In 1940 Vauxhall Motors won the contract to produce the A22 Infantry Tank otherwise known as the Churchill. As we know, they went on to produce over 10 marks of gun tanks plus the AVREs and other specialised versions.
Soon after the contract was awarded, a committee met at the war office to discuss the perceived need for a vehicle mounting a high velocity large weapon capable of penetrating the armour of even the heaviest German tank. This vehicle was planned as part of the defence forces for the expected invasion of England. The committee settled on the 3in AAA Gun, also known as the 20cwt. This was originally a naval gun that saw service as Anti Aircraft Artillery in WWI and the early stages of WWII but by the end of 1940 was being replaced by the newer larger and more effective 3.7in AAA gun
The next question was what to mount this gun in? It was eventually decided that the gun should be fitted to an existing chassis to save development time, and that it should be the Churchill. The Churchill was the largest, heaviest tank available to British forces at the time and with its long wheel base it provided the most stable available platform for the monster gun. Vauxhall submitted a plan involving the basic Mk III chassis with a large heavily armoured superstructure mounting the gun on a limited traverse.
400 hundred were ordered from Vauxhall, but it seems Vauxhall were less than keen to divert production from the existing gun tank orders as the completed vehicles were built under license by another company. In the end only 50 were built before the project was cancelled. Initial trials proved successful, but although a unit was earmarked to train on the vehicles, it seems it was never issued to a regiment or battalion. Of the ones built, the majority were converted to other uses and the gun removed. This included the Churchill Snake, an AVRE vehicle mounting two banks of Bangalore torpedoes, one on each mudguard, designed to clear wire and other similar obstacles. Only three remain now, all are ex-range targets and are in really very poor shape.
Chris Meddings of Inside The Armour has now released a conversion kit which can be used with AFV Club's Mk III Churchill to recreate this unusual vehicle. Having pre-ordered the kit some weeks ago I was delighted to get mine in the post.
So what's in the box?
The kit is a resin and etch set which includes:
- one piece superstructure
- etched stowage bins with working hinges, latches and padlocks
- 3in gun carrier specific mudguard sections to fit with the kit mudguards
- etched hatch handles for the engine and transmission hatches
- etched brackets for the oil cans on the rear mudguards
- etched rear one piece air deflector
- etched air intake grills
- turned 3in gun barrel
- resin auxiliary fuel tank
- working hinges for the rear hatch
The resin was nicely padded with expanded foam and bags inside bags and all fully intact.
Everything is very finely cast with no sign of any air bubbles.
Quality looks great - with all rivets etc well defined and equi-distant. There's a bit of flash to clean up from the main "turret" but nothing major. The riveted strips on the 2 long fender pieces will need a little cleanup I think, but that shouldn't cause too much of a problem. There's also a small set of decals with different serial numbers and a comprehensive PE sheet.
A mini CD contains 5 .pdf files of build instructions, 2 more with painting guides and one with general "working with resin" advice. There's also a folder entitled "Rex Cadman Gun Carrier" with some photos of the very sad looking rusty remains of a gun carrier. I can't post any here because they're copyright ITA but suffice to say they'd bring a tear to your eye.
Highs: Good quality casting with plenty of detail. Mr Meddings knows his Churchills and has clearly done his research.Lows: Some minor flash. Riveted detail on fenders could be better.Verdict: Altogether this is a very well put together conversion and I look forward to putting it all together some time in the near future.
About Ken Holland (Dutchy3RTR) FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM
An ex British Army SNCO who's now relaxing in early retirement, I restarted modelling back in 2000 after a very long absence and haven't stopped since. My efforts are currently concentrated on the armoured vehicles of the Royal Tank Regiment throughout it's (fairly short) history and the vehicles o...