Bristol Blenheim Mk.IV – F for Freddie, 18 Sqn RAF, Douglas Bader ‘Operation Leg’ August 1941

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Corgi Aviation Archive 1/72 scale AA38409: Bristol Blenheim Mk.IV R3843/WV-F, F for Freddie of 18 Sqn RAF, Douglas Bader POW ‘Operation Leg’ 19 August 1941. Limited edition of only 1,000 models.

Length 7.25 inches Wingspan 9.25 inches

At a time when Britain and her Commonwealth were enduring their ‘Darkest Hour’, the nation were in need of inspirational heroes and perhaps nobody answered this call more famously than Douglas Bader. Losing both his legs as a result of a pre-war flying accident, Bader’s determination to re-join the RAF saw him playing a significant role in leading Fighter Command’s defiant resistance against the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain and later taking part in fighter sweeps over Northern France, as the RAF went on the offensive. It was during one of these operations on 9th August 1941 that Bader’s Spitfire collided with another aircraft, severing the tail and sending him spinning towards the ground. Although managing to exit the aircraft and parachute to safety, one of his prosthetic legs had remained stuck in the cockpit and crashed to earth with the stricken Spitfire. Clearly a huge propaganda coup for the Germans, they contacted the RAF with news of Bader’s capture and to offer safe passage to an aircraft bringing a replacement leg for their illustrious guest. Not wanting to allow the Germans an even greater propaganda victory, the RAF planned to parachute drop a new leg, not by accepting the safe passage option, but as part of a full ‘Circus’ bombing raid. On 19th August 1941, six Blenheim Mk.IVs supported by a large force of Spitfires launched an attack against the power station at Gosnay, with Blenheim R3843 also carrying a rather unusual payload, Douglas Bader’s new leg. The wooden box containing the prosthetic limb was unceremoniously bundled out of the Blenheim over the target area, before all six bombers turned for home, their bombs unreleased, due to heavy cloud cover over the target area and the fear of inaccurate bombing causing civilian casualties. The protecting Spitfires did not fare so well, with eight aircraft lost during the operation. Baders leg was located by the Germans after they found it in the box attached to a parachute. Meantime Bader had been reunited with his original old repaired artificial leg, escaped and been recaptured. Bader was given the new leg as he was re arrested and transported back to a German POW camp.

Unfortunately Blenheim R3843 and her crew only survived for another month. She took off from Horsham St Faith at 12:37hrs on 20 September 1941 for an anti-shipping operation against convoy Beat 9. At 14.18 the aircraft flew through the bomb burst of another Blenheim during attack on convoy and was seen to crash into the sea with its starboard engine burning.


Pilot F/Sgt. J.M. Nickleson 19 R/69892 RCAF / Runnymede Memorial
Observer Sgt. W. Meadows 26 924395 RAF / Bergen op Zoom cemetery / initially buried Huisduinen PL-19
Wireless Operator/ Air Gunner Sgt. J.E. Pearson 25 1305075 RAF / Amsterdam NOB cemetery


Sold By : Plane Store SKU: AA38409 Categories: ,
Weight 1.4 kg