Pearl Harbor Trio and more...
Welcome to the latest edition of Die-cast Diaries, where we give readers a regular insight into everything that is happening behind the scenes in the world of Corgi die-cast. In this edition, we have the latest update on the trio of Pearl Harbor releases which will mark the 75th Anniversary of this significant event, and we delve back into the die-cast archives for a look at a model range that enjoyed great success, but is now no longer part of the current range. We also have our regular ‘What’s on the Desk’ feature, which showcases the latest pre-production sample models to arrive at Corgi HQ and we announce the winner of our fantastic Die-cast Diaries first birthday competition. In response to a new feature on our social media platforms, we will also be launching a new section of the blog, where collectors can have pictures of their collections immortalised in the Die-cast Diaries blog – more on this a little later. First, let’s look at the outstanding model update from our exciting Pearl Harbor 75th Anniversary collection.
Warhawk makes its mark at Pearl Harbor
In the previous edition of our Corgi blog, we included exclusive images of the new box artwork which will accompany the release of the three Aviation Archive models in our Pearl Harbor 75th Anniversary collection – well, in actual fact it was two of the three as we were still working on the Curtiss P-40B Warhawk box by the time Die-cast Diaries was due to go live. In order to rectify this situation, we begin our latest blog by completing this trio and showing readers the new P-40 box presentation and how all three will look on the shelves of your local model supplier when they are released. Looking at the boxes, you can see how our designers have taken the traditional format for Aviation Archive box artwork and given it a really attractive and extremely distinctive twist. As this coming December 7th will mark the 75th Anniversary of the infamous Pearl Harbor raids, we wanted these models to be a fitting die-cast tribute to one of the most significant chapters in the history of warfare.
The new distinctive box artwork to accompany the P-40B Warhawk release
Although Britain and her Commonwealth had been at war since September 1939, the American public had no appetite for their nation becoming embroiled in a European war. Despite this, many brave Americans were quick to volunteer in the fight against German and Japanese forces and Britain benefitted from unbelievable support from the US, as they supplied vast quantities of equipment and raw materials to help them to continue fighting. Despite this support, most British military planners felt that they had little hope of winning the war without the intervention of the US and her massive industrial and military capabilities. As Christmas 1941 approached, the US was relatively untouched by the war that had been raging on the other side of the Atlantic for over two years and most wanted to keep it that way.
On 26th November 1941, a Japanese carrier task force left their home islands and headed for Hawaii, home of the powerful US Pacific Fleet. At the time, Japan was still trying to negotiate a settlement to a dispute with America that had seen crippling sanctions imposed against their nation, but as they had clear military expansionist ambitions in South East Asia, the hope of a satisfactory settlement was fanciful at best. Fearing this and wishing to prevent America from challenging their ambitions in the Pacific region, an audacious plan to launch a surprise attack against the American fleet moored at Pearl Harbor was drawn up, with its success very much dependent on stealth and the American forces being completely unprepared to repel the initial attack.
At 7.55am on Sunday 7th December 1941, the first wave of Japanese aircraft arrived over Hawaii and launched their devastating attack – over the course of the next two hours, the Japanese inflicted terrible damage and significant loss of life at Pearl Harbor, in two coordinated air attack waves. Despite their successes, a potentially catastrophic third wave was cancelled for fear of American counter attack against the Japanese strike force and the raid failed to destroy any US aircraft carriers, which were to prove crucial in the Pacific battles to come. Importantly, the Japanese misjudged the mood of the American people and their stomach for war – a once divided nation was now united in their resolve to win a war they now found themselves in, whatever it took.
Evocative image showing a scene of devastation following the Pearl Harbor attack
Although Japan would claim a great victory over the Americans at Pearl Harbor, it could feasibly be argued that this action only served to ensure the destruction of their beloved empire and Japan’s eventual unconditional surrender. It was without doubt one of the most significant actions of the Second World War and finally brought the awesome might of the American nation into the conflict, which would prove to be decisive in the eventual outcome.
The three 1/72nd scale models that make up our trio of Pearl Harbor 75th Anniversary releases mark aircraft that were present on, or above Hawaii on that fateful day and their distinctive presentation certainly makes them stand out from the rest of the models in the Aviation Archive range. All three are sure to be popular with collectors on both sides of the Atlantic, as we head towards this significant WWII anniversary later this year. For more detailed information regarding the individual stories behind each of the aircraft modelled, please head for the Pearl Harbor 75th Anniversary themed section on the Corgi website and select one of these future releases.
