Image courtesy of Nick Sweetman
But, in this writer’s opinion, the most beautiful aircraft of the Second World War. This gorgeous Supermarine Spitfire comes from Mike Fifer of MOCpages, and it contains some of the most brilliantly-built colouring of any model we’ve found. It’s not just the superb camouflage you can see in these pictures either, as the underside is rather special too. Click the link above to find out why.
Built by TLCB debutant Luis Pena, this is a 1:100 scale replica of the research vessel ‘Calypso’, complete with a helicopter and ‘diving saucer’ submersible vehicle.
The Calypso was originally a US-built wooden-hulled British minesweeper that served in the Mediterranean during the Second World War. Following the Allied victory the ship returned to US hands before being recommissioned as a Maltese ferry.
Within a year however, British millionaire Thomas Loel Guinness purchased the ship and gave it to the diving pioneer, film-maker, conservationist and adventurer Jacques-Yves Cousteau for use as a marine research vessel, a role the Calypso fulfilled for five decades. During an incredible half-century of oceanic exploration Cousteau and the Calypso made numerous discoveries, including the wreck of the HMHS Brittanic sunk during the First World War, the ability of marine mammals to use echolocation, and halted the dumping of radioactive waste in the Mediterranean Sea.
In 1996, almost fifty years after it entered service with Cousteau, the RV Calypso was accidentally rammed by a barge in Singapore and it sunk in the harbour. A week later the ship was raised and transferred to a shipyard, however Jacques-Yves Cousteau died the following year of a heart attack aged 87, and the Calypso was left to rot as various parties fought over the boat’s ownership, its restoration, and unpaid bills.
Today the ship, which has featured in film, documentaries, song, and even has a namesake in Star Trek, is still quietly dissolving in a shipyard in France, a victim of mankind’s inability to put progress over profit. However Cousteau’s legacy remains almost unfathomably huge, and continues to today via the environmental protection foundation that he created which now numbers over 300,000 members.
This beautiful homage to a ship which as done probably more than any other can be found in greater detail at Luis’ photostream on Flickr, and includes both above and below the waterline versions (each pictured here). There’s more to see via the link above, and you can read more about the Cousteau Society that continues Jacques-Yves’ work today by clicking here.
Eagle-eyed readers of this blog post will have noticed that this is not a car. It is in fact a Nakajima Ki-84 ‘Hayate’ World War 2 fighter, as flown by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service in the last three years of the war. One of the fastest, most formidably armed, and highest flying fighters of the time, the Nakajima Ki-84 was a feared adversary.
Over 3,500 Ki-84’s were produced between 1943 and 1945, although towards the end of the conflict the crippling effects of the war on production meant that defects rose dramatically and quality dropped. After the Allied victory several Ki-84’s were captured, with Indonesia the People’s Republic of China operating the aircraft within their own air forces, and America using two for evaluation.
Today just one Nakajima Ki-84 ‘Hayate’ fighter survives, an ex-U.S evaluation aircraft now located in the Chiran Peace Museum in Japan. However thanks to previous bloggee and military-building specialist Daniel Siskind we now have double the number of Ki-84’s available to view.
Daniel’s superb mini-figure scale recreation of Japan’s fastest Second World War fighter is a beautifully detailed build and includes authentically replicated Imperial Japanese roundels and tail markings, as well as a custom IJA airman mini-figure shown in the first image above. See more of Daniel’s Nakajima Ki-84 ‘Hayate’ fighter and its custom mini-figure pilot on Flickr by clicking here.
The Gloster Meteor is one of this writer’s very favourite aircraft. And that’s probably the nerdiest line ever said in human history. Anyway, it is. Because look at it.
The Meteor was the Allies first jet-powered aircraft, and the only one to enter service during the Second World War. Powered by two Rolls-Royce Welland turbojet engines designed by the engineering genius Sir Frank Whittle, the meteor became the fastest aircraft of the time, breaking numerous speed and climbing records.
