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Help identifying WW2 RAF trucks


Cheshire Steve
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Flushed with success after my question about CMPs, I wonder if I can ask for IDs on some more trucks that feature in my father's phutos from the war in the desert between 1942 to 1944 (assuming I manage to attach them correctly...they started as thumbnails and have expanded in the preview and I don't seem to be able to resize them, and in my Firefox browser it has become quite a mess - apols if it is hard to read)

 

I remember my father said they had a Cole's Crane - is it on a Scammell?

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The trailer is a Queen Mary but I don't know about the tractor

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Similar tractor units - Bedfords?

 

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No idea about the 2 below

 

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I assume they were all painted desert sand. I have nearly finished making a CMP model for my father, and need to know what colour to paint it. I am slightly curious about the headlights, they seem to only have one convoy light, and the other blacked out.

 

Thanks, Steve

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Flushed with success after my question about CMPs, I wonder if I can ask for IDs on some more trucks that feature in my father's phutos from the war in the desert between 1942 to 1944 (assuming I manage to attach them correctly...they started as thumbnails and have expanded in the preview and I don't seem to be able to resize them, and in my Firefox browser it has become quite a mess - apols if it is hard to read)

 

I remember my father said they had a Cole's Crane - is it on a Scammell?

 

 

The trailer is a Queen Mary but I don't know about the tractor

 

 

Similar tractor units - Bedfords?

 

 

 

No idea about the 2 below

 

 

 

I assume they were all painted desert sand. I have nearly finished making a CMP model for my father, and need to know what colour to paint it. I am slightly curious about the headlights, they seem to only have one convoy light, and the other blacked out.

 

Thanks, Steve

 

Steve,

First crane is a Thornycroft Amazon / Coles EMA crane, second crane is a Leyland Retriever/ Coles EMA. Queen Mary tractors with bonnets are Bedford OX, and the other with a flat front is a Commer. The 6wheeler is a GMC

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Thanks for that - many vehicles I have never heard of (and neither has Wikipedia), but now I have some names I can find threads on HMVF, and maybe track down some restored units for a closer look. The Leyland Retriever has a very old fashioned look about it.

 

Is the Commer tractor unit a Q2? I can find no information on the Commer military tractor units, just a photo of what claims to be a Q2 that look similar.

 

Steve

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My father was in 58RSU and I know they came across some German Planes out in the Western Desert. He told me they spent ages looking for the expected booby traps and on one of them they had got as far as running up the engine when they discovered it had a booby trap in the tail which blew it nearly in half, but he said something about the 109 they recovered intact being an interesting desert model and was shipped all the way back via Alexandria to Farnborough. I have a couple of full pictures of it on the trailer and a picture of the booby trapped one in the desert (after it had gone off) with its back broken.

 

I have quite a few plane shots, including a Hawker Hart? that one of the big wigs used to use on weekend jaunts to strafe the Germans - he took a bullet in the radiator so popped it down somewhere safe for the RSU to bring back. There is a Dakota they brought back and rebuilt, which the USAF had already written off, so it became RAF private transport for one of the big wigs - nice shots of that all polished. Lots of pics of crashed planes being recovered. However I am sure there is a lot of info on the planes in the Desert Air Force - I haven't seen much on the RSUs so I am trying to find out more about how they were equipped, and how they managed to cross the supposedly impassable Qattara Depression with what I now know to be Bedford OXCs with fully laden Queen Mary trailers. I understand that spare parts were in short supply, so recovering planes, engines, etc was essential to keep the war effort going.

 

If that aspect of the desert war has been written about I would be interested to know more.

 

Steve

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My father was on desert salvage, until they pulled back to Alexandria.

 

My father was with 58 RSU in Quassasin from July 42 to Nov 42, then Mersa Matruh through to June 43. I think most of the pics are from this period, and it was in 1942 that I think the need for salvaging parts was greatest. He didn't get out of the Middle East until 1946, so I have some pics that probably date from that later period.

 

Do you have any details of your father's involvement?

 

Steve

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Sorry I have very little information as he very rarely spoke of his wartime experience. I remember his c/o was called Hillman, He transfered to the RAF on air sea rescue boats after they were pulled back as they came looking for fitters. I only have a few photographs of that period. He did say that when they were working at night on recovery they could hear the Germans working as well. they spent a lot of time trying to get vehicles if they could not get the truck then getting the springs at least.