New P-40B Warhawk joins Aviation Archive range
Corgi profile artwork for the George Welch Curtiss P-40B (AA28101)
First announced way back in the ninth edition of Die-cast Diaries, the distinctive Curtiss P-40B Warhawk (AA28101) is a welcome addition to the Aviation Archive range, particularly as it has been one of the most heavily requested new tooling suggestions over recent years and represents an extremely important WWII fighter aircraft. With its distinctive shark like profile, the P-40B quickly became one of the most recognisable fighters of the Second World War, flying with both the RAFs Desert Air Force and the American Volunteer Group ‘Flying Tigers’. Widely photographed and issued in press reports of the day, the shark mouthed P-40s represented the defiance of the Allied air forces and their ferocious aerial prowess – it is no wonder the public took to these fearsome looking fighters.
The scheme chosen to adorn the first release from this new tooling is nothing short of a classic and represents a glorious chapter in the history of the US Air Force. This particular Curtiss P-40B Warhawk (160/15P) was flown by 2nd Lt. George Welch, of the 47th Pursuit Squadron, 15th Pursuit Group US Army Air Corps, at Wheeler Field, Oahu, Hawaii, on Sunday December 7th 1941.
All three of the Pearl Harbor 75th Anniversary releases benefit from this distinctive packaging
Following an extremely late night at the squadron Christmas party the day previously, USAAF pilots George Welch and Kenneth Taylor woke to the sound of explosions and low flying aircraft. The date was Sunday 7th December 1941 and the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor was under attack by the Japanese Navy Air Force. Still wearing their mess dress from the previous night, the men rang ahead to Wheeler Field, where their Squadron had been temporarily deployed for gunnery practice flights and instructed ground crews to prepare two Curtiss P-40 fighters for combat. Driving their Buick at high speed and coming under fire from Japanese aircraft during the journey, the men arrived at Wheeler and immediately made for their aircraft – taking off beneath waves of attacking enemy aircraft, the two pilots fought valiantly against overwhelming odds, even landing to re-fuel and re-arm, only to take off and fight again. During a frantic few minutes of combat, Welch destroyed four enemy aircraft, with Taylor accounting for at least a further two. For their heroic actions during the Pearl Harbor attack, George Welch and Kenneth Taylor were both awarded the Distinguished Service Cross – Welch was actually recommended for the Medal of Honor, but this was denied him, as his commanding officer reported that he had taken off without orders.
Development update – the pre-production sample displayed next to the first shot test model
There has been a great deal of interest shown in the new P-40B Warhawk since it was first announced and we are pleased to be able to bring you the latest pictures from this exciting project. As we always stress, please be aware that you are looking at images of pre-production models, which are used to check all aspects of the models design, construction and finish, before any project can proceed to the production stage. As such, these samples may include some issues that will need to be addressed before it can be released for production, but they are an extremely valuable tool for the Corgi design team. We know that our readers love to see these early development images, but it is important to stress the role these models play in the production process.
In an attempt to add even more interest to our latest Curtiss P-40B update, we have placed the pre-production sample model next to one of the first shots prototypes, which was shown for the first time in the June edition of Die-cast Diaries. This really does allow our readers to view the model as it progresses from one development stage to the next and in conjunction with the impressive box artwork shown earlier, illustrates how this handsome model is heading towards release later in the year. For more information on this exciting new tooling release and to check the latest expected delivery status, please head for the Curtiss P-40B page on the Corgi website.
A Blast from the Past – Corgi’s WWII Military Vehicle Range
Over the past 60 years of Corgi die-cast model production, military vehicles have featured heavily in many of our product catalogues, as youngsters and collectors alike hold a fascination for the tanks, trucks and armoured personnel carriers of all nations. More recently, ranges which included vehicles that took part in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars were produced in large numbers, but it was the WWII Military Vehicle Range of the early 2000s that really seemed to capture the imagination of collectors and war-gamers alike. Produced in 1/50th scale, these magnificent models marked some of the most significant Allied and Axis military vehicles of the Second World War and unlike many of the other military models on the market at that time, the Corgi tanks had a very high metal content and were produced to an extremely high level of accuracy. Unfortunately, this superb range of models has not been available for some time now, but let’s take a nostalgic Die-cast Diaries look at one of the unsung heroes from the Corgi WWII military vehicle range – the ubiquitous US M3 Half-track.
