Gulf War Pirates
An Aviation Veteran answers the call
We would like to welcome all our readers to the latest edition of our Die-cast Diaries blog, where we give you an insight into everything that is going on behind the scenes at Corgi. This tenth edition of our blog is being posted a little later than we had originally anticipated, but our latest mix of interesting news and information for the Corgi die-cast collector is now ready to go live.
Throughout 2016, there will be a number of events taking place to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Gulf War. Sunday 28th February 2016 will see the 25th Anniversary of Saddam Hussein’s forces being driven from their unprovoked invasion of Kuwait, following significant military actions by Coalition forces. Followers of the Aviation Archive range will be aware that the current Corgi Catalogue includes a quartet of models that have been announced to mark this significant anniversary and specifically to commemorate the Royal Air Force commitment to ‘Operation Granby’. In this latest edition of Die-cast Diaries, we are going to look at one of these releases in particular and how it marks the contribution of a veteran British aircraft, which had little time to prepare for operations in the Gulf, but was needed to provide support for much more modern RAF aircraft.
“How quickly can you get to the Gulf?”
As military plans to remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait were being drawn up, the RAF had no plans to call upon the services of the venerable old Blackburn Buccaneer and deployed Tornado and Jaguar Squadrons to the Persian Gulf. With the failure of any diplomatic solution and the launching of Coalition operations, RAF Tornados and Jaguars began striking Iraqi airfields and other high value military targets. Operating at low level, they found Iraqi air defences to be particularly heavy and a number of aircraft were lost. As a consequence, the decision was taken to mount operations at higher altitudes and use precision guided ordnance, but there was a problem – the only RAF aircraft with overland laser target designation capability (‘Pave Spike’) was back in the UK – the ageing Buccaneer!
Back at RAF Lossiemouth, the Station Commander received a phone call from Strike Command HQ, asking him “How quickly can you get your aircraft to the Gulf?” He replied that he could have six aircraft ready in 72 hours, even though many of his aircraft were deployed elsewhere and this would require some significant effort to achieve. The aircraft would have to be prepared for theatre, with air and ground crews also needing to be sent to the Gulf at short notice. The most visible change to the appearance of the Buccaneers would be the requirement to spray the aircraft in a Desert Pink ARTF (Alkali Removable Temporary Finish) scheme, to give the aircraft some form of camouflage protection whilst in theatre. Despite the significant challenges this rushed deployment presented, the first ‘Pave Spike’ equipped Buccaneers arrived at Muharraq Air Base, in Bahrain on 26th January 1991, following a nine-hour non-stop flight direct from RAF Lossiemouth. The RAF now had their airborne target designators in theatre.
The ‘Sky Pirates’ enter the fray
Profile artwork showing the port side of this distinctive Buccaneer
The AN/AVQ23E ‘Pave Spike’ laser designation pod carried by the RAF Buccaneers allowed RAF strike aircraft to accurately target Iraqi hardened aircraft shelters, strategic targets and individual enemy aircraft - even though the Buccaneers were the last RAF aircraft to deploy during the Gulf War, these venerable old Cold War strike jets were to make a telling contribution. Operating in pairs, with four Tornado GR.1s, one Buccaneer would provide the target marking capability for the formation, with the second aircraft acting as a back up, in case of technical malfunction. This combination allowed the RAF to accurately deliver their munitions on strategically selected targets and virtually eliminate the potential of any coordinated Iraqi military counter attack.
The Buccaneer force in the Gulf christened themselves ‘The Sky Pirates’ in reference to the naval heritage of their distinctive aircraft and decorated their classic jets in similar swashbuckling fashion. Proudly proclaiming their association with Scotland, the aircraft carried the names of some famous malt whiskies on the side of the fuselage, along with a variety of ladies names. Some of the aircraft also carried striking, if a little risqué, nose artwork, which certainly made these Gulf War Buccaneers highly individual and of great interest to the modeller/collector. The subject of the latest Corgi Buccaneer AA34112 is S. Mk.2B XW533/A – this aircraft carries the Sky Pirates and Jolly Roger markings on the port side of the forward fuselage, with distinctive ‘Miss Jolly Roger’ nose artwork and the names ‘Fiona’ and ‘Glenfaclas’ on the starboard side. As you can see, she is a highly distinctive aircraft!
The starboard side artwork references are even more interesting
Interestingly, Buccaneer XW522 was delivered to the RAF in February 1971, almost 20 years to the day that she arrived at Muharraq Air base, to begin her deployment during the Gulf War. After a long and distinguished service career at bases in the UK and in Germany, she received her Desert Pink ARTF paint scheme at RAF Lossiemouth and received the code ‘A’ – the nose art appeared once the aircraft had deployed to the Gulf. Following a direct flight from Lossiemouth lasting 8 hours and 50 minutes, XW533 arrived in Bahrain on 27th January 1991 and returned back to Lossiemouth on 17th March – despite the age of the Buccaneers sent to the Gulf, they proved to be an invaluable asset to RAF planners and illustrated the flexibility and professionalism of the Lossiemouth based Squadrons.
