The first ruler of the skies
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.
Even though we find ourselves speeding headlong towards the festive period and the start of a new year, there is still no shortage of exclusive Corgi model information to bring you in this latest edition of our blog. Our main subject is the final 2019 new tooling project still to be given the Diecast Diaries treatment this year and we are delighted to be in a position to bring you the latest development details from the first new tooling to feature a 1/48th scale Great War fighter aircraft since we released the Fokker D.VII ten years ago. The Fokker Eindecker is a welcome addition to the Aviation Archive range and we place this new model firmly under the blog spotlight this month.
In addition to this, we also have the second instalment of our ‘A new Vanguard is born’ feature, where this time we look at the fascinating process of producing hand-decorated sample models and the important place these models play in the development of any future Vanguards model release. We end by discussing the forthcoming 2020 Corgi range and something a little different for collectors to look forward to. Let’s make a start.
As the world descended into conflict during the summer of 1914, aviation was still very much in its infancy and the strategic value of the aeroplane had yet to be realised. The first recorded strategic use of the aeroplane over the WWI battlefields occurred during the First Battle of the Marne in September 1914, when a reconnaissance aircraft plotted weaknesses in the German lines, an event which occurred less than 11 years since the Wright Brothers had undertaken their famous first powered flight. The flexibility offered by the aeroplane as opposed to tethered observation balloons was clearly evident and they quickly became essential in providing invaluable battlefield information, with both the Allies and Central Powers searching for mastery of the sky.
With the securing of battlefield information going hand in glove with denying your enemy the same opportunity, it was not long before the friendly acknowledgments of opposing airmen was replaced by taking rifle shots at each other, with these rather personal engagements being no less brutal than the carnage taking place in the trenches below. Mastery of the skies soon became a battle which had to be won and as the technology of aviation advanced at an astonishing pace, shooting down the enemy’s aeroplanes was now as important as securing your own reconnaissance information in contested airspace.
The introduction of the world’s first dedicated fighter aircraft is undoubtedly one of the most significant developments in the history of aviation and represents the acceptance that mastery of the sky is crucial to the success of any military operation. Combining a reliable, agile aeroplane design with a machine gun and a clever technological innovation would prove significant during the Great Air War and presented the German Luftstreitfrafte with a period of overwhelming aerial superiority which many would argue has never been repeated by an individual aircraft type to this day. For an eight month period, the Fokker Eindecker fighter ruled the skies and took a withering toll of Allied aircraft, so much so that discussions in the British Parliament questioned the competency of Britain’s aircraft designers, who were consigning young airmen to their deaths over the Western Front. But why was the Eindecker so revolutionary?
Our talented company photographer used a decorated pre-production sample model to produce this beautiful image for marketing purposes
At a time when the majority of military aircraft were of biplane construction, the Fokker Eindecker broke with tradition and adopted a monoplane design, whilst also incorporating a number of important technological developments. Proving crucial to its success, the aircraft introduced an effective ‘interrupter gear’ mechanism, which allowed the aircraft to fire its main gun through the movement of the propeller, an innovation which for the first time gave the pilot the ability to fire following his line of sight, without shooting off his own propeller. Although still a relatively primitive aeroplane, its introduction proved to be a dramatic development in the world of aviation and for the first time, equipped pilots with an aircraft specifically designed for shooting down other aeroplanes – the day of the fighter had arrived.
During combat, the pilot of an Eindecker could manoeuvre his agile aircraft into the most advantageous attack position with which to score an aerial victory. This would often be behind and just below his target, in a position where he could fire on his opponent, without fear of being hit by return gunfire – firing following his line of sight, his opponent had little chance of escaping this hail of bullets. In a period which became known as the ‘Fokker Scourge’ by Allied pilots, Germany’s Eindeckers enjoyed great success against their adversaries and was significant in producing some of the world’s first air ‘aces’ who were celebrated as the Knights of the air by the general public. In fact, Allied pilots were so dismissive of the capabilities of their own aircraft, that they referred to them as being nothing more than Fokker fodder!
Immortalising an aviation classic in diecast metal
This fascinating image features a CAD data screenshot produced during the early stages of the new Fokker Eindecker project
As far as the diecast aviation collector is concerned, the Aviation Archive range of 1/48th scale WWI aircraft continues to produce some of the most popular models in our hobby, with most selling out almost immediately following release. It has now been ten years since a new aircraft tooling was added to this successful group, so news that we intended to introduce a new Fokker Eindecker model proved to be a particularly welcome development. Since announcing the new model in January, we have been unable to provide any definitive updates for one very good reason – the Eindecker has posed some significant challenges to our design and development team.
