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  1. The "Ordnance, Quick-Firing, 17 pounder Anti-Tank Gun" (known as the 17-pounder) was a 76.2 mm (3 inch) gun developed by the UK during World War II. Initially deployed as an anti-tank gun on its own carriage, it was later to prove a very welcome modification to a number of British and American AFVs. Design of the gun commenced in 1941, after it was realised that the advances in German armour would quickly render the newly-introduced 6-pounder largely ineffective. First units were hurriedly deployed to North Africa in 1943, albeit fitted to 25-pounder gun carriages as the 'split trail' carriages were not ready - a decision no doubt hastened by news of the appearance in that theatre of the feared 'Tiger' tanks. Those 17-pounder guns fitted to 25-pounder carriages carried the nomenclature '17/25-pdr', and the rather curious code-name 'Pheasant'. It is perhaps something of an irony, given the reasons behind the decision, that the first Tiger 'kill' was claimed by the crew of a 6-pounder! It was arguably the most effective anti-tank gun of WW2 fielded by the Allies. Used with the Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot (APDS) shot, delivering at a muzzle velocity in excess of 1200m/s, it was capable of penetrating 230mm of armour at 1000m range - which is to say, all but the thickest armour on German tanks. Its main drawback, however, was its relative immobility - the requirement for another vehicle to tow the gun carriage to the desired location meant that it was inherently a defensive weapon. One major modification, however, proved key. The breech mechanism was modified to slide sideways rather than downwards, thus reducing the amount of space it would occupy in a tank. Consequently, it was used to 'up-gun' several AFVs in British service: the Challenger tank, and the Achilles and Archer tank destroyers. Perhaps most notably, it was used to produce the 'Firefly' variant of the M4 Sherman tank, finally giving British tank units the ability to hold their own against their German counterparts. Several 17-pounders and their towing vehicles were earmarked for deployment to the Nijmegen area as part of Operation Market-Garden in September 1944. However, the combined weight (and indeed size) of the gun and towing unit was too much for the Horsa Assault Glider; instead, they were conveyed in the much larger General Aircraft GAL 49/50 Hamilcar gliders. Unfortunately, only about half of the gliders with their loads made it intact to their assigned landing zones. This diorama was inspired by a photograph I found, of one of the 17-pounders with 2 of the crew, and a Dutch boy with the ruins of Nijmegen in the background. The two crew are from the Airfix gun kit, albeit with heavily modified poses, whilst the Dutch teenager was partly scratch built, but with a Hornet head and MiniArt hands (1:35 scale). You can find the WIP for the gun, the crew, and the diorama here. The scratch-built civilian figure has its own WIP thread here. Obviously I've used a little licence in the way I've portrayed the scene - the boy is slightly more unkempt in his appearance, whilst the two crew members are obviously enjoying a lull in the fighting! The boy is also generously giving some provisions to the crew to keep them going in their vital task. So, here are a few (ok, more than a few!) photos of the finished article - I hope you enjoy them! Thanks for looking, comments as ever most welcome.