Dear Newsletter Readers,
There is no regular Newsletter this week due to my lap top computer screen breaking late this week, which has set me back a bit in writing it up ! However, I have been able to get the latest Corgi Aviation Archive Catalogue releases loaded up to the website today, which are all available to Pre-Order now.
This includes two Brand New Toolings of AA28001 Corgi Aviation Archive Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4, and AA28101 Corgi Aviation Archive Curtiss P-40B Warhawk.
As usual simply click HERE to see them all, or click on the image or link of each model below and it will take you straight to the model page. I have included the write up on each model as well as the model photo.
As the final RAF Avro Vulcan squadrons were contemplating their impending withdrawal from service in early 1982, developments in the South Atlantic would see this mighty bomber go to war for the first time in its 26-year service history. Operation ‘Black Buck’ would require a Vulcan to drop 21 conventional 1,000lb bombs on the runway at Port Stanley, in the Falkland Islands, preventing Argentine forces from using their most capable strike and support aircraft. It would also send a strong message to Argentina’s political leaders that Britain would stop at nothing in re-taking the Islands.
The raid would be launched from RAF Ascension Island, which was some 6,300km from the Falklands and presented something of a logistical nightmare for military planners. Flown almost entirely over the sea, the Black Buck raids would require the support of twelve Victor tankers on the outbound leg, with a further two for the return flight and all the associated contingency plans.
Taking off from Ascension Island at midnight on 30th April 1982, Avro Vulcan B.2 XM607 piloted by Flight Lieutenant Martin Withers was to fly as reserve aircraft to the primary bomber XM598 on this highly complex raid, but was quickly promoted to lead aircraft on ‘Black Buck 1’ following technical difficulties encountered by XM598. Embarking on what was the longest bombing raid attempt in history, XM607 was refuelled seven times on its way to the Falkland Islands, before successfully releasing its payload of bombs across the Port Stanley runway.
Following a further rendezvous with a Victor tanker on the way home, XM607 returned to its base on Ascension Island and a place in the history books – if nothing else, this raid illustrated Britain’s determination to take back the Falkland Islands and that they had the capability to do it. Of the seven Black Buck raids planned against Argentine forces on the Falkland Islands, five actually took place and proved to be the only time that Britain’s Mighty Avro Vulcan went to war.
Perhaps the most visible exponent of the emergence rotary power on the modern battlefield is the impressive Boeing Vertol Chinook. This large tandem rotor helicopter can operate from land or ship and is capable of delivering up to 55 troops and their equipment or around 26,000 lbs of weapons and supplies, including the ability to carry large under-slung loads suspended from hard points underneath its fuselage for maximum flexibility. With a comprehensive avionics package and the ability to both detect threats and adequately defend itself, the Chinook is one of the most important aircraft available to the RAF, who are now the largest operator of the type outside the US.
The first RAF squadron to receive the mighty Chinook were No.18 squadron in 1981 and barley six months after converting to the helicopter, they were sent to the Falkland Islands as part of the British task force. Since this date, RAF Chinooks have been at the forefront of all significant British military operations and have shown themselves to be to be invaluable assets on the battlefield. Anyone who has seen one of these huge helicopters displayed at a UK Airshow will have marveled at the agility of this beast and probably asked themselves ‘how on earth does that thing stay in the air’? Even though 2016 marks the 55th anniversary of the first flight of the aircraft, the awesome Boeing Vertol Chinook remains as one of the world’s most important aircraft, which is destined to stay in service for many years to come.
As the world’s military seemed preoccupied with the race to build larger and faster aircraft, rotary air power slowly began to show itself as arguably the most flexible form of aviation in many military situations. The Korean War highlighted the need for armed forces to be able to insert and extract troops strategically from the air, into hazardous and difficult to reach locations. Once in position, these troops would need to be supplied and reinforced using helicopters, but early rotary technology was still rather primitive. The development of lightweight, but extremely powerful turboshaft engines allowed helicopter designers to access this additional power and stability for sustained hovering and load carrying capability and enable them to produce helicopters that were much more effective. By the time of the Vietnam War, the helicopter had become an essential military asset, able to fulfil a multitude of roles from troop and supply transport, to mounting devastatingly effective air to ground strike operations.
Under the cloak of extreme secrecy, Britain had been testing the viability of a jet-powered fighter since early 1941, with the Gloster E28/89 Pioneer proving that this was indeed possible. The race was now on to produce an effective, operational jet fighter, at a time when every available resource was required for the war effort and experimental technology was a luxury that often proved to be more of a distraction. Work continued apace and the twin engined Gloster Meteor neared a test flight.
This work was so highly classified, that any test flight required the roads around the airfield to be sealed off by the local constabulary and all residents ushered away from the immediate vicinity. All non-essential personnel were forced to leave the airfield for the duration of the test flight, even though they would have clearly seen (and heard) the strange new aircraft once it was in the air! Following completion of the flight and the safe recovery of the aircraft, life could get back to normal.
As the Gloster Meteor entered RAF service, it was originally charged with destroying the V-1 flying bombs that were being sent indiscriminately in the direction of southern Britain. The first Meteor victory over a Doodlebug occurred on the 4th August 1944, when Flying Officer T.D ‘Dixie’ Dean spotted a V-1 flying in the direction of Tunbridge Wells. Placing his Meteor EE216 in a shallow dive to build up speed, he lined up the V-1 in his gunsight and fired – after a short burst, all four guns jammed.
