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Crusader AA Mk.I (Bofors)


Seahawk
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I'm currently unable to do more than the most perfunctory plastic fondling following a cataract operation so I shall have to content myself with planning projects that I may realise, ooh, sometime well into my next incarnation.

For a while I've fancied building one of the improvised Crusader AA Mk.I tanks for the Royal Artillery in which, basically, a complete Bofors gun complete with shield was plonked onto the turret ring of a redundant Crusader tank. They were certainly used during Operation FABIUS, a rehearsal for D-Day in May 44, but evidence as to whether any made it ashore in France on D-Day itself is not conclusive. NB this is NOT the version with the huge boxy turret as modelled by Italeri.

A. Reference photos

So far I am aware of 3 photos of this vehicle.

i. p.51 of the May 2011 Military Modelcraft International as part of a 1/35 build by Steve Noble on the basis of the Italeri Crusader. Photographed during FABIUS, May 1944. Front left quarter view, gun traversed aft, RA flash with thick white bar at bottom and number 206 on right front mudguard, solid vertical diamond on left front mudguard, colour maybe red? blue? green? A copy follows:

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Crusader+AA+Mk+I&biw=1280&bih=699&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiej4XP9p_MAhVFJcAKHe2XD4AQsAQIJw&dpr=1#imgrc=xsc013kKbs_k1M%3A

BTW Steve's conversion article also formed part of a lengthy and masterly Internet article on the Crusader in all its forms and how to model it: afraid I can't find it right now but it's worth looking for.

ii. p.41 of New Vanguard (NVG) 14 Crusader, showing one coming ashore during FABIUS towing an ordinary Bofors on field carriage. Not the vehicle above, as the arm of service flash appears to have a diagonal line through it.

iii. a 3rd picture showing a side view of one possibly on the Normandy beaches. Has rudimentary gun side shields carrying a white star.

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Crusader+AA+Mk+I&biw=1280&bih=699&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiej4XP9p_MAhVFJcAKHe2XD4AQsAQIJw&dpr=1#imgrc=_

There was also a similar mount carrying a triple Oerlikon mount in the same way. The same photo of this turns up in all the references (eg NVG 14 p.42, Milsom/Green/Scarborough: Crusader p.19, McDonald Fact file on Self-propelled Anti-Tank and Anti-Aircraft Guns p.40, Chamberlain/Ellis British and American Tanks of World War II p.39, Wikipedia) and is perhaps of some use for extrapolating the rear deck layout.

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Crusader+AA+Mk+I&biw=1280&bih=699&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiej4XP9p_MAhVFJcAKHe2XD4AQsAQIJw&dpr=1#imgrc=o8d68k6jRxbRgM%3A

Q.1: is anyone aware of any more photographs of this vehicle? I am particularly interested in the layout of the stowage boxes along the hull side, esp alongside the engine deck.

Q.2: Can anyone identify the unit and subordination of the vehicle described at A.i above and/or suggest a colour for the diamond?

B. Modelling

I am thinking of building a 1/76 model based on the Airfix Crusader. For the gun the two options are the old 1/76 Airfix gun and the newer and much better detailed 1/72 Zvezda offering. I have no idea of how in-scale either is and am wondering if I could get away with using the Zvezda gun.

Q.3: Could anyone provide me with a couple of sample dimensions for the Bofors gun? I am thinking of a the length of the gun itself from muzzle to rear of the breech proper (ie exclusive of the projection at the rear) and b. the width of the gunners' platform.

Think that will do for starters. Looking forward to what response I get - if any! Thanks in advance.

PS I know I might be much better off posting this on missing-lynx.com but, despite being a longstanding member, I don't appear to have posting rights.

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All I can add is discussion of the first photo and it's unit can be found here:

http://www.network54.com/Forum/47208/thread/1200989193

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Don't have dimension numbers, but a b/w drawing of the Bofors turret setup, linked from the same forum, http://www.network54.com/Forum/47208/thread/1239107154

Crusader_AA_MkI_3.jpg

Haven't searched further threads over at the MissingLynx Discussion Group, but you can try some more in the Allied section. Any question you have has likely been asked over there.

regards,

Jack

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Thanks: very quick! The unit ident is certainly a start though I notice all correspondents assume the vehicle is en route for D-Day embarcation rather than FABIUS.

Working from the 1/32 drawings in the Scarborough book is certainly an idea for getting the gun length though I'd get a warmer feeling from some prototype measurements.

