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BlueBelle

Libya, Tripolitania, vehicles, barracks 1950s to 1966

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You'd have thought the regimental signals officer would have known his stuff.....or maybe not?

 

I'll ask him! :laugh::laugh::laugh:

I've had my orders though and, I have to wait until after he's finished his preparations for the Cambrai celebrations and the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Tank Regiment before I'm allowed to 'mine him for information, recollections and photos! I can hardly wait!

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I second that: I have nothing to contribute but most interested regards TED

 

Stay tuned TED, thanks! :-)

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Not sure its a 19 on the end of that, its hard to tell from the quality of the photo but that looks to me like a larkspur ATU at the top of the mast, although it would be very difficult to tune in that position, but it may have been an improvisation to increase the range? Again difficult to be certain but it has the feel of a Larkspur headset on the vehicle commander.

The mast may be the interlocking sectional type fitted to the sides of K9s, not sure what its proper designation is.

 

Lizzie, the first light stone layer that was applied to my K9 was definitely gloss, I'm still looking for the "H" though :laugh:

 

PT

Now there's food for thought, Armoured Farmer. Larkspur! Would Larkspur have been installed in 'ancient' Mk1 ARVs, vehicles which had already been superceded by the ARV Mk2? Maybe. I know the Signals Officer 6RTR who 'put up' that antenna so I shall ask lots of questions of him in due course, hoping to get clarification.

You really must try harder to find your H .... it was perhaps 'glossed over' :laugh:

I think we've mentioned your Light Stone K9 before, I hope you finish it in the same!

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I can't help agreeing with Clive on this one -- I reckon this is the most interesting thread on HMVF at the moment!

I like you, Scott :-)

Thank you. Stay tuned for more lovely sand-coloured stuff.

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Well, let's have a 'Clive Truck' photo and a bit of history. I hope you like this.

First though, I am indebted to Peter Goddard 2RTR for presenting me with the loan of his Libya photo albums and tranparency collection. Thank you Peter. I have much to scan (several hundred) and learn from what I see but let's start here with this wonderful shot of a Humber 1T APC belonging to a great regiment, the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers who were based in Medenine Barracks, Tripoli Aug 1958 to Oct 1961. Faugh-a-Ballagh.

This vehicle and others like it were used as firing crew shelters during the Malkara heat trials of Jun-Jul 1961 in the Libyan desert some distance south of Tripoli. 2RTR also supplied logistical support from Homs, including a Saladin, but more of that another time. The Hornets fired off six missiles at two hard targets, a Dingo and a Halftrack from the 'dump' at 595 Ord Depot, Kassala Barracks, Tajoura. I have photos of these too.

Something about the photo aspect, the shadows too, make me think Peter took this photo from atop his Saladin.

Note the Infantry (HQ) Arm of Service flash, the white 87 on a green rectangle and the rather crudely painted/stencilled/non-conformative sticky sticker for the Formation flash .... far to much blue sea under the hull of the Barbary Dhow!

Why did these Humbers have canvas stretched over the body roof and sides?

Can you see someone peeping out?

'WO 341/61 Malkara Weapon System - Hot Climatic Trials in Tripoli June-July 1961' is an illuminating document indeed.

Photo by Peter Goddard 2RTR

 

Edited by BlueBelle

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Oh wow. I have heard it said the canvas is to downgrade the appearance so it doesn't look like an armoured vehicle, which is complete nonsense! The canvas is there stretched over rails around the roof edges to form a layer of air to help reduce heat transfer to the crew.

 

More comprehensive answer to follow.

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'WO 341/61 Malkara Weapon System - Hot Climatic Trials in Tripoli June-July 1961' is an illuminating document indeed.

You bet, so hope there will be generous extracts in the book. I note that the trial was the GW Wing RAC & FVRDE hot whether trials, but was it given a name? I know that Ex Starlight was exactly a year before.

 

I am not sure which of these two it was but I did have three (I think) reels of 8mm cine of these firings. The problem was that they had not been developed. They were taken by Capt Peter Russel (RIP) who became Cyclops EME he gave me a lot of his archives & stuff, including these films. For several years I tried to find somewhere that could process them, Peter did try in the USA but it seemed there could have been as many as 80 different ways that film should be processed & trial & error would have to undertaken so the odds were not good & it was going to run into thousands for a company to set a processing system so in despair I gave them back to Peter. Sadly he died shortly afterwards & the films & other bits promised did not come my way so I assume they were chucked out, probably after the cans being opened to see inside!

