Is this Corgi’s most impressive model ever?
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.
For this first standard blog of 2020, we start looking at some of the fantastic models which make up the latest Corgi range and will be gracing our display cabinets over the coming twelve months. With any number of highlights in the 2020 model range, we begin another year of blogs by focusing on some of the releases which are scheduled for arrival during the first quarter of the year. One of these impending releases is such a spectacular piece of diecast collectability that it begs a pretty significant question to be asked, ‘Could this be Corgi’s most impressive model release?’
With our latest selection of exclusive Corgi imagery to bring you, we will also feature several models which have links to other models released in the recent past, including a trio of Aviation Archive releases which have been produced to mark the final flight of arguably the most famous airman in the history of flight. With a collection of Vanguards models to show you the like of which have never been seen before, our second Diecast Diaries blog in January 2020 will hopefully have something for every reader.
A Beast amongst diecast models
An exclusive look at one of the CAD screenshots produced during the 18 month project to immortalise the Avro Vulcan B.2 in diecast metal
Over the past few months on both the Corgi and Airfix websites, our Aerodrome blog has published several features which served to confirm that Britain’s affection for a particular aviation relic of the Cold War era shows absolutely no sign of abating. The mighty Avro Vulcan was without doubt one of the most distinctive products of the British Aviation industry and despite the fact that it was designed to have the potential to wreak untold devastation from the air, was viewed with the same overwhelming public affection enjoyed by such classics as the Spitfire and Lancaster.
With one much loved aircraft remaining on the UK Airshow circuit until October 2015, the recent Aerodrome features not only marked the fourth anniversary of the Vulcan’s distressing final flight, but also asked the question had any other enthusiasts been missing the mighty delta recently? – the answer came back as an unequivocal YES. In order to ease this Vulcan induced pain, the latest Corgi Aviation Archive Range includes a magnificent 1/72nd scale example of the Avro Vulcan B.2 and it’s an absolute cracker! We are pleased to be in a position to bring you the very latest signed sample images from an impending release which has already been attracting significant ordering activity.
As one of the most distinctive post war British aviation designs, it did not take long before a scale version of the Vulcan appeared in the Aviation Archive range, with a diecast 1/144th scale example being released back in 1999, a model which instantly found favour with collectors. With several examples produced over the next few years and thousands of models finding a space in the display cabinets of enthusiasts all over the world, it seemed as if this model would serve as a fitting diecast tribute to the legacy of this magnificent aircraft, that is until a fateful announcement made during 2013 – Corgi intended to produce a Vulcan in 1/72nd scale.
A fascinating CAD screenshot which features an exploded component view of the 1/72nd scale Vulcan tooling and underlines the sheer size of the project
The arrival of the first pre-production sample model from this project had collectors scrambling to ensure their pre-order was in place, as this was certainly a spectacular scale representation of the mighty Vulcan
A final look at one of the CAD screenshots produced by the Corgi development engineers during the Vulcan project
At the time, this announcement came as something of a shock for an unsuspecting diecast collecting world, with this exciting project immediately coming in for close enthusiast scrutiny. Historically, over the years, several die-cast model manufacturing companies had seriously assessed the possibility of producing a Vulcan model in 1/72nd scale, but in each case, had decided not to proceed due to the complexities of the project. The sheer physical size of the tooling blocks required for a model of this scale, combined with the potential difficulties of the model retaining its shape integrity once cast, were specific limiting factors which always proved just too much of a challenge. Indeed, tooling engineering companies in the Far East were adamant that such a model was ‘a bridge too far’ at that time and unless the casting for the proposed new model was produced in several separate sections and glued together for ease of production, it was just too large a model to produce using traditional manufacturing techniques.
These were the significant challenges facing the Corgi design engineers when deciding to immortalise the mighty Avro Vulcan B.2 in 1/72nd scale and as they embarked on the project, they were fully aware that they would be heading into uncharted diecast model making territory!
