices in Margate, where it would could be scanned in an empty warehouse, a process which should usually not take more than a couple of hours to complete. Also taking the opportunity to secure as many reference images as possible, Mark P then had to ascertain whether the vehicle had suffered any damage or had been fitted with any non-standard modifications which were not normally found on this series (and year) of the car. This crucial information will need to be fed back to the development team in advance of work starting on the project, as this will have to be reflected in the design of the tooling itself.
With the LIDAR scan data now forming the basis of the project, it ensures that the designer will have extreme confidence that the curves, shapes and dimensions of this extremely popular car will be accurate. This will then play a significant development role as the basis of their base model shell, the best possible starting point for their CAD design work. Whilst this design work will share many of the same processed used by their colleagues across the office at Airfix, there are some distinct differences when producing a diecast model, as opposed to a plastic kit. Clearly, the material used to produce the model is very different, even though plastic and clear components will still be used – the biggest difference is undoubtedly that they are not designing a kit, but a series of parts which can easily be assembled and finished in a manufacturing facility, whilst making the model as accurate as possible. They will also be attempting to incorporate as much release flexibility into the design as possible.
Options come as standard with the new Vanguards Escort
At the original outset of this exciting project, the hobby did not have a 1:43rd scale diecast version of the Ford Escort Mk.4 to call upon and even though the past few years has seen a change to that situation, this new Vanguards model will most definitely be 'best of breed' and the most accurate representation of this popular vehicle. As the millions of vehicles produced by Ford would appear in a number of different guises, the tooling will have to incorporate a multitude of options to allow everything from the base 1.1L model to the ultimate RS Turbo to be produced by the tooling, not forgetting everybody’s aspirational ‘hot hatch’ the XR3i. To illustrate this point, the new tooling will have to incorporate no fewer than seven types of wheel options and body shells for both three and five door versions.
These exploded part views are extremely popular with blog readers and show some of the many options which will be incorporated into this new model tooling. As can be seen in these next two images, both three and five door versions are available, along with a multitude of exterior and interior options
Always an incredibly popular option with Vanguards collectors, the Escort Mk.4 was also widely used by Britain’s Police Forces and tooling options for these vehicles must also be incorporated into the new model’s design – from the Kent Constabulary to the Dumfries & Galloway Police, the Escort could be relied upon to give chase to villains all over the British Isles.
Without doubt, the new Ford Escort Mk.4 tooling is a significant addition to the Vanguards range and will undoubtedly be of great interest to thousands of our collectors. The development images shown above are being revealed to Diecast Diaries readers as our latest exclusive and we look forward to including further updates in forthcoming editions as the project continues towards its eventual release.
The ‘Star of Afrika’ falls
Whilst certainly not intending to glorify the horrors of war in any way, the world of model collecting and kit building has been fascinated with the subject of fighting aeroplanes since the end of the Great War and particularly with the exploits of the young men who flew them. Over the past 22 years, the Aviation Archive range has attempted to accurately produce scale diecast representations of some of these famous aeroplanes, many of which have gone on to become highly prized items amongst collectors, a reputation which the current team are proud to continue.
The current model range includes a 1/72nd scale model of an aircraft which was flown by a German pilot who has been described as the most naturally gifted fighter pilot in the history of warfare, one who was sent to the deserts of North Africa due to his persistent insubordination and playboy lifestyle whilst based in France. With the support of a new commanding officer, he would shun the officer’s mess to spend time with his ground crew, getting to know his aircraft and perfecting his understanding of the art of deflection shooting. Shedding his previous reputation, the clear blue skies above the desert would bear witness to the extraordinary development of a young fighter ace and deadly adversary.
AA27109 – Messerschmitt Bf109G-2 (Trop) W.Nr.14256 ‘Yellow 14’, Hauptmann Hans Joachim Marseille, 3./JG27, Quotaifiya, Egypt, 30th September 1942 - The ‘Star of Afrika’ falls
A significant turning point in the career of Hans Joachim Marseille occurred in early 1941 when he was posted to North Africa, well away from distractions which had previously brought him so much trouble, now coming under the guidance of Commander Eduard Neumann. Neumann saw something special in Marseille and encouraged him to train himself to be a better fighter pilot and realize his combat potential - his style of man management seemed to suit Marseille, who began a regime of physical exercise and careful diet, strengthening his legs and abdominal muscles to better withstand the forces impost on a pilot during dogfighting.
Unlike many of the other pilots of JG27, Marseille would never wear sunglasses during sorties, as he wanted his eyes to become accustomed to the harsh lighting in the desert. Significantly, he began to take a keen interest in his aircraft, preferring to spend much of his free time with his crew chief, or studying the art of deflection shooting, ensuring that he was better prepared for his next meeting with the enemy. With ever increasing regularity, these meetings would result in Marseille recording more victories and displaying exceptional flying ability and split second tactical awareness in the process – the ‘Star of Africa’ was beginning to shine.
