Dinky Guns and Artillery Tractors.

by GunnerJim

Dinky toy guns and towing tractors.

The Dinky Anti aircraft gun and trailer No 162 B was first produced in  1939 and continued until number changed number to 690  post war for US export. Was this gun designed for the Dinky range had its origin with the 3 inch gun of 1914.

History:  The need for air defence resulted with the AA gun the Quick Fire (QF) 3 inch 20 CWT entered  service in 1914 by the British Ordnance and made a good reputation for itself during WW-I.   This Anti Aircraft gun  stayed in service until the 1940's. The gun was used statically and on a mobile gun platform in most cases. The British Expeditionary Force used these guns at the beginning of WW-ll in 1939  where most of these guns were captured at Dunkirk by the Germans and were renamed the 75 mm Flak Vickers.  These QF 3 inch AA guns were replaced by the 3.7 inch gun at a later stage during WW II.

Dinky 6 wheeled covered wagon No 151 B was first produced by Dinky in 1937 and those that were manufactured suffer from the dreaded metal  fatigue and often crumble away before ones eyes.  The post war production toys re numbered 620 are a lot more stabled as the quality of Zalmac had improved.

History: The design of the 6 wheeled wagon could have come from a number of manufactures although the front bonnet and cab area is so similar to the the Leyland.  Although the 6x4 didn't develop until the late 1920's and into the 1930's when improvement to road surfaces enable the heaver vehicles travelling capabilities.

History:  This Layland 3 ton gasoline combustion engine initiated by the War Office subsidised scheme of 1912 were produced by their thousands during the later part of the First World War. Other British makers also added their vehicles at the outbreak of WWI, thus improving their automated production techniques. Layland took the unique step of buying back a great many of the subversion vehicles it had made and reconditioning them in their factory for re-sale to the public after WW-l.

In 1920's Leyland increased the load capacity to Q type 4 tons and in 1925 to 7 tons which was the SQ2 semi-forward control and experimented with diesel engines . Then they developed the SWQ2 which was the 6x4 in 1927. Although I cannot say the Leyland produced the SWQ2 in the bonneted version similar to the design of the Dinky version of the same vehicle.

Dinky introduced the 5.5 inch BL gun number 692 into its catalogue in 1955 until 1974 when the Leopard tank took its place.

History: The British 5.5 inch gun came into being in 1942  after the British Ordinance Department had experimented with the 4.5 inch gun during WW-ll.  I remember seeing one of these 4.5 inch gun at Monegeetta, army testing facility in 1965, when the army was towing it behind the prototype International Tractors MK-V that were replacing the old 1942 Mack 10 ton GS vehicle. The 5.5 Inch gun was phased out in 1983 in Australia and replaced with the M198 155 mm gun.

Dinky introduced the 25 pdr howitzer gun  in 1957 number 686 and sold separately to the limber and Morris Quad. The set number 697 and was released the same year.

History: The 25 pounder Quick Fire (QF) breach loader had its inspiration for a field gun and howitzer  combination during the 1920's. Britain suffering financial constraints after WWI stalled such a proposal. The Ordnance experimented with the old surplus 18 pounder gun carriages converted to pneumatic tyres and placing the newly designed heavier guns on them resulting in the development of the Mark I. The even had some with split trails as well as the box enclosed trails familiar with the Mark II gun carriage.

The 25 pounder Mark I went into combat with the British Expeditionary Forces in France during the start of WW II only to be lost during the evacuation of Dunkirk.  The 25 pounder Mark II QF with nearly designed gun carriage was deployed with the Commonwealth Forces and made a name of one of the best field guns in WW II against Germany's Amour in 1940 during the North Africa campaign.  These guns were still in use until 1966 in the Australian Armed Forces and were replace with the M2A2 105 mm Gun/howitzer.

The Dinky 6 pounder Anti Tank Gun No 625 was introduced into the Dinky range in 1975 in a bubble pack containing plastic shells on 2 sprues.

