AA39502 is this superb 1/72 scale diecast model of Short Stirling Mk1, OJ-H 149 SQN, as flown by Rawdon Middleton VC, 1942. Limited edition of only 2,200 pieces worldwide.
Length 14.5 inches Wingspan 16.5 inches
Rawdon ‘Ron’ Middleton was born on the 22nd July 1916 in Sydney Australia, enlisting in the Royal Australian Airforce in October 1940. Middleton was posted to RAF 149 Squadron in 1942 starting as a second pilot before being given command of his own Stirling later that year. His first raid was to bomb Fiat works at Turin, after a perilous flight across the alps the crew had to overfly the target three times at low level to identify it. In doing so the aircraft was badly damaged by flak and Middleton was seriously injured. Despite being injured Middleton supported his crew in re-directing the aircraft back to Britain promising to get his crew home. When they reached the English coast he ordered the crew to bail out then steered the aircraft into the sea to avoid endangering any civilians. Sadly his body was then later washed ashore. He was later rewarded the Victoria Cross for his devotion to duty.
The Short Stirling was the first British four-engined heavy bomber of the World War Two. Designed and built by Short Brothers to an Air Ministry specification from 1936, it entered service in 1941. Its front-line operational career was relatively short being relegated to second line duties from 1943 onwards when the superior Handley Page Halifax and Avro Lancaster, took over its role. Of the trio of heavies, the Short Stirling is the least well known and sadly, there are no surviving examples left anywhere in the world. Design origins go back to 1937 and significantly, the Stirling’s main weaknesses stem from the overall penny-pinching attitudes of the inter-war years. The Air Ministry required that in order to fit conveniently into existing hangars, the wingspan should not exceed 100 feet, although many hangars could accommodate spans up to 125ft. This resulted in a long takeoff run and in order to alleviate this, the undercarriage became a gangly affair that had to fold twice. A poor undercarriage and poor altitude performance made Stirlings (operational from 1940-1944) highly vulnerable to fly and dangerous to land. Yet they later found popularity as glider tugs and transports. As a bomber, the most significant shortcoming was the design of the bomb bay. Like its contemporaries, the bay was compartmentalised and designed to carry the 500lb and 1000lb bombs then standard in the RAF. No one had thought that bombs too would need to develop in future wars.