Ah, ‘Orient Expedition’, one of the ‘Adventurers’ sub-themes that we had completely forgotten about. Still, Kevin J. Walter hadn’t, and as such he’s recreated the 7420 Thunder Blazer set from 2003, only his is much, much better.
Johnny Thunder’s wings will no doubt help him to plunder some valuable antiquity of great significance from a vaguely far-eastern culture, and return it to its proper place in the British Museum, where it belongs.
Join the expedition somewhere in the Orient via Kevin’s photostream at the link above.
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.
Luis Peña may have created the most niche Lego category of all time, and there are some bloody niche ones out there already. These three marvellous contraptions from the early days of flight come from his ‘Chilean Aviation Pioneers’ album, celebrating the first men to get airborne in Chile.
The Bristol M1.C (below) was Britain’s first combat monoplane. It was also Chile’s, as Britain delivered 12 M1.Cs to the country in lieu of two battleships that Chile had ordered from the UK, but that were commandeered by the Royal Navy to fight in the First World War before they could be delivered.
In South America the M1.C became the first aircraft in history to cross the Andes Mountains, whilst in Europe it became a successful air-racer after the war, back in the days when air racing was a thing. Just one example survives today, residing in a museum in Australia.
Luis’ second Chilean Aviation Pioneer (below) is the French-made Voisin Cellular biplane, which became the first plane ever to fly in Chile when it was piloted by César Copetta in 1910, some twenty year before the formation of the Chilean airforce.
Like the Bristol above the vintage aircraft has been superbly recreated in 1:40 (roughly mini-figure) scale, including the the guide wires, spindly wheels, and wooden frame and wing struts.
Luis’ Final Chilean Aviation Pioneer is the 1909 Blériot XI (below), a French design that became the first aircraft ever to fly across the English Channel, as well as the first heavier-than-air aircraft to be used in war, when it was deployed in Africa in 1910. The Blériot also became the first military aircraft to fly in Chile, in the hands of Captain Manuel Ávalos in 1913.
As wonderfully constructed as Luis’ other aircraft there’s more to see of the Blériot XI, plus the Bristol M.1C and Voisin Cellular and Luis’ ‘Chilean Aviation Pioneers album’ on Flickr. Click the link above to go flying over Chile sometime in the early twentieth century.
From the depths of the ocean to the clouds in the sky now, although the route there may have been a little wobbly. This is a Boeing Stearman Kaydet PT-17, the U.S military’s default training aircraft of the 1930s. Flight was a risky business back then, and even more so with a seventeen-year-old student at the controls. This marvellous Technic recreation of the aeronautical equivalent of a driving school car is the work of Flickr’s Mihai Dreve and it’s been built as part of a competition currently underway at Eurobricks. Click here to find out more, and the link above to view the Kaydet PT-17’s complete album.
LEGO’s late ’90s Adventurers series with Johny Thunder was one of this writer’s favourites. What was basically an unlicensed Indiana Jones theme, archaeologist ‘Johnny’ travelled around the world in search of unique and wonderful artefacts whilst trying to outwit his nemesis Sam Sinister and Baron von Barron, all the while being chased by rolling boulders. This lovely flashback to the theme comes courtesy of Flickr’s Markus Rollbühler and Grant Davis who have constructed not only a brilliant hot air balloon and classic bi-plane, but also the backstory to accompany them. Join the adventure by clicking here.
This odd contraption is an Airco DH.2, an early First World War fighter aircraft designed by legendary aeronautical pioneer Sir Geoffrey de Havilland.
The early years of flight were dangerous ones, with poor pilot training and machines pushing the boundaries of aeronautics almost continuously. This meant a huge incident rate (and the Airco DH.2 gaining the nickname in today’s title), but once the Royal Flying Corps were familiar with the design the DH.2 proved to be more than a match for its German counterparts, being highly manoeuvrable and relatively easy to fly.
The single Lewis machine gun mounted up front originally swung from side to side, but as pilots found it easier to aim with their aircraft than the gun it became fixed to the cockpit. Behind the pilot was a French 100bhp Gnome Monosoupape nine-cylinder radial engine, mounted there in ‘pusher’ configuration as unlike the Germans the British hadn’t yet developed a synchronisation system to allow a gun to fire between spinning propeller blades.
The Airco DH.2 had a ridiculously short yet successful career, destroying 44 enemy aircraft in The Battle of the Somme. Such was the pace of development in the First World War that just a year later the arrival of new German fighters meant DH.2 was outclassed and replaced by the DH.5, which itself only lasted a single year in combat operation before the S.E.5 arrived to see out the conflict, by this time looking far more like a plane we would recognise today.
This neat mini-figure scale recreation of the Airco DH.2 comes from Henrik Jensen, and it captures the aircraft’s weirdness rather well. With such a short life-span there are no surviving original DH.2s today, so this may be as close as we’ll get to seeing one – take a look at Henrik’s photostream via the link above, or at MOCpages here.
A seemingly inevitable fixture in old-timey race movies, a car or plane will crash through a barn and emerge out the other side covered in hay and miraculously unharmed chickens, and followed by a wildly gesticulating farmer. Exactly as per this glorious action-shot by Flickr’s PigletCiamek, who has absolutely nailed it! Click the link above to follow the aeronautical shenanigans!
This lovely Boeing Stearman PT-17 biplane is the work of mrutek on Flickr, and it’s our second song-titled creation of the day. The PT-17 was designed as a training aircraft for the US military in the 1930s and ’40s, with over 8,000 produced during the period. It’s therefore perhaps a bit of an unsung hero of the Second World War, as it was the tool of choice for training pilots who would later take to the skies to defend the Allies in far more war-like machinery.
Following the war the large surplus of PT-17s were sold to the civilian market, to be used as crop dusters, leisure aircraft, and in aerobatics display teams. As such, unlike many aircraft from the annals of history, many PT-17s survive and are in use today. Perhaps the little biplane, in a roundabout way, has received the recognition it deserved after all.