The Corgi Aviation Archive Knights of the Air series features the majority of the best-known bi-planes and triplanes designed and flown during WWI, notably by the British, French and German air forces, all involved in the conflict. In reality, as each country improved upon their original prototype designs, their counterparts developed similar upgrades, more often than not using captured aircraft to assess and then plagiarise ideas in a bid to gain air superiority.
Probably the best known of all German WWI aircraft - if only for its distinctive three-wing layout and association with the famous ‘Red Baron' Manfred von Richthofen, is the Fokker Dr.1 Dreidecker (three wings). Despite its fame as a very successful German fighter, the inspiration for the Fokker Dr.1 came directly from the British Sopwith Triplane. This had been produced as a follow-up to the Sopwith Pup and the use of three wings instead off two meant that both chord and span could be reduced. The narrower wings gave the pilot a better view above and below and the shorter span allowed increased manoeuvrability. Three wings instead of two also gave an increased rate of climb. These features had given the Sopwith Triplane a great advantage in the intense dog-fighting encountered on the Western Front.
The prototype Sopwith Triplane first flew in late May 1916 and within a year, it was in service. The summer of 1917 saw it making a massive impact on the German air squadrons. Triplanes of B Flight, No. 10 Sqn RNAS were top scorers, shooting down 87 German aircraft in three months. Its fearsome reputation caused the German Air Ministry, in July 1917, to ask the leading manufacturers to examine a shot-down Sopwith Triplane with a view to making a German equivalent of this successful fighter.
By Chris Ellis
By common consent amongst aviation historians and aero engineers, the Fokker D.VII is considered to be the finest fighter aircraft of WWI. Its inclusion in the Corgi Aviation Archive Knights of The Air series is no doubt most welcome amongst collectors of aircraft from the Great War. It is also appropriate that the first releases on this 1:48 scale model replicate the aircraft of two of the greatest exponents of German aerial warfare of the time - Hermann Goering (AA38901), veteran of WWI and subsequently part of Hitler's WWII regime; and Ltn. Ernst Udet (AA38902), the latter model due out in March 2010.
The Fokker D.VII was a very easy and manoeuvrable aircraft to fly and was well armed with two Spaneau machine guns in the cowling, firing through the airscrew arc. In the last six or seven months of the War, it gave the German air wings a fighter that could truly rival the SE5a, Spad VII and Sopwith Camel aircraft of the Allied squadrons.
It was in an attempt to find a better fighter design that in Autumn 1917, the German Air Ministry invited aircraft manufacturers to submit prototypes for test and evaluation the following January at Aldershof airport, Berlin. The Mercedes D.III 160 hp liquid-cooled engine was to be used. The Fokker Company was already designing a new fighter with a rotary engine which utilised a fuselage and tail similar to the Fokker Dr.I Triplane but was a conventional bi-plane, designated D.VI. However, to comply with the latest request, Fokker's designer Rheinhold Platz, produced another prototype very quickly, again using a fuselage and tail similar to the Triplane but with the Mercedes D.III engine. It also had new cantilever wings with N-shaped struts, which allowed wire bracing between the wings to be dispensed with. Fokker designated this prototype V.II
Additional features, aircraft modifications and one of the important 2010 anniversaries are all included in the varied supplementary release programme that Corgi unveiled on 15th October. The suggested release dates are based on the information printed in the catalogue. All are classed as limited editions. Confirmation of availability and production quantities will be published in the normal way in our regular Forthcoming Releases column as the models appear. Your local retailer will also be able to give you an update on availability.
Knights of the Air
In time of war the Harrier was to be deployed away from established airfields, which were vulnerable to attack. Instead it was to be operated from short, rough strips of ground and hidden in camouflaged 'hides', from which it would attack the enemy's approaching armoured formations.
These qualities came into their own during the Falklands War. RAF Harriers were deployed to the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Hermes, as part of the Task Force sent to recapture the Falklands Islands. The Harrier GR3 performed attack sorties from the aircraft carrier, and later from basic landing strips on the islands, often in conditions that would have grounded conventional aircraft.
HMS Hermes sailed from Portsmouth for the Falkland Islands Total Exclusion Zone (TEZ) on 5th April 1982 with five Sea Harriers (SHARs) of 800 NAS plus four SHARs from 899 NAS, which had in effect been absorbed into 800 NAS on 2nd April 1982.
live on in an evocative Corgi Aviation Archive Series..
The iconic names in World War I aviation history are gradually being brought once more to the fore as the Corgi Aviation Archive range selects the ‘greats' amongst them in an ongoing series of WWI Airborne Aces/Knights of the Air. Some of you may have watched the recently televised documentaries featuring some of these unassuming, everyday ordinary figures, who achieved so much with so little training and experience. Not only that but the aircraft they flew were potential death traps, made of wood and canvas with little or no chance of survival if you were shot at, which usually meant the pilot and plane went down in flames. It is even reputed that British WWI ace Edward ‘Mick' Mannock, terrified of being shot down, carried a loaded pistol with him so he could end his own life rather than being burned alive or captured.
These 1:48 scale Corgi Aviation Archive gems are a genuine work of art. In real life, these fragile bi-planes often took on the gregarious and confident garb of their pilots, appearing in magnificent colour schemes. Authentically replicated in Corgi miniature, the aircraft also feature an extremely high level of detail, down to the intricate fully detailed rigging and - coming shortly, as part of the new summer 2009 introductions - photo-etched radiator grilles on the engines!