Since the earliest days modellers have sought to add greater detail and accuracy to their projects. Before the days of the major manufacturers, what are colloquially known as ‘Cottage Industries’ strove to fill these gaps in the market. Often driven by modellers themselves, these small specialist innovators worked to design, master and produce update sets to correct inaccuracies or omissions and to add greater refinement to the parts that are supplied in a basic kit. It would be fair to say that some of these companies have grown to become major players in their own right. However there are still those who recognise that as kits evolve, there are still areas that are overlooked by larger producers.
Recent years have seen the release of brand new Allied armour and vehicle kits, to compete with the regular flurry of German equipment, in all of its shapes and sizes, from early war tanks to the most obscure designs that were never produced; or only available as prototypes and mock-ups.One of the newer companies developing products for the new Allied armour kits is Inside the Armour, whose initial releases of interior detail sets and a complete set of British Maintenance tools, have been welcomed by those who build British armour.The most recent releases by Inside the Armour are designed to add smaller, but no less significant items to add further refinement to British equipment. The first of these sets that I will review are photo-etched ‘Pyrene’ placards for fire extinguishers.
Since the earliest tanks rumbled onto the muddy battlefields of the Great War, armoured soldiers have had to contend with the dread of fire breaking out, on or in their vehicle. This is not just because of the large quantities of fuel and ammunition that is carried, but the very thought of being trapped inside a burning vehicle with its limited options for escape, is reason enough for the terror that we have of being burned alive; trapped inside our armoured shell
History of Pyrene Fire Extinguishers
I believe it is valid to add a concise history of Pyrene fire extinguishers as in researching for this review, I found some very interesting facts about portable fire extinguishers.
In 200 BC the Roman Ctesibius of Alexandria is credited with the invention of the first fire pump, using oscillating pistons to pressurise a vessel that could produce a stream of water that could be directed at a fire.
During the Middle Ages a hand held fire extinguisher was developed. Nicknamed the ‘Squirt’, it worked on the syringe principle sucking up a quantity of water that was then directed at the source of a fire.
In 1819 the first of the true portable fire extinguishers was invented by Captain George Manby, comprising of a copper vessel containing 3 gallons of pearl ash (potassium carbonate) solution under compressed air pressure.
1907 An engineer from Scotland was unable to get anybody to back his ideas for a fire extinguisher in the UK and so took them to the USA. Initially his company was based in New York eventually becoming the Pyrene Company of Delaware.
In about 1912 Pyrene pioneered the carbon tetrachloride or CTC extinguisher. The CTC vaporised much like modern Carbon Dioxide extinguishers, controlling the flames by a combination of air exclusion and chemical reaction.
The actual extinguishers were portable, made of either brass or chrome and a simple hand pump was used to expel the CTC onto the fire. One problem that had to be recognised by the user was that CTC vapour is highly toxic; therefore using them could be more hazardous than the fire itself, particularly as when in contact with fire the CTC could chemically react with the heat and be converted into Phosgene gas, used during the Great War as a chemical weapon. Obviously this had to be something kept in mind by the user, in the enclosed space of an armoured fighting vehicle.
The extinguishers themselves were available in a variety of sizes, usually either 1 imperial pint or 1 imperial quart, but could be found in a capacity of 2 imperial gallons. One benefit of the containers being unpressurised, was that they could be simply refilled with a fresh charge of CTC, via a filling plug.
Although the Pyrene company name has now gone, they were taken over by Chubb & Sons in 1967, which have been trading as Chubb Fire Security Limited since 1971.
The placards arrive sealed inside a small Ziploc bag, with a printed label.
On opening the bag and removing the contents you are provided with a single brass fret containing 20 individual 1/35 scale Pyrene extinguisher placards. There are no instructions as none are required, although access to some of the myriad pictures of Pyrene extinguishers available by a simple internet search, will be useful in placing them correctly on the kit part, or indeed any of the available add-on ones.
Upon examining the placards under a magnifier, I will say that they best described as exquisite, being superb scale replicas of the placards that are so visible on the actual extinguishers. The Pyrene logo is perfectly rendered as is the layout of all of the other data, which would be impossible to read in this scale, but is represented and will look great once added to your model.
With all of the latest moulding techniques basic kit parts look good, but although perfectly shaped scale representations, additions such as these will add that little extra to any build, by adding a small but visible detail, to small components that draw the eye to particular areas like the turret of a tank. As fire extinguishers could be found painted or left in their basic brass, these offer the option of adding that extra to your build.
Highs: A very small, but perfect detail that will raise the accuracy of externally mounted fire extinguishers on more than one British/Allied Armour project.Lows: Forming them to the kit supplied part, will need to be carefully done to make them perfectly fit.Verdict: Highly Recommended.
About John Murcutt (jlmurc) FROM: ENGLAND - EAST ANGLIA, UNITED KINGDOM
A modeller since about the age of five. A number of years in the Royal Armoured Corps working on both Chieftain and the CVR[T] series did not manage to dent my love of all things armoured. I do build some aircraft and other distractions but get pulled back to German Vehicles due to the variation i...