Despite having to overcome plenty of problems during the lengthy development of their new Vulcan, the Corgi team rose to every challenge placed before them and in September 2014, they proudly unveiled the new model to the collector world. What they managed to produce was a faithful representation of this iconic aircraft and without doubt, one of the most important model tooling achievements in the history of diecast aircraft model production, something we, as the current custodians of the Corgi brand, are rightly proud of.
Diecast wonder of the Waddington Wing
This impressive box is about to be a distinctive addition to model store shelves everywhere, or at least until they are all snapped up by collectors
Since the triumphant first release from our 1/72nd scale Avro Vulcan B.2 tooling back in 2014, there have only been two other models in this series, with each one proving extremely popular with collectors and now incredibly difficult models to find – it was high time that we had another Vulcan in the range. Inspection of the recently announced 2020 model range will have confirmed the inclusion of a new Vulcan model and immediately had collectors rushing to place their advanced orders. As we had left it quite a while between releases, we are pleased to confirm that collectors will not have to wait too long for the arrival of this latest example, a model which is definitely one of the highlights of the current range. Indeed, as we publish this latest blog, we are delighted to confirm that our latest 1/72nd scale Avro Vulcan B.2 AA27204 is already in our warehouse and being prepared for immediate dispatch.
As we take a closer look at this latest Vulcan release, we are pleased to be in a position to include an exclusive selection of images featuring the signed sample example of this beautiful model, a model which represents the final stage of development before a project is released for full production.
AA27204 – Avro Vulcan B.2 XM575, RAF No.101 Squadron, Waddington Wing, September 1975
One of the most distinctive military aircraft ever to take to the skies, the mighty Avro Vulcan provided Britain with a high-profile nuclear deterrent during the period known as the ‘Cold War’, as the second of Britain’s famous V-Bombers to enter RAF service. Continuing a proud heritage of Avro bomber types which began with the twin engined Manchester, the Vulcan was a highly advanced tail-less delta design which possessed the ability to effectively deliver either nuclear or conventional weapons, including the fearsome ‘Blue Steel’ standoff nuclear missile. Operating at higher altitudes, the first Vulcan’s in RAF service were finished in an overall white anti-flash scheme, intended to protect the aircraft in the seconds following detonation of a nuclear device, however, advances in Soviet anti-aircraft missile defences brought about a significant change in the aircraft’s attack profile.
Moving from high to low altitude strike operations during the early to mid 1960s, Vulcans retained their white undersides, but were given a striking grey and green camouflage on their upper surfaces, markings which really suited the huge delta shape of this magnificent aircraft. Although moving to low-level bombing operations, retention of the white anti-flash undersides clearly illustrates the Vulcan’s continued role as a nuclear armed strategic bomber.
This next selection of images are exclusive to Diecast Diaries readers and feature the final signed sample of this impressive new 1/72nd scale Avro Vulcan B.2, a model which is destined to become one of the most popular releases in the 2020 range
Lincolnshire’s RAF Waddington base will always be inextricably linked with the operation of the Avro Vulcan bomber, with the station welcoming the first Vulcans to enter RAF service with No.83 Squadron in 1957 and going on to serve as home to the last flying Vulcan (XH558) of the Vulcan Display Flight until its disbandment in 1992. At their height of operations, the Vulcans of the Waddington Wing must have made for an impressive sight, particularly when performing a four-ship scramble, with these mighty bombers, which possessed fighter-like performance, blasting into Lincolnshire skies, one after the other, in a high-profile demonstration of Britain’s aerial might.
Avro Vulcan XM575 was the second B.2 Blue Steel equipped aircraft to be fitted with the upgraded Olympus 301 engines and would go on to see service with Nos.617, 101, 50 and 44 Squadrons, as part of both the Scampton and Waddington Wings during its career. She was one of three Vulcans which took part in the Falklands Victory Flypast over central London in October 1982, but was retired from RAF service the following year. Her final flight would be to East Midlands Airport and a new career as the much loved centrepiece exhibit of the East Midlands Aeropark, where she can still be admired to this day. She is displayed wearing the colours of RAF No.44 Squadron, the unit in which she was operating when this icon of the Cold War was withdrawn from service.
