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Hair Bear

Antar towing a rocket???

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This may go on a bit so bear with me.

Going through some old photos with my mum and she asked if I had any pictures of Antars. She lived not far from Aldershot and often spoke about seeing them. Anyway, after I found a couple she asked if I had any of an Antar towing the rocket? She said that apart from the Antars with tanks, there was a regular Antar seen in and around Crookham in the 1960's towing a huge rocket. It was kept in a barracks compound near Tweseldown racecourse, left Crookham in the morning heading towards Reading, (destination unknown) and returned in the evening. I have no reason to doubt her identification of the Antar, she worked in and around haulage and was always quick to point one out if she saw it, but the rocket configuration is a bit scratchy. She coudn't say if it was articulated or a ballast tractor/trailer, or the colour of it, but she said it was regular enough for the locals to just refer to it as The Rocket. It could have been a missile of some sort perhaps or even a large cylindrical fuel tank for something. But, what she said next made my head spin. "Did you know that the Antar wasn't ever designed to be a tank transporter? It was originally designed to transport that rocket!" I know this would have bee around the time of Black Arrow etc., could there be any connections to the British space program?

Thanks.

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Posted (edited)

I too lived near Aldershot and back then the only Antar tank transporters operating in the Aldershot area were  transporting tanks along the A325/A30 between the Long valley tank testing area on the Fleet road near to Tweseledown and the FVRDE site at Longcross nr Chertsey. .

Church Crookham has narrow roads and weak bridges,  not really suitable for vehicles the size of an Antar.

The Thornycroft Antar was actually designed and built for the oil exploration industry for use in deserts transporting pipelines and equipment, ..Not rockets !, ..when the political situation abroad changed the Antar order was cancelled it left a lot of unsold Antars which were then converted to tank transporters sold to the British Army, first ones were ballast body drawbar tractors then later semi trailer tractors

Edited by Nick Johns

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I am afraid that I totaly agree with Nick.

However there was a British space program when we were still deluding ourselves that we were a world power. Obviously rockets are built as light as possible but it is possible that a really big one with its trailer could justify an Antar to pull it and that could have been obtained from the MOS or Chertsy - possibly a very early one that had been used for acceptance testing?

I am also thinking that the movements might have been associated with the Atomic Research Establishment at Aldermarston, which is in the right general area. The Nuclear weapon transporters towed by 1970s AEC units looked vaguely like covered rocket trailers.

Also there was a Mini Antar which I think was prototyped as a rocket carrier. It shared the same front end styling as the proper Antar but was a normal sized truck. I think I have seen a photo of one with a half cab somewhere in HMVF.

David

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No not that one. As I said it had front end styling that was a miniture version of the Antar. Bonneted and with the same type of grill guard but just smaller. I could believe though that it was a normal control version of the truck in the above post. I am very frustrated that I can't find a photo. I am sure that there was one posted in the last few years on HMVF.

David

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IT's just a thought between 1958 and 1961 27 GW RA regiment were based in CROOKHAM with there M386 honest john missile launchers

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1 hour ago, wally dugan said:

IT's just a thought between 1958 and 1961 27 GW RA regiment were based in CROOKHAM with there M386 honest john missile launchers

Sounds like the International M series launcher truck was mistook as an Antar!

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, wally dugan said:

IT's just a thought between 1958 and 1961 27 GW RA regiment were based in CROOKHAM with there M386 honest john missile launchers

Thanks Wally, I think this explains the mystery vehicle with a rocket,  the RA regt. with the Honest John missile launchers based at Haig Lines, Church Crookham,  seeing. a large M series truck with a missile on the back going out on the road on manouveres would attract attention, mistaken for an Antar, few would have realised back then it was actually American, ...a friend owns one of the extra long wheel base M series missile carriers

Edited by Nick Johns

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Thanks for all the replies, interesting stuff and plenty to show her next time I visit.

One other thing that might narrow the search was that she said it made a lot of noise, to the point that it was recognisable by sound as it approached. Reading your posts that it may have been a US chassis, this makes me think Detroit or similar perhaps?

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Hair Bear said:

One other thing that might narrow the search was that she said it made a lot of noise, to the point that it was recognisable by sound as it approached. Reading your posts that it may have been a US chassis, this makes me think Detroit or similar perhaps?

Hah, if you had mentioned that first we would have known, and you can forget the Detroit.

Mack M123 with a LeRoi motor:   M123 LeRoi on You Tube.

