Tag Archives: 1940s

Wartime Willys

The Lego Car Blog Elves are having a great time this morning. This lovely remote controlled Willys Jeep was discovered by one of their number today, and fortunately our eagle-eyed intern caught it before the model could be used for any smushing shenanigans.

That means no tidying up for us, and a gaggle of Elves being transported around TLCB Towers, much to their delight.

The model in question is properly good too, looking wonderfully like-like and featuring a complete remote control drivetrain, with four-wheel-drive, front and rear suspension, and working steering.

TLCB favourite Sariel is the builder and there’s more to see of his superbly presented 1940s Willys Jeep on Flickr and via the Eurobricks forum.

8 Out of 10 Nazis…

It might sound like European cat food, but the Kettenkrat was altogether weirder than that. Half motorcycle, half tank, the Sd.Kfz 2 Kettenkrat was designed by NSU, powered by Opel, weighed 1.5 tons, and could climb slopes of over 24°, even in sand.

A unique drive system delivered power to both tracks simultaneously on hard ground, or – when the driver selected – operated via a subtractor to skid-steer on soft ground, and it was used throughout the Second World War to lay cables, transport troops, tow aircraft, oh – and to invade Russia.

This amazing motorised Model Team recreation of the Sd.Kfz 2 Kettenkrad comes from previous bloggee Samolot, and not only does it feature the most terrifying LEGO figure we’ve ever seen, it also includes a fully working remote controlled version of the real bike/tank’s ingenious steering system.

Exactly how it works is beyond the collective minds housed here at TLCB Towers, so the best way to see if you can figure it out is via the video below. There are also more images of both Samolot’s model and the real 1940s contraption at Bricksafe, and you can read the full build description and join the discussion via the Eurobricks forum here.

YouTube Video

Got Wood?

Yes we do today. A lot of it. Cue a default title that still makes us snigger – because we’re children, and a car called a Willys, which also makes us snigger – because we’re children.

Previous bloggee 1saac W. is the cause of the phallus-based sniggering with his beautiful recreation of the 1948 Willys-Overland Station Wagon, and there’s more to see of 1saac’s Woodie (snigger) on Flickr via the link.

Panzer III

Designed by Daimler-Benz, this the Panzer III Sd.Kfz 141, the German military’s primary medium battle tank built to take on the formidable Soviet T-34 during the Second World War. It was powered by a 300bhp Maybach V12 giving it a top speed of just over 20mph, which wasn’t fast (but then it did weigh around twenty-two tons), and it was armed with either a 37mm, 50mm, or 75mm gun, depending on specification.

Around 5,700 Panzer IIIs were built between 1939 and 1943, seeing service in Poland, the Soviet Union, France, North Africa, the Netherlands, and Italy – amongst other theatres of war. This superb Lego version of the Sd.Kfz 141 comes from previous bloggee Rebla, who has recreated the design brilliantly, including a rotating turret, elevating cannon, and a crew of custom mini-figures.

Rebla has presented his model beautifully too, and there’s more to see at his photostream – click the link above to make the jump to all the imagery.

Ardennes ’44

It must have been beautiful but bleak navigating the Ardennes in 1944. Nicholas Goodman has depicted the scene beautifully, with his tank advancing through the mud and ice, wonderfully recreated in brick form. Head to Nicholas’ photostream for the full image, and – as we do from time to time – click here for the other side of war.

The Last Dakota* in Denmark

The Douglas DC-3 ‘Dakota’ revolutionised air travel before the jet age. And after it to some degree. Originating as a 1930s military design the DC-3 could fly 1,500 miles at 200mph, taking off and landing on short runways, and carrying 6,000lbs of cargo.

The Dakota was so versatile and reliable that it is still in service all around the world, although not in Denmark where just one unit remains airworthy. Previous bloggee Henrik Jensen has built this aircraft, as operated by a non-profit preservation, recreating it beautifully in brick form.

Wonderful techniques and authentic decals add to the realism and there’s more to see of Henrik’s Douglas DC-3 on Flickr – click the link above to fly in Denmark’s last Dakota.

*Today’s (excellent) title song.

Blue Bulldog

We round off a busy day here at TLCB Towers with this, TLCB debutant eastpole77‘s charming vintage Lanz Eilbulldog tractor. Inventive parts use, clever building techniques, and excellent presentation are all present and there’s more of eastpole77’s creation to see via the link above.

