Corgi Week Day 5 – ‘Mi Amigo’ research breaking new ground
Welcome to this final blog of the very first ‘Corgi Week’ – we all made it!
During the course of the week, we have alarmed our readers by asking if they would ever consider weathering one of their beloved models, introduced you to our new Assistant Brand Manager Meg, looked at some of the fantastic new models which are due to be released over the next few weeks and seen how the Vanguards range has managed to tame the Jaguar. We would like to extend particular thanks to the readers who contacted us following our weathering feature on Day 1 – your e-mails made for fascinating reading and certainly warrant further discussion in a future edition of the blog. Surprisingly, it seems as if quite a number of you have already applied the technique of dry brushing to some of your models and we weren’t making such a radical suggestion after all!
Today it’s the turn of Aviation Archive and one of the high profile models included in the current 2020 range. We will see how on some occasions, our researchers and graphic designers break new ground when making their scale tributes to famous wartime aircraft in diecast. The final day of ‘Corgi Week’ is now upon us and we thank you all for your fantastic support throughout.
Aeroplanes – the most exciting machines created by man
This magnificent artwork was produced for use on the box of the first 1/48th scale English Electric Lightning F.6 release, one of the most accomplished models in the Aviation Archive range. When looking at this image, it’s not difficult to see why aeroplanes hold such fascination for so many people
Since appearing in a Corgi range for the first time back in 1998, the Aviation Archive range has gradually introduced the collector world to an ever increasing range of high quality, extremely well detailed aircraft models which proved to be popular right from the very beginning. Indeed, the overwhelming popularity of these models would see the rapid expansion of the range in a relatively short period of time, with the company investing significant sums of money to increase the tooling bank with each new range announcement. Within the space of two years, the original 1/144th scale Lancasters and Douglas DC-3/C-47s had been joined by Spitfires, Hurricanes and Messerschmitts in the larger and altogether more impressive 1/72nd scale, along with significant additional collector support.
As Corgi’s new scale aircraft range began to come to the attention of a much wider audience, some, especially those who had a history of building plastic kits, were a little sceptical at the quality and accuracy these mass-produced diecast models could offer them, however, those in doubt were about to be subjected to a diecast revelation and it would come in the iconic shape of Britain’s most famous wartime bomber, the Avro Lancaster. Already a popular model in the existing 1/144th scale range, the Corgi design team did something which many collectors thought unlikely at best and most probably impossible – they only went and produced a diecast Lancaster tooling in 1/72nd scale.
This development was the cause of great excitement and not just amongst existing diecast collectors. For the first time, absolutely anyone who had even the slightest interest in aviation became aware of the Aviation Archive range and they were all keen to get their hands on one of the new Lancaster’s to see if this exciting new model would be good enough for them. People headed for model shops and toy fairs in their droves, with just one thing on their minds, to look over Corgi’s new 1/72nd scale Lancaster model – could it possibly be as good as they were all hoping? If they were expecting to be disappointed, they were in for a very pleasant surprise, as the new Lancaster was simply stunning, a fantastic achievement for Corgi and one of the most significant models in our hobby.
Illustrating the significant difference between the smaller 1/144th scale and much more impressive 1/72nd scale, these two Skytrains show how the Aviation Archive range has developed since the first model appeared in 1998
Since the release of the first 1/72nd scale Lancaster, the Aviation Archive range has gone from strength to strength and is now a major collector section in any Corgi model range. Over the past 22 years, hundreds of new models have been release in a variety of scales and with each newly tooled model pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved in the diecast hobby industry. The Corgi designers have always been keen to innovate when it comes to Aviation Archive, with some developments such as full wire rigging on biplane models being a significant achievement for the industry as a whole, whilst others such as including LED’s and sound chips (Sights and Sounds) proved to be less popular with the collector. All the time the range has been developing, there has been one constant throughout the range’s history – the need to research model schemes accurately and to ensure the production facilities replicate this information during the manufacturing process.
As a firmly established collectable range with hundreds of previous releases already in the marketplace, some collector’s will clearly have amassed impressive collections over the years, with each of us having our own list of favourite models. As we all admire the latest addition to our own collections, please spare a little thought for the people who have served in the Corgi design and development roles over the years. Not only do these committed people have to replicate the subject aircraft accurately in diecast metal, they also have to ensure the completed models are finished in authentic colours, with all correct insignia and markings accurately applied.
All this can be quite a responsibility and definitely requires many hours of honest endeavour and absolute concentration to achieve, not to mention a wealth of previous experience within the team. What they are effectively doing is producing accurate scale representations of some of the most famous aeroplanes in the world, machines which in some cases have little or often conflicting research information available about them. This is a serious business for manufacturer and collector alike!