Regarded by many of his contemporaries as the most naturally gifted fighter pilot ever to take to the air, Hans Joachim Marseille would make the clear blue skies of North Africa his hunting ground and the Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter ‘Yellow 14’ his feared mount. Claiming 158 victories from 382 sorties flown, 151 of these were scored over the deserts of North Africa, making him the top scoring Luftwaffe ace in the Mediterranean Theatre, gaining more victories against Western Allied airmen than any other pilot. Tragically, as was the case with so many of the young men who fought during WWII, the ‘Star of Africa’ would not survive the conflict and indeed would not live to celebrate his 23rd birthday.
Already proving to be a roaring success with Aviation Archive collectors, these images which show the final signed sample of the Marseille Messerschmitt and what we all have to look forward to over the next couple of weeks
On 30th September 1942, Marseille was leading his Squadron on a mission to support a flight of Stukas when his new Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2 fighter developed engine problems. With the cockpit filling with noxious fumes and unable to see out of the canopy, he relied on his wingman to guide him over friendly lines, before he could attempt to bale out. Once over German held territory, with the effects of smoke inhalation now causing disorientation, he turned the fighter on its back and rolled out of the cockpit. With the aircraft now adopting a nose down attitude, Marseille struck the tail of the Messerschmitt, probably killing him instantly and sending his lifeless body tumbling to the desert floor – the ‘Star of Africa’ had fallen.
The death of Hans Joachim Marseille was a terrible blow for the pilots of JG27 and indeed the entire German nation, who had started to think that the charismatic Marseille was invincible in the air. Facing increasingly superior numbers of Allied fighters in North Africa and with Rommel and his Afrika Corps now very much on the retreat, the Luftwaffe would never regain superiority of these desert skies again and it would not be long before the fighters of Jagdgeschwader 27 would be redeployed to Northern France.
Eduard Neumann said of Marseille “As a fighter pilot he was absolutely supreme. Above all, he possessed lightning reflexes and could make a quicker judgement in a bigger orbit than anyone else … Marseille was unique.”
Adolf Galland, himself one of the most celebrated Luftwaffe fighter aces of WWII, described Marseille as "An unrivalled virtuoso among the fighter pilots of World War 2. His achievements had previously been regarded as impossible and they were never excelled by anyone after his death.”
Messerschmitt Bf109G-2 (Trop) W.Nr.14256 ‘Yellow 14’ AA27109 is now in stock and will be delivered to collectors who placed pre-orders and to model retailers during the coming few days and even though this popular release is now completely sold out on the Corgi website, it may still be possible to pick up an example through our dealer network. A companion release to Marseille’s earlier Bf 109E ‘White 14’ from the Battle of Britain (AA28003), this new model marks the final aircraft type flown by this famous WWII ace and another important model in the history of the Aviation Archive range.
The Luftwaffe’s first fighter aircraft
If the Messerschmitt Bf109 is regarded as one of the most famous fighter aircraft of all time, the aircraft which can claim to be the first purpose built ‘hunting’ aeroplane also happened to be a German design, the historic Great War Fokker Eindecker. At a time when the gathering of battlefield reconnaissance photographs was of paramount importance, the relatively primitive and flimsy aircraft at that time were designed specifically for stability and ease of flying, allowing crews to effectively obtain the information they needed. They became so proficient in this role that the Germans decided to pursue a different aviation doctrine, designing an aircraft which was intended to shoot down other aircraft and dominate the skies. Significantly, at a time when the majority of world’s fighting aeroplanes were biplanes, this new aerial hunter would only have a single wing.
During early combat engagements, the pilot of an Eindecker would manoeuvre his agile aircraft into the most advantageous attack position against an enemy aircraft, often behind and just below his target. In this position, he could stalk and fire upon his opponent without fear of being hit by return gunfire, firing his own guns in his line of sight, with his less manoeuvrable target having little chance of escaping the hail of bullets. In a period which would soon be referred to as the ‘Fokker Scourge’ by Allied airmen, the Luftstreitkräfte’s Eindeckers would enjoy great success against their adversaries, a period which also proved significant in producing some of the world’s first air ‘aces’, knights of the air who were revered by the general public. Allied pilots were so dismissive of the capabilities of their own aircraft and their inability to defend themselves, that they referred to them as being nothing more than flying Fokker fodder!
Showing just how far the development team have come with this beautiful new model, these images feature the latest sample model from the new Fokker Eindecker tooling – it is looking quite superb
As such an important aircraft in the history of aerial warfare, news that we intended to introduce a 1/48th scale diecast representation of the aircraft in our popular WWI aviation range was welcomed by Aviation Archive collectors and we are pleased to now be in a position to bring you a final update on the project. If the truth be told, collectors have become a little frustrated with the time it has taken to develop this new model and whilst we accept it has taken a little longer than we had anticipated, there is a very good reason for that.
