20 November 2023
We take a look at the Crescent British Cruiser tank
The Britains Lilliput Centurion tank has been described as 'tiny' in the past. Given that it is 1/76 scale, and 115mm long, it seems like a monster compared to this World War II Cruiser tank from another British firm, Crescent. At just 54mm long, including the rather over-sized gun barrels, it was part of a small series of military models from the early post-war years. There does not seem to be a lot of information around on this model; Ramsay's British Diecast Catalogue simply includes it in a post-1949 listing, without giving an exact release date. It is certainly an obscure subject, but well worth a closer look.
The Real Thing
The British Cruiser tank of World War II was similar to the Medium tanks used by other countries. It was fast, but lightly armoured. The Cruiser Tank Mark V was the first of the type to be given a name, Covenanter, after Scottish troops who fought in the English Civil War. The Cavalier and Cromwell also carried names related to the Civil War. The Covenanter was built by the London, Midland, and Scottish Railway, and went into production in 1940. The main recognition features are the large, unevenly spaced road wheels; the angular turret; and the presence of the engine radiators at the front of the vehicle, next to the driver. It was armed with a 2-pounder anti-tank gun, and a single 7.92mm Besa machine-gun. It is usually said the Covenanter did not see action, or serve outside the UK except for a few trial vehicles, being used solely for training. This only applies to the normal gun tanks; the bridge-layer variant was used in both Europe and the Pacific.
I found this example at a fair a couple of years ago. It is well detailed for its size, except for the lack of hatches on the turret roof. The model is all-metal, and incredibly heavy. Scaled up to life-size, it would probably weigh more than a real Covenanter, which came in at a mere 18 tons. There are four main parts. The upper hull, which includes two projections on each side for attaching the tracks. The track units are solid, and include the track guards. The wheel detail is very shallow. There is no lower hull, and no wheels or rollers so it can be pushed along the floor. The turret is a single piece, and rotates, but the two guns do not elevate. Most photos show an even longer main gun - giving the impression the Covenanter was armed with a massive 17-pounder. This looks like a small nail, with its head forming a flared muzzle, while the machine-gun is simply a short length of wire. My example has a much shorter main gun, or has it simply lost the end of its barrel at some stage? Cast into the underside of the hull are the words British Cruiser, Crescent, and Made in England, all in capital letters. It seems the actual vehicle name, Covenanter, was not used. My model is overall dark green, with patches of a lighter yellow-green over the top as camouflage. Some models were plain dark green. There are no markings.
Being from the early post-war period, the model was not surprisingly released in rather uninspiring card boxes, with a single-colour line drawing of the vehicle. My model was loose. Ramsey lists the 'British Tank' as No.696, while the Tank Set No.697 seems to have also included a couple of figures, to a much larger scale. There were also some larger sets with various vehicles and figures.