Tag Archives: world war 1

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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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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Flying Camel

Lego Sopwith Camel

Sopwith Camel Fighter

This gorgeous mini-figure scale Sopwith Camel fighter plane was discovered on Flickr. Built by TheBrickAvenger, the Camel helped turn the tables in the Allies favour in the skies over France during the First World War. The Avenger’s version is complete with twin Vickers 303 machine guns, support wires and authentic RAF livery. See more here.

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Biplane Battle

Lego Sopwith Camel

Allied Sopwith Camel

A very excited Elf returned to TLCB Towers today. Excited because it was carrying two creations, and two creations means two meal tokens. So now we have a deservedly swollen Elf waddling round the building, and can bring you this pair of wonderful Great War airplanes designed and built by mrutek on Flickr. Handily for the unbiased nature of this post, each represents a side of the First World War; the Allies with an RAF Sopwith Camel and the Axis Powers with a Bomber Biplane, from the days when bombing involved dropping the explosive by hand out of the side of the plane. To see more of these fantastic creations click the link above.

Lego German Bomber

Axis Bomber

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Your favourite Lego Cars blog (whaddaya mean there’s only one…?) goes off topic again…

Welcome to our review of Lego’s latest big thing with wheels. As a fan of all things mechanical, and Lego, I couldn’t fail to notice this; an impressively faithful rendition of the 1917 Sopwith Camel, pioneer of the earliest days of airborne warfare.


It’s another one of those models that seems to have been created by an aficionado of the real thing. If anything about it looks a little strange – e.g. very short front, stubby fuselage – it’s because the real one was exactly the same. Even the colours are spot-on.

So, what do get for your eighty quid ?

Answer; a well-stuffed box with lots of fine goodies, some of them pieces I haven’t seen before in strange and exotic colours. It’s quite a lot of money for the number of pieces you get, but since many of them are big and/or special; even chromed, it’s well worth it.

Once you’ve emptied the whole lot into a big and unsortable  pile you can get cracking: a couple of hours of enjoyable building await. There’s nothing too tricky here, although you do need to take care of installing the long strings that control the flaps to avoid snagging – follow the instructions carefully and you’ll be alright.

Speaking of which, is it just me or does everyone find it difficult to see individual brown pieces in the instructions when there’s already a mass of them ? Perhaps this old git should admit defeat and get his eyes tested… At least there isn’t the trouble differentiating black from dark grey that there used to be.

When finished, what you’ll have is a surprisingly large model and nowhere to put it… still, it can always hang suspended on a wire from the ceiling, ready to strafe unsuspecting visitors.

It’s a working model, too. The control stick in the cockpit will activate the turning flaps with a side to side motion and the tail flaps with a back and forth movement, all done via the aforementioned strings. Very clever.

Of course, Lego have been here before, with this from 10 or so years ago:


… the previously inflated price of which is about to get a lot more reasonable. It’s a pretty good effort, but it’s easy to see where the newer one improves things.

The Sopwith Camel was a hugely significant aircraft, and not just for Lego. It was famously tricky to fly, with a deliberately front-heavy instability that made it highly manoevreable – a feature of most modern fighter aircraft, which are so unstable they wouldn’t fly at all without computer controls.

No computers in 1917, of course, just very skilled and very brave pilots. This ‘plane shot down more enemy aircraft than any other in World War One.

The engine was an air-cooled rotary (not to be confused with the Wankel rotary, a totally different design), sometimes known as a radial engine, whereby instead of a rotating crank in a fixed block, it was the cylinders that rotated around the fixed crank. For aircraft, this had several advantages. The rotating mass of the cylinders did away with the need for a heavy flywheel – the engine was the flywheel – and, when exposed to the air, it could be effectively self-cooling, without the need for a radiator. This made for a much better power to weight ratio than conventional in-line engines of the time.

This type of engine nearly always had an odd number of cylinders – typically seven, or in some cases, nine, in the Sopwith Camel. The only inaccuracy of Lego’s model is that it has eight. Still, at least it spins round with the propellor.

Speaking of which, shouldn’t the guns right behind it shoot it off ? Nah, Sopwith had that covered with another innovation; a synchronization gear that blocked the guns from firing when the blades were in front of them. The pilot could keep his fingers on the trigger and not worry about shooting himself out of the sky.

All very interesting, I’m sure, but the very best thing about this model is it’s sturdiness: strong enough to swoosh about the house, making authentic ‘duggaduggadugga’ noises and scaring the cat….

Get one. You won’t regret it.

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