Corgi RAF Tornado Tribute announced
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. There is nothing quite like starting a blog by bringing our readers news of a new model announcement and in this latest edition, we go one step further and include details of two new Aviation Archive additions to the 2019 model line-up. As hinted at in the previous edition of Diecast Diaries, our recent attendance at the Royal International Air Tattoo provided the event platform for us to announce two new models, both of which are intended to commemorate the service achievements of a classic post war strike jet, but one which has now finally ended its flying days in Royal Air Force service. We will be bringing you full details from the RIAT unveiling, along with all the development information from these spectacular new models a little later in the blog. As interest in our 1/50th scale Military Vehicle range continues to grow, we bring you a further update from this project, as we feature three more sample models with their distinctive box artwork, including the mighty Panzer VI ‘Tiger I’, arguably the most famous tank design ever to be produced. Finally, we enter the world of Corgi TV and film model collecting to see how a rather popular comedy character has been fortunate enough to recently add a diecast example of his famous car to his growing collection – intrigued? All will be revealed at the end of this edition, as we also include video link confirmation for your blog enjoyment. Ok, it’s destination RIAT to find out which new models have just been added to the 2019 Aviation Archive line-up.
The RAF’s ‘Mighty Fin’ bids farewell
After almost 40 years of RAF service, the ground attack variant of the Panavia Tornado was withdrawn earlier this year, but not before the achievements of this exceptional aeroplane were commemorated
The last couple of years seem to have been rather significant in the history of the Royal Air Force, with high profile anniversaries, new aircraft entering service and others slipping into the pages of aviation history books. As 2018 saw huge celebrations to mark the centenary of the RAF and the arrival of their new Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fifth generation combat aircraft, the last squadrons operating the mighty Panavia Tornado GR.4 were preparing to see their aircraft through the final few months of its service career, but not without planning an aviation celebration of their own. The Tornado strike jet could look back on almost 40 years of Royal Air Force service, much of which was spent on active duty, with this capable aircraft providing the backbone of Britain’s aerial strike capability during a particularly volatile period of world history. During these final few months of service, the base personnel at RAF Marham were in no mood to let their famous aviation charge slip out of service without paying due respect to its impressive the achievements and allowing the British aviation enthusiast one last opportunity to see RAF Tornados in the air. In addition to this, the paint shop at Marham was also kept busy, with three of the remaining RAF Tornado airframes benefiting from handsome new commemorative paint schemes for the occasion, one each representing IX(B) and 31 Squadrons, with a further retro wrap around camouflage scheme marking the service career of the aircraft and emulating the scheme applied to the first service aircraft – a most attractive Tornado trio.
Perhaps of even greater significance than the specially painted jets, RAF Marham aircrew and base personnel planned to allow as many people as possible in the UK to have one final opportunity to see the RAF Tornado during the aircraft’s final few weeks of service. Announcing an ambitious series of Tornado GR4 ‘FINale Flypasts’, this national farewell tour would see a formation of three jets flying 3 different routes on three consecutive days and taking in no fewer than 37 locations around the country, each one linked to RAF Tornado operations during its long service career. Indeed the number of selected flypast venues was significant in itself, as it represented 37 magnificent years of front-line Royal Air Force service for the incomparable Tornado strike/reconnaissance variant. In scenes which were reminiscent of the farewell tour undertaken by Avro Vulcan XH558 just four years earlier, tens of thousands of people turned up at one of the 37 flypast locations, or at points along their transit route, just to have the opportunity to see the RAF Tornado in the air one final time, underlying the overwhelming affection in which this hard-working aircraft is held.