This stunning new model is due to be released over the next few days and will help to feed our passion for all things Vulcan.
End of the Red Baron’s bloody reign
This magnificent image has been produced by one of our talented image retouchers and uses the pre-production model images to simulate the first taste of combat for Wolfram von Richthofen and Wilfred May, combat which would ultimately lead to the death of the celebrated Red Baron
Taking his place as arguably the most famous airman ever to take to the skies, Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen was the Great War’s most successful air ace, a man whose exploits were admired on both sides of the trench lines. Since the end of WWI, the Red Baron has continued to be a source of enduring fascination, particularly as this 25 year old pilot effectively represents the emergence of the aeroplane as an essential weapon of war.
As historians continue to look into the details behind the life and ultimate demise of Manfred von Richthofen, the Aviation Archive range has recently benefited from several model releases presenting scale representations of aircraft flown by the Red Baron, with the announcement of the latest range including two more. Whilst not representing aircraft which were actually flown by von Richthofen, they were both directly involved in actions which led to his death on 21st April 1918 and therefore play an important role in the story of the Red Baron. Two aircraft flown by novice airmen on opposing sides of the engagement, both of whom were warned to simply observe the combat and not to get involved – unfortunately during the melee of combat, both were drawn into a situation which would change the course of history. A first taste of battle for two inexperienced pilots would lead to the death of the world’s most famous fighting aviator.
As he prepared for his first combat patrol, novice fighter pilot Wolfram von Richthofen was keen to impress his famous cousin, the famed ‘Red Baron’ and the flight leader for the mission. Although suffering from fatigue and combat stress, Manfred von Richthofen was the consummate professional and the safety of his fellow airmen was of paramount importance to him. As the Fokker DR.1 fighters of Jasta 11 climbed away from Cappy aerodrome on 21st April 1918, Wolfram had been given strict instructions to stay out of trouble should the formation encounter the enemy, staying on the periphery of the action and experiencing what the melee of a dogfight looked like. As his comrades later engaged in combat with the Sopwith Camels of RAF No.209 Squadron, Wolfram did as instructed, but found himself under attack by one of the Camels, which had also been loitering on the edge of the fighting, an aircraft which was flown by the similarly inexperienced Wilfred ‘Wop’ May. Taking immediate evasive action, the Camel sped past his Triplane, with the incident attracting the attention of his famous cousin – Manfred von Richthofen pursued the Camel which seemed destined to become his 81st victim. Wolfram von Richthofen would survive the encounter to become a fighter ace in his own right, however, this meeting of two novice pilots over the trenches of the Western Front would ultimately claim the life of the world’s most famous airman.
More Aviation Archive goodness, in the form of a series of images featuring the signed sample model of Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen’s Fokker Dr.1. Please note the box artwork, which whilst retaining similarities to the special Red Baron release of 2018, has some subtle combat image differences
Having just led an attack against two British RE8 reconnaissance aircraft above the Somme battlefield, Manfred von Richthofen re-joined the rest of Jasta 11’s Fokker Triplane fighters, in time to lead a further attack against a formation of Sopwith Camels from No.209 Squadron RAF. Displaying all his legendary flying skills, the Red Baron attacked the enemy aircraft, whilst at the same time keeping an eye on his cousin Wolfram, a novice pilot who had been instructed not to engage in combat. On seeing that one of the Camels had attacked Wolfram’s Triplane, he broke away from the dogfight and went to his aid, quickly positioning himself on the tail of the Sopwith fighter. Clearly flown by an inexperienced pilot, the Camel was the mount of young Canadian airman Wilfred ‘Wop’ May, who realising his error, dived at high speed for the ground and the safety of Allied lines. Flying perilously close to the ground and narrowly missing the church steeple at Vaux-sur-Somme, May knew that if he pulled up, he would fall to the guns of the ace pilot behind him, but as the high ground of Morlancourt Ridge approached, he had no option. Miraculously, his aircraft was not peppered with bullets and the Triplane giving chase was seen to rear up and make a forced landing in a nearby field – although he didn’t know it at the time, May was being hunted by Manfred von Richthofen and whilst he had managed to escape with his life, the famous Red Baron had not been so fortunate and lay dead in the cockpit of his red Fokker Triplane.
