The Crusader was a bit of a mixed bag, but even at El Alamein it was the most numerous British tank in the field, and most of them were still the two pounder armed Mark II. I must make time to find out what that first rate historian of the British tank, David Fletcher, has to say about the Crusader. The only first hand account of fighting with the Crusader I have come across is the justly famous one by the noted war poet Keith Douglas, Alamein to Zem Zem. That is one of the few genuinely literary works to emerge from the Second World War. Douglas' poetry stands the test of time too, with his 'Vergissmeinnicht' being the best known. I much prefer Douglas' work to that, say, of the other noted Western Desert poet, the Scot, Hamish Henderson, whose work is damaged, I think, by his political agenda/s, not least his faux Marxism. Oddly, I used to live round the corner from Henderson in his latter years - we used the same off-licence.
As I said in an earlier post, I think the jury is still out (or about to deliver the Scots verdict of 'not proven') on these Armourfast Crusaders. On the plus side, they are cheap, having two in a box is a good idea, they look fine overall, and they aren't made in China. On the minus side, unless one is happy with just the basic assembly and a quick one off spray finish, then one still needs the same amount of work to get them table ready. They look perfectly ok, as the photograph below sort of shows:
But, there is quite a bit of detail missing. In the photograph below, the Armourfast Crusader is on the right, compared with an Airfix Mk. III on the left:
The Airfix version sports rudimentary towing eyes and hook detail, along with rivet detail on the lower hull. It also has the smoke dischargers added to the exhausts. The smoke dischargers are a noticeable feature of the tank, and, of course, one could easily add them to the Armourfast kit, but, then, we are moving away from the 'fast' element of construction. Also, the Airfix kit came with the auxiliary fuel tank.
The front view comparison, above, also shows up detail differences, notably the representation of the head lights, which, even on the Airfix version, could easily be improved.
Nonetheless, they look fine together - a mixed troop, or Rapid Fire squadron, out and about.
Finally, 10th November, and I have just taken these last four 'Red Falstaffs' from my little tree:
Keith Douglas was killed a few days after the D-Day Landings. I am able to enjoy my apples from my tiny English garden thanks to Douglas and the men like him.