History: Designed during the early part of WW II the QF breach loader 6 pounder gun replaced the 2 pounder Anti Tank Gun thus giving the British gun crews something to hit back at the superior German Armour. Suffering delays this gun entered service in 1941.

Dinky Number 617 was introduced in 1967 and came in either colour picture box or bubble pack versions containing the Volkswagen KDF and the 50 mm Pak 38 gun.

History: In early 1925 German Rheinmetall researches had begun working on an anti tank gun similar in size to the British 2 pounder.  By 1936 the Pak 35/36 was developed with pneumatic tyres and these weapons were used in combat for the first time during the Spanish Civil War.  The more powerful 50 mm Pak  38 entered combat service in 1940 although only a few were sent with the invasion of the Soviet Union they preform well against the T 34.  Another gun which followed the Pak 38 was the Pak 40 could use the same AP 40 ammunition. These guns stayed in production until the end of the war and those who operated them said they were really a good gun to handle.

Dinky 7.2 inch Howitzer Gun Number 69s production started in 1958.

History:  In 1940 British Army realised they were short on heavy mobile artillery and decided to re-bore some of the obsolete 8 inch guns to accept the nearly designed ammunition. Some of these gun carriages were unstable and steel ramps were used behind the wheels.  Six versions of the 7.2 inch howitzer until the adoption of the American MI carriage was used.

Above is a 7.2 inch howitzer being brought into action and notice on the right hand side the steel ramps for the recoil system.

The above is the 5.5 inch BL gun being towed by the Dinky Number 623 and the 7.2 inch Howitzer being towed by the Medium Field Gun Tractor Number 689.

The Dinky Battle lines American 105 mm gun number 609

I have finally worked it out I think. The above picture is of the Dinky 88 mm gun that was used not only for Anti Aircraft defence but as a attacking against opponents positions and defence weapon against tanks during the Second World War.



Overview history on the development of the British Naval 4.7 gun converted into field artillery at the outbreak of the Boar War of 1899-1900's.

This handcrafted silver wooden model shows what the gun conversion would have looked like.

Was it all over gold in the end. The Second African war or Boer War of the 1899-1900's was believed to be initiated from the mining Tax capitalisation by the British Foreign Office over the English Colony of South Africa. Or was it really the Dutch immigrants or the Boers seeking independence from the overlord British Empire.  Britain needed to strengthen their limited forces in South Africa from the insurgence revolt occurring by the Boers from the introduction of this Tax on the rich gold resources that they the Boers disliked.

 The Boers attacked British controlled areas using guerrilla tactics to success and laying siege to towns of the Mafeking and Kimberley bordering on the rich gold soils of the Transvaal area. It was when the Boers laid siege to the British Town of Ladysmith that re-enforcements were desperately needed to defend town. With the nearest Army Troops stationed in India and in Britain which would have taken weeks for them to arrive and defeat was eminent. Britain had to act swift and fast.

Britain sent the order by telegraph for the Naval Brigade of South Africa Station to go into action.  Captain Percy Scott initiated relief by using the guns from HMS Terrible with makeshift gun carriages that were made from heavy wooden beams and wheels made from heavy plate steel formed these guns into mobile field artillery.  Captain Percy Scott of HMS Terrible who designed the gun carriage was able to send within 48 hours a detachment of guns and 180 sailors to the besieged towns.  These 4.7 inch breach loading guns had a longer range being 4115 meters using time fuse and 5121 meters using percussion fuse than the Armstrong 12 and 15 pounders which could not reach the Boars artillery.  All British Field Artillery could fire carrier type shells that contained canister shot (200 metal balls) for aerial burst using time fuses over massed attacking troops or High Explosives (HE) using percussion fuse for impact rounds.

Here is a very good example or the original gun carriage in action. Note the use of wheel recoil chocks.