Beautifully restored M3 Half-track at the 2015 Great Dorset Steam Fair
US military planners understood that battlefield gains secured by strong armoured divisions would have to be backed up by supporting infantry units, but as the speed of war increased, these infantry units would have to be mechanised. Their solution was the M3 (and earlier M2) armoured personnel carrier, which was designed to carry a full platoon of thirteen riflemen and their equipment at speeds approaching 45 mph, in support of advancing armour. At first, infantrymen were less than enthusiastic about the M3, feeling that the armour protection was inadequate against enemy machine gun fire and the open roof left them vulnerable to air burst shells – given the dubious tile of the ‘Purple Heart Box’, the M3 soon won them over and proved to be one of the most adaptable military vehicles of the Second World War.
Built in the US by the White Motor Company, Autocar Company and the Diamond T Motor Company, well over 41,000 vehicles were eventually produced, which went on to serve with most of the Allied nations during WWII. Key to the success of the M3 was its no nonsense design, which was intended to be rugged and reliable on the battlefield. Perhaps even more important than this was the fact that the basic design proved to be extremely flexible and numerous derivatives of the M3 appeared on battlefields on all major fronts during WWII. From basic armoured supply vehicles, to effective tank destroyers, the M3 would also be used as mobile mortar vehicles, anti-aircraft and infantry support artillery, along with its more usual mobile infantry support duties. Although the M3 would rarely be used at the spearhead of a significant armoured exchange, large numbers would be waiting in reserve to provide invaluable support to infantry units charged with securing any gains. Without doubt, the M3 Half-track was one of the most familiar armoured vehicles of the Second World War.
One of the many Corgi M3 Half-track releases in the WWII Military Vehicles series (CC60404)
Although perhaps not quite as enigmatic as a Tiger 1, or Sherman Tank, the M3 Half-track proved to be an extremely popular addition to the Corgi WWII military vehicles range and quite a number of different variants were produced. The one pictured above (CC60404) is a standard Armoured Personnel Carrier variant, which served with the 29th Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment of the 4th Canadian Armoured Division in operations following the D-Day landings in 1944. Other releases included anti-aircraft and mortar equipped versions of the M3, many of which also carried additional equipment stored on the exterior of the vehicle, which certainly added to the authenticity of these appealing models. At the time, this range proved incredibly popular with collectors and we are certain that many readers will still have examples of these models on their display shelves.
The M3 has been finished as Z479561, a post D-Day British Army machine
The opportunity to see a restored version of the M3 at one of the various military shows around the country allows you to gain some idea of what it must have been like to go to war in one of these vehicles, and how the troops assigned to an M3 Half-track must have viewed it as something of a home from home. This magnificent example was on display at the 2015 Great Dorset Steam Fair and attracted lots of attention during the show. Some of the details surrounding the history of this vehicle are a little sketchy, but it is known that it served with the British Army in 1944, before being sold to the Israeli Army after WWII. It saw further action during the Yom Kippur War of 1973, before possibly arriving back in the UK during 1975, although this date could not be accurately verified. It came into the possession of the current owner in 2008, who began a painstaking restoration process to take the vehicle back to as close to its 1944 configuration as possible. It has been restored as an M3 Half-track of the British Army during the final year of WWII and looks absolutely magnificent – a fine example of this famous Allied fighting vehicle.
Birthday Competition – ‘The Result’
A fantastic trio of pre-production models awaits our lucky competition winner
We would like to thank everyone who entered the Die-cast Diaries ‘First Birthday’ competition announced in the previous edition of our blog and who helped to make it such a successful feature. Up for grabs were a trio of pre-production sample models, which have been authenticated by the Corgi team and really do make for unique pieces of die-cast memorabilia – any self-respecting collector would love to have these models in their collection. All three of the models have previously appeared in our popular ‘What’s on the desk’ section and two of them actually featured in the very first edition of Die-cast Diaries. As you can see from the image above, the competition winner will be receiving the pre-production models of the 1/76th scale Routemaster WW1 Centenary bus (OM46612), the 1/50th scale Joe Sharp Scania R Topline tractor unit (CC13772) and the 60th Anniversary Spitfire Mk.I (AA39211) in the colours of Squadron Leader Rupert ‘Lucky’ Leigh – a really fabulous prize.
So who is our lucky winner? This unique trio of Corgi pre-production models will be winging their way to Mr John Oates – many congratulations. Once again, this would not have been half as enjoyable without the support of our readers, over 2000 of you entered the competition, so a big thank you to everyone who took the time to enter.