As he climbed into the cockpit of his Sopwith Camel fighter at Bertangles aerodrome on 21st April 1918, Canadian Wilfred Reid ‘Wop’ May had no idea that this would be the most significant day in his life. Embarking on only his second mission over the Western Front, he had been instructed by his Flight Commander, the ace pilot Captain Roy Brown, to avoid combat if they encountered the enemy, simply to gain height and make for home. Over the River Somme, No.209 Sqn encountered several Fokker Dr.1s of von Richthofen’s Flying Circus and dived to attack – as instructed, May stayed at altitude, but when an enemy Triplane passed close by, he saw the chance of an easy victory. Misjudging his attack, he overshot the enemy aircraft and by the time he had regained his bearings, his Camel began taking bullet strikes on its wings – the novice hunter had become the hunted. His opponent was clearly an experienced pilot and May could not shake him from his tail - his only chance of survival was to dive for the ground and try to make it over Allied lines, hoping his enemy would not follow. What he did not know was that he was being chased by the distinctive red Fokker Triplane of Manfred von Richthofen, the greatest air ace the world had ever known.
The latest Sopwith Camel announcement features an aircraft flown by Canadian pilot Wilfred Reid ‘Wop’ May, who was chased by the feared Red Baron on 21st April 1918. Whilst he would famously survive the engagement to go on an score 13 aerial victories, Manfred von Richthofen would not
Failing in his attempt to gain his first aerial victory, Wilfred ‘Wop’ May was now in a fight for his life, as he unwittingly struggled to avoid becoming the 81st victory of Manfred von Richthofen. With his guns jammed and unable to shake the German airman off his tail, May flew at tree-top height, almost hitting the steeple of Vaux-sur-Somme church, as he attempted to reach the potential safety of Allied lines. Displaying exceptional airmanship, his pursuer stayed on his tail, however, despite firing off the odd round, appeared to be having gun problems of his own. The chase had attracted the attention of Allied ace Roy Brown, who attacked the Triplane, but due to the speed and low altitude of the chase, was only able to fire a few bursts of deflection shot. Just as it seemed as if May would either hit the ground or appear large in the Triplane’s gunsight, the German aircraft reared up and immediately attempted to make a forced landing in a nearby beet field, ripping the undercarriage off on the rough ground. Mortally wounded, Manfred von Richthofen shut down the engine of his machine and cut off the fuel, before dying at the controls of his aircraft, the result of a single bullet wound. This historic victory was initially attributed (although not claimed) to Captain Roy Brown, however, subsequent research revealed that the fatal shot to von Richthofen’s chest was most likely fired from an Australian machine gun position on the Morlancourt Ridge.
A trio of Aviation Archive delights. When combined with the previously released AA38308 Red Baron Fokker Dr.1, this new pair of models make a historic scale recreation of one of the most significant engagements in aviation history
With their links to previous Red Baron releases in the Aviation Archive range, the two models featured above make a fascinating addition to any WWI aviation collection. They are made all the more collectable by the fact that the box artwork is in the same style as the special Fokker DR.1 model (AA38308) produced to mark the centenary of the Red Baron’s death, a scale representation of the aircraft he was flying on that fateful day. Closer inspection of the artwork on each box features subtle differences to show how each aircraft was involved during the final frantic few minutes of the reign of the feared Red Baron.
Wolfram von Richthofen’s Fokker DR.1 AA38310 is already available, whilst Wilfred Reid ‘Wop” May’s Sopwith Camel AA38110 is scheduled for release in the early Spring. For anyone with the Red Baron’s anniversary Triplane in their collection, these two new models make for an irresistible addition, a magnificent trio of 1/48th scale models which help tell the story of Manfred von Richthofen’s historic final flight.
Vanguards on parade
This exclusive image shows a selection of 2020 Vanguards, all of which are the hand decorated sample models used for catalogue and website purposes – all except one. Can you tell which one is a computer rendered image?