Pre-production sample model of AA34112 on the design desk at Corgi HQ
The Aviation Archive Gulf War 25th Anniversary models are already proving to be extremely popular additions to the range and will make for a distinctive model display in their own right. Blackburn Buccaneer ‘Miss Jolly Roger’ (AA34112) is currently scheduled for a June 2016 release, but you can keep a check on its status and reserve your example by heading for the Corgi website, or clicking on the link above.
Corgi 60th Anniversary Update
We will be including a complete feature on the 60th Anniversary of Corgi in the next edition of Die-cast Diaries, but before we leave the subject completely, we would just like to tell you about a lovely little model that has been produced specifically to promote our proud anniversary and one which is causing quite a stir within collector communities.
To mark the occasion of our 60th Anniversary, Corgi have produced a number of specially decorated model vans, which were to be presented as little promotional anniversary gifts at a number of special events throughout the year. DG205005 is a rather charming little Smiths NCB (Northern Coach Builders) 1 ton electric van, which was very much in service during 1956, when the first Corgi models went on sale. The vans were designed to replace the last of the horse drawn delivery vehicles and by their nature, many went on to see long years of service. The vans were more often than not used to deliver milk, but other examples could also be found delivering bread, fish and general groceries.
As these rather attractive models were intended to be used as promotional models, they have obviously aroused the attentions of avid die-cast collectors, who have been keen to try and get their hands on one – well now you have your opportunity! A small number of these lovely little commemorative models have been made available on the Corgi website and can be snapped up on a first come, first served basis. Each model is supplied with a limited edition certificate and this colourful little electric van is a fun way to mark the 60th Anniversary of Corgi models. Click on this Anniversary Van link to secure your example.
Latest releases in the Aviation Archive range
After something of a protracted development period, we are pleased to announce that the magnificent Queen’s Flight Westland Wessex is now available! Proving the adage that all good things come to he who waits, this handsome helicopter has experienced some delays from its originally published release date, as a number of issues were required to be addressed to ensure that the model was as accurate as possible. Thankfully AA37609 is now available and makes for a stunning addition to any helicopter collection.
AA37609 Queen’s Flight Wessex, image kindly supplied by Tony Osborne
Westland Wessex HCC4 (XV732) was one of two Wessex helicopters used by the Queen’s Flight and specially equipped with a number of additional items, making the aircraft suitable for transporting some of the world’s most important people. Stationed for many years at RAF Benson these handsome aircraft always caused a stir wherever they appeared and not only could they herald the arrival of the Royal Family to an event, but they may have actually been flown by a member of the Royal Family – both Prince Charles and Prince Andrew flew these aircraft. This particular Wessex is now on display at the RAF Museum Hendon, resplendent in her glorious Queen’s Flight colours.
We are extremely grateful to Die-cast Diaries contributor and helicopter expert Tony Osborne for sending us these fantastic pictures of the model. Tony also informed us that the Queen’s first flight in a Wessex was during her visit to Northern Ireland in her Silver Jubilee year – thanks again Tony.
Two interesting aviation models are scheduled for release this week and will be in the display cabinets of many collectors by the time we publish our next edition of Die-cast Diaries. Helping to commemorate the Centenary commemorations of the Great War and marking the first aviation release from the new January to June 2016 catalogue, Royal Aircraft Factory SE5a ‘Schweinhund’ (AA37707) is an unusually colourful addition to our collection of British WWI aircraft. With its distinctive red fuselage, this aircraft was the mount of No.56 Squadron pilot Capt. Duncan Grinnell-Milne, who had spent some time in captivity, as a guest of the Germans. Prisoners were usually referred to as ‘Schweinhund’, so when he escaped and returned to active flying duties, there really was only one name for his fighter! He used this aircraft to score five victories against the Luftstreitkrafte in the last weeks of WWI. This extremely attractive model is available now and we are very much indebted to our talented graphic designer Michael Collins for this extremely atmospheric adaptation of the SE5a catalogue image.
Without doubt, one of the most popular models from the previous Corgi catalogue was North American P-51D Mustang ‘Butch Baby’ AA27701, which is the first release from the totally re-tooled 1/72nd scale P-51D Mustang model. Clearly benefitting from the latest advances in manufacturing techniques, this new Mustang model is a highly accurate representation of arguably the most capable fighter aircraft of WWII and looks destined to become a big hit with collectors. With this first release already close to full allocation and collectors already beginning to receive their pre-ordered models, this will be the final opportunity to secure one of these magnificent Mustangs before ‘Butch Baby’ disappears for good – please head for the Corgi website or you usual model supplier now!