 

He did leave me a lot of photos & other stuff.

 

DSC00100 (Medium).JPG

 

In that report is there much on Vigilant? I have a special interest in that too, I used to have a fair collection of that stuff, including the ill-fated Clevite launcher for the USMC. In Ex Triplex West 1963, I note that Carver favoured Vigilant over Malkara. It is always interesting hearing the views of the contractor & user. I was in contact with a salesman for Vigilant from Vickers Armstrong & Col Val Cockle (RIP) who went on to form 20 Trials Unit who was responsible for rejecting Vigilant twice!

 

Similarly I have been in contact many Malkara users but also Fairey/BAC people. You get different takes on things eg Malkara 'jinxed & get static shocks touching the controller' yet this was shown by the contractor in the field to be the fact that it got damn hot very quickly in the sun.

 

Pig commentary to follow.

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The Pigs, at first I thought the ERM was 10 BK 82 but it can't be that as it was a GS, so I think it is 13 BK 82.

 

FV1611 chassis number 21382, the engine number was 6361, sold at Ruddington OSDC on 5/8/69

 

I have no pictures of it although I have the two before. (Although 13 BK 81 is restored it poses as 03 BK 41 to assume an identity of an ambulance, but there is more to a Pig ambulance that painting Red Crosses on it!)

 

Anyway 13 BK 82 was an APC, the other Pig is not FFR but could be FFW but probably an APC.

 

Not enough close detail to determine if they are products of Sankey or ROF.

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Something very interesting I have just noticed on the rear side hatches of the Pigs.

 

Along with other armoured vehicles of the time the interior was bare metal covered with non-burning aluminium 'paint'. The exception was that side hatches would be painted the colour of the basic vehicle & I note this has been done on the side door hatches. However someone has given thought to this & realised light stone insides of the rear side flaps would contrast badly with the green canvas, so very sensibly they have been painted in a dark colour.

 

In fact it is quite unusual to see a desert painted Pig actually with a roof canvas, which was after all what it was intended for. Some Pigs in BAOR seemed to use the canvas as a handy storage pouch.

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Oh wow. I have heard it said the canvas is to downgrade the appearance so it doesn't look like an armoured vehicle, which is complete nonsense! The canvas is there stretched over rails around the roof edges to form a layer of air to help reduce heat transfer to the crew.

 

More comprehensive answer to follow.

 

Why though, not a sand-coloured canvas, rather than the stark, dark green? I'm right too, about the dark green canvas on Tripolitania trucks et al, as my colour photos bear out and, that there was a sand-coloured canvas tilt in use too, again, I have the proof and as not too far back, asked my dear viewer to take note of 'tilt colours' for ..... discussion, perhaps. Of course, other colours were available too, erm, brownish/olive coloured ones!

So much for the concept of camouflage 'on the move' in the desert, unless you stopped and cammed-up under your special desert cam-nets and scrim etc. (those sausage roll things draped over the tops of armour, trucks et al). Oh, and that's where the round fish-frying basket apparatus came into its own, you know the thing, hooked onto the side of tank and armoured car turrets (only of use too, if you had some poles, no, not for fishing!).

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The Pigs, at first I thought the ERM was 10 BK 82 but it can't be that as it was a GS, so I think it is 13 BK 82.

 

FV1611 chassis number 21382, the engine number was 6361, sold at Ruddington OSDC on 5/8/69

 

I have no pictures of it although I have the two before. (Although 13 BK 81 is restored it poses as 03 BK 41 to assume an identity of an ambulance, but there is more to a Pig ambulance that painting Red Crosses on it!)

 

Anyway 13 BK 82 was an APC, the other Pig is not FFR but could be FFW but probably an APC.

 

Not enough close detail to determine if they are products of Sankey or ROF.

The photo file name is (I think) 13BK82. The photo shows that VRN too. What does 'ERM' mean?

