Monday, February 2, 2015

Bullpups and Other Anachronisms

The British Bullpup

In the 1950s, Britain was looking for a modern weapon to replace the ole bolt-action enfield. One popular prospect was a .280 caliber "bullpup" assault rifle. The early British model was the EM-5. In 1951, this intriguing weapon looked like a sure thing for the British forces. The tune changed in 1952 due to compatibility issues with NATO and military politics.

Busted Bazooka and Bullpups
By then, the British toy makers were preparing their new series of Postwar troops. Herald, Lone Star, Crescent and Timpo fielded regulars and paratroopers armed with the new rifle. To be fair, some also had the SLR, which became the standard British rifle. Every set of soldiers made at that time had at least a couple of men with the EM-2. Due to the cost of new molds and such, the soldiers remained unchanged for decades.

America had its version of the story. In the 1960s, different versions of the M-60 light machine gun were being tested. One such version had a curved magazine that attached from the top, like a Bren. It was pictured in several sources as a likely "jungle version" of the standard, belt-fed M-60. The top-fed magazine proved impractical and never entered service. By then, Tim Mee had sculpted its new troops with modern weapons (M16s, etc). They went with the experimental M-60, thinking it would be adopted by the Army. The result is that peculiar light machine gunner that has been part of Tim Mee’s Vietnam-era soldiers since 1968.

The Marx 54mm army troops, first series, has some anomalies of its own. Most of the troops are armed with M1 carbines instead of rifles. Then there is the machine-gunner firing a weapon mounted on a tripod. Is it an MG42 or an M-60? Looks to be the latter. Another anachronism!

You might expect toymakers to flub, but even serious miniature sculptors are known to flub occasionally. For instance, the Monogram Merite series Special Forces soldier has his ammo pouches on wrong. I know because they issued us the same pouches when I took basic training.

The lesson is obvious: you must know. You cannot rely on manufacturers or sculptors or model kit companies to get their facts right. They have been known to make some big mistakes. The ball is in your court!

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