Initially benefitting from the robust research files compiled in support of the 2015 Airfix 1/72nd scale Eindecker release, the Corgi team had the significant challenge of not only upscaling this information to 1/48th scale, but also to develop the new model for the diecast manufacturing process. Anyone who has read the Airfix Workbench blog will know that project upscaling is not a simple process and is almost like starting a project from the beginning, but with the benefit of having accurate shape and dimension data information to call upon. Clearly, the most significant consideration facing the Corgi team was to make the most accurate scale representation of this famous aircraft they possibly could, which is where their problems began.
This next collection of images show CAD screenshots, the first part frames, the very first assembled model and the first painted sample pictured on a workbench in the manufacturing plant. All featuring pre-production development samples, these interesting images are exclusive to Diecast Diaries readers
The Eindecker was actually quite a primitive design, adopting the same wing warping directional control system developed by the Wright Brothers and as such, the scaled down wings and horizontal stabilisers needed to be quite thin - they would also need to be able to accept the rigging which was so synonymous with Great War aviation types. This all resulted in some development head scratching and sample models flying between Margate and the Far East, as the most appropriate solutions to several significant issues were trailed and perfected, but all of which resulted in some unforeseen project delays. What the team have managed to produce is an absolute triumph and a magnificent addition to the Aviation Archive range.
We will look at some of the development problems faced and how they were overcome in a future edition of our blog, but for now, we are delighted to bring you this exclusive collection of images from the new Fokker Eindecker project and what we all have to look forward to in the near future. As usual, we do need to stress that these images show pre-production development sample models which have and will be subject to further change before the model is released for production. As one of the most significant aircraft in the history of flight, we know that many collectors will be looking forward to adding this model to their collections and these images serve as a welcome late year Aviation Archive treat.
AA28701 – Fokker E.II Eindecker 69/15, flown by Kurt von Crailsheim, FFA 53, Monthois, France, October 1915.
Few aeroplanes have had such a dramatic impact on the history of aerial warfare as the Fokker Eindecker series of monoplanes, aircraft which are regarded as the first true fighter aircraft in the history of aviation. It was not that these single-wing aircraft were such advanced aeronautical designs, as many of the world’s successful early aircraft were monoplanes (such as the Bleriot XI which crossed the English Channel in 1909), however, they did make use of a particularly sinister innovation. The introduction of interrupter gear synchronised the aircraft’s machine-gun to fire through the arc of the propeller, only allowing it to operate once the blade was clear and crucially, in the pilot’s direct line of sight. For the first time, an aeroplane had been specifically introduced to hunt and destroy other aircraft – the day of the fighter aeroplane had arrived. Despite having a dramatic impact on the Western Front, the Eindecker was still a relatively primitive aircraft and required an immense amount of skill in order for it to be flown well. This was illustrated by eager young Luftstreitkräfte pilot Baron Kurt von Crailsheim, who on being posted to FFA 53 in the summer of 1915, had his and the unit’s first aerial victory by 22nd September. Just a few days later, he crashed the twitchy Eindecker whilst attempting a landing at Monthois airfield, which resulted in his fighter being written off. He later received a new replacement aircraft, which he once again painted in his personal colours, but was to be the machine which claimed his life. Suffering a similar landing accident on 30th December 1915, his injuries would prove so severe that he died in hospital five days later.
Representing the very latest stage in the development of this beautiful new model, this final series of images feature the first pre-production sample model received at the development offices in Margate and whilst they are still subject to change, they show what we all have to look forward to
Referred to colloquially as Germany’s ‘flying gun’, the Fokker Eindecker was to earn a fearsome reputation in the skies above the trenches and claimed the lives of many brave Allied pilots. Providing Luftstreitfrafte pilots with a huge tactical advantage, their introduction led to a period of air superiority for the Germans over the Western Front, which Allied pilots called ‘The Fokker Scourge’ and caused them to be so dismissive of the capabilities of their own aircraft that they described them as nothing more than Fokker fodder! Disastrous as this period was for the Allies, the situation could have been much worse, but thankfully, the Eindeckers were only deployed in relatively small numbers and usually employed in the protection of German reconnaissance aircraft. The first dedicated fighter pilots may have been pioneers in the perfection of air combat techniques, but they were usually lone hunters or at most, operating in tandem with another aircraft. Had they been deployed in larger hunting squadrons, their impact would have been even greater. As it was, the Germans were so worried about aircraft falling into the hands of the Allied Nations and the secrets of their synchronised gun mechanism being discovered and copied, the aircraft were held well behind the front lines and deployed strategically. Nevertheless, the impact of the Fokker Eindecker stimulated a frantic period of aircraft innovation which would continue for the next three years of conflict, as both sides continued to develop and introduce fighters which were more efficient at shooting down enemy aircraft and helping to wrestle an aerial supremacy of the battlefield.
Due to the extended development time spent on this model, its expected release date has now been revised to late spring, but we will endeavour to bring you regular updates on its progress over the next few blog editions.