Looking from the outside, Clive, how does one determine who made the vehicle? The photo 'blows up' quite nicely (how this time, I know not) to reveal quite a lot of detail, including what I've since determined is something sticky all along the bottom edge of the photo which seems to look like mud or scuffing on the APC in our photo on here! :red: Some photo cleaning required, before submitting for any Photoshop touch-ups prior to use in publications. Looks good though!

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Something very interesting I have just noticed on the rear side hatches of the Pigs.

 

Along with other armoured vehicles of the time the interior was bare metal covered with non-burning aluminium 'paint'. The exception was that side hatches would be painted the colour of the basic vehicle & I note this has been done on the side door hatches. However someone has given thought to this & realised light stone insides of the rear side flaps would contrast badly with the green canvas, so very sensibly they have been painted in a dark colour.

 

In fact it is quite unusual to see a desert painted Pig actually with a roof canvas, which was after all what it was intended for. Some Pigs in BAOR seemed to use the canvas as a handy storage pouch.

Well spotted! Though why bother painting them bits a dark colour when, in the closed position, the outers are sand-coloured againt the 'stark dark green' of the canvas? Camouflaged, not.

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Why though, not a sand-coloured canvas, rather than the stark, dark green?

 

Available in any colour provided you want green. Given that the purpose of the tilt was provide some thermal insulation it might seem curious not to have a stone coloured version but I think the mindset was still Malaya for which the FV1609 was originally conceived & all Pigs had a machete holder.

 

This lack of thought about stone continued. I have 18 Cmd Wksps minutes for the design of FV1624 (Malkara system repair). It was queried that the truck had no heater, but it was pointed out that the expected theatre of use it would be hot enough. Large fold out tent workshops were provided for this truck complete with sand/dust proof flooring. No they were not sand coloured but small pattern green/black disruptive, I believe it was decided later trucks (2) were to have more appropriate tentage.

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The photo file name is (I think) 13BK82. The photo shows that VRN too. What does 'ERM' mean?

Looking from the outside, Clive, how does one determine who made the vehicle? The photo 'blows up' quite nicely (how this time, I know not) to reveal quite a lot of detail, including what I've since determined is something sticky all along the bottom edge of the photo which seems to look like mud or scuffing on the APC in our photo on here! :red: Some photo cleaning required, before submitting for any Photoshop touch-ups prior to use in publications. Looks good though!

 

ERM = Equipment Registration Mark so could be vehicle, trailer, concrete mixer, generator

 

Ah I thought you were going to ask how I knew the other one that has an antenna mount is not FFR nor FFW.

 

Where the profile of the Pig changes from parallel to tapered towards the doors will indicate the maker that is determined by the type of vertical bar used.

 

Early Sankey ones have rather strange catches on the side flaps. Might be difficult to see but the one furthest on the right might be best.

 

If I can have a close up of the front locker hasp I can tell you whether it was OEM or a replacement that had an improvement.

 

Humber 1T APC 13BK82 of RIF on Malkara trials Jun-Jul 1961 Tripolitania-b-Photo by Peter Goddard.jpg

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Well spotted! Though why bother painting them bits a dark colour when, in the closed position, the outers are sand-coloured againt the 'stark dark green' of the canvas? Camouflaged, not.

 

But on a hot day they are not likely to be closed. The only time they might be closed would be after dark then they might not be visible anyway?

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But on a hot day they are not likely to be closed. The only time they might be closed would be after dark then they might not be visible anyway?

Now my head is hurting, time for G&T with the mossies on the deck. You'd think a civilised country like Canada would have done something about these pests that treat me as their sole food source :mad:Monsters here, worse than where I lived and worked in Brunei, and, there were none in Homs where I lived as a child.

I'm trying again Clive, now if the vision/vent flaps are down/open, a dark hole with a dark surround (the tilt) is presented so, yes, paint the inner face of the open/down flaps a dark colour to add to the high visibility dark tilt out of place on a sand-coloured 'truck' though surely better to have 'disrupted' the 'truck-like appearance' by painting those inner faces a sand colour (maybe sticking anti-spall material on, as that's a sand-colour?) or leaving them aluminium-silverish in tune with the remainder of the interior. A shiny give away, perhaps, though I really think not. What? A chap designed the interior colour scheme? Desert Pink would have been nice! Oh, there's no anti-spall material in a Humber 1T APC ..... or is there?