Mi Amigo Flying Fortress – A research challenge
This image features the hand decorated sample model produced from the original information we had at the time of planning the 2020 Aviation Archive range. This representation has since been updated, although interestingly, this image is the one used to illustrate the release details of ‘Mi Amigo’ in the current Corgi catalogue
With the announcement of the current Corgi model range back in January this year, Aviation Archive collectors would have no doubt been delighted to see the inclusion of a scale representation of a wartime aircraft which had received significant media attention during 2019, following a chance meeting between a well known BBC presenter and a very special gentleman in a Sheffield park. As a young boy, Tony Foulds had been playing with his friends in Endcliffe Park when a B-17G Flying Fortress appeared overhead. The boys initially thought the aircraft was giving them an impromptu flypast treat and waived enthusiastically at the crew, who Mr Foulds said, appeared to be waiving back at them. I actual fact, the aircraft had been badly damaged during a bombing mission and the crew were actually trying to get the boys to run away.
To the boys dismay, the aircraft came down in a heavily wooded area of the park just metres away from where they had been playing and whilst local people immediately rushed to the scene, tragically, there was nothing that could be done to save the ten man crew of the bomber. Years later, on the 25th anniversary of the incident, the local council finally erected a memorial to the crew of Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress ‘Mi Amigo’ on the site of the fateful crash which occurred on 22nd February 1944, a memorial which Mr Foulds has since made it his duty to regularly tend. The incident which left such an impression on him as a young mad has stayed with him into his senior years.
The chance meeting between Mr Foulds and the BBC presenter rekindled significant media interest in the story, both here in the UK and in America and as the 75th anniversary of the incident approached, Tony’s wish for a flypast to honour the crew of ‘Mi Amigo’ became known and began to gain some momentum. Thanks to the publicity and the assistance of some influential people, Tony Foulds eventually got his wish and on the morning of 22nd February 2019, thousands of people packed into Sheffield’s Endcliffe Park to witness a flypast by aircraft from the RAF and USAF, a modern tribute to the brave US airmen who made the ultimate sacrifice on that small patch of green space in a residential area of Sheffield 75 years earlier.
AA33319 – Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress 42-31322 (WF-V) ‘Mi Amigo’, 364th Bombardment Squadron, 305th Bombardment Group, Chelveston, 22nd February 1944
One of over 12,700 B-17 Flying Fortress bombers built during WWII, 42-31322 would leave the production lines at Boeing Seattle in October 1943 and embark on a tour of several locations across the US, where various additional items of internal equipment could be fitted, prior to its journey to Britain and the European Theatre of Operations. Travelling the hazardous Northern Route, which included stops in Newfoundland, Greenland, Iceland and eventually Scotland, the aircraft eventually arrived with the 305th Bombardment Group at Chelveston on 30th January 1944. Once the bomber was assigned to a crew, they gave it the name ‘Mi Amigo’, meaning My Friend in Spanish, suggested by bombardier Lt. Melcher Hernandez, who had Spanish heritage and hoped the name would endow their aircraft with good luck – it met with the approval of the entire ten man crew.
The crew had been assembled from right across America and following completion of their individual training programmes, came together at Geiger Field, Washington, for intensive training as a group, in preparation for posing overseas and war. ‘Mi Amigo’ would take its place in a concerted Allied bombing campaign intended to diminish Germany’s ability to wage war and specifically to prepare the way for the forthcoming Allied invasion of occupied Europe – D-Day.
At the beginning of a year which would mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, a tragic wartime event which occurred at a public park in Sheffield on 22nd February 1944, would receive significant national media coverage and commemorate the sacrifice of the men of the US Eighth Air Force. The crew of B-17G Flying Fortress ‘Mi Amigo’ had just taken part in a bombing raid against the Luftwaffe airfield at Alborg in Northern Denmark and having come under sustained attack by flak and Luftwaffe fighters, fell out of formation and made for home. With several crew members injured and radio/navigational equipment not working, the aircraft struggled to find a relief landing airfield in low cloud and found itself over the city of Sheffield at low altitude and with damaged engines – they needed to put the aircraft down and quickly.
The bomber was heard to circle the area of Endcliffe Park for some time, before a change in engine tone immediately resulted in the aircraft plummeting to the ground, crashing on to a wooded bank at the far end of the park and the tragic loss of all on board. Nobody on the ground was injured in the incident and it has been reported that the crew were waving children playing on the park away from the area, fearful that they may be injured by the stricken bomber. What is certain is that the crew of ‘Mi Amigo’ averted what could have been a catastrophe for the city of Sheffield and paid the ultimate price as a result.
These two images will be of great interest to Aviation Archive collectors, as they clearly illustrate how the development team use research files to produce product artwork to help guide the manufactures through the latest model projects. They also show how the receipt of new information can necessitate the production of updated artwork and changes to a models specification. Looking closely at these two files, there are some quite significant changes between the first artwork file produced (above) and the final one shown underneath it. Please pay particular attention to the differing representation of the aircraft’s nose artwork
As the Corgi research and development team started creating their files for the models suggested for inclusion in the 2020 range, it quickly became apparent that information relating to this particular Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress was rather thin on the ground. Over the years, there have been some notable works on this subject, where historians have thoroughly researched all aspects of this incident and the aircraft involved - indeed, there have been a couple of books published on the subject. Unfortunately though, actual wartime photographs of the aircraft itself have proved extremely difficult, if not impossible to find and much of the available information has been pieced together from several different sources, including the personal journals of some of the aircraft’s crew.
