Sergeant Farrell Tingey smiled grimly as he wiped the mud from the badge on his beret. One more he and his tight-knit crew of four were about to head into battle aboard their tiny Universal Carrier, a tracked light vehicle with a 6-pounder anti-tank gun mounted ahead of its engine. Gunner Corporal Keegan Easley had given the mini-tank the name "Bullpup" early on and it had stuck - the most junior of the crew, loader Lance Corporal Barnabas McCourt had even "liberated" some whitewash from a nearby Engineer unit to paint the name on its left side. In reference to their commander's nationality he had also painted a stylised Kiwi bird on the right - Tingey's initial response of aggravation at this compromise of their camouflage had been swiftly defused by this touch.
"Thirty seconds!" their driver, Cpl Hugh Lindsay, called over his shoulder. With a smoothness born of endless practice and drilling he started the 100hp Ford V8 motor behind him. In seconds the engine was purring as much as it could, and Tingey had placed his beret in a safe spot in favour of his helmet. While their prized headwear gave them something of an elite status, the black fabric gave them no protection against the enemy…not that you could be terribly safe in an open-topped vehicle anyway, Tingey reflected. He glanced at the Sherman beside them and felt a momentary pang of jealousy as he saw its tonnes of armour.
“Five seconds!” Lindsay called over the growing din of engines around them.
“Loading!” McCourt replied as he fetched the first shell and readied it for the gun.
“We’re ready, sir!” Easley said to his commander.
Tingey turned away from the massive fighting vehicle next to him and looked at his driver. “Let’s go!”
“Affirmative!” Lindsay replied with enthusiasm as the launched the Carrier away from their camp and into battle.
The dozen or so armoured fighting vehicles clustered around the camp flag set off in every conceivable direction as radio chatter cluttered the airways. A pair of Walker Bulldogs raced ahead to the beach to spot for their allies; a trio of heavy self-propelled guns moved off to the protective cover of some immense boulders; the Shermans, Stuarts and Lees made straight for the hill a few hundred yards ahead. But Tingey knew that Bullpup wasn’t built for such full-on combat and instead directed Lindsay to the vineyards at the base of the hill, the southern end of the small village of Mines.
McCourt and Easley held on tight behind the blast-shield as Bullpup bounded over the uneven ground at full speed. Lindsay expertly slalomed around the grapevines and sped behind a pair of cottages, only to quickly stop behind a low stone wall.
Easley leaned out past the shield and pointed. “There!”
Through a pair of binoculars Tingey saw it was a Chi-Ha racing up the northern slope. “Target that tank!”
The gun fired immediately and before the shot had landed – short – McCourt was already loading the next and Easley was adjusting the gun to compensate.
The second shot found its target and the Chi-Ha’s left track unfurled onto the grass. Immobilised, it was easy meat for Bullpup’s third round which blew the turret from its hull. The crew had no time to celebrate – a nearby enemy Chaffee had spotted them from behind a small rise.
“Stug on the hill!” Lindsay called out, pointing to the rocky outcrop to the north-west.
“I hate when this happens,” Tingey thought to himself. The light-armoured Chaffee would be a quick kill for Bullpup’s gun, but was fast and could get away quickly. On the other hand the Stug had a high-powered gun and would easily dispatch the Universal Carrier – fleeing after spotting would be all they could do before being blown to hell.
But the decision had been made for him: the Chaffee had blasted away to the central hill but still caught a shell from Easley on its flank armour.
“Nice shot, Keegan,” Tingey shouted.
Suddenly there was a sharp, loud bang that rocked the small vehicle - a shell from the Stug had smacked into the front-left of Bullpup and taken out the track….and Tingey.
“Commander!” Lindsay screamed, shrapnel in his arm. There was no response from the man to his left. Regaining his composure he scanned his dash panel. “Left track immobilised, commander injured!”
“Relaoding!” a frantic McCourt called out.
Easley leaned out once more – ignoring the prone form of his commander – and pointed at the shape of the Stug on the distant hill. “Requesting fire!”
The shell slammed into the breech and the gun fired again, and the white shape of the projectile slammed into the dense front armour of the massive tank destroyer. The Stug, seemingly undamaged, fired in reply.
“Dammit!” he said softly as the view on his laptop’s screen pulled out to show the Universal Carrier explode and sit as a burning wreck.
“Did you die again, Tank Noob?” his wife asked, not even looking up from her colouring-in books.
“Yeah,” he sighed as he clicked “Back to Garage” and selected another of his tanks for battle in cyberspace. “I do win sometimes, you know.”
“Sure you do,” she chuckled.
“30 seconds, awaiting players,” the screen read as his desert-coloured Sherman sat waiting for the next fight.
After watching FURY I’ve got into tanks, and part of that has been discovering – and addictively playing – the PC game World of Tanks. When I found how nimble the humble Bren Gun carrier was, I decided it had to be the one to play all the time. Then I got to thinking about making a model of it…
This is the 2012 boxing of the - based on Scalemates - 1964-vintage Airfix 1/76 Bren Gun Carrier & 6-pdr Anti-Tank Gun. It's a surprisingly parts-heavy kit when you see how small it is and tried my patience...I feel bad for any 10-15-year-old gifted this kit! It comes with a towed 6-pounder gun and four figures (half a driver plus three gun crew), and is a sweet little kit. To make it sorta reminiscent of Bullpup I made a rudimentary mount and fairing to relocate the gun:
The kit has moulded-on detail of tools on the rear bumpery bit, but that's not really enough for me...so I shaved them off and made resin copies of the axe and shovel in Italeri's 1/72 Sherman kit. They're tiiiiiny but you can just make them out, ditto the new headlights and drilled barrel:
There is one slight flaw with Airfix's Bren Gun Carrier...there are no Bren Guns! So it's off to the spares box. Fortunately, when I decided to do some small-scale armour builds I found all the 1/72 machinegun bits I have and put them in a little "tank spares box". I used the barrel from possible a Lancaster gun as the main barrel, the body of another 1/72 Browning .50cal as the body, a Ju88 gun for the trigger and grip, random small tubing as the gas tube under the barrel, scrap for the stock, and a tiny bit of Hellcat landing gear door for the magazine. And then paint!
And, finally, a look at how the Bren Gun Carrier looks with some of Airfix's other 1/76 kits:
I told myself this was the last small-scale armour kit I would buy, but thanks to some Mighty Ape store credit I have Zvezda's 1/72 snap-tite Tiger I on the way...and I found a cheap Airfix Centurion on eBay...and in a couple of months I'll be off to the National Army Museum to get pics of their Sherman Grizzly for the Italeri kit I mentioned...
Thanks Powder! It was a fiddly little thing...vehicle and Bren Gun, both!
I think I've seen a picture of the real Bull Pup, interesting that Airfix kits it! The game gives you a dozen or so names as options to decorate your tank, I picked Bullpup as it seemed appropriate for such a small machine. Others seem familiar from real tank photos too, but I'm struggling to think of other examples.
Neat story mate Nice little read, and good little model. I know what you mean about Fury, does make you want to build them more! I will be looking at tanks next year I think... if I get the room to build them! Have so many in stash, and a lot to build