Corgi AA38110 Royal Flying Corps Sopwith Camel F.1 Fighter - Wilfred May, No.209 Squadron, Bertangles, France, April 21st, 1918 (1:48 Scale)
"For conspicuous gallantry and skill in leading his patrol against hostile formations. He has himself brought down three hostile machines and forced several others to land. On the 6th April, 1917, he drove down a hostile machine which was wrecked while attempting to land in a ploughed field. On the morning of the 11th April, 1917, he destroyed a hostile machine which fell in flames, brought down another in a spinning nose dive with one wing folded up, and forced a third to land."
- London Gazette
The Sopwith Camel Scout is a British First World War single-seat fighter aircraft that was famous for its maneuverability. Intended as a replacement for the Sopwith Pup, the Camel prototype first flew in December 1916, powered by a 110 hp Clerget 9Z. Known as the "Big Pup" early on in its development, the aircraft was armed with two .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine guns mounted in the cowl, firing forward through the propeller disc. A fairing surrounding the gun installation created a hump that led to the name Camel. The top wing was flat - but the bottom wing had dihedral, so that the gap between the wings was less at the tips than at the roots.
The type entered squadron service in June 1917 with No. 4 Squadron of the Royal Naval Air Service, near Dunkirk. The following month, it became operational with No. 70 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps. By February 1918, 13 squadrons were fully equipped with the Camel. Approximately 5,500 were ultimately produced.
Pictured here is a 1:48 scale replica of a RNAS Sopwith Camel F.1 fighter that was piloted by Wilfred May, who was attached to No.209 Squadron, then deployed to Bertangles, France, on April 21st, 1918 .
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Historical Account: "Gotha Killer" - As he climbed into the cockpit of his Sopwith Camel fighter at Bertangles aerodrome on 21st April 1918, Canadian Wilfred Reid 'Wop' May had no idea that this would be the most significant day in his life. Embarking on only his second mission over the Western Front, he had been instructed by his Flight Commander, the ace pilot Captain Roy Brown, to avoid combat if they encountered the enemy, simply to gain height and make for home. Over the River Somme, No.209 Squadron encountered several Fokker Dr.1s of von Richthofen's Flying Circus and dived to attack - as instructed, May stayed at altitude, but when an enemy triplane passed close by, he saw the chance of an easy victory. Misjudging his attack,he overshot the enemy aircraft and by the time he had regained his bearings, his Camel began taking bullet strikes on its wings - the novice hunter had become the hunted. His opponent was clearly an experienced pilot and May could not shake him from his tail - his only chance of survival was to dive for the ground and try to make it over Allied lines, hoping his enemy would not follow.
What he did not know was that he was being chased by the distinctive red Fokker triplane of Manfred von Richthofen, the greatest air ace the world had ever known. Failing in his attempt to gain his first aerial victory, Wilfred 'Wop' May was now in a fight for his life, as he unwittingly struggled to avoid becoming the 81st victory of Manfred von Richthofen. With his guns jammed and unable to shake the German airman off his tail, May flew at tree-top height, almost hitting the steeple of Vaux-sur-Somme church, as he attempted to reach the potential safety of Allied lines. Displaying exceptional airmanship, his pursuer stayed on his tail, however, despite firing off the odd round, appeared to be having gun problems of his own. The chase had attracted the attention of Allied ace Roy Brown, who attacked the triplane, but due to the speed and low altitude of the chase, was only able to fire a few bursts of deflection shot. Just as it seemed as if May would either hit the ground or appear large in the triplane's gunsight, the German aircraft reared up and immediately attempted to make a forced landing in a nearby beet field, ripping the undercarriage off on the rough ground. Mortally wounded, Manfred von Richthofen shut down the engine of his machine and cut off the fuel, before dying at the controls of his aircraft, the result of a single bullet wound. This historic victory was initially attributed (although not claimed) to Captain Roy Brown, however, subsequent research revealed that the fatal shot to von Richthofen's chest was most likely fired from an Australian machine gun position on the Morlancourt Ridge.