War Gun is the gripping quasi-true story of how one weapon brought down the evil that was the Soviet Union. Despite the billions lavished on high-tech weaponry on both sides of the Iron Curtain, it was somewhat ironic that the collapse of the Communist Empire boiled down to a spotty-faced Kingo from Manchester toting the most magnificent firearm ever devised by the mind of man - the SLR.
Set in a twilight world of what ifs, War Gun looks at history from an alternative viewpoint – and one that is not that far from reality. It makes for a put downable read again and again.
Dateline: January 1985. Fulda Gap. Germany.
Corporal Smudge Smith of the King’s Regiment checked his breathing as the foresight rose and fell. Steady. It was difficult drawing anything more than a gasp through the S6 respirator clamped to his face since the NAIADs had started singing their dreadful tune several hours earlier. He’d seen the odd Soviet jet streak overhead – seemingly immune from the ineffectual salvoes of Rapier missiles fired by an equally ineffectual RAF Regiment battery nearby. But it was the deep rumble that unnerved him. He could feel it through the frozen ground he lay prostrate on – concealed in his defensive position with the rest of the rifle section. They were very thinly spread and they were on their own.
The rumble got louder as shapes started to manifest through the clouds of covering smoke fired by the advancing Soviet armoured column: two dozen T-72s, flanked by a couple of ZSU-23/4s providing mobile AAA cover and several BMPs following, with infantry in pursuit. ‘Steady lads! Watch your front.’ They had no anti-tank kit with them – they’d only been in Germany a week and AT Platoon - and all the Milan kit - was back at Saighton Camp, Chester, so it was down to thirty squaddies with small arms to halt the 3rd Shock Army.
The first T72 came within twenty metres of Smudge’s position and that was close enough. He steadied his breathing and squeezed the trigger sending a single round of 7.62 speeding down the barrel of his weapon and straight through the vision block of the leading tank which went into a violent slewing turn – the driver neutralised. The tank’s gunner panicked and fired the main armament which slammed into the side of a flanking ZSU, which in turn ground to a halt – its powered turret spiralling out of control.
The ZSU spat several thousand 23mm shells in all directions, rounds slamming into the other vehicles in the column. The other T72s started brewing up and the trailing BMPs were torn to shreds by the ZSU’s four heavy calibre cannons – the crew and mounted infantry spilling from their rears like human torches. Explosions flashed as vehicle after vehicle was transformed into an inferno – the ammunition cooking off in all directions and cutting down swathes of terrified Russian conscripts. Sagger missiles mounted on the BMP’s barrels cooked off and soared skywards taking out several low-flying Mi-24 Hind gunships which in turn pirouetted wildly spitting heavy calibre rounds and Spiral anti-tank missiles into the following Soviet armour and infantry. It was a rout.
Throwing down their arms, hundreds of Soviet troops turned and fled, screaming in terror at the bloody onslaught. Those that flung up their arms in surrender soon wished they hadn’t. Grinning madly, Smudge ripped off his sweaty respirator and screamed ‘Gun Group! Twenty metres. To your front. Surrendering enemy. Rap... id... FIRE!’
Thoroughly and impeccably researched, Clunge pulls no punches in this gripping Cold War account – albeit of something that never happened. Up there with other alternate histories such as Fatherland and Gen. Sir John Hackett’s The Third World War, War Gun will undoubtedly become a classic.
Inspirational – Legion Magazine
Clunge triumphs – Combat & Survival
Worthy of a medal – Pravda
Thorough and impeccably researched – Recognition Journal