WELCOME to a whole New Year and, I hope, a few welcome ‘surprises’ to this, the first ‘DISPATCHES’ of 2019!
So, without further ado let’s cut straight to the chase...
1. WHAT’S NEW THIS MONTH...
A. ‘ACES HIGH... German Style’
During WW2 German Luftwaffe day and night fighter pilots ‘claimed’ over 70,000 aerial victories over Allied-flown aircraft... Approximately 25,000 were British and American losses and more than 45,000 were Soviet.
Of all those ‘kills’ most were ‘scored’ by ‘aces’, that is pilots who shot down 5 or more enemy aircraft during their aviation career.
It is almost certain that at least 2,500 Luftwaffe airmen achieved ace status between September 1939 and May 1945. Of that number about 500 pilots shot down between 20-40 enemy aircraft.
Another 360 claimed between 40 and 100 ‘victories’ and just 103 destroyed more than 100 Allied opponents.
Major Hermann Graf was a very special member of that exclusive club...
LW063 “Hermann Graf’s Bf.109 ‘Gustav’”
Hermann Graf (1912-1988) served on both the Eastern and Western Fronts during WWII. He became the first pilot in aviation history to claim 200 aerial victories – that is, 200 aerial combat encounters that resulted in the destruction of 200 enemy aircraft.
Graf, a prewar soccer player joined the Luftwaffe in 1936. He was initially selected for transport aviation, flying the legendary Junkers 52 before volunteering and being chosen to join the famous Jagdgeschwader 51 (JG51) in May 1939, just 4 months before the invasion of Poland and the outbreak of the Second World War.
During the so-called ‘Phoney War’ of late 1939 and early 1940 he was stationed on the Franco-German border flying uneventful patrols. He was then posted as a flight instructor to Romania in order to help train that country’s small air force. At the end of this period he even saw a little action in the closing days of the German invasion of Greece at the end of May 1941.
After the beginning of ‘Operation Barbarossa’, the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Graf finally claimed his first ‘kill’ in August 1941.
45 victories later Hermann Graf was awarded the prestigious Knights Cross of The Iron Cross in January 1942. By September of that same year his victory score had risen to an incredible 172 for which his honour was upgraded to the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds!
At the time of this presentation this was Nazi Germany’s highest military decoration.
On 26 September 1942 he shot down his 200th enemy plane. Now, a national hero he was withdrawn from combat flying and posted, once more, to a fighter pilot training school.
In November 1943, as British and American bombers and fighters continued to build up their aerial assaults on the Third Reich, Graf, once more returned to combat operations and was appointed Geschwaderkommodore (Wing Commander) of JG11 of the 11th Fighter Wing. It was with this unit that Hermann Graf scored his 212th and final aerial victory on 29 March 1944.
He was severely injured during that final encounter and spent many months recuperating before taking over command of JG52 in early 1945.
He remained in charge of JG52 until Germany’s surrender on 8 May, 1945.
Although Graf and his men surrendered to the Americans he and his men were then handed over to the Russians. Hermann Graf continued in Soviet captivity until 1949.
After his return to Germany Graf lived a fairly quiet life and died in his home town of Engen on 4 November, 1988.
ABOUT THE K&C MODEL
Of all the many aircraft Hermann Graf flew his personal favorite was Willy Messerschmitt’s Bf.109 ‘Gustav’.
Graf himself stated that the ‘Gustav’ was the best fighter aircraft he ever flew even after flying captured British ‘Spitfires’ and American ‘Mustangs’.
Our K&C model depicts just one of several ‘Gustavs’ that Hermann Graf flew during the middle part of the war. It is easily recognized by the red ‘tulip’ nose and the white tail complete with ‘kill’ markings and his Knight’s Cross award.
This model also has a canopy that can open and close. Each aircraft comes in a specially-designed box with a spectacular cover painting and a free full-colour print by noted Australian artist, Ian Hill plus an information card on Graf himself.
