Wings of the Great War

On the Ground and In the Air with Wings of the Great War

Wings of the Great War’s French Saint Chamond Heavy Tank – “Chantecoq,” As31, Laffaux, France, 1917

While we were away on vacation last week, Wings of the Great War announced two new weapons of war for a January roll out. On the ground, the Company unveiled a French Saint Chamond heavy tank, a curious if failed attempt by the French Army to break the stalemate that had settle over the Western Front and prevented either side from winning the war (WW10207).

Wings of the Great War’s 1:72 scale US Air Service Breguet 14 A.2 Bomber – Capt. James A. Summersett Jr., “Photo,” 96th Aero Squadron, Nancy, France, 1918

In the air, a French-built Breguet 14 A.2 bomber is expected to lift off around the same time (WW12101). Attached to the US Air Service’s 96th Aero Squadron, the aircraft was piloted by Capt. James A. Summersett Jr., and deployed to Nancy, France, in 1918.

 
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Wings of the Great War: Amiens or Bust

Wings of the Great War’s 1:72 scale British Mk. A “Whippet” Light Tank then attached to B Company, 3rd Tank Brigade, Amiens, France, August 17th, 1918

The Battle of Amiens, France, fought in August 1918 near the tail end of the Great War, has always held special significance for my family since a German regiment, taking its name from a distant relative, was virtually destroyed by advancing Allied armor, specifically two Mark V tanks. So, when Wings of the Great War announced plans to offer a British Whippet light tank that saw action at the same battle, we obviously sat up and took notice.

Whippet’s were first employed in 1917, designed to operate in conjunction with some of their heavier counterparts.

Expected some time in October, the British Mk. A “Whippet” light tank (WW10209) shown here, known as “Firefly”, was attached to the British Army’s B Company, 3rd Tank Brigade, and is now on display at  the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History in Brussels, Belgium, still showing the damage it took on August 17th, 2018. The Whippet actually saw service for the first time a year prior, when a light tank called the Mark A was ready to be used on the Western Front. Nicknamed the Whippet, it was faster than previous tanks, particularly the ponderous Mark IV, but was still unreliable and vulnerable to artillery fire. Weighing in at 18 tons, it could traverse ground at nearly double the speed of its heavier counterpart, clocking in at a blistering 6 mph.

For more information on the Battle of Amiens, feel free to click on the following link:

https://books.google.com/books?id=B_KBBAAAQBAJ&pg=PT786&lpg=PT786&dq=Composite+Regiment+Dultz&source=bl&ots=90U93uZz9A&sig=50uuBuK-C3q7ro7g6AdagJ80yKs&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwib5N-xkLvWAhVHQSYKHUH6BDQQ6AEITjAJ#v=onepage&q=Composite%20Regiment%20Dultz&f=false

 
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Product Spotlight: Ach Du Lieber! Ein Zeppelin!

Wings of the Great War’s first ever 1:700 scale replica of LZ 41 Zeppelin, Tactical No. L 11, as it looked in 1915

“We who strike the enemy where his heart beats have been slandered as ‘baby killers’ … Nowadays, there is no such animal as a noncombatant. Modern warfare is total warfare.”
– Peter Strasser, chief commander of the German Imperial Navy Zeppelins during World War I

There are, without question, certain aircraft that have come to symbolize a conflict. The Harrier and Super Entendard are instantly recognizable as the instruments of war during the Falklands Conflict. The Spitfire, P-51 and Bf 109 are, of course, the tools of the Second World War. The B-52, F-4 Phantom II and MiG 21 are synonymous with the Vietnam War.

When it comes to the Great War, most associate the War to End All Wars with the biplane – the flimsy, open cockpit invention that took chivalry to new heights and created an added dimension to modern warfare. But, it was the Zeppelin that struck fear in the hearts of the civilian population, enabling Germany’s Imperial Air Service to bomb cities, docks and industrial targets with relative impunity – or so they thought.

Recognizing its significance on the battlefield of Central Europe, Wings of the Great War has decided to pay homage to this slow and ponderous behemoth by offering its first ever 1:700 scale replica of a Zeppelin (WW19901). The Zeppelin P Class was the first Zeppelin airship type to be produced in quantity after the outbreak of the First World War. Twenty-two of the type were built as well as 12 of a lengthened version, the Q Class. They were used for many of the airship bombing raids on the United Kingdom in 1915-16, for naval patrol work over the North Sea and Baltic and were also deployed on the eastern and south-eastern fronts. 

Look for the Zeppelin to take to the skies this August.