The Meteor was flying on the very edge what what was achievable in the 1940s, and thus hundreds of the aircraft (and the pilots that flew them) were lost to accidents, mechanical failures and fuel starvation (the Meteor could only fly for an hour at most). However, the Meteor was also fast enough to catch and destroy the V1 flying bomb in flight, and destroyed 46 German aircraft on the ground by the end of the war. The Meteor wasn’t permitted to fly over land in German occupation though, so great was the fear of the aircraft being captured and its secrets being learned.
After the war the incredible rate of jet aircraft development meant the Meteor quickly become obsolete, ending its days as a target tug, but without the Meteor’s pioneering technology it could have been many more years before jetting off on holiday became a realistic possibility for millions of people.
This beautiful recreation of a the Gloster Meteor in Royal Danish Airforce livery comes from previous bloggee Henrik Jensen, and it captures the iconic shape of the real aircraft brilliantly. There’s more to see of Henrik’s build at MOCpages and Flickr where Henrik has made the internal secrets of his model available to view. Even if you’re German.
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.
This is a Soviet IS-7 heavy tank, launched during the closing stages of World War II, and largely responsible for the fall of Berlin and the surrender of Germany – something that seems to get left out of Western history books.
Commissioned by Stalin to supersede the Soviet Union’s existing KV tanks, the IS was built quickly and finished poorly, but packed a mighty punch. The IS-7 was also mightily armoured, and could withstand an attack by both the German Panther and Tiger class tanks.
This brilliantly-engineered recreation of the IS-7 is the work of Tommy Styrvoky, and it’s one of the finest working Lego tanks that we’ve found to date. Underneath the smooth-plated exterior are six Power Functions motors that control everything from the drive, transmission and steering, to the turret rotation and gun elevation, and Tommy’s tank also includes a beautifully replicated working V12 piston engine and fully independently-sprung tracks too.
A comprehensive gallery of images are available via Tommy’s photostream, and you can see what the IS-7 can do courtesy of the video below.
This may not be a car, or even completely LEGO, but it is a stunning build nevertheless. TLCB regular Daniel Siskind is back with another superb military creation. Built utilising third-party Brickarms weaponry, thirteen custom mini-figures, and a third-party Brickmania flag, Daniel has created a near perfect replica of Elco Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109.
PT-109 was one of hundreds of Patrol Torpedo boats built in the 1940s by the U.S for service in the Pacific theatre. However PT-109 is more noteworthy than most due to both its fate, and the man that commanded it.
Lieutenant John F. Kennedy, who would later become the 35th President of the United States, was aboard the PT-109 in the dead of night on August 2nd 1943. The boat was idling so as to remain undetected by Japanese warships when, in a (probable) freak accident, it was run down a severed in two by the Japanese warship Amagiri.
Two of the thirteen crew were killed as PT-109 exploded, and the remaining eleven survivors clung to one half of the boat as it drifted through the night. As it became apparent that what was left of the ship would soon sink, Kennedy and his crew decided to abandon it for land, swimming 5.6km to a tiny uninhabited island, with Kennedy towing a badly burned crew member the entire way.
Unfortunately the island the crew found themselves on had no food or drinking water, so Kennedy swam to the nearby Olasana islands in search of a more habitable refuge. Finding coconuts and clean water he then led the crew to their new island home, hiding from the passing Japanese boats.
6 days later the crew of PT-109 were rescued, and Kennedy was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal and Purple Heart. This fitting tribute to one of the Second World War’s more remarkable feats of survival can be seen in greater detail at Daniel Siskind’s PT-109 album – click the link above to see the full gallery of images, which includes several interior shots of the boat and a close-up of the custom-made mini-figure crew.
John F. Kennedy was elected the 35th President of the Unites States in 1961, and died by assassination on November 22nd 1963.
