New Thomas Gunn Wings of War

Thomas Gunn Wings of War
Soviet Sopwith Snipe

The Sopwith 7F.1 Snipe was a British single-seat biplane fighter of the Royal Air Force (RAF). It was designed and built by the Sopwith Aviation Company during the First World War, and came into squadron service a few weeks before the end of the conflict in late 1918.

The Snipe was not a fast aircraft by the standards of its time, but its excellent climb and manoeuvrability made it a good match for contemporary German fighters. One of the most famous incidents in which the Snipe was involved occurred on 27 October 1918 when Canadian Major William G. Barker attached to No. 201 Squadron RAF flew over the Forêt de Mormal in France.

Barker’s Snipe (No. E8102) had been brought with him for personal evaluation purposes in connection with his UK-based training duties and was therefore operationally a “one-off”. The engagement with enemy aircraft occurred at the end of a two-week posting to renew his combat experience as Barker was returning to the UK. While on his last operation over the battlefields of France, Major Barker attacked a two-seater German aircraft and swiftly shot it down. However, Barker was soon attacked by a formation of at least 15 Fokker D.VIIs, an aircraft widely considered to be the ultimate German fighter design of the First World War. The ensuing melee was observed by many Allied troops. In the engagement, Barker was wounded three times, twice losing consciousness momentarily, but managing to shoot down at least three D.VIIs before making a forced landing on the Allied front lines. Barker was awarded the Victoria Cross for this action. The fuselage of this Snipe is preserved at the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, Ontario.

Following the Armistice with Germany that ended the First World War, Sopwith Snipes formed part of the British Army of Occupation, returning to the United Kingdom in August/September 1919, while Snipes replaced Camels in four home defence squadrons based in the United Kingdom. This force was quickly run down, however, and by the end of 1919, only a single squadron, No 80 was equipped with the Snipe.

  • WOW182 Soviet Sopwith Snipe – In 1919, the Snipe took part in the Allied intervention on the side of the White Russians during the Russian Civil War against the Bolsheviks, twelve Snipes being used by the RAF mission in north Russia. At least one of the RAF Snipes was captured by the Bolsheviks and pressed into service which is also one of our featured models.
    WOW182 One of the best known post-war Snipes was serial number E6351, which was assigned to the 1st Fighter Detachment of the newly formed Soviet Air force. Ace Pilot Grigoriy Stepanovich Sapozhnikov with 5 kills to his credit, had the name “Nelly” painted on the starboard side of the fuselage behind the cockpit, Stepanovich was later killed in a flying accident. This variant of the Snipe comes with a free figure of Lenin as per the pictures attached.

Wings of War

RAF Sopwith Snipe

WOW195 Features a late variant Snipe operating from RAF Hawkinge in 1923 in a colourful post-war silver colour scheme. Comes with free sample of GW085 ‘Aircraftsman Lawrence’ (of Arabia) as he might have appeared in the 1920’s painting an aircraft. Lawrence a distinguished soldier of the Great War sought anonymity in the newly formed RAF in 1922, he was interviewed by Flying Officer W.E. Johns (The Biggles books author) who rejected Lawrence for using a false name. Lawrence left the recruiting station and returned some time later with an RAF messenger and a mystery hand written note ordering Johns to admit Lawrence to the RAF. Lawrence was enlisted under the name of Ross and by all accounts thoroughly enjoyed his time until he was discharged in 1925 and joined the Tank Corps. Lawrence died in a motor bike crash in 1935 shortly after leaving the army. GW085 will be available later this month as a separate figure for those of you who wish to purchase him

Wings of War

Mitsubishi A5M Navy Type 96 Carrier-based Fighter

The Mitsubishi A5M Navy Type 96 Carrier-based Fighter, company designation Mitsubishi Ka-14, was a Japanese carrier-based fighter aircraft. It was the world’s first monoplane shipboard fighter to enter service and the direct predecessor of the famous Mitsubishi A6M “Zero”. The Allied reporting name was Claude.

The aircraft entered service in early 1937, and soon saw action in aerial battles at the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War, including air-to-air battles with the Republic of China Air Force’s Boeing P-26C Model 281 “Peashooters” in the world’s first aerial dogfighting and kills between monoplane fighters built of mostly metal.

Chinese Nationalist pilots, primarily flying the Curtiss Hawk III, fought against the Japanese, but the A5M was the better of almost every fighter aircraft it encountered. Though armed with only a pair of 7.7 mm machine-guns, the new fighter proved effective and damage-tolerant, with excellent manoeuvrability and robust construction. Later on A5M’s also provided much-needed escorts for the then-modern but vulnerable Mitsubishi G3M bombers. The Mitsubishi team continued to improve the A5M, working through versions until the final A5M4, which carried an external underside drop tank to provide fuel for extended range.

The A5M’s most competitive adversary in the China air war was the Polikarpov I-16, a fast and heavily armed fighter flown by both Chinese Air Force regulars and Soviet volunteers. Air battles in 1938, especially on 18 February and 29 April, ranked among the largest air battles ever fought at the time. The battle of 29 April saw 67 Polikarpov fighters (31 I-16s and 36 I-15 bis) against 18 G3Ms escorted by 27 A5Ms. Each side claimed victory: the Chinese/Soviet side claimed 21 Japanese aircraft (11 fighters and 10 bombers) shot down with 50 Japanese airmen killed and two captured having bailed out while losing 12 aircraft and 5 pilots killed; the Japanese claimed they lost only two G3Ms and two A5Ms shot down with over 40 Chinese aircraft shot down.

Almost all A5Ms had open cockpits. A closed cockpit was tried but found little favor among Navy aviators. All had fixed, non-retractable undercarriage, wheel spats were a feature of standard fighters but not training aircraft.

A5Ms remained in service at the beginning of the Pacific war, US intelligence sources believed the A5M still served as Japan’s primary Navy fighter, when in fact the A6M ‘Zero’ had replaced most of the Claudes on first-line aircraft carriers. However Japanese carriers and Kōkūtai (airgroups) continued to use the A5M until production of the Zero caught up with demand. On 1 February 1942, the US carrier USS Enterprise launched air-strikes at Japanese air & naval bases on Roi and Kwajalein Atolls in the Gilbert Islands. During these actions, Mitsubishi A5Ms shot down three Douglas SBD dive-bombers, including the aircraft of Lt-Cdr Halstead Hopping, CO of VS-6 Squadron. The last combat actions with the A5M as a fighter took place at the Battle of the Coral Sea on 7 May 1942, when two A5Ms and four A6Ms of the Japanese carrier Shōhō fought against US aircraft that sank their carrier. In the closing months of the war most remaining A5M airframes were used for kamikaze attacks.

Our 1/30 scale Claudes come in 2 different liveries, WOW192 in the very colourful markings of an aircraft based on the Carrier Soryu during the Pearl Harbour attack and WOW193 in more traditional muted Japanese naval colour scheme, flown by Boatswain Kuniyoshi Tanaka an ace with 17 aerial victories who later went onto fly the A5’s successor, the mighty Zero. Limited to 8 each in number, each model is also supplied with Japanese sentry figure RS053 to add more realism to your diorama.

Wings of War

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