William Britain and Sons would have been inspired by the Boer War of the early 1900's  thus by copying this gun to be included with those soldiers of the day.  William Britain jnr was the main model maker for Britain toy soldiers from about 1889 or early as indicated by his son Dennis and most probably modelled the 4.7 inch Naval Gun in the early part of the 1900's. 

As the 4.7 inch Naval Gun has the word Depose (French for registration)  written on the barrel of this gun and continued with this word Depose on the two versions through out the moulds life.  Following the word Depose, the number Rd 388707 is also casted on the wheels, box trail and sighting mechanism.  This number could be the Art Model Number or registration number that France required when Britain set up their  office in 1905 and later when they established their factory in 1912 until 1920 when all the moulds were returned to England. William Britain jnr had retired from artist and model maker from ill-health having been confined to a wheelchair due to diabetes which would also have affected his eye sight in 1915. So this could have been the last toy of Williams jnr having the modification to the box trail.

The first design by the looks of it.

This picture shows the first moulding has the enclosed firing mechanism spring that was moulded into the box trail when the casting was done.  These springs often broke off and the lead antimony and tin (white metal) would often cool in the mould before most of the spring was covered when the hot metal was poured in leaving some small holes in the casting from air traps on-top of the box trail. As one can see in this picture. I have seen others with this problem.

This particular 4.7 inch Naval Gun was in a sad and sorry state when I required it.   So with some cleaning up and paint with a new handmade  brass adjustment elevating screw fitted, the gun is now presentable.  Unfortunately, the encased spring is broken and no way can it be replaced.  The fortunes of war I suppose it wont firer anymore matches.

Second version with the top one in the picture having the Patent number on the side of the box trail.

As this picture shows, the exposed spring is held in place by a pin across the box trail near the towing eyelet.  One only has to remove the pin and slide the flat spring steel out and replace it if broken.  This same method would improve assemble time instead of placing the metal flat spring in the mould before pouring the hot metal, resulting in many failures.   All the parts are the same, apart from this modification including the word Depose and the number Rd 388707 on all parts.

 Here on this gun, the wording, Patent is written on the side No 1216 and 1915.   Some have this, while others don't.   A set number was given in 1933 which may have included the Naval gun team.

The 1915 version may have lasted until it was replaced by the third version with a complete different boxed trail in 1960's, having a number of 9730.   Lead being used in Toys was fazed out by 1966.   In almost all manufacturing after World War Two they all changed over to Zalmac and Britain's would have done the same.

How they compare along side of each other.

Looks like they used the same designed wheels on all three.


Side elevation and notice the casting on the barrel. There is an early model of this gun where the barrel end or muzzle flash is casted the same as the early versions instead of the separate casting for the muzzle end.


1915 plus.

Front view.

Take Post,  Number One Gun ranging, HE,  5,000 yards, elevation 36 degrees bearing 10 degrees left, fire, adjust all guns and firer for effect.

Manning the drag ropes and looks like they are pushing too, this rather large gun.   By the looks of it this gun it would be close to the size of the 5.5 inch BL British gun that I trained on in the mid 1960's.

Thanks for reading and please leave any comments. Gunner Jim.

Lead Gun and Cannon repairs.

by GunnerJim

I picked up another Britains Ltd 4.7 inch Naval Gun 1915 Paten, on eBay which needed some straightening up.   That means this gun would be about 90 years old or more .  Not really much in dismantling this gun as it is only held together by the axle and pivoting barrel pin used for elevation and fixing to the box trail gun platform and the one holding down the flat spring.

The axle was slightly bent which also bent part of the cross tree axle housing on both sides.  The elevating adjuster was missing and the ranging telescope and range setting scale is also missing.  Might have to make one of those one day, as I don't think I can get that particular replacement part.  Also rust accumulation on the spring that slides in between the box trail needed cleaning.

Having stripped the gun down.   I was able to find a bit of brass fitting that would be able to be used for the elevation adjustment screw or nut,  whatever.   So I drilled it out to the required size and tap threaded to the same thread on the gun elevating threaded shaft.

