Tag Archives: Hawker

In the Bank

Lego Brooklands 1935

It’s time for some history here at TLCB, because we are – at heart – complete nerds.

The world’s first purpose-built racetrack (or what’s left of it) lies not far from TLCB Towers. The Brooklands race circuit opened in 1907, built partly for manufacturers of the newly emerging auto-industry to test their cars, and partly because driving really quickly is bloody good fun.

Measuring just under 3 miles long the Brooklands track was built from uncoated concrete banking, which in places reached 30ft high, and was simply unimaginably steep, far steeper than any modern banked circuit. With no safety barrier at the top and cars routinely getting airborne over the bumpy concrete the spectacle was incredible, and crowds topped a quarter of a million in the circuit’s hay-day.

The outbreak of the First World War saw Brooklands requisitioned by the War Office, as the site also included an aerodrome, becoming the UK’s largest aircraft manufacturing centre by 1918. The end of the war saw motor racing return the the track, alongside the continuation of aircraft manufacturing, but when Hitler decided that Germany hadn’t quite finished with Europe yet motor racing at the track ceased for good.

During the Second World War the Brooklands site became the hub of Hawker fighter and Wellington bomber manufacturing, amongst other aircraft, and the track’s survival as a piece of British heritage sadly, but necessarily, came second to the war effort. Trees were planted on the track to disguise it from German bombers, and whole sections ripped up to expand the runways.

By the end of the war the track was in a poor state, and the site was sold to Vickers-Armstrong to continue operations as an aircraft factory, at one time laying claim to being the largest aircraft hanger in the world. However as the UK’s aircraft manufacturing industry declined the Brooklands site was gradually sold off, becoming a business park, a supermarket, and the Mercedes-Benz World driving instruction track.

Today not much of the original circuit remains, but what does is managed by the Brooklands Museum, who are endeavouring to preserve possibly the most important motor racing, aeronautical and war-time manufacturing site in the world. A recent heritage grant aims to return both the aero-buildings and the famous Finishing Straight to their former glory, and a section of the incredible concrete banking is still standing. You can even take a car on it if you’re feeling brave.

If you’re in the UK and you get the chance to visit the Brooklands Museum we highly recommend it, but for our readers further afield you can get an idea of the insanity of the vintage racing that once took place there courtesy of this lovely scene recreating Brooklands circa-1935 by Flickr’s Redfern. There’s more to see of his 1930s Maserati, its racing counterpart, and his wonderfully recreated Brooklands banking his photostream. Click the link above to step back in time.

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Typhoon

Lego Hawker Typhoon

The RAF like aircraft named after tropical storms and their current BAE Systems Eurofighter Typhoon is one of the world’s finest fighter planes. 70 years earlier the Eurofighter’s grandfather was too. The Hawker Typhoon evolved from the Hurricane as a high altitude fighter, but teething problems meant it never fulfilled this role quite as was intended.

However, the monstrous 2000bhp engine meant that the Typhoon found a new role as a ground attack aircraft (in addition to its job shooting down the BMW-engined Focke-Wulf Fw 190), and it could carry a payload close to that of a dedicated light bomber.

Sadly only one Hawker Typhoon survives today, but K Wigboldy aka Thirdwigg has recreated the legendary World War 2 aircraft so well there might as well be two. His 1:13 Lego replica features the huge 24 cylinder engine that made the Typhoon such an effective weapon, plus an electrically powered variable pitch propellor, working landing gear, flaps, ailerons, elevator and rudder.

More photos can be found on MOCpages via the link above, and you can see all the details plus a video of the working functions by visiting Thirdwigg’s excellent website – find it in the Directory in the main menu.

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