Just 300 of this very Special Edition Hermann Graf Bf. 109 ‘Gustav’ are being released.
LW065 “Major Hermann Graf”
A perfect ‘add-on’ piece to complement the aircraft... a walking figure of
Hermann Graf in his flying gear either ready to take off or, if you notice his smile,
just coming back from another successful mission.
AVAILABLE: Mid-Late January
B. “Rommel’s Men Return”
It’s been far too long since K&C brought out some ‘fighting’ Afrika Korps...
Well, here they are and they are a pretty, dynamic bunch of ‘action’ releases!
Let’s begin with...
AK127 “Desert Trench Fighters”
Five AK infantry ‘half-body’ soldiers taking cover behind their long, sand-bagged trench. Included in this set is the full curved trench itself sand-bagged on all sides.
Inside are a section commander observing the approaching enemy through his field glasses... the section ‘Gefreiter’ with his MP40 Schmeisser machine pistol and a firing MG34 machine gunner. Backing them up are two different riflemen aiming their KAR98 rifles towards their 8th Army opponents.
AK128 “Battlefield Communications”
A kneeling AK Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) on the field telephone telling his command centre that the enemy is approaching and, perhaps, requesting artillery support or more reinforcements.
AK129 “MG42 Gun Support”
This 2-man team provides additional machine gun fire to help hold off any British, Australian or American advance.
AK130 “Attacking AK Combat Team”
They say ‘attack is the best form of defence’ and these 4 Afrika Korps soldiers are going on the offensive!
As the AK officer cautiously moves forward he aims his pistol at one of the enemy. Joining him are 2 different riflemen, one of whom has just been shot, plus one AK trooper with that famous or infamous, MP40 Schmeisser machine pistol.
AVAILABLE: Mid-Late January
C. “COURAGE UNDER FIRE”
This particular VIETNAM Section of ‘DISPATCHES’ could just as easily (and accurately) been headlined, “NO MARINE LEFT BEHIND”.
The Battle of Hue, during the TET offensive of 1968, has justly gone down in the annals of the U.S. Marine Corps as one of the fiercest and most bloody conflicts of the 20th Century.
Sitting proudly alongside Belleau Wood... Iwo Jima and The Chosin Reservoir the battle clearly illustrates why the Marine Corps can be both your best friend... and your worst enemy!
Many courageous acts of brave marines were on display during the days and weeks that the fighting raged across the city. One however stands as almost a memorial in itself to the bravery of all... The exploits of Gunnery Sgt. John Canley USMC.
VN035 “Gunny John Canley”
Marine Gunnery Sgt. John Canley served multiple tours in South Vietnam between 1965 and 1970. In January 1968 he was with Alpha Co., 1st Btn., 1st Marine Regt., 1st Marine Division stationed near the old Imperial Capital of Hue in central Vietnam.
While serving as Company Gunnery Sergeant, he was part of the USMC forces sent into Hue to help recapture the city and releave the beleaguered American and South Vietnamese troops then being besieged by the joint NVA and VC offensive which had captured most of the city.
On numerous occasions, despite being wounded himself, ‘Gunny’ Canley ran across fire-swept terrain to rescue and recover other wounded Marines and bring them to safety.
When his own Commanding Officer was seriously wounded and no other officer was available the ‘Gunny’ took command of the company and continued to lead it forward.
For three whole days he continued in command of Alpha and at the same time, led a number of assaults on enemy bunkers and defences often exposing himself to direct enemy fire.
On February 6, 1968, on two separate occasions the Gunnery Sergeant climbed over a wall, in full view of the enemy to pull and carry casualties to a more protected position.
For this kind of inspired and dedicated leadership and courage ‘Gunny’ Canley was at the time awarded the Navy Cross.
Many years later, in 2017, this award was belatedly but well-deservedly upgraded to the Medal of Honor when in 2018 President Donald J. Trump presented John Canley with his medal.
