Today in History

Today In History marks the beginning of one of the most important battles in Britain’s history. The Battle Of Britain. It was the literal the “Line in the Sand” when Britain stood alone against Hitler’s unstoppable military power during WWII.

The Battle of Britain: An Epic Conflict Revisited
9781612003474 – History’s first strategic military campaign conducted in the air alone. This book contains a large number of dramatic eyewitness accounts, even as it reveals new facts that will alter perception of the battle in the public’s eyes.

 

In the summer of 1940 – after Hitler swept through France and drove the British army out of the European mainland, the people of Britain made ready for a Nazi invasion. But before Hitler could conquer the country he needed to gain air superiority. The Luftwaffe launched a large scale attack, intent on wiping out Britain’s air defenses.

Neither the German leader Adolf Hitler nor his High Command of the Armed Forces (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, or OKW) believed it was possible to carry out a successful amphibious assault on Britain until the RAF had been neutralized. Secondary objectives were to destroy aircraft production and ground infrastructure, to attack areas of political significance, and to terrorize the British people into seeking an armistice or surrender.  The failure of Nazi Germany to destroy Britain’s air defense or to break British morale is considered Hitler’s first major setback.

At the start of the battle, Germany’s twin-engine Messerschmitt Bf 110 long range destroyer  was expected to engage in air-to-air combat while escorting the Luftwaffe bomber fleet. Although the aircraft was well designed and the best of its class, being reasonably fast (Bf 110C-3 about 340 mph

Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4 – Hauptmann Wolfgang Lippert, Gruppenkommandeur II./JG 27, Luftwaffe, 1940
Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4 – Hauptmann Wolfgang Lippert, Gruppenkommandeur II./JG 27, Luftwaffe, 1940

[547 km/h]) and possessing a respectable combat radius, the hope that the Bf -110 could defend bombers against a concentrated attack by a  determined force of fast, single-seat, single-engine fighters was flawed. When pitted against Britian’s Hurricanes and Spitfires the Bf 110’s began to experience heavy losses due to being slightly more maneuverable than the bombers they were meant to protect.

Werner Molder’s Messerschmitt Bf109 “Emil”
LW044 – King & Country – Werner Molder’s Messerschmitt Bf109 “Emil” This “E” model 109 is in the personal markings of Oberst Werner Molders, one of Germany’s most famous and highly decorated fighter aces. Molders, who had previously flown in the Spanish Civil War would go on to have 115 “kills” to his credit before himself being killed in an air crash in 1941. The aircraft we have portrayed is one Molders flew when he took command of JG51 in July 1940. At that time he was the Luftwaffe’s youngest “Kommodore”. His best friend was another top German ace… Adolf Galland. Just 500 of this particular aircraft are being produced.
MKI/II 602 Squadron Spitfire
a Spitfire belonging to No.602 “City of Glasgow” R. Aux. A.F. flown by Squadron Leader “Sandy” Johnstone, who became an “ace” during the Battle of Britain and went on to have a very distinguished air force career for the remainder of the war and afterwards.

On the defensive side, Britain started with just under 650 smaller, single-engine Spitfires and Hurricanes.

By October, with the increased production on the ground, mixed with the German losses from these more mobile, and faster sorties of British fighters, the tables were turned and the British had gained the upper-hand in terms of number of planes in the sky.

Pilot w/Map
RAF061 King And Country- Windswept hair and silk scarf blowing in the wind… A Young pilot ready to jump into his Spitfire for one more sortie. At the height of the Luftwaffe’s attacks during the Battle of Britain many Royal Air Force airfields were being put out-of-action. In order to continue fighting many fighter squadrons were dispersed around the country and made use of any large grass areas that could land and take-off the Spitfires and Hurricanes… Sports grounds and farmers’ fields were among the favorites.
Sergeant Pilot Antoni Glowacki
RAF021-C King And Country – Toni Glowacki was a Free Polish Air Force pilot who shot down 5 German aircraft on one day (24 August 1940) during the Battle of Britain. After the fall of Poland he eventually reached Britain and, after flight training, joined the RAF’s 501 County of Gloucester” Squadron flying Hurricanes. Only one other RAF pilot, New Zealander Brian Carbury gained this “Ace-in-a-day” status during the Battle.”

