18 November 2016
Exclusive New Corgi Release
We are pleased to announce that we can exclusively reveal one of Corgi’s 2017 new season releases, a 1/72 scale of one of the Mitchell B-25B used on the ‘Doolittle Raid’ from 1942. In Diecast Collector October issue, we covered the story of the raid and the Corgi model of Jimmy Doolittle’s plane. Corgi have elected to build a replica of the plane Ross Greening’s Mitchell, named “Hari Kari-er”.
The months following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor were some of the darkest in the history of the American nation. Japan was continuing her seemingly invincible advance across the Pacific and German U-boats were raiding US shipping off the east coast of the country. America was under attack and the population was in a state of panic. At times like these you need heroes to step forward and America could call on men like Jimmy Doolittle, a daredevil pilot and national celebrity. He devised an audacious plan to strike at the heart of Japan, proving to the Japanese people that they too were at war and could be attacked at any moment, in contradiction to what they were being told by their leaders. The raid would also serve as a huge morale boost for the American people, who were fearful that their armed forces were not capable of defending them. All Doolittle needed was to recruit around 80 airmen who would be prepared to undertake what amounted to a top secret suicide mission – he had no shortage of volunteers.
As the USS Hornet task force approached the Japanese coast, they were spotted by an enemy ship and decided to launch their aircraft early. Just after 8am on 18th April 1942, sixteen B-25 bombers lifted off the relatively short deck of USS Hornet and set course for Japan – this would be the first time that any of these airmen had taken off from the deck of an aircraft carrier at sea. Flying at extremely low level, the raiders had a six-hour flight ahead of them before reaching their targets, almost certain that they would be intercepted by enemy fighters. If they managed to complete their mission, they would then fly on to China, but it would be very much a case of every man for himself.
The crew of ‘Hari Kari-er’ were assigned to bomb targets in Yokohama, but on reaching the Japanese mainland, the bomber inadvertently flew over an active enemy air base and almost immediately came under attack. Whilst pilot Ross Greening prepared for his bombing run, his gunner shot down one enemy fighter and damaged a second, before firing on any targets of opportunity he could see. With the bombs dropped on a large oil refinery and storage area, the aircraft set course for China, fearful of further enemy attack. Unable to locate their assigned airfield, the crew bailed out of their aircraft some 200 miles inland of the coast and despite sustaining a few minor injuries, all landed safely – ‘Hari Kari-er’ flew on for a while, before crashing in to mountains.
Although the attack proved to be a huge American success from a propaganda and national morale perspective, Doolittle himself thought it was a failure. All sixteen aircraft had been destroyed and three of his men had been killed in action, whilst others had been captured. Tried by their Japanese captors, three of these men were late executed for alleged war crimes. When this tragic news was delivered to the nation by President Franklin D Roosevelt, the people of America responded by buying $11 Billon in war bonds, to assist the war effort.
One relatively unknown story of the Doolittle raid is the selfless way in which ordinary Chinese people helped the surviving raiders, giving them shelter and transporting them to safety. Many of these people would pay a heavy price for assisting the Americans, as Japanese troops sought a viscous revenge.
The new Mitchell B-25B model is part of the 2017 release program - and we hope to bring you more details of this soon. For more information, contact Corgi at www.corgi.co.uk