Book Review
Osprey: Churchill Flamethrower
Churchill Crocodile Flamethrower. Written by David Fletcher
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by: Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]


Despite the truly horrific nature of projected fire being used as a weapon, there is still an enormous interest amongst modelers in recreating some of the vehicle mounted flamethrowers which were used during WWII. Every one of the major combatants used vehicle-mounted flame-throwers in several vehicle types. Germany used both convention gun-tanks and TDs along with more impromptu conversions such as captured Char Bs. The M4 Sherman was equipped with a flame-projector in some of the battles of the Pacific Islands, The Soviet Union also converted many of its KVs to flamethrowers... However, the subject of this book is the Churchill Crocodile and the long and convulated process which saw a change in flame-throwers being developed from defensixe weapons to offensive ones...

The Book

Churchill Crocodile Flamethrower (New Vanguard 136) is written by David Fletcher with illustrations by Tony Bryan. The book follows the standard series format with 48 pages, and carries the ISBN: 9781846030833.

First Look

The book is divided into the following chapters:



Operational use

The flame goes out



Colour plate commentary


In Depth asessment

Let me say, at the outset, that I'm anything but convinced by this book. There are, in my opinion, a number of failings which become apparent as one goes through the chapters. In this section i'll try to address them...

The Book's Title

I'm afraid, that this looks like the publishing house wanted to include a book on the Crocodile in their lists (logically enough) but, rather than commision one, they seem to have used another manuscript. If the book had been titled 'British Flamethrower AFV Development' then I wouldn't have felt any need to question the title. The book is NOT about (specifically) the Crocodile but rather INCLUDES material on the vehicle. The development of flame throwing AFVs is an interesting one and yes, it's necessary to include material about the first (faltering) steps in producing a vehicle of this type, the Crocodile enthusiast may well be disappointed.

The Work of the Author
If my comments above seem harsh, then I will try and soften them a little about the work of David Fletcher. Fletcher, has in my opinion produced an excellent introduction to the U.K.'s development program of Flame-Throwing AFVs. The book reads well, and is interesting enough to keep the attention although, the Crocodile seems to become a 'Bit-Player' rather than the protagonist.

The Work of the Illustrator:

Tony Bryan was commissioned to provide the dozen color plates in the book. These are well-executed and cover a number of interesting subjects. Particularly notable is that of the Crocodile equipped with deep-wading gear during the Normandy Landings. Of the 12 color plates, only 5 are actually of the Crocodile.

The Photos Within the Format

Fletcher has chosen some good (and pretty unique) images for the book however, I personally would have liked to have seen a lot more. Maybe we're getting a bit spoiled with some of the material which is getting published nowadays, but the quality of a few of the images does look a bit 'muddy' compared to others.

The Book for the Modeler in Mind

It isn't, I feel, a book specifically for the modeler, There are areas which will help in projects such as the 'Wasp' Universal carriers, or conversion projects such as the Sea Serpent along with clarifying details for the Crocodile itself. In general it's more a book for the vehicle enthusiast rather than the modeller.

The Format:

Perhaps, it's not my place to comment on this, but I get the feeling that the New Vanguard series has really run its course and Osprey should consider a complete re-think of the series. There are better books available (at a similar price) which have more of the kind of illustrative material which modelers are demanding. 1/35th (or at least 1/48th or 1/72nd) scale plans are now standard in the books from several publishing houses and would, to me at least, be of more practical value than color-plates. Good and clear text is a must, however good and clear photos are also necessary - the two are NOT incombatible.

Final Word

There are aspects of the book which will have great interest for those who like the obscure or experimental vehicles. At the end I'm left with the feeling that a lot more 'Crocodile-Specific' material should have been included to be more faithful to the title.
The Churchill Crocodile, has, since Tamiya kitted it out in 1/35th scale, remained a popular modeling subject. However, it has not been particularly well documented. Will this new book from Osprey Publishing restore the balance?
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:1
  Mfg. ID: New Vanguard 136
  Suggested Retail: $15.95/£9.99
  PUBLISHED: Aug 03, 2007
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Jim Rae (jimbrae)

Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...

Copyright ©2021 text by Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]. All rights reserved.


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