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The Mystery Baskets
Can you identify these Baskets?
The picture below is of some strange turret baskets that have turned up in NSW. They have defied all attempts at identifying them.
I have tried the experts I know and they are all stumped, so I am now throwing this mystery open. My gut feeling is they are English but I have drawn a blank as far as English vehicles are concerned, leastways anything that the Bovingon Tank Museum is familiar with.
I can tell you that they came from the (now scrapped and built over) Plum and Crighton Scrap Yard in Wodonga, Victoria, Australia in the 1970's. This place was at one time the mecca for Aussie tank enthusiasts as lots of Stuarts, Grants and Churchills met there fate there.
The large size and heavy construction, particularly where the "legs" have been hacked off is unusual and noteworthy: as is also the "depth" of the storage area. Whoever designed these was not much concerned about height. Note also the prominent groove around the base and the bicycle style seat.
Here is a quick list of the major types Australia has operated and whether I am reasonably sure that the mystery baskets don't fit: unless I have stumbled on a hereto unknown version.
Vickers medium - Bovington says no.
Stuart - no
Grant/Lee - no
Churchill - Bovington says no.
Centurion - no
Staghound - no
LVT Alligator - Fort Knox says no.
Sherman (only 4 vehicles used) - ?
Saladin - no
Matilda - ? (don't think so?) Definetly not the flamethrower model.
Whatever they fit, it would appear the turret size would be for a vehicle mounting nothing larger than a 6 pounder/75mm gun or perhaps a larger gun of short range (eg AVRE or howitzer).
Really, other than those vehicles, there is not much more that Australia has operated. That would only leave captured vehicles (German/Italian/Chinese): or evaluation vehicles, which are normally returned to the country of origin?
Finally, if they belong to none of them, then we are looking at something that isn't tank at all, but just gives that appearance?
Can you offer any suggestions?
Mystery Solved - December 1999!
Thanks to James Swan, who identified these as Vickers Mk6 Light Tank baskets: I contacted David Fletcher of the Bovington Tank Museum in England and he and some of his staff had a look in their vehicle. He tells me that the floor plates in the Vickers come up level with the floor of the basket and it was only after they lifted several of the floor plates that they could see that it was a basket rather than a rotating plate.
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