New Feature – Collectors’ Corner
Die-cast Diaries readers who frequent the Corgi social media sites will have been interested to see some of the images that have been posted recently in response to our request to ‘see your Corgi collections’. Fellow collectors love to see how we all display our models and it is always interesting to see which particular releases have made it into our various collections. This feature has proved to be so popular that we thought it would be a good idea to feature some of your collection pictures in future editions of Die-cast Diaries – our new Collectors’ Corner section will display a selection of Corgi collection and display images in each edition of Die-cast Diaries, so your pictures will now be seen by an even wider audience. Please keep sending pictures of your collections to either Facebook, or Twitter, or alternatively use our direct e-mail address at email@example.com. This is your opportunity to unleash your collection on an unsuspecting die-cast collecting world, or simply just to make the rest of us a bit jealous about the fantastic models in your collection.
To start us off, here is a small selection of Corgi collection images that we have received so far - keep sending in your pictures and there will be more next month.
Alan Stephen Kitson
Simon Paul Fenwick
What’s on the desk?
In what has now become the time honoured manner in which to end a Die-cast Diaries blog, we take a look at some of the latest pre-production models to have arrived on the development desk at Corgi HQ. As usual, we just like to check that you are all aware that these are pre-production sample models and as such may include errors or inaccuracies that will have been spotted by our design team and will be changed before the model is released. Here is our latest selection:
CC16007 Volvo FH Maxwell Freight ‘Liberator’
The near-side of the cab features ‘Belfast Telegraph Spitfires’ artwork
Maxwell Freight Services are a County Antrim based haulage firm, providing transport and distribution solutions across Ireland, the UK and Europe. With a fleet of around 50 cabs, some of their vehicles feature spectacular airbrushed artwork, one of which is the subject of this future Hauliers of Renown release. This particular Volvo FH cab features different aviation inspired artwork on either side of the cab and it is worth exploring the stories behind this magnificent work.
The near-side artwork was inspired by the story of the ‘Belfast Telegraph Spitfires’ – in August 1940, the Belfast Telegraph newspaper launched the 100,000 Shillings Fund, aiming to raise enough money to purchase a Spitfire fighter to help the war effort. As it turned out, the fund raising prowess of the people of Northern Ireland proved to be far more ambitious than this.
As the fund was launched, people started to queue on Royal Avenue, home of the Belfast Telegraph, so that they could make their contributions. The initiative really captured the imagination of the local population and as the money started to roll in, a billboard would display the running total every evening. Eventually, almost £3 Million pounds (in current value) was raised and this spectacular result allowed them to buy seventeen Spitfires – each aircraft was named after areas, businesses and organisations that donated to the Spitfire Fund and the names of everyone who had contributed was later published in the Belfast Telegraph.
Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IIa P7823 (TM-F) was one of the aircraft purchased by the fund and flew in the colours of RAF No.504 Squadron, based at Ballyhalbert, Northern Ireland. It was known as the ‘Down’ Spitfire and is featured on this magnificent artwork.
This side of the cab pays tribute to Squadron Leader Terence Bulloch and the contribution of RAF Coastal Command during WWII
The off-side artwork was inspired by Squadron Leader Terry Bulloch and his service with Coastal Command during the Second World War. RAF Coastal Command played a vital role in defeating German U-boats, surface vessels and maritime aircraft during the Battle of the Atlantic. Squadron Leader Terence Malcolm Bulloch DSO and Bar, DFC and Bar was born in Lisburn, County Antrim in 1916 and became the most successful Coastal Command pilot. During the course of 350 operational sorties, flying for more than 2059 hours, Bulloch and his crews managed to destroy four U-boats, one surface ship and two Heinkel float planes, the highest score for any Coastal Command pilot. Flying American built Lockheed Hudsons and B-24 Liberators, Bulloch highlights the critical contribution made by Coastal Command pilots in trying to combat the U-boat menace and keep the vital Atlantic sea lanes open.
During his post war career as an airline captain, Terry Bulloch flew across the Atlantic an amazing 1113 times, setting many speed crossing records during this time.
Consolidated B-24 Liberators were built in the US by a number of manufacturing companies, including the Ford Motor Company, at Willow Run, Detroit. When in full capacity, the plant was able to produce these mighty bombers at a rate of one aircraft per hour.
This side of the cab features both a Lockheed Hudson and a B-24 Liberator, as they search the Atlantic for signs of U-boat activity.