RIAT unveiling. Despite Friday’s atrocious weather conditions, our two new 1/72nd scale Tornado retirement models received plenty of attention from people curious to see what we were announcing
With hand decorated sample models on display during the show, social media and website posts ensured that the models received plenty of pre-ordering activity over the next few days
As aviation museums across the country placed their bids to have one of the former RAF Tornado GR4 airframes join their respective collections and the achievements of this exceptional aircraft finally passed into the aviation history books, the Corgi Aviation Archive range could not let this occasion pass without making our own diecast tribute to the impressive service record of the ‘Mighty Fin’. Using our attendance at the Royal International Air Tattoo to announce our fantastic new models to the diecast collector world, 10am on Friday 19th July was 'zero hour' for the Corgi team, as the cover which had been protecting the display cabinet containing the models was removed, revealing the diecast delights within. Despite the atrocious conditions outside the tent, with the heavy rain keeping crowds huddling beneath whatever shelter they could find, this model collecting secret was now out and the on-line orders immediately started flooding in. Both of the Tornado models announced at the show are resplendent in the attractive retirement schemes applied to the aircraft during the final few weeks of their RAF service – AA33619 Panavia Tornado GR.4 ZG752 is finished in a striking wrap-around retro camouflage scheme, similar to the markings applied to the first RAF GR.1 Tornado aircraft which entered service back in 1982, whilst AA33620 Panavia Tornado GR.4 ZG775, proudly displays the ‘green bat’ emblem of RAF No.IX(B) Squadron, the oldest dedicated bomber squadron in the Royal Air Force. With both models now available for pre-order, these limited edition future releases make a fitting diecast collectable tribute to the service history of the Royal Air Force Panavia Tornado strike/reconnaissance jet and are already proving to be an incredibly popular addition to the Aviation Archive range. Indeed, with the initial Corgi website allocation of models being pre-ordered before the end of RIAT weekend, it quickly became clear that these are going to be highly sought after models and must be secured well before their scheduled Winter 2019/2020 release date – let’s take a closer look at both of the new Tornado models now.
AA33619 – Panavia Tornado GR.4 ZG752, RAF Tornado FINale, Special Retirement Scheme, RAF Marham, Norfolk, March 2019.
An exclusive DCD look at the artwork file produced during the development work behind the announcement of the retro camouflaged Tornado retirement model
Using the hand decorated sample model, our talented photography/graphics design team produced this attractive image for use on the Corgi website and for promotional material
In the year which followed commemorations to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force, one of the most important British aircraft since the end of the Second World War was finally withdrawn from service, after providing the backbone of Britain’s aerial strike capability for almost 40 years. Indeed, as if to underline the effectiveness of this magnificent aircraft, eight aircraft which had been on overseas deployment at RAF Akrotiri, only returned to Marham in the days leading up to the aircraft’s retirement. Thankfully, RAF personnel who were privileged to be the final custodians of the Tornado in the final days of its service career were in no mood to let the aircraft slip away quietly and ensured that the ‘Mighty Fin’ enjoyed a send-off befitting an aircraft of this stature. Three aircraft were presented in special schemes to mark the end of RAF Tornado operations, including GR.4 ZG752, which was given a striking wrap around retro camouflage scheme, similar to the markings applied to the first RAF GR.1 Tornado aircraft which entered service back in 1982. The tail of the aircraft carries the markings ‘Tornado GR 1982 – 2009’ and its spine proudly displays all the badges of the RAF squadrons, reserve units and training establishments which operated the Tornado during a service career which lasted almost 40 years. As the RAF said farewell to their most effective strike jet, RAF Marham ensured that its impressive service legacy was commemorated in some style.
As the retirement date for the RAF’s last remaining Panavia Tornados approached, base personnel at RAF Marham announced ambitious plans to allow as many people as possible across the UK to say their final farewell to this hard working and extremely effective strike jet. In scenes which were reminiscent of the last flying Avro Vulcan’s national farewell tour in 2015, a trio of Tornados flew three different routes on three consecutive days, overflying RAF stations and locations associated with Tornado during its long service career, with many thousands of people taking the opportunity to take one last look at an aircraft which had served the Royal Air Force so well for almost 40 years. For thousands of aviation enthusiasts gathered in a field next to RAF Marham though, Thursday 28th February 2019 will be the date they remember as the ultimate tribute to RAF Tornado service, when 11 of the remaining 15 jets took to the air to perform one final massed formation flypast. Officially arranged to mark a course completion ceremony at RAF Collage Cranwell, a perfect diamond nine of Tornado GR.4 strike jets returned to Marham, making three impeccable formation passes over an airfield which will always be linked with RAF Tornado operations. As the aircraft landed back at Marham, the RAFs last remaining Tornados had effectively been retired, but not before their crews had played their part in a spectacular tribute to the ‘Mighty Fin’.
AA33620 – Panavia Tornado GR.4 ZG775, RAF Tornado FINale, No.IX(B) Squadron Special Retirement Scheme, RAF Marham, Norfolk, March 2019.
