Year after year, one of the most popular aircraft in the Corgi aerial armada is their 1:72 scale depiction of the German Heinkel He 111 medium bomber. Their latest incarnation is no different — it comes in the form of a torpedo bomber that served with Kampgschwader 26 in the upper regions of Norway during 1942 (AA33715)
Perhaps the most interesting missions carried out by the ‘H’ model Heinkel He IIIs were those of the torpedo carrying maritime attack bombers, which flew at wave-top height, before delivering their payload of two air launched LT F5b torpedoes. Operating from the airfield at Bardufoss in northern Norway, the anti-shipping Heinkels of KG26 were involved in the infamous attack against Arctic convoy PQ17, which proved to be one of the most disastrous episodes in the history of the Royal Navy. Leaving Iceland, bound for Arkhangelsk in Russia, the convoy consisted of 35 merchant vessels and a large protecting force of naval ships. Quickly detected by the Germans, the first attack came from 25 Heinkel torpedo bombers of KG26 – warned of their approach, the escort vessels put up a murderous wall of defensive fire, which claimed four of the Luftwaffe bombers destroyed. Determined in their attack, the torpedoes did their damage and a number of ships were sunk and the defensive shield of the convoy disrupted.
Worried by the ferocity of the attack and intelligence reports suggesting that the mighty German battleship Tirpitz was steaming towards the battle, naval commanders ordered the escorts to withdraw and the convoy to scatter. Over the course of the next few days, Convoy PQ17 came under repeated attack from U-boats and Ju88 bombers, which claimed 23 of the defenseless ships. July 2017 will mark the 75th Anniversary of this naval disaster.