Merlins over Malta 2 Piece Set – The Defenders Return, Supermarine Spitfire & Hawker Hurricane
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Corgi Aviation Archive 1/72 scale AA99183: Merlins over Malta – The Defenders Return 2 piece model set from 2005. Limited Edition of only 600 sets.
Features 2 diecast model aircraft: Vickers Supermarine Spitfire MKVB BM597 (G-MKVB) “USS Wasp, operation ‘Calendar’ April 1942” and Hawker Hurricane MKXII ‘Z5140’ (G-HURI) 126 Squadron, Royal Air Force Malta March 1942.
Each model comes with a display stand and optional undercarriage positions. The certificate has 3 pilots signatures. There are also 2 pieces of fabric taken from both Spitfire and Hurricane and signed by four Malta veterans, plus the set comes with an embroidered patch. A really nice rare presentation pack that is extremely sought after.
Spitfire Mk Vb BM597; a combat veteran, was built at Castle Bromwich and delivered on 26th April 1942. It served with 315 and 317 (Polish) Squadrons RAF at Woodvale before sustaining damge whilst landing on 13th February 1943. It was repaired, but is thought to have seen no further action. After BM597 was assigned to several ‘gate guardian’ postings finishing up at RAF Church Fenton.
Acquired by Historic Aircraft Collection in 1993, it was restored to original specification. BM597 now carries the codes U-2, a Spitfire flown off the USS Wasp during operation ‘Calendar’ on the 20th of April 1942 and was initially allocated to 603 Squadron, although on arrival on Malta it was flown by which ever squadron was on duty.
47 Spitfires took off from USS Wasp and 46 arrived on Malta. During the convoy a dark paint was hurriedly applied to the tops of the aircraft to assist with camouflage during the long trip across the Mediterranean Sea. There was no time to remove this once on the island, indeed U-2 was destroyed during a raid whilst on the ground just 8 days later on 28th April 1942. A fate that befell many Spitfires during the Malta’s second siege.
Hurricane Mk XIIa (G-HURI) was built in 1942 by the Canadian Car Foundry as part of their sixth production batch and it joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1943. It is belived to have served with 123 Squadron at Debert before going to 127 and 129 Squadrons at Dartmouth and onto 1 Operational Training Unit at Bagotville. Struck off charge from the RCAF in 1947 it was purchased by a syndicate in Saskatchewan. It was restored by Paul Mercer in 1985 and made its first post restoration flight in 1989. Historic Aircraft Collection acquired the Hurricane in 2002, it is still based at Duxford where it is the prefect stablemate for Historic Aircraft Collection’s Spitfire Mk VB.
G-HURI proudly wears markings from 126 Squadron. Coded HA-C Z5140 was shot down on the 10th of March 1942, the day when Spitfires first flew in the Defence of Malta. At 1020 a hostile plot was intercepted by 7 Spitfires from 249 Squadron, 8 hurricanes from 126 and 4 Hurricanes from 185 Squadrons. The new spitfires bounced the escorting 109’s and Fw. Heinze Rahlmeier of 8/JG 53 was shot down in ‘black 11’. The hurricanes attacked the bombers and hits were claimed, but Australian Sgt Jack Mayhall in HA-C Z5140 who was flying no2 to Sqn Leader Morris was shot down by Uffz Hans Schade of 8/JG53. Sgt Tim Goldsmith noted the following in his diary. “My very good friend Jack Mayhall was killed. Dogfighting above Takali with two 109’s at about 10,000 feet he was caught unawares by third which bounced him out of the sun. Following a long burst of cannon fire, Jack and his Hurricane came screaming down like a bomb and crashed near the village of Hamrun.
“The most bombed place on earth” Malta’s survival in the second world war was crucial. Its strategic location was vital if the allies were to stop the supply lines to Rommel in North Africa. Had Rommel been successful, an advance to the oil fields in the middle east and on towards the Japanese in the Far East was inevitable. This tiny island no bigger than the Isle of Wight saw a valiant and brave determination by the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and the Army and in no small part the people of Malta. On 15 April the George Cross was awarded by King George VI to the Maltese people for their bravery during the air raids “to bear witness to the heroism and devotion of its people during the great siege it underwent in the early parts of World War Two.”
The bombing of the tiny fortress island was intense and this suffering can be brought into perspective by a series of comparisons:
In a 24 hour period on 20-21st March 1942 295 tons of bombs fell on Ta’Qali airfield making it the most bombed allied airfield ever.
6,728 tons of bombs to fall on Malta in April, 36 times the amount to fall on Coventry.
3,156 tons were dropped on the harbour at Valletta in April 1942.
In March and April 1942 more bombs were dropped on Malta than fell on London during the entire Blitz.
There were 154 days of continuous raids in comparison to London’s 57.
Merlins Over Malta pays tribute to the island of Malta, its people and these from all around the world who so bravely defended her.
The models depicted in this set represent the 2005 Liveries flown by the Historic Aircraft Collection.