In the picture above at the bottom of the box trail you can see the pin holding the spring steel in place. Just grind or file which I did the clinched end and pull the pin out and from the underside take out the flat spring which is actually two placed on-top of each other and pushed into place.

Axle straightened. I then applied some gentle heart to the cross tree axle housing and straighten them up. Then re assembled the gun and is now waiting for me to make a new part for the sighting telescope and elevation scale. This is usually done with a two part mix of silicone rubber mould taken from a original part. Re clinch the ends when assembling when the gun is finished.

The other cannon in the picture could be one made from a Prince August rubber moulds.  Some of the traps of eBay when buying old looking cannons.

The Prince August cannon had to have some adjustments as the axle was made of soft lead.   That means this cannon has no tin and antimony combined with in the mix which helps harden the lead.

I drilled out the wheel hub and used a nail for the axle. I glued two peaces of wood  onto the box trail, centering them over the axle housing or where the box trail sits on the axle.  This enables the axle to be held in position.  I drilled a hole through the two bits of wood representing ammunition boxes and then was able to slid the new axle in, so as the axle doesn't drop off when someone lifts up the cannon.   I then super glued the wheels on and painted the cannon. Only one thing to do is re straighten the barrel again.

Remember if anyone decides to by a lead cannon on eBay or anywhere else make sure it is not made of pure lead and that the metal used is in-fact White Metal.


Model Soldiers by Henry Harris.

by GunnerJim

The Editor wrote:

Among the most exquisite minor works of art are models of soldiers, sailors and airmen, which have been made by craftsmen for monarchs, private collectors and military museums.  These models are quite distinct from the toy soldiers produced for children, for they are made with infinitely greater care for detail and often achieve a delicacy and vitality, which place them among true works of art.

Major Harris is one of the leading experts on the subject and many of the 138 illustrations are taken from his own collection.  These include not only single figures but several panoramic displays of whole armies, depicting scenes of warfare and ceremonial.  In addition there are models of artillery weapons and other forms of transport and armaments, drawn from the armies of many nations and several centuries and reproduced in accurate detail from the originals.

Having read this book some  years ago, I have decided to revisit the written information contained within the sturdy covers of Model Soldiers and share some of the contents with you in  a short essay on the subject of model soldiers.

The contents contained in the Chapters, reveals model soldiers have been around well before BC and early AD and Major Harries discusses these in detail combining commentary by J J Garratt master modeller and historian depicting some of his artwork as well.   Although these residual models from the past,  may have been meant as religious icons, tomb furniture of a votive nature or play things for children, past and presentwith the introduction of plastics.  What we do know, is they have become collectible and they show creative techniques skills from lost civilisations and societies, for us to see and feel as they would have once did if one is ever allowed in the many museum.

Like the doll is for girls, the soldiers were for boys to play with and the word Toy derives from the meaning within the Crafted Guilds from the past as being any small art models.   

Below is a Roman soldier flat moulded in lead using a two part slate or single mould from the 3rd century AD which was often used in those days for casting small objects.

Those past model soldiers contained many  compositions and material used to make these soldiery images  including rich metals like gold and silver,  jade and green jasper, Ivory and bone,  bronze rounds and lead flats, pure tin and pewter mix, wooden and plaster representations. Baked clay from antiquity and renaissance ceramics,  gum bragacanth edible figures  (sugar, flour mix hardened in the mould and later painted)  paper-mache' are just some of the materials used.

These hand made figures came to life long before Christ and marched on into the 1900's until demand increased for revolutionary thinking in mass production.  Industrialisation  improved the quality and quantity of production of model soldiers around the world.  From the lead flats made in Germany to Britains revolutionary hollow round casts model soldiers are as popular now as they were then.

Below an equestrian warrior model from Greece BC made in bronze  42 cm (14 inch) high hollow casted.  Does this mean that in the Bronze Age Alchemy knew something well before William Britain jnr.