The second RAF Tornado retirement scheme features this stunning IX(B) Squadron machine and its distinctive ‘Bat Tail’
More Corgi design delights, this beautiful image has helped to ensure spectacular pre-ordering activity for both of these highly desirable future model releases
As the Royal Air Force were taking delivery of their first Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II jets in the summer of 2018, their home base at RAF Marham was also preparing to bid a sad farewell to the Panavia Tornado GR.4, an aircraft which has served with distinction for almost 40 years. As the oldest dedicated bomber squadron in the RAF, it is fitting that No.IX(B) Squadron would have the honour of being one of the last to operate the Tornado, particularly as it was also the first unit to receive the then new Tornado GR.1 back in June 1982. As the RAF Tornado’s retirement date approached, the squadron marked their long association with the aircraft by specially presenting Tornado GR.4 ZG775 in a striking retirement scheme, which featured the silhouette of a Tornado with its wings fully swept back on its tail, overpainted with the squadron’s distinctive green bat crest. With its motto ‘Through the night we fly’, No.IX(B) Squadron has been associated with some of the RAF’s most iconic bomber aircraft, such as the Avro Lancaster, English Electric Canberra and Avro Vulcan, but after operating the Panavia Tornado for almost 37 years, this magnificent strike jet must now take its place at the head of this illustrious group. Unfortunately for aviation enthusiasts, ZG775 was one of the four Tornados which did not take part in the massed formation flypast which took place at RAF Marham on 28th February 2019.
Underlining the operational effectiveness of the RAF’s Panavia Tornado strike jets, despite the fact that the aircraft was scheduled to be withdrawn from service at the end of March 2019, the last eight aircraft only returned to RAF Marham from their final overseas deployment in early February. Flying from Akrotiri in Cyprus, the aircraft had been flying missions over the Iraqi – Syrian border, in support of Operation SHADER, the culmination of almost 28 years of continuous active service. Arguably, on the eve of its retirement, the Tornado GR4 was more effective a strike and reconnaissance aircraft than it had ever been and whilst its retirement was met with sadness by the crews who had flown and worked on this magnificent aircraft, there was also great pride in commemorating its illustrious service achievements. As the sun finally set on the service career of the RAF Tornado, the ‘Bats’ of No.IX(B) Squadron will continue to fly on, using a different aircraft, in a different role and operating from a new home. As the Squadron Commander lowered the pennant at Marham on 1st April 2019, No. IX(B) Squadron simultaneously re-formed at RAF Lossiemouth, where they will operate the Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 in the air defence and aggressor roles, continuing the unbroken service of this famous squadron.
At the moment, both of these magnificent models are still available for pre-order on the Corgi website or through your usual model supplier, although they are disappearing fast. With both models scheduled for a Winter release, they make a totally Tonkatastic addition to the Aviation Archive range!
'Mammoth' Tiger I spearheads military return
An exclusive first look at the new box presentation which will support the release of the first Tiger I 1/50th scale military vehicle re-launch
In the previous edition of Diecast Diaries, we took a closer look at the recent return of our 1/50th scale Military Vehicle range and how these impressive models, which made their original Corgi debut back in 2003, are making something of a comeback after ten years in the collector wilderness. Their welcome return to the range has not been without a number of challenges for the Corgi development team, several of which only became apparent following the decision to reintroduce the models to the range, however, determined not to be beaten and with a desire to produce the most authentic versions of these fantastic scale military vehicles, their efforts are finally coming to fruition. With several of the models passing through the pre-production stage and the appealing box designs finally taking shape, we are pleased to say that these popular models are just on the model collecting horizon and we have a further series of exclusive images to bring you in this latest edition, led by arguably the most famous military vehicle in the history of warfare, the fearsome German Tiger tank.
Even though the Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger heavy tank was only used in relatively small numbers during WWII, its fearsome reputation and sinister appearance ensured it is regarded as the most famous tank of the Second World War. Another tank developed as a result of Wehrmacht experiences on the Eastern Front, the Tiger may not have shared the cultured appearance of the Panther, but this was a war machine pure and simple and one which was devastatingly effective on the battlefield. Heavily armoured and equipped with the powerful 88mm gun, the sighting optics on the Tiger were so effective that enemy tanks could be destroyed at great distances and well before they were in range to return fire. By the time of the D-Day landings, the reputation of the Tiger was already assured, but even though they managed to inflict heavy losses on Allied armoured units, their small numbers were swamped by an overwhelming tide of Allied armoured numerical superiority. Unable to control the battlefield, damaged and unserviceable Tigers were simply abandoned to be captured by advancing Allied troops.
CC60513 - Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger I, ‘First in service’, Turret No.100, Schwere Panzerabteilung 502, Leningrad Sector, late 1942.
