Doug's HEAVY METAL GALLERY

 

T A N K SC A R R I E R SA R M O U R E D   C A R S

 

A dealer.
   (Ver 2)

This dealer specialises in locating, supplying and if required, rebuilding military vehicles to order. His chief interest is armour, but he does "dabble" in any MV.
Below is a photo of him and some turrets (3 x Grant and 1 x Staghound)

James pic     
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The "basket case" M3 Lee

BEFORE - End of May 97

He had an order to fill for a radial engined M3 Lee, the problem being that these are getting very hard to locate, let alone purchase.
A strict time limit of 3 months had been placed on him by the purchaser or otherwise the deal was cancelled.
So here is what he started with, note the minimal amount of tank left! I just happened to be visiting him and he mentioned that he had a Lee arriving that morning, I was telling my wife Fran, that the only Lee I knew of which was still obtainable was a heap of junk missing its transmission and cut down to track level. The more I described it, the stranger the look on his face. In the end he said, "hang around and wait till it arrives, it is the same vehicle, then come back in 3 months time, you won't recognise it".

There was a seized engine in the engine bay, but luckily he had found a complete R-975 radial in a crate as shipped from the factory in 1942. This engine came complete with it's factory "report card" on it's test pressures and horse power output - almost a shame to take it out of the crate.

Lee-before pic     

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DURING - Welding done.

Mid-job, with all the welding finished, the Lee is under tow on it's way to the bottom end of his farm so that it can be sandblasted and cleaned out prior to painting.
Nice to have your very own wrecker to tow the odd tank around!



Lee RHS pic     
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DURING - Sandblasting.

Sandblasting is in progress. At the right hand side of the photo hanging from the wrecker jib, is the Lee's turret, waiting it's turn to be sandblasted.



Lee LHS pic     
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AFTER - 26th August 1997

After a LOT of late nights and early mornings, here is the completed vehicle awaiting the purchaser's paint colour preference so that the job could be finished.
It was then driven about 2 kilometres to be loaded onto a truck for the trip to the Melbourne dockyards.
It now lives in America.
I am disappointed to say that the new owner sees fit to leave it outside in the elements as a static display and to my knowledge it is not run at all. A real pity as it has what is effectively a brand new engine, good running gear and tracks.
For those of you who know that a Lee normally has a machine gun cupola on top of the turret, this is correct. In Australian use these were removed as they created too much of a "choke point" should the vehicle have to be evacuated ; the other problem is that they make it darn hard to get in and out of the tank. The main reason you don't see a cupola is that all the ones removed from the Australian Lee's are not to be found. To the best of my knowledge there has only been one cupola found in Australia.



Lee after pic     
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The "bath tub" Valentines

Valentine Mk5 - before.

He located several English Valentine hulls, which were privately imported to Australia just after WW2. The person who imported them intended to put them to use in agriculture and had no interest in the turrets. These stayed in England and are believed to have been subsequently scrapped.
Fortunatley, several turrets along with hull armour were located overseas and he was able to arrange a swap for these.
So here is what he started with, luckily the engine was still insitu and needed very little work to be got running.
In the picture below is one of the hulls as it arrived at his farm. The heavy steel bars visible in the forground are reinforcing for the loading ramp and nothing to do with the tank.



Valentine before pic     
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The Valentine was looked upon as a reliable, but basic tank. It's armour was really only barely in the "Cruiser" class and in reality was not much better than that of a light tank. Everything I have read about them indicates that the driver had one of the worst positions ever designed into a tank. The conventional "2 lever" steering system is odd to use. Having briefly driven one of his Valentines I am in agreement with this assessment. In order to move the vehicle the "sticks" are pulled in the normal manner. But once a direction of movement is obtained the stick(s) is then pushed forward through a "detent". In order to make a steering correction the stick has then to be pulled back through the detent again.
The Valentine uses a typical English style (Merrit-Brown?) gear box which allows lock-track and neutral steer.
The designer was considerate enough to provide the driver with 2 hatches, 1 over each shoulder!. Overhead is a solid piece of armour. Thus it is not possible to drive a Valentine with your "head out": heavens knows why!

Valentine Mk5 - after.

Having just finished it's short movie career (Belushi re-make of the Humphry Bogart classic "Sahara") this vehicle is still sporting it's "Desert Sand" paint scheme. This Valentine is the MK 5 version which were fitted with a 671 GM diesel engine; this particular vehicle went to Jacques Littlefield a collector in the USA.
The Valentine family seem to have had nearly as many different types of engine as the Sherman tank. I have heard of a petrol engine variant (Mk 1 version?) and also one using the same engine as the "London Double Decker" buses - I believe this was a diesel.



Valentine after pic     
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Wrecker.

Every budding tank owner/restorer needs a wrecker to handle the heavy bits. Few of us find the justification, or money, to aquire one. As you will have seen in some of the photo's on this page, once you start playing with anything bigger than a Bren Gun Carrier, a wrecker is an extravagance, but also a necessity.
You will notice in the following photo's that he has had 2 different wreckers, his first one was a diesel, (M816,manufactured by AGM), but a collector wanted it badly and so, it went! The current one is an earlier petrol model (M543 manufactured by International). The M816 is immediately below.



Wrecker pic     
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An M543 wrecker is a big vehicle, compare the size with the Grant being loaded onto a drop-bed trailer in this picture.


Wreck1 pic     
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The easiest way to handle turrets. Foreground, a Valentine turret, hanging from the wrecker's jib is a Matilda turret and sitting on the trailer is a Grant turret.


Wreck2 pic     
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Unloading a 25 Pounder Field Gun from his long suffering tandem trailer.


Wreck4 pic     
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Detail shot of the M543 Wrecker.


Wreck3 pic     
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Too many Turrets!

When I first met him it was because I was tracking a rumour about a bloke who had a Grant turret for sale. Ever since there has been a parade of turrets through his farm. The following photos are a bit of a "potted history" of the last 8 or so years.

In his own words 'how not to treat your ute'. An M3 or M3A1 Stuart turret on its way to his farm.


Turret1 pic     
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An M3 Lee turret on it's way to the farm.

Turret2 pic     

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Turret Row at the farm, until they became too much of an inconvienience and were banished to the back yard.

Turret3 pic     
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The "back yard" at the farm, idealic isn't it? A nice pond set amongst 60 acres of virgin forest complete with it's own miniature water fall.


Turret4 pic     
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The front yard at the farm

Over the years there has been not only a parade of turrets through the yard but also a parade of vehicles. In this shot can be seen, from left, a cut-down Bren Gun (Universal) Carrier, a Staghound Armoured Car, an M3 Stuart Light Tank (note the very rare cupola turret), a Valentine hull and just visible above the Valentine is an M3A1 (White) Scout Car.



Yard pic     
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