If you look closely at the artwork files featured above, you will see that the information we originally based our pre-production model design on and the image which featured in the 2020 Corgi catalogue displays quite a number of differences from how the model is currently represented on the product webpage. Indeed, the original hand decorated sample model which was used for both catalogue/web artwork purposes, as well as being on display during the early year model preview events, was produced using the original information available at that time, even though we were still on the lookout for definitive, corroborative evidence on the presentation of the aircraft. As can be seen on the later artwork file and on the recently released box artwork presentation, you can see quite a number of alterations over the original representation, changes which were applied following receipt of new information.
With nose artwork being such a prominent feature of many USAAF bombers from the Second World War, it is perhaps surprising that no original images appear to exist showing ‘Mi Amigo’ and her artwork. Of course, this has to be tempered by the fact that the aircraft and its crew certainly had more pressing matters on their minds, as they were fully engaged in the serious business of fighting the European Air War. In fact, the only existing representations of the aircraft come from paintings and a couple of line drawings produced by enthusiasts, using information gathered from several different sources, including the personal memoirs of crew members themselves. Having cast the ‘Mi Amigo’ research net far and wide, will our new model now be regarded the current benchmark representation of a wartime bomber which was thrust into the public eye during the 75th anniversary year of D-Day?
This stunning image features the latest pre-production model of B-17G Flying Fortress ‘Mi Amigo’, which was produced using the decoration instructions included on the updated product artwork file. Incorporating all the very latest research information available in connection this famous aircraft, will our model now be regarded as the benchmark for an aircraft which received so much attention during 2019?
Looking absolutely magnificent, this beautiful new model is a fitting addition to the Aviation Archive range and although it is a scale representation of an aircraft which has such a tragic human story behind it, it will serve to help commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of all the airmen who fought amongst the clouds during the Second World War. From the perspective of the Corgi team, it is truly humbling to think we have in some small way helped contribute to a more accurate representation of this famous aircraft and with it, preserving the memory of the ten man crew of ‘Mi Amigo’.
AA33319 Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress 42-31322 (WF-V) ‘Mi Amigo’ is currently scheduled for a summer release and is already assured of being one of our most popular model releases of the year.
Win a £200 spending spree on the Corgi website
Well, we are afraid that’s it for our first ever ‘Corgi Week’ of blogs - we sincerely hope you all enjoyed this change in format. During the course of the past five days, we have looked at several of the different product sectors within the current Corgi range, asked some rather searching questions of our collectors and introduced you all to the newest member of the Corgi team. We have brought you an impressive selection of exclusive product images and tested your model knowledge with a new competition every day, with some great Corgi prizes on offer. We really hope that you have all got four entries in at this point!
This brings us nicely to our final competition of the week and something all Corgi collectors would be interested in winning. We all have our own particular favourites when it comes to collecting genres, even though most of us would admit to dipping into different collector areas from time to time, so with that in mind, how could we offer a prize which would be of interest to ALL Corgi collectors? Well, it’s simple really – give the winner ultimate spending power and the ability to select absolutely anything from the Corgi website!
Our prize for day 5 of Corgi week is an impressive £200.00 credit for our lucky winner to spend on the Corgi website. This is a great way to end the week, however, it does come with a couple of important competition caveats – the credit amount must be spent on the Corgi website and the prize cannot be exchanged for any cash value. Having said that, we really don’t think any of our readers would struggle spending this on a selection of the latest Corgi goodies. You might even decide to go for a ‘Mi Amigo’ Flying Fortress, or perhaps an instant collection of Harry Potter related models – you may even decide to get a little creative and take a Military Legends Sherman tank to have a go at weathering. If you are our winner, the choice is completely yours.
To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic prize, simply head over to the Corgi Competitions page where you will find all the information you need, including the all-important B-17G Flying Fortress related question you will need to answer. Following our usual competition format, there will be three possible answers for you to select from, but only one will be the correct one. Our lucky winner will be selected at random from the list of correct entries and we will contact them directly with news of their success after the closing date.
Good luck to everyone taking part.
We are afraid that’s it for this very first ‘Corgi Week’ of blogs – thank you so much for sticking with us all week. It would be interesting to hear what you thought of the slightly shorter format and whether it is something you would like to see us do more often in the future. Would you prefer to have shorter blogs published more frequently, or are you happy with the current format? Please do let us know your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can gauge the mood of the diecast collecting nation.
If you are now wondering what on earth you are going to do with yourself until the next edition of Diecast Diaries is posted, you could always head for our official Facebook and Twitter social media pages, where you can be sure that plenty of Corgi model related news, views and conversation will be taking place. We look forward to reading about all the latest Corgi collecting discussions and pictures of your favourite models over the coming few weeks.
Finally, thank you for your continued support of the blog and we look forward to bringing you more Corgi related news, features and exclusive updates in the next edition of Die-cast Diaries, which is scheduled to be published on Friday 19th June. We look forward to seeing you all back here then.
The Corgi Die-cast Diaries Team
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