 
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Wings of the Great War Dons a Scarf, Gloves and Medals

A trio of new WWI fighters from Wings of the Great War

Wings of the Great War has steadily produced a diet of fantastic WWI fliers, so it came as no surprise earlier today that they would get around to creating aircraft based upon some of the famous fliers of World War I. Three iconic aircraft have been added to the collection – a Fokker F1 flown by Lt. Werner Voss of Jasta 10 (WW12004), a Nieuport 28C.1 piloted by 2nd Lt. Ralph A. O’Neill attached to 147th Aero Squadron (WW13003), and finally a new tooling based upon a S.E.5a operated by Capt. Albert Ball of No. 56 Squadron. All three new aircraft have been posted to our site, with anticipated ship dates ranging from July to September.

 
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Wings of the Great War Grows a Tail

When they rolled out their Mark IV Male and Female tanks, everyone knew it was just a matter of time before some of the variants were introduced to the collecting community. Earlier today, Wings of the Great War confirmed those suspicions when they unveiled their newest land warship: a Mark IV Male Tadpole heavy tank (WW10203).

During the War, a large number of Mark IV tanks were also used for development work. In an attempt to improve trench-crossing capability, the tadpole tail, an extension to the rear track horns, was introduced. However, it proved insufficiently rigid and does not appear to have been used in combat. Other experimental versions tested radios, mortars placed between the rear horns, and recovery cranes. Some of these devices were later used on operational tanks. Mark IVs were also the first tanks fitted with unditching beams by field workshops. A large wooden beam, reinforced with sheet metal, was stored across the top of the tank on a set of parallel rails. If the tank became stuck, the beam was attached to the tracks (often under fire) and then dragged beneath the vehicle, providing grip.

Look for the first Tadpoles to slither across the battlefield sometime in February.

 
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Product Spotlight: The Junkers D.1 – Unseating the Biplane

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“The important thing in aeroplanes is that they shall be speedy.”

– Baron Manfred Von Richthofen

Most people tend to equate WWI aerial combat with biplanes, zeppelins or even balloons, never truly considering the low wing monoplane as a viable candidate for dogfighting until years later. Well, several manufacturers, such as Junkers, would dispel that myth toward the end of the war, as airplane design advanced from the flimsy double or even triple wing design to a more durable single wing type.

The Junkers D.I (factory designation J 9) was a monoplane fighter aircraft produced in Germany late in World War I, significant for becoming the first all-metal fighter to enter service. The prototype, a private venture by Junkers designated the J 7, first flew on September 17th, 1917, going through nearly a half-dozen detail changes in its design during its tests. When it was demonstrated to the Idflieg early the following year it proved impressive enough to result in an order for three additional aircraft for trials. However, the changes made by Junkers were significant enough for the firm to redesignate the next example the J 9, which was supplied to the Idflieg instead of the three J 7s ordered.

Look for Wings of the Great War’s rendition of the German Junkers D.I Monoplane Fighter (WW11701) this coming December.

 
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Wings of the Great War Goes Off-Roading this November

 

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“More valuable than rubies. I should like my own Rolls Royce car with enough tyres and petrol to last all my life.”

– Thomas Edward Lawrence CB DSO FAS, A.K.A. “Lawrence of Arabia” discussing his squadron of nine Rolls Royce Armoured Car used in his operations against the Turkish forces

If you thought Wings of the Great War was content to build replicas of tanks and aircraft, you’d better think again. This November, the Company plans to introduce their first ever armored car, a heavily modified Rolls Royce that was used by the Royal Naval Armoured Car Section during WWI (WW10301). Based on a vehicle that served with the Light Armoured Motor Batteries of the Machine Gun Corps, on the Western Front in 1916, their first effort at offering a non-traditional battle wagon is welcome news for any number of reasons. Foremost among them, it means they can begin to branch out a bit and tackle some more exotic locales and subjects, and, in particular, one of Lawrence of Arabia’s famed weapons when he took the war to the Ottoman Empire.

Six RNAS Rolls-Royce squadrons were formed of 12 vehicles each: one went to France; one to Africa to fight in the German colonies and in April 1915 two went to Gallipoli. From August 1915 onwards these were all disbanded and the materiel handed over to the Army which used them in the Light Armoured Motor Batteries of the Machine Gun Corps. The armoured cars were poorly suited to the muddy trench filled battlefields of the Western Front, but were able to operate in the Near East, so the squadron from France went to Egypt.

