Monday, 9 May 2011

King and Country Dispatches

Yes, it's that time of the month again, and K+C have recently released their monthly dispatches with news of soon to be released models and figure sets, and those due for retirement

This month there are announcements relating to the Alamo, WW2 aircraft and crew figures, the Afrika Korps, the defense of Berlin series, the Streets of Old Hong Kong, their new Sons of Empire range, a bunch of new American sets for their Normandy D-Day range and, once again, quite a few retirements including sets in their Ancient Egyptian, D-Day, First World War, Fields of Battle, Berlin '38 and German Army, Normandy ranges! Phew!

Amongst the 'soon to be released for June' figures were two items that particularly caught my eye, one of which was immediately added to my 'wanted list', and the other I thought I'd mention here purely because I think it's a little quirky and historically interesting

The photo below relates to the item immediately added to my 'wanted list'. No prizes for guessing which of the three it is!

Three military Volkswagen "Beetles" being released as part of K&C's Series 250 range of multi-optional choices of fighting vehicles


"Waffen SS 'BEETLE' at WAR"

This is the second version of our "SERIES 250" Wartime Volkswagens". Painted in three-colour, typical late-war German fashion camouflage scheme


This "VW at WAR" features the markings of the 5th SS Panzer Division "WIKING" and comes with a driver and a full roof rack of extra supplies and fuel

For those of you, like myself, with more than a passing interest in history, I have included some information here about the development and use of this vehicle

Fuel shortages during WWII prompted searches for alternative fuels in England, Germany, Scandinavia and many other countries. One of the most unusual solutions involved the modification of vehicles for use with wood, charcoal, or coal. Typical modifications included A) a gas generator; B) a gas reservoir; and C) carburetor modifications and additional plumbing to convey, filter, and meter the gas into the engine

The gas generator was an airtight vessel into which was introduced a charge of wood, charcoal, or anthracite coal. Heat was applied to the fuel either internally or externally to initiate a self-sustaining gassification of the fuel in an oxygen deprived environment. The resulting "woodgas" was piped to the reservoir, or in the case of small engines, directly to the engine carburetor. Wood-gas modified vehicles were therefore technically a "dual fuel" vehicle in that a self-sustaining gassification of the wood charcoal, or coal, required another fuel to start the process

Gas reservoir sizes depended upon vehicle, engine, and gassifier size. Small vehicles and engines could be supplied directly from the gassifier, thus eliminating the need for large reservoirs. Larger, more powerful vehicles required separate gas reservoirs to compensate for gassifier outputs which were less than the fuel consumption rate of the engine. These larger reservoirs usually took the form of gas bags that were attached to the roof or rear end of the vehicle. The largest mobile reservoirs were gas bags fitted to busses which were often several feet in diameter and as long as the vehicle! 

Although the designation T230 was used to indicate woodgas fuel systems fitted to both Kubelwagens and KdF Wagens (Type 60 wartime Beetles), surviving photographs reveal that a variety of gas generator designs were employed. Vehicles so equipped are easily recognized by the vehicle's modified bonnet. Some photos show that the fuel loading hatch protruded from a port in the bonnet, while others illustrate an unbroken bonnetline which completely enclosed the generator

Generally the woodgas fuel system comprised a gassifier container, approximately 18 to 24 inches in diameter and 30 to 36 inches in length (height), fitted into the nose of the vehicle. Both Kubelwagens and Beetles equipped with the T230 gas generator located the generator vessel ahead of the front axle beams where the spare tyre was formerly located. Type 60's relocated the spare tyre, along with extra bags of fuel, to a roof rack. The bottom of the gas generator also extended below the original bodywork at the front of the vehicle, thus decreasing obstacle clearance 

Other components of the VW T230 woodgas fuel system included:
1) a large (8" diameter by 30") gas filter cannister located just ahead of the windshield (and under the bonnet, in the case of the Type 60)
2) a secondary, rectangular gas filter (about 12" by 2" by 48") located crossways beneath the car and behind the front wheels
3) a gas pump or fan located behind the rear torsion bar tube
4) a small final canister filter in the engine bay
5) a fuel mixer at the engine intake manifold
This woodgas generator fueled little beauty is quite quirky, and historically interesting in its own right, but so, I feel certain you will agree, is this soon to be released figure of Winston Churchill


F . "Winston on the Warpath"

As everyone knows Britain's wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill was a former soldier and loved to "test" all kinds of new weaponry...

DD105 "Winston and his Tommy-Gun"

After test-firing a Thompson Sub-Machine Gun on a rifle range early in the war Winston declared it was a "real war-winner"
On hearing this in America, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a special Thompson made for the P.M. and presented it to him at the Casablanca Conference
Our Churchill is based on a famous photograph taken during the war

The photograph in question is quite probably the one below, used by both the Allies and the Germans for propaganda purposes

      This iconic photograph of Winston with the Thompson submachine gun was taken during his visit to the coastal defense positions near Hartlepool on 31 July, 1940. The prospects were not looking good for the United Kingdom and her new prime minister at this time. Exiled foreign governments were arriving in London, the Home Guard was just being established and was ill-prepared, for a month or more Hitler had been preparing to invade and the Luftwaffe had been commencing what would eventually become known as the Battle of Britain. We had already lost the Channel Islands barely a month before, and it looked as if Russia might enter the war from the German side    
This shows the original photo from which the one above was created
The photograph was timely and was used to show Churchill as a wartime leader, statesmanlike, determined and menacing. On the other hand, the Germans got hold of the photo and compared it to those of American gangsters. They used it in their propaganda leaflets airdropped over the country during the Battle of Britain  
So, there you have it, some of the latest offerings from the prolific King and Country, purveyors par excellence of 'handmade history'. Huzzah, and happy hunting!   

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