Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Lemming Mk I Fighter

When I saw this kit on ebay I just had to have it! It was an easy build, and is now in my painting queue. Whilst its supposed to be a caricature of a P-40 Warhawk, my own name and backstory for this adorable little plane came about almost effortlessly...

Anime girl not included.

During the Battle of Britain, the Royal Air Force approached the Short Brothers with a request to build an air-superiority fighter for defense of the homeland as other manufacturers were struggling to keep pace with the current rate of attrition. Known primarily for long ranged flying boats, the Shorts were unaccustomed to fighter design, but their factories were (erroneously)  believed to be beyond the range of German bombers. The company, already pressed to meet their current production schedules, assembled a team of whomever could be spared to tackle the project at once none-the-less. 

Going with what they already knew, and in an attempt to use as many common parts as possible, Short's team built a mono-plane fighter around one of their massive sea plane engines. The design came together quickly and was ready to forward to the RAF within a mere two weeks time. The Short Brothers themselves, were a bit incredulous when the design was accepted, sight unseen by the Royal Air Force, but such was the desperation of the times that anything was better than nothing! 

Going forward with production, many an assembly line crew tried to point out the obvious flaws in the design to no avail. All complaints were ignored and the plane's production carried on with much grumbling. It was only when the first aircraft rolled off of the assembly line that the disastrously flawed engineering of the Short's fighter was truly realized!

It looks like something out of the old Disney cartoon Talespin doesn't it?

To call the design rotund would be a bit of an understatement! Worse yet, due to measurement errors in the blue prints, the cockpit was too small for anyone but a child to fit in! Aghast RAF ferry pilots were asking 'how in the bloody hell such a fat plane could have such a small cockpit!' Unable to make delivery as no one could fly the planes, the finger pointing started in earnest. Soon thereafter, the RAF hastily arranged a committee to look into the fiasco, and it produced a solution to the Short Brothers' fighter debacle:

What about the Hobbits?

The Hobbits? 

Yes the Hobbits, down in Devonshire I think. There's a Homeguard regiment full of Hobbits...the Eleventy-First or some such thing. Why don't we assign these awful planes to them?

Are you daft?! That would be akin to sending Lemmings into aerial combat!

Well at least we could make use of these bloody worthless planes! 

And what will we call them? The Laughing stock of the RAF, that's what!

Actually, the 'Lemming' does have a fitting ring to it, and the plane does need a name...

…and with that, the Eleventy-First Devonshire Homeguard Regiment became the first (and only) Homeguard Regiment to have its own dedicated fighter squadron. Accordingly, a 'crash' program (no pun intended) was started to teach Hobbits how to fly. The program wasn't without difficulty however, as the trainee pilots were too small to fly any actual training aircraft, and the trainers themselves were too big to fly the Hobbits' own aircraft. Still, British determination carried the day, and eventually the Hobbits took to the air in their 'Lemming Mk I' fighters.

Getting a Hobbit pilot up into that cockpit is no doubt an exercise in hilarity!

With all of the aerodynamics of a wine cask with wings, the Lemming itself as well as it's Hobbit pilots were found to be severely lacking for air-to-air dogfighting. However they were adequate for long-ranged coastal and convoy patrol (a hallmark of the Short Brothers' other designs), as well as the occasional surface attack strafing run with the fighters's six .30 cal. machine guns. 

Despite its rough start, the Eleventy-First's unsung Lemming Squadron has served with commendable 'pluck' in it's defense of Devon's coastline. That said, to date their most notable battle was when the Hobbits petitioned (unsuccessfully) to have their squadron renamed the 'Great Eagles' much to the amusement of the of the rest of the RAF!


Zzzzzz said...

Te he. Perhaps there is a hatch in the bottom...

Da Masta Cheef said...

Oh that's much too easy and no fun at all to imagine...