Tag Archives: world war 1

Remembrance Sunday

Lego Great War Dogfight, Fokker Vs Airco

Today is Remembrance Sunday in The Lego Car Blog’s home nation, and never has a Lego image seemed more beautifully suited.

Henrik Jensen‘s wonderful dogfight between a German Fokker Eindecker EIII and his previously featured British Airco DH2 reminds us that the First World War claimed an enormous amount of life on both sides, and was the first war where conflict rather than disease caused the majority of the loss.

The war itself was pretty pointless, yet around 6 million Allied and 4 million Axis Powers servicemen lost their lives, along with an estimated 2 million civilians. We remember them all, including those our forebears fought against.

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The Spinning Incinerator

Lego Airco DH.2 Fighter

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.

Lego Airco DH.2 Fighter

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Mark V Tank – Picture Special

Lego Mark V Tank Sariel

This remarkable looking thing is a 1918 British Mark V tank that saw duty in the final months of the First World War. With an engine (built by Ricardo, who now make the twin-turbo V8 engine fitted to McLaren supercars) mounted in the centre of the crew’s cabin the Mark V was a miserable place to spend any time in. Ponderous, painfully slow, and unreliable, these early tanks were no fun at all, but they would change the course of warfare for ever.

Lego Mark V Tank RC

This beautiful Model Team style recreation of the 100 year old Mark V comes from Master MOCer and TLCB regular Sariel and it’s packed with brilliant engineering. With an XL motor driving each track Sariel’s Mark V can cross 22cm wide gaps, climb 9cm vertically, and ascend a 60% slope thanks to the 176 rubber feet mounted to the tracks for traction. This means that just like your Mom at a free buffet, nothing will get in its way.

Lego Remote Control Tank

Sariel’s Mark V also features a working 6-cylinder piston engine inside a realistically replicated cabin, a functional un-ditching beam, and two remote controlled side mounted guns that can rotate and elevate. Twin SBrick bluetooth bricks take care of the control signal, and mean that the Mark V can be controlled by a mobile phone and – more coolly – by a Playstation controller!

Lego Remote Control Mark V Tank

There’s lots more of Sariel’s Mark V tank to see at his Flickr album by clicking here, and you join in the discussion and watch a video of the model in action at the Eurobricks discussion forum by clicking here.

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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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Bullet Magnet

Lego Armoured Car

This 1919 Kresowiec ‘armoured car’, based on a tractor plough chassis, is the absolute last place we would want to be in war-time. Horrendously slow, hugely unreliable, and a great big (and interesting) target for everyone to hit, we can’t image it was fun to be inside one bit. We’d have rather had a horse. Or this.

Anyway, the Kresowiec does make for an intriguing Lego model, especially when constructed by TLCB favourite Karwik. You can see more of this unusual vintage contraption at Karwik’s Flickr photostream via the link above.

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The Red Baron Rides Again

Lego Red Baron

Daniel Siskind has recreated both sides of the aerial battle of World War One. Having featured his wonderful Sopwith Camel earlier in the month it was only right to include the Sopwith’s German counterpart. You can see more of Daniel’s brilliant Fokker Triplane – resplendent in Red Baron livery – at the link above.

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888,246

Lego Sopwith Camel

Enough of vegetable carving and creepy kids, it’s time for a creation with a bit more meaning. This beautiful mini-figure scale World War 1 Sopwith Camel has been created by Flickr’s Daniel Siskind, and it has a special importance at the moment.

It’s 100 years since Great Britain joined the Great War, with a sacrifice of 888,246 military lives. Of course many more died on both sides of what was a pretty pointless conflict, and even more from disease and starvation. Mankind may have invented fairly sophisticated instruments of death during the war (the Sopwith Camel included), but instruments of preserving life were a long way behind.

You can see more of Daniel’s build here, and you can see the incredible memorial to the 888,264 that the UK is currently undertaking here.

Lego Sopwith Camel Aircraft

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The Butterfly Effect

Gräf & Stift 1911 Double Phaeton

Some cars are important for reasons far beyond their parts. This is one such vehicle, the 1911 Graf & Stift Double Phaeton. It was – as you can see – truly lovely, like so many of the long forgotten pioneer motorcars.

However the Graf & Stift became famous for the most tragic of reasons. On the 28th June 1914 Gavrilo Princip, a young disenfranchised Bosnian Serb, fired shots into the car’s occupants. They were the Archduke of Austria-Hungary Franz Ferdinand, and his wife Sophie von Hohenberg, heirs to the Austro-Hungarian throne.

Both Franz and his wife died from the attack, and Gavrilo was arrested and jailed, being too young to face the death sentence. But like a butterfly flapping its wings causing an ever escalating chain of events, Gavrilo could never have known what his actions would set in motion.

The assassination gave Austria-Hungary the pretext to invade Serbia, itself on the war-path to reclaim its own lost 14th century empire. With treaties between countries in place across Europe, if one country went to war others were obliged to follow, and soon every major military power had chosen a side. The First World War had begun.

Gavrilo died three years later in prison, emaciated by disease and malnutrition. The majority of the 37 million who died during the war went the same way.

Karwik is the builder of the Archduke’s Double Phaeton, and you can see more of his recreation of possibly the most important car ever built via Flickr.

Lego Assassination of Franz Ferdinand

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Bullet Magnet

Lego Mark IV TankThis strange-looking device was built by Jon & Catherine Stead on Flickr. It’s a British Mark IV Tank, one of the first operational, which saw service during World War I. Whilst tanks are an all too familiar sight in modern war footage, and even film from World War II, back in 1917 they were revolutionary, and – frankly – not something you would want to serve in. A top speed of 4mph, early automotive reliability and a tendency to get stuck in soft ground meant that they were easy targets once they fell behind the advancing front line. Germany even captured 40 in one battle alone and, somewhat bravely/foolishly, redeployed them as their own.

Despite the early problems the British invention was a formidable foe when used to attack enemy trenches, and as such it was developed rapidly after the war into ever more capable variants and has since been adopted by almost every army in the world.

See Jon and Catherine’s pioneering Mark IV on Flickr and, because as a community we often overlook why creations such as these are built at all, see what you can do to help those caught in conflict via the Red Cross.

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