I may look at this aspect again when imbibition of the said liquid has had the required effect, though I forgive you, dear viewer, for presuming that the effect has already occurred. :laugh:

Ok, I won't revisit!

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(maybe sticking anti-spall material on, as that's a sand-colour?)
Not necessarily I bought a large roll of this Trakmark from Withams 25 years ago that was maroon, although the yachting industry made use of several different colours. But I know the beige shade you mean, I have roll of that. It will withstand 200 deg C without fuming or melting just goes hard & crusty & black, so the designation on it of "flameproof" is valid.

 

Oh, there's no anti-spall material in a Humber 1T APC ..... or is there?
Not on a Mk 1 but some was provided on Mk 2.

 

Unfortunately foam underneath melts & burns with toxic fumes at relatively low temperatures. There was an article HMVF but it has gawn but the original is on my site here: http://www.shorlandsite.com/images/Shorlands,%20Humbers,%20Fire%20&%20Trakmark%20Article%202016-v2.pdf

 

I hope your airborne attack eases up & you can return to normal service soon.

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fv1609 said:
You bet, so hope there will be generous extracts in the book. I note that the trial was the GW Wing RAC & FVRDE hot whether trials, but was it given a name? I know that Ex Starlight was exactly a year before.

 

I am not sure which of these two it was but I did have three (I think) reels of 8mm cine of these firings. The problem was that they had not been developed. They were taken by Capt Peter Russel (RIP) who became Cyclops EME he gave me a lot of his archives & stuff, including these films.

 

He did leave me a lot of photos & other stuff.

 

In that report is there much on Vigilant? I have a special interest in that too, I used to have a fair collection of that stuff, including the ill-fated Clevite launcher for the USMC.

 

Extracts? Generous? Yes, of course, as it's ... Tripolitania! Odd how Malkara and Hornet per se do not float my boat except for the Tripolitania and of course, the 2RTR connections. I knew which units were involved with trials and I only bought the report (TNA sent the 40+ pages as jpegs which made reading continuation labourious until I saved each page again as a Pdf and then combined them into one 'readable' document, ho hum) to confirm what I thought I knew already! Pricey and thorough research! No mention of any other missile systems.

The 1961 trials in Tripolitania did not have an exercise name.

 

Background: In March 1960, Exercise Starlight tested the RAF’s ability to supply an advancing (’little’ army, my view) army solely by air. During the exercise twelve Beverley aircraft of 47 and 53 Squadrons from RAF Abingdon undertook 194 sorties transporting 3,329 Guardsmen and 272 RAF personnel, 370 vehicles, 272 trailers, 40 artillery pieces and 1,546,5591b of freight from El Adem to an airhead at Tmimi. Pioneers and Whirlwinds then provided the troops with landed supplies, followed by the Beverleys undertaking air drops (unverified). 2RTR Ajax out of D’Aosta Barracks were ‘enemy’ (figures from web sources). No Malkara trials on that occasion. There surely were more ‘enemy’ than just one squadron from 2RTR? As it’s Cyrenaica, I’ve not bothered researching!

 

September - October 1963 Exercise Triplex West

Exercise ‘Triplex West’ out of El Adem (Tobruk) and into the Libyan desert was for the British the biggest post-war deployment operation, utilising the Strategic Reserve’s 3rd Division under the command of Major General Carver. Malkara was ‘tried out’ there by Cyclops 2RTR who came out from Tidworth with their missile systems and support vehicles (a few ‘duds’ and ‘misses’ though thereafter ‘every one a ‘hit’ – so says The Tank for the period). I take it that by then, Malkara was fully operational.

 

 

Please have a look here for an interesting a little Libya/Vigilant/Malkara read, if one has not seen it already. It’s a big report so perform a Control F in the open document and type in ‘Triplex’ to the search box.

http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1964/mar/05/vote-a-number-of-land-forces

 

It's such a shame about the cine films and other documentation being 'lost', as is indeed, the passing of Peter Russell (RIP). Maybe his family still have them and would, at some point after some healing from their loss, welcome the opportunity to hand the stuff on to a friend of his (you) and/or an interested party (you)?

 

Please do tell me how you know the differences over the Humber APC FFW-FFR or 'no radio at all' vehicles!