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My father also had a spell on the Air Sea Rescue boats - he was in a transit camp in Haifa and they needed an engineer in HSL2699 so he spent 2 or 3 months on that, when he finally got back to England in 1946 he was on them again at Felixstowe, often out on patrol for mines that had broken away and were floating around the North Sea.

 

Steve

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Dad was at Felixtowe when he came back after the war. Then he was posted to Scotland disarming small boats in the Gare Lock. Most things were dumped overboard.

 

My father was there too, with 213 MU, June to Aug 1946. Decommissioning the air sea rescue boats, I couldn't make out the entry in his diary, looks like Gainock. He is in care now with advanced dementia, I am having to dispose of his stuff. He made a cracking model of the Air Sea Rescue boat he was on at Haifa. Museum quality in my opinion, but I think the Air Sea Rescue museum already has one. It was used as high speed transport to get various people from A to B under "stop for nothing" orders. It was fitted with Oerlikons. The only thing he wanted to finish it off were the scramble nets, and he just couldn't find any square netting correct to scale.

 

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Have to agree, though as the OP I am not too concerned as its been an interesting digression. I have been looking up Bedford military vehicles and I see there was a wireless version of the 15cwt Bedford MW (the MWR), and my father said he was wireless operator in the RSU and the wireless vehicle was a 15cwt. We have already identified a CMP 15cwt from one of his photos in a separate thread, but as they were using Bedford OXC tractors, then maybe it would have made sense to have Bedford 15cwt as the radio wagon just due to less spare parts needing to be carried.

 

I'll leave the aircraft photos for another day. Its the RSU operations in the Western Desert that I am most interested in at the moment.

 

Steve

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In Cheshire Steve's first post number 1 - second & third photo I thought it would be easy to identify the aircraft on the Queen Mary Trailer from the tail. At first I thought it was a Maryland or a Baltimore, but the fin and rudder joint is wrong. Its not any of the Curtis P-40 aircraft, nor a Blenheim of a Boston.

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I think you will find it is a Wellington, I have several pictures of it being dismantled. There are 7 people in one of the photos of it loaded on the Queen Mary - I don't know how many in a RSU team. I wonder how long it took them to dismantle a bomber and load it in the desert?

 

My father told me of one aircraft where they dug pits, lowered the undercarriage, and towed it out, they then cut the bent ends off the props balancing as best they could and fetched a pilot to fly it home. I think that was the dakota they rescued. The pilot said there was no way the props would be sufficiently in balance and insisted on one of the RSU LACs going back with him.

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Sorry to say my old man flew Wellington's and it definitely isn't one on those. The tail in your photo has a curved profile up from the fuselage and a very curved out edge.

 

The more I look at it I think it is a Martin Baltimore Mk IV or V and although on a late mark Baltimore, the top of the rudder swivels on top of the fin, the angle of the joint in your photo doesn't quite match but then the angle at which it was taken may be confusing the issue. However marks on the side of the rudder do match the ones in your photo.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Baltimore#/media/File:Martin_A-30A.jpg

 

Great photos BTW - Its amazing what is out their in old family albums, and shocking to think so many still get thrown away.

Edited by LarryH57
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I don't have any definite ability to tie the before and after photos together, so could easily be something else. I have shots of this being dismantled so thought this might be it.

 

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I have photos of an engine being craned off a Dakota, so maybe it wasn't a Dakota they flew out. This is the USAF Dakota they rebuilt and restored to RAF service.

 

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There is another clue, in that the nose of the aircraft seen in your very first photo, with the Thorneycroft Amazon, looks very much like the nose of a Baltimore too, so it could be the same occasion.

 

Also your Wellington photo shows a standard black tail fin.

 

BTW - you mentioned Gainock in the diary; might this be Greenock, on the Clyde?

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More great photos. A dak would be a good candidate to fly out as they were designed so that the main landing wheels do not fully retract into the fuselage. First one the pilot made a good wheels up landing of his Wellington. Any pictures with clear numbers? Or just any more pictures you have started a fire and need to feed it we are greedy. These are pictures of how it was.

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I've got lots of photos, I don't know what half the aircraft are and its difficult to see any detailed numbers. In fact the captured enemy aircraft seem to be more clearly marked.

 

How are you on battleships? I might launch another thread on the various battleship photos I have, which I think he told me were the remains of the Italian Navy.

 

I love these bombers - hard to imagine they were still in use in 1942/43.

 

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