Although a Gunnery Sergeant in Vietnam in 1968, John Canley eventually rose to the rank of Sergeant Major before retiring from the USMC in 1981 after 28 years of loyal and courageous service to his country and his beloved corps.
King & Country is proud and privileged to dedicate this special ‘Vietnam’ figure set to a very special and courageous Marine.
VN038 “Kneeling Marine Rifleman”
Every Marine, regardless of rank and Corps specialty is, first and foremost, a Marine Rifleman!
This ‘Grunt’ goes down on one knee to take up a firing position and ‘take-out’ one of the enemy.
VN039 “Marine Grenadier”
Holding his M16 in his right hand and about to throw his M18 Red Smoke Grenade with his left.
AVAILABLE: Early January
D. “FIGHTING A DIFFERENT ENEMY”
Here you will see U.S. Forces fighting a different foe at a different time in history as we return once more to ‘The Real West’...
These 4 re-releases came about because many new collectors of ‘Custer’s Last Stand’ could no longer find these early-released, now-retired pieces and wanted to add them to their collection. At the same time other existing collectors requested alternative variations to the ‘originals’ to help boost their cavalry numbers!
So, to please them (and ourselves) we bring you these new adapted versions...
TRW147 “The Wounded Bugler”
One of Custer’s trumpeters blows a forlorn bugle in the vain hope that either Major Reno or Captain Benteen or perhaps both of them will hear the call and ride with their commands to the rescue of Custer’s besieged and beleaguered troopers.
TRW150 “Dead Cavalry Horse”
Although some of the 7th Cavalry’s mounts were killed in action many were actually shot by their riders in order to provide some kind of ground defence against the Indian assaults.
TRW152 “Corporal Lying Firing Carbine”
This Cavalry NCO hugs the ground to make the smallest target for the Sioux and Cheyenne marksmen... Unfortunately no firing position is completely safe from Indian arrows fired up and down on top of the soldiers defences.
TRW153 “Taking a Fall”
This 7th Cavalry trooper prepares to fight on foot, carbine in hand, as his horse is shot from under him!
AVAILABLE: Mid January
E. “ROMANS & BARBARIANS”
Additional Celts, Britons and Gauls enthusiastically rush forward to come to blows with their Roman invaders... what they lack in military discipline they more than make up with fighting ferocity and fierce, blood-curdling battlecries!
This Gallic Warrior is feeling supremely confident as, sword and shield in hand, he charges towards the enemy!
RnB032 “Celtic Spearman”
Rushing forward one spear in hand, two more held behind his shield.
RnB036 “Gallic War Chief”
This local Chieftain urges his men forward... “You have nothing to fear except death itself!” Brave fighting words indeed.
RnB038 “Celtic Axeman”
Wore betide any Roman soldier who gets within striking distance of this axe-wielding, blood-thirsty savage.
RnB040 “Death to the Romans”
Another Barbarian warrior who, for a brief moment, is content to scream defiantly at the Romans before closing for battle.
ROM032 “Standing Senior Officer”
One of the most senior officers in the Legion as can be seen by his richly-decorated body armour and fine quality uniform. Here he confidently stands observing the antics of his enemies and plotting their destruction.
AVAILABLE: Mid January
2. BEING RETIRED
As the new moves in... some of the older pieces move out.
See what might be missing in your collection...
HK191 The Chinese Gateway
LAH145 Reichsfuhrer SS Himmler
LoJ006 In The Temple
RA075 The Josef Stalin Tank
SP070 The Animal Collection
And that is that... Special thanks to all those K&C collectors and dealers I was fortunate to meet up with at the December London Show and / or at special events in both France and Italy.
In this first release of 2019 I hope there’s something for you... If not, there’s always February!
Very best New Year Wishes and, of course, happy collecting,
Andy C. Neilson
Co-founder & Creative Director
King & Country Ltd.