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It's likely because the vehicle has the number of the landing craft (LCT220) it was assigned to, chalked onto it's hull. Though I suppose, it could be argued that these same scribblings were used during practice exercises - or maybe not as it would raise suspicions to prying eyes?

regards,

Jack

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Yes - the Crusader AAs made it to Normandy. Generally, the units contained a mix of SP and towed Bofors pieces (ditto for the triple Oerlikon units). Each SP vehicle dragged one of the towed pieces ashore (look carefully at the Crusader marked up as LCT220* in the photo below and you can just see the shield of the towed gun behind the tank).

The drawings above represent a fully shielded gun, but this was impractical to operate and 'feed' so the operational SP guns seem to have had partial shields only (photos exist of a fully shielded gun on a Crusader but there is no evidence that it entered operational service in this form). I've thrown in an emplaced Crusader AA with triple Oerlikons, just for a bit of variety

They are listed in the Landing Tables for Sword Beach (which are fascinating documents that list every landing craft load by vehicle and unit for the first two waves of the landings) and the photos below show them with partial shields.

*For clarity, LCT220 was the 'chalk' number of the LCT - not the pennant number painted onto the bow of the vessel.

Cheers,

Centaur

crusader_iii_aa_mk_i_juno_001_205.jpg

aa2.jpg

crusader_aa_mk1_4.jpg

20mmPolsenAAteam.jpg

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Thanks for the info and the additional photo. Think I have learned that the side stowage boxes extended further aft than in Steve Noble's conversion, back past the downward kink in the mudguards.

Would be interested to know whether the turret ring was blanked off or whether there was any kind of turret well. Inclined to think no well but....

Can anyone without cataracts make out the Txxxxx number on the "LCT 220" photo? Or on any of these vehicles?

In other news, working from the 1/32 drawing of the Bofors in the Scarborough Airfix modelling guide and a 1/76 drawing by Ken Musgrave of the Bofors Mk.I in Terry Gander's The 40mm Bofors Gun, I have concluded that the Airfix gun is about spot on for scale while the Zvezda may be a little large, even for 1/72. Given the crudeness of the Airfix parts, this may well mean a scratchbuilt mount to 1/76 incorporating just an Airfix gun and other Airfix and/or Zvezda parts. The Dan Taylor Modelworks etched brass spaced armour gunshield and Stiffkey sight (C76096) are to 1/76 so should be usable - but a silk purse for the sow's ear Airfix parts.

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Yes, I think I can see T126825 now. NB it appears to be on an uparmoured hull, with applique armour left of the driver's "cab" and on the nose plate between the towing lugs.

Milicast model will be a useful prompt in cases of uncertainty. At least I can see whether the designer has made the same judgements as i have.

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Before confusion sets in...

The 40mm vehicle with the truncated pyramid turret was the Crusader AA Tank Mk I. Intended for use by organic AA units in armoured formations.

After trials it was superseded by the Crusader AA Tank Mk II and later Mk III which had the twin 20mm turrets.

The vehicle with the open Bofors was a Royal Artillery project for used by LAA (SP) regiments and was officially 40mm SP AA Gun (Tracked). It was a completely different design and they were built at Mill Hill in London alongside the very similar triple 20mm (the 20mm SP AA Gun [Tracked]).

They were intended as a stop gap to ensure AA cover in the immediate landings but were retained in the beach head until late 1944. The only deployment was a battery of triple 20mm which was sent to the bridge at Grave. The last photo in Centaur's post looks right for Grave BTW. After this the chassis were worn out and the triple 20mm mountings were transferred to trucks. I wrote an article for the MAFVA magazine Tankette some years ago. Regrettably I have no copy due to computer failure and my notes from Kew were lost during a move.

There were three regiments with the 40mm gun (one for each non-US beach) and one regiment with 20mm with one battery assigned to each beach.

The shot above is certainly a pre D-Day move I have seen the original roll although most of the others do show Fabius.

They were almost certainly SCC 15 the British Olive Drab, there are a few colour shots of at least one so finished. The turret opening was plated over for all the SP guns with a framework underneath to support the gun mount. The diamond on the front mudguard is most likely tape covering the units usual insignia. As they were under higher command for the landings they should have the senior formations marking but this instruction doesn't seem to have been followed for the larger landings, possibly as the attachment was short-term but I'm not certain.

HTH

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