Lawrence of Arabia used a squadron in his operations against the Turkish forces. He called the unit of nine armoured Rolls-Royces “more valuable than rubies” in helping win his Revolt in the Desert. This impression would last with him the rest of his life; when asked by a journalist what he thought would be the thing he would most value he said “I should like my own Rolls-Royce car with enough tyres and petrol to last me all my life”.

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In the Irish Civil War (1922-1923), 13 Rolls-Royce armoured cars were given to the Irish Free State government by the British government to fight the Irish Republican Army. They were a major advantage to the Free State in street fighting and in protecting convoys against guerrilla attacks and played a vital role part in the retaking of Cork and Waterford. Incredibly, despite continued maintenance problems and poor reaction to Irish weather, they continued in service until 1944, being withdrawn once new tyres became unobtainable. Twelve of the Irish Army examples were stripped and sold in 1954.

At the outbreak of World War II, 76 vehicles were in service. They were used in operations in the Western Desert, in Iraq, and in Syria. By the end of 1941, they were withdrawn from the front line service as modern armoured car designs became available. Some Indian Pattern cars saw use in the Indian subcontinent and Burma.

 
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Product Spotlight: To The Green Fields Beyond

 

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“From Mud Through Blood To The Green Fields Beyond”

– Motto of the Royal Tank Regiment in World War I

When it was first introduced to the battlefields of World War I, it was hoped that the tank would be able to break the stalemate in fighting, turning the horrors of static trench warfare into a more mobile battle that could bring about quicker results. Slow and cumbersome, the earliest tanks were monstrosities at best, causing momentary anxiety amongst its enemies until antidotes and their own unwieldy qualities could be turned against them.

The Schneider Char d’Assault tank was France’s first real attempt at differentiating dedicated tanks from dedicated self-propelled gun systems. Like it’s predecessors before it however, the system would never meet its potential due to the design theory of melding a long hull on a short set of tracks. In practice, this combination proved to make the Schneider unable to pass over any type of uneven terrain.

The Schneider was a Char d’Assault idea by Colonel J .E. Estienne with a full design developed by Eugene Brillie under the Schneider Company brand. Both men visited the United States of America in an effort to study and research the Holt series of tractors that utilized a distinct tractor and chassis assemblage – more specifically the “Baby Holt”. The resulting design was termed as the Tractuer Blinde et Arme and production for the French Army followed.

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The Schneider Char d’Assault was the most fundamental of tank designs, consistent with early tanks in general. It was of a boxy hull design with a sharp angle at fore. The system sat upon shortened tracks, leaving the forward and aft hull sections hovering over the track assembly. Main armament consisted of a 75mm main gun. Two additional Hotchkiss-type 8mm machine guns were fitted in positional ball mountings on either side of the upper hull for self-defense. The Schneider could carry a full compliment of 7 personnel.

Once the Schneiders became available for use, their design shortcomings quickly became apparent. The short tractor assemblies were useless over anything but flat roads as the elongated hull protruding fore and aft caused the system to get stuck. As a result, the system suffered catastrophic losses against enemy artillery barrages, rendering the entire concept nearly useless. In one particular offensive no fewer than 57% of the 132 fielded Schneiders were destroyed in this fashion.

Look for Wings of the Great War’s first version of the Schneider (WW10202) to rumble onto the diecast battlefield this November.

 
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Once More Unto the Breach with Wings of the Great War

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When Wings of the Great War rolled out a Mark IV Male tank last year, it was a matter of time before they selected its sister, the Mark IV Female, as its next caisson. The principal difference between the two tanks is that the Female is studded with five machine guns whereas the Male’s armament boasted three machine guns and two QF 6 pounder 6 cwt Hotchkiss cannons.

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Also rolling into No Man’s Land is an American Expeditionary Force Renault FT -17 light tank, the first vehicle to incorporate a rotating turret instead of a fixed gun in a sponson.

 
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Wings of the Great War Keeps ‘Em Flying

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Thus far, Wings of the Great War have created a steady diet of World War I era aircraft plus a smattering of tanks to keep the ground pounders happy. We learned yesterday that three more planes are “in the wings”, so-to-speak, including a Halberstadt CL.II Escort Fighter/Ground Attack Aircraft (#WW11201), a Fokker D.VII fighter flown by the legendary Ernst Udet (#11401) and a third Albatros D.Va fighter (#WW14003).

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To help them cross no man’s land, the German Army is fielding a captured Mark IV male tank, festooned with the Imperial Cross (#WW10206). Interestingly, it was captured Mark IV tanks that became the most numerous tank in the German Army, which were turned against their British makers after being abandoned in battle for mechanical reasons.

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All of the new introductions have been added to our online catalog and we expect to take delivery some time in April.

 
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