Dean was determined not to let the Doodlebug get away and manoeuvred his Meteor alongside the flying bomb, wing tip to wing tip. When he was positioned as close as he safely could, he flicked the control column of his Meteor and banked sharply away – the sudden airflow disruption caused the V-1 to go out of control and crash without causing injury on open ground. Dean had the first Meteor victory over the V-1 and was the first pilot to use the risky ‘tip and run’ tactic to destroy one these feared flying bombs.
The Messerschmitt Bf 109 series of fighter aircraft have to be regarded as some of the most famous aircraft ever to take to the skies. This diminutive and highly capable fighter was in constant production throughout the Second World War, as the basic Messerschmitt airframe proved to be highly adaptable and capable of significant modification. Making its combat debut during the Spanish Civil War, the Bf 109 was one of the first truly modern fighter aircraft, making its first flight before either the Supermarine Spitfire or the Hawker Hurricane – it could be argued that modern monoplane fighter design began with the Messerschmitt Bf 109.
During the Second World War, the Bf 109 earned a fearsome reputation with its adversaries and was synonymous with the ruthless effectiveness of the Wehrmacht, particularly during the early years of the conflict. It was also the mount of many of the worlds most accomplished air ‘aces’ and proved to be one of the most reliable and hard-hitting fighter aircraft ever produced. Significantly, the Messerschmitt Bf 109 was the most heavily produced fighter aircraft in history, with no fewer than 33,984 machines being built – undoubtedly one of the most important aircraft in the history of powered flight.
Already a Luftwaffe fighter ace by the start of the Battle of Britain, Josef ‘Pips’ Priller and the pilots of JG51 would be heavily involved in the fighting against the RAF over the summer of 1940, with many of his comrades falling to the guns of the British airmen. Priller and his Bf 109 were to score at least 14 victories during the Battle of Britain and was to eventually end the war with an astonishing 101 victories from 307 combat missions flown. Within this number, Priller claimed at least 68 Spitfires destroyed, which was the highest Luftwaffe ace tally against Britain’s most famous fighter. He was also one of only a small number of Luftwaffe aces to fight solely in the skies above Western Europe, against the best aircraft available to the Allies.
The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk is not generally regarded as one of the most accomplished fighters of the Second World War, but it is difficult to think of a more important aircraft for both Britain and America in the months following the end of the Battle of Britain. At a time when both Britain and France were desperate for as many modern monoplane fighters they could lay their hands on, the Curtiss P-40 was arguably the best aircraft the Americans had available and they allowed the French (this order was ultimately transferred to Britain) and British to order the fighter in large numbers. The P-40 was quick and easy to manufacture and allowed nations already in combat with Axis forces to obtain large numbers of new, modern fighters, enabling them to continue fighting on many fronts and buying them much needed time until the incredible industrial might of America could be brought to bear.
For the British and Commonwealth Desert Air Forces, the Curtiss P-40, which they christened ‘Tomahawk’, proved to be a critically important aircraft and they were the first to take the P-40 into combat during June 1941. Being rugged and reliable, the RAF P-40s were a dogged adversary for Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica units – even though many Tomahawks were lost in combat, they took a heavy toll of Axis aircraft.
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 7th December 1941 and the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor was under attack. Still wearing their mess dress from the previous night, the men rang ahead to Wheeler Field, where their Squadron had been deployed for gunnery practice and instructed ground crews to prepare two P40 fighters for flight.
Driving their Buick at high speed and coming under fire from Japanese aircraft, 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, 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.
As one of the most distinctive aircraft of WWII, the Consolidated PBY Catalina may appear somewhat ungainly at first view, but actually proved to be one of the most effective maritime patrol and attack aircraft of the war. With the ability to conduct maritime patrols deep into the ocean, Catalina crews would search for enemy shipping and either relay their position to nearby naval units, or attack the vessels themselves, using an array of bombs, depth charges and torpedoes. Able to land in all but the heaviest seas, the Catalina proved to be the saviour of many a downed airman, as this incredibly versatile aircraft provided the US Navy and other operators with an effective Search & Rescue capability, in tandem with its many offensive capabilities. Used extensively by the Royal Air Force, many Catalinas survived to see service long after the end of WWII.
On the morning of 7th December 1941, Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina 14-P-2 was undertaking a patrol off the coast of Hawaii, when Ensign Otto F Meyer Jr and his crew became aware of the Japanese attack against the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. At around 10am a formation of nine enemy aircraft passed directly in front of his aircraft, before turning in to attack. In the ensuing melee, Meyer skilfully flew his large flying boat to evade each enemy attack, whilst his gunners returned fire, inflicting damage on a number of the enemy aircraft. Running low on fuel and ammunition, the Japanese aircraft flew off in the direction of their carriers, leaving the bullet ridden Catalina to search for the Japanese Task Force.
Back at the Catalina’s home base at Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay, the Japanese attack had left a scene of absolute devastation, with many aircraft destroyed, or seriously damaged. Of the sixty-one Catalinas available on the island of Oahu that fateful morning, all but eleven aircraft were destroyed or severely damaged by the Japanese attack – all remaining serviceable Catalinas were ordered into the air to search for the Japanese Fleet.
Hobbymaster 1/72nd scale HA5205 Grumman F-14AM 160347, IRIAF, 2014 (Website updated with latest photos).
I have added the latest photos of the Hobbymaster Iranian Tomcat and it looks a cracker! Not too many are coming into the U.K. so if you haven’t placed a pre-order on this one yet please do not delay as I do not have many left to allocate.
I featured this aircraft in a newsletter a while back. If you missed that issue, please click on the link HERE and it will take you straight to the Newsletter Article.
Well that is all for this week.
Thank you for taking time to read this week’s Newsletter.