dimanche 21 décembre 2008

La revanche de la Luftwaffe

Bombardier lourd Messerschmitt Me 264/6M, illustration de Kyle Scott.

Dans cet amusant article de Jasper Copping publié ce matin dans le Daily Telegraph, les marchands de jouets anglais révèlent que les miniatures de machines de guerre allemandes de la Seconde Guerre mondiale se vendent désormais bien mieux que celles des Alliés.
Il est tout aussi intéressant de relever le ton avec lequel cet article est écrit, légèrement amusé, un peu pince-sans-rire, bien loin du catastrophisme sinistre qui aurait été celui d'un article sur ce sujet dans les colonnes, par exemple de Libération ou, pire, de Ouest-France, le champion toutes catégories de la pensée gnan-gnan et du politiquement conforme.

Dans le monde anglo-saxon, qui en raison de sa victoire sur l'Allemagne en 1945 n'arbore aucun complexe de culpabilité (comme celui des Français qui eux ont été vaincus), il existe une réelle fascination pour l'inventivité allemande. On trouve un site internet qui expose quelques créations d'artistes comme Géry Gueville ou encore Kyle Scott qui ont spéculé à partir des projets les plus fous des ingénieurs au service de la Luftwaffe. Un petit détour s'impose pour les fanas d'aviation.

Intercepteur Focke-Wulf Fw motorisé par un BMW P.8011, illustration de Géry Gueville.

Spitfire, Hurricanes and Lancasters losing out to Nazi foes in kit toy sales

For decades, toy replicas of British warplanes like the Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster have outsold those of their Nazi foes, but now kit sales of Second World War German aircraft have overtaken those of the Allied forces.

Un petit film des fanas d'Alternate Luftwaffe.

Sales of the popular model Supermarine Spitfire are being overtaken due to the "mystique" of enemy war planes
Sales of German tanks and ships have also outstripped those of the Allies.
Analysis by the model maker Airfix has revealed that this year, German kits have made up around 55 per cent of the sales of all kits relating to the conflict. Around 1.4 million German replicas were sold, compared to 1.1 million Allied kits.
Experts and modellers say the rise in sales of the Nazi war machines reflects an interest in the more experimental technologies developed by the Germans and the engineering superiority of many of their vehicles.
Luftwaffe planes now outnumber rival air forces in the top ten most popular aircraft from the conflict, with five models, compared to four RAF planes and one from the US.
The biggest selling German planes are the Messerschmitt Bf 109E, the Focke Wulf 190D, the Junkers Ju87 Stuka, the Dornier Do17 and the "Mistel", an experimental composite aircraft, in which a fighter was attached to a bomber.
The most popular RAF planes are the Supermarine Spitfire, the De Havilland Mosquito, the Hawker Hurricane and the Avro Lancaster. The P51 Mustang is the only US aircraft in the top ten.
In terms of tanks, sales of Nazi Panther and Tiger models far outstrip those of the most popular Allied kits, the Sherman and Churchill tanks, by a ratio of three to one.
German infantry are the most popular kits of figures, followed by British Commandos and Paratroops.
The highest selling ship is a replica of the German battleship Bismarck, with around 5,500 kits sold, compared to just 3,000 kits sold by the second most popular, HMS Hood, which was sunk in a battle between the two in 1941.
Of the smaller vessels, the German E-boat sells the same numbers as British torpedo boat and an RAF rescue launch, despite being more than twice the price.
John Tapsell, vice president of the International Plastic Modellers Society (UK), said he was surprised by the revelation: "It does seem slightly odd that the German kits outsell the Allied ones. It certainly doesn't mean that lots of modellers sympathise with the German cause.
"I think it might be something to do with the typical British fascination with the loser and also an interest in German engineering. British soldiers in the war were in awe of the Tiger tank, for instance, and that sort of interest has remained. The (German) uniforms also look very smart."
Jeremy Brook, secretary of the Airfix Collectors Club, agreed.
"One shouldn't say it but there is something about the German uniform and many of their machines, that makes them more attractive. Some of their warships like the Bismarck are quite beautiful.

Avion d'attaque au sol Hütter Hü 136 (Stubo 2), illustration de Géry Gueville

"Certainly, the German colour schemes are more exciting to paint than the British ones.
"When I was a child in the 1950s, I always wanted German aircraft, tanks and soldiers, but they were so much harder to come by then. Perhaps all the German children wanted Spitfires and Hurricanes."
Although German kits are dominant in total global sales, in the UK – which makes up more than 60 per cent of the company's market – the Allies maintain a small advantage over the Germans, because of the enduring popularity of the Spitfire.
It is the first time the company has conducted this sort of analysis. Darrell Burge, from Airfix, said the surge in popularity of German models, particularly tanks and figures, had started within the last ten years.
"Across the hobby, there is no doubt that the German models now sell more than the Allied ones. German subjects are far, far more popular and that is increasing.
"Sales of German kits have really started to grow in the last ten years. In the UK, sales of the Spitfire – with around 45,000 kits sold – only just tip the scales in the favour of the Allies.
"German tanks are much better sellers than Allied ones. They are iconic as the biggest and most brutal of the war. They were virtually unstoppable. They were much better machines than the Allied ones.
"And a lot of the German aircraft were more experimental. There is a mystique about so many of their war machines that has translated into increased sales.
"The other factor in their favour is that in terms of kits, the Germans are really the only Axis power. So if someone is building a battlefield, they need Germans, whereas the Allies can be represented by the British or Americans."
The company is now planning to bring out new German models, to meet demand, including the Messerschmitt 110 aircraft, a new version of the Me 109, the Junkers Ju88 plane, and a U-boat.
None of the Nazi models contain a swastika, because the symbol is banned in Germany.
The firm sells 3.5 million kits a year and up to 15 per cent of its sales are in Germany.
In 2006, the manufacturer was saved from going out of business by train set maker Hornby, which bought the firm for £2.6 million.
Top ten most popular aircraft:
Supermarine Spitfire 45,000 kits sold
Messerschmitt Bf 109E 25,000
De Havilland Mosquito17,000
Focke Wulf 190D15,000
Avro Lancaster
Junkers Ju87 Stuka
Hawker Hurricane
P51 Mustang
Dornier Do17

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