Thirty years ago I was parked by the side of the A13 Autostrada at Rovigo, just south of Venice, when I heard the loudest howling sound in the distance, every bit as distinctive as a Merlin.  After about seven minutes one of these drove past, presumably from the US Air Base at Aviano.  

It was travelling about 40MPH, must have been near maximum, so it must have been nearly four miles away when I first heard it.  Once heard, never forgotten.

Edited by Gordon_M

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Having driven an International Harvester M55 (with Continental 6602 Gasoline engine) on more occasions than I'd care to, they do sound like a heard of aircraft when driving through built up areas. I also noted that the exhaust is just at the right height for smoking out posers in soft top BMWs at traffic lights.... as for brakes and turning circle, the less said the better! Although specified for carrying Honest John resupply loads, our one never had the Honest John mounting frames installed. The firepower museum also had one that was fitted with the tie downs. 

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I have to agree about the exhaust  note of the 6602 petrol engine having driven the launcher and the support vehicles the one in firepower was from the reserve collection at Beverley and was on long term loan 04 BX 48

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7 hours ago, wally dugan said:

I have to agree about the exhaust  note of the 6602 petrol engine having driven the launcher and the support vehicles the one in firepower was from the reserve collection at Beverley and was on long term loan 04 BX 48

Hi Wally,

Around 1994, give or take a year, I was involved in restoring that actual Honest John launcher vehicle at REME workshops for the RA's Rotunda Museum. The brakes were inoperative and a few mechanical jobs, recall the gear selectors were seized as well. Once running well I took it around our test area and it was a lovely sounding engine, glad I was not paying for the petrol. I recollect cleaning the carburettor and it was the size of a saucepan., It was then repainted and eventually went in to the Firepower museum. The  axle width of the rear bogie was considerably wider than the front, which you had to be aware of. The supply truck was not so 'glamorous'.

Will have to dig out my photos of it when it was taken back to the Rotunda.

cheers Richard

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Richard 1999/2000 we refurbed the  Honest John  launcher after is had stood out side for a number years at the Rotunda it had moss growing in every seam. Sorry for the poor quality of the photographs the paint was copied from a photo supplied by the museum

mbfp.jpg

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25 minutes ago, wally dugan said:

Richard 1999/2000 we refurbed the  Honest John  launcher after is had stood out side for a number years at the Rotunda it had moss growing in every seam. Sorry for the poor quality of the photographs the paint was copied from a photo supplied by the museum

 

Wally,

We had several vehicles and artillery pieces come through the workshops from the Rotunda. After refurbishment and repairs they went back outside the Rotunda and were soon looking sorry for themselves again and was sad to see. This was well before Firepower.

Do you remember Stan who was curator there? He moved down to Kent after retiring from the post. Not seen him for years.

regards, Richard

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Richard yes  dealt with Stan and his successor  Les Smith we got all our instructions from  Sir Martin Farndale  

REGARDS WALLY

 

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1 hour ago, wally dugan said:

Richard yes  dealt with Stan and his successor  Les Smith we got all our instructions from  Sir Martin Farndale  

REGARDS WALLY

 

Yes, I knew Les as well as I did a lot of work on the museum's vehicles after the REME workshop closed. Remember meeting Sir Martin Farndale while I was working on the Sexton. It had laid dormant for very many years and in a bad state, and had to get it mobile so it could be moved and loaded on a transporter. Happy days!

regards Richard

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Thanks everyone, I'll pass on your pictures and vids, see if it jogs any memories.

Much appreciated.

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Posted (edited)

You tube video of the Honest John Missile and vehicles used to carry and launch it,..as stationed at Church Crookham barracks, except they would have had British Army markings no stars

 

Edited by Nick Johns

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Our M55 in happier times. Interestingly I have seen a picture of one of these trucks with a matching trailer which has the same size load bed! 

Library - 1919.jpg

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Having watched the Honest John video, it seems a lot of work to fire 1 missile! I count 3 specialist trucks (albeit based on common mechanical components), a specialist trailer and then  M151 and M35 vehicles for command/control and troop transport. Can't help thinking a medievil catapult and a dustbin full of flaming grease may have been easier...

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8 hours ago, Grasshopper said:

Having watched the Honest John video, it seems a lot of work to fire 1 missile! I count 3 specialist trucks (albeit based on common mechanical components), a specialist trailer and then  M151 and M35 vehicles for command/control and troop transport. Can't help thinking a medievil catapult and a dustbin full of flaming grease may have been easier...

I suspect the devastation caused by a 30kt warhead might be worth the effort to prepare and fire a missile......

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