What’s on the desk?
This popular feature of the blog allows us the opportunity to scour the design desk at Corgi HQ, looking for pictures of any interesting models that we can show you. As usual, we have to include the important caveat that these are pre-production samples and may well include inaccuracies that have already been spotted by the design team and will be rectified before the model is released for production – after all, that is the intended purpose of a pre-production model! So, here is what we have for you this week.
AA36908 Junkers Ju-52 Transport Aircraft 4U+NH ‘Operation Merkur’
Many Aviation Archive collectors will tell you that the 1/72nd scale Corgi Junkers Ju-52 ‘Iron Annie’ is one of the finest models in the entire range and with many of the previous releases becoming highly sought after, this latest release is a popular addition to the current catalogue. Wearing a distinctly different camouflage scheme to any of the previous releases, this aircraft was used by the Luftwaffe during the invasion of Crete in 1941, where the use of paratroopers would be central to the success of the operation. Currently scheduled for a late June release, this beautiful model should be adorning our display shelves very soon.
CC14122 DAF 105 Fridge Trailer featuring RAF Holbeach artwork
Retaining an aviation theme, the trailer being pulled by this DAF XF105 Series cab will appeal to truck and aviation enthusiasts alike. Featuring the stunning artwork of artist Alisha Miller, the FreshLinc Company commissioned a series of artworks to adorn a number of their temperature controlled trailers, which celebrated the link between the company and the local community. This trailer marks the nearby RAF Holbeach bombing range and features the much loved Battle of Britain Memorial Flight on the trailer – a quite stunning future release.
CC15812 Mercedes-Benz Actros (MP4) Curtainside Trailer McGawn Transport
The Hauliers of Renown range of modern trucks remains one of the most popular ranges in the Corgi model portfolio and when looking at this latest McGawn Brothers release, it is not difficult to see why. Wearing this highly distinctive red and green livery, these vehicles operate from two sites in Maybole, Ayrshire make for an attractive sight if spotted on the motorways of Great Britain. Scheduled for release in late June, there is still time to place your pre-order for this eye-catching new model.
VA10311 Ford Cortina Mk.3 2000 GXL ‘Swampy the Cortina’
In 2011, Southport-based Cortina enthusiast Pete Crompton saw a picture of this car on the net, sitting in a waterlogged field in Essex (hence nickname 'Swampy’), where it had been for twenty-four years - he scoured Google Earth trying to work out its location. The original owner's brother, Grahame, then agreed to sell Pete the car, realising he seriously intended to restore this rare, but extremely rusty Cortina.
Pete stripped what was left of the car’s shell, braced it, then had it chemically dipped to remove dirt and rust. What came back was not pretty, the cabin floors, inner and outer sills, inner and outer wings, boot floor, engine bay and roof all needed replacing or extensive welding. Undaunted he made a detailed plan then just got on with it, keeping a log of his work (4400 hours in over two years) and posting regular updates about the project on YouTube. With help and support from a team too big to mention he was able to finish the car, with a number of subtle improvements such as extra sound deadening and stiffer suspension, for the Three Counties Ford 'Cortina Day' 2014.
The stories behind some of these lovingly restored vehicles are just fantastic and make these beautiful models even more appealing. Swampy the Cortina is now scheduled for release at the end of July 2016.
In this new section for our Die-cast Diaries blog, we intend to provide our collectors with an update on which models they can expect to be receiving at their doors (if the model had been pre-ordered), or collecting from their local model shop in the coming few weeks. Although most of the models listed below should be available imminently, production schedules and transportation from the Far East can often be subject to change, so it is always a good idea to check the Corgi website regularly for the latest release information.
Due for release/restock in the coming few days:
AA27701 P-51D Mustang NEW TOOLING
AA37707 SE5a ‘Schweinhund’ 1/48th Scale
As we mentioned in our previous blog, 2016 will be a big year for us at Corgi, as we celebrate our significant 60th anniversary. We are looking for Die-cast Diaries readers to share their Corgi stories with us and let us know which models have a special place in your heart, or which ones started you off on the collecting hobby. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with us, please send your stories and pictures to our firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail address.
As always, we are keen to hear your views on our Die-cast Diaries blog and any ideas you may have for future subject matter – you may even want to offer us an article to feature in a future edition. As well as our new e-mail address, we also have our dedicated Die-Cast Diaries forum, or you may prefer to contact us through Facebook or Twitter using #CorgiDiecastDiaries.
Until the next edition of Die-cast Diaries, we really hope that you continue to enjoy your die-cast model collecting!
The Corgi Team
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