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Ian43

Mystery RAF vehicle marking

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Hello Chaps, I have been trying to find out what the 49-41 markings are on this RAF Commer. As I understand it the RAF vehicle markings usually consist of the Command letter followed by the Group number. I have been told that the photo is of 49 MU taken around 1940-41 and I would have expected the marking for them to be M/43(Maintenance Command/43Group). I have been in contact with the RAF Museum but they are unable to identify it. Hopefully someone out there can explain what these markings represent. Over to you guys!GetAttachment.jpg

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Economy version of a bridge plate.

 

49 ton total weight, of which 41 ton can be the trailer plus load, suggesting the tractor has a net weight of 8 tons

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Economy version of a bridge plate.

 

49 ton total weight, of which 41 ton can be the trailer plus load, suggesting the tractor has a net weight of 8 tons

 

Its a Commer with a 4.1 litre side valve !! No way is that an indicated weight, doubt it would last long. Although it looks like a bridge classification, but would be on a yellow disc if it was.

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Sorry Guys,the picture wasn't that clear but there is a bridge Plate below this marking which displays 9 over 2 which is correct for a Commer Q2 and a Queen Mary trailer. Hopefully this picture is better!

123.jpg

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Ah well. wrong again

 

Any idea what the load was?

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It may well be its Unit Fleet number; MT control had a tag like an ID tag with a number for every vehicle; a board would reflect every task there would be a hook or hooks every vehicle on the task would have its tag put against that task -- or a similar setup, the MT controller would say to driver take 47 on this run all much easier than reciting reg numbers.

My money is that this rig is Flt No 49 and 41 - The fleet number was normally in the top nearside corner of the windscreen. It seemed to be normally practise to keep rigs with TASKER couplings coupled together as much as possible.

I could be wrong on this but its the only scenario I can think of ??

TED

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Thanks for your comments. The load on the Queen Mary is a Spitfire. Ted, I think that you might be on the right track with your explanation. It could well be that this was how 49MU chose to display their fleet numbers and as they were responsible for Aircraft Salvage across the South of England during this period of hostilities they would've had a large fleet to be able to cope with the demand. Ian.

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It's later than 1940/41 if it has a bridging plate, they weren't enshrined in the orders until Feb 1944, probably introduced in command orders a little earlier.

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On further inspection, I'm almost certain the aircraft on the trailer is not a Spitfire as the fuselage is too rounded. The Spitfires cross section at the firewall was more flat sided

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On the issue of the Bridge Plate, i was told the same thing by the RAF Museum that they came about during 1944 so I questioned the source of the photo and he said that it had been given to him by someone who served with 49MU but only between 1940-41.He also suggested that the tunics gave away the date but i'm no expert so I can't really comment on that. On the question of the load, I have a published copy of this photo which lists the aircraft as a Spitfire and from my own observations the fuselage does appear to be rounded but I think that this is due to the angle the photo was taken at and that the wings have been removed showing a profile that we don't usually see. A Spitfire's fuselage did appear to flatten off on the sides but this was mainly down to the fillets covering the wing roots. Also looking at the shape of the wing along side it on the trailer it certainly appears to have that lovely elliptical shape about it.

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The reason the museum say 44 for the bridge plates is I suspect because sept 44 is the issue date of the first edition of RAF MT regs to be published as a complete manual .

I have dozens of pictues of RAF vehicles bearing bridge plate some from 1939, It was initially for vehicles earmarked for the units going to France or had a fully mobile potential, but I have even noted airfield tractors at the same time carrying them and finished in camo paint schemes. I have attached a picture 49MU 1941 the toned down bridge plate can be seen fleet number is painted in the windscreen; I think this picture may have been passed to me by Les Freathy but to help with this discussion I have added it for you lads top see . I have also added a picture taken in 1940 at the balloon depot at RAF Hook ( later renamed Chessington) bridge plate clearly visible.

