A.W. Whitley Mk V
51 Squadron, Wing Commander J.B. Tait DFC, Malta, 'Operation Colossus'.
In the summer of 1940, it was suggested to the Air Ministry that an
attack should be carried out on the Italian aqueduct system. This network
supplied fresh water to the arid areas of southern Italy and principally
the ports of Bari, Brindisi, and Taranto, which were being used to transport
troops to North Africa.
A study showed that a bomber assault was not possible with the aircraft
of the time and that a sea borne raid was also not viable, but the use
of paratroops could be successful. No.11 battalion of the newly formed
Special Air Service was to be tasked with the destruction of the huge
aqueduct spanning the river Tragino in the province of Campagna.
Selected Whitleys and their crews were taken from 51 and 78 squadrons,
and were placed under the command of Wing Commander 'Willie' Tait DFC.
On the 7th of February the eight Whitleys and their cargo of SAS volunteers,
now designated 'X' Troop, left RAF Mildenhall for their eleven hour
flight to Luqa, in Malta, from where they would launch 'Operation Colossus'.
Six Whitleys took off on the evening of February 10th for Italy, each
carrying six paratroops with their supply containers secured within
the bomb bays. Two of the Whitleys also carried 250lb bombs to make
a diversionary raid on the marshalling yards at Foggia, thirty miles
from the main target. However, things would soon go wrong as an aircraft
carrying some of the sappers had its bomb racks ice up, depriving them
of their explosives. An aircraft was also lost due to engine failure.
Its crew bailed out, but the aircraft crashed near 'X' Troop's rendezvous
point with HMS Triumph, resulting in the cancellation of the submarine.
Lacking sufficient explosives, 'X' Troop could only damage one end of
the viaduct. Unaware of the cancellation of HMS Triumph, the whole party
were eventually captured and spent the rest of the war as POWs.
Scale 1:144 Wingspan 7" (178 mm)
Base size 12.28" x 8.8" (312mm x 225mm) (No. 14)
Weight not including base 12.5 ozs (352 grams)
Limited edition of 100 only Total number of models produced 100