My original photo should have blown up nicely for you to reveal that front locker clasp/catch affair, it does on the web page here. So I've attached a bigger picture of that area, if it helps to tell us more about that particular vehicle and others like it.

For the door pillar (I do like your red and green rectangles) I'll have to try some photoshopping to see if anything useful is revealed (the sticky stuff has now been removed from the photo).

 

Edited by BlueBelle

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Thank you for the blow up of the locker but it is the hasp I need to see to determine the ratio of central hasp hinge piece to the side supports. Originally 1/3 1/3 1/3 but replaced by 1/4 1/2 1/4 thereby increasing the strength of the hasp.

 

As for the antenna mounts all Pigs have 3 antenna mounts, two near-side, one off-side front irrespective of whether it was FV1611 ie APC or FV1613 Ambulance with 12A generator or FV1612 FFW with 25A generator. FV1612 FFW converted to FFR had an extra antenna mount on off-side rear, this was locally made & sometimes differed slightly from the other three.

 

Incidentally to contradict books & many online sources Hornets were NOT modified Pigs, in fact they were built on the chassis of FV1601 trucks that were not even FFW.

 

Yes Hansard takes a lot wading through, my favourite quote is when they get to discuss "salad in armoured cars"

 

Regarding Triplex West the Robin McNish book "Iron Division, History of the 3rd Division" he records that Carver wanted the conspicuous Hornet/Malkara to be replaced by Vigilant. Although final Vigilant evaluation was, according to two sources, to take place in June 1964, but two different sources say it went into service in 1963.

 

The point of Malkara being fully operational is hard to say perhaps June/July 1964 in "Game Bird" or 24 August when FVRDE declared in Report FT/B60 that Hornets had high performance, reliability & systems compatibility ie vehicle control system & missile was proved.

 

But by November only 70% of Cyclops were parachute qualified. So I suppose 1965 1st Feb when the system was handed over to Para Sqn RAC or 3rd Feb when Sqn became part of 16 Para Brigade?

 

Although I'm a bit of an Orange William fan myself, as per my avatar.

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Thanks for the above Clive. I shall always look more closely at Humber 1T APCs now, if ever I come across one. I don't think I can find the hasp close-up for you, or any other hasp come to that. :-)

So much is yet to be written about those vehicles and their derivatives, as indeed there is about the holistic 'total' history of Hornet, Malkara and the soldiers, civilians and politicians involved. One day, perhaps you will do the honours? :laugh:

 

Staying on the Humber/Hornet/Malkara Tripolitania too, theme, here's the prototype Hornet launcher below, trialled in the desert 30 miles to the south of Homs, as per the official report Jun-Jul 1961 Tripolitania and, from The Tank. The last four of the VRN are BK83. You'll perhaps tell us the first two digits, please as the report omits the VRN. Notice not just the busy soldiers, but the civi boffins too, oh, and an officer in an official 'officer in charge pose' hoping someone knows what they're doing .. :laugh:

Photo by Peter Goddard 2RTR

 

Edited by BlueBelle

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Yes a comprehensive book would be a nice project. Col Val Cockle was undertaking this task as he was the Malkara Project Liaison Officer, a couple of his researchers (one ex-Fairey & the other ex-BAC) came to see the Hornet I had. One was involved in Orange William & the transition to Malkara, the other designed the elements of the separation kit & was on user trials). Sadly, Val died & the project was not completed but his papers I believe are at Shrivenham.

 

Although I have done articles in Pegasus & The Tank with an expansion of them in CC HMVF a whole book is a bit of a challenge in terms of time. But I did write the Hornet/Malkara chapter here, see post # 116

 

http://hmvf.co.uk/forumvb/showthread.php?14901-What-book-are-you-reading-at-the-moment/page12

 

 

I know Cyclops people feel their coverage in the book wasn’t as extensive as it might have been. Back to your photo that I’ve not seen before. This is 21BK83 Prototype P2 converted to Hornet in July 1961, FVRDE Wing No. 6092 & struck off 12/2/71.

 

WN 6093.jpg

 

There are a large number of characteristics to show it was a prototype.