TED

Commer 8.jpg

rafcrossleyRcy 2.jpg

Edited by ted angus

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Regarding the bridge markings on the Commer, they are painted very inconspicuously and I think the answer may lay in a paragraph from the book Wheels of the RAF. to quote:

"At home stations, the RAF had little need to be conscious of bridge markings, but in the field, using roads that the Army had cleared, their vehicles had to correspond to Army regulations on this point"

 

If this photo was taken after the RAF introduced bridge markings prior to D-Day, then it would be on a yellow background, so it is likely to be prior to that date.

Edited by Richard Farrant
Ted posted while I was compiling this!

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The bridge plates were in full use with vehicles of the AASF of the BEF but i hadn't come across evidence of widespread use after that until AMO A143/44 which cancels the AM letters previously.

But i bow to my learned friend's experience and stand by his word.

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Regarding the bridge markings on the Commer, they are painted very inconspicuously and I think the answer may lay in a paragraph from the book Wheels of the RAF. to quote:

"At home stations, the RAF had little need to be conscious of bridge markings, but in the field, using roads that the Army had cleared, their vehicles had to correspond to Army regulations on this point"

 

If this photo was taken after the RAF introduced bridge markings prior to D-Day, then it would be on a yellow background, so it is likely to be prior to that date.

 

 

The Commer I posted at 49 MU is dated; When you come accross pictures with titles as that has they are applied by the photo section on production of the print using a special white ink. SWIN being abbreviation for the Unit producing the print ( not necesssarily the unit having taken the picture) 370 will be the task number in the photo section task register date brief description of the task subject.

The problem we have with research and those good folk at RAF M Hendon will often be frustrated by the fact that the core info on many of these subjects will not be in the museum but will either be with the Ar Historical Branch MoD or more likely destroyed in a routine and regular document cull many years ago at unit, station, group and command level. All our orders for painting & markings for both Gulf War 1 & 2 came to unit level as a task by signal due to their urgency, the instructions were never followed up by a DCI ( Defence council instruction )or later equivalent or by inclusion in a formal manual known as APs (Air Publication)s in the RAF. I would expect in WW2 that many of these instructions would be issued by telex or letter- both of which are the types of documents that are destroyed when files are regularly reviewed and culled. So we may never know the complete picture on the adoption of such markings, camo schemes etc etc as the initiating correspondence may be long gone and in the museums such as Hendon those good folk can only go by what they have in their archive.

TED

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Ted, Thank you once again for your contribution on this subject. Just out of interest do you know what colour the toned down bridge plate may have been? Bit of a strange question this next one but please bear with me! The tyres fitted to the Commer in Ted's photo, does anyone know what they are? I have seen this style on other RAF vehicles,many of the AEC Matador fuel bowsers had a similar chevron style tread instead of the usual bar type fitted to a lot of other military vehicles.

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Ted, Thank you once again for your contribution on this subject. Just out of interest do you know what colour the toned down bridge plate may have been? Bit of a strange question this next one but please bear with me! The tyres fitted to the Commer in Ted's photo, does anyone know what they are? I have seen this style on other RAF vehicles,many of the AEC Matador fuel bowsers had a similar chevron style tread instead of the usual bar type fitted to a lot of other military vehicles.

I would guess the same camo base colour as the rest of the vehicle, with the info stencilled on in black ??

 

Wally has saved me getting the book re the tyres

 

TED

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The problem we have with research and those good folk at RAF M Hendon will often be frustrated by the fact that the core info on many of these subjects will not be in the museum but will either be with the Ar Historical Branch MoD or more likely destroyed in a routine and regular document cull many years ago at unit, station, group and command level....... So we may never know the complete picture on the adoption of such markings, camo schemes etc etc as the initiating correspondence may be long gone and in the museums such as Hendon those good folk can only go by what they have in their archive.

TED

 

Very true. A contact in the RAF told me of only a few years ago he and a colleague were tasked with sorting the removal of a huge archive of WW2 period, and after, photos into a new filing system commonly known as 'Skip Mk1'. Where they went after that he didn't know for certain, but it was either incineration or landfill. Such a shame and so short sighted as I am sure there would be museums or other organisations who would have found room for some of them at least.

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