A quick inspection of the latest collection of Corgi models reveals that 2020 is destined to be a significant year in the history of the Vanguards range, as it has recently benefitted from significant new tooling investment. With no fewer than THREE new model projects announced for development/production this year, these come on the back of the new Jaguar XJ6/XJ12/Daimler Sovereign (Series 2) tooling, which are now at the advanced stage of development and destined to arrive in model stores all over the world in the very near future.
Also, for the first time in several years, the range can boast a couple of appealing model sets for the discerning collector, both of which feature one of the newly tooled models announced this year, with both also benefitting from specially designed presentation boxes. With both of these sets already receiving plenty of support from the modelling trade and collectors alike, we look forward to bringing you full details from both of these exciting Vanguards releases in a future edition of the blog.
The exclusive picture shown above features a selection of the new Vanguards models which will be released over the next twelve months and is the first time this eclectic group has been seen together. All of these models are the expertly produced hand decorated sample models produced by our Vanguards research maestro, with each one having an essential role to play in the presentation and marketing of these new models. If we are being completely accurate, not all these models are hand decorated samples – one is actually a computer rendered image of the model in question, but can you tell which one it is?
Even though the 2020 model range was only unveiled just a few short weeks ago, time stops for neither man nor diecast model and some of the latest Vanguards announcements have already been released or are scheduled to arrive in our warehouse over the next few weeks. As the Far East is now enjoying the Chinese New Year celebrations and in the midst of a public holiday, the Corgi team have to be on the ball to ensure release continuity during this early part of the year. Let’s take a closer look at the models which are either available now, or due very shortly.
VA11913 - Ford Cortina Mk IV 2.0 GL, Diamond White and VA10317 - Ford Cortina Mk3 2000E Black. Both of these models are available now.
The Cortina modelled here was purchased new from Forward Midland Limited, 289 Walsall Road, Perry Barr, Birmingham (whose invoice describes them as: 'Business Vehicle Consultants and Suppliers to Industry, Commerce and the Professions') on 20th September, 1978, by dairy manager Dennis Timms. He paid £3837.73 for it, of which £54.00 was for the optional vinyl roof and £12 was for the number plates. Dennis was a Ford enthusiast and the MkIV replaced a 1966 Mk1 Cortina Super he'd also bought new, and for which he'd part exchanged his 1958 Ford Prefect. He looked after the MKIV, keeping it in a dry garage and getting it serviced regularly so it was reliable and remained rust free.
Dennis and wife Joyce, who didn't drive, enjoyed using the Cortina to tow their Esprit Charade caravan all over the UK on family holidays but, sadly, Dennis passed away in September, 1996, when the car he'd taken such good care off had covered less than 43,000 miles. It was inherited by his daughter, Judy, who used it sparingly to visit local classic car shows but kept it in the same dry garage. Sadly, Judy passed away in June, 2017 and the car is now owned by her daughter, Katie Timms, who has known it all her life and intends to cherish and enjoy this family heirloom. Having still only covered less than 48,000 miles it's one of the nicest original MkIV Cortinas in the UK.
VA03306 - Ford 300E Thames Van, Gates Ford Dealers and VA03407 - Ford Consul Capri 335 (109E), Lime Green & Ermine White. Both models available soon.
After the success of Ford's first European-designed monocoque bodyshell, the 1951 Consul/Zephyr, the company followed the same route with their next car, the smaller 100E, which came out in 1953. The following year it sired a van variant, the 300E, which remained in production until 1961. It was initially only offered as a 5cwt payload van, but a subsequent 7cwt version accounted for 57,618 of the 139,267 300Es produced; both offered 66-cubic-feet of load space. This example was first registered in Essex in 1961 and was restored by Frank G Gates Ltd in the late 1980s in the distinctive Purbeck Grey over Ambassador Blue livery they used from the 1920s to the 1960s. Frank G Gates Ltd, one of Ford's first UK Main Dealers, was established in 1920 by its eponymous founder and celebrate their centenary in 2020.