It is difficult for a Tiger tank to look anything other than sinister, but on this model diorama scene, this early version of the world’s most famous tank is looking particularly imposing
A 3D view of the box presentation which Corgi collectors will become familiar with over the next few months
The 502nd Heavy Panzer Battalion and their distinctive ‘Mammoth’ logo are famous for being the first Wehrmacht unit to introduce the fearsome Panzerkampfwagen VI ‘Tiger I’ into combat, during the siege of Leningrad in September 1942. Although this powerful new weapon was capable of destroying any enemy tank it faced, these early Tigers were rushed into combat before a full testing programme had been completed and consequently, were not as effective as they should have been. Suffering numerous technical difficulties and problems associated with operating such heavy tanks on the soft ground of Russia, more Tigers were destroyed by their own crews to prevent them from falling into Soviet hands, than as a result of enemy action. Despite this, on 14th January 1943, the Soviets managed to disable and capture ‘Tiger 100’ during ‘Operation Iskra’ and actions to break the German siege of Leningrad, with a second machine being secured just a few days later. Both tanks were rushed to the Kubinka experimental armour facility, where they were thoroughly evaluated and tactics developed to combat these feared armoured behemoths. Before the Germans had fully developed the potential of these magnificent fighting machines, the folly of their rushed combat introduction meant that their awesome secret was already out and Soviet designers began work on their own heavy tanks. Despite this, the 502nd Heavy Panzer Battalion would go on to become one of the most successful tank units of the Second World War and could boast several panzer ‘aces’ amongst its ranks.
Mobility is the key to success
Box artwork produced for the release of RAF Bedford QLD CC60309
As far as military vehicles are concerned, there can be no doubt that the tank is most definitely king of the battlefield from both a historical and an enthusiast perspective, however, behind every successful tank, there is a small army of support vehicles bringing up the essential ammunition, fuel, troops and supplies to keep everything moving in the right direction. Although fulfilling the less glamorous, yet equally important battlefield roles, these vehicles rarely enjoy the same recognition as the tanks they support and are usually produced in much greater quantities than the tanks which have proved so fascinating over the years. Thankfully, as well as including several of the Second World War’s most famous tanks in our 1/50th Military Vehicle range, we also have some of the AFVs and transport vehicles which did such sterling work throughout the conflict, both Allied and Axis. Two of these models have been received in pre-production sample format and have allowed our photographer and graphic designers to begin their work on preparing them for eventual release.
CC60309 – Bedford QLD 4X4 general service cargo truck, Service Number 105220, RAF 2nd Tactical Air Force, 84 Group, Gold Beach, Normandy, 6th June 1944.
This attractive image, which again features the pre-production sample of the forthcoming model release, illustrates how these hard working supply and logistics vehicles were never too far away from the action
As crucial as the initial assault landings on the main D-Day beaches undoubtedly were, this complex and dangerous operation would only succeed if those same beaches also received vast numbers of additional men, equipment and supplies in the hours and days which followed. With the beaches finally secured, huge LST (Landing Ship, Tank) vessels brought thousands of men, hundreds of vehicles and tons of supplies over the next few days, ensuring that the momentum of invasion could be maintained. With the Royal Air Force helping to clear the skies of enemy aircraft during the landings, it is also worth noting that around 1,800 RAF personnel and 456 vehicles also landed on Gold beach during D-Day, each one with an important part to play if this invasion was to ultimately succeed in bringing about an end to the war. Most of the vehicles were transporting men and equipment destined to construct Advanced Landing Grounds, which would allow Allied aircraft to operate close to the front lines, thus reducing their transit times and making them much more effective. Other men had been sent to service and maintain aircraft or to perform the crucial role of forward air controllers in support of advancing ground units. This particular RAF QLD truck was the subject of a famous wartime photograph, as it was held at the head of a column of RAF supply vehicles on a lane in the village of Ver-sur-Mer, Normandy, having just been unloaded on ‘King Beach’, Gold sector, in the afternoon of 6th June 1944.
CC60013 – Sd.Kfz.7 Krauss-Maffei medium towing half-track, Luftwaffe flak gun artillery tractor, Tunisia, May 1943.
This fantastic image really looks as if it could have been taken in the deserts of North Africa and helps to bring this handsome diecast model to life.