Other information about cardboard flats came into being by the mechanisation of the printing press.  Seyfried from Strasbourg started issuing card sheets of soldiers celebrating the visit of Louis XV in 1744. The book "Toy Soldiers has some of these card sheets depicted if the reader wants to know more about them.

When looking at the artistic side the model soldier in minute form there, are some beautiful works of art created.  For each modellers representation to detail can only be expressed in the above picture of a wounded Prussian Hussar falling to his death as the horse rears up in fright from the battle storm. Made by Norman Newton Ltd 1914.

Above is a diorama from Waterloo depicting the Royal Artillery coming into action with their nine pounder smooth bore gun and limber. The figures are made of kaolin and lead having separate head, arms and equipment and I presume they are made by Russel Gammage in 1981. 

Spiking the guns diorama at the French Fort of Santo Domingo 11 May 1800. The American Marines and models are made of bees wax, wood and metal compositions. This is on display in America somewhere.

Models made by Heyde of Dresdon Germany, these soldiers and equipment depicting  American War of Independence production circular of about 1870 that was available in box sets.

Some of these vehicles look familiar while some are conversions or Code 3 types from model kits.

More modern times the above picture models are made from wood and painted, thus enhancing period dioramas.

Above is the Viceroy of India, Vicereine complete with servants 1908 circular made by Major Harris converted from Britains figures and horses.

Battle scene and at first glance it could be any of the millions of black and white photographs taken during wartime. This diorama based on Red Beach Tarawa Atoll 13th November 1943, depicting the landing of the US Second Marine Division. Models are made of duron with some wood scenery.

The above diorama housed at the Imperial War Museum London showing the inspection by King George V and the Prince of Wales far left of a twelve inch howitzer on rail mountings in operation mode by the gun crew during the first world war in France.

HG Wells was also a collector of soldiers and wrote many subjects on the subject.  Floor Games for soldiers and was written in 1911.

And the Drummer played on into the night by the firelight. The above picture is of porcelain, made by Meissen about 1750-60 give and take a couple of years. Also Worcester and Dresden  produced soldiers just to name a few who made a number of these  figurine's into the 1900's.

The number of manufactures from the past to the present are mentioned within the pages of this book like Seyfried, Meherheine,, Kiel, Beck Kebbel and Staar, Scholtse, Britains, Crescent, J Hill.co, Marx, Model Toys, Merten, Elastolin, Ericksson & Winkler to name a few.  Dioramas by Fred Winkler, A Ping and Roger Berdou as just a few of the master modellers and soldier enthrusiasts that are mentioned between the covers of this 38 year old book.

There are a number of publishers of this book and the first addition was published in 1972 by Octopus Books Limited England. Universal Books distribution Australia and printed by Mandarin Publishers Limited Hong Kong.

Britains Ltd Guns and Artillery.

by GunnerJim

Some of the guns that I have in my collection.

From left to right: No 1201 Royal Artillery 18 pounder gun introduced into the Britains line in 1930. Next No 1292 Royal Artillery 6 inch howitzer introduced 1934.  Small gun No 1263 could be the 13 pounder. Last is the Confederate Artillery that came in a set with two confederate gunners No 2038 and 2037 for the Union set. introduction into Britains was before 1930 although this gun was made again from  1951 and re numbered 2057 and 2058.

Britain's 4.5 inch Howitzer No 1725. This rubber tyre wheeled gun was introduced in 1939 and was available until 1967. Early guns had brass elevating adjuster knob and later replaced with die-cast one.

Gun on the left has a home made brass elevating adjuster knob.

Britains modern artillery. British Anti-Tank Gun 9720 released 1960's and 1981

Left 105 mm Pack Howitzer No 9724 released in 1960's

Right German field Gun PAK 38 No 9732 released 1974

Two pounder Light Anti Aircraft gun No 1715. If  mounted on 4 wheeled trailer with swing out boom stabilizers it was No 1717 available from 1939-40 and 1946 to 1962,

In travelling position.