Undoubtedly occupying a position as one of the most distinctive aircraft in the history of flight, the Fokker Eindecker was still a relatively primitive design, one which used the same wing warping directional control system which was developed by the Wright Brothers for use on their Wright Flyer. Indeed, the first flight of the Eindecker took place less than 12 years after the Wright Brother’s historic first heavier than air powered flight, illustrating the dramatic pace of aviation development in those early years. Clearly, this primitive and relatively fragile construction had to be replicated by the Corgi design team, something which proved to be more of a challenge than was first envisaged.
Corgi’s range of 1/48th scale Great War aircraft have earned an enviable reputation amongst collectors since they first appeared on the market back in 2007 and were some of the first mass produced, limited edition diecast models to feature scale representation of the wire rigging which was synonymous with biplane aircraft of that era. As both design and manufacturing technology has improved since then, the Corgi team were determined that this latest tooling would reflect all of these advancements, however, the Eindecker would turn out to be a very different project and one which would challenge not only our designers, but also the way in which these models are manufactured and finished.
Producing any diecast model representation of an aircraft or vehicle is always going to be something of a design compromise. In whatever scale you may happen to be working, no matter how detailed your design software might be, you are always limited by the diecast manufacturing process, as well as the material thicknesses you are able to work with. With regard to the new Fokker Eindecker tooling, our designers knew which scale thicknesses they were looking for from the tooling, but they were consistently being told by the manufacturing facility that they were too thin and must be increased. In a situation which must have seemed like a development game of tennis, they stuck to their guns and asked the factory to look at the tooling design one more time.
The main areas which were causing concern were the thickness of the wing, the wooden undercarriage support framing and the distinctive bracing rigging. The factory were saying that the wing must be made thicker and in two halves in order to allow the model to be rigged, whilst the inclusion of an unsightly anchor point would be the only way the rigging could be made taut enough to look accurate. All of these things were rejected by the design team, who preferred to persist with their desire for an accurate model, making slight alterations to the tooling design, whilst at the same time requesting that the factory attempted to construct the model in a different way.
A real triumph for the Corgi development team, the new 1/48th scale Fokker Eindecker will be a stunning addition to the Aviation Archive range
Through a combination of lateral thinking, clever design innovation and the use of new materials, both the development team and the manufacturing plant achieved what at one stage had seemed impossible, but will now be delighting diecast collectors the world over. Staying faithful to the fragile nature of the Eindecker’s design, this new model will be a spectacular addition to the Aviation Archive range and one which the Corgi development team should be rightly proud of.
The images featured above all show the latest development sample from this impressive model, one which only arrived in the country at the end of last week. We are delighted to report that the model is now finally scheduled for production, even though the current worldwide restrictions are continuing to have an impact on factory production slots. Currently, both the first release AA28701 Kurt von Crailsheim and the 2020 release presenting a machine which was flown by Manfred von Richthofen (AA28702) are still available for pre-order, however, both are close to being fully allocated and by the time of release, could be extremely difficult to get hold of. With our new Bristol F2B Fighter to follow, our Great War aviation range is about to receive a huge boost over the coming few months and we look forward to bringing you further project updates as they become available.
Routemaster bus points the way to Europe
This pre-production sample model has to be one of the most distinctive models to have passed across the desk of our Development Manager over recent weeks
For the bus and passenger transport enthusiast, the AEC Routemaster double-decker is not just a vehicle which is familiar to millions of people the world over, but one which is every bit as iconic a design as either the Spitfire or the Mini. A vehicle which is inextricably linked with the streets of London, everyone usually associates the Routemaster with the handsome deep red livery of London Transport, but that was not always the case and an impending addition to the Original Omnibus range is about to highlight that fact in spectacular and extremely colourful fashion.
By the time of the 1933 London Passenger Transport Act, Route 88 was firmly established, connecting Acton Green to Belmont, via Oxford Circus, Mitcham and Sutton. Although cut back during the Second World War, by 1950 it had become a recognised cross-London trunk route, with stops at Acton Green, Oxford Circus, Vauxhall Bridge, Stockwell, Tooting Broadway, Mitcham Cricketers (Monday to Friday only), St. Helier Rose (Monday to Friday peaks and Saturdays only), Sutton and, on a Sunday, Belmont. The main allocation of buses at this time were to Merton Garage and in May 1950, RTWs were introduced on the route as part of the successful central London trials of 8' wide buses, however, in November 1958, Merton lost the 88 route and the main allocation moved to Stockwell Garage, who were at that time running RTLs. The RTM Routemasters arrived on the route from July 1966, only being superseded by RMLs in March 1975.