What’s in a Roundel?

This TLCB writer has learned something today; the Royal Australian Navy uses little red kangaroos in place of the red dot more usually found in the centre of the RAF roundel! Kangaroos!

Entering the rabbit hole he has now learned that South Africa’s insignia features an eagle, Trinidad and Tobago a hummingbird, Papua New Guinea the mythical phoenix, and Luxembourg an extravagant lion.

If we ever start a military campaign against The Brothers Brick perhaps we should outline an Elf for the centre of ours?

Following that somewhat tangental start to this post, the aircraft depicted here that features the kangaroo-in-a-circle markings is a Hawker Sea Fury, in this case flown by the Royal Australian Navy.

Based on the Hawker Tempest, the Sea Fury entered service at the end of the second world war and flew until the early ’60s, operating first a pure fighter and then as a fighter-bomber as its suitability for multi-role use became apparent.

This particular Sea Fury is a F.B.11 that operated with Squadron 724 from the H.M.A.S. Albatross, most notably serving in the Korean War, and it’s been recreated beautifully by John C. Lamarck, complete with folding wing-tips, retractable landing gear, an opening cockpit, and – of course – accurate Royal Australian Navy markings including kangaroo roundels.

There’s much more to see of John’s superb Hawker Sea Fury F.B.11 on Flickr – hop on over via the link above!

Catalina

This beautiful aircraft is a PBY-6A Catalina, as built by Henrik Jensen of Flickr. Introduced in 1936 over 3,300 Catalina were constructed, making it one of the most widely used flying boats during the second world war. The Catalina saw service in maritime patrol, night bombing, anti-submarine warfare, and search and rescue, with some still in use today as fire fighting water bombers.

The PBY-6A Catalina depicted here was operated by the Royal Dutch Air force, and has been recreated wonderfully by Henrik using a myriad of clever building techniques, with a few stickers enhancing the realism too. There’s more to see of Henrik’s Catalina at his photostream – click the link above to head there and take a look.

Swiss Stork

This is a Fieseler Fi-156 Storch, a short take-off and landing aircraft designed in Germany in the late 1930s. Oddly, despite Germany being a bit of a bad neighbour at the time, it was also built in the Soviet Union (before the German invasion) and France (during and after the German invasion).

One country not invaded was neutral Switzerland, which is where this Fi-156 Storch (or Stork in English) hails from, being used in the Alps for search and rescue.

Built by Flickr’s daviddstone, this brick-built recreation of the Swiss Stork captures the design brilliantly, including wing and landing-gear struts, skis for snow landings, and a lovely Swiss Cross tail-fin.

There’s more to see of daviddstone’s creation at his photostream – click the link above to fly over the Alps in the 1940s.

Dog Years*

This is an M8 Greyhound 6×6 Light Armoured Vehicle (or something close to it, as builder Robson M doesn’t specify!), built by Ford in the 1940s for Allied troops during World War 2.

The British, who like naming their military hardware after animals and the weather, gave it the ‘greyhound’ name, as it could sustain 55mph on reasonable roads, which was very quick for the time. And – at least in this one’s case – it was grey.

Much like a real greyhound though, the M8 wasn’t particularly well armoured, especially underneath, and nor was it very good off-road, despite being a 6×6. However it was useful enough that 8,500 were made, and – again like its namesake dog – many found new homes after being retired from their first military owner, with some M8s still in service around the world as late as the 2000s!

This neat Town scale version captures the M8 Greyhound rather well, with Robson using a few custom decals and a custom machine gun mounted on top to add to the model’s realism. There’s more of Robson’s build to see at his photostream – click the link to make a visit to the dog track.


*Today’s lovely title song.

Flying Wing

This is the Northrop XB-35, one of America’s amazing ‘flying wing’ experimental aircraft that would, eventually, lead to the modern B-2 Spirit ‘Stealth Bomber’.

But 1946 was a long time before the B-2, and the ‘flying wing’ idea was still in its infancy. The much smaller N-9M proved the concept enough (despite crashing quite a lot) for Northrop to build a version three times larger, the XB-35, initially powering it with four huge contra-rotating ‘pusher’ propellors driven by Wasp R-4360 radial engines.

The vibrations were awful though, so as the design entered the jet age it was upgraded with eight turbojets, becoming the YB-49 – although the aircraft was still far slower than conventionally winged bombers like the B-47.