The pilots of the RAF, who would become known as “The Few” courtesy of Mr Winston Churchill,   stood up to wave after wave of German fighters and bombers sending a clear message to Hitler that Britain would never surrender.  The RAF was able recruit pilots from a variety of backgrounds and countries. Aside from Brits, there were many volunteers from the British Empire and refugees from Nazi-occupied countries in Europe. Each played an important role in the battle.  The average age of an RAF pilot during the Battle of Britain was only 20 years old.  To be proclaimed an “ace” a pilot had to have five confirmed victories. During the Battle of Britain just 188 RAF pilots achieved that distinction – eight per cent of the total involved. An additional 237 of those RAF pilots claiming successes during the Battle became “aces” later in the war.

"A Trio of Aces"
RAF075 – King And Country – Adolph Gysbert “Sailor” Malan (Left) had 27 ‘Kills, 7 shared, 3 probables and 16 ‘damaged’. Douglas Robert Steuart Bader (middle) had 22 kills, 4 shared, 6 probables and 11 ‘damaged’ , Alan Christopher Deere (right) had 22 ‘kills’, 10 ‘probables’ and 18 ‘damaged ,

There were four pilots who became an  “ace in a day” in the Battle of Britain: Archie McKellar, a British pilot, Antoni Głowacki, a Polish pilot, Ronald Fairfax Hamlyn and Brian Carbury, New Zealand pilots.

By October 1940 the RAF was victorious. Hitler called off his invasion plans and the Luftwaffe switched to bombing British cities. Britain now stood as the last bastion of resistance against Nazi Germany.

River Explorers on the Root.

On Memorial Day weekend 2017, While Julie was suffering the early summer heat of San Antonio, representing Treefrog Treasures at the Texas Toy Soldier Show, the shipping gents, Aron and Jeff decided to make the most of a long weekend and went exploring on the Root River, just south of our shop near Chatfield, MN.  Growing up on tales of Huckleberry Finn and Tom  Sawyer, Lewis and Clark, Crockett, McKinney, and Boone,  Aron and Jeff decided to become river explorers themselves for the weekend. Continue reading “River Explorers on the Root.”

The American Civil War and its Link to Baseball History

Ahhh! Spring time in beautiful America. Minnesota to be exact. you know, this time of year always conjures up thoughts of two things for me, Baseball and The American Civil War. Baseball for obvious reasons; Spring training fever, My Minnesota Twins still have a chance.. the sound of a bat hitting a ball… I also think of the American Civil War this time of year.  The first shots were fired on April, 12th at Fort Sumter, and the South surrendered at Appomattox Court House  4 brutal years later  on April 9th.

Did you know, the game and the Civil War are inexorably linked?  Soldiers were learning to play this newly formed game in between battles to relax. Often times on the very same fields they watched their brothers in arms fight and fall.  After the war was over, many took this game back to their cities and towns and started town ball teams and baseballs popularity grew!

I play 1st base for the Rochester Roosters, a 19th Century vintage team that plays by many of the same rules as the Civil War soldiers.  We travel around the Midwest educating people about the history of the game and the role the Civil war played in helping spread the early game.  Not a game goes by that the discussion does not turn to Gettysburg, the sacrifices of so many, the turning point, the “what if’s” and of course, the myth that Abner Doubleday invented baseball!  That historical honor goes to Dr. Daniel Adams (Doc Adams) and his committee including Duncan Curry and William Tucker.  Gettysburg now celebrates this link by holding an annual 19th Century Base Ball festival at Gettysburg in Mid-July. It’s the perfect mix of two of my favorite passions.

Until coming on board with Tree frog a couple months ago, I had no idea just how deep and interesting the toy soldier hobby was.  At Treefrog, you can not only pick up multiple books on the Battle of Gettysburg and the Civil War, but you can buy figurines to recreate the engagements depicted in the books.   I look forward to meeting many of you over the coming years. Who knows, maybe one day there will be a set of Civil War soldiers engaged in a game of vintage baseball that you can add to your scenes!

Jeff and the Tree frog Crew

3-23-2017 Rivet Newsletter

We have wrapped up another great Trunk show, this time, in Colorado! Thank you everyone who came out to visit with us! This weeks Rivet has  news about recently released King & Country as well as upcoming John Jenkins Designs. View it all right here, and be sure to subscribe if you’d like to get the newsletter in your inbox each week!

Mel Neal, Richard Walker and Frank Ward