Operating out of Stockwell Garage on route 37 until June 1966, 359 CLT (RM1359) had entered service in December 1962. After briefly being moved to storage at Thornton Heath, RM1359 was allocated to route 88 later on in June. While allocated to Shepherds Bush Garage, on 26 April 1974 RM1359 emerged from Finchley’s Woodberry Grove Garage in a very bright, ‘Boulogne – The motorway to Europe’ advertising scheme, one which was intended to promote travel to France by Sealink and Seaspeed. It was one of only four advert buses to enter service that year.
Although London Transport’s advert buses were limited to one per route, many MPs still began lobbying Parliament to ban them. Whilst this was happening, this bus actually ended up in Boulogne on a Chiswick Works visit which took place on 29 May 1974. The Boulogne scheme was removed from RM1359 on 26 September 1974 and the bus continued in service with London Transport until July 1987, at which point it was sold on to Brakell Omnibus Sales of Cheam, eventually being exported to Riparo Auto SNC in Palermo, Sicily in May 1992.
The images featured above show the pre-production sample model produced in support of this striking release and whilst there are still a number of livery alterations to be made, this is going to be one of the most distinctive releases in the Original Omnibus range for quite some time. A dual destination release, OM46315A/B ‘Boulogne’ AEC Type RM is scheduled for an Autumn arrival, but in view of the current situation, please look out for further updates in forthcoming editions of the blog.
My most cherished Corgi
In the previous edition of our blog, we pre-empted the probability that we might all be forced to spend a prolonged period of time at home with our model collections by posing the absolutely crucial question, ‘Which is the most cherished Corgi model in your collection and why?’ It seems as if a number of our readers were already suffering from the effects of ‘cabin fever’, because it did not take long before the first e-mails started to come through. Thank you to everyone who has already taken the time to send in their suggestions and we will attempt to cover as many of them as possible over the coming few editions. Please do continue to send your favourite model suggestions to our usual email@example.com email address, as this is proving to be a fascinating little exercise. OK, let’s take a look at the first two model suggestions sent in.
Taking the honour of being the first Diecast Diaries reader to respond to the feature, José Manuel Ortega Baldor kindly sent in details of his most treasured Corgi model and it was not one we were particularly expecting. Model number 55601 is a 1:50th scale US Army Diamond T Wrecker which was released back in 1998, a limited edition model with a production run of 6500 models.
Introduced in 1941, the six-wheel drive Diamond T 969 Recovery Vehicle was equipped with Holmes W45 twin boom recovery equipment and compared to the British recovery tractor, was a very modern design. The vehicle was based on the 4-ton Diamond T chassis and remained in production throughout WWII, eventually being produced in 3 versions (969, 969A and 969B), with both open and closed cabs.
The power was provided by a Hercules RXC six-cylinder petrol engine of 529 Cu.in, driving through a five speed gearbox and two speed transfer case. The recovery equipment was rated at a nominal 10 tons (5 tons on each boom) and there was also a front mounted winch driven by a power take-off on the transfer case, which could be used separately or in conjunction with the recovery beams.
Now it has been brought to our attention, there are certainly many appealing qualities possessed by this handsome model and we are sure José will not be on his own with his choice.
Selecting one of the beautiful 1:32nd scale Aviation Archive models which appear to have fallen out of favour over recent years, regular blog respondent Mark Stringer nominated North American P-51D Mustang ‘Jumpin’ Jacques’ as the most cherished model in his collection. He did follow this up with an honest confession that he wouldn’t describe it as his favourite model, as this usually changes by the day and can still often be as a result of his latest purchase, however, it was the model which resulted in him catching the collecting bug. Mark told us that his wife bought the model for him as a surprize flat warming gift when they first moved into their flat together back in 2006, not realising that this first purchase would be the start of an impressive collection which now totals over 1400 models.
It is perhaps not surprising that Mark suggested an aircraft model as his most cherished Corgi, as he, along with his good friend Daniel Maber, run incredibly popular diecast aviation collectors pages on both Facebook and Instagram – if you are a fan of diecast aeroplane models, they are well worth a visit. We are very much looking forward to featuring Daniel’s Corgi nomination in a future edition of the blog.
Once again, a big thank you to everyone who has already sent in their suggestions, but please do keep them coming. This is turning into a fascinating little exercise and we are very much looking forward to hearing from all the bus and truck collectors out there in Corgi land.
Please Note: We are going to be trying something a little different for the next edition of our blog, by unleashing our ‘Corgi Week’. Rather than posting our usual blog on Friday 22nd May, we will be posting a full week of slightly shorter blogs from Monday to Friday that week, hopefully including something for every Corgi collector, but certainly still bringing you all the latest updates and exclusives. Please keep a look out for our ‘Corgi Week’ of blog activity.
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 Monday 18th May, the start of ‘Corgi Week’.
The Corgi Die-cast Diaries Team
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