A new Vanguard is born – Mark II
This artwork was produced in support of the model featuring Don Hayter’s MGB Roadster V8 VA13005, one of the models in the 2019 Vanguards range
In this second instalment of our new Vanguards model sample production feature, we will be looking at how the models progress from the paint stripper bucket to eventually end up on the Corgi display stand at the various early year range preview and toy fair events, which are so crucial to the success of any Corgi model range. Once again, we are indebted to Vanguards expert Mark Pinnigar for sending us this fascinating selection of images and for giving us an insight into the work he does in producing these unique models.
Once the range selection has been confirmed with the Corgi development manager, Mark immediately begins work on producing the decoration guides which will be used by the manufacturing plant in the Far East during production - these incorporate all the accurate paint and marking references they will need. With a long history of involvement in producing Lledo and Vanguards models over the years, Mark is also a professional graphic designer by trade and not only applies these skills to the production of high quality graphics for use on full size vehicles, but he also produces the detail graphics for each and every Vanguards sample model – the chap is rather prolific. Once the models have been painted, he will use these high quality graphics to decorate them with badges, registration plates and other fine detail.
With all the paint now removed from the dismantled models, the next stage is to prepare them for painting, using a wire brush to give the paint a key, whilst at the same time being careful not to mark the metal surface itself. Any detail lost during this process will have to be manually re-scribed, before the diecast parts are given a coat of high quality etching primer. Once this is completely dry, the model is ready to receive its main colour, one which has been researched by Mark and is the exact match for the genuine manufacturers coded and pre-mixed colour – with plenty of experience in this field, what Mark doesn’t have in his paint collection, he knows where he can find it.
For the main exterior colours, two coats will generally be required, however, it is essential that the detail on the model casting is preserved, so care must always be taken when applying the paint. For some models, depending on the vibrancy of the intended paint finish, a coat of lacquer may also need to be applied, which will again impact on the application of the main colour – it is a good job Mark has plenty of experience in producing these unique models. Once the models are completely dry and their interior detail has also been finished, it’s time for assembly, the addition of the fine detail graphics and any final hand-painted details to be applied, as a new Vanguards range finally begins to take shape.
With all the models now completed, it’s almost time to deliver them to the Corgi team at Margate, but not before one final group photo is taken, just for the record. At this stage, these models are still top secret and it could be many weeks before it would be safe to allow these images to be published anywhere. Once in Corgi’s hands, the models will be used by our photographers to produce images for use in the next catalogue and for the individual product pages on the Corgi website. With this important task completed, the models will then be packed away ready to go on the road early in the new year, when the new range is presented to the trade at preview events and the throughout the Toy Fair season. Unfortunately, the constant unpacking and handling dictates that few will survive undamaged, but those which do will probably find their way into the Corgi section of the main showroom at Margate, each one a fascinating piece of diecast model collecting memorabilia in its own right.
This fascinating final trio of pictures show the unusual sight of all the 2019 hand decorated sample models gathered on Mark’s sideboard before they were delivered to the Corgi offices at Margate. Included amongst them is a model of Don Hayter’s MGB V8 and the final image shows how this lovingly hand finished model appeared in the Corgi catalogue and on the Vanguards section of the website
It is interesting to note that all the things we have covered in this latest Vanguards feature have already been completed for the forthcoming 2020 model range and Mark will have a similar collection of images, which as yet, must remain secret. Indeed, as we prepare to announce the new range in just a few week’s time, Mark will already be working on his presentation files for the 2021 Vanguards range – will he have any new tooling projects to get his teeth into this time?
New model range, new ideas
The week’s in the run-up to the Christmas holidays are an unbelievably busy time for everyone at Hornby Hobbies, as each brand is fully engaged in putting the finishing touches to next year’s product ranges. Obviously, at this stage, we are unable to share details of the forthcoming Corgi range with our readers, however, we have been allowed to bring you some interesting information about next year’s catalogue itself. For the first time in many a year, the 2020 catalogue will be in the larger A4 format, allowing us to include more information and to give our graphic designers the opportunity to be a little more creative with their layouts. Everyone here is excited to see what our loyal collectors think about the new format, as well as the appealing range of models we will all have to look forward to next year – watch this space!
That’s all we have for you in this latest edition of Corgi Diecast Diaries, but you can be sure we will be back as usual with more updates and exclusive Corgi content in four weeks’ time. In the meantime, we are always interested to hear from our readers, especially if you would like to suggest a subject for future inclusion in our blog. Better still, if you would like to send us pictures of your own model collection, or details of a Corgi model release which is special to you, you may even find yourself featuring in a future edition of Diecast Diaries. As always, we would be grateful if you would address all correspondence to our usual firstname.lastname@example.org link for all correspondence.
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 the 2019 review edition, which will be published towards the end of December.
The Corgi Die-cast Diaries Team
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