Monday, July 21, 2014

28mm Spanish Civil War Republican Anti-Tank Gun and a New Book: 'The Shattered Peloton: The Devastating Impact of World War I on the Tour de France'

I thought I'd bash out a few more Spanish Civil War figures in preparation for an upcoming game I have scheduled in a few days with the fine lads from the Fawcett Ave Conscripts. 

Here is a 37mm Bofors anti-tank gun with a Republican crew. Even though the Bofors fired a relatively light shell it could easily penetrate the armour of any tank used during the Spanish Civil War. From my reading its reliability, low profile and high rate-of-fire made it well liked by its crews. 

This is a great little set produced by Empress Games. Paul Hicks sculpts with his typical great character touches (I love the gunner who is raising his sunglasses to better see the effect of their shot.)

I decided to keep the gun in its basic green colour, without the black camo 'blobs' which are often seen in period pictures.

I have a few other SCW figures in the wings but I'll roll those out in later posts.

Also a brief book review! 

Every July for me is sheer heaven as it means that for three weeks I can bask in the summer heat while following my favourite sporting event: the Tour de France.

This year's Tour is the 101st time the event has been held. The now world famous race began in 1903 and has continued to this year uninterrupted, except for the years of the two world wars. And so upon this theme, I came across, 'The Shattered Peloton' when we were on vacation this past spring - and immediately ordered myself a copy as it focuses on another passion of mine: the Great War and its impact on the riders of the 1914 Tour.

Believed to be Guiseppe Azzini during a mountain segment of the 1914 Tour.
The book describes the start of the 1914 Tour which occurred on the 28th of June, at 3am, where 145 riders met in Saint-Cloud, a suburb near the edge of Paris.  Little did those riders know that, later that day, archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie would be assassinated in Sarajevo, beginning a spiralling sequence of events. By the end of the Tour in late July it was regarded as inevitable that a general war in Europe would soon begin -  and a few short days later the First World War began. 

French cyclists doing what they do best...
The organizer of the Tour de France, Henri Desgrange, although being fifty years old at the war's outbreak, volunteered into the French army and encouraged all French cyclists to do the same. Many of the riders from that 1914 Tour de France were killed during the war, including three winners of previous Tours. Patriotism's bitter harvest.

I won't go into any great detail regarding the book other than to say that it's a good read for anyone who enjoys military history and the sport of cycling. It doesn't break any new ground in the historiography of the Great War or for competitive cycling, but it does a nice job of joining the two disparate topics together for a very interesting and poignant perspective. Recommended.