 

Humber Hornet - - BK83 prototype on Hornet-Malkara trials Jun-Jul 1961 Tripolitania-b-Photo A.jpg

 

A – Early tow hitch

B - Rear exhaust

C – No large step & storage locker (Tea, brewing, equipment – I am told!)

D – Mount for range finder

E – Difficult to see but seems to have no jerrycan holder which at this stage is other side

F – No rubber shroud for controller’s sight

G – No mount for GPMG (Later provided at a cost of £22,000 per vehicle!!)

H – No holder for range finder

I – No fan cowl as still using the non-transistorised power unit for GCU, so no room for fan

J – No latching clamps to steady launcher arm laterally when down. Puts strain on yaw ram.

K – Smoke dischargers not yet fitted, you should be able to the the top of them.

 

It looks as if the Hornet was undergoing its daily tests.

 

Item L is the FCTB (Firing Circuit Test Box) that mounts on the launcher arm & the two multi-way plugs to engage the firing circuits.

 

Item M is hard to make out but it most likely is the LAAT (Launcher Arm Alignment Telescope FV 483015) although that has to be fitted to the side of a missile & may have just been left there hanging on its bungee?

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FCTB (Firing Circuit Test Box) was used as Mystery Object No. 7

 

DSC07388.jpg

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Although I have done articles in Pegasus & The Tank with an expansion of them in CC HMVF a whole book is a bit of a challenge in terms of time. But I did write the Hornet/Malkara chapter here, see post # 116

http://hmvf.co.uk/forumvb/showthread.php?14901-What-book-are-you-reading-at-the-moment/page12

 

I know Cyclops people feel their coverage in the book wasn’t as extensive as it might have been. Back to your photo that I’ve not seen before. This is 21BK83 Prototype P2 converted to Hornet in July 1961, FVRDE Wing No. 6092 & struck off 12/2/71.

 

attachment.php?attachmentid=126113&stc=1

 

There are a large number of characteristics to show it was a prototype.

 

attachment.php?attachmentid=126115&stc=1

 

A – Early tow hitch

B - Rear exhaust

C – No large step & storage locker (Tea, brewing, equipment – I am told!)

D – Mount for range finder

E – Difficult to see but seems to have no jerrycan holder which at this stage is other side

F – No rubber shroud for controller’s sight

G – No mount for GPMG (Later provided at a cost of £22,000 per vehicle!!)

H – No holder for range finder

I – No fan cowl as still using the non-transistorised power unit for GCU, so no room for fan

J – No latching clamps to steady launcher arm laterally when down. Puts strain on yaw ram.

K – Smoke dischargers not yet fitted, you should be able to the the top of them.

It looks as if the Hornet was undergoing its daily tests.

Item L is the FCTB (Firing Circuit Test Box) that mounts on the launcher arm & the two multi-way plugs to engage the firing circuits.

Item M is hard to make out but it most likely is the LAAT (Launcher Arm Alignment Telescope FV 483015) although that has to be fitted to the side of a missile & may have just been left there hanging on its bungee?

 

Thanks for going to the trouble of marking up 21BK83 Prototype P2 Hornet as you've done Clive, truly illuminating and appreciated. :-) Just a pity there wasn't a little more clarity with my photo of it in the desert.

A few more photos to come, associated with the 1961 trials, though not of the Hornet.

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What happened there? I just 'replied with quote' and Clive's Hornet markup and his photo appear 'huge' now! :laugh:

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3RHA in Homs, Libya are in my mind for some reason. Oh, it's something to do with a chap on here who's restoring his Scammell Explorer, 94BD67, which I had a peek at and, saw Light Stone paint on the jib. Then I realised I 'knew' that VRN and after a little delve into the files I came up with this lovely photo of said Scammell, resplendent in 'polished' Light Stone on an Admin Parade with the LAD REME of 3RHA, 25 Armd Bde in Homs in 1956. All Scammell Explorers should be painted so :-D

Look at those other sand-coloured vehicles too, ab fab! Pristine black gun planks on the ARV MK1. 'Never seen before' stowage baskets on the Halftrack! Oh, the photo too, 'never shown before'! :)

Would have been early 1956, still 'cold', hence the BDs and, no H markings on the vehicles as preparation for the Suez debacle which they weren't allowed to go to afterall.

Photo by Max Warwick REME

 

Edited by BlueBelle

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