This view of the German Half-Track box presentation shows how the diorama image above was used as the basis for this striking artwork
One of the most numerous and instantly recognisable German fighting vehicles of the Second World War, the Sd.Kfz.7 medium half-track began its development in the mid 1930s and first entered service in 1938, just in time to take part in the opening actions of the war. Replacing the horse as a means of transporting men, supplies and artillery to the front lines, the half-track was a more complex machine than a standard truck and was prone to higher levels of mechanical failure, however, its pulling power and off road performance meant that these hard working vehicles were always in great demand. In Luftwaffe service, the Sd.Kfz.7 would primarily be employed in pulling one of the deadly 88mm Flak guns around the battlefield, along with its highly trained crew of twelve men and an array of tools, equipment and ammunition. Although these units were responsible for providing air defence support for ground troops and armoured divisions, the powerful 88mm gun was arguably even more effective when used against ground targets and there were numerous occasions when Luftwaffe anti-aircraft guns were requisitioned for use against Allied tanks, taking a heavy toll of British and Soviet armour. With a multitude of battlefield and supply uses, despite the fact that around 12,200 of these ‘special purpose vehicles’ were produced by several manufacturers, there never seemed to be enough to go around and those which were available often required to pull loads much greater than those they were designed for. Rarely wearing markings other than production numbers, these vehicles were painted in a myriad of different schemes, as crews attempted to camouflage their half-tracks from both air and ground attack, using whatever paint stocks they had at their disposal.
These beautifully produced new military vehicles are all now thankfully approaching their release dates and we look forward to bringing you one final update before they all begin to grace model display cabinets all over the world. The new 1/50th scale Military Vehicles range can be viewed and pre-ordered on the Corgi website, as well as through your regular model supplier.
Special Delivery for Mr Bean
Available now, this is the latest box artwork presentation for one of the best loved Corgi TV and Film models of recent years
Throughout the history of the Corgi diecast model production, TV and Film related releases have regularly been amongst the most popular toy and collectable products in the industry, a fact which was clearly illustrated by our search to find the Ultimate Corgi model top ten back in 2016. With some classic models appearing in the final list, the top three as voted by Diecast Diaries readers were (3) Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, (2) the Batmobile and a clear winner (1) James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5, all models which have sold in their tens of thousands over the years. Continuing with this successful theme, the current range includes a car which is driven by a man who is so far removed from the style and mystery of James Bond, that he could quite accurately be described as a ‘child in a grown man's body’, the incomparable Mr Bean. There can be few British comedic actors who are as instantly recognisable as Rowan Atkinson, with his seemingly endless repertoire of facial contortions and ability to switch from blundering buffoon to oppressed Captain in the British Army with consummate ease. The star of several spectacularly successful TV series, one of his best loved creations was the hapless, yet endearing and always hilarious Mr Bean, a man who seems to have remained in the blissful innocence of his childhood years despite living in an adult world. Rarely speaking and relying on facial expressions to transport him from one hilariously cringeworthy situation to the next, Mr Bean had two steadfast companions throughout his many adventures, his teddy and his trusty British Leyland Mini, which manages to get into just as many scrapes as its owner.
Mr Bean’s distinctive Mini has always been a popular addition to any Corgi model range in which it appears and whilst collectors currently have the opportunity to add this model to their collections, the previous time it appeared in a Corgi range was way back in 2001. Indeed, we are certain that this latest incarnation of Bean’s Mini is the most accurate and detailed presentation of this famous car we have ever produced, benefitting from such features as much cleaner door representation (they do not open on this model tooling), more accurate wheels and trims, as well as greater detail on the Bean inspired additional door security. Also featuring a newly designed presentation box, this latest Mr Bean Mini is certainly a model which will continue the popularity of TV and Film inspired releases and particularly Mr Bean fans young and old, who never tire of watching the hilarious antics of this rather strange, but extremely lovable character. Mr Bean Mini CC82110 is available now.
In an interesting recent development and in partnership with the producers of the hugely successful animated series of Mr Bean adventures, it appears as if our hapless hero is actually something of a Corgi collector himself, as confirmed by the short clip above. Seen getting rather excited at the approach of his postman, Mr Bean rushes downstairs to take delivery of the latest addition to his Corgi model collection, one which appears to replicate his own distinctive vehicle. Opening the package and placing the model in his display case, it appears as if this latest delivery completes his collection and it seems rather fitting that it is his Mini that takes centre stage – what finer way could there be to end an edition of our Corgi blog? The hugely popular Mr Bean animated series can be viewed on the ITV hub and on the CiTV channel.
That’s all we have for you in this latest edition of Corgi 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 Die-cast Diaries is scheduled to be published on Friday 6th September.
The Corgi Die-cast Diaries Team
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