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LarryH57

RAF Vehicle Identity Required

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I'm trying to identify this truck in the background near a AW Whitley and know whether it is an RAF vehicle or some kind of impressed civi vehicle like removal van. It seems to have a swing out door at the rear, or is that a box?

Also it seems to me that it is camouflaged with white painted round the mudguards, which is quite rare for an RAF camouflaged truck.

Your thoughts?

 

Unknown Van.jpg

Edited by LarryH57
Check why photo wasn't showing!

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I would think too tall, maybe a mobile canteen with rear opening doors- there appears to be a lift up portion to the rear opening ??? TED

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No, i think that "lift up" part is the engine of the Whitley.

Because of the curve of the rear body, i can't decide if that is in fact a door, or if it is another vehicle behind.

But i would still go with Ted, it's probably a NAAFI wagon.

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 Yep see what you mean about the engine- right time for a mug of tea and a meat pasty- always my favorite off the NAAFI wagon !! TED

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Of course, i could be wrong! It just seems about the right distance out from the fuselage.

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No I think you are right;  so many different vehicles converted to tea wagons, many were camo painted in the early days although this was against the defence of the realm act ! TED

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Ok some additional info - the photo comes from Christchurch airfield which at the time was occupied by the SDF that was involved in radar trials for TRE at Worth Matravers; as such aircraft were crewed with a minimum of crew members and because of the small size of the strip during 1940-41, aircraft were parked within walking distance so a crew bus would have been a luxury. However as civilian boffins were always on site adding aerials or chopping holes in the aircraft before adding a new experimental radar, I guess its a vehicle used by them. It wasn't uncommon for RAF fitters to work with civilians so any vehicle that was on hand to take fragile experimental radar sets to aircraft got used, even civi cars. In my opinion its too near to the Whitley to be a NAAFI van and more likely reversed in between the wing and the tail to access the door on the port side.

As for the vehicle it looks to have the side of the engine cover removed in winter? Perhaps it was a clapped out old lorry that was always overheating! What is also unusual is that it has a kind of wrap around windscreen at the same level all the way round. As for the body if you cover up the engine and front wheel it has the same curves as a caravan, not that it is one with a lorry behind. The search goes on for the vehicle type!

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OK, time to sound like a raving loony, but....

After Larry's comment, i can't actually see a windscreen- just the side window. It might be just because it's a bad quality photo, but could it be a caravan with another vehicle parked behind with the bonnet peeking out? The "front" wheels are much larger than the "rear" wheels if it is a single vehicle which should narrow it down a lot.

If it's a caravan with another vehicle behind then the bonnet hasn't necessarily been removed but that vehicle behind is darker and/or in shadow.

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I don't think there is enough room for a lorry and a caravan parked between the wing and the tail; I think the smaller rear wheel is just an illusion. As for the windscreen you can sort of look through the side and out the front, thats why I thought it looked a bit like a window on a modern airliner!

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If you look over the left as you look at the Airman there is a partial sight of another Aircraft, not a AW Whitley but what a Hudson perhaps or HP Hampden  - I know it's not RAF vehicles but it is identification   

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I think that it is a caravan with a lorry parked behind it, if you enlarge the photo and look at the wheel arches they are tapered towards the lorry bonnet end, suggesting that the lorry bonnet is at the back of the caravan.

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Is it possible that the vehicle behind is a tractor? that would explain the lack of bonnet side panels and also a tractor may take up far less room than a lorry.

PT

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I'm not convinced that the front end is a DB Tractor as it appears to have a mudguard. Also if that is a caravan isn't the wheel supposed to be centrally placed to give a better centre of gravity. 

Incidentally I have somewhere the civilian registrations of the RAF vehicles from this unit, listed in a movement order. I wonder if Bryan (RAFMT) knows whether the RAFM can say what the vehicles are from their registrations.

Perhaps there is another archive that lists them?

 

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Looking at the photo I posted it seems there is a row of small windows along the side of the body, very much like the photo in this link, so I am inclined to think it is an impressed civi horsebox similar to this!

Im20100904DSF-Be-NEV231.jpg

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Quote: "Looking at the photo I posted it seems there is a row of small windows along the side of the body, very much like the photo in this link, so I am inclined to think it is an impressed civi horsebox similar to this!"

 

I think you are on the right lines.  I spent an hour or so yesterday trawling through books of 1930s lorries and buses and the closest I could come up with were horseboxes.  It seems to me that, whatever it is, it is pantechnicon-sized - too big to be a caravan and I am sure both visible wheels are from the same vehicle, so it does have quite a high body above the cab.  This matches horseboxes, buses and furniture vans.  But, for a furniture van the back should really be vertical and this one isn't, suggesting coachbuilding - which goes towards buses, but the wheelbase looks too short unless it's a single-decker, in which case the body is then too high.  Horseboxes were often owned by the wealthy (or railway companies) who would be most likely to have coachbuilt bodies and, as your picture shows, bodywork over the cab.  So that's where my money goes.

10 68

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At the end of the day, identification aside, if this is one of the Special Duties Flights, it's very unlikely to be an RAF vehicle. The SDFs were RAF aircraft and Aircrew lent to the TRE and it would have been their specialists who dealt with the equipment aboard the airframes.

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There was an Austin 6x4 version of the crew bus the same as the Dodge VK62B.  While I can't find a photo, the loadbed of a K6 looks higher, which might account for the difference in hieght.

 

Edit:nope, not enough wheels.

Edited by Lauren Child

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I've changed my mind about the rear, i think that that is an upwards hinged door; the engine for the Whitley is more inline with the vertical tail surface. But the "block" to the rear of the vehicle is likely something coming out from inside rather than a door as there is no gap between the object and the curve of the vehicle's rear near the roof.

As an aside and to give a better impression of size, the top of the rear turret of the Whitley wasn't very high! 

P020222.jpg

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18 minutes ago, RAFMT said:

I've changed my mind about the rear, i think that that is an upwards hinged door; the engine for the Whitley is more inline with the vertical tail surface.

I think you are right a quick scan of the internet suggests that the engine cowling of a Whitley does not appear above the wing from this angle, just the prop blades. Also horse boxes often have expanding folding "gates" that extend to the side of the ramp, perhaps these have been covered to form a sort of screen, either for weather protection or security. With the ramp propped up at is end to keep it level, the appearance would be very similar to the photo.

PT

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So we have come a full circle and are back to the lift up section of door at the back,  still thinking NAAFI or similar or an impressed vehicle . Definitely not an Austin crew bus,  these came along quite late in the war. I don't have an RAF Austin crewbus shot on my pc.   in the meantime here is an RN one converted into a mobile radar workshop.   it gives an idea of its length v height and general silhouette.  TED

airborneradarmaintenance.jpg

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As i said before, as this is an SDF, i'd be very surprised if it wasn't a TRE vehicle for transporting/maintaining the gizmos.

Also as a rough calculation, rounding the turret height up to 6 foot, gives a rough vehicle height of 8-9ft.

Larry, is there a chance of getting a higher resolution scan of the image? Just so that it doesn't pixelate  quite so soon when zooming in.

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