Today’s creation may look like a jauntily retro space rocket, but it is in fact an Aggregat 4, known affectionately by the Germans during World War 2 as the ‘Vergeltungswaffe 2’, (or V-2 for short). That extravagant title translates as ‘Retribution Weapon’, which is an apt name, because retribution was all the V-2 was designed to do. Which makes it surely one of mankind’s most evil inventions.
But also one of the cleverest. Whilst abhorrent in purpose, the V-2 rocket was brilliant in engineering. It was the world’s first guided ballistic missile (which considering it first few in 1944, when a computer was the size of an office block, is scarcely believable), and also the first man-made object to cross the boundary of space.
That cleverness made it all the more evil though, as the 3,000 V-2 rockets launched from Germany during the Second World War are estimated to have killed over 9,000 people in London, and later other European cities. Another 12,000 concentration camp prisoners died in the making of it, and yet at the end of the war the Allies rushed to capture the designs to accelerate their own missile production.
Thankfully this V-2 is nothing more than a collection of superbly shaped Danish plastic, and it comes from previous bloggee Sunder_59 of Flickr. There are further pictures of Sunder’s perfectly recreated Vergeltungswaffe at his photostream – click the link above to see more of the worst mankind can do.
This weird agricultural oddity is a Lanz Bulldog tractor. 220,000 of these were built in Germany from the early 1920s up until 1960, making it one of the most popular European tractors of all time. Many Germans still use the word ‘bulldog’ as a generic name for tractors today.
The Bulldog’s popularity was down to its incredibly crude single cylinder hot bulb engine. Yup, just one cylinder, which came in a capacity of up to 10 litres, but which could run on just about anything – crucial in war-torn and then recovering (and then war-torn again) Europe.
This Town-style recreation of the vintage tractor comes from previous bloggee Peter Schmid on Flickr, and you can see more of his Lanz Bulldog build at his photostream by clicking here.
Named after Major General William Lendrum “Billy” Mitchell, the North American B-25 Mitchell was one of the most prolific bombers of the Second World War, with almost 10,000 units produced and operating in every theatre of the war. The B-25 saw service until as late as 1979, giving it a four-decade long role in the skies, and this superb Lego version is a by Flickr’s Dornbi fitting tribute. There’s lots more to see at Dornbi’s photostream – click the link above to take off.
But it was made by a car manufacturer, and very probably their most famous product too. This is of course a Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter from the Second World War, and it’s been neatly recreated in Lego form by James C of MOCpages. James’ updated build includes a mini-figure pilot, working landing gear, and custom decals, and there’s more to see on MOCpages via the link above.
The Ta-152 was the ultimate expression of Focke-Wulf’s Fw 190 fighter aeroplane of WW II. The particular version built by Maelven on Flickr is the Ta 152H, optimised for high altitude flight. The modifications included a pressurised cockpit, an increased wingspan and a Junkers Jumo 213E V12 engine with two speed, two stage supercharger and intercooler.
With methanol-water & nitrous-oxide boost, the engine could produce 2,050PS and made the Ta 152 one of the fastest piston engined aeroplanes of the war with 472mph at 41,000 feet. Maelven has displayed his model with its cowling open, displaying the mighty engine. What was the aircraft like to fly? This was described by the world’s most experienced test pilot and fluent German speaker, Capt. Eric Brown RN is this article. For more views of Maelven’s model, click this link.
2014’s Second World War movie ‘Fury’ was a surprisingly good film. Some big names made up the key cast members, but the real star was the tank around which the story revolved. Named ‘Fury’, the M4A2E8 Sherman was tired and battle-worn even at the start of the story, and was well outclassed by the superior German machinery. But being an American film, the American tank performs some amazing feats, and no doubt will inspire countless builders.
One such builder is previous bloggee Tommy Styrvoky, who has spent three months recreating ‘Fury’ in fully-working form. We’re not quite sure why the tank crew look naked, but other than that Tommy’s tank is visually brilliant. Underneath the model is just as accomplished, with twin Power Functions drive, working suspension, piston engine, remote gun elevation and turret rotation.