CC16005 Volvo FH, Step-Frame Trailer, Alex Anderson Sawdust and Woodchip Contractors
This traditional Scottish livery will be popular with Corgi truck collectors
Alex Anderson, owner of the Bo’ness-based sawdust and woodchip contractor of the same name, has been 100% Volvo for almost forty years. It was the first company to take delivery of the Classic FH model back in 1993 when it was first displayed during its world debut at Glasgow’s IRTE Truck show. The Company’s distinctive and traditional Scottish livery is applied by Grangemouth based painter Scott King and is finished with vinyl graphics by John Coulter. The cab paintwork has recently been redesigned to take the sweeping angular design of the new FH cab into consideration and this distinctive design, coupled with sleek curves for the newly tooled Corgi Volvo FH will certainly stand out in your model collection.
To keep up to date with all the latest information regarding future Corgi releases, please keep checking the Corgi website, which will carry all the very latest release details.
RAF Halifax ‘VICKY’ on Finals
We would like to end this latest Corgi update by bringing you news on an impending Aviation Archive release which already looks like being something of a future classic. One of the most successful areas of the entire Aviation Archive back catalogue is our range of WWII four-engined heavy bombers, which is unique in the world of die-cast model collecting and has been popular since the release of the first Avro Lancaster back in 2001. Marking some of the most famous aircraft to ever take to the skies, these die-cast leviathans make for an impressive centerpiece to any model collection and the latest release in this successful series is already on finals.
AA37208 Handley Page Halifax B.VII, PN230/EQ-V ‘VICKY The Vicious Virgin’, RCAF No.408 ‘Goose’ Squadron, No.6 (Royal Canadian Air Force) Group, Linton-on-Ouse, 1945
The Handley Page Halifax was the second of Britain’s four-engined heavy bombers to enter RAF service and the first to actually drop bombs on German soil. Less famous than the Avro Lancaster, the Halifax proved to be an essential aircraft in Bomber Commands strike offensive during WWII, with Halifax crews claiming that their aircraft was at least the equal of the Lancaster and deserving of much more respect. More than six thousand Halifax bombers were produced during WWII, with over eighteen hundred of these aircraft being lost on operations.
As far as WWII Bomber Command aircraft nose artwork is concerned, Handley Page Halifax VII PN230 ‘Vicky the Vicious Virgin’ has to be considered as one of the most elaborate of the war. The distinctive artwork was created by bomb aimer Bert ‘Scratch’ Evans, when he was posted to No.408 ‘Goose’ (RCAF) Squadron, at Linton-on-Ouse and assigned to Halifax PN230 - the name ‘Vicky the Vicious Virgin’ was painted on both sides of the aircraft, with an additional pin-up artwork added to the port side of the fuselage. Each crew station also carried their respective nickname painted on the fuselage, with pilot Ron Craven earning the unfortunate title of ‘The dirty old man’. Despite this light-hearted artistic distraction, this crew went on to complete 21 missions over enemy territory, the last 13 of which were in ‘Vicky’.
Due for release next month, ‘Vicky’ already seems to have found favour with the collector and has been pre-ordered in extremely large numbers since it was first announced. Indeed, the Corgi website has completely sold out of its allocation allowance and collectors wishing to add this fantastic model to their collections must act now. If you haven’t already reserved your model, it would be a good idea to check the availability situation with your usual supplier and consider your options – with an aircraft that is already looking like being one of the most popular models of 2016, it’s never a bad idea to have your arrangements in place. As usual, for all the latest release information on this and all the other outstanding Aviation Archive models, please check the Corgi website.
Well, that’s it for another edition of Die-cast Diaries. There was a lot to pack in and we hope that we managed to include something that was of interest to you. Please do continue to send us your ‘My Corgi’ collector's stories and as requested earlier, pictures of your model collections, which may very well feature in forthcoming editions of Die-cast Diaries.
As always, we are keen to hear your views on Die-cast Diaries and any ideas you may have for future blog content. There are a number of ways you can get a message to us - as well as our dedicated Diecastdiaries@corgi.co.uk e-mail address, we also have our Die-Cast Diaries forum and our social media pages on Facebook and Twitter using #CorgiDiecastDiaries. Please do join in the discussions, or why not start your own Corgi related thread?
Until the next edition of Die-cast Diaries, thank you very much for reading our latest blog, which we hope you found an informative read.
The Corgi Team
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