Set up for firing position.

18 inch Heavy Howitzer on tractor wheels. No 1265. has realistic breach loading mechanism and ammunition and shell incorporating spring loaded that firers the shell when breach is close triggering the release.  Introduced about 1920 and had number changed to No 2107 in 1955.  Production stopped around 1980
Below older version white metal or tin  lead casting

Average play wear damage missing breach and the brackets plates.separating the trails and gun platform frame.  Tried to make my own using a plaster mould. Alas hot metal usually doesn't like plaster and the consequences is that the hot metal spewed out leaving a nice hole in one of the plates.

Above later version in Zalmac casting although looks the same but different breach and elevation bracket underneath is on the side instead of barrel recoil housing and the barrel slides out which is a separate casting. The older version has the barrel moulded into the recoil housing.

Below showing the underneath elevation and the early type breach.

 25 pounders.

1960,s 25 pounders No 9705  and the later version No 9704 released 1977.

Above 1960's 4.7 Naval Gun No 970

On the left is No Rd 388707  first produced in the 1900's as the word Depose is written on the barrel indicating registration for sale and manufacture in France. This gun also had the enclosed trail covering the metal flat spring. In 1915 Patent was taken out and the new boxed trail had left the flat spring opened. Also on the side of the box trail one can see the Patent date.  The in 1933 it was given a set number which included a naval officer  No 1264

 Collection of 155 mm guns No 2064 first introduced in 1953 and continued well into the 1966's

Some of these I have had to repair and make some spare breaches.

25 pounder Howitzer QF Gun.

by GunnerJim

One of the most popular die-cast toy artillery hardware made during the 1950's and well into the 1970's was the 25 Pounder (pdr) Howitzer  Gun.   That had the capability of firing anything from matchsticks or manufactured envisaged shells that were initially provided with the toy by the manufacturer either made of lead or plastic included in the box or sold separately.

Crescent, Britains, Lone Star-DCMT, Benbros, Corgi and Dinky followed by Matchbox were the main manufactures within England, that endeavored to supply the world with these type of pull back spring loading apparatus, shooting toy missiles around the battlefield for children of all ages to enjoy.

Crescent really did capture the natural features of the 25 pdr howitzer developed during the Second World War,  by having the turntable gun platform and included more detail on the protective shield and box trail than their competitors.

In comparison on the left in the above picture, Dinky also reproduced a very striking resemblance with their toy 25 pdr, although Dinky, never included any firing mechanism due to the small scale I suppose.  In the middle is the Modern Military Series by Britains, while on the right is the Crescent 25 pounder.

The two versions by Britains.

Above is the Lone Star on the left. DCMT-Lone Star in the middle while the Benbros is on the right.  Lone Star and Benbros also made their 25 pounder with waggon type wheels as well as the rubber types.

Very similar in design with box trail and the seating on each gun for the layer and breach loader on each side of the box trail has been included in these toys.  Nearly identical, although with close inspection one can see slight differences with the individual modelling of these toys by their parent owners.

DCMT and Britains showing the difference in design of the box trail

Dinky 25 pounder was either sold separate or in a complete set.

Matchbox Super Kings No 116 and Corgi 25 pounder also came in a set complete with limber and Morris Quad for Corgi. Matchbox with a modern design tractor.

Eventhough Matchbox could represent any number of designed guns from that futuristic period, although one can only guess it was designed on the principles of the 25 pounder.

The Matchbox 1-75 series included the look alike 25 pounder No 32.

How we age with time. This picture was taken about 15 years ago at Dimboola.  Now the gray hairs have taken over.

Notice that the 25 pounder hasn't got the muzzle break on the barrel end. The muzzle break was added on the end of the barrel in the 1950's.

One thing is for sure any visitor to the land down under, would often bump into the 25 pounder in museums, memorial parks and often found in front of the Returned and Service League Sub-branches around Australia.