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  1. #1
    Contributing Member Flying10uk's Avatar
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    Churchill Tank Range Target 1956

    I came across this photo today of a Churchill tank, range target, which I wasn't aware still existed but after finding it I thought people may like to see.

    What happened, back in 1956, was that my late father was going somewhere which the road took him past a MOD training area and one or more derelict armoured vehicles were noticed. Being interested in military vehicles my father thought that it would be a "good idea" to have his photo taken, by his friends, as if he was the tank commander, but giving no thought to the fact that it was a "Range Target Vehicle".

    A few seconds after the photo was taken a MOD policeman appeared from nowhere in a Land Rover and asked them what they were doing and did they realise that it was a firing range. My father's "excuse" was that he "was interested in military vehicles" and "just wanted to take a photo". The MOD policeman said that if they were interested in armoured vehicles they should go to the Tank Museum at Bovington but should keep away from range target vehicles and firing ranges.

    Not long after my father did go to the very interesting Tank Museum at Bovington.

    The tank does look remarkably complete and intact and a shame that it got used as a range target.
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    Last edited by Flying10uk; 04-23-2022 at 08:50 PM.

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    Advisory Panel Surpmil's Avatar
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    Can't see a singe definitive shell strike on it myself.; must have been a relatively new arrival. One is reminded of the curious absence of a mantlet on both the turret and hull armament; both must have been traps for all sorts of flying metal!
    “There are invisible rulers who control the destinies of millions. It is not generally realized to what extent the words and actions of our most influential public men are dictated by shrewd persons operating behind the scenes.”

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    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying10uk View Post
    The tank does look remarkably complete and intact
    When they were taken out to the rocket ranges they were usually straight from the transport compound and deemed unserviceable or surplus. They would be stripped of useful parts.
    Regards, Jim

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    Contributing Member Flying10uk's Avatar
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    I do appreciate that anyone looking at the photo is likely to conclude that it was a rather stupid thing to do, having one's photo taken on a "range target". However, my father worked on the principal of "if it's going to get you, it will get you regardless of what you do" and tended not to worry too much about personal safety. This probably came about about by having a number of "near misses" during WW2 and had survived the 1955 Le Mans, 24 hour race, disaster less than a year prior to the photo being taken.

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    Legacy Member Daan Kemp's Avatar
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    Old tanks have few alternatives. Sold for scrap. Sold to friendly countries. Given to friendly countries. Use as real tank and anti tank targets. Donated as monuments or trophies. Donated to museums.

    Storing a couple hundred with spares with no projected use ever gets expensive very quickly. Museums and collectors only have so much space and money.

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    Legacy Member Mk VII's Avatar
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    There was a Churchill AVRE on the Robins Lodge a/t range at Thetford in the 1980s.

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    What is interesting in the photograph is that it shows that the tank PREVIOUSLY had a wartine 'census' number, commencing T followed by its serial number, such as T-123456 for a tank. Immediately after the war the Army started to classify all of theirt vehicles and disposed of zillions. Those that remained were given NEW numbers, commencing with 00 RA- 01 and so on, up to 99ZZ99. These vehicles were all known as PRE-census vehicles, as in x9ZV29 above. I had another such vehicle issued to me, a Bedford QL workshop lorry, 77YC16. Those vehicles supplied AFTER the war were given registration numbers beginning 00BA01 (XXaa01 to 99AZ99 were reserved for the RAF). So all POST war supplied vehicles were in the B series onwards. My Land-Rover was 35CL21 and my old ARV was 33BA39.

    There were a few anomlies too. For example, some of the older and upgraded Centurions had old wartme census numbers which were changed to the pre census numbering system, for example 17ZR 82 and later Centurions came with later POST war numbers such as 05BD90 or 16BA61

    Simple 'eh! It was an easy way of telling what vehicles were old and which vehicles were REALLY old....., wartime old, such as the Diamond T's and Churchill bridgelayers and ARV's and Dukw's..... all with YP numbers such as 66YP04. Jeeps were all XXYHXX

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    Legacy Member GeeRam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Laidlericon View Post
    What is interesting in the photograph is that it shows that the tank PREVIOUSLY had a wartine 'census' number, commencing T followed by its serial number, such as T-123456 for a tank.

    ........

    Simple 'eh! It was an easy way of telling what vehicles were old and which vehicles were REALLY old....., wartime old, such as the Diamond T's and Churchill bridgelayers and ARV's and Dukw's..... all with YP numbers such as 66YP04. Jeeps were all XXYHXX
    And during WW2, Jeeps were classified as motorcars with a M prefix number, as trucks were Z prefix, lorries were L prefix, ambulances were A prefix and motorcycles were C prefix.

    My BSA WDM20 motorcycle I used to own back in the late 90's was C4171266 in Army service, one of a batch of 3000 x M20's of contract number C6126 dated 14th June 1940, only a week or so after Dunkirk, and was delivered to COD Chilwell the following month, in early July 1940.
    Just the thing for putting round holes in square heads.

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    But what was its POST census number Gee Ram? A lot of mixed motor bikes were in the YT and WY batches. In Singapore, 25 Company RASC/RCT had a Triumph motor bike that was recorded as having a pre-war MT number issued and was left behind when we temporarily loaned the Far East to Japanicon for a year or so. Then it was taken back on UKicon charge in 1945 and given a census number and then allocated a post census xxYVxx number. All on its record sheet. The RCT took it back to the UK when the UK left Singapore as of historic interest. The only other vehicles that were returned were those of strategic impoortance such as Ambulances, Fire engines - and probably the GOC's Austin Princess! The rest were disposed of at 221 Base Vehicle Depot in Johore Bahru

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    Legacy Member GeeRam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Laidlericon View Post
    But what was its POST census number Gee Ram?
    I don't think it saw post war service, as was in storage from 1945 until being sold surplus along with thousands of other ex-WD bikes in 1948-9.
    Just the thing for putting round holes in square heads.

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