It’s the original mid-’40s propellor-powered XB-35 we have here though, created in astonishing detail in 1:40 (mini-figure!) scale by Flickr’s BigPlanes. The detail is beautiful on the inside too, with a complete four-seat cockpit and accurate landing gear underneath.

BigPlanes’ incredible creation is due to go on show at the 2021 Virginia Brickfair event (COVID-19 depending), but you can see it via the spectacular imagery at his ‘XB-35 Flying Wing’ album on Flickr.

Click the link above to take to the skies c1946, and watch the horizon go all blurry and your tea jump out of your mug as four enormous contra-rotating props start shaking the world’s weirdest wing to bits.

Büssing

You may have noticed that, despite the title, there are no windows along the side of today’s vehicle. That’s because this is not a bus, rather a Büssing 8000 flatbed truck, a brand we hadn’t heard of until today. However Büssing were one of Germany (and therefore Europe)’s largest truck makers, and to an extent they still are, following their takeover by MAN in 1971.

Founded in 1903, Büssing began building tractors and omnibuses, before producing innovative underfloor-engined trucks which are now the mainstream layout in Europe. Surviving two World Wars, and a dark concentration camp slave labour chapter in their history, Büssing later produced designs and parts for MAN before they were fully acquired, and their logo can still be seen on MAN products today.

We have Nikolaus Löwe (aka Mr_Kleinstein) to thank for our schooling today, and his splendid Town-scale classic Büssing 8000 flatbed-canvas covered truck. Not only does Nikolaus’ model look rather lovely, it somewhat unbelievably fits a full Power Functions remote control drivetrain inside, echoing the innovation of the real Büssing truck company and their clever underfloor-engined designs.

A cunningly concealed LEGO mini-motor powers the rear wheels whilst a micro-motor steers the fronts, and you can find out how Nikolaus has done it at on Flickr. Click the link above to make the jump to all the imagery at Nikolaus’ photostream.

Streamliner

This is a Tatra T87, and it was one of the fastest and yet most fuel efficient cars of the era. Built from the mid-’30s to early-’50s the T87 was powered by rear-mounted air-cooled 2.9 litre V8 engine which was about half the size of its competitors, yet – thanks to its streamlined shape – it could reach almost 100mph whilst using nearly half the fuel.

The occupying Nazis loved it, calling it ‘the autobahn car’, but so many German officers were killed trying to reach 100mph that the T87 was dubbed ‘the Czech secret weapon’, and they were subsequently banned from driving it.

This brilliant Technic recreation of the Tatra T87 comes from Horcik Designs who has replicated the car’s streamlined shape beautifully from Technic panels. Underneath the aerodynamic body is functioning swing-arm suspension, working steering, and a detailed engine under an opening cover, and there’s more to see of all of that at the Eurobricks discussion forum and at Horcik’s Bricksafe folder.

Click the links above to ty to reach 100mph on the autobahn c1940. Unless you’re a German Army officer.

Stop! Hangar Time

War isn’t won just with planes, tanks and ships. Behind the scenes a huge machine needs to operate to keep the frontline moving, from medical care to mechanics and cookery to construction.

With shifting territory and short aircraft ranges in both world wars, runway and hangar building was as important to the war effort as the aircraft that used them. Often overlooked by Lego builders we have two builds today that recognise the behind-the-scenes heroes of the Allied victory in both wars.

First above (above) is Dread Pirate Wesley‘s superb First World War diorama, set somewhere in Northern France and featuring wonderful SE5a and Sopwith Camel biplanes alongside a brilliantly recreated canvas and wood hangar. It’s a stunning scene and one that you can see more of via the link to Wesley’s photostream above, where you can also find a trio of German Fokkers ready to meet the British fighters in the skies over France.

Today’s second wartime hangar (below) jumps forward around twenty-five years to the Second World War, with the canvas and wood replaced by concrete and tin, and the biplanes by the far more sophisticated Supermarine Spitfire, very probably the greatest fighter of the conflict. Builder Didier Burtin has curved LEGO’s grey baseplates under tension to create the impressive hangar, equipping with everything required to keep the pair of Spitfires airworthy.

There’s more to see of Didier’s beautiful Second World War diorama at his photostream via the link above, where you can also see what happens when a part fails on a 1940s fighter plane, and therefore why the heroes behind the scenes were as vital as those in the cockpits.