Although floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1959, the company returned to private ownership in 1996 and is still very much a family business, being owned currently by Frank's great-grandson, Mr. Heath Greenall, who is also Chairman & Managing Director. Although started from modest premises in Woodford, Essex, the Gates Group now consists of eight Ford dealerships throughout Essex, Hertfordshire and Middlesex, and the company had also built up an impressive collection of historic Fords. The 300E van is modelled here as it looked after being extensively restored in Gates' workshops for this collection.
As many of the new models in the latest Vanguards range have been seeing plenty of ordering activity since range launch and as two have already been released, with the others following soon, please keep an eye on the Coming Soon section of the Corgi website for the latest release information.
Anniversary Wokka at the double
As the second Aviation Archive RAF Chinook Squadron centenary ‘Special Scheme’ release, AA34215 is going to be a popular addition to the range and is due for immediate release
We end this latest edition of Diecast Diaries with something of a rotary call to arms – this magnificent second RAF centenary Chinook model may have only just been announced, but it is due for release next week. The previous release from our popular Chinook tooling presented a model resplendent in an RAF No.27 Squadron special centenary scheme, which was snapped up by collectors in no time at all. This second, linked release features one of the other Chinooks which benefitted from a trip to the RAF Odiham centenary paint shop AA34215 – Boeing Chinook HC.4 ZA712, RAF No.18(B) Squadron, 100 Years Anniversary scheme, RAF Odiham, September 2016.
During the summer of 2016, no less than three of the RAF’s Chinook helicopters received attractive special centenary schemes, to commemorate the individual anniversaries of their parent squadrons. The first of the three aircraft to emerge from the paint shop was No.18(B) Squadron’s ZA712 in April 2015, resplendent in its handsome red and black scheme, which included a large poppy on its front rotor housing. Originally formed at RAF Northolt in 1915, the squadron has a rich service heritage, which includes claiming more than 200 enemy aircraft destroyed by the end of the Great War and mounting the operation to drop a replacement artificial leg for famous RAF ace pilot Douglas Bader, following his capture in the summer of 1941.
This next selection of Centenary Chinook images are being shown for the first time and feature the final signed sample example of a model which is already proving popular with collectors. This magnificent model will be in our warehouse from 1st February, so please don’t delay with this one
During more than 55 years as a helicopter unit, No.18 Squadron famously provided the only Chinook support during the Falklands War, as ZA718 ‘Bravo November’ was the only one of four of these mighty helicopters to survive the Argentine double Exocet missile attack on the Atlantic Conveyor container ship, requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence in support of the conflict. Commemorating the squadron’s centenary, Chinook HC4 ZA718 wore these distinctive markings during a high profile official photoshoot, featuring the other two centenary Chinooks and also performed a number of displays during the 2015 Airshow season, to the delight of UK enthusiasts.
For more information on this handsome new Chinook and to make sure you don’t miss out on what is sure to be a popular release, please head for the AA34215 Centenary Chinook product page of the Corgi website.
We are afraid that’s all we have for you in this latest edition of Diecast Diaries, but you can be sure we will be back as usual with more updates and exclusive Corgi content in four weeks’ time. In the meantime, we are always interested to hear from our readers, especially if you would like to suggest a subject for future inclusion in our blog. Better still, if you would like to send us pictures of your own model collection, or details of a Corgi model release which is special to you, you may even find yourself featuring in a future edition of Diecast Diaries. As always, we would be grateful if you would address all correspondence to our usual firstname.lastname@example.org email address.
If you can’t wait for the next edition of our blog, there is always plenty of Corgi model related news, views and conversation taking place on our official Facebook and Twitter social media pages, which welcome your contributions. We look forward to reading about all the latest Corgi collecting discussions and pictures of your favourite models over the coming few weeks.
Finally, we would like to thank all our readers for their continued support. We look forward to bringing you much more Corgi related news, features and updates in future editions of our blog. The next edition of Diecast Diaries is scheduled to be published on